How to Find a Church

A frequent question I am asked here at The Bible Church is this. Pastor, do you know of a good church in my area that teaches chapter by chapter and verse by verse? An addendum to that question is, my pastor teaches a subject I disagee and I cannot stay in my present church.

The immediate answer is no I do not know a church in your area that does this, but I feel certain there is one that will suffice.

There is a teacher on television named Arnold Murray. He makes a statement that I would like to discuss here. The statement usually goes something like this: “You are in church right now,” because you are watching him on TV. His statement is predicated on this premise: there are at least two gathered together in His name when one watches Murray on TV—the watcher and Murray. An electronic impression on a TV screen is not a person. Unless you are attending his broadcast in person in his studio, then there are not two gathered in Jesus’ name. When you watch a preacher on television, there is much you are missing. Murray advocates looking for a church that teaches chapter by chapter and verse by verse. He gives the impression that, if you cannot find such a church, just watching him on TV is enough. I disagree. This applies to all TV ministries. When you are watching church on TV, you are not in church. Now if you are disabled and cannot go out, then by all means you should watch church on TV and participate there in your home. But if you are physically able, you need to go to church and participate in person. We will discuss the reason further in this treatise. I believe with God’s guidance you can find a church in your area or near it where you can gather together with other Christians.

Let me remind you what the Bible says about gathering together with fellow believers.

Hebrews 10:21-22  “And having an high priest over the house of God; {22} Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water.”

Let us begin with our High Priest, Jesus Christ. We have a high priest who sprinkled His own blood on the altar in heaven. He is our high priest forever on the order of Melchizedek. This Melchizedek was a priest who received a tithe from Abraham, and hence all the children of Abraham through his seed (Hebrews 7:9-11). Melchizedek had no father or mother, no beginning and no end and he abides as a priest continually according to Hebrews 7:2-3. Jesus Christ is without beginning or end and is the Son of God. He abides continually as our High Priest. Jesus shed His blood as a propitiation for our sins and sprinkled that blood on the altar in Heaven (Heb 12:24, 1 Pet 1:2)

Because of these things, we are told to draw near Him with a true heart, that is, a heart with no deceit; a heart that is open to the saving grace of our Father in which no guile lies. With such a heart we can have full assurance of our faith because we are washed pure in the blood of Christ.

Hebrews 10:23  “Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;)”

We are to have a faith that does not waver. When we hold that faith fast, we hold it steady and do not let it go. That is a very difficult thing to do when there are no other Christians around you. Without a local church, you are isolated from other believers and then it is much easier for your faith to waver.

In fact, you will find that as you remain isolated from person-to-person contact with other Christians, you gradually become more worldly. Eventually, you become like many back-sliding Christians who have succumbed to the world’s ways and forgotten the ways of God. This is the price of not following God’s command to assemble together in person with other Christians. Another thing, the longer you remain away from fellowship with other believers, the harder it becomes to get yourself back into fellowship.

Hebrews 10:24  “And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works:”

We must observe each other (the Greek word for “consider” literally means to fully observe) so that we may urge them to love each other and to perform good works. We cannot observe one another if we do not assemble together. You cannot observe one another if one of you is on a TV screen nor can you urge one another to love and good works in such a case. 

And how are we to do all of these things, that is, draw near to Christ, have a full assurance of faith and a clear conscience, hold fast to our faith without wavering, and observe and provoke each other to love and good works? The next verse tells us:

Hebrews 10:25  “Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.”

We do all of those things by assembling ourselves together IN PERSON, especially when we see the day of wrath approaching, as we see now. This verse tells that the manner of some is to NOT assemble together and not to be like them.

If we assemble in a computer chat room or on a conference call or even when we watch a TV preacher while others are also watching in different places, we cannot urge one another to love and good works. Nor can we draw near to Christ, have a full assurance of faith and a clear conscience or hold fast to our faith without wavering. Those things are impossible to do unless we are with each other in person. Now, chat rooms, conference calls, and television teaching are OK, but they do not qualify as assembling ourselves together.

To make sure we understand let us do a little exegesis. The word for “forsaking” is egkataleipo, which literally means “to leave behind”. We are not to leave behind the assembling of ourselves together.

The word rendered assembling is episunagoge. It is the combination of epi, meaning above, super, upon, with, together, and sunagoge, which literally means assembly. Of course it is also the word synagogue and it is sometimes rendered church. Episunagoge literally means gathering together of people, in person, in a local synagogue or a church, that is, in a local assembly of believers. Folks do not go to synagogue or church to watch an evangelist on TV. They go to be together in person with other believers.

Beloved, you need to be in church. If you are not in church, that is, in a local church, regularly assembling with other Christians IN PERSON, you are not in obedience to the Word of God. That means you are sinning. I am sorry to be so blunt; no I am not sorry; if my bluntness offends you, the perhaps you needed to be offended. Sin is sin. Disobedience of God is sin. Disobeying His Word is sin. Repent of your sin and find a local church to get involved with so you can exercise your spiritual gifts and do God’s work. And what is His work? Planting seeds and introducing people to Christ. To accomplish that work, worship, prayer, praise, preaching, teaching, and many other jobs are necessary. The only place to be able to do those things is in a local body of believers.

Now to answer the question, how do I find an acceptable local church? Well the first thing you must do is go out and LOOK for one. Don’t sit around complaining that you cannot find a church that has expository Bible teaching and preaching. They are out there. (By the way, expository preaching is just a fancy term for preaching chapter by chapter and verse by verse). If you look and you ask God’s guidance, you will find the church God is leading you to. In fact, I do not accept that God would leave any believer high and dry with no local body of believers to join. There is a church out there in your community for you! Find it!

Let me give a personal testimony. I was dismissed from a church that did not like my preaching. They went so far as to tell me that I should only preach salvation messages on Sunday mornings. They asked me to resign as their pastor so I did. Not having any offers to pastor anywhere else at that time, I began to search for a church. Let me say that I immediately went to a church because it was very near my home, but that is not where God wanted me. So I began a search for another church. My criteria were a church that preaches Bible truths and a church that had expository preaching. Now one of my standards for Bible truths was the truth about the Dispensationalism. Let me tell you, dispensational teaching is entrenched in our churches and it is difficult to find a church that rejects that as what it is—false doctrine. And for many Christians, “them’s fightin’ words!” So I had a difficult task ahead of me.

But, how are those churches ever going to get away from this heresy if no one will go to them and gently guide them to the truth? Perhaps that is what God has in mind for you. Again, you may only gently guide them to the truth. Trying to push the truth on them will always land you in turmoil and then your witness and your credibility may be damaged. No amount of arm-twisting will change someone’s mind. Jesus did no arm-twisting. He presented the truth and allowed others to decide for themselves. In fact, that is God’s way. He gives everyone a choice. He never insists.

After visiting many churches and finding none that would teach against the Dispensationalism, I turned it over to God (an action I should have taken immediately but did not—I tried to make it on my own). God revealed to me that I could serve Him in a church that taught Dispensationalism. He revealed to me that I could go to a church that did not insist that all of its members support Dispensationalism. So I, or rather we, my family and I, kept on visiting. We visited several good churches but none that really practiced expository preaching. Finally, in desperation, we visited a church that I had previously rejected because it was a good distance from our house. I should have visited there first for we found a man there that stood in the pulpit on Sundays and opened his bible and actually preached from his passage in a verse by verse manner. I had finally found the place to which God was leading me.

Now I must say that I did not always agree with his interpretation of scripture, but I always listened and I learned much from him. Dispensationalism was taught at that church. No I did not agree with it, but yes, I was able to work in that church. I was always up front with people about my belief about Dispensationalism. No one ever asked me to leave over it nor did I ever get into any turmoil because of my belief. I taught Sunday School on Sunday mornings and I taught Royal Ambassadors on Wednesday evenings. In my Sunday School class, I taught chapter and verse. When the quarterly would skip over scripture, I would include the missed scripture in my teaching. Many times I told people the truth about Dispensationalism. No one ever got angry at me. Most did not change their mind, but I kept on planting seeds. I never tried to force anyone to abandon their beliefs nor did I provoke them to wrath over the subject. But I did always explain my position. Some saw the truth about it and some did not. Perhaps some have since accepted the truth because of a seed I planted. I may never know.

I gave you this testimony to tell you that there is no excuse for not finding a local church to worship with. You need the personal fellowship of a local church and you cannot get that fellowship watching Dr. Murray on TV. Continue to study with Dr. Murray on TV, but do not substitute that for gathering together with other Christians in a local church. You can work in a church that does not share every belief with you. You can even work in a church that teaches something you disagree with (as long as they are correct on essential doctrine). It is not necessary that everyone you come into contact with be converted to believe exactly like you do on everything.

Let me say one other thing about Arnold Murray. He tells college students not to lose their beliefs in a secular college where they try to tear down a student’s beliefs. He tells them to go ahead and give the answers on a test that will earn a passing grade even if they know the answers they gave are not the truth. This is especially true if they are taking a biology exam. He tells them to write answers that endorse Darwinism if they are the correct answers to the test, even though Darwinism isn’t true. When the opportunity presents itself they can try to convince others of the truth. Others may or may not believe them. But they should not try to push that belief on others; it may do them more harm than good. That is the way to earn a degree without compromising your beliefs.

Cannot the same advice apply to church? You can attend a church that preaches something you disagree with, as long as they are correct on essential doctrine. When the opportunity presents itself, try to teach someone the truth. But don’t worry if they do not believe. Most did not believe Jesus. Yet he went right on preaching.

So what are you waiting for? Quit hem-hawing around and get out there and find the church that God has prepared for you!

This entry was posted in Topical Studies, Self Examination. Bookmark the permalink.