Posted January 15, 2009
Finding the right Church—a biblically sound assembly of believers who obey the Scriptures, not merely a socially accepted religious group—will entail some serious Bible study on your part. It is not a decision that should be made quickly or lightly.
A recently published book about religious beliefs in the United States calls attention to the fact that "Early in 2008 … the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life reported that 44 percent of American adults have switched from one denomination to another" (Rodney Stark, What Americans Really Believe , p. 21, 2008). The author further commented that "Many observers seem to think that this observation was a bit scandalous."
As evidence he quoted an editorial published in the March 1, 2008 issue of The Wall Street Journal . "There are reasons to find this statistic [44 percent] troubling. People who leave one denomination for another may be more concerned with fulfilling their boutique church going desires than with meeting the moral obligations of a religious group or the demands of a doctrine."
This is an astute observation! Changing churches merely for cosmetic, shallow or peripheral reasons would not be very wise. The basic criteria should be adherence to the doctrines of the Bible—both Old and New Testaments.
Actually, in 1998 Americans were not faring too badly on this score. According to the results of a George Barna survey, one of three important factors in determining people's preferences for choosing a church was beliefs and doctrines. Even today most people who change churches seem to "favor the most demanding denominations" ( What Americans Really Believe , p. 23).
But what are the basic biblical standards? And how many of those who change churches search the Bible for its criteria for church membership?
Prophetically, the Bible depicts the "church of the living God" (1 Timothy 3:15) even in the last days as people "who keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ" (Revelation 12:17). Regrettably, many denominations today teach that God's commandments have been abolished.
The test commandment for the great majority of people seems to be the fourth one—the one that commands assembling weekly.
The New Testament clearly admonishes Christians to assemble together regularly. It speaks about "not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day [of Christ's second coming] approaching" (Hebrews 10:25).
The context of the book of Hebrews clearly indicates a specific day on which we should worship God (see Hebrews 4:1-11). The Old Testament expresses the same thought in the form of a command. "‘There are six days when you may work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath of rest, a day of sacred assembly . You are not to do any work; wherever you live, it is a Sabbath to the Lord'" (Leviticus 23:3, NIV, emphasis added).
In terms of choosing a church based on fundamental beliefs, observing the biblical Sabbath day is one of the most basic—so basic that it is enshrined as one of the Ten Commandments as "Remember the Sabbath Day to keep it holy" (Exodus 20:8).
In regard to which day is the correct day for Christian rest and congregational assembly, most have been taught otherwise. Yet this fundamental teaching is so important that we should thoughtfully consider God's original purpose and intent for the observance of the seventh-day Sabbath as well as all of the carefully documented biblical proof supporting its observance. And the evidence is available in both the Old and the New Testaments.
Faithful Christians are instructed and admonished to follow the difficult, narrow and often unpopular way taught by Jesus Christ— not the broad, easy path that eventually and inevitably leads to destruction (Matthew 7:13-14).
Finding the right Church—a biblically sound assembly of believers who obey the Scriptures, not merely a socially accepted religious group—will entail some serious Bible study on your part. It is not a decision that should be made quickly or lightly. And God's guidance should be sought though much prayer. You should search for the Church that truly fits the biblical mode.
The publisher of The Good News magazine offers two very helpful booklets that cover these essential points in detail. These booklets are absolutely free, with no suggested or implied obligation on your part. So why not take the plunge and begin digging into the Bible for its take on which church is right for you.
To quickly find essential biblical instructions on this subject and learn some useful historical facts, simply request or download these free, informative booklets: The Church Jesus Built and Sunset to Sunset: God's Sabbath Rest .