Jesus said He would build His Church. How can you recognize it? What should you look for in a place of worship?
[Steve Myers] When Jesus taught, He talked about a spiritually transformed body of believers. And the Bible shows just that, the church should be a living thing, it should be a growing group of people where God's Holy Spirit is evident.
Is it time for you to find a new church? How do you know you're in the right church? You know Jesus said, "I will build my church." But today what do we find? We find so many different denominations, so many different varieties of Christian churches that have different teachings, different ideas, different philosophies. So how do you recognize the right church? What should you look for in a place of worship? Well I went out on the street and I talked to a number of people and got their ideas about why they went to church.
> No, I tend to go to church when I feel like it, like wherever it’s available, like the closest one.
>> So for me is whatever is gonna give a positive feedback.
[Steve Myers] What's your favorite thing about church?
> Just the people that I got to know there.
>> I think it's something I probably need to go to more than I am but I try to go every now and then for sure.
[Steve Myers] Well maybe it is time to find a new church. And you know when you study that there's the PEW research, they've done a study, their center found that about half of us that live in the United States will actually look for a new congregation at some point. So what would you look for? What would be the reason to leave your church? Let's see what they said out on the street.
What would it take for you to change church?
> I think I'm always open. I used to feel like I had to always go to the Catholic Church until I found out that there was other communities, other churches that I can be a part of and still feel like I'm getting my time with God.
>> I would not leave. I would not leave.
> Once you found the right church, you should attend one.
[Steve Myers] Is there anything that could happen that would cause you to change churches and go to a different church?
> No not really because I know there is problems everywhere and all the churches have problems.
[Steve Myers] Well that's interesting. Are there legitimate reasons why you should change churches? Absolutely. There's biblical reasons, legitimate reasons, and of course there's many different ideas of what a church really is. But if you look to the Bible and what the Bible says, it's different than what most people think. Many think it's a building, a church building. But when you look at what the Bible really says, it says the church is defined as those people that are called out and they're brought together. They're an assembly or a congregation. It's a spiritual thing, a spiritual organism. In fact, the spiritual body of Christ.
So that points to the fact we should make sure we're in the right place. So what we should do is begin to maybe make a checklist, "How can I be sure I'm in the right place?" So let's think about that for a moment. First, true doctrine. If your church doesn't preach and teach the Bible that's a problem because a pastor could get up and could read the newspaper or he could give an exciting quotation from a book that he's been reading or maybe share an illustration from some amazing moment in history. And of course you could listen to messages that make you feel good, make me happy, make me feel better about myself.
But you know, Jesus didn't really preach that way. When you read what it says in the Gospels. When you read the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5 and read all the way through Chapter 7, what did Christ do? Well, He quoted Scripture. He spoke against sin. He showed the importance of obedience. And so, He was pointing the fact your church must preach and teach God's Word, and if not, oh I better step back just a little bit and notice things a little bit more carefully. So is it time to find a new church? Let's find out what they said on the street.
If you went to church and they weren't sticking to the Bible, then what would you do?
> Oh, then I have to leave the church. Then I found a reason for leaving the church. Yes.
[Steve Myers] Yes does my church really stick to the Bible? That's a great question to ask. Now, the challenging part about that is it assumes the fact that I know what the Bible says. And it's sad to say so many people really don't know what the Bible actually says. In fact let's just look at one example for a moment to answer that question, "Does my church really stick to the Bible?" Well there's an interesting passage back in Leviticus, Chapter 23. In verse 3 it says this, "Six days you have and you can do your work but the seventh day of each week is holy because it belongs to me," God says. No matter where you live, you must rest on the Sabbath and come together for worship. This law will never change.
And so what we begin to see is Jesus showed that His church would be observing His Saturday Sabbath even today. But what do most churches do? Well most churches say, well the Sabbath isn't binding any longer. Really it must have been changed to Sunday or some other kind of worship supersedes what the Bible says or maybe it doesn't really even matter. But if we're really honest with ourselves and we look at what the Bible says, we can say that's just not right. Did Jesus inspire His word or not? Does He show us the way to His church? I think we have to say when we're searching for His church, it has to be based on the foundation of the Bible. And observing God's Saturday Sabbath is one of the most basic things. Isn't it? I mean how basic is it? Well, it's one of the Big Ten, isn't it? It's one of the Ten Commandments, "Remember the Sabbath day."
And in fact it's not just an Old Testament thing. When you turn to the New Testament do you know which day Jesus said He was the Lord of? Well it was the Sabbath, Mark chapter 2:28 says that. And in fact in Hebrews 10:24 Hebrews 10:24And let us consider one another to provoke to love and to good works:
American King James Version×we find this admonition, this encouragement to make sure we come together as His assembly, that we assemble as His people. And so, in Hebrews 10:24 Hebrews 10:24And let us consider one another to provoke to love and to good works:
American King James Version×it says this, "Let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembly of ourselves together as is the manner of some but exhorting one another and so much more, as you see the Day approaching."
And so attending church is so important. And yet I must ask myself, well do I really know the teachings in this book? Am I comfortable? Do I really understand what the New Testament church actually did and what their practice was? Because when we find out what the Bible says we see the church that Jesus built, it rejects those things that people, that men changed or people added. And so the church that you're looking for, it's one that's going to hold strong to the beliefs that are taught in the New Testament. Those original truths of Jesus Christ, the authentic teachings of the New Testament church. And of course as you think about that and you consider this checklist that we're making today, you're looking to change to the true church.
And so we prepared a study aid to help you do just that. It's called "The Church Jesus Built." In this particular book that will help you examine the traits that Jesus said His church would have. And so go online, go to beyondtoday.tv, call the number on your screen because this booklet will help you to go through that checklist. In fact there's a section, on page 49, in the booklet that's titled "The Church of God Today." And it begins by saying, "How can you find the Church of God, the church Jesus built? How can you locate God's special people in the midst of the splintered and fractured faith known as Christianity? What distinguishes them from those whom Jesus said, 'I never knew you.’?" And so it's important, go to beyondtoday.tv, download your free copy or call us at the number on your screen because you're going to learn directly from God's Word how to recognize His true church.
Because there's no doubt, the Bible makes it clear, God's church obeys, God's church keeps God's law. And so the church Jesus built is described in the Bible as people who keep the commandments of God. In fact if you look all the way at the very end of the book you find in the book of Revelation, Revelation 12:17 Revelation 12:17And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.
American King James Version×describes God's people that very way. It says, "They are the people who keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ." And so your checklist to change churches should include just that, that they follow the example that Christ described. And of course did He describe the easy way? Did He describe that smooth path? No, He said it was a narrow way. He said at times, it's going to be an unpopular way, not the wide easy path. And of course where did He say that path led? Well, to destruction.
And so we think about that checklist. It's not one that we try to get around what the book says. We don't try to do away with the requirements of God's way. And we don't even assume that we already know it because that itself can get us into trouble. If we just think it's in the Bible, you know how many times have you thought well, that must be in the Bible, and then come to find out it's not there. In fact I ran across an amazing quote the other day, it was by Thomas Jefferson. And he put it this way, he said, "The greatest enemies of Jesus are the doctrines and creeds of the church."
Now that almost sounds kind of odd, doesn't it? Shouldn't they be the same? Well what he's saying, in other words, is our first and foremost loyalty is to the true teachings of God, the true practices of Jesus Christ, those that Christ taught his followers. We shouldn't be loyal to an organization or some place that we just grew up in just because that's the way it's always been. So those traditions that have been added or things that change those teachings of Jesus Christ, we have to watch out for, be careful for. Because if we think well, when is it time to change churches - we see that wow, so much of Christianity today has adopted non-biblical traditions. Wrong philosophies, wrong traditions that, boy you look through the Bible and I can't find them there.
And even the morals, society's impact on so many churches has also been impacted. You see, those things are the things that oppose the church that Jesus built. And so when you really get down to it, it comes down to the fact that following and obeying is absolutely crucial. Isn't it? I mean to love God is to love Him and obey Him. They're really inseparable ideas aren't they? In fact the Apostle John wrote, in 1 John 5: 3 he said an amazing statement when he said, "This is the love of God that we keep His Commandments and His commandments are not burdensome." So does that describe my church?
Well let's go back to our checklist for just a moment. Is it time to find a new church? Because there's another aspect to consider, the right church should have the right focus. The right focus. Those in the street talked to me a little bit about the wrong focus and having the wrong priorities. Let's see what they said.
What would it be, what would cause you to change?
>If it was all about money.
>> Just some of the philosophies of the pastor.
> Right now is a lot going on. So I think people can be going for different reasons.
[Steve Myers] What would cause you to change churches?
> To change churches. If He was calling me somewhere else and I felt like I needed to go somewhere else, then that's when I would go.
[Steve Myers] Well God is calling us to change isn't He? He's calling us to change the kind of people that we are. And so when we step back and we ask ourselves, does my church have the right focus? Well there's so much impact that society has on every organization, it seems. And so it seems that so many churches put political activism above the worship of God. Is that describing your church? Is my church more about politics than it is on focusing on what's important for God? You see God's church is not Republican or Democrat, it's not a labour party Church, or a political-conservative, or liberal party church. It’s God's church with His focus. And of course some focus on music and music becomes the thing. It's a concert, it's entertainment. But is entertainment really worship?
You see when you read what the Bible has to say, it points to the priority that Jesus set. And what was that? Well it was advancing God's mission. The mission of the Church that Jesus built. And so we could ask ourselves, "Does my church focus on the biblical mission that Christ gave?" That is the preaching of the Gospel, the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the Kingdom of God. See the church Jesus built has that special biblical commission. And Christ gave marching orders, we're to take that good news of the Kingdom of God to the world and we're to faithfully teach others God's way of life.
And you know it wasn't just a suggestion, it was actually a command that Christ gave in Matthew 28. And at the very end of the book of Matthew, we find Christ giving this command. He said, "All authority has been given to me in heaven and on earth." And here comes the marching orders, "Go therefore and make disciples in all nations baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you. And lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age."
You see so many do not preach the Gospel that Jesus did. And if a church is not dedicated to carrying out that task can we really claim to be the church of God? And that second item on our checklist becomes so important because if you want help with your checklist, you'll want to find the church that God directs you to. And we've got the study aid, "The Church Jesus Built" to help you do just that. So go to beyondtoday.tv, call the number on your screen. Now if you go online, you can download your free copy or you can read it right there or receive your own personal copy in the mail. Because this booklet helps you to understand that mission that Christ talked about. In fact there's a whole section of it on page 25 where it talks about the responsibility and mission of the church.
Now you can read all about this where it begins to talk about the work of the church. And it didn't end in the New Testament. In fact it says, "The work of the church continues." So let's look at the multi-faceted responsibilities Christ gave His church, His special people. Because after all, Christ did give us orders to take that gospel to the world. So as you consider your time to change churches, your checklist has to include right biblical teachings, true doctrine. Absolutely. It also has to include that concept of right focus.
But there's also another critical factor to think about. Real change. Transformation has to be a key to the true Church of God. I mean have you ever felt that church is kind of a lifeless institution where nothing or no one ever seems to change? But it wasn't that way for Christ. You know when Jesus taught, He talked about a spiritually-transformed body of believers. And the Bible shows just that, a church should be a living thing, it should be a growing group of people where God's Holy Spirit is evident. Because the church Jesus built, it should be a truly converted body of believers who've repented of their disregard for God's laws. They're different, they're transformed by baptism and by receiving the Holy Spirit. And so, we certainly don't want to minimize this whole concept of our calling. We've been called to be different, we've been called to change. And so when you consider that, well, maybe like this man told me on the street.
Is there anything that would cause you to change your church?
> I think if you have no connection with the pastor, if you have no connection with the community, if you just kind of feel like you're there and going through the motions and not really experiencing any kind of relationship with God or with the pastor, with the people around you.
[Steve Myers] It's interesting when you think about that. Have you ever felt that way? Have you ever felt just going through the motions? The true church in faith has to rely on Jesus Christ, has to rely on Him to help them live by every word of God. And when we do that, that brings results. Our lives are changing, we're growing, we're becoming more Christ-like, we're in an environment of growth. And when we think about that I mean if we never change, we never grow, it's just the same old same old and nothing seems to be getting better. Probably time to find a different church. I mean are you inspired to grow? I mean we're told we need to, we need to do just that because we're to have the power of God's Holy Spirit so we can be different people.
Paul told the young minister Timothy, "God has not given us a spirit of fear but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind." You see He points us in the right direction. And when we follow the Bible He's saying you know, you just don't pick and choose what you like and what you don't like and, you know, a cafeteria-style religion. He tells us, no that's not the way that it is. In fact He says some pretty scary words about those that do that kind of a thing. A couple of chapters later, He tells Timothy, "Those are the kind of people that have a form of godliness but deny His power." So we can look good on the outside but in reality it's just not a spiritual thing that's happening. So we don't want to just go through the motions. Get to know your Bible, get closer to God, have a close relationship with Him. And the fact is He will help you to do just that. In fact, we want to help you as well. Our study aid, "The Church Jesus Built" will help you to change in the right direction. So beyondtoday.tv, the website, has this booklet there. You can download it yourself and begin to recognize that checklist for change. In fact, on page 15 of the booklet, it points to a spiritually-transformed people, we're talking about real change here. And it helps you to identify some of those concepts in the Bible, those things that should help us in that direction.
It says, "What do these commands to repent, to be converted, to be transformed mean to anyone who wishes to be a part of the church of God?" Then it goes on to help you to answer that very question. And of course we want to be more godly people, more like Christ. And of course there is a church behind Beyond Today. We're produced by the United Church of God. Our origins go all the way back to the church that Jesus Christ founded, back in the 1st century. We're committed, we're committed to recapture and practice the Christianity that's found in the New Testament. And we strive to follow those same teachings, those same doctrines, those same practices that Christ taught. And we have a mission, our mission is to proclaim that Gospel, to preach that truth of Jesus Christ and the Kingdom of God to the world, as a witness. And we strive to do that on this very program and to teach people, to observe the things that Christ commanded. And then of course we strive to care for the people that God calls.
Now if this resonates with you, God may be calling you. Of course we have to step out in faith. We have to trust and obey. We have to realize that God knows where He wants you, where He wants you to be, where He wants you to serve, where He wants you to grow. And I know it is hard to let go of the things that are here. Hard to let go of old friends. Hard to let go of a culture I grew up in. It's a difficult thing, no doubt. But when God says, "Go," we should go. In fact, it might be good to get out your Bible and read through Genesis 12. That's where you'll find the story of Abraham. And when God started to work with Abraham, guess what He did? Well, He did just that. He said, "Abraham, get out of your country." And what did Abraham do? He went. He became the father of the faithful. And so what we need to do is believe that God will give us, give you, that same strength that He gave Abraham to follow Him. So pray about it, read the Scripture, really study your Bible. And then act. Go to the church that follows what you've been reading about, what you've been studying in the Bible, in the Word of God. And remember Acts 5:29 Acts 5:29Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said, We ought to obey God rather than men.
American King James Version×says, "We ought to obey God rather than men."
So is it time to find a new church? Well the answer is yes. Because if your church doesn't teach true doctrine, if it doesn't preach and teach the Bible, if there's some sort of a mismatch there, whoa, there's a problem. Because Christianity should be about the teachings of Christ. And if it's not from the Bible, it’s got to change. And then there's having the right focus. I mean is your church more worried about the next election, the building project, the next music concert or some other idea than what God gave, other than His mission, His Commission to take the good news of the Kingdom of God to the world?
There's also a third thing, real change. Transformation. Are you growing? Am I more like Christ today than I was ever before? Am I striving? Is my church teaching me to follow His example in all things? Is it really an environment that produces growth, that promotes that in me? Because we know that admonition that God gave through Isaiah. In Isaiah 55:6 Isaiah 55:6Seek you the LORD while he may be found, call you on him while he is near:
American King James Version×we know life is limited. It's shorter than you think. And so, God says through Isaiah, "Seek the Lord while He may be found. Call upon Him while He's near."
Is it time to find a new church? Well we're here for you. We're dedicated to preserving and proclaiming the authentic faith that was once delivered.
Now coming to the church Jesus built, it's something you’ve got to take seriously because it's going to take commitment, it's going to take studying your Bible. But it's worth it. And God promises to bless and reward you as you respond to His calling.
[Narrator] Call now to receive the free booklet offered on today's program, "The Church Jesus Built." Jesus Christ promised to build His church. Churches today have a wide variety of approaches, doctrines, and teachings. How do they compare to those of the original church, the one Jesus founded, the one carried on by those who knew Him? How do you recognize that church? This free study aid, "The Church Jesus Built," will give you biblical keys to discerning the church Jesus calls His own. Jesus told His followers to follow His example. So did the Apostle Paul, yet many of today's churches teach and practice ideas that would shock Jesus' first followers. Learn the fascinating story of the church Jesus built. Order now, call 1-888-886-8632 or write the address shown on your screen. You can find those who are among the church Jesus built today. When you order this free study aid, we'll also send you a complimentary 1-year subscription to "Beyond Today Magazine." "Beyond Today Magazine" brings you understanding of today's world and hope for the future. Six times a year, you'll read about current world events in the light of Bible Prophecy, as well as practical knowledge to improve your marriage and family. Call today to receive your free booklet, "The Church Jesus Built," and your free 1-year subscription to "Beyond Today Magazine." Call 1-888-886-8632 or go online to beyondtoday.tv.