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  "And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature." - Mark 16:15 

 

Looking under the Cover

"For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or if ye receive another spirit, which ye have not received, or another gospel, which ye have not accepted, ye might well bear with him." 2 Corinthians 11:3-4

Church Sign 


Looking for a Church can be a difficult thing.

There's many heresies out there.  Believing in different Jesus's, such as Mormons, Jehovah's Witnesses, 7th Day Adventists, for a few.  There is believing that we are saved by faith AND works, which is Calvinists, Lordship Salvationists such as John MacArthur, Catholicism, and some Pentecostal churches.

There are also numerous Bible versions, diluting, and changing the word of God.

Perhaps, the most important thing to check for, is that the Church believes in the Gospel, which is that Jesus, who is God in the flesh, died for our sins, paying a price He did not owe, because we never could, was buried, and rose again three days later, and by believing on His sacrifice for forgiveness of our sins, we become part of God's family, saved by grace through faith.  There are no works required, before, during, and after.  Baptism is an ordinance, the Lord's supper is an ordinance.  There is only one God, the Godhead, made up of three distinct individual persons, God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.  Salvation is the gift of God,

“For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:” Ephesians 2:8

Churches, Denominations

Church Window

There are many denominations, and each has a statement of faith.

I had the opportunity to discuss with two ladies from a Pentecostal church, the Elim Pentecostal Church, about Salvation.  I explained to them the Gospel, as the Bible advises us in 1 Corinthians 15:1-4,

"Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; by which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain. For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; and that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:"

I spoke to them about a number of things.  The King James Bible, how we cannot lose our Salvation. How the expression 'turning from sin' is innacurate to lead people to Christ, because, it implies that we must stop sinning in order to receive God's gift.  Which is not the case, we are saved BECAUSE we are sinners, we CANNOT save ourselves, 1 Timothy 1:15,“This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief.

Despite us disagreeing on some things, I was pleased that they agreed with me that Salvation is by faith alone, by receiving Christ's sacrifice for us as we are guilty sinners, His bodily resurrection, and, that we cannot lose our Salvation.

It made me look into their church some more.

Elim Church Main Website

SALVATION:
We believe in the necessity for salvation of repentance towards God and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ by which the sinner is pardoned and accepted as righteous in God’s sight. This justification is imputed by the grace of God because of the atoning work of Christ, is received by faith alone and is evidenced by the Fruit of the Spirit and a holy life. Source

Again, this is promising.  Despite disagreements on some matters, it does appear that they teach Salvation for the sinner, by grace, through faith alone in Christ, which, despite some disagreements, would make them saved, brothers and sisters in Christ.

The Website of their particular Elim Church

THE SAVIOUR:
We believe that Jesus Christ is God the Son who came to Earth to live as a
man. As a man, He lived a perfect life and, by doing so, set an example for
all people. The words of instruction He spoke on Earth, as recorded in the
Bible, remain relevant to our lives today. When He was killed by crucifixion
He was not being punished for His own sins, as He had not committed
any. Death, therefore, had no right to keep Him, and He came back to life
and passed into Heaven. Because of His death, we can also pass into
Heaven if we spend the rest of our lives following His teachings and
trusting Him to forgive us when we fail
. Source

Folks, this is not being saved by grace through faith alone, but it is a works based salvation!  It is stating, we can go to Heaven if 'we spend the rest of our lives following His teachings'.

Following the teachings of God all our lives is not salvation.  Salvation is not a process.  This is instead a difficult lifelong pursuit called fellowship, which is seperate from being guaranteed to go to Heaven, received by simple faith, which is salvation.

Despite the denominations official statement of faith, the denominations local church is stating something very different.  It is contradicting their denominations stance, and saying, faith isn't enough, you have to have faith, AND work rely hard.

That is no faith at all!  Because, we are not really trusting Jesus to save us, we are trusting our own works, our human effort to save us.

What are the works of God that we be saved?

Empty Church 

Jesus answers this very question for us Himself, in John 6:29,

“Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent.” John 6:29

That is what we require, that we believe on Him, believe on Jesus.

The Lord does not say we have to believe on Him and then try really hard.  We are saved not by human effort, but by accepting the Lord's sacrifice on the cross for us for forgiveness of our sins, thereby receiving His imputed righteousness, washing away our sins, and we become children of God, with the Holy Spirit living inside us; the second birth.  We are saved by accepting the gift of the Lord.

Once we are saved, we should look to walk with the Lord, in fellowship, growing in grace, reading our Bible's, becoming closer to God.  This is fellowship, which is not Salvation.  Adding fellowship as a requirement to Salvation is no Salvation at all, because we are still relying on our own human effort.

It is by faith and faith alone,

“And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then is it no more grace: otherwise work is no more work.” Romans 11:6

Conclusion

One must have caution when searching for a church.  Even in what may seem to be the relative safety of the confines of a denomination, it is still not so.  It's not enough to check what the denomination claims to believe, one has to look deeper, under the hood of the car so to speak, to look at the motor, what drives the local church, even the local church of a denomination.

Were those two ladies saved?  Were they saying that which they did not believe to try to entice me to their church?  Or perhaps they do not know what their local church is teaching?  I don't know.  I presented to them the Gospel, and they agreed.  It is therefore between them, and God, and, I hope they are.

Sadly, when looking for a church, even when looking at a denomination, even when we are speaking to individual Christians, we must be cautious, and use discernment, we must be as wise as serpents, and as harmless as doves, Matthew 10:16, “Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.”

Final Authority

Our final authority does not rest with man, with traditions, but with the Holy Bible, the King James Bible,

"Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me." John 5:39

The Lord warns us to be wary of false prophets, that they will arise, Matthew 24:11, “And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many.” to corrupt us from "the simplicity that is in Christ."(2 Corinthians 11:3).

Fortunately, we can compare what people say, to what God says, in His Holy book, the Bible.  We owe it to the Lord, to others and ourselves, to check what exactly a church teaches, and we can check it's validity by matching it with the Bible,

"For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or if ye receive another spirit, which ye have not received, or another gospel, which ye have not accepted, ye might well bear with him." 2 Corinthians 11:4

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15th April 2018

 

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