When my wife and I moved into our house, we noticed a “church of God” right across the street from us. Since we had never been in this church, we really had no idea what they taught or believed in. Since they do have a biblical name (Acts 20:28; 1 Cor. 1:2; etc), we did not know if they were teaching the truth and striving to be like the New Testament church. They have a marquee sign outside the building which usually has a well crafted and thought provoking statement. I found myself reading their marquee sign often. However, one morning as I was driving by, their sign read, “Salvation is a Prayer Away.” These five little words said a great deal about this church.
We live in a time of great religious confusion. Which church is the correct one? Which church is teaching truth? Where is the church of the New Testament? Are all churches equal in God’s eyes? While there is much religious debate and confusion, hopefully one statement can be agreed upon: If a church does not teach/practice what the Bible teaches, then it simply cannot be the church found in the New Testament.
Throughout Scripture, people are being warned to watch out for false teachers and doctrine (Matthew 7:15; 2 Corinthians 11:13-14; etc). In 1 Timothy 6:20, Paul said to Timothy, “O Timothy, guard what has been entrusted to you, avoiding worldly and empty chatter and the opposing arguments of what is falsely called “knowledge”– which some have professed and thus gone astray from the faith….” Scripture shows there is false knowledge, false teachers, false doctrines, and even false religions. This also must mean there is a true church.
God purposely made it so His church would stand out from the rest. He gave specific commands to be followed. If one is truly looking for the church found in the New Testament, it can be discovered by what the church does and teaches. A church is either following God’s commands or not. Since the Bible is the only inspired guide we have to tell us what is truth and is not truth (2 Timothy 3:16-17), God has given a divine promise that people who seek can, and will, find which church is the true church (Matthew 7:7; John 8:31).
I knew nothing about the church across the street, but just from those five little words, volumes were spoken. It said they were not the church of the New Testament and they were not teaching the truth, at least about salvation (Acts 2:36-38; 1 Peter 3:21; Galatians 3:26-27; Romans 6:3-4; etc).
We live in a culture that presses heavily for religious unity and acceptance. God clearly wants unity and acceptance, but not at the expense of His commands (Mark 16:16; Matthew 7:21; etc). With a plethora of different religious thoughts and philosophies, the only way one can determine truth is through the Bible (John 17:17). God’s word reveals everything people need for life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3). All of the answers are there. May we always use His Word to determine not only which church is the true church, but also what truth is, and how it applies to each of us.