Looking for a church? Pt. 3

Are you looking for a church? It is amazing to listen to people relate their criteria for an acceptable church. They cite programs that are designed to satisfy their children’s requirements rather than the requirements of him who is the Head of the church — Jesus Christ.

We read recently that some church growth experts have discovered that people are less likely to visit a church a second time if two-thirds of the seating capacity was empty on their first visit. Additionally, these experts report that people are less likely to visit a church a second time if two-thirds of the seats were occupied. Apparently, empty pews means the church is of little or no consequence, and therefore not worthy of their attendance. On the other hand, people don’t want to sit too close to other people, which is impossible to avoid if two-thirds of the seats are occupied!

What seems to be of no concern to most people today is where and how Jesus Christ is integrated into the life and the programs of the church. Further, that God and his word should be the undisturbed central focus of the congregation is passé in a world where “me” now demands that place.

Do we have the courage to answer, not how we integrate Christ into our assembly, but how Christ integrates us into his kingdom?

What we are committed to at Twin Branch Bible Church is God and his glory. We are committed to his word, the Bible. We are committed to the gospel of Jesus Christ as we find it on the pages of the Bible. We care deeply about how the gospel of Jesus Christ is being adulterated and betrayed by religious charlatans looking to their own well-being at the expense of truth and biblical integrity.

We are guilty of dishonesty if we give the impression that our commitments and convictions have led us to perfection among competing churches. We are not the perfect church.

In the spiritual climate that now shapes most religion practiced in America, we would likely be regarded by others as the worst of all possible churches. What makes this so?

It is because we are bound to the Lord Jesus Christ in a way that demonstrates our belonging to him who is the only qualified Redeemer. Further, we are bound as servants to him who is the only sovereign King.

We are rooted in a fellowship that has a historical beginning, a fellowship that we did not design and we do not perpetuate. Our identity is rooted in the Bible. And it is perpetuated by the Holy Spirit who will continue to uphold the church until God the Father informs his beloved Son that the time has come to sound the trumpet and bring his people to their everlasting home.

It is the Bible that teaches us that we belong to Jesus Christ by virtue of the price he paid to make us his own possession. We are his because he paid for us with his own life — the life he surrendered on the instrument of his crucifixion. We are his servants because we love him. He chose us. And so we choose him.

Religion is quite the circus in America these days. And frankly, we are very much embarrassed by the failure of contemporary Christianity to preserve the serious integrity of the gospel. We are embarrassed by the unproved assumptions that undergird the evolution of “Christianity” from a redeemed community distinct from the world, into a benign social gathering of consumers seeking the satisfaction of their unexamined but nevertheless sovereign desires. We are embarrassed because we understand that people who are skeptical of all or most religious activity discern no significant differences between religions and the ways in which religions are foisted upon the naïve.

We are different. But it is impossible to demonstrate this as long as we are lumped together with those for whom religion is just another American business enterprise.

We are not embarrassed by our size. We have followed a course in ministry that is not only counter-cultural, it also counters the cultural entanglements between Christianity as a lucrative enterprise and the increasing secularization of American society.

In order to be profitable, the Christian enterprise needs to adapt to this secularization in ways that make Christianity as acceptable to the culture as the strip malls and eating establishments that surround both major and minor population centers in America.

We are not embarrassed by our beliefs. We have not formulated them by any deliberate consideration on our part. We believe truth is what God has revealed. The source of our beliefs is the Bible, which we hold to be God’s inspired and infallible word.

The Bible is the authority that governs us as a people belonging to God. Our autonomy is effectively negated by the authority of our King. There is nothing about this that is culturally attractive or socially acceptable. We labor in a world wherein self-rule is the most craved freedom of all. For us to believe that God alone reigns over us, that we are his servants subject to his authority alone, puts us in a “light” where we appear to be archaic and moronic to those who have no desire for the God of the Bible. But we also will appear to be archaic and moronic to the many who have turned Christianity into a religion in which desire for God is directly proportional to God’s determination to make our happiness his priority.

There is no doubt that a vast multitude of churches have greatly profited materially and numerically by being very pragmatic about the relationship between religion and society. They have sought diligently to understand the expressed desires of people, and with equal diligence they fabricate a religious experience intended to satisfy those desires. This is exactly the methodology employed by any business hoping to succeed by attracting paying customers.

Profit or no, few (if any) would walk away from Twin Branch Bible Church with the impression that we are pragmatists!

Yet by writing this post we are seeking to accomplish our mission to declare the excellencies of Jesus Christ called us out of darkness into his glorious light. And we would love for like-minded people to join us in our pursuit of the knowledge, wisdom and glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.

While we would have an ethical conflict with drawing people away from other biblically sound churches, we have no ethical entanglements with exposing the serious errors of churches that have adulterated the word of God, that have dis-empowered the gospel of Jesus Christ as we find it in the word of God, and have dressed up the church like a prostitute to attract people who are not attracted to the God who reveals himself in his word and in his Son, the Lord Jesus Christ.

We end this post with these words from the Bible. The pronouns refer to Jesus Christ.

"He is the image of the invisible God,

the firstborn of all creation.

For by him all things were created,

in heaven and on earth,

visible and invisible,

whether thrones or dominions

or rulers or authorities—

all things were created through him and for him.

And he is before all things,

and in him all things hold together.

And he is the head of the body, the church.

He is the beginning,

the firstborn from the dead,

that in everything he might be preeminent.

For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell,

and through him to reconcile to himself all things,

whether on earth or in heaven,

making peace by the blood of his cross." –Colossians 1:15-20

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