Good Afternoon everyone. This post was originally going to be about new years resolutions, but I became sidetracked. So now it’s about learning to know Jesus and finding a church.
Learning to know Jesus more
I want to get to know Jesus more, and in order to do that I need to read the Bible more. After getting moved and such last year my time set aside for studying the Bible slowly fell to twenty percent of what it was originally. Life is so complicated, I have to force myself to make the time to study the Bible. It is the most important thing in my life.
Finding a church
I had a lot of difficulties finding a church that actually preaches the Bible.
Health and Wealth Gospel
Many people, like Joel Osteen slaughter the Bible. They treat God like he is some kind of vending machine meant to give us wealth and all of our material desires. He slaughters the Bible every time he picks it up, and people worship him for it. If you have actually listened to one of his sermons you can tell he takes part of statements and divorces it from its context. This is a diabolical scheme, its evil. They aren’t really sermons anyhow, they are more like motivational speeches, which are fine if you aren’t trying to pass them along as what the Bible teaches.
These churches teach that God’s plan is to make you healthy and wealthy and not have troubles in this life. If you just have enough faith God will change things for you.
Jesus promises Christians persecution. He tells us not to store up treasures here on Earth where they can be stolen and rot. He teaches that it is far easier for an elephant to fit through and eye of a needle than for them to get to heaven.
Then there are the liberal and Armenian churches. They believe that parts of the Bible are true, but not all of the Bible. I pose this question, if part of the Bible is true and part of it is not, who is it to discern the difference? When you believe this, you can manipulate the Bible to teach what you believe it should teach making an idol of your own design.
These churches destroy the Bible, they literally change the text of the Bible to fit their needs. I have to admit though, they are so good about getting out and spreading their messages, it puts Christians to shame.
Works based churches
These churches teach that its Jesus plus. It’s Jesus plus something else. In the Bible it talks about a different gospel. One that teaches that you have to be circumcised or follow Jewish tradition. It means so much more than just those two things though. Not all of the churches listed above are Jesus plus something, but many of them are. There is almost always a work involved in the ones above though.
Conservative and Calvinist Churches
I don’t necessarily agree with all of the points of Calvinism as they are taught, but this is the type of church I have been looking for. They believe the Bible is the true inerrant word of God.
Sadly, not all of these churches preach it properly. It is difficult to prepare a biblical sermon. It takes a lot of preparation. Studying the book, studying the context of the book, learning about the time period and the people it was going to, the type of book it is, among a variety of other things.
I know the types of churches that tend to believe this, but so many of them do so poorly at presenting the truth. They take shortcuts, or give into fads because they believe it is the best way to get church members.
The truth is, if a church truly teaches what the Bible teaches, it is up to God to provide the growth. However, it could be an Isiah type ministry where they are sent to harden hearts.
What to look for in a church.
Going to a church isn’t about the feeling you get when you listen to the music. It isn’t about the children’s ministry and how much your kids like it. It’s not about how cool the church looks, or how big the building is. The most important thing about a church is what is being taught from the pulpit. Everything else is secondary. If they get everything else right, but the message wrong then no one is saved.
Why its important to go to church.
Besides the fact that we are actually commanded to gather together in the Bible there are many reasons that we should go to church. Church provides us a place to learn and grow as a follower of Christ. It keeps us from being isolated and alone. When we are isolated and alone we tend to fall pray to sin far easier than when we have those around us who truly care about our well being. God uses other believers to shape our lives and to be there for us in our good times and bad. We rob ourselves of the richness of God when we don’t go to church.
Now in the interest of full disclosure, I walked away from the church for many years. I never stopped believing in God, but was so angry at how I was hurt. I felt betrayed by those that I needed the most. I know some of you may be in the same situation, but remember that the other members of the church are fallen broken people too. They will make mistakes and may inadvertently hurt you, but it is important to forgive and grow closer to one another.
What I believe.
I believe that the Bible in its original manuscripts is the inspired word of God. I believe that he used experiences in each authors life to convey messages, much like each different pen has slightly different ink and writing styles. I believe that Jesus was fully God and fully man. I believe that He was born of a virgin, lived a perfect and sinless life, and died a wretched death on the cross. I believe that on the third day he rose so that our sins may be forgiven and our relationship with God to be healed. I believe that this act is sufficient for all, but efficient for only those who believe.
I believe that we are not condemning people to hell by sharing the gospel. I believe that everyone is already condemned to hell because we are all sinners. We have all fallen short of the glory of God. No man does good, no not one. There is always some kind of hidden reason behind what a person does, and it is not done for the glory of God.
I believe that God is love, but I also believe that he is Just, Holy, Righteous, Powerful, Unlimited, and Good. The Righteousness of God demanded judgement for our sins. It demanded our death, but in His great love for us he sent his Son to pay that price so that his Justice may be fulfilled allowing for a relationship with Him again.
I believe that the only way to heaven is through the saving grace of Jesus the Christ.
Counting the cost
There is a cost to becoming a follower of Jesus. That cost is our lives. It is everything about us. We must be willing to give it all up in order to follow him, but this isn’t just talking about material objects. By following Jesus we are required to love our enemies. To love those who have sinned against us. To forgive those who we deem to be unforgivable. The truth is that we have been forgiven of so much we must freely forgive others.
I have had to learn how to truly forgive. God allowed my life to go through some really horrible things so that I could be changed and conform more and more to His image. He has taught me patience, forgiveness, love, happiness, joy, and a peace beyond understanding. He has taught me to not be angry and to let things go. He is teaching me to be a better father, husband, and person.
Following Christ means that you will be persecuted just as He was persecuted. The Bible teaches in I Corinthians 1:18 “For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness, but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.”
The cross is offensive to the world. Its meant to be. To change or water down this message is to change the very meaning of the Bible. It is to marginalize what Jesus did.
Studying the Bible
To know God and to know Jesus is to study the Bible. To study the first hand accounts of his people. Picking up the Bible can be difficult at times. I often wonder what will God change in me next. I went through so much last year and relied so heavily on the scriptures I can sometimes be afraid of what he will change in me next. What is the next trial that will be put forth in my life?
I want to live the life that Jesus has set out for me. I want to enjoy the richness of His love.
I plan on writing another blog entry over the next few days going into further detail about living a life that follows Jesus. Its always easier to talk about living that life than actually living it. I need time of prayer and study before I write that post though.
Have a wonderful evening, and God Bless.