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Can you be a Christian and go to any church?
I am certain that most religious people believe Christians can go to any church they choose. What does the Bible, God’s preserved word, say? In a literal sense, anyone can do anything THEY want. Let’s rephrase the question to better seek the will of God: Can one be a faithful Christian and go to any church they want?
There are many questions that need to be answered. When we find the answers to these questions, then we will have found the answer to our original question.
- What does the Bible teach about becoming a Christian? (Rom. 10:17; John 8:24; Rom. 10:9-10; Acts 2:38; 22:16)
- If a “church” does not teach what the Bible clearly states for question #1, then why would a Christian want to assemble with that “church”? (II John 9-10; I John 4:1)
- Has the Lord specified which church a Christian must be of? (Matt. 16:18; Acts 20:28; Eph. 1:22-23; 4:4; Rom. 16:16).
- If the answer to question #3 is no, then would it really matter which church one was a member of? (Rom. 4:15)
- However, if the Lord is being specific, then does this not answer the question given in the title? (Acts 2:47).
Allow me to be direct as we conclude this article. Jesus adds those who obey the gospel to His church, not some man-made organization. Becoming a Christian and picking any “church” you want is NOT authorized by the Lord. To make sure you are pleasing the Lord, study to show yourself approved (II Tim. 2:15). If you need further help identifying a church that is faithful to the Lord, do not hesitate to let us know.
Controlling our thoughts
One of the ways Christ distinguished between His teachings and those found in the law of Moses was to first state what the law of Moses taught and then say “but I say unto you…” One such statement can be found in Matthew 5:27-28: “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”
Our Lord first quoted from Exodus 20:14, which clearly taught that it was unlawful to commit adultery. Then Jesus took it further by saying that even looking at a woman with lust is a sin. Is our Savior actually saying that we ought to control our thoughts? Yes. This reminds me of Paul’s words to the Corinthian brethren when he told them what love does not do – it “thinks no evil” (I Cor. 13:5).
Godly people work very hard to discipline their minds. This is accomplished by meditating on things which are proper. The Philippian saints were told, “Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy – meditate on these things,” (Phil. 4:8).
Yet we all recognize the difficulty in controlling our thoughts all the time. This is much easier said than done. What guidance has the Lord offered to help us with this? Read on for a few things we can use.
Do not meditate on ungodliness
Garbage in, garbage out. It is hard to avoid impure thoughts if we only dwell on impure things. If we do not control what we watch and listen to, we will surely become worldly-minded. This was precisely the state of the world prior to the flood. God described mankind like this: “…every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually,” (Gen. 6:5). Children are not born with a dirty, corrupt mind – it is developed by constant exposure to evil. I realize that we cannot leave this world and that evil is everywhere. However, inviting evil into our lives is a recipe for an evil mind.
Learn to walk away
This is where our last point left off. Gossip, dirty jokes and other inappropriate conversations will stop much sooner if people refuse to listen (Eph. 5:4). Even if we cannot stop them at the source, God’s children can the leave the conversation, change the channel or walk out of a movie. Again, the goal is to keep our mind from being filled with impure thoughts. There is a reason brethren were told that evil company corrupts good habits (I Cor. 15:33). One such good habit that can be corrupted is a holy mind.
Remember who we are to think like
The goal of every saint is to be different from the world. Those who succeed in not being conformed to this world are those who renew their minds (Rom. 12:2). This is done by imitating Christ. When it comes to thinking right, Paul put it best: “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus,” (Phil. 4:4). The more time we spend familiarizing ourselves with the Savior, the more we begin to understand He spoke words that promoted godly thinking.
We all need to ask ourselves what we are allowing to influence our thinking. Let’s face it, if we are going to control our thoughts, we need to control what we think about!
Consequences of standing for nothing
Recently I heard a lyric to a song on the radio that goes, “If you stand for nothing, you will fall for everything.” This line immediately made me think of what the apostle Paul told the brethren at Ephesus: “that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness by which they lie in wait to deceive,” (Eph. 4:14).
Nobody in their right mind wants to be deceived, especially regarding Biblical teaching. The sad reality is that many people are being deceived though, and we need to everything we can to stop it. How can we prevent it from happening? And how can we determine if we are being deceived? The Lord has provided many aids, but we will just focus on the ones Paul mentioned in Ephesians.
First: Grow up
The first thing the apostle told the saints was to “be not children”. God’s people need to grow up, meaning they need to increase their faith (II Pet. 3:18). Even though Christians are always God’s children, this text it is talking about maturity. Those who never get grounded in Him will remain a “babe” in the faith and will struggle to discern good and evil (Heb. 5:13-14). The goal of every convert ought to be to desire the spiritual milk as a babe and then progress to the spiritual meat as soon as possible (Heb. 5:12).
Second: Do not believe everything you hear
The Ephesians’ church was told to not be carried away with every wind of doctrine. It is one thing to be trusting, but we should not take this too far. God’s people are commanded to test the spirits to see whether they are of God (I John 4:1). Our faith should not change or become unstable every time we hear someone make a claim – we are supposed to be rooted in the doctrine of Christ (II John 9). Many teachings sound Biblical but lack scriptural support. Phrases like “baptism is an outward sign of an inward grace” or “cleanliness is next to godliness” and “accept Jesus Christ as your personal Savior and you will be saved” might sound like the doctrine of Christ, but they are not.
Third: Remember that religious teachers are just men
Paul also instructed the Ephesians’ brethren to not to be tossed about by the trickery and cunning craftiness of men. Many people elevate the words of religious teachers and even follow them blindly. Those who claim to be teachers of God’s word must be held to that standards it contains (I Pet. 4:11). The mere fact that Paul told these brethren to not fall for their teachings is proof that the claims of religious teachers should be verified with God’s word and challenged when wrong. Even the apostle Peter was rebuked for his sinful behavior (Gal. 2:11). False teachers will desire to be elevated, but it can only happen if we allow it.
Forth: Know that you can have victory
The mere fact that these brethren were given instructions about what they should not allow is evidence these things can be prevented. As Jesus pointed out, we can know the truth, and the truth will set us free (John 8:32). We must use this truth! If someone is teaching error, we can correct them (Acts 18:26-28). If this person does not change what they teach, we can walk away from him (Matt. 10:14). Remember, we can resist even the devil himself (James 4:7). Let us all heed these words and not be children who are carried about with every wind of doctrine.
What pleases God?
There is true joy when we do something for someone and know that they are really going to like it. This is why parents want to be around when they give their child a gift. The same is true when you see soldiers come home early to surprise their loved one – to see their reaction. Knowing that someone is going to be really pleased is what makes it a joy to give to others. Here is a list of things the Bible says will please the Father:
- Walking by faith (Heb. 11:6).
- Not being a man-pleaser (Gal. 1:10).
- Preaching the gospel (I Cor. 21).
- Having Jesus reconcile man to the Father (Col. 1:19-20).
- Singing praises to God (Heb. 13:15-16).
- By obeying our parents (Col. 3:20).
- Keeping His commandments (I John 3:22).
- Being in the Spirit rather than in the flesh (Rom. 8:8-9).
- Having all members in the body of Christ/the church (I Cor. 12:18).
- The body we gain at the resurrection (I Cor. 15:38).
Again, we should enjoy doing these things because we know they please God the Father. We should not assume that God is pleased because we like something. It is the other way around – we should find joy in things that we know please Him. The question for all of us is this – are we pleasing the Father?
Can a woman wear make-up?
This question was sent in by someone taking our Bible study course. It is based upon the text of I Timothy 2:9-10: “in like manner also, that the women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with propriety and moderation, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or costly clothing, but, which is proper for women professing godliness, with good works.”
The first thing we notice is that Paul is not forbidding women from managing their appearances. To do so would be to contradict what Peter wrote: “Do not let your adornment be merely outward – arranging the hair, wearing gold, or putting on fine apparel…” (I Pet. 3:3). In both texts, the writers stress that the woman is to be known for her inward beauty, not just her external appearance. Thus, both writers instruct women to dress modestly and not wear anything that would attract men in an ungodly manner.
Notice how the braiding of hair was equated to wearing expensive apparel or wearing jewelry. All of these things can be done to incite the attraction of men and overemphasize outward beauty. Paul stressed that women should be adorned in goods works, which is to say that they should be known and remembered for these deeds. Peter spoke similarly and said that a woman’s adornment should not merely be physical. Ultimately, physical appearance becomes a matter of the heart. Appearances can be managed, but this must not become our highest calling.
We also must remember that everything is relative. Neither writer condemned specific styles but instead wisely gave us general principles. When we are dressing to impress and draw attention, we are indicating that we have a heart problem (Matt. 5:8; Luke 12:34).
Just as the Bible states there is an attire of a harlot and warns against dressing that way (Prov. 7:10), we can also know how to dress properly. Make-up is a component of this – it can be done properly or improperly. Let’s be mindful of the principles being set forth in the word of God.