We have churches everywhere today. We have churches on every corner. Big churches. Little churches. Urban churches. Rural churches. Some churches clap their hands. Some churches don’t. Some churches say, “Amen.” Some churches don’t. Some churches have musical bands. Some churches don’t. Some churches have long services. Some churches don’t. We have churches everywhere.
Every church preaches love. Every church preaches forgiveness. Every church preaches salvation. We have churches everywhere preaching everything.
Now let me be clear that there are good people in all churches. There are good Christians in all denominations. But, when I consider a church, it’s not about who has the nicest building. It’s not about how many members you have. It’s not whether you have a television ministry or not. It’s not about how many choirs or praise teams you have. While all of these things may be good, I’ve learned in my life that that’s not why you should become a member of a church. Rather, you should become a member of a church where God’s unadulterated Word is being preached.
You must be where the people, though they may be imperfect, are pursuing a perfect message. There are too many churches where anything goes. In these types of churches, you can do anything you want. If it feels good, do it. But Jesus is coming back soon for a church “without spot or wrinkle;” one that is “holy and without blemish” (Ephesians 5:27).
The signs pointing to the imminence of Christ’s return are increasing every day. Jesus foretold us in Matthew 24 that there would be wars and rumors of wars, earthquakes, famines, pestilences, and so much more just before His second coming. We can clearly see that the Coronavirus, the current modern-day pestilence, has ravaged our world, and people are still dying.
Sadly, the world is not going to get better, but it’s going to get worse. We don’t have time to play around with the idea of a church! We shouldn’t attend a church simply because of its popularity. But we’ve got to be where God’s truth is being preached and taught.
Jesus says in Matthew 7:21-23, NIV:
“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’
Today, I’m happy to say that I’m a Seventh-day Adventist Christian! It is not the name, or the denomination that is as important as the indicators, or the signs of a truth-telling and truth-seeking body of believers. So, in seeking a church, make a decision based on Bible-based reasons. Here are factors that I believe rightfully inform a decision to join a church:
1. Its teachings are in harmony with the Word of God. Isaiah 8:20 speaks about our responsibility to live according to the principles as taught in God’s Word. Hence, it should be our desire to belong to a church that advocates biblical teaching and fosters a biblical lifestyle.
2. It keeps all Ten Commandments of God including the Fourth Commandment to “Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy” (Exodus 20:8). Revelation 12:17 says that those who follow God and keep His commandments are God’s remnant people.
3. It has the Testimony of Jesus. Revelation 12:17 also states that having the “testimony of Jesus” is a characteristic of God’s remnant. Revelation 19:10 defines “the testimony of Jesus” as “the Spirit of Prophecy,” which demonstrates the abiding witness of God’s saving power through a human vessel.
4. It preaches the everlasting gospel in all the world. Revelation 14:6 reminds us that God’s church will spread the good news of the gospel all around the world, not just locally.
5. It preaches the final three point message of Revelation 14:6-12. These three messages remind us to “fear God,” flee the fallen, rebellious system of Babylon, and to reject the Mark of the Beast.
6. It believes that salvation comes only through Jesus Christ. Acts 4:12 and John 3:16 are abiding reminders that Jesus came to save sinners, and there’s no other way to be saved but through Him.
Perhaps you’re looking for a church. Maybe you’ve become interested in attending church. In your decision process, be sure to consider the list above. And remember, God does care which church I choose, because He’s coming back, not for just any woman, but for His special bride.
CARLTON P. BYRD, D.MIN., is Senior Pastor of the Oakwood University Church in Huntsville, Alabama and the speaker and director for Breath of Life Television Ministries.
This article is part of our 2020 July / August Issue