Six Reasons You May Not Be In a Biblical Church
Reason 1: The Bible Must Be The Only Rule of Faith and Practice
If your “church” accepts anything, and I do mean anything, other than the Bible as the Word of God and rule for the Christian life, you are not in a Biblical Church.
Here are some examples, If the pastor, founder or leader is called a prophet, or an apostle and claims to receive direct revelation from God outside of or in contradiction to the Bible, then that is not Biblical.
People like, Ellen G. White who founded the 7th Day Adventists, claimed to have received over 2,000 visions and dreams from God.
The founder of the Church of Latter Day Saints, Joseph Smith said he saw Jesus, or an angel, or Jesu and God, in a vision and was given a Golden Book, containing the Book of Mormon.
Mary Baker Eddy the founder of Christian Science published "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures" She claimed it was the final revelation of God to mankind and asserted that her work was inspired of God.
You must also understand that the tongues, Pentecostal, and Charismatic movements all fall into this category and in fact are the most successful and flagrant disregarders of God’s word.
When, the church practices tongues, signs, prophetic utterances, etc. that are all extra-Biblical. This “personal revelation” from God can and often does supersede and ignore the teaching of the Word.
Instead of one founder or leader thinking they are hearing directly from God now an entire “church” believes they have a direct pipeline of pure revelation. Accordingly there is no longer a need to study the Bible according to the principles of hermeneutics or even read the Bible since tongues, visions, feelings and prophecies are a much faster, fresher and direct channel to God.
Rule: The Bible Must Be The Only Authority For A Believer
The Bible is the final authority in all matters of belief and practice because the Bible is God's very word and carries the absolute authority of God Himself. Where the Bible speaks we must speak and where it is silent we should be silent. What it commands we must do. What it prohibits we must avoid. There is no authority equal to the Bible and no person or group may change, add to, override or contradict that authority. It was completed with the book of Revelation and is true in every word and thought.
2 Timothy 3:15-17 And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.
1 Thessalonians 2:13 For this cause also thank we God without ceasing, because, when ye received the word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe.
2 Peter 1:20, 21 Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.
Jude 3 Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.
Matthew 5:17-19 Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.
Deuteronomy 4:2 Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it, that ye may keep the commandments of the LORD your God which I command you.
Proverbs 30:6 Add thou not unto his words, lest he reprove thee, and thou be found a liar.
Revelation 22:18 For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book:
Reason 2: Only Local Church Authority
If your “church” is not a Holy Spirit led democracy but instead the pastor, elders or a board govern the church, over and above the members of the church, you aren’t in a Biblical church.
Methodists, Episcopalians, Presbyterians, Catholics all believe that the local church has no authority and that all local churches are under the power of the “Church Hierarchy.” A Pope, or Bishops, or Elders or Presbytery control and dictate to the local churches. In addition any pastor within a local church who usurps the authority of that body is no longer leading a Biblical church.
Rule: The Local Church Is Independent and Autonomous
A true, Biblical church is an independent body accountable only to the Lord Jesus Christ, who founded it and is its head. All authority for governing the local church resides within the local church itself. The church is autonomous, or self-governing. No religious power or hierarchy outside the local church may dictate a church's beliefs or practices. A true church may and should fellowship with other churches around mutual interests, but that church cannot be a "member" of any other body nor under the authority of any organization outside the church in matters of the Gospel and Great Commission.
Acts 5:29 - Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said, We ought to obey God rather than men.
Colossians 1:18 - And he (Jesus) is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence.
2 Corinthians 8:1-5, 19, 23 - Moreover, brethren, we do you to wit of the grace of God bestowed on the churches of Macedonia; How that in a great trial of affliction the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded unto the riches of their liberality. For to their power, I bear record, yea, and beyond their power they were willing of themselves; Praying us with much intreaty that we would receive the gift and take upon us the fellowship of the ministering to the saints. And this they did, not as we hoped, but first gave their own selves to the Lord, and unto us by the will of God.
And not that only, but who was also chosen of the churches to travel with us with this grace, which is administered by us to the glory of the same Lord, and declaration of your ready mind:
Whether any do enquire of Titus, he is my partner and fellowhelper concerning you: or our brethren be enquired of, they are the messengers of the churches, and the glory of Christ.
Reason 3: A Direct Personal Relationship With God
If a “church” uses an intermediary between the believer and God, either in prayers or instruction then that is not a Biblical church.
In the Catholic church, priests take confession from members of the church and absolve them of their sin, rather than the individual going directly to God for forgiveness. It does not have to be as formal as a confessional booth however, In some “churches” a prophet, or pastor acts as God’s intermediary without ever donning a robe or lighting a candle. When any person stand between you and your direct relationship and prayers to God, you are not in a Biblical church.
Rule: Every Believer Is His Own Priest
Every true believer is a priest of God and may enter into His presence directly through our Great High Priest, Jesus Christ. No other mediator is needed between God and His people. As priests, we can study God's Word, pray for others, and offer spiritual worship to God. We all have equal access to God because each of us is indwelt by the Holy Spirit of God.
1 Peter 2:5, 9 - Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.
But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light:
Revelation 5:9-10 - And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation; And hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth.
Hebrews 4:14-16 - Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession. For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.
Rom 8:26-27 - Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God.
Reason 4: Church Ordinances and Offices Not In The Bible
If you are a member of a group of people who call themselves a church but who have rituals, practices, offices or ordinances that were not in the first church founded by Jesus Christ, then you are probably not a member of a Biblical Church.
The examples of these extra-biblical false practices are everywhere among religious people. Practices such as the Catholic Mass and their Seven Sacraments, the Mormon church’s Baptism for the dead, even the infant baptism of the Methodists, Presbyterians, Episcopalians is not found in scripture and has been added by the wisdom of men rather than the revelation of God in His word.
Rule: There Are Only Two Ordinances
The local church should practice two and only two ordinances, the baptism of believers by immersion in water, identifying the individual with Christ in His death, burial, and resurrection, and The Lord’s Supper, a memorial of His death upon the cross for us. These ordinances are purely symbolic and have no saving or sustaining merit in themselves.
Matthew 28:19 – 20 - Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you I, even unto the end of the world. Amen.
1 Corinthians 11:23-26 - For I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, That the Lord Jesus the same night in which he was betrayed took bread: And when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me. After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me. For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord’s death till he come.
Rule: There Are Only Two Offices In The Church
The Bible mandates only two offices in the church--pastor and deacon. The terms pastor, elder, bishop, or overseer all refer to the same office. The two offices of pastor and deacon exist within the local church, and are elected or removed by the authority of the local church and only the local church.
1 Timothy 3:1,8 - This is a true saying, If a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work..
Likewise must the deacons be grave, not double-tongued, not given to much wine, not greedy of filthy lucre;
Acts 20:17, 28 - And from Miletus he sent to Ephesus, and called the elders of the church.
Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood
Philippians 1:1-2 Paul and Timotheus, the servants of
Jesus Christ, to all the saints in Christ Jesus which are at Philippi, with the
bishops and deacons: Grace be unto you,
and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.
Reason 5 Freedom of Conscience aka Liberty of the Soul
If the organization you belong to has ever held the same power as the civil government or state and if that power was used to dictate what anyone should or must believe, then you are not in a Biblical church. If your “church” is or ever was a “state” church, it is not a Bible based church.
The historic examples like the Holy Roman Empire, the
Lutheran Church of German, the Presbyterian Church of Scotland, the Anglican
Church of England all show us historically the danger of such organizations and
the Bible shows us the doctrinal error.
Rule: Individual Soul Liberty
Every individual, whether a believer or an unbeliever, has the liberty to choose what he believes is right in the his own heart as regards spiritual truth. No one should be forced to profess a belief against his own convictions or will.
Romans 14:5, 12-13 - One man esteemeth one day above another: another esteemeth every day alike. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind.
So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God. Let us not therefore judge one another any more: but judge this rather, that no man put a stumbling block or an occasion to fall in his brother’s way.
2 Corinthians 4:2 - But have renounced the hidden things of dishonesty, not walking in craftiness, nor handling the word of God deceitfully; but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God.
Titus 1:9 - Holding fast the faithful word as he hath been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers.
Rule: Separation of Church and State
God established both the church and the civil government, and He gave each its own distinct sphere of operation. The government's purposes are outlined in Romans 13:1-7 and the church's purposes in Matthew 28:19 and 20. Neither should control the other, nor should there be an alliance between the two. Christian influence should be exerted through opinion and the election of moral leaders by involved Christians as well as praying for our leaders but the line between influence and control must be clearly understood.
Romans 13:1-7 - Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation. For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same: For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil. Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake. For for this cause pay ye tribute also: for they are God’s ministers, attending continually upon this very thing. Render therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honour to whom honour.
Matthew 22:15-22 - Then went the Pharisees and took counsel how they might entangle him in his talk. And they sent out unto him their disciples with the Herodians, saying, Master, we know that thou art true, and teachest the way of God in truth, neither carest thou for any man: for thou regardest not the person of men. Tell us therefore, What thinkest thou? Is it lawful to give tribute unto Caesar, or not? But Jesus perceived their wickedness, and said, Why tempt ye me, ye hypocrites? Shew me the tribute money. And they brought unto him a penny. And he saith unto them, Whose is this image and superscription? They say unto him, Caesar’s. Then saith he unto them, Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s; and unto God the things that are God’s. When they had heard these words, they marvelled, and left him, and went their way.
Matthew 28:19-20 - Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.
Reason 6 Salvation and Church membership
If a “church” makes a person a member by any other means than by a profession of faith and voluntary submission to baptism and the church, then that church is not a Biblical church.
Example: Infant baptism makes a baby a member of the church even before it can talk. A person is considered a member of a church because of their parents, nationality or background.
Rule: Only The Saved and Scripturally Baptized Can Be Church Members
Local church membership is restricted to individuals who give a believable testimony of personal faith in Christ and have publicly identified themselves with Him in believer's baptism. Salvation is by grace through faith and is once for all. Salvation cannot be earned but only received as a gift of God through faith. Once a person truly believes, they can never be lost again, they are eternally secure by the power of God. Membership in the church is based upon baptism by immersion of an individual old enough to understand the consequences of sin and the choice they must make in Christ.
Acts 2:41-47 - Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls. And they continued stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers. And fear came upon every soul: and many wonders and signs were done by the apostles. And all that believed were together, and had all things common; And sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need. And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart, Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.
2 Corinthians 6:14 - Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?
Ephesians 4:3-4 - Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling;
Matthew 3:13-16 - Then cometh Jesus from Galilee to Jordan unto John, to be baptized of him. But John forbad him, saying, I have need to be baptized of thee, and comest thou to me? And Jesus answering said unto him, Suffer it to be so now: for thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness. Then he suffered him. And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him:
Acts 8:36-39 - And as they went on their way, they came unto a certain water: and the eunuch said, See, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized? And Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. And he commanded the chariot to stand still: and they went down both into the water, both Philip and the eunuch; and he baptized him. And when they were come up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught away Philip, that the eunuch saw him no more: and he went on his way rejoicing.
There are millions and millions of good people good Christians in organization that do lots of good things and yet they are not members of a church according to the rules and examples we see in scripture. You don’t have to be a member of a Biblical church to be saved, but the odds of knowing how to be saved in a counterfeit church will not in your favor. If they are so wrong about so much then they are probably wrong so vital a truth as how to be saved by grace through faith.
If you are saved, then find a church that meets the Bible standards we studied. If you are depending on your church and your connection to it, to save you, then you really are not in a true church and a lot more is at stake than just these teaching points.
Accept Jesus as your personal savior, and by faith accept His death upon the cross as God’s gift of grace. This is salvation and when salvation is real, then finding the real church will be a lot easier with the guidance of the Holy Spirit and God’s word.