We have already seen the development of many denominations as people sought to get back to the truth of Scripture. Now, a person must ask, “Which church is the right one for me?” Some choose a church because of a good youth group. Others like the choir. Maybe some select a church because it has a pretty building or is in a close drive from their home. However, we should follow a biblical standard when finding a church. Surely, God wants us to consider more than carpet color or musical talent.

Duplication vs. Mutation

A person must make sure that any church he or she attends will consistently present the same teaching as the Apostles did (Acts 2:42). While the foundations of the Apostle’s teachings include many things, let’s keep this simple by considering three of the main points raised by Peter the day the church began. After he preached, the seekers asked, “What should we do?”

In Acts 2:38, apostle Peter told them they must

1 – Repent

2 – Be baptized in Jesus’ Name for the forgiveness of sins

3 – Receive the Holy Spirit (just as the apostles did, speaking in tongues)

Every church should promote these basic ideas. So, pick three denominations you would like to examine to see if they are the real thing. Get them in your mind or write them down right now and we will run them through a Bible test to see if any of them will work for you. We want to know if these churches are duplications of the true church preaching the true gospel, or if they are mutations that have become something ugly and distorted from how the church began.

The Church Test

Let’s say the first church you picked was the Roman Catholic Church. If you asked the priest “What must I do?” just as those first converts asked Peter, what would he say? Would he tell you to repent or to come to confession? Would he tell you to be baptized or just pour some water over you? Would he say you could be filled with the Holy Spirit or tell you to learn the catechisms? Unfortunately, the Catholic church, which claims to have started with Peter, does not follow his message at all.

Perhaps the second church on your list was a Baptist denomination. So, let’s walk into a Baptist church and pretend that the Apostle Peter has come to preach a revival. Peter does a great job, many people are crying and coming forward, and you are moved to tears enough to ask, “Sir, what should I do?” Of course, Pete’s message will not have changed from what we read in Acts. He will say, “Repent, get baptized in Jesus’ Name, and you will receive the Holy Ghost just like we did.” At that point, the pastor interrupts him and says, “Look, I appreciate your preaching, Brother Peter, but we do things differently here. All this person needs to do is confess sin. We do not say ‘in Jesus Name.’ Furthermore, we do not talk in tongues around here—I know it was great for you and the other people on the day of Pentecost, Pete, but if I let that happen here, I would be kicked out and looking for another church to pastor.” Of course, this conversation is imaginary, but very factual. Remember, there is only one baptism (Ephesians 4:4). The Baptist faith does not value the message the apostles preached as much as the first-century church did. If a church practices something opposed to the original doctrines, is it a duplication or a mutation?

Finally, you visit an apostolic church. You walk in and enjoy the singing and preaching. Afterward you ask the preacher, “What must I do?” He will tell you to repent and be baptized in Jesus’ Name and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. In fact he might even quote Acts 2:38. In an apostolic (or Oneness Pentecostal) church you will get the same response from the song leader, the usher, and the church secretary: repent, receive Jesus’ Name in baptism, and get the Holy Ghost. When you compare this church to the Book of Acts, you will see that the apostolic believers do not waver from the apostles’ teaching and doctrine (Acts 2:42). You have found a church that has not mutated into some religious monster but consistently duplicates the concepts and power of the early church with the apostles.

What ‘Born Again’ really means

While most evangelical Christians know a person must be born again, few understand what it means to be born again. If asked, most will answer, “You get born again by asking Jesus into your heart.” However, let’s let Jesus answer this question.

In John 3:3, Jesus says no one can see the Kingdom of God unless they are born again. A religious man asked, “How?” He wanted to know how to be born again since it was impossible to re-enter one’s mother’s womb again. Jesus answered his how question by saying we become born again by being born of water and of the Spirit. If we do not receive water birth (baptism) and Spirit birth (the infilling of the Holy Ghost with tongues) we will never enter the Kingdom (John 3:5).

Enter the Kingdom

While people come to God with preconceived ideas of how things should be, we have to accept the pure scriptures (John 7:38). Jesus said a person must come as a little child (Matthew 18:2). We humble ourselves and accept God’s plan in spite of how we want things or the way an old religious system taught us. Jesus brought us baptism in His Name, so we do it. He offers us His Spirit with the evidence of a heaven-sent language, so we seek this gift and receive it.

God’s Kingdom on earth

Once you are born again, you are part of the family of God. Just as children enter a family in the natural realm, so a child of God needs to fellowship with others in His family. We need one another for encouragement, friendship, and teaching.

We rejoice together. On a weekly basis, we join together to sing praises and share our story of what God is doing in our lives. We should be vocal and alive about our great God who has done so much for us. The world gets crazy about their gods—sports heroes, movie stars, and singers. We should not be ashamed to get loud in telling God how great He is. A worship service in a true church should not be dry and cold—our enthusiasm reflects the depth of our relationship with God.

God’s plan for perfection

God has ordained leaders in the church who teach and watch over the flock. By submitting ourselves to them, we can grow into all He wants us to be. People who think they can serve God without leadership are like the do-it-yourselfer who attempted open heart surgery with a steak knife. We need people with experience and a calling from God to help strengthen the church as a whole.

A Christian cannot survive without the church. Ephesians 4:12 says Jesus sent leaders to build up His body (the church). How can we be built up if we aren’t part of the body?  If you cut off your arm it is no longer part of your body.  It doesn’t function any more, the Life! is gone. Believers without a church are dead.

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