Chapel Lane, Folkingham, SLEAFORD United Kingdom

Churches In Sleaford – What’s Gone Wrong

Sleaford ChurchChurches in Sleaford are signing up to the Churches Together movement which is diluting the original Bible message.  Contrary to the claims of many church leaders, the unity of our denominations is certainly not a Biblical requirement.  We must take personal responsibility and not rely upon the beliefs and assurances of others; whether they be ministers, pastors or our brethren.  (Psa 146:3 Isa 2:22 Col 3:23)   Like the Jews of Berea we must search the scriptures to assure ourselves that what our teachers tell us is true (Acts 17:11).  Jesus was unequivocal when he said, 

Suppose ye that I am come to give peace on earth? I tell you, Nay; but rather division:
Luke 12:51

That is why thinking Christians are now questioning whether their church’s teachings are derived from the Bible at all and are considering the prospect that they are being lead away from God and salvation at this most critical time in human history.  This may be the last opportunity that all of us have to reevaluate the truth of church teaching and remove ourselves from its influence.  The most pressing question at this time is: are our beliefs founded upon the Bible or do they derive from layer upon layer of human tradition laid down over the centuries?

Sleaford’s churches, like many others around the world, have lost sight of some of the most crucial teachings of Christ and are leading their congregations to harsh judgement.  How do your beliefs, and the teachings of Sleaford’s churches, compare with the Bible?  This article considers that question.

Often, it is not what is said in the churches but what is not said that so seriously misrepresents the Bible message. Here are four crucial teachings that many Christians misunderstand:

 1. Prophesy

It is said that about one third of the Bible is given over to prophesy; much of which has already been fulfilled with astonishing accuracy.  It is this fact that proves the veracity of the Bible more than any other.  The prophesied return of Jesus Christ is a cornerstone of Christian belief, so it would be reasonable to expect that the prophesied conditions surrounding that most significant event would be constantly discussed and examined by Christians.

The final word of the thirteenth chapter of Mark’s gospel (Mar 13:35-37 KJV) is a specific instruction to all mankind.  It is a word that is rarely heard in the churches in Sleaford: WATCH!  In 1Thes 5:2-4 Paul congratulates the Thessalonians on their knowledge of prophesied events.  Verses 1Thes 5:5-6  condemn those that are not ready for Jesus’s return, as drunkards languishing in darkness – Satan’s goats, not Christ’s sheep.  In his parable (Matt 25:1-13) Jesus warns Christians to watch for his return lest, like the five foolish virgins who allowed the oil to run out, they find themselves locked out when the bridegroom returns.

Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come.
Matthew 24:42

Which of Sleaford’s churches are weekly scouring the news for the many current signs of the prophesied conditions?  In which church was Iran or Turkey discussed last week?  In which was the social unrest, currently obvious across the world, considered? Where in Sleaford can be found a church leader urging their congregation to examine their behaviour and clean up their lives?  Instead, churches ignore the prophecies that describe the season and tell their congregations that no man knows the day or the hour, so there is no point in watching.

Afterward came also the other virgins, saying, Lord, Lord, open to us. But he answered and said, Verily I say unto you,
I know you not.
Matthew 25:11-12

2. Works

Salvation is the goal of all Christians: but how do we obtain it?  Churches often rely upon a single verse in the Bible.  They have elevated that one verse to a point at which the rest of the Bible has become almost irrelevant:

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
John 3:16

Many Christians believe they gain salvation simply by confessing their belief or by citing the Sinner’s Prayer, but Christ requires much more from us.  The truth is scattered all over the Bible, as Isaiah put it (Isa 28:9-10), “here a little, there a little”.  It is not enough to rely on one verse for confirmation of any one Biblical subject.  The key word in that famous verse is “believeth”.  How do we know if we believe and how do we prove it to God?  Jesus provided the answer unequivocally:

… He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do …
John 14:12

Do the members of your church encourage each other to do good works?  Or do your church leaders claim that works are not required?  Jesus said,

If you love me, you will keep my commandments.
John 14:15

Does your church teach the commandments of Jesus?  Are the following instructions constantly in the forefront of your mind?

Don’t judge by appearance (John 7:24).  Love God (Luk 10:27).  Be compassionate (Luk 10:33).  Sell our possessions and give to the poor (Luk 12:33).  Share our faith with others (Matt 5:14).  Love him more than we love our children and ourselves (Luk 14:26).  Control lustful thoughts (Matt 5:27).  Love our brothers (1 John 3:14) and many, many more.

In his letter to the Thessalonians Paul congratulated the church for encouraging their members to practice Jesus’s commands. (1 Thes 5:11).  Do the churches in Sleaford actively examine Christ’s teachings and implement them all?  Or are their congregations told that good works are unnecessary, or worse, a sign of weak belief and trust in Christ?

For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.
James 2:26

3. Sin

Conventional

Every human being is guilty of sin.  The Bible says that the wages of sin is death, but Christ came to absolve us of our sins and give us an opportunity to repent.  That, for many churches, is the whole story.  All that is necessary for salvation is to believe and repent.  Once you are saved, they say, you cannot lose that salvation: after all didn’t Christ himself say,

“My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.” (John 10:27-28)

Christianity today is so effortless, so comfortable.  What could be easier to secure eternity than by simply declaring belief in Christ?  It’s a wonder that everyone doesn’t do it, so that they too can just get on with their lives without fear and guilt; knowing that Jesus served our sentence for us.

It brings to mind that old maxim used to warn consumers of untrustworthy salesmen:

“If something looks too good to be true, it probably is.” 

The sales message that is promulgated by so many churches today is just that: too good to be true.  This message from the book of Hebrews is so formidable, it must be quoted in full:

For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, But a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries. He that despised Moses’ law died without mercy under two or three witnesses: Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace?
Hebrews 10:26-29

Don’t be talked out of a true understanding of these verses.  1John 3:4 defines sin as a transgression of the law.  New Testament law is the commandments of Christ.  Therefore we sin if we break any of those many commandments.  If we sin deliberately we nullify Christ’s sacrifice and our punishment is death.  If we sin unintentionally and do not repent, the outcome is the same.

1John 3:9 is perhaps one of the most sobering verses in the Bible: Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.  No wonder that Paul and Timothy in their letter urged the Philippians to:

… work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.
Philippians 2:12

This message used to thunder from the pulpits of every church every Sunday.  Where can a Christian go today to hear it?  In which of the churches in Sleaford are Christians holding each other’s feet to the fire?

4. The Church Itself

When we talk of the church, many Christians envisage the building that they attend on Sundays.  Or perhaps the word church brings to mind the people they meet there: friends, neighbours and ministers.  These however are not the Church of Jesus Christ whose members cannot be identified by the buildings in which they reside or the denominations to which they belong.  The members of the true Church are characterised by three distinct attributes:

  1. Belief in Christ
  2. Following his commandments (avoiding sin and and repenting).
  3. Doing good works

We can assume that such church members are to be found in every denomination, but we can also be certain that every denomination has members who are not of the true church.  In other words, it is not the building or our fellow church-goers or teachings of our pastors and ministers that define us as Christians, but our readiness to study the scripture and do only what we are told.

The common approach that churches in Sleaford adopt today bears little resemblance with the early Church.  The picture painted by the Bible is of a group of fervent believers huddled together to study the scriptures, wringing out every drop of truth and understanding, praising, praying and seeking out the face of God.  This picture is in stark contrast to the formulaic church services of today where ministers deliver a prepared address to an attentive audience seated theatre-style before them.  After a hymn or song is sung, a prayer said and the collection made, the congregation split into cliques to drink coffee and chat with friends.  There is little debate, little room for spontaneity and limited learning, growth and spiritual support.  Challenge is culturally frowned upon and many, though engaged in the social experience, return home no closer to God than when they arrived.  No wonder dozens of genuine believers in Sleaford and the surrounding areas are disengaged with “church”.  What a stark contrast exists between the towering edifices that adorn every UK village and the humble hideaways that characterised the first churches that this video depicts.

 

How is it then, brethren? when ye come together, every one of you hath a psalm, hath a doctrine, hath a tongue, hath a revelation, hath an interpretation. Let all things be done unto edifying.
1 Corinthians 14:26 

If you have found the churches in Sleaford unfulfilling and are seeking others who want to put the demands of the Bible ahead of tradition, then please register for the first meeting of taG.  Have questions?  Then please contact me.  I look forward to meeting you.

 

 

 

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