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What Should I Look for in a Church?

Core Christianity / Adriel Sanchez and Bill Maier
The Truth Network Radio
February 27, 2024 5:40 pm

What Should I Look for in a Church?

Core Christianity / Adriel Sanchez and Bill Maier

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February 27, 2024 5:40 pm

Episode 1433 | Adriel Sanchez and Bill Maier answer caller questions.

Show Notes

    1. Should I study atheism in order to understand it better?   2. Should I officiate a wedding between a Christian and a non-Christian?   3. What should I look for in a church now that I've come back to the faith?*   4. What is the difference between doctrine and theology?   5. Does James 5 promise physical or spiritual healing?   *How Do I Choose a Church?     Today’s Offer: Why Would Anyone Get Married?   Want to partner with us in our work here at Core Christianity? Consider becoming a member of the Inner Core.   View our latest special offers here or call 1-833-THE-CORE (833-843-2673) to request them by phone.

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Adriel Sanchez and Bill Maier

I've recently come back to Christianity.

What should I look for in a church? That's just one of the questions we'll be answering on today's edition of CORE Christianity. Well, hi, this is Bill Meyer, along with Pastor Adriel Sanchez, and this is the radio program where we answer your questions about the Bible and the Christian life every day.

You can call us right now with your question at 833-THE-CORE. And speaking of emails, Adriel, here's one to kick off today's program. This came in from one of our listeners named Edward. He says, Do you think it's wrong to read a book on atheism? The reason I'm asking that question is that I'm trying to find out why there are so many atheists and agnostics in the world. I want to know why they think the way they do.

Hey, Edward, thank you for that question. No, I don't think it's necessarily wrong to read a book on atheism. I'm assuming that you mean an atheist who writes a book making a case for atheism. Really, I think, weren't putting forward the greatest arguments and had some philosophical issues as well, and certainly theological issues. But I think if the goal here is I want to understand where people are coming from so that I could better engage them as a follower of Jesus, I think that's a good thing.

I think especially when we're engaging in apologetics, the defense of the Christian faith, we need to make sure that we're representing the other side, whatever that other side is, fairly and accurately. Now, I also think of what the psalmist said. The fool says in his heart that there is no God. We live in a world where the creator God has revealed himself so clearly in the things that have been made. Paul says this right at the very outset of his book, in the book of Romans, his letter to the Romans, that the whole creation testifies to the fact that there is a creator. The issue is what we do is we suppress that truth in unrighteousness. And so Paul gives an answer there, really. When people say, if you want to get to the root of it, when people say, there is no God, I can't believe that there is a God, there's no evidence or whatever, actually Paul says, no, there is evidence. The whole created world around us that we look at, the issue is we want to suppress that evidence in unrighteousness.

Why? Because we don't want to be held accountable to God, to the Lord. And so you also find, I think, answers in scripture. Additionally, we live in a world where as technology has advanced and you have the rise also of secularism, we live in a world where many people think, well, we don't need God anymore.

But nothing could be further from the truth. We desperately need the Lord today, just as much as we ever have. And so it is important, I think, to be able to engage with other viewpoints, with opposing viewpoints, but to do so, as Paul said, with gentleness and respect, with charity. And so I just encourage you, if you're going to get a book written by an atheist and you're trying to wrestle through these things, do it, but also be discerning. I think also what Paul said in Colossians 2, verse 8, see to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ. And so you need to be first and foremost immersed in the Word of God and in the community of faith together with other believers as you read stuff like this, so you can process it together with others.

And so I hope that you're in the Word and you're studying the Scriptures. And if you want to, in addition, think about how to engage atheists in particular by reading some of their content, I would say go for it. And may the Lord bless you and grant you wisdom and help you to engage with your neighbors. You know, we've talked before about how much we both enjoy apologist Greg Kochel, and he has written a new book, actually, that I think really would help Christians to understand how to respond to an atheist or an agnostic.

It's called Street Smarts. I'm about halfway through the book right now, and I'm finding it tremendously helpful, so there's another resource that we can recommend. This is Core Christianity with Pastor Adriel Sanchez. Our phone lines are open if you have a question about the Bible or the Christian life. Here's the number. It's 833-THE-CORE. That's 1-833-843-2673. Let's go to Matt calling in from Nebraska.

Matt, what's your question for Adriel? Hi, thanks for taking the call. So, I am not a preacher. I just live a Christian life, and so last year I got ordained because my wife's sister asked me to do their wedding, so that went well. And then her cousin asked me to do it, and so I'm going to do that for them.

I'm not being paid. But, you know, I didn't think about this. She's a Christian, but the man she's marrying is not, and he's never really thought about God. So, when I talked to them, that kind of threw me off. And so, I explained that to me this is a very religious ceremony, you know, something that's established through God, and I want to make sure that I stay true to that, and he knows that, and it's going to be presented in that way. But at the same time, I don't know exactly why to walk there, because I don't want to offend him or something like that.

Do you have any advice on that? I just thought talking to somebody, you know, much more knowledge of the Bible than myself would be nice. Matt, so there are a couple of things here, and just one, thanks for calling in. I appreciate your question, and it is a difficult situation because you're, you know, working with family here. Your sister-in-law, it sounds like, and, you know, I don't want to offend him. He's not a Christian.

Obviously, you want to help this person, this family member, but here's what I would say to you, and this is going to be hard, but I think it's important. As followers of Jesus Christ, we're called to hold each other accountable, to walk in accordance with the Holy Scriptures, and here you're in a situation where you have a family member who's a believer, who claims to be a Christian, and is in a relationship with someone who is not a Christian, who doesn't want anything to do with the Lord from what you've said, but they're going to get married, or they're in the process of trying to get married. In Scripture, the Apostle Paul makes it very clear in places like 1 Corinthians 7 that single believers are free to marry only in the Lord.

In other words, you know, there's like a whole list of things that, you know, you have to be this tall and you have to have this much money or make this much money. Paul says, here's the main thing for Christians when it comes to marriage, is we only marry in the Lord. That is, we only marry other believers, and I think that this is really important for a number of reasons, not the least of which is that marriage is itself a picture of the relationship that exists between Christ and the church. And so at the heart of marriage is this picture of the Gospel, and we as Christians recognize that, but if you're talking to someone who isn't a believer, who rejects the Gospel, well, they're not even on the same page as far as that's concerned, and we're forbidden as believers from marrying those outside of the faith. That doesn't mean that we can't have friendships and whatnot, but I think we're getting the cart before the horse here, and I recognize, and I've had to do this too, let me just say I've been in this difficult situation where I've had to tell people, I can't in good conscience go through with performing this ceremony, as a minister of the Gospel, I can't in good conscience, you know, follow through with this because you guys are unequally yoked.

That's the language that the Apostle Paul says, or uses in 2 Corinthians, you're unequally yoked, you're not on the same page with regard to the most important thing. Now there are other people who would probably be willing to marry you, but I can't in good conscience as a Christian, as a follower of the Lord Jesus Christ, and this is where the rubber meets the road. It's where, in terms of your conversations with your family member, with your wife's sister, it could be really hard, but I think what you want to see, we want to appeal to her and say, look, the most important thing is our faith in Jesus Christ, and I want you, we want you to continue to grow in your relationship with the Lord. And marriage is such a big decision, you know, the biggest decision you're probably going to make apart from following Jesus, and so yoking yourself together with, you know, being in this marriage relationship, marriage covenant before God with someone who is not a Christian, well, that's just something we shouldn't do, we're told not to do, we're commanded not to do as believers, and so I can't in good conscience do that, it's not because I don't like you, it's not because I don't like this other person, it's because the most important thing is being faithful to the word of God. And so look, I, you know, I know that puts you, Matt, in a difficult situation, but may God give you grace and wisdom and courage, and who knows, I mean, just this honesty with your wife's sister may be instrumental in her life, helping her to see, you know, I need to take my faith seriously, and maybe for this other person too, her fiancé, him to see, wow, this really is important, I didn't think it was that important, but this really is important, maybe it gets him to start asking questions, and, you know, if your main concern is, I just don't want to offend them, I think it's, you know, don't be intentionally offensive, but the fact of the matter is, sometimes sticking to the truth of God's word is gonna rub people the wrong way, they're not gonna be happy with the fact that we're saying, this is what it looks like to follow Jesus, and you can say that in a manner that's gracious and kind, and yet people still be upset, and I hope that that's not the case, I hope that their hearts are tender and soft to the truth of God's word, but may God give you courage to stand upon those convictions and to, I would say, not follow through with being the person, I don't think that's something that you should do, Matt, as a Christian.

Thanks for reaching out to us. Hey Matt, thanks so much for your call, and Adriel, some really good counsel there, and speaking of marriage, we actually have a wonderful resource on the topic of marriage, and it ties right in with what Adriel just said, because it talks about God's intent for marriage, what is marriage really all about, and what should it be all about, even though our culture may see it very differently. Yeah, this might be a great resource, Matt, for you to get a hold of, and just to share it with your wife's sister and with her fiance, it's called Why Would Anyone Get Married?

And of course, as you just said, Bill, there's a lot of confusion about this today. I said, in my answer to Matt's question, at the heart of marriage is a picture of the relationship that exists between Christ and the church, that's what the Apostle Paul says in Ephesians chapter 5, and so we really need to recover that vision, that picture that's given to us in scripture, to help us have healthy marriages where we love each other, as God intended us to love each other. And so, get a hold of this resource, again, it's called Why Would Anyone Get Married? You can get it at Love to have you go to our website and browse around, see some of our other great resources as well. We have what we call our Core Questions and our Core Guides, also some excellent Bible studies on books from both the Old and the New Testament.

You can find all of that at, so check that out if you would. While our phone lines are open, if you have a question about the Bible or the Christian life, you can call us for the next 10 minutes or so. Here's the number, it's 833-THE-CORE, that's 1-833-843-2673. We're also open to questions about doctrine and theology, or maybe you have some question about something going on at your church, some type of practice or decision that you're really questioning and you're wondering, is that biblical?

Well, Adria will be happy to weigh in on that as well. Again, the number is 833-THE-CORE. Give us a call right now.

You can also leave a voicemail at that number anytime, 24 hours a day, and here's a voicemail that came in from one of our listeners named Deborah. My question is, I am not new to Christianity. I went to church every Sunday with my family when we were kids. Growing up, I drifted away from Christianity and Jesus and now I've found my way back and I'm wanting to join a church again, but I'm not sure the best way to find a church or what type of church I need to go to.

Thank you. Deborah, welcome home. I'm so grateful to hear that after a period of being out of church and drifting that you have this sense of conviction, and I think that that comes from the Holy Spirit working in your life where, okay, I need to get right with God. I need to be back in church where I can grow together with other believers.

And you're not alone. There are many people, I think, who have been in a similar situation. I recently read a book called The Great Decherching by Jim Davis and Michael Graham, which is basically just outlining this phenomenon that we're seeing and have been seeing for the last several decades, where many people who were in church, as you say you were, or as you say, yeah, you were for a time, have sort of drifted away and just stopped attending for one reason or another. Sometimes it was a personal issue with the church. Sometimes it's just life and things get busy and I've not found my way back into the church. But I think God is calling many people back.

And maybe you're listening right now to this broadcast. You weren't expecting to hear this, but you haven't been in church. Well, the Lord is calling you back. He's calling you back to where his word is faithfully preached. And that's at the heart of what it looks like to find a good church. There has to be a place where the doctrine of the apostles, the teaching of the word of God is upheld, where you're going to go and the preacher is going to say, Thus saith the Lord. He's going to open up the scriptures and preach the word, explain what the word says.

That's what we need. We need to hear from God. When we go to church, it's not about hearing from a charismatic teacher who has a lot of great anecdotes and can teach me five ways to become a better person or whatnot.

Nothing wrong with becoming a better person, but at the heart of what we need is not self-help. We need the gospel. And so I would say the first thing you want to think about as you're looking for a church right now, a place to get plugged in, is how do they view the scriptures? Do they have a high view of the word of God?

And is that being demonstrated through the service? Are they reading scripture, singing songs that are shaped by the teaching of the Bible? Is there good doctrine, good theology? And we have some resources here at Core Christianity that help in terms of identifying a good church.

And so I recommend you to check those out as well. But think about what Luke recorded in the book of Acts, in Acts chapter 2, as he described the gathering of the early church in the days of the apostles. He said that the believers, this is Acts chapter 2 verse 42, devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and the fellowship to the breaking of bread and the prayers. It's interesting, the breaking of bread there could also be translated the breaking of the bread. It's probably a reference to Holy Communion, the Lord's Supper. And so he says, look, the early church, here's what they did.

They focused on apostolic doctrine, the word of God faithfully preached, on fellowship, you know, caring for each other, holding one another accountable, the sacraments, the breaking of bread, baptism in the Lord's Supper, you know, these ordinances that Jesus gave to the church for discipleship, for the building up of the body of Christ, and the prayers. So it's a community committed to fellowship, the word, praying, accountability. That's where you want to be. You want to be in a church like that. It's not a self-help group. It's not a place that's about political activism or, you know, it's not a club.

It's not a social club. It's a place where we, as the baptized people of God, gather together to sit at the feet of Jesus and to hear the word of God faithfully proclaimed. And so I encourage you maybe to check out churches in your area, to go for a few Sundays and listen and look for those things. Is this fellowship there? Is the word of God being preached, or does the pastor hardly open the Bible? Those are the things you want to look at and be discerning with regard to, and I pray that God will guide you to the right place. And I'm so grateful to hear again that you are looking for a good church.

That's something we all need. God bless. Deborah, thanks so much for contacting us here at Core Christianity. As Adriel said, we're really excited that you are rediscovering your faith, the faith of your youth, and now following the Lord. And we'll be praying that you find a great church to get plugged into right away. This is Core Christianity. And by the way, if you are looking for a good church, we actually have a core question on that. It's how do I choose a church? You can find that at Just look for our core questions. We have a lot of them, and they're great answers, so check that out. Let's go to Steve calling in from Kansas. Steve, what's your question for Adriel? Yeah, I touched on what you were talking about earlier. What's the difference between doctrine and theology?

Thank you. Hey, Steve. That's a great question.

I don't think we've ever gotten that question on the broadcast. Theology is just the study of God, really. And it extends to really every aspect of our life when we're thinking about the study of Scripture. And sometimes it's interesting because people say, I don't need theology and all this stuff about doctrine. I just need Jesus.

Just give me Jesus. And I understand the sentiment there, right? It's not about getting bogged down with formulas or whatever it is that an individual is thinking. And yet there's even a theology that undergirds that kind of a statement. The reality is, if we're studying the Bible, if we're reading the Scriptures, we are engaging in theology to try to understand what God has revealed to us about Himself, studying the Lord, His Word, so that we might have sound doctrine. And so theology serves our doctrine, our beliefs, the things that we hold to. I think of what Paul told Titus in Titus chapter 2 verse 1, but as for you, teach what accords with sound doctrine.

That word sound there could also be translated healthy. It's that doctrine that is life-giving. Now, doctrine can be twisted. We can have bad theology.

And the result of that is bad fruit. The Word of God not being effective in the way it's supposed to be because it's been twisted, it's been corrupted. And so we're called as Christians to engage in the study of God, what is theology, so that we might have good doctrine in our lives, the kind of doctrine that leads to healthy spiritual living, sound doctrine, life-giving doctrine. And that's one of the things we're committed to here on this broadcast, is people call in, Steve, and ask questions about the Bible. And we want to open up the Word together and understand it the way it's meant to be understood in context, in line with the history of the Christian church, not veering off into one heresy over here or another heresy over there, so that we might grow in the grace and the knowledge of Jesus Christ, so that we might be healthy, spiritually healthy, as Christians. Bill, there's a lot of theological fluff out there, isn't there? I mean, in terms of maybe we might say doctrinal diets, there's stuff out there that's poisonous. And we have to be on guard for that, wouldn't you say? Without a doubt. And we've talked before, you know, we'll occasionally get calls, people will say, well, Mormonism's Christianity or Jehovah's Witnesses, they believe in the Bible, and their theology and their doctrine, in both cases, is suspect. Yeah, absolutely.

And that's why it's so important for us to inspect all things. Another text that I was thinking about, you know, just thinking about this tie between good doctrine and healthy living, we might say, you know, spiritual growth, is what the Apostle Paul said in his letter to the Colossians. He's talking about the Gospel. In Colossians chapter 1, verse 6, he says, which has come to you as indeed in the whole world, it, that is the Gospel, is bearing fruit and increasing, as it also does among you, since the day you heard it and understood the grace of God in truth. You see, growing in grace, growing in the Gospel, spiritual growth, it's dependent upon a right understanding of who God is and what he's done for us.

Those two things are tied together. We never want to pit doctrine and love against each other. No, sound doctrine leads to true love, love for God and love for our neighbor. It's, it's that, that's what we need. And so, appreciate Steve's question and getting to dive into that, that distinction there a little bit between doctrine and theology and why sound doctrine is so important. Good word. This is Core Christianity.

Let's go to an email before we wrap up the program. This one came in from Darrell. He says, Does James 5, 14 to 16 primarily refer to spiritual healing, physical healing, or both? The words used in these verses, such as save, raise up, be forgiven, and confession of sin, seem to indicate spiritual healing. What do you think?

That's a great question. Let me just, let me just read the text. Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church and let them pray over him. It sounds like I need the elders to lay hands on me right now. Let him call for the elders of the church and let them pray for him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. So I think you have a little bit of both here, actually. Specifically, I do think James is talking about physical healing.

If somebody is sick, has some sort of bodily ailment, to go and to ask for prayer and to say, Lord, please bring healing. But sometimes there can be a correlate. You do see this in Bible. There can be a correlation between that physical sickness, that weakness that we have, and sin. And that's why I think James can tie those two things together. This is certainly what we see in places like 1 Corinthians chapter 11, where Paul writing to the Corinthians about how they're taking communion in sin, not repenting of their sins, says this is why many of you are sick and weak. And some have even died because you've not confessed your sins to the Lord. And so I want to say here in particular, I think what James is talking about is a both and. Our spiritual health a lot of times is connected even to our physical health. And that's something that a lot of people haven't thought about. And so, hey, God bless you and thank you once again for listening to Core Christianity. Truth of God's word together.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-02-27 19:44:48 / 2024-02-27 19:55:11 / 10

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