Finding a Church: The Radical Way

I’m 53, survived leukemia, and had a bone marrow transplant. I no longer want to waste time beating around the bush.

Someone asked me about what I think about various denominations. If you’re looking for a church that will meet your needs, here’s my advice, no holds barred.

  • Your one need is to surrender to King Jesus, Lord of all, who will one day judge the living and the dead. You NEED to lose your life, hate your own soul, and consider everything you have ever done to be manure fit for the manure pile so that you can wholeheartedly pursue knowing Jesus, the eternal King.

If you can give yourself to Jesus like that, then here’s my advice for finding a church:

  1. The church is the family of God. If Christians aren’t living like family, sharing in some way their lives and possessions enough to take care of one another, they are not in the church, no matter what organization they join. They may be “spiritually” in the “universal church,” but their lives prove their membership in the body of the King is ineffective and without purpose.
  2. “Pursue righteousness, love, peace, and faith along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart” (2 Tim. 2:22). That is what you should be doing as a Christian. Organizations are not churches. Disciples make up the church, not organizations, clubs, or buildings.
  3. There are just a couple requirements for those that gather in his name. Know Jesus and depart from inquity (2 Tim. 2:19).
  4. He is King. We are his subjects. We live for his will, and our lives are abandoned to follow him. Organizations and clubs that teach something else as salvation or the Gospel are counterfeits, joining believers to unbelievers, the children of God with the children of Belial (2 Cor. 6:14-18). May the children of God, those who know they are to take up the cross and follow Jesus, be delivered from slavery to fellowship with the unrighteous.
  5. The command not to be unequally yoked, in context, is about the church, not marriage, though it applies to marriage as well.
  6. For any disciples who join together like this, they should get all the help from anyone they can find to help, and especially to pray. The devil will do everything within his power to ensure those disciples never learn the incredible power of the saints living their lives as one family, united in the Spirit of God and taught by him alone. It is there that the Lord can commanded the blessing of eternal life (Ps 133).
    1. I don’t have any compromised, nicer advice to go with that. I only have so long left on this earth, and I want to fight for the Gospel of the kingdom. I want to shout to my fellow disciples that they don’t have to show loyalty to counterfeits nor remain in fellowship with darkness. They really can purge the loaf and pursue love, faith, peace, and righteousness with brothers and sisters of pure hearts.

      Those fellow disciples are few and they can be hard to find. Many of them are corrupted into thinking that something other a wholehearted surrender to Jesus is required for fellowship. A psychotic addiction to disputable doctrine is highly contagious even to disciples when they wander into the counterfeits who base their existence on carefully constructed doctrines (1 Tim. 6:3-5).

      Our sound doctrine is described in Titus 2, one of the only places that Paul explains what sound doctrine is. Let us hold to that doctrine, then join together bound by the perfect bond of unity, the love that is poured from heaven by the Holy Spirit into our hearts.

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5 Responses to Finding a Church: The Radical Way

  1. ruralcommoner says:

    When the Scriptures speak of departing from iniquity, are they speaking of “sinless perfection,” or a life of humility and repentance along with the good works mentioned in Titus 2, Matthew 5-7, and 1 John? I have conquered many vices in my life, but there are some that still hold sway over me. It is times like this that I question my standing with God, and I think it is right to do so. Nevertheless, could you expound a little on this thought given regarding this departure from iniquity? Thanks.

    • Evan says:

      That is why we are instructed to work out our salvation with fear and trembling (Phil 2:12) and to watch our lives and doctrine closely so that we might save ourselves and those who hear us (1 Tim 4:16). “Sinless perfection” is not required; nor is it possible given 1 John 1:10. However, you might want to ask yourself whether you would characterize your vices as occasional or habitual in nature. The book of 1 John is particularly helpful in this regard. In 1 John chapter 1, John is describing those believers whose lives are generally characterized by walking in the light; i.e, obeying/abiding in Christ. Forgiveness is conditional as indicated by the phrase “if we walk in the light” in v.7 and is graciously granted by God for those OCCASIONAL sins since no one is without sin. In 1 John chapter 3 however, John goes on to distinguish those believers who continue to engage in the PRACTICE of sin. Verse 4 states that anyone who practices sin, practices lawlessness and is of the devil v.8. Verse 9 states no one born of God practices sinning. Hence in these two chapters, John is describing the different results for those believers who walk in the light in contrast with those believers who continue to walk in the darkness.
      For our benefit and comfort, descriptions of our assurance and security can be found in verses such as 1Jn 2:29 – “If you know that he is righteous, you may be sure that everyone who practices righteousness has been born of him.” And John 14:21 – “He who has my commandments and keeps them is the one who loves Me; and he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and will disclose Myself to him.”
      Hope that helps you and may God give you grace in your daily walk.

    • paulfpavao says:

      Thank you to Evan, who always gives great responses.

      I want to add one important thing. It’s difficult to express life on paper (or on electronic media like this blog and FB). I write things, being very careful to say what the apostles said, not deviating because of traditions I prefer. But in saying what the apostles say, there is a lot of room for interpretation.

      Thus, I want to make it clear that what I say is influenced by two decades of church life with real people. Almost all of those people were disciples, honestly, joyfully, and wholly committed to following Jesus. Nonetheless, we have had rip-roaring discussings with people, including me, who not only had some serious fault in their life, but who even defended it … vehemently … at least for a little while.

      I’m not talking about stealing and someone defending that as perfectly acceptable to God. I’m talking about things like quickly copping an attitude if someone says something the person disagrees with. Or, more often, someone who is blind to the fact that their wife is a woman with feelings that don’t resemble a man’s much, or with a way of thinking that is a mystery to all men except those willing, with great love and care, to learn to understand them. Some men might as well be completely deaf and blind if we judge by the way they pay attention to their wives or listen to the admonition of the brothers about her.

      I’ve been in fellowship with disciples–real disciples–who have, I’m convinced, a mental disability, mild autism or something like that, that made them oblivious to the feelings of others and unable to read any tone of voice or body language signals from those around them. I’ve fellowshipped and borne with several brothers almost completely unable to deal with their own mood swings, diving into sulking depression at the drop of a hat.

      I can name a couple–though I won’t–who after years, a decade or so, are in complete control of those mood swings, and their regard is for others, not for their own moods. They were given counsel, but also a smile, a hug, and full acceptance when they were done sulking … for ten years.

      That is the context of my life. Recently, a brother–a real brother, a disciple–told me how his wife had reacted when a problem had occured and he had chided her for her part in it. She proceeded to insult someone close to him, saying something she knew would infuriate him. He actually told me, “She insulted someone close to me, so I insulted a friend of hers.”

      “That’s always good,” I retorted, “returning insult for insult. How’d that work out?”

      I went on to explain to him why his wife had attacked him. She was already humiliated from the problem, and his chiding was more than she could handle, so she went for the most painful thing she could say in retaliation. We’re to love our wives like Jesus loves the church. Jesus died for the church. He NEVER retaliates when attacked, and he told us not to. That especially applies to our wives, who are like our own bodies, and who are the weaker vessel. If someone is suffering in your marital relationship, men, make sure it’s you.

      This brother really is a brother and a disciple. He, like all disciples, has faults in one area but strengths in another. He didn’t flinch at my correction. He thanked me and told me he loved talking to me because I helped him look at things differently.

      Our weak spots can be glaring and awful, and in the church sometimes faults are borne with for decades … really, decades.

      But we should be bearing with the weaknesses of disciples, even the glaring, “how can they do that?” ones, not the rebellion of actors who love the forbearance and love of the saints but despise the commands of God.

      • paulfpavao says:

        One thing to add. I’m not always giving correction. I receive it, too. I hope that after 30 years in the King, I am much easier to correct now. Only others could testify with accuracy how I am now, but I know I have had my days of defending my anger at a brother I disagreed with or who had offended me in some really terrible way. I can think of two terribly embarrassing situations where someone had to work very hard to calm me down and get me to go reconcile, kindly, with a brother. I went, expecting a hopeless discussing with a brother hopelessly caught up in his own will rather than God’s, only to find out I had completely misread the situation and perhaps even created the conflict out of thin air.

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