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Online Articles

Contrasting Churches

Local churches may be led either by godly or by not-godly men—that is, by men who are most concerned for God and things of the Spirit or by men whose concerns are primarily human and temporal. Such churches can be distinguished by the following: Goals: Godly leaders have as their goal "the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ" (Eph. 4:12-15). Ungodly men have as their primary goal increasing numbers—a big church. They consider numerical growth proof of God's approval.

Doctrine: Godly leaders are determined to abide in the doctrine of Christ and not to go beyond it (2 John 9). Not-godly men, knowing that most of the public "will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables" (2 Tim. 4:3-4), provide the teachers that will tickle their ears.

Discipline: Godly leaders will insist that in harmony with God's instructions the church "withdraw from every brother who walks disorderly" (2 Thess. 3:6). Not-godly leaders advertise: "Come as you are" and boast that they are not judgmental, receiving everyone regardless of lifestyle.

Worship: Godly leaders insist that God be worshiped "acceptably with reverence and godly fear" (Heb. 12:28) while not-godly men place great emphasis on "worship" that pleases the public and seem concerned only that everyone leave "feeling good about themselves" and eager to return.

Preachers: Godly leaders are not nearly as concerned with excellence of speech or of wisdom as that preachers be "determined not to know anything … save Jesus Christ and him crucified" (1 Cor. 2:1-2). Not-godly leaders insist that preachers be entertaining and personally popular, even with the world.

Activities: Godly leaders test every proposed action by the scriptures, determined to "do all in the name of the Lord Jesus" (Col. 3:17) while not-godly leaders offer whatever people want—sports, entertainment, education, feasts, travel—with little apparent concern for what God wants.

What kind of church are you seeking—the church of your choice or the church of God's choice?