I have often wondered why churches are so different in styles and beliefs, thinking they were all pointing to Jesus. I was naive to think that and very very wrong. I started researching what the different denominations were and why they are different. Growing up I just figured it was different friends and family that gathered at the different churchs for whatever reason. It took me a while to grasp the concept that it isn’t about Christ that makes their differences. It is about themselves. It is about satan. It’s about people twisting church into their own comfortable place to gather. A place where their rules feel better than God’s rules. A place where man creates and controls the atmosphere. A place where the masks cover the sins beneath. Where worship is planned in advance thus removing the spontaneous authentensity. Where people put on shows of faith and generosity that don’t come from the heart or the Spirit. I’m not talking about the Muslim and Jehovah’s Witnesses and such. I’m talking about the Christians.
Don’t misunderstand…I am a Christian. But because of these differences, I consider myself a Christ Follower instead. I think it is a more specific description considering all of those differences. I decided to do some research to discover what Scripture says the authentic church should look like. I opened my Bible up to Acts to start my journey. The first thing I ran across were the requirements for membership into God’s church. This reminded me of my childhood when my cousins built a fort and put a sign on the door that read “no girls allowed”. I eventually made my way in but only after completing a dare. I don’t remember the dare but knowing them it was a creepy one. It seems there are always requirements for membership regardless of what we are joining.
I found the first step in Acts 2 which says that sinners are to hear the word of God (Acts 2:37). This makes sense since you cannot believe in something you don’t know or learn about first. How can anyone believe or know about Christ unless he learns about Him first? Romans 10:17 reinforces this and reads “So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God“.
Since hearing the word produces faith in Jesus as the Son of God, faith is the second step. Faith is defined as “confidence or trust in a person,, and “. This step is important since you cannot move forward to the next step without it. It is also important to be learning about Jesus from an authentic church and not learning things that are not true. Otherwise, what is your faith based on? Lies, half-truths, man-made rules and junk that will deceive you and destroy your walk with Jesus (Acts 2:22-37, John 3:16).
Adam and Eve knew they had sinned in the garden before their eyes were opened. They tried to hide from God but He knew what they had done. His reaction was not for His benefit but for their benefit. He wanted to hear from them whether or not they would tell the truth and be sorry for what they did. The next step is repentenance (Acts 2:38; 17:30). Repentenance is explained as “Repentance goes beyond feeling to express distinct purposes of turning from sin to righteousness; the Bible word most often translated repentance means a change of mental and spiritual attitude toward sin [Century Dictionary]”. Turning from sin means not going back. Not repeating the sins we asked forgiveness for. Of course we all sin and yes, sometimes we recommit them, but having a heart of repentance and faith in Jesus can keep us from those sins if we choose to fully and deligently repent. It takes work. It takes prayer. It takes commitment. Trust Jesus and keep your eyes on Him.
Confession of Christ must precede Baptism so this is the next step. (Matthew 1-:32, Acts 8:37, Romans 10:9-10) Since we are baptized into Christ (Galations 3:27), it is Christ we are to confess our belief in. Confessing in someone else would not make us Christians. Therefore baptism would be a waste of time. Being baptized into Christ declares our gratitude and love for our mighty saviour. It is Him and only Him that saves us.
Lastly we are to be baptized in water for remission of sins. (Acts 2:38, Mark 16:16, 1 Peter 3:21) Let me apologize now. I don’t mean to step on toes but I have to be honest or this blog is for not. No where in Scripture is sprinkling for baptism used. You will find general sprinkling for other purposes (example Hebrews 9) but never for human baptism. I can only speculate about the ramifications of this error but I, for one, would not take any chances. I would encourage you, if you have the slightest bit of doubt, to be baptized in water so you will not end your days wondering if you did the right thing.
So there you have it. This is only the beginning of my journey. There are many more aspects of the authentic church to come. Please feel free to comment but I encourage you to back up your comments with Scripture since Scripture is the ultimate authority.