by Dr. Gerald B. Collingsworth
The local New Testament church is the only institution for which Christ willingly gave His life. Notice Ephesians 5:25, Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; Someone once rightly stated, “The local church is Christ’s mirror, reflecting His heartbeat to a lost and dying world.” If we want to examine a church, we must take a careful look at what it actually believes. Let me share just a few of the things that will reveal the heart of a local church.
The Scriptures They Use (I Peter 1:23)
… by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever.
There is only one properly translated English Bible, and that is the old King James Bible. By the way, it is not a version, but a translation. No honest Bible student will say that the King James Bible came after all of these so-called modern versions. They got their ideas from the King James. I would never join a church that was uncertain as to which Bible was correct, nor where a pastor used the King James Bible but approved of other “versions.”
The Service They Offer (John 20:21)
…as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you.
No church can be a true church unless it offers true service to our Lord. What is that service? Soulwinning! It is sharing the Gospel! Luke 19:10 says, For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost. One of the most razor sharp soulwinners that I have ever known is Dr. Bob Gray, Sr., of Longview, Texas. He truly understands the Great Commission.
All Christians should ask themselves, “In my church, when was the last time soulwinning was even brought up?”
The Spirit They Reveal (II Corinthians 3:17)
…where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.
No church is exempt from trials and stress. Some will say, “I know a church that died because of all of the strife and turmoil.” No! A church does not die from strife and turmoil. It dies or lives according to how it responds. The devil and his followers know that to kill a church, they must create a bad spirit. This is why a quality church will cultivate a right spirit no matter how severe the trials they face. I am fully convinced that in a church that is right with God, there is a warm, fragrant spirit. It is something that cannot be explained, but that we know is there.
The Standards They Practice (James 1:22)
But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.
I miss Dr. Lee Roberson, Dr. John R. Rice, Lester Roloff, Dr. Curtis Hutson, and Dr. Jack Hyles. What wonderfully well-balanced men of God! However, we must not forget that with all of their graciousness and sweet personality, they were men of strong conviction who practiced high moral standards.
I was preaching with Dr. Hyles many years ago. I was to preach before he preached. As I walked up to stand behind the pulpit, he walked up and said, “Son, I’m an old man. Don’t make me look bad.” I got up and preached an anemic sermon that did not cause a soul to stir. Afterward, he got up and preached as a thirty-year-old, and the altar was lined with broken and repentant hearts.
The Strength of their Compassion (Jude 22)
And of some have compassion, making a difference:
The church that has compassion will preach the entire Word of God and let the chips fall where they may. However, it will also respond to the pain, disappointments, and tears of the brokenhearted. The right church will also help to bear the burdens of parents whose teenagers have gone astray or show Christ’s love to children in homes that have no love. Someone said to me years ago, “Compassion always makes a difference.”