Thank you for this website. I have been a Christian, added to the church of Christ almost 40 years ago. The church I placed membership with at that time was and still is Bible believing and scriptural "down to the letter." I have moved to an area where the "churches of Christ" are not scriptural. One supports instrumental music, one encourages and has aided a member in abortion, and another "church of Christ" practices unscriptural worship service, allows homosexuals to lead their services and also to marry. What do I do since I cannot afford to drive to the closest true church more than 45 miles away? I feel that if I worshipped with these congregations, I might as well worship with the Mormons or Witnesses. Can I take communion and spend time in worship by myself each Lord's Day? There is a big void because I can't assemble with other true Christians and can't afford to drive that distance. Thank you and God bless the teaching you are providing.
It is sad when a faithful Christian winds up in an area where there is no congregation with which he can conscientiously worship. There are only two possibilities consistent with scripture. First, it is certainly scriptural to have home worship. It should contain all of the public acts of worship commanded in scripture – worship in the word (preaching, reading, or teaching), worship in song, worship by sharing in the Lord’s Supper, worship in prayer, and worship in giving or laying by in store. That which is given should be used only for furthering the work of the Lord. Those who participate in home worship should always remember that, as Christians, the Great Commission also binds them. It provides a wonderful opportunity to grow the home church into a faithful local congregation. There may be those attending those congregations who did not have the courage or the faith to move out and remain faithful to God. You have an opportunity to bring them back to the Lord in addition to converting those who have never named the name of Christ. Second, you can drive the 90 miles round-trip to worship. It is clearly expensive, especially given today’s price of fuel, but one determined to obey and worship God has no other choice if the first alternative with its obligations is not acceptable. It surely requires financial adjustments, but the Christian’s obligation to worship supersedes all other obligations. You have given no indication of income but it is easy math to determine that 15-mpg requires 6 gallons to go 90 miles. $4.00 per gallon is $24.00 per week for one Sunday worship hour. That is right at $1,250.00 per year, but before refusing to adjust discretionary spending to raise that amount, consider these words of Jesus: “For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul? For what can a man give in return for his soul?” Mark 8:36-37.
Even where income is increasing at the new job or promotion, if it requires moving Christians should always discover whether a faithful congregation is available. Foolish is the parents who inquire about the quality of schools to help educate their children, but give no heed to the availability or Biblical faithfulness of those who will help preserve their eternal souls. It is folly to move first and ask second!
You Must Hear the Gospel
You must hear the gospel and then understand and recognize that you are lost without Jesus Christ no matter who you are and no matter what your background is. The Bible tells us that “all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23) Before you can be saved, you must understand that you are lost and that the only way to be saved is by obedience to the gospel of Jesus Christ. (2 Thessalonians 1:8) Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” (John 14:6) “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12) "So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God." (Romans 10:17)
You Must Believe
You must believe and have faith in God because “without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” (Hebrews 11:6) But neither belief alone nor faith alone is sufficient to save. (James 2:19; James 2:24; Matthew 7:21)
You Must Repent
You must repent of your sins. (Acts 3:19) But repentance alone is not enough. The so-called “Sinner’s Prayer” that you hear so much about today from denominational preachers does not appear anywhere in the Bible. Indeed, nowhere in the Bible was anyone ever told to pray the “Sinner’s Prayer” to be saved. By contrast, there are numerous examples showing that prayer alone does not save. Saul, for example, prayed following his meeting with Jesus on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:11), but Saul was still in his sins when Ananias met him three days later (Acts 22:16). Cornelius prayed to God always, and yet there was something else he needed to do to be saved (Acts 10:2, 6, 33, 48). If prayer alone did not save Saul or Cornelius, prayer alone will not save you. You must obey the gospel. (2 Thess. 1:8)
You Must Confess
You must confess that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. (Romans 10:9-10) Note that you do NOT need to make Jesus “Lord of your life.” Why? Because Jesus is already Lord of your life whether or not you have obeyed his gospel. Indeed, we obey him, not to make him Lord, but because he already is Lord. (Acts 2:36) Also, no one in the Bible was ever told to just “accept Jesus as your personal savior.” We must confess that Jesus is the Son of God, but, as with faith and repentance, confession alone does not save. (Matthew 7:21)
You Must Be Baptized
Having believed, repented, and confessed that Jesus is the Son of God, you must be baptized for the remission of your sins. (Acts 2:38) It is at this point (and not before) that your sins are forgiven. (Acts 22:16) It is impossible to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ without teaching the absolute necessity of baptism for salvation. (Acts 8:35-36; Romans 6:3-4; 1 Peter 3:21) Anyone who responds to the question in Acts 2:37 with an answer that contradicts Acts 2:38 is NOT proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ!
You Must Be Faithful Unto Death
Once you are saved, God adds you to his church and writes your name in the Book of Life. (Acts 2:47; Philippians 4:3) To continue in God’s grace, you must continue to serve God faithfully until death. Unless they remain faithful, those who are in God’s grace will fall from grace, and those whose names are in the Book of Life will have their names blotted out of that book. (Revelation 2:10; Revelation 3:5; Galatians 5:4)