What is a true church, and what are wolves?
As some of you know, we have another mission project, and that is: https://www.internationalchurches.eu
During our travels through Europe, we discovered that it is sometimes difficult to find a Christian international church in the countries we visited. Not only was it difficult to find them physically (what is the address, when/where do they meet on Sundays), but also to find out if it really is a Christian international church. Not only in name, but also in their teaching of the only true Christian message.
With this website, we try to solve that for everyone who is looking for an international, Christian place to meet in an unknown country in Europe. So, it’s a way that we encourage people to go to church wherever they are. Just as it says in Hebrews 10:
And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.Hebrews 10:24-25
But yeah…. What do you define as a Christian church? Anyone can rent a building and put a “church” sign on it, but is it a church? If there is a tower on a building, is that a church? If a few people sit in a building and talk about a god, is it a church? Which god are they talking about? For that reason, we check every church we find based on the following verses, among other things. Are they like it is written below, and do they do the following?
Although I hope to come to you soon, I am writing you these instructions so that, if I am delayed, you will know how people ought to conduct themselves in God’s household, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and foundation of the truth.1 Timothy 3:14-15
He must hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught, so that he can encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it.Titus 1:9
In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I give you this charge: Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction. For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry.2 Timothy 4:1-5
While they were eating, Jesus took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to his disciples, saying, “Take and eat; this is my body.” Then he took a cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you. This is my blood of the[a] covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. I tell you, I will not drink from this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.”Matthew 26:26-29
Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”Matthew 28:18-20
“Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Messiah.” When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call.” With many other words he warned them; and he pleaded with them, “Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.”Acts 2:36-40
Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day. They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.Acts 2:41-47
And that also means that we can’t put everyone who registers as a church on that website. We look at their website if they say they are, we look at their (online) services, we visit them if necessary, and yes, that’s quite a lot of work, every single time.
So, we don’t put so-called “churches” that deny the only God:
We know also that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true. And we are in him who is true by being in his Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life.1 John 5:20
And/or denying the Trinity:
“Come near me and listen to this: “From the first announcement I have not spoken in secret;Isaiah 48:16
at the time it happens, I am there.” And now the Sovereign Lord has sent me, endowed with his Spirit.
To deny any/or the deity of Christ:
The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.John 1:14
And/or serving false gods:
“I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. “You shall have no other gods before me. “You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments.Exodus 20:2-6
And yes, that is quite a job, if you want to do it well. It takes time, commitment, persistence and more. But if you do something for God, you must do it well. 110% and nothing less, because:
Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers. Be shepherds of the church of God, which he bought with his own blood.Acts 20:28
And only if they meet all those Biblical conditions will they be included in the list and not otherwise. And yes… unfortunately… sometimes “churches” also disappear from the list that have changed over time… from Church… to “church”.
And what should you as a reader do with this? Well, you may be looking for a church or congregation yourself. Then we want to challenge you to use the above “checklist” to look for that church. And yes, that’s quite a job… so why not grab the first church around the corner? This is why:
I know that after I leave, savage wolves will come in among you and will not spare the flock. Even from your own number men will arise and distort the truth in order to draw away disciples after them. So be on your guard! Remember that for three years I never stopped warning each of you night and day with tears.Acts 20:29-31
Watch out for the wolf…. it is well worth the investment.