Does it really matter what church I go to? If you’re like me you’ve probably driven down a street in your town or city and probably seen a bunch of different denominations. Lutheran, Baptist, Pentecostal, Catholic, non-denominational, and so many others. If you know anything about denominations you probably know that there’s division even within those bigger denominations. There’s a whole bunch of different Baptists and Lutherans out there and Pentecostals and much more. So it begs the question, Does it really matter what church I go to? After all don’t all Christians worship the same God?
Well, it is true that all Christians worship the same Triune God of the Bible. It’s important for us to know what God tells us in His Word through the apostle Paul in Romans chapter 16. He says this.
But I urge you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and offenses contrary to the teaching that you learned, and keep away from them. For such people are not serving Christ our Lord but their own appetites. By smooth talk and flattery, they seduce the hearts of the unsuspecting. (Romans 16:17-18)
God tells us in His Word that there are people out there that are teaching us things that are contrary to what we have been taught. Contrary to what it says in God’s Word. We can think of some of those false teachings, maybe such things as this: forbidding children to be baptized. Maybe saying it’s not the body and blood of Christ you receiving the Lord’s Supper, but only bread and wine. Maybe demanding that in order to be saved one must do the work of making their decision for Christ. Or acquiring other works for salvation. Or think of other churches that maybe say evolution is compatible with the Bible. Or that we should have women pastors. Or that we should have gay marriage in the church. Still other churches that deny the power of miracles. They deny that there even is such a thing as miracles. That the virgin birth didn’t happen nor did the resurrection of Christ from the dead.
Well do any of those false teachings really matter? In our own minds we maybe want to rank them and say OK, if you don’t believe Jesus rose from the dead, that’s pretty serious, but these others maybe not so much of a big deal. But really all false teaching is harmful, isn’t it?
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve spoken to people who’ve told me, Yeah, I don’t agree with everything that my church teaches, but I like the music and the pastors is interesting. If somebody set before you a delectable piece of cake and told you there was a little bit of poison, or a little bit of dog excrement inside of that cake, would you still want to take a bite? Probably not.
Notice what God says he doesn’t simply say to be on your guard, to watch out for false teachers, but he also says stay away from them. He’s not instructing us to worship with and join the churches of and to pray with and take communion with those who teach falsely, but he’s telling us to keep away from them because they are ultimately harmful to our faith.
All false teaching can be destructive to our faith. First of all because it gets us to doubt God’s Word, is any of it really true? And secondly, it can cause us to doubt what God’s Word says. Is there such thing as sin? There’s people over here, Christians supposedly, over here that says what I’m doing is not wrong at all even though the Bible says it’s wrong. Can maybe get us to doubt even our salvation, that Jesus actually was the Son of God, that he actually could pay for my sins, that he actually rose from the dead, which is my guarantee to know that God also can raise me from the dead.
So does it matter what church I go to? Yes. God encourages you to watch out for false teachers. To keep away from them. Rather he desires you to find a church that speaks His Word of truth that your faith might not be harmed. Jesus says this in John Chapter 8
“If you remain in my word, you are really my disciples. You will also know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”