01-14-2004, 09:22 PM
This may not be the proper forum but I need some advise or at least some opinions. There are no Reformed churches in the town that I live in. I am a Baptist and there are a dozen or so Baptist churches and we (my wife, 2 sons and I) and visited them all. There is not a single church within 40 miles of my home that teaches the doctrines of grace or comes even close. We are not financially able to drive a great distance to and from church. We were somewhat content with the church we've been attending but lately it's gone downhill doctrinally. Would we be better off worshiping at home or staying with the church we are presently attending?
01-14-2004, 10:19 PM
My advice is if you can't find a church that is doctrinally sound close to you, then I suggest meeting in your home and pray for other like minded brethren to fellowship with.
Yours in Him,
01-15-2004, 07:48 AM
Would you be willing to tell us the general location of where you live? There may be another non-Baptist reformed church in your area that you are unaware of. Though I take a strong stand on the baptism issue, I do not believe it is as important as God's sovereignty in salvation and would certainly feel more comfortable in a reformed baptist church myself than in a church which practices infant baptism and denies God's Sovereignty.
If such a church cannot be found which faithfully proclaims God's Sovereignty in salvation, my suggestion would be to move. I personally know people who crossed oceans in order to find a faithful church. Lot pitched his tent towards Sodom and the next thing we read is that Lot was living in Sodom. Finding a place which faithfully proclaims God's Word is more important than where we work or the neigborhood which we live in. God does not mean for us to be alone being solitary Christians apart from the body of Christ. A dismembered arm is useless. We need the spiritual nourishment that comes from the preaching of the Word and Scripture tells us that Christ speaks through the preacher.
01-15-2004, 08:55 AM
I am in a similar position to yourself. Although I might prefer a Sovereign Grace Baptist church I am currently attending a presbyterian church and consider this infinitely superior to attending an "Arminian" church. As a Brit I'm afraid I'm not familiar with all the US denominations but I am aware of the PRC, PCA and OPC.
01-15-2004, 01:02 PM
This may not be the proper forum but I need some advise or at least some opinions. There are no Reformed churches in the town that I live in. I am a Baptist and there are a dozen or so Baptist churches and we (my wife, 2 sons and I) and visited them all. There is not a single church within 40 miles of my home that teaches the doctrines of grace or comes even close. We are not financially able to drive a great distance to and from church. We were somewhat content with the church we've been attending but lately it's gone downhill doctrinally. Would we be better off worshiping at home or staying with the church we are presently attending?go to "bed-side baptist" and turn on TBN! just thought i'd add a little humor :D
but seriously, your question is a very common one and i asked that of myself about 4 years ago. it's not a cut and dry thing. i have friends who seem to constantly be going through this same dilemma as you are. i asked the same advice of dale lavoie over at solochristo.com and made some wonderful friends in the process (dale included). he directed me to a friend of his in my area (traveler on these forums) and the advice he gave me was like i'd never heard before. at that time, he (traveler) was going to a church i used to go to that also did not teach the doctrines of grace and it suprised me that we could agree on NCT and he went there! but he had said that God was using him there and that he had forged many friendships in Christ despite doctrinal differences (for as it says, "they will know we are disciples by our love for one another" not by our calvinism). so he advised that i find a church and get involved in a body because that is where God uses you (not floating off by yourself at "bed-side baptist").
that advice rang true to my heart (even though i was skeptical and still had a sort of mental checklist) and i began looking for churches with a different attitude (that i was there to serve not to be served). i now understood that it wasn't about finding a church that agreed with me on everything that i had strong convictions about but it was about finding a church that was following God and was seeking to honor Him in its worship and work. now obviously no church does that perfectly but i was fortunate to fall upon a fellowship that was definitely calvinist friendly (though not 5 pointers) and is willing to dialogue about things. they are open to discuss things and are not narrowminded and bigoted and do not pretend to have it all figured out. the general attitude is also teachable and humble and dependent upon the Lord.
to me, body life is an extremely important element to the fellowship of the saints. i'd much rather go to a calvinist friendly church (though not strict supra 5 pointers themselves) that had a healthy body life than a church where each and every individual was a strict supra 5 pointer but their body life (fellowship, service, attitude, etc.) stunk. and i find that often when a church is overly doctrinal (e.g., they're right and everyone else is wrong type attitude) that this is seems to be the general overall atmosphere (that of judgmentalness and criticalness resulting in very poor fellowship and body life).
but that's just my experience. other's may have a different opinion and a different experience on the matter. i'm only sharing my perspective and you can take it with a grain of salt since my perspective may not be what you're looking for. i think the important thing though is to obey God in what He has for you today and every day. if you feel convicted about something, do it...otherwise it is sin (Ro 14:23). anyway, i've rambled enough for now. hopefully God can use some of my own foolishness and experience to help you in your walk. i pray that God will strengthen your heart to follow and obey Him in this matter in whatever He leads you to personally do. may God be with you...
01-15-2004, 01:13 PM
I personally could not fellowship with openly professing Arminians.
01-15-2004, 01:14 PM
but that's just my experience. other's may have a different opinion and a different experience on the matter. i'm only sharing my perspective and you can take it with a grain of salt since my perspective may not be what you're looking for. i think the important thing though is to obey God in what He has for you today and every day. if you feel convicted about something, do it...otherwise it is sin (Ro 14:23). anyway, i've rambled enough for now. hopefully God can use some of my own foolishness and experience to help you in your walk. i pray that God will strengthen your heart to follow and obey Him in this matter in whatever He leads you to personally do. may God be with you...also remember that God is sovereign and you are there at that church for a reason. God is probably trying to teach you something more than just that all these churches (and people) are wrong and you're right. it may help for you to reflect on why exactly you are at the current body you are, and how you might serve Him (and your brothers and sisters) better where you are at. for example, are you obeying Him in everything He has you doing there? are you getting involved in the body and doing your part? i think it may behoove you to reflect on your current circumstances and ask Him what He has you doing there and what you are supposed to learn through this process. once again, just some more foolishness to chew on. i am thankful that God can use our tainted lives to make each and everyone of us more like His Beloved Son. may God bless you in your journey...
01-15-2004, 04:40 PM
My own experience has been the opposite. I was often warned by pastors and others that these churches which were so concerned about doctrine would be stuck up and have no fellowship. I later found that these pastors never attended any of the churches.
I was a member of a church in the SBC when God showed me His Sovereign grace in the Scriptures. The church was full of backbiting and bitterness. I looked around for a church where I could hear God's Sovereign Grace proclaimed and ended up attending a PCA church. They were far more concerned about doctrine and welcomed us into their homes. After some time of growth, I noticed some problems of disagreement between myself and the church, and even some difference between me and their doctrinal standards. After meeting with the elders several times, I realized the reason for their practices were not based upon Scripture but was warned once again that if I started going to the PRC church I was interested in, there would be no love there. My wife and I began attending a PRC church and the exact opposite was true. It was the first time I truly felt I was a member of a spiritual family. My wife had some very difficult times do to unrelated issues and I don't think we would have made it through it without them. Doing what the Bible says naturally flows from Christians who have been instructed what it says, they are not things which need to be balanced. God's Sovereignty is certainly at the top of the list for me, but there are other issues that since I live in America and am free to travel to different parts of the country I would not tolerate.
I certainly do not view all those outside of my denomination as being unregenerate, but I do believe we must join ourselves to the church in its purest form. This does not mean we go running out everytime we have a disagreement with someone, but it does mean we take doctrine seriously. I worry more at times about the Calvinist-friendly churches. It seems that they are unwilling to study the Scriptures thoroughly and take a firm stand. Often they say that evangelism is more important than Calvinism or Arminianism, but how can evangelism take place when people are uncertain what the message is? Articles 27, 28, and 29 of the Belgic Confession gives a summary of what Scripture teaches about God's church and how to distinguish the true church from the false one.
BCF 1:27-29 We believe and profess, one catholic or universal Church, which is an holy congregation, of true Christian believers, all expecting their salvation in Jesus Christ, being washed by his blood, sanctified and sealed by the Holy Ghost. This Church hath been from the beginning of the world, and will be to the end thereof; which is evident from this, that Christ is an eternal King, which, without subjects, cannot be. And this holy Church is preserved or supported by God, against the rage of the whole world; though she sometimes (for a while) appears very small, and in the eyes of men, to be reduced to nothing: as during the perilous reign of Ahab, the Lord reserved unto him seven thousand men, who had not bowed their knees to Baal. Furthermore, this holy Church is not confined, bound, or limited to a certain place or to certain persons, but is spread and dispersed over the whole world; and yet is joined and united with heart and will, by the power of faith, in one and the same spirit. 28 We believe, since this holy congregation is an assembly of those who are saved, and that out of it there is no salvation, that no person of whatsoever state or condition he may be, ought to withdraw himself, to live in a separate state from it; but that all men are in duty bound to join and unite themselves with it; maintaining the unity of the Church; submitting themselves to the doctrine and discipline thereof; bowing their necks under the yoke of Jesus Christ; and as mutual members of the same body, serving to the edification of the brethren, according to the talents God has given them. And that this may be the more effectually observed, it is the duty of all believers, according to the word of God, to separate themselves from all those who do not belong to the Church, and to join themselves to this congregation, wheresoever God hath established it, even though the magistrates and edicts of princes were against it, yea, though they should suffer death or any other corporal punishment. Therefore all those, who separate themselves from the same, or do not join themselves to it, act contrary to the ordinance of God. 29 We believe, that we ought diligently and circumspectly to discern from the Word of God which is the true Church, since all sects which are in the world assume to themselves the name of the Church. But we speak not here of hypocrites, who are mixed in the Church with the good, yet are not of the Church, though externally in it; but we say that the body and communion of the true Church must be distinguished from all sects, who call themselves the Church. The marks, by which the true Church is known, are these: if the pure doctrine of the gospel is preached therein; if she maintains the pure administration of the sacraments as instituted by Christ; if church discipline is exercised in punishing of sin: in short, if all things are managed according to the pure Word of God, all things contrary thereto rejected, and Jesus Christ acknowledged as the only Head of the Church. Hereby the true Church may certainly be known, from which no man has a right to separate himself. With respect to those, who are members of the Church, they may be known by the marks of Christians: namely, by faith; and when they have received Jesus Christ the only Savior, they avoid sin, follow after righteousness, love the true God and their neighbor, neither turn aside to the right or left, and crucify the flesh with the works thereof. But this is not to be understood, as if there did not remain in them great infirmities; but they fight against them through the Spirit, all the days of their life, continually taking their refuge in the blood, death, passion and obedience of our Lord Jesus Christ, "in whom they have remission of sins, through faith in him." As for the false Church, she ascribes more power and authority to herself and her ordinances than to the Word of God, and will not submit herself to the yoke of Christ. Neither does she administer the sacraments as appointed by Christ in his Word, but adds to and takes from them, as she thinks proper; she relieth more upon men than upon Christ; and persecutes those, who live holily according to the Word of God, and rebuke her for her errors, covetousness, and idolatry. These two Churches are easily known and distinguished from each other. Sola Gratia,
01-15-2004, 05:00 PM
Thanks to everyone for your advise and suggestions. We live in Hope, Arkansas. There is one Presbyterian church but it is pastored by a woman and I just couldn't go that route - even if the other doctrinal positions were sound.
We attended Texarkana Reformed Baptist Church for about five years and really loved it but the distance and financial concerns make it impossible to continue there. However, we do keep in touch and visit on occasion. My wife and I will probably consider moving there when our boys are out of school but the oldest is in the 11th grade and the youngest is in the 8th grade so we hate to relocate them. They've grown up here.
We're presently attending a BMA (Baptist Missionary Association) church. The members wouldn't know what Arminianism is if you asked them. The pastor would probably say that he is not Arminian but hates Calvinism. The preaching is extremely psychological/social/feel-good/gobble-de-gook.
We are in limbo.
Of course, the Lord attended the synagogue (as was His custom) and read from the Scriptures concerning Himself and they didn't recognize Him. I guess we'll continue with our custom until another way is clear.
02-04-2004, 09:33 AM
When I went to the PRC church in IL there were a few people who drove over two hours to get to the church. According to mapquest Texarkana is only about 37 minutes away....that ain't so bad. There's also a PCA church in Stamps.
First Presbyterian Church
Address: 305 Market Street
City: Stamps, State: Ar.
Information: Presbytery: Louisiana