What happens when a person is having difficulty finding a church home because of what they believe? How do I uphold my beliefs regarding the gospel of our Lord Jesus and avoid forsaking assembling with others when I find that the message is different from what I believe to be true?
Should I give to ministries that live up to what I believe according to the Word of God only? In Psalm 145:9 it states that “the Lord is good to all.” In Luke 6:30 we are to “give to every man that asks.” Am I compromising if I give, or am I blessing my enemy/weaker brother?
Slightly confused, but not forsaken in New Orleans, LA
Super questions all! The verses you cite (other than your allusion to Heb 10:25, “[let us] not forsak[e] the assembling of ourselves together”) don’t specifically deal with the questions of church attendance and giving.
The early church was totally different from our modern churches. Most cities had only one church. Rome, for example, had over one million people in it, yet there was only one church, with approximately 50 members (see Rom 16:3-15). Ephesus had a population of around 250,000, yet it too had only one small house church. Antioch and Corinth, with populations of half a million, had one church each.
We know that those proclaiming a false gospel crept into the churches of the region of Galatia (e.g., Gal 1:6-9). When Paul wrote about these Judaizers, as they were called, he did not advise the believers in Galatia to form new churches, to boycott their churches, or even to cease giving to them. However, that situation is not exactly like the one you describe, where the leaders of the church are proclaiming a false gospel. These were visitors who were trying to move the entire church, leadership and all, away from the gospel.
Here are the salient points to keep in mind:
- We are not to fellowship with those who proclaim a false gospel (Gal 1:8-9). I’m not speaking of churches that are fuzzy on the gospel, but of those which clearly proclaim a false gospel.
- We are not to support false teaching financially, or in any other way (see 2 John 8, 10-11). Again, the issue is not fuzziness, but clear heresy.
- We are to assemble together with other believers on the first day of the week (Heb 10:25).
- We are to carry our own weight in the needs of our local church (1 Cor 16:2; 2 Cor 9:6-8).
- If every church in my city proclaims a false gospel, I must find somewhere else to worship. I could:
- travel to another city, even if it means a drive of several hours each way or; or
- start a home church.
We are not free to bypass local church giving to support missionaries, parachurch groups, etc. Our giving to the latter comes only after we have done our fair share in the local church. However, if a family chooses to start a church in their own home and to give to that church, then the church itself could (and should) choose to use that money to support missions, ministries, etc.
GES is seeking to plant Free Grace churches all over the world. Our school of theology is aimed at this need. We urge all Free Grace churches to actively pursue planting churches in nearby towns and communities that lack a clear gospel witness.
Hang in there. If church is important, and it is, then do whatever it takes to find or plant a church that is clear on the gospel of grace. It’s worth the effort.