Measures of a Sound Church

Text: 2 Timothy 1:13

We sometimes use the term “sound” to describe a local church. What does this mean? And what standard are we to use to indicate whether or not a church is sound?

What Does It Mean for a Church to be Sound?

  • The Greek word translated sound means to be well or in good health; safe; whole
  • What makes a church healthy, safe, and whole? … people in the world may have different answers to that question – we will notice a few in this lesson
  • But we ought to focus on what God would consider a healthy, safe, or whole church – this answer will be found in the word of God (cf. 1 Corinthians 2:11-13)

Some Things That Are Not Indicators of Soundness

  • Large numbers – Jesus warned against following the majority (Matthew 7:13-14); sometimes a church is large because it is not sound (2 Timothy 4:3-4)
  • A popular, well-liked preacher – Jesus warned His apostles that the world would hate them (John 15:18-19); sometimes the one leading the crowds is leading them astray (Acts 20:30)
  • A good standing in the community – we should not try to make trouble (Romans 12:18); but in the first century, the church was “spoken against everywhere” (Acts 28:22)
  • A new, fancy building – church buildings are authorized (cf. 1 Corinthians 11:17-18); but churches can also meet in homes (1 Corinthians 16:19), public places (Acts 2:46), and other locations; a nice building is an indication of good resources, not soundness
  • A reputation for being a sound church – Sardis had a good reputation, but was dead (Revelation 3:1); Ephesus had been a sound church in the past, but left their first love (Revelation 2:4)
  • A Scriptural name on the sign – Paul associated with “churches of Christ” (Romans 16:16); but having the name “church of Christ” on the sign does not automatically make the church sound (cf. Revelation 3:1)

Proper Indicators of Soundness

  • Holding fast the pattern (2 Timothy 1:13) – recognize that there is a pattern, then follow it
  • Preaching the gospel without additions, subtractions, or changes (Galatians 1:6-9)
  • Intolerance of false teachers/teaching (2 John 9-11) – fellowship makes one a partaker, even without actively promoting/practicing error
  • Assemblies patterned after the New Testament – teaching, giving, Lord’s Supper, prayer, singing (Acts 2:42; 20:7; 1 Corinthians 14:15; 16:1-2)
  • Doing the work God has given – evangelism (1 Timothy 3:15), edification (Ephesians 4:11-16), and limited benevolence (Acts 11:29-30; 1 Timothy 5:16)
  • Content to stay within the bounds of what has been authorized (Colossians 3:17) – the ends to not justify the means; do the Lord’s work in an authorized manner
  • Working to grow (Ephesians 4:16; 1 Thessalonians 1:8) – does not necessarily mean the church will grow (1 Corinthians 3:6); but work must be done

Conclusion

  • There are many churches in the world – but we are not free to join the church of our choice
  • Even among “churches of Christ,” not all are what God would have them to be
  • We need to be part of a sound church and work to keep it sound so that we can please the Lord

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