Author: Ron Graham
Many people feel they must investigate every religion and denomination, but that task is of course impossible. The mass of doctrines and opinions is too vast for anyone to sift through. The attempt can lead only to despair and confusion.
Some questioning and investigation is needed, certainly: Examine everything carefully and hold fast what proves to be good" (1Th 5:21). However that does not mean you must spend years examining minutely all the doctrines of all the denominations.
Simply take a few salient marks of the true church, and arrange them in the most logical elimination sequence. For instance, we list just four marks of the New Testament church...
...that Christ died on the cross for our sins, was raised from the dead, ascended to the throne of God, and will return to judge the world (Acts 2:23-24, Acts 2:32-33, 1Co 15:3-4, 1Th 4:16-17, 2Tm 4:1).
...in water in the name of Christ, of repentant believers, for the remission of sins (Acts 2:38, Rom 6:3-4).
...that purport to be miracles and signs, yet do not measure up to the standard and nature of miracles recorded in the scripture. (2Th 2:9-10, Acts 2:1-12, Acts 3:1-10, Acts 5:1-11, Acts 9:36-42).
...and descriptions for the church, and refuses all names invented by men. The latter divide, whereas names and terms used by inspired writers are not divisive. (Acts 11:26, Rom 16:16, 1Co 1:10-13).
There is one caution in this lesson: make sure that every mark you apply is really a mark of the true church that distinguishes it from the false. Make sure that Jesus Christ gave to his church every characteristic mark that you apply. Otherwise you will be eliminating parts of the true church, and judging as spurious what Jesus regards as true! This would be an insult to Christ and to those true Christians you have excluded.
Study as of first importance, the four characteristics I mention. When you convince yourself that these are indeed true marks of the church, go and find a people who have these marks. I would be surprised if they did not have whatever other necessary marks there may be. The four marks would at least eliminate most churches, and you might then apply other true marks to the remaing few if necessary.