November 6, 2006

Confused by Denominations? You’re not alone

What a powerful hold denominations have on some who claim them.
Which denominations believe in miracles and healings and are they correct to do so?
Which ones believe you must be baptized in order to be saved?
Which ones do not allow the use of musical instruments during worship?

If you are confused on these issues, you are not alone. I don’t hold to any denomination. I stick to the bible. I believe that everything we are to understand about ourselves, God, and our savior, his son Jesus Christ, can be understood by only taking up that book. God's word tends to bring us together while denominations have the tendency to divide us. This is no surprise, as they are tools of the flesh and not of the spirit. Denominations remind us that man got in the mix of God's holy word and suited it to satisfy himself. The rest is history.
Denomination - a group of religious congregations having its own organization and a distinctive faith.

A Baptist does not believe as the Pentecostal does. Charismatics are not Pentecostals although they share some similarities in their beliefs. Some denominations believe in healings and miracles. Others believe that these things were done away with the early apostles and prophets. The confusion is compounded when you realize that there are also a growing number of offshoots from many denominations. As if we didn't have enough confusion.

Think about all of the Christian denominations and the unique church doctrine they subscribe to. On the particular issue of healings and miracles and us continuing the works of Jesus, we can see by the following scripture what Jesus had to say on the issue of carrying on his works:

John 14:12-14

12 Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father.

13 And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.

14 If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it.

The above portion of scripture proves that preaching, healings, casting out demons and miracles were not done away with. These and more were the works that Jesus did. They are still for today friends. These are only a few issues that separate us through denominationalism in the Christian church. Isn’t it something that all we must do is pick up our bibles to find out the answers when we have questions of what God expects of us?

I remember as a young teenager, visiting a church nearby my home. A person from the church I was visiting came up to me to shake my hand. This person asked me to come back and they would be pleased to have me attend their church regularly. I thanked them and casually mentioned that I had a home church. Their response was: Yes, but you’re not at our church. That said it all. This is what denominations do to people.

For the Christian, there is but one church and it is a spiritual one not contained within four walls. It is the body of Christ and it is made up of all those who have become Christ’s children through salvation offered to them by Jesus Christ. We all will choose to attend different places of worship, the buildings with four walls and made up of fellow Christians, and have our own style. Some of us want to remain silent in church and be left alone while others may express their faith by clapping or raising their hands. But these are minor issues that express our own uniqueness and personality, there is no right or wrong in them, so they make no difference. We are all God’s children when the rubber meets the road.

The sin of pride even reaches the church

The problem with denominations is that there will always be those who hold firm to one and look down on the those who belong to other ones. This is sin my friends. It is the sin of pride and haughtiness and those who commit it have done much harm to the body and the cause of Christ.

As I mentioned before, denominations started when man thought to improve or correct some issues in the Christian church. This led to the flood of denominations we witness today. They have been increasing in number ever since.

The answer to the problems and the division that denominations create has always been the Word of God, the bible . To resolve our questions and differences, all we need to do is dig into the truths that it holds. But this is the problem you see because many won’t do this. They will believe the words of a man who preaches to them and neglect the words of the one who created them.

The Lord desires us to be united and not divided

John 17:11

And now I am no more in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to thee. Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me that they may be one, as we are.

Denominations divide rather than unite us

When we can all agree that the bible is truth, and is the final word on church issues, it is a major accomplishment.

When we can all strive to do the things and act in the way that God directs us to as laid out in the word, we are doing well.

When we can understand that not one denomination is above the other, in addition to the previous two cited we are at our best!

When we see the bible as God's final word and not what some man tells us, we will have arrived at the place in which none of these issues and divisions will pester us.

When God is in our lives and his spirit is within us, a change will take place in us and in time, others will recognize this change. This is known as “letting our light so shine” before others that they see Christ in our lives. This will then lead them to give God all the glory for these changes that are evident in us.

Matthew 5:16

The Words of Jesus: Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.

Keep it simple

It is amazing the measures many Christian denominations go to in order to get people to darken their doors.

They will put on skits and dramas and have a visitor’s day.
Listen, when people get desperate enough because they are sick and tired of the way their life has gone, they will turn to God. This is a fact my friends. It happened to me and many people I know. It’s the same way for the drug addict as it is for the unsaved. Until they reach the end of their rope and get far enough down in the gutter, they will not listen. Until then, we need to know that all of our schemes and grand ideas to pull them in are not likely to come to much. When we repent of the sin which we ourselves have committed and pray for others fervently, we are doing more for them than all of our schemes and tactics ever could.

I believe that the reason why many don’t come to God is because they don’t need him enough yet. They still have much self confidence and self trust. This is the way of human nature. So don’t wear yourself out trying to figure them out. Don’t get mad at them. Most of them already know the bad direction their life is headed. Would Jesus get mad at them? Of course he wouldn’t. His anger was directed at the hypocritical Pharisees.

Denominations will always be around. But we would all do well to read John 17 and get the words of Jesus into our spirits so that they might hold more sway in us than any particular man-made creed of a denomination ever could.

1 These words spake Jesus, and lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, Father, the hour is come; glorify thy Son, that thy Son also may glorify thee:

2 As thou hast given him power over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as thou hast given him.

3 And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.

4 I have glorified thee on the earth: I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do.

5 And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was.

6 I have manifested thy name unto the men which thou gavest me out of the world: thine they were, and thou gavest them me; and they have kept thy word.

7 Now they have known that all things whatsoever thou hast given me are of thee.

8 For I have given unto them the words which thou gavest me; and they have received them, and have known surely that I came out from thee, and they have believed that thou didst send me.

9 I pray for them: I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me; for they are thine.

10 And all mine are thine, and thine are mine; and I am glorified in them.

11 And now I am no more in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to thee. Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one, as we are.

12 While I was with them in the world, I kept them in thy name: those that thou gavest me I have kept, and none of them is lost, but the son of perdition; that the scripture might be fulfilled.

13 And now come I to thee; and these things I speak in the world, that they might have my joy fulfilled in themselves.

14 I have given them thy word; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.

15 I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil.

16 They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.

17 Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.

18 As thou hast sent me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world. 19 And for their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth.

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