SUBJECT - Gangs. Cliques, Cults and Denominations. They Are All the Same!!!
Before I begin this message, let me add the rest of the thought the apostle Paul was relaying to the Church which was in Corinth,
1Cor 1:11 For it hath been declared unto me of you, my brethren, by them which are of the house of Chloe, that there are contentions among you.
1Cor 1:12 Now this I say, that every one of you saith, I am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas; and I of Christ.
1Cor 1:13 Is Christ divided? was Paul crucified for you? or were ye baptized in the name of Paul?
What the apostle is addressing here, is something that everyone in the body of Christ, the Church, needs to get a hold of, and take it seriously, because it could very well determine whether you are actually saved, and on your way to eternal life, or being deceived that you are.
Over the course of my being saved, 36 years, I have looked at what is supposed to be a body of believers [Christians], and found that in many circumstances, they might be saying they are saved but, their actions, and other things they say, are tantamount to proving the opposite.
I say this because they all are members of a church, many of them are faithful to their local assembly, and follow the doctrine of that church, completely. And from that standpoint, it is an honorable position they take.
All of us should use that same example in our lives as Christians. However, the problem is, as the apostle Paul was elaborating here, is the fact that many in the Church, going as far back as its beginning, have joined in actions that totally undermine its mission, by focusing not on what Christ commissioned the Church to be, but more on what the members of that particular assembly think it should be.
It is from this mindset, that we get what are today called, denominations.
Denominations, are what people use to identify what they believe, and why.
When people are looking for a church to join, one of the criteria they use is, the foundational doctrine of that particular assembly. By this I mean, what is it that they believe and preach.
Every church, no matter the denomination, or location, uses the bible as a guide to build their organization on. However, depending on what church a person attends/joins, the leadership of those churches interpret certain scriptures differently than others, which then leads to a split from other churches, that hold a different view on those same scriptures.
This is how we got in to the church being split in to denominations.
The apostle Paul was addressing this issue with the church in Corinth.
Believers, from all over the city, and surrounding areas, came together and began comparing things like doctrine, who baptized whom, and how they were baptized, and their views of what the Church should be doing about sin, and such. And, because they had so many differences, in what they considered the important points of the message of Christ, they split up and used denominational names to distinguish themselves from the others.
They got to the point where they rarely, if ever had fellowship with those outside of their belief system, so that they would not have to listen to anything that they considered opposition to their beliefs.
Mind you now, Jesus, before He left to go back to the Father, prayed that the Church would be as one, even as He and the Father were/are One [St. John 17:20-22].
Therefore, the Church as a whole should be on one accord with each other, and especially Christ. But, that is not what we have today.
What we have is a dysfunctional entity, that for the most part has surrendered itself to the idea of, 'if we give the people what they want, they will come.'
The emphasis, is put on promoting those things that will draw people in, rather than promoting those things that Christ, the head of the Church, says.
When churches do this, they are no longer working as agents of Christ, but as agents of the one that wants to tear it down, namely the Devil!!
The Devil has, as his main goal, to make the body of Christ as ineffective as he can. And the best way to do that is to cause it to fight against itself. We all know there is strength in unity and that if any group of people fights against themselves, they cannot stand.
Denominations are the work of the Devil, even though many don't see it like that. Many will point to all the good things these churches are doing. And I would applaud them for that. However, that serves to appease the flesh, so that man can say, 'Look at what I/we did!!!'
Most churches, do very good at feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, visiting the sick, providing a place for the homeless, and other things like that. But, the main focus of the Church is to preach God's Word!!! All of it!!! Not just the parts that make others feel good.
If you will look at the letterhead on this tract, which is the founding scripture of this ministry, you will see that Hebrews 4:12, talks about
among other things, the Word of God being a twoedged sword, piercing to the dividing asunder of the joint and marrow.
This means that the Word of God, is not just there to give us comfort, in times of trouble, but to chastise, and even convict us when we are in the process of doing something wrong. Yet, it is this part that most churches ignore, or otherwise avoid addressing because, it would mean a lot of 'money' would leave the offering basket, when those that give to it, leave because they don't want to hear that type of message.
Denominations can be compared with gangs, and cliques.
Why do I say this??? Because in each, you have a group of people that act and think exactly the same. What is good for one, is good for all. Special favor is given to those that are members in their group, while at the same time, turning their noses up at those that are outsiders.
If we were to look at, the description of a cult, we would see that it is a group of people, who hold religious views, either biblical, or some other, that conflict with the principles of Christianity. In its basic form, denominations are nothing more than glorified cults.
Denominations serve no purpose but to promote separation in the body of Christ, This is the opposite of what Christ prayed for.
I said earlier that denominations cater to the flesh. With that being the case, denominations serve no purpose but to keep those that are in bondage to the Devil, in that position.
Certain denominations have started ordaining people as pastors and even bishops, that are actively engaged in behaviour that God calls abominable. A look at the old testament, and even in the new, shows that the office pastor and bishop, are to be filled by men who have been sanctified, and are holy in the sight of God. Any thing other than this, and you are looking at an agent of the Devil.
And just exactly what is the end result of denominational Christianity?? It puts people in the very real danger of ending up in eternal damnation, rather than eternal life.
You see the primary message of the Church centers on two key points. The first is, Christ died so that mankind can be reunited with God, and inherit salvation[eternal life]. The second part of that message is that man is a sinner, and the only way for him to receive salvation is through the act of confessing their sinful ways, and repenting [turning away from them]. It is not an either/or proposition. You have to accept both.
Denominational doctrine, depending on which denomination you are looking at, in many instances, tends to try to bypass the second part of the gospel message, by telling its members that it is not necessary to repent because Christ's death has effectively covered over their sins, and they are in right standing with Him. What this does is give the listeners a false sense of security, in that they feel they are free to continue in their sinful ways, because God doesn't really see them as sinners, anymore.
In the book of Romans 1:20-23
, we see that mankind has taken what Christ did through His death, burial and resurrection, and made a mockery of it by saying that we no longer need to worry about sin, just accept Christ, and you are on your way to Heaven.
The problem is, when you accept Christ, you are accepting Him as Lord, or Master of your life, and as such, you are to obey what He says. When you start trying to find ways to avoid following His Rules, that means you really haven't accepted Him as Lord. And since denominations get in the position of doing that, then basically, they are not taking His Lordship, or His being the Head of the Church, seriously.
Many well meaning people, both members, or even those in leadership in these churches, join them, and dedicate themselves to them, and don't consider the pitfalls that are inherent in a system that goes against what is the mission of the Church, the body of Christ.
Denominations, in order to keep their organization viable, tend to print books and other materials for their members to study from, and recommend that the people use these materials, as a guide to study the bible. The thing is, these materials will steer the reader/listener only to scriptures that support the view of that particular organization, while at the same time avoiding scriptures, that would raise questions in the minds of a person that there is a conflict between what they are being taught, and what the bible says. This is what is known as indoctrination.
When people become indoctrinated by a particular denomination, they will only seek to fellowship with other churches, or people that are in that same organization. They will, if they move to a different neighborhood, city or state, overlook a church that may be across the street, or next door, to locate one that may be blocks or miles away, that is of their particular denomination. This is not what Christ wants us to do.
Things have gotten to the point where denominations themselves, are splitting in to smaller groups, because as biblical Truth begins to shine through the cloud of misinformation that the enemy has planted in them, those that see errors in the teachings, begin to form their own groups, but want to stick with the denominational name, so they add an additional identifier to it. An example is Baptist. You have Baptist, Southern Baptist, Missionary Baptist, and a few others. The same can e said about Methodist, and others. Why all the differences??? Different sets of interpretations of scriptures. And because of this, the Church as a whole, is divided, and as such, ineffective.
The only differences there should be in the Church, is the city it is located in, like the Churches in the bible, Rome, Corinth, Galatia, Phillipi, Ephesus, and so on. These are the only identifiers that the Church should have. Anything other than that, and you are venturing in to enemy territory.
Sometimes the differences in interpretation may seem small, but, as one passage of scripture puts it, 'it is the little things[foxes] that spoil the vine' Song of Solomon 2:15.
As far as the Church goes, a person should be able to go in to any church, and not hear anything different, as far as the preaching of the Word of God, about salvation, sin, repentance, deliverance and so on.
When churches start telling you that God's view on sin or some other things has changed, there should the question of, show me in the bible where it says that. Take in to account that God says, [Malachi 3:6] I am the Lord, and I change not!!
Another name for denominations, is, [demon]ations, because they are of the Devil.
More next month.