About Denominationalism

By | Articles | No Comments

“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. Is Christ divided? was Paul crucified for you? or were ye baptized in the name of Paul” (I Corinthians 1:12-13)?

 

Before I even get started on this article, I want to respectfully say that this article is not meant to bash ministers or churches who are members of denominations. Just as Jesus spoke of His disciples being in the world but not of it, in like manner, you can be in a denomination just not of it. You are of Christ. My hope, through this article, is to convey that the Bible is sufficient, through the ministry of the Holy Spirit, to order a body of believers to come together and have all the accountability, leadership, unity and order to function in a true New Testament fashion. I even asked myself, “Is it necessary to put out such an article? Won’t this just alienate me from ministers and saints who belong to a denomination?” Then I realized as I have done so often, if I can’t talk open and honestly about such things amongst the body of Christ, when and where can I? Should I go instead and complain to the world?

I want to note that when I refer to denominationalism, I am also referring to all groups who organize like a denomination, but prefer to use a different term to describe themselves. For the sake of convenience, I will use the word denomination throughout the remainder of this article.

Now as I get started you saw in our text, that Paul asked, “Is Christ divided?” The answer to that is, of course not. However, the church sure is. Some years back, in one of my articles, I stated that there are over 900 denominations in America. As I think about that statement, I have to yield to the fact that we can’t really know how many there are. A few websites say there are over 30,000 Christian denominations in this world. In America, the Baptist Church is the largest protestant denomination. Wikipedia gave a list of all the different Baptist denominations there are in America. I counted seventy nine of them. So we just don’t have differing denominations, but also differing factions inside one denomination. Hold back your criticism, you members of the Pentecostal / Charismatic churches. I counted thirty two different denominations in your ranks. One question looms large in my mind; “How can a people, who all say they read and believe the same book (the Bible), be so divided?”

Have you saint of God, grown so accustomed to denominationalism that you never bother to consider if it is even biblical? I know it seems the norm for the church. Have you ever asked, “Where in the Bible does it teach or promote denominationalism?” If we are honest, which we believers have no choice but to be, you will have to agree that you cannot find a scripture that teaches that we should create such organizations. In fact the opposite is true. Paul rebuked the Corinthians for picking favorites and identifying with a specific group (“I am of Paul; I of Apollos…”). Are you of Wesley, are you of Luther? Do you follow the ways of the Anabaptists or the Puritans? Is your religion Grandma and Grandpa’s style? Or are you of Christ? Are you a follower of Christ? Is the Bible your rule of Authority?

I am sure you surmised by now that I and the church I shepherd, do not belong to any denomination. Churches of the sort that I pastor are usually called non-denominational or independent. (I like to refer to my church as “dependent,” dependent on the Holy Spirit.) Even using these terms can take on a denominational feel as well. Why do we have to have labels anyway? Why do we look for another way to identify ourselves other than to have our identity in Christ and have the word of God as our authority? I ask you, why is it that the churches who incorporate seem to be the norm and those churches who don’t are considered illegitimate? I get it that there are a lot of troublemakers in the church who have rebelled against denominational authority and started their own little “us four and no more” non-denominational church. When I was a young believer, I used to think that those who were in non-denominational churches were all rebels. I have learned there are plenty of rebels to go around. They aren’t just in the non-denominational churches, but the denominational ones as well. In fact, there is very powerful politics in some, if not many, denominational churches. I have even heard a story from several people, of a high official in a denomination who openly lied to a church body. He did it for the sake of the denomination’s interests. That is what politicians do. Politicians lie, men of God promote truth, no matter the cost. Ministers do not have to lie to keep the saints faithful, but church politicians often lie to keep their denominational agenda on course. I am not saying that ministers who are good strong leaders in their church are a part of church politics, for I assume many are not. However, it is heart breaking to see the church operate like a political machine.

So what is the solution? Can we the church, really come together in love and unity, with true leadership in place and let the word of God truly be our final authority? Can we exist together without having to draft bylaws and corporation papers? Can we all really be members of a church body without having to take several classes and then sign a membership card? Absolutely, positively we can and we must. It starts with believing that it is God’s expectation for His church to be united as one body and then determining in your heart to see it happen in our generation. Again, all Christians will say they agree that there is only ONE body, but our hundreds of denominations tattle on us. They testify that we don’t believe what we say.

 

“Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; One Lord, one faith, one baptism, One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all” (Ephesians 4:3-6).

 

Seven times you see the word “one” in this verse. What don’t we get about that? What we all need to do is quit saying that we believe the word of God to be our final authority and simply let it be. That means that every Christian who belongs to a denomination, as I said earlier, must refuse to be of it.

I have asked some people if they are a Christian. It is not unusual to get an answer like, I’m Catholic, I’m Baptist or I belong to such and such a church. Let me ask you. Do you really believe the word of God? Are you, saint of God, willing to believe the whole truth as the Spirit reveals it to you, even at the expense of being cut off by your church or denomination? How about you, ministers of God? Are you willing to face losing your credentials, if that is what would come about if you were to preach a truth that is contrary to what your denomination believes? I know of some ministers who left their denomination and lost their retirement all for the sake of preaching the truth. What do you love more, your denomination or the truth of God? If we would dare believe the truth, our denominations would be considered irrelevant overnight.

Learning By Revelation

By | Articles | No Comments

“The secret things belong unto the LORD our God: but those things which are revealed belong unto us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law” (Deuteronomy 29:29).

 

Some Christians are afraid of the word “revelation.” The devil is glad of that. The devil understands that we learn Christ through revelation not intellect. I understand why some wince a little when they hear the word “revelation.” We have had our share in the Christian community of those who declare to us that they received a new revelation from God. In the early 1800’s, Joseph Smith claimed to receive new revelation and today we have the Mormons. Whenever someone claims to receive a revelation, that is contrary to the word of God, you can be 100 percent certain that it is false and you must without hesitation run from it. However, just because there are those who claim they have new revelation, does not cancel out that Christians can receive revelation from God. Yes, even centuries after the books of the Bible were compiled, God still does reveal himself to mankind.

The word “revelation” is translated from a Greek word meaning “a disclosure.” It is like taking the cover off of something so you can see what it is. Whatever it is that is being revealed or disclosed, is there already, you just need to see it. It is the same with God and His word. God is, and He has never changed. His word is settled in heaven. Revelation from God gives man the ability to see this great God and to understand His word.

Millions of people who claim to be a Christian, think they are saved because they have an intellectual understanding of who Jesus Christ is and what He has done for them. They think they are saved, but have only come to believe with their natural understanding that Jesus died to save them from their sins. My whole life from about five or six years old, until I got saved at twenty seven years old, I believed that Jesus was the Son of God and that He died on the cross to save me and take me to heaven. Yet I was as lost as the next guy. It wasn’t until the Father was revealed to me that I had the ability to believe Him with my whole heart, soul, mind and strength. Believing in God with just your mind is not good enough.

 

“All things are delivered to me of my Father: and no man knoweth who the Son is, but the Father; and who the Father is, but the Son, and he to whom the Son will reveal him” (Luke 10:22).

 

When you read the gospels you read how the disciples, at different times, received revelation from God. In the sixteenth chapter of Matthew, we read where Peter made His confession that Jesus was the Christ, the Son of the Living God. Jesus responded by saying “…Flesh and blood has not revealed this unto you, but my Father, who is in heaven.” Up to this time Peter may have had a general understanding of this truth, but it wasn’t until the Father revealed it to Peter that he could make such a bold declaration. You could say in a sense, that this truth became his. Today, our Heavenly Father is still revealing things to us. Not new things, but eternal things that have been there from the foundations of the world. The Father wants to reveal things to you, dear saint of God. He wants, through the Holy Spirit, to reveal the word of God to you. The Bible says that the natural man cannot understand the things of the Spirit. It takes the Spirit of God to open one’s eyes to the truth of the word of God. Revelation comes by the Spirit of God. Without the Spirit, there is no revelation.

There is a work that the Holy Spirit constantly wants to do for each of you, if you will let Him. HE WANTS TO REVEAL CHRIST TO YOU. Paul prayed for the believers in Ephesus, “That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him” (Ephesians 1:17). Paul prayed this prayer for saved people. This makes it clear that God wants to continually reveal Himself to us.

Today, so many Christians are drawn to academia. They would rather hear nice outlined teachings than listen to a message that comes forth with conviction and power and speaks to the spirit of man. It seems more and more Christians consider a sermon delivered by Spirit filled preachers as legalism. People hate conviction, including some Christians. Some of our big name Bible teachers draw from their intellect, but carry no anointing. May I even dare to say, some of them may not even be saved. They have a head full of knowledge, but have never had the word of God laid open to them by the Spirit of God. It is the anointing that makes a minister effective.

It is the anointing that makes you effective. No doubt, God gives a higher intelligence to some people. If you are one of them, I challenge you to use it for the glory of God. Just remember, you need the Spirit of God working through you, if your words are going to go any further than just the minds of people. The word of God will never become life through understanding words alone. “For the kingdom of God is not in word, but in power” (I Corinthians 4:20). Words are cheap. Men are liars. “Let God be true, but every man a liar.” Therefore, let GOD SPEAK.

 

“But I make known to you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached by me is not according to man. For I neither received it from man, nor was I taught it, but it came through the revelation of Jesus Christ” (Galatians 1:11-12).

 

The great Apostle Paul, who was an incredible intellect, declared that what he received didn’t come through men’s teaching, but through the revelation of Jesus Christ. Whether you realize it or not, anything you have learned of the word of God that got deep into your heart was through revelation and not by man.

 

“Who also hath made us able ministers of the new testament; not of the letter, but of the spirit: for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life” (II Corinthians 3:6).

 

One of the reasons we have a backslidden church here in America today is because many of those who minister to her, lack the Spirit and therefore can only preach and teach the letter of the law. Ministers kill the church preaching the letter without the Spirit. Without the Spirit revealing the word of God, the Bible just becomes a book of principles to live by, a mere instruction manual. Jesus said to the Jews, “You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me. But you are not willing to come to Me that you may have life” (John 5:39-40). The religious leaders searched the scriptures, but never found eternal life because they refused the revelation from the Spirit. They wanted the written word of God, but not the living word of God. They accepted the scriptures, they thought, but refused Jesus, who is the Word.

Saint of God, seek out the Lord with all your heart and he will give you continued revelation of His word and His greatness.