When it comes to choosing a place to worship, the most common advice we receive is to find a place where you feel comfortable at, a place convenient, a place where you feel welcomed and where the folks are warm and caring and wear a sunshine smile every week, etc.
In a previous article (Sep 4 2016), we noted that there are over 30 000 denominations in the world. The idea behind the word ‘denomination’ is division, separation or designation into various classes of things. The fact is that denominations are separated by differences in beliefs, teachings and practices. Let’s examine this fact from a Biblical perspective.
When Jesus was here on earth, He promised to build the church.
“And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven. And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (Mat 16:16-18).
Jesus said “[T]he gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” ‘It’ is a singular term. This is significant. Why are there 30 000 denominations in the world if Jesus promised only one? And since there is only one church that Jesus built, why should there be all these differences in beliefs, teachings and practices that cause divisions?
The simple answer is that there shouldn’t be any difference. Also, these differences cannot be explained away by focusing on the similarities among these denominations and conveniently ignoring the differences or relegating them as ‘less important’.
The church, which Jesus promised to build, is His body. And He is the Head of the body. God the Father “…hath put all things under his (Jesus) feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, Which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all” (Eph 1:22-23).
Furthermore, Eph 4:4 says that there is only one body. How could one head has 30 000 bodies? This contradiction cannot be explained away too by saying that as long as these denominations are sincere and honest, it doesn’t matter all that much. Yes, it does matter. Our redemption, freedom from condemnation and salvation depends on it.
Previously (Sep 18 2016) we visited the truth that redemption, freedom from condemnation and salvation are ‘in Christ’ (cf. Rom 3:24; 8:1; 2Ti 2:10), and the only entry point ‘into Christ’ is baptism (cf. Rom 6:3-5; Gal 3:26-27). Now, since the church that Jesus built is the body of Christ, it only makes sense that we must be in that church.
How then do we determine out of so many, which is the true church? Or does the true church lie buried beneath centuries of traditions and distortions? We can discover the true church that Jesus built by turning to the New Testament and examining the pattern given there for the church. It reveals the beliefs, teachings, organisation and practices of the church.
Every organisation has a beginning, founder and charter. The charter of the church is the New Testament, not creeds drafted by men even though said creeds might be purportedly based on the New Testament. Since we have the New Testament given us by the inspiration of God (cf. 2Ti 3:16-17), why is there any need for the creeds of men?
The founder and builder of the church is Jesus Christ (Mat.16:16-19; Acts 20:28; Psa.127:1). He is the foundation of the church (1Co 3:11). As such, what the church believes, teaches and practices must have the authority of His word behind it.
The creeds, ideas and traditions from men might be persuasive and well-intentioned. But when it comes to the church that Jesus built – His church, none other – He tolerates no other ‘authority’. He has said, “All authority hath been given unto me in heaven and on earth” (Mat 28:18).
What did He say about men’s teachings and traditions?
“And the Pharisees and the scribes ask him, Why walk not thy disciples according to the tradition of the elders, but eat their bread with defiled hands? And he said unto them, Well did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written, This people honoreth me with their lips, But their heart is far from me. But in vain do they worship me, Teaching as their doctrines the precepts of men. Ye leave the commandment of God, and hold fast the tradition of men. And he said unto them, Full well do ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your tradition” (Mark 7:5-9).
Are you sure you found the true church? This is of utmost importance to our souls. We would like to serve you in your search for the church that Jesus built. Come, talk to us and let’s study the Bible together.