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The short answer is pride and carnality. 1 Corth. 3:2-7 "…for you are still carnal. For where there are envy, strife, and divisions among you, are you not carnal and behaving like mere men? For when one says, “I am of Paul,” and another, “I am of Apollos,” are you not carnal? … The same is true today, are you not carnal when you divide yourself from other Christians under party spirited names like Baptist, Lutheran, Presbyterian, Catholic, Methodist, Pentecostal, etc...? According to God’s infallible word, YES you are. "What church do you belong to?", I was asked. "I belong to the church that's in the Bible, the one Paul and Peter the first Christians belonged to", was my answer. "Oh, yes but...", the questioner hardly knew what to say next. Great is the confusion in the world concerning the church of the Bible. Can this confusion be dispelled? I believe it can for all who have an ear for the truth. When one uses God’s word as the source of truth and instruction for a believer’s conduct we find that there is only one true church of Christ and only one faith Eph. 4:4-5. It has many description; the household of faith Gal. 6:10, the body of Christ Eph. 1:22-23, the temple of God 1Corth. 3:16-17, churches of Christ Rom. 16:16, the church of God 1Corth. 1:2; 15:9, the temple of God 1 Corth. 3:16-17, God’s building 1 Corth. 3:8. A few lines quoted from "Kurtz' Church History", Vol 1, p. 115, neatly explains how the early church drifted away from the inherent guiding truth of God's infallible Word. The key word is "tradition": "Tradition as preserved in the so-called Apostolic Church served as the rule and test of catholicity in government, worship, and doctrine. Indeed, since the apostolic writings were as yet neither generally diffused nor acknowledged, this tradition was, previous to and for the purpose of the settlement of the New Testament canon, even place above the writings of the apostles..!" The word, "idea" is conspicuous in this writing on early church history. Men got ideas! Our Lord's rebuke to the scribes and Pharisees for making "the commandments of God of none effect by your traditions" has been in order from that day to this day of religious confusion! We see then that Christ's church is a "body", likened to our physical body with it's various functioning members. In 1 Cor. 6:15-19 believers' bodies are said to be "THE MEMBERS OF CHRIST" and that ones physical body is "the temple of the Holy Spirit". Our attention thus is called to THE ONLY CHURCH BUILDING MENTIONED IN THE BIBLE. After all, a man made literal building of lumber and masonry not a "church", an "ekklesia", a called out people. Eph.2:19-22 "Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God ('FAMILY' of God, in Eph. 3:15); And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone; In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord: In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit." A SPIRITUAL building, alive and GROWING, you see. So also in Pet. 2:5, "Ye also as lively (living) stones are built up A spiritual house..." "And hath put all things under Christ's feet and gave Him to be HEAD over all things to the church, which is his body, the fullness of Him that filleth all in all" (Eph. 1:22-23). "And Christ is the HEAD OF THE BODY, THE CHURCH; who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things He might the preeminence." Here Christ is said to be the Head of and the "beginning" of a new order of beings yet to be raised from the dead and caught up with the translated living saints, as His eternal "body", the church. Enrolling professing Christians in a so-called "Church Membership Roll" is utterly unscriptural. As Jesus Himself keeps the roll and places the members in His body when saved. Acts 2:47
I believe that denominations have grown out of living stones, each with certain gifts and learning styles, that began to gather in areas where they can use their gifts best. This is just as our individual gifts and passions lead us to contribute to the church in different ways. I feel led to serve and move in my community in different ways, but my neighbor in Christ might be led elsewhere. I linked up to a church body where I can best serve my Lord. I now attend a non denominational church, but I previously went to a Baptist. Any denomination can become destructive when it makes doctrine out of differences, and judgments out of areas where our Lord did not decree or judge. Denominations become destructive when they say they are "The Church" and are exclusive, saying they are the only affiliation you can belong to to be in "The Church". I have Christian brothers and sisters from many different denomination assemblies, but we seek and serve our Lord together on the streets of Seattle at the Union Gospel Mission. One of our denomination attendees gets much out of expository preaching, and that is what draws him to study the Bible and show himself approved. I get a lot out of application and topical teaching, and that is what gets me to study the Bible and show myself as one approved. One attends a denomination that that does not drive the body into the Scripture, but she stays to spur the drive into Scripture in fellow believers, and to teach and start study groups. I believe individual learning styles, gifts, and service calling draw us to various assemblies that we call denominations. As long as we know we are part of the universal church, and understand that we are all in assemblies or gatherings of children of the one true God, then it is fine for us to affiliate with different denominations. However, it's the denominations that close themselves off and build a since of legalistic separateness, vs. Cohesive living stones built up together, that we are to be leery of. God says we are to follow him in Spirit and in Truth, so you want a healthy balance of the moving of the Holy Spirit within the structure of the authority of Scripture in whatever body you are gathered in. When we gather in the kingdom of our Lord, we will come from many tribes and nations. If you look at denominations, it is much like 'tribing' where we have commonality so we can commune and serve in community. It is also much like nations, in that many denominations start because of commonalty of speech or governing style. What ever we do in word or deed let us all do it for God's glory, Amen.
If "Christian" means the believers and followers of Jesus Christ, we have to follow what Jesus is saying: "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you really knew me, you would know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him" (John 14: 6-7), and in parables of the Wedding Banquet: " For many are invited, but few are chosen" (Matthew 22: 14), and in parables of the Vine and the Branches : "You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit- fruit that will last. Then the Father will give you whatever you ask in my name. This is my command: Love each other" (John 15: 16-17); since the heavens are higher than the earth, so are God's thought higher than our thought (Isaiah55: 8-9).So, we will not believe and follow any body but Jesus Christ alone. To become a believers and followers of Jesus is not an easy task (Matthew 16: 24) unless we are enabled by the Father (John 6: 60-66); even many of the disciples of Jesus turned back and no longer followed Jesus, but to become a Chistian is easier, just to follow a Christian tradition: getting baptized when we were still a child and when we have grown up we were declaring our Cristian's faith /creed (there are three kinds of Christian's Protestant creeds: Apostolic, Niceanum and Athanasianum), then we will become a person known as a Christian in the society where we are living. In other words, religion is a man's concept of God. This is the reason why there are so many Christian denominations because they themselves chose Jesus according to their own interests and concept of God and establish their own tradition in worshiping God. As prophet Isaiah had prophesied: "These people come to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship of me is made up only of rules taught by man " (Isaiah 29: 13).
There's a simple reason for the different denominations of Christianity. Someone came along after the church was born and said "We need to keep the Sabbath." Others wanted to mandate circumcision. Many agreed, many thought they "KNEW BETTER" than what was already established by the early church. Then someone said "You must be baptized to be saved." Not everyone agreed, but some did. Later someone came up with the idea to pray to dead relatives, the angels, Mary the mother of Jesus, martyred saints, etc. Peter was given Christ-like status by some. Many KNEW BETTER than to go along with these things. Hence, the church is divided. Some people say it isn't because they reckon the "true" church is the one they belong to. Split is apropos. There's more than one economic system that people subscribe to for the same reason for the different religions. Not everyone who subscribes to capitalism, communism, socialism, or any other "ism" agree on all the principles that govern these systems. You might say, but the bible says that all born again believers have the same Spirit to guide them, we were made to drink of one Spirit (1 Cor 12:13, Eph 4:4). The Scripture doesn't stop there though. Gal 5:17 explains the breakdown thusly: The flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please... The word is spot on.
I have often thought that Christians arguing about which denomination is "right" is rather like arguing about which food is right. I like Mexican, Chinese, American, German, Italian, Greek, Polish, English, Welsh, Scottish, Cuban, French and Norwegian food, but which one is right? The answer is only that which nourishes the body! But which one nourishes the body? All of them, so none are wrong from a nutritional viewpoint. Yes some may be better for you, but all provide essential nutrients. If the church you are attending agrees with your "spiritual palate" then continue worshiping there, but if you are hungry for something different, go for it! (Assuming it isn't a cult!) And as far as food and drink, we know that Jesus ate fish and bread, and drank wine and (assuming the woman at the well gave him water), he drank water! Since he was a Jew he would have eaten the traditional Passover meal of lamb, an egg, bitter herbs, a vegetable, a mixture of apples, nuts and wine ground together, unleavened bread and possibly lettuce. Jews of the day also usually ate radishes, onions, squash, leeks, garlic, kale, pine nuts and lentils. Chickpeas, fava beans and peas just like they do today!.
One reason for so many denominations is one that is seldom realised. God promised that he would do nothing without telling his prophets. When the church became established they decided that Jesus was the last of the prophets and there would be no more. God had to raise up new congregations so that he had a prophet. The problem is that those same congregations wanted, after a while, to become mainstream and accepted. God can still act but his prophets are hard to find. Meanwhile most of the people are asking, “Why doesn’t God?” You need to find the prophets and you will not find them in the mainstream church.
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