"Extremely Important Introductory Matters"
Friends, it is imperative that you read carefully this article with an open Bible and an open mind. In order to ascertain the truth regarding any issue one must possess the proper attitude. It is not possible to be saved without love for the truth (Jn. 8:32; 2 Thess. 2:10-12)!
This material is not presented with the purpose of "throwing mud" or belittling any man or church. I am not in the work of preaching or writing, intending to cause embarrassment to overwhelm anyone. My foremost responsibility as a preacher of the gospel is to "preach the word in love" (2 Tim. 4:1-4; Eph. 4:15).
I am not your judge or anyone else's, nor do I intend to arrogate (to assume or to claim unduly or proudly; usurp) the divine prerogative of God Almighty and become a judge!
Also, it is apparent that some of the readers will become "upset" and "bitter" because of the plainness of speech which I will employ in the presentation of the following material. But please allow me to state that the salvation of one soul is so blessed and the damnation of one soul is so terrifying that I cannot hold my peace and beat around the bush when spiritual matters are at stake (Jer. 20:7-13). With all the fervor in my soul, I beckon you who really want to go to heaven, and who are really interested in what the word of God says to read this with the intent of obeying God's written message irrespective of tradition, circumstances, and family religion. What force on the earth is so significant that you will risk losing your soul? For, "what shall a man be profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his soul?" (Matt. 16:26) Is not the question of Jesus in the preceding Scripture worthy of your careful consideration?
Finally, the points which shall be enumerated in this paper are not to be construed as personal attacks against any man or body of men. I care not about a "bunch of who shot John and who slapped Sally." That is a "pile of garbage" which is totally immaterial! The important issue is "What does the Bible teach?"
Our question for study and contemplation relative to a present crisis is:
"Why, According to The Bible Are Denominations Sinful?" (Psalms 127:1; Matt. 15:9,13,14)
According to the teaching of the Bible, denominations are sinful for the following reasons:
(1) They have been in a state of spiritual warfare, division, and blatant confusion since their very beginning! We are plainly told (1 Cor. 14:33) that "God is not the author of confusion, but of peace." We may put this situation into proper perspective by demonstrating our argument in the form of a syllogism. Note the following reasoning which is irrefutable. Major Premise. God is not the author of confusion. Minor Premise: Denominations are in a state of confusion. Conclusion: Therefore, God is not the author of any denomination on the earth!
Many individuals have been driven into unbelief (atheism-infidelity) as a result of the "rotten," "filthy," "hypocritical," "low-down" division which exists in denominationalism! The basic reason why many are forsaking religious principles is that they do not know whom or what to believe! (One church teaches one thing about a subject, and another church teaches an entirely different thing about the same subject! Sometimes these differing churches are located on the same street or city block.) Friends, I know that you are disgusted and disgruntled about the whole mess! I do not understand how or why you kind people continue to remain in such a pathetically and unchangeably sad situation.
The Lord teaches (John 17:20-21) that men are brought to believe that God sent the Christ through the "unity" (oneness) of believers. Jesus said, " . . . I pray, for them also that believe on me through their word; that they all may be one . . . that the world may believe that thou didst send me." Oh to God that the prayer of His Son would be given heed! Sectarianism in word and deed, strives to make the prayer of Jesus a farce. It mocks and scoffs at the teaching of the Bible in Ephesians 4:3 that we should "give diligence to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace." Why? Because denominationalism is advocating the erroneous doctrine that a man has the right to believe and practice whatever he desires as long as he is sincere. The Bible teaches the very opposite in the following language: "Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them that are causing the divisions and occasions of stumbling, contrary to the doctrine which you learned: and turn away from them."
(2) Denominations are sinful also because they give people a false sense of security by promulgating the false teaching that a man is "justified by faith alone." Note carefully what the following creed-books say regarding this doctrine:
(a) The Discipline of the Wesleyan Church (1972 edition, p. 29, article 113) states, "Wherefore, that we are justified by faith only is a most wholesome doctrine and very full of comfort."
(b) Baptist Church Manual by J.M. Pendleton (p. 48), says, ". . . that justification includes the pardon of sin, and the promise of eternal life on principles of righteousness; that is bestowed, not in consideration of any works of righteousness which we have done, but solely through faith in the Redeemer's blood. . . ."
(c) Discipline of the Colored Methodist Episcopal Church (1950 edition, Article 9, pp. 5, 6) states, "wherefore, that we are justified by faith only, is a most wholesome doctrine, and very full of comfort."
I have cited the disciplines of three denominations to show conclusively, that most denominations teach salvation at the point of "faith only" without any other acts of obedience.
Let us compare the doctrine of "justification by faith only" to the Bible and see how it measures up. Does the Bible teach that a man is "justified by faith only?" If so, we ought to believe it, and if not, we ought not to believe it. Let us read James 2:24 and see what it teaches. "Ye see then, that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only." The disciplines say, "Yes, justified by faith only," and the Bible says, "Not by faith only. " Which do you believe, the "disciplines" or the Bible? At this point it is clear that the word of God flatly contradicts Baptist, Wesleyan, and Methodist doctrine! Do you see my point when I say that denominationalism - sectarianism is sinful? How could it be otherwise when it contradicts the Bible? Aren't you ready to leave denominationalism? There is not a time during the history of man on the earth when faith only ever justified anyone. God has always demanded humble submission. Read the entire second chapter of James and the eleventh chapter of Hebrews and note that faith justified when it obeyed!
Furthermore, if man is justified by faith only, that would exclude and countermand passages which show that we are saved Oustified) by other things such as, the word (Jas. 1:21), grace (Eph. 2:8-9), and baptism (1 Pet. 3:21). In other words, there is no way that we could be saved by faith only and be saved by something else also. The Bible teaches that other elements do save us, therefore, we are not saved by faith only!
(3) Denominations are sinful because they were built by men and wear names which glorify men and not the God of heaven! Friends, follow me carefully at this point, for I will now give you several churches by name, when they were built, and by whom. Remember, the following statements can be proven as definite facts of history.
(a) Roman Catholic Church - Boniface III, 606 A.D.
(b) Baptist Church - John Smyth, 1607 A.D.
(c) Methodist Church - Charles and John Wesley, 1739 A.D.
(d) Episcopalian - Henry VIII, 1531 A.D.
(e) Lutheran Church - Martin Luther, 1517 A.D.
(f) Jehovah's Witnesses - Charles Taze Russel, 1872 A.D.
(g) Nazarene Church - Phineas F. Bresse and J.P. Whitney, 1895 A.D.
(h) Salvation Army -William Booth, 1876 A.D.
(I) Pentecostal Church - Several men, 1899, 1900, 1914 A.D.
Not one of the aforemention denominations can be found on the pages of your New Testament! Everyone of them was founded too late to be on the pages of God's word.
But, there is a church that you can read about in your New Testament that was not built by men (human authority), but by the Son of God Himself. In Matthew 16:18, He said, "I say also unto thee that thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it." The church which Jesus promised to build is "the tabernacle which the Lord pitched (constructed), not man" (Heb 8:2). According to Acts 2, it was built on the first Pentecost after the resurrection of Christ. See especially Acts 2:47, for in this text it is clearly shown that there is only one true church (Eph. 4:4; 1:22-23).
The New Testament likewise gives us the designations of the church. Each appellation found for the church in the New Testament gives glory and honor to the Godhead, not man. Inspiration identifies the church as (1) the church of the living God (1 Tim. 3:15), (2) the church (Col. 1:18), (3) the body of Christ (1 Cor. 12:27). The local congregations were called (1) the church of God, (2) the church of the Lord (Acts 20:28), (3) churches of Christ (Romans 16:16). Why friends, is man not satisfied with calling Bible things by Bible names and doing Bible things in Bible ways? Is it not always better to serve God in His appointed way?
(4) Human churches (denominations) are also sinful because they pervert New Testament worship and hence, do not worship God "in spirit and in truth" as we are instructed to do (John 4:23-24). Carefully read succeeding paragraphs as I enumerate some of the specific items of worship which are completely corrupted by denominations.
(a) They employ mechanical instruments of music in worship. Most denominations use guitars, drums, organs, bass fiddles, saxophones, harps, and other instruments of human invention. The New Testament is explicit regarding the kind of music which God demands in worship! Which kind is it? The Bible says we are to "sing and make melody in our hearts to the Lord" (Eph. 5:19). God has given us the authority for only one kind of music in the worship of the church. Men who love God and the Bible and who know what the word of God authorizes will sing without the addition of mechanical instruments (Col. 3:16; 1 Cor. 14:15; Jas. 5:13; Heb. 2:12; 13:15). To add another kind of music to the worship of the church is blatant sin, the nature of which is so despicable as to result in the damnation of a soul (2 Jn. 9-11; Rev. 22:18-19)! There is not a direct statement in the New Testament which explicitly declares that we may use it, nor is there an approved apostolic example of a congregation in the first century using such, nor do we find a passage which implies by the language used that such was done or may be done!
Many, in a feeble effort to find (?) justification for mechanical music in worship make an appeal to the Old Testament. But this presents a problem; the Old Testament is not law for people in this dispensation of time. The old system of religion was nailed to the cross. Jesus died to establish the new covenant (Matt. 26:28; Heb. 8:6-13; Col. 2:14-16; Gal. 3:23-27). The actions of David in the Old Testament do not set precedent for our actions! If a thing cannot be proven to be the case by the New Testament, it cannot be proven to be the case at all! For we must cite authority for all that we do (Col. 3:17)!
(b) Sectarian churches also partake of the Lord's Supper one, two, three or four times a year, when the Bible teaches beautifully that the early disciples met each first day of the week to "break bread" (Acts 20:7; 1 Cor. 11:17-34). Not monthly, quarterly, semi-annually, or yearly. But weekly! Nor is there any authority for partaking of the Lord's Supper on Monday, Tuesday, or Wednesday. The Bible specifies the "first day of the week." Sunday is the only day that we may scripturally observe the supper and please God.
(c) Denominations also pervert God's specific manner for the raising of money which enables the local church to accomplish its work of preaching the gospel (1 Tim. 3:15; 2 Cor. 11:8; Phil. 4:15-17), edifying the body (Acts 20:32; Eph. 4:11-16; Col. 2:19), and relieving destitute saints (Acts 11:27-30; Acts 6:1-6; Rom. 15:25-27; 1 Cor. 16:1-2; 1 Tim. 5:9-16). In order to get funds for their activities, denominations have "ticket sales," "pie suppers," "rummage sales," "bar-b-que dinners," "car washes," "bingo parties," "fish fries," and "picture shows." The New Testament reveals that God only appointed one way for a church to raise money and it is for each member to lay by in store (treasure up) on the first day of the week. This pattern is found in 1 Corinthians 16:1-2. It is sinful to do anything which violates God's pattern, for all things must be done according to the pattern (Heb. 8:1-5). If the people are taught to observe God's way they will not appreciate any other way (Prov. 14:12; Jer. 10:23).
In connection with the perversion of giving most denominational churches also have several collections in one assembly such as the building fund collection, the Sunday school collection, theflowerfund collection, the collection for your dues, the missionary fund collection, and the benevolent fund collection. Friends, for this there is no divine authority. The Bible says give as you have been prospered, and when you do that once you are not required to give any more in that assembly on the first day of the week. When you do what the Bible says, you have met the requirements of God. You ought not allow people (preachers and/or elders) to use you for their selfish ambitions!
The Bible also tells us when to give. It says "on the first day of the week." Thus, there is no Bible authority to participate in congregational contributions on any other day! It is sinful to have congregationally involved collections on Wednesday night or Friday night! The same reasoning which will allow me to take a congregational collection on a day other than the "first day of the week" will also allow me to partake of the Lord's Supper on some other day than Sunday. If not, why not? Regarding both the Lord's Supper and the contribution, we are specifically told what to do and when to do them; "the first day of the week" (1 Cor. 16:2; Acts 20:7).
(d) Denominations also pervert God's worship in that they have special singing done by special groups such as quartets, duets, trios, solos, choirs, choruses, sextets, and quintets. It can be proven from the Bible and from religious history that the manner of first century singing was congregational or singing in unison. The New Testament teaches us that each saint is to lift up his or her voice in unison. We are told (Eph. 5:19) that we are to speak to "one another." This language does not exclude anyone. All are admonished to sing according to the instruction (Col. 3:16). There is not one passage in the New Testament which intimates that a congregation may use the services of a choir or any other group to sing for the church!
Such great history works as Schaff's History of the Christian Church, The Church, The Restoration, and Falling Away by J.W. Shepherd, and Eusebius', Ecclesiastical History plainly demonstrate that the early disciples sang congregationally as enjoined by the epistles of the apostles.
Further, when we employ groups to do our singing for us, we definitely are participating in "worship by proxy." If we can get special groups to sing for us, why not get the same group to pray, teach, visit the sick, give, and all other duties which we are all commanded to do? Singing by groups is fundamental if you desire to have your animal emotions stirred while you are entertained!
Now, my dear friends, we come to a very significant question which many people ask regarding the destiny of denominationalism. The question is, "Do you mean to tell me that all of the honest, sincere, dedicated, and hardworking people who are members of denominations will ultimately be lost if they do not repent and come out of sectarianism?"
According to what the Bible teaches, the answer is, "Yes, Yes!" A person may be sincere, dedicated, hard-working, and kind in religion and yet on the great day of judgment, because of having done things for which there is no Bible authority be sent to hell fire. Matthew 7:21-29 emphatically demonstrates that just being religious does not declare that one's service is pleasing to God!
I have done my best, guided by the truth to expose just a few of the erroneous doctrines and practices which are a part of denominationalism. This is a very, very serious and sober situation. It involves the destiny of your eternal soul. What is your decision? Are you ready to obey the gospel by believing the Christ to be God's Son and that His word is true (Heb. 11:6; Rom. 10:17)? You must also repent of your sins (Acts 17:30; 2 Pet. 3:9), confess your faith in the Christ (Rom. 10:10; Matt. 10:32), and be baptized into Christ for the remission of your sins (Acts 2:38; 22:16; Gal. 3:27; 1 Pet. 3:21; and Mark 16:16). Be faithful unto death and you will receive a crown of life (Rev. 2:10; 2 Tim. 2:4-10).
Guardian of Truth XXX: 5, pp. 140-141, 148-149