By Andy Alexander
When talking about religion people frequently use the phrase “I feel” or “I think” when attempting to justify any particular practice. Modern denominations (Baptist, Methodist, Lutheran, Catholic, Mormon, Presbyterian, Pentecostal, etc.) are built upon what they think God will allow. No longer do these denominations consider the Bible when making decisions concerning their human churches. The practice of going beyond the Word of God is not new. In the Old Testament Moses warned the people of Israel,
Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish aught from it, that ye may keep the commandments of the Lord your God which I commanded you (Deut. 4:2).
The Israelites were not content to obey only God’s word. They continually disobeyed God’s teaching and ignored his warnings, so he caused them to go into Babylonian captivity (2 Kgs. 25:1-12; Jer. 7:29-34). These lessons recorded in the Old Testament should help us realize that God means what he says. The Israelites felt like worshiping idols was alright and it seemed good to them, but it was an abomination in the sight of God and they were punished for their sin.
Denominations “add to” and “take from” God’s written word and when questioned about the addition or subtraction they answer with the lame excuse, “God didn’t say not to.” God has informed us in his written word what he expects of us and what we can expect if we choose to disobey.
Disobedience of God’s word comes in two forms. Doing less than God has instructed us to do and adding to what he has commanded are both sins and will be dealt with on the day of Judgment. Sprinkling for baptism, worship of Mary, women preachers, wearing of religious titles, sports activities, and entertainment in the work of the church are examples of additions to God’s word. All of these substitutions to God’s word seem good and feet good to those who are participating in them, but they are condemned by God (Gal. 1:6-9; Rev. 22:18-19). Paul, before he was converted, felt good about persecuting Christians (Acts 23: 1; 1 Tim. 1:12-13). It seemed like a good thing for Uzzah to touch the Ark of God in order to keep it from falling, but God struck him dead (2 Sam. 6:6-7). The Bible contains many examples of God’s attitude toward those who disobeyed his word. It brings dishonor to God when we disobey his commands (Lev. 10:1-3).
God is honored when we worship him in spirit and truth (Jn. 4:24). The only way we can do this is to have book, chapter, and verse for everything we do in all our religious services. The name we wear is important because it tells others who we belong to. Those who wear the name Baptist are following a particular doctrine of Christ and not Christ himself, or at least that is what the name implies. Those who wear the name Pentecostal are following a particular event and not Christ and his teaching. Others such as Lutheran, Methodist, Mormon, and Presbyterian are wearing names of earthly origin and no book, chapter and verse can be found for this practice.
When you purchase a new car, the car belongs to you and the title is made out in your name. Why not put your neighbor’s name on the title? You say, “Because it belongs to me, it’s mine.” And right you are. Christ purchased the church with his own blood, it belongs to him, and it will wear his name (Acts 20:28; 4:12). Why not name it the Church of Alexander? Because, I did not purchase the church. It does not belong to me. Then why call it Baptist, Lutheran, Methodist, etc.? Where is the book, chapter, and verse giving the authority for us to change the name of the church? There is book, chapter, and verse condemning such action. Read 1 Corinthians 1:10-13. In this passage Paul is condemning religious division, the very thing denominations promote.
The church of Christ of which I read in the Bible and of which I am a member, is not a denomination. We have no earthly headquarters, no creed book written by men, and strive to follow God’s written word in everything we do. Book, chapter, and verse will separate us from the denominations of men, but this is a necessity if we are going to be pleasing and obedient to God. You can be a member of that same Bible church today, but you will have to forsake and be separated from all forms of denominationalism in order to do so.
Guardian of Truth XXXII: 4, p. 110
February 18, 1988