What the Bible Teaches Concerning Denominationalism

As one person asked the question; "Is the word in the Bible?" Of course not. But this is one of those subjects of which the Bible does not speak. All the more reason that we should get to the truth of this subject.
The modern religious world is divided into hundreds of religious organizations called denominations, all existing separate and apart from each other, possessing distinctive names, doctrines, and practices, and each claiming to faithfully follow Jesus Christ. How does this compare with the New Testament plan given to us by God?

1 Corinthians 1:10 (NKJV)
Now I plead with you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.

Romans 15:5-6 (NKJV)
Now may the God of patience and comfort grant you to be like-minded toward one another, according to Christ Jesus, {6} that you may with one mind and one mouth glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Philippians 2:1-2 (NIV)
If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, {2} then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose.

It is the basic purpose of this study to examine what the Bible teaches on this subject. The Word of God will serve as the guide. We will examine the reasons and causes of denominationalism. We will look at the attempts of justification by their members and examine why they are not as concerned about their spiritual situation as they should be. We will look at some appearingly valid arguments to the thoughts expressed in this study, but give bible answers that will disprove their arguments.

By and large, most in the denominational world are really un-concerned with the divided state of so-called Christendom. They have accepted the status-quo of their denominational affiliations as being acceptable to God. Hence, they have never even considered the necessity to question their individual faith or the professed faith of those in theirs or others churches. We sincerely hope that all who claim to be spiritual will examine our argument, in light of what the Bible teaches. We pray that your apathy can be placed aside to consider the tragedy of religious division, and the obvious danger of judgement that will fall upon those who do not serve and seek God. We also present the hope that people will see the error of division and consecrate themselves in the sight of God and turn to New Testament Christianity separated from human denominations.

Most people are willing and ready to defend their own actions, whether they are right or wrong. Many people get defensive when their character or faith is challenged. We will notice that some will hold to freindships and relationships which are known to be wrong. Even if they know it is wrong, they convince themselves into believing a lie so that their conscience is not violated.

Please do not be offended, but open your hearts to study God's Word. Be as the faithful Bereans of Acts 17:11 and study the scriptures daily. If you treasure God and His Word, then you must come to some conclusions from this study.

Let us get started by looking at what true worship is.

John 4:23-24 (NKJV)
"But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. {24} "God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth."

For anyone to worship God, it must be in "...spirit and truth." We will notice that many will place more emphasis on the word spirit than the word truth. We will see that truth is equally as important as spirit in matters of worshipping God.

Many would like to let the spirit aspect overrule the worship aspect of service to God. Instead of limiting actions to the truth, they let their feelings determine what is acceptable to God. When all of these ideas are expressed and expanded, then we see that everyone has their own religion. To try to establish standards based upon these feelings gives one multiple standards to follow and thus causes confusion.

1 Corinthians 14:33 (NKJV)
For God is not the author of confusion but of peace, as in all the churches of the saints.

We are going to notice that this religious division is not from God, but is the result of sin. We will notice how and why people view their various doctrines as being right with God. It has been pointed that the very center of the word SIN is the concept of "I". I want, I need, I don't care. I, my, me, myself are all factors that are involved in sin. It is not until we humble ourselves and subject ourselves to anothers will, that we can be rid of sin. Notice what James says is the cause of division in the church.

James 3:14-16 (NKJV)
But if you have bitter envy and self-seeking in your hearts, do not boast and lie against the truth. {15} This wisdom does not descend from above, but is earthly, sensual, demonic. {16} For where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing are there.

The Bible says that all division is caused by self-seeking interest. The Bible also teaches how to overcome this human wisdom.

John 17:17 (NKJV)
"Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth.

The Bible is the Word of God. The Bible is the Law of God. The Bible teaches that the Law is Perfect (Psalm 19:7). Only through the Bible can we know the Will of God. We must give the Bible the respect due It. We must learn to base our beliefs upon the precepts of God's Holy Word. We would call this using Bible authority in doctrine and faith.

Romans 12:2 (NASB)
And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.

It is quite obvious that the Bible is opposed to this division and it should be that all who are spiritually minded should be opposed to these divisions. How are we to show ourselves spiritual. Certainly it cannot be in the false religions. Each must in their individual way and character demonstrate that their faith is in Christ and God, and not in a human doctrine. The only way to be in conformity to that which is perfect is by following the good and acceptable standard of righteousness given in scripture.

We must begin this study by finding the right authority. The Bible teaches that authority is the standard by which all are subject to it's laws. We must know that if a difference of doctrine or opinion arises, that the ultimate authority to determine whether it is right or wrong is God Himself. God delegated partial authority to Jesus Christ, and to The Holy Spirit.

John 14:10 (NKJV)
"Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father in Me? The words that I speak to you I do not speak on My own authority; but the Father who dwells in Me does the works.

Jesus taught the will of God that He was commanded to teach.

John 14:15 (NKJV)
"If you love Me, keep My commandments.

We demonstrate our love to Christ by obedience and not lip-service. In order to please our Lord, we must keep His commandments.

John 14:21 (NKJV)
"He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him."

If we keep the Lord's commands out of love, then God will in turn love us. It was God who first loved us that He gave us His Son.

John 14:23 (NKJV)
Jesus answered and said to him, "If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him.

What does it mean to "..keep My word;"? We cannot make any adjustments, additions, or subtractions. As God declared in the beginning as well as the end of His Holy Bible, nothing is to be added to His word. Nothing is to be left out. Nothing is to be changed without consequences.

John 6:38 (NKJV)
"For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me.

Oh, that all would have this attitude. Consider what the world would be like if all were intent on serving God and others as we should.
Notice also in the previous verses that the authority Jesus was executing, was not His own, but that it was the will of The Father above.

Many people would question the Diety of Jesus. Jesus on earth did the will of His Father. As we recognize who our Heavenly Father is, so we also try to do His will. Even if Jesus were not Deity, as He is, He was only doing what God had told Him to do and only spoke what God had told Him to say. So every thing that Jesus spoke or did, was the will of God. We are still subject to God no matter who declares it to us.

John 10:27 (NKJV)
"My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.

Of all these religious people who are in their various denominations, it is God who will decide who is acceptable to Him. Man can make rules, regulations, and laws that will promise salvation if conformed to, but it is God who is our final perfect Judge. Living right by any system or government not originated or approved by God will not produce salvation from God; only the temporary earthly conscience soothing feeling of personal salvation, but this will end when we die and face our true judgement.

John 12:44 (NKJV)
Then Jesus cried out and said, "He who believes in Me, believes not in Me but in Him who sent Me.

Jesus is not alone. Many will try to make Jesus their Lord, but will reject God by failing to keep and respect the Bible as authority in religion.

John 12:46 (NKJV)
"I have come as a light into the world, that whoever believes in Me should not abide in darkness.
John 12:47 (NKJV)
"And if anyone hears My words and does not believe, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world but to save the world.

The thought above about "does not believe" includes those who change His words. Some people accept Christ but not the conditions by which He says are necessary. Others still reject His teaching and His Laws outright. Some reject Christ ignorantly.

John 12:48 (NKJV)
"He who rejects Me, and does not receive My words, has that which judges him; the word that I have spoken will judge him in the last day.

If we are to be judged by the words of Jesus, which are the expressed spoken commandments or laws of God, then in order to receive the blessings He has promised, we must conform our lives to the principles and precepts of His word.

John 12:49 (NKJV)
"For I have not spoken on My own authority; but the Father who sent Me gave Me a command, what I should say and what I should speak.
John 12:50 (NKJV)
"And I know that His command is everlasting life. Therefore, whatever I speak, just as the Father has told Me, so I speak."

If we hear and obey His commands, then everlasting life is the result. If on the other hand, we hear only what we want to hear and obey only the things we want to obey, then everlasting life is removed from us and we have everlasting destruction.

John 14:23 (NKJV)
Jesus answered and said to him, "If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him.
John 14:24 (NKJV)
"He who does not love Me does not keep My words; and the word which you hear is not Mine but the Father's who sent Me.

These people can say all they want that they love the Lord, but it is not so. If every denomination has their own doctrine, their own name, their own practices, and their own standard of righteousness, then the others have to be different. Either one or the other is wrong. They may both be wrong, but they cannot both be right with God. They can only be right in the sight of man apart from God. Man may give approval where God has not. Man can join where God has separated and man can separate what God has joined. Man can speak where God has remained silent. Any way you look at it, God still is the ultimate ruler of this world and your life.

John 14:26 (NKJV)
"But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you.

The Holy Spirit sent by God, saw that they did things right according to God's standard of righteousness in the first century. The Holy Spirit sent by God moved individuals to put the Will of God in written form. This is the Holy Bible, the scriptures.
The Bible is the result of the Holy Spirit's work. Therefore when we are in conformity to the Bible, we are in conformity to the Holy Spirit, and the one who sent the Holy Spirit, God.

2 Peter 1:20-21 (NASB)
"But know this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one's own interpretation, {21} for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.

Jesus and the Holy Spirit helped the Apostles and the writers of the New Testament bring about the whole truth of God.

John 17:20 (NKJV)
"I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word;
John 17:21 (NKJV)
"that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me.

The apostles are mentioned here. "Their word" is the message found in the scriptures, The Bible. The prayer of Jesus was for unity and uniformity. Not division.

Ephesians 2:13-21 (NKJV)
But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. {14} For He Himself is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of separation, {15} having abolished in His flesh the enmity, that is, the law of commandments contained in ordinances, so as to create in Himself one new man from the two, thus making peace, {16} and that He might reconcile them both to God in one body through the cross, thereby putting to death the enmity. {17} And He came and preached peace to you who were afar off and to those who were near. {18} For through Him we both have access by one Spirit to the Father. {19} Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, {20} having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief corner stone, {21} in whom the whole building, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord,

Man in his arrogance and selfishness has placed walls of division. Man has given us different names. Man has given us different doctrines. Man has corrupted God's ways and placed millions of souls in danger of hell. Sadly each individual is responsible to God, but they keep following false teaching and traditions to their own destruction.

Matthew 24:35 (NKJV)
"Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away.

Man constantly and continually changes their beliefs and practices. They are always deciding what is acceptable to God. Look at the changes that have take place in so many religions in our generation alone. How can man justify changes? He can't!

Matthew 5:18 (NKJV)
"For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled.

God's word has not changed, man is the one who changed. All the changes that man may produce, publish, or proclaim, will not take away from the fact that God's law is our judge. This sounds so strange; since many claim to uphold the Bible as the sole guide to God's salvation.

1 Peter 1:25 (NKJV)
But the word of the LORD endures forever." Now this is the word which by the gospel was preached to you.

Forever is a long time. Therefore since we will exist forever, we had better learn to respect His word His way. We must also preach this truth. Publicly, privately or in print.

Ephesians 4:4 (NKJV)
There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling;

If there is only one body as the Bible declares, then all others are wrong and un-acceptable to God. What we must do is determine which body is the right body. How? We can start by Bible study and diligent effort to know God's Law.

Romans 12:4 (NKJV)
For as we have many members in one body, but all the members do not have the same function,
Romans 12:5 (NKJV)
so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another.

The only true body are those who are in Christ. This means those who are in conformity to His Teaching and His Doctrine. Also those who wear His name.

1 Corinthians 12:13 (NKJV)
For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body; whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free; and have all been made to drink into one Spirit.

This shows how we enter this one body. We know that anyone who will obey God on His terms will be acceptable to Him. It does not matter what color they are, or what language they speak. Man places barriers and divisions, God does not.

1 John 3:4 (KJV)
Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law.

1 John 3:4 (NIV)
Everyone who sins breaks the law; in fact, sin is lawlessness.

1 John 3:4 (NKJV)
Whoever commits sin also commits lawlessness, and sin is lawlessness.

1 John 3:4 (NASB)
Everyone who practices sin also practices lawlessness; and sin is lawlessness.

1 John 3:4 (CEV)
Everyone who sins breaks God's law, because sin is the same as breaking God's law.

From the different translations we still get the general idea that doing things differently from the way God specified is violation of His law. We can do this wilfully or ignorantly.

Matthew 15:13 (NKJV)
But He answered and said, "Every plant which My heavenly Father has not planted will be uprooted.
Matthew 15:14 (NKJV)
"Let them alone. They are blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind leads the blind, both will fall into a ditch."

It has been shown that man has introduced these hundreds of religious bodies. The Bible teaches that God does not accept this division. Those who follow the teachings and doctrines of these false ways are being lead into destruction.

Psalms 127:1 (NKJV)
Unless the LORD builds the house, They labor in vain who build it; Unless the LORD guards the city, The watchman stays awake in vain.

In view of this statement, why not search for the True Church which is found in the New Testament?

To know whether or not a particular religious organization was planted by God, all one needs to do is to study the New Testament. If the divine word expressly authorizes an organization, the we can be assured that God established it. But a cautious and careful examination and investigation of the New Testament will not reveal a single reference to any denomination existent in the world today. We can carefully conclude that God did not plant or establish the denominations, therefore, they will be rooted up by God and cast into the fire. The most tragic result of denominationalism is that many precious souls will be lost no matter how right they may have been to their own denominational laws.

Matthew 17:5 (NKJV)
While he was still speaking, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them; and suddenly a voice came out of the cloud, saying, "This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. Hear Him!"

The context reveals that the law, represented by Moses, and the prophets, represented by Elijah, was to be replaced by the words of Jesus.

Matthew 28:18 (NKJV)
And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, "All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.

Jesus did not say some authority or most authority, but all authority. Every decision made to serve Him must be done in His way which He has authorized.

John 12:48 (NKJV)
"He who rejects Me, and does not receive My words, has that which judges him; the word that I have spoken will judge him in the last day.

Man rejects Christ and God when he does not receive and accept the teaching that is given to us in the Holy Bible. As a result, we will be judged by the words that teach us how to live righteous lives in the sight of God.

Romans 16:17 (NKJV)
Now I urge you, brethren, note those who cause divisions and offenses, contrary to the doctrine which you learned, and avoid them.
Romans 16:18 (NKJV)
For those who are such do not serve our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly, and by smooth words and flattering speech deceive the hearts of the simple.

Every denomination exist because of division. Because some could not agree as to the meaning of certain scriptures or beliefs. Or because some became tired of the old ways and needed something new. Or because some influential person swayed them. Or out of a conviction that something was amiss, they started another denomination.

1 Corinthians 1:11-13 (NKJV)
For it has been declared to me concerning you, my brethren, by those of Chloe's household, that there are contentions among you. {12} Now I say this, that each of you says, "I am of Paul," or "I am of Apollos," or "I am of Cephas," or "I am of Christ." {13} Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul?

Some failed to realize that we should be serving Christ, and not some man or hold to what some man taught. Many religions have taken upon themselves the name of a person as their identy.

Mark 7:8 (NKJV)
"For laying aside the commandment of God, you hold the tradition of men; the washing of pitchers and cups, and many other such things you do."
Mark 7:9 (NKJV)
He said to them, "All too well you reject the commandment of God, that you may keep your tradition.

Some just outright reject God's commandments. Some for selfish purposes, others because they follow traditions of parents or others they love and respect. Some will hold to their traditions even when shown that those traditions are wrong in the sight of God.

Mark 7:13 (NKJV)
"making the word of God of no effect through your tradition which you have handed down. And many such things you do."

For these people, the word of God means nothing. They do not respect the Bible and the authority that it holds. Thus their own conscience becomes their own guides, and anything goes in their beliefs.

Colossians 2:8 (NKJV)
Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ.

Those who will be rejected by God on judgement day will try to blame these con-artist, but they have no one to blame but themselves, for allowing themselves to be led away from God's truth.

Matthew 15:9 (NKJV)
And in vain they worship Me, Teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.' "

These people are worshipping God in vain. God does not pay any attention to a prayer prayed by an unrighteous person, no matter how sincere they may be. All the good that may be done by these religious organizations bring glory upon themselves and not God.

Colossians 2:22 (NKJV)
which all concern things which perish with the using; according to the commandments and doctrines of men?

Oh! But their doctrines sound so comforting and simple. These doctrines are leading the simple minded and the arrogant away from God, not toward Him.

1 Timothy 4:1 (NKJV)
Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons,

Friends, we are in the latter times. If you cannot think that some will depart from the faith, just look around at the many various doctrines taught as truth.

Matthew 10:37 (NKJV)
"He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me.

Tough decisions have to be made. An individual must leave past traditions that are still being held by those they might love. If we are to be worthy to Christ, we must devote ourselves to Him. We must obey Him.

Matthew 24:11 (NKJV)
"Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many.

Who is the false prophet? For most, anyone who does not teach their beliefs. But in light of the Bible, anyone who does not teach the Bible.

Galatians 1:8-9 (NKJV)
But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed. {9} As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed.

How can people be pleased with gospels other than what was given in the New Testament. These people allow laws to be made where God has not made laws. The making of laws has necessarly produced the need for creeds, dogmas, and written works of rules, by-laws, doctrines, or legislation. These creeds necessarly have more than the Bible or they have less than the Bible. Because it is obvious that the Bible is not acceptable to these people as a source of authority.

Colossians 2:8 (NKJV)
Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ.

Many in trying to keep their separate identies will compromise with error. Jesus on the earth warned against false teaching. Later the apostles warned against false teaching and error.

2 Timothy 4:1-4 (NKJV)
I charge you therefore before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who will judge the living and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom: {2} Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. {3} For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; {4} and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables.

People will not endure sound doctrine, which is the truth, and will always find teachers of their own desires. If you do not like one persons teaching, then you can always find someone else who will say the things you want to hear. They will turn from the truth and be turned to fables.

2 Peter 2:1 (NKJV)
But there were also false prophets among the people, even as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Lord who bought them, and bring on themselves swift destruction.

Acceptance of any doctrine not found in God's word, will bring destruction.

2 Timothy 2:12 (NASB)
If we endure, we shall also reign with Him; If we deny Him, He also will deny us;

We deny Him every time we fail to keep His word.

1 John 4:1 (NKJV)
Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world.

How are we to test the spirits. Well, there is only one standard that is constant and sure. The Bible! In view of all this, there are still gullible people who do not think that there are any false teachers, even though Christ, the apostles and the Holy Spirit said that there are.

Matthew 6:24 (NKJV)
"No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.

Matthew 12:30 (NKJV)
"He who is not with Me is against Me, and he who does not gather with Me scatters abroad.

The Bible also teaches that there can be no compromises concerning the truth. Many today trying to bring about unity, will compromise the truth in order to have unity. This is not acceptable to God.

Acts 20:29 (NKJV)
"For I know this, that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock.
Acts 20:30 (NKJV)
"Also from among yourselves men will rise up, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after themselves.

The first digression from the truth in the primitive church resulted from the apathy of the Lord's followers toward false teachers and the erroneous teaching. Indeed, every original departure from the word of God has been the result of compromise with the forces of error, the divisions of denominationalism being the final result.

No denomination was ever made from strict adherence to the authority of Christ, the New Testament; for people never divide over what the New Testament teaches but over what it does not teach.

As has already been expressed, the only cure for religious division, as well as for all other sins, is the New Testament, the authority of Christ. This is the only standard that can bring unity out of division, order out of chaos. Since religious division is basically caused by departure from the divine standard, then the only way of transition from division to unity is for those in the denominations to forsake the doctrines and practices of men and come to the New Testament.

Since all the denominations claim to look to Jesus Christ as their leader, let them put this claim into practice by implicitly following the revelation of Christ as revealed in the New Testament in all that they believe, teach, and practice.
No one is asked to give up the truth in their doctrines, only the error of their doctrines.

2 Corinthians 6:17 (NASB)
"Therefore, COME OUT FROM THEIR MIDST AND BE SEPARATE,"says the Lord......

There can be nothing wrong with separating from denominations and coming to the true church.

Go to Arguments of the Denominations

Go to the New Testament Pattern

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