Is Denominationalism In The Bible?
2 Thessalonians 2:11-12
11 And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie:
12 That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.
When I first became a Christian in February of 1998, my primary concern was to follow the rules, which naturally generated a new and deeper question:
What ARE the rules?
Am I living my life the way God expects me to as His child?
My quest to find the rules turned out to be fateful indeed, as well as frightening. I slowly realized that no Christian I knew of was following any of the instructions, and that all the churches I tried somehow seemed to be doing exactly the opposite of what I was reading in the Bible.
The most pivotal piece of information I gathered was actually my first: the works of the flesh listed in Galatians 5. Most of us are aware of this list, but I have yet to hear it taught. Most people -- especially church leaders -- tend to avoid the works of the flesh to rush into the fruits of the spirit. Now I know why.
The Feel-Good Gospel
Everybody wants the fruits of the spirit in their lives, but for different reasons. If youíre a true child of our heavenly Father, you are consumed with the desire to reflect Him and His nature as evidence of His abiding within you. However, Iíve noticed that most people seem to think that the fruits of the Spirit are attitudes and try to apply the fruits to their lives. Goodness and kindness etc. are desirable virtues, and most of them feel good as theyíre acted out -- as well as gaining the precious approval of society for your behavior. This teaching, that the fruits of the Spirit are attitudes that can be applied to oneís personality rather than being the reflection of our Fatherís perfect nature, is madly erroneous. Itís teaching people that righteousness can be put on, almost like a coat. Isaiah says that no matter how hard we try, our righteousness is as filthy rags -- that is, in the literal Hebrew translation, used menstrual rags -- in Godís sight.
Most church leaders are guilty of perpetuating this ridiculous idea by teaching that we are to implement these fruits in our lives, to strive to become them. NOT SO!! If you have been taught this, like I have, YOU HAVE BEEN TAUGHT A LIE! Fruits are not LEARNED BEHAVIOR! They are INSTEAD the EVIDENCE of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. No matter how much you knock yourself out, you absolutely can not MAKE yourself be kind, or good, or meek, or patient, or joyful, or any of the stuff on the list. It leads to nothing but abject frustration and itís ultimately a waste of Godís valuable time. Fruits are there if Godís Spirit dwells within you; fruits are not there if Godís Spirit does not live within you. Period. No amount of weekend retreats or seminars or bible studies will ever change that.
The Works of the Flesh
Either you match one list or you match the other. Only you know which one fits you best. Just the very mention of the subject makes me squirm like the filthy beast I am, personally. I readily admit that Iím always afraid Iíll find myself on that list somewhere, and I inevitably gauge myself next to it. Itís a good way to find out if Iíve been too tolerant of whispering (a big problem among us women!) or pride or strife, I know that part of my nature is still hanging alive on the cross.
The biggest reason why nobody wants to talk about the works of the flesh, though, is because it involves pretty serious personal change.... if you take the bible seriously at all.
Therefore, it hits entirely too close to home when it mentions the four mysterious words that condemn DENOMINATIONS as a work of the flesh. Can it be? YES! Definitions donít lie: see for yourself.
19 Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these: Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness,
20 Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, seditions, heresies,
21 Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.
You may have skipped over a few words in verse 20. I did, too, without even thinking about it. Human nature dictates that if our minds canít immediately identify and define a word, we have a tendency to ignore it on some level. Therefore, Iím going to focus on those words here and define them for you from Websterís dictionary.
The state or fact of varying;
difference or discrepancy;
disagreement, discord, or dissension.
Desire or ambition to equal or excel others.
The striving or contention of opposing parties;
contention, quarreling, fighting, or conflict;
discord, dissension, or variance.
The stirring up of unrest in a state;
an offense tending toward but stopping short of an open act of treason.
Since Jesus was utterly without sin, it would be absurd to suggest that when He said, ďI came not to bring peace, but a sword,Ē He did NOT mean civil or internal unrest due to fleshly weaknesses.
Exactly How Many Faiths ARE There, Anyway?
When I understood what those four archaic words meant, I was terror stricken at the splintered condition of Christendom. Have you ever looked in the yellow pages under ďChurchesĒ? Even in the smallest of towns they get about as much as or more dedicated space than insurance companies, automobile sales and doctors . There are VERY many different kinds of churches. Each one believes they are the right ones, and they try to recruit people from other churches (even YOU!) for too many different reasons. The thing is, each one of them has a piece of the truth; otherwise, it wouldnít work at all. However, they each defend their piece of truth to the death.
Think about this very carefully: denominations could not exist if it werenít for one group of Christians striving against another group of Christians somewhere along the line, then building their own building and coming up with their own name, staking their claim in their piece of truth. All of this started with one catholic (meaning ďuniversalĒ) church in 4th century AD Nicene, organized by the ďChristianĒ emperor Constantine in an effort to maintain his pagan army in Byzantium. It was based on the roots of a lie that incorporated Celtic druidism with Christianity, and now itís come to this. To a group of Baptists, itís ďthose Methodists.Ē To a group of Pentecostals, itís ďthose Catholics.Ē
Friends, do you SEE the blatant error here?? Something is fishy in Christendom, and itís SURE not from fishing for men!!
How can you possibly bear one anotherís burdens when you donít even love your neighbors -- MUCH LESS KNOW WHO THEY ARE!!
Donít you know that you need no man to teach you (1 John 2:27)?
Donít you know that Jesus Christ sent His Spirit to guide us into ALL truth (John 16:13)?
Donít you know that Jesus wonít even claim you as His friend if you donít do whatsoever He has commanded you (John 15:14)?
Donít you even believe the very document by which you claim to base your beliefs???
Ephesians 4:4-6 says that there is only ONE body, ONE spirit, ONE Lord, ONE faith, ONE baptism, ONE God and Father of all!!
The word CHURCH isnít in there -- because the CHURCH is supposed to be the BODY, of which there is ONLY ONE, because there is ONLY ONE LORD.
Whatís going on here?
This is the answer:
NONE OF THEM.
THEY ARE ALL INCORRECT, EVERY LAST ONE OF THEM.
They are in error because they do not know the scriptures (Matt 22:29).
Awake, you that sleep, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give you light. See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, Redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Wherefore be you not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is.
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