OceanSide church of Christ
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QUESTIONS & ANSWERS ABOUT…
Victor M. Eskew
A. Several thousand of these organizations exist in the world.
All of them claim to have the same mission.
They are a very common feature in every town in the United States.
Millions of people belong to them.
They all engage in many good works.
They are called by many different names, but all proclaim their allegiance to one person.
Most people view them as necessary and good organizations.
B. We have reference to the denominations that exist throughout the world and within the United States.
C. In this lesson, we want to examine the subject: “Questions and Answers about…Denominationalism.”
I. WHAT IS A DENOMINATION?
A. The word “denomination” comes from the word “denominator.”
1. A denominator indicates a “fraction.”
2. A denomination is part of a whole.
B. In the world of denominationalism, the church “universal” is recognized.
1. The universal church is the totality of all believers throughout the world.
2. Denominational view: The universal church is all of the denominations throughout the world added together.
C. Denominations are a part of the whole. They are a fraction of the universal church.
1. The Baptists are a piece.
2. The Methodists are a piece.
3. The Presbyterians are a piece.
4. The Nazarenes are a piece.
5. The Pentecostals are a piece.
6. NOTE: There are thousands and thousands of pieces to the entire “pie.”
II. WHERE DID DENOMINATIONALSIM COME FROM?
A. Denominationalism is the result of man’s reaction to the false practices of the Catholic Church.
B. There are three dates given for the establishment of the Catholic Church.
1. A.D. 33 – The Catholics believe that they are the church about which one reads in the Bible. They believe the church came into existence on Pentecost Day following our Lord’s resurrection.
2. A.D. 325 – By this time, the Emperor Constantine had legalized Christianity. The Council of Nicea was held. Constantine tried to restructure the church after the model of the Roman government. He also sought to formalize key articles of faith.
3. A.D. 590 – Pope Gregory initiated his papacy. This began a time of enormous political and military power manifested by the Catholic Church.
4. NOTE: The Catholic Church is really the result of the “falling away” prophesied by the apostles and prophets of the New Testament (See Acts 20:29-30; II Thess. 2:3-4; I Tim. 4:1-3).
C. One of the first major steps toward denominationalism came in the days of a priest named Martin Luther.
1. He was a priest in Wittenberg, Germany.
2. He saw many abuses within the Catholic Church and desired to reform the church and bring it more in harmony with the Bible (Ex., indulgences).
3. On October 31, 1517, he nailed his 95 Theses to the door of the church in Wittenberg.
4. Luther was excommunicated by Pope Leo X in 1521.
5. Luther did not want to rid the world of the Catholic Church. He only wanted to reform various practices of the Church and bring it into conformity with God’s Word.
6. One of Luther’s students named Phillip Melanchthon systematized the teachings of Luther into the Augsburg Confession of Faith. The group that formed around this Confession was known as Lutherans.
D. Luther opened the door to reformation.
1. There were many others who followed him who also challenged the teachings of Catholicism.
2. These individuals also wrote their creeds, confessions, and disciplines.
3. Around these creeds formed various groups or denominations.
a. Pillars of Adventism: 7th Day Adventist
b. Westminster Confession of Faith: Presbyterians
c. Assemblies of God Statement of Fundamental Truths: Assemblies of God
d. Confession of Faith/Baptist Manual: Baptist Church
e. Methodist Discipline: Methodist Church
f. Confession of the Society of Friends: Quakers
E. NOTE: Creeds, Manuals, Disciplines, and Confessions became the seeds of religious groups.
1. The books set forth the beliefs of these groups.
2. Those who adhere to those beliefs become part of that denomination.
III. ARE DENOMINATIONS SCRIPTURAL?
A. The word “scriptural” means authorized in the pages of God’s Word?
B. Denominations are not Scriptural organizations.
1. They oppose the one body, the church.
a. In the first century, the Lord promised to build only one church (Matt. 16:18).
And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.
b. On the day of Pentecost, those who obeyed the gospel were added to one church (Acts 2:47).
c. Paul taught: “There is one body” (Eph. 4:4), and that body is the church (Eph. 1:22-23).
2. They encourage division.
a. The religious world is not united. It is divided by different names, creeds, and practices
b. The Bible condemns division among the people of God (John 17:20-21; I Cor. 1:10).
Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me though their word; that they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.
3. They affirm the doctrine of relativism.
a. Relativism teaches that truth is determined by an individual or a group. It affirms that there is not just one truth, but that there are many truths.
b. Denominations hold various teachings that contradict one another.
1. Some teach infant baptism; some oppose infant baptism.
2. Some teach sprinkling and pouring as baptism; some say immersion only is baptism.
3. Some teach baptism does not save; some say baptism is essential to salvation.
4. Some believe in continuing revelation; some believe the Bible is the only revelation.
5. Some advocate miraculous gifts; some believe miraculous gifts have ceased.
6. Some believe Jesus is an eternal being; some teach He is a created being.
c. The concept of relativism contradictions the Scriptures.
1. There is only “one faith” (Eph. 4:5).
2. There is only one “Word” that is to be proclaimed (II Tim. 4:2).
3. There is only one “sound doctrine” (Tit. 2:1).
4. There is only one “doctrine of Christ” (II John 9).
4. They contradict apostolic doctrine
a. Some teach that man is saved by “faith only” (See Gal. 5:4).
Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you
are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace.
b. Some teach that baptism in not necessary for salvation (See Acts 22:14).
And now why tarriest thou? arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord.
c. Some teach that Jesus is going to come the second time and establish an earthly kingdom (see John 18:36).
Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence.
5. They wear man-made names.
a. Baptist, Presbyterian, Lutheran, Pentecostal, Amish, Methodists, and other names given to denominations are not found in the Bible. They are man-made names.
b. The church is the bride of Christ (II Cor. 11:2). Why shouldn’t the bride wear the groom’s name? (See Rom. 16:16).
…The churches of Christ salute you.
6. They do not have the Bible as their sole authority in religion
a. We have already noted that denominations exist because they have formed themselves around a creed book. If the creed book did not exist, they would not exist.
b. The Bible should be our sole authority in religious matters (II Tim. 3:16-17; I Pet. 4:11; Gal. 1:6-9).
All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.
1) The Bible is the only book from God.
2) All creeds of men were written by uninspired men.
a) They contradict themselves.
b) They contradict each other.
c) They contradict the Word of God.
c. When we stand before God in the Last Day, there will be no creeds to judge us. We will be judged by the Word of God alone (John 12:48).
He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him, the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day.
IV. WHY DO MEN ACCEPT DENOMINATIONS?
A. Satan has blinded the minds of individuals from the truth of the gospel.
B. We have grown up in a world with denominations and no one questions them.
1. Individuals love their religious traditions.
2. They have never doubted whether their religious group should exist or not.
C. Denominations have a good appearance.
1. They “honor” God.
2. They “acknowledge” the Christ.
3. They “preach” the gospel.
4. They “worship” on the Lord’s Day
5. They do good works.
6. They contain people who seek to be holy.
7. They long for the return of Jesus Christ.
D. Another reason some accept them is because if you oppose them, you will be hated and maligned.
V. ARE PEOPLE IN DENOMINATIONS LOST?
A. In the first century, God brought into being a group known as “the church” that were His people. These individuals were the saved, those who obeyed the good news of the gospel of Christ (Acts 2:38, 41, 37).
B. Many in this group fell away and the Catholic Church was the result of that fall.
C. Its doctrines were so corrupt that individuals both in and out of Catholicism longed to correct its false teachings.
1. The individuals who made these corrections formed the denominations that exist today.
2. They are the result of man-made creeds, manuals, and disciplines.
3. These groups are not authorized in the Bible. If they are not authorized, they cannot save.
4. Jesus said: “Every plant, which my heavenly Father hath not planted, shall be rooted up” (Matt. 15:13).
D. Denominations give men a false sense of hope. These denominations, however, do not honor the eternal plan of God. In fact, they oppose it.
A. Individuals who are presently in denominations are very sincere individuals. We do not doubt this at all.
B. However, they have associated themselves with something that is empty and vain because they teach for doctrine the commandments of men (Matt. 15:7-9).
C. They are not the precious bride of Christ. They are not part of the group for which Jesus will come when He returns (Eph. 5:25-27).
Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; that he might sanctify it and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, that he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that is should be holy and without blemish.
D. My friends, the church for which Jesus died still exists today. You can be a member of it. We invite you to obey the gospel and allow God to set you in the body as it pleaseth him (I Cor. 12:18).