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THE DENOMINATION DOMINATION

October 3, 2012

“Full well ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your own tradition.” – Mark 7:9

 

Inquiring minds want to know: “which is the correct denomination and/or doctrine of Christianity? Is it Catholicism? Is it Orthodoxy? Or, is it Protestantism? And if it’s Protestant, then which denomination of it?”

 

How many times as Christians do we hear this question, or ones like it? In fact, how many Christians pose these questions themselves? For almost as long as there has been a Church, there has been rivalry, bickering factions contending the true Will and Doctrine of God. From the divisiveness of the early churches through the Great Schism between Roman Catholic and Greek Orthodox, to the Protestant Reformation, it seems that we cannot all come to a simple agreement on how things ought to be done; each pointing the finger at the other for heresy. Now, it is true that there wereand still are – heretical and blasphemous groups that claimed to be Christians; but most times, it boiled down to silly, trivial matters that are just absurd when you really look at them. For instance: did you know that one of the points of contention between the early East and Western churches was whether to use leavened or unleavened bread during communion? People actually killed each other…over bread. Granted, this is only one example, and these issues were often just used as excuses for larger, underlying tensions; yet still, I find it so terribly sad that we cannot come together as one to praise and worship or Lord.

 

“One Lord, one faith, one baptism,” (Eph. 4:5). To me, that is the answer to the universal question. What are the requisites for salvation? “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved! For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.” (Rom. 10:9-10). So, what does it take to be the Christian that God – not your church, pastor, parents, family, or anyone else – wants you to be? To confess and believe. To say that Jesus Christ is Lord of your life, and to hold that truth in your heart with trust in His Resurrection and His promises. Everything – and I mean everything – else flows from these things: to believe that Jesus is the Son of God, and as such the only path to God…and to also confess that belief to the world. “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by Me.” (John 14:6)

 

“Howbeit in vain do they worship Me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men. For laying aside the commandment of God, ye hold the tradition of men…” (Mark 7:7-8). So many Christians are guilty of this transgression: that instead of clinging to His Holy Word they would rather cling to a rulebook or charter drawn up by some committee: their ‘Christianity’ is determined by the traditions and the law of men, rather than by their faith in God. “But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law.” (Gal. 5:18); true, Paul is referring here to the old Mosaic Law, yet it seems to me that if the Spirit supersedes the Law as given by God and written by Moses, then it surely supersedes any that men themselves might try and assert.

 

Granted, we are all different, with a variety of opinions and beliefs that might result in different interpretations: its bound to happen to an extent, and our diversity is one of the great things about God’s gift of free will. Yet, still I ask: how many ways are there to ‘interpret’ that we must believe that Christ was crucified for our sins and Resurrected? That His blood covers our transgressions and grants us salvation and everlasting life? Aside from that, I’m just not convinced much else matters: not what type of bread you use for communion, what Church you go to, what type of Bible you read, what type of Christian music you prefer, or how you pray. Instead of arguing over these things, we should spend our time striving to understand His Word and His Will together, and to work to apply it individually to our lives first, and then together as a single Body of Christ to the world. Our task is to love God, and to love each other.

 

So, today, let us believe, confess, and be led of the Holy Spirit; do not conform to what an organization tells you, or a committee, or even another Christian – for then you merely conform to the world rather than to Christ. ¬†Instead, “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure. Do all things without murmurings and disputings: That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world.” (Phil. 2:12-15)

 

“If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in His love…This is My commandment, that ye love one another, as I have loved you.” (John 15:10&12).

 

Be blessed,

Joshua

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