Summary: Why do we have so many denominations in Christianity? Is it right to be that way? How did it all get started? Why do so many churches fight among themselves rather than work together? This sermon deals with those questions.
Are We Following Jesus?
49 Now John answered and said, "Master, we saw someone casting out demons in Your name, and we forbade him because he does not follow with us."
50But Jesus said to him, "Do not forbid him, for he who is not against us is on our side."
Back in the 1890's
there was a small Baptist church in Mayfield County, Kentucky.
The church had 2 deacons who were constantly arguing
and involved in a power struggle.
One of them put up a small wooden peg on the back wall
so that the pastor could hang up his hat.
When the other deacon discovered the peg, he was outraged,
"How dare you put up a peg without consulting me!"
The people in the church took sides
and the congregation eventually split.
Today the residents of Mayfield County, Kentucky
still refer to the two churches
as Peg Baptist Church and Anti-Peg Baptist Church.
Have you ever stopped to count all the churches in our area?
Take a drive through any town
and count all the church buildings.
Some towns have more than one Baptist or Methodist church.
Have you ever wondered how it got this way?
Why are there so many different churches?
In Frank Mead's Handbook of Denominations in the United States,
he lists over 200 different denomination in America today.
The word denomination refers to a specific branch of Christianity.
Today, we have Baptists, Methodists, Lutherans, Pentecostals,
Presbyterians, Churches of God, and the list goes on and on.
There is also a growing list of non-denominational churches
like us here at Gospel Chapel.
It's important to belong to a good church
and to deepen our relationships with other believers
so that we can help each other in our walk with Christ.
So why, if we are all followers of Jesus,
are there so many dividing lines?
Perhaps a seemingly minor event in the life of our Lord
will help us to better understand
how things got the way they are.
Look again at today's Bible passage.
49 Now John answered and said, "Master, we saw someone casting out demons in Your name, and we forbade him because he does not follow with us." 50But Jesus said to him, "Do not forbid him, for he who is not against us is on our side."
John comes running up to Jesus.
He tells Him that some anonymous believer
was casting out demons in the name of Jesus.
He tells Jesus that he told this person to stop doing that
because this person wasn't one of them.
It seems absurd to stop someone from doing such a good deed
in Jesus' name.
Yet, many times Christ-followers do the very same thing today,
and often for precisely the same reasons.
What are those reasons?
Point #1. Separation begins with jealousy, feelings of superiority and self righteousness.
Apparently, jealousy and self righteousness
had gotten a hold of some of the disciples.
Turn with me now to Matthew 17: 14-20
14 And when they had come to the multitude, a man came to Him, kneeling down to Him and saying, 15"Lord, have mercy on my son, for he is an epileptic and suffers severely; for he often falls into the fire and often into the water. 16So I brought him to Your disciples, but they could not cure him." 17Then Jesus answered and said, "O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I bear with you? Bring him here to Me." 18And Jesus rebuked the demon, and it came out of him; and the child was cured from that very hour. 19Then the disciples came to Jesus privately and said, "Why could we not cast it out?" 20So Jesus said to them, "Because of your unbelief; for assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there,' and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you.
Earlier, the Disciples tried casting a demon out of a young boy.
Unfortunately, they failed.
Jesus commanded the demon to come out,
but not without expressing his disappointment in the disciples.
That must have been embarrassing for the Disciples!
They were hand picked by Jesus
and given authority to cast out demons,
yet they failed miserably and quite publicly.
Then, a little while latter,
they see a man who was not one of them
doing the very thing that they were unable to do.
He succeeded where they had failed!
How envious they must have been.
We haven't changed much over the centuries either.
Like the Disciples,
when we see someone succeeding where we have failed
our first response is not to be happy for them,
but to be jealous of them..