Summary: But is it possible for people today to simply be Christians, without being a member of any man – made denomination?
Following Jesus without Denominationalism
Part 2: ‘The Way Out of Religious Division’
Let me first start off by saying THANK YOU to all of you that made such wonderful replies to the first message of this series. I was well impressed with some of the knowledge you guys shared.
Well; it was in the last message, that I began sharing with you the definitions of the terms ‘denomination’ and ‘denominationalism’.
As a mode of review:
Denomination was defined as a group of congregations that are joined together under some governing body, which effectively serves to distinguish and divide them from other congregations.
Denominationalism was defined as the advocacy of separation into religious denominations.
I went on to list THREE key reasons why denominationalism is wrong . . .
1) It is un-scriptural as having NO scriptural support . . .
2) It is anti-scriptural as we saw in:
John 17: 20 – 23:
“Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word;
21 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.
22 And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one:
23 I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me.”
1st Corinthians 1: 10 -13:
“Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.
11 For it hath been declared unto me of you, my brethren, by them which are of the house of Chloe, that there are contentions among you.
12 Now this I say, that every one of you saith, I am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas; and I of Christ.
13 Is Christ divided? was Paul crucified for you? or were ye baptized in the name of Paul?”
3: 3 – 4:
“For ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men?
4 For while one saith, I am of Paul; and another, I am of Apollos; are ye not carnal?”
But is it possible for people today to simply be Christians, without being a member of any man – made denomination?
THE ANSWER WAS AND STILL IS A RESOUNDING YES!
Now indeed by following the example of JESUS, we can be members of HIS body, the LORD’S church, just as we read about in the scriptures!!
In this message, let’s take time to start noticing JESUS’ own example in the religious climate of HIS day.
(1) The example Jesus has set for us . . .
In the religious climate of HIS day, when JESUS came to this earth, the Israelites were living under the Law of God as given by Moses.
It was in that law, that GOD had not made any provision for the division of HIS people into religious sects or parties.
Yet; by the time of JESUS, the Jews had formed several distinct religious parties.
The Pharisees (somewhat conservative)
The Sadducees (very liberal, the ‘modernist’ of their day)
The Essenes (radical isolationists)
The Herodians, Zealots (political religionists)
Now it was assumed that all who were serious about religion would be associated with one of these groups.
So JESUS had to come and set the example for us . . . But which of these groups did HE belong?
HE BELONGED TO NONE OF THEM!!!
Instead; HE maintained a ‘non – sectarian’ relationship with GOD to the very end.
As an Israelite, living at a time when the Law of Moses was still in effect, HE was simply an ‘Israelite’.
In addition, HE encouraged all to live by the Law while it was still in effect . . .
Matthew 5: 17 – 20:
“Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil.
18 For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.
19 Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.