Summary: To establish that no denomination; its beliefs; or its baptismal practices are from heaven; they have their origins from men. However so sincere they might have been, there can be no salvation in any man-made institutions or in their religious practices.
1. The Denomination's Builder
2. The Denomination's Belief
3. The Denomination's Baptism
1. In our lesson today we are going to be discussing a theme: "from heaven; or men?" This will be a topical sermon. We will ask three questions regarding this theme. First, is the denomination's builder from heaven or men? Second, is the denomination's belief from heaven; or men? And finally, three, is the denomination's baptism from heaven; or men? What we will learn in this lesson is that no man has the right to change, amend or alter any of the divine patterns of God. The pattern for the church; the pattern of the faith and the pattern for baptism were all ordained by God; and no man has the right or authority to supersede any of them.
2. First, we will consider the question, "is your denomination's builder or founder from heaven; or men?" Is the founder of your denomination Christ, or some man? Is the denomination claiming to be the "church of Christ?" I should affirm from the very beginning that no denomination can claim to be the church of Christ; or a part of the "body of Christ." I make no apology for this truth! Christ is neither the founder, nor the head of any such institutions. He is the "head of the body of Christ" not one single denomination. These all have their origin and foundation is from; and in men! Jesus promised Peter, "upon his confession of faith that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God: I will build my church and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it," Matthew 16:18.
3. Second, we will discuss the question, "is the denomination's belief (the core of its doctrine of faith and salvation) from heaven; or men?" The pattern for the faith is seen in its origin from God; and not of men. Paul discussion of this faith to Titus is found in chapter 1 of this book. He states: "Paul, a servant of God, and an apostle of Jesus Christ, according to the faith of God's elect, and the acknowledging of the truth which is after godliness; In hope of eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began; But hath in due times manifested his word through preaching, which is committed unto me according to the commandment of God our Saviour," Titus 1:1-3. Does your denomination's faith claim to be the faith of God's elect; promised before the world began, and has been manifested in due time through the preaching of the apostles and prophets? If not, than it has it beginning from men and not from God!
4. Lastly, we will investigate the question, "is the denomination's baptism from heaven; or men?" Jesus asked the religious leaders of his day regarding the "baptism of John." He was attacked for his cleaning of the temple of the money changer earlier. They asked Him if his "authority for conducting himself in this fashion." In answering their questions he replied by asking them one. And that was: "The baptism of John, whence was it? From heaven, or of men? And they reasoned with themselves, saying, if we shall say, from heaven; he will say unto us, Why did ye not then believe (obey) him? But if we shall say, of men; we fear the people; for all hold John as a prophet. And they answered Jesus, and said, we cannot tell. And he said unto them, neither tell I you by what authority I do these things," Matthew 21:23-27. By responding this way he placed them in a very difficult situation. Let's not forget, our Lord knew their answer before He gave them the question. With this introduction, let's look at our first point.
BODY OF LESSON
I THE DENOMINATION'S BUILDER
A. Who do men say I am? "When Jesus came into the coasts of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, saying, who do men say that I the Son of man am?" Finally, in the ministry of Jesus, he comes to the city of Caesarea Philippi.
1. This city should not be confused with Caesarea on the Mediterranean Sea coast. It was called Caesarea Philippi by Herod Philip, who rebuilt it in honor of Tiberius Caesar, and added Philippi, after his own name, to distinguish it from the other Caesarea. On this sea coast He begins His promise and discussion of the church.
2. Jesus inquired of his disciples; "who do men say that I am?" Let's understand that Jesus knew already what others had been saying regarding Him and his ministry. Let's not forget, this was the Son of God.
3. He wanted to know that they had understood his ordained office as "messiah;" and his eternal position, as the "Son of God." He was the messiah of John's preaching; and Isaiah's prophecy, Matthew 3:1-4; Isaiah 61:1-3.