Monday, November 23, 2015
After Peter confessed that Jesus was the Messiah, the Son of God responded, “I will build my church” (Matthew 16:16-18). With our multiple churches today, it is extremely difficult to understand what Jesus created. This ignorance even prevails among churches of Christ.
When one mentions “church,” several images are formed. Some see a lot with a building on it, where their membership is located. If one is reading about the dead church in Revelation 3:1-6, it is seen as two different congregations meeting under one roof. After all, how can the body of Christ be dead? The worthy ones must be the true, living church, with the dead members being the one Jesus is condemning! How can one be worthy if he fellowships that which is dead? What would those who consider themselves to be “worthy” today do? Wouldn’t they leave and erect another building, put a sign on it, and declare themselves to be the worthy, living church? Revelation’s Sardis doesn’t fit some modern concepts.
Most folks today believe the Catholic church is the mother one. From it, Protestantism was born. From this new offspring came thousands of descendants. We usually describe the divisions in Protestantism as “different denominations.” However, Luther and others were several centuries late when it comes to creating denominationalism!
The family of God in Corinth was the first to give birth to denominationalism! Paul referred to that original family as “the church of God” (1 Corinthians 1:2; 2 Corinthians 1:1). When he wrote, one cannot help but notice that he did not address them as, “The church of God in Paul, the church of God in Apollos, the church of God in Cephas, and the church of God in Christ.” They created these denominated bodies, not God. Paul used one fourth of his first letter to directly deal with this travesty. Most of the problems discussed in the letter found their roots in the denominating. It made true fellowship awkward, if not impossible. Four churches in one body that was tearing itself apart while each justified his party spirit or denomination.
If a citizen of the city of Corinth wanted to become a Christian, which one of the four denominational churches would God have added him to? None!! Why? Because, God did not create any of them. Why would He add someone to something that wasn’t His? He would add that person to HIS family, not theirs! What they created was something in addition to what Jesus built. What Jesus built was essential. What they created came later and was founded upon human frailties filled with its vanities. What benefits could “the church of God in Paul” provide or the other three? By being in the body of Christ, didn’t they already have “all spiritual blessings” (Ephesians 1:3)?
In spite of Paul’s instruction to the four Corinthian denominations, didn’t they achieve the unity which we fail so miserably to achieve today? Isn’t what we have accomplished, just a deceiving lie?
- We have the church of God that accepts one thing, and another church of God that rejects it and accepts something the other rejects.
- We have the church of God that follows a popular school of thought, while another church of God refuses it.
- We have the church of God who follows this periodical and the church of God that selects a different one.
- We have the church of God who follows this sound preacher and another church of God that follows their sound preacher.
- We have the church of God that is comfortable with their practice while another church of God is offended with their comfort.
- We have the church of God that requires a tradition while another church of God that rejects it!
- We have too many churches of God that. . . ad infinitum, while many other churches of God . . .ad infinitum!
“I will build my church” (Matthew 16:18). “Put up with one another in love. Try hard to keep the Spirit’s unity; use peace to tie it together. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope, when God called you. There is one Lord Jesus, There is one faith. There is one immersion. There is one God. He is the Father of everyone.” (Ephesians 4:2-6 IEB).
Are we in Jesus’ family or have we, like the brethren in Corinth, created additional ones?