1) In Jn. 17 we find that Jesus prayed that His people would be one.
2) The religious world as we know it is not “one” in any sense of the word.
a) People cannot agree on the day of worship.
b) People do not agree on the type of worship – “modern or contemporary.”
c) People do not agree on the acts of worship, or even believe the same things about God.
d) A lot of groups do not believe in Hell. Some think heaven is going to be here on earth.
e) Disunity reigns in the religion world and this wrong.
3) Paul showed that even on a congregational level God wants unity (1 Cor. 1:10).
4) Somewhere along the line people began to think that denominations can help us achieve unity.
a) If we have all kinds of differences, we can somehow all be one.
b) This is one of the strangest ideas I have ever heard.
c) If there has ever been a contradictory idea put forward, this is it.
d) The word “denomination” describes division and a lack of unity.
e) Denomination refers to dividing things into classes.
5) In the First Corinthian letter Paul said God has “called us to peace” (1 Cor. 7:15).
6) God wants us to have “peace among ourselves” (1 Thess. 5:13).
7) God says “glorify Christ with ‘one mouth’” and “one accord” (Rom. 15:6).
8) When people have different faiths, there is not peace and unity.
a) A long time ago the prophet Amos asked a question.
b) He said, “can two walk together if they do not agree” (Amos 3:3)?
c) The implied answer to this question is “No.”
d) God and the nation of Israel could not walk together if they did not agree.
e) Sin and righteousness could not coexist.
9) As long as the religious world refuses to follow only the Bible, there will be religious division.
10) If people will not all agree to follow the Bible and the Bible alone, there will never be harmony.
11) There have been cases where religious groups have acted a lot like a business.
a) Two businesses may have some mutual interests so they merge to form a new and third business.
b) This sometimes happens with religious groups.
12) Two denominations may merge together.
13) When this happens, nothing really changes.
14) A new religious group is formed, but the new group is still a denomination.
WHEN WE LOOK AT THE NEW TESTAMENT WE DO NOT FIND ANYTHING LIKE THE NUMEROUS DENOMINATIONS THAT LINE OUR NATION’S STREETS.
a) The church in the New Testament is pictured in a much different way.
b) In New Testament times the church was a unified body of people.
c) There are may have been some small variations in various congregations.
d) They may not have all sung the same number of songs, but each congregation was a singing church.
2) They may not have all given their money in the same way.
3) Some congregations may have used a collection box; maybe another place passed a hat.
4) The way the Lord’s Supper was distributed may have varied from congregation to congregation.
a) There is no passage that says we must serve the Lord’s Supper in the way we do.
b) Our method is an expedient and convenient method, but it is not an inspired method.
c) We could have the elements on the table and everyone could come up and get their own.
d) This would be one way to observe the Lord’s Supper.
e) Some congregations in the past may have observed the communion in this way.
f) The sermons preachers have preached have been presented with some small differences.
5) Some have used visual aids; some have been hours long; some men have preached from wheel chairs.
6) Some men have used microphones.
7) There are some variations, but congregations were all doing the same kinds of things.
8) The place where Christians have met would have also buried.
9) Some met in homes; others met in caves; some even met in tombs (graveyards).
10) There was consistency in how people worshipped and what they believed.
a) These acts make Jesus’ church distinctive.
b) This distinctiveness is a way of saying that Jesus’ church is not a denomination.
c) Jesus’ church is a religious group that holds to the truth and follows it.
d) As stated in Acts 2:42, there is the “apostle’s doctrine” and that is what it follows.
11) In the denominational realm churches continue in other things; they do not cling to the apostle’s doctrine.
12) A group may continue with the directions that come from a place like New York, Rome, or Chicago.
13) It may continue what the local, regional, national or world wide board says.
14) It may continue with what the members of a religious group wants.
15) The church of the New Testament is completely distinct from any other religious group.
a) Consider very carefully what we find in Acts 2:41.
b) There were people who became Christians; these people were added to the church.
c) Before these things happened, there was a prerequisite.
d) Acts 2:41 – READ
16) Jesus’ church is accessed by “Receiving the word.”
a) Some say they “joined the church” and they know nothing about the Bible.
b) In this type of situation a person certainly did join a church.
c) The church they became affiliated with, however, was not Jesus’ church.
d) People who become a member of Christ’s church must first “receive the word.”
17) Others claim they have been members of many different churches over the years.
18) I do not doubt that those who make this statement are being absolutely accurate.
19) How many of those “different churches” belonged to Christ?
20) In some cases a person may be a member of several congregations, all of which are Jesus’ church.
21) Usually when a person says they have been “in several different churches” they mean many denominations.
a) We often pay attention to dates or we are interested in how old something is.
b) Some dates concern us because things expire.
c) We do not want meat that was set out for sale 10 years ago.
d) We do not want emergency backup batteries if they were manufactured in 1972 – that is too old.
e) In other cases something that is very old is quite valuable and exactly what we want.
22) When we look at the religious groups in our world, we need to consider their start date.
a) A lot of groups are not ashamed to tell us when they began.
b) One denomination down the way say they are pleased to announce their group is 100 years old.
c) Another group says its roots go all the way back to the 1800’s.
d) Another religious faith says it can trace its beginning back to the 1300’s and 1400’s.
e) Going back 600 or so years is a long, long time.
23) Another group might claim they can go back a lot further — 1,400 years.
24) All these religious groups, even one that is 1,400 years old, are too young.
25) They are not old enough to be the church where we need to be.
26) More than 2,000 years ago Jesus created His church, Mt. 16:18.
a) People were taught about this church and they were added to it, Acts 2.
b) People were not given the right to start up other religious groups in Jerusalem.
c) Other congregations of the one true could be started and they were started.
d) There were no denominations that we have because people realized this would be wrong.
27) Imagine if some believers went out and said, “We want to start our own religious group.”
28) Instead of having the Lord’s Supper every Sunday, we will do it once a month.”
29) “Rather than make music with singing, we are going to have instrumental music.”
30) “We want to have praise teams, women preachers, and Saturday worship.”
a) First century saints would have been shocked at this type of thing.
b) People would have said, “Jesus created His church and you are creating a counterfeit group.”
c) We can understand how wrong this would have been 2,000 years ago.
d) There is no question that God would not have welcomed this type of activity 2,00 years ago.
31) If we can understand this point…can we also not understand this same point for our day and time?
32) Creating rival groups 600, 1,400 and 1,900 years later is just as wrong.
33) People – maybe with good intentions – have created rival religious groups.
34) We now call these rival groups denominations.
35) Many like religious denominations because they give people a choice.
36) Is this choice from God or is it from the devil?
37) Christ built one church and He did that with His blood.
38) Jesus wants us to be a member of that church. Are we?