|Volume 20 Number 4 April 2018||
A denomination is a way of calling something a portion of what it really is. Money is referred to in denominations. The Yen, Franc, Lira, Euro or dollar may refer only to a portion of the worldwide monetary system.
Often there are differing values of these monetary denominations. A dollar may not have the same value tomorrow as it had yesterday, because “men” say it’s value is not the same. Thus, it’s value is subject to the will of man.
So it is with regard to religious denominations, too. They are sectarian and are rooted in division. The very word “denomination” suggests the idea of division.
The Jews were God’s chosen people, but they fragmented themselves into sects such as Pharisees, Sadducees and Essenes because they could not agree as to what the Scriptures taught. In their own minds and vain conceits, they would not resolve those differences. Could they disagree so much with each other and still be following God’s Word? “Can two walk together except they be agreed?” (Amos 3:3). The Jewish sects were not walking with God because on some issues they could not agree with each other or with God.
The same is true of religious denominations today. Jesus prayed to the Father, “I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me” (John 17:20-21). Yes, Jesus prayed earnestly for oneness, for unity.
If we read 1 Corinthians 1:10-13, we find Paul pleading that there be no divisions among brethren. He did say that there were contentions among them. He spoke of those who claimed to be of Paul, of Apollos, of Cephas or of Christ. Is Christ divided, is He sectarian, is He denominational?
Proof that this is not so intended is found in John 14:6. “I am the way, the truth and the life. No man comes to the Father but by me.” Jesus said that He is the way, not one of many ways. We are to be Christians only, not fracturing our love and loyalty between Jesus and some other manmade doctrine, manual, creed or discipline.
Some denominations teach that baptism is not in any way essential to salvation. Others say that pouring or sprinkling is acceptable. Some would have you believe that the Lord’s Supper can be taken monthly, quarterly or annually. Paul taught that it was to be observed on the “first day of the week.” Since there are 52 weeks in the year, it follows that the memorial feast should be observed every first day of the week.
Men will teach, “Well, we are all Christians,” but to be a Baptist Christian, a Methodist Christian or a Lutheran Christian is to fracture love and loyalty between manmade doctrines and the Lord Jesus Christ who is the only way by which we will ever approach the throne of God. “And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). To be a denominational Christian is to be nothing because such a one does not wholly walk with or agree with God and His Son Jesus Christ. There is only one path to salvation of the soul.
Hear the word of God: “So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:17). “Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead” (James 2:17). Believe: “But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that he is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him” (Hebrews 11:6). Repent: “I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish” (Luke 13:3). Confess: “For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation” (Romans 10:10). Be baptized: “He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but He who does not believe will be condemned” (Mark 16:16).
Come to the faith and unity for which our dear Lord so earnestly prayed. Be totally joined with Him for now and all eternity.
Tomorrow as Today
Have you ever noticed that our plans for change are scheduled for tomorrow? Tomorrow I am going to begin my diet. Tomorrow I am going to start running. Tomorrow I will start reading my Bible again. Tomorrow has become a day of convenience, a day where anything can be started. It is so great that we plan to change. It is amazing that we have decided to begin a new task and set an exciting goal, but why tomorrow? For some, tomorrow is a legitimate goal and plan. They really intend to accomplish whatever they have put their minds to. For others, tomorrow is an easy way to procrastinate. Procrastinators unite tomorrow! Still, why tomorrow? Even for those with the best intentions, is there not still time left in this day?
James 4:13-14 says, “Come now, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, spend a year there, buy and sell, and make a profit’; whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away.” We see clearly in this text that tomorrow is not something which is promised to us. We do not know if our tomorrow will become a reality. As we plan and live out our lives, the only one who knows what tomorrow will be is God.
In James 4:15 we are told to say, “If the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or that.” All things are under the control of the Almighty God, and He alone knows the things of tomorrow. Since God is the only one who knows tomorrow, how should we go about planning our lives? As humans, we will probably all continue to make plans and set schedules. When we do, we should do so with the will of God in mind. When it comes to the frivolous things of this life, tomorrow might be sufficient, but we must understand God is in control. However, not everything we plan is frivolous. Some of the things we are planning to do will impact our lives forever; they will impact our souls. Do we really want to wait for tomorrow to change our spiritual condition when we do not know if tomorrow will even come? Instead of waiting for tomorrow, let us view our tomorrow as today, knowing who we are and where we stand before the Lord. If we do so, if tomorrow comes, we can be confident in that day and continue our lives living for Him.