Of all the great men and women of the Bible, the Apostle Paul was among the most mentally, physically and spiritually powerful. Having endured terrible sufferings throughout his ministerial career, he had come to the point where his life meant nothing to him. He feared nothing–with one exception.
In 1 Corinthians 2:3 we find Paul trembling with fear. What could have caused this spiritual giant such emotional anguish? He tells us in 1:11-13–DENOMINATIONS. He had repeatedly warned about the sin that, once having inflicted the church, would be impossible to eradicate. He had preached and written about religious hucksters who would infiltrate the church, deceive the people, then declare a “better way” to “serve the Lord.” This better way would be to leave the Body of Christ (Church of God), form a more enlightened organization, create another set of doctrines, then finalize their separation from God by giving their organization another name. Each new sect would then declare itself “the church.”
What Paul warned about was happening, causing him to tremble with fear. Though the apostles would refer to the CHURCH OF GOD more than 60 times in their letters, men within the church were enticing people to abandon “… THE faith once delivered to the saints” (Jude 1:3). Having gained a following they were creating new “faiths” under other names. Satan’s divide-and-conquer strategy was working. It continues to work today as hundreds of denominations/divisions of those pro- fessing to be the church spread their poison throughout the world.
Before embarking on our Scriptural journey in search of God’s Truth concerning church composition, let us examine the portfolio of God’s primary dispenser of Truth–Paul, the apostle of the Lord. Concerning his knowledge, wisdom, insight and source of all things spiritual, Paul said in Galatians 1:11,12 that the gospel he preached and taught came directly from Jesus Christ. It is imperative that we understand that he and the other apostles taught and preached “… the (one) gospel throughout all the churches (2 Cor. 8:18/1 Cor. 4:14-17). In Titus 2:10 Paul calls their gospel THE (ONLY) DOCTRINE OF GOD. Notice that the apostles always referred to THE gospel (not gospels) and THE doctrine (not doctrines) with which the church is to “adorn” herself (exhibit as God’s life-governing Way). Doing this would have assured that there would be no divisions (denominations) in the Body of Christ. But Satan had other plans.
Throughout his ministry Paul never stopped warning the church about the dangers of denominationism. In First Corin- thians 1:10 he says, “I plead with you … that ALL IN EVERY PLACE (church) speak the SAME THING, that there be NO DIVISIONS AMONG YOU … that you be PERFECTLY JOINED TOGETHER IN THE SAME MIND (DOCTRINE) AND IN THE SAME JUDGMENT (TRUTH).” He ends by asking the ultimate question (vs 13) “… IS CHRIST DIVIDED?” God’s answer “GOD FORBID!” God forbids His church to divide herself (form denominations), for that would divide her Head– Jesus Christ. Christ is not divided; He is the Head (not heads) of His Body (not bodies). The head of God’s church cannot be divided, which means that His church body cannot be divided. Therefore, the hundreds of divisions into which professing Christendom has divided (denominalized) herself over the past 2000 years is the work of Satan. The morass of conflicting, competing, contradicting denominations constitutes his Counterfeit Church system (Catholicism/Protestantism).
Paul told the church at Rome (15:6) that the only way the churches can glorify the Father is for ALL the Body of Christ to be of ONE MIND.” In Philippians 2:5 we are told what that mind is: “Let this mind be in you which was ALSO in Christ Jesus,” therefore “… let us all walk (live) by the same rule and be of the SAME MIND (3:16), which is “… THE MIND OF CHRIST” (1 Cor. 2:16).
Paul summarizes the Lord’s command concerning the singular composition of the Body of Christ: “For there is one body … one Spirit … one hope of your calling … one Lord … one faith … one baptism … one God and Father of all ….” (Eph. 14:1-7). If, as the whole of professing Christendom professes, there is more than one Body, then there is more than one Spirit, hope, Lord, faith, baptism and God. Paul warned Timothy that: “… in the latter days … some will depart from THE (one) faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons” (4:1). In the 14th verse of Ephesians 4 Paul states that those who follow such leaders “… are spiritual children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every WIND OF DOCTRINE (denom- inational dogma), by the trickery of men in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting.” In his second letter to Timothy (4:3,4), Paul warns that those who follow such doctrines reject God’s Word and, having itching ears, hire ministers who will make them feel spiritually secure as they follow religious fables.
In Acts 20:24-31 we find Paul speaking to the elders of the Church at Ephesus, reminding them that the gospel he has preached, taught and wrote to all the churches was received from the Lord Jesus Himself, and that he had not hesitated to share that (one) gospel with the ENTIRE CHURCH. He warned the elders that upon his death “… savage wolves (false pro- phets) will come in among you, not sparing the flock. Also from among you men will rise, speaking perverse things (a per- verted gospel-Gal. 1:6-9) to draw away disciples unto themselves (create denominations) … watch therefore, and remember that for three years I did not cease to warn everyone night and day (about church division) with tears.”
Throughout the Scriptures the apostles warn about those who would divide (denominalize) the Church of God into various sects designed to satisfy the religious ear-itches of those who reject the Lord’s strict, demanding, My-Way-or-the-highway brand of Christianity. These are the multiplied millions who, believing themselves to be superior to God, have substituted their word for His, making self-rule the foundation of their Counterfeit Church–Eden part two.
James 1:18 tells us that, “Of His own will He begat us by THE WORD OF TRUTH.” Jesus tells us that God’s Word is the only spiritual Truth–the only Word/Truth by which we can be sanctified (Jn. 17:17). Those in the Counterfeit Church have rejected God’s Word of Truth and have looked elsewhere for the source of their begettal. Therefore, they have not been begotten by the God of the Bible, but rather by a god of their own creation. The Lord warned us about this when He said through Paul, “… for there are gods many and lords many” whom “wind and doctrine” seekers continue to create and follow.
But for the true Body of Christ, “… there is one God, the Father … and one Lord Jesus Christ … through Whom we live” (1 Cor. 8:5,6). The denominational system rejects the One God and One Lord Jesus Christ presented in the Scriptures. Each “church” has its own god and its own lord–each of its own manufacture. As such each is guilty of idolatry and spiritual adultery. This attitude toward God and His Word was mirrored by the Pharisees when their representatives said to Jesus: “Rabbi, WE KNOW THAT YOU ARE A TEACHER SENT FROM GOD. WE KNOW THAT GOD IS WITH YOU.” Yet they refused to believe and obey Him (Jn. 3:2). Today’s pharisees carry Bibles, quote them, preach them, witness, bring about conversions, wear crosses, have fish on their cars, attend church, etc. They, like their ancient counterparts, believe that their religiosity will gain them entrance into paradise. What is the Lord’s attitude toward them?
“In vain do they worship Me, teaching for (My) doctrines the commandments of men” (Mat. 15:9). “They do honor Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me” (Mk. 7:6). He asks them, “Why do you call Me ‘Lord, Lord’ and do not what I say?” (Lk. 6:46). Each denomination has its own version of what He said, which is why they exist.
In First Corinthians 3:17 Paul said that the (one) church was the (one) Temple of God, and that He would destroy all who defile it. God says that dividing (denominalizing) the church defiles it. In that all Bible writers were inspired by God (2 Tim. 3:16), I will end this segment with the Words of Jesus Christ Himself relative to man’s defiled church: “A house divided against itself will fall, and great will be the fall of it” (Mat. 12:25).