February 10, 2016

Denominational Divisions

image from web
What divides us?
If you're familiar with math in any way you possibly recall the section in class where you learned about fractions.
You know like
1/2     or     2/3

The top number is called the numerator, or the part taken out of the number at the bottom. The bottom number, the one which is divided is the denominator.

For some reason, this idea of fractions, and the denominator always come to mind when I think of the word denomination. Why are there so many? Why are we divided?

 For the sake of fairness, I tested putting denominations in both parts of the fraction.
The first would look like this:
If we put the various denominations at the bottom of the fraction, with Jesus at the top,  we imply Jesus is only a part, or a fraction, of the denomination. This poses a problem because believers like to advocate that Christ is indeed the center, no, even the whole pie. What's more, there's also another way to read this fraction. Just as 2/3 can be read two out of 3, Jesus/denomination can be read like this: Jesus "out of"  Denomination. With the introduction of a denomination is Jesus then removed?

On the other hand if we put Jesus as the bottom number, then we are a fraction of Jesus. However, wouldn't this mean we are now dividing Christ?
And Christ is not divided. Indeed his entire state of being, his very existence is  rooted in the bible truth that He is one. John 10:30.  Further, the deeper question could be, are we dividing from Christ (I.E. Denomination out of Christ)? Now, there is scripture to support that Christ is the head of the church and we are the body of Christ, yet this "division" is not a division at all. Rather, it is a picture of  the church being united with Christ- not the other way around.

 For the sake of argument, with Christ as the head, let's say that the various denominations ( Catholic, Protestant, Baptist, Etc) are ( as an entire denominational organization) separate parts of the body of Christ? In other words, one denomination is a hand, another is a foot, another still is an eye, and so on and so forth.The issue we face then is rampant discord in the body. The body of Christ is to be unified (John 17:21-23).

If I may gracefully yet frankly declare, the truth is not limited to one assembly, one local gathering, or one organization. One is not in truth because of the name of the church group of which you are a member. The truth is in the WORD of God- only. The organization we choose to associate ourselves does not guarantee one's salvation. Obedience to the Word of God guarantees your salvation.

However, let's be honest- if a label is associated with specific practices and one does not agree with those practices, why take on the label, and by default their association? Why, for example, declare oneself a vegetarian if one really want to be vegan, or vice versa? Labels are symptomatic. In other words, labels would not exist if there were no specifics to which the label refers.

Why, do you think, they were called Christians first in Antioch? Acts 11:23-26.
They were labeled as Christ followers because they followed the teachings of Christ as taught through the apostles. They were distinct from those who were not Christians. There were specifics that set them apart, way before a label did. But the label,  specified a name for their distinction- CHRISTIANS.

They were Christians in Antioch, and in Jerusalem. They were Christians in Rome, in Ephesus, and in Asia.  They were Christ-followers in Samaria,  Collose, and in Galatia. They were Christ-followers in Crete, and Laodecia. And you know what? Because they became Christians, they were neither considered Jew or gentile- they were Christians. Period.

Doctrinal divisions then are man-made and rooted in pride. Brothers refusing to submit to brother as the Lord commanded, results in discord, and separation.
Isn't there only one truth? J
Yes. Jesus is the way the truth and the life. John 14:6.   So how can there be doctrinal divides when the Word does not change?

Note: scripture records when Paul and Barnabas had a disagreement, and separated. However they did not separate in mission nor in doctrine.  While they didn't agree on who to bring along on the mission, they spoke the same thing. 1 Corinthians 1:10

Why can we not speak the same thing?

The only thing that can unite us is the HOLY Spirit and submission to it. Receiving the Holy Spirit according to the scriptures is essential to confidently knowing the power of God is present within us. Acts 2:4 Acts 19:6
In conclusion, the following passage needs no interpretation or translation nor does it need to be read-between-the-lines. Pray sincerely for a heart to receive what this Word is speaking.
Lowliness, meekness, unity, and growth are what will rid us of the doctrinal divides. Heaven and earth may pass away, but God's WORD will not- EVER. Mark 13:31. If you want to discuss or pray for  the Holy Spirit, who alone gives understanding of the scriptures,  please send me an email: onemessage.onefaith@gmail.com.

Ephesians 4King James Version (KJV)

I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called,
With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love;
Unity of the Spirit
Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling;
One Lord, one faith, one baptism,
One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.
But unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ.
Wherefore he saith, When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men.
(Now that he ascended, what is it but that he also descended first into the lower parts of the earth?
10 He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens, that he might fill all things.)
11 And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;
12 For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:
13 Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:
14 That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive;
15 But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ:
16 From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.

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