Many honest people have been led to think that one church is as good as another and that it makes no difference what one believes religiously as long as he is sincere. Even though there are thousands of religious people who contend that such is true, it is in keeping with neither scripture nor reason.
In matters physical, all recognize differences. No sensible man would go to a drug store for a certain kind of medicine will willingly accept just any kind. He understands that there are different kinds of medicine, otherwise the prescription would never have been written. However, many who can see differences of this nature will strongly contend that one church is as good as another and that it makes no difference as to which one a person belongs. Surely, the readers can see that it is absolutely unreasonable to observe differences in the material realm and at the same time ignore differences in the spiritual realm!
That sincerity is not sufficient and that it is no proof of correctness is a lesson that all need to learn. When Saul of Tarsus was engaged in his bitter opposition to the cause of Christ he was sincere but definitely wrong. After his conversion, he said,
I verily thought with myself, that I ought to do many things contrary to the name of Jesus of Nazareth. Which thing I also did in Jerusalem: and many of the saints did I shut up in prison, having received authority from the chief priests: and when they were put to death, I gave my voice against them. And I punished them oft in every synagogue, and compelled them to blaspheme; and being exceedingly mad against them, I persecuted them even unto strange cities (Acts 26:9-11).
Remember please, this is an inspired declaration! Paul was here using the words which the Holy Spirit taught (1 Cor. 2:12-13; Mark 13:11). The lesson is that he sincerely did that which was wrong, and it is a lesson which must not be brushed aside. If Paul was sincere yet wrong, it is possible for people to be in the very same condition today. Hence, you may sincerely believe that the church of which you are a member is right but your sincerity does not make it so. You may sincerely believe that all churches meet God’s divine approval, yet you may be wrong.
In an effort to justify (?) the many churches of our day, many times John 15 is used. Some argue that “the branches” referred to are the different denominations of our day. Nothing could be a greater perversion of God’s word. Notice verse 6: “If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned.” When the Lord said, “I am the vine, ye are the branches,” he was speaking to individuals, his disciples, not denominations! Hence, men, individuals, are the branches! But if it be granted that the branches does refer to the denominations of today, still denominational people would be out of harmony with the teaching of Christ. Christ said, Abide in me…” (v. 4). He never said to abide in a branch, but in Him!
One of the most unreasonable and absurd points about it is when some say that Christ is pleased with and authorizes all the different denominations. That is equal to saying that He deals in confusion and strife, for on one corner is a church that teaches one thing, on the other corner is a church that teaches something else regarding the same issue and a block down the street another church teaches something on the same subject that is wholly foreign to the teachings of the others. If Christ is pleased with and authorizes all of this, He is the greatest hypocrite known, for while He is having one man to preach that baptism is essential to salvation, He is having another to preach that it is not essential. Beloved, the Son of God does not do that; He is not a hypocrite; neither is He pleased with denominationalism!
In John 17:20-21 Jesus said,
Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word, that they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.
Therefore, when one says that Christ authorized and is pleased with denominational division, he actually says one of three things: (1) Christ didn’t know what He was talking about; (2) He has changed his mind; or (3) He lied unto God by praying for something that He didn’t want and with which He would not be pleased. Friends, Christ knew what He was talking about; He has not changed His mind; and He did not lie to God, His Father! The truth about the matter is that denominational division cannot be upheld by reason nor by scripture. The idea is absurd when viewed in the light of Bible teaching.
The Bible teaches that there is only one true church. In Ephesians 1:22-23 and Colossians 1:18 Paul teaches that the body is the church. Hence, there will have to be the same number of churches as there are bodies. But how many bodies. “There is one body” (Eph. 4:4) and “…but one body” (1 Cor. 12:20). Therefore, only one church! Surely, kind reader, you can see that. Again, Jesus said, “Upon this rock I will build my church…” (Matt. 16:18). He never said a word about building churches. He said, church—singular. In Matthew 15:13 He said, “Every plant, which my heavenly Father hath not planted shall be rooted up.” God never had a thing to do with planting or establishing any denomination on earth! If he did, where is the scripture to prove it? Beloved, I plead with you to come out of the denominational way of darkness and despair and come into the church of the Lord where there is marvelous light and hope.
Many say that they cannot determine just which church is right. I will admit that with all the sectarian fog hovering over the religious world this is, to some, a rather difficult task. However, if one will lay aside all denominational theories and with an earnest and contrite heart study God’s word, there need be no mistake. One will learn that Christ is the builder of the one true church and that He is its head and foundation; that it was established in Jerusalem on the first Pentecost after Christ’s resurrection; it wears a scriptural name; it teaches that one must hear God’s word, believe it, repent of sins, confess Christ, be baptized into Him, and remain faithful until death in order to be saved and accepts the Bible as its only rule of faith and practice. Please study the Bible and investigate the church of Christ. Be careful as to what you believe and to what you belong. Make sure that it is in harmony with God’s will, and ever remember that God’s will is expressed in His word, The Bible!