Friday, May 05, 2006

The Rise of Denominations

.... Jesus prayed that the church would be one, just as He and the Father are one (John 17:21-22). Nevertheless, denominations were formed from the earliest days. They reflected the personalities of well-known preachers, including the apostles themselves (1 Cor 1:12), a result which was completely unintended and which they found mortifying (1 Cor 4:7; 15:11). In fact, it was exactly the opposite of what most of them had preached:

.... "For we do not preach ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord, and ourselves your bondservants for Jesus’ sake."

(2 Cor 4:5)

.... Rather than preaching about themselves, those men of God had focused their message on Jesus (1 Cor 15:11). Had the Christians of their day perceived this clearly, looking past the preachers to see Jesus Himself, they would have gotten it right and remained in the unity of the faith from the beginning, and those denominations would never have formed (Eph 4:13-15). So a communications gap existed when it came to their seeing Jesus. And over the centuries, new denominations have come and gone for similar reasons.
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.... Denominations have a good side because, at least among themselves, those Christians have obtained a unified belief. Yet they are unfortunate because their very existence proves that the church, as a whole, does not agree on everything. It is the undeniable root from which their distinctions spring (1 Cor 11:19). And since the truth is in Christ Himself, who is not divided, and they still cannot agree, it proves that error is present among them. Or to address the problem at it's root, it proves that they are still not seeing Jesus as clearly as they might (Eph 4:21; 1 Cor 1:13).
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.... We will continue this discussion in our next posting, which appears below.

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