It is not uncommon these days to hear the question: “Which denomination do you attend?” This question is very strange and unknown to Bible characters. In the early days of Christianity, people simply belonged to the one and only Church established by Christ. Jesus Christ promised to build his Church in Matt.16:18. The possessive pronoun “my” and the singular word “Church” are quite instructive in that passage.
The promise of Christ to build his Church in Matt. 16:18 came to fulfilment in the book of Acts 2. Note that the word “Church ” is from the Greek word ecclesia which means the called out or an assembly. The church therefore is an assembly of people who are called out of the darkness of this world into the marvelous light of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ 1Pet. 2:9. Thus, the word Church does not refer to a building, as many erroneously believe today.
On the other hand, the word “denomination” connotes division, segregation and sectarianism. All these are condemned as work of the flesh in Gal.5:19. Moreso, in John 17:20-21 Jesus prayed for the unity of believers. The intention of Christ is to have one united body where all believers are to worship in spirit and in truth. John 4:23-24; Eph.4:3-6. But just like the parable of Jesus in Matthew 13:24-30, the kingdom of heaven is likened to the man who sowed good seeds in his farm but while men slept, the enemy came and sowed tares on the same land. The differences between the Church of the bible, which Christ built and denominations established by men are quite many and glaring. Let us consider them one after the other:
1. The Church in the Bible has Christ as head and founder Matt.16:18; Col. 1:18, whereas denominations have human heads and founders.
2. The Church in the Bible has its headquarter in heaven, where the head is, Mark 16:19; Acts 2:33, whereas denominations all have their heads and headquarter on earth here in various cities of the world.
3. The mode of becoming a member of the Church in the Bible is through the new birth according to salvation steps of heariing God’s word Rom 10:17; believing God’s word John 8:24; repenting from sins Lk13:3,5; confession of faith in Christ Rom.10:9, Matt.10:32-33 and baptism by immersion into Christ Mk.16:16. But in denominations, membership is through “altar call”, “sinners’ prayer” and any other method proposed by the owners of the Church.
4. For the Church in the bible, worship to God is in spirit and in truth John 4:23-24. The worship in spirit is that which is from the heart as against any extraneous consideration John 6:63; and worship is in truth if it is in accordance to God’s word John 17:17. But in denominations, there is no clear-cut pattern as to mode of worship, but according to the whims and caprices of the leader or “as the spirit directs” such clapping, dancing, drumming, shouting, burning insence, candles, shaking, etc.
5. The organization of the Church in the Bible is such that the universal Church (Matt.16:18) has local congregations that are scripturally activated to worship God by praying (devoid of ecstasy) Matt.6:9-15; 1Thes. 5:17, singing (vocal music only and non-instrumental music) Eph.5:19, Col.3:16, teaching and preaching Acts2:42, giving of their means to God through free-will offering (not by tithing) 1Cor.16:1-2; observing the holy communion every Sunday according to Bible example. Acts 20:7; 1Cor 11:23-30.
6. The local congregations of the Church in the Bible are ruled by qualified elders and deacons in accordance with Titus 1:5-11; 1Tim.3:1-13 and also have Evangelists/Preachers, teachers and members according to Eph.4:11-12 for the edification of the Church. The scriptural organization is such that it allows for plurality of elders, also known as pastors, presbyters, overseers, bishops Acts 14:23; Acts20:17,28. In the denominations on the other hand, it is possible to have a one-man pastor (most times unmarried) contrary to the qualifications of pastors in 1Tim 3, presiding over a local congregation.
7. The goal of members in the Church of the Bible is to inherit eternity with God in heaven on the last day John 3:16; 1Thes.4:13-17, whereas in denominations, their goals are as diverse as they are many. Some, like the Jehovah Witnesses, have the goal of inheriting this physical earth together with all the fine houses on earth here while others simply believe in the breakthroughs, power, miracles and financial prosperity they will get here on earth.
Therefore, it is our plea dear reader that you take necessary steps to come out of denominational Churches and belong to the Church established by Christ for your own salvation 2Cor 6:17-18. God bless you.
Written by Bro. Ben Yamah for Evangelismportal.org