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Scripture Reading: John 17:20-23
Why are there so Many Different Churches?
1. Over 6,000 denominations in USA and over 33,000 worldwide (World Christian Encyclopedia, Barrett, Kurian, Johnson, Oxford Univ Press, 2nd edition, 2001).
2. Denomination: Fraction of the whole; Dividing and naming.
3. Denominating churches began with men; not God.
I. PRAYERS AND PLEAS FOR UNITY, Jno 17:20-23; 1 Cor 1:10.
A. God wants Believers to be One (21, 23)
B. Believers can be One as the Father and Son are one (21).
C. Believers are One when based upon the Apostolic Word (20), Eph 4:4-6.
1. One Body: One church, Matt 16:18; Eph 1:22-23; 4:4; 5:23. (Not thousands upon thousands)
2. One Spirit, one Lord and one Father: One Godhead (Jno 10:30).
3. One Hope of our calling (4:1: One approved way of life).
4. One Faith: one gospel, one teaching (Gal 1:23, 11).
5. One Baptism: Not many different ones! (Mk 16:16)
II. WHY ARE THERE SO MANY DIFFERENT CHURCHES?
A. Not Content with and Committed to God’s Way, 1 Sam 8:19-20; 2 Tim 4:3-4 (Jer 6:16-17).
1. The way revealed in inspired Scripture, 2 Tim 3:16-17.
2. Ex. Singing in worship: History and development of instrumental music in worship.
B. Human Will and Wisdom, 1 Cor 1:21. Such as…
1. Lusts of men, Matt 16:24; Rom 6:12 (1 Cor 3:3).
2. Selfish pride, Matt 6:19-21, 33 (3 Jno 9-10).
- cf. Henry VIII: Declared to be “the only Supreme Head on Earth of the Church of England” (Act of Supremacy, Nov 1534).
3. Convenience (cf. 1 Kgs 12:28-30; Isa 55:8-9).
- cf. Sprinkling for baptism (death bed conversions), Col 2:12.
4. Personal preference (cf. B. Graham’s hat argument). Lk 9:23
C. The False Doctrines of Men, 1 Tim 4:1-3.
1. Cause divisions, Rom 16:17-18. (“Denomination”)
2. Corrupt minds, 2 Cor 11:3-4. (Protestant denom. “Choose the church of your choice”) Minimizes one true church.
3. Destructive heresies, 2 Pet 2:1-3. (Doctrine not important); the “core gospel” of ecumenism.
4. Against Christ, 1 Jno 2:18-19. (Manifestly so by their false doctrines) JWs; LDS, Oneness Pentecostals – Deny the Jesus of the Bible. (Jno 12:48)
5. Deceivers who destroy faith and fellowship with Christ, 2 Jno 7-11. (“Doctrine doesn’t affect fellowship”)
6. Corrupt God’s grace, Jude 4 (Gal 1:6-7). (“Grace alone by faith alone in Christ alone.”) Mainline and Evangelical Protestant Churches.
D. Covetousness (money and power). cf. Megachurches (Size, money, prestige, etc.) [Over 2,000 members considered a megachurch]
1. Love of money is the root of all kinds of evil, 1 Tim 6:10.
The “average megachurch income was $6.5 million in 2007, up from $4.7 million in 1999. About 50% of it was spent on salaries, the rest divided evenly between missions and buildings. Meanwhile, he says nine out of 10 megachurches more than doubled in size between 2002 and 2007.” (Beyond Megachurch Myths: What We Can Learn From America's Largest Churches, Scott Thumma and Dave Travis, cited by Jesse Bogan, “America’s Biggest Megachurches”).
2. Size (cf. Lakewood Church, Houston TX Pastor Joel Osteen: Annual budget of $70M with 43,500 attendees). 1 Cor 1:26-29
E. Satan and Sin.
1. Satan uses corrupt motives and teachings to lead people to reject the gospel to the loss of many souls, 2 Cor 4:1-4.
2. Satan’s deception that “all the churches please God” corrupts souls, 2 Cor 11:3-4.
III. WHAT IS THE REMEDY FOR SO MANY CHURCHES?
A. Respect and Have Bible Authority for All Things, Col 3:17.
B. Repent of the Sin of Denominationalism and Obey the Truth of the Gospel! Acts 19:5
1. Denominational churches are not churches of Christ!
2. The church of Christ is registered in heaven (Heb 12:23).
a. Because it is the saved, Acts 2:47.
b. The church glorifies God, not man, Eph 3:21.
3. We must glorify God by honoring His church – the church of Christ - and none other. Obey Jesus now!