Robert and I have decided that we want to buy a house. But wait! There aren't a lot of houses around us that are in our price range, and the ones that are don't fit the criteria we need. So, we're going to build our house. Since we will be the ones building it, we will decide what goes into it. We will decide the dimensions and layout and organization.
Now, Robert and I just bought a house and therefore this story is absolutely fabricated. We won't be moving any time soon! BUT, let me ask you a question: based on that hypothetical story, how many houses do you think Robert and I are building?
You may say, well Emily, that's fairly obvious. You said you would build your house, singular.
Why then, friends, do we think that Jesus built multiple churches? He said clearly in Matt. 16:18,
"And I say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it."Church-singular. It-singular. The Holy Spirit guided the writers of the New Testament, and even the verb tenses matter! Even the plurality of words matter! Surely we all believe that the Holy Spirit (which is a distinctive member of the GOD-head) could clearly and concisely say what needed to be said, thus He could have recorded the words 'churches' and 'them'. Or, do we believe that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, minced His words? We have full confidence in the perfect nature of Jesus Christ, and in the truth of His words. Why, then, do we wrestle with denominationalism?
I recently attended a campaign in Talledega, AL in which Cliff Goodwin preached a series of lessons combating the false doctrine from the Baptist Manual. Here are a few quotes from him that I believe are worthy of meditation:
"There are so many who are so calm and so quick to say, 'Just join the church of your choice.' No. Go to the church of Christ's choice. He died for one. He died for His church."
"Jesus has never been one among many (denominations). He has been King of kings and Lord of lords, and His church has been one."While the singularity of the words may not be enough for some, think about what Paul wrote to the Corinthians who were struggling with a similar issue:
"For it has been declared to me concerning you, my brethren, by those of Chloe's household, that there are many contentions among you. Now I say this, that each of you says, 'I am of Paul' or 'I am of Apollos' or 'I am of Cephas' or 'I am of Christ'. Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul?" 1 Cor. 1:11-13Cliff said the following in response to these verses:
"If it were a sin 2000 years ago (and it was) for believers to align themselves under the name of an inspired apostle (Paul), how are we to believe that is it less than sinful today for people to align themselves under uninspired men such as John Calvin, Martin Luther, John Wesley (etc.)."Please, friends, let us all consider the church that we are a part of. Only one offers salvation. The Lord only adds us to one (Acts 2:47). And that one? It isn't the one I choose and it isn't the one you choose. It is the one that Christ died for; the one He established. Let us search the scriptures daily and make sure that we are members of the church that belongs to Christ.