The Moore American

March 12, 2014

What is a denomination?

By Richard Aegerter
The Moore American

MOORE — Greetings, Moore American readers, welcome back to our weekly visit. We hope you’ve had a good week.

Using the word of God to answer these questions, “What is a denomination?” “Do I belong to one?”

An authoritative body used by many religious groups in the world today is known as a denomination. Dictionary.com defines denomination in this way — a large group of religious congregations untied under a common faith and name and organized under a single administrative and legal hierarchy.

Whenever there are issues of policy, or even judgments of doctrine to be made by these religious groups, it is often decided by use of convention or the administrative body of the denomination. As a result, the administrative body hands down policy for the entire group to follow. 

Is this biblical in anyway?

Let me start with these verses “speaking truth in love, we may grow up in all things into him, who is the head, even Christ;” (Eph. 4:15 KJV).

“the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere” (Ja. 3:17 ESV).

“Let your speech be always with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer each one” (Col. 4:6 ASV). Now turn in your Bible and read and meditate on 1 Pe. 3:12-17.

Let the Word of God teach and define all beliefs that we embrace. Nowhere in the Bible does God, Jesus the Christ or the Holy Spirit authorize the use of denominations. So, the use of it in any form of manner is entirely unscriptural and contrary to God’s will.

The use of a governing body, administration or headquarters for the Lord’s church is definitely unsubstantiated in God’s Word. These practices have come about by man being unwilling to accept God’s plan of authority.

Does man not believe that God’s command of Christ as the head of the church (Eph. 1:22), bishops overseeing independent congregations of the church (Ac. 20:28; 1 Pe. 2:25) deacons serving in official status (1 Tim. 3:10, 13), and Christian members ministering (1 Pe. 4:11) according to their God given responsibilities, will work?

Do some think God is not smart enough to solve whatever spiritual problems that may arise through His system that is laid out for us to follow in the Bible? In Jeremiah 10:23, we glean, “O Lord, I know that the way of man is not in himself: it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps.”

Psa. 37:23 “The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord: and he delighteth in his way.”

Isa. 40:28 “Hast thou not known? hast thou not heard, that the everlasting God, the Lord, the creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary? there is no searching of his understanding.”

Isa. 55:8-9 “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.”

1 Cor. 2:16 “For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him?”

In the 15 chapter of John, he records Christ allegory of the vine and its branches. Jesus the Christ is the true vine (v. 1) and individual Christians are the branches (Jo. 15:5). One who obeys the gospel (Mark 16:15-16) is a branch in Christ.

Man-made denominations are not the branches spoken of by John as is made clear in verse five. The disciples who are followers of Christ are the branches under discussion. Each child of God has the responsibility to produce fruit as a branch in the kingdom (Mat. 3:8; Ro. 6:22; Gal. 5:22-23; Eph. 5:9; Php. 1:11).

Denominations teach that these “branches” are different “churches” in a vain attempt to justify denominationalism. The context, however, will not allow such an inaccurate interpretation. It is individual people under consideration and not different religious groups (Jo. 6:68-69; Ac. 4:12). There is only “one body” (Eph. 4:4), and one does not mean many varieties.

Only those who obey the gospel (Ro. 1:16) are branches “in Christ” (2 Cor. 5:17). One puts on Christ in the act of baptism (Gal. 3:27). A penitent believer who obeys the gospel plan of salvation is “baptized into Christ” (Ro. 6:3) and “raised” to walk “in newness of life” (Ro. 6:4).

One who does not bear fruit is not maturing in Christ (Col. 1:10). The apostle Paul identifies the fruit that every child of God is to produce as being, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance” (Gal. 5:22-23). The Christian who is bearing fruit for the Master will continue to mature, as Peter demonstrates in saying, “beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity” (2 Pe. 1:5-7). A Christian also will strive to teach others the gospel in planting and watering as the opportunity arises (1 Cor. 3:6).

Lord willing, we’ll look forward to sharing more scriptures next week on this subject. If you would like to study the Bible or have questions, call Richard at 1-254-405-4884, if needed, leave a message or rrichaeg@netzero.com.