Promises and Secrets

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A website for those not afraid to examine their beliefs, compare them to the real world, and make sure they fit.



Denominations

VIEWPOINT



Why are there so many different church denominations? And why don't they all believe the same thing?

FACT



There are many denominations of churches and people who claim to believe in God, Jesus Christ or both.


BLUE VIEWPOINT


If we are all reading the same Bible, why are there so many different "churches"?

This page is not going to be a history lesson on the beliefs of different denominations. That would not only be boring, but would likely have a multitude of errors as there are significant changes within denominations. However, there is a much faster way to identify why there are so many denominations.

Borrowing from a group of fellow servants

Let's start with a statement in a monthly magazine from a well-known church. While I do not agree with all their beliefs, they appear to have a dedication to telling the truth on matters that are not open to dispute. The church is the Living Church of God, and the magazine article section that stands out is from the July-August 2017 issue of The Living Church News:

Some groups do make efforts to preach the Gospel, but they put minimal resources toward it, and others only want to preach the "good news" aspect of the Gospel and not warn of the impending destruction that is going to come on our nations if they don't repent! (emphasis in original)

An example from the real world is an English Baptist Minister, with a Ph.D. from the University of London, who wrote an article before his death in 1965 titled "The Moral Law - The Law not Abrogated by Christ to Believers". A pastor from my wife's Baptist church, who is also English (as in also from England), argued that the law is abrogated for the believer. What happened over the span of 70 years that changed the viewpoint to the new, improved, softer, easier-going Jesus? You can see more on this at the page called Jerusalem Council. Both of these men were discussing the effect of the Jerusalem Council in Acts chapter 15, but now they believe exactly the opposite regarding those results. It is safe to say that at least one of them is wrong.

You've heard me say similar things before in many places on my site, but this is just to show that I am not the only one saying it. However, the concept goes a long way toward explaining what Paul meant when writing to Timothy in 2 Tim 4:3-4
For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. 4 They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.

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Searching the internet using the question "Why are there so many Christian denominations?", resulted in a long list of sites, including:

Got Questions?
Bible Info
Christianity Today
explore God
eBible
Focus on the Family

There are many more, but what I noticed was a lot of sites who gave a little history and then explained that different people and different cultures have different ways of worshiping. Most of these sites said that we should leave others to their own way, while at the same time saying that Jesus wanted his followers to be of one mind, which we are not. Then I got a surprise.

More borrowing...

On this page, we use some thoughts from denominations I have issues with, but they are right on point with this discussion. This just shows that not everyone has everything wrong, many just ignore some of the truth. The first site listed on the first page of search results was jw.org. Normally I would not use the sites of this church as a reference because we have such a difference of opinion about what God wants in a church.

However, starting at the beginning of this site first, then going to the others above, this one proved most concise and accurate. The JW site was chosen because they nailed the entire concept of denominations and did so in three points plus a short summary of the parable of the wheat and the weeds (Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43
The Parable of the Weeds

24 Jesus told them another parable: "The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field. 25 But while everyone was sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away. 26 When the wheat sprouted and formed heads, then the weeds also appeared.
27 "The owner's servants came to him and said, 'Sir, didn't you sow good seed in your field? Where then did the weeds come from?'
28 "'An enemy did this,' he replied.
"The servants asked him, 'Do you want us to go and pull them up?'
29 "'No,' he answered, 'because while you are pulling the weeds, you may uproot the wheat with them. 30 Let both grow together until the harvest. At that time I will tell the harvesters: First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles to be burned; then gather the wheat and bring it into my barn.'"

36 Then he left the crowd and went into the house. His disciples came to him and said, "Explain to us the parable of the weeds in the field."
37 He answered, "The one who sowed the good seed is the Son of Man. 38 The field is the world, and the good seed stands for the people of the kingdom. The weeds are the people of the evil one, 39 and the enemy who sows them is the devil. The harvest is the end of the age, and the harvesters are angels.
40 "As the weeds are pulled up and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of the age. 41 The Son of Man will send out his angels, and they will weed out of his kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil. 42 They will throw them into the blazing furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. 43 Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Whoever has ears, let them hear.


), taken directly from their site:


People have used the teachings of Jesus Christ to form a variety of "Christian" denominations. However, the Bible indicates that there is only one true form of Christianity. Consider just three reasons for reaching this conclusion.

1. Jesus said that he taught "the truth," and early Christians referred to their religion as "the truth." (John 8:32
32 Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.

; 2 Peter 2:2
2 Many will follow their depraved conduct and will bring the way of truth into disrepute.

; 2 John 4
4 It has given me great joy to find some of your children walking in the truth, just as the Father commanded us.

; 3 John 3
3 It gave me great joy when some believers came and testified about your faithfulness to the truth, telling how you continue to walk in it

) These expressions show that those who promote doctrines that conflict with Jesus' teachings are not practicing a true form of Christianity.

2. The Bible teaches that Christians "should all speak in agreement." (1 Corinthians 1:10
10 I appeal to you, brothers and sisters, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another in what you say and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly united in mind and thought.

) However, many Christian denominations disagree on teachings as basic as what it means to be a Christian. Such denominations cannot all be right. - 1 Peter 2:21
21 To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps.

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3. Jesus prophesied that many would claim to be Christian yet fail to obey his commands and that he would reject such ones. (Matthew 7:21-23
21 "Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 Many will say to me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?' 23 Then I will tell them plainly, 'I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!'

; Luke 6:46
46 "Why do you call me, 'Lord, Lord,' and do not do what I say?

) Some people would be misled by religious leaders who corrupt true worship to further their own interests. (Matthew 7:15
15 Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves.

) However, other people would actually prefer imitation Christianity because it would tell them what they want to hear rather than the truth from the Bible. - 2 Timothy 4:3,4
3 For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. 4 They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.

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In his illustration of the wheat and the weeds, Jesus foretold a great rebellion (apostasy) against true Christianity. (Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43
The Parable of the Weeds

24 Jesus told them another parable: "The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field. 25 But while everyone was sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away. 26 When the wheat sprouted and formed heads, then the weeds also appeared.
27 "The owner's servants came to him and said, 'Sir, didn't you sow good seed in your field? Where then did the weeds come from?'
28 "'An enemy did this,' he replied.
"The servants asked him, 'Do you want us to go and pull them up?'
29 "'No,' he answered, 'because while you are pulling the weeds, you may uproot the wheat with them. 30 Let both grow together until the harvest. At that time I will tell the harvesters: First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles to be burned; then gather the wheat and bring it into my barn.'"

36 Then he left the crowd and went into the house. His disciples came to him and said, "Explain to us the parable of the weeds in the field."
37 He answered, "The one who sowed the good seed is the Son of Man. 38 The field is the world, and the good seed stands for the people of the kingdom. The weeds are the people of the evil one, 39 and the enemy who sows them is the devil. The harvest is the end of the age, and the harvesters are angels.
40 "As the weeds are pulled up and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of the age. 41 The Son of Man will send out his angels, and they will weed out of his kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil. 42 They will throw them into the blazing furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. 43 Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Whoever has ears, let them hear.

) For a long period of time, true Christians and false Christians would be indistinguishable. Just as Jesus foretold, the apostasy flourished after the apostles died. (Acts 20:29,30
29 I know that after I leave, savage wolves will come in among you and will not spare the flock. 30 Even from your own number men will arise and distort the truth in order to draw away disciples after them.

) While apostate teachings may vary, the various forms of imitation Christianity have all "deviated from the truth." - 2 Timothy 2:18
18 who have departed from the truth. They say that the resurrection has already taken place, and they destroy the faith of some.

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In point 1, they indicate that Jesus taught the truth, as confirmed by all his followers. In point 2, they indicate that all Christians should be in agreement. Here there is a problem with the beliefs of Christians today because of the multiple interpretations each group gets from the Bibles available. In point 3, we see that many so-called Christians will not be following the commands of Jesus because of selfish religious leaders and people who prefer to hear only what they want rather than the truth.

All of these points express exactly what I have been saying for years. I find it very interesting that one of the churches doing the same thing as claimed above has such a good understanding of the problems with today's churches. In fact, on the page Integrity, clear evidence is presented that even the "great" preachers of the world say one thing and do exactly the opposite in many cases. I guess how it is to be applied depends on the interpretation of who is represented by the wheat and who by the weeds.

Good points

While I do not see eye to eye with the Jehovah's Witnesses, this site had the best, most concise, explanation for the number of denominations in the world. They found the truth that I have been trying to get out for years. The rest of the sites listed tried to let everyone have their own opinion as long as they "love Jesus", even though they recommended that they should have more unity. They seem to feel that as long as they all have some common core (the Apostle's and Nicene Creeds are examples), it is acceptable to disagree on other points.

However, if nearly all the churches believe in the creeds, but don't even keep all of the ten commandments, what good is a creed? How can you say you believe in God and not do what He says (Luke 6:46
46 "Why do you call me, 'Lord, Lord,' and do not do what I say?"

)? One even states that the differences in belief are good because it encourages discussions.

I have to give the Jehovah's Witnesses kudos for recognizing the simple truth in a sea of mushiness, even if they don't seem to follow it. I tried to email them, but the site had no email address to use. Further research shows that there are no published working email addresses for the JW.org, and I get the impression that their organization phone numbers are on the blink most of the time. Too bad, when you want to tell them they have done at least one thing right.

Bend the truth for our needs

The writers of the Bible wrote based on their understanding of Jesus and the Father, as well as revelations directly to the Prophets themselves. They all said the same thing, but we seem to think it is more important to make the meaning of the Bible fit what our denomination does. We do this even if we have to twist the verses a little bit with "outside, special knowledge" that only we have in our church to make it fit. That is where all the denominations came from. The trouble is, someone will have to pay in the end because we do not all follow the truth.

Need a hint?

I found a book called Pagan Christianity? by Frank Viola and George Barna that gives a surprisingly long list of things and actions, in fact most of the sacred things and actions, that modern Christians do that are not based on the Bible. In fact, many of them are right from paganism, and the book actually shows how the authors reached this conclusion. What surprised me about this book was thay they did not even address Sunday-keeping, Easter, Christmas, or Halloween - but stayed on church buildings, dress, elevated platforms, pulpits, pastors, sermons, and a long list of other things. Yep, all pagan. This book is an eye-opener - if you care about the truth even if it "calls you out" to examine your own beliefs. (Where have I heard that phrase before...? Oh, yeah, look at the top of the page)

Summary

When you get right down to it, each of the different denominations feel that they are the ones doing exactly what Jesus wanted from His followers - yet few of them, when compared to the instructions of the Bible, are even close. So, look around your church and see if you can find even one area where you are not following what the Bible, the word of God, says to do.

Forgot the list?

Need some hints? O.K. Do you keep the Sabbath, the seventh-day, Saturday Sabbath that God set aside for the whole world to keep (yes, even non-Jews)? Do you celebrate Easter (Eggs and Bunnies) or do you keep the Passover and celebrate the Resurrection on the first Sunday after the Passover (Lord's Supper)? Do you celebrate a birthday of Anyone, especially since no one in the Bible who followed God's instructions ever celebrated a birthday?

Be honest, now. If you really believe that God created us, that should also mean to you that He cares about everything we say and do.

Let us know

Well, if you are in the only Gentile church that is doing all these things right, according to the word of God, then tell us so at glenjjr@gmail.com, and we will tell the world how well you are doing. If you disagree with what you have read, then tell us that, and we will still let the world know how you feel. Better yet, also have your pastor let us know how your church is doing along these lines. We would love to discuss this with him or her.


Disagree? Find an error? Contact us at glenjjr@gmail.com and give us your view.

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