Denominations frequently use the phrase “I feel” or “I think” when attempting to justify any particular practice. Denominations are built upon what they think God will allow. Denominations don’t consider the Bible when making decisions concerning their ‘human built’ churches. The practice of going beyond the Word of God is not new. In the Old Testament Moses warned the people of Israel, “You shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish aught from it, that you may keep the commandments of the Lord your God which I commanded you” (Deut. 4:2).
Israel was not content to obey only God’s word. They continually disobeyed God’s teaching and ignored his warnings. Therefore, He caused them to go into Babylonian captivity (2 Kgs. 25:1-12 f; Jer. 7:29-34). These lessons recorded in the Old Testament should help us realize that God ‘means what he says and says what he means’. The Israelites felt that worshiping idols was right with God, and so it seemed good to them. However, it was an abomination in the sight of God, and they were punished for their sin.
Denominations “add to” and “take from” God’s written word, and when questioned about the addition or subtraction they answer with the excuse, “God didn’t say not to.” God has informed us in his written word what he expects of us and what we can expect if we choose to disobey.
Disobedience of God’s word comes in two forms. Doing less or adding to what God has commanded are both sins and will be dealt with on the day of Judgment. Belief only, sprinkling for baptism, worship of Mary, women preachers and leaders, instrumental music in worship, wearing of religious titles, and human institutions doing the work of the church are examples of additions to God’s word. All of these substitutions to God’s word seem good and feel good to those who are participating in them, but they are condemned by God (Gal. 1:6-9 f; Rev. 22:18-19). Paul, before he was converted, felt good about persecuting Christians (Acts 23: 1 f; 1 Tim. 1:12-13). It seemed like a good thing for Uzzah to touch the Ark of God in order to keep it from falling, but God struck him dead for his false assumption (2 Sam. 6:6-7). The Bible contains many examples of God’s attitude toward those who disobeyed his word. It brings dishonor to God when we disobey his commands (Lev. 10:1-3).
God is honored when we worship him in spirit and truth (Jn. 4:23,24). The only way we can do this is to have book, chapter, and verse for everything we do in all our religious services. The name we wear is important because it tells others to whom we belong. Those who wear the name Baptist are following the doctrine of men and not the doctrine of Christ and his apostles. Those who wear the name Pentecostal are following a particular event and not Christ and his teaching. Others such as Lutheran, Catholic, Methodist, Mormon, Presbyterian, etc are wearing names of earthly origin and no book, chapter and verse can be found for their doctrines.
When you purchase a house or car, such belongs to you, and the title is made out in your name. It is placed in your name because it belongs to you. No where did Christ give his church to another. He said, “I will build MY church”, not the church of another. (Mt 16:18) Christ purchased the church with his own blood, it belongs to him, and it will wear his name (Acts 20:28 f; 4:12). Where is the book, chapter, and verse giving the authority for us to change the name of the church? There is book, chapter, and verse condemning such action. In 1 Corinthians 1:10-13, Paul is condemning religious division, the very thing denominations promote, by which they are defined.
The churches of Christ, of which I read in the Bible and of which I am a member, is not a denomination. We have no earthly headquarters, no creed book written by men, and strive to follow God’s written word in everything we do. Book, chapter, and verse will separate us from the denominations of men, but this is a necessity if we are going to be pleasing and obedient to God. You can be a member of that same Bible church today, but you will have to forsake and be separated from all forms of denominationalism in order to do so.
Sadly, many liberal churches of Christ have forsaken the commandment of God to prove all things by God’s Word. (1 Thess 5:21) They have rejected of speaking where the bible speaks, and remaining silent where the bible was silent. (1 Pet 4:11 f; 1 Cor 4:6) They have joined denominations in calling all such who follow God explicitly, “Pharisees”, “Legalists”, or “Hypocrites”. Sadly, God has a name waiting on them and the denominations they follow come the day of judgment, and it is a “Sinner”. Then will God say, “ I never knew you: depart from me, you that work iniquity.” (Mt 7:23) Brethren, let us not follow the ways of Israel or the present day denominations, but rather the unadulterated Word of God. Let us be prepared to prove all things, answer all things with book, chapter and verse, and do the will of God. (Mt 7:21) Then, and only then shall we be able to stand before God justified and hear the words, “Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord. (Mt 25:21)