Differences between Denominations

Differences between Denominations
Denominations are a tough concept to understand. It is even tougher to accept that there are differences. After all, if we believe the same gospel, then why are there differences between denominations? In other works (Search for Denomination) we have hit on the cultural aspect of denominations. In this case, I am more concerned about the spiritual connotation.

…each one of you is saying, “I am of Paul,” and “I of Apollos,” and “I of Cephas,” and “I of Christ.” Has Christ been divided? Paul was not crucified for you, was he? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul? I thank God that I baptized none of you except Crispus and Gaius, so that no one would say you were baptized in my name…For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel, not in cleverness of speech, so that the cross of Christ would not be made void.

1 Corinthians 12-15, 17 NAS

The Corinthians had a problem here. It wasn’t that they didn’t believe in Jesus Christ, they just had a misconception about who to follow. It caused them to become divided. They were creating mini-denominations based on a legalistic view of the gospel as presented by different Christian leaders of the time. Paul comes in and reminds them that that are not followers of any other man, but followers of Christ.

When he found out that these divisions existed, his reaction was to be glad that no one was claiming to be a follower of his. Look close to see Paul’s concern. He does not think that anyone should have followers because that leads to pride or is a product of pride. If someone tricks people into believing in Christ through cleverness of speech, then the cross becomes void. They are not even following Christ rather they are following a man who has manipulated the gospel message to his benefit. The cross is hidden behind the pride of man.

I think for many, it is a draw to be a part of the biggest church led by the most talented charismatic preacher however that should not at all be part of the criteria for choosing a church. The number one criteria should be the message. Does the preacher preach the bible from the Spirit of God or from pride? Find a preacher who is in the Spirit. Secondarily, it is OK to consider the cultural aspect of the church in order to join a community where you will be able to worship without stumbling because of others methods of worship.

The number one application of this passage is to follow Christ. Regardless of the church or denomination, there are people who line their lives up with other men. Christ said repeatedly, “Follow me” and so we should study the word of God and know Christ so we can follow Him and none other.

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