Just this week I was giving a friend a hard time about a particular brand of vehicles he likes. He tends to do the same about one brand that I like. It takes place on social media so others tend to join in too. And as long as it remains light-hearted, we all have fun and we all remain friends at the end.
But, it got me to thinking that we (the human race) tend to do that about a great many things in our lives. We have a certain loyalty to “brands”. What kind of car do you like? Do you like Android or iPhone? Gucci or Pravda? Nike or Fubu? Coke or Pepsi? Snickers or Butterfinger? Sometimes we have great reasons for preferring one brand over another. Sometimes we have an emotional attachment and that’s about it. In fact, sometimes our reason is because we grew up using a particular brand. Or even, someone we respected used that brand, so we figure that brand is good enough for us too.
And really, when we look at these things from eternity’s perspective, it doesn’t really matter which brands we prefer. That is to say, a Chevy won’t get you to heaven any more than a Ford. Drinking a Pepsi won’t make you more righteous in God’s eyes than the person who drinks a Coke. That’s not to say it’s wrong to prefer one brand over another. More to say that which brand(s) you choose will not affect whether or not you are saved. So, as far as God is concerned we are free to enjoy any brands we wish (as long as the product/service itself is not ungodly to use or endorse).
However, when it comes to our Christianity, is it true that any make and model of “Christianity” (in quotes on purpose) is acceptable to God? Does it matter if you’re a Catholic, Baptist, Lutheran, Presbyterian, Episcopalian, Latter Day Saint (Mormon), Seventh Day Aventist, etc, etc? Does God view each of form of “Christianity” as equally valid in receiving salvation? For many today, the answer is “Yes.” But, let’s look at what the Bible says about the subject. After all, this is not simply a matter of product selection, this is a matter of salvation and eternity!
In Matthew 16:13, Jesus asked His disciples who they thought He was. Recall that Jesus is deity, He already knows their answer. So, the question has a greater purpose than just trying to figure out what they think. It called on them to really think about who He is, what His purpose is, and what they must do about it. In verse 16, Peter confesses that Jesus is the Christ (or Messiah), the Son of the living God. In verse 17, Jesus praises Peter for this good answer. Then, in verse 18, Jesus tells Peter that upon this rock (i.e., Peter’s confession), Jesus would build His church. Notice, first of all, that Jesus said He would build His church. He did not build the church of another man. In 1 Corinthians 1:13, Paul is making the point that the Christians in Corinth were baptized into Christ, not another Christian. Second, notice that Jesus said He would build His singular church. He did not build many churches, but one unified church. So any group claiming to be Christians, who do not belong to Jesus’ church, are not in fact Christians. It’s not about trying to say one denomination is better than another. It’s about saying Jesus’ church is better than all others because it’s the only one God accepts (see Ephesians 5:24-27, Col. 1:13-18, and 1 Cor. 15:24).
Now, some will object and say that I don’t understand. They will say that all denominations belong to Jesus’ church. They will tell me that each denomination is just a smaller piece of the universal church. Yet, let us not stop here and turn to our own understanding and our own brand preferences. Instead, let us see what the Bible has to say on the matter. In 1 Corinthians 1, Paul speaks of how the Corinthian Christians were divided between themselves. In verse 10, he calls on them to have the same mind and the same judgment. In verse 13, he is condemning them for boasting about which famous Christian baptized them. He was condemning their division and saying to cease from doing so. Then, in Ephesians 4, Paul calls on the Christians at Ephesus to be united. He told them to endeavor “to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” That word endeavor means to “give diligence”. It’s not just a casual try, but a concerted sincere effort. Then in verse 5, among the famous “seven ones”, we read there is “one faith”. This is Paul speaking by inspiration from the Holy Spirit telling us their is one faith, not many faiths. Next, over in 2 Timothy 2:2, Paul tells the preacher Timothy, “the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also.” The self-same gospel message Paul preached publicly, Timothy was to preach the identical message to other Christians, who would teach the identical message to other Christians in a recursive way. One other passage that comes to mind is Galatians 1:6-9. Here, Paul says he marvels that the Galatian Christians were already removing from the gospel message to a perverted gospel, which is not the true gospel. And so serious is this matter, he says that if he himself, or those with him, or even an angel from heaven ever preaches anything different to them, to let such a person be accursed. And that’s only four among many many examples of unity taught in the Bible. The reality is that denominationalism is not from God, but is from men. And as such, any who follow after any denomination, will find themselves accursed from God.
Friend, I do not wish this to be the case for you! Please don’t let it be the case for you! There is one true church. It is not my church because I did not die on the cross to establish it. It is Jesus’ church and He alone has authority over it. I am simply blessed to be able to be a part of it. I desire the same for you. If you find yourself in a denomination, and thus alienated from Jesus’ one and only church, please feel free to send me a message and I will point you to Bible answers on how you can become a part of His true church. And by Bible answers, I mean I will point you to scriptures that show you how to become a part of Jesus’ church, so that you can study for yourself and know for yourself which is Jesus’ church. For, I do not want you to have faith in me, but rather faith in Jesus. And that can only come through your own personal study of the Bible.