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Fulton County Gospel News

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We All Believe the Same Thing

By Johnny O. Trail

We were standing in line at a “Christian” bookstore waiting to pay for a Bible that we had just purchased for our youngest son.  Then, it happened.  I heard someone say the words “church of Christ.”  I hate to admit it, but I tend to listen in on conversations when I hear people mention the Lord’s body.  The two were standing in line a few people behind us and one was explaining where she was attending church and the rationale undergirding her decision.  She had explained to her grandfather that she was now attending a denominational church instead of the church of Christ.  Her grandfather expressed great distress at her decision to which she retorted, “Grandpa, we all believe the same thing anyway!”  Is this a valid conclusion?  Do all denominations believe the same thing? What is the biblical response to denominationalism?

In the word of God, we learn that there were no denominational bodies in the first century - only the church.  Paul wrote, “There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling” (Eph. 4:4).  From the day of the church’s establishment, there was only one blood bought institution (Acts 20:28) to which one can be added through faith, repentance, and baptism to have eternal life.   “Praising God, and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved”(Acts 2:47).  They were not “added to” churches or different denominations.  They were added to “the” church.  Those outside of that body or church were not saved. 

Teaching that there is “one body” or church is not popular in a postmodern world.  Postmodernism teaches that all beliefs are potentially acceptable and that objective, revealed truth is unobtainable.  For one to claim that God created, purchased, and intended for there to be “one body,” violates this cardinal principle.  Contrary to what postmodernism teaches, Jesus said that one can know the truth.  “And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (Jn. 8:32).  God has revealed Himself to us through His word, and we can know His will for our lives.  The Bible says that within its pages we have the mind of Christ.  Paul wrote, “For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ” (1 Cor. 2:16).  Since we have the mind of Jesus, we can know what His will is regarding all matters spiritual.

The word denomination has various meanings.  Denomination means “a religious grouping within a faith that has its own system of organization.”  That last phrase is most interesting.  A denomination has “its own system of organization.”  This is separate and apart from God’s word.  The church’s true system of organization is contained in God’s word.  Any departure from scripture is not in accordance with the truth.

God is not in favor of religious division.  Jesus’ prayer for the unity of all believers is recorded in John 17.  Jesus said,  “That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me” (Jn. 17:21).  There were no divisions between God the Father and God the Son.  As a matter of fact, the church of the first century was warned to avoid people that caused division in the church.  Paul wrote, “Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them” (Rom. 16:17).

A person should be able to read about their church in scripture.  For the church to be Bible based, it must be properly representing God’s word.  One of the hallmarks of the restoration movement is sola scriptura.    Sola scriptura is Latin for "by scripture alone." It is the doctrine that the Bible contains all knowledge necessary for salvation and holiness.  I Peter 4:11 says, “If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God; if any man minister, let him do it as of the ability which God giveth: that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom be praise and dominion for ever and ever.”  By the same token, we must endeavor to speak about biblical ideas using correct terms seasoned with salt that is gleaned from God’s word.

One cannot say that all denominations “believe the same things” when they clearly do not!  The only way we can possibly make this statement is to base our practice upon scripture.  If we base our practice of religion, worship, and morality upon the Bible, then there will only be “one body” (Eph. 4:4). 

Johnny preaches for the Sycamore Chapel church of Christ in Ashland City, TN 

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