Speaking the Truth in Love
Can One Be In A Denomination and Be A Christian?
We live in a world that has thousands of churches that follow thousands of teachings that contradict one another. These divisions over the Bible are not what Jesus wants. He wants all to be united (John 17:20-21, Ephesians 4:1-16). There is nothing new about people being divided about God. They had the same problem in the church at Corinth, almost 2,000 years ago.
1 Corinthians 1:10-31 - Paul says there were divisions in the Corinthian church. This should not have been so. Some were following Paul, some Apollos, some Cephas (or Simon Peter), and some Christ. These divisions happened when people started following men rather than Christ (notice Acts 5:29, 10:25-26, 14:11-18, 1 Corinthians 11:1). Notice the questions that Paul asks in verse 13. Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul? Good questions that we can ask today. Then Paul compares the foolishness of man to the wisdom of God. In verse 23 Paul points them back to where they should have been; preaching Christ crucified!
Acts 8:26-39 - The Holy Spirit guided Philip to the Ethiopian eunuch. Philip then preached Jesus to the eunuch. The eunuch obeyed by confessing that he believed that Jesus was the Son of God and was baptized (Romans 6:1-8). Notice in these scriptures from the Holy Spirit that there is no mention of:
a. Sprinkling or pouring as a substitute for baptism. There is no verse in the Bible that says we are to be sprinkled or have water poured over us to wash away our sins.
b. There is no mention of the Eunuch saying the "sinner's prayer". He simply obeyed the gospel of Jesus that Philip preached to him.
c. The Eunuch did not speak in tongues as a sign that he had been converted. There is no mention of the gifts of the Holy Spirit in this account. We also know that Philip did not have the power or authority to pass on these gifts, as did the apostles (Acts 8:14-20).
d. Nowhere in the passage is it mentioned that you simply have to accept Jesus as your personal Savior in order to become a Christian. Rather the eunuch obeyed the gospel and was then added to the body of Christ , just like the first Christians did in Acts chapter 2 (Acts 2:36-47).
The fact of the matter is that the Holy Spirit sent Philip to the Ethiopian Eunuch, so he could hear the gospel of Jesus preached to him. The Eunuch obeyed the law of Christ (Galatians 6:2), the law of liberty (James 1:25, 2:12), and the law of the Spirit (Romans 8:2).
I have dear friends say they are Christians who happen to be members of a denomination. Did the Eunuch become a member of a denomination or did he become a Christian? The gospel of Christ produces Christians, followers of Jesus! If you are following the teaching of anyone else (e.g., any man-made religion including denominations) you are not living for Jesus (Luke 9:23, Acts 4:12). Is it possible to be a Christian and be a follower of a manmade religion? Jesus says it is not possible (Matthew 7:21-24, 15:9)!
Close - We encourage you to obey the Lord. Do what the Ethiopian eunuch did. Obey Jesus. Then you can go on your way rejoicing like he did. He rejoiced because he knew his sins had been washed away in the waters of baptism. He had become a Christian! No miraculous gifts of the Holy Spirit were bestowed on him. What saved him was obedience to the gospel of Jesus! Check all the scriptures we have mentioned for yourself and if they prove to be true, we encourage you to obey them!
We want to help in any way we can. Please contact us by telephone, e-mail, or simply come to one of our assemblies. We hope to see you next time on “Speaking The Truth In Love” in two weeks on June 16 at 8pm when we hope to study “The Blood of Jesus”.