Note: In this material, the term “pastor” is used in its common usage; a leader of a denominational church. It is not used in the biblical sense as outlined and illustrated in the New Testament (Acts 20:17-32; 1 Pet. 5:1-4; 1 Tim. 3:1-7; Titus 1:5-9).
5. Some Believers Will Burn In Hell
Not all believers are saved; shocking, but true.
The easy and obvious example is the demons. They believe in Jesus as the Holy One of God, but are doomed to eternal torment (Mk. 1:23, 24). Their failing is lack of submission to the Lord.
Other lost believers include those who work iniquity. Jesus said,
Not everyone who says to Me, “Lord, Lord,” shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, “Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?” And then I will declare to them, “I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness (Matt. 7:21-23).
This means some who are religious, diligent in their labors, and believe in Jesus as Lord will not go to heaven. The Lord will reject them. Why? Because they worked “lawlessness.” That is, they did not do the will of the Father in heaven. They did not listen to Him. They did not follow His Word, where His will is found (1 Cor. 2:7-13). This includes people who use instrumental music in worship, practice the social gospel, or pervert the plan of salvation. The typical denominational pastor will not say a peep about this.
Other believers are identified by the Holy Spirit as falling short of the glory of God.
Nevertheless even among the rulers many believed in Him, but because of the Pharisees they did not confess Him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue; for they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God (Jn. 12:42, 43).
To place the praise of men above the praise of God is sinful. Paul said if we seek to please men above pleasing Christ, we are not His servants (Gal. 1:10). If you are not a servant of Christ, you are not going to heaven. It is that simple. Still, pastors will not tell you this.
Another category of believers who will burn in hell include the immoral. Paul gives various lists of sins throughout his inspired writings. One such list is found in Galatians 5:19-21. Among the sins he enumerates are fornication, idolatry, sorcery, jealousies, envy, drunkenness and so on. Remember, he is writing the “churches of Galatia” (Gal. 1:2). He is not writing heathens. Thus, he said saints involved in the works of the flesh “will not inherit the kingdom of God” (Gal. 5:21). In other words, they will burn in hell.
Why will many denominational pastors not tell you this? One reason may be they are afraid of running people off. After all, it is a nice, easy message to teach people just to believe and everything will be all right. If their numbers fall, so will their popularity, prestige, and, often, pay check.
What can we learn from all of this?
First, we must not think that belief alone saves. It doesn’t. We are also to confess that believe before men (Rom. 10:9-13). We are to repent and be baptized to have the remission of sins (Acts 2:38).
Second, once we are saved, we are not always saved. We can believe for a while and then fall away (Lk. 8:13). We may still believe Jesus is the Christ, but be lost.
Third, whether it is the demons or other believers, those who will burn in hell are those who do not submit to the will of God. They follow their own desires. They chafe under the gospel of Christ and want to live in the ways of the world.
The average denominational pastor will not deal with these issues. He is blinded by tradition and the doctrines of men. He is more of a hindrance than help.
It is up to each of us to examine what men say in light of the inspired, inerrant Word of God (Acts 17:11). If we do not, any faith we have is really not our own, but that borrowed from another. Therefore, let us diligently study God’s Word.
Note: In this material, the term “pastor” is used in its common usage; a leader of a denominational church. It is not used in the biblical sense as outlined and illustrated in the New Testament (Acts 20:17-32; 1 Pet. 5:1-4; 1 Tim. 3:1-7; Titus 1:5-9).
3. Denominations Are Not The New Testament Church of Christ.
Have you ever heard a pastor admit this? Fact is, he probably doesn’t understand the concept very well. He may think his church is a “New Testament” church. He sees himself as a Christian, not Jew or something else. He would emphatically claim allegiance to Christ. However, when examined in light of the New Testament, the church he leads will fall far short of the Church of Christ.
Name. Most churches have names that are not found in the New Testament. Men chosen different ways of describing themselves, to distinguish themselves from others. For instance, those who followed Marin Luther called themselves Lutherans to distinguish themselves from Roman Catholics and let people know what they believed. Baptist called themselves such to let all know that baptism was integral to being a member of their church; namely adult baptism as opposed to those who sprinkled infants. Presbyterians are named after their form of church government, which distinguishes them from Methodists. All of these names and designations for the church are not found in the New Testament. They are extra-biblical; the doctrines of men (Matt. 15:7-9).
The Church in the New Testament is described in various ways, any of which is scriptural to use today. God’s people are collectively (universally and congregationally) known as the church (Acts 2:47; Matt. 18:17), the church of God (1 Cor. 1:2), the church(es) of Christ (Rom. 16:16), the body of Christ (Eph. 4:17), the kingdom (Col. 1:13, 18; Matt. 13:13), the house of God (1 Tim. 3:15). Each of these names describes a different relationship the church maintains. The church is merely those called out of the world, when attached to God or Christ it shows to whom the church belongs. The body describes a needed relationship between the various parts of the body and also submission to the Head’s direction (Eph. 1:22, 23; 4:4). The kingdom shows a governmental organization, a monarchy specifically, with rights for its citizens. House tells us the church is a family too with God as the Father and Jesus as the elder Brother (Heb. 2:11-14).
We know the names found in the New Testament are scriptural and pleasing to God, for He gave them. Those invented and used by men are without divine inspiration. They assume a place of authority that God has not given. A pastor will not teach this.
Note: Sometimes a church is designated by its location and/or those who are part of it (1 Thes. 1:1; Col. 4:16; Rev. 2:1; 3:14). This is never intended to be an official name where people in Rome would call themselves the church of Ephesus.
Organization/leadership. Generally, denominations have one man leading the local church. This is true even if their national or international organization is headed by a council. The typical leader in a church is a “pastor.” He is the minister and overseer of the work. There may be boards, but everyone knows who leads the church.
The Bible reveals something dramatically different. In the New Testament there is always a plurality of leaders in a local congregation. These men are variously described as elders (presbyter), bishops (overseers), or pastors (shepherds). There were “elders” at the church in Ephesus who were to “shepherd” (pastor) the flock of God among them (Acts 20:17, 28). These men who were elders had to meet certain qualifications to serve in the office and were also known as bishops (Titus 1:5-9; 1 Tim. 3:1-7). Again, there was always a plurality (2 or more) serving in local churches (Phil. 1:1; 1 Pet. 5:1-4; Acts 20:17). These terms were never used as titles, but merely descriptions of their duties or sphere of labor.
Today, men serve as the “Pastor.” Many love the important sounding titles, which are contrary to Jesus’ teaching (Matt. 23:2-12). They often lack the qualifications given by the Holy Spirit (1 Tim. 3:1-7; Titus 1:7-9). Many are single men, when the Bible says they must be married with believing children. When they serve as the leader, they violate the scriptural principle of multiple leaders.
Also worthy of notice is the fact that an elder/pastor is distinct from a preacher/evangelist (Eph. 4:11). They are two different duties. One oversees the local church, the other serves as a teacher. Some of their labors may overlap, but nevertheless, they are different “offices.” Your average pastor will not acknowledge this.
Worship. Nearly all churches have forgotten worship is directed by God. He has revealed His will on the matter and not left it to man. The Holy Spirit guided the apostles and prophets into all truth (Jn. 16:13). There was not a truth they did not receive in New Testament times that we do not have today, and vice versa. Since the close of the New Testament near 100 AD, there has been no new revelation. Hence, all we know about God’s will for worship is in the New Testament of Jesus Christ; recorded and preserved for all generations.
The gospel reveals the saints engaged in five activities in their assemblies. They studied revelation, gave of their material possessions, observed the Lord’s supper, prayed, and sang songs (Acts 2:42; Eph. 5:19). Let’s break it down. The “apostles’ doctrine” of Acts 2:42 is the teaching/studying done by the congregation. This is the preaching part of the worship (Acts 20:7). The “fellowship” of Acts 2 is the giving on the first day of the week, which was often used to help saints in need (1 Cor. 16:1, 2; Acts 4:32-37; 6:1-6). The churches also commemorated the Lord’s death, burial, and resurrection with the unleavened bread and fruit of the vine (Matt. 26:17, 26-29; 1 Cor. 11:23-26). They did this on the first day of the week in the assembly (Acts 20:7). They prayed frequently (Acts 12:5). Saints also sang in the assembly (Eph. 5:19; Col. 3:16). This was a simultaneous, reciprocal activity—a congregational activity, not a choir activity. They taught and admonished one another in this manner.
The typical pastor will go beyond what is revealed and direct a church in using instrumental music and incorporating multiple forms of entertainment into a worship service. He is leading the church outside the doctrine of Christ, and is therefore corrupting their worship (2 Jn. 9; Matt. 15:7-9).
If the typical church is not following the New Testament teaching of what a church is in name, organization, or worship, then it is not a New Testament church. It does not belong to Christ. Rather, it is a product of the traditions of men. Pastor help perpetuate this, leading people beyond and away from the doctrine of Christ (2 Jn. 9). Such ought to be rejected; embracing the New Testament as the sole guide for the church (2 Jn. 10, 11; Col. 3:17).
Churches of Christ are wrongly viewed by most people. They are often accused of believing or practicing something that they reject and rejecting that which they accept. We suppose this may be true of most religious movements to one degree or another.
One area where members of the Church of Christ are maligned is salvation, that is, they are accused of believing in “works salvation.” It is believed since members of the Church of Christ advocate action on the part of man that we are trying to earn our way into heaven. The assertion seems to be, if you say you must do anything, you believe in works salvation.
Here is the truth.
Members of churches of Christ believe obedience to the Lord’s commands is necessary. Jesus is “the Author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him” (Heb. 5:9). No one can possibly be saved in disobedience to the Lord. God does not accept the rebellious, even if they are well intentioned.
Consider Uzzah (2 Sam. 6:6, 7). He tried to steady the ark when the oxen stumbled. In spite of the fact that his reaction was understandable, even natural instinct, God struck Uzzah dead for touching the ark. When God gave the command that no man was to touch it, He meant it. Recall, the command was given about 400 years before Uzzah violated it; it had not changed.
Also think about King Saul (1 Sam. 15). He was commanded to kill all the Amalekites and their livestock. However, he spared the best of the animals and King Agag. His excuse was that the animals were spared to offer a sacrifice to God. In Saul’s mind it was “good” to offer sacrifices to God. Many people still think like Saul. Samuel pointed out that God would rather have obedience than sacrifice (1 Sam. 15:22, 23).
Peter understood the need to obey God (Acts 5:29). Those who heard him and accepted the gospel were said to be “obedient to the faith” (Acts 6:7). As the historical record shows, those who obeyed Peter’s teaching were required to take action (Acts 2:38; 3:19). Those who heard Philip preach were required to submit (Acts 8:12, 13, 36-38). The same is expected of us today.
Here is the rub.
Most people will agree that men must obey the command to believe in Jesus as the Christ. They may even say we must repent and confess. However, many, many people strenuously object to the idea that baptism is a like command that must be obeyed to be saved. Why? For most folks they have believed a lie. Others simply do not want to accept this truth because of what it would require them to admit—most of their family is lost. Yet, the command to be baptized for the remission of sins is clearly taught in the New Testament (Mk. 16:16; Acts 2:38; 22:16; Rom. 6:3, 4; Gal. 3:26, 27; Col. 2:11, 12; 1 Pet. 3:21).
When members of the Church of Christ tell a friend that he or she must be baptized to be a Christian and have the hope of heaven, the reply may be “you believe in working your way to heaven.” The truth is, we believe in obeying our way into heaven. We firmly believe what Hebrews 5:9 teaches, that Jesus is the author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him, including His command to be baptized to be saved (Mk. 16:16).
Let’s illustrate it with an Old Testament story.
When Naaman the leper traveled to Israel for a cure, Elisha commanded him to dip seven times in the Jordan (2 Kgs. 5:1-10). This made Naaman angry, but his servants talked some sense into him and he dipped (2 Kgs. 5:11-14). His leprosy was gone. He was completely healed. Did he earn his healing from God? Was God in Naaman’s debt because Naaman dipped in the river Jordan? You know the answer; Naaman was healed because he obeyed God’s command. If he refused and returned to Syria, he would not have been healed.
The same is true regarding baptism.
The Lord and His ambassadors command baptism for salvation (Mk. 16:16; Acts 2:38; 22:16). When men obey this command they are healed of their sins; they are completely clean. His obedience does not earn him anything. God is not in his debt. Rather, God offers the gift of salvation with conditions; believe, repent, confess, be baptized. He offered the gift of healing to Naaman with conditions; dip seven times in the Jordan. His gift and our gift are not earned no matter what we do to comply with God’s conditions. And, any refusal to submit leaves a man in his sins.
Do members of the churches of Christ believe in works salvation? No. We believe in salvation by faith through grace, which includes humble submission to the commands of God. If this is objectionable to some, then we ask, what command of God can be disobeyed and we still get to go to heaven?
Members of the Church of Christ are sometimes accused of not believing in the Old Testament. This may be because we emphasize the need for New Testament authority in all we do and that the Old Testament is no longer binding. Though this seems straight-forward, people misunderstand it.
The Bible teaches that we must do all by the authority of the Lord, in His name (Col. 3:17). To do a thing in the “name of the Lord” is to do it by His command or His right and power. Jesus said He has all authority (Matt. 28:18). The Father said, “He Him” (Matt. 17:5). The Hebrew writer revealed by inspiration, “God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son…” (Heb. 1:1, 2). These verses clearly show that Jesus is the one and only to hold religious authority today.
Jesus expressed His authority, gave His commands, through the New Testament. There are four books that record His life and teaching (Matthew, Mark, Luke, John). The other twenty three books of the gospel tell us about the establishment of the church, how to live, and what to expect (Acts-Revelation). Each book was revealed by the Holy Spirit (Jn. 16:13). Hence, when we go by the New Testament, we are going by the authority of the Lord.
Since the New Testament is the expressed authority of Jesus, and He has all authority, that leaves none for the Old Testament. Right?
Does this mean members of the churches of Christ do not believe in the Old Testament? Not at all. Rather, we accept what Paul said, “For whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we thorough the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope” (Rom. 15:4). The Old Testament teaches us about God and His dealings with men. We learn how He gives commands and holds men accountable to them. We often see His mercy, even to stubborn people like the Israelites.
Many New Testament truths are well illustrated in the Old Testament. In fact, I submit that there are no better illustrations to use…after all they are inspired!
Far from discounting the Old Testament, members of churches of Christ study it quite diligently. Over the past few years I have taught on the Minor Prophets, Genesis, Ezekiel, and other texts from the Old Testament. It enriches our understanding of God’s plan of redemption and gives us many examples of righteousness, as well as unrighteousness.
Again, to emphasize the main point; the New Testament is our authority, not the Old.
The Old Testament was done away with on the cross of Christ (Eph. 2:14, 15; Col. 2:14, 15). It was the ministry of death, while the New is the ministry of life (2 Cor. 3:3-11). This includes all the Old Testament; the Ten Commandments are no exception.
People wonder how the Ten Commandments are not authoritative and still maintain moral law. The fact is all the commandments are repeated in one form or another in the New Testament, except the Sabbath command. Besides, we cannot pick and choose which parts of the Old Testament to keep. As James and Paul said, we either take it all or none (Jas. 2:10; Gal. 5:3).
Members of the Church of Christ do believe in the Old Testament, just not for our religious authority. We are followers of Christ, not Moses.
If people know anything about the church of Christ, they usually “know” it does not have any music. This is one of the biggest misconceptions out there. Why? Because people have been taught, consciously or unconsciously, that music is of one kind, instrumental.
It is true churches of Christ that pattern themselves after the New Testament do not use instrumental music in worship. This does not mean there is no music. They do have music, it is just music produced by the human “instrument,” the mouth.
Why do churches of Christ not have instruments?
The reason for a lack of instrumental music in worship is due to a lack of it in the New Testament. Churches of Christ strive diligently to follow the New Testament without addition or subtraction. And, since there is no teaching or evidence of musical instruments being used in the worship of the church, churches of Christ do not add them.
The musical worship of the New Testament church was vocal. Two passages sum up the Bible’s teaching on this point.
“Speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord” (Eph. 5:19).
“Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord” (Col. 3:16).
Other passages addressing musical worship of the church are: Matt. 26:30; Mk. 14:26; Acts 16:25; Rom. 15:9; Heb. 2:12; 1 Cor. 14:15; Jas. 5:13.
Now, there are a couple of passages in Revelation that mention the use of instruments.
“Now when He had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each having a harp and golden bowls full of incense which are the prayers of the saints” (Rev. 5:8).
“And I heard a voice from heaven, like the voice of many waters, and like the voice of loud thunder. And I heard the sound of harpists playing on their harps” (Rev. 14:2).
Members of the church of Christ do not see these as part of the worship of the church. First, the scenes depict activities in heaven, not on earth. Second, the book of Revelation is one of signs and symbols (Rev. 1:1). If we accept harps, should we also have golden bowls full of incense? If the harps are literal, is the Lamb also literal? Churches of Christ answer no. The harps, golden bowls, and Lamb are symbolic for something real. The Lamb, of course, is Christ. The golden bowls with incense are the prayers of the saints, as we are told. The harps are the praises given to God.
There are other arguments that people have for using instruments in worship, but these are not really the focus of this article. What is at issue is the misconception people have that churches of Christ do not have music. They do. It is a capella, that is, without the accompaniment of an instrument.
People are filled with misconceptions about religious matters, particular religious organizations, and the Bible itself. We could take an entire year to look at misconceptions on various issues and still leave out many, many subjects. So, beginning with this article, we are going to focus on misconceptions concerning the churches of Christ.
While a fair number of folks have heard of churches of Christ, hardly any know much about them.
People who are not a member of a church of Christ tend to view it as just another denomination. Their religious background has trained them to look at all churches the same. Since they are in a denomination, their friends are in one or the other, and their neighbors are…not to mention the numerous TV and radio shows associated with or promoted by denominations…they see all churches through that prism.
In the past decade or so many so-called non-denominational churches have sprung up. Most of these are old denominations that have removed the name; changed their title. Truthfully, though, they teach and practice the same things as their forefathers; albeit with a little more zeal and pizzazz.
Churches of Christ are not like this.
Let’s clarify something, there are churches that use the designation “church of Christ” that are denominational in their organization, practices, worship, beliefs, teaching, and so on. These are not the ones under discussion here. Rather, we are focusing on churches of Christ that pattern themselves after the New Testament (Rom. 16:16).
The church of Christ in the New Testament is seen in two senses.
First, there is the universal church belonging to Christ; the one He promised to build (Matt. 16:18). This church includes all the saved on earth. When men are converted, when their sins are removed, the Lord adds them to this body of believers (Acts 2:47).
The universal church has one head, Jesus Christ (Eph. 1:22, 23). The head has only one body too (Eph. 2:16; 4:4-6). Naturally, the comparison of the church to the body must necessarily mean one head for the one body; otherwise you have a deformed, defective body.
Inasmuch as there is only one body with one head, there is no head of the church on earth; not the pope, not Joseph Smith, no one. And, there are no earthly headquarters. Heaven is the governmental seat of the kingdom of Christ (not Rome, Salt Lake City, or anywhere else).
Second, the church of Christ is seen on a local level. For instance, Paul wrote to the church of God at Corinth (1 Cor. 1:2). We can read of churches at Jerusalem, Thessalonica, Ephesus, and many other places (Acts 8:1; 1 Thes. 1:1; Eph. 1:1; cf. Acts 20:17).
These churches were not tied together in a denominational super structure. Rather, each was autonomous—self governed—led by duly appointed elders, also known as pastors, shepherds, bishops, or overseers (Acts 20:17, 28-32; Acts 14:23; 1 Tim. 3:1-7; Titus 1:5-9; Phil. 1:1; 1 Pet. 5:1-4).
Never in the New Testament is there anything like a denomination.
Members of the local churches did not view “their church” as part of a larger church, which was part of the universal church. Instead, saints understood they were part of the Church of Christ and members of a local congregation, a church of Christ, to worship and work in the Lord’s vineyard.
Churches of Christ that pattern themselves after the New Testament are not just another denomination or part of a denomination. They are simply a group of Christians who have agreed to labor for the Lord and worship together. Correcting this misconception will go a long way to understanding churches of Christ.
Those who believe the Bible accept the fact that the church is part of God’s eternal purpose (Eph. 3:9-11). It was not an accident or aberration from His will. The church was planned and purposed before time began, because it is integral to the plan of salvation (Gen. 3:15; Eph. 5:25). It consists of those who are redeemed by the blood of Christ and is destined for heaven (Acts 20:28; 1 Cor. 6:20; 15:24). Yet, few men respect the church. They view it as an institution established and governed by the whims of man. It even serves their basest desires.
The purpose of the church is to save souls. It is the pillar and ground of the truth (1 Tim. 3:15). As such, it supports the gospel in the world, spreading the faith to the lost (1 Thes. 1:7-9). By teaching this truth, it provides men the opportunity to be set free from sin and death (Jn. 8:32). In other words, the church teaches the gospel which is God’s power unto salvation (Rom. 1:16). When men obey it, they turn from being slaves of Satan to servants of God (Rom. 6:16-18). However, some do not honor the purpose of the church.
Some men believe the purpose of the church is to fulfill the physical needs of man. They believe it is little more than a charitable organization. The Salvation Army is one example. It spends a tremendous amount of time, energy, and money helping the poor of this world. Food, clothing, and shelter can be acquired from the Salvation Army in nearly any city of size. Is this why Jesus died—so man can have his belly filled, his back covered, and his head dry? Surely, sensible people know better.
The Bible teaches that the church did meet the physical needs of some people. When a genuine need arose among the saints, churches responded. This was true for the poor among a local church, as in Jerusalem (Acts 6:1-6). It was also true for the poor saints living in another part of the world (Acts 11:27-30; 1 Cor. 16:1-3). However, churches never acted as a charitable organization, helping the poor and needy of the world. To do so would pervert the purpose of the church.
Further, the church serves as an emotional fix to many people. They “go to church” to have their batteries recharged. The sermons they appreciate are filled with humor, anecdotes, and positive-mental-attitude messages. More and more pure entertainment is the vehicle to “comfort” the masses. Most denominations have skits, plays, or concerts as a part of their regular work. As people clamor for more of this, the “productions” are increasingly elaborate. Not a few churches employ a man or woman to direct these activities year round. Did Jesus suffer and die so man can be entertained? Surely, sober people know better.
The Holy Spirit revealed worship must be “decently and in order” (1 Cor. 14:40). Such occasions are to be reverent, respectful toward God and Christ. Instead of being emotionally “drunk,” that is, distracted and numbed to their sin and guilt, men need to seriously contemplate the word of God. They need to feel the weight and burden of their transgressions, as well as the thrill and excitement of salvation (Acts 2:23, 36-37; 8:36-39). To turn the church into an amusement institution is to warp its purpose.
Jesus did not die to establish an institution that entertains and amuses man. He did not shed His blood to found a body that caters to man’s physical cravings. Rather, the Savior sacrificed Himself to build His church—an organization that seeks to lead men out of the mire and muck of spiritual corruption to a life of purity and holiness. To pervert the purpose of the church is to rebel against almighty God and reveal a disregard for the eternal well being of man. For such actions, men will give an account to God, and be found wanting.
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Are there too many weeds in your yard? Mine too; and we need to get rid of them.
It will take effort and may cause some discomfort. However, when it is done, we will be grateful and blessed by the Lord.
That’s right, we are talking about “those weeds.” The ones that choke out the word. The ones Jesus talked about in the Parable of the Sower. In Mark 4:18, 19, He explained the seed that fell among the thorns. It sprouted and grew for a while, but “the cares of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the desires for other things entering in choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful.”
We can become so easily distracted and entangled in the weeds of life that our service and devotion to the Lord suffers. Eventually, these things can completely kill our commitment to God. It takes time and effort, and a steadfast determination, to get rid of the weeds and produce fruit.
To see how bad things might actually be, think about this…maybe even write these things down on a piece of paper to truly see how many weeds are in your yard.
How much time do you spend going to Bible class and worship services compared to watching television?
How much time do you spend in school or recreational activities (band, football, basketball, scouts) compared to reading your Bible and praying?
Are these fair comparisons? You be the judge. You also need to be honest with yourself. Are you spending enough time in spiritual pursuits or are the cares of this world choking you to death…and you like it?
“When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it” (Jn. 8:44).
The devil is the father of lies because he told the first one. He lied to Eve by telling her she would not surely die (Gen. 3:4). Since that time he has worked relentlessly to deceive the whole world (Rev. 12:9). He has lied to you and me, luring us to sin against God and thereby condemning our souls.
Some of Satan’s lies are easily seen for what they are.
When he convinced Cain to kill Able, it was easy to see that as sin. Sodom and Gomorrah were caught up in the devil’s deceit, but others looking on could see their perversion for what it was—sick and sinful. Other lies told by the dragon are not so easily detected.
The most dangerous deceit invented by Satan is religious in nature. Nearly everyone reading this will agree that billions of people have been deceived by the false religions of Islam, Hinduism, and Buddhism. More prevalent in our nation, however, are the lies of denominationalism.
Denominationalism is one of the greatest tools used by the devil to damn the souls of men. Denominations are pseudo churches. They are false representations of what the Bible teaches and portrays. They appear like the real thing, but are counterfeits.
Consider the following three points.
Denominations were founded at the wrong time: 6th to 21st centuries.
Denominations were founded in the wrong place: Italy, Germany, France, Great Britain, USA.
Denominations were founded by the wrong men: group of bishops, Martin Luther, John Calvin, John Wesley, Joseph Smith, etc.
The Church of the New Testament is different.
It was founded in the 1st century.
It was founded in Jerusalem (Acts 2:47).
It was founded by Jesus the Christ (Matt. 16:18).
After sweeping the church into the paganistic error of Roman Catholicism, the devil took men into denominationalism. When men began to see the corruption, ungodliness, and anti-biblical teachings and practices of Roman Catholicism and work their way out, Satan provided multiple paths for them to take. One path led to Lutheranism, another to Calvinism (Presbyterianism), another to Anglicanism (Church of England, Episcopalianism), another to Wesleyanism (Methodist Church), another to Mormonism…and many, many more.
Initially, these different denominations fought hard for their beliefs and practices. They would take one another to task, holding debates and excoriating each other from the pulpit. However, there eventually developed a strong movement to get back to the Bible alone; commonly known as the Restoration Movement. As this movement began to spread like wild fire, the great deceiver pulled another weapon out of his arsenal: tolerance.
It took some time, but Satan has achieved a subtle but destructive goal. He has convinced people that it does not matter what you believe. In former times he used division over the doctrines of men to keep people from the truth. Now he uses compromise and indifference to disguise error.
We now live in a society where churches, for the most part, believe everyone is going to heaven. The mantra of the day is choose the “church of your choice.” They extend the right hand of fellowship to one another despite significant doctrinal differences. One claims salvation by faith alone, another says it is by faith plus something else. One teaches baptism is sprinkling, pouring or immersion, while another insists it is by immersion only. One baptizes infants, another decries that as unscriptural. However, when holidays roll around, they join hands and praise the Lord together. All is forgotten about their many dissimilarities while an emphasis is placed on their few similarities. They pat each other on the back and declare what a great day it will be when they are all in heaven together.
There is only one problem with all of this: it is anti-biblical.
The Bible teaches there is one church (Eph. 1:22, 23; 2:16; 4:4). The Lord prayed that all members of that church are to be united (Jn. 17:20-23). The unity for which He prayed is not one where people bury their convictions or turn a blind eye to others. It is a unity in truth. It is a unity where believers “speak the same thing,” are “joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment” that “there be no divisions” (1 Cor. 1:10).
When error is taught or practiced by anyone, it is to be exposed, not ignored (Eph. 5:11). False teachers are to be marked, not given to pulpit for a joint-worship service (Rom. 16:17, 18). Fellowship is to be refused, not pursued (2 Jn. 9-11).
Denominationalism is a major religious lie created and promoted by Satan. Those who participate in it will lose their souls. We need to work to get people out of it, not apathetically watch them drown in it.
In discussions with denominational folks about instrumental music, they will sometimes claim that David’s use of them justifies their use today. Is this true?
First, let us establish that David is not our Savior. He is not the authority in Christianity, Jesus is (Col. 3:17; Matt. 28:18). David was a prophet; he was the sweet psalmist of Israel, guided by the Spirit of God. Still, the New Testament reveals that we are not to follow and heed the Law or prophets, but the Son of God (Matt. 17:1-5).
Second, David used the instruments because God commanded him to (2 Chron. 29:25). It is not as though David presumptuously changed the worship of God. Many today believe they can. Without a commandment from God, they alter what the New Testament says about worship. They add instrumental music, social activities, even outright entertainment. All such activities are without divine authority and render the worship vain (Matt. 15:7-9).
Third, there are many things David did that we cannot do. David offered and commended animal sacrifices (Psa. 51:19). He had many wives (2 Sam. 3:2-5; 5:13; 12:8). Who will argue that we should offer bulls and goats or that a man can practice polygamy because David did? Honesty demands that none of these things are permissible because of David’s practices; not sacrifices, not polygamy, not instrumental music in worship.
The bottom line is, David used instruments because that is what God commanded him to do. In our worship we must sing, because this is what God commands us to do (Eph. 5:19; Col. 3:16). Let us be like David, people after God’s own heart, by submitting to the Lord’s will, not living by ours.