Matthew 6:9-13 - After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom
come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive
our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory,
The Sermon for this week is: Why I Believe In Undenominational Christianity
1. In our previous study, we talked about the church...
a. Of which Jesus spoke in Matthew 16:18 - And I say also unto thee,
That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.
b. That grand company of people made up of those who are saved
c. Loved by Christ, and highly esteemed in the Scriptures
2. Most professing Christians would agree with what was described in that study...
a. That the church “universal” is the body of Christ, made up of the saved
b. That the church “local” refers to saved people in a geographical area who work and worship
together as a local congregation
3. Yet many today see no harm in presenting an altered picture of the church to the world...
a. A picture in which local churches are divided into various denominations
b. Where people are not simply Christians, but Catholics, Baptists, Methodists, etc.
[I am persuaded that such is wrong, and firmly believe in undenominational Christianity. What is
that, you ask? And why is denominationalism wrong? First allow me to define our terms...]
I. DENOMINATIONALISM DEFINED
A. WHAT IS A DENOMINATION...?
1. “A large group of religious congregations united under a common faith and name and organized
under a single administrative and legal hierarchy. ” - The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language
2. “A religious organization uniting in a single legal and administrative body a number of local
congregations.” - Webster’s Dictionary
3. Simply put, a denomination is a group of congregations joined together under some governing body
a. The number of congregations can be as few as two or more
b. The governing body might be a synod, presbytery, convention, another church, or even an individual
c. Through their tie to a governing body above the local congregation, by definition they are “denominated”
from all other congregations that do not submit to the same authority
4. Some examples:
a. The Roman Catholic Church is a denomination made up of those churches that submit to the pope
b. The Eastern Orthodox Church is a denomination made up of those churches that submit to the patriarch
c. The Anglican Church of England is a denomination made up of those churches that submit to the
archbishop of Cantebury
d. The Lutheran Church (Missouri Synod) is made up of those churches that submit to the synod in
e. These are just a few of the thousands of different denominations that now exist!
B. WHAT IS DENOMINATIONALISM...?
1. According to The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, it is:
a. “The tendency to separate into religious denominations ”
b. “Advocacy of separation into religious denominations ”
c. “Strict adherence to a denomination; sectarianism”
2. Again, Webster’s Dictionary defines it as:
a. “Devotion to denominational principles or interests”
b. “Narrow emphasizing of denominational differences: SECTARIANISM”
3. For the purpose in this study, I also apply the term to any approval of the denominational division
which exists today
a. I concede that many people in denominations today are not all that devoted to their denominational
principles or interests
b. But by membership in a denomination they are by implication advocating separation into religious
[Is denominationalism really that bad? Am I suggesting that one cannot serve Jesus faithfully while participating
in such religious division? Yes! Here is why I believe denominationalism is wrong...]
II. DENOMINATIONALISM DECRIED
A. IT IS UNSCRIPTURAL...
1. That is, it is without Scriptural support
a. There is no basis in the Bible for local churches being divided up into various denominational bodies
b. There is no denomination that can go to the Bible and say, “See that passage? There is our church
2. In the New Testament...
a. Local congregations were independent, self-governing
b. Church organization was limited to within the local congregation, with elders (also known as pastors,
bishops, overseers, presbyters) appointed to oversee only the congregation of which they were members - cf. Acts 20:17
- And from Miletus he sent to Ephesus, and called the elders of the church. ; Acts 20:28 - Take
heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church
of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood. ; 1 Peter 5:1-2 - The elders which are among you I exhort,
who am also an elder, and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed:
Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint,
but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind;
3. The only authority above the local church was Christ and His apostles...
a. Once the church began, apostles were not replaced after they died
b. But through the Word of God, the authority of Christ and His apostles continues
4. Individuals, synods, conferences, etc., that presume to usurp authority over local congregations today
do so without Scriptural authority
B. IT IS ANTI-SCRIPTURAL...
1. Not only is it without scriptural support, it is contrary to what the Bible teaches
2. It is contrary to the prayer of Jesus for unity among His believers - John
17:20-23 - Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through
their word; 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. And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even
as we are one: I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the
world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me.
3. It is condemned by Paul in his epistle to the church at Corinth
a. There are to be no divisions among believers - 1 Corinthians 1:10-13 -
Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together
in the same mind and in the same judgment. For it hath been declared unto me of you, my brethren, by them which are of the house of Chloe, that there are contentions among you. Now this I say, that every one of you
saith, I am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas; and I of Christ. Is Christ divided? was Paul crucified for you? or
were ye baptized in the name of Paul?
b. Sectarianism is a sign of carnality - 1 Corinthians 3:3-4 - For ye are yet carnal: for whereas
there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men?
For while one saith, I am of Paul; and another, I am of Apollos; are ye not carnal?
4. It opposes the efforts of Christ on the cross! - Ephesians 2:14-16 - For
he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between
us; Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making
peace; And that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby:
a. Jesus died to break down the wall of division
b. Jesus died to reconcile man to God in one body
c. Just as sinning works against the efforts of Christ on the cross (for He also died to put away sin),
so it is with denominational division!
C. IT IS HARMFUL TO THE CAUSE OF CHRIST...
1. Jesus knew that unity among His disciples would be “the final apologetic” (Shaeffer)
a. Cf. “that the world may believe ” - John 17:21 - 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.
b. In view of Jesus’ words, we should not be surprised when unbelievers are slow to
accept the gospel coming from a divided church
2. Many point to the divided condition of those professing to follow Christ...
a. Atheists and agnostics often use religious division as an excuse not to believe in God
b. Non-Christian religions (such as Islam, Judaism, etc.) often use denominationalism as a reason not
to believe in Christ
3. Denominationalism has also given support and encouragement to the rise of cults
a. Mormonism started in reaction to the denominationalism of Joseph Smith’s day
b. “Jehovah’s Witnesses” use religious division to encourage people to follow their
strictly controlled organization (a denomination itself)
D. OTHERS WHO VIEWED DENOMINATIONALISM AS WRONG...
1. Martin Luther, the leader of the Reformation Movement: “I ask that men make no reference
to my name, and call themselves not Lut herans, but Christians. What is Luther? My doctrine, I am sure, is not mine, nor have
I been crucified for any one. St. Paul, in 1 Cor. 3, would not allow Christians to call themselves Pauline or Petrine, but
Christian. How then should I, poor, foul carcass that I am, come to have men give to the children of Christ a name derived
from my worthless name? No, no, my dear friends; let us abolish all party names, and call ourselves Christians after Him Whose
doctrine we have.” - Hugh Thomason Kerr, A Compend of Luther’s Theology (Philadelphia: The Westminster Press,
1943, p. 135)
2. John Wesley, another great reformation leader, among whose followers are
Methodists, Wesleyans, etc.: “Would to God that all party names, and unscriptural phrases and forms
which have divided the Christian world, were forgot and that the very name [Methodist] might never be mentioned more, but
be buried in eternal oblivion. ” - John Wesley, Universal Knowledge, A Dictionary and Encyclopedia of Arts, Science,
History, Biography, Law, Literature, Religions, Nations, Races, Customs, and Institutions, Vol. 9, Edward A. Pace, Editor
(New York: Universal Knowledge Foundation, 1927, p. 540)
3. Charles Spurgeon, one of the greatest Baptist preachers who ever lived: “I look forward
with pleasure to the day when there will not be a Baptist living! I hope that the Baptist name will soon perish, but let Christ’s
name last forever.” - Spurgeon Memorial Library, Vol. I., p. 168
1. Again, denominationalism is wrong because it is...
c. Harmful to the cause of Christ
2. That is why I and many others profess undenominational Christianity...
a. Throwing aside the shackles of denominationalism
b. Following Jesus Christ in the freedom of gospel liberty that comes from being simply Christians!
c. And what may surprise some, doing so while “being like-minded, having the same love, being of
one accord, of one mind” - cf. Philippians 2:2 - Fulfil ye my joy, that ye be likeminded, having the same
love, being of one accord, of one mind.
3. How is this possible? It begins with two things...
a. A strong desire to follow Jesus Christ and His prayer for unity - cf. John 17:20-23 - Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe
on me through their word; 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. And
the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one: I
in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast
loved them, as thou hast loved me.
b. An understanding of the carnal nature of division, and why denominationalism is wrong - cf. 1 Corinthians
3:3-4 - For ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife,
and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men? For while one saith, I am of Paul; and another, I am
of Apollos; are ye not carnal?
If you believe in Jesus and His church, then simply be a Christian, a disciple
of the Lord Jesus Christ, and put away any hint of denominationalism. Find or start a local church that is determined to be
nothing more than a church of Christ...! - cf. Romans 16:16 - Salute one another with an holy kiss. The churches
of Christ salute you.
Mark 16:15-16 - And
he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.
Matthew 28:19-20 - Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and
of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.
Prayer: Lord I truly thank
You for giving me the opportunity to present these words to my brethrens. I pray that You will give them Your eternal blessings
and accept them into Your heart - this I pray in the name of Thy Son, Jesus,
the Messiah, Your only begotten son which Ye sent to save mankind from themselves. Ephesians 6:23-24 - Peace be to the brethren, and love with faith, from God the Father
and the Lord Jesus Christ. Grace be with all them that love our Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity.
This sermon is in the Public Domain - Free for all to use with the only requirement:
That it never be used for profit.