Thirty Eight Thousand…!
Yes, 38,000, it is a big number! You know what? It is the number of denominations that we have in the Christian community as per the information on the internet. Whether accurate or not, the number is astonishing. There should be only one type of Christian as per the Bible, having a second type is by itself ‘wrong’ and an ‘impossibility’ – then how can there be so many types of Christians? The list runs into pages as per the information available on the net. They are grouped under major-denominations, yet there are very many in number within them. Many of them exist around us. We can see that they show different behaviors.
Rev. Dr. M.A.Varughese, Senior Pastor, Bethel AG Church, Hebbal, Bangalore, once said in his sermon, (on 10/12/11) that ‘No two churches in A CITY preach exactly the same Doctrine.’
This is really what is happening around us and the above number confirms that. The author had a discussion with him regarding this and he gave me a much bigger surprise when he said: “The number you see in the net is the recorded or the known denominations. If we account all those that are not recorded as well, the number may reach the six-digit figure“.
Oh! They are more in number than the sand! Are they His Blessings?
This shouldn’t have happened. According to the Gospel preached through the verses in the Bible, we learn that…..
There is only one Jesus Christ.
He is the only begotten Son of God.
He was sacrificed on the cross only once.
He rose from the dead and ascended to Heaven to prepare a place for His Bride – the church.
He and his disciples and apostles preached only one Gospel:
“Repent for your sins. Cease from repeating it.
Believe in Jesus Christ, testify by water baptism.
Be born again.
Be anointed with the Holy Spirit.
Lead a holy life according to the Bible, till you are taken to heaven along with the church”
There is one and only Church, the body of Christ, which means the total of believers on the entire Globe.
Apostle Paul says: “But even if we or an Angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned.”(Gal. 1:8). Therefore there cannot be two doctrines for the church or in other words ‘no denominations.’
That means there is only one spotless bride (church), for the Lamb (Jesus), the Lamb who was sacrificed for our sins.
If so, who are all these 38,000+ different brides in different costumes (denominations)? Jesus never called them. And they will get rejected as in Matthew 7:23 (NIV): “I never knew you, away from me, you evildoers”
Denominations: They are a problem on this earth. They break the unity among believers and divide the church into fragments. This diversity is a sad development through centuries. Differences are growing like cancer, and there is no cure. These differences help Satan, our only enemy, and we are playing into his hands only to split us further. One man or one particular congregation or one community cannot succeed in rectifying this or unite them. It is difficult, rather impossible, to do that at this stage. Yet some people try for unity, God bless them. Let us pray to God and let His will be done.
History has seen these denominations torturing, burning, and killing each other in many ways. Yet, they all worshiped the same God and preached about universal brotherhood, repentance, salvation through Jesus, baptism in water, baptism of the holy spirit, holy life, second coming of Jesus, Heaven or Hell after the Day of Judgment.
They should have remembered what is said in 1st John: “… anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen.”(1 John.4:20). Therefore you cannot, but love your brother of another denomination, if you really love your God.
Different procedures are adopted by these denominations to worship the same God.
Apostle Paul says: “For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself a ransom for all; …..” (1st Timothy.2:5 & 6). Therefore worship procedure can only be one – the one that would please the Lord.
Doctrines differ – Trinity is split according to their own requirements, some say Jehovah only, others Jesus only, yet another group wants to do away with Holy Spirit. And some go beyond that and say: “only I” and “whatever I interpret is the right doctrine.” This person keeps his little group secluded, making them his personal followers. He has no friends in spiritual life, only competitors. He gives wrong idea about Christianity, to non-Christians. Different interpretations are given for the same word or verses from the Bible. Numerous versions of the Bible brought out by different groups add to this confusion.
So, which is the real church?
It is those who have “washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.” (Rev.7:14)
That is the church which is “prepared as a bride, beautifully dressed for her husband” (Rev.21:2)
“Lord, unite all thy children with thy Word and with thy love”- Amen!
‘Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight …’
Author – C. Samuel Gift (Bethel Seniors Fellowship, Bethel AG Church, Bengaluru)
Read My Story