John W. Hedge
We can determine the right or wrong of anything within the realm of human conduct only in the light of plainly revealed and recognized rules. Where there is no law there can be no transgression, and without transgression there can be no sin. It is not enough to assert that denominational churches are wrong without showing that they are out of harmony with what the Bible plainly teaches. If the bible is right in what it teaches religiously, (and it is!) then any man is wrong who teaches differently to it. If, therefore those who advocate denominational churches can show from the bible that they are of divine origin, then those who teach otherwise are wrong in opposing them. Will those who advocate the existence of denominational churches admit that they are wrong in such advocacy if indeed it can be shown from the Bible that they are not of divine sanction? My appeal in this message is to those who recognize the Bible as our one and only source of divine authority. If you are determined not to recognize the Bible as your guide in religion I can't help you.
1. Our Lord built and recognized but one church. (See Matt. 16:18, Acts 2:47, 1 Cor. 12:13, Eph. 5:23-27, Col. 1:24.) Since the divine rule, the Bible, recognizes but one church, are you going by that rule when you recognize the existence of "many churches"? You cannot, my friend, be for "one body" which is the church, and at the same time be for ,'many bodies" or churches. There can be no middle ground here. If the church you read about in the New Testament is the right church (and it is!) how could those which you cannot read about in the New Testament be right also? Can that which you cannot read about in the New Testament be "just as good" as that which you can read about in that book? If Jesus built but one church, (and He (lid!) and men have built "many churches", all of which are "just as good" as the one which Jesus built, then does it not follow that our Lord had no advantage over men in this respect?
2. Not only did our Lord build but one church but he prayed most earnestly that the members composing that body ',might be one", even in the Same sense that He and His Father were one. The doctrine of unity among members of the body (church) of Christ was emphasized in most all the writings to the early Christians. If that unity or oneness for which Christ prayed in John 17th Chapter, and which later was enjoined in the teaching of the apostles, had been maintained faithfully, the rise of denominationalism would have been an impossibility. Can you believe that churches which openly advocate divisions can be right in view of the above facts? If the Lord had desired a multiplicity of churches, why did he stop with just building one, and why (lid he pray that the members of that one church "might be one" ?
3. Members of the "one body" or church were taught to "walk by the same rule – to mind the same thing." (Phil. 3:16.) Members of denominational churches are taught to walk by different rules and to mind different things. If to "walk by the same rule -to mind the same thing" is God's order for Christians, (and it is!) then to "walk by different rules – to mind different things" is not God's order, unless He has changed (?) since the New Testament was written. Plainly denominationalism is at variance with what the New Testament teaches on this as well as on many other points.
4. Finally, denominationalism is a full and complete expression of men's dissatisfaction with God's way as set forth in the New Testament. It is a complete departure form "the right way of the Lord." When men become dissatisfied with God's way in the field of religion, then did they set themselves to the task of establishing different churches with different doctrine, names, and practices. The claim then was made the "one church is just as good as another," that there are "different ways leading to heaven"; and that is "narrow mindedness" to teach otherwise. And yet, for those who love the truth, the right way of the Lord there is at your hand the New Testament. If you will read this message it will clear your mind of any confusion which you may have concerning the church which is right, how to become a member of it, and how to so live as to be saved at last. "Be not deceived."