Why Are There Denominations?

Text: I Corinthians 1:10-15


I.         I was asked by a gentleman in Nigeria why there were so many denominations

            A.        A denomination simply means a division.

            B.        Among those who call themselves Christians, there are a great number of divisions

                        1.         Even within various divisions, there are divisions

                        2.         The Episcopals are dividing over the election of a homosexual bishop

                        3.         The United Methodists are definitely not united. They are dividing over the acceptance of homosexuality within their ranks.

                        4.         Even the Roman Catholic church (the “universal” church) has division over issues such as women priests, the right of priests to marry, and abortion.

            C.        Mormons and Muslims are quick to point out these divisions and state that something must be wrong – something they don’t have

                        1.         Yet ask a Muslim about the Sunni and Shi’ite (each of which have internal divisions).

                        2.         Or ask a Mormon about the group headquartered in Independence, Missouri, (there are actually two there) or the group headquartered in Salt Lake City, Utah.

            D.        I know of no group which doesn’t deal with internal divisions

II.        Why must men divide?

            A.        Factions will happen because some will not remain with the truth - I Corinthians 11:18-19

                        1.         People look to please themselves and not God - Galatians 1:6-10

                        2.         Consider that God is one, but men are many. When people start following men, they will divide in many ways.

                        3.         They desire to hear things that please them - II Timothy 4:3-4

                        4.         It becomes a useless religion - Matthew 15:7-9

            B.        Without a love for truth, people will accept lies - II Thessalonians 2:8-12

                        1.         They will listen to destructive doctrine - I Timothy 4:1-3

            C.        There are people who actively teach false doctrine - II Peter 2:1-2

                        1.         They use sensuality to increase their appeal - II Peter 2:2-3, 18-19

                        2.         Many are in the world - I John 4:1

                        3.         They do so for personal gain - Philippians 3:18-19

                                    a.         They see godliness as a way to make money - I Timothy 6:3-5

                                    b.         Teaching for gain - Titus 1:10-11

                                    c.         Slaves of their own appetites - Romans 16:17-18

III.       Yet, we need not accept division

            A.        Jesus built one church - Matthew 16:18

            B.        Paul emphasizes that there is one body - Ephesians 4:4

            C.        Jesus prayed that his followers be one - John 17:20-21

            D.        Paul commands that there be no division - I Corinthians 1:10-13

IV.      How to prevent division

            A.        I Corinthians 1:10 - Have the same mind and same judgment

            B.        Same mind (same goals)

                        1.         Love God

                                    a.         Greatest command - Matthew 22:37-38

                                    b.         Loving God spurs us to remain faithful to God - I John 4:16

                                    c.         We will keep his commandments - I John 5:3; John 14:15

                                    d.         Our desires are unimportant. We are here to please God.

                        2.         Love the brethren

                                    a.         The second command - Matthew 22:39

                                    b.         It is the natural result of loving God - I John 4:7-12

                                    c.         In this we will strive to live in harmony

                                                (1)       It doesn’t mean we will accept whatever a person says

                                                (2)       It doesn’t mean we will ignore a person’s faults or sins

                                                (3)       These just bring about an artificial peace

                                                (4)       Instead, we will strive to come to a common understanding. We will encourage each other to reach for the lofty goal of becoming Christ-like. - Ephesians 4:11-16

            C.        Same judgment (same standard)

                        1.         Ephesians 4:5 - There is only one faith

                        2.         Jude 3 - That faith was delivered once for all

                        3.         There is no "different" gospel - Galatians 1:6-7

V.        “Join the church of your choice” is a foolish idea

            A.        It is advocating pleasing self.

            B.        We need to be joined together in the church of God’s choice.