Divisions Have Come

Take a step back for a time and examined how the modern church is now operating in comparison to how it did originally. Not just in those denominations you believe to be out there. But in your own neck of the woods as well. How the leaders are chosen, major decisions are made, who were considered members of the church, the programs that are set in place, and many more things that have been established these days, that are different from the original. Also, when did the church turn into a business in many cases?

There are several things that go on within the church in this present day that has nothing to do with the mission of Jesus Christ. The evidence of this is the degradation of a nation into sin, that has well over 1/3 of a million church buildings. You could almost say there is a church on every street corner.

For quite a while I have noticed many methods, agendas, programs, rules, traditions, and rituals within the church that just seem to not be right. They do not follow the example left for us by the Apostles. Practices and traditions, that have become culturally taught instead of historically accurate.

There are far too many to discuss in this article. But I imagine that you have noticed some questionable activities in your own experience as well. Of course, we all know that when mankind is involved, things will always progress downhill, if not corrected. The Apostle Paul prophesied that this would happen. What was true then is true now.

Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which He obtained with His own blood. I know that after my departure fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves will arise men speaking twisted things, to draw away the disciples after them. Acts 20:28-30

Let us take for example the concept of church membership. There is nothing wrong with being considered a member of the body of Christ. That is being a member of the family of God. Yet in today’s church, it has been segregated to be members of a church building, members of a denomination, members of a Christian organization, or members of some kind of social club. We have all kinds of different dividing groups that separate the members from the non-members. Shouldn’t it only be believers and non-believers?

There should not be a separation from the body of Christ between different entities. All those who are of the Body of Christ are a member of the Church. Not a separate list between those who are and those who are not members between separate organizations. This causes many to be puffed up in their hearts and to look down on those who are not in their particular group. For those who are true to Jesus Christ, this is not our intention. The only division is between those who follow and obey Jesus Christ and those who do not. Yet this is what has happened and it should not be so.

I believe that all of this has developed because the devil has gained access to the church. Through men who are not of the Lord. Because of decisions that were made down through the ages, tainting the ways that we operate. Customs and practices that are now considered normal but not accurate to how Jesus established them.

An example of unbiblical church leadership behavior is that I have heard church leaders tell people who are seeking help or counsel, “if you were a member we could help you. I see you are doing great things for the Lord but sorry, this is our policy.” The ministry of the church has become all about policy, by-laws, rules, regulations, and practices established by the decisions of men. The below passage instructs us how we should treat each other no matter what building we attend.

Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality. Romans 12:9-13

There are many who would argue and point to the opinions of other men that such scriptures as Romans 12:4-5, Ephesians 2:19-20, Hebrews 13:17, and 1 Corinthians 12 present a strong case for church membership. But these passages do not refer to being members of an organization that is separate from others. They refer to the people being all members of the body of Christ, where Jesus Christ is the head. From that understanding, we all work together from all walks of life for the sake of building the Kingdom of God.

For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit. 1 Corinthians 12:12-13

It is true that there are verses that talk about a smaller group of people that are under an overseer. But the context or tone of the writer is always referring to pleasing God, operating in His will, and not bowing to men or their ways. There are many who use these verses to gain power and position over the people. To even gain wealth and prestige amount the churches. Be aware they are among us and have been from the beginning.

Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God. Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you. Hebrews 13:16-17

From my experience, the problem comes when men that have no calling from God seek positions in the church or the congregation who are not necessarily in the Spirit of the Lord are given the right to vote on what they feel is right for the church. In these cases, it is easy to see how things can go astray quickly. How only in a few generations things can change drastically, and they have.

The church has changed from being led by Holy Spirit-filled, anointed, and God-fearing people. To a democratic organization that operates like a government or a business. Not all of course, but most have been forced into this model because of the laws of the land and cultural pressure to be like everyone else. In the last two thousand years, the church has changed from being led by the Lord to being led by the decisions and changes made by men.

It can be hard to see clearly when you are stuck within the four walls of normality. But if you could step out and stand upon the mountain of time that has passed, you could look down upon the history of the Church and see how things have greatly changed.

I want to make it clear that there are many good and godly servants of the Lord. There always will be until the Lord returns, a remnant. There are many good and godly men and women who are working hard in the Church. They are doing their very best to serve the Lord in His will for their lives and to serve the people. This Church is beautiful in how they love and sacrifice themselves for the Lord.

But after growing up in the church and attending many different churches over the course of my life, as well as seeing the vast division among churches and Christian organizations all over the world, I can tell you that there are far more who are not good. Those who do not put the Lord’s will first, but put Him last.

There are many who do not serve the Lord Jesus Christ. Those with a stagnated faith. Those who are actually working and building their own kingdom on earth, serving the will and purposes of the devil. This could happen either intentionally in some cases, but often time it could be completely unintentional. They are just following the lead of those they have learned from in the past.

Even worse than that, is that there are many who are out and out wolves among the sheep, masquerading as good honest men. But desiring to devour the sheep. Those sent by the devil to destroy the Church and drag the sheep to hell with them through his twisted deceptions.

The hardest question is, “what do we do?” All we can do is turn our focus completely on Jesus Christ. To seek the Lord to open our eyes to see and ears to hear His direction and warnings. To listen to the warnings of those who were given the Word of God in the past. To take off the blinders that culture, religion, the ways of men, and the devil have put on our eyes to keep us from seeing what is going on all around us.

To continue to seek the Lord with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength and to serve Him the very best you can until He comes. Be aware of the deception of the devil and call it out when you see it. Everyone has been given a different job or function in the body of Christ. But if you have been called by God to follow Him, you must do it with endurance and by the faith, He has given you.

But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power.

Avoid such people. For among them are those who creep into households and capture weak women, burdened with sins and led astray by various passions, always learning and never able to arrive at a knowledge of the truth. Just as Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses, so these men also oppose the truth, men corrupted in mind and disqualified regarding the faith. But they will not get very far, for their folly will be plain to all, as was that of those two men. 2 Timothy 3:1-9

It was also about these that Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied, saying, “Behold, the Lord comes with ten thousands of His holy ones, to execute judgment on all and to convict all the ungodly of all their deeds of ungodliness that they have committed in such an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things that ungodly sinners have spoken against Him.” These are grumblers, malcontents, following their own sinful desires; they are loud-mouthed boasters, showing favoritism to gain advantage.

But you must remember, beloved, the predictions of the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ. They said to you, “In the last time there will be scoffers, following their own ungodly passions.” It is these who cause divisions, worldly people, devoid of the Spirit. 

But you, beloved, building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life. And have mercy on those who doubt; save others by snatching them out of the fire; to others show mercy with fear, hating even the garment stained by the flesh.

Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of His glory with great joy, to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen. Jude 1:14-25

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