We are presently living in the Church age, the age of the Gentiles. There are Catholics, Protestants, Methodist, Baptist, Church of Christ, Pentecostals, Assemblies of God, and you name it! Each has the core of Christianity, they believe in the Death, Burial, and Resurrection of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. According to the scriptures Christ died on the cross to redeem us from our sins, he was dead, and then he rose from the death on the third day to verify that he has power over sin and death to give eternal life to those who put their trust in Him.
Other than this things begin to get complicated. Think of the differences in doctrine of these different denominations. Because of the beliefs of our families, the traditions that we were brought up in, the groups that we associate with; there are a lot of different interpretations placed on different aspects of our faith. The Bible is a Big Book. If we go about using it, grabbing something here - there, without any thought to the context who what the writer was trying to communicate; we can just about make it say anything.
This was never thought about much, this was just accepted until going overseas. When one lives in another culture half way around the world, questions began to pop up in our mind. Some can needle us persistently until answered. Beth and I were traveling though Asia Minor and the surrounding areas. We were walking through the footsteps of the early Christian expansion to the Gentiles. We were not just visiting, we lived there for 3 years. Bunches of questions were popping up in my mind, but many times they were just being pushed down into my subconscious. One day they would have to be dealt with, but just then we were young, traveling, and having fun.
It wasn’t till years later when we were back in the States that these issues would have to be dealt with. Just going along in life with no big problems, the status quo is kept. But when things begin to go South in a big way we start questioning, probing, and looking for answers. If they are true, they hold up. If they are false, they collapse in time. Many times it takes a real problem to drive us to the core values of our faith. If it is not real we will not hold up. Remember in other pages I mentioned that I had reoccurring nightmares for a period of four months that I was in Hell. What was my faith in? All the questions suppressed in the past were popping up at once. When my life was caving in my thought was only God can fix this! My thought was “I’m going to read this Bible and Study it; it will either damn my soul to Hell or give me Hope.” Well as you know it gave me hope and peace, but it did not come overnight. Because of those nightmares I wanted to discover the truth for myself as much as possible because I did not trust hardly anyone at that moment. You think about the time we invest in knowledge in other areas, but those dreams drove me to mainly think about “ my eternal destiny.”
Can you now get a small glimpse into why the Bible and Church are so important to me? It is almost as if I were compelled to look into this and then share my findings!
OK, enough of the intro; let us get back to the Gentile Church and the different denominations. In my own life I have been touched by people from different denominations who have come along beside me for a while, encouraged, pressed, rebuked, and strengthened before moving own. One author put it this way and I can’t remember his name or the exact quote, “No denomination has it perfect, but each can help us in some way as the Lord directs them to accomplish His purposes.”
That is in reference to if they have the core beliefs correct; the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ for the redemption of Sinners. Not all denominations seek or want the truth. There end purposes are not the redemption of sinners, but the acquiring of power and wealth for selfish reasons. There is a big difference.
Acts Chapter 15 gives a glimpse into politics in the early church.
Romans Chapter 14 and 15 touches on the differences of thought.
(To be continued)