February 8, 2023

In a vision the Lord gave me, I saw small white castles across the landscape, all flying white flags with red crosses on them, dotting the countryside as far as I could see. I instantly knew these represented who is jesus These were places where the local villagers could run in and find refuge when they felt threatened by their enemy. This verse came to mind: “The Name of the Lord is like a strong tower that the righteous will run into and be glad.” Notice, there was no mention in that verse of a literal tower; it’s God Himself who is our Protector. That’s where our help comes from; the One who made the Heavens and the Earth.

These “castles” were a demonic deception for they were NOT really a place of safety; not the “sanctuary” they were thought to be. Today, too many perceive or expect these “pastoral kingdoms” (church buildings) to be places of holiness inhabited by the Lord where they will be accepted by all, loved unconditionally, and have their troubles cared for and needs met. Too often, these same individuals ultimately leave after failing to find what they thought they were looking for, i.e., their personal salvation. Sure, many will “get their ticket punched” and consider themselves “saved” or “born again” but, in time, they discover that these sanctuaries are mere buildings and that they were better off BEFORE they ever entered the doors. Many attest to feelings of having been judged, weighed, measured and found wanting and wind up turning their back on Christianity all together, some embracing false Christs and false religions. Church splits, poor leadership, boredom…it seems there’s always something to prune the trees.

Jesus said there’d be days like this.

A KINGDOM OF DENOMINATIONS?

In the early 1500s, a German monk named Martin Luther became so convicted of his sins that he spent up to six hours confessing them. As he studied the Scriptures he found that salvation didn’t come through anything he did, but simply through trusting in the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross. Notice: Salvation was the key. He listed the contradictions between what the Scriptures said and what his church taught on the matter, and nailed his “95 Theses” to the church door in Wittenberg, Germany. Luther became the first to “protest” against the established church, and thus has been called the father of the Protestant Church.

Since that time, there have been many MORE disagreements causing many MORE splits. How much water one should baptize with? Dunk or sprinkle? How to sing what and why? Who should govern whom, etc. These things and many others have caused thousands of Christian splinter groups. Many of these groups are convinced that they alone are right and that all others are wrong.

How can any one of them call themselves ‘the true Church” when the best any of them can truly be called is the first “true denomination”?

Religious division is not a new concept. When the kingdom of Israel split into the northern and southern segments, each chose a different style of worship. Jeroboam and his advisors wanted Bethel to be Israel’s chief religious center, intending to compete with Jerusalem (1 Kings 12:25-33). Though Jeroboam was a charismatic leader and organizer who had popular support, Bethel’s religion became idolatry leading to Israel’s eventual downfall. We can go all the way back to Cane and Abel and find division where the people’s service and love of God are concerned.

A denomination might hold fast to a man-made tradition that was handed down over centuries and ratified by the clergy. If the authorities believe that tradition is equal to the Scriptures, then the practice often becomes infallible. Divisions flourish when individuals are unable to differentiate between God’s ordinances and man-made practices.

When the church at Corinth was faced with many elements of division, Paul encouraged cooperation among members, both Jew and Gentile (1 Corinthians 12:12). Despite their differences, each believer had one thing in common; faith in Christ. This truth is where the Church found its unity. Paul wanted to reinforce the relationship between the Jew and Gentile in the early Church while discouraging competition. “May God who gives endurance and encouragement give you a spirit of unity among yourselves as you follow Christ Jesus, so that with one heart and mouth you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,

Despite all the confusion, Christian churches DO manage to subscribe to certain foundational beliefs such as the

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