Chapter 4: CHRIST'S CHURCH IS NOT A
by Wendell Winkler
(1) Our Lord did not align himself with any party or division
during his earthly pilgrimage. While our Lord lived upon the earth,
there were four principle divisions among the Jews: the Pharisees, the
Sadducees, the Herodians, and the Essenes. Though each of these advocated
some truth, our Lord identified himself with none of them. This is most
(2) Additionally, let us note: (a) Our Lord prayed
for unity, the antithesis of denominationalism (John 17:20, 21); (b) our
Lord paid for unity, the antithesis of denominationalism (Eph.
2:16); (c) our Lord pleaded for unity, the antithesis of denominationalism
(1 Cor. 1:10); and (d) our Lord planned for unity, the antithesis
of denominationalism (Eph. 4:1-6). Therefore, our Lord was undenominational
and anti-denominational. Thus, must his church be!
A TWO-FOLD CONTRAST
THE CHURCH OF THE NEW TESTAMENT
||Divine in origin. (Matt. 16:18; Daniel
||Manmade, without divine origin. The Lord
is not the author of confusion nor denominationalism (1 Cor. 14:33).
Our Lord did not work against his own prayer for unity by establishing
conflicting and contradictory denominations (John 17:20,21)
||Will last forever. (Dan. 2:44; Heb. 12:28,
||Will be rooted up. (Matt. 15:13).
||Designated by Bible names. (Rom. 16:16;
Acts 20:28; 1 Cor. 1:2)
||Named after men, forms of church government,
virtues, days, "ordinances", etc. Yet, we are to
speak as the oracles of God (1 Pet. 4:11).
||First century in origin. (Acts 2:47).
||Catholicism had its beginning in the 7th century
and Protestantism had its beginning in the 16th century.
||Heavenly headquarters. (Eph. 1:22,23;
1 Pet. 3:22).
||Earthly headquarters. Some in Rome, or
Salt Lake City, or Independence, Missouri, or Cleveland, Tennessee,
||Bible only (Acts 2:42; 1 Pet. 4:11; Gal.
1:6-9; Rev. 22:18, 19; Jude 3)
||Creeds, manuals, disciplines, confessions of
faith, catechisms. Such reflects upon the all-sufficiency
of the word of God (2 Tim. 3:16,17)
||Added to (Acts 2:47).
||Join. You do not join the family of God;
rather, you are added thereto (1 Tim. 3:15).
||Essential to salvation (Eph. 5:23; Acts
||Can be saved and never be a member of a given
denomination. Thus, denominationalism stands self-condemned
as being unnecessary and nonrelated to salvation.
||Calvary-purchased (Acts 20:28; Eph. 5:25).
||No such price paid.
||The apostles were members of this church
||There was no apostolic membership in human denominations.
After all, they were not even in existence!
||The church of Christ's choice (Matt.
16:18,19; Col. 1:24).
||The church of man's choice. Now, read
||Entered by believing, repenting, confession and
being baptized (Acts 2:36-47; 8:26-40).
||Human laws of induction. One man, being
told he must have an experience of grace before he could be considered
as a candidate for membership in a given denomination, fabricated
a story. Whereupon this denomination voted and accepted him. Later,
his conscience bothered him because of the lie. Accordingly, he returned,
stating the same, resulting in his expulsion from this denomination.
He succinctly observed, "They voted me in for telling a lie,
and they voted me out for telling the truth!"
||Jerusalem the birthplace (Zechariah 1:16;
Isaiah 2:1-4; Mark 9:1; Luke 24:46; Acts 1:1-4).
||Varied places of beginning, with Jerusalem not
being the place of beginning for a single one.
VARIOUS REASONS WHY THE CHURCH OF CHRIST IS NOT A DENOMINATION
Denominationalism is contrary to the Lord's prayer (John 17:20, 21).
Denominationalism is a fruitful cause of infidelity (John 17:20, 21).
Denominationalism is wrong because Christ is not divided (1 Cor. 1:11-13).
Denominationalism is wrong because the body of Christ is one, not
many (1 Cor. 12:13,20; Eph. 4:4; Col. 3:15).
Denominationalism is contrary to one of the basic purposes of Calvary's
cross (Eph. 2:15, 16).
Denominationalism is a vain attempt to serve God (Matt. 15:9; Psalm
Denominationalism divides homes, when God wants homes united (Joshua
24:15; Amos 3:3; Mark 3:25).
Denominationalism is contrary to Paul's plea for unity, for undenominational
Christianity (1 Cor. 1:10).
Denominationalism is contrary to the apostles' doctrine (Rom. 16:17,
Denominationalism is a sin that God hates (Proverbs 6:6-19).
Denominationalism implies that God is the author of confusion (1 Corinthians
Denominationalism is not apostolic.
Denominationalism is destined for destruction (Mark 3:24, 25).
THE CURE FOR DENOMINATIONALISM
We must have an unreserved commitment to the Bible as the sole,
objective standard in religion. If three people differ as to the time
of day, they can settle their differences by consulting the objective
time standard, the naval observatory time. Such settles the matter, and
produces unity. If a man goes to three different post offices, he will
be given the same postage for mailing of his package. Why? Because each
postal clerk consults the same guide book. Unity exists because of
allegiance to a single objective authority. In like manner, when all men
will lay down their creeds, disciplines, manuals, confessions of faith,
catechisms, think-so's, maybe's, and subjective feelings and each with an unprejudiced
and receptive heart turns to the word of God, then, and only then, will
unity result. Such will constitute the death knell to denominationalism.
We must be committed to being nothing, calling ourselves nothing, obeying
nothing, and saying nothing except that which is authorized by the word
of God. Only then will we have "the unity of the spirit" of
Ephesians 4:1-6: one body unity of organization; one Spirit
unity of guidance; one hope unity of aspiration; one faith
unity of message; one Lord unity of authority; one baptism
unity of practice; and, one God unity of worship.
To look at it another way, one of God's immutable laws is that seed
bears after its kind (Genesis 1:12). Accordingly, if we preach only the
gospel, it will produce in our day the one, true New Testament church
that it produced in the days of the apostles, when no denominations existed.
To believe otherwise, is to repudiate one of God's immutable laws!
The church of Christ is not a denomination. If she were, she would
surrender her right to exist (Matt. 15:13). Our Lord was undenominational
and anti-denominational. His church cannot afford to be otherwise. Her
plea is for pure, New Testament, undenominational Christianity. And, how
encouraging it is that many are being attracted thereto.
Define "denomination" in its temporal and religious senses.
What meanings does the Bible give to the word church?
Give three New Testament examples that illustrate the oneness of
the Lord's church.
State four reasons why Jesus' church is not a denomination.
What is the cure for denominational division?