By Zhou Tao
Several years ago, I was often out on business. At all of my stops, I would seek a meeting place on weekends, off my own bat, to share the Lord’s words and pray. But after some of the meetings, the church leaders would ask me, “Brother Zhou, which denomination do you belong to? What are the doctrines of your church?” I was always taken aback and would reply, “I believe in the, and I don’t belong to any denomination. We all are family in .” But they would answer, “Now there are many churches, but only our church is the true one, only our church encompasses all the others.” Later, what baffled me even more was that when I returned to my hometown church my church friends asked me what doctrines I’d heard in other churches. We got into quarrels over different understandings of Bible verses, and could never reach an agreement. Our meetings often ended bitterly. Many years passed, and no matter where I went, what impressed me was the multitude of denominations and how they were all critical of each other. Seeing this, I thought of the words in the Bible, “One Lord, one faith, one , One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all” (Eph 4:5–6). We all believe in the Lord, read the Bible and the words of the Lord; why are there so many Christian denominations? What is the root of this? Which one is in line with the Lord’s will? Full of confusion and puzzlement, I eagerly wanted to find the answers.
Why There Are So Many Christian Denominations
Later, I ran into Brother Yuan, an evangelist, at a co-workers’ meeting in the home of one of my relatives. We discussed my confusion. When I asked why there are so many denominations, Brother Yuan talked about the origin and development of Christianity. Then he said, “Over time, influenced by geography, history, and culture, believers understood the scriptures differently. They had many diverging views, and they debated them endlessly. Thus, many denominations came into being, and Christianity fell into chaos.
“Now, those who truly thirst for God have seen that people are in control in most denominations. Based on their own imaginings and reasoning, some pastors and elders use belief in God as a cover to try to implement their own management, with the aim of getting more people under their domain or striking down other denominations that don’t follow them. Maybe some people will think this is an exaggeration and will not want to listen. However, we can confirm it from the historical records of God’s work. Let’s think about it: During the Age of Law, God used Moses to directly lead the people of Israel, and Moses set up the priest system. After Moses’ work was completed, there were no more people on earth that were directly appointed by God to lead the Israelites. The priest system of Judaism then began to be organized by elections. Very often, religious circles became corrupted because the wrong priests were elected. By the end of the Age of Law, the priests had completely lost God’s guidance. They did evil without being subjected to any discipline, formed factions, and the temple was turned into a den of thieves. At that time, many denominations were created. When the incarnate Lord Jesus appeared and did work during the Age of Grace, He personally selected the twelve apostles, and the Holy Spirit also did much work in His apostles. All those who followed the Lord were shepherded and led by the people God appointed. No one dared have selfish ideas or ulterior motives. They worshiped the Lord with the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Thus, the true church was created. The notion of denominations didn’t exist at that time. Around thirty years after the Lord Jesus’ death, resurrection, and ascent into heaven, most of the twelve apostles had been martyred, and the church on earth was no longer shepherded by the apostles directly appointed by the Lord Jesus. Then various religious groups started to form, and today there are more than 2,000 denominations in Christianity. So, without the personal guidance of Christ, and without a place for God in their hearts, many people are able to arrogantly boast about themselves, follow their preferences and walk their own path, thus going astray unknowingly.
“In addition, most leaders of these denominations are not being used by the Holy Spirit, nor have they been made perfect by the Holy Spirit. They are definitely unable to lead followers to know Christ and obey His guidance. Unlike Moses—who underwent God’s ordeals and perfection—and the disciples—who were called upon by the Lord Jesus personally and did the work God entrusted to them after they were shepherded by the Lord Jesus for a period of time—most religious leaders serve God by relying on their passion and naturalness. All of these are direct causes of the splits in Christianity.”
This was the first time I had heard such fellowshiping. It turned out that the occurrence of Christian denominations comes from the will of people and they are ruled by people. But their behavior is not the will of Christ, much less the will of the Holy Spirit, because they have not been made perfect by the Holy Spirit and can’t do the work of leading people. No wonder that without the discipline of the Holy Spirit the denominations attack and reject one another. This made me clearly see why wherever I went people were always a bit guarded when talking with me. These church leaders have treated God’s church as their private property, like the evil tenants who looked after the vineyard. In the last two thousand years, who has seen this clearly? At the time, the Lord’s words crossed my mind, “For as much as this people draw near me with their mouth, and with their lips do honor me, but have removed their heart far from me, and their fear toward me is taught by the precept of men” (Isa 29:13). These words were a wake-up call. I have been deceived by these “godly” church leaders. Then I asked, “Why are there so many people supporting and following each religious leader?”
The Reason Why Many People Stay in Each Denomination and the Consequence of Following Religious Leaders
Brother Yuan said, “All religious leaders are naturally of good caliber. They established churches to lead a bunch of people depending on their explanation of the Bible or their pastor certificates. Additionally, they are particularly skilled at pretending and tricking others, so many people are deceived by their shows of ability and unknowingly let them into their hearts. In addition, without truth, people cannot discern whether these leaders have the work of the Holy Spirit, whether or not they are enlightened and illuminated by the Holy Spirit when they preach, and whether or not what they do is confirmed by God. Moreover, people cannot distinguish between true and false shepherds. They blindly follow and worship them all, treating them all as their masters and idols. So, they are harmed by the religious leaders, lose the work of the Holy Spirit, and fall into darkness. As the Lord said, ‘They be blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch’” (Mat 15:14).
All Denominations Are to Return Under God’s Dominion
Brother Yuan read to me a section of the, “There are several major religions in the world, and each has its own head, or leader, and the followers are spread across different countries and regions all over the world; every country, be it large or small, has different religions within it. However, regardless of how many religions there are across the world, all people within the universe ultimately exist under the guidance of one God, and their existence is not guided by religious heads or leaders. Which is to say that mankind is not guided by a particular religious head or leader; instead the whole of mankind is led by the Creator, who created the heavens and earth, and all things, and also created mankind—and this is a fact. Although the world has several major religions, regardless of how great they are, they all exist under the dominion of the Creator, and none of them can exceed the scope of this dominion. The development of mankind, social progress, the development of natural sciences—each is inseparable from the arrangements of the Creator, and this work is not something that can be done by a particular religious head. Religious heads are merely the leaders of a particular religion, and cannot represent God, or the One who created the heavens and earth and all things. Religious heads can lead all those within the entire religion, but cannot command all creatures beneath the heavens—this is a universally acknowledged fact. Religious heads are mere leaders, and cannot stand equal to God (the Creator). All things are in the hands of the Creator, and in the end they will all return to the hands of the Creator. Mankind was originally made by God, and regardless of the religion, every person will return under the dominion of God—this is inevitable. Only God is the Most High among all things, and the highest ruler among all creatures must also return under His dominion. No matter how high the status of man, he cannot take mankind to a suitable destination, and no one is able to class all things according to kind.”
He added, “From these words of God, we can see that no matter how many religions there are in a country, no matter how many leaders there are in each religion, and no matter how high their status or how many people they lead, they aren’t in charge of mankind’s destiny. Not a single person or thing is able to escape the Creator’s orchestrations and arrangements. All exist under the dominion of the Creator. At the end of the day, all true believers will leave each denomination to follow the Creator. They will no longer follow or worship anyone. There will be no denominations in the future. All denominations created by man or woman will be destroyed by God.”
His fellowship made me think of the Lord Jesus’ words, “And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd” (Jhn 10:16). The Lord’s words showed me that Christianity, no matter how many denominations it has, will end up being ruled by Christ and unified in Christ through His words. This is the work to be completed by God in the end. The brother’s fellowshiping not only widened my horizons, but also made me see that the purpose of some people creating denominations was to control believers. I also saw clearly the dangerous consequences of following a person. At that time, I had an immediate realization and wanted to come out of religion and get up to speed with the Holy Spirit’s work.
Thank God for His guidance. I truly understood the reason why many Christian denominations exist. After this fellowshiping, I felt enjoyment and release in my spirit as never before.
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