The title of this teaching is Religions & Sects, plural in both cases. While today we call the various churches Denominations or Sects they are basically the same thing. They both boil down to the following of a belief system. Unfortunately this has been going on since the early church, even before the Creed of Nicea (325 A.D.) and the formation of the Roman Catholic church. Our evidence of this is in I Corinthians as it is the first epistle (letter) to the believers in Corinth. The letter is one big reprimand as the believers in Corinth had dropped the ball in every major category. We see in I Corinthians 1:10 – 25 they formed sects in just Corinth alone.
Today we’d call these denominations but they’re the same thing. Roman Catholic, Protestant, Lutheran, Mormon, Seventh Day, Baptist, there seems to be a pattern forming here. Non Denominational or Non Sectarian means that one doesn’t follow any of the recognized belief systems. Paul rebukes the Corinthians for this practice in verse 12 saying “Now I say this, that each of you says, “I am of Paul,” or “I am of Apollos,” or “I am of Cephas,” or “I am of Christ.” and goes on to say in 13, “Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you, or were you baptised in the name of Paul?”. His point here is that as followers of Jesus Christ we should all be following the same thing, the teachings of Jesus Christ. Part of the issue today is that the Roman Catholic church became more about legalism than about worshipping God through Jesus. The church adopted Roman laws and paganism causing Martin Luther to decide to start what he considered the way the early church taught. But we see in I Corinthians that parts of the early church didn’t get it right either. So, have we ever really gotten it? Since the above named religions or sects are still active and popular today it would appear not.
Today with all the varieties we have available its hard to know what’s truth and what’s man-made doctrine. Every preacher claims to be teaching the word of God when he himself may not be fully familiar with God’s word and history. An example of this is the Pastor of a church in California and author of a book to show us our “Purpose” in Life. He was a guest minister speaker on CNN this Easter of 2007 when a question was posed to all the guest ministers. The question was “How does the Easter Bunny fit into the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus?”. This Pastor’s answer was “I don’t know, they don’t teach that in seminary.“. If this is part of the celebration of the Easter holiday then one would think a man of God should know its history and significance. The next question might be ‘what qualifies him to be a minister, in any church, of our Lord Jesus Christ?’. Again, one would think a man of God would be well versed in the history and significance of our “Christian” holidays. If he’s not then maybe a little research could clear things up. And if one is aware that these holidays are of pagan origin they should be teaching their congregation accordingly and not perpetuating the pagan practices. The excuse “that’s what the mainstream is teaching” doesn’t excuse it as he’s the founder of his church. If one is a minister under a denomination and knows this they should…well the logical conclusion leads us to our topic. But this California Pastor is, by far, not the only one at fault, most of the mainstream is teaching the same things. They’re teaching it because its popular. They’re teaching it because its accepted. They’re teaching it because that’s what their congregation will accept. Anyone teaching outside of the mainstream is a heretic, and probably doesn’t have much of a congregation, even if they are teaching the truth.
So what we’ve learned here is that the church is being driven by the people and what they’ll accept as truth instead of being led by the pastor in charge teaching the truth no matter who or how many show up for services. It is the duty of these pastors to do their Godly job regardless of the following. Paul reminds us of this duty throughout I Corinthians.
While it is the congregations duty to follow the man of God in their church it is the man of God’s responsibility to lead with conviction and truth in a Christ like manner. For either to fail is disrespectful to God and not doing what God commands us to do.
So what do we follow? Follow what God teaches. Read the scripture for yourself so we all come to the same conclusion. While early on some of us may not fully understand all of it, we nurture each other in faith and look to God for understanding through prayer. It’s the duty of the believers to follow, it’s the duty of the minister to follow God and lead his people in truth.
If it’s not important enough to pray about, it’s not important enough to worry about.