Does Your Preacher Lie to You?
The Old Testament tells us about a preacher (prophet) who lied to a younger man (1 Kings 13). The lie was told in all good conscience. It was told with the intent of helping the young man (1 Kings 13:11-19). The young man believed the lie, benefited in an earthly way, but ended up losing his life (1 Kings 13:20-28). Thus, we know that religious leaders will sometimes tell a lie with the best intentions. We also know that religious followers will sometimes believe a lie.
How could the young man have avoided being killed by the lion? He could have rejected the lie. How could he know the lie was a lie? If he had stopped to consider that he knew what God revealed to him and what the old prophet said was contrary to it let God be true and every man a liar (cf. Romans 3:4).
So, does your preacher lie to you? Does he tell you salvation is by faith alone? The Bible says it is "not by faith only" (James 2:24). One must also repent, confess, and be baptized for the remission of sins (Acts 2:38; 3:19; Romans 10:9-13; Acts 22:16; 1 Peter 3:21).
Your preacher may have the best intentions in the world. However, if what he says contradicts the Bible, it is a lie. If you believe it, you will suffer the consequences. You know what God has said, it's in the Bible. Therefore, reject the lie and listen to truth (cf. 2 John 9-11; Galatians 1:6-9; John 17:17).
What's Wrong With Denominations
If you are in a denomination, do not be offended at the question. You are well aware of the many problems plaguing your organization. Denominations are dealing with a range of issues from women preachers to homosexuality both of which are condemned in the Scripture (1 Timothy 2:11-12; 1 Corinthians 6:9-10). We want to focus, however, on what is fundamentally wrong with denominations.
First, their names are wrong. Baptist, Methodist, Presbyterian, Pentecostal, Lutheran, Nazarene, Episcopal, etc., are no where found in the Bible either to designate individuals or churches. The Bible does describe individual followers of Christ as disciples, saints, brethren, and Christians (Acts 20:7; Romans 1:7, 13; Acts 11:26; 1 Peter 4:16). Churches were called churches of Christ (Romans 16:16), the church of God (1 Corinthians 1:2), the house of God (1 Timothy 3:15), the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:27), the kingdom of God (Romans 14:17). The names of Baptist, Methodist, etc., are from men, not heaven. That makes them wrong.
Second, their organizations are wrong. Most denominations have earthly headquarters. If not, they at least have an organizational structure larger than the local church, but smaller than the universal church. The Catholics have a pope as the "head" of the church on earth. The Baptists have associations binding churches together. The New Testament of Jesus Christ knows nothing of such organizations. Christ is the one and only head of the church (Ephesians 1:22-23; Colossians 1:18). Churches in the New Testament were independent, under the oversight of local elders (1 Peter 5:1-4; Acts 14:23; 20:28; Philippians 1:1). Thus, denominational organizations are from men, not heaven. That makes them wrong.
Third, their doctrines are wrong. Even if denominations did not have unbiblical names and organizations, they would still be wrong because of their teachings. Most denominations teach "faith-only" salvation. That is, they say faith alone will save you. The Bible says faith alone is not enough (James 2:24). You must also repent, confess Christ, and be baptized for the remission of sins (Acts 3:19; Romans 10:9-10; Acts 2:38; 22:16). Many denominations teach that Jesus will come again to take up power and authority in an earthly kingdom. The Bible teaches He will put down power and authority at His coming (1 Corinthians 15:23-28). Numerous other erroneous doctrines can be cited, but space does not permit it. The doctrines of denominations are from men, not heaven. That makes them wrong.
Finally, there is something else that makes denominations wrong, the real reason they are wrong a basic disregard for God's word. Unbiblical names, organizations, and doctrines are mere symptoms of the underlying problem. God's word is not accepted as the sole basis of authority (1 Peter 4:11; 2 Timothy 4:2). Rather, denominations take some scripture along with feelings, opinions, man-made traditions, and majority rule (cf. Matthew 15:8-9; Exodus 23:2). If you are a member of a denomination, you know this to be true.
We realize denominations are made up of people, "good" people in most cases. These people are being led astray by false teachers (Matthew 7:15-20). Much blame and responsibility falls on these false teachers. However, each individual has a responsibility before God to seek His truth and do it (2 Corinthians 5:10). Jesus said the blind leader as well as the blind follower will fall into the ditch (Matthew 15:14). So, if you realize you are a blind follower of the blind, repent. Stop following a person who will lead you straight to hell. Follow the Lord and His apostles (cf. 1 Peter 2:21; 1 Corinthians 11:1).
God's Plan for Man
Paul said the Jews were "ignorant of God's righteousness" (Romans 10:3). Yet, we know the Jews were not ignorant of the fact that God is righteous. Rather, they were oblivious to God's plan of making man righteous.
"For they being ignorant of God's righteousness, and seeking to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted to the righteousness of God" (Romans 10:3). In their zeal, the Jews sought to establish their own way of being righteous. Of course, this did not work, but drove them further from God.
Many today are like the Jews they seek to establish their own way of making man righteous. One such doctrine is "faith alone." Many preachers say the only thing one must do to be righteous before God is to believe in Jesus. This contradicts the Bible which says you must believe and obey (Hebrews 5:9; Romans 6:17).
Obedience is not the same as working for or earning salvation. That cannot be done (Ephesians 2:8-9; cf. 1 Peter 1:18-19). The blind man in John 9 did not earn his sight, but gained it only after obeying Jesus. The same is true in regard to spiritual healing, the forgiveness of sins. You cannot earn it, but you cannot receive it without obedience to the Lord. The Jews on Pentecost understood this, and about 3,000 obeyed the command to repent and be baptized for the remission of sins (Acts 2:37-41). Thus, they submitted to the righteousness of God His plan for man's salvation. Have you submitted?