I was raised in the pentecostal church, no not the apostolic or united pentecost groups that are generally legalistic and have added to the mandates to what you must do to be saved and those who don’t believe in the trinity. However, more of Assemblies of God. There are hundreds of groups that fall under Pentecost. I would find out that the same goes for the Baptist and I am sure that if I would do my homework I would find the same with any denomination.
Many years ago, I started attending a non-denominational congregation. In speaking with the pastor, he explained how he went from referring to himself as pentecostal to non-denominational. To break it down to one sentence and most memorable, he said, “I don’t believe there will be road signs in Heaven: Pentecost in the front, Baptist to the back, Lutherans to the right and Methodist to the left.”
I left that congregation after six years, I have been attending a Southern Baptist congregation for the past three years. I have been asked many times about membership. I enjoy the teaching of the Pastor but I just can not “join the church.” When I express to anyone other than the pastor that I just can’t do it. I usually get the response, “forsake not the assembly.” I do not believe scripture had in mind the organization church that we see today, but rather fellowship with one another. If you have coffee with a brother and you are exhorting each other with the Word, you are not forsaking assembly.
Why can’t I join this “church”? Is the question that is often brought to me. My response is, why should I “join a church”? When according to scripture I already have by the repenting of my sin and believing on the Lord Jesus Christ who died on a cross and rose again on the third day.
Ephesians 4:4-6 (KJV) 4 There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling;5 One Lord, one faith, one baptism,6 One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.
(Sorry about the bold big letters, I don’t know what happened there.)
I am reminded of years gone by, when I was studying to get my ordination certificate from the Pentecost Church of God. A man walked up to the desk where I working, he saw the books on the desk and shouted, “Praise God, I’m Pentecost Church of God from my head to my toes.” He looked at me dumbfounded when I replied, “I’m not, I’m a Christian.” The same thing happened at the same location when a man who just left a Baptist Convention and excitedly asked me if I was a Baptist. I gave this man the same answer. He had no response, just a funny look.
The other day I was eavesdropping on a Facebook conversation. One man was criticizing another for being a Calvinist. Comparing Calvinist to the KKK, which I found a bit extreme. It got me to thinking about the people who others follow and how this practice is found and demonized in scripture.
· John Calvin – Calvinist
· Martin Luther – Luthern
· Jacob Arminius – Arminianism
· Charles Fox Parham – Pentecostalism
· John Wesley, George Whitefield – Methodist
These just mention a few to make a point. These names can be put in the place of the ones Paul mentioned.
1 Corinthians 1 (KJV) 10 Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment. 11 For it hath been declared unto me of you, my brethren, by them which are of the house of Chloe, that there are contentions among you. 12 Now this I say, that every one of you saith, I am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas; and I of Christ. 13 Is Christ divided? was Paul crucified for you? or were ye baptized in the name of Paul?
So, why do we find ourselves divided? Why do congregations feel like they are in competition with one another? Why do different groups feel the need to make fun of each other? How does this strengthen the Kingdom of the Lord? How does bring Glory to the one whom we say that we Love and Honor? Are we not commanded to make disciples unto the Lord and not to our preferred (Christian denomination)?