Just a Denomination
Every organisation in this world, whether political, social or religious, has a reason for existence. That reason is the root from which the society sprung, and the foundation upon which it continues to exist. Things are no different in Christendom––some cause or purpose has brought into existence every sect and denomination on earth. The original reason for existence may evolve over time––sometimes marking off that denomination more strongly than ever, sometimes blurring the distinctions between it and the denominations around––but there must always be a reason to exist. When the members forget that reason, then the organisation is doomed.
Late in the history of the Assembly (or Church), many of God’s people had their eyes opened to see ‘Assembly truth’ for the first time. From the Scriptures they saw that the Assembly or ekklesia was a body of called–out saints––called out to a rejected Christ. They saw (in contrast to the prevailing opinion of the day) that the Assembly has no place here. Accordingly, (and often at great personal cost) they sought to give up all worldly associations––not only in individual terms, but ecclesiastical as well. In conjunction with this, they were also made to understand that the Assembly is God’s and that men have no right to pick and choose their own ‘church’ according to their inclination. They realised that God called persons to His Assembly and nothing else. This apprehension of the oneness of the Assembly opened their eyes to the evil of denominationalism. They saw clearly that many, if not most, of the divisions among the saints were not of God. Accordingly, they sought to gather to Christ, rather than to be bound together on account of some doctrinal emphasis, or quirk of ecclesiastical history. They sought to have the Lord as their focus rather than some personality in the pulpit or a creed in the hand. They recognised that instead of many fellowships (as in Christendom), God has but one fellowship before Him: “[the] fellowship of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord” (1 Cor. 1: 9).
Many, many years have passed, and with it, sadly, most of the comprehension of what those beloved saints stood for. Now it is all too common to hear Christians (who, with their ecclesiastical heritage, should know better) speaking of their circle of meetings as simply another denomination among many. They have forgotten their reason for existence. There is no future for such companies. They may strive to make themselves more ‘mainstream’, while retaining some elements of their ecclesiastical past, but such a position cannot be anything but untenable in the long run. Go in for what is popular in Christendom and you will rapidly lose all sense of being called out of this world to a rejected Christ. Accept the principle of ‘choice’ (in essence, denominationalism is about finding a ‘church’ that suits me) and it will not be long before there is an exodus to places that ‘do it better’. The end result, (unless people wake up to where they are going) will be another small and declining denomination to add to the thousands already existing. Make no mistake: it is impossible to work out practically the truth of the Assembly in a denominational setting.
It is beside the point that the saints who inherited the recovered truth from their fathers have failed to put it into practice, and have been marked by growing worldliness and an inability to avoid division. To use such human weakness as an excuse to jettison the truth of God is iniquitous. If you and I have seen that the Assembly is one, and have understood its true character, then we must stand apart from where these truths are denied. We must take a stand on non–denominationalism, otherwise we shall become ‘just another denomination’ or, more than likely, slip into ecclesiastical oblivion.