The Bible warns of “having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof” (2 Timothy 3:5). The word “form” is like the form used in pouring concrete, say, for a foundation. It is about the structure. Properly assembled it looks right. After the cement is poured and sets, the finished product which is formed looks right. But if any construction is built on it, the foundation cracks under the weight and so fails. There was a fault somewhere.
From an early age, many are brought up in established Christian churches of whatever denomination, Catholic and Protestant. If you’re not a member you cannot go to heaven. My Dad, in his later years, had the continual question, bothered by the predicament of it, “If there is only one God, why are there so many different denominations?” and the conundrum. “Why do they each claim exclusive rights to salvation?” To find the answer, he would go to different churches to observe and to discover the answer. Unfortunately, there is no reasonable answer. So, are all these denominations what the Bible describes as His church?
“Ecclesia” is the Bible word for church. It means an “assembly of called out people.” In the case of the Bible, this is a group of people who have been born again and meet together in one another’s homes. Now “born again “ is a spiritual birth achieved by recognizing one’s sinfulness and responsibility for its consequences, turning away from that life (repentance), and asking God to forgive, surrendering one’s life to Jesus who died to achieve that forgiveness and second birth. Then, to follow His teaching, that is, becoming His disciples. Discipleship is a way of life, not joining a particular denomination. (Read the Bible and seek His presence in your life.)
Paul the apostle had a similar question as my Dad and asked in I Corinthians 11:17 “In the following directives I have no praise for you, for your meetings do more harm than good. 18 In the first place, I hear that when you come together as a church, there are divisions among you, and to some extent I believe it.”
In my experience, I have observed that any movement, when it has become “established” or has become an “institution,” it has already died. If it ain’t moving, it’s not exactly alive. If it stinks, don’t eat it. Etc.
Jesus had some harsh words for the religious leaders of His day: He says, in part, in Matthew 23:13 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees [religious leaders, clergy], you hypocrites! You shut the door of the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces. You yourselves do not enter, nor will you let those enter who are trying to… 15 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You travel over land and sea to win a single convert, and when you have succeeded, you make them twice as much a child of hell as you are.” (Note: the whole chapter is a serious rebuke of the established church and its leaders as it existed back then, and I believe He would have the same rebuke for the religious leaders today.)
When was the last time you were taught repentance and the need to be born again? When was the last time you heard about discipleship? Matthew 11:28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” When I picture a yoke, I see two pulling the load. Jesus gets right in there with you and leans into the task.
Ask Jesus to come into your life and so to help you change your life’s direction, and also to empower you to be born again and to follow Him to become all He wants you to be, and to inherit the gift of life eternal.