Is There One True Christian Denomination?

Finding a Church Among Denominations

It is true that the various denominations and churches across America can be confusing to any people. This is especially true when each one claims to be the true church and all others false.

To help unravel this confusion, we need to understand what the Bible says about the church. The word “church” is used in the scriptures in two senses:

  1. The universal sense
  2. The local sense.

In the universal sense the church consists of all those who, in this dispensation, have been born of the Spirit of God and have by that same Spirit been baptized into the body of Christ (I Corinthians 12:13).

The gospel of Jesus Christ is simply His death, burial, and resurrection for the forgiveness of our sins and our justification before God (I Corinthians 15:3,4). The blood of Jesus Christ actually cleanses an individual from his sins (Ephesians 1:7; Colossians 1:14, 20-22; Romans 3:25; Hebrews 9:12-14; I John 1:7). When an individual believes the Gospel of Jesus Christ and invites Jesus into his heart as his personal Savior by faith, that person automatically becomes a part of the universal church.

The second sense in which the word “church” is used in the Bible is in the local sense. That is, a local church is a group of professed believers in any one locality. We use the definition that a local church is a group of born again believers who have been baptized and have banded together to carry out the Great Commission. Thus, we read in the Bible of the church at Ephesus, the church at Corinth, the church at Galatia, the church of the Thessalonians, the church in Jerusalem, and so forth.

In other words, once an individual accepts Jesus Christ into his heart as his personal Savior, it is God’s plan that that individual joins a gospel preaching, soul-winning, local church in his own area. This teaches us that Christians all around the world are a part of the universal church which the Bible describes as being the body of Christ or the bride of Christ or sometimes uses the expression “building of God.” Yet, at the same time, the Lord wants us to unite with a good local church in our area.

Problems with Denominations that Cause Confusion

There are two major problems that have developed which have caused confusion to those who do not know the Bible.

First, those people who have genuinely accepted Jesus Christ as their personal Savior, interpret certain passages, excluding those concerning salvation, in a way different from other Christians. Therefore, they have started their own denominations.

Secondly, there are any people who have added other books to the Bible and have completely changed God’s Word, including what the Bible teaches concerning salvation, and have therefore started their own “church.” These types of “churches” are referred to as cults and they always claim to be the one true church. However, these people substitute the teachings and doctrines, of men for the teachings and doctrines of the Word of God. Though they refer to themselves as the church, and perhaps lead clean, wholesome lives, they, nevertheless, have no part of the body of Christ.

There are True Christians in Many Denominations

It is possible to have genuine, Christian fellowship with people from other denominations who are, themselves, Bible-believing, soul-winning Christians, and who believe the great fundamental truths of God’s Word, such as the verbal inspiration of God’s Word; the deity, virgin birth, and sinlessness of Jesus; the substitutionary death and bodily resurrection and ascension of Jesus; the premillennial return of Christ; the reality and everlasting, conscious torment in Hell for all those who die without Christ; and direct creation rather than evolutionary development.

Let’s stand together with our fellow believers and LIFT UP, not tear down.

In the end, no particular denomination can be called the only ‘right’ denomination. If you are unsure of what denomination is the best fit for you, do not be concerned. Do your homework. Search the Bible and compare what a denomination believes with what is spelled out in God’s word. If their beliefs are Gospel focused and grounded in the scripture, it very well could be a fit for you. Seek God in prayer and study and you will ultimately be able to find where you fit best.

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Dr. Elmer Towns is a college and seminary professor, an author of popular and scholarly works (the editor of two encyclopedias), a popular seminar lecturer, and dedicated worker in Sunday school, and has developed over 20 resource packets for leadership education.His personal education includes a B.S. from Northwestern College in Minneapolis, Minnesota, a M.A. from Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas, a Th.M. from Dallas Theological Seminary also in Dallas, a MRE from Garrett Theological Seminary in Evanston, Illinois, and a D.Min. from Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California.He is co-founder of Liberty University, with Jerry Falwell, in 1971, and was the only full-time teacher in the first year of Liberty’s existence. Today, the University has over 11,400 students on campus with 39,000 in the Distance Learning Program (now Liberty University Online), and he is the Dean of the School of Religion.Dr. Towns has given theological lectures and taught intensive seminars at over 50 theological seminaries in America and abroad. He holds visiting professorship rank in five seminaries. He has written over 2,000 reference and/or popular articles and received six honorary doctoral degrees. Four doctoral dissertations have analyzed his contribution to religious education and evangelism.

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