About Being Followers of Christ or Men

Paul said in 1 Corinthians 1:10-13, "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. 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. 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. Is Christ divided? was Paul crucified for you? or were ye baptized in the name of Paul?"

Early Christians were dividing according to who had baptized them into Christ. They were starting to follow men instead of following Christ. Are you a follower of Martin Luther (Lutheran) or a follower of Christ? Are you a follower of John Smyth (Baptist) or a follower of Christ? Are you a follower of Charles Parham (Pentecostal) or a follower of Christ? Are you a follower of the Pope (Catholic) or a follower of Christ? Are you a follower of John Wesley (Methodist) or a follower of Christ?

That is enough to make the point that you either follow men or you follow Christ, you cannot do both. To follow Christ is to follow only what God says in the Bible. Jesus said in Matthew 15:7-9, "Ye hypocrites, well did Esaias prophesy of you, saying, This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me. But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men." We are also told in II Timothy 4:1-4, "I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom; preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; and they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables." In fact, in II Corinthians 11:13-15 we are warned, "For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works." And in 1 Corinthians 10:21, "Ye cannot drink the cup of the Lord, and the cup of devils: ye cannot be partakers of the Lord's table, and of the table of devils." In all ways, who you follow is a serious decision.

But, with men you have definite, and sometimes ever-changing, rules that differ from the Bible. The Church that Christ promised to build (Matthew 16:18) began on a Sunday at 9:00 a.m. It was the Jewish day of Pentecost. Those that were baptized were added to Christ's Church (Acts 2:37-41). The Church included meeting on the first day of the week (Acts 20:7), giving (1 Corinthians 16:2), singing (Ephesians 5:19), and the communion (1 Corinthians 11:23-29). And, the Church members believed fully that Christ is the only begotten Son of God (John 3:16), all man (Galatians 4:4) and all God (Colossians 2:9), and born of a virgin (Matthew 1:23); and that He died on the cross for our sins (1 Corinthians 15:3), was resurrected (Romans 1:4), and will come again to judge us all (II Timothy 4:1). The early Church also had Elders (Acts 14:23) (or pastors, 1 Peter 5:1-3), Bishops (1 Tim- othy 3:1), Deacons (1 Timothy 3:10), preachers (1 Timothy 2:7) and teachers (Ephesians 4:11).

Over time, some said that you had to become Jewish before you could become a Christian, but the Bible refutes this (Romans 3:29). Some said that Christ was not a real man, and others said that He was not really God, but the Bible refutes this (Galatians 4:4, Colossians 2:9). Some said that there should be a main Bishop, then even higher offices, then one person (the Pope, for one) to run all the separate congregations. God did not teach this. Some went on to call their leaders Father, but God said not to do this (Matthew 23:9). Some went on to call their leaders Reverend, but God said this describes Him (Psalms 111:9). Some went on to call their preacher the Pastor and stopped having Elders or Bishops in charge. Some even said that their leaders could forgive sins, but only Christ (Mark 2:5, Luke 5:20, Luke 7:48, Acts 5:31, 1 John 1:9) and God (Luke 11:2-14, Colossians 2:12-14, 1 John 2:12) can forgive sins.

Some said that worship service must include foot washing, although this was not specified by God. Some say the communion drink must be from one cup that is passed to all. But, all in the Church includes all Christians in every city, state and country, so that is impossible. Some say that the bread used in communion is the actual body of Christ. But, Christ was alive and in His body when He called the bread His body, so we cannot take that literally (1 Corinthians 11:24). In 670 or 755, depending on which source you believe, music (from an organ) was added to Church worship.

God tells us not to celebrate holy days (Colossians 2:16), not even Passover, which the Israelites had been told to celebrate forever (Exodus 12:11-14). God only tells us to celebrate (remember) the death of Christ with the communion (1 Corinthians 11:23-26). Yet, Easter was added in 325 and Christmas was added in 336. Both were first pagan festivals and allowed to be celebrated as a way to bring pagans into the Church.

From the beginning of the Church, being baptized was the only way to receive redemption, or forgiveness, of sin through the grace of God. Baptism meant immersion in water (Colossians 2:12-14), until 251, when an exception was made for a man named Novatian. He had water poured or sprinkled on him instead because he was on his deathbed. He ended up living, and he was later promoted to the office of Bishop despite protests from clergy and laity alike that his baptism was invalid. Some say that he was promoted despite his lack of immersion because he was such a good man, and others say that he was merely promoted to be used as part of a political battle. Either way, because his invalid baptism had been accepted, the political leaders of the Church at the time had to allow others to be poured or sprinkled upon to save face. Sprinkling baptism began to include babies and children, although they not only were not able to join in a covenant with God but they also had never sinned since they did not know right from wrong. (If people are born full of sin, then Christ was not perfect and could not have been our sacrificial lamb of salvation (1 Peter 1:19). Christ was not born of a virgin because anyone whose father is related to Adam would be born full of sin but because God Himself is Christ's father - which is what makes Him the only begotten Son of God.) Some said that baptism was not required for salvation. Still others said that baptism is not required for any reason, in fact, it is sinful to think that baptism has anything to do with salvation because it is a work. It IS a work, a work of God (Colossians 2:11-15). Man's part in baptism is no more a work than that of kneeling to pray or believing (John 6:28-29).

God tells us that Church leaders are required to be married and fathers to show that they are able to lead. These include Elders (Acts 14:23) (or pastors, 1 Peter 5:1-3), Bishops (1 Timothy 3:1), and Deacons (1 Timothy 3:10). But, beginning in the fourth century, marriage and sex were frowned upon and finally renounced by some denominations. One reason was that a pope who was a father would pass his property to his heirs instead of to the Church. Another reason was that wives and women do have their influence over a man. Still another reason was that chastity and purity had been virtues demonstrated by Christ. Man's way led to illegitimate children, abandoned children, abortions, infanticide, affairs and scandals - none of which go with God's plan. Some use 1 Corinthians 7:6-9 to say that Paul was against leaders marrying. But, through context we can see that Paul knew that the looming persecutions would be hard enough to deal with personally without having to worry about the safety of a wife also. Paul did say that married leaders should stay married and that all should marry if they could not control their urges.

Today we have women Bishops, although God said that a Bishop must be a man (1 Timothy 3:2). And we have homosexual Bishops, although God says that they will not inherit the kingdom of God (1 Corinthians 6:9-10). (Putting away homosexual acts and thoughts as part of repentance and salvation allows these sins to be washed away, just as the sin of fornication or adultery, (1 Corinthians 6:9-11).)

These are only some of the things that men have added to or changed in Christ's Church. The list is endless. One piece of evidence of this is that there were over 33,000 Christian denominations in the United States in 2001, according to the World Christian Encyclopedia. That is over 32,999 different "churches" in addition to Christ's Church.

Most people would do more research for a mortgage than they do for their soul. So the next time you hear something like you just need to pray the sinner's prayer to be saved, first see if you can find it in God's Word, the Bible. (By the way, you cannot find it!)

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(The words of Christ are shown in red. Bible verses are shown in black.)

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