The Problem with Denominations

Text: Matthew 16:18

In the first century, there were no denominations – only the Lord’s church. But today, there are thousands of denominations. Is this a problem? Many say “no” – they have been taught to join the church of their choice because one church is as good as another. Yet the Bible says that it is a problem. This lesson will examine four problems with denominations.

Denominations Are Divisions

  • Often, those in the Lord’s church are accused of being divisive – in reality, the denominations embrace the spirit of division (1 Corinthians 1:10-13)
  • Many ignore differences today which allows them to easily switch from one church to another and have various denominations work together for different projects, ministries, and events – but the divisions are still there
  • Jesus prayed for unity (John 17:20-21) – not unity that comes by ignoring differences on matters of faith; unity that is based upon the word of God (Ephesians 4:3; 1 Corinthians 1:10)
  • Denominations are a problem because they divide those who are (allegedly) part of the body of Christ

Denominations Lure People Away from the Lord’s Church

  • When one joins a denominational church, he is joining a church that is not Christ’s (Matthew 16:18) – there is only one that belongs to Christ (Ephesians 4:4; 1 Corinthians 12:13)
  • Some argue that denominations are simply part of the Lord’s church, as branches of the vine (John 15:1-6) – but the branches are clearly individuals, not churches/groups; also violates the principle of individual accountability (John 15:6; Ezekiel 18:20; 2 Corinthians 5:10)
  • Denominations are a problem because they keep people away from the Lord’s church

Denominations Prevent People from Being Saved

  • Denominations prevent people from being saved by keeping them away from the Lord’s church [see previous point] – salvation is only in His church (Ephesians 5:23; Acts 2:47)
  • Denominations also prevent people from being saved by not teaching the plan of salvation that is taught in the gospel – belief, repentance, baptism (Acts 2:37-41); most reject baptism as being necessary for salvation (Mark 16:16; Acts 22:16; 1 Peter 3:21); many teach salvation by faith alone (James 2:24; 1:22)
  • This is especially dangerous because people think they are saved/safe (Amos 6:1; 5:18-20) – they don’t think they need to change anything, so judgment is a surprise (Matthew 7:21-23)
  • Denominations are a problem because they prevent people from being saved

Denominations Promote the Wrong Standard

  • Denominations proclaim a different gospel than what the apostles proclaimed (Galatians 1:6-9) – causes people to desert Christ
  • Teaching the doctrines/traditions of men renders our worship vain (Matthew 15:6-9)
  • We must proclaim the whole counsel of God, nothing more or less (Acts 20:27) – this is the standard by which we will be judged (John 12:48; Romans 2:16)
  • Denominations are a problem because the promote the wrong standard


  • Denominations do not represent another path to heaven
  • They are part of the broad way that leads to destruction (Matthew 7:13-14)

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