Over the Door of Your Church
Over the door! There is a song named, “It’s Not What’s Over the Door.” This song is pointing out that it’s not what’s over the door of the Christian Church that counts, but what is in your heart. This is the way it seems that it should be for a “unified” Christian Church, but that impression is hard to see in reality. What’s over the door seems to matter a great deal.
No Criticism of What’s Over the Door
I intend no criticism of anyone or any church in the following presentation. However, since I was very young, and began considering the various aspects of religion as I was being exposed to it in Baptist Sunday School, Training Union, Royal Ambassadors, Sanctuary Sermons, and tent revival meetings, I didn’t understand why there were so many denominations. Is there so much disagreement in what is given us in the Holy Bible that the Church cannot be united? All the denominations appeared to be using the same Holy Bible as their guide to righteous living and salvation. However, as I have traveled through life and attended various churches, other denominations as well as the denomination I was reared in, I noticed practices that didn’t seem to be in accordance with the Bibles that I read. How could interpretations of what God intended for righteous living and salvation be so different to the many learned Bible Scholars?
Why would instruction so important to our salvation be so vague or obscure? How many in the Christian Church critically assess the doctrine of the church to which they belong? Do they just accept the one of their childhood, which was selected by their parents? I have noted changes that have been made, apparently after assessments were made. Perhaps some of these changes were made for factors other than doctrine.
The translations, or interpretations, are massaged through many Bible versions and evolvement of languages over the many years, with paraphrasing and verse adjustments. There has also been much disagreement among the Bible Scholars as they prepared the various versions. It seems that all these aspects of evolvement of and presentation of the Holy Bible present many dangers of Heresy (The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, 1976). It seems, when considering various aspects of practice among the churches and denominations, that there is an element of “cafeteria religion” in picking those practices to be followed. What are the justifications for selections?
The roles of women in the Church has changed in ways that appear to be prohibited by the Bible. Dress of Church officials vary from elaborate to indistinguishable. Prayer to God and prayer through intermediaries to God. Forgiveness from God and forgiveness by intermediaries. Music in the Church varies from no instruments to full orchestras. Communion is conducted in a variety of way using various utensils and serving methods. Baptism is viewed and conducted differently by denomination and church. The Bible instructs on the folly of debt, but churches accumulate large amounts of debt to build facilities and do other things in the hope that “they will come” to fill the voids.
I am sure that I am not the only one that has made observations and had reservations concerning various aspects of Christian Church life and teachings. There are many publications offering further explanations of the Bible. This even extends into the realm of fiction, such as the “Left Behind” series of books. Who could not imagine the events and consequences described in these books without the benefit of the books? Why are these “supplemental” publications needed in order to teach and understand the words of God and His Messenger, Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior.
I will not attempt to explain any of these issues, they are far beyond my knowledge and ability. I only have questions! Below are some of the Bible verses and issues that I have considered for a very long time.
The Role of Women in the Church
Many Christian churches now have women pastors with various roles (children’s ministers, ministers of music, etc.) and Deacons. Does this participation by women in the church constitute sin and heresy? The Bible speaks of how women are to conduct themselves in worship.
God’s word is very clear. Some things are not permitted. They are forbidden. Things done, but forbidden by God, are sinful and separates us from God, and the sin will cause eternal loss.
1 Corinthians 14:33-35 – 33 For God is not a God of disorder but of peace. As in all the congregations of the saints, 34women should stay silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission, as the law says. 35If they want to inquire about something, they should ask their own husbands at home; for it is disgraceful for a women to speak in the church (Quest Study Bible, 1994).
1 Timothy 2:11-15 – God’s word to us says, “11A woman should learn in quietness and full submission. 12I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man, she must be silent. 13For Adam was formed first, then Eve. 14And Adam was not the one deceived; it was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner. 15But women will be saved through childbearing – If they continue in faith, love and holiness with propriety (Quest Study Bible, 1994).”
The Role and Conduct of Communion in the Church
Communion in the Church is conducted differently by denomination, and even within denomination. Some conduct Communion at each worship event, some appear to conduct it randomly, and some by schedule. They also vary in the way it is administered.
1 Corinthians 11:26-27 – 26For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death till he come. 27Therefore, whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord (Quest Study Bible, 1994).
John 6:53-58 – 53Jesus said to them, “I tell you the truth, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink the blood, you have no life in you. 54Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. 55For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink. 56Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in him. 57Just as the living Father sent me and I live because of the Father, so the one who feeds on me will live because of me. 58This is the bread that came down from heaven. Your forefathers ate manna and died, but he who feeds on this bread will live forever (Quest Study Bible, 1994).”
The Role and Conduct of Baptism in the Church
The question: is baptism required for salvation?
John 3:5 – 5Jesus answered, “I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit (Quest Study Bible, 1994).”
John 3:16 – 16For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life (Quest Study Bible, 1994).
Acts 2:38-39 –38Peter replied, “Repent, and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off – for all whom the Lord our God will call (Quest Study Bible, 1994).”
Acts 22:16 – 16And now what are you waiting for? Get up, be baptized and wash your sins away, calling on His name (Quest Study Bible, 1994).
1 Peter. 3:20-22 – 20who disobeyed long ago when God waited patiently in the days of Noah while the ark was being built. In it only a few people, eight in all, were saved through water, 21and this water symbolizes baptism that now saves you also – not the removal of dirt from the body but the pledge of a good conscience toward God. It saves you by the resurrection of Jesus Christ, 22who has gone into heaven and is at God’s right hand – with angels, authorities and powers in submission to Him (Quest Study Bible, 1994).
“The problem with baptismal regeneration (the belief that baptism is part of salvation and necessary for it) is that it contradicts other Scriptures that state we are justified by faith. Justification is God’s declaration upon a sinner that the person is declared righteous in God’s sight. In other words, only Christians are justified. Only Christians are saved (Matt Slick; Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry; September 15, 2015; https://carm.org/dictionary-baptismal-regeneration).” The following verses below provide additional insight.
Romans 4:3 – 3What does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness (Quest Study Bible, 1994).”
Romans 5:1-2 – 1Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God (Quest Study Bible, 1994).
Galatians 3:8-9 – 8The Scripture foresaw that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, and announced the gospel in advance to Abraham: “All nations will be blessed through you.” 9So those who have faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith (Quest Study Bible, 1994).
Ephesians 2:8-9 – 8For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – 9not by works, so that no one can boast (Quest Study Bible, 1994).
“There are other verses, but these are sufficient to show that we are made right in God’s eyes–justified, forgiven–by faith, not by faith and baptism. If baptism were necessary for salvation, then these verses would state that we are justified by faith and baptism, but they don’t. In fact, that is not what Paul says that the Gospel is, and it is the Gospel that saves us (Matt Slick; Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry; September 15, 2015; https://carm.org/dictionary-baptismal-regeneration).”
Further study by the readers of this article is encouraged to make your own decisions and develop your own conclusions from the many sources of study available.
The Role and Forms of Clothing in the Church
Deuteronomy 22:5 – 5A woman must not wear men’s clothing, nor a man wear women’s clothing, for the Lord your God detests anyone who does this (Quest Study Bible, 1994).
1 Timothy 2:9-10 – 9I also want women to dress modestly, with decency and propriety, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or expensive clothes, 10but with good deeds, appropriate for women who profess to worship God (Quest Study Bible, 1994).
1 Corinthians 11:6-10 – 6If a woman does not cover her head, she should have her hair cut off; and if it is a disgrace for a woman to have her hair cut or shaved off, she should cover her head. 7A man ought not to cover his head, since he is the image and glory of God; but the woman is the glory of the man. 8For man did not come from woman, but woman from man; 9neither was man created for woman, but woman for man. 10For this reason, and because of the angels, the woman ought to have a sign of authority on her head (Quest Study Bible, 1994).
God and Man Mediation
1 Timothy 2:5-6 – 5For there is one God and one mediator between God and man, the man Christ Jesus, 6who gave himself as a ransom for all men–the testimony given in its proper time.
Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, Quest Study Bible, New International Version (NIV), Copyright 1973, 1978, 1984, 1994 by International Bible Society, published by the Zondervan Corporation, All rights reserved.