Divided religious world
No one can deny that we have a divided religious world. It also is obvious with very little research that this is nothing new. Jesus built one Church. This is clear because Jesus spoke of the church singularly as in "My Church". It is also clear because several places in the Bible the Church is defined as "the body". It is then made abundantly clear in the Bible that there is only ONE body.
Col 1:18 And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence.
Eph 4:4 There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling;
Eph 4:5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism;
Eph 4:6 one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.
Despite the fact that it is clear from the Bible that there is only one Church that Jesus built, it is common to hear about many "churches". Obviously there is some kind of problem here. There can only be one Church according to Jesus.
It's interesting and frustrating to see how these "churches" started. The Bible spoke of an apostasy that would come. History shows that much error was introduced in the church as humans and human governments began having an influence in religion. Religion has been used to acquire land, establish allies, gain popularity and so on all at the expense of truth. Doctrines held by some that were true have been forsaken when leaders such as Henry VIII wanted to have a marital relationship that was unscriptural.
An honest student can identify one or several religious groups after very little study that introduced many false doctrines to the world. Some of these doctrines include distorting the position of an elder or pastor in the church, adding many mediators between man and God (priests) when there is only one mediator and so on. Notice that the Bible teaches Jesus is the only mediator between man and God and that he was able to offer a sacrifice once for all men. It is also clear from the Bible that one who sins only needs to repent and go to God in prayer and ask forgiveness. He does not need an earthly priest to intercede for him.
Heb 7:26 For such a High Priest was fitting for us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and has become higher than the heavens;
Heb 7:27 who does not need daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifices, first for His own sins and then for the people's, for this He did once for all when He offered up Himself.
Acts 8:20 But Peter said to him, "Your money perish with you, because you thought that the gift of God could be purchased with money!
Acts 8:21 "You have neither part nor portion in this matter, for your heart is not right in the sight of God.
Acts 8:22 "Repent therefore of this your wickedness, and pray God if perhaps the thought of your heart may be forgiven you.
At the current time we can only live with the results this division and false doctrine has caused, but I think as Christians we can do our part to aim for unity without sacrificing truth. I think step one is realizing how to refer to ourselves. The Bible makes it clear that we are Christians.
Notice the disciples were called Christians. This was not a term giving to them by their enemies in derision. It was also not just a name they came up with. The word "called" in this instance comes from a word that means it was given by the mouth of God. God called the disciples Christians or gave them that name. Many feel this is the fulfillment of a prophesy.
I think as we review history, if this rule would have been followed we wouldn't have ended up where we're at. In what has been termed the Reformation Movement, some began to reform the religious world that had become so corrupt (in particular the Catholic church). Men such as Luther generally introduced (or reminded) the religious world of the truth found in their Bible. As always there were some who disagreed with the truth and cast insult at Luther. Instead of acknowledging here is a Christian trying to correct our error, they eventually came up with Lutheranism.
Other reformers indeed had many false beliefs. But some were very accurate in their beliefs. Some such as Joseph Arminius showed the error in what others had termed Calvinism. They then came up with the term Arminean. As time went on some correctly tried to show the religious world that sprinkling is not the one baptism spoken of in the Bible. Those who chose to be baptized as a believer should be were called Anabaptists and were said to be being "baptized again". Later at least some groups who were labled this rejected that title and said they were not being baptized again. They were being scripturally baptized for the first time. They then ended up with just the title Baptist.
At this point in time, I am convinced most of the reformers were trying to "restore" the truth. Yet people tended to label them under some man's title and we ended up with "groups" and "churches". For example, those who tried to separate from the false doctrine the Church of England was teaching ended up being called Separatists. I think this is EXACTLY one of the things Paul was trying to avoid and warned against.
1 Cor 1:12 Now I say this, that each of you says, "I am of Paul," or "I am of Apollos," or "I am of Cephas," or "I am of Christ."
1 Cor 1:13 Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul?
When we hear of a doctrine, it is either true or false. Let's not try to pin a name on the doctrine or the name of a person on anyone who holds that doctrine. Anyone who obeys Jesus Christ as the New Testament lays out is said to be a Christian. When they teach false doctrine they would be in a position similar to Simon mentioned earlier in the article. That person would need to repent and pray for forgiveness.
The very things mentioned in this article demand that a Bible student be very cautious. Not everything you here is truth. You need to take your Bible and make sure the things you hear are according to scripture. There is a glorious plan laid out in the Bible for your salvation. It is a simple plan. However, one of Satan's tactics is to cause confusion. This he has certainly done with the divided religious world we have.
God will say "Do not eat of the fruit or you will die." (Gen 3:2-3) Satan will say "You will not surely die." (Gen 3:4) God will say "Repent and be baptized for the remission of sins." (Acts 2:38) Satan will say "You do not need to be baptized to be saved." God will say, "You (Christians) have fallen from grace." (Gal 5:4) Satan will say, "You cannot fall from grace."
You must study for yourself to see what God has truly said. Many have gone out in sheeps clothing (Matt 7:15). They appear to represent Jesus and the truth, but they teach error.