THE BIBLE AND THE BLUEPRINT
The Bible is God's word to all mankind. Within its pages is His divine plan for man's eternal salvation. The Bible (the Old Testament in principle, and the New Testament in observance and obedience) is the final authoritative word in matters of religious belief and practice. The Bible is therefore to be one's guide to daily Christian living.
By taking the Bible as our only religious authority, we leave off the confusion of the religious world and the innovations of men by being Christians and Christians only. To be "only a Christian and a Christian only" means to follow the teachings of Christ and His inspired apostles and writers as recorded in the New Testament.
Jesus prayed to His Father in heaven for unity among His followers. "That they all may be one; as You, Father, are in Me and I in You; that they also may be one in Us" (Jn. 17:21). Knowing the prayer of Jesus and His expectations for His church, can there be biblical unity in a multiplicity of man-made names, organizations, creeds, and teachings? Despite what is often considered to be Christianity or Christendom, the fact remains that Jesus prayed for religious unity among those who believe. His praying such a prayer implies that unity in Christ is not only possible, but is something those who believe ought to strive to fulfill. However, true religious unity is not unity based upon overlooking the multitude of man-made teachings and beliefs that keep us separated and apart. That may be considered union, but that is not the unity prayed for by Jesus. His was not a prayer for unity in diversity.
Unity must be based on being in agreement (Amos 3:3), and in the present case, the teachings of the Bible, specifically the doctrines of the New Testament. At this point consider, are denominations in agreement with one another doctrinally? Do all denominations teach and preach the same things? Do denominations contradict God's word? Do they contradict the Lord's prayer for oneness? If denominations contradict each other's teachings, as well as, contradict the Bible itself, how can they be in unity with one another, or more importantly, how can they be in agreement with God? The truth is, they cannot. Therefore, denominations contradict Jesus' prayer, and the Bible's plea for unity in Christ (Eph. 4:1-6).
God has given man a divine and holy pattern to follow. Under the Old Covenant, the Mosaic Law, God gave a blueprint for His people to follow (Ex. 25:9, 40; 26:30; 40:9; 2 Chr. 34:31-33). The Mosaic Covenant has been fulfilled and has been replaced by the New Covenant in Christ (Matt. 5:17; 26:28; Col. 2:14). A divine and holy pattern continues under the New Covenant, the law of faith (Rom. 3:27-31; 1 Cor. 4:16-17; Phil. 3:17; 1 Tim. 1:16; 4:6, 12, 16; 2 Tim. 1:13). Jesus gave us a blueprint by which man (both Jew and Gentile) is to understand his relationship before God, and how he is to restore himself to Him (Acts 2:40; Phil. 2:12-13; 2 Tim. 2:15).
The New Testament (Covenant) is that pattern and by using only this blueprint, man can stand unified based upon the only standard God has authorized in these last days (Heb. 1:1-4; Heb. 8:5-13). Following any other pattern not given by God in matters of salvation will only further confuse and divide those seeking to please the God of the Bible (Gal. 1:6-9). The results of such confusion and division is sin and death (spiritual separation from God). It is division caused by an unbelief of the Scriptures and the erroneous beliefs of men (Matt. 14:7-9).
It should be clearly understood from reading the New Testament, Jesus did not build or establish a denomination. He established His one church (Matt. 16:18; Acts 2; Eph. 1:22-23; Col. 1:18). His church, those who have been called-out by the gospel, is not a denomination, nor is it made up of all Protestant denominations. Neither is it Roman Catholic, or Orthodox. The church Christ established is not non-denominational, undenominational, or inter-denominational. The truth of the matter is, the church Jesus established and purchased with His own blood is anti (against)-denominational (Acts 20:28; 1 Cor. 1:10).
The New Testament records but one church, and it was not Catholic, Orthodox or Protestant. Those that were added to the Lord's body on the day of Pentecost were not added to a denomination. Those who obeyed the gospel on that day were added to the body of Christ (Acts 2:47). Those desiring to be added to the body of Christ today are not to be religiously divided, but are to be of the same mind and judgment. And this kind of unity can only come when we seek to lay aside the teachings of men and return to the teachings of God.
The Bible tells us, "God is not the author of confusion, but peace" (1 Cor. 14:33). John tells us, those who desire to worship God the Father must do so "in spirit and truth" (Jn. 4:24). It is Jesus Himself who declares for our benefit that "God's word is truth" (Jn. 17:17). John also previously wrote in the same letter the words of Christ Jesus, "If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free" (Jn. 8:31-32). The Bible tells us we can know truth. We can know God's word and know what He meant when He said it.
Rom. 1:16-17, Paul said, "For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, 'The just shall live by faith.'" Paul later writes in the same letter regarding faith and how faith comes. He said, "So then faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God" (Rom. 10:17). True faith, true belief, requires hearing and obeying God's word.
The only way to achieve the kind of unity God desires among those who seek after Him is to surrender denominationalism and return to God's word, the Blueprint, as the only standard upon which we are to stand and be saved. Such a stand demands that we speak where the Bible speaks and remain silent where the Bible is silent. The plea is sensible, but more than that, it is Scriptural. The New Testament is our only rule of faith and practice. The call goes out to all men everywhere to return to the word of God as the guide for life and for life eternal. It is the blueprint for man. May we call Bible things by Bible names and do Bibles things in the Bible way (Col. 3:17).