Following Jesus “wherever He goes” (Revelation 14:4) will take
us to wherever His followers are gathered, because wherever His followers are gathered, He is in their midst (Revelation 1:10-13,
20; 2:1), having fellowship with them in their various activities (Matthew 26:29; Hebrews 2:10-12). But, as we pointed out in our last article, Jesus is not in the midst of every group, because when a church
is not faithful to His word, He removes their “lampstand” (Revelation 2:5). One
place we will not find Jesus is in a denomination, for all the reasons stated in our last article.
So if Jesus is not in a denomination, where is He? Where can we go and be assured of His presence?
Jesus will be found in a church whose only allegiance is to Him and to His
word—a church that is truly independent, free from any associations, or councils, or conventions. The only human oversight of this church is from the elders within that local church (1 Peter 5:1-2). There is no “statement of faith” that distinguishes them from other groups,
just a steadfast commitment to follow the teachings of Christ. The members of
this church identify themselves simply as “Christians” (Acts 11:26). No
other denominational label is necessary, because they are not part of any denomination.
Jesus will abide with a church that abides in His teaching (2 John 1:9),
a church that recognizes Him as its head (Colossians 1:18), and therefore does nothing without His authority (Colossians 3:17;
Ephesians 5:23-24). A church that seeks to follow Christ will follow the pattern
of New Testament churches, because what they did was in obedience to His commandments (1 Corinthians 14:37). In fact, Paul commended the church at Thessalonica, because they “became followers of us and of the
Lord” (1 Thessalonians 1:6). The brethren at Jerusalem, who formed the first local church, “were
continually devoting themselves to the apostles' teaching” (Acts 2:42, NASV).
Did any of these churches described in the New Testament ever stray from the truth? Yes,
they did. There were those who began to accept and teach “as doctrines the commandments of men” (Matthew 15:9),
but those who did were strongly rebuked (Galatians 1:6-9; Revelation 2:14-15). We can rest assured that if we do the same
thing today, the Lord will feel the same way.
What we fear is that if Jesus were to visit many modern churches today, He
would say the same thing to them that He said to the Pharisees: “In vain do they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the
precepts of men. Neglecting the commandment of God, you hold to the tradition
of men...you are experts at setting aside the commandment of God in order to keep your tradition” (Mark 7:7-9, NASV).
We don’t have to be like them, in fact, we can do the very opposite of
what they did. Let’s lay aside our traditions and our own precepts, and
get back to following Jesus. It is only by following Him now that we can follow
Him to heaven. Please e-mail us if you
have any questions: mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org