At the end of Christ’s Sermon on the Mount, the Messiah illustrates the dangers of building a house on a weak foundation (Matt. 7:24-27). Paul warns from the teachings of Christ that “other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ” (1 Cor. 3:11). One’s faith must be built on the foundation of Christ, and likewise the church. Christ states in context to Peter’s confession that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God, “And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (Matt. 16:18). Christ builds His church on the foundation of Peter’s confession. The same confession that every repentant believer makes before being baptized and added to the Lord’s church by God (Acts 8:36-38).
Unfortunately, many misinterpret the words of Christ and claim that Peter’s person rather than his confession was the rock on which the church was built. Let us use our common sense, what is more rational? Christ built His church on the confession that He is the Son of the only living God, or that Christ built His church on fallible man? The misinterpretation of this scripture has led many through the centuries to believe that starting a church or a branch from another church in the name of a man is acceptable. When people build a denomination in the name of a man or the name of his theology, they have laid a foundation of sand (Col. 2:8).
While many foundations of sand exist in the Christian world, the feeble and pathetic attempt to build one’s faith and church on fallible man has to be one of the worst. Such a foundation creates a ripple effects in the faith of the followers. People change worship practices, salvation teachings, and authority priorities just because they feel they can. Nevertheless, such foundations are not so easily discernable. Many churches make claims of holiness and redemption and following the scriptures, but their actions speak otherwise. In this article, consider just one aspect of a false foundation, the name!
How many people today have to specify what kind of Christian they are because of the thousands of factions and divisions from the church that Christ built? Some will say, “I am of Pentecostal,” “I am of Baptist,” “I am of Methodist.” Why can’t a person just say, “I am a Christian”? Many denominationalists have resolved to think that the name does not matter so much because a rose by any other name still smells as sweet. However, if names don’t matter, then put someone else’s name on your paycheck. Give your children the name of some other person. When it comes to things that really matter to people, such as their livelihood or their family, they want their claim all over it. Their names provide that claim. Christians are God’s children (Gal. 3:26-29). God obviously cares about the name by which Christian identify themselves.
The concept of attending or joining a church started by anyone that is not Christ and then calling oneself by this name puts a person on a foundation of sand (Gal. 1:6-9). Paul wrote to the church at Corinth who had started making divisions and factions after the names of their teachers, “For it hath been declared unto me of you, my brethren, by them which are of the house of Chloe, that there are contentions among you. Now this I say, that every one of you saith, I am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas; and I of Christ. Is Christ divided? was Paul crucified for you? or were ye baptized in the name of Paul?” (1 Cor. 10:11-13). Paul’s question in the last verse of the passage implies that not only do names matter, but the names by which Christians call themselves needs to be “in the name of the Lord Jesus” (Col. 3:17). If what a person calls himself/herself is not in the Bible, then it is not of Christ but of the traditions of men. Can one find the name by which one’s church was founded in the Bible?
Many churches have been started under the name established by men. Paul writes “that ye might learn in us not to think of men above that which is written, that no one of you be puffed up for one against another” (1 Cor. 4:6). No person has the right to start a church by any other name! No person should think of themselves so highly that he/she has the authority to establish a church separate from the church Christ established in the first century (Rom. 12:3). No one that claims to be a Christian should follow a church founded by someone other than Christ (Acts 4:12). What happens when people start churches by their own name or philosophy? They become the highest authority because it is their church, not God’s church. They become puffed up and opinion becomes the law of the church equal to God’s Scripture! Paul says this cannot happen.
Ask your preacher/church leader who started your church, and if he/she does not say Christ, then leave! Leave before the foundation crumbles beneath you. One cannot stand firm on a foundation of sand. One cannot defend the message and faith of Christ from opinion.