The Sect Everywhere Spoken Against
A. Paul had appealed (called) to Caesar (Acts 25:11).
1. On the way had a shipwreck (ch. 27,28).
2. Note the attitude of those in Rome:
a. Knew “this sect” was spoken against
b. Was willing to hear Paul’s defense
c. Often, what people say is not exactly the truth about the situation.
B. Denominational people conceive of the church of the Lord as a sect; sometimes brethren who are disgruntled with someone refer to it as a “big sick denomination.”
A. What is a sect?
1. Uses in Acts (5:17; 15:5; 24:5,14; 26:5; 28:22).
2. The Jews’ religion - not a sect of God’s people (Gal. 1:13,14).
a. The Law of Moses did not produce Pharisees, Sadducees, Essenes, etc.
b. The concept of the Jews was that the church was just another Jewish sect.
3. W.E. Vine’s definitions:
Sect: “hence, a division and the formation of a party or sect in contrast to the uniting power of ‘the truth,’ held in toto; a sect is a division developed and brought to an issue.”
Heresy: “an opinion, especially a self-willed opinion, which is substituted for submission to the power of truth, and leads to division and the formation of sects...such erroneous opinions are frequently the outcome of personal preference or the prospect of advantage.”
4. Thayer - (Hairesis) “a body of men separating themselves from others and following their own tenets (a sect or party): as the Sadducees, Acts 5:17; the Pharisees, Acts 15:5; 26:5; the Christians, Acts 24:5,14.”
5. Webster - Sect: “a religious body or denomination, esp. a small group that has broken away from an established church...a faction of a larger group.”
Denominational: “sponsored by, or under the control of, a religious denomination; sectarian.”
6. So - what sect, denomination, are you a member of? (Is the church of the Lord another division within the Jews’ religion? Is it a part of a larger body that has divided from a parent group?)
B. The church is not a sect/denomination:
1. Paul did not admit being a member of a sect (Acts 24:1-5,14; 28:22,23).
2. Three things involved in denominationalism:
a. Division - dissenting from a parent group.
b. Denominating - usually using a name to differentiate from that group (would not have to do that to be denominational).
c. Attitude to maintain sectarian ideas - defend the party. (The Pharisees were different in belief from Sadducees, etc. They defended their party - not the truth of the Law.)
3. Do these three things describe the church of the Lord? None of them should be true!
C. God’s attitude toward sectarianism:
1. A work of the flesh Eris - Strife (dissensions, contentions, debates) “strife, contention, is the expression of enmity” (Vine) - a work of the flesh (Gal. 5:20).
Hairesis - “denotes a choosing, choice; then, that which is chosen, and hence, an opinion, especially a self-willed opinion, which is substituted for submission to the power of truth, and leads to division and the formation of sects, Gal. 5:20" (Vine). The very word suggests division and error (1 Cor. 11:19 “For there must also be factions (heresies) among you, that those who are approved may be recognized among you.”)
2. Contrary to the apostles’ teaching (1 Cor. 1:10-13).
a. The seed of sectarianism existed in Corinth - division, naming, defending their party.
b. Paul condemned this concept - makes Christ divided, gives honor to a man, practice or doctrine - to distinguish from others.
3. It nullifies the prayer of Jesus (Jn. 17:20,21).
a. Suppose one week I teach salvation by faith only, next week - not by faith only; baptism is necessary for salvation, next week - not necessary; one week, you can fall from grace, next week - cannot fall. One week teach baptism is sprinkling, next week - it is not sprinkling..etc. What would you think?
b. What if different preachers teach these contradictory doctrines?
c. Man in North Florida - joined whichever church having a “revival and dinner on the grounds.” Not held in high respect - but does God care about what a church teaches?
d. What is the fruit of religious division?
4. It necessitates teaching different doctrines (Gal. 1:6-9).
a. If you gave 300 farmers the same kind of seed, how many kinds of crops would result?
b. The word is the seed (Lk. 8:11; Mt. 13:19).
c. March, 1980 “Good Housekeeping” article said “1,200 religions in America” - Church of Kennedy Worshippers (believe he can cure them of congenital and even terminal diseases), “The Ministry of Universal Wisdom” (believe in flying saucers), Four Drug Oriented Groups (Church of the Awakening, Church of the Tree of Life, Native American Church, and Neo-American Church), Five Gay Religions (Eucharistic Catholic Church, Gay Synagogues, Metropolitan Community Church, Orthodox Episcopal Church of God, and People’s Church - Community of the Love of Christ.), eight churches promote Satanism, Eighteen Mormon groups, four practicing polygamy. Are all of these produced by the word of God?
c. What did it produce in the first century? (Acts 11:26; 26:28; 1 Pet. 4:16) “What kind of a Christian are you?” If you have different kinds - you have different doctrines!
A. The universal church is composed of all the saved of all the world - not part of the saved (Acts 2:47; 1 Cor. 12:13; Eph. 4:4-6).
B. The local church is a group of baptized believers who work together - not a part of another group. Each is a church belonging to Christ (Rom. 16:16; Rev. 2,3) - not pieces of the universal church.