Your word is a lamp
for my feet and a light
for my path.
Psalms 119:105


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NOMINAL CHURCH

I am a young married man and my wife and I desire to be good Christian people. We think we ought to go to church and worship God, but as there are ten different churches in our neighborhood, I am at a loss to know which to make our church home. I have attended each one several times, and none of them seems to satisfy our minds and hearts. In one church it is all formality and dress; in another it is a continual plea for money; in another the Bible is seldom referred to, but it is all Higher Criticism and Evolution. I am almost disgusted and would like to know if my wife and I cannot remain at home and read our Bible and be good Christians without supporting with our time and money what appears to me as being "clubs" instead of churches. (Candid.)

<ANSWER>--It is true that we can worship the Lord at home, and unless we do worship the Lord at home, our church worship would be of little benefit. Worship is not a mere form but devotion of the heart. However, we are admonished of the Lord to "forsake not the assembling of ourselves together" (`Heb. 10:25`), and we should look carefully for a gathering of the Lord's people, however small in number. True Christians may be readily recognized by the test which the Master Himself instituted, "by their fruits ye shall know them."

In the parable of the vine and the branches given by the Lord Jesus (`John 15:1-8`), are we to understand that the branches would represent the different churches and denominations? (S. S. Scholar.)

<ANSWER>--A critical examination of the parable should thoroughly convince any Bible student that the "branches" could in no way represent the five-or six-hundred different religious denominations of Christendom. At the time the parable was given, there were no denominations, and none were organized until several centuries afterward. The Lord never authorized the formation of these denominational systems, and furthermore, He has never recognized them as His representatives. If anything, they are of the "vine of the earth" (`Rev. 14:18`) for they are of an earthly or human origin. It is very evident that this fact is coming more and more to be recognized even by the representatives of the various religious bodies as, in general, they are advocating a federation of all the churches, and the eradication of denominational lines. See what the Apostle has to say about denominationalism, `1 Cor. 3:3,4`. The Master was addressing His disciples and telling them that they were the branches. His language is, "I am the true vine, ye are the branches." It becomes more apparent that He was referring to the individual when in the fifth verse, He says, "If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch." This same intimate relationship existing between the Lord and His faithful followers is pictured by the Apostle when he uses the illustration of the natural body to show how the brethren in Christ are members in particular of the body of Christ, `1 Cor. 12:14-27`.

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