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      "Why Are There So Many Different Churches?"

      Friday, March 30, 2007

      One evening, I was standing outside the temple of the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter Day Saints in Mesa, Arizona. It was during what is called the "Easter Pageant", and during the "Easter Pageant" about 120 to 150 thousand people attend the presentation of the Passion of Christ there on the lawn of the temple.
      For 17 or 18 years now, we've stood out there and shared the gospel with people each night during the pageant, and one night a man came by. I offered him a tract, and he took it and sort of looked at the back. As soon as you hand someone a tract, they do this immediate "wrist twist" thing to see who published the thing on the back. Someday I'm going to put a little thing on the back that says, "Why don't you read me first?" so they can just, you know, read the whole thing. So I saw the man go a little ways, and he sort of looked at it and he saw me see him looking back. He was like, "Am I going to get into this or not going to?", and you could see this fight going on in his mind.

      He finally takes a deep breath and comes back and wants to talk while we're there, and he says, "I... I have a question for you."
      I said, "Ok."
      He says, "Why are there so many different Christian churches?"
      And I said, "Well... there are two reasons I would suggest to you. One is something that is legitimate and one that is not legititmate. What I mean by that is that the first reason is that God didn't make us out of a "cookie-cutter" mold, and I think that there are legitimate differences between certain churches. There are some churches that have one style of worship. Some churches where the pastor is, you know, dresses one way and another dress another. I think there are legitimate differences between some churches, I don't think the church at Rome was identical to the church at Corinth as the church at Thessolinica so that the worship service was identical amongst all of them, but, in reality, the reason that there there are all sorts of different chruches is primarily due to the fact that people will pick and choose what they will or will not believe out of the Bible! That is, men bring their traditions to the text of scripture, their ignorances to the text of scripture, and they have certain things they want to find, and so instead of believing all that the Bible has to say, they'll pick and choose certain sections they like better than others and choose to ignore others and they'll just pick and choose. I think that's why you have the illegitimate differences that there are - simply false teachings that divide people in various churches."

      He sort of thought, "Um... yeah... ok..." He really wasn't overly impressed with that response. So we started talking, and this was a very sharp fellow (as pertaining to Mormon tradition). He was a returned missionary. He had already served his two years, and we were very quickly onto the subject of the gospel. Very quickly he discerned that what I was saying is that God's grace saves. It saves perfectly on the basis of the work of Christ, and he says, "Well, it sounds to me like you're saying that if God's grace saves, then ...God chooses to save certain individuals."
      And I said, "Yes, that's what I'm saying."
      He says, "You don't... you don't believe in predestination, do you?", you know, sort of like saying, "You don't have bad breath, do you?"

      I had a little King James Version of the Bible with me so I unsnapped it, and I opened up to Ephesians chapter 1 verse 11. So I read him Eph. 1:11:
      "In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will:"

      And he looked at me and said, "So you're saying..." I put my hand up and I went, "In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will:"

      And he said, "So you believe..." and I put my hand up and I said,
      "In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will:"

      And if you can imagine us standing here, he looks over the Bible, he finds verse 11, he points to it, and he says, "That's wrong... and I feel good saying that."

      So I closed my Bible up, snapped it tight, and I said, "Sir, when you first walked up to me, you asked, 'Why are there so many different churches?'. You may recall that I said it is because people pick and choose what they will and will not believe out of the Bible, and sir, nobody has ever given me a better example of that than you just did."


      - Dr. James R. White




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