Greetings in the name of the Lord Jesus!
My name is Bob Stokes and I have been a Christian since 1976. My spiritual journey began by getting involved with Mysticism and Oriental religions. After a number of years with much involvement and study in these teachings I was ready to become an initiate. Before I went to India, however, God put a book about Christianity in my hand and, wanting to be fair, I read it. I had given up on Christianity years before, mainly because I was ignorant of what it had to say and what is was all about. My view of Christians was not a high one and I thought that, if most of the people I had met were Christians, we’re all in trouble!
There was one thing, however, that made me consider reading about Jesus and that was that all the religions I had studied mentioned and revered Him. Why, then, would I not find out about Him? I thought I would and, as I read, I discovered that the teachings of Jesus were plausible. I investigated and found that the Bible, and it’s teachings, is the only thing that made sense regarding 1) where we came from 2) what we are doing here and 3) where we are going. No other system I had studied came close. I studied more and more and came to see that it, in fact, was the truth.
The Lord opened my eyes to the error of those religions and convicted me in my spirit that Jesus Christ was the only way of salvation. I found out that all the answers to life are written down in Holy Writ and testify of the Blessed One Who died for us. I asked Jesus to pardon me through His death, for me, on the cross. He saved me! God be praised!!!
I started going to a Pentecostal church and, over the years, moved on to several Baptist churches. As I studied and learned the Scriptures and taught in a number of denominations for the bulk of those years, I slowly came to an uneasiness about seeing the Bible through denominational glasses.
In the last few years, I have come to disagree with denominationalism and see it as a stumbling block, rather than a stepping stone, for the Christian. I believe that only when one has put aside denominationalism, can one see thoroughly.
Denominationalism also divides the people of God. Paul, in the Book of Corinthians, rebukes the church for denominationalism–some following this teaching (teacher) while others are following that one.
I am not against those in denominational or creedal churches, but feel that in explaining the Bible they are often ‘boxed-in’ within the confines of the confession or creed, etc. Many things within a certain creed or confession can be true, but the supposition is that, when reading, or following them, everything is true. Therein, lies the problem, in my opinion.
Once we accept creeds or confessions, it is very difficult to look outside the parameters of them when trying to interpret a verse or a doctrine. If we cannot understand a particular teaching, we tend to side with the framers of the confession rather than seeking the answer in the Bible on our own. In some denominations, challenging the creed is tantamount to challenging the Bible.
If the Bible alone is our creed, then we have more freedom to study the text and understand it. Too often, when trying to determine the meaning of a verse(s), we go to the confession rather than to the Bible. If we read the confession first, it tends to give us the ‘denominational’ slant on the text. Then, going back to the Bible with the denominational ‘interpretation’, we interpret the verses accordingly.
What that does is, more or less, keep us within the thinking pattern of the denomination, rather than the teaching of the Spirit of God.
I have taught from several denominational confessions and find that they all disagree in some points. Who is to say which one is true? They all have verses to back up what they are saying. The whole body of Christ should be consulted when discussing doctrine, as no one denominational group has it all!
We must go to the Holy Spirit first for His guidance through the Scriptures rather than the thoughts, teachings and traditions of men or women, no matter how much we revere them! Too often the natural laziness of us, as humans, wants to let others do our thinking and studying for us. Let us shun this practice!
2 Tim 3:16-17
All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the people of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.