God, Hope & Helping Others
In Matthew 16:15-18 we have Jesus making clear who He Is and what He will do regarding His followers. Matthew 16 ‘(15) He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I Am? (16) And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. (17) And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but My Father which is in heaven; (18) 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’.
Here we have a statement made by Peter that Jesus is the Christ (Messiah of Israel) and that Jesus is the Son of the living God. Jesus confirms this statement by Peter and Jesus says that this information came from not from flesh and blood (man), but from the Father in heaven. Jesus states that Jesus will build His church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. Let’s take a look at some of the churches today and see if it is the church that Jesus has built.
First we notice that there is not a single church but a variety of Christian denominations. Therefore, a variety of opinions on what the church is, that Jesus will build. Let’s take a look at eight of these churches and see what they adhere to as the truth of the gospel of Jesus the Christ (Messiah).
Baptist - First Baptist, Second Baptist, American Baptist, Southern Baptist, General Baptist, Independent Baptist, Primitive Baptist – the list goes on and on. The various local churches preached repentance and confession of sins, along with baptism by immersion as an outward sign of the new life in Christ (Romans 6:3-4). The consistent testimony of the church for its first 400 years was to administer baptism to only those who first made a profession of faith in Christ. Starting in A.D. 401, with the fifth Council of Carthage, the churches under the rule of Rome began teaching and practicing infant baptism. Source: https://www.gotquestions.org/Baptists.html
Baptists hold to the belief that the Bible and its clear, literal teachings are the final authority for faith and practice. We at least attempt to back up everything we believe with "Chapter and Verse", and hold that anything that is contrary to the clear teaching of the Bible is not true. We can go directly to God with our petitions and prayers, and He may make His will known directly to us. Baptism is a symbolic act that represents the salvation of an individual. It is often called "Believer's Baptism" since a testimony of salvation is required before one can be baptized. This baptism is performed by immersion. It has no redemptive or regenerative power that can save a human soul. Also any form of infant baptism is rejected. According to the Scriptures, a person's eternal destiny is based on whether or not they receive the gift of salvation offered by the Lord Jesus Christ. All men are sinners and are in need of salvation, else they will be under judgment in Hell for all eternity. However, Christ has purchased our salvation through His death and resurrection. He now offers this free gift of salvation and the promise of an eternity in Heaven to all men. We receive salvation by believing wholly on Him and trusting in His finished work and the veracity of His offer. There is nothing we can do to merit salvation nor any other means of entrance into Heaven except through accepting Christ's offer. Source: http://www.baptistbasics.org/baptists/b003.php
Roman Catholic - The Roman Catholic Church portrays itself as the one legitimate heir to New Testament Christianity, and the pope as the successor to Peter, the first bishop of Rome. The pope is infallible in his teaching. Scripture and Tradition together are the Word of God. Mary is the co-redeemer, for she participated with Christ in the painful act of redemption. Mary is the co-mediator, to whom we can entrust all our cares and petitions. Adults must prepare for justification through faith and good works. Grace is merited by good works. Salvation is attained by cooperating with grace through faith, good works, and participation in the sacraments. No one can know if he will attain to eternal life.
The Roman Catholic Church is necessary for salvation. The sacrifice of the cross is perpetuated in the sacrifice of the Mass. The sacrificial work of redemption is continually carried out through the sacrifice of the Mass. Source: https://www.gotquestions.org/Roman-Catholicism.html
Jehovah’s Witness - Jehovah’s Witnesses believe Jesus is Michael the archangel, the highest created being. Jehovah’s Witnesses believe salvation is obtained by a combination of faith, good works, and obedience. Jehovah’s Witnesses reject the Trinity, believing Jesus to be a created being and the Holy Spirit to essentially be the inanimate power of God. Jehovah’s Witnesses reject the concept of Christ’s substitutionary atonement and instead hold to a ransom theory, that Jesus’ death was a ransom payment for Adam’s sin. They claim that the church has corrupted the Bible over the centuries; thus, they have re-translated the Bible into what they call the New World Translation. The Watchtower Bible and Tract Society altered the text of the Bible to make it fit their doctrine, rather than basing their doctrine on what the Bible actually teaches. The New World Translation has gone through numerous editions, as the Jehovah’s Witnesses discover more and more Scriptures that contradict their doctrines. Source: https://www.gotquestions.org/Jehovahs-Witnesses.html
Mormonism - Mormons believe that there are in fact four sources of divinely inspired words, not just one: 1) the Bible “as far as it is translated correctly” (8th Article of Faith). Which verses are considered incorrectly translated is not always made clear. 2) The Book of Mormon, which was “translated” by Smith and published in 1830. Smith claimed it is the “most correct book” on earth and that a person can get closer to God by following its precepts “than by any other book” (History of the Church 4:461). 3) Doctrine and Covenants, containing a collection of modern revelations regarding the “Church of Jesus Christ as it has been restored.” 4) The Pearl of Great Price, which is considered by Mormons to “clarify” doctrines and teachings that were lost from the Bible (Articles of Faith, p. 182–185) and adds its own information about the earth’s creation. Mormons believe the following about God: He has not always been the Supreme Being of the universe (Mormon Doctrine, p. 321) but attained that status through righteous living and persistent effort (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 345). They believe God the Father has a “body of flesh and bones as tangible as man’s” (Doctrine and Covenants 130:22). Brigham Young taught that Adam actually was God and the father of Jesus Christ—although this teaching has been abandoned by modern Mormon leaders. Mormons believe that there are different levels or kingdoms in the afterlife: the celestial kingdom, the terrestrial kingdom, the telestial kingdom, and outer darkness (Mormon Doctrine, p. 348). Where mankind will end up depends on what they believe and do in this life (2 Nephi 25:23; Articles of Faith, p.79). Mormon leaders have taught that Jesus’ incarnation was the result of a physical relationship between God the Father and Mary (Journal of Discourses, vol. 8, p. 115; Mormon Doctrine, p. 547). Mormons believe Jesus is a god, but that any human can also become a god (Doctrine and Covenants 132:20; Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 345–354). Mormonism teaches that salvation can be earned by a combination of faith and good works (LDS Bible Dictionary, p. 697). Source:https://www.gotquestions.org/Mormons.html
Unitarian - In Unitarian Universalism, you can bring your whole self: your full identity, your questioning mind, your expansive heart. Together, we create a force more powerful than one person or one belief system. As Unitarian Universalists, we do not have to check our personal background and beliefs at the door: we join together on a journey that honors everywhere we’ve been before.
Our beliefs are diverse and inclusive. We have no shared creed. Our shared covenant (our seven Principles) supports “the free and responsible search for truth and meaning.” Though Unitarianism and Universalism were both liberal Christian traditions, this responsible search has led us to embrace diverse teachings from Eastern and Western religions and philosophies.