Denominational Pride

Job 12:2
      No doubt but ye are the people, and wisdom shall die with you.

J. C. RYLE (1816-1900): The Erskines, in Scotland, wanted [George Whitefield] to preach for no other denomination but their own—the Secession Church. He asked them, “Why only for them?” and received the notable answer that “they were the Lord’s people.” This was more than Whitefield could stand. He asked “if there were no other Lord’s people but themselves?” And he told them, “if all the others were the devil’s people, they certainly had more need to be preached to [than them].” And he wound up by informing them, that “if the Pope himself would lend him his pulpit, he would gladly proclaim the righteousness of Christ in it.”

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES (1899-1981): There are people who get very excited about denominational allegiance. Quite often they do not even know why they belong to a certain denomination, except that they happen to have been born into it, for their parents belonged to it before them. They know no more than that; but they will fight to the last ditch for their denomination and their group.

ANDREW FULLER (1754-1815): While this is our spirit, whatever our zeal, we are serving ourselves rather than Christ, and may be certain the Lord will not delight in us…The only spirit in which the Lord takes pleasure is that which induces us to promote His cause, and to rejoice in the prosperity of all denominations so far as they promote it.

JOHN NEWTON (1725-1807): How many forget, that, in a little time, all these divisions will be reduced to two; the only real and proper distribution by which mankind ever was, or will be distinguished—the children of God, and the children of the wicked one.

C. H. MACKINTOSH (1820-1896): I have been thinking a good deal lately of that memorable time [of revival] when the Spirit of God wrought so marvellously in the province of Ulster…But I now refer to it in connection to the subject of the Spirit’s action. I have no doubt whatever that the Holy Ghost was grieved and hindered in 1859, by man’s interference―Just in so far as the Holy Ghost was owned and honoured, did the glorious work progress; and, on the other hand, in proportion as man intruded himself, in bustling self-importance, upon the domain of the Eternal Spirit, was the work hindered and quashed. I saw the truth of this illustrated in numberless cases. There was a vigorous effort made to cause the living water to flow in official and denominational channels, and this the Holy Ghost would not sanction. Moreover, there was a strong desire manifested to make sectarian capital out of the blessed movement; and this the Holy Ghost resented.

UNKNOWN: An evangelistic meeting was once held in a rented hall by a certain sectarian group who much prided themselves on being non-denominational, and, in that sense, the true New Testament church. Tacked up over the entrance was a large canvas banner; in big bold letters, it read: JESUS ONLY! But when the wind rose and ripped away the first three letters―J-E-S―the message of the banner was altered in a most revealing manner.

WILLIAM GURNALL: Never art thou less holy than when puffed up with the conceit of it.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES: Pride of knowledge, what an ugly thing this is also. “Knowledge puffeth up”—of course it does. May God preserve us from it. If we are proud, in this sense, even as in the other we have no right to expect dealings from the Spirit of God. And pride of understanding. “I have got it all. It is all plain to me, cut and dried. That other person knows nothing.”

C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892): You may be sure that there is one idol of which we can never thoroughly cleanse our hearts though we try―it is the god of pride. He changes his shape continually; sometimes he calls himself humility, and we begin to bow before him, till we find we are getting proud of our humility. At another time he assumes the fashion of conscientiousness, and we begin to carp at this and the other, and all the while we are tampering with our own professed sanctity, bowing before the shrine of religious pride.

WILLIAM GURNALL (1617-1679): It is hard starving this sin; there is nothing almost but it can live on.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES: All right, I know that I need to speak on both sides. The other person very often almost boasts of his lack of understanding. When I say a thing like that, I always think of a man whom I once met. I was due to preach for a weekend in a certain town and he met me at the station, and then, before I had had time to say almost anything to him, he said, “Well, of course, I am not one of the great people in this church, I am just, you know, a very ordinary, humble man. I am not a great theologian, I am not a great speaker. I do not take part in the prayer meeting, but you know I am just the man who carries the visiting preacher’s bag.” “Oh, what a humble man I am!” I thought. To be proud of your ignorance is as bad as to be proud of your knowledge and understanding. Any form of pride is hateful and offensive in the sight of God.


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