By Brian Pepper
In the last twenty five
years a very strange thing has happened in the Religious World.
For 400 years, ever since the Protestant Reformation in 1517, the
Churches of Christendom have divided and subdivided often over
very minor issues. But suddenly in the early 1900's a change took
place. All over the World Churches that had ignored one another or
had bitterly attacked each other began to seek ways of working
Federations of Churches
were formed in various countries and in 1948 the World Council of
Churches were formed and organized in Amsterdam. Gradually the
word ecumenical became part of the vocabulary of nearly everyone.
People spoke of the Ecumenical Movement, the Ecumenical Spirit, Ecumenical
One religious magazine
that was founded as a non-denominational weekly began to call
itself an "Ecumenical weekly”. There is no doubt that church
is one of the most
significant issues in the Christian world today.
toward Church Unity
Large religious groups have been holding
conferences in an effort to iron out the differences that have
separated them in the past. The unity trend is very evident today.
People have talked about it, the Church Leaders have discussed it
It was during the
Ecumenical Council that began in October 1962, the late Pope John
XXIII lovingly appealed for the separated brethren to come back to
the fold. This same appeal was made by Pope Paul VI when he began
his reign. He appealed to Non-Catholics to return to the ‘Fathers
house’, in Rome.
This was a new and
surprising development for Rome. In the past she maintained a very
frigid attitude toward the religious world in general.
The call for Church Unity
has met with a favorable response from many sincere Christians and
people without any Church affiliation whatsoever have applauded
Now in order to understand
what is involved in Church Unity we need to know a little about
the reason why a separation has come about. Each Church body is
separate because it holds certain doctrines which it believes is
necessary to salvation. For instance the great Baptist movement
has arisen upon the conception that baptism by immersion is a
Bible teaching, as many of the other churches do not believe this
or accept it. The Baptists have had to separate. Calvinists have
not seen eye to eye with the Lutherans. There has been a
difference that has kept them separated. The Church of England hold an entirely different view
of the spiritual significance of the Eucharist to that of the
Lutherans and Catholics.
The principal doctrines or
beliefs that have kept Protestants and Catholics apart are these:
Protestants believe that the Bible is a full and sufficient guide
for faith and practice. They also believe that every man has the
right to worship according to the dictates of his own conscience.
Catholics believe that the
church has power over the Scriptures. The decretals of the Pope
are supreme. Tradition is regarded as equal in authority with the
Scripture. Catholics and Protestants could never unite without
submerging into the other and ceasing to exist.
Christ's Wish for Unity
There is no question that
it was and is Christ's wish that the church should be an united
body. Jesus Himself prayed for that unity not only for the time
then but for all time. What needs to be really understood is the
kind of unity that Jesus really desired.
I would like you to notice
the words of the Master as He prayed that wonderful prayer.
17:11 "And now I am no more in the world, but these
are in the world, and I come to thee. Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me,
that they may be one, as we are.”
20,21 say, "Neither pray I for these
alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their
word; That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I
in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may
believe that thou hast sent me.”
22 says, “And the glory which thou
gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are
You will notice that this
unity that Jesus speaks of here is a Godlike unity, far superior
and vastly different from that of the Ecumenical movement.
E-Cu-Men-ism says, “Let us work together even if we disagree on
major issues.” But Christ says, "I want you to be one as My Father
and I are one.
It is quite clear that
Christians, like the Godhead, are to be "One in purpose, in mind,
A Different Kind of Unity
There are no two human
beings who are identical, yet all have the same basic components -
arms, legs, torso, neck, head etc. The Master Designer has
provided basic unity but has purposely created variations. Just
imagine what this world would be like if its three thousand
million people were identical in looks and personality? The same
principle applies to the unity of the church.
Although Christians will
be united in loyalty to major truths, it is both possible and
probable that they may differ somewhat in their interpretations
and understanding of minor truths. It is seldom that two persons
will view and express truth in the very same way. Each dwells on
particular points which his upbringing and education have fitted
him to appreciate.
Unity is Not Necessarily Conformity
Too often people who think
unity demands absolute uniformity, overlook the fact that when
Jesus chose men who were to associate with Him in building the
early church, He chose men of differing backgrounds, abilities,
and temperaments. Likewise when God provided His revelation of
truth through the Bible He selected different kinds of men to
1 Corinthians 1:10 says, "Now I
beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that
ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among
you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and
in the same judgment.”
There is no question that
the unity Jesus so earnestly desired among Christians is a unity
where Christians are to be one in the fundamental beliefs or
truths of God’s Word.
It is wishful thinking and
actually a misrepresentation to claim that Christ's prayer for
unity has been answered through ecumenism. While some Christians
believe Christ’s soon coming, others do not. While some believe in
creationism, others believe in evolution. While some believe in
life at the Resurrection, others believe in the natural
immortality of the soul. While some Christians keep God's true
Sabbath, others keep Sunday. While some believe in and uphold
Bible baptism by immersion, others do not.
Ecumenical Movement Based on Compromise
The ecumenical movement,
far from fulfilling Christ's prayer for unity, actually is a babel
of confusion. It is based on compromise.
A classic instance is the
problem the Catholics and Church of England have had regarding the
Eucharist or Lord’s Supper. The Catholic Church teaches that the
Mass is a sacrifice, the same as the sacrifice of Calvary, that
Christ is both the priest and the victim. Each time the bread is
consecrated Christ's body and blood become present and are offered
to God. The Church of England believes that in the bread and in
the wine there is a symbolic representation of the Saviour. For
instance, JESUS spoke of Himself as the door, the vine.
Dangers of Compromising Truth
movement places more value upon unity than upon truth and this is
extremely dangerous. History has proved over and over again that
where the truth of the doctrines of Christ are not supreme, one
can expect trouble. The Dark Ages were a result of this very
thing. Also the inquisition, with the torture racks and diabolical
treatment of those who upheld the truth of God.
Doctrines of Christ should Unify the Believer
The great Gospel
commission given by Christ in
Matthew 28:19,20 involves the Church presenting the
doctrines and truth as found in Christ.
Let us read it: “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations,
baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of
the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I
have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the
end of the world. Amen.“
Matthew 28:19, 20
the crucified and risen Lord, was the unifying message. The
doctrines of Christ unified the believer, and the Scriptures were
the standard by which that unity could be maintained.
2 Timothy 3:16 we read “All
scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for
Doctrine played a very
important part in the early Church.
What Spoiled the Unity of the Early Church?
Now what was it that
spoiled the unity of the early Christian Church? It was the
introduction of man-made teaching which were opposed to the pure
faith of Jesus.
20:28-30 it says, “Take heed
therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which
the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God,
which he hath purchased with his own blood. For I know this, that
after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not
sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise,
speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them.”
The same writer mentions
that this departure from the faith would be because of the
introduction of "doctines of devils", and that sound doctrine from
the Word would be supplanted by fables and sayings of men. Read
2 Timothy 4:2-4 and
Little by little the
truths that Jesus gave were submerged beneath a host of man-made
Basis of True Unity
True unity can only come about on the basis of a return to God's
Word. In the book of Revelation in
Chapter 14 we find God's message that unites the
faithful believer in the faith of Jesus.
The Book of Revelation is
a fitting climax to the Bible and is truly a wonderful Revelation
of Jesus Christ. And every warning or message of reproof found in
Revelation should be regarded as important by all who love Christ.
The key note of the Book
of Revelation is the Coming of Christ in great power to establish
His Kingdom of Glory.
Kingdom of Glory
Revelation 14:14,15 we read, "And
I looked, and behold a white cloud,
and upon the cloud one sat like unto the Son of man, having on his
head a golden crown, and in his hand a sharp sickle. And another
angel came out of the temple, crying with a loud voice to him that
sat on the cloud, Thrust in thy sickle, and reap: for the time is
come for thee to reap; for the harvest of the earth is ripe."
There is no mistaking the
event that is portrayed. John is depicting the Second Advent of
Jesus. His coming is not as a babe to bear a crown of thorns upon
His brow, but as the King of Kings and Lord of Lords wearing a
crown of gold. In His hand there is a sharp sickle a symbol of the
Before Jesus first advent
into this world nearly 2000 years ago a special message was
proclaimed by John the Baptist. His message was to prepare the
people for the coming of the Redeemer.
Matthew 3:1-3 says, “In those days
came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judaea, And
saying, Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. For this
is he that was spoken of by the prophet Esaias, saying, The voice
of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord,
make his paths straight.”
End Time Message
Just as John the Baptist
was the forerunner Of Jesus when He came to this world as the
Saviour, so there is a special message warning of Christ's soon
return as the King of Kings.
In this same prophecy that
pictures our Lord, that is in this same chapter of
Revelation 14, God sends three special messages to the
whole world proclaiming very important truths for those who are
living in the days of the Coming King; under the symbol of three
angels flying through the heavens who have very important things
to tell to mortal men and women.
First Angel's Message
God says, in
“And I saw another angel fly
in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach
unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and
kindred, and tongue, and people, Saying with a loud voice, Fear
God, and give glory to him; for the hour of his judgment is come:
and worship him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the
fountains of waters."
There are two special
truths set forth in the first angel’s message that concerns every
person. First, "Fear God for the hour of His judgment is come."
How clear it is, that here is a message, that is for the last
In the Book of Daniel,
Daniel was given a preview of the Judgment that was to take place
down at the end of time.
Daniel 7:9, 10 says. “I beheld till
the thrones were cast down, and the Ancient of days did sit, whose
garment was white as snow…and ten thousand times ten thousand
stood before him: the judgment was set, and the books were
St Paul speaking with
Felix about his need of Christ, speaks of the judgment to come.
24:25 says, "And as he reasoned of
righteousness, temperance, and judgment to come, Felix trembled,
and answered, Go thy way for this time; when I have a convenient
season, I will call for thee.”
Paul spoke of the judgment
day that God had appointed in the future from his day. In the Last
Days God will send a message to the world that shows when the
judgment takes place and how men are to prepare for it.
Now I want you to notice
the special truths that are set forth in the second part of God's
Revelation 14:8 says. “And there
followed another angel, saying, Babylon is fallen, is fallen, that
great city, because she made all nations drink of the wine of the
wrath of her fornication.”
this message is amplified.
There we read, "He cried mightily with a
strong voice, saying, Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen."
verse 4 notice God's call. "Come
out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and
that ye receive not of her plagues."
This second message calls
God's people out of Babylon into the one true fold of the Good
Now I want you to notice the
special truth set forth in the third part of this message.
Revelation 14:9-11 says, "And
the third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, If any
man worship the beast and his image, and receive his mark in his
forehead, or in his hand, The same shall drink of the wine of the
wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of
his indignation; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone
in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb:
And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever: and
they have no rest day nor night, who worship the beast and his
image, and whosoever receiveth the mark of his name.”
This third part of the
message will show the people what the beast is; what the image of
the beast is; what the mark of the beast is; and it will show
people how to refrain from worshipping the beast and his image. It
will show people what to do to avoid receiving the mark of the beast
in their forehead or in their hand.
It is very important to know
the purpose of this message. There is not another warning in the
entire Bible that is a serious as this one. Firstly it warns people
of a very great deception that will be evident in the last days. It
also warns people not to be involved in this great and worldwide
deception. It also stresses the terrible results of subscribing, or
supporting this deception.
Revelation 13 there is a description of the enemies of
God's people; the efforts they are going to put forth to try and
destroy God's people. In
Chapter 14 there is a description of God's people of the
God's People in the Last Days
First is outlined the
characteristics of God's chosen people, then in
verse 12 God identifies them. "Here
is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the
commandments of God and the faith of Jesus."
These are those who have
answered the Divine call "to come out of her My people."
This message is to call out
a separate people from every land, in every country to keep the
commandments of God and the faith of Jesus.