Search BIBLE IN SONG
Hear the Bible COME ALIVE IN SONG!
Search BIBLE IN SONG
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 together.
Trend toward Church Unity
Trend toward Church UnityLarge 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 freely.
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 it.
Diversity of DoctrinesNow 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 UnityThere 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.
John 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.”
Verses 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.”
Verse 22 says, “And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one:”
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, in character."
A Different Kind of UnityThere 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 ConformityToo 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 write.
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 CompromiseThe 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 TruthToday’s ecumenical 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 BelieverThe 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
Christ, 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.
In 2 Timothy 3:16 we read “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine…”
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.
In Acts 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 2 Peter 2:1,2.
Little by little the truths that Jesus gave were submerged beneath a host of man-made traditions.
Basis of True UnityTrue 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 GloryIn 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 harvest.
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 MessageJust 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 MessageGod says, in Revelation 14:6, 7 “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 days.
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 opened.”
St Paul speaking with Felix about his need of Christ, speaks of the judgment to come. Acts 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.
Second Angel's MessageNow I want you to notice the special truths that are set forth in the second part of God's message. 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.”
In Revelation 18:2, 4 this message is amplified. There we read, "He cried mightily with a strong voice, saying, Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen."
Then in 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 Shepherd.
Third Angel's MessageNow 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.
In 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 last days.
God's People in the Last DaysFirst 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.