the dawn of the new millennium we are witnessing the greatest push
toward ecumenical unity the world has ever seen. The Roman
Catholic Church is fervently building bridges to all Christian
denominations. Through the dedicated efforts of Pope John Paul II,
the Vatican is urging all professing Christians to return home to
Rome. Dialogues and accords have been initiated and created to
seek unity through common beliefs. An example of this is the 1999
Lutheran-Roman Catholic "Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of
Justification." In the declaration, Rome uses equivocal and
ambiguous words to affirm agreement on the doctrine of
"justification by faith alone." but, at the same time,
continues the anathema’s on all whom believe this doctrine. We
must not be misled. Rome has not changed its position on things
that really matter! Instead they continue to take advantage of
professing Christians who lack discernment or who are unwilling to
contend for "the faith."
The key to the success of this unity effort has
been a commitment to "love one another and tolerate one
another’s beliefs." The proposal for all Christians to
ignore their doctrinal differences for the sake of unity
completely overlooks the fact that Roman Catholic, Orthodox and
many Protestant churches preach a false gospel that denies the
sufficiency of Jesus Christ and His finished work of redemption.
This ecumenical movement has provided fertile
ground to rebuild the religious tower of Babel. Multitudes are
being influenced by perverted gospels, doctrines of demons and
false teachers. Many more are being persuaded by highly visible
evangelicals to join the crusade. It is no surprise the Roman
Catholic Church has been the driving force behind this ecumenical
movement. Since the close of Vatican Council II in 1965 Rome has
been courting those she once called "heretics" by
renaming them "separated brethren." No longer able to
force people to submit to its popes under the threat of death and
persecution, the Vatican has changed its strategy to win the
world. Wearing a new face of love and concern for these
"separated brethren," she is now offering them the
"fullness of salvation" upon their return to the
"one true church."
With so many professing Christians jumping on
the ecumenical bandwagon, there is evidence of the spirit of
Antichrist at work building his one-world religion. Propelling the
movement are church leaders who fail to warn their congregations
of the great apostasy and increased deception during the last
days. Instead of church leaders hating everything false, many are
tolerating false doctrines and counterfeit gospels (Psalm 119:104,
128). Instead of church leaders exposing the prevailing doctrines
and agents of compromise, many are enduring them.
Tragically, many pulpits are also incredibly
silent regarding the numerous scriptural warnings against being
yoked with unbelievers. As under-shepherds of the flocks entrusted
to them, pastors must warn their sheep of the dangers of
ecumenical unity. Jesus and His disciples never tolerated unity
without the foundation of biblical truth. Time after time zealous
religious leaders, with their own agendas, were strongly rebuked:
• Jesus did not join hands with the religious
leaders who shut off the kingdom of heaven from men (Matt. 23:13).
• Paul did not unite with the Judaizers who
only wanted to add circumcision to the Gospel (Gal. 1).
• Jude refused to cooperate with those who
crept in unaware to pervert the grace of God (Jude 4).
• John did not seek to establish unity with
those "who went out from us because they were never really of
us" (1 John 2:19).
• Peter never joined hands with the false
teachers who had forsaken the right way and gone astray, following
the way of Balaam (2 Pet. 2:15).
• The writer to the Hebrews never united with
those who would ignore such a great salvation (Hebrews 2:3).
In light of the "cloud of witnesses set
before us" one must wonder why some evangelicals ignore the
lessons of Scripture by embracing the false gospel of Roman
Catholicism. Surely they are not ignorant of their numerous
anathemas that condemn born again Christians! Surely they are not
ignorant of the many additional requirements Rome has added to the
gospel of salvation. Could they be so easily persuaded by the
Catholic Church’s worldly influence, incredible wealth, one
billion followers and a leader that is so loved by the world?
How are Christians to protect themselves in the
midst of the religious deception so prevalent in the world today?
The Bible exhorts us to test every teaching. We are warned not to
believe every spirit because many false prophets have gone out
into the world. It is only by God’s Word that we can know the
Spirit of Truth and the spirit of error. (1 John 4:1,6).
We are to be like the Bereans who examined the
Scriptures daily to verify the truthfulness of the Apostle Paul’s
teachings (Acts 17:11). If Paul, who wrote over half the New
Testament was tested, it stands to reason that every priest, pope,
prophet, or preacher should also be examined in light of God’s
So what are we to do with the false teachers
within Christendom? We are not to partake in their endeavors but
to expose their false teachings (Eph. 5:6,11). With gentleness, we
are to correct those who are in error in hopes that God may grant
them repentance leading to the truth (2 Tim. 2:25). Those who
"profess to know God but by their deeds they deny Him"
must be exposed and silenced so others will not be deceived.
(Titus 1:9-16). Those who do not listen to apostolic teaching are
not from God. We are commanded to separate from those who persist
in false teaching (Rom. 16:17; Titus 3:10). For some, this may
mean finding another church; for others, it may mean withholding
support from ministries that continue to compromise the Gospel.
As end time deception increases and more and
more people are led into apostasy, we must contend fervently for
the faith that was once delivered to the saints (Jude v. 3). As
more Christian leaders seek the approval of men rather than God,
the way of truth will become more narrow and less traveled. Those
who remain faithful will be persecuted for refusing to compromise
(2 Tim. 2:12). They will be accused of being intolerant, unloving
and narrow minded. But we must always be mindful of the warnings
of the apostles—if we do not separate from false teachers we
could be disqualified for service (2 Tim. 2:20), become identified
with them and their error (2 John 10-11), or risk being partakers
of their fate. (Jude vv. 11-13).
As church leaders continue to teach partial
truths and tolerate doctrinal error the body of Christ must take
action. We must avoid the rebuke Paul gave to the Corinthian
church. He wrote: "I am afraid that just as Eve was deceived
by the serpent’s cunning, your minds may somehow be led astray
from your sincere and pure devotion to Christ. For if someone
comes to you and preaches a Jesus other than the Jesus we
preached, or if you receive a different spirit from the one you
received, or a different gospel from the one you accepted, you
put up with it easily enough" (2 Cor. 11:3-4). As the
ecumenical movement grows in popularity within the church, we must
accept the fact that contending for doctrinal purity will be an
unpopular position to pursue. Yet it is indeed what we are called
to do! By pointing out false doctrine and practices, we will be
good servants of Christ Jesus as we are nourished by His word and
sound doctrine (1 Tim. 4:6). Upholding truth can, and will be
divisive within the church, but division is sometimes good for the
church. Occasionally it is necessary to show which ones are
approved of God (1 Cor. 11:19).
Those who contend for the purity of the Gospel
are often criticized for quibbling over things that don’t appear
to be that significant. However, contenders for the faith realize
that the most dangerous lie is the lie which most closely
resembles the truth. Conversely, ecumenists consider anything that
appears close to the truth as an opportunity for unity. Thus they
embrace the false gospel of Catholicism because it is the most
clever of all counterfeits.
In these days of apostasy, the body of Christ
needs to boldly and courageously proclaim the whole counsel of God
and expose as error everything that opposes it. May God give all
His servants the grace, power, discernment and courage to be
contenders for the faith.