Ecumenism is the concept and principle in which Christians who belong to different Christian denominations work together to develop closer relationships among their churches and promote Christian unity. Does that mean we are to join together while setting aside our differences?
“Come out of her, my people, so that you will not share in her sins, so that you will not receive any of her plagues;” – Rev. 18:4
The message couldn’t be any clearer… “Come out of her,”… wake up before it’s too late.
Flee from Babylon! Run for your lives! Do not be destroyed because of her sins. It is time for the Lord’s vengeance; he will pay her what she deserves. Babylon was a gold cup in the Lord’s hand; she made the whole earth drunk. The nations drank her wine; therefore they have now gone mad. – Jeremiah 51:6-7
It is implied here that by remaining in Babylon they would lend their sanction to its sins by their presence, and would, in all probability, become contaminated by the influence around them. This is an universal truth in regard to iniquity, and hence it is the duty of those who would be pure to come out from the world, and to separate themselves from all the associations of evil. (Barnes’ Notes on the Bible)
Nineteenth-century preacher Charles Spurgeon was known for taking unpopular positions as he ministered God’s Word, and faced the same arguments confronting many Bible teachers today. His response to the seductive power of compromise for popularity’s sake (ecumenism) was especially poignant: “What have you and I to do with maintaining our influence and position at the expense of truth? It is never right to do a little wrong to obtain the greatest possible good … Your duty is to do the right: consequences are with God.”
How, you might ask, can a Bible-believing church accept many of teachings held up today? Simple. Few read the Bible any more. Far too many people simply go along with whatever they are told as biblical, with no particular interest in checking it out for themselves. For those whom the Lord equips, He sets forth an essential for discernment:
“…If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” [John 8:31-32]
For the sake of our growth in the faith and our development of discernment, we must “hold to” the teachings of God’s word. “Hold to,” or “continue” (KJV) means to submit to Christ’s teachings, to abide in them (i.e., to let our mental, physical and spiritual life be governed by them), and to remain in them, becoming steadfast in the faith. If we do this, then we are His disciples, we will know the truth, and will be set free by the truth.
How many times have you heard that somebody was “causing division in the church?” Well, maybe they were supposed to! After all, there are two things that cause division according to the Bible: truth and error.
Haven’t you heard the scripture,
“Do you suppose I came to grant peace on earth? I tell you, no, rather division!”
That’s right! Jesus said that…
“from now on five members in one household will be divided three against two, and two against three” (Luke 12:51-52).
Hard words to hear! Yet, harder to accept. But, that’s what Jesus said and is preserved in the Holy Scriptures. He said that whole families would be divided over Him. And there are many occasions in the New Testament when whole assemblies of people were divided because of Jesus (John 7:43, 9:16, 10:19, Acts 23:6-7).
People who love the truth will divide from people who love lies.
Today, when there are so many who are professing religion and promoting ecumenism, is it any wonder that some of the deepest truths in the Bible – repentance, faith, holiness, etc. – are also some of the greatest objects of debate in the Church. It must be said that those who truly want to know God’s views on these great pillars of Christian doctrine, will appear to be divisive – and rightly so, in an age when the great gospel message of salvation can be reduced to such a sugar-coated, bakery-item as, “God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life!”
Can ecumenists by uniting, set the standards for the rest of the world? “Who’s kingdom is the earth anyway?” This worldly kingdom belongs to Satan until Jesus Christ returns. Jesus said in John 18:36,
“My kingdom belongs not to this world…”
He said he did not come to bring peace, but rather division.
Division that comes from the proclaiming of the truth will usually include some intense reaction and opposition, but it will also produce good fruit and the advancement of God’s kingdom (not to mention the conversion of souls.)
The Scripture is unmistakably clear: the primary attribute by which God wants to be known is holiness — He is totally separate from all that is sinful or defiled. Fifty-five times God refers to Himself in Scripture as the “Holy One.” Fifty-nine times He is called or described as being holy. There are only forty-three times where God is said to love or that He Himself is love. Interestingly enough, the word “holy” (or a form of it) occurs 651 times in Scripture. The word “love” (or a related form) whether human or divine is mentioned only 546 times.
Although no attribute of God is mentioned more frequently in the Bible than that of holiness, there is perhaps no other characteristic so ignored and misunderstood as this one. Many who promote ecumenism seem to view holiness and love as being contradictory: holiness is too negative and divisive while love seems to be positive and accepting. But contrary to God’s nature is the notion that love must tolerate or even refuse to expose error. God’s love is compatible with His holiness. As believers follow the command to imitate their God (Eph. 5:1), they are not free to pick and choose which characteristics to copy. The modern day definition of love largely sets aside God’s demand to His children,
“Be ye holy for I am holy” (Lev. 11:44; 1 Pet. 1:15,16).
Holiness is the hub of the wheel from which all other divine attributes radiate. Anything that is genuinely at the heart of God should primarily reflect that same characteristic of holiness. With the blatant rejection of the Bible doctrine of separation (which finds its foundation in the holiness of God), Promise Keepers cannot be legitimately considered “at the very heart of God.” Whenever a movement becomes engrossed in compromise with error, it ceases to reflect that core attribute which God has chosen as His name (Isa. 57:15).
Still some would try to ignore the wrong of compromising methods and point out only the good that is seen. Some would even say that those who dare criticize a movement (as PK) which has enjoyed such phenomenal success are being nit- picky. If there can be an agreement on the “major” doctrines of Scripture, then why not get on the bandwagon of a good cause? To this Albert Dager makes the following remarks:
“The evidence of God at work is not outward results, but conformity to Scripture, which in turn results in outward change. Outward change without conformity to Scripture is merely human righteousness. Change of mind does not always equate to change of heart. A genuine change of heart results in the holding of Scripture in high esteem. Nor does it distinguish between so called `essential doctrine’ and `secondary doctrine’ … (2 Tim. 3:14- 17)… When the Holy Spirit says that all Scripture is given for instruction in righteousness, He isn’t speaking only of the so-called `Big Five’ doctrines the ecumenists are claiming as reason for unity. He means all of Scripture itself is the essential doctrine of the Faith” (Media Spotlight Special Report, p. 14).
He then continues with these comments:
“The end does not justify the means. The proper focus must be on the means itself, as well as on the end. . . Results are not the final arbiter of truth; one’s pious demeanor is not the final arbiter of truth; one’s ability to call fire down from heaven is not the final arbiter of truth. God’s Word is the only and final arbiter of truth” (Ibid.).