Be Established in the Present Truth

 •  5 min. read  •  grade level: 8
Recent developments have come to our attention concerning a "hoped-for merged church." This will surely be of interest to many. As to these developments and ideas, the test we need to use is, do they agree with the Word of God? The following is an article entitled, "Toward Unity," published last November in a Midwestern city daily newspaper.
"From many places the reports trickle in—from Rome; from Dayton, Ohio; from other cities, large and small. Progress is being made toward resolving the differences between scores of Christian churches.
"From Rome come reports that the case of Martin Luther, leader of the 'Reformation,' declared a heretic centuries ago by the Roman Catholic Church, is being reconsidered. Since many Protestant churches of today were inspired by Luther, this move must be considered conciliatory.
"In Dayton, the Consultation of Church Union (COCU), consisting of representatives from one third of the Protestant churches in America, to which twenty-three million people belong, has produced an ecumenical document. It is described as a statement of 'emerging theological consensus.'
"Some of the most important Protestant churches in COCU do not recognize bishops as a part of their ministry or governance. Nevertheless, their representatives have accepted the need for defining a place for and the duties of bishops in the hoped-for merged church.
"In the Anglican Church (Church of England) and in individual Episcopalian dioceses there is a feverish concern for unity.... Unity of all churches, and closer contact with Jewish theologians, is a prime goal of the Vatican. The tremendous attendance and enthusiasm at the Ecumenical Conference in Philadelphia this past August showed that not only clergy, but many thousands of people of every major faith are all for it."
Concerning all this, dear brethren, we would ask first of all, is the unity of Christians to be founded on love for the truth or on indifference to it? The answer is surely self-evident. Jesus said, "I am the way, the truth, and the life" (John 14:66Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. (John 14:6)). And again, "Sanctify them through Thy truth: Thy word is truth." John 17:1717Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth. (John 17:17). In this last chapter unity in communion precedes unity in testimony. This is the divine order. We must love the precious Word of God, and the proof of that is obedience to it. On the other side, it is indifference to the truth that characterizes Laodicea, that which Christ threatens to spew out of His mouth.
Beside this the Scriptures tell us the history of the Church—both true and false—and also the proper path for the Christian at all times. For a short time the desire of Christ, "That they all may be one;... that the world may believe" (John 17:2121That 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. (John 17:21)), came to pass at Pentecost when the world saw with wonder the many of one heart and soul, having all things common. But as in previous tests, such as Adam, Noah, the Priesthood, and Nebuchadnezzar, man quickly departed and corrupted himself. The Church was no different, yet there was power during the apostles' days to keep the evil out. But Paul said, "I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among Your not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them." Acts 20:29, 3029For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. 30Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them. (Acts 20:29‑30). How truly and how many times this prophecy of Paul's has been fulfilled! Therefore the many divisions and numerous sects; the sad result of departure from the truth; the enemies' work from without and from within.
We realize, and most do, the need for unity, and that in unity there is strength; but the thing of primary importance is that it be according to God as made known in His Word. Otherwise it can only end in that which is called in Rev. 17, "Mystery, Babylon the Great, the Mother of Harlots, and Abominations of the Earth." She is also spoken of as the great whore, and the woman that sits upon the beast, and as drunken with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus. She is gloriously arrayed and glorifies herself and lives deliciously. This is just the opposite to glorifying Christ and now sharing in His rejection. Finally though, the ten kings hate the whore and make her desolate, eat her flesh, and burn her with fire. "Strong is the Lord God who judgeth her" (Rev. 18:88Therefore shall her plagues come in one day, death, and mourning, and famine; and she shall be utterly burned with fire: for strong is the Lord God who judgeth her. (Revelation 18:8)).
The clear exhortation for the child of God is not to join any such union, but rather the reverse. "Come out of her, My people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues." Rev. 18:44And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues. (Revelation 18:4).
We might add a few comments in closing. All true unity is found in Christ and the one body of which all true believers are members. This truth was established by our Savior and given in the times of the apostles. See Rom. 12:55So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another. (Romans 12:5) and 1 Cor. 12:1212For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ. (1 Corinthians 12:12) and 13.
Over the years there have been many schisms, departures from this unity; and many sects, so called "churches," have been formed. Now in Christendom there is a call for "unity of all churches." But Christ has not changed, and the truth of the one body has not changed. The exercise should be to return individually in repentance and renewed awareness of the fullness of the truth "once delivered unto the saints." Unity in Christ, therefore, requires separation from, not conglomeration with, the systems set up of men.
One last comment as to those within these systems or sects. Our hearts should go out in love to each dear soul in any of these systems. First, it should go out for their salvation; second, that each of those who are true believers might be brought to see the loveliness of being gathered to Christ the center, by the Holy Spirit, in separation from the systems of men. Far too often our comments appear to attack these souls, when in reality we cannot go along with the systems they are associated with. These are the systems, or sects, which men have devised, often as a result of schism, and entirely apart from the truth of the one body of which Christ is the Head, and all believers are members. May our hearts reach out to help others while we walk the separate path with humbleness.