Pictures of Moon - Ecumenical Movement: The Editor's Column

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As we go to press, 1959 has almost passed into history. Another year of God's long-suffering and forbearance with the world that hated His Son without a cause (yea, in spite of His love) has come to an end. It has been another year of man's masterful achievements. His advancements in rocketry are truly astonishing, and this year his thrusts into the lunar regions have given substance to his theories and plans. If the pictures and reports are to be believed, man has now been able to take pictures of that side of the moon that he has never before seen. But all these successes only tend to inflate the human creature and to make him feel more independent of his Creator.
Another page in man's history was written when he placed an object of his making on the surface of the moon. A few years ago such a feat would have been considered impossible; but if the Russian claims are true (and we have no reason to doubt them), there are today intricate mechanisms on the moon which are marked "Made in Russia," or, speaking broadly, Made on Earth. When we think of man's ingenuity, we feel like saying, What a God there is who can make a creature of such high intelligence! Man has made automatons, and these products of the machine age do great things, but only as directed by man, while God's creature, man, is endued with a creative genius able to devise and make objects that serve his purpose. But none of man's inventions can do this.
Now there is another side to all man's greatness; it only calls attention to his alienation from God, for God is not given any credit for what man possesses. And when we think of man's handicraft lying on the surface of the moon, we recall that there is something manmade which is in a place much higher than the moon. There is in heaven a glorified Man who bears in His body the marks that were inflicted on Him at His crucifixion. What a story those marks tell! of man's guilt, and of God's love.
The believers rejoice that the One who bore their guilt in His own body on the tree is the same blessed One who lives for them at "the right hand of the Majesty on high" (Heb. 1:3). It is the One who passed through this scene and felt its bitterness and woe, the One who wept at the tomb of Lazarus, who stilled the tempest at the call of His disciples, who fed the hungry and healed the sick, who sat at Sychar's well and awaited the coming of one poor needy soul that He might give her "living water" to drink, even the One who in the moments of His rejection, when they gave Him hatred for His love, touched the ear of Malchus and healed it, that very One who in the place of highest exaltation is touched with the feeling of our infirmities and waits on us to grant succor and timely help in our every need (Heb. 4:15, 16).
But those wounds in heaven also tell another story, for they are the evidence of man's guilt in casting God's Son out of the world. The world goes on indifferently to that which took place almost 2000 years ago, but the One in glory who bears those marks which were inflicted while He was on earth is soon to come as the executor of God's righteous wrath. He will make His enemies His footstool and rule the nations with a rod of iron. Times will soon change, and He who was rejected and crowned with thorns will come again crowned with "many crowns" and "clothed with a vesture dipped in blood" (Rev. 19:12, 13).
God is not, and has not been, indifferent to man's guilt regarding the treatment His Son received here, but has been long-suffering (2 Pet. 3:9), waiting on poor sinners to repent and believe on the Lord Jesus Christ to the saving of their souls. But man is augmenting his guilt year by year, and the moment is approaching when God's just vengeance will fall on the world that rejected the lowly Savior and now despises His rich grace offered to all who will believe.
When He comes again in glory, "every eye shall see Him, and they also which pierced Him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of Him." Rev. 1:7. And of the Jews it is said: "And they shall look upon Me whom they have pierced." Zech. 12:10. Those imprints of the nails will still be evident, to the consternation of the Jews who will at that time come to the realization that it was indeed their true Messiah whom they rejected. Of these, Thomas in John 20 is a type; he would not believe unless he saw those marks in His body, so the Lord appeared at a later time among the disciples and showed Thomas the marks of the wounds. Then Thomas (as will the convicted Jews of the future) said, "My Lord and my God." John 20:28. Those marks that man has made will produce in the Jewish remnant of that day the spirit of repentance, deep humiliation, and contrition. It will be the fulfillment of the type shown to us in Lev. 16 and 23-the "day of atonement."
Those very nail prints in His hands and the spear mark in His side were the means the risen Lord used to speak once to the troubled disciples when Thomas was not with them. They could see that it was truly the One whom they had lost in death who was now alive. He who "made peace through the blood of His cross" could speak peace to them and give them visible tokens that it was He Himself in resurrection life. To us those marks in His body now in the glory of God let us know that He who died for us is now alive for evermore. His presence there is the assurance that every stain and every guilt is gone-gone forever-for He who bore the just desert of all our sins has removed them all and risen triumphantly. His place at the right hand of God is our blessed assurance, for He would not be there if His work of bearing our sins had not been completed.
So then, it is not man-made particles on the moon that mean much, but the man-made marks in the blessed body of the Lord Jesus in heaven-to us who believe they are the savor of peace and blessing, but to the world they bear testimony of its guilt and coming judgment. Man-made things on the moon, or even human beings there, if they can make it, prove nothing more than man's ingenuity, and in a certain sense his independence of God. It is the proud spirit of man which will actually attempt to fight against the Lord when He comes back to execute judgment. He was rejected when He came in humiliation, but He will overcome with the sword of His mouth when He comes again, although man's daring will reach its peak when he attempts to fight against the "KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS." Rev. 19:16.
1959 also witnessed progress in many places and on various fronts toward ecumenicalism, that progress toward a world church which the leaders of the World and National Councils of Churches have been promoting. This is what we can expect as the end approaches, for current developments are all tending toward the confederation of churches which will become "BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH," or, apostate Christendom. The present movement is permeated by rank modernism and giving up of the truth, and by a drift toward communistic ideology.
One of the sad things about the trend is that real believers in the Lord Jesus Christ are being caught in the snare. This may eventually show that some (even men of prominence) have been mere professors and not possessors of salvation and eternal life.
The Protestant drift to ecumenicalism goes along with the popular program of world betterment. The whole thing is a departure from the Biblical truth that this world is under judgment, and that real Christianity is taking out of the world a people for heaven. Not that true Christianity has not bettered the world in a sense by its influence even over the unconverted, for men are ashamed to do in the light that which they would work greedily and wantonly in the dark; but as for vital improvement, it will in the end be seen that it was no more effectual than Lot's moral uplift was on Sodom. That wicked city only damaged Lot and his family; there were no good results from his efforts. God could not find ten righteous persons in the city.
Nor has 1959 marked only progress in the Protestant ecumenical drive, but many indications have been seen that there is a drift toward Rome. Men in high places in Protestantism have spoken in different tones of Rome than have been heard since the Reformation. Many incidents and pronouncements during the year which show a very changed attitude toward Rome have been called to our attention. We will mention only one such-one that occurred in Toledo, Ohio, in October. The information was contained in The Blade, a Toledo newspaper, and in the independent Protestant magazine, Christian Century.
Dr. Gustave Weigel, a Jesuit theologian, was invited to speak at what was called an "ecumenical institute" in St. Paul's Lutheran parish house. Discussion periods followed each of his lectures, and the Protestant and Catholic clergy who attended the institute expressed themselves as "pleasantly surprised by the warm and friendly atmosphere which all appeared to feel."
The Jesuit priest admitted that a serious obstacle to Protestant and Catholic understanding or fellowship is to be found in the dogma of the infallibility of the pope, but this he excused as of much less consequence than Protestants believe. He commented that the real question is, "Is the Church a prolongation of the living Christ, and does the Church therefore speak authentically the mind and will of God?" Yes, this is the crux of the matter: Does the Church of Rome speak for Christ, does it have the authority to teach? The answer is plainly negative. According to Scripture, the Church on earth is taught, and has no right to teach. The ascended Christ gave gifts to the Church by which it receives teaching. The Lord Himself condemned the church in Thyatira for permitting a woman whom He termed "Jezebel" to teach (Rev. 2:20). As for the pope's being infallible, that is nowhere supported in Scripture; but Rome's assumed right to teach allows her to do many things in Christ's name. This has been used to enforce on all Catholics the submission to the grave error of claiming that Mary was taken bodily into heaven, where she now reigns as Queen of Heaven. They boast in Peter, but Peter so sadly erred that be was publicly rebuked by Paul.
The Christian Century editorialized that it was most significant that "The image of the Roman Catholic Church as projected by its new pope is definitely a more friendly one. Pope John XXIII has impressed the world with his magnanimity." In just one year of the new Pope's pontificate he has made definite progress in swinging some prominent Protestant leaders into thinking quite favorably of him and the system which he heads. The Century commented favorably on the institute, and said it was further evidence "of a thaw in the cold war among Christians." All of this gives the drifting Protestant leaders a chance to drift further.
But, we may ask, has Roman Catholic dogma changed since the days of the Reformation?
Has Rome backed down and renounced her claims since the days of Martin Luther? Has the Roman Church become a docile lamb in countries where she is predominant and exerts some temporal power? Let the servants of Christ who labor in such lands, Spain for instance, tell what they have seen, and know, and have proved. Let these answer our questions.
The Roman Church authorities have remained somewhat aloof from such things as the great ecumenical conference at Evanston, Illinois; but is not Rome interested? She surely is! Dr. Weigel said that they have a higher hope than merely better understanding engendered at such institutes; their hope is "the union of all Christendom." Yes, this is their aim; and when it comes, it will not be on a basis of compromise on Rome's part, but Protestantism will return to Rome.
We have no doubt that this aim is being pursued by Rome, and Protestant ecumenicalism is becoming a willing ally. The great false church called BABYLON THE GREAT will have headquarters at Rome, where it will in the beginning of the post-rapture period exert its dominance in the revised Roman Empire (Rev. 17). We are not alarmed by the evidence that Christendom is drifting this way, for from the holy Scriptures we know it must come to pass; and the more evidence that there is of its coming, the more we know that the hour of our departure to be with Christ at His call is imminent. We should have some of the spirit of Him who wept over Jerusalem when He thought of the judgments that were coming on it, but at the same time we can rejoice in the portion that is soon to be ours with Christ, above the world and its confusion and its consternation.
Intermarriage between Catholics and non-Catholics will increase when Protestant leaders seek such accord at the top, and this will tend further to break down distinctive Protestantism and open the door to further capitulation. It will also make for more unhappy homes, because Rome demands that the children of such marriages be brought up as Catholics. And nothing divides families more than religious conflicts.
At this time, may we add one word of warning to all Christian young people who read these lines: Remember that you belong to the Lord, and you are free to marry only "in the Lord" (1 Cor. 7:38). This means more than just marrying a Christian, for "in the Lord" signifies having His approval, being according to His mind. If you marry one who is unconverted, one who may possess a lovely character although unsaved, you are going to reap sad consequences of such disobedience.
"Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people." 1 Cor. 6:14-16.