Ecumenism Part I: Jesus Christ, as He is in the word, is the only way to God

                                                                       ECUMENICISM

“Who is the liar? It is the man who denies that Jesus is the Christ. Such man is the antichrist.” 1 John 2:20-23

“…Blessed is the man who is not condemned by what he approves.” Romans 14:22b

“He (Jesus) said to them, ‘You are the ones who justify yourselves in the eyes of men…. What is highly valued among men is detestable in God’s sight.’ ” Luke 16:15

I have been troubled over the last few years as I have pondered the fact that many Christians are now praying with Jews and Muslims, tacitly implying that we are praying, to the same Father god. The more I read the New Testament and see how Paul and the Apostles preached Jesus Christ fearlessly, never watering down or compromising the truth to please man, the more this practice has grieved me. Would Elijah have prayed with the prophets of Baal or Paul with Pagan priests? No chance. As I have been scouring the New Testament for verses on love, holiness and obedience, I have stumbled across a few verses which address this issue directly. While on the surface it appears that we share the same Father God as the jews, John, the disciple whom Jesus loved, and the one to whom he entrusted his mother at death, disagrees…and in the strongest of terms. By rejecting the son, Jews are fully and completely rejecting the Father as well.

1 John 2:20-23, says that we, as believers have an anointing from the Holy One and know the truth – and that no lie comes from the truth. He then goes on to state, “Who is a liar? It is the man who denies that Jesus is the Christ. Such a man is the antichrist – he denies the Father and the son. No one who denies the Son has the Father; whoever acknowledges the Son has the Father.”(see also, John 3:17-19, 35-36; 1 John 4:2-3; and 1 John 5, listed below).

Clearly, John is saying that non-messianic Jews, who strongly reject the message that Jesus is the Christ, are the antichrist (not the actual guy, but they have his spirit). Even on the surface our views of God the Father are vastly different. Our Father sent his precious son to preach love, holiness and obedience and then to die humbly and painfully on a cross as the atoning sacrifice for our sins. Jews believe that their God will send a powerful political leader to rescue them from persecution and to then rule world by force. They see the coming of the messiah as a temporal, political matter – not a matter of heart, thereby missing the entire message of both testaments. As Paul says, their minds were blinded…veiled to the truth, and that veil remains even today. (2 Corinthians 3:12-16).

So we, as believers, have to determine whether Peter and Paul, whom we are called to imitate, would pray with Jews on equal ground, pretending they are praying to the same God. My review of scripture tells me there is no chance. Instead, they would preach Jesus Christ to them with great strength and courage – unashamed and untempered by the fear of rejection or looking foolish. Paul was not ashamed of the gospel for he knew its saving power and he did not want men to go to hell. That was his only concern – eternity in the unquenchable fire of hell. He wasn’t worried at all about being accepted by men. He simply wanted to please the God who saved him and who loved him. He spent his post-conversion life spreading the good news of Jesus across the near-east, whether it meant imprisonment, floggings, starving, stoning or death. For he was looking to another kingdom – one which can never, ever be shaken.

At Mars Hill in Athens (Acts 17:16-34), Paul approached those who believed in other Gods – many of whom were highly respected philosophers – and boldly proclaimed Jesus Christ, with no concern about how he came across. He debated Jews across the Middle East – trying with great passion to show them that Jesus was the one spoken about by David and the prophets as the promised messiah. Peter did the same thing, and when the Jewish leaders arrested him for disobeying them he told them that he had to obey God rather than man, even though he knew his disobedience would lead to a brutal beating and eventually death as a martyr. He chose to please the one and only God rather than make friends with a world that will soon pass away.

Yet it seems that we all get caught in Satan’s trap of trying to gain the approval of those who are perishing, with no concern for their eternal destiny, while also tacitly denying or minimizing the truth of the One and Only God and his wonderful son Jesus Christ. In behaving this way, our hope seems to be that Jesus will be seen in our lives over time. But that is not the model Peter and Paul gave us, as they preached boldly and powerfully in the face of overwhelming opposition every where they went.

When I think about Christians praying with Muslims, it grieves my spirit even more. Not only do Muslims deny that Jesus is the Christ, thus making them antichrists per 1 John 2, but their holy book was inspired by Satan himself, which is obvious by it’s deeply heretical content, as well as it’s explicit denial that Jesus is God. How can we, as sons and daughters of the Living God, purchased by the blood of Jesus Christ, pray with them as if we are all talking to the same Father? 1 John 2 makes it clear that we cannot do so and honor God, and 2 Corinthians 6:14-18, emphasizes the same point as well. In that passage Paul says, “What harmony is there between Christ and belial, and what does a believer have in common with an unbeliever? What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols, for we are the temple of the living God. Therefore, COME OUT AND BE SEPARATE FROM THEM…Touch No unclean thing and I will receive you.” (See also, 1 Corinthians 10:21-22).

All of us should examine our actions, not by what the men before us have done, but by the unchanging scriptures which speak eternal words of truth from the One and Only God who doesn’t change like shifting shadows (James 1:17). These scriptures tell us that friendship with the world makes us enemies of God, and that if the world hated Jesus it will hate and reject us as well.(John 15:18-25; James 4:4-5, and 1 John 2:15-17). It says that all of us will suffer persecutions and trials for our faith. Paul embraced those trials and never ever watered down or minimized the gospel for the sake of relationships. He never put peace, friendships, comfort and worldly acceptance over the eternal truths of the gospel…and it cost him dearly. But he was willing to pay any price because he considered his present sufferings not worth comparing to the glory that he would receive in heaven when he comes face to face with the one and only God. Let us also fight that good fight. Let us also finish the race – and most importantly let us all keep the faith.

****A few additional, excellent verses which specifically address this topic****

John 3:17-19   17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. 19 This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil.

John 3:35-36  35 The Father loves the Son and has placed everything in his hands. 36 Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on him.”

John 5:21-23  21 For just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, even so the Son gives life to whom he is pleased to give it. 22 Moreover, the Father judges no one, but has entrusted all judgment to the Son, 23 that all may honor the Son just as they honor the Father. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father, who sent him.

John 8:24  I told you that you would die in your sins if you do not believe that I am the one I claim to be.

John 10:9  I am the door: whoever enters through me will be saved….

John 12:48  There is a judge for the one who rejects me and does not accept my words….

John 14:6 Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.

John 17:3 This is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.

Acts 4:10-12  10 Be it known unto you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom ye crucified , whom God raised from the dead, even by him doth this man stand here before you whole. 11 This is the stone which was set at nought of you builders, which is become the head of the corner. 12 Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.

1 Timothy 4:16 Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers.

1 John 3: 21-23  21 “Dear friends, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence before God 22 and receive from him anything we ask, because we obey his commands and do what pleases him. 23 And this is his command: to believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ….”

1 John 4: 2-3  “2 This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, 3 but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist….”

1 John 4:15   If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in him and he in God.

1 John 5:1;5-6; 9-12   1 Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and everyone who loves the father loves his child as well…. 5 Who is it that overcomes the world? Only he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God. 6 This is the one who came by water and blood–Jesus Christ. He did not come by water only, but by water and blood. And it is the Spirit who testifies, because the Spirit is the truth…9 We accept man’s testimony, but God’s testimony is greater because it is the testimony of God, which he has given about his Son. 10 Anyone who believes in the Son of God has this testimony in his heart. Anyone who does not believe God has made him out to be a liar, because he has not believed the testimony God has given about his Son. 11 And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. 12 He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life.

2 John 1:7-11 “Many deceivers, who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh, have gone out into the world. Any such person is the deceiver and the antichrist. 8 Watch out that you do not lose what you have worked for, but that you may be rewarded fully. 9 Anyone who runs ahead and does not continue in the teaching of Christ does not have God; whoever continues in the teaching has both the Father and the Son. 10 If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not take him into your house or welcome him. 11 Anyone who welcomes him shares in his wicked work.”

See, also Catholicism and the Worship of Mary and Ecumenism Part 2: Treason Against God

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