ECUMENICISM: False Unity
22 “Who is a liar but he that denieth that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist, that denieth the Father and the Son.” 1 John 2:22
22″ …Happy is he that condemneth not himself in that thing which he alloweth.”
15 “And he said unto them, Ye are they which justify yourselves before men; but God knoweth your hearts: for that which is highly esteemed among men is abomination in the sight of God.” Luke 16:15
4 “Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.” James 4:4
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 2:23, 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,22 “Who is a liar but he that denieth that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist, that denieth the Father and the Son.23 Whosoever denieth the Son, the same hath not the Father: he that acknowledgeth the Son hath the Father also.” (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:“…for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?15 And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel?16 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.17 Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the 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. May we also fight that good fight. May we finish the race – and most importantly may we all keep the faith.
****A few additional, excellent verses which specifically address this topic****
John 3:17-19 17 “For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.18 He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.19 And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.”
John 3:35-36 35 “The Father loveth the Son, and hath given all things into his hand.36 He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.”
John 5:21-23 21 “For as the Father raiseth up the dead, and quickeneth them; even so the Son quickeneth whom he will.22 For the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son:23 That all men should honour the Son, even as they honour the Father. He that honoureth not the Son honoureth not the Father which hath sent him.”
John 8:24 24 “I said therefore unto you, that ye shall die in your sins: for if ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins.”
John 10:9 “I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.”
John 12:48 48 “He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day.”
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 “And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast 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 “Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee.”
1 John 3:23 23 “And this is his commandment, That we should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, as he gave us commandment.”
1 John 4: 2-3 2 “Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God:3 And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world.”
1 John 4:15 15 “Whosoever shall confess that Jesus is the Son of God, God dwelleth in him, and he in God.”
1 John 5:1;5-7; 9-12 “Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God: and every one that loveth him that begat loveth him also that is begotten of him…5 Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God?6 This is he that came by water and blood, even Jesus Christ; not by water only, but by water and blood. And it is the Spirit that beareth witness, because the Spirit is truth.7 For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one…9 If we receive the witness of men, the witness of God is greater: for this is the witness of God which he hath testified of his Son.10 He that believeth on the Son of God hath the witness in himself: he that believeth not God hath made him a liar; because he believeth not the record that God gave of his Son.11 And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.12 He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life.”
2 John 1:7-11 7 “For many deceivers are entered into the world, who confess not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an antichrist.8 Look to yourselves, that we lose not those things which we have wrought, but that we receive a full reward.9 Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son.10 If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed:11 For he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds.”