Worldwide church union is a subject about which people may be emotional, indifferent, cautious, or curious. Therefore, any single treatment of the issue cannot satisfy the needs of all readers. The subject is complex and, if treated exhaustively, would fill a large volume — not a section such as this. It is, therefore, important to state from the outset that this section is merely an outline — a summary. Its purpose is to present to the honest truth-seeker the findings of a century of Bible study on this subject as gleaned, collected, and recognized as valid by Bible students all over the world. Additionally, it is the purpose of this section to relate the subject of church union to God's plans and purposes over a large span of time. This sort of broad spectrum view often leads to clearer thinking and investigation on any subject. The views presented herein are not the views of a single author, but the views of hundreds of consecrated Christians whose lives have been totally devoted to the harmonization of the Word of God — both Old and New Testaments. This being the case, it is obvious that this section cannot be the most detailed study available. It does, however, reflect detailed study, and it is the desire of those distributing it that any reader may feel free to contact the distributors for further details. If the reader seeks truth, he must be willing to pursue truth in full honesty of heart — and then it shall be given to him even as it is written: "Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you."


The Other Half of the Gospel

Say Ye Not a Confederacy"

The Fall of Babylon

What of the Antichrist, the Man of Sin?

A Brief History of Ecumenism's Development

The Other Half of the Gospel

Why did God create the earth and mankind? What is God doing in the earth today? What is the Gospel? What is the Church? What is the ultimate purpose of the Church? Are all outside the Church forever lost? What about the Jew? These questions and their answers lay the necessary groundwork for an examination of the subject of church union. Without comprehending God's overall plan for His creation, the study of a subject like the ecumenical movement certainly can bear little fruit. Because of this we devote our first chapter to a consideration of the Gospel — the "good news" of the Bible. The title of this chapter, "The Other Half of the Gospel," suggests that what we regularly hear preached as the Gospel is incomplete — and this is indeed the case! An examination of the Scriptural definition of the Gospel will prove that the Gospel is actually "good news" in a fuller sense than most Christians have ever dreamed. In Galatians 3:8 the Apostle Paul makes an interesting statement. He claims that the Gospel was preached to Abraham! This is a concept not generally appreciated — that the Gospel can be found in the Old Testament! Abraham and his descendants believed God and His promises, and the belief at the core of traditional Judaism is based upon the Gospel which God preached to Abraham. What is this belief? It is basically this: Messiah would come and bless everyone on earth through the agency of Abraham's children (or seed). This blessing would include those who had died by resurrecting them from the dead. (It was because of his faith in the resurrection that Abraham was willing to offer his son, Isaac, as a sacrifice to God.) Paul summed up all of this belief in the words spoken to Abraham, "in thee shall all nations be blessed." Remember, Paul called this very promise the Gospel! It is a beautiful Gospel, too! It promises that all mankind would be blessed. (See the original promise in Genesis 22:15-18.) Christianity generally does not define the Gospel in quite the same manner. The teaching of Christendom regarding the Gospel has been basically this: Faithful believers in Christ will go to heaven when they die.


Judaism: Messiah will bless all on earth through Abraham's seed and will even raise those who have died to enjoy the blessings.

Christendom: Faithful Christians go to heaven after death.

On the surface Judaism seems better, doesn't it? After all, it includes all men in the blessing, whereas Christendom excludes all — except Christians! But our examination of the matter is not complete. As we look into it more, remember that we cannot immediately judge either of these definitions of the Gospel as being wrong. Judaism got its belief from God's own prophets; we would indeed be presumptuous to ignore that testimony! And Jesus, who was a Jew, never disputed the Gospel as preached to Abraham. But we must acknowledge that the Bible also teaches that faithful Christians will go to heaven. These two versions of the Gospel are not inharmonious. By accepting them both, we learn the full Gospel. We have found that the Gospel is summarized in God's promise to Abraham that "In thy seed shall all nations be blessed." What does this mean? Notice that it involves two distinct and separate parts: 1. Abraham's seed 2. All nations of earth Abraham's seed is not totally as Abraham might have expected, for the Apostle informs us in Galatians 3:29 that "If ye be Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed and heirs according to the promise." This is a key to our understanding. It says that faithful Christians are counted by God as being Abraham's seed or children. It also says that because of this they become "heirs" according to the "promise." What promise? The promise was that the seed would bless everyone else. Now we are at the crux of the matter! If true Christians are the seed, we see God's eventual purpose for them — the blessing of all the nations of the earth, and the resurrecting of all those who have died, just as Abraham expected, so that they too could be blessed. Now our chart is harmonious. Those who go to heaven will bless those here on earth!


Judaism: Messiah will bless all on earth through Abraham's seed and will even raise those who have died to enjoy the blessings.

Christendom: Faithful Christians go to heaven after death.

But this is harmonious only if we retain the "other half of the Gospel" — the part Judaism believes. And that is that not only will the "seed" be saved, but so will the rest of mankind! This is actually saying that there are two salvations. First, the seed (true Christians) are saved; and secondly, they (the seed) save and bless everyone else! Yes, the complete Gospel is really GOOD NEWS! The New Testament informs us that there will be two kinds of resurrection, one in heaven for the true seed (the "first resurrection") and one on earth for all the rest of mankind. This is the whole Gospel. Christendom and Judaism have both been incomplete and wrong in themselves. Each had one half of the Gospel! But now we see that those who will go to heaven in the first resurrection will not go to float on clouds and play harps, but rather to participate with Christ in the rulership of his kingdom which will bless all the families here on earth. Christ's kingdom will have two parts: heavenly and earthly. If this were not so, how could the Lord have taught the disciples to pray "Thy Kingdom come, thy will be done in earth"? (Matt. 6:10) Or how could the angels have predicted "peace on earth, goodwill toward men"? (Luke 2:12-14) Paul also mentions these two salvations in 1 Timothy 4:19 where he says "we trust in the living God who is the Savior of all men, specially of those that believe." It is clear that Paul still had in mind the seed and all men as being the two parts of the Gospel because he says that salvation is: 1. for all men and 2. specially for those that believe. The "special" salvation is, of course, the salvation of the "first resurrection" (the heavenly resurrection — Revelation 20:6). It is the salvation of true Christians, those whom God recognizes as His own true Church — "the seed of Abraham." Understanding this matter of the two salvations, earthly and heavenly (or the two parts to the Gospel), answers many questions about certain scriptures. For instance, Matthew 11:11 tells us what a great man John the Baptist was. Yet in the same verse we have our Lord's own words that John will not be a part of the heavenly resurrection! John instead will be a part of all the nations of the earth who will be raised and blessed right here on the earth by "the seed" — the Church raised to heavenly glory. So then, in short, the Gospel is the beautiful promise that all men will be resurrected and be given an opportunity to have a perfect, everlasting life on the earth. The exception to this will be those who faithfully serve the Lord during this present life; they will live in heaven as spirit beings, and their job will be to bless the race of men on earth. The true Gospel is a combination of the basic expectations of both Jews and Christians. We began this chapter with a list of seven questions basic to an understanding of God's plan (and hence to an understanding of details of prophecy such as the ecumenical movement). To close this chapter, we will ask the same seven questions — this time with concise answers to cement our understanding and memory before we proceed to our principal topic.

1. Why did God create the earth and mankind? He created because He has love as one of His primary attributes, and true love must give. Therefore he formed the earth "to be inhabited" (Isaiah 45:18) by perfect human beings who would love and serve Him freely and to whom He would freely give blessing and life. This creation was "not in vain."

2. What is God doing in the earth today? He is doing several things so that his purpose as stated above will be accomplished - - so that His word will "not return unto Him void but it shall accomplish that which He pleases, and it shall prosper in the thing whereunto He sent it." (Isaiah 55:11) The Lord is permitting evil to have full sway in the earth so that man will be able fully to see its results. (Ecclesiastes 1:13; 3:10) Therefore, in the Kingdom reign of righteousness, mankind will be able to make a free and intelligent choice between good and evil after having experienced both. But God is doing more. He is choosing "a people for His name" (Acts 15:14), which we will discuss in a coming question.

3. What is the Gospel? As we have just seen, the Gospel is God's good news to man that His original plan has not failed — that man will be made alive and receive God's blessings eternally on a perfected earth. This is all to be done by a promised "seed."

4. & 5. What is the Church? and What is the ultimate purpose for the Church? The true Church of the Bible is that promised seed just mentioned, and its ultimate purpose is, by God's grace, to participate in God's own work of accomplishing His original design for the earth and its inhabitants. One of the main things that God is doing in the earth today is choosing that Church — one member here, one there. As Acts 15:14 declares, God, having found too few Jews faithful at the first advent to constitute this Church, is "visiting the Gentiles" also — not to bless or save them all now, but to take out from their midst "a people for His name." This "people for His name" will be those who have been called of God and who have faithfully suffered with Christ. The Greek word for church (ekklesia) literally means "a calling out." These called out ones are the true Church. They will receive the first or heavenly resurrection. Then they will be "priests of God and of Christ and shall reign with Him a thousand years." (Revelation 20:6) This reigning will be for the purpose of blessing all the nations of the earth. What a prospect! This is the very reason that James says God is taking a people for His name: that "after this . . . the residue of men might seek after the Lord." (Acts 15:13-18)

6. Are all outside the Church forever lost? Of course not! The absurdity of this position should now be clear to us all! The whole purpose of the Church is to bless all those who are outside of the Church! God isn't even dealing with the world in general now. He is merely choosing out from among them those who will become members of the Church. After the Church is completely chosen and she becomes the bride of Christ at his second advent, then "the Spirit (of Christ) and the bride (the Church) say Come; and whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely." (Revelation 22:17)

7. What about the Jew? Israel as a nation has forever lost the opportunity of becoming the Church (Romans 11:25); but Israel too shall be saved. (Romans 11:26) It is through the natural seed of Abraham, the Jew, that God purposes to give His New Covenant to mankind. (Jeremiah 31:31-34) Israel is now reestablished as a nation. God put her there. She will be the nation from whom the blessings will flow worldwide, for it is written that "Many nations shall come and say; Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord and to the house of the God of Jacob, and He will teach us of His ways, and we will walk in His paths, for the law shall go forth of Zion, and the word of the Lord form Jerusalem." (Micah 4:2-4) Likewise it is said, "Yea, many people and strong nations shall come to seek the Lord of hosts in Jerusalem and to pray before the Lord. Thus saith the Lord of hosts; In those days it shall come to pass that ten men shall take hold (out of all languages of the nations), even shall take hold of the skirt of him that is a Jew, saying, We will go with you, for we have heard that God is with you." (Zechariah 8:22, 23)

A Note Before Continuing:

It is probably that many reading this section consider themselves "New Testament Christians." Hence it has probably been noticed that we are using Old Testament texts as liberally as New Testament texts. It is, therefore, timely to point out from the New Testament that the Old Testament is as valid to us as the New, and that anyone rejecting its testimony cannot hope to understand what the Lord is doing. The Old Testament is not yet fulfilled entirely, and many of its prophecies are finding their fulfillment before our eyes today. First, note the following New Testament texts which commend the study of the "Scriptures" remembering that the only Scriptures then in existence were the books of the Old Testament prophets: Acts 17:2,3; Acts 17:10-13; Acts 18:24-28; Rom. 1:1,2; Rom. 16:25-27; II Tim. 3:14-17; II Pet. 3:15-18; Matt. 22:28-30; Gal. 3:8; Gal. 4:28-31; I Tim. 5:18; James 2:8; James 4:5; I Pet. 2:5,6. Additionally, we have the strong testimony of Paul (Rom. 15:4) that the Old Testament is for "our learning." And Peter twice supports this view. In I Peter 1:10-12 he explains that the prophets did not minister to themselves, but to us, Christians. In II Peter 1:16-21 he points out that the Old Testament prophecies are a "more sure" authority to us than was Peter's own experience on the mount of transfiguration! And he says we should listen to them "until the day dawn" — that is, they are valuable to us even up to the time of the Lord's second coming. If, therefore, we accept the authority of the Apostles (the New Testament), we cannot reject the Old Testament's testimony and authority.

"Say ye not a confederacy..."

Our Lord's parable of the wheat and the tares (Matt. 13:24- 30) forms an excellent basis with which to begin a consideration of church union. This parable predicts the history of Christianity for nearly two thousand years. The parable explains that Jesus would sow the Gospel message followed by Satan's sowing a counterfeit message. Thus the true Church was founded, but the apostate church also grew very quickly. The Lord's servants inquired about the wisdom of separating the two groups, but the Lord cautioned that such separation would do more harm than good until it was the proper time for separation. The fact that the gathering out of the tares would have rooted up the wheat also shows prophetically that the false church (tares) would probably outnumber the true Church (wheat). This is in harmony with Jesus' statements that "many are called but few are chosen," and with His naming His true Church a "little flock." Just so it has been. The message of the Lord and the Apostles was soon corrupted. The ambition of early churchmen placed power above truth, and the great Roman Church ruled the world. Some did attempt reforms, but the spirit of Satan infiltrated these reform movements so that they too became tare- infested and formed their own denominational tare collections — each, however, containing some wheat. The parable ends with a very important message for us. It says that the day would come when it would be proper to separate the wheat from the tares. This would be in the time of the "harvest," which our Lord elsewhere explains is the end of the age — the end of the call of the Church — the time of His return. We are now living in the harvest of the age. Therefore the Lord looks over his field to see what fruit it has borne. He considers the tares (false church) worthless for his purpose (which is to bless the world), and so he determines their destruction — as institutions, not as people! Remember that the Lord did very much the same thing at his first advent. He looked over the Jewish church to see if it had borne the proper fruit. When he saw it had not, he determined their destruction — again, as a nation, not as individuals. But those Jews who were faithful — those who were "wheat" — he separated and gave them the opportunity of being the first members of the Church. (Compare Matt. 23:37-39 with John 1:11,12.) Matthew 13:30, therefore, becomes a touchstone for our study of what is happening in the ecclesiastical world. Note just what it says: "Gather . . . the tares and bind them in bundles." Here it is! The ecumenical drive for unity is here stated with such simplicity! (For a more detailed discussion, see Thy Kingdom Come, page 142) [See Appendix A for more on the current ecumenical movement.] The Lord is here predicting that prevailing forces which he would maneuver would actually cause the "bundling" together. Of course, the denominations think thatunity is for their benefit and strength; but the parable states otherwise. It points out that they are being bundled to be burned (destroyed as institutions). The wheat, however, which is the true Church, is being gathered out from denominationalism to be gathered together with Jesus to reign with him to bless all the families of the earth. (And, by the way, those who were the tares will be among those who will be blessed!) It becomes clear, then, that those who would be faithfully following the Lord at this time (the wheat) could never participate in the church union (tare) movement. Instead, the true wheat will recognize the ecumenical movement as a sign of the nearness of the kingdom. They will be content to lean on the Lord and his wisdom rather than on the organizational stratagems of the so-called churches. The true Church will stand separate (and informed), neither joining nor fighting the ecumenical movement. Other Scriptures state the same lesson. A brief consideration of an Old Testament prophecy will be a help. It is found in Isaiah 8. For brevity we shall consider only verses 9- 13: "Associate yourselves, O people, and ye shall be broken in pieces; and give ear all of ye far countries: gird yourselves, and ye shall be broken in pieces; gird yourselves and ye shall be broken in pieces. Take counsel together, and it shall come to nought; speak the word, and it shall not stand: for God is with us. For the Lord spake thus to me with a strong hand, and instructed me that I should not walk in the way of this people, saying, Say ye not a confederacy, to all them to whom this people shall say, A Confederacy; neither fear ye their fear, nor be afraid. Sanctify the Lord of hosts himself; and let Him be your fear, and let Him be your dread." In verse 9 we find the forecast that the people will want to associate themselves. It also states that they would "gird" themselves. Gird means bind. It is clearly the same binding in bundles to which our Lord refers in the parable. But the Lord declares through the prophet that all their attempts would ultimately meet with destruction. Ultimately they would be "broken in pieces," and their counseling would not produce the ends they desired. And why not? Because God would not be with them! He would be with "us" (vs. 10) — the true Church. In verses 12 and 13 the Lord counsels the true Church as to what its position should be: "Say ye not a confederacy" — don't participate in the union. "Neither fear ye their fear or be afraid." What is the fear of denominationalism? Their fear is that their influence is waning; their fear is that they are losing the support of the people; their fear is that society is collapsing. Indeed, their fears are well founded! But they know not that the Lord has decreed the destruction of the denominations and even the social order itself so that He can establish His righteous kingdom on earth in the place of the present corrupt order of things. The true Church, understanding what the Lord is doing, does not fear. It rejoices to see the evidences of the nearness of the kingdom. (Psalm 97:8)

How Can Unity Be Bad?

Very often the advocates of church union quote from our Lord's prayer as recorded in John 17. Here Jesus prays for his Church and asks the Father that "they all may be one." (vs. 21) Jesus' desire for the unity of the Church, however, could only refer to the true Church, the wheat. If he desired unity for all now, why would he have said that he would separate the wheat from the tares? Jesus' prayer does have an answer, however. The true Church is united — and it is united in the way which Jesus wanted: by the Truth. That is what he requested in John 17:17. Notice that Jesus asks that they be "sanctified" by the truth. Sanctified means separated! The true Church (wheat) is to be separated (sanctified) from the false church (tares) by the truth. It is not to be united to the false church just for an outward show of unity! The desire for unity in the ecumenical movement is a desire based on error — on misinformation. The so-called churches, not understanding the true and whole Gospel, want everyone in harmony now, thinking this to be God's way to improve the world. But God's way to improve the world is the kingdom on earth which will do away with all error. This kingdom cannot function fully until the true Church (Abraham's seed) have all been separated and glorified. Then they will bless all the nations of earth even as God himself promised to Abraham so many years ago. God never breaks a promise.

The Fall of Babylon

As we look more closely at the question of the separation of the true Church from the false church at this end of the age, it becomes important to understand what is meant by various Biblical symbolisms. Among these is the term "Babylon." There was, of course, a real city by this name. Strangely, however, the name of this city of Babylon meant different things to different people. In the language of the Jews, who were God's people, the name came from a root word meaning "confusion." But to the Babylonians, the word meant "the gate of God." How interesting that one word could have two meanings so opposite! But it is not difficult to see how this came about. The city derived its name from the original tower of Babel built by Nimrod. To Nimrod and his followers this tower was meant to be a gateway to heaven. But God was angered by their presumptuous attitude and stopped their progress by confusing their language; and hence the idea of confusion was introduced into the name Babel. The meaning that was favored, of course, depended upon whether the person using the word was a friend of God or a friend of Nimrod! When we come to the book of Revelation, however, we find the Apostle John still prophesying about Babylon even though it had gone out of existence centuries before John was born. But this time it is mystic Babylon, or as John says, "Mystery, Babylon the Great." (Rev. 17:5) God often used Old Testament people and events to picture something that would come later but be very similar in some important aspects. This is the case with "Babylon." Now we must inquire, just what is Babylon in the mystic sense? Babylon refers to the so-called churches which have sprung up since our Master's first advent. This is quite a claim! Yet it meets the facts. Note the words of Jeremiah 51:7, "Babylon hath been a golden cup in the Lord's hand." How interesting is this statement! It is saying that there was a time when the Lord favored this mystic Babylon; He worked with it and He had enough interest in it that He wanted to keep it spiritually healthy. Jeremiah 51:9 states this: "We would have healed Babylon, but she is not healed." These words sound so familiar in concept! They are the same thoughts as the Lord expressed in the parable of wheat and tares. There too, the Lord was pleased to work with the field as it was — wheat and tares mixed. By the truths of the Reformation he even attempted to heal the spiritual sickness that had developed. But Babylon would not be healed. She continued to produce more tares than wheat. Remember the final result: separate them. Jeremiah 51:9 states this separation of wheat from tares so clearly: "Forsake her (Babylon), and let us (wheat) go every one into his own country, for her judgment reacheth unto heaven." But the "churches" are unaware of this. They are still Babylon (confusion) although they see themselves as the gateway to God — as man's only hope for salvation. How does this relate to church union? Babylon (the denominations) is the same as the tares. As the tares were bundled, so will the denominations bundle themselves together to protect their position in society. Why do they find this necessary? Because they are under attack! Their doctrines no longer satisfy reasoning minds, so they must resort to a "social Gospel." They cannot attract sufficient loyalty or excite sufficient zeal to stay alive as institutions. The wheat leaves them because the Lord directs them to leave. Notice His directions to His true Church as found in both the Old and New Testaments. Jeremiah 51:6 says: "Flee out of the midst of Babylon, and deliver every man his soul: be not cut off in her iniquity, for this is the time of the Lord's vengeance. He will render unto her a recompence." And Revelation 18:4 echoes this advice: "Come out of her (Babylon) my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues." The Lord will plague Babylon to her destruction. This is what Jesus foresaw when he said the tares would be bundled for the purpose of burning them. The picture in the Scriptures is even more inclusive. The Scriptures declare that this uniting spirit would be not only in the churches, but even among the institutions, businesses, and nations of the world. They are all to become interdependent on each other. Hence we see mergers, affiliations, holding companies, trusts, leagues, treaties, and even the "United Nations" and the "European Economic Union." The spirit is everywhere! But to the true Church, the Lord explains the matter. He tells what He is doing and why. Notice Zephaniah 3:8,9: "Wait ye upon me, saith the Lord, until the day that I rise up to the prey: for my determination is to gather the nations, that I may assemble the kingdoms, to pour out upon them mine indignation, even all my fierce anger: for all the earth (society) shall be devoured with the fire (destruction) of my jealousy. for then will I turn to the people a pure language that they may all call upon the name of the Lord to serve Him with one consent." Rejoice in what this text tells us! It first assures us that the Lord is fully aware of the gathering, assembling, and uniting that is going on. Indeed, He is helping it come about! But He explains why. He says that when they are united, they will fall harder. He united them in order to pour out his anger upon them all at once! The anger is expressed as "fire" which is a Scriptural symbol for destruction; but it cannot mean that He destroys the people because it says immediately that He will bless the people with a pure message (no more error). It means, rather, that He will destroy the symbolic "earth," and the earth symbolizes the social order. And notice too that these people He blesses must not have known even who He was because he blesses them so that they can serve Him — showing that they didn't serve Him before. All of this is in harmony with the Gospel. God is collecting the last members of the seed of Abraham. Then he will destroy man's selfish society in order to let the seed of Abraham bless mankind with a perfect society: "Peace on earth, good will toward men." We therefore need have no fear when we see Babylon unite for its ultimate great fall. (Rev. 18:21)

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