Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; That 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 17:20-21)
The above scriptures came from the last prayer of the Lord for His followers before He died. Unity is something that the Lord has always desired:
Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity! It is like the precious ointment upon the head, that ran down upon the beard, even Aaron’s beard: that went down to the skirts of his garments; As the dew of Hermon, and as the dew that descended upon the mountains of Zion: for there the LORD commanded the blessing, even life for evermore. (Psalm 133)
Churches have always understood the Lord’s desire for unity amongst brethren and have sought to enact this unity. Throughout time various initiatives have been enacted in order to bring about unity.
The general way that most Christians view this is that we set aside our differences in order to concentrate on those things that we hold in common. This doctrine can be seen in the UK through a movement called “Churches Together in England”.
The Basis for Churches together is, in accordance with CT’s own statement is:
Churches Together in England unites in pilgrimage those Churches in England which, acknowledging God’s revelation in Christ, confess the Lord Jesus Christ as God and Saviour according to the Scriptures, and, in obedience to God’s will and in the power of the Holy Spirit commit themselves:
- to seek a deepening of their communion with Christ and with one another in the Church, which is his body; and
- to fulfil their mission to proclaim the Gospel by common witness and service in the world
to the glory of the one God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
The Unity that this organisation promotes is based on a very basic and loose foundation. We can see this through an invitation recently handed out to people in the Cheadle area of Stockport.
You will note that the first church on the list is a Roman Catholic Church, 3 Church of England Churches, a Methodist Church, 2 Baptist Churches, a United Reformed Church Church and The Society of Friends (Quakers).
True Unity does not come by adhering to a common purpose or joining together in work of a social nature.
The principle basis for unity between brethren are shared doctrines that are firmly rooted in the truth of God’s Word principally; the nature of Christ, the Gospel and the authority of scripture.
Upon these essential points there can be no division or disagreement.
The Protestant Reformers limited these essential pillars to five basic truths they called the Five Solae. These are:
- Sola scriptura (“by Scripture alone”)
- Sola fide (“by faith alone”)
- Sola gratia (“by grace alone”)
- Solus Christus or Solo Christo (“Christ alone” or “through Christ alone”)
- Soli Deo gloria (“glory to God alone”)
Sola Scriptura means that Holy Scripture is the sole authority upon which any and every doctrine, practice and spiritual experiences are to be based as well as tested.
Sola Fide means that salvation is by faith alone and that our righteous deeds cannot be counted upon to save anyone.
Sola Gratia means that Salvation is a free gift that is given without any merit of our own, it is purely an act of God’s grace alone.
Solus Christus means that salvation is Christ’s work alone and
Soli Deo Gloria means that only God can be credited for our Salvation, that we are indebted to Him and Him alone for Salvation. God does not grant salvation because he sees any merit in us that would make Him grant us salvation, it is purely down to His mercy.
Anyone or any church that teaches contrary to the above are teaching another Gospel contrary to the Gospel that was taught by the Apostles of Christ.
The scripture has harsh words about any that would preach a different Gospel than the one taught by the Apostles:
But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed. (Galatians 1:8-9)
So how can there be any unity between these churches? This is a false ecumenism and not the one that the scriptures teach.
There are also certain types of Christian that we are instructed to avoid or even have nothing to do with:
But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one no not to eat. (1 Corinthians 5:11)
If any man teach otherwise, and consent not to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness; He is proud, knowing nothing, but doting about questions and strifes of words, whereof cometh envy, strife, railings, evil surmisings, Perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness: from such withdraw thyself. (1 Timothy 6:3-5)
We are not to entertain such people nor are we to allow their teachings to be taught in our churches because it will corrupt the hearers and lead them astray:
Your glorying is not good. Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump? (1 Corinthians 5:6)
Ye did run well; who did hinder you that ye should not obey the truth? This persuasion cometh not of him that calleth you. A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump. (Galatians 5:7-9)
This false Ecumenical Movement is part of the Great Apostasy spoken of by the Apostle Paul:
Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him, That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand. Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away (apostasy) first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God. (2 Thessalonians 2:1-4)
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. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty. (2 Corinthians 6:14-18)