As the church awaits the glorious return of our Lord Jesus Christ we are witnessing the formation of a global religious system that will one day worship the Beast (Rev. 13:12). Jesus warned that a widespread dynamic deception would be one of the signs of His return to the earth. His word reveals there will be many false teachers who will prepare an unsuspecting bride for the anti-Christ. This counterfeit religious system will give her allegiance and worship to one who will blaspheme God.
There is currently a dialogue among world religious leaders who are seeking common threads of truth as a basis for unity. As diverse as some religions appear, there are some common bonds of unity. One is the teaching that salvation is attained by what men must do for God, instead of what God has already done for man through His Son. All religions, with the exception of biblical Christianity, arrogantly deny that salvation is by grace, the unmerited favour of God.
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Several organisations have been working diligently to unite the people of the world but none as aggressively as the Roman Catholic Church. The Second Vatican Council made this clear when it stated:
The Catholic Church endeavours "to gather all people and all things into Christ, so as to be for all an inseparable sacrament of unity... expressed in the common celebration of the Eucharist."
The Vatican has been building strategic bridges to all Christian denominations and non-Christian religions for the purpose of bringing all people under the papacy. In a 1998 speech to the leaders of Islam, Pope John Paul declared: "Dialogue between our two religions (Islam and Catholicism) is more necessary than ever.
There remains a spiritual bond which unites us and which we must strive to recognise and develop." Later in January of 2002 many of the most influential religious leaders of the world responded to the pope's invitation to gather in Assisi, Italy to discuss unity and peace. The pope, whom Catholics believe is the supreme head of the entire Christian Church, made all the leaders of non-Christian religions feel comfortable by removing all the images, crucifixes and icons of Jesus Christ.
Strategy for Christian Unity
The Vatican has a well defined and aggressive strategy for uniting all of Christianity under the papacy. Some of the elements of this master plan are outlined below:
I. Promote the opinion that Catholics, Orthodox and Protestants are all brothers-in- Christ and therefore must be reunited. This is why the Vatican is urging all "separated brethren" to come back home to Holy Mother, the Church, to enjoy the "fullness of salvation." Rome believes the salvation of Protestants cannot be complete unless and until they receive the transubstantiated Christ in the Eucharist.
II. Another important part of their strategy is to redefine evangelical terms in vague and ambiguous words to make them accept- able to both Catholics and Protestants. This strategy has been used effectively in their recent unity accords with Evangelicals and Lutherans. They have also been effective in identifying and seducing highly visible and influential evangelicals to promote Catholicism as a valid expression of Christianity.
III. The Vatican's strategy also involves exploiting post-modernism and the emerging church movement, which has gained widespread popularity. These movements have caused confusion, biblical ignorance and a lack of discernment within Protestant churches. In turn, these have produced fertile soil for seeds of deception and compromise to grow. Many who are uncertain of the true Gospel are easily deceived and willing to embrace the false gospel of Catholicism.
IV. Rome is also encouraging tolerance of all faiths because tolerance unifies and brings peace, while doctrinal truth divides. Whenever doctrinal truth is suppressed there can be no distinction between believers and unbelievers. One example of the Vatican's push for tolerance is seen in a statement from the 1997 accord: The Gift of Salvation. It reads: "All who truly believe in Jesus Christ are brothers and sisters in the Lord and must not allow their differences, however important to undermine this great truth."
Some of the differences cited that should never divide Evangelicals and Catholics were listed as: baptismal regeneration, the Eucharist, sacramental grace, justification, purgatory, indulgences, Marian devotion, the assistance of the saints in salvation, and the possibility of salvation for those who have not been evangelised. Clearly, each of these differences can not be tolerated because they all oppose the Gospel and bear eternal con- sequences for those who are on the wrong side of truth.
Same Story Different Verse
Rome attempted to reunite Catholics and Protestants in Germany in 1541 but Martin Luther gave this stern warning: "Popish writers pre- tend that they have always taught, what we now teach, concerning faith and good works, and that they are unjustly accused of the contrary, thus the wolf puts on the sheepskin till he gains admission in the fold." Three hundred years later another great preacher warned against unity with the Roman Catholic Church.
Charles Spurgeon said: "There is a deep and indelible sentence of damnation written upon the apostate church...the curse is registered in heaven...its infamy is engraved in the rock forever...followers of Jesus, for their own sake as well as for their Lord's, should oppose it with all their might."
The 21st century church needs more Luthers and Spurgeons to contend earnestly for the faith against the fatal errors of Catholicism.
Apostasy is Fueling the Push for Unity
In spite of the numerous Scriptural warnings of apostasy, many Protestants are returning "home to Rome." Nearly every documented case of Protestant apostates who departed to join the Catholic religion gave one of three reasons. They were either convinced by some "early church fathers" that Catholicism is true, or they were compelled to become Catholic in order to marry a Catholic, or they joined because of pleasurable experience. We have never heard of anyone who became a Catholic because the Bible convinced them to do it.
Tragically, we seldom hear warnings against apostasy from our pulpits. Rarely are false teachers who lead people away from the true faith ever exposed. Apostates, who appear as ministers of righteousness, are facing very little opposition. They successfully deceive the undiscerning because pastors and church leaders are not contending against them. Very few Christian leaders are warning the church of these ferocious wolves dressed in sheep's clothing.
The twenty-first-century church needs strong leaders like the apostle Paul. He warned the early church, "even from your own number men will arise and distort the truth in order to draw away disciples after them. So be on your guard! Remember that for three years I never stopped warning each of you night and day with tears" (Acts 20:30-31). Throughout the Scriptures we are exhorted to test every spirit, every teacher and every doctrine because men are so easily deceived.
Two Kinds of Unity
Doctrine is what divides the true church from the emerging world religion. The Bible condemns any unity that is not founded in God's word. False unity is based upon man's ambitions and is always independent of God (Gen. 11:1-9). This type of unity will be a tool of the Antichrist (Rev. 17-18). On the other hand, biblical unity is based on apostolic truth and is a work of the Holy Spirit, not of man (Eph. 4:3,13; 1 Cor. 12:13).
One of the greatest dangers to Christianity today is the deliberate suppression of biblical truth for the sake of unity. The danger intensifies as we see influential Christian leaders jumping on the Vatican's ecumenical bandwagon. Instead of warning believers of this false unity, they applaud those who are creating it.
Instead of obeying biblical exhortations to keep the Gospel pure, they are tolerating those who preach another gospel (Gal. 1:6-9). Rather than hating every false way, they are allowing the devil's lies to go unabated (Psalm 119:104). Instead of exposing false christs and lying spirits they put up with them (2 Cor. 11:4).
What Are Christians To Do?
Christians must not tolerate anyone who will- fully misrepresents the character or attributes of almighty God or His Gospel. A sound and loving rebuke, using scripture, is necessary to earnestly contend for the faith (Jude 3). To remain silent shows, either an indifference toward the Lord Jesus, or a greater loyalty to another person or institution.
We are commanded to separate from those who persist in false teaching (Rom.16:17; Titus 3:10). For some, this may mean finding another church. For others, it may mean with- holding support from ministries that continue to compromise the Gospel. The apostles warned us that if we do not separate from false teachers we could either be disqualified for service, become identified with them and their error or risk being partakers of their fate (2 Tim. 2:20; 2 John 10-11; Jude 11-13). May God help us all to stand firm and not be carried away by every wind of doctrine!
Common Bonds For Unity
The True Church
♦ Receives divine revelation from Scripture alone (2 Peter 1:20)
♦ Is saved by God's grace for good works (Eph. 2:8-10)
♦ Is intolerant, believing there is only one way to God (John 14:6)
♦ Is baptized by the Holy Spirit into one body (1 Cor. 12:13)
♦ Will worship and serve the true Christ when He appears in glory (Titus 2:13-15)
♦ Will rejoice in God's peace (Rev. 21:4)
The World Religion
♦ Receives "divine" revelation from demonic sources (1 Tim. 4:1-4)
♦ Teach they are saved by works, but their works deny God (Titus 1:16)
♦ Is tolerant, believing there are many ways to God
♦ Is ensnared by another Spirit to do his will (2 Tim. 2:24-26)
♦ Is spiritually dead and abides in the world (1 John 2:16)
♦ Seeks common truth among all faiths. ♦ Is the harlot of anti-Christ, united in hatred for the saints (Rev. 17:6)
♦ Will worship and serve a false Christ when he appears in deceit (Rev. 13.12)
♦ Will weep in an eternal fire (Mat. 13:42
By Mike Gendron