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Other Articles on Church-State Union --Beware!



 

Church Union
and the Antichrist

Preface

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."

 


Chapter 1

 

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.

THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO:

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!

THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO:

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.