by Mike Ratliff
From of old no one has heard or perceived by the ear, no eye has seen a God besides you, who acts for those who wait for him. (Isaiah 64:4 ESV)
Definition from the Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary:
Main Entry: ec·u·men·i·cal
Pronunciation: \ˌe-kyə-ˈme-ni-kəl, -kyü-\
Etymology: Late Latin oecumenicus, from Late Greek oikoumenikos, from Greek oikoumenē the inhabited world, from feminine of oikoumenos, present passive participle of oikein to inhabit, from oikos house
Date: circa 1587
1 : worldwide or general in extent, influence, or application 2 a : of, relating to, or representing the whole of a body of churches b : promoting or tending toward worldwide Christian unity or cooperation
— ec·u·men·i·cal·ly \-k(ə-)lē\ adverb
Ecumenicalism is just a word, however, its usage in these last days has come to mean much more than a term referring to the promotion or tending toward worldwide Christian unity or cooperation as we see in the dictionary definition. To the ecumenicists, it states that Christianity is the same regardless of definition of the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. In fact, that is not even mentioned. Instead, they focus on calling those who attempt to emulate Christ’s humanism or good works their brothers. This has to be because those who come together as “one” to stand against certain political or cultural issues actually claim to hold to doctrines that are mutually exclusive. This difference is that they actually doctrinally contradict each other. However, as we see with the signers of the Manhattan Declaration, for example, the ecumenicists are willing to overlook these differences as if they are negotiable.
My brethren, the Gospel is not negotiable to the Church, the true Church. In fact, if anyone claims to be a Christian, but holds to a different definition of the Gospel or Justification than what is clearly presented in God’s Word, he or she is not Christian. Traditions, edicts, Papal Bulls, or so-called Christian Philosophies are merely the words of men. Where they differ from what God’s Word says they are wrong. They are not Christian, but only the product of human religiosity or Churchianity. How is it that we can boldly stand firm here and never waver? How can we take up the armor God has given us and never budge from these non-negotiable elements of our faith? Emergents say that this very thing is arrogance because it is certainty in our faith. However, God’s Word clearly says, “and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:32) Therefore, we know that this philosophy is not biblical so it is not Christian.
Anyone can read the Bible if the version they have is in a written language they understand. This would include believers and unbelievers. All can read it, however, the only ones capable of seeing the eternal truth in it are the regenerate because they also have the Holy Spirit.
Yet among the mature we do impart wisdom, although it is not a wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are doomed to pass away. But we impart a secret and hidden wisdom of God, which God decreed before the ages for our glory. None of the rulers of this age understood this, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. But, as it is written, “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him”– these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God. For who knows a person’s thoughts except the spirit of that person, which is in him? So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God. And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual. (1 Corinthians 2:6-13 ESV)
Carefully read this passage my brethren. The wisdom, the knowledge of God’s truth, is only given and understood by genuine Christians and it proves some people of being non-Christian by either them denying these things or by their not understanding them. God has revealed the truth to real Christians through the Spirit. Only these know the very thoughts of God except those who also have the Holy Spirit. He gives us this understanding and we teach what we learn to other Christians. The unregenerate, those without the Holy Spirit, cannot understand it.
The word “mature” in v6 is the Greek word τελειοις. The KJV translates this word as “perfect” here. It actually refers to people who are morally complete, but biblically it refers to Christians who are mature in their faith in contrast to new or baby Christians. This is why Christian leaders must be the τελειοις because they are mature and have a deeper understanding of God’s eternal truth. Never forget this my brethren. The Gospel is God’s eternal truth and is only understandable by those to whom it is granted by God. People are not saved by debate or through religiosity or through reasoning. It is only as God opens hearts coupled with the preaching of the Gospel that people see the truth about their lostness and inability to be justified in anything they do or have. By God’s Grace through the faith given to them, they believe and repent. God justifies them as He imputes the Lord’s Righteousness to them because God imputed their unrighteousness to Jesus Christ as He was crucified on that cruel Cross. What sealed this for us was that after His death and burial, God resurrected him.
This is a very simple and short definition of the Gospel, but this is denied by very large numbers of so-called Christians who insist on their own version of justification that includes works and religiosity and church membership. None of this is biblical, however, what I just presented in the last paragraph is and those who are regenerate and have the Holy Spirit read it and understood it and assented that this is the Biblical Gospel. This is why we must become Biblically literate. In this, we are able to clearly see God’s truth and then the farce of human religiosity and Churchianity. As we do become Biblically literate as regenerate Christians, the Holy Spirit is working in us to bring us to maturity in our faith.
Let us stop playing games with these nominal Christians. If they deny the non-negotiable elements of our faith then they are not genuine and we need to make sure that our brethren know about it. So many professing Christians are literate only in their Churchianity and are biblically ignorant. This is tragic.
Several years ago, I preached in a Church in another state. Their pastor was in the hospital and I filled in one Sunday. I attended Sunday school for my age group in between the early and late sermons. The spiritual depth of those dear believers in the class was revealed to be very shallow. About half-way through I asked the teacher if it would be okay for me to teach for a few minutes to answer the questions that arose as some in the class were discussing about how to grow spiritually, mature, and become obedient Christians. I had them open their Bibles to Romans 12. We concentrated on vv1-2 there because I did not have much time. However, it was amazing to watch the spiritual awaking in those dear people’s hearts as the Holy Spirit pressed God’s truth home to them. When I prayed with the leaders of that church after that class before I preached the second service I was filled with the Joy of the Lord. God is good to those who belong to Him and when we seek Him with honest and hungry hearts, He fills us and grows us.
Soli Deo Gloria!