It was of much concern to Jesus Christ that His followers would have perfect unity and He prayed for it with passion. John 17:20-23, "20 I am praying not only for these disciples but also for all who will ever believe in me through their message. 21I pray that they will all be one, just as you and I are one—as you are in me, Father, and I am in you. And may they be in us so that the world will believe you sent me.22 I have given them the glory you gave me, so they may be one as we are one. 23I am in them and you are in me. May they experience such perfect unity that the world will know that you sent me and that you love them as much as you love me."
The prayer of Jesus Christ in John 17:20-23 should not be interpreted in isolation. We have to take into consideration other statements of Jesus Christ that give clues about the kind of unity He was praying for. Reading from verse 14 would give us a better understanding. In verse 14 Jesus Christ said, "...I have given them your word..." In verse 17 He prayed, "...make them holy by Your truth, teach them Your word which is truth..." In verse 19 Jesus repeated the same prayer that the believers be made holy by the truth.
Two things stand out here in the description of the followers of Jesus Christ, namely,
a) they have the Truth (God's word)
b) they are made holy by receiving and living the Truth (God's word).
Pentecostal and Evangelical Church Leaders meet with the Pope.
These were to be the basis of the unity of the saints. Jesus Himself defined the basis of this unity in His prayer when He said, "...they may be one as we are one...I am in them and you are in me..." In other words, unity is achieved when believers abide in Christ. It is not an alliance of churches; it is not a superficial agreement to work together; neither is it a mere collaboration to pursue political or common interest, but rather a fusion of people through common beliefs in scripture, eternity oriented values, pursuit of God, Godly life style, true worship of God and common goal, which is heaven. Those who were otherwise minded (and gave themselves to sin and idolatry) were excommunicated from the Church. (1Cor.5:9-13),
"When I wrote to you before, I told you not to associate with people who indulge in sexual sin. 10But I wasn’t talking about unbelievers who indulge in sexual sin, or are greedy, or cheat people, or worship idols. You would have to leave this world to avoid people like that. 11I meant that you are not to associate with anyone who claims to be a believer yet indulges in sexual sin, or is greedy, or worships idols, or is abusive, or is a drunkard, or cheats people. Don’t even eat with such people. 12It isn’t my responsibility to judge outsiders, but it certainly is your responsibility to judge those inside the church who are sinning. 13God will judge those on the outside; but as the Scriptures say, 'You must remove the evil person from among you.'"
So, professing a belief in Christ is not sufficient grounds for unification, there must be a proven corresponding change in character. The believer should be abiding in Christ.
Abiding in Christ and Jesus Christ abiding in us is like two sides of a coin: one does not exist without the other. What does it mean to abide in Christ? Jesus explained it in John 15:1-7 when He said, "...if you abide in me and my words abide in you..." The evidence of abiding in Christ is that God's word is abiding in you. That is to say, rejection of the truth (God's word) is evidence of not abiding in Christ.
Schofield Reference Notes (1917 edition) explained what it means to abide in Christ as follows, "To abide in Christ is, on the one hand, to have no known sin unjudged and unconfessed, no interest into which He is not brought, no life which He cannot share. On the other hand, the abiding one takes all burdens to Him, and draws all wisdom, life and strength from Him. It is not unceasing consciousness of these things, and of Him, but that nothing is allowed in the life which separates from Him."
To have Christ abide in us (or to abide in Christ) means to take God's word as the standard for our conducts, beliefs, object of devotion, passion, and content of our message and mission. Unity is manifest when believers revel in the word of God and in fellowship with one another on the basis of faith in God's word.
The believers in Jesus Christ were called Christians for the first time in Antioch. It was non-believers who gave them that name. It was a description of the unity, love and fervent faith they saw among the followers of Jesus Christ. This fruit was produced by the teaching ministry of Paul and Barnabas, after they had taught the Church for a year. (Acts 11:19-26). In other words, true unity is achieved by obeying the Truth (God's word).
Rev.17 prophesied of the rise of false body of Christ called Mystery, Babylon the Great. Almost all Bible scholars, past and present, agree that the description of Rev.17 as given by the Angel who spoke to John the Beloved referred to no other institution but Rome and the Roman Catholic Church. Note Rev.17:18. This institution has daughters according to Rev.17:5. She was called the Mother of prostitutes, which denotes that she gave birth to other institutions that share similar beliefs and practices with her. These daughters are none other than various churches and organizations that directly or indirectly came out of Rome and are allied with her. One of the signs of the end is the reconciliation of the daughters with their Mother. This unity would be based on compromise and centred around the 'Mother Church' (Rome), whereas the unity that Jesus Christ prayed for was not to be centred around a certain church. In contradistinction the Spirit of prophecy gave a clear cut injunction for the true believers in Christ to depart from Babylon (Rev.18:4). There can be no spiritual unity with Rome!
The current reconciliation movement gaining momentum among the Pentecostals is a direct fulfillment of Rev.17:5, namely, the daughters are returning to their mother! Watch this video where Tony Palmer explained about his "call from Rome" and his commission to lead the vanguard for the reunification of the Churches with their Mother, the Roman Catholic Church. He actually used the prophetic terminology, Mother Church and the daughters to refer to Rome and the Protestants/Pentecostals. What a direct fulfillment of Biblical prophecy! He claims to be the Elijah who would come before the return of Jesus Christ. Kenneth Copeland also declared that the protest is over.
Have the Pentecostals been deceived? Have they come under the spell of Babylon? Why do the Pentecostal leaders seem to ignore prophetic warnings, historical facts and information accessible by the click of a button? Why do we choose to give scriptures selective interpretations in order to pursue our goals with a silenced conscience? The only answer I could find is what Jesus Christ said several times and in different situations that, "...But the Scripture will be fulfilled..." (John 13:18, Luke 22:37, John 15:25). This reconciliatory movement is Rev.17 coming into view.
May the Lord rekindle in our hearts the passion for God, the zeal for His service, the total commitment to suffer for Christ, the spiritual eyes to see the truth, the courage to embrace it and the tenacity to abide in God's Word irrespective of the consequences. May God grant us the grace to faithfully wait till the appearance of Jesus Christ. May we receive the spiritual strength to stand firm on the truth, unwavering in the midst of storms. May the Lord find us faithful. Amen.