How to Deal with Ecumenism

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For tonights message, I want to dissect this story in the Scriptures that will prayerfully be a help to you. Our Scripture revolves around Paul, Silas & other Christians and a certain damsel at Philippi mentioned in v16. (Give Background)
Several years earlier, Jesus was taken, beaten, Crucified, Risen & Ascended
God bestows the Holy Spirit (Act. 2)
The church grows
Deacons office is created and supplied
Stephen is Stoned
In that instance we are introduced to a man by the name of Saul
God would meet Saul on the road to Damascus. God would save, then send this man to the gentiles to preach Jesus
Paul would then travel all over Asia-minor preaching Jesus. He would travel to (Look back @ ch13 on) until he is now in Philippi.
With this encounter, I want to speak on the doctrine of Ecumenism (Ek’yu-men-ism / E-KYOU’-men-ism)
Ecumenism (def) A movement promoting unity among Christian churches or denominations. A movement promoting worldwide unity among religions through greater cooperation and improved understanding.
In short, there is a great push for either cooperation with other churches of differing doctrines, or at least consideration or deferment desired. In other words, many don’t understand the reasons why we wouldn’t work together, and some even though we might not work together, we should maybe at least refrain from saying anything negative about other denominations or churches.
There’s plenty of Scripture that would speak against Ecumenism, the most noteworthy being:
Rom. 16:17-18 Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them. For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple.”
Ecumenism destroys that which is pure. It waters down that which is strong.
Paul gave illustration twice to two different churches that pertains to this:
Of the ungodly within the church: 1Cor. 5:6-7 “Your glorying is not good. Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump? Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us:”
Of false doctrine within the church: (Read Gal. 5:1-9)
Today we’re going to see how Paul dealt with Ecumenism here in Philippi
The first thing that we must recognize is the Damsel’s Actions

I. The Damsel’s Actions

She Seemed Like Them (v16)
As we begin to look into this passage of Scripture, we notice that there was some things in common between Paul, Silas and other Christians and this certain damsel.
We see that they met when they were going to prayer
So here they are at the house of God together. Everything appears normal - from a distance to the ignorant at least.
She Seemed Like Them
She Spoke Approvingly of Them (v17)
Now we see that she is speaking approvingly of them.
Notice something church - she’s not saying anything that is wrong! They WERE servants of the most High God. They WOULD show them the way to Salvation! There’s nothing wrong with what she’s saying right there.
This is what you call ‘common ground’. And this is what the Ecumenists want you to focus on.
We have common ground with most churches. Most gather, most have music, most have (some sort) of preaching / liturgy, most call themselves Christians, most hold Jesus in esteem. We have common ground with the Methodists, the Church of Christ, Church of God, Lutherans, Episcopalians, Presbyterians, most non-denominations as well. We have common ground.
We also have that same common ground with Seventh day adventists, Mormons, Catholics, Jehovah Witnesses & David Koresh’s branch dividians as well.
So where do you draw the line? Let me let Paul define the line: Gal. 5:9 “A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump.”
She Spoke Approvingly of them
She Sowed Tares (v16)
Although she seemed like Paul & Silas and she spoke approvingly of them, she herself was sowing tares. The doctrine to which she was espousing was not Biblical.
The Bible tells us she was a diviner and soothsayer, to which the Bible speaks against:
Lev. 19:31 “Regard not them that have familiar spirits, neither seek after wizards, to be defiled by them: I am the Lord your God.”
De. 18:10-12 “There shall not be found among you any one that maketh his son or his daughter to pass through the fire, or that useth divination, or an observer of times, or an enchanter, or a witch, Or a charmer, or a consulter with familiar spirits, or a wizard, or a necromancer. For all that do these things are an abomination unto the Lord: and because of these abominations the Lord thy God doth drive them out from before thee.”
The seed that she was casting was not one that was going to bring up good fruit. You must understand that by her assimilating with the Disciples of Christ on the one hand, yet practicing things which are contrary to the Bible, she was not helping the cause of Christ - she was hurting it.
Guess what - this same principle holds true for Bible-believing Christians as well. When you are presenting yourself as a Christian, but live contrary to Christ’s Commands, you are not helping the Cause of Christ, you’re hurting it. You are sowing confusion, and you need to repent.
She Sowed Tares
Her Spirit was Not the Same (v18)
Ultimately church we see the reason for her ungodly behaviour - it’s because her Spirit was not the same as that of the Disciples. It was not the Holy Spirit, it was an unHoly Spirit.
Make no mistake - there’s a multitude of people who proclaim to know Christ but are as lost as the day is long.
Remember the words of Christ: Mat. 7:21-23 “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.”
Her Spirit was Not the Same - She needed to get right with Jesus
So we see this situation in the Damsel’s Actions. She Seemed Like them & Spoke Approvingly of them - but was not the Same as them. Next, we’ll see Paul’s Answer. How did Paul deal with this Situation

II. Paul’s Answer

He Didn’t Go-Along to Get-Along
This is an important point to get - because this is what most expect you to do. Paul didn’t.
Consider being in Paul’s shoes for a moment. He had this lady follow them around and puff them up! She wasn’t doing them any harm personally… kind of like ‘live and let live’, right? It would have been easy to just let her be, enjoy the sunshine and peace. Paul surely knew that by doing what he did it would cause problems for him.
Church let me tell you something: Satan wants nothing more than for you to just go along to get along. He would rather you stay silent on false doctrines, he would rather you just keep your mouth shut and ‘live and let live’. It’s so much easier swimming with the current than going upstream - just ask salmon! (Ill) But church, here’s an interesting fact. Do you know why Salmon swim upstream? They do so to give birth to the next generation. They know that if they lay their eggs at the mouth of the river, the likely hood that their spawn will survive is far lower. Predators, oxygen levels and pollution of salt water leads to the offspring being destroyed.
The lesson I believe is obvious - if we take the easy road and go along to get along, we are leaving the next generation vunerable to predators & pollution and most likely will not survive!
Paul Didn’t Go-Along to Get-Along - he chose to swim upstream
He was Grieved at Heart (v18a)
Paul was not un-effected by the heresy mingled in with truth. It grieved him at his heart.
Church we should not be un-effected by heresy and false doctrine. We should be grieved. But here’s the kicker - we’ll only be grieved if we CARE. But to CARE is to KNOW what false doctrine mingled in with truth does - IT DESTROYS!
Go back to what Jesus said in Mat. 7 - there’s souls lifting their eyes in Hell because they leaved the lump and polluted it entirely!
He was Grieved at Heart
He Gave unto Her Jesus (v18b)
Paul spoke up. Paul called out the wickedness that was within her and gave unto her Jesus.
People need the truth. We can’t be shy about it. We can’t be quiet about it. They need the truth.
Some will say ‘Well preacher they’re saved’. To which I would say:
First: How do you know for sure? Are you God? Have you seen the Lamb’s Book of Life? Just because they cry out “Lord, Lord” doesn’t mean they are a Christian
Think about it: A Salvation testimony means that they are saved - but a Christian testimony is the light that can save a multitude! We need to have these discussions with professing Christians that are walking contrary to Scripture. We need to explain ‘Thus Saith the LORD’! And if you can’t, why not? Study these things out and be prepared to give answer!
He Gave unto Her Jesus
We see the Damsel’s Actions - she was (in essence) a Counterfeit. Secondly was see Paul’s Actions - how he dealt with it. Lastly, we see the Aftermath

III. The Aftermath

So what did Paul get for his troubles?
They Suffered Stripes (v22-23)
They were persecuted. By and large those around them did NOT like or appreciate the truth that was given.
So fulfilleth the Scripture, given of God by the hand of Paul which says: 2Tim. 3:12 “Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.”
If you do what I am advocating you do, you will be persecuted. You will have people ticked off at you to. But let me tell you something - I’d rather have the devil ticked off at me than cozied up to me!
They Suffered Stripes - but you know what else? They Sang Songs
They Sang Songs (v25)
Even in the innermost prison - even after the beatings - even after all this persecution, they could sing in the midnight hour!
Boy, you have to have some kind of peace to do that! But they did!
They had JOY! They had PEACE! Even in the midst of suffering!
Church, whenever you are obedient unto the LORD and allowing Him to use you, regardless of outcome - you will find joy that’s so elusive and peace that passeth all understanding!
They Sang Songs - but that’s not all
The Damsel was Set Free (v18)
Church there was a change made in that woman. She wasn’t doing the things she did before, that’s why her masters were so mad.
People bound by false doctrines, thinking they can save themselves by their works need to be told the truth! They need to be set free, just like this woman was!
The Damsel was Set Free
Many Souls were Saved (v30-34)
The woman was saved - some will say ‘big deal’. Was it worth all that? Yep.
Not only was the damsel saved, but God used their persecusion to saved not only the jailor, but his family as well!
This brings to mind Rom. 8:28 “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.”
Many Souls were Saved - and a Church was Started
A Church was Started
Paul would go on to write to this church the letter that we know as the book of Philippians.
All of this began because:
Paul wasn’t satisfied going along to get along.
Paul wasn’t satisfied with the praise of men while the Word was Watered down.
What will you do when this is before you?


The onus is on us. I believe that we have the truth, the only question is, will we be diligent in proclaiming the truth, or will we allow it to be diluted and of little effect?
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