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         The Messages to the 

      7 Ecclesias - page 3

 

APPLICATION 3:

AD1847 to the return of Christ

The Christadelphians

in Biblical Prophecy   

                   

One vital point should be noted. Because this 3rd application of the messages deals with the period of the re-discovery of the Truth since AD1847, it outlines those events which have occurred within "Christadelphia". It will therefore be of intense interest to all those who would be numbered with the faithful at the coming of Christ.  

 

NOTE: to understand & to properly evaluate the principles and their application suggested hereunder,  we strongly recommend that you firstly familiarize yourself with applications 1 & 2 -  the links are at the bottom of this page.

 

In many ways, these last-day periods are the most remarkable of them all. It is incredible to realize that the messages which Jesus Christ gave to the 7 Ecclesias in the Apocalypse over 1900 years ago are still being worked out before our very eyes today. And it can initially make us feel inadequate for the task ahead.  But this has always been the lot of God's people, a "permanent minority" during their pilgrimage. We are encouraged by the words of the Apostle Paul - "If God be for us, who can be against us?".  Also, "there is no restraint to Yahweh to save by many or by few"..."God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty" to the end "that no flesh should glory in his presence" - Romans 8v31; 1st Sam. 14v6; 1st Cor. 1v27,29.

 

These last-day epochs are marked by 7 'decision-points', when the attempted introduction of various heresies was resisted by the faithful. Since the Pioneer brothers have fallen asleep in the Lord, the course of "Christadelphia" has been ever downward. This was inevitable, and it has resulted in the Laodicean state now so evident amongst the majority. Those wishing to maintain the Truth in its purity have had no alternative but to maintain a separate identity -

 

link to  'appeal' & also  'selection' for more.

 

On page 2, under 'Philadelphia' and 'Laodicea', we saw that the re-emergence  of the Truth, as identified with a distinct body of people, was pre-figured in the elements of these two messages. What follows is an exposition of the subsequent events.

 

Ephesus: AD1866-1868 ch.2v1-7

When the Truth emerged from the darkness of  the "churches", the ecclesias  "tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and…..found them liars". And also, said Christ - "thou hatest the deeds of the Nicolaitaines" - sig. 'the conquerors of the people". "Priests" and "ministers" were alike repudiated. But later we will see that many would find the Nicolaitaines to be acceptable - see the message to 'Pergamos'.

 

This division involved  basic doctrinal errors, such as "immortal souls", "a fallen angel devil", etc., which heresies totally destroy the Truth. These errors were dealt with by the faithful. Note also the warning - "thou hast left thy first love" and "remember from whence thou hast fallen" i.e. from the "heavenly places in Christ" Ephesians 1v3 - see page 1.

 

It is significant that Christ promises the faithful: "To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God". This undeniably identifies the setting of these basic errors, underlining the connection with the serpent's lie, & the lies of the seed of the serpent, as shown above - Genesis 3v4,5; John 8v44.

Link to 'devil' & also 'promises' for a full discussion of this subject. Those withdrawn from because of error were called 'Dowieites'.

 

Smyrna: AD1873 ch.2v8-11

The 2nd division involved  the denial of the truth concerning the Sacrifice of Christ. Without its comprehension and acceptance, there can be no salvation. Christ identifies Himself as "the first and the last, which was dead, and is alive". The connection is undeniable. He is only alive now because of the condemnation of sin in the flesh, Romans 8v3 cp Hebrews 2v14 - link to 'sacrifice'. Any teaching which denies this cannot give salvation.  It is tragic that this same heresy, dressed in a different garb, has of recent times almost obliterated  the truth of this vital subject amongst the main group of "Christadelphians".

 

Note also "the devil" is shown as the enemy -cp Hebrews 2v14. Those retaining the error became "the synagogue of  the satan" (Grk.) "which say they are (spiritual) Jews, and (but) are not". Yes, "the satan" is a personification of all those who falsely claim to represent the Truth - link to 'satan' & also 'proverbs' - page 2.

 

Note Romans 2v29 - "But he is a (spiritual) Jew, which is one inwardly...whose praise is not of men, but of God". Those "faithful unto death" would receive "a crown of life".     The promoters of this error were called 'Renunciationists'. This was because they renounced the truth which they had believed. Exactly the same thing has happened in our own days - adoption of 'clean flesh' (neo-renunciationism) has brought ruin to many. For fuller details see the messages to 'Philadelphia' & 'Laodicea'.  

 

Pergamos: AD1885 ch.2v12-17

The 3rd division was brought about through  the introduction of the heresy of "partial inspiration" -  i.e. that the Bible is not totally inspired and unerring. This abominable error was strongly promoted by two ex-"ministers", who, after being unmasked, duly returned to their evil trade. This "doctrine of the Nicolaitanes" - sig. 'the conquerors of the people', rejected in the 1860s, see the  message to 'Ephesus' - was now opposed by those still faithful,  who reconstituted their meeting upon a firm foundation of an inspired Bible. It was not done without opposition, which originated from within this meeting "where thou dwellest", and "where the satan's seat is" (see 'Smyrna' for the significance).

      

But without flinching, Robert Roberts, as a latter-day "Antipas" (= 'against all'), took the leading part in this necessary reaffirmation of truth. Open fellowship ("the doctrine of Balaam") was utilized by the errorists, their first attempts to curse (as with Balaam) having been prevented. A faithful man also "against all" fought & defeated Balaam's doctrine - cp Micah 6v5, Numbers 25; 31v16. Phinehas "made an atonement for the children of Israel" & "the plague was stayed from the children of Israel"- caused by "the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balac to cast a stumbling-block before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed unto idols, and to commit fornication". A "covenant of peace" was given to Phinehas. Even if it means that we must stand alone, let us remain faithful to God's trust - link to 'committees'.

A related theme is traced out in

'The Yahweh-Nissi Altar'.

 

Balaam's virulent heresy of fellowship with the world continued on after him with his spiritual "children" - 2nd Peter 2v1-3,12-22. After an initial struggle, being (spiritually) "slain among (them), where the satan dwelleth", Robert Roberts consolidated the faithful.

 

We notice that Christ identifies Himself as "he which hath the sharp sword with two edges"...i.e. the word of God, John 1v14; Hebrews 4v12,13; Revelation 19v13. The connection with the controversy is undeniable - it is further reinforced by the promise to the faithful of "the hidden manna". Let us also be "faithful martyr(s)" - link to 'apocalypse'.

 

Thyatira: AD1894-1898 ch.2v18-29

The 4th division occurred when a reservation upon the doctrine of resurrectional responsibility was introduced (Britain & USA). Those who denied judgment for many responsible were (and are) known as 'Unamended' - and became the Advocate group. But some, like other errorists, were later absorbed back into the main group of "Christadelphians" at the time of the "reunion" (see below under 'Philadelphia') based on tolerationist ideas. And currently many still 'Unamended' are being fellowshipped. For more details link to 'committees and compromises'.

 

This error has come to be known as 'Andrewism'. Promoters of 'clean flesh'  are  fond of  falsely  accusing  those who defend the truth concerning the Sacrifice of Christ of holding 'Andrewism'. It hides their purpose of converting the unwary to 'clean flesh' & is a tragic example of Isa. 29v21 - to "lay a snare"- proverbs p.2 - and "turn aside the just for a thing of nought" - & also read very carefully Amos 5v4-15.

 

Andrewism was a serious error, because it denied the clear declaration of Almighty God to judge those who reject His word. Being a serious challenge to His authority, it cannot be allowed to remain in fellowship. Otherwise we would also share this culpability. There is also another related aspect of 'Andrewism' which cannot be fellowshipped. This concerns a false definition of what its proponents regard as "legal responsibility", which undercuts the scriptural teaching that knowledge, and not status, brings responsibility to judgment.

 

From history we see the "burden" of withdrawal from error as commanded by Christ was perceived & obeyed by the faithful, led as in the previous division by Robert Roberts. For the true significance of this "burden" link to 'seven ecclesias' - Thyatira.

 

It is significant that the number 4 in Scripture represents Divine authority - link to 'structure' and also 'the Lord's day' -  4th Vision where this is discussed. Earlier applications of the 4th message also follow this same pattern - i.e. the rejection of God's authority.

 

Note the judgment of "the Son of God", with "his eyes like unto a flame of fire" and the promise to the faithful  - "to him will I give power over the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron; as the vessels of a potter shall they be broken in pieces".  "Jezebel",  who taught rebellion against God, is denounced, and her judgment and the judgment of all rebels is proclaimed.

 

The connection with this controversy is undeniable. And with this 4th message, Robert Roberts fell asleep in the Lord (see page 2). This event marked a disastrous decline in doctrine & practice. "I will put upon you none other burden" - the sound legacy of the Pioneer brethren was now established for ecclesias to follow. "..that which ye have already hold fast till I come". The only question remaining was would the ecclesias obey? Sadly Scripture & past events indicate otherwise - link to 'leprous'

 

Sardis: AD1914-1926 ch.3v1-6

The Pioneer brethren had built a firm foundation of truth, but it was not long before World War 1 began  a period which became notorious for 2 things:  A - compromise with error under a façade of truth - and B - extremity by those who would foist man-made rules upon fellow-believers. These 2 evils have always been very clear markers by which  the Divine plumbline can be recognized. Link to 'appeal' and also '2nd Timothy 2' for more on the above.

 

Robert Roberts had written an article entitled: 'True Principles and Uncertain Details', which was invaluable in that it set these matters out clearly at the time of the resurrectional responsibility division (see 'Thyatira'). Sadly, now his scriptural advice was disregarded, except amongst the believers who remained committed to the preservation of the Truth as God had  committed it to them - link to 'committees'.

 

The matters wherein compromise was revealed included:   

*participation in non-combatant branches of the armed forces

*toleration of those defending "special constables"

*toleration of 'clean flesh' teaching, which nullified the truth of the Sacrifice of Christ - link to 'sacrifice'.

 

On the other hand extremity was amply demonstrated - mainly through the adoption of   varying degrees of the indissolubility of marriage. This heresy was confirmed by the Roman Catholic "church" at the 'Council of Trent' 1445-1463, and was operative even in the cases of "fornication" and desertion of a believer by an alien husband or wife. Contrast Matthew 5v32;19v9; 1st Corinthians 7v12-16 - link to 'marriage'.

 

All those deviating claimed to be upholding the correct position, and almost all retained the name "Christadelphian". The verdict of Christ was clear: "thou hast a name that thou livest, and (but) thou art dead". The admonition was "strengthen the things  which remain, that are ready to die". And "Remember therefore how thou hast received and heard, and hold fast and repent".

 

This was a clear call to the earlier days of sound doctrine and sound practice. It echoed the following: Deuteronomy 32v7; Joshua 1v13; Hebrews 13v7 - "Remember the days of old...Remember the word...Remember them". The constant message is to remember the words of the pioneers of the ecclesia in the wilderness & the ecclesia in Jerusalem. The message of the Lord, consistent with the above, is to remember the words of the  pioneer brethren of the Sardian ecclesia -  and in the time-application to the last days, the pioneer brethren John Thomas and Robert Roberts, with the sound scriptural foundation which they laid under the providence of Almighty God in Christ.

 

The fact that the above is a correct understanding is endorsed by the "few names even in Sardis which did not (Revised version) defile their garments". They were "names", i.e. reputations, even as the "name", or reputation of the Sardian ecclesia*. It was the same as in the advice of Paul to the Jerusalem ecclesia,    as rendered in the R.V. -    "Remember them that had the rule over you, which spake unto you the word of God; and considering the issue of their life, imitate their faith".   Yes, the Pioneer works may be on our bookshelves; their "names" are with us. But can we truly say that we are walking in the footsteps of the faithful of old?

* - the only difference was that the reputation of the pioneers was well-deserved, whereas that of the Sardian ecclesia certainly was not.

 

In the years 1914-1926 and following, those remaining firmly based upon the Pioneer foundation allowed neither compromise nor extremity to destroy the Christadelphian name. This allowed them to prepare for an even greater disaster soon to follow:

"If therefore thou shalt not watch, I will come on thee as a thief, and thou shalt not know what hour I will come upon thee".

(Concerning the need to "watch", link to 'apocalypse' - fact 4). That time occurred, in the aftermath of World War 2, after one symbolic "hour" (thirty years) - showing the suddenness of this event. Link to 'the Lord's day' - 6th Vision for an explanation of  the telescopic symbology involved in such prophecies.

 

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                  the next section covers

                Philadelphia & Laodicea

 

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