Last Updated on : November 23, 2014

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A Short Treatise On Standards For Christadelphians

Sound Doctrine


The Truth stands distinct from all the major doctrines of Christendom. We are privileged in having been given a knowledge of this saving Truth by faithful forebears. Though excellent writings by Brother John Thomas and Brother Robert Roberts are available to us, they seem to be neglected in many circles today. Sometimes they are even denigrated. Our need, however, is to consider their works, catch their fervour and conviction and "contend earnestly for the faith once delivered to the saints".

An air of complacency appears to have sapped our zeal as it did the ecclesia. of Laodicea. That ecclesia was rebuked by the Lord for being "wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked" (Rev. 3:17). In some cases among the ecclesias today, little interest is shown for the Truth of God, so hard won by the pioneers. There is an ignorance about the Statement of Faith. Often brethren are apathetic about its value and need, yet the fellowship of the ecclesial world is founded upon it.

Confronting the Brotherhood today are a number of new ideas and teachings which threaten the harmony of inter-ecclesial activities. Two of these will be mentioned.

1. The Holy Spirit

In the first century, the Holy Spirit drew attention to and confirmed the message of the apostles. Also it brought to mind the teachings of Christ and it inspired the New Testament writers (John 14:16-17; Heb. 2:3, 4).

With the death of the apostles, who alone could pass on the gifts of the Holy Spirit (Acts 8:14-18), they soon ceased to function as a tangible power in the ecclesias. That situation has continued from then until now. This has been the belief of the Christadelphian Brotherhood since its inception.

But, in recent years, a wave of "Pentecostalism" has swept through the churches of Christendom and false claims are being made about the Holy Spirit's current activity. Claims of "speaking in tongues" and "faith healing" are commonplace. The churches of Christendom have been divided and confused in their attempts to answer this problem in their midst. Many of their members have left and joined Penetecostal churches.

It is disappointing to note that the ecclesias have not been immune from the problem. Brethren of unstable mind have propounded that the Holy Spirit gifts are available and that the miracles of the first century are being performed today, if not within the Body, then in the churches of Christendom. Others have given heed to their words, so widening the problem.

Something short of possession of miraculous gifts is put forth by some who claim the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.

Our faith has been derived from "hearing the Word of God" (Rom. 10:17). This Word was written when holy men were "moved by the Holy Spirit" (2 Pet. 1:21). There is then a sense in which the Holy Spirit works today, but this, is very different to the personal, active way in which it came upon first century believers. Brethren cannot claim that the Holy Spirit comes or moves them in the tangible way it did the apostles. Such ideas are fraught with peril. But there is much glib talk among the ecclesias today and often it is inferred that such things are open questions.

The New Testament was written at a time when the Holy Spirit was actively manifest, guiding and building up the ecclesias. Hence there are many references to its activity in the epistles (e.g. Eph. 1:13-14; 4:30; etc.). But it is a travesty of context and circumstances to apply these passages to our days. To do this is to bring confusion where once there was clarity.

If the Holy Spirit was available today, it would be plainly and indisputably manifest, as it was at Pentecost in the hands of the Apostles. Its working was always clear and unmistakable. We believe that God used Brother John Thomas to bring to light the Gospel in these last days. He believed that the Holy Spirit was not available today. Neither have faithful and devout brethren of the last 100 years made claims to possess the Holy Spirit. We believe that those who claim to have the Holy Spirit today are deceivers and have been deceived (2 Tim. 3:13).

It is appreciated that God uses whatever power He chooses to bring about His will. We pray for guidance, we seek for protection, and, when in need, we ask for health and strength. We believe that God does answer these prayers today, though we know not how or by what means. But to claim personal possession of His special powers today is untenable.

2. The Apocalypse

For over one hundred years the Brotherhood has followed the continuous-historical interpretation of the Apocalypse. Sound brethren were convinced of the reasonableness of the exposition set forth in Eureka by the founding father of the faith in the last days.

But men's minds are not stable and new thoughts have crept in. Now a chorus of interpretations cry out for attention. The result is confusion and little zest for coming to grips with the last great message of the Lord. The Apocalypse is now neglected in many areas of the Brotherhood.

Such teachers have divorced the Apocalypse from the times of the Gentiles and limited its application in large measure to a period of 3-1/2 years prior to the coming of the Lord. Thus the concept of the seals, trumpets and vials presenting the picture of God's successive judgments upon the ungodly over the ages is set aside.

The consequences of such a view are profound. No longer is the Roman Catholic Church seen to be the mother of harlots persecuting the ecclesia over the centuries. The seals, it is said, relate to unknown events yet in the future. The coming of the Master is said to be subsequent to 3-1/2 literal years of persecution of the ecclesia, etc. We believe that a view which leads to these ideas is illogical and unscriptural. It defies the clear historical interpretation common to the prophecy of Daniel and the Apocalypse.

We therefore sound a warning and counsel brethren to pick up again Eureka, Thirteen Lectures, and other like publications and imbibe the teaching they contain.

"The prophecies of Daniel and the things which were shortly to come to pass as given in the Royal Communication from the Court of Heaven - the Apocalypse - are almost entirely fulfilled. It is now difficult to find one verse indicating events which must take place before Jesus comes."

("The Courts of the Women" -- page 48).