“Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful” 1 Corinthians 4:2

We have been warned that in the latter days there will be a departure from the Truth along with the pressure and difficulty of preserving the Truth to the end. Readers will appreciate that there are many such warnings in Scripture, including the following: “when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?”, “there shall come in the last days scoffers … beware lest ye also, being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your own stedfastness”, “ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints”, “they will not endure sound doctrine … they shall turn away their ears from the truth”.

(Luke 18:8; 2 Pet 3:3,17; Jude 3; 2 Tim 4:3,4)

The Lord especially warned of such a declension from the Faith and commended the steadfastness of a faithful witness, “I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil … And hast borne, and hast patience, and for my name’s sake hast laboured, and hast not fainted” (Rev 2:2–3). His exhortation was, “Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain … Remember therefore how thou hast received and heard, and hold fast, and repent (Rev 3:2–3).

There can be no doubt that these passages of Scripture have relevance for us in these last days. They present us with a sober challenge, one that we cannot gainsay or avoid. We are called upon to love the Truth and to defend it.

The love of the Truth

During the last few years the relevance of the above warnings has become more apparent. A Christadelphian by definition is a lover of Bible truth and always has been. In a world that has departed from the Truth of the Gospel a Christadelphian stands for the Truth of Almighty God. He has been baptised knowing this and rejects the doctrines and teachings of the Apostasy. This he will do in loyalty to God and his Lord and Master, Jesus Christ. He is aware that most of the churches of Christendom neither believe in the inspiration of the Bible or share a love for the Truth it reveals; for which cause God has sent them a “strong delusion” that they should “believe a lie”. In that same context of thought the Apostle Paul wrote:

“But we are bound to give thanks alway to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth” (2 Thess 2:13).

Holy living and love of the Truth are both essential for Christ’s servants who are seeking salvation in him.

Winds of doctrines

In recent times there has been an array of ideas, some new and strange, circulating among our ecclesias, among which are the following and they are cause for concern:

That evolution is compatible with the biblical account of creation
That the Holy Spirit is available to believers Today
That there are no physical consequences of the sin in Eden
That the Scripture teaches no distinction in the roles of brothers and sisters in ecclesial service
That Paul’s epistles are not written by inspiration and are therefore not authoritative
That atonement is required for human nature as well as forgiveness of sins
That voting in political elections is consistent with the Gospel
That knowledge of God’s will is not the basis of responsibility upon which men will appear before the judgment seat of Christ
That the Statement of Faith, being man-made, is superfluous.
This list could be added to if what is discussed on some internet forums was to be included; there even more alarming trends and expressions are to be found.

The integrity of our Fellowship

Throughout the world the vast majority of Christadelphians meet on the basis of the Birmingham Amended Statement of Faith (BASF) or equivalent. The BASF summarises the doctrines believed by Christadelphians for 150 years and is what we refer to as the Statement of Faith.

Seeing all Christian churches claim their beliefs are based on the Bible, it was essential for our pioneer brethren to define what the Bible teaches. Without the Statement of Faith there would be no proper basis for inter-ecclesial fellowship. It provides and facilitates for us fellowship and friendship, support and encouragement, rich spiritual exchange of experience and knowledge, not only in our own ecclesia but within our Brotherhood world-wide. This is the “Central Fellowship” and its blessings are profound and wonderful.

We should all appreciate the importance of preserving its integrity, of “keeping that which has been committed to our trust” (1 Tim 6:20), of defending our ecclesias from erroneous doctrines which undermine the very basis of our faith.

The Statement of Faith places limits on our fellowship practice. We would not seek fellowship with those who do not believe that basis, and neither should we welcome into fellowship at the table of our Lord any who do not belong to the Central Fellowship and share its beliefs.

We are a lay community, having no hierarchy, for our Lord has warned us: “… be not ye called Rabbi: for one is your Master, even Christ; and all ye are brethren” (Matt 23:8). Our ecclesias are autonomous and self-governing. But it is understood that all ecclesias that belong to the Central Fellowship have given assent to an agreed basis, the BASF or equivalent. So each ecclesia has the responsibility to preserve our teaching and fellowship practice. By this means our Brotherhood has been and is united and its integrity preserved.

One Body

The Apostle Peter exhorts us to “love the brotherhood”, and we have been called to love and uphold the Truth.

Let us then stay the course; let us hold fast to those things we have learned and been assured of. Brother John Thomas laboured 160 years ago and many challenges have been experienced since then, yet “the body” has been preserved and the light of a new day surely dawns.

It is not time for revision, or moving away from Central Fellowship practice, but rather it is a time “to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Eph 4:3), as faithful stewards as we wait for our beloved Master, our Saviour and the coming King, whose example we seek to follow.

“Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth. Behold, I come quickly: hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown” (Rev 3:10,11).