Ecclesia of Christ

Introduction

The ‘Ecclesia of Christ’ appears to be a sub-Christian group that is at best, austere, and at worst, not worshipping the one true living God. A brief history in the words of the secretary of the Ecclesia of Christ is, as follows:

The foundation of our beliefs of course is the Bible – the Word of God. The basis of our practices goes back to Christ and Apostolic doctrines and fellowship. However our beginnings as the Ecclesia of Christ emerged with the conversion of an early pioneer – one – Dr. Thomas back in 1847, who set forth at that time the rediscovered Truth of the Bible. The name “Christadelphian” was adopted in order to be identified as the “Brethren of Christ”. However since that time laxity has allowed many heresies to be brought in which necessitated separations and divisions from the main body known still as “Christadelphians”. This has resulted in the present situation where there is but a small remnant holding form to the purity of the Faith embraced by Bro. Thomas. It means we are now left as a community numbering no more than 50 members with only 5 Ecclesia – all in the country. We do have meetings on Sundays and midweek devoted to Bible Study, also a Sunday School for the children to be taught in Bible matters. With Public Lectures Sunday evenings, (What is the Holy Bible? The Unfailing Promises of God, The Man Christ Jesus, Bible Prophecy). The main purpose of the Sunday morning meeting is for the remembrance of Christ in breaking of bread – as He requested.

Their statement of belief suggests that they dismiss the saving grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and focus on the second coming of Christ. Although some of their writing suggests a triune God, they deny that both the deity of Christ and the Trinity are found in the Bible. They do not accept the reality of the Devil and claim that sin is just a concept, which can be overcome by obeying every word of God. They believe that water baptism is essential for salvation. They focus very much on the ‘end times’ and have, in their opinion, worked out exactly, the future of Israel, Eastern Europe and the events prophesied in the book of Revelation. However, the booklets on these subjects are politically out of date. The women are not allowed to speak in any meeting and must dress according to a strict code, including the wearing of hats at all times. If members are found to have sinned, they are expelled. They are exclusive of all other denominations. They do not celebrate Christmas. Scripture is manipulated and twisted to justify what they have chosen to believe and they seek to gain obedience by fear of rejection by Jesus Christ. They have printed a number of booklets outlining their beliefs in detail.

Four of these booklets are analysed in this article. “A Statement of Faith,” “Baptism,” “Is the Trinity found in the Bible” and “The Gospel concerning the Personal Return of the Lord Jesus Christ.” The blue is taken from these publications and the paragraph in ordinary text underneath is comment made from the evangelical Christian standpoint.

A Statement of Faith – taught by Christ and His apostles

1. There is only one supreme God, the self existent, immortal, eternal, omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent Creator of all things, the fountain of all life, the sustainer of heaven and earth; dwelling in heaven in unapproachable light, and revealed to us as THE FATHER OF ALL TRUE BELIEVERS.

While belief in and knowledge of the whole Bible is necessary for spiritual growth, etc. it is not strictly necessary for the beginning of fellowship with God. God is the Father of those who are in Christ.

2. That there is only one Spirit of God, which is the power of God flowing forth from Him, filling all space, and constituting a unity with His person in Heaven. By this power He created and sustains all things, and by it He spoke through the prophets and apostles, and manifested Himself in a Son, and by it His servants have worked miracles. When set apart for a special work or object it is called “the Holy Spirit.” The Holy Spirit has not been given in the present generation as in the Apostolic age; but its word, spoken through the prophets and apostles, is still powerful to enlighten and purify and fit for salvation.

The Holy Spirit is addressed in Scripture with a personal pronoun. The Spirit is always the Holy Spirit because He is in unity with God as stated in this paragraph. Acts 2:17 says that God will pour out His Spirit on all men.

3. That man is a mortal creature, descended from the first man Adam, whom God created out of the dust of the ground as a living soul or natural body of life, “very good” in kind and condition, but whom, because of sin, He sentenced to return to the ground from whence he was taken -a sentence which defiled and became a physical law of his being, and was transmitted to all his posterity.

What about God’s increasing covenants and His everlasting loving-kindness? Jer.31:3 says, “The LORD appeared to us in the past, saying: ‘I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with loving-kindness.'”

4. That when death occurs, man ceases to exist, and is therefore in the death state devoid of all life and thought and consciousness.

We believe that this is a misleading, twisting of scripture. John 5:25,26 says, “I tell you the truth, a time is coming and has now come when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God and those who hear will live.” John 5:28 also says, “Do not be amazed at this, for a time is coming when all who are in their graves will hear his voice.”

5. That immortality or eternal life is a gift offered to all who believe the gospel preached by the apostles, and who take on the name and service of Christ, being immersed in water after believing the same, who continue patiently in the observance of all things He has commanded, none being recognised as His friends except those who do what He has commanded.

Again, this is a corruption of the evangelical Christian gospel. The scripture ‘in Christ’ is changed to ‘Service of Christ’. The scriptures quoted do not say that baptism is necessary for eternal life. Eph 2:8,9 says, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast.”

6. That resurrection will be limited to those only who are responsible to God by an enlightenment of His revealed will, and that all these, whether baptized or unbaptized, just or unjust, faithful or unfaithful will be raised from the dead at the second appearing of Jesus Christ, and will be gathered with the responsible living in His presence to give an account of themselves, and to receive in the unglorified or natural body with which they will come forth, according to that which they have done, whether, it be good or bad.

This paragraph as a whole does not bear much resemblance to the scriptures used and is in itself meaningless. John 9:41 cannot be used without the whole story of the ‘man born blind’. 1 Thess.4:14 puts it in a way that can be understood in one scripture, “We believe that Jesus died and rose again and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him.”

7. That the just will, after judgement, have their corruptible and mortal bodies changed into incorruptible and immortal bodies by the power of Christ operating to this end “in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye,” and that they will then be exalted to the position of kings and priests to reign with Christ over the mortal inhabitants of the earth for one thousand years, after which they will inherit the earth forever; while the unjust, after suffering “many or few stripes” as the King shall judge them worthy, will be destroyed of the second death, from which there will be no release.

This is another over simplified pick and mix of Scripture to give over emphasis to the end times, thereby placing people under fear rather than in grace. Titus 3:7 says, “so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life.” 2 Peter 3:7 says about the ungodly, “By the same word the present heavens and earth are reserved for fire, being kept for the day of judgement and destruction of ungodly men.” The Bible does not specify what punishments will be apportioned to those not in Christ.

8. That the Kingdom of God will be established on the earth at the second appearing of Jesus Christ, consisting in the fist instance of the restored Kingdom of Israel… but ultimately the Kingdom will comprehend all nations of the earth. That the governing body of the Kingdom so established will be… the collective “seed of Abraham,” in whom all nations will be blessed, and including “Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and all the prophets,” and all in their age of like faithfulness. That the centre of government will be Jerusalem… The object of this new order of things will be the blessing of all families of the earth, physically, spiritually, socially and politically… Universal peace and righteousness will result from the powerful rule of the saints, and, as a consequence, there will be a vast harvest of redemption at the end of the thousand years, when mortal beings will cease to exist upon the earth. Sin and death will be finally abolished and the Kingdom will be delivered up to God the Father, that He may be all in all.

This section twists the scriptures used resulting in a doctrine of obedience and focussing too much on the end times. This section contradicts itself with regard to the Rapture and with sections 6 and 7. Rev.21:1-5 gives a good explanation of Jesus returning for His beloved bride, the church. Heb.11:1 says about the future, “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.”

9. That the glad tidings of the Kingdom defined in the foregoing section constitute the gospel that was preached to Abraham, to the Children of Israel in the wilderness, and by the prophets: and which was also preached by Christ during His ministry, and by His apostles both before and after the crucifixion.

Abraham was justified by faith as we read in Gal.3:8,9.

10. That Jesus (in His days of His flesh) was a mortal man, begotten of a virgin mother by God through the power of the Holy Spirit; that being so begotten of God, and inhabited and used by God through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, which descended at His baptism in the Jordan by John the Baptist, Jesus was Emmanuel, God with us, God manifest in the flesh -yet of like nature with mortal man, and therefore a sufferer, in the days of His flesh, from all the effects that came by Adam’s transgression, including the death that passed upon all men, which He shared in partaking of their physical nature. That He was tempted in all points like as we are, yet committed no sin; that at the end of His ministry He was put to death by the Jews and Romans. Though guilty, they were instruments in the hands of God for the doing of that which He had determined before to be done, viz. the condemnation of sin in the flesh, through the offering of the body of Jesus once and for all, as a propitiation to declare the righteousness of God through this crucified, but risen, representative of Adam’s disobedient race, are forgiven. Therefore, by a figure, His blood cleanseth from sin. That on the third day, God raised Him from the dead, to die no more, and exalted Him to His right hand, as a priestly mediator for those who obey Him.

This section does not give the full reasons for Christ’s coming in the flesh or the full power and scope of the Word of God. Nowhere is it mentioned that Christ died and rose from the dead to destroy the power of sin and death, and to give those who believe in Him eternal and abundant life. It is surprising that John 3:16 is not mentioned. There is much twisting of scripture to enforce obedience.

11. That “the devil”… is sin in its various forms of manifestation among men, and variously expressed in the Scriptures… That Jesus was manifested to destroy the devil and all his works: that at His first appearing, He destroyed its power over Himself: that at His second appearing He will destroy its power over those approved at His judgement seat; and that at the end of the thousand years, He will destroy it in relation to the whole human race, after which it will no more exist upon the earth.

Satan is a supernatural being as shown in Ezek.28, and we are taught how to defeat him. See for instance Eph.6:10ff. The power of sin is no longer over those who are in Christ and baptised into His death – Rom.6:1-14. The devil himself will be thrown into the lake of fire as recorded in Rev.20:10.

12. That Jesus was the Son of David through His mother Mary, Who was of the House and Lineage of David; that He is the Son promised in the covenant made with David; that He will therefore restore the Kingdom of David at His second appearing, and sit upon the throne of His Father David as King of all the earth.

This puts everything on the level of the earth but Isa.9:6 says, “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” Lifting everything into an eternal dimension.

13. That as the promised seed of the woman, He was bruised in the heal by the seed of the serpent by death, but by resurrection, He has led captivity captive, and obtained the keys of death and the grave, which have no more dominion over Him. At His second appearing, He will bind the bruising serpent power for a thousand years, and afterwards mortally bruise and destroy it from the face of the earth.

While this is true, Scripture reveals much more. For instance see Luke 4:18 Hebrews 2:14,15.

14. That the land of Canaan having been promised to Abraham and his seed for an everlasting possession, Christ and His people, who are the seed of Abraham, must inherit that land along with Abraham in the day of its glory; and that in order to bring this about, Christ must return and raise Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and all the prophets from the dead and establish the land of promise as the territory of the restored kingdom of Israel.

The scripture quoted in Genesis refers to Abram’s inheritance of Canaan. The Seed (with a capital S) in Galatians refers to Christ; only when we are in Christ, not by obeying the law, do we become Abraham’s seed and heirs to the promise. This happens by grace when we are born again, not when Christ returns. Scripture is again misrepresented in order to twist its meaning to give top heavy emphasis on the end times which, although true, misses the whole point of salvation by faith. The land of promise refers to receiving all that God has promised in the full and abundant life of knowing Christ in the baptism and power of the Holy Spirit.

15. That the brethren of Christ are those only who believe the gospel which He preached … and who do the things He has commanded; apart from which there is no hope of salvation for mortal man

This is not what Romans 10:9-11, John 3:16 and many other verses say.

16. That in addition to the promise of the land to Abraham for inheritance, the “covenants of promise” comprise the covenant made with David concerning his throne, in virtue of which the throne of David, in the hands of Christ, will continue as long as the sun.

God’s covenants do not need to be confirmed or ratified. They have been effective since the moment God spoke them. God’s promises are continuing to be fulfilled throughout time until the day of completion.

17. That the law of Moses having been fulfilled in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, it was ordained to lead believers to Christ.

Scripture does not say this at all. See for instance Galatians 3:24.

18. That baptism for the remission of sins, as enjoyed by Christ and the apostles, consists of immersion in water, which Paul explains to mean a symbolic participation in the death and burial of Christ, into whose name it is the appointed means of introducing believers of the gospel. In the present dispensation, it is the means in connection with the shed blood of Jesus Christ for the washing away of their previous sins. Baptism is therefore, essential to salvation.

Many Scriptures show this statement not to be true, for instance John 3:18 and 36. The thief on the Cross in Luke 23:39-43 also gives the lie to this statement. Note that Romans 6:3 is talking about being baptised into Christ and not into water. 1 Peter 3:21 also shows it is the ark (Christ) that saves and not the water.

19. We repudiate the teaching that sins may divided into two categories, the one containing those requiring withdrawal, and the other containing those which may be condoned. We believe that the Scriptures forbid our acting as judges in this way, but require us to withdraw from all wicked practices and wrong teaching, where persisted in.

We are told in Scripture to be separate from sin and to do this we need to know Christ’s full salvation.

20. We repudiate the teaching that those on the right side of Christ will be selected from all the sects of religion which bear the name “Christadelphian”. The name “Christadelphian” having no more value than the name “Christian” where there is departure from the faith.

Indeed these decisions are in Christ’s hands as the Judge.

21. We believe the command that sisters must be silent in the Ecclesia is clear and definite, and to nullify this command by using slips of paper, or a brother to express their views, in the Ecclesia, is a wicked attempt to make void the command.

This is difficult to understand when you read in 1 Corinthians 11:5 that, “…every woman who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonours her head. “

22. We uphold the divine precept that it is dishonouring for a woman to be shorn of her hair.

They are entitled to believe this if they want but it is important to remember that true faith is first inward and then expressed outward.

23. We uphold the law of Christ which forbids the yoking with unbelievers, and we believe Partnerships, Membership of Trade Unions and Co-operative Societies to be such a yoking and therefore forbidden.

True we are not to be yoked with unbelievers but why pick on just these issues; there are ones that are more important.

24. That for all persistent disobedience to divine commands, we are commanded to withdraw, and that withdrawal means that the fraternal salutation must be withheld and that the offenders must be, to the true Ecclesia, as the outside Gentile.

There needs to be discipline but worked out with grace and love, not condemnation.

25. We repudiate the teaching that God sent an angel to tempt Christ to sin; Believing that Christ was tempted of His own desires in the same way that His brethren are tempted.

The Bible clearly states that Jesus, who was without sin (Luke 4:1-12), was tempted by the Devil, who is a fallen angel. See also Hebrews 4:15.

26. That, not only was it foretold there would be a falling away from the faith in the first century, but the warning specifically had a reference to the latter days. This departure, constituting a sign to those watching, of the nearness of the day of Christ’s return.

It is true that many will fall away in the last days but those who truly believe need not fear because Jesus says of His people in John 10:27-29 that “I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand.” Surely, it is better to teach faith and grace than the fear of punishment.

Baptism

Baptism is a… requirement. We shall also learn what baptism means and who can be baptised. We shall find that baptism is a serious undertaking and carries responsibilities to the one who is baptised.

The Bible does not say that baptism is a requirement for salvation but that it is a command to the disciples, Matthew 28:19, and in obedience to Christ, John 14:15.

The Lord Jesus deemed it necessary to be baptised, and the record states that ‘Jesus, when baptised, went straightway out of the water’ (Matt.3:16). Clearly he had to be in the water.

To say that the Lord Jesus deemed it necessary is a twisting of scripture from obedience out of love to the duty of legalism.

An understanding of what baptism signifies will also help in the realisation of what is needed. We shall find no clearer explanation than the one given by the Apostle Paul -Rom.6:3 -“Know ye not that so many of us as were baptised into Jesus Christ were baptised into His death? Therefore we are buried with Him by baptism into death.” The death of the Lord Jesus Christ completed His work of victory over the power of sin, and justified the condemnation by God of the nature He bore. The teaching of the Bible is that the act of baptism signifies a joining to that death of the Lord Jesus, a putting away, or burying, of the life and ways of sin, and the rising from the water a new person, cleansed from sin and now able to walk in a new way, not serving sin. Baptism becomes the symbolic death to sin -“he that is dead is free from sin” (Rom 6:7), and now ‘raised’ from the water, “should walk in newness of life” (Rom 6:40. The Lord Jesus described it to Nicodemus as being born again -“born of water and of the Spirit” (Jn 3:5). A new birth, by water and the power of God, results in a new person being seen after baptism, a person trying to live according to the commandments of God.

The death of the Lord Jesus took away our sins. The resurrection of the Lord Jesus won the victory over sin and death for all time. Jesus was not to be condemned for the nature He bore; He was in very nature, God (Phil 2:6). Baptism testifies that we have been delivered from the power of sin. Notice that Romans 6 talks of baptism into Christ (salvation) and not into water. Likewise, Jesus did not describe baptism to Nicodemus. He described the process of being born again. Baptism is being confused with being born again.

For whom then can the act of baptism be effective? The Lord Jesus gave instruction to his disciples to go into the world and preach concerning the kingdom of God, -“He that believeth and is baptised shall be saved” (Mk 16:16). Believe first of the matters concerning the kingdom of God and then baptism, and so the hope of being saved. Philip taught the things of the kingdom and of the Lord Jesus to a servant of the Queen of Ethiopia, who asked finally, “What doth hinder me to be baptised?” The answer of Philip is quite conclusive -“If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest” (Acts 8:37). The servant declared his belief and so was led down into the water and was baptised. The evidence of the Bible is very clear. In order to be baptised in truth, it is required that one understands and believes the things which have to do with the Lord Jesus and the kingdom of God, and on a confession of that belief there may be a baptism.

The whole of Mark 16:16 says “Whoever believes and is baptised will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.” Therefore, if you believe you are saved and can be baptised. Nowhere does Scripture talk about understanding, it talks about believing.

The conclusion, on the authority of the Bible teaching, is that baptism is necessary in order to have any hope of salvation. This baptism is not only a work of total immersion in water, but also involves the Spirit of God -“By one Spirit we are all baptised into one body” 1 Cor 12:13). It is a basic and very important teaching, and an essential work for all who would be joined to Christ, the Son of God.

The criminal who believed in Jesus on the cross was saved and he clearly was not baptised. We are not ‘joined to Christ’ we are ‘in Christ’. We do not have to ‘work’ to be saved as Eph.2:8,9 clearly tells us.

Is the Trinity Found in the Bible?

The teaching of the Trinity is and has been, widely used by many religions. The Egyptians and the Babylonians had their own Trinities. When Christianity superseded paganism, many of the ancient ideas were brought in to make it more acceptable to the pagans, so that they would receive this new teaching, and these ideas continue today. It is claimed that the Trinity consists of three Gods in one, God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost. These are all said to be co-equal, co-eternal, yet there are not three Gods, but one. It is spoken of as an incomprehensible mystery, which it is necessary to believe for salvation. What then has the Bible to say on this matter?

“Trinity,” which is simply a word meaning, ‘the state of being threefold’ (OED) is one of many words not found in the Bible, but that does not mean it is not a truth of God.

Paganism may have been on the earth before Jesus Christ was born but Christianity has its roots back to the beginning of man on earth and so Christianity did not copy paganism but paganism counterfeited God’s way. The word for Lord in Deuteronomy 6:4 is plural in the Hebrew text. It is not necessary to believe in the Trinity to be saved.

Looking to the New Testament, it speaks with the same voice. The Apostle Paul… “To us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things.” This reference speaks clearly of one supreme God, and not a Trinity of three Gods in one. Looking at what the Bible reveals concerning the one who it is claimed is the second person of the Trinity, -Jesus Christ, again the Bible does not speak of him as a God -the Son of God, yes, but not God the Son. He is a very important part of the purpose of God. The angels proclaimed His birth to the shepherds, Luke 2:11, “Unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.” He is not given the title of God, but Saviour -through him would be the way of salvation. The words written to the Galatians confirm these words, 4:4, “When fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law.” A mortal man when he first came and when that first work was completed in his perfect offering, bringing his death, God raised him from the dead, as Luke 24:6,7, shows the words of the angels, He is not here but risen: remember how he spake unto you when he was yet in Galilee, saying, The Son of man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again. This reference shows it was God who raised Jesus Christ from the dead and gave him eternal life -without that gift, he would not be in possession of eternal life, showing quite clearly he was not a God, because he was dependant upon the mercy of God.

The New Testament does speak of Jesus Christ as God in many places, one of the most obvious is John 20:28 where Thomas says to Him (Jesus), “My Lord and my God!” To say that Jesus is a very important part of the purpose of God is the understatement of all time – note carefully John 1:1-5.

Jesus was clearly human when he came to earth but there must be more than this, Philippians 2:5-11 indicates that there is more than Christ’s humanness, v11: “…and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” The scriptures used here merely confirm what is intended to be portrayed. Paul says more of Christ’s deity in Colossians 1:15-20.

We find many places in the Bible where the words “Holy Ghost” is printed, but never as a God, who is part of a Trinity. It is shown as the power of the eternal God. In Luke 3:22 it is shown as that which God gave to His Son, Jesus Christ… The Lord Jesus used this power on many occasions to heal those that were sick, blind, maimed and to raise others from the dead. We also have the words of the Lord Jesus to his disciples, Acts 1:4,5… wait for the promise of the Father… The fulfilment of these words is shown in Acts 2:1-4, The Bible then shows the “Holy Ghost”, or “Spirit”, is the power of God, used for the fulfilment of His purpose, and that it has been given to men occupied in His work, which shows quite clearly that the “Holy Ghost” is not a God, but that men have adopted the ancient beliefs of nations who served idols.

Genesis 1:2 tells us that the Holy Spirit is from God ‘Elohim’, which is plural in Hebrew. Many verses show that the Holy Spirit has the characteristics of a person in that He can decide what to do, He has feelings and He can speak. These are not the attributes of a ‘power’. Acts 5:3,4 also show that the Bible equates the Holy Spirit with God.

The Gospel Concerning the Personal Return of the Lord Jesus Christ

When Jesus Christ is said to bear the Name “The Word of God”, it is not conferring upon Him a title without significance… A Christian will not deny his Lord and, therefore, truth requires an upholding of the Bible in its entirety. Deny any portion, and Christ is denied, and His words as the only head of the Christian body are denied.
This is Light and there is none other. Without it men walk in darkness without hope. Like the law of Christ, if one part of the Scripture, however small, is not believed and followed, the effect is to deny the whole. Profession of Christ in such circumstances is vain. Therefore one desiring to be regarded in heaven as a Christian must walk in the light of the Word of God, which is wholly inspired and infallible.

There is much more to John 1:1-4 as we have already noted. Indeed, we need to walk in the fullness of the light of Scripture.

The Scriptures reveal it as the purpose of the Great Creator of all things to bring peace to the earth at the second advent of His Son Jesus, who will show forth the glory of His Father: “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men.” (Luke 2:14) This was spoken of at His birth, and it is a work which is not yet accomplished. “So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for Him shall He appear the second time without sin unto salvation.” (Hebrews 9:28) “He shall send Christ Jesus, which before was preached unto you: whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken of by the mouth of all His holy prophets since the world began.” (Acts 3:20,21)

Hebrews 9:27-28 completes the sentence, “Just as man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgement, so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him.”

Acts 3:19-21 also completes the sentence, “Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord, and that he may send the Christ, who has been appointed for you–even Jesus. He must remain in heaven until the time comes for God to restore everything, as he promised long ago through his holy prophets.”

Both completed scriptures give a fuller picture of the work of Jesus on the cross and immediately after and for all time until He returns.

It may appear strange, in view of the foregoing passages of Scripture, that many Christians do not believe this basic doctrine. Yet we read… “Ye men of Galilee-this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen Him go into heaven.” (Acts 1:9-11)

How many true Christians do not believe it? It can be very difficult to understand the Second Coming without knowing the power of the cross and the resurrection and the work of the Holy Spirit. Any teaching without these basic truths is very limiting, and misusing scripture for a mind control device to force a destructive belief is deplorable.

This last quotation raises another principal -resurrection to judgement. Jesus said of this: “For the Son of man shall come in the glory of His Father with His angels; and then He shall reward every man according to his works.” (Matthew 16:27)

The meaning of “works” must be taken from a scripture such as Ephesians 2:8-10. These works must be done in God’s strength and by His direction. See also Hebrews 4:1-3.

The Almighty, who speaks of Himself as the God of Israel, gave warning to Israel at the commencement of their national life, (BC 1500) that while He would punish them for evil-doing by dispersion into all nations, the day would come when “I will remember my covenant with Jacob, Isaac, Abraham, and I will remember the land.” (Leviticus 26:40-42)… This is the future work of Christ, which the Jews in Israel and throughout the world have yet to recognise. Their present efforts are serving to focus world attention upon the Middle East and on the purpose of God. He has revealed that the situation now present in this area is a sign that the Messiah is about to appear to deliver Israel from Russia and the Arabs and to occupy the throne of the Lord over Israel as the son of David.

This section is confusing, the restoration of Israel in the time of Nehemiah, the incarnation of Christ, the formation of the state of Israel in 1948 and the second coming of Christ, the time of which will not be known until it happens (Matt.24:36). They are also confusing the Kingdom of God, which is in us (Luke 17:20-21), with their own false prophesies.

From Jerusalem as His capital city, the beneficial results of Christ’s rule will be felt all over the nations, for all will have to submit or perish. The good news of His Kingdom is to be proclaimed all over the world, (the very words of His message are given us in Rev 14:7-11). Those who respond will enjoy benefits never before experienced in the earth, and the promise of Abraham concerning his seed, Jesus Christ, will be fulfilled… Here is the real and practical issue of the Divine purpose, centred in Christ Jesus. He returns, not in the weakness of human nature over which He gained the victory: but as the strong, immortal Son of God, invested with irresistible power, endowed with wisdom which none can gainsay, and He comes to rule the world in righteousness… Those who are to be redeemed by Christ by resurrection are to live forever. They are to be Kings and Priests, and to reign on the earth. (Rev 5:9,10) This is the only Christian hope.

The good news of Jesus has been preached throughout the world since the day of Pentecost and still is. The Book of Revelation cannot be used in place of this good news. The prophesies of the second coming will happen when Christ returns, the prophesies of the first coming, because it happened 2000 years ago, have been and are continuing to happening in these last days. Revelation 14:7-11 will happen favourably for those who have already received the blessings prophesied to Abraham in Genesis 22:17-18, through Christ’s redemption in the present kingdom of God, not the kingdoms of the world. The prophesies of Isaiah were meant to be possible to happen before the second coming if peoples repent and give themselves up to Christ. As we are in Christ, we achieve in the power of the Holy Spirit in us, what Christ Himself has said in John 14:12-14 – see also Revelation 5:9-10.

The position of those who earnestly desire a part in such a glorious hope is shown in 1 Pet 1:13,14… This is the beginning of the path to life, which Jesus said was straight-narrow -marked out by the Word of the Living God. Whole hearted belief is essential, followed by baptism by water and spirit (John 3:5) -thus beginning a new life in Christ through the mercy of God.

See notes in the section BAPTISM

The Signs given in the prophets, and by the Lord Jesus are now speaking – His coming is near, “even at the doors.” (Matt 24:33). Careful study of the Signs in this chapter in the light of the world conditions is essential… Our appeal is, that you may find it in your heart to approach the Scriptures as Jesus did, and find the way to deliverance from the judgements which God will bring upon the men who refuse His ways.

It is the cry of the heart of all Christian that all people will hear the true good news of Jesus Christ which is summed up in John 3:16-18.

Conclusion

The teachings and beliefs of the Ecclesia of Christ bear much resemblance to their Christadelphian roots. The common thread is the unbelief in the deity of Christ and the lack of a full understanding of Jesus’ words, “It is finished.” That leads to problems with the sacrifice that Jesus made on the cross for all mankind. The sacrifice of Jesus as believed by these groups was of no more value than the sacrifices of the Old Testament because the sacrifice was neither the sinner nor the one sinned against.

The sacrifice of Jesus Christ works, as those born again believe, because Jesus, as God incarnate, was the one sinned against and willingly sacrificed Himself in our place in order to fulfil the Law (Matt 5:17,18) and to break the power of sin and death. (1 Cor 15:56,57). The spirit of unbelief confuses and substitutes belief with baptism, and salvation with Christ’s return and teaches a gospel of salvation on strict obedience and completion of good works, “… which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ.” (Gal 1:7).

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