BIBLICAL BASIS FOR THE "PHILADELPHIA" (BROTHERLY LOVE) TESTIMONY (Rev. 3:7‑13)

Armando Di Pardo

"Philadelphia" Testimony Congress. August 15 to 17, 1970. Argentina.

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Brethren: When we solemnly declare that the "Philadelphia" Testimony has a Biblical Basis, we do not only mean that what the Testimony says is Biblical, rather we go deeper to affirm that:

I.                   The Word of God requires the existence of the "Philadelphia" Testimony: it indicates the time in history in which it should be given; and shows for which causes it must testify.

II.                 The Word of God establishes its name and purpose and gives the method by which they can be attained.

 

We are called to these pious considerations. The rule for which will be: "SOLA SCRIPTURA"; and this is pointed out to us by those noble brethren in Berea, who "received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the Scriptures daily, whether those things were so" (Acts 17:10,11). May we do likewise.

 

I.                    THE WORD OF GOD REQUIRES THE EXISTENCE OF THE "PHILADELPHIA" TESTIMONY; IT POINTS OUT THE TIME OF ITS APPEARANCE: AND INDICATES FOR WHICH CAUSES IT MUST TESTIFY.

 

(1)   In Revelation 3:8, the Lord Jesus Christ says to the Church in Philadelphia:

"Thou hast kept my word, and hast not denied my name".

Though these words are directed to a certain local church, they possess the force of a FUNDAMENTAL PRINCIPLE which is valid for all Christian Assemblies for all times. That principle is: TO KEEP THE WORD AND NOT DENY THE NAME OF THE LORD.­

Let us confirm that with other Scriptures. In John 14:23, we read: "If a man love me, he will keep my words". And in Matthew 10:32: "Whosoever, therefore, shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father ... But whosoever shall deny me before men, him also will I deny before my Father, who is in heaven." (Compare Romans 10:9,10; 2 Tim. 2:12). These statements of our Lord made some sixty years prior to these of Revelation 3:8 are decisive and indicate two facts:

(a)    That the Lord Himself established the Principle and later confirmed its being put into force and recognized its fulfilment in that small local church toward the and of the first century. Therefore no exegesis can ignore that the Lord's express will is that His Word should be kept and His Name confessed. Therefore: that Principle, established by the Lord Himself, is valid today as it was yesterday: KEEP MY WORD AND DO NOT DENY MY NAME, SAYS THE LORD.

(b)   The enforcement of that Fundamental Principle demands the presence of identifiable groups in which there is evidence of this very Principle.

 

1.      IN THE NEW TESTAMENT, we witness the presence of those groups during the first century. So we read that from the beginning of the Church age, the disciples "continued stedfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship... Praising God, and having favour with all the people..." (Acts 2:42,47). We read of the joint meeting of an international nature to restore unity in doctrine and testimony which was being threatened by legalism (Acts 15:1‑31). About Ephesus we read that Paul gave them "ALL THE COUNSEL OF GOD" (Acts 20:27), warning the elders concerning the future appearance of ravenous wolves and those who would perturb the flock (vs.28‑30). In 2 John 4, we read: "I rejoiced greatly that I found of thy children walking in truth, as we have received a commandment from the Father". In 3 John verses 3,4 we read: "For I rejoiced greatly, when the brethren came and testified of the truth that is in thee, even as thou walkest in the truth. I have no greater joy that to hear that my children walk in truth.". We only hear of approval of the church in Smyrna from the Lord (Rev.2:8‑11). Of Philadelphia we learn from the lips of the Lord Himself the express recognition of the Principle (Rev. 3:8‑11).

Furthermore, the Epistles were written for the teaching and preservation of the Principle (Phil. 1:27‑30; Col. 4:12; 2 Th. 2:15‑17), and for the reproving of the transgressors (Rom. 16:17,18; 1 Cor.11:19; Gal.1:6‑9, 5:l‑12; Eph‑5:11; Col. 2:8; 2 Th.2:6; 2 Tim.4:3‑5; Tit.3:10,11; Jas. 4:4; 2 Pet. 2:1‑3; 2 Jn.9‑11; Jude 3,4, 19). And we read that Missionary Evangelists were placed in Ephesus and in Crete so that the Principle should be preserved (1 Tim.1:3; 3: 16; 2 Tim.2:1,2; Tit.1:5‑11, 2: 1, 7‑13).

2.      THE PASSING OF CENTURIES. The registers and verdicts of Church History relate the deviations and the endeavours to correct them which not always were successful. The so‑called "Councils", which at times took good paths in their disapproval of errors, sad to say, at other times fell themselves into errors. Theological and ecclesiastic schools and currents were established which were in conflict with each other, which finally gave origen to different bodies and organizations. To be short, we will focus on these currents, mentioning certain developments throughout History, errors which were peculiar to the churches in Ephesus, Pergamos, Thyatira, Sardis and Laodicea, and certain unfolding of virtues in Ephesus, Smyrna and Philadelphia. (Some of the following concepts are taken from Dr. H. A. Ironside's book on Revelation; Notes from the Scofield Bible, the original edition in English).

EPHESUS. The loss of first love in Ephesus (Rev.2:4), ‑(Ephesus means "Desirable", which points out the pristine purity and fidelity of the early Church)‑, has developed historically into the love of many growing cold of Matthew 24:12; even in many, who, like Ephesus ostentate fidelity in many areas of orthodox doctrine and their refusal of heterodoxy. Fundamentalist in beliefs Ephesus failed in the real manifestation of first love and fell. The sad part is that in spite of the Lord's warning, its candlestick, its testimony was finally removed out of its place. The lesson is very clear to us: "KEEP THE WORD" means more than just adhesion to a creed and even certain orthodox works: it is demonstrated and counts in the eyes of the Lord, not only for sound doctrine but also for the fruit of the Holy Spirit in the life and testimony of His own. Love for the Lord and His Word, His Person, His Work, His Coming; the love of God shed abroad in the heart by the Holy Spirit; brotherly love among God's people and love for souls: these are marks which God commends, without which the Testimony would be found wanting, poor in spiritual authenticity or ‑in extreme cases‑ lacking this altogether.

SMYRNA. (Rev.2:8‑11). Smyrna means "Myrrh" and represents the Church under persecution and martyrdom, crushed like ''myrrh'' to give its sweet odor. During two centuries, the Church suffered ten edicts of persecution under Pagan Rome, from Nero to Diocletian. "BE THOU FAITHFUL UNTO DEATH", the Lord says. To such a price comes the cost of "KEEP THE WORD AND NOT DENY THE NAME"; there too "THOU HAST KEPT THE WORD OF MY PATIENCE" is fulfilled (Rev.3:10). The saintly example of martyrs, "of whom the world was not worthy" (He.11:38), which sprang from the love in their hearts and whose generous blood was shed in the abundance of their testimony. But: "THE BLOOD OF THE MARTYRS IS THE SEED OF THE CHURCH" (S. Agustin).

THE ERRORS OF PERGAMOS AND THYATIRA, developed in the ecclesiastic system of Romanism; and those of SARDIS and LAODICEA, in the formalism of apostate Protestantism with its "Modernisms" and "Ecumenisms". Let us look at these facts in some detail.

PERGAMOS (Rev.2:12‑17), meaning "Union" and "Elevation", symbolizing the union of the Church and the State in the sense of political power, which occured about the year 312 with the so‑called "conversion" of Emperor Constantine. After the deaths of Diocletian and Galerius, Constantine and Maxentius fought for the throne of the Empire. It is said that Constantine had a vision of a fiery cross and that he heard a voice which said: "IN THIS SIGN THOU SHALT CONQUER". He then called Christian bishops, accepted the now doctrine and declared himself to be its "patron". He won the battle over Maxentius and conquered the throne. One of his first acts was to free Christians and stop all persecution. Great honors were bestowed upon bishops who then sat upon thrones with the noblemen of the Empire. As a result, the truth of the coming of the Lord was abandoned because it was believed that the Church was already reigning. This continued until the Reformation (XVI century), when the light again shone.

Together with Political Power came Hierachical Power: came the "deeds and the doctrine of the Nicolaitans" (from "Nicolaos": "Rulers of the people"). The so‑called "clergy" come from this.

We also read of the "doctrine of Balaam" (see Numbers 25:1‑9) who taught Balak to cast a stumbling block: "fornication", which understood spiritually, is the mixture of the Church and the world, Christianity and Paganism. We see this further explained in Thyatira.

THYATIRA (Rev.2:18‑29), is a difficult name to translate, as it comes from two words: one meaning "a sacrifice" and the other "continually", which suggest “a continual sacrifice” ‑a remarkable allusion to the so‑called "sacrifice of the mass". Furthermore it was in the VIIth century that the Bishop of Rome was recognized as the "Vicar of Christ" and "Visible head of the Church"...(!). We read more‑over, that Jezebel (which means "Intact") is also mentioned, and this reminds us of that wicked woman, wife of King Ahab who sought for a Judaistic‑Phoenician synthesis, a syncretic mixture. Its is obvious that all this points to Rome and makes the words of Dr. A. J. Gordon very up to date: ‑"Rome has made a dragnet of her sacraments, embracing whole nations at a single swoop and enclosing them in the Church; and the outcome has been that in Christianizing the pagans she has paganized Christianity." (From the book "The Holy Spirit in Missions", p.22). Even the exaggerated "aggiornamento" of Neo‑Romanist Ecumenism ‑that has arisen as a result of Vatican Council II‑ has not changed the situation one iota, because its "approach" to the Bible is purely apparent, since the traditional "dogmas and sacraments" which are not Biblical, remain confessedly untouched. Furthermore, its "Ecumenism" has the invariable sign of "RETURN TO ROME" imprinted in it...

SARDIS AND LAODICEA. Sardis, ‑(means "a residue")‑, represents the incomplete Reformation of the 16th century, and so we read that the Lord “FOUND NOT THY WORDS PERFECT BEFORE GOD” (Rev. 3:2). These imperfect works, together with other errors of later date, have developed into the different variations of "Modernism” which have undermined the very foundation of their denominational bodies, through the instrumentality of those who "HAVE A NAME THAT THEY LIVE AND ARE DEAD" (Rev.3: 1) and therefore march together with the false profession of those of Laodicea... ("the rights of the people") totally without the life of the Holy Spirit (Rev.3:17). Moreover, those "modernisms" or doctrinal and ethic apostasies have developed many "ecumenical'' concepts by which on the one hand they march toward Rome and on the other hand toward the world, chanelled into streams of a "Neouniversalist" utopia which update this other expression of the already quoted Dr. A. J. Gordon:

"Rationalism with its dictum, 'the Church is coextensive with the human race' has practically repudiated the great commision, logically concluding that it is a superfluous task to seek to bring into the fold those who are not really outside the fold." (''The Holy Spirit in Missions", p.22).

Let no one think we are exaggerating, because syncretist philosophy and neouniversalism have been so conspicous within the conglomeration of the World Council of Churches, that as recently as March of this year 1970, this provoked a reaction in an evangelical wing in Frankfurt, Germany, which was channeled into a "Declaration" which denounces such tendencies and pronounces itself in favour of a Biblical Evangelism as the Mission of the Church. Sad to say, in the "Frankfurt Doclaration" the obedience to Biblical doctrine of separation from apostasies has not been considered, and its writers stayed there. Would to God their eyes may be opened wide. On our part, we are establishing contacts with the leaders of this reaction, from our Office in the United States.

PHILADELPHIA ("Brotherly Loved''). (Rev.3:7‑13). And what of the vir­tues of "Philadelphia"? Must they not any projection or recognizable identity in these last times? The answer is: YES, because it is written: "NEVERTHELESS HE LEFT NOT HIMSELF WITHOUT A WITNESS" (Acts 14:17). And it is also written : "THOU HAST GIVEN A BANNER TO THEM THAT FEAR THEE, THAT IT MAY BE DISPLAYED BECAUSE OF TRUTH." (Psalm 60:4). Moreover: "GATHER MY SAINTS TOGETHER UNTO ME, THOSE WHO HAVE MADE A COVENANT WITH ME BY SACRIFICE" (Psalm 50:5). Let us see this.

(2) Who, at what time and in what manner represent "Philadelphia"; and for what reasons do they testify?

These questions demand a detailed treatment.

(a)   Who, at what time, and in what manner represent "Philadelphia".

In Rev.3:10 we read: "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.".

This Scripture contains a notable revelation, which should be very clear to all who hold the Dispensational view of the Word of God, and which we express in the following manner:

"PHILADELPHIA", identifies a number of believers, who, by the nature of the word which they keep: "THE WORD OF MY PATIENCE", and the promise they receive for that reason: "I ALSO WILL KEEP THEE FROM THE HOUR OF TEMPTATION, WHICH SHALL COME UPON ALL THE WORLD", of necessity includes more than the born again members of just one local church. Because the whole verse refers directly to the Coming of the Lord to rapture His Church before the Tribulation; and HIS CHURCH is not only made up of those born again in one particular local church, but rather of all born again throughout all the History of the Church, together with the born again members of all local churches that exist on the face of the earth in the precise moment of HIS COMING "FOR" THEM. (See John 14:l‑3; 1 Cor.15:23, 51‑58; 1 Th.1:9,10, 4:13‑18, 5:9; 2 Th.2:l‑12).

Now, three facts become very clear to us:

First.                If the Lord promises to liberate that particular Church in "Philadelphia", from the Tribulation, therefore that church must be in some way present on the earth at the time of the fulfilment of the promise.

Second.            That moment, of course must occur during the time previous to the Tribulation, that is during the time previous to the rapture of the Church. And if the "signs of the times" tell us that this is the stage in History which marches at an accelerated step toward these catastrophes, therefore: THIS IS THE TIME WHEN "PHILADELPHIA" SHOULD BE ON THE EARTH!.

Third.               But: IN WHAT FORM? As that "presence" cannot refer to the same persons of "Philadelphia" of the first century who are with the Lord, of necessity it is evident that "presence" must assume another form. AND WHICH FORM? The only logical answer is: Others will represent it, other born again believers, all members of local churches who will give the same Testimony as the first "Philadelphia": keeping the Word, not denying the Name of the Lord, keeping the word of His patience. AND OF NECESSITY, THAT FORM WILL BE THE FORM OF A TESTIMONY!.

Considered in this light, that first historical "Philadelphia", takes on the nature of a representative and prophetic type of the appearing of local churches which are faithful to the faith, in these last days, who, united in the fellowship of the Spirit, will witness ‑without partializations or omissions‑ for the WORD AND THE NAME OF THE LORD, PREVIOUS TO THE RAPTURE; CONFRONTING APOSTATE "SARDIS" AND "LAODICEA" WHO TOGETHER WITH "PERGAMOS" AND "THYATIRA" MARCH TO THE DEVELOPMENT OF “BABYLON" WHICH WILL SUFFER IN THE GREAT TRIBULATION.

As Dr. C. I. Scofield said: "Philadelphia is whatever bears clear Testimony to the Word and the Name in the time of self‑satisfied profession represented by Laodicea" ("The Scofield Reference Bible", original note on Rev.1:20).

(b)   For what causes must they testify?

If we penetrate the Lord's expression "THOU HAST KEPT THE WORD OF MY PATIENCE" inductively and subjectively, we will discern that the "PATIENCE” of the Lord is in force in two areas: (1) in permitting His Church to suffer the conditions of a hostile world (John 16:33); and (2) in waiting "for" His Church throughout the centuries in the necessary experiences of its formation and completion until the day and hour determined by the Father for Him to take the Church to Himself "presenting it to himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle" (see Eph. 5:27; 2 Th.3: 5; compare 1 Th.3:10 and Jas.5:7,8; 2 P.3:4,9; Mt.24:36,42).

The longsuffering tolerance and patient waiting of the Lord together with those who are the Lord’s, and which includes the formation, completion and manifestation of the Church, includes therefore, the consumation of all the "MYSTERY OF CHRIST" (Eph.3:1‑12) for whose revelation and clear understanding we have the Biblical Body of Doctrines; because the mystery of the Church goes back to the election in Christ from before the foundation of the world (Eph.1:4) and extends to the last things (1 Cor.15:23,24). Therefore, it has to do with matters related to Theology, Cosmology, Angelology, Cosmogony, Anthropology, Hamartiology, Soterology, Pneumatology, Ecclesiology, Eschatology; all of which is equivalent to saying: "ALL THE COUNSEL OF GOD", JUST AS IT WAS GIVEN BY THE HOLY SPIRIT IN THE HOLY SCRIPTURES!.

(c)    Let us ask ourselves now: Are Fundamental Organizations, Conventions, Fellowships and Church Councils giving "THAT TESTIMONY"?

Logically we are given to suppose that all born again believers, those who call themselves fundamental in the faith, those who believe and keep the Word of God, and confess His Name and love and await His coming, should be giving that Testimony. But in reality we deplore having to say this is not so; because not all who make up the host of Christians fundamental in the faith, have become conscious of the facts. For example: some are still wrapped up in Modernist‑Ecumenical Denominations and Councils, without the vision nor the courage to obey the Biblical commandment of not being unequally yoked together with unbelievers (2 Cor.6:14 to 18). And many others, who by the Grace of God have been faithful in the Testimony of the Biblical Doctrine of Separation from apostasies, are found sadly faulty in discerning and obeying the Biblical Doctrine of Christian Unity and are not genuinely representing "Philadelphia".

It is for this last reason that the majority of Fundamental Churches who should be giving the "Philadelphia" Testimony in integrity, are in the eyes of the Lord and of men, an ecclesiastical complex of "Denominational" Churches and "Undenominational" or Independent Churches, who are at the same time UNITED AND DISUNITED AMONG THEMSELVES. United in Spirit and in their faith in so‑called Fundamental doctrines, but are disunited and even divided by their discrepancies in many Biblical Doctrines and Practices.

Fundamentalism, a holy movement raised up at the beginning of the century ‑as a reaction to "Modernism" and its later development "Ecumenism"‑, has developed into currents of theological interpretation, fellowships and councils, which do not admit the fact that "KEEPING THE WORD" cannot be fulfilled by only emphasizing the so‑called "Fundamentals of the Faith", because that attitude: explicitly or implicitly but irrevocably, minimizes, divides or omits parts of "ALL THE COUNSEL OF GOD".

As we said in the I.F.C.A. Convention in Limmerick, Pa., March 26,1968, "the present historical conditions of the Church, demand that the "Philadelphia" Testimony be given to its full extent and not partialized or restricted to a certain number of pre‑determined doctrines". Such a fact, apart from not fulfilling the Principle of "KEEPING MY WORD", incurrs in the following defections:

1.      It affects the Authority of the Scriptures, because the very Fundamental Denominations which confess them unanimously, maintain at the same time their interdiscrepancies in doctrine and practices which each group proclaims as being "Biblical", but this, implicitly proclaims as "Un‑Biblical" all the others.

2.      It affects the Biblical Doctrine of the Church, because the "Denominational" spirit is opposed to the fact that the Church of the New Testament is Undenominational.

3.      It affects the Biblical Doctrine of Christian Unity, because even born again believers who possess the Unity of the Spirit are satisfied in being just grateful for this, but concerning Unity in the Word of God, they are limited to five, seven or nine so‑called "Fundamental doctrines", without any further preocupation to complete this Unity which includes ALL Biblical doctrines and practices.

4.      It affects the Christian Testimony, because the preaching, teaching and even the hope of the Church are not the same, when doctrines and practices of one group are in conflict with other groups. For this reason many unbelievers have been scandalized.

Brethren: it is axiomatic that if some Biblical doctrine is affected, the whole Body of Biblical Doctrines is affected, because of the INTERDOCTRINAL UNITY OF THE WORD OF GOD which is one of the proofs of its Divine Inspiration. Let us remember as analogy, Paul's expressions "Whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it" (1 Cor.12:26).

Moreover: to partialize or omit doctrines, partializes proportionately all the Testimony. So, to give only a part as if it were the whole Testimony of the Word, and doing this "in the Name of the Lord", is obviously contradictory and unethical. Therefore, either such a matter is corrected, or the very persons who should give the Testimony of the Church "in Philadelphia" will make this Church to be at fault just as "Sardis" was, whose works were not found perfect before God.

WE REITERATE: To "KEEP THE WORD" AND "NOT DENY THE NAME OF THE LORD", demands that the Testimony should be given not just "in part" or even for the "greater part".. important as that is, BUT FOR ALL THE COUNSEL OF GOD!, Paul's statement to the Elders of Ephesus which left them without excuse, was: "I HAVE NOT SHUNNED TO DECLARE UNTO YOU ALL THE COUNSEL OF GOD" (Acts 20:27).

Let us ask ourselves this question: With the Now Testament finished and therefore the Cannon of the Scriptures completed, WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR US NOW, AS WITNESSES TO "ALL THE COUNSEL OF GOD"? There is only ONE answer‑. WE MUST GIVE A CLEAR TESTIMONY ON ALL THE DOCTRINES CONTAINED IN THE WORD OF GOD!.

Let us confirm this still more, examining another text which gives colateral evidence to this. In Rev.22:16 we road: "I JESUS HAVE SENT MINE ANGEL TO TESTIFY UNTO YOU THESE THINGS IN THE CHURCHES". In this single verse, the Word of our Lord gives us five constitutive elements for a complete Biblical Testimony.

They are:

            (1) The initiative of the action: "I Jesus have sent"

(2) The Lord's instruments "mine angel"

(3) The Action itself: "to testify"

(4) The character or contents of the Testimony: "those things"

(5) Those to whom it was directed: "the churches".

We can examine them but briefly here.

1.      The initiative of the action is taken by the Lord Himself: "I JESUS HAVE SENT". Incidentaly, this is the only time in the book of Revelation where the Lord calls Himself by His name "JESUS", which is symtomatic. "JESUS", as is known, comes from the Hebrew "Jehosua" or the abbreviated form "Joshua" (He. 4:8) and means "(the) Salvation of Jehova" or "Jehova (the) Saviour". That is, it is the name associated with the Lord with regard to "saving His people from their sins" (see Mat.1:21). It has a special reference to the Incarnation as also to His humiliation and obedience unto death (Phil.2:8); and understanding it in this way suggests to us that the Testimony should glorify Jesus Christ and His work.

We also read: "I ... HAVE SENT", from the Greek "Pempo" (to send), which is a very singular word in the original, because it indicates that He who sends accompanies the person sent (compare Lk.7:6: "Then Jesus went with them").

2.      The Lord's instrument is called "MINE ANGEL". "Angel" comes from the Greek "Angelos" meaning "a messenger".

And just as John is an "angel" or "messenger" through whom the Lord has given us the book of Revelation, by implication, all who receive a burden from the Holy Spirit to witness for the Lord, are also "His Angel" or messengers.

3.      "TO TESTIFY", is what follows. Here the very action is defined, as the act of testifying, or witnessing. This is obvious.

4.      "THESE THINGS", the Lord then says, which gives us the character and contents of the Testimony.

This expression is in no wise limited to certain things to the exclusion of others, but includes ALL things, in this particular case all in the Revelation.

If "THESE THINGS" is related to the book of Revelation and includes ALL that the book contains, then we clearly understand that "ALL THE COUNSEL OF GOD", of necessity, includes ALL the Doctrinal contents of Holy Scripture!.

5.      Finally we read: "IN THE CHURCHES". Here we are given the specific destination explicitly defined without more description than "THE CHURCHES".

In this way, the Lord defines the Testimony as UNDENOMINATIONAL, and points out that it cannot be limited to any particular jurisdiction. This is confirmed by the oft repeated expression we find in Rev.2:7,11,17,29 and 3:6,13,22, which states: "He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith UNTO THE CHURCHES" This means that, though the Lord's letters were addressed to local, specific churches, nevertheless the message sent to one church should be made known to the others; that is: the Testimony should be made known in an INTER‑CHURCH manner.

Moreover, from the fact that the letters have been perpetuated in the Holy Scriptures, we infer that they should be made known without any limitations and with a world‑wide range.-

It is more than evident that all this establishes the urgent need for the full and clear "PHILADELPHIA" TESTIMONY. But let us see even more of what is established by the Word of God.

 

II.                  THE NAME OF THE TESTIMONY; PURPOSES AND HOW TO OBTAIN THEM.

 

(1) The Name. Obviously the name is "PHILADELPHIA", a Greek word meaning "BROTHERLY LOVE".

Added to the need of identifying the presence of the testimony, which we have already spoken about, is the need of showing the meaning and definition of the word. "BROTHERLY LOVE", shows us that the act of witnessing does not have bastard or presumptious motivations, or carnal or spiritual pride, but springs from, is saturated by and acts in, with and by LOVE, "BROTHERLY LOVE" which is one of precious manifestations of "the love of God (is) shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us" (Rom.5:5, Gal.5:22).

"BROTHERLY LOVE" is the manifestation of the Love of God in a family relationship which proceeds from the Fatherhood of God through Christ. A Brotherhood made possible by the Lord Himself, Who through the Spirit which was in the prophets (1 Peter 1:11,12) after announcing the sufferings of the cross ‑by which this Brotherhood was wrought (Ps. 22:1‑21)‑, broke forth after His victory and prophesied: ‑"I will declare thy name unto my brethren: in the midst of the congregation will I praise thee" (Ps.22:22). A Brotherhood which sprang spontaneously from His resurrected being when He said to Mary Magdalene: "...GO TO MY BRETHREN AND SAY UNTO THEM, I ASCEND UNTO MY FATHER, AND UNTO YOUR FATHER AND TO MY GOD AND YOUR GOD" (see John 20:17,18).

LOVE that proceeds from the everlasting source (Jer.31:3), refined in the vicarious sacrifice on the cross, to descend later in tongues of fire at Pentecost (Acts 2) filling and burning the hearts of the saints who are exhorted to show it (2 P.5:7) not in any sporadic manner, but permanently as it is written: "LET BROTHERLY LOVE CONTINUE" (Heb.13:1); LOVE that should saturate all our life and conduct. (1 Cor.16:14).

(2) Purposes and Methods by which to reach the goal.

In the name "PHILADELPHIA" (BROTHERLY LOVE) are found not only the Purposes of the Testimony but the course and method to follow to reach the goal,

(a)    Purposes.      LOVE, to be consequent with itself must fulfill its holy vocation in being "THE BOND OF PERFECTNESS", as we read in the Epistle to the Colossians, chapter 3, verse 14.

For this reason the "BOND OF PERFECTNESS" could never be appointed to a yoke or function which would convert it into a "BOND OF IMPERFECTNESS". That is, if we focus the virtue and action of LOVE on the bosom of the Brotherhood, that love could never be a "BOND OF UNITY AND DISUNITY AT THE SAME TIME", because it would deny its own nature, its authentic vocation would disappear and lose its intimate genuiness.

LOVE, to be consequent with itself, would move to seek and find a Biblical formula to rectify error, because it cannot serve as a bond nor cover between truth and error, therefore it cannot be content to become a pretex to preserve discrepancies which cause divisions among God's children.

And let us make no mistake, a "fervent charity "that" shall cover the multitude of sins" (1 P.4:8), does not refer to maintaining error nor unrighteousness, because it is written: "CHARITY ... REJOICETH NOT IN INQUITY BUT REJOICETH IN THE TRUTH" (1 Cor.13:6). Peter's phrase refers legitimately to "forbearing one another in love" (Eph.4:2), while we are seeking to correct the evils which bring sorrow and division to the Body of Christ. Brotherly love, which forbears with a brother, will not be satisfied in not helping to enlighten his conscience if he believes his brother is in error, just as he would not be satisfied in not succouring him if he could share a slice of bread, or clothing or other comforts with him (1 Jn.3:17), because it is written: "My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth" (1 Jn.3:18 compare Jas.2:15,16).

TO CONCLUDE THIS POINT. Love as a bond of perfectness, with respect to Christian Unity in the bosom of the Brotherhood, will move in the hearts of born again believers who do not hinder its workings, to lead them to promote ALL THE UNITY which will show the "PHILADELPHIA" (BROTHERLY LOVE) TESTIMONY fully unfolding.

The Purposes of "Philadelphia" Testimony are condensed and manifested in a movement from within, a movement of love, which will witness to and promote UNITY among brethren in all that the Word of God establishes in Doctrine and Practice and Testimony, for the People of God. Only in this manner will there be, in these latter days on the face of the earth, a worthy representation of that first "PHILADELPHIA" to whom a direct promise was made in virtue of the direct recognition of a Testimony without compromise nor reproach ‑for the Word and the Name of the Lord!.

(b)   The Method of reaching the goal.

The Method is directly related to the Purposes: Purposes of Love require Methods of Love. Purposes of "KEEPING THE WORD" require Methods which conform to the Word.

In Philippians 2:2, we read: "...that ye be likeminded, having the same love being of one accord, of one mind". To be likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, has no room for the perpetuation of discrepancies nor disunity nor division. To be "likeminded" does not mean "to agree to disagree". It just means to agree to reject such irrationality and promote the decision to be of one accord and to promote A BROTHERLY DIALOG AMONG BORN AGAIN BELIEVERS WHO ARE SEPARATED FROM APOSTASIES, in which a respectful confrontation of discrepancies can be raised to the spiritual level of prayer and Bible study in conjunction: PRAYER AND BIBLE STUDY WHICH WILL DEMAND PEREMPTORILY THEIR VITAL PART IN THE METHOD.

This is based on the clear understanding that Essential Christian Unity or "UNITY OF THE SPIRIT", "LOVE", "PRAYER" and the "WORD OF GOD", are ALL products from the same sources THE HOLY SPIRIT. Let us see this:

1.                  Essential Christian Unity, as it is "UNITY OF THE SPIRIT", obviously proceeds from the Holy Spirit. "For by ONE SPIRIT are we all baptized into ONE BODY ... and have been ALL made to drink into ONE SPIRIT." (1 Cor. 12:13).

2.                  The Holy Spirit is the source of LOVE.

"...because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who is given to us" (Rom.5:5).

            “...the fruit of the Spirit is LOVE..." (Gal.5:22).

3.                  The Spirit is “SPIRIT OF PRAYER”.

"And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the Spirit of grace and of SUPLICATION" (Zech.12:10).

"...the Spirit Himself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered." (Rom.8:26). (See also: Eph.6:18; Jude v.20).

4.                  The Spirit has Inspired the HOLY SCRIPTURES.

            "All Scripture is given by inspiration of God" (2 Tim.3:16).

"Holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit" (2 P.l:2l).

Therefore: in the heart of born again believers, in whom the same Spirit dwells, and who witnesses to our spirit that we are the children of God (Rom.8:16), will pour forth the same kind of water. The "RIVERS OF LIVING WATER" of the HOLY SPIRIT (John 7:38, 39), CANNOT "send forth at the same place sweet water and bitter" (Jas.3:11,12). So that when the Holy Spirit moves, He will do so with and in His virtues, capacities and fulfillment: UNITY, LOVE, PRAYER, HOLY SCRIPTURES. THERE THE SPIRIT'S METHOD IS DETERMINED, THE BIBLICAL METHOD, WHICH, WHEN APPLIED WITHOUT RESTRICTIONS NOR VACILLATIONS, WILL CONDUCT US TO THE GOAL OF THE TESTIMONY!.

"Endeavouring to keep the Unity of the Spirit" (Eph.4:3).

"Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth" (1 Cor.13:6).

"Love the truth and peace" (Zech.8:19).

"Speaking the truth in love" (Eph.4:15)

"Praying in the Holy Spirit, Keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life" (Jude 20,21).

THOSE IN WHOM THE SPIRIT OF UNITY, LOVE, PRAYER AND TRUTH DWELLS, AND WHO ARE CONSCIOUS OF WHAT THIS MEANS, WILL BE LIKE‑MINDED.

Brethren: The hour has come when born again believers should have a greater understanding that the "CHURCH OF THE LIVING GOD" IS "THE PILLAR AND GROUND OF THE TRUTH" (1 Tim.3:15). For that reason, THE CHURCH cannot be content to be "PILLAR AND GROUND"...OF CONTRADICTORY INTERDENOMINATIONAL CONFESSIONS!. THE CHURCH, PILLAR AND GROUNG OF THE TRUTH, CAN ONLY BE SO, THROUGH THE WORD OF TRUTH (John 17,17) THE HOLY SCRIPTURES WHICH ARE HOLY BECAUSE THEY ARE INSPIRED, IMMUTABLE AND INFALLIBLE!.

The Church should witness to "ALL THE COUNSEL OF GOD", IF IT IS TO BE ALL IT SHOULD BE: PILLAR AND GROUND OF THE TRUTH, Any local Church which understands the need of defining its stand in this hour of confusion: if it comes to an understanding that it forms part of the REPRESENTATION OF "PHILADELPHIA" WILL TESTIFY, JUST AS ALL SISTER CHURCHES OF IDENTICAL CONVICTION, FOR "ALL THE COUNSEL OF GOD".

Such a Church will identify itself and will identify the company of believers who integrate the "PHILADELPHIA" TESTIMONY ‑and that will not be a "detestable presumption" as someone without deeper understanding once said. It will be an enforced need, to fulfill the prophetic projection of that first "Philadelphia" and which of necessity must appear on the face of the earth with a clear Testimony to THE WORD AND THE NAME OF THE LORD, AND THE WORD OF HIS PATIENCE, ACCORDING TO WHAT IS ESTABLISHED IN REV.3:10, ON THE EVE OF THE RAPTURE, BEFORE THE TRIBULATION!.

 

III.                THE HOLY SPIRIT HAS STARTED AND GIVEN MARCHING ORDERS TO THE "PHILADELPHIA" (BROTHERLY LOVE) TESTIMONY.

"Gather my saints together unto me, those who have made a covenant with me by sacrifice." (Ps.50:5).

 

In January of 1966, the Holy Spirit, which "bloweth where it listeth", was felt in the Theological Bible School "A.L.E.R.T.A." in the city of Buenos Aires, Argentina. He guided us to carry out a Prophetic Conference among Fundamental Christian Workers of the River Plate. Many were invited, few attended: a group of pastors and missionaries of the "ADELPHIA" FELLOWSHIP in Argentina and the  "ADELPHOS" FELLOWSHIP of Uruguay and a few other Churches, all Independent and Fundamental in the Faith, met to analize in four days some of the ecclesiastic panorama of the day, with their theological trends, as also the present day Councils and spiritual movements, all in the light of the Word of God. We were given to Bible study and prayer, and also studied the "signs of the times" and the imminence of the pretribulation rapture of the Church which the Lord purchased with His blood. THEN THE BURDEN OF THE HOLY SPIRIT CAME UPON OUR HEARTS, CONSTRAINING US TO DISPLAY A BANNER BECAUSE OF TRUTH" (Ps.60:4) and TO WRITE THE "PHILADELPHIA" (Brotherly Love) DECLARATION, which was presented in the city of Buenos Aires on the l7th of August of 1966, and in the city of Montevideo on the 3rd of September 1966 and in the city of Philadelphia, USA, the 15th November 1966. Since then its mes­sage has reached different countries in the five continents and continues to reach brethren in every lattitude in its sacrificial and triumphal march. Brethren in Switzerland, Sweden, England, New Zealand, Nigeria, Korea, Japan, Spain, Germany, India, as well as Argentina, Uruguay, the United States and Canada, which also know of this holy Movement.

Some have feared or asked if this is not the beginning of another "Denomination". The answer is NO!, because a "Denomination" in the classical and usual sense, is an ecclesiastical Organization, while "Philadelphia" is NOT AN ORGANIZATION: IT A REPRESENTATIVE TEST1MONY OF PROPHETIC NATURE, AS WE HAVE SEEN.

The Motto is: BACK TO THE LORD AND BACK TO THE BIBLE!

Back to the Lord in absolute submission,

Back to the Bible in absolute obedience.

 

The Purposes: To testify by the Word of God without partializations nor compromises to promote a consciousness of Christian Unity conformed to the Word of God; not only recognizing the Unity of the Spirit which the Lord has given us, but also the Unity in Biblical Doctrine and practices which demands PRAYER AND BIBLE STUDY, to eliminate discrepancies among true believers. As we have already discerned the Biblical doctrine of separation from apostasies, so we should discern the BIBLICAL DOCTRINE ON UNITY.

We are called to keep the Word, to not deny the Name of the Lord, and keep the Word of His patience; watching, loving and waiting for His coming and preparing ourselves for it.

We are called to urge the evangelization of souls; and our sanctification and faithfulness. We are called to manifest the Love of God, and Brotherly Love, in times of serious coldness when the love of the majority has grown cold.

We are called to testify together with all the faithful who are part of the ‑Testimony and are representative of that first century "Philadelphia". We alone are not all of that Testimony; we belong to that Testimony along with the faithful, in this present day when "Laodicea" is unfolding and developing.

The fact that we have made a Declaration to witness to, using that distinctive name "Philadelphia", has been to identify ourselves and to identify our brethren in the whole world who have this intimate conviction of honouring the Word which says:

‑"GATHER MY SAINTS TOGETHER UNTO ME, THOSE WHO HAVE MADE A COVENANT WITH ME BY SACRIFICE" (Psalm 50:5).

That is, all who have in some way paid and continue to pay the price of Truth, as it is written: "BUY THE TRUTH, AND SELL IT NOT" (Prov.23:23); going "WITHOUT THE CAMP” as the Word says, separating from Modernist‑ecumenical apostasies, without counting the cost, "BEARING THE REPROACH OF CHRIST" we must recognize as brethren in Christ born of the Spirit, that we must accomplish our Unity in the Faith, Doctrines Practices and Witness in the light of God's Word ‑in brotherly love, in submission to the Lord, praying for each other and opening God's Word together. As the Lord said in His Prayer for us: "THAT THEY ALL MAY BE ONE, AS THOU, FATHER, ART IN ME, AND I IN THEE... THAT THEY MAY BE MADE PERFECT IN ONE” (John 17).

BRETHREN: We are on the verge of the rapture, when we will be removed from "oikoumene" this "inhabited earth". On the eve of the appearance of the Great anti-Christ of all History and the Tribulation into which all human beings ‑except born again believers‑ will enter together with all professing ecclesiastic organizations represented by "Pergamos", "Thyatira", "Sardis" and "Laodicea".

This is the time for the host of born again believers who represent the "PHILADELPHIA" of the first century, should together give a Testimony which such representation demands.

Under the conviction of the Holy Spirit, we humbly but firmly confess: THE TIME IS RIPE AND FROM THE BANKS OF THE RIVER PLATE ‑which as a symbol, pours its waters into the Ocean and in doing so, makes contact with the whole world‑ SO THE VOICE OF THE "BROTHERLY LOVE' TESTIMONY, IS BEGINNING TO BE HEARD AROUND THE WORLD.

And all who integrate this Testimony will seek each other, and give this Testimony together, TO THE GLORY OF HIM WHO WILL SOON COME FOR HIS PEOPLE.

Let us honour His Commandments "KEEP MY WORD, DENY NOT MY NAME, KEEP THE WORD OF MY PATIENCE".

Let us rejoice in the blessed hope of His promises "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";

And may the flame burn and the Banner unfurl at the impulse of the Fire and the Breath of the Holy Spirit! SO BE IT, AMEN!.