THE DECLARATION OF THE “PHILADELPHIA” TESTIMONY

 

 

“Gather my saints together...” (Psalm 50:5)

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PHILADELPHIA (Brotherly Love)

World Testimony of Evangelical Christian Churches

 

 

THE CHURCHES OF THIS TESTIMONY TO THE BRETHREN IN CHRIST JESUS IN ALL PARTS OF THE WORLD

 

  “...to them that have obtained like precious faith with us through the righteousness of God and our Saviour Jesus Christ. Grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God and of our Lord Jesus”. (2 Pet. 1:1,2).

 

  As children of God, redeemed by the precious blood of Christ and born of the Holy Spirit, no event that in any way concerns the Evangelical faith and the brotherhood -wherever it may occur- can be treated with indif­ference by us or keep our hearts from being deeply touched. Everything affects us or interests us in some way or another; reciprocal communications unite us; the bonds of the Spirit can awaken us to a testimony of unanimous faithfulness, if there is on our part a sacrificial submission to His will.

  This urges us to consider exceptional events spoken of in the Word of God as “signs of the times” that precede the rapture, the coming of the Lord for His own; and most particularly the attempts being made to destroy the fundamentals of our faith, such as:

 

n     The heterodoxy of theological currents that deny the inspiration of the Holy Scriptures and other vital doctrines; which have influenced new versions of the Bible, as can be seen from texts which have eliminated the Deity of our Lord Jesus Christ and which have impulsed the pre­paration of the much publicised “ecumenical Bible”.

 

n     The ecumenical movements tending to unite the Protestant Orthodox and Romanist churches which have dissimilar ideas that, paradoxically, struggle in their attempts to reach their presumptuous unity.

 

  There are also other movements in existence with a greater or smaller emphasis on fundamentalism, opposed to the former, and that like them demand adherence to and affiliation with the churches.

 

  Finally, there are the contradictory attitudes adopted by conservative Evangelicals towards the above mentioned movements:

 

n     Complacency, compromise, equidistant aloofness, isolation and even opposition not entirely in accord with the Word of God;

 

n     And a persistent “denominational” or “sectarian” spirit, which hinders the full manifestation of the Scriptural doctrine of unity among born­-again believers; all of which is alien to the nature of the body of Christ and grieves the Spirit of Grace.

FOR ALL THESE REASONS:

 

THE EVANGELICAL CHRISTIAN CHURCHES WE REPRESENT, SOLEMNLY CONFESS THAT UNDER THE CONSTRAINING PO­WER OF THE HOLY SPIRIT THEY RAISE THEIR TESTIMONY IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE NEED OF THE HOUR, IN FAITH­FULNESS TO THE WORD OF GOD AND TO THE LORD JESUS CHRIST, AND EXHORT ALL CHURCHES OF LIKE FAITH TO IDENTIFY THEMSELVES WITH THEM SO THAT FROM ALL QUARTERS THERE MAY ARISE A SPIRITUAL CLAMOUR.

 

SIGNS OF THE TIMES

  Israel is returning to her land; knowledge has increased; iniquity abounds; the love of many has grown cold; humanity and all of nature are suffering convulsions; and among many other signs, the apostasy and the departure from the faith are clearly outlined and manifested by the combined action of “theologica1 modernism” with its false doctrines that eat as doth a canker (2 Tim. 2:16-19), and “ecumenism” that foments indiscriminate and unscriptural unity.

 

ECCLESIASTICAL OUTLOOK

  The need to discern the current movements and tendencies which seek us so insistent­ly, oblige us to analyse them in order to ascertain their peculiarities and to compare them with the Word of God (1 John 4:1), the only authority which should govern our conduct (2 Tim. 3: 16,17). With this in mind we present to our brethren this brief world-view of the complex ecclesiastical panorama without any other motives than those which arise out of love and its insepar­able companion, the truth (1 Cor. 13:6; Eph. 4:14,45).

  The large denominations, especially those that have arisen from the in­complete “l6th Century Reformation” have yielded to a very great extent, by the same process of perversion: they did not watch, and they did not try the spirits (of “prophets and doctors”) nor did they keep the Word, and were therefore adversely affected by these negative tendencies.

                                          World Council of Churches

  Those denominations and other movements, formed in August 1948 the “World Council of Churches”, of a wholly inclusivist nature, with the liberal protestants and orthodox churches, together with Evangelicals who, attrac­ted by the bait of “unity”, did not realise how illicit was the heterogeneous mixture into which they were being drawn (Prov. 14:15). Let us never forget that unity is only an illusion where there is no new-birth, and that instead of worshipping the real Christ, one confessed as such is called “the son of Joseph”, even a “sacramental Jesus” is worshipped.

  Its present doctrinal basis -given in New Delhi in 1961- states: “The World Council of Churches is a fraternal association of churches, all of which confess Jesus Christ as God and Saviour, according to the Holy Scriptures and endeavour to harmonise together to their common calling for the glory of God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit”.

  Observe that this is more a generalisation than a basis, as its terms allow for such a flexibility in interpretation that even the “modernists” have confessed it without any scruples... because it is not a clear state­ment, it can involve any idea: the acceptance or rejection of the Virgin birth, the blood atonement, etc., as regards the person and work of Christ; the acceptance or not of the inspiration of the Scriptures, the worship or not of the Holy Trinity.

  The Council was lavish in its endeavours to attract Rome that at first appeared to have very little interest; though she afterwards formed the “Secretariat for the Union of Christians”.

  When the Vatican Council II ended, mixed committees in favour of union were formed but the coexistence of two distinct ideas is evident:

 

q       The “World Council” with its inclusivist method -(the churches on a fraternal basis of equality, each one learning from the other)- awaits the renewal which will permit the synthesis of a “new” church, which no one at the present time can precisely determine;

 

q       Rome, “per semper idem” (always the same) with its presumption of being the Apostolic depository and with her untouchable dogmas, does not hide from the “separated brethren” the fact that they must return to the “Aggiornata” paternal house, if they want to fully enjoy her favours... (!)

 

  Whatever results from this, as it comes from heterogeneous mixtures, will lack genuineness and will be an abnormal product, which in Scripture is, identified with Babylon the Great (Rev. 17). The voice of the Lord cries: “COME OUT OF HER MY PEOPLE...” (Rev. 18.4).

                             International Council of Christian Churches

  There have been remnants which have reacted in defence of the Faith that were forced out of their apostate denominations forming new groups in which they kept their traditional doctrines and practices.

  In August 1948, they founded the “International Council of Christian Churches”, joining efforts against apostasy. Their testimony in this respect has been courageous and meritorious.  But we deplore saying that they made no provision to discuss in their midst, in the light of God's Word, the interdenominational discrepancies which remain intact. The Church in Buenos Aires, one of the signers of this declaration, repeatedly asked the Council to promote, in brotherly love, the designation of committees to study these matters, but they went unheeded.

  Such an attitude closes the doors to the Holy Spirit for the total mani­festation of the Scriptural doctrine of unity, which in the teaching of the Apostles, was not limited to the “unity in Christ” which is essentially spi­ritual (John 17:21; 1 Cor. 12:13), commencing from that basis it extends to the unity in doctrine and practice (Acts 2:42; 2 Thess. 2:15-17; Eph. 4:1-16), that does not admit restrictions of any kind and that cannot he substituted by any “Status” of mere interdenominational relationships (com­pare 1 Cor. 1:10-13).

  The very doctrinal basis of the Council shows serious omissions in some evidently transactional statements:

 

q       “The real spiritual unity in Christ of all the redeemed by His precious blood...”

(This omits the rest of the Biblical doctrine on unity).

 

q       “ ...The second coming of Christ in power and glory”.

(Which lays aside the Rapture of the Church and other events).

 

q       “The necessity of maintaining, according to the Word of God, the purity of the Church in life and doctrine”.

(Omitting to say that this demands that discrepancies be faced and dealt with. As the Council does not promote this and its church members main­tain their differences, this statement becomes inoperative, if not me­rely reduced to a dead-letter statement).

 

Finally: even leaving aside the violence that has to he done to the New Testament, to justify the existence of “interdenominational” Councils the fact remains, that its testimony is incomplete, because it is reduced mainly to a confrontation with enemies and lacks the vocation of helping brethren solve their discrepancies; which therefore puts in evidence the “denominational” spirit that hinders the complete Biblical unity. We exhort all our dearly beloved brethren in the International Council to consider these reasons in the light of the Scriptures.

                                                Other Organisations

  Other organisations also seek a following of the brethren, organisations that take “the middle of the road” position, such as the World Associa­tion of Evangelicals (NAE), whose attitude can be summarised as “co-ope­ration without compromise” without discerning in the light of the Word of God, that co-operation with apostates is in itself a compromise (Amos 3:3; Eph. 5:7; 1 Tim. 5:22; 2 John 8-11).

  It is to be observed, also, that churches and denominations that consider themselves conservative or sound in doctrine remain, nevertheless, indiffe­rent to the commands to reprove (Eph. 5:11) and they tolerate in their midst those who mix with apostates and even with Romanists, in different organisations, or in eventual activities or campaigns -disregarding the Biblical doctrine of separation (2 Cor. 6:14-18).

  Such unscriptural attitudes are very dangerous, inasmuch as they open the door to perversions that inexorably undermine those groups.

  Lastly, we must mention the attitude of some brethren and churches that testify against apostasy, but they keep themselves isolated, caring for their own flock and refusing fellowship with other brethren and faithful churches because they do not belong to their groups; a sectarian attitude which cons­pires against the spirit of unity (2 Cor. 6:11-13).

 

THE TESTIMONY

  Face to face with this reality -so concisely expounded- it is undeniable that this hour demands of our Christian responsibility a clear and definite testimony.

 

WHEN THE ECUMENICAL BELLS OF “BRASS” ARE PEA­LED WILL THERE NOT BE HEARD THE SILVER BELLS OF ARGENTINE (ARGENTUM) SOUND CALLING THE PEO­PLE OF GOD TO A HOLY CONVOCATION? (Num. 10:1,2).

 

  BRETHREN IN CHRIST: in obedience to the Lord's will, in His name and for His glory, we raise our voice, saying:

 

BACK TO THE LORD AND BACK TO THE BIBLE!

Back to the Lord in absolute submission

Back to the Bible in absolute obedience.

“If a man love me, he will keep my words...” (John 14:23-26).

 

Name and action:

 The need of a precise identification to avoid mistakes requires an outstanding distinguishing name with a definitely Biblical emphasis. For this reason, we have agreed on the New Testament voice: “PHILADELPHIA” (BROTHERLY LOVE).

 

1.       Because, although it refers to a geographical place, it indicates a church (Rev. 3:7-13) that, in the historical projection of its Biblical character and meaning, identifies itself throughout the ages with all churches which, like it, testifying through the door which the Lord opened and no one could shut: kept His Word, denied not His Name, tried the spirits, went without the camp, and wait for the Lord from Heaven. Today, as it was yesterday, Philadelphia, though scattered, is present and its testimony should be heard.

 

2.       Because its etymological significance: “BROTHERLY LOVE”, appeals strongly to the heart of the redeemed, in these days when love has grown cold.

 

  This is not a question of constituting a “Council” or a “Council of Churches”, nor an “organisation” of any kind. This is a spiritual testimony that cannot be governed by a human hierarchy or by committees. It is of the Spirit and each local Evangelical Church gives its testimony and represents it everywhere. Travelling spokesmen, chosen by the churches, will proclaim the testimony on an international level, to make it known to bre­thren in all parts of the world.

 

DOCTRINAL DECLARATION

  The churches of the testimony declare that the Holy Scripture is their only rule of faith, doctrine and practice. As a brief statement -among other truths equally Scriptural- they unanimously express that belief in the doctrines that gave rise to their protest and which are the same as those believed and practised by faithful Evangelical Christians throughout the centuries.

 

  1. The Bible is the Word of God, inerrant and infallible, inspired by the Holy Spirit to those who wrote it and who where kept from all error.

 

  1. We worship the only eternal and true God, One in essence and Triune in person: Father, Son and Holy Spirit; Creator and Sus­tainer of all things visible and invisible.

 

  1. The Lord Jesus Christ is the only Saviour and Mediator between God and man. We confess His Deity; His true and genuine huma­nity; His virgin birth; His sinless life, the redemption from our sins by His blood in His atoning and vicarious death; His bodily re­surrection; His ascension to glory; His promised return in the air to snatch away His own before the Great Tribulation, resurrecting the dead and transforming the living, so as to constitute His Judgement Seat of recompense and celebrate the marriage feast of the Lamb; His return to the earth with His saints to establish His millennial reign; the resurrection and final judgement; new heavens and new earth.

 

  1. Salvation by grace alone, not by works, received through repentance toward God and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ. The eternal bliss of the saved and the eternal punishment of the lost.

 

  1. The present personal work of the Holy Spirit, the only vicar of Christ on earth Whom He glorifies in forming the Church, begett­ing, sanctifying, endowing and fructifying the believers spiritually.

 

  1. The Church is the body of Christ, Who is the foundation, Head, Lord, only High Priest and Bridegroom.

The pillar and ground of the truth.

Its primary purposes are: to preach, defend and confirm the Gospel.

Its form of government is Theocratic - Biblical - Congregational.

Its ordinances are: baptism by immersion of believers and the me­morial of the Lord's supper.

Its nature is: a spiritual home, not denominational or sectarian; whether considered as a General Assembly (Matt. 16:18), or as a local church, each is fully autonomous (Phil. 1:1; Philem. 1,2).

  1. The real spiritual union of born-again believers and their calling to the unity of the faith in doctrine and practice as a manifestation of complete fraternal fellowship.

 

DENOMINATIONAL DIFFERENCES (Discrepancies in doctrines and practices)

  Different circumstances were the cause that determined denomi­national ideas, not always in accordance with the original doctrinal purity of the New Testament.

  Even though this is admitted by everybody, each one believes that he has the truth, and accuses the others of error.  As it is a ruling principle that there cannot be two contradictory truths about the same matter, we conclude therefore that, to persist in that state of things amounts to a maintenance of a traditional attitude that only serves to prolong or per­petuate errors and discrepancies. We record here the expression of Ciprian of Carthage: “Habit without truth is error grown old” and the judgement of our Lord “making the word of God of none effect through your tra­dition” (Mark 7:13).

  From whatever angle we analyse this situation, how can such an ab­surd position be explained, that while those who are being deceived by Satan who is “transformed into an angel of light” are striving for unity, the children of light who possess the spirit and have the Word and the Lord of unity, continue to persevere in their divisions?

  The ideas of “eschatological unity” (when the Lord comes all will be settled) are of no avail here, nor are the theories of “unity in diversity” or “ramifications” of Christianity (basic unity in Christ, liberty in everything else and, above all, charity). Such “reasons” imply an accusation against the Holy Spirit, for having given us a doctrine of unity, impossible to fulfil among His people.

  Neither are the proposed solutions correct. “Ecumenism” is false, as it has been seen.  “Sectarianism” (all must be according to our pattern or else you are not faithful) does not solve anything, as this attitude can be adopted by each denomination against the others. The solution offered by interdenominational coalitions, “Councils” and “Associations” that allow the maintenance of discrepancies, only serve to perpetuate the problem... by tacit agreement.

  It is clear then that, although all are in agreement on “essential unity”, the problem will remain without solution while we do not obey all the council of God regarding unity.

 

A BROTHERLY EXHORTATION

  The testimony demands a return to the Lord in every way, and a complete re­turn to the Bible!  That is the answer.  It would seem candid or simple and antiquated, but it is the truth.

 

-                      “If a man will do His will, he shall know of the doctrine whether it be of God...” (John 7:17). That is the price: if it is not paid, there will be variations of the same evil, but never a fundamental change.

 

-                      Why underestimate the example of the church in Antioch? Which sent messengers to the church in Jerusalem to deal with a crucial problem in history.

 

  Remember the very illuminating prologue of the agreement: “IT SEEMED GOOD TO THE HOLY GHOST AND TO US...” which gives evidence of His pleasure and implies His approval of the method to obtain it.

 

-                      Has the Holy Spirit of Grace changed perchance to such an extent that it can be said today “It seemed good to the Holy Ghost and to us, to maintain our discrepancies until the day of Christ”?

 

-                      Why do not the churches seek each other, until they meet each other to solve their differences in love? Has not the Holy Spirit given teaching gifts?

 

-                      Where are the men of God who will fall on their knees, yielded to the Beloved, full of the Spirit, ready to seek their brethren to confirm them in the faith? When the “Chief Shepherd” shall appear, on whose head will His blessed hands place a crown of glory that fadeth not away?

 

  The Lord, emphasising that the full unity and the fellowship of His redeemed people testify to the truth of the divine origin of the Redeemer, said in His High Priestly prayer:

 

- “...That they all may be one; as thou Father art in me, and I in Thee, that they also may be one in us; that the world may believe that thou hast sent me”. (John 17:21).

 

- How can we turn a deaf ear to what our Lord says?

 

BELOVED BRETHREN:

  We have opened our hearts to you in all sincerity, calling on the Name of the Lord and invoking the Holy and authoritative Word of God, in a testimony to the truth, without presuming to be the “only possessors” of it, merely considering ourselves as His servants among many fellow servants. We therefore beseech you to consider this brotherly exhortation in the spirit in which it is given. If you share it let us know.

  We covet your fellowship, such as was experienced in the first century of the church, in order to be mutually helped in prayer and in the carrying out of the Lord's commission to His own to preach, defend and confirm the Gospel.

 

LET US RAISE THIS TESTIMONY IN UNION. LET US TAKE THE OLD PATHS, PRAYING AND WORKING FAITHFULLY AND IN LOVE. WITH OUR TORCHES KINDLED, KEEPING WATCH TO­GETHER FOR THE FULFILMENT OF OUR BLESSED HOPE: THE COMING OF OUR LORD TO RAPTURE HIS PEOPLE!

 

  The churches that sign below will gladly supply all the information and offer all the explanations that may be required.  Owing to its con­venient location, the reception and the distribution of information have been confided to the Evangelical Christian Church, General E. Martínez 889 (Suc. 26), Buenos Aires, Argentina. The founders of which commenced on the Argentine side of the River Plate, back in November 1935, the testimony of separation from all apostasy.

 

 

FRATERNALLY:

 

n     EVANGELICAL CHRISTIAN CHURCH, Gral. E. Mar­tinez 889, Buenos Aires, Argentina.

 

n     EVANGELICAL CHRISTIAN CHURCH, calle 61 entre 18 y 19, La Plata, Prov. de Buenos Aires, Argentina.

 

n     EVANGELICAL CHRISTIAN CHURCH, calle Alvear 345, Caseros, Prov. de Buenos Aires, Argentina.

 

n     EVANGELICAL CHRISTIAN CHURCH, J. M. Bosch 360, J. M. Bosch, Prov. de Buenos Aires, Argentina.

 

n     EVANGELICAL CHRISTIAN CHURCH, Condarco 641, Quilmes, Prov. de Buenos Aires, Argentina.

 

n     EVANGELICAL CHRISTIAN CHURCH, calle 2 esq. 49, J. M. Gutiérrez, Prov. de Buenos Aires, Argen­tina.

 

n     EVANGELICAL CHRISTIAN CHURCH, Avda. 58-2646, Necochea, Prov. de Buenos Aires, Argen­tina.

 

n     EVANGELICAL CHRISTIAN CHURCH, calle Sixto Rodríguez y Lavalle, Coronel Suárez, Prov. de Buenos Aires, Argentina.

 

n     EVANGELICAL CHRISTIAN CHURCH, calle Almi­rante Brown 1083, San Fernando, Prov. de Bue­nos Aires, Argentina.

 

n     EVANGELICAL CHRISTIAN CHURCH, calle Guaviyú 2693, Montevideo, Uruguay.

 

 

Given in the city of Buenos Aires,. Argentina on the l7th of August of the year of our Lord 1966.