Armando Di Pardo
"Philadelphia" Testimony Congress. August
15 to 17, 1970, Argentina.
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Relationships and Outreaches
The relationships and outreaches of Christian Unity, are given us by our Lord Jesus Christ in His High‑Priestly prayer (Jn. 17); and have to do in origin with the Essential Unity between the Father and the Son and then with the Essential Unity between the Son and Christians: "I in them, and Thou in me" (Jn. 17:23a), which establishes the Unity of Christians with Christians: "that they may be made perfect in one" (Jn. 17:23b). For this to be possible, the Person of the Holy Spirit is required, as also the Word of God and the Testimony of Jesus Christ.
Relation to the Holy Trinity
Christian Unity acknowledges as its eternal source, current and pattern, the Essential Unity of the Holy Trinity, because of its relation in origin to the Unity between the Father and the Son: "... As thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee" (Jn. 17:21)..."That they may be one, even as we are one" (Jn. 17:22).
Trinitarian Unity is therefore the basic Unity which the Scriptures reveal to be UNICITY (One and Only God), DIVERSITY (Trinity of Persons) and UNANIMITY (in every respect a manifestation of harmony and in unison).
This seal of UNICITY IN DIVERSITY AND UNANIMITY determines the true character of Christian Unity in all of its areas.
Relationship to the Person of the Lord Jesus Christ
Christian Unity, because of its vital relationship to the Person of the Son, is defined as CHRIST‑CENTERED. The Lord Jesus Christ, as a Theantropic Person (Very God, because of His Essential Deity, and Very Man, because of His sinless conception and incarnation) is the Personal concretion of Unity, the Foundation Stone (1 Cor. 3: 11) which must be spiritually planted in believers: "I in them" (Jn. 17:23a). For this to be possible, the Lord Himself made an end of sin through His atoning and vicarious death and resurrection, He ascended to Heaven, received the Promise of the Father and baptized His own with the Spirit of Unity, the Holy Spirit (Jn. 1:29, 33; Acts 2:22‑24, 32, 33).
Relationship to the Person of the Holy Spirit
Because of its vital relationship to the Person of the Holy Spirit, Christian Unity is essentially defined as "Unity of the Spirit" (Eph. 4:3). It is through the Spirit that the Lord comes to dwell in believers (Jn. 14:16‑18; 1 Jn. 3:24); and it is by the Spirit that the believer is baptized as a member into the Body of Christ (1 Cor. 12:13, 27).
Relationship to the Person of the Believer
Because Christian Unity is essentially Unity of the Spirit, it is established in the believer in the experience of the new birth (Jn. 3:3, 5, 6), which the Lord fulfills in all who repent of their sins and accept the Lord Jesus by faith as their only Saviour (Jn. 1: 12, 13; 3:16; Acts 20:21; 1 Jn. 5: 1; compare 2 Peter 1:4).
Born‑again believers are therefore the appropriate subjects for Christian Unity, because "if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of His" (Rom. 8:9).
Relationship to the Word of God
For Unity of the Spirit to be established in the believer, the Word of God is necessary, because it is by faith that we are born again and it is written: "Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God" (Rom. 10: 17). The Word is also necessary for teaching "Sound doctrine" which informs and nourishes the believer and the church (1 Peter 2:2; 1 Tim. 4:13‑16; Titus 1:9, 2:7‑14).
For these reasons, the same Spirit provided the Word, Inspiring the Holy, Inerrant, Infallible Scriptures, which therefore are the exclusive Authority in faith, doctrine and practice for all Christians (1 Cor. 4:6b; 1 Thess. 2:15; 1 Tim. 3:14, 15; 2 Tim. 3:16).
And as it is the same Spirit who gave us the Scriptures, that dwells in all born‑again believers, the only logical and conceivable conclusion is that the latter should have Unity in every matter of every Biblical doctrine.
Christian Unity includes as a consequence, the doctrinal Unity of the children of God (Jn. 17:6, 8, 14, 17, 20).
Relationship to the Testimony
Christian Unity in‑relationship to the Testimony is of a corporal or organic and missional nature. It is corporal or organic, because it has to do with the Church of Christ, which is A BODY FOR A TESTIMONY (Acts 1:8; Eph. 3:10; 1 Peter 2:9); and it is Missional because the Testimony defines the nature of the Church's Mission in and to the world: to manifest, proclaim and propagate Unity.
The Testimony was initiated by the Lord Jesus Christ Himself (Jn. 17:4, 6, 8), and continued by the Holy Spirit in and through born‑again believers (Jn. 15:26, 27; Rom. 8:14‑16; Phil. 2:1, 2). Fellowship WITH the Holy Spirit, is the key to the fellowship OF the saints (1 Jn. 1:3, 7; compare Phil. 1:3‑8). Finally, the Testimony of the Spirit is manifest in a Missional nature, in the proclamation of the Word which propagates Unity in the hearts of those who accept the message (Jn. 17:18, 20, 21, 23).
WE THEREFORE CONFESS THAT:
1. The Biblical Doctrine of Christian Unity, because of its relationships of Divine origin, its Foundation, its Essential Bond, its experiential concretion, its Doctrinal Authority and its areas of manifestation and testimony, absolutely excludes and INVALIDATES all intent to Unity according to the spirit, doctrine and methods of "ecumenism."
2. Christian Unity, in conformity to the Scriptures, does not possess an organizational nature. It is essentially spiritual and as such is a gift of God, which in relation to the Spirit has an experiential nature; in relation to the Word it has a Doctrinal nature; and in relation to the testimony it has a Missional nature.
3. The distinctive seal of Christian Unity and which proceeds from its Divine source is expressed as UNICITY IN DIVERSITY AND UNANIMITY. With respect to the Church of Christ, Unicity refers to the one and only Church (My Church as the Lord called it, Matt. 16: 18); Diversity refers to the plurality of local churches (Rev. 22:16); and Unanimity refers to its harmonious expression in and among the churches in the areas of faith, doctrine, fellowship co‑operation and testimony (Romans 12:18).
4. Because of all the aforesaid:
(a) We acknowledge with joy and gratitude, the unity of the Spirit in all who are born again believers, as members of the Body of Christ (1 Cor. 12:13, 27; Eph. 4:1‑6).
(b) We acknowledge with solemn conviction, that the Word exhorts us to endeavour "to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace" (Eph. 4:3; Col. 3:15); to maintain the "fellowship of the Spirit...likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind" (Phil. 2:1, 2); and to keep "sound doctrine", "which the Holy Spirit Himself has given us in the Holy Scriptures" (1 Cor. 2:12, 13; 1 Tim. 4:6; Titus 1:9).
(c) We therefore confess, that doctrinal discrepancies among God's children, not only in the local church but in Inter‑Church spheres, ARE NOT COMPATIBLE with the Biblical Doctrine of Christian Unity. Such discrepancies should be considered a special motive for prayer and joint Bible study, according to the lesson taught in Acts 15:1‑31, under the ruling of "SPEAKING THE TRUTH IN LOVE" (Eph. 4:15); with the only purpose of having all doctrine adjusted to what is established in the Word of God.
(d) The Unity of the Spirit, which of itself is subjective and invisible, if it is to be fully manifest, must guide us to satisfy the standards of Unity which are demanded of us: Our subjection to the Holy Scriptures (Isa. 66:2; Jn. 14:20‑26; 2 Thess. 2:15; 3: 1; compare 2 Thess. 3:6, 14‑16). There is no alternative, if we desire to be faithful to the nature of Christian Unity as it is revealed in God's Word, if with all our hearts we desire to be found, in the day of the Lord's return for us, just as He desired when He lifted up His eyes to heaven and prayed:
they all may be one,…as we are one, that they may be made perfect in