This sermon is number 7 in a series of 14
Strongholds Shaken - Part 7
by David Legge | Copyright © 2004 | All Rights Reserved | www.preachtheword.com
I want you to turn with me to 2 Timothy chapter 4 verse 1 - we're looking at the cult of 'Christadelphianism'. Verse 1: "I charge thee therefore before God", Paul tells Timothy, "and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom; Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts", or desires, "shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables. But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry", and we end our reading at verse 5.
Within the New Testament Scriptures, the Lord Jesus Christ is revealed to us as the truth - you will know that, of course, from John's gospel chapter 14 verse 6, where Jesus said: 'I am the way, the truth, and the life; no man comes unto the Father but by me'. But you will note in verse 4 of 2 Timothy 4, that Paul prophesied that the time would come when men would turn away their ears from the truth - and therefore from, by implication, the person of the Lord Jesus Christ and His teaching and His work - and they shall be turned unto fables. According to any good dictionary, a fable is a falsehood, a fairytale, a fiction, or a myth, especially in a religious sense. The cult that we are dealing with tonight, not that it's exempt from any other cult that we've been dealing with, but it in particular for our consideration this evening is based upon fables, based upon falsehood, fiction and myth - just like all the rest of the cults and false religions that we've been dealing with over these weeks. For where these cults have erred primarily is in the person and character and work of our Lord Jesus Christ. That's so important: that no matter what they believe that we find in the Scriptures tonight, we have to say this, if they err concerning the person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ, they have turned away from the truth and have turned themselves unto fables!
Now I've been listening to your conversation over the weeks, and I often listen in to what people are saying about such religious sects and cults like the Mormons and Jehovah's Witnesses, the Christadelphians and the Church of Christ, and people are often heard to say: 'Well, how can they be wrong? They're so zealous, they're so sincere, they're so moral! Surely their morality and their sincerity and their zealousness is proof in and of itself that they must have the truth?'. I mean, we as Christians at times would have to say that we are put to shame when we look at the zealousness of those who are propagating these 'gospels', so-called. 'So is this not proof in and of itself that these people must have the truth? They haven't turned from the truth to fables, but they have maybe found the truth that we haven't found as yet?'. Now if you're thinking like that, and maybe you have wondered that over these weeks, I want to dispel that illusion from your mind right away. I want you to turn with me to Matthew's gospel chapter 23, zealousness and sincerity are no guides or evidence of truth. The Lord Jesus proved this when He was talking to the Pharisees and scribes, pronouncing all these woes - in chapter 23 verse 13 He said: 'Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye shut up the kingdom of heaven against men: for ye neither go in yourselves, neither suffer ye them that are entering to go in'. He goes on to say in verse 15: 'Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye compass sea and land to make one proselyte, and when he is made, ye make him twofold more the child of hell than yourselves'. The Lord Jesus castigated them as being - even though outwardly religious, and as touching the law perhaps externally blameless - He said that they were blind leaders of the blind, and both they and their followers would fall into the pit alike. But He accuses them of crossing sea and land to make one proselyte, they had great zealousness in their attempt to convert people to their particular message. They were false, Jesus said to them: 'Ye are of your father the devil'! So zealousness is no qualification to having the truth.
Now we're asking the question tonight: 'Who are the Christadelphians?', and I want to answer that question this evening from their own mouth - as we have sought to do with these cults over the weeks - what are the claims that they make of themselves? Well, here is just one way, not so specific in doctrinal content, but certainly one way that they have described themselves. They say: 'We Christadelphians repudiate the popular churches, and affirm that there is no salvation within the pale of any of them'. Now one thing I'm sure you've gleaned if you've been with us over these weeks is that one of the characteristics of any cult is that they believe they have rediscovered the true gospel on earth. Somewhere down through all the years from Christ, they believe that in the established church of Christendom the Gospel has been lost or perverted - and all of a sudden, through their prophet, or through their system or denomination, they believe that God has revealed to them that salvation has been given exclusively to their members.
Now we need to ask the question tonight, specifically in light of the Christadelphian movement: what happened, down through all those years, to the Gospel, if the Gospel was lost? Indeed, we address that to any cult or any religion: if the Gospel did not stay with this world after Jesus died and rose again, what did He mean when He pronounced, 'I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it'? Well, He must have been a liar, He must have been a lunatic, self-deluded, to think that, if the gospel was lost until the Christadelphian movement or any other movement, whether it's the Mormons or the Jehovah's Witnesses or Christian science or Scientology, whatever one you like to name, was founded.
We want to look this evening at Christadelphianism that also claims to have rediscovered for us the Gospel of Christ, and also claim like any categorical cult that you will be saved only if you are a member of their ranks - and even at that, you can't be sure! Now I want to look at it under two headings, two questions. The first is this: is the history of Christadelphianism the history of Christianity? This is important, because like many of the cults they do claim to be mainstream Christian and have, of course, the Christian gospel, and be the true followers of Christ today. Then the second question we want to ask is: is the doctrine, the teaching of Christadelphianism, the true teaching of biblical Christianity historically and scripturally as it is laid down for us in God's revelation?
Let's deal and take time tonight over these two questions - first of all, let's look at their history. Christadelphianism began with its author, a man called Dr John Thomas. Dr John Thomas was born in London on the 12th April 1805 - incidentally, like several other of the founders of these false cults and religions, he was the son of a Christian minister, a Congregational minister as it happens. In 1832 he decided to emigrate to the United States after qualifying as a Doctor, and he went out there to study further in the medical field. On his way on the boat to New York, all of a sudden his ship experienced terrible storms. Everyone on board thought that the ship was going to be shipwrecked, and they were going to die. There and then Dr Thomas lifted his heart to God and supposedly told God that he would promise to serve Him and to follow Him if his life was preserved. Lo and behold, his life and the rest of those on the boat was preserved, and he decided that he would study religion. So, when he got off that boat, he kept his promise and he joined himself to a group of people who claimed to be studying the Bible called the 'Campbellites', they were also known as 'the Disciples'.
He wasn't long studying with the 'Campbellites' or the 'Disciples' until he was at odds with them in his interpretation of the Scriptures - now they were in error as well, but he perhaps was leading into more error. He left that group, and with him he took many of the Campbellite followers. Now this is the beginning, as we know it, of the Christadelphian movement - and it wasn't called 'Christadelphianism' at this point, but this is the embryo seed of it. He began to espouse his false doctrine views in 1834 in a magazine that was called 'The Apostolic Advocate', then he published another magazine called 'The Herald of the Future Age', and within that magazine 'The Herald of the Future Age' he particularly concentrated on the subject of eschatology - that is, the study of the end times and the second coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Let me say that we enjoy these truths prophetically in this particular church, and I believe the Bible is full of prophecy on the second coming of our Lord Jesus, but another characteristic of many of the cults is this: they concentrate in an overemphasis, to a point of going beyond scriptural prophecies, on the second coming of the Lord Jesus and eschatology - and we would do well to be warned over that particular issue ourselves, that we do not ever say more than the Scriptures tell us, or infer more and read between the lines when it's not revealed in holy writ.
Well, that magazine on the second coming, 'The Herald of the Future Age', later became known as 'The Christadelphian', and subsequently has become the official mouthpiece of the cult. In 1848 Christadelphianism was founded as a religious movement in the United States, but Thomas decided that he would visit his homeland again of England. So he returned to England to preach and to teach his doctrine. When he got to England he found that through his writings a number of people were beginning to consider his teachings, and there was, as it were, fertile soil for what he was going to teach them. Now, for that reason, to this day England has the largest number of Christadelphians right around the whole globe. The central organisation of its power is in Birmingham in the Midlands, and although each congregation is independent and autonomous in and of itself, nevertheless that is the central power source and motivating guidance for those little assemblies. It's quite a small religious movement, there are less than 19,000 people who call themselves Christadelphians in the United Kingdom among 282 congregations. You may not have heard much about them, you may even wonder why I'm talking about them tonight, but if you care any Saturday night perhaps to open your Telegraph at the churches page, you will see an advertisement for the Christadelphian church - and often the subject that is being taken up is an eschatological one concerning the second coming. Although they are small in number, they're quite active. The reason why many preachers and many cult writers have ignored Christadelphianism is: one, because it is a small movement; but two, also because it is not so much a United States movement in North America - because most of the anti-cult material comes from the United States today, they have overlooked it and ignored it. Although its founder came from England and moved to America, you can find Christadelphianism chiefly in the United Kingdom today.
Now while Dr Thomas was in the UK, he wrote a very important book - it was called 'Elpis Israel', and this is the preface cover page you see up there, I couldn't get a modern-day version of the book. The meaning of 'Elpis Israel' is 'The Hope of Israel', speaking of the future prophetic Scriptures on the nation of Israel, but it was more than that: it was a thorough work on all of Dr John Thomas' beliefs regarding his interpretations of the word of God. He comments on creation, he comments on the giving of God's law, he comments on the recurring influence of sin in man, he comments on the issue of death, immortality, and religion in general, and the coming kingdom of God upon the earth and the reign of the Lord Jesus, and many many other subjects are dealt with in that book. That has become one of the most important books for the Christadelphian movement. Now after he wrote that book in the United Kingdom, he returned home to America.
Now you may be asking the question: 'What does 'Christadelphian' mean? How did they get their name?'. Well, that was not their original name, their original name was the 'Thomasites', or the movement 'Thomasism' after Dr John Thomas in the early years. One of their convictions was, like many of these cults, they didn't believe in participating in war. All of a sudden civil war broke out in North America, and they were called upon to conscript and to join the fight - whatever side they may be on - but because of their conscientious objection they did not want to enlist, they refused to enlist - but the only way that you could refuse to enlist was if you were a recognised religious group, so they needed a name. So Dr John Thomas named them 'The Christadelphians', and if you know even a smattering of Greek you will know that 'Christ' means 'the anointed one', speaking of our Saviour and Messiah, and 'delphos' means brother - 'Philadelphians', 'brothers' - 'Christ's Brothers', 'Christ's Brethren'. We will see in their Christology, in their understanding of the Lord Jesus Christ, how they see Christ - yes, as an exalted man in one sense, but they do not believe that He is God of very God...'Brothers of Christ'.
'The Belfast Ecclesia', that's what they call themselves, the Greek word 'ecclesia' simply means 'church' - but that's what they tend to call their meetings - meets, I believe, in Victoria Square, but I have also heard that they have a meeting under the annex of Avoniel Leisure Centre. That little gathering, whether it's the same one or not I'm not sure, is moving to premises in Ladas Drive near where some of you live. So they are our neighbours! Now before I go on any further, having dealt with the history of the Christadelphian movement, I hope that you can see right away that their history is far from the history of the Christian church. But I want to say this: Dr John Thomas was a tireless worker who sought, with the knowledge that he had, to study God's word - and as far as he was concerned, he was attempting to come to the true meaning and interpretation of the doctrines of holy Scripture. He was sincere, this is what is striking about these cults. He studied the word of God to such an extent that would put some of you and me to shame.
So you might say: 'Well, where did he go wrong, if he went wrong at all?'. Unfortunately this is where he went wrong: he despised the counsel and the wisdom of those who were more learned than him. He ignored the whole of Christian history, and how down through the years church fathers, reformers, revivalists had critiqued the word of God in relation to false doctrines and heresies down the years to prove the truths of God's word - he ignored it, believing that he now was the man. He had what many call 'the Messiah complex', in other words he believed that he had single-handedly rediscovered the true gospel that had been lost from the earth. Like every cult, Christadelphianism's development was the development of one personal man in his interpretation of Holy Scripture, one man's personal beliefs and interpretations of the Scripture.
What I want you to do before we go on any further is turn to one verse for me, and it's 2 Peter, and I want you to read it in the light of what I've just said - whether it's Joseph Smith or Brigham Young, whether it's Charles Taze Russell of the Jehovah's Witness movement, whether it's Ron Hubbard of Scientology, whether it's Mary Baker Eddy of Christian Science, we could go through them all - they all claim to restore the true gospel to the earth that was lost. Now here's what the Bible says in 2 Peter chapter 1 verse 19: 'We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts: Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation'. Now that does not specifically mean that you as an individual cannot interpret God's word, of course you can, because the Spirit has promised to lead us into all truth. This does not mean, like the Catholic Church teaches, that only they can interpret the Scriptures for us. Don't misunderstand what I'm saying, but what it does mean is this: no one particular man can tell you what God's revealed will is, but God's revealed will has been known to men as men were inspired by the Holy Spirit to write the apostle's doctrine that we have tonight in the New Testament, a more sure word of prophecy. Verse 21: 'For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man' - not by one man, but by several apostles! Those apostles wrote down the teaching that God gave them, and that they received at the very feet of the Lord Jesus Christ, and was passed down to faithful men all through the years - 'but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost'.
Verse 20 is all about origins, the origins of God's truth and God's true gospel is not to be found in man, it is given by God's Spirit, and it wasn't just given to one apostle or one prophet, it was given to several. That's why we need to beware, whether it be the Christadelphians, or the Mormons, or the Jehovah's Witnesses, or Christian Science, we need to beware to realise that if any one man claims to be God's sole revelatory medium to men today, that that is none other than another stronghold of Satan, a false gospel, and it certainly is not Christianity. Do you see when someone rises up and claims to know more about the Bible than anybody else? Alarm bells ought to be ringing in your head, and I don't care whether they call themselves an evangelical or not. Christadelphianism is no exception tonight, it is a non-Christian cult, and it has not the same history as Christianity as we know it.
Can I also cause you to note in particular another very interesting fact that I have gleaned as we have gone through these weeks of studies? Almost all of the cults that I have honed in on have been founded by people who at one time were influenced by orthodox Christianity. How many of them over the weeks have you heard me say of them that they were born into a Christian home, or even into a manse, whose father was a minister or who were born into some kind of evangelical conservative background, and they turned their back on all that they knew of orthodox Christianity? That ought to be no surprise to us, why? Well, 1 John chapter 2 verse 19 tells us of false prophets, John says in 1 John 2:19: 'They went out from us, but they were not of us' - they were among us as if they were one of us, but they were not of us - 'for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us'.
Now can I just conclude this little introduction by saying this, and I want to take time to say it: we live in an age today when men will not endure sound doctrine, and there is a tendency and an itch to bring all sorts of nonsense into the church to tantalise, to entertain, to titillate, to make people interested in God's word, to scratch people's ears; and we need to realise more than ever today that we are to preach the word, in season and out of season, because it's the word that people need! We have a responsibility today, more than ever, to fearlessly preach the truth. I say to you tonight, that if the shepherds don't feed the flock with the word of God, the flock will get hungry, and the flock will go out into the wilderness - specifically the lambs - and the cults and false religions love to prey upon the lambs. As they go into the wilderness to find food they will be preyed on as food by wolves in sheep's clothing! Now listen to me: that is why we must maintain the faith, once and for all delivered to the saints. That is our Christian history, and there is a move in Modernism today to forget about our history, and if we forget about our history we forget who we are! Our history is the apostle's doctrine, the church of Jesus Christ down through all the ages. I think you can firmly see that our history as Christianity did not start in the 1800s by a Dr John Thomas, it started by the Lord Jesus Christ and twelve that followed Him, and those that followed them, and those that heard the clarion cry of the gospel down through all the years and followed Christ.
Let's move on, and take the greater amount of our time looking at the doctrine tonight, for this is so important: what they teach. For all intents and purposes, to look at their adverts with the naked eye, sometimes they're speaking on subjects that you would hear spoken on from the pulpit in this place - but do they believe what we believe? Are they Christian? Is Christadelphian doctrine Christian doctrine? The answer is categorically 'No', it is not, it is far from it. You might retort: 'But do they not believe in Christ? Is that not what defines you as a Christian, to believe in Christ?'. What is a Christian? Now I'm not talking about your individual personal faith and conversion to Christ, I'm not speaking of your testimony or your experience, but what must you believe to class yourself as a Christian in an organisational sense? What is a Christian church?
Well, like all the cults, Christadelphianism denies one or more of the essentials of the Christian faith. That's how you know if a movement is not Christian: they will deny one or more of the essential doctrines of Christianity. You might say: 'Well, what are the essential doctrines of Christianity?'. It's very difficult to summarise it all, but if I could for you, I think it's not too hard to summarise it into three particular points of doctrine whereby we can define if a movement is Christian or not, or whether they are a confusing cult or false religion.
The first doctrine that is an essential in Christianity is the deity of Christ, the deity of our Lord Jesus, that He was, is, and ever shall be not only God's Son but God the Son. Secondly, a second essential doctrine is that salvation is by grace through faith alone in Christ - not through your church, not through sacraments, not through your works or religious rites or practices, but by grace, undeserved favour from God, operated to you by faith and faith alone in Christ and no one else. The third main tenet of Christianity is the doctrine of the resurrection of Christ. In 1 Corinthians 15 that we studied in great detail not so long ago, we saw that we are of all men most miserable if Christ is still rotting in the grave, if He did not rise again our faith is vain, our message that we preach is nonsense, it'll do you no good if there's no resurrection from the dead, if Christ rise not.
Now Christadelphianism contradicts the first two of those essential doctrines of Christianity, it denies the deity of our Lord Jesus Christ, and it denies the doctrine of salvation by grace through faith alone in Christ. Now let's deal with the first, the deity of our Lord Jesus, and I want to reiterate these points because these studies - you might think: 'What's the relevance of them all? I don't come into contact with these people' - but these studies have availed me an opportunity to share with you week after week after week systematic theology from the Bible of what we believe concerning our Lord Jesus and salvation. That is so important! Because I fear in this day and age in which we live that if we singled out many young believers in Christ, and maybe some old believers, and asked them: what makes you different from a Roman Catholic? What makes you different from a Mormon or Jehovah's Witnesses, or from a pagan nominal Protestant? They couldn't tell you! It's all about: 'Oh, I have a relationship with Jesus', or 'I had an experience with Jesus', or 'I encountered something with God and I know God' - oh, it's more than that, because all groups and all individuals will stand or fall on one thing, and it is this first thing, it is the deity of Christ.
The deity of Christ: our appraisal of Jesus is the fundamental fact that we must believe if we are to class ourselves as Christians. In other words, who He was, where He came from, how He was born, where He is now, what He is doing now. Now friends, we need to be sure that we know the Bible teaches that Jesus existed before creation - we believe in the pre-existence of Christ. Now let me turn you to a few Scriptures that we have looked at before, but it's worthy of reminding ourselves - John 1 and verse 1, 'In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God'. Now 'the Word' in Greek is 'logos', it's the expression of God to men and it speaks of the Lord Jesus Christ. He says that Jesus was with God, but He was God, and if you move down to verse 14: 'And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth'. Now another verse that proves that Jesus was God, turn to Colossians chapter 2 verse 9: 'For in him', in Jesus the Lord, 'dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily' - all the fullness of the Godhead bodily dwelt in the Lord Jesus, how could you not believe in the deity of the Lord Jesus Christ? If you turn to Philippians 2, back a couple of pages to Philippians 2 verse 5: 'Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God' - 'morphae' (sp?), 'by very nature God' it means - 'thought it not robbery', something to be grasped at, 'to be equal with God'. He was equal with God, but He didn't willy-nilly in His lifetime plunge out and grasp the divine attributes that He could have used when men were against Him on the earth, 'But made himself of no reputation, and took upon himself the form of a servant, was made in the likeness of men, and humbled himself even unto the death of the cross'. Then Hebrews 1 and verse 8, turn with me to Hebrews 1 and verse 8: 'But unto the Son God saith, Thy throne, O God' - unto the Son - 'Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of thy kingdom'.
Now listen, we cannot emphasise too much this fact that the Lord Jesus Christ is very God of very God, and He is begotten, not created - there is a difference! We're losing today our theological language, sometimes through some of the modern translations that there are a plethora of, they're dropping this word 'begotten', but this is a proper biblical Greek word that means more than just the Lord Jesus coming. He is eternally begotten of the Father, not created. Yet the Christadelphians accept the virgin birth as we do, but they will not accept that Jesus is God the Son, that He is the pre-existent one. They teach that at Jesus' baptism He became the Christ, that He was in some way divine, but there is only one God and that is the Father, and none other.
Let me give you some astounding blasphemous quotations from a book called 'The Christadelphians: What They Believe and Preach' by Harry Pennant, concerning the deity of our Lord Jesus. Here's the first one: 'There is no hint in the Old Testament that the Son of God was already existent or in any way active at that time' - no hint! They mustn't have read the Old Testament, that's for sure! Moving on to another quote: 'Jesus Christ, the Son of God, was first promised, and came into being only when He was born of the virgin Mary' - that He began His existence in His birth at Bethlehem! Now the next slide that you're going to see is one photograph of many that I'll show you tonight of a Bible Exhibition in the Ulster Hall in Belfast in July 1989 - Cecil Andrews took these photographs and kindly lent them to me. They show, in this exhibition of the Christadelphians, what they really believe. If you look at this statement and where the arrow points to, speaking of the birth of Jesus it says: 'a virgin shall conceive', quoting from Isaiah 7:14, 'bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel' - and they put in parenthesis 'a name for Jesus'. Now is that the best definition that you could give of Immanuel? What does Immanuel mean? 'God with us'! They're trying to cover over the fact of what this word 'Immanuel' means, just 'a name for Jesus'.
The next slide will show how they quote this time from Revelation 1 and verse 18: 'These prophecies were fulfilled when Christ was raised from the dead, after three days in the tomb, He declared later: 'I am He that liveth and was dead' - Revelation 1 - 'and behold, I am alive for evermore...and have the keys of hell (the grave) and of death' - yet they failed to quote what the resurrected Christ said in His totality of statement, for verse 17 says: 'Fear not; I am the first and the last'. That is a direct quotation from Isaiah chapter 44 verse 6, where God says: 'I am the first and the last', but they conveniently drop that.
The next slide will show, as the arrow points to it, concerning the life that Jesus offered: 'Jesus never sinned. He conquered the temptations which arise from our sinful nature - a nature which he too shared, for only thus could he be a Saviour. God cannot sin. But Jesus could have sinned, though he never did. Such a Saviour, provided by God, was central to His loving purpose'. Now look at the first line - He had a sinful nature: 'a nature which he too shared', our sinful nature! And Jesus could have sinned: 'God cannot sin. But Jesus could have sinned' - 'God cannot sin', therefore what is the inference? 'Jesus is not God'!
Now it gets worse than that, if you could ever believe it, because here's a statement from that same book before mentioned - this time from page 74 in it, Harry Pennant says: 'Therefore, we conclude that it is not only that Jesus was called a sinner at his trial by his enemies or that he was' - quoting Isaiah - ''numbered with the transgressors' when he was crucified between two thieves, but more particularly that he shared the very nature which had made a sinner out of every other man who had borne it' - that is blasphemy of the highest order! We, as human beings, fallen in Adam's race, are peccable. We have a fallen nature that is liable and tempted internally by sin externally, and the Lord Jesus - although He came in the likeness of sinful flesh, He was subject to some of the restrictions that came upon humanity and flesh because of Adam's fall, yet He had no sinful nature in and of Himself. He was not vulnerable to sin, He did not lust after sin. In fact the Lord Jesus said in John 14 and verse 30 that 'the prince of this world', speaking of the devil, 'cometh, and he hath nothing in me'.
Friends tonight, when the virgin Mary conceived she was overshadowed by the Holy Spirit, and the angel said to her: 'That holy thing which shall be born of thee, shall be called the Son of God'. Now if you take these doctrines and heresies to their logical conclusions, not only do you conclude that Jesus - because He was a man - had a sinful nature, but therefore, if Jesus had a sinful nature, then He needed to be saved. That's exactly what Christadelphianism does: they say that the Lord Jesus needed salvation. This next quote shows you again from this same book of Harry Pennant: 'He', the Lord Jesus, 'saved himself in order to save us' - staggering isn't it? Another quotation in this light: 'It was for that very reason' - being a member of a sinful race - 'that the Lord Jesus himself needed salvation'.
Now listen friends tonight, in the plan of Satan, all that he needs to get people to do to damn them is to believe in a false Jesus! That's his plan throughout all these confusing cults and false religions, to make them think that they're believing in the truth, the true Christ, but they're believing in a false Christ and they're going to be lost because of it! The Lord Jesus made that no secret, because He told us in Matthew 24 and verse 24 that this would happen: 'For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect' - false Christs!
Now listen tonight, only the true Jesus can reveal to us the true God, and if you've got a false Jesus you've got a false god! The Lord Jesus claimed that He would reveal the Father, that He and the Father were one, and those that had seen Him had seen the Father. Did He not say in our opening quotation tonight, John 14:6, 'I am the way, the truth and the life; no man cometh unto the Father but by me'? But if you've got a false Jesus, you'll not get to the Father - and it follows that if you deny the divine nature of Christ, if you ascribe a sinful nature to the spotless Son of God, if you believe that He needed to be saved, you are serving a false god and following a false Christ. My friend, I have to tell you tonight, if that's the case your soul will be eternally damned. I take no pleasure in saying it, but Paul the apostle says to the Galatians that if any man preach another Jesus unto you let him be damned, let him be anathema!
The second essential doctrine of Christianity they deny that outruns this first one is that they deny the substitutionary atonement of the Lord Jesus. First of all they deny His deity, and then they edge into this realm of salvation by grace through faith alone in Christ and they start to tamper with God's provided way of Calvary's precious blood. They say He did not bear our sins, no, He just represented us as sinful fallen humanity. Yet what does 1 Peter 2 and verse 24 say? 'He himself bare our sins in his own body on the tree'. I don't care how avid Scripture studiers they are, they're missing out an awful lot, aren't they? It is that He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities, the chastisement of our peace was upon Him, and with His stripes we are healed. Yet when 2 Corinthians 5:21 says that 'He was made sin for us', this is what they say: ''He himself required a sin offering', that's what that means! He needed a sin offering to be saved himself'. Now friends, that is the doctrine of devils!
Peter said in 1 Peter 2:22 that: 'He did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth'. He knew no sin, and I believe He was the impeccable Christ, He could not sin! Yet this is what Christadelphianism says, 'The second secret of the cross' - I didn't know there were any secrets to do with the cross! - 'The second secret of the cross is that it is the source of the forgiveness of sins. It is not a debt settled by due payment. It is not a substitutionary offering whereby someone has paid a price so that others might then go free'. It's an awful pity that you can't sing:
'Bearing shame, and scoffing rude;
In my place, condemned, He stood.
Sealed my pardon with His blood,
Hallelujah! What a Saviour!'
You don't have a Saviour if you don't have a substitutionary atonement! The next quote you'll see from this same book says: 'The Bible approach is much simpler [than the substitutionary atonement] and much more satisfying. Forgiveness comes to the man who believes the Gospel, repents, and is baptized in the name of Christ' - page 71. Therefore, just like the Church of Christ that we studied last week, baptism again is essential to salvation. Look at this next slide, which is again from the display in the Ulster Hall in 1989. On the subject of baptism being essential to salvation, if you follow the arrows you can see, Christ was baptised but, 'We must follow'. Look at that statement: 'Repentance must then be followed by baptism'. The next statement that is underlined that the arrow is pointing to is 'Without true baptism our sin will not be washed away'.
Now, is that what the Bible teaches? It is certainly not! Paul, the great apostle, said: 'I came not to baptise, but to preach the Gospel'. In John 4 verse 2 it says that Jesus did not baptise anyone - if He was the Saviour of the world, do you not think He would have baptised men if that was the way men's sins are washed away?
Friends tonight, I don't know whether there's anybody mixed up in this false cult, but you need to know that only the blood of Jesus, and that being the blood of the real Jesus, can cleanse you from sin! Not baptism! Lest I be misunderstood in these deliberations last week and this week: baptism is important. Baptism for believers by immersion totally, is outlined for us in scripture as a command of the Lord Jesus Christ and ought to be obeyed, and should be obeyed by every believer - but mark this: it will not wash one of your sins away. You're only to be baptised if your sins have been washed away through the washing of regeneration through the Word.
What about Satan? Well, this exhibition shows that they believe that sin equals Satan. In other words, Satan isn't a literal person - if you watch where the arrows are pointing: '[The Lord Jesus] was tempted and to engage in the fight against sin' - in parenthesis - '(which the Bible calls the Devil)'. The next statement down here where it talks about him destroying the Devil: 'By this means sin (the Devil) could be destroyed'. Now I would rather have the words of the Lord Jesus Christ than Dr John Thomas or the Christadelphian movement, when He said these words - and I'm not going to quote the whole statement: 'I beheld Satan', I beheld Satan!, 'as lightning cast from heaven'. I choose to believe Him.
The next board in this exhibition was talking about how there's only one God, but they define that 'only one God' as being the Father. It's very similar to Mormonism, because Robert Roberts who was the successor of Dr John Thomas in Christadelphian movement said, I quote: 'the Father is a tangible person' - He is tangible, you can touch Him. The Father! The reason being, they believe that if the Lord Jesus is the express image of God as Hebrews 1 says, then God must have a body, God must have a form - yet John 4 tells us that God is spirit.
They believe concerning the Holy Spirit, as you see at the bottom (if you ignore the flash!): 'The Holy Spirit is God's power'. He is not a personality, He is God the Father's influence in our lives - but you can see the personal pronouns right throughout the Scriptures, how you could lie to the Holy Spirit - Ananias and Sapphira - how the Holy Spirit is called God. Robert Roberts goes as far to say in his false doctrine, I quote: 'there is no manifestation of the Spirit in these days'. We are living in the days of the manifestation of the Spirit! What lies!
Can I read to you - we're almost finished - 1 John 2:22, and this is a conclusion on many of these cults that we have been dealing with over these weeks, but specifically Christadelphianism that denies the deity of our Lord Jesus Christ and the doctrine of salvation by grace through faith alone in Christ. John, the apostle who was dealing with many of these similar heresies in his day, said this: 'Who is a liar but he that denieth that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist, that denieth the Father and the Son'.
Now friend tonight, I long for your salvation, but if you're mixed up with Christadelphianism or any cult that denigrates the personality and the deity of our Lord Jesus Christ and His essential work on Calvary, you are anti-christ!
They believe further to that, if you're not a believer, if you're unfaithful, your soul will just be blown out like a candle, you'll be annihilated because you're unfaithful. They believe if you are faithful, salvation by works, you'll be saved - yet God's word clearly says, the Lord Jesus in Matthew 25:46: 'And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal'.
What will you take tonight? Will you take God's word or the word of a modern day so-called prophet? Will you take the word of an organisation, a system, a philosophy, a teaching, a cult? Like so many other cults and false religions in our world today, in Christadelphianism the sinner is left with no hope or assurance of salvation! I'm asking you tonight, if what you've got is so good and so better than what the Bible teaches and what I'm preaching tonight, here's my question: do you know you're saved? Do you know you're on your way to heaven? If you died tonight, would it be absent from the body and present with the Lord? None of them can say that! None of them!
Can I leave you with what God's word says because of our lovely Lord and His perfect life, and His peerless character as God's Son, and His purging work there on Calvary's cross where He shed His blood, and His powerful resurrection? First John 5:13: 'These things are written that ye might know' - Hallelujah! - 'that ye might know that ye have eternal life'. Friend, do you know? Not 'Do you hope so', or 'You'd like to think so', or 'You're trying your best to get so' - do you know? The only way to know is to come to Calvary, to admit that the One hanging there is in your place, and He is none other than God the Son, and that it's your sin upon Him, your sin that you deserve to go to eternal hell for; and you take that gift of sacrifice, that was on your behalf, as your own by faith, and embrace it - and the power of His resurrection will flood your soul! Then you will know that you're saved.
Lord, would you hear us tonight, and if there are any that are stumbling at the Rock of offence, Christ Jesus, because they feel there's something in them, or there's something in their church or their movement - would they see it tonight Lord, by Thy Spirit: 'Nothing in my hand I bring, simply to Thy cross I cling; naked come to Thee for dress, helpless look to Thee for grace. Foul, I to the fountain fly, wash me Saviour, or I die!'. Lord, hope is in Christ and Christ alone, and we've seen it tonight, and we thank You that by Your grace You've revealed it. But Lord, we want somebody else to see it tonight, would You reach out and touch someone, but thrill us all again with what it is to be saved by sovereign grace. Thank You Lord for all these blessings these weeks and years, and now unto Him who is able to keep us from falling, and present us faultless before the throne of His Father, be eternal dominion and glory and honour and praise for evermore, Amen.
Preach The Word.
This sermon was delivered at The Iron Hall Assembly in Belfast, Northern Ireland, by Pastor David Legge. It was transcribed from the seventh recording in his Strongholds Shaken series, titled "Christadelphianism" - Transcribed by Andrew Watkins, Preach The Word. The inclusion of Images and diagrams in this transcript is done without intention to breach any copyright restrictions. If this has been done in any instance, please contact us and we will willingly remove the offending item.
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