Brethren Roberts and Thomas both wrote much concerning the Revelation. J. Thomas wrote a book, Eureka, in which he deals at length with the first seven ecclesias in Asia Minor. R. Roberts, also in his book, "Thirteen Lectures on the Apocalypse" also deals with those seven ecclesias.
By selectively quoting from these works, the two brethren are made to appear to contradict what has preceded in this collection from their works.
For instance, this sentence is quoted from "Thirteen Lectures" to justify continued fellowship with errorists:
"There are a few exceptions in Sardis: 'Thou hast a few names in Sardis which have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with me in white: for they are worthy'; from which we learn that membership in a dead ecclesia will not interfere with individual acceptance where worthiness exists."
The quotation is ended there, though the very next sentence explains the context in which R. Roberts is talking. "Even those who are lacking have an opportunity which they are exhorted to use."
Use our opportunities. Do not be concerned if the ecclesia is inactive
or dead. If you are using the opportunities which you are given, then (so
far as fellowship goes) you are not guilty of any wrong doing. R. Roberts
is not dealing with ecclesias which are dead, because they have lost the
Truth. They are dead, because they are inactive. Here is the whole section.
--James P. Phillips
"He that hath the seven Spirits of God"--the symbolic affirmation
of omniscience has little to say in the way of commendation to the brethren
in Sardis. "Thou has a name that thou livest, and art dead."
Men knew the reputation of the Sardian ecclesia: the possessor of
"the seven stars"--the seven Spirit lights kindled in the seven
ecclesias, knew their state. "I have not found thy works perfect
before God." Jesus watches and discerns the developments of probation.
He requires not to bring men to the judgment seat to know, though he will
bring them there to reveal them. There were a few exceptions in Sardis:
"Thou has a few names even in Sardis which have not defiled their
garments; and they shall walk with me in white; for they are worthy";
from which we learn that membership in a dead ecclesia will not interfere
with individual acceptance where worthiness exists. Even those who are
lacking have an opportunity which they are exhorted to use. "Be watchful,
and strengthen the things that remain, which are ready to die...Repent."
There is this encouragement to repentance: "He that overcometh, the
same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name
out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father and
before his angels." The white investiture is readily recognizable
in that clothing of the mortal body with immortality from heaven, of which
all accepted saints are to be the subjects at the Lord's coming. The "righteousness
of the saints" is said to be the meaning of the "fine linen,
clean and white," with which the symbolic bride is arrayed; but this
cannot be the meaning of the white raiment in this place, because this
is promised as the recompense of the righteousness (or overcoming),
and therefore, cannot be the righteousness itself. It is a fit symbol of
the pure incorruptible that will result from the transforming action of
the Spirit of God upon the mortal bodies of the saints who stand before
Christ accepted. Of course it is not literal; white raiment of this sort
could be purchased at the milliner's. There may, however, be a blending
of the symbolical and the literal. That is to say, the immortalized saints
may wear white clothing. The angels, to whom they are to be equal, almost
always appeared habited in white (Matt. 28:3; Acts 10:30, etc.), and the
garments of Jesus in transfiguration, became "white and glistering,
.... so as no fuller on earth can white them." The apparel of the
immortal state is an interesting matter of detail, but not of practical
moment. The thing that is of practical moment is the fact that it is possible
for a man's name to be blotted from the book of life, that is, expunged
from the divine recognition as an heir of eternal life, after having once
sustained that relation. Jesus promised to the Sardian ecclesia that this
should not happen in the case of such as overcome, but that they should
be confessed by him before the Father and the angels. This is an honor
the greatness of which we cannot estimate because it is yet unseen, but
which will be appreciated at its true greatness when the hour arrives for
the muster of the chosen, and the inauguration in glory in the presence
of multitudes of the angelic host and the manifested glory of the Father.
It is not only R. Roberts which is caused to fall in a bad light,
as far as the doctrine of fellowship is concerned. J. Thomas is not excepted.
Some of his statements in his work, Eureka, are quoted to make him
appear to condone the fellowshipping of errorists.
Particularly, the following quote is made:
"Antipas still retained his original position in all the ecclesias, which, although teeming with false brethren both in the presbyteries and among the multitudes, had not yet been spued out of the mouth of the Spirit."
It is suggested by this quote that the Antipas class, that is the righteous, were in fellowship with those they knew to be errorists."
It is not an unreasonable thing for an author to expect that the reader will read his book from the first cover to the last. Had this happened, there would be no room for confusion on this point. On page 270, J. Thomas makes it clear that in fact the Antipas did not have fellowship knowingly, with the errorists mentioned in Revelation. He writes:
"The name Christians comprehended all the adherents of Balaam and Jezebel, whether Ebionites, Gnostics or by whatever name or denomination of heresy, they might be known. The 'real christians' had NO FELLOWSHIP WITH SUCH; though among them, as in Pergamos, the poison of the serpent might be detected. The ecclesia and the synagogue of the Satan were institutions as distinct as they are now; for in the nineteenth century a true believer of the gospel of the kingdom is against all who have not obeyed the same, yet a congregation of 'real christians' may have in it some who are not true, as at Pergamos; these WILL SOONER OR LATER SHOW THEMSELVES, for their sympathies are fleshly, and they become impatient of principles which they regard as harsh, uncharitable, and severe."
When J. Thomas says that the ecclesias were teeming with false brethren, he is referring to those false brethren who have not yet manifested themselves as false, such as Judas before he betrayed Christ.
Much more could be added on this point, and many more passages quoted
out of this excellent section of fellowship from Eureka. But our
main point is to show the teachings of the early Christadelphians from
whole contexts, which is not reasonably possible when dealing with Eureka.
Berean Home Page