In this final lesson of our Reformation Study Course, we shall concentrate on the question whether the true, faithful follower of Christ should remain in the fallen church or come out and unite with God’s remnant people. We believe this question is of the greatest importance in this last time.
The call of God to true believers has always meant a separation for His faithful people, a coming out. This important fact is seen not only in the experiences of His ancient church, but likewise in the present dispensation.
In Desire of Ages, p. 232, we read:
“. . . Therefore Jesus departed from Jerusalem, from the priests, the temple, the religious leaders, the people who had been instructed in the law, and turned to another class to proclaim His message, and to gather out those who should carry the gospel to all nations.” (Emphasis ours.)
Christ Himself, with His followers, being unwanted, was compelled to separate from His once chosen people; therefore, the Lord Himself led the little flock out of the fallen, rejected Jewish church. After Christ ascended to heaven, we read in Acts 4:23, the apostles remained separate from the Jewish organization. “And being let go, they (Peter and John) went to their own company, and reported all that the chief priests and elders had said unto them.”
In the Great Controversy, p. 45, we read about the early Christians:
“After a long and severe conflict, the faithful few decided to dissolve all union with the apostate church if she still refused to free herself from falsehood and idolatry. They saw that the separation was an absolute necessity if they would obey the word of God.”
Still further on in the history of the Christian church we encounter the same adherence to the call for separation.
“. . . Of those who resisted the encroachments of the papal power, the Waldenses stood foremost. . . . For centuries the churches of Piedmont maintained their independence; but the time came at last when Rome insisted upon their submission. After ineffectual struggles against her tyranny, the leaders of these churches reluctantly acknowledged the supremacy of the power to which the whole world seemed to pay homage. There were some, however, who refused to yield to the authority of pope or prelate. They were determined to maintain their allegiance to God, and to preserve the purity and simplicity of their faith. A separation took place. Those who adhered to the ancient faith now withdrew;. . .” – Great Controversy, p. 64 (emphasis ours).
“. . . It was not without a terrible struggle with himself that Luther decided upon a final separation from the church.” – Great Controversy, p. 143.
“Wesley had no thought of forming a new denomination, but he organized them under what was called the Methodist Connection.” – Great Controversy, p. 257.
And coming down to our time, we study the experience of William Miller. For a time the churches looked with favor upon his work, but as the various ministers and religious leaders rejected the Advent message and attempted to suppress the truth he taught, the believers had to make the vital decision.
“They loved their churches, and were loath to separate from them; but as they saw the testimony of God’s word suppressed, and their right to investigate the prophecies denied, they felt that loyalty to God forbade them to submit. Those who sought to shut out the testimony of God’s word they could regard as constituting the church of Christ, ‘the pillar and ground of the truth.’ Hence they felt themselves justified in separating from their former connection. In the summer of 1844 about fifty thousand withdrew from the churches.” – Great Controversy, p. 376 (emphasis ours).
Separation – unhesitating, positive, and complete – is indeed a natural law of the kingdom of God; and today that holy principle applies with the greatest force. In this solemn day, the following ancient prophecy depicting a wonderful, divine separation of His true people is to be fulfilled: “For thus saith the Lord God: Behold, I, even I, will both search My sheep, and seek them out. As a shepherd seeketh out his flock in the day that he is among his sheep that are scattered; so will I seek out My sheep, and will deliver them out of all places where they have been scattered in the cloudy and dark day.” Ezekiel 34:11,12.
This seeking of the flock by the True Shepherd has always resulted in a distinct separation between His followers and the world, or those who do not follow Him. Isaiah the prophet wrote: “And they shall call them, The holy people (or set apart), The redeemed of the Lord: and thou shalt be called, Sought out (or separated), A city not forsaken.” Isaiah 62:12.
In harmony with this Bible text, we read in Desire of Ages, p. 232:
“As the light and the life of men was rejected by the ecclesiastical authorities in the days of Christ, so it has been rejected in every succeeding generation. Again and again the history of Christ’s withdrawal from Judea has been repeated. When the Reformers preached the word of God, they had no thought of separating themselves from the established church; but the religious leaders would not tolerate the light, and those that bore it were forced to seek another class, who were longing for the truth. In our day few of the professed followers of the Reformers are actuated by their spirit. Few are listening for the voice of God, and ready to accept truth in whatever guise it may be presented. Often those who follow in the steps of the Reformers are forced to turn away from the churches they love, in order to declare the plain teaching of the word of God. And many times those who are seeking for light are by the same teaching obliged to leave the church of their fathers, that they may render obedience.”
On the basis of all that you have learned in the foregoing lessons and the wealth of information presented on the subject of Reformation among God’s people in these present times, which is by no means exhaustive, we conclude that:
(1) It is in full accordance with the law and the testimony for this Seventh-day Adventist Reform Movement to exist today and do its worldwide work.
(2) Its origin answers fully the divine description in respect to the time of its beginning and the character of its work – teaching no extreme doctrines but only the original, sound Seventh-day Adventist doctrine.
(3) This Reform Movement has displayed from its conception in 1914 the true characteristics of authenticity: Keeping the commandments of God and having the testimony of Jesus Christ.
(4) This Remnant Church of prophecy fulfills its twofold mission:
In harmony with prophecy, this Reform Movement issues the call to you to “come out of her,” and appeals to you to unite with the faithful Remnant.
Therefore, dear student friend, we earnestly and cordially invite you to take a firm and unyielding stand for truth and join the growing ranks of the International Missionary Society of Seventh-day Adventists, Reform Movement, which is God’s Remnant Church in these last days.