Sabbath, September 3, 2005
“Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men. Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid.” Matthew 5:13, 14.
• Considering that there are numerous churches and religions in our days, we need to discern which church has God’s presence and the candlestick of truth.
• To understand the test that distinguishes false churches from the true church.
AN UNDEFILED WOMAN
1. How does the Bible symbolize the church?
Revelation 12;1, 6, 17 And there appeared a great wonder in heaven; a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars … And the woman fled into the wilderness, where she hath a place prepared of God, that they should feed her there a thousand two hundred and threescore days… And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.
2 Corinthians 11:2 For I am jealous over you with godly jealousy: for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ.
“He Himself is the Bridegroom; the bride is the church, of which, as His chosen one, He says, ‘Thou art all fair, My love; there is no spot in thee.’ ” –The Adventist Home, p. 26.
“The people of God, symbolized by a holy woman and her children, were represented as greatly in the minority. In the last days only a remnant still existed. Of these John speaks as they ‘which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ’ ” –Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 7, p. 972.
2. Remembering that marriage is a symbol of the relationship between the church and Christ, can you imagine how this should be in light of the seventh commandment?
Hosea 2:19, 20 And I will betroth thee unto me for ever; yea, I will betroth thee unto me in righteousness, and in judgment, and in lovingkindness, and in mercies. I will even betroth thee unto me in faithfulness: and thou shalt know the Lord.
Matthew 19:6 Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.
“Christ and His church are inseparable.” –Testimonies for the Church, vol. 3, p. 418.
“Very close and sacred is the relation between Christ and His church—He the bridegroom, and the church the bride; He the head, and the church the body. Connection with Christ, then, involves connection with His church.” –Education, p. 268.
3. What are the privileges of the church? Mention the greatest one.
Romans 3:1, 2 What advantage then hath the Jew? or what profit is there of circumcision? Much every way: chiefly, because that unto them were committed the oracles of God.
“God has called His church in this day, as He called ancient Israel, to stand as a light in the earth. By the mighty cleaver of truth, the messages of the first, second, and third angels, He has separated them from the churches and from the world to bring them into a sacred nearness to Himself. He has made them the depositaries of His law and has committed to them the great truths of prophecy for this time. Like the holy oracles committed to ancient Israel, these are a sacred trust to be communicated to the world.” –Testimonies for the Church, vol. 5, p. 455.
4. What happens when a church or an individual rejects God’s sacred entrusted law and present truth?
2 Thessalonians 2:10-12 And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.
“Satan has led the minds of the ministers of different churches to cling tenaciously to their popular errors, as he led the Jews in their blindness to cling to their sacrifices, and crucify Christ. The rejection of light and truth leaves men captives, the subjects of Satan’s deception. The greater the light they reject, the greater will be the power of deception and darkness which will come upon them.” –Testimony Treasures, vol. 1, p. 120.
“At this time the church is to put on her beautiful garments–‘Christ our righteousness.’ There are clear, decided distinctions to be restored and exemplified to the world in holding aloft the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus…His authority should be kept distinct and plain before the world, and no laws are to be acknowledged that come in collision with the laws of Jehovah. If in defiance of God’s arrangements the world be allowed to influence our decisions or our actions, the purpose of God is defeated. However specious the pretext, if the church waver here, there is written against her in the books of heaven a betrayal of the most sacred trusts, and treachery to the kingdom of Christ.” –Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers, p. 16, 17.
THE CANDLESTICK REMOVED
5. What was the greatest and final reason why the candlestick was removed from the Jewish church?
John 19:15, 16 But they cried out, Away with him, away with him, crucify him. Pilate saith unto them, Shall I crucify your King? The chief priests answered, We have no king but Caesar. Then delivered he him therefore unto them to be crucified. And they took Jesus, and led him away.
“The one week–seven years–ended in A. D. 34. Then by the stoning of Stephen the Jews finally sealed their rejection of the gospel, …” –The Desire of Ages, p. 233.
“The seventy weeks, or 490 years, especially allotted to the Jews, ended, as we have seen, in A.D. 34. At that time, through the action of the Jewish Sanhedrin, the nation sealed its rejection of the gospel by the martyrdom of Stephen and the persecution of the followers of Christ. Then the message of salvation, no longer restricted to the chosen people, was given to the world.” –The Great Controversy, p. 328.
6. What course did the protestant churches take before they were declared to be Babylon?
Revelation 14:8 And there followed another angel, saying, Babylon is fallen, is fallen, that great city, because she made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication.
“ ‘In all my labors,’ said Miller, ‘I never had the desire or thought to establish any separate interest from that of existing denominations, or to benefit one at the expense of another.’ …” –The Great Controversy, p. 375.
“But as ministers and religious leaders decided against the advent doctrine and desired to suppress all agitation of the subject, they do not only opposed it from the pulpit, but denied their members the privilege of attending preaching upon the second advent, or even of speaking of their hope in the social meetings of the church. Thus the believers found themselves in a position of great trial and perplexity. 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 not 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.” –The Great Controversy, p. 376.
LIGHT OPPOSED AND REJECTED
7. What may happen to members in the church when light is resisted?
Revelation 3:15-17 I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth. Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked:
“An unwillingness to yield up preconceived opinions, and to accept this truth, lay at the foundation of a large share of the opposition manifested at Minneapolis against the Lord’s message through Brethren E. J. Waggoner and A. T. Jones. … The light that is to lighten the whole earth with its glory was resisted, and by the action of our own brethren has been in a great degree kept away from the world.” –Selected Messages, vol. 1, pp. 234, 235.
“I asked the meaning of the shaking I had seen and was shown that it would be caused by the straight testimony called forth by the counsel of the True Witness to the Laodiceans. This will have its effect upon the heart of the receiver, and will lead him to exalt the standard and pour forth the straight truth. Some will not bear this straight testimony. They will rise up against it, and this is what will cause a shaking among God’s people.“I saw that the testimony of the True Witness has not been half heeded. The solemn testimony upon which the destiny of the church hangs has been lightly esteemed, if not entirely disregarded.” –Early Writings, p. 270.
“The message preached to us by A.T Jones and E. J. Waggoner is the message of God to the church of Laodicea.” –Manuscript Releases, vol. 15, p. 92.
8. What happened in the Laodicean church when, during World War I, the law was violated and the faithful people were disfellowshipped from the church?
Revelation 3:20 Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.
“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.” –The Desire of Ages, p. 232.
“The Jewish leaders thought themselves too wise to need instruction, too righteous to need salvation, too highly honored to need the honor that comes from Christ. The Savior turned from them to entrust to others the privileges they had abused and the work they had slighted. God’s glory must be revealed, His word established. Christ’s kingdom must be set up in the world.
The salvation of God must be made known in the cities of the wilderness; and the disciples were called to do the work that the Jewish leaders had failed to do.” –The Acts of the Apostles, p. 16.
FOR OUR THOUGHTS
• Considering Matthew 16:18, discuss how the Lord has been guiding a visible church with organization in every generation.
• What sacred duty did God entrust to the church? What is its greatest privilege and which consequence will follow for forsaking this privilege and duty?
• Which was the biggest reason of opposition in the Jewish church? Find out and discuss the two most important reasons why the Jewish nation lost its privilege as God’s church. Luke 2:34; 1 Peter 2:7,8.
• Harmonize prophecy, history, and causes of why certain experiences took place in the Seventh-day Adventist Church during World War I.