In all ages there have been an Israel, [church] according to the flesh and in addition, a much smaller group who are the true Israel—the children of the promise. “For they are not all Israel who are of Israel, nor are they all children because they are the seed of Abraham; but, ‘In Isaac your seed shall be called’ that this, those who are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God; but the children of the promise are counted as the seed.” Romans 9: 6-8. This truth Jesus clearly addressed when speaking to the church leaders of His day, He said, “I know that you are Abraham’s descendants, but you seek to kill me, because my word has no place in you, ‘I speak what I have seen with my Father, and you do what you have seen with your father.’ They answered and said unto Him, ‘Abraham is our father.’ Jesus said unto them, ‘If you were Abraham’s children, you would do the works of Abraham. But now you seek to kill me, a man who has told you the truth which I heard from God. Abraham did not do this. You do the deeds of you father.’” John 8:37–41.
“The Jewish people cherished the idea that they were the favorites of heaven, and that they were always to be exalted as the church of God. They were the children of Abraham, they declared, and so firm did the foundation of their prosperity seem to them that they defied earth and heaven to dispossess them of their rights.” Christ’s Object Lessons, 294
This smaller group is, and always has been, the true church of God. “From the beginning, faithful souls have constituted the church on earth.” The Acts of the Apostles, 11. “Those who keep God’s commandments, those who live not by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God, compose the church of the living God.” The Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 7, 949.
Will you be a part of this little company that comprises the true church? See Testimonies Vol. 9, 231. If you choose to do so, you must have the following characteristics:
- You must be willing to endure opposition from the professed Seventh-day Adventist church: “If we hope to wear the crown, we must expect to bear the cross. Our greatest trials will come from those who profess godliness. It was so with the world’s Redeemer; it will be so with his followers. . . . The opposition which Christ received came from his own nation, who would have been greatly blessed had they accepted him. In like manner the remnant church receive opposition from those who profess to be their brethren.” Review and Herald, August 28, 1883
- You must contend earnestly for the faith once delivered to the Saints: “Satan claims the world, but there is a little company who withstand his devices, and contend earnestly for the faith once delivered to the saints. Satan sets himself to destroy this commandment-keeping company. But God is their tower of defense. He will raise up for them a standard against the enemy. He will be to them ‘as an hiding place from the wind,’ and ‘as the shadow of a great rock in a weary land.’ He will say to them, ‘Come, my people, enter thou into thy chambers, and shut thy doors about thee: hide thyself as it were for a little moment, until the indignation be overpast. For, behold, the Lord cometh out of His place to punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity: the earth also shall disclose her blood, and shall no more cover her slain.” ‘And the ransomed of the Lord shall return, and come to Zion with songs and everlasting joy upon their heads: they shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.’ ” Review and Herald, September 17, 1901
- While filled with remorse for those professors who are in apostasy, you must remain in the light. “The leaven of godliness has not entirely lost its power. At the time when the danger and depression of the church are greatest, the little company who are standing in the light will be sighing and crying for the abominations that are done in the land. But more especially will their prayers arise in behalf of the church because its members are doing after the manner of the world.” Testimonies, vol. 5, 209, 210
You must be bound together by the truth of the three angels’ messages: “He bade me look in an opposite direction, and I saw a little company traveling a narrow pathway. All seemed to be firmly united, and bound together by the truth, in bundles, or companies. Said the angel, ‘The third angel is binding them (sealing them) in bundles for the heavenly garner.’ ” Supplement to Christian Experience and Views Ellen G. White, 6