The Church “Then”. . . . . .and the Church Now
by Terry S. Ross
DA 621: “And there were certain Greeks among them that came up to worship at the feast; the same came therefore to Philip, which was of Bethsaida of Galilee, and desired him, saying, Sir, we would see Jesus. Philip cometh and telleth Andrew, and again Andrew and Philip tell Jesus.
“At this time Christ’s work bore the appearance of cruel defeat. He had been victor in the controversy with the priests and Pharisees, but it was evident that He would never be received by them as the Messiah. The final separation had come. To His disciples the case seemed hopeless. But Christ was approaching the consummation of His work. The great event which concerned not only the Jewish nation, but the whole world, was about to take place. When Christ heard the eager request, ‘We would see Jesus, ’ echoing the hungering cry of the world, His countenance lighted up, and He said, ‘The hour is come, that the Son of man should be glorified. ’ In the request of the Greeks He saw an earnest of the results of His great sacrifice.”
Jesus had labored faithfully and yet it certainly appeared as if His work had been in vain. The church He had come to, the same church He had raised, protected, honored with His presence had rejected Him. After years in the service of salvation, He stood almost alone. Even His closest friends had little encouragement to offer. But in the words “we would see Jesus,” Christ caught a glimmer of hope that in future days would shine more brightly in a dark world. These few words Jesus understood.
Jesus was willing to sacrifice Himself so that others might be saved. This is the type of service that is acceptable to the Father. Our work must be of the same nature for it to receive Heaven’s blessing. As with Jesus, we must be willing to lay it all on the line for the cause of truth. We must willingly place even our reputations into the hands of God and labor for His glory rather than for our own. We must say the words “we would see Jesus.” This is what constitutes true service to God and for others.
DA 623: “The grain of wheat that preserves its own life can produce no fruit. It abides alone. Christ could, if He chose, save Himself from death. But should He do this, He must abide alone. He could bring no sons and daughters to God. Only by yielding up His life could He impart life to humanity. Only by falling into the ground to die could He become the seed of that vast harvest, —the great multitude that out of every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people, are redeemed to God.
“With this truth Christ connects the lesson of self- sacrifice that all should learn: ‘He that loveth his life shall lose it; and he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal. ’ All who would bring forth fruit as workers together with Christ must first fall into the ground and die. The life must be cast into the furrow of the world’s need. Self- love, self- interest, must perish. And the law of self- sacrifice is the law of self- preservation.”
We can choose to keep to ourselves but Heaven requires more. Jesus did not have to elect to die for us. He could have said “No, I am not going to do this.” Having made that choice He would have saved Himself a tremendous trouble, pain, suffering, and rejection. But Christ loved us with a love that is very difficult for us to grasp. After all, we are not that great a prize except in the eyes of Heaven and then only because of what Jesus did. We may think we are remarkable, we may think we are of most importance, but when it boils right down to it, we are moles on the otherwise perfect body of the Heavenly universe.
It is only in Christ that we have any value. We have hope only because Jesus cast His own life into the furrow of the world field and died that there might be a harvest of souls. By giving up His own life Jesus demonstrates the true Spirit of Christianity.
We aren’t merely speaking of giving one’s life at the end of the road but rather now on a daily basis. “Not my will, but thine” must be the watch words of our daily experience. Many have made an ascent to dying a martyr’s death. We have some kind of romantic or heroic attachment to this kind of end and I think to some degree this is understandable. But what Jesus wants more than anything else is that daily death that evades so many of us. The miracle to be demonstrated is not so much “the stake,” but is rather in the kitchen, at work, in our conversations, in the treatment of others, or in other words, in our everyday lives. It is by dying daily that the life and death of Christ is honored in its highest expression. To make manifest to the Lord our greatest appreciation, He would have us, as He did, cast ourselves to the ground and die. To do this is placing ourselves as seeds in God’s service and He WILL bring forth fruits unto salvation. Then the words “we would see Jesus” will change. They will become “we have seen Jesus.”
DA 626: “ ‘Nevertheless among the CHIEF RULERS also many believed on Him; but because of the Pharisees they did not confess Him, LEST THEY SHOULD BE PUT OUT OF THE SYNAGOGUE. ’ THEY LOVED THE PRAISE OF MEN RATHER THAN THE APPROVAL OF GOD. To save themselves from reproach and shame, they denied Christ, and rejected the offer of eternal life. …
“Alas for those who knew not the time of their visitation! Slowly and regretfully Christ left forever the precincts of the temple.”
Take heed to these words! You who are in the pews, in the pulpits, in high Conference positions, if you love the praise of men over the approval of God; if you are denying the truth because of fear of Conference Leaders or of being put out of the synagogue, you are lost! Eternally lost!
I do believe that there are those in positions in the Organization who know the truth. I do believe that some have been trying to hold the lines behind the scenes. But I also know according to the above statement that if these ones do not get their priorities in order very soon, they will understand too late! God means just what He says. Please do not trade this opportunity that Christ extends for some temporary praise you might gain from men who cannot save you. If God has called you to lead, then LEAD, but do so only by following Jesus down the blood- stained path. This is where the true glory lies. Do not trade the glory of Heaven for the glitter of this world. It is far past time that those who are going to stand for the cause of Christ stand together! Now is the time of our salvation! Our visitation is today! Do not make the mistake our forefathers made and send Jesus out of the sanctuary of your heart in order to maintain some kind of political status. It’s not worth it!
DA 627: “Christ’s words to the priests and rulers, ‘Behold, your house is left unto you desolate, ’ (Matthew 23: 38) had struck terror to their hearts. They affected indifference, but the question kept rising in their minds as to the import of these words. An unseen danger seemed to threaten them. Could it be that the magnificent temple, which was the nation’s glory, was soon to be a heap of ruins? …. You point to these walls as apparently indestructible; but listen to My words: The day will come when ‘there shall not be left one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down. ’”
The Conference is shouting “The church is going through, the church is going through” (meaning the Conference is going through), but the above quotation just doesn’t get any plainer on the issue. Two thousand years ago the “church” was telling the laity and God that nothing could destroy it, no matter what it was going through. Jesus expressed the complete opposite. The question is — Who are you going to believe? The majority of the Ancient Adventist Church went along with the Conference and were lost! How long is it going to take for us to learn that God is no respecter of persons? Any person, any nation, and, yes, any church organization that rejects God — God rejects.
DA 628- 29: “ ‘And ye shall hear of wars and rumors of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. ’ Prior to the destruction of Jerusalem, men wrestled for the supremacy. Emperors were murdered. Those supposed to be standing next the throne were slain. There were wars and rumors of wars. ‘All these things must come to pass, ’ said Christ, ‘but the end [of the Jewish nation as a nation] is not yet. For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes in divers places. All these are the beginning of sorrows. ’ Christ said, As the rabbis see these signs, they will declare them to be God’s judgments upon the nations for holding in bondage His chosen people. They will declare that these signs are the token of the advent of the Messiah. Be not deceived; they are the beginning of His judgments. The people have looked to themselves. They have not repented and been converted that I should heal them. THE SIGNS THAT THEY REPRESENT AS TOKENS OF THEIR RELEASE FROM BONDAGE ARE SIGNS OF THEIR DESTRUCTION.”
Jesus, speaking to His disciples, is trying to give them a look into their future as it pertains to what the Conference will be saying. He knows that the Conference will have their eyes on the events but because they have rejected His truth, they will not see the personal danger the event is pointing to. If you will notice, in the Desire of Ages, someone has added the words (in brackets) “but the end [of the Jewish nation as a nation] is not yet.” I think this is providential and bears out the truth. Those of us who care to look are also staring prophecy right in the face, although most will reject it, as in days of old.
Please don’t be surprised or naive as to how this works. Jesus spoke plainly in the common vernacular of His day. He warned them openly and they refused to see it. So why should we be so shocked as we witness the exact repeat of this?
We have preached since our beginnings that Matthew 24 had a dual application and this is right and true. But now our own book (The Desire of Ages) is giving us a more in- depth look. Are we willing to take the truth at face value or will we reject it? Let’s continue to look at this passage:
“As the rabbis see these signs, they will declare them to be God’s judgments upon the nations for holding in bondage His chosen people. They will declare that these signs are the token of the advent of the Messiah. Be not deceived; they are the beginning of His judgments. The people [Jews] have looked to themselves. They have not repented and been converted that I should heal them. THE SIGNS THAT THEY [the Jewish Leaders] REPRESENT AS TOKENS OF THEIR RELEASE FROM BONDAGE ARE SIGNS OF THEIR DESTRUCTION.”
Can you not see what is about to take place? I know that this all seems impossible but maybe it will give you a better understanding of what the disciples endured. This is no trick, but the truth! As Jesus was warning those who would listen in His day, He now is warning all who will listen in our day.
If you will read Matthew 24, you will discover that the very first thing that Jesus says concerns the destruction of the Apostate Ancient Adventist System — equated with the temple. This IS the subject matter. Let’s look at it.
Matthew 24: 1- 2: “And Jesus went out, and departed from the temple: and His disciples came to Him for to shew Him the building of the temple. And Jesus said unto them, See ye not all these things? Verily I say unto you, There shall not be left here one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down.”
You can almost hear the disciples and experience their unspoken concern. They take Jesus to the outside of the temple as if to say: “Are you sure of what you are doing? Do you understand what road you’re heading down and asking us to follow?” But Jesus understood their concern and spoke with them plainly. He told them, “Brothers, I want you to know for certain that the ‘church’ IS NOT GOING THROUGH!” That’s what the “verily” in the verse means. It means for certain or for a truth — you can take this to the bank — I’m not mixed up in what I’m about to tell you.
Then Jesus told them, “Take heed, let no man deceive you.” Why did He tell them this? Jesus knew that the Conference Leaders had a hold on these men and He purposely was bringing them to a point of decision. By what Christ was revealing, He knew He was placing them in a position of having to choose between Him or the Conference.
He went on to disclose to them that the Conference would try to convince them of the opposite of what He had just spoken and that many would claim to be working for God by using this falsehood.
The things that Christ shared with His disciples in Matthew 24 were to warn them of two things. There is indeed a dual application but maybe not until this time have we known what they are, for Jesus is even now trying to warn you and me of the very same dangers.
Jesus said that they should beware of certain things as they viewed the world or other nations taking certain actions. But the insight we have missed until now is that Jesus also wanted His disciples to beware of the actions the apostate church would take. Here was their larger danger! We will see if the next quotation that what I am trying to point out to you right here, is the truth in verity.
DA 629: “ ‘Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for My name’s sake. And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another. ’ All this the Christians suffered. Fathers and mothers betrayed their children. Children betrayed their parents. FRIENDS DELIVERED THEIR FRIENDS UP TO THE SANHEDRIN. THE PERSECUTORS WROUGHT OUT THEIR PURPOSE BY KILLING STEPHEN, JAMES, AND OTHER CHRISTIANS.”
Brothers & Sisters, I hope you can see the plain truth in the above statement. Matthew 24 reveals what happens to Christians by the “church!” “Oh, I don’t think so!” some poor soul may still be saying. Then answer this simple question. What was the religion of these fathers and mothers who were betraying their children? What was the religion of these children who were betraying their parents? What was the religion of the “friends” who delivered their friends? And if you haven’t gotten the truth yet, who were the Sanhedrin? And if you still haven’t gotten it yet, who killed Stephen?
Folks, not one Christian was killed in the destruction of the Ancient Adventist Conference. But we must clearly discern what they discerned or we will not share their salvation.
DA 630: “Through His servants, God gave the Jewish people a last opportunity to repent. He manifested Himself through His witnesses in their arrest, in their trial, and in their imprisonment. Yet their judges pronounced on them the DEATH SENTENCE. They were men of whom the world was not worthy, and by killing them the JEWS crucified afresh the Son of God. SO IT WILL BE AGAIN.”
Those who have eyes to see and ears to hear, please allow the above quotation to sink in deeply. History is indeed repeating itself almost to the letter. God has raised up faithful servants to warn the professed leaders and laity alike of the impending doom that is sure to come. Most, instead of repenting and reforming, will end up persecuting these true messengers and will ultimately be guilty of murder!
DA 630: “On every occasion when persecution takes place, those who witness it make decisions either for Christ or against Him. Those who manifest sympathy for the ones wrongly condemned, show their attachment for Christ. Others are offended BECAUSE THE PRINCIPLES OF TRUTH CUT DIRECTLY ACROSS THEIR PRACTICE. Many stumble and fall, apostatizing from the faith [you notice it doesn’t say from the “church”] they once advocated. Those who apostatize in time of trial will, to secure their own safety, bear false witness, and BETRAY THEIR BRETHREN. CHRIST HAS WARNED US OF THIS, THAT WE MAY NOT BE SURPRISED AT THE UNNATURAL, CRUEL COURSE OF THOSE WHO REJECT THE LIGHT.”
Christ has left clear instruction and warning of how things will be in the last great struggle, that struggle in which we have, even now, entered into. All the players, to a large extent, are in place. Do you believe the words He speaks or are you in the group of unbelievers? Your own destiny will be determined by which group you choose to be in.
DA 633: “In the prophecy of Jerusalem’s destruction Christ said, ‘Because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold. But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come. ’ THIS PROPHECY WILL AGAIN BE FULFILLED. The abounding iniquity of that day finds its counterpart in this generation. So with the prediction in regard to the preaching of the gospel. Before the fall of Jerusalem, Paul, writing by the Holy Spirit, declared that the gospel was preached to “every creature which is under heaven” (Col. 1: 23). So now, before the coming of the Son of man, the everlasting gospel is to be preached “to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people. (Rev. 14: 6, 14).”
DA 634: “God has always given men warning of coming judgments. Those who had faith in His message FOR THEIR TIME, AND WHO ACTED OUT THEIR FAITH, in obedience to His commandments, escaped the judgments that fell upon the disobedient and unbelieving. … So Christ’s disciples were given warning of the DESTRUCTION OF JERUSALEM. Those who watched for the sign of the coming ruin, and fled from the city, escaped the destruction. So now we are given warning of Christ’s second coming and of the destruction to fall upon the world. Those who heed the warning will be saved.”
“So, you see, Terry, Jesus is speaking about the destruction of the world, not of the Conference.” Yes, that would be right as far as it goes, but Jesus has clearly pointed out that in the final phase of this planet’s history is also involved the destruction of the apostate structure. Just look at the quotation from DA 628- 29 again, found earlier in this chapter. Jesus is plainly telling His disciples that the “church” will be preaching the destruction of the world and not realize that its doom comes first!
DA 634: “Those who watch for the Lord’s coming are not waiting in idle expectancy. The expectation of Christ’s coming is to make men fear the Lord, and fear His judgments upon transgression. It is to awaken them to the great sin of rejecting His offers of mercy. Those who are watching for the Lord, are purifying their souls by obedience to the truth. With vigilant watching they combine earnest working. Because they know that the Lord is at the door, their zeal is quickened to co- operate with the divine intelligences in working for the salvation of souls.”
While expecting the Lord’s return, we are not to sit back in the pews and be bench- warmers. Those who are in tune with God’s last day program will be busy for souls. They will have a realization of the coming judgment and they will be in preparation for the coming event. They will be actively engaged in the sanctification process by allowing God to purify their souls through obedience to the truth. They will possess a faith that is not passive but energetic and at work. They will understand the truth for their present day and will be acting upon that truth.
DA 634- 35: “But Christ brings to view another class: … The evil servant says in his heart, ‘My lord delayeth his coming. ’ He does not say that Christ will not come. He does not scoff at the idea of His second coming. But in his heart and by HIS ACTIONS AND WORDS HE DECLARES THAT THE LORD’S COMING IS DELAYED. HE BANISHES FROM THE MINDS OF OTHERS the conviction that the Lord is coming quickly. His influence leads men to presumptuous, careless delay. They are confirmed in their worldliness and stupor. Earthly passions, corrupt thoughts, take possession of the mind. The evil servant eats and drinks with the drunken, unites with the world in pleasure- seeking. He smites his fellow- servants, accusing and condemning those who are faithful to their Master. He mingles with the world. Like grows with like in transgression.”
Do you think that an organization that places millions of dollars (your dollars) in stocks and bonds which do not come to maturity until FORTY YEARS LATER believes that the Lord is coming SOON? Do you believe that pastors who belong to that same organization and preach the message that we don’t have to overcome sin are preparing a people for the judgment? Are they not banishing from the minds of the people the soon appearing of our Lord? Are they not turning faith into presumption?
This class which is by far the majority, by word and by action, declare the Lord delayeth His coming. These professors of Seventh- day Adventism unite with the world and use their influence to cause others to lower the standards. Instead of being in the business of perfecting a people, they are in the business of persecuting those who are.
Many people are living in anxious foreboding of coming calamity. Many of these people are in the professed church and other churches claiming to love Jesus. They know deep down that something is not right. They can “feel” that the needed preparation in their own lives is being delayed; they are anxious that the day of the Lord’s visitation may come unexpectantly and their chance will pass them by. These ones will change “tomorrow.” But, “When the scorner, the rejecter of truth, has become presumptuous; when the routine of work in the various money- making lines is carried on without regard to principle: when the student is eagerly seeking knowledge of everything but his Bible, Christ comes as a thief.” (DA 635)
Now is the time to engage in the preparation needed! The time is far spent and the tomorrows are running out! Most will delay one day too long! And I’m not excluding Seventh- day Adventists. Deep down you know, dear friend. Right now as the Holy Spirit speaks to your heart, won’t you give it to Him? What do you have to lose except your sins and a trip to the fiery abyss? The Lord loves you so much that He gave His life for you. If this were not true, why then is He speaking to your heart right now? He wants you to live with Him, forever.
DA 636: “Everything in the world is in agitation. The signs of the times are ominous. Coming events cast their shadows before. The Spirit of God is withdrawing from the earth, and calamity follows calamity by sea and by land. There are tempests, earthquakes, fires, floods, murders of every grade. Who can read the future? Where is security? There is assurance in nothing that is human or earthly. Rapidly are men ranging themselves under the banner they have chosen. Restlessly are they waiting and watching the movements of their leaders. There are those who are waiting and watching and working for our Lord’s appearing. Another class are falling into line under the generalship of the first great apostate. FEW BELIEVE WITH HEART AND SOUL THAT WE HAVE A HELL TO SHUN AND A HEAVEN TO WIN.
“The crisis is stealing gradually upon us.” Oh, how I would like to say that this description is fitting for the situation in the world only. But the above quotation horribly describes the makeup of the “church.” The polarization is taking place and we are living in the days of the shaking. Most Adventists believe that as God inspired Sister White with the written words, “all that can be shaken will be shaken,” He meant, shaken out of the organization. How these poor souls are being (many willingly) deceived. Let me ask you this question? When the Jews killed Jesus Christ, how many of them had left the “church?”
Many people are waiting for this mass exodus to be some kind of sign that they are all right with God. But in the days of Christ when the “church” killed Him, the only exodus was that of those who followed Christ! Most of the members stayed with the Conference. The Conference that killed Christ! So those who are waiting for the shaking to shake out the “dissidents” from the Conference are in the EXACT SAME POSITION the people were in during Christ’s day who stayed with their Conference. The majority of Seventh- day Adventists don’t realize that when you have left the faith, you have left the church! It matters not, as graphically demonstrated by the destruction of Ancient Adventist Conference Headquarters, Jerusalem, where you are physically, but spiritually. Our Ancient counterparts who stayed with the Conference ALL LEFT THE CHURCH BECAUSE THEY HAD ALL LEFT THE FAITH. Those who left the Conference NEVER LEFT THE CHURCH BECAUSE THEY WOULD NOT LEAVE THE FAITH!
The same crisis that stole a march on the people two thousand years ago is with us again. It is no longer gradually coming our way, we are in it! I have one more question to ask. Are you sure you are in THE CHURCH? I pray that you are.
Copyright © 1999 Servants of the Saviour
Terry & Cathy Ross