by Cody Francis
There are literally thousands of churches across our land today, and hundreds of different denominations. All a person has to do is look in the phone book of any big city and he will be overwhelmed with page after page of churches. Skeptics of Christianity, and religion in general, point to the vast number of churches with scorn. They mock at how all these churches could claim to be Christians and claim to derive their beliefs from the Bible and yet still have a varied assortment of beliefs. They laugh that all religion must simply be a joke, and it is true that it is a mockery to God that there are thousands of different creeds all claiming to be His true religion and teaching. Others, as they pick up a phone book to look for a church to attend, become confused, throw the book down and give up attending any church. With all of the different churches presenting their high claims and flowery appeals to join their church, how can we know the true church. Is there really such a thing as a true church? How could there be a final church? Is there really a way that we can locate God’s true, final church? It is almost as if we are in a maze trying to find where God wants us to be, but not quite sure where to turn. By turning to the pages of God’s Holy Word, the answer will become clear.
The Early Church
In order to understand the final church and see if it is even possible to find this final church, we must study and understand the early Christian church. The first step was taken in the organization of the Christian church while Jesus was still on the earth. This first step was in the ordination of the twelve disciples. The gospel record is short and to the point in this monumental event. “And He goeth up into a mountain, and calleth unto Him whom He would: and they came unto Him. And He ordained twelve, that they should be with Him, and that He might send them forth to preach,” Mark 3:13, 14, KJV. Thus Jesus, while still upon the earth set the framework for the Christian church.
Not long after this initial step had been taken, Jesus gave one of the most wonderful promises in all of the Word of God, especially for His fledgling church. “And Simon Peter answered and said, ‘You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.’ Jesus answered and said to him, ‘Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.” Matthew 16:15-18. Jesus was in the process of building His church in the gospel dispensation, and how crucial that His church be built upon a right foundation. If, in this world we are building a physical structure, we know how imperative it is to start right. We may have the most beautiful house, but if it has an inadequate foundation, it will not stand the test of time. Previously I was employed doing remodeling and carpentry, and I can still remember one of the first houses that I worked on. Our job was to attempt to put a foundation under this house, which at one time had a foundation, but over the years it had disintegrated away. The house was in descent condition, but the foundation, being poorly laid, had become non-existent. How cumbersome of a job that was! Jacking up the house, removing and carrying away the debris from the remaining foundation and attempting to solidify the house again with a stronger foundation. It was impossible to construct a foundation as good as what it could have been at the beginning. In order to build the foundation correctly, it was necessary lift the badly sagging walls, which in turn cracked the interior wall covering and made all of the doors and windows difficult to open and shut. How much better it would have been to build the foundation right in the first place. And that is exactly what Jesus was doing while He walked the earth. His church was to have a right foundation. One that would stand the test of trial and time. One that would not crumble when problems arose, and, indeed, the foundation that Jesus laid has endured the millennia and will never crumble throughout the eons of eternity. Why? Because the foundation, which Jesus laid, could never be improved upon. What is this unbreakable foundation? “For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.” I Corinthians 3:11. What is this ever-enduring foundation? It is none other than Jesus Christ Himself. Jesus is the foundation of His true church and there is no other foundation that will stand the manifold tests. The foundation has been laid and Jesus has promised that the gates of Hades would be powerless to prevail against His true church. What a promise of all promises for those inexperienced apostles. The church that Jesus was establishing and building right then would stand the test of time and endure throughout all eternity. Have Jesus’ words proved true? Have His true people been completely overcome and have the floods from Hades deluged and destroyed them? Absolutely not.
It is important to note that Peter was not the foundation that Christ laid for His infant church. The gates of hell did prevail against Peter. In the next few verses after Jesus explains what he was to build His church upon and that His church would go through, Peter rebukes Jesus; (Matthew 16:22) and Jesus, speaking to Peter, says, “Get behind Me, Satan!” Matthew 16:23. In the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus again rebuked Peter when Peter drew His sword attempting to defend the gospel with worldly means. (John 18:10, 11.) Again, as Jesus was undergoing the most inhumane treatment, during the farce of the trial that the Jewish leaders put Him through, Peter three times rashly denied that He even knew Jesus. (Matthew 26:69-75.) After Jesus’ death and ascension, Peter capitulated under Jewish pressure and Paul was forced to openly protest against his inconsistent conduct. (Galatians 2:11, 12.) Surely, a solid foundation Peter was not. He was used mightily by the Lord, but He was not the immovable foundation that Jesus laid; for the Word of God records Peter’s stumbles and falls again and again. The foundation that the church of Christ is built upon is none other than Christ Himself. He is the cornerstone that will bear the test of time without showing the slightest crack. “Jesus said to them, ‘Did you never read in the Scriptures: “The stone which the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone. This was the Lord’s doing and it is marvelous in our eyes”?’” Matthew 21:42. “Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, having been built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone, in whom the whole building, being fitly joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord,” Ephesians 2:19-21. Jesus is the Rock (I Corinthians 10:4) upon which the church is built. If there is any organization or body that claims to be God’s church, but is not founded on Jesus Christ, the Rock of Ages, we can be assured that it is not the true church.
After Jesus’ death and ascension, His interest in His true people was no less than while He walked and talked with them here on this earth. It has been recorded in the Old Testament, of God’s tender care for His true people, and the same is even truer after Jesus poured out His blood for them. “He found him in a desert land and in the wasteland, a howling wilderness; He encircled him, instructed him, He kept him as the apple of His eye.” Deuteronomy 32:10. God’s people are kept as the apple of His eye, as His pride and joy, the one supreme object of His great love and watchcare, but the devil also understands God’s love for His people and attacks His church with a hellish vengeance. How much more precious, then, is Jesus’ promise that the gates of Hades will not prevail against His church, and not only has Jesus promised that His true church will not be overcome, but He has also lifted the curtain and foretold the trials and victories of His people during the fierce onslaughts of the enemy.
Two Great Signs
“Now a great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a garland of twelve stars. Then being with child, she cried out in labor and in pain to give birth. And another sign appeared in heaven: behold, a great, fiery red dragon having seven heads and ten horns, and seven diadems on his heads. His tail drew a third of the stars of heaven and threw them to the earth. And the dragon stood before the woman who was ready to give birth, to devour her Child as soon as it was born. And she bore a male Child who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron. And her Child was caught up to God and to His throne.” Revelation 12:1-5. This is one of the greatest chapters in Revelation, dedicated to Christ’s church from its establishment to the very end. Important and significant are the lesson taught, and in order to succeed in our search for the final church, we must carefully study this most instructive chapter.
Two startling signs were shown to John, the first of which was the most glorious and beautiful woman that John had ever seen. This pure woman wearing a crown of twelve stars was clothed with the sun and standing upon the moon. No woman has ever been clothed with the dazzling glory of the sun, nor has a woman ever stood upon the moon. What could this great sign mean? This is a very important symbol in Bible prophecy and is used over and over again throughout the entire Bible. The symbol of a woman is always used to represent a church. “I have likened the daughter of Zion to a lovely and delicate woman.” “And say to Zion, ‘You are my people.’” Jeremiah 6:2; Isaiah 51:16. Zion, which according to Isaiah 51:16 is God’s people, is likened to a beautiful woman. God’s church, God’s people, are represented by a pure woman. There are many other instances of this as well. “Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church; and He is the Saviour of the body. Therefore, just as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for it, that He might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, that He might present it to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that it should be holy and without blemish… This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church.” Ephesians 5:22-27, 32. Paul is here giving counsel on how husbands and wives should relate to each other and is drawing his instruction from how Christ loves us and how the church is to show its love back to Christ. Clearly the husband, or bridegroom, (John 3:28, 29) is Christ and the wife, or woman, is the church. Paul also refers to this same symbolism when he is writing to the church at Corinth. “Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, and Timothy our brother, to the church of God which is at Corinth, with all the saints who are in Achaia… For I am jealous for you with godly jealousy. For I have betrothed you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ.” II Corinthians 1:1; 11:2. Paul refers to the church at Corinth as a chaste virgin. We can have no doubt, then, from the abundant weight of Biblical evidence that a woman in prophecy represents a church.
This great sign of the woman whom John saw was none other than God’s true people, or His true church. This view that John is given is a panoramic view of God’s true church from when Christ was on this earth to the very end of time. It reveals the trials and the difficulties that would arise and threaten to overthrow God’s people, but it more importantly illustrates how Jesus’ special promise, that the gates of hell would not prevail against His true people, has never once failed.
There is a second significant sign that John sees in this drama of the ages—a great, fiery red dragon. This dragon is none other than the archenemy of our God. “So the great dragon was cast out, that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was cast to the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.” Revelation 12:9. Thus is brought to view, the two main earthly players in the waging controversy of the ages—God’s true church and the devil with his legions of fiends. The Church in the Wilderness
This dragon is not content to sit by and watch his usurped kingdom be wrested from his hands, so he has launched an all out war against Christ and His true people. In Revelation 12:4, the devil’s attacks against Christ are described, “And the dragon stood before the woman who was ready to give birth, to devour her Child as soon as it was born.” As soon as Christ came into this world as a helpless infant, all the fury of hell was unleashed against our Saviour. Through Herod, the devil attempted to put an end to Christ’s life before He even began His ministry. Throughout Christ’s life the devil was unceasingly on His track tempting Him to sin and seeking to crush out His life; but in all of his assaults, he was utterly defeated. Jesus was “caught up to God and to His throne” completely victorious over the devil. (Revelation 12:5.) Never once did He falter or fail. He met the devil on his own ground “that He might destroy the works of the devil” (I John 3:8) and was the victor on every point. Seeing that he had totally lost the battle, the devil’s ire was vented in double measure against Christ’s church, the one supreme object of His regard on this earth. “Now when the dragon saw that he had been cast to the earth, he persecuted the woman who gave birth to the male Child.” Revelation 12:13. The devil’s designs had been thwarted, Christ had come off conqueror, but now the devil’s rage roared against the church of God and he unleashed his weapons of warfare against the true church.
As the apostles had been laid to rest, unconverted leaders began to lead the majority astray. Paul had repeatedly warned of this, but few were prepared for the onslaught of false apostles. “For I know this, that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock. Also from among yourselves men will rise up, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after themselves.” Acts 20:29, 30. “For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only He who now restrains will do so until He is taken out of the way. Then the lawless one will be revealed,…” II Thessalonians 2:7, 8. “Little children, it is the last hour; and as you have heard that the antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come, by which we know that it is the last hour.” I John 2:18. There is abundant evidence from history that this dreaded event took place. “Toward the latter end of the second century most of the churches assumed a new form. The first simplicity disappeared; and insensibly, as the old disciples retired to their graves, their children, along with new converts, both Jews and Gentiles, came forward and new modeled the cause.” Ecclestiatic Researches, chap. Vi, 51, ed. 1792. (taken from History of the Sabbath, by J. N. Andrews, 197) As Paul had foretold, wolves came in not sparing the flock. The simplicity of the gospel disappeared and a flood of pagan practices deluged the once pure assemblies. The flood of unconsecrated members who came streaming into the now popular churches was so great that they became the majority. “Christianity had now become popular, and a large proportion, perhaps a large majority of those who embraced it, only assumed the name… they were as much heathen as they were before. Error and corruption now came in upon the church like a flood.” Wharey’s Church History, 54. In the cathedrals and large assemblies of the day, Christ was no longer the foundation. Multitudes attended religious service without knowing a personal Saviour, Jesus Christ. They were just going through the forms, but had no heart experience. Indeed the words of the prophet were fulfilled, ‘So the serpent spewed water out of his mouth like a flood after the woman, that he might cause her to be carried away by the flood.’” Revelation 12:15. Water, in the Bible, is a symbol for many people. (See Revelation 17:15; Isaiah 8:7; 17:12) The dragon, the devil, brought hundreds and thousands of his followers into the Christian assemblies in hopes of separating all from Christ, but God upheld His faithful people. Those who were willing to stand upon the Rock of their salvation were sustained. God would not allow His faithful people who were holding fast the truths from God’s Word to be overcome. It is true that the organization was infiltrated and taken over by the flood of pagans coming into the church. So much so that the historians call the organization of these dark years of earth’s history “baptized paganism.” “Christianity became the established religion in the Roman Empire and took the place of paganism. Christianity began to wear the garb of heathenism. The errors that later overran the church began to take root. Christianity, as it existed in the Dark Ages, might be termed ‘baptized paganism.’” Wharey’s Church History, 54.
With the organization taken over by pagans claiming to be Christians, those whose faith was established upon the Rock, Christ Jesus, were forced to flee into the wilderness. If we are looking for an organization that the gates of hell did not prevail against, we will find none. The true church, that the gates of hell were powerless to overcome, was the faithful souls who clung to Christ as their only hope and ground of salvation. It is not an ecclesiastical body or religious organization that can lay claim to being Christ’s true church, but only the people who are seeking to follow Christ no matter where He leads. They may be few in number, despised by the world and without worldly honor or wealth, but if they have surrendered their lives to Christ, they are regarded by our loving Lord as the apple of His eye. The Biblical account had predicted, “Then the woman fled into the wilderness, where she has a place prepared by God, that they should feed her there one thousand two hundred and sixty days…. But the woman was given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness to her place, where she is nourished for a time and times and half a time, from the presence of the serpent.” Revelation 12:6, 14. God’s true church was forced to flee from the apostasy and persecutions of an apostate organization, where they could worship God according to the dictates of their conscience. It was, indeed, a trying time for God’s faithful people. The grand establishments that they had helped to build, the clergymen that they had taught from their youth up, the congregations that they loved, they had to leave in order to follow the truths from God’s holy Word. The historians affirm the fulfillment of this amazing prophecy. “Now this district, on the eastern side of the Cottian Alps, is the precise country of the Vallenses [Waldenses]. Hither their ancestors retired, during the persecutions of the second and third and fourth centuries: here, providentially secluded from the world, they retained the precise doctrines and practices of the primitive church endeared to them by suffering and exile; while the wealthy inhabitants of cities and fertile plains, corrupted by a now opulent and gorgeous and powerful clergy, were daily sinking deeper and deeper into that apostasy which has been so graphically foretold by the great apostle.” The Ancient Vallenses and Albigenses, Dr. Faber, 293, 294. (taken from Truth Triumphant, by B.G. Wilkinson, 67, 68.) Into the wilderness and solitary places, God’s true followers were forced to flee, but God had prepared the mountain fortresses especially for His people during this time of their need.
Here in the isolation of the forgotten places of this earth, God’s people found a refuge. There with the majestic mountains encircling them and the stately firs standing guard around them, they worshiped and praised the God of heaven. From their mountain retreats they held fast to the truth taught by Jesus and His apostles. They studied from God’s Word and committed large portions to memory, preserving those sacred pages for generations still to come. Although they were little known and despised by the world, to the Creator of the universe, they were His faithful church.
The bitterest attacks were launched against His faithful people during this time. The Word of God had declared, “And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death.” Revelation 12:11. Many gladly yielded their lives for Christ’s sake. They did not love their lives unto the death. Crusade after crusade was launched against them by the state church. Pardon for all sins past, present and future was promised if they would only kill one of these faithful souls. Speaking of the beast power, or the great, apostate religious system of the dark ages, prophecy had said, “And it was granted to him to make war with the saints and to overcome them. And authority was given him over every tribe, tongue, and nation.” Revelation 13:7. An all out war was waged against the true church of God for one thousand two hundred and sixty years. (Revelation 12:6; Ezekiel 4:6.) The abundance of historical evidence for this is overwhelming, but one excerpt will tell the tragic tale. “There was no village in the Vaudois valleys but had its martyrs. The Waldenses were burned; they were cast into damp and horrid dungeons; they were smothered in crowds in mountain caverns, mothers and babes and old men and women together; they were sent out into exile in a winter night, unclothed and unfed, to climb the snowy mountains; they were hurled over the rocks; their houses and lands were taken from them; their children were stolen to be indoctrinated with the religion that they abhorred. Rapacious individuals were sent among them to strip them of their property, to persecute, and to exterminate them. ‘Thousands of heretics, old men, women and children, were hung, quartered, broken upon the wheel, or burned alive, and their property confiscated for the benefit of the king and Holy See.’ The Papacy and the Civil Power, Thompson, 416.” Truth Triumphant, B.G. Wilkinson, 251. But for this long period of persecution stretching from AD 538 to AD 1798 (For more information see Steps to Life’s booklet, Surviving the Great Tribulation), God still preserved His people. Many lost their lives at the hands of the antichrist, but God did not allow His church to be stamped out. At times it looked like the church was about to fall, but it was ever upheld by the almighty hand of our God.
The account from Revelation of the church in the wilderness clearly teaches that God has ever had, and will always have, a people who are holding fast to His Word. The devil may have the multitudes on his side. He may have the great and lofty cathedrals. He may have the seminaries and universities. He may have the doctors and theologians. He may have the religious organizations, but there is one thing that he will never have, that is the truth. It is the small, hated, persecuted band of Christ’s followers that have the truth. God will allow the fires of persecution to refine them, but He will never allow it to consume them. God has a church that the gates of hell are not permitted to prevail against. His church is not the denominations. It is not the religious hierarchies and organizations. It is not those who profess only to be Christians. God’s pure, true church are His people who are holding to Christ Jesus as their Rock and love Him and His truth more than life itself. His true church boldly unfurls the banner of truth regardless of the threats and denunciations from the world. They love the truth from God’s Word and they stand for it even if it costs them their lives. So God’s true church continued for century after century, hidden from the world, but shielded and protected by God. The time was foretold, though, when God’s church would emerge from hiding and proclaim a worldwide message—it is the final church.
The Final Church
“And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and he went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.” Revelation 12:17, KJV. After this period of terrible persecution, in which God’s true church was hunted, stalked and burnt, John saw the remnant, or the very last part, coming to the front of the battle again. God’s true people had been forced into hiding and into the solitary places of the earth, but now they come to the forefront again. It is as when a train goes into a tunnel. The light from the train shines so that all can see and then when it goes underground into the
tunnel, the light becomes much fainter and barely able to be seen. Then barely from the other side the light can be seen again until it is brighter and lighter until all can see. So it is with God’s church. For a time it took refuge in the wilderness and the light was fainter and hardly noticeable to some. It was still there, but just more difficult to see. Then as the church comes forth from the wilderness it becomes brighter and brighter until all can see. God’s final church will not be an obscure group in the heart of some unknown land, but it is to emerge with a message for all. It is described as the remnant, or the very last part. It is the final church.
Just like the church in the wilderness, though, the final church is not an organization, denomination or anything like that. Men look at the outward signs when thinking of a church, but God looks at the heart. “But the Lord said to Samuel, ‘Do not look at his appearance or the height of his stature, because I have refused him. For the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.’” I Samuel 16:7. When man thinks of a church, he thinks of the bricks and mortar, he thinks of the grand national establishment, he thinks of the priests and presidents and pastors, but God looks deeper than all that. An organization has never remained pure. God’s church is built of totally different material than that. God’s church is the people who hold to the truth from His Word. They may be censured and cast from their denomination or conference, but if they are steadfastly adhering to God’s truth, they are a part of His faithful church. Paul clearly tells us what the church is. “But if I am delayed, I write so that you may know how you ought to conduct yourself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.” I Timothy 3:15. The church of the living God is none other than the pillar and ground of the truth. The issue is really quite simple; is the truth taught and practiced there? If the answer is yes, you have found the church. If the answer is no, you had better look further. What is the truth? “Your righteousness is an everlasting righteousness, and Your Law is truth.” “You are near, O Lord, and all of Your commandments are truth.” Psalms 119:142, 151. God’s holy Law is truth. That great Law that He proclaimed with His own lips from Mount Sinai and wrote with His own finger, is the essence of truth. (Exodus 20:18, 19; 31:18.) God’s true people will proclaim God’s holy Law, but not only will they be proclaiming God’s holy Law, they will be living it, as well. If an organization, or church body, claims to be God’s final church, they must be the pillar and ground of the truth, or God’s Holy Law. Another definition of truth was given by Jesus Himself, “Sanctify them by Your truth. Your Word is truth.” John 17:17. God’s Law is truth, and God’s Word is truth. The people who are living according to all of God’s Law and Word are God’s church. This is the first prerequisite in order to find God’s final church. We are not looking for some organization that dates back to antiquity, nor are we looking for a denomination with a particular name, we are looking for a group of people who teach and live the truth.
It is not just that God’s church is teaching and living the truth, but it must be teaching and living present truth. “Therefore I will not be negligent to remind you always of these things, though you know them, and are established in the present truth.” II Peter 1:12. God has present truth for different ages and times. Some truths are relevant to every person in every age and time. An example of such eternal truth is that salvation is found only through faith in the promised Messiah, Jesus Christ. This truth Abel expressed when he sacrificed the lamb and obtained a more excellent sacrifice than that of Cain. (Hebrews 11:4.) This is truth that all men in all ages must confess, to find forgiveness for their sins. Some truth, though, is present truth for a particular age or time. Such truth that is present truth to a particular time would be the message that in order to be saved from the coming deluge, you had to find safety in the ark. This message Noah preached with power, but it would be ridiculous to preach such a message now. However, it was present truth when Noah sounded the alarm. If a person was to be saved in Noah’s day, he had to accept the message of present truth and board the ark. If a person rejected this present truth message, he was lost. It was present truth. A life or death message relevant to that time.
God still has present truth for today, and God’s true church will be proclaiming present truth for this time. If an organization is simply preaching “pleasant truth,” it is not the church of the living God, for it is not heralding present truth. I am sure that there were a great many churches that were teaching “pleasant truth” in Noah’s day. There might not have been anything inherently wrong with their message. They might have lauded the benefits of being a good person. They might have preached our need to love each other and be kind to one another until they were blue in the face. All this would have been good, but if it wasn’t present truth, it would have been to no avail. It did not matter how outwardly “good” a person was. If he was not inside the ark when it began to rain, he was lost. So today there may be many “good” things that a church can talk about, but if it is not today’s present truth, preparing men and women for what is so soon to come, it is only “pleasant truth,” and that will never meet the need of the hour. Those who are only teaching “pleasant truth” are not a part of God’s last day church, which is the pillar and ground of the truth.
Does God have present truth for today? Indeed, He does. It is found in the heart of the book for the last days—Revelation. “Then I saw another angel flying in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach to those who dwell on the earth—to every nation, tribe, tongue, and people—saying with a loud voice, ‘Fear God and give glory to Him, for the hour of His judgment has come; and worship Him who made heaven and earth, the sea and springs of water.’ And another angel followed, saying, ‘Babylon is fallen, is fallen, that great city because she made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication.’ Then a third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, ‘If anyone worships the beast and his image, and receives his mark on his forehead or on his hand, he himself shall also drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out full strength into the cup of His indignation. And he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb. And the smoke of their torment ascends forever and ever; and they have no rest day or night, who worship the beast and his image, and whoever receives the mark of his name.’ Here is the patience of the saints: here are those who keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus.” Revelation 14:6-12. God has a threefold message of present truth for His people in the last days of this earth’s history. It is a message solemn in its import, yet clear and pointed. A worldwide warning that goes to every man, woman and child upon the face of this earth. A message that will decide the destiny of all, depending upon their acceptance or rejection. The first of the three great warnings gives a call to worship the Creator God because the hour of His judgment has come. The second message that arrests the attention of all warns of the doom of Babylon and calls His people to flee from it. The third trumpet–like call warns all against worshiping the Beast by receiving his mark. As in Noah’s day, those who reject these last day pleas of repentance will have sealed their fate and will drink of the threatened judgments. These solemn appeals are present truth for the last days, and God’s final church will be sounding these warning notes. If an organization or denomination, no matter how high and flowery the claims may be, is not giving these last messages of mercy, it has divorced itself from God and is not God’s church. God’s true final church of the last days will be heralding these present truth messages to all world.
Two Identifying Marks
We have seen that the Bible clearly teaches several things about God’s true church. First of all, God’s church is built upon the foundation of Jesus Christ, Himself. Any other foundation than this will crumble and fall, but the people who stand firm for the Lord Jesus are grounded on the true Rock. Secondly, God’s true church is not an organization or anything like that, but the people who follow the Lord Jesus wherever He leads them. Thirdly, God’s true church is the pillar and ground of the truth. Those who compose God’s church will believe and live the truth from the Word of God, which more specifically is God’s Law and His Word. Not only will the truth be the foundation of God’s true people, but they will be teaching present truth, and the present truth, particularly for our time, is the Three Angels’ Messages. With these points that have identified God’s church from antiquity, it is possible to identify God’s final church as well, but the Lord does not want anyone to mistake His final church. Notwithstanding all of the previous points looked at, God gives us two unmistakable identifying marks of His last day remnant people. With these two identifying marks, there is no excuse for not successfully arriving at the end of our search for the final church.
“And the dragon was enraged with the woman, and he went to make war with the rest of her offspring, who keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.” Revelation 12:17. The rest of her offspring, or the remnant of God’s true church, has two distinguishing marks. They keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus. Ten or twenty points are not needed to conclude our search for the final church, for these two marks narrow the parameters down to one, and only one, group of people on this earth. It is none other than the final church.
Keeps the Commandments of God
God’s last day people are going to keep the commandments of God. This should not surprise us, since we have already learned that His church is the pillar and ground of the truth, and that God’s Law is truth; but the Lord does not want us to mistake this important point. Keeping the commandments of God has marked God’s true people from the very beginning. “Because Abraham obeyed My voice and kept My charge, My commandments, My statutes, and My laws.” Genesis 26:5. Abraham, the father of the faithful and the patriarch of the old covenant church, kept God’s commandments. David, the greatest king of Israel, kept God’s commandments. “For the sake of My servant David, whom I chose because he kept My commandments and My statutes.” I Kings 11:34.
Jesus, our only Saviour and the founder of the Christian church, kept God’s commandments. “If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love.” John 15:10. James, the chairman of the Christian church (See Acts 15:13), urged the necessity of keeping God’s Law. “For whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all. For He who said, ‘Do not commit adultery,’ also said, ‘Do not murder.’ Now if you do not commit adultery, but you do murder, you have become a transgressor of the law. So speak and so do as those who will be judged by the law of liberty.” James 2:10-12. John, the beloved and longest-lived disciple, taught the utmost importance of keeping God’s holy Law. “Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments. He who says, ‘I know Him,’ and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.” I John 2:3, 4. In the last book of the Bible, the book dedicated to teaching us how we need to live in the last days, three times it predicts that God’s last day church will be keeping God’s commandments. “And the dragon was enraged with the woman, and he went to make war with the rest of her offspring, who keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.” Revelation 12:17. “Here is the patience of the saints; here are those who keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus.” Revelation 14:12. “Blessed are those who do His commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter through the gates into the city.” 22:14. Without a doubt, from the beginning to the end, God’s true church keeps the commandments of God.
In order to be classified as keeping God’s commandments, we must be keeping all ten of the commandments. Frequently we have a desire to pick and choose. Sometimes there are some commandments that we can heartily agree, to which we say “amen”, but then there are others that seem so hard for us to understand. “Why is God so particular?” we question, and on and on the excuses go. We must remember that if we are going to be a part of God’s final church, we must keep all of the commandments. We cannot fall into the fatal trap of picking and choosing. I saw a sign on a church one time that read, “The Ten Commandments are not multiple choice.” How true this is. We have no right to pick and choose what we think is important and what is not. If we step onto this forbidden ground, we are following in the path of Cain, who thought he knew better than what God had said. We are following the pernicious example of the mother of our race in not thinking that God really means what He says. Imagine that! Poor, weak, finite mortals thinking that we know more than the Creator and Upholder of the universe. God’s Word is very clear—if we dare to set ourselves above the God of heaven by picking and choosing which commandments we will keep, we will be guilty of all. “ALL Your commandments are faithful… Psalms 119:86. And ALL Your commandments are truth… Psalms 119:151. For ALL Your commandments are righteous.” Ps. 119:172. All of God’s commandments are faithful, righteous and true. We cannot choose that some are better than others, for God says that they are all good. “Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. For God will bring every work into judgment, including every secret thing, whether it is good or whether it is evil.” Ecclesiastes 12:13, 14. Our whole duty is to fear God and keep His commandments, for EVERY single work will pass before the judgment bar of the Almighty. “For whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all. For He who said, ‘Do not commit adultery,’ also said, ‘Do not murder.’ Now if you do not commit adultery, but you do murder, you have become a transgressor of the law. So speak and so do as those who will be judged by the law of liberty.” James 2:10-12. God’s Word plainly declares that if we keep the whole law except for one, apparently small and minor point, we are lawbreakers and condemned by the law. Certainly no man, priest or bishop has the right to sanction the violation of even one of God’s Ten Commandment Laws. If we are going to be a part of God’s true church, we must be living in obedience to all of God’s Law. So, God’s final church will keep all of God’s commandments. Any organization that endorses the breaking of any of the commandments, has disqualified itself from being the final church. God’s true people keep all of God’s holy Law.
There is one commandment in particular which Bible prophecy has foretold that all the world would be breaking in the last days. This is the commandment that was going to be particularly attacked by the antichrist. God’s true people will not fall into the snare of the antichrist, though. They will keep all of God’s Law, especially the commandment that is rejected by most of the world. In Daniel 7:25, we are told exactly which commandment would be attacked by the antichrist and ignored by the world, “He shall speak pompous words against the Most High, shall persecute the saints of the Most High, and shall intend to change times and law.” He was going to intentionally attempt to change times and law. Which commandment is it that deals with time? There is only one. As we study the ten commandments found in Exodus 20:3-17, one and one alone deals with time. “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord your God. In it you shall do no work: you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your manservant, nor your maidservant, nor your cattle, nor your stranger who is within your gates. For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it.” Exodus 20:8-11. The only commandment that even remotely deals with time is the fourth commandment, the commandment that commands the observance of the Sabbath. The keeping of the Sabbath is more than what many people think, for the seventh-day Sabbath does not fall on Sunday as many people think, but on Saturday. This can readily be seen by looking up the days of the week in any large dictionary. “Saturday—the seventh day of the week, following Friday.” Webster’s New Universal Unabridged Dictionary, 1996. “Sunday—so called because this day was anciently dedicated to the sun, or its worship. The first day of the week.” Webster’s Dictionary, 1929 edition. Not only is the seventh day on Saturday and not on Sunday, but there is no where in the entire Bible that indicates that there has ever been a change, or will ever be a change. This fact is known by many preachers, theologians and historians. Here is an example of one: “Let me address myself to my dear non-Catholic reader: You believe that the Bible alone is a safe guide in religious matter. You also believe that one of the fundamental duties enjoined upon you by your Christian faith is that of Sunday observance. But where does the Bible speak of such an obligation? I have read the Bible from the first verse of Genesis to the last verse of Revelation, and have found no reference to the duty of sanctifying the Sunday. The day mentioned in the Bible is not the Sunday, the first day of the week, but the Saturday, the last day of the week.” The Faith of Millions, Father O’Brian, 136, 137. There are many other ways that we can know which day is the seventh day, but for lack of space, we will not presently exhaust them. (If you would like more information on which day is the Sabbath, contact Steps to Life.) For our search, it is sufficient to note that God’s last day church is a commandment–keeping church and in order to be a commandment–keeping church, they must keep all of the commandments, including the Sabbath commandment. God’s final church is a Sabbathkeeping church.
The keeping of the seventh-day Sabbath has always been a sign marking God’s true people. God’s true church in the Garden of Eden before man fell, was keeping the Sabbath. “And on the seventh day God ended His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done. Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His work which God had created and made.” Genesis 2:2, 3. To Israel, another name for God’s church, the keeping of the Sabbath was to be a perpetual sign. “Therefore the children of Israel shall keep the Sabbath, to observe the Sabbath throughout their generations as a perpetual covenant. It is a sign between Me and the children of Israel forever; for in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, and on the seventh day He rested and was refreshed.” Exodus 31:16, 17. Jesus, our Creator, Redeemer, High Priest, and founder of the Christian church, kept God’s seventh-day Sabbath holy. “So He came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up. And as His custom was, He went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and stood up to read.” Luke 4:16. It was our Saviour’s practice to go to the synagogue, or the church, every Sabbath day. God’s final church will definitely be following Jesus example. (See John 14:6; I Peter 2:21; Revelation 14:4.) The early church always kept God’s Sabbath day. “And when the Jews went out of the synagogue, the Gentiles begged that these words might be preached to them the next Sabbath… And the next Sabbath almost the whole city came together to hear the word of God.” Acts 13:42, 44. The church that had to flee into the wilderness was keeping God’s holy Sabbath day. “On the contrary, they [the Waldenses] kept the Sabbath-day, observed the ordinance of baptism according to the primitive church, instructed their children in the articles of the Christian faith and the commandments of God.” Jones’s Church History, vol. 2, chap. 5, sec. 4. (taken from History of the Sabbath, J.N. Andrews, 416.) Furthermore, God’s Word states that God’s true people will continue to keep His Sabbath day. “There remains therefore a rest [the Greek word sabbatismos literally means “a keeping of a sabbath” The New Analytical Greek Lexicon, Wesley Perschbacher] for the people of God.” Hebrews 4:9. God’s true people continue to keep all of His commandments and so there remains a keeping of the Sabbath for them. Then prophecy has foretold that God’s final church will keep all of the commandments. “And the dragon was enraged with the woman, and he went to make war with the rest of her offspring, who keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.” Revelation 12:17. Finally, God’s ransomed church, will keep His holy Sabbath day in the earth made new once sin is completely obliterated and the great controversy is concluded. “‘For as the new heavens and the new earth which I will make shall remain before Me,’ says the Lord, ‘So shall your descendants and your name remain. And it shall come to pass that from one New Moon to another, and from one Sabbath to another, all flesh shall come to worship before Me,’ says the Lord.” Isaiah 66:22, 23. Keeping of God’s seventh-day Sabbath has always been the sign of His true church and it will continue to be so throughout all eternity.
A while ago I was engaged in a conversation with a minister who had for many years taught that it was permissable to break God’s Law, especially the Sabbath. However, he had recently studied deeper into the Bible and found that God’s true people would be keeping all of the Ten Commandments, including the Sabbath. He and I were then talking with another minister whom we thought was another Sabbathkeeping minister. To our great surprise, we found out that this man had given up the Sabbath and was now preaching for another Sabbathbreaking organization. We questioned further to see why such an unbiblical change was made. This minister did not have any good reasons for his switch, other than that his new church was so loving. He then made the statement that it was a good church; there was only one problem—it did not keep the Sabbath. I nearly fell out of my chair! That is no little problem! When a rich young man came to Jesus desiring to follow Him, Jesus set before him the conditions of discipleship. “Now as He was going out on the road, one came running, knelt before Him, and asked him, ‘Good Teacher, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?’ So Jesus said to him, ‘Why do you call me good? No one is good but One, that is, God. You know the commandments: “Do not commit adultery,” “Do not murder,” “Do not steal,” “Do not bear false witness,” “Do not defraud,” “Honor your father and your mother.”’ And he answered and said to Him, ‘Teacher, all these I have observed from my youth.’ Then Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, ‘One thing you lack: Go your way, sell whatever you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, take up the cross, and follow me.’ And he was sad at this word, and went away grieved, for he had great possessions.” Mark 10:17-22. Here was a young man who had done everything right from when he was a child. Jesus said that there was only one thing that he lacked. Only one! Not ten or twenty, just one “little” thing, but that one “little” thing caused Him to reject Jesus. Even though this dear minister’s church only lacked one thing, not keeping the Sabbath, that is enough to bar it from being God’s true church, for lacking only that one thing means it is rejecting Jesus. God’s true, final church will NOT lack even one thing. God’s final church will keep all of God’s commandments, including the unpopular Sabbath commandment.
The Spirit of Prophecy
The first of the two identifying marks of God’s final church is that it will be a commandment–keeping, Sabbath–keeping church, but there is one more identifying mark that reveals God’s last day prophetic movement of destiny. “And the dragon was enraged with the woman, and he went to make war with the rest of her offspring, who keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.” Revelation 12:17. Not only will the final church keep all of the commandments, but they will have the testimony of Jesus. What is the testimony of Jesus? “And I fell at his feet to worship him. But he said to me, ‘See that you do not do that! I am your fellow servant, and of your brethren who have the testimony of Jesus. Worship God! For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.” Revelation 19:10. The final church will have the testimony of Jesus, which is the spirit of prophecy. God will give the gift of prophecy to His last day people.
Some well meaning people have taken the position that after the Bible was written that there were to be no more prophets. This is a claim that needs well to be investigated, for Jesus predicted that many would be led astray by false prophets, and we certainly do not want to be among that group. Did God seal up the gifts of the Spirit after the last book of the Bible was written? Notice Peter’s words on this subject, “But this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel: ‘And it shall come to pass in the last days, says God, That I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your young men shall see visions, your old men shall dream dreams. And on My menservants and on My maidservants I will pour out My Spirit in those days; and they shall prophesy.” Acts 2:16-18. Peter, quoting from the prophecy Joel, fully understood that God was going to continue to bestow the gift of prophecy, even to the last days. “And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.” Ephesians 4:11-13. Paul tells us exactly how long God is going to continue giving the gifts of the Spirit to His church—until the church is perfected and ready to meet Jesus in the clouds of glory. None will deny that this has not yet occurred, and if this great event is still future, then God has promised to continue to give the gifts and particularly prophecy. The Lord has promised, “Surely the Lord God does nothing, unless He reveals His secret to His servants the prophets.” Amos 3:7. God will not do anything without first warning His true people through His messengers the prophets. Certainly as we are living in the time in which the Lord will work with greater might and power than ever before known, He would send an inspired messenger to help us be prepared for that great day, and we find that He has promised just that! “Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord.” Malachi 4:5. Not only has God promised to continue sending prophets until the end; and not only is the gift of prophecy one of the two identifying marks of God’s last day church; but God has also promised an Elijah messenger with an Elijah message just before He comes with power and great glory to the righteous but dread and terror to the wicked. With the abundant evidence before us that God has promised to continue to send messengers, how can we test one who claims to come with a message from God?
We are explicitly warned by the beloved disciple, “Beloved, believe not every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world.” I John 4:1. If we accept anyone who claims to be a messenger from God, we are assuring to ourselves of deception. We must apply the Bible tests to ascertain whether a messenger is from God or not. What are these tests?
- Isaiah 8:20—a true prophet will uphold all of God’s Law,
- Matthew 7:15-20—a true prophet will bear good fruit both in his life and work,
- Jeremiah 28:9—the prophecies of a true prophet will come to pass,
- I John 4:1-3—a true prophet will always confess that Jesus Christ came in the flesh
- I Corinthians 14:32—everything that a a true prophet teaches will be in accordance with the Bible,
- Numbers 12:6—a true prophet will have visions and dreams.
Not one false prophet can measure up to these simple Biblical tests and a true prophet will match each and every one. It is simply our part to apply the tests to see if we can find God’s last day messenger, which would identify God’s final church. “Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise prophecies. Test all things; hold fast what is good.” II Thessalonians 5:19-21.
Has anyone arisen that matches all of these Biblical tests? As I have searched for the final church and the spirit of prophecy within the final church, I have discovered that there is one who matches all the tests of a true prophet. This individual, whom I believe to be a last day messenger for the Lord, is Mrs. Ellen G. White. Some may question, can a woman be a true prophet? Women have been prophets from the very beginning of the church, why not at the end? Consider Miriam, Moses’ sister. (See Exodus 15:20.) Deborah was a prophetess of the Lord. (See Judges 4:4.) Anna, the prophetess who praised the Lord at Jesus’ dedication, served the Lord in the temple with prophesying for many long years. (See Luke 2:36.) Philip, the evangelist, had four virgin daughters who were prophets. (See Acts 21:9.) Obviously, being a woman does not exclude an individual from receiving the gift of prophecy.
Ellen White was called to the difficult prophetic office at age seventeen. Most expected her to die an early death due to a childhood accident, but she continued serving the Lord in her appointed lot for another seventy years. Born in Topsham, Maine in 1827, she was only able to finish the third grade, but went on to write more than any other woman in history. From her hand, which in her early years could hardly hold a pen steady, issued over twenty-five million words. She was, indeed, the weakest of the weak, but God worked mightily through this humble instrument. In all her many works, she always exalts Jesus and points His people back to the Word of God as their anchor and study. Through her life and ministry, thousands have been led to accept Christ and renew their commitment to Him. Peasants and kings, educators and unlearned alike have declared that they have read words that speak directly to their souls. As I have read a great number of her works, I have found nothing that contradicts the Bible, but only leads me to a greater and deeper love for the Word of God and its Author. As I have studied about her life and work, all that can be seen is good fruit springing forth abundantly. I have heard the voice of Jesus speaking to me through her writings; and after having applied the Biblical tests, I have come to the conclusion that she is, indeed, the Elijah messenger who was to come, and that her life and works constitute the “spirit of prophecy” referred to in Revelation. (For a much more thorough study into the tests of a prophet and her life and works, see the book Prophet of the End.)
As we have studied what constitutes a church and the identifying marks of God’s final church, there is only one conclusion that can be drawn. God’s church is not an organization or denomination, but those whose faith is founded in the Lord Jesus Christ and those who love, teach and practice present truth for this time, namely the Three Angels’ Messages of Revelation 14:6-12. If we are going to point to an ecclesiastical body as God’s church, we are looking in the wrong direction, for nowhere in God’s Word does it say that a name or organization reveals God’s last day people. It is the character that reveals the heart. It is the identifying marks that indicate whether a group of people are the final church or not. Then, God’s Word narrows down the search to two key marks—they love God and keep all of His commandments and they have
the spirit of prophecy. Putting all of these factors together, there is only one movement and group of people who can be identified as God’s final church. God’s final church is His Seventh-day Adventist believers. This is the only movement that keeps all ten of the commandments and has the spirit of prophecy in their midst.
This is not to say that the Seventh-day Adventist denomination is the infallible final church, for God’s church is not a denomination or organization. It is the people who believe and practice the precious truths heralded by the Seventh-day Adventist movement. Shortly before 1844, at the end of the 1260 year period in which the true church was forced to flee into the wilderness, a movement began, which God has promised is going through to glory. This movement was composed of men and women from all backgrounds and faiths who studied the prophecies and believed that Jesus’ Second Coming was at hand. As they proclaimed this precious message (found in Revelation 14:6, 7), the existing churches spurned and rejected this heaven–sent message. These advent believers (so called because the were looking for Jesus’ Second Advent) were cast from the churches that they loved. As they continued to study the Word of God, they discovered that not only was Jesus coming soon, but that He was also calling His people back to obedience to His Law, particularly the keeping of the fourth commandment, which was almost universally forgotten. Thus as they were looking for Jesus’ Second Advent and keeping Jesus’ seventh-day Sabbath, they took the name Seventh-day Adventists.
The devil never rests, though. “And the dragon was enraged with the woman, and he went to make war with the rest of her offspring, who keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.” Revelation 12:17. The devil was to wage the fiercest conflict against those who claimed to keep the commandments and have the testimony of Jesus. Sad to say, this very thing has taken place exactly as prophecy predicted. While Jesus walked the earth, the leaders of the professed people of God were in complete apostasy. Jesus said, speaking to these supposed spiritual leaders, “You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do.” John 8:44. These high and educated leaders were actually children of the devil. Jesus’ most cutting rebukes were reserved for these false leaders. (see Matthew 23.) They went through all the outward forms of being God’s true church, but they were really sons of hell. (Matthew 23:15.) Jesus counseled the people regarding them, “Let them alone. They are blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind leads the blind, both will fall into a ditch.” Matthew 15:14. The people were not to follow these apostate leaders, and they were even to leave them alone. But sadly, most of the people believed their leaders and rejected Jesus. Instead of accepting Jesus’ Words of life, they clung to their desolate organization. (Matthew 23:38.) So today, the devil has myriads of those who claim to be Seventh-day Adventists caught in his net. Apostasy has well nigh taken over the organization that claims to be God’s final church, just as in Jesus’ day and during the time period when God’s church had to flee into the wilderness. Those who should be the spiritual guardians of the people are feeding the flock deadly poison that will lead to the loss of their souls, just as they did to many in Jesus’ day and during the time period of the church in the wilderness. Indeed, history is repeating itself, yet again. (Ecclesiastes 1:9.) If we desire to be shielded from these subtle snares, we must look to the Lord Jesus Christ. Our eyes must be taken off of all men, organizations and denominations. Our only safety is in trusting our entire being, and hanging our whole souls on our Saviour.
Many faithful Seventh-day Adventists have been forced to separate from the error and apostasy that is being forced home upon the soul in many of the professedly Seventh-day Adventist churches today. This does not mean that these separated brethren are not a part of the final church. The Waldenses and the church in the wilderness were forced to do the same thing hundreds of years ago. Jesus and the apostles had to follow the same course. They had their own campmeetings (the Sermon on the Mount, for instance); they were forced to worship separately from the church of their fathers (the Lord’s Supper, for example); but even though they did not belong to an ecclesiastical organization, they were a part of God’s true church, for they met the identifying criteria. So today many are worshiping God according to the Bible and Spirit of Prophecy wherever they can. Sometimes in homes, rented halls or simple church buildings. Paul did the exact same thing. “And on the Sabbath day we went out of the city to the riverside, where prayer was customarily made; and we sat down and spoke to the women who met there.”
Acts 16:13. When there was not a church that was teaching present truth and keeping the commandments of God, Paul worshiped God by the river, or wherever he could, with whomever was willing to follow all of God’s Word. Sometimes the faithful are forced to meet in a home, not because they want to, but because it is the only place that they can go to hear the truth. This is nothing new. It was done by many in the apostolic church (See Romans 16:5; I Corinthians 16:19; Colossians 4:15; Philemon 1:2). God’s final church does not consist of an ecclesiastic order. It is not a towering organizational hierarchy. It is not a national denomination. It is the people who love God and keep all of His commandments, including the Sabbath, and who have, love and study the spirit of prophecy. This group of people may be small. They may have no money, buildings, schools, etc. There may not be a pastor or a beautiful choir; but these are not the things that we are to look for anyway. Do they have the truth? is the question. Are they living the truth? If they have this most precious commodity, they are the final church. You have found it! Your search is through!
Being One of the Remnant
When Noah’s orchestra of hammers filled the air, there was only one safe place to be. I am sure that there were many who thought that it would not matter if they helped Noah or not. I am sure that there were many churches towering throughout that great land. There can be no doubt that those grand structures had many more worldly inducements than did Noah’s small crew. There were probably many who thought it really didn’t matter if you were in Noah’s boat (church) or not, just as long as you were in a church. But in that day there was only one safe place to be. It did not matter how many towering steeples there were throughout the land, not one was tall enough to preserve even a solitary man. Those only escaped who had become a part of Noah’s little remnant and had entered that ark of safety. How I wish that thousands more understood that ancient flood. If there were, how many more would understand the peril that faces millions today. Just like in Noah’s day, there is only one place of safety on this earth. It is not a physical ark in the midst of dry land, but it is God’s final church.
Only those who become a part of God’s final church will receive deliverance in the end. “And it shall come to pass that whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved. For in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there shall be deliverance, as the Lord as said, among the remnant whom the Lord calls.” Joel 2:32. It is only in Mount Zion and Jerusalem, or God’s true final people (Isaiah 51:16), that deliverance will be found. Many will long and pant for deliverance at that day, but they will be swept away. Why? Because they were unwilling to become a part of that small hated group; but no matter how small and hated this group may be in the world’s eyes, it is the apple of God’s eye. He will protect and shield His true people. Not an organization or denomination, but the people who follow the truth, keep the commandments and read and study the spirit of prophecy. Do you want to become a part of those people who will be delivered from this long earthly exile? Do you want to follow the Lord and become a part of His final church? The Lord is extending His loving call to you, what will your answer be? “And other sheep I have which are not of this fold; them also I must bring, and they will hear My voice; and there will be one flock and one shepherd.” John 10:16.
All emphasis the author’s, unless otherwise stated.
All texts from the New King James Version, unless otherwise noted.
- Truth Triumphant, B.G. Wilkinson, reprinted 1994 by TEACH Services
- History of the Sabbath, by J. N. Andrews, reprinted 1998 by TEACH Services
- Wharey’s Church History
- His Mighty Love, Dr. Ralph Larson, 1995, TEACH Services
- Webster’s New Universal Unabridged Dictionary, 1996
- Webster’s Dictionary, 1929 edition.
- The Faith of Millions, Father O’Brian, 1974.
- The New Analytical Greek Lexicon, Wesley Perschbacher, 1990, Hendrickson Publishers.
If you would like to reprint or translate this book please contact Steps to Life for permission.