The Church and the Remnant

STUDY 2

 

The blessed hope of the second coming of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ "to meet His bride the church and bring her to His home" is the dearest keynote in the threefold message of Revelation 14:6-12. At His coming the Lord will acknowledge His true followers-"a glorious church," "holy and without blemish," "not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing" (Eph. 5:27). And there is no doubt that, with us or without us, the Lord will find such a church on earth when He comes. "Christ has made every provision that His church shall be a transformed body, illumined with the Light of the world, possessing the glory of Emmanuel." COL 419. In the interest of our salvation, we certainly want to be part of this church.

Many statements in the Bible and in the writings of the Spirit of Prophecy focus our attention on this faithful remnant, for which there is a definite place in the prophetic picture for these last days. Therefore, any doctrinal discussion is significant in the light of prophecy only if it serves to identify the remnant church that lives just before Christ's second coming.

If prophecy leads us to the conclusion that the SDA Church is the final remnant that will receive the latter rain, finish the work, and go right into the kingdom, then the present disagreements (between the SDA Church and the SDA Reform Movement) should not be a real hindrance, because in this case the understanding is that these problems will either be settled before the coming of Christ or are not so important that God cannot overlook them. And, as a necessary corollary of such a reasoning, there is no room for the existence of the SDA Reform Movement as a separate corporation, and, for this reason, there is not much point in discussing questions on doctrine and principles. If, how ever, prophecy makes it evident that at the end the SDA Church is not the "small remnant," the "church triumphant," then a discussion of discrepancies concerning principles and doctrines is really significant, because it may show us why the Adventist Church has failed and how a faithful remnant will succeed.

In this field, it is essential that we beware of the way of thinking of our Catholic friends, lest we repeat their mistake. Catholics read Matthew 16:18-where Christ said, "upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it"-and proclaim the infallibility of the Romish Church. They will not consider conditions (Matt. 7:16-27; 1 Cor. 3:11-15; John 8:31, 32; 2 John 9; 2 Chron. 15:2, 2nd part; Isa. 8:20; etc.), nor will they regard pertinent prophecies (2 Thess. 2:3, 4; Rev. 2:13, 20, 21; 17:1-5; 18:4, 5). In an alarming example of misappropriation, in which they take for themselves certain scriptures which do not belong to them (Matt. 16:18; 18:17; 28:20), they claim to be "the church"-infallible to the very end. Couldn't we as Adventists be involved in a similar misconception? Evidently, the sin of presumption, against which John the Baptist warned the Jews (Matt. 3:9), was not limited to that generation. (Read COL 304, 306.)

 

I-SDA BELIEF CONCERNING "THE CHURCH"

So far as we have been able to verify, the SDA leadership teaches that the Adventist Church will go through to the end as a victorious church. Statements to this effect can be found in The Review and Herald. Examples:

"When people attempt to show that the Laodicean church is in such a hopeless condition that they never can or will be aroused, I have great consolation and gratitude in remembering that this is the very church that will be translated into the kingdom of God." RH Nov. 30, 1939.

"To leave this church, to be spewed out of it because of personal rejection of the Testimony of the True Witness, is to be lost. . . . He [the Lord] would have us . . . remain with Him in the Laodicean church." RH Jan. 19, 1956.

"In view of the soon coming of Jesus there must come a final remnant, and Seventh-day Adventists believe they are that final remnant people, not because of any innate superiority but because of the grace of God in their lives in the final period of this world's history. Sinners will be sifted out of the church, and the church will remain." RH Jan. 18, 1973.

We can understand the convictions of our Adventist brethren, but we are at a loss for a confirmation of this viewpoint in the Bible and/or in the writings of E. G. White. While we agree that the SDA's are the remnant that came out of the Protestant churches, we do not read in the Word of God that the Seventh-day Adventist Church, generally known as such, is the final remnant that will be prepared for the coming of Jesus. What we find is that the Adventist Church (which we will call the "mother church") will remain as an organized church, but not as a victorious church, and that a small remnant from the mother church will eventually be prepared for the coming of Christ.

The word "church," as it is used in the writings of the Spirit of Prophecy, carries different meanings, as shown by the context. Here are a few examples:

When the days of Christ are brought into focus, we must distinguish between the Jewish church and the early Christian church:

a) Jewish church: "Jesus saw His church, like the barren fig tree, covered with pretentious leaves, yet destitute of precious fruit." GC 316.

b) Christian church: "Christ founded His church upon the living Rock." DA 413.

During the Dark Ages:

a) Roman church: "The bishop of Rome was declared to be the head over the entire church." GC 54.

b) Persecuted remnant church: "Through centuries of persecution, conflict, and darkness, God has sustained His church." AA 11.

In these last days:

a) All fallen churches of Christendom: "The church appeals to the strong arm of civil power, and in this work, papists and Protestants unite." GC 607.

b) Seventh-day Adventist people: "He [Satan] is now preparing for his last campaign against the church." GC 510.

c) Unreformed SDA majority: "Through this means [unity with the world] the church will become indeed corrupt, and as stated in Revelation, 'a cage of every unclean and hateful bird."' TM 265. "Those who receive the pure mark of truth . . . are those 'that sigh and that cry for all the abominations that be done' in the church." 3T 267. "Will the church see where she has fallen?" RH, Extra, Dec. 23, 1890.

d) Reformed SDA minority: "The church may appear as about to fall, but it does not fall." 2SM 380. "Clad in the armor of Christ's righteousness, the church is to enter upon her final conflict." PK 725. "Then will the church of Christ appear 'fair as the moon, clear as the sun, and terrible as an army with banners."' 5T 82.

A great deal of unnecessary confusion can be avoided if these distinctions are borne in mind.

 

II-THE MOTHER CHURCH AND THE REMNANT

According to Ezekiel, chapter 9, which refers to the church in these last days (TM 445), there is no salvation for the whole house of Israel, but only for the sighing and crying ones. The church remains (like the previous churches have also remained) as an organized body, but not as God's faithful remnant.

1. The Mother Church is not the Remnant

"The true people of God . . . will . . . feel most deeply the wrongs of God's professed people.... Those who receive the pure mark of truth, wrought in them by the power of the Holy Ghost, represented by a mark by the man in linen, are those 'that sigh and that cry for all the abominations that be done' in the church." 3T 266, 267.

In this statement, which applies to the very end, it is not the church that is sighing and crying for what some of its members are doing (if this were the case, the church would put them out); it is rather a few sighing and crying ones that are taking exception to what the church is doing when the "general destruction" is about to come. And what will happen to the church? In another testimony commenting on Ezekiel 9, the servant of the Lord says:

"Here we see that the church-the Lord's sanctuary-was the first to feel the stroke of the wrath of God." 5T 211.

As can be seen from this description, the Adventist Church remains. not as a victorious church which has gone through a process of thorough reformation, but rather as a denomination that has failed like other churches had failed before her.

The evidence that the unfaithful majority remains as an organized church is confirmed by prophetic statements refer ring to the close of probation:

"Those who walk in the light will see signs of the approaching peril.... The leaven of godliness has not entirely lost its power. At the time when the danger and depression of the church are greatest, the little company who are standing in the light will be sighing and crying.... But more especially will their prayers arise in behalf of the church because its members are doing after the manner of the world.... But the glory of the Lord had departed from Israel; although many still continued the forms of religion, His power and presence were lacking.... Those who have a zeal for God's honor and a love for souls will not hold their peace to obtain favor of any.... They are powerless to stop the rushing torrent of iniquity.... They mourn before God to see religion despised in the very homes of those who have had great light. They lament and afflict their souls because pride, avarice, selfishness, and deception of almost every kind are in the church. The Spirit of God, which prompts to reproof, is trampled underfoot, while the servants of Satan triumph. God is dishonored, the truth made of none effect.

"The class who do not feel grieved over their own spiritual declension, nor mourn over the sins of others, will be left with out the seal of God. The Lord commissions His messengers, the men with slaughtering weapons in their hands: 'Go ye after him through the city, and smite....'

"Here we see that the church-the Lord's sanctuary-was the first to feel the stroke of the wrath of God. The ancient men, those to whom God had given great light and who had stood as guardians of the spiritual interests of the people, had betrayed their trust....

"The abominations for which the faithful ones were sighing and crying were all that could be discerned by finite eyes, but by far the worst sins, those which provoked the jealousy of the pure and holy God, were unrevealed....

"No superiority of rank, dignity, or worldly wisdom, no position in sacred office, will preserve men from sacrificing principle when left to their own deceitful hearts. Those who have been regarded as worthy and righteous prove to be ringleaders in apostasy and examples in indifference and in the abuse of God's mercies. Their wicked course He will tolerate no longer, and in His wrath he deals with them without mercy....

"'And at that time shall Michael stand up.' . . . The seal of the living God is upon His people. This small remnant . . . make God their defense." 5T 209-213.

This is how the prophetic pen depicts the mother church on the one hand and a small remnant on the other hand, at the end of probation. There is no suggestion here that the apostatized majority will be shaken out and that the mother church will be come a purified body, prepared to receive the latter rain and the seal of God. Only a "small remnant," as we just read, will receive the seal of God, while the mother church, as an organized body, will receive the wrath of God. Let us reread this quotation, and keep it in mind; it is the background of all future church-related events. A parallel prophetic statement reads as follows:

"When the accumulated figures in heaven's record books shall mark the sum of transgression complete, wrath will come, un mixed with mercy.... But in the hour of the church's greatest danger most fervent prayer will be offered in her behalf by the faithful remnant." 5T 524.

In this last prophetic testimony, as well as in the other two considered before (3T 327; 5T 209-213), at the very end the church is not the remnant and the remnant is not the church. There is a clear distinction between the two. This distinction is made very clear, also, in the following declarations:

"Many who have had great light have not appreciated and improved it as it was their privilege to do. They have not practiced the truth. And because of this the Lord will bring in those who have lived up to all the light they have had. And those who have been privileged with opportunities to understand the truth and who have not obeyed its principles will be swayed by Satan's temptations for self-advancement. They will deny the principles of truth in practice and bring reproach upon the cause of God.

"Christ declares that He will spue these out of His mouth, and leave them to follow their own course of actions to distinguish themselves. This course of action does indeed make them prominent as men that are unfaithful householders.

"The Lord will give His message to those who have walked in accordance with the light they have had, and will recognize them as true and faithful, according to the measurement of God. These men will take the place of those who, having light and knowledge, have walked not in the way of the Lord, but in the imagination of their own unsanctified hearts." 3SM 421, 422.

"The great Head who moves in the midst of his candlesticks will never be without a church.... If we refuse to let our light shine for the Master, if we do not do the works of God, others will do that very work which we might have done and could have done, but refused to do. When we cease to fulfill our mission, when the candlestick refuses to reflect light, and the great truths committed to us individually in trust for the world, are not given to them, then the candlestick will be removed. 'I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place.' Another will be placed in his stead and will shine." RH June 7, 1887.

"But O sad picture! Those who do not submit to the influence of the Holy Spirit soon lose the blessings received. . . And Christ says unto them, 'Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of its place, except thou repent.' He will take his Holy Spirit from the church, and give it to others who will appreciate it." RH July 16, 1895.

As we put these parallel prophecies together, we understand that the "others," to whom the Holy Spirit is to be given (the con text refers to the latter rain), are the "faithful remnant" or "small remnant" mentioned in 5T 524, 213.

2. The Mother Church in the Past, Present and Future

If in 1893 the prophetess declared that "not one in twenty whose names are registered upon the church books are prepared to close their earthly history," and that, while professing to serve God, "they are more earnestly serving mammon" (ChS 41}, we understand that in this case the great majority characterizes the denominational situation. Here is a pertinent example from the days of Moses: "So many of the people were guilty that the apostasy became national. 'Israel joined himself unto Baal-peor.' " PP 454. So, today, what is said of the unfaithful majority can be said of the church. Examples:

"If most earnest vigilance is not manifested at the great heart of the work to protect the interests of the cause, the church will become as corrupt as the churches of other denominations." 4T 513.

"The church has turned back from following Christ her Lea der and is steadily retreating toward Egypt." 5T 217.

"The church is in the Laodicean state. The presence of God is not in her midst." MS 156, 1898.

"It is a solemn and terrible truth that many who have been zealous in proclaiming the third angel's message are now becoming listless and indifferent! The line of demarcation between worldlings and many professed Christians is almost indistinguishable. Many who once were earnest Adventists are conforming to the world-to its practices, its customs, its selfishness. Instead of leading the world to render obedience to God's law, the church is uniting more and more closely with the world in transgression. Daily the church is becoming converted to the world." 8T 118, 119.

"'How is the faithful city become an harlot?' My Father's house is made a house of merchandise, a place whence the divine presence and glory have departed!" 8T 250.

Certain ailments in the human body can be medicated and detained; they become stationary neither improving nor getting worse. Other conditions are progressive-they grow worse and worse until they have completed their cycle. Such is the course of apostasy. It is a progressive condition. Sister White says:

"On every hand we see those who have had much light and knowledge deliberately choosing evil in the place of good. Making no attempt to reform, they are growing worse and worse." 7T 62.

"Through union with the world the church will become corrupt,-'a cage of every unclean and hateful bird."' RH Feb. 26, 1895. (Read TM 265.)

It is with reference to the great majority-which is "the church" in "union with the world"-that the Spirit of Prophecy declares:

"The truth for this time is precious, but those whose hearts have not been broken by falling on the rock Christ Jesus, will not see and understand what is truth. They will accept that which pleases their ideas, and will begin to manufacture another foundation than that which is laid. They will flatter their own vanity and esteem, thinking that they are capable of removing the pillars of our faith, and replacing them with pillars they have devised. This will continue to be as long as time shall last." MS 28, 1890.

"After the truth has been proclaimed as a witness to all nations, every conceivable power of evil will be set in operation, and minds will be confused by many voices crying, 'Lo, here is Christ; lo, He is there. This is the truth, I have the message from God, He has sent me with great light.' Then there will be a re moving of the landmarks, and an attempt to tear down the pillars of our faith." 7BC 985.

"Every conceivable effort will be made to throw doubt upon the positions that we have occupied for over half a century [now for over one century]." 3SM 408.

"The cause of Christ will be betrayed. Those who have had the light of truth, and have enjoyed its blessings, but who have turned away from it, will fight down the Spirit of God. Inspired with a spirit from beneath, they will tear down that which they once built up, and show to all reasonable, God-fearing souls that they cannot be trusted. They may lay claim to truth and righteous ness, but their spirit and works will testify that they are betrayers of their Lord." RH May 24, 1898.

A comparison between these last five statements and those produced before throws more light on the prophetic screen where the church in its final days is projected. Now it is clearer to us how, at the close of probation, the Spirit of God "is trampled underfoot," how the truth is "made of none effect," and how "deception of almost every kind" is found in the church, where those in positions of responsibility have "betrayed their trust," so that "the servants of Satan triumph." (5T 210, 211.) What we just read in these last few prophetic statements (RH Feb. 26, 1895; MS 28, 1890; 7BC 985; 3SM 408; RH May 24, 18981 is the result of a long, unchecked process of deterioration, in the presence of which the faithful few have been sighing and crying for good reasons (3T 267).

3. The "Remnant Church"

As "there have ever been two classes among those who profess to be followers of Christ" (GC 43), there are also two classes now among those who profess the threefold message of Revelation 14. Prophecy shows important distinctions between the two groups:

"A company was presented before me under the name of Seventh-day Adventists who were advising that the banner or sign which makes us a distinctive people should not be held out so strikingly.... In describing the remnant people of God, John says, [Rev. 14:12 quoted]." 2SM 385.

In a parallel prophetic statement, E. G. White describes the two groups as follows:

"I saw a company who stood well guarded and firm, giving no countenance to those who would unsettle the established faith of the body." EW 258.

As can be seen, the "company" in EW 258, is not the "company" in 2SM 385. They occupy two different, even antithetic positions. They are clearly opposed to each other where principles are in question. Here is another reference to the two companies:

"Satan has laid every measure possible that nothing shall come among us as a people to reprove and rebuke us, and ex hort us to put away our errors. But there is a people who will bear the ark of God.... They will show the people their transgressions, and the house of Jacob their sins." TM 411. (Discussion on this specific point will be resumed later.)

It should be borne in mind that the "company" of "Seventh day Adventists" who were seen, in Sister White's vision, to be advising that the standard "should not be held out so strikingly" (2SM 385), and working to "unsettle the established faith of the body" (EW 258), are not just a few misfits in the church; they are rather the great majority who hold control to the very end, ac cording to the statements analyzed before (3T 267; 5T 209-213, 524, RH July 16, 1895) . They are, in other words, "the church" (the mother church).

In the light of the evidences considered so far, the unprepared mother "church" and the small "remnant" are two coexistent Adventist groups at the very end. Therefore, if we proclaim the mother church to be the only-existent SDA body, and the final remnant, at the end of probation, we make two mistakes against the clear word of prophecy, for she is neither one thing nor the other.

 

III-THE PROPHESIED SHAKING

The theological use of the word "sifting" was derived from the custom of sifting the grain. See examples in Isaiah 30:28; Amos 9:9; Luke 22:31. After the wheat had been threshed, it still had to be sifted for the removal of the chaff (which was blown away by the wind as the contents of the sieve were tossed up repeatedly) and the tiny stones (which would fall through the bottom of the string netting).

Some contend that, in the prophesied sifting, the sieve represents the church, and that those who remain in the church are corn, while those who leave the church are chaff. Such a conclusion is unwarranted in the light of the example below.

With reference to the sifting and the work of reformation that were to take place among the Jews in the days of Christ and the apostles, God spoke prophetically through Amos:

"I will command, and I will sift the house of Israel among all nations, like as corn is sifted in a sieve, yet shall not the least grain fall upon the earth.... In that day will I raise up the tabernacle of David that is fallen, and close up the breaches thereof; and I will raise up his ruins, and I will build it as in the days of old." Amos 9:9, 11.

Paul the apostle used this prophecy of Amos {compare with Acts 15:16) to show the prophetic basis for the work of reformation that was being carried into effect by those who had accepted the gospel message and broken away from the Jewish church. Prophecy said that all grain would remain in the sieve and that only the chaff would drop out. History, which goes hand in hand with prophecy, indicates that the Jewish leader ship and people stayed in the church, while the disciples of Christ left the church. Let us bear this in mind: It was the apostatized majority, the chaff, that remained with the organization; the faithful remnant formed a separate congregation. And there is no contradiction between prophecy and history. The sieve-which retains the corn and rejects the chaff-is not the church organization, but the truth. This was the sieve in which the disciples remained as corn and from which the Jews were shaken out as chaff. The same principle applies today.

At this stage of our discussion we should get a clear answer to the question, When, how and under what circumstances will the two Adventist companies be separated from each other? The oft-repeated explanation that all unfaithful ones will be shaken out of the mother church, who will then be purified and stand as the only-existent faithful remnant, is devoid of authority in the word of prophecy. No such thing can be found in the prophecies (which were considered before and must still be fresh in the mind of the render} concerning the mother church at the close of probation. It is very clear that the unreformed mother church and the faithful remnant cannot stay together forever. There must be a separation before the seal of God is applied on the living saints:

"The angel with the writer's ink horn is to place a mark upon the foreheads of all who are separated from sin and sinners." 4BC 1161. (Read 5T 505.)

This means that the sighing and crying ones must be separated, not only from all the abominations that they can see, but also from the mother church where these abominations are practiced or tolerated (previous statements: 3T 267; 5T 209-213; RH Feb. 26, 1895; etc.) to the very end. Remember: They must be "separated from sin and sinners" as an essential condition for the receiving of the seal of God.

"The time of the judgment is a most solemn period, when the Lord gathers His own from among the tares. Those who have been members of the same family are separated. A mark is placed upon the righteous." TM 234.

Due to the unfaithfulness of those who stand as "guardians of the spiritual interests of the people" (5T 211), the Lord promised to take care of the faithful remnant through a shaking:

"God has promised that where the shepherds are not true He will take charge of the flock Himself. God has never made the flock wholly dependent upon human instrumentalities. But the days of purification of the church are hastening on apace. God will have a people pure and true. In the mighty sifting soon to take place we shall be better able to measure the strength of Israel. The signs reveal that the time is near when the Lord will manifest that His fan is in His hand, and He will thoroughly purge His floor." 5T 80.

Before we proceed, let us take into consideration a noteworthy parallel. In the days of Christ and the apostles, the prophecy of Matthew 3:12 (He "whose fan is in his hand . . . will thoroughly purge his floor'') announced a forthcoming shaking, which actually came in three phases: (1) There was a separation in the Jewish church when Christ and the apostles turned away from the officially recognized religious leaders and organized the apostolic church (Matt. 15:14). (2)Then there was a separation in the apostolic church when many professed disciples left the Lord and turned back to the Jewish church (John 6:66). (3) And, finally, there was another separation in the Jewish church, under the outpouring of the former rain, when many Jews left the Jewish church and joined the apostolic church (Acts 2:41; 4:4). All this was meant by the prophecy about the shaking (Matt. 3:12). As history repeats itself, we find a parallel around 1844 in the experience of the early Adventists. And, as we study the prophesied shaking to take place among the Advent people, we find the same parallel again.

The shaking predicted by the Lord through prophet Amos "I will sift the house of Israel" (Amos 9:9)- and through John the Baptist-"Whose fan is in His hand, and He will thoroughly purge His floor" (Matt. 3:12)-was fulfilled in the days of Christ and the apostles, as mentioned above. The Jews (leaders and people) who remained with the organization dropped out of the sieve. "We are repeating the history of that people." 5T 160.

1. Separation in the Mother Church

"Those who love Jesus and the souls for whom He has died will follow after the things which make for peace. But they must take care lest in their efforts to prevent discord, they surrender truth; lest in warding off division, they sacrifice principle. True brotherhood can never be maintained by compromising principle.... That peace and harmony which are secured by mutual concessions to avoid all differences of opinion are not worthy of the name." RH Jan. 16, 1900.

"Our work is soon to close, and we are now to place ourselves in working order in God's way. We are not to link ourselves up with those who are not wise to discern what is the will of God. We are to come out from among them, and be separate." Sp T, Series B, No. 3, 3rd edition, p. 44.

"In these last days, there are arising strange fallacies and man-made theories which God declares shall be broken in pieces. [Isa. 8:11-16 quoted.]

"In this representation of the prophets, we see that Satan is at work, not only with worldlings, who have not the fear and love of God before them, but also with those who profess faith in Christ. Here are plainly represented two distinct parties, formed from a company that was once united. The members of one of these parties are in resistance to the will of God. They have taken themselves from the side of the loyal and true, and are now resisting the warnings of the Spirit of God. To the obedient the Lord will be for a sanctuary; but for a stone of stumbling and for a rock of offense to both houses of Israel, for a gin and for a snare to the inhabitants of Jerusalem. Every professed believer in Christ will be tempted by Satan. 'And many among them shall stumble and fall, and be broken, and be snared (mark that word), and be taken.' Notwithstanding all their knowledge of the Word of God, all their light, and their position as expositors of Bible truth, many shall 'stumble, and fall, and be broken and be snared, and be taken. The ruin of this class is certain. Then the charge is given, 'Bind up the testimony, seal the law among my disciples.' [Isa. 8:17-20 quoted ]

"This warning is given for the days in which we are now living. Read carefully the third chapter of second Timothy. This chapter refers to many (spoken of by Isaiah) who have departed from the faith." RH July 18, 1907.

"The time will come when it must be said of the impenitent, 'Ephraim is joined to his idols; let him alone.' Will the church see where she has fallen?" RH Dec. 23, 1890.

"O that all might repent and do their first works. When the churches do this, they will love God supremely and their neighbors as themselves. Ephraim will not envy Judah, and Judah will not vex Ephraim. Divisions will then be healed, the harsh sounds of strife will no more be heard in the borders of Israel." 1SM 385.

It is clear from this last statement that this phase of the shaking takes place before the sealing of the living saints, before the closing of the work, and before it is too late for a change (repentance and conversion). This shaking, therefore, happens before the Sunday decree/final test. And it is also clear that this shaking does not shake the unconverted ones out of the church; it rather divides the church into two distinct parties.

In this statement (1SM 385) the use of the conjunction "when" is clearly a condition. Very often, Sister White uses "when" and "if" interchangeably. This is not a prediction of what is necessarily going to happen. It does not say that both houses of Israel will finally be reconciled with each other. It only shows what would happen if the Adventist Church actually decided to change her course (5T 217). It is like the declaration of Paul showing what would happen to the Jewish people if they actually decided to accept Christ (Rom. 11:17-29). But mark the condition in verse 23-"if."

The Spirit of Prophecy points out several causes for the shaking, which will be considered hereunder.

 

a) Rejection of God's messages.

Messages based on Isaiah 58:1 and Revelation 3:18, 19 would come to the Advent people. The angel (or ministry) of Laodicea is the addressee of the Laodicean message; therefore, someone else must be the bearer of this message. E. G. White says:

"The Lord will raise up men to bear the message of truth to the world and to His people. If those in responsible positions do not move onward in the opening providences of God, bearing an appropriate message for this time, the words of warning will be given to others who will be faithful to their trust. Even youthful Christians will be chosen to 'cry aloud and spare not."' Testimonies on Sabbath School Work, p. 46.

"The fifty-eighth chapter of Isaiah should be studied carefully and prayerfully. Here God's messengers are given a direct, forcible message: 'Cry aloud, spare not, lift up thy voice like a trumpet, and show my people their transgression, and the house of Jacob their sins.' It is to church-members that this message is to be given, to those who suppose that they are righteous, who take delight in approaching to God.... The people described in this chapter realize that they have not the favor of God; but instead of seeking His favor in His own way, they enter into a controversy with Him. Why, they ask, since we observe many ceremonies, does the Lord not give us special recognition? . . . The fasts ob served by these worshipers are a mere pretense, a mockery of humility. They retain all their objectionable traits of character. Their hearts are not cleansed from defilement. They have not received the softening showers of the grace of God. They are destitute of the Holy Spirit, destitute of the sweetness of its in fluence. They manifest no repentance, no faith that works by love.... The Lord sends them a message of positive reproof, showing plainly why they are not visited by His grace.... Will they accept this reproof, and pray for true repentance? Will they put away their sins and ask for pardon? Will they bring the atmosphere of heaven into their families, and into their association with their fellow men? . . . A message of eternal importance is to be borne to those nigh and to those afar off. Let God's messengers form no confederacy with those who, after hearing the message, refuse to search the Scriptures to see whether or not these things are so. God's servants are to deal with evil as He has directed." RH June 25, 1901.

"Of those who are constantly working to undermine faith in the message God is sending to His people, I am instructed to say, 'Come out from among them, and be ye separate.' Come into the light, brethren, and lead others to the Way, the Truth, and the Life. Those who in faith accept the leadings of the Spirit of God will see where their dangers lie, and will make decided moves in the right direction." RH July 23, 1908.

"There is to be a shaking among God's people.... It will be the result of refusing the truth presented." 2SM 13.

"I asked the meaning of the shaking I had seen and was shown that it would be caused by the straight testimony called forth by the counsel of the True Witness to the Laodiceans." EW 270.

The Laodicean message-which "is designed to arouse the people of God, to discover to them their backslidings, and to lead to zealous repentance, that they may be favored with the presence of Jesus, and be fitted for the loud cry of the third angel" (lT 186)-divides the Advent people into two separate companies.

If the message had been properly heeded during the early days of the church, it would have shaken out the unfaithful believers. But now that these have taken over in such a great pro portion that "not one in twenty whose names are registered upon the church are prepared" (ChS 41), the message is powerless to remove the unconverted majority from the mother church, as we read in 5T 209-213 (quoted before). So, the only other alternative now is to follow the advice of the Spirit of Prophecy and "come out from among them." This means that, before the seal of God can be received, the faithful few must leave the mother church with "all the abominations" for which she is accountable (3T 267). This is how, in our understanding, the prophesied shaking (which is a lengthy process) has been going on for years.

In connection with the prophesied shaking, the time element is very important. A shaking caused by the rejection of the counsel of the True Witness (Rev. 3:18, 19), which is to bring a genuine preparation (lT 186, 187), could not come under the lat ter rain, or under the final test (caused by the Sunday-decree), because then "it will be too late for the soul's need to be sup plied" (COL 412). The message to Laodicea (Rev. 3:18, 19), which produces a shaking and a reformation, must do its work before the latter rain is poured out. (Read EW 71; 3T 270.)

 

b) Wavering in connection with the law of God.

In the light of the law of God (lT 361}, participation in the military service, especially in time of war, has a lot to do with the prophesied separation. Therefore, this is one of those points that should be discussed within the overall prophetic setting, which includes the shaking and its causes. In the absence of the prophetic scenery, it is a rather difficult task to examine a controverted topic that affects the law of God. Just imagine, by way of comparison, how difficult it would be to study the function of an essential part isolated from a machine which is not available for inspection.

As a church we stand or fall according as we prove to be faithful or unfaithful toward the law of God. E. G. White writes: "Thus we acknowledge God and recognize His law, the foundation of His government in heaven and throughout His earthly dominions. His authority should be kept distinct and plain before the world, and no laws are to be acknowledged that come in collision with the laws of Jehovah. If in defiance of God's arrangements the world be allowed to influence our decisions or our actions, the purpose of God is defeated. However specious the pretext, if the church waver here, there is written against her in the books of heaven a betrayal of the most sacred trusts, and treachery to the kingdom of Christ." TM 16, 17.

The law of God is an instrument which unites the true believers on the one hand and separates true believers from professed believers on the other hand. Therefore: "As trials thicken around us, both separation and unity will be seen in our ranks." 6T 400. The servant of the Lord says:

"The law of God, which is perfect holiness, is the only true standard of character." SD 51. "His law is truth." ML 100.

In a time of crisis, when our faithfulness to the law of God is tested, this is what happens:

"Truth dwelling in the hearts of believers will lead to blessed

and happy assimilation.... The pure and the base metal are now so mingled that only the discerning eye of the infinite God can with certainty distinguish between them. But the moral magnet of holiness and truth will attract together the pure metal, while it will repel the base and counterfeit." 5T 101.

"Soon God's people will be tested by fiery trials, and the great proportion of those who now appear to be genuine and true will prove to be base metal. Instead of being strengthened and confirmed by opposition, threats, and abuse, they will cowardly take the side of the opposers.... Now is the time for God's people to show themselves true to principle. When the religion of Christ is most held in contempt, when His law is most despised, then should our zeal be the warmest and our courage and firmness the most unflinching. To stand in defense of truth and righteousness when the majority forsake us, to fight the battles of the Lord when champions are few-this will be our test." 5T 136.

"When the law of God is made void, the church will be sifted by fiery trials, and a larger proportion than we now anticipate will give heed to seducing spirits and doctrines of devils." Ev 361.

These prophetic declarations seem to indicate a process of trials which are to extend over a long period of time culminating in the final test. The church must experience persecution and separation repeatedly as she faces increasing tests in connection with the law of God. The Sunday-decree/final test will be the "last act in the drama" (7T 141). The previous acts, all along the development of the drama, distinguish two classes of Adventists who will be diametrically opposed to each other when the final test is brought under the mark of the beast. The Spirit of Prophecy says:

"The authorities will make laws to restrict religious liberty. They will assume the right that is God's alone. They will think they can force the conscience, which God alone should control. Even now they are making a beginning; this work they will continue to carry forward till they reach a boundary over which they cannot step. God will interpose in behalf of His loyal, commandment-keeping people." DA 630.

"I was pointed to the providence of God among His people and was shown that every trial made by the refining, purifying process upon professed Christians proves some to be dross. The fine gold does not always appear. In every religious crisis some fall under temptation. The shaking of God blows away multitudes like dry leaves.... When tribulation or persecution arises be cause of the word, many are offended." 4T 89.

"On every occasion when persecution takes place, those who witness it make decisions either for Christ or against Him.... Many stumble and fall, apostatizing from the faith they once advocated." DA 630.

"The two armies will stand distinct and separate, and this distinction will be so marked that many who shall be convinced of the truth will come on the side of God's commandment-keeping people. When this grand work is to take place in the battle, prior to the last closing conflict, many will be imprisoned, many will flee for their lives from cities and towns, and many will be martyrs for Christ's sake in standing in defense of the truth." 3SM 397 [emphasis supplied].

This is what happens under the preliminary acts, while the final act of the drama is approaching little by little. Here is the experience of the two classes of Adventists in successive stages, until the last act is reached:

"As the storm approaches, a large class who have professed faith in the third angel's message, but have not been sanctified through obedience to the truth, abandon their position and join the ranks of the opposition. By uniting with the world and par taking of its spirit, they have come to view matters in nearly the same light; and when the test is brought, they are prepared to choose the easy, popular side. Men of talent and pleasing address, who once rejoiced in the truth, employ their powers to deceive and mislead souls. They become the most bitter enemies of their former brethren." GC 608.

While the unfaithful members represent a minority in the church, they are shaken out of the organization. But let a crisis come when the disloyal brethren have become the vast majority, as we read in ChS 41 (quoted before}, and they will yield to the demands of the world, acting contrary to the law of God, and still remain in the church, and hold control, as though nothing extraordinary had happened. They cannot even see where they have gone wrong. The testimony of history (GC 45, 51, 64, 376; DA 232), along with logical thinking, does not say that denominational apostasy leads the greater number of backslidden leaders and members to dissolve the church or just walk out and leave the organization for the small remnant of true followers of Christ. On the contrary, it is the faithful few that are forced to leave the church if they "sigh and cry" too loud.

 

c) Unity with the world.

Unity between the church and the world, whereby the church is becoming "a cage of every unclean and hateful bird" (TM 265}, is one of the causes of the shaking. E. G. White writes:

There are those who have so linked themselves with the world that they have lost the knowledge of God, and are departing from the faith.... Those who have been trying to quench their thirst at broken cisterns, which can hold no water, will have a misleading message to proclaim. They will speak smooth things.... Many who have known the truth, but who have not nourished its principles in their hearts, will become leavened with evil. This evil they do not discern. In word and act they say, 'Speak unto us smooth things, prophesy deceptions.' We are now to call things by their right name. No longer are we to look upon unrighteousness as righteousness. Let every one be prepared to lift up the standard of truth. We are to have no fellowship with the worldly practises that have perverted the faith of some who have enjoyed great privileges and who should now be standing on vantage ground. We are to respond to God's call to take a decided stand for truth and righteousness. No longer are we to bind up with worldly elements." Sp T, Series B, No. 6, pp. 62-64.

"Our greatest trials will come because of that class who have once advocated the truth, but who turn from it to the world, and trample it under their feet in hate and derision.... We are to resist their spirit and influence with the same weapon our Master used when assailed by the prince of darkness-'It is writ ten."' RH Sept. 15, 1910.

Genuine conversion, which we need before the outpouring of the latter rain (Acts 3:19}, involves a breaking away from all worldly influences that have been introduced into the church. E. G. White writes:

"The Lord has faithful servants, who in the shaking, testing time will be disclosed to view....

"When trees without fruit are cut down as cumberers of the ground, when multitudes of false brethren are distinguished from the true, then the hidden ones will be revealed to view, and with hosannas range under the banner of Christ. Those who have been timid and self-distrustful will declare them selves openly for Christ and His truth.... When the overflowing scourge shall pass through the earth, when the fan is purging Jehovah's floor, God will be the help of His people.... The separation causes pain and bitterness to both parties. It is the variance which Christ declares that He came to bring. But the converted will feel a continual longing desire that their friends shall forsake all for Christ, knowing that, unless they do, there will be a final and eternal separation." 5T 80-83.

Here we have another evidence that the shaking is to begin while there is still time for a change. While the process of separation is going on, the unconverted ones still have a chance to be converted. This will not be possible under the latter rain (1T 619) or under the final test (COL 412), when it will be too late to start a work of revival and reformation.

 

d) Introduction of false teachings.

"Science, falsely so-called, is wearing away the foundation of Christian principle; and those who once were in the faith drift away from the Bible landmarks, and divorce themselves from God, while still claiming to be His children." Ev 362.

"Satan hopes to involve the remnant people of God in the general ruin that is coming upon the earth. As the coming of Christ draws nigh, he will be more determined and decisive in his efforts to overthrow them. Men and women will arise professing to have some new light or some new revelation whose tendency is to unsettle faith in the old landmarks. Their doctrines will not bear the test of God's word, yet souls will be deceived." 5T 295.

"From that which the Lord has been pleased to show me, there will arise just such ones all along, and many more of them, claiming to have new light, which is a side issue, an entering wedge. The widening will increase until there is a breach made between those who accept these views and those who believe the third angel's message." 3SM 409.

"God will arouse His people; if other means fail, heresies will come in among them, which will sift them, separating the chaff from the wheat." GW 299.

"When the shaking comes, by the introduction of false theories, these surface readers, anchored nowhere, are like shifting sand." TM 112.

"Instruction has been given, warning our people against uniting in the least degree with those who advocate false theories." Sp T, Series B, No. 17, p. 29.

"We have a testing message to give, and I am instructed to say to our people, 'Unify, unify.' But we are not to unify with those who are departing from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits and doctrines of devils. With our hearts sweet and kind and true, we are to go forth to proclaim the message, giving no heed to those who lead away from the truth." 3SM 412.

 

e) Health Reform.

"Every duty that calls for reform involves repentance, faith, and obedience. It means the uplifting of the soul to a new and nobler life. Thus every true reform has its place in the work of the third angel's message. Especially does the temperance reform demand our attention and support....

"If the work of temperance were carried forward by us as it was begun thirty years ago; if at our camp meetings we presented before the people the evils of intemperance in eating and drinking, and especially the evil of liquor drinking; if these things were presented in connection with the evidences of Christ's soon coming, there would be a shaking among the people." 6T 110, 111.

"If church members do not act the part God has assigned them, the movement of health reform will go on without them, and it will be seen that God has removed their candlestick out of its place." MS 78, l900.

f) Involvement in ecumenism.

In the prophetic background supplied at the beginning of our study, we saw that "through union with the world the church will become corrupt" [RH Feb. 26, 18951; that the members will be "acting after the manner of the world" (5T 210); that they will be found "uniting with the world and partaking of its spirit" {GC 608); that all the abominations done "in the church" (3T 2671 will cause some to sigh and cry until the close of probation. Of this multitude of Advent believers, the Spirit of Prophecy says:

"When those who are uniting with the world, yet claiming great purity, plead for union with those who have ever been the opposers of the cause of truth, we should fear and shun them as decidedly as did Nehemiah." PK 660.

"The Word of God . . . is to be our defense when Satan works with such lying wonders that, if it were possible, he would deceive the very elect. It is then that those who have not stood firmly for the truth will unite with the unbelieving, who love and make a lie. When these wonders are performed, when the sick are healed and other marvels are wrought, they will be deceived." 3SM 407, 408.

"The warnings that worldly conformity has silenced or with held must be given under the fiercest opposition from enemies of the faith. And at that time the superficial, conservative class, whose influence has steadily retarded the progress of the work, will renounce the faith and take their stand with its avowed enemies, toward whom their sympathies have long been tending. These apostates will then manifest the most bitter enmity, doing all in their power to oppress and malign their former brethren and to excite indignation against them." 5T 463.

"When the Saviour saw in the Jewish people a nation divorced from God, He saw also a professed Christian church united to the world and the papacy." RH October 8, 1901.

2. Separation in the Remnant Church

We already know that the sifting predicted by John the Baptist was fulfilled in three stages: (1) separation in the Jewish church when the remnant church was organized; (2) then separation in the remnant church (among the disciples of Christ); (3) and then another separation in the Jewish church. With reference to the second phase (separation among the disciples), the Spirit of Prophecy says:

"By the public rebuke of their unbelief these disciples were still further alienated from Jesus. They were greatly displeased, and wishing to wound the Saviour and gratify the malice of the Pharisees, they turned their backs upon Him, and left Him with disdain. They had made their choice had taken the form with out the spirit, the husk without the kernel. Their decision was never afterward reversed; for they walked no more with Jesus." DA 392.

"'Whose fan is in His hand, and He will throughly purge His floor, and gather His wheat into the garner.' Matt. 3:12. This was one of the times of purging. By the words of truth, the chaff was being separated from the wheat. Because they were too vain and self-righteous to receive reproof, too world-loving to accept a life of humility, many turned away from Jesus." DA 392.

History repeats itself. Today, the "small remnant" (5T 213) must also be sifted. Many prophecies in the writings of Sister White refer exclusively to the sifting of the "remnant church" (5T 472, 473).

While the mother church "has turned back from following Christ her Leader and is steadily retreating toward Egypt" (5T 217), a "small remnant" (5T 213), is walking on the heavenward road, which becomes more and more narrow as they "press on to the end." And there is a shaking in this little company all along the road. Sister White says:

"We then thought of those who had not accustomed them selves to privations and hardships. Where were such now? They were not in the company. At every change some were left be hind, and those only remained who had accustomed themselves to endure hardships." 2T 595.

This company also comes into view in EW 270, 271, where the shaking divides the Advent people. And what is their experience after they are separated from those who are opposed to the straight testimony of the True Witness? Sister White says:

"My attention was then turned to the company I had seen, who were mightily shaken.... The numbers of this company had lessened. Some had been shaken out and left by the way. The careless and indifferent, who did not join with those who prized victory and salvation enough to perseveringly plead and agonize for it, did not obtain it, and they were left behind in darkness, and their places were immediately filled by others taking hold of the truth and coming into the ranks. Evil angels still pressed around them, but could-have no power over them." EW 271.

Evidently, this victorious company is not identical with "the church-the Lord's sanctuary-[that] was the first to feel the stroke of the wrath of God" (5T 211). The two carry very distinctive descriptions. While the unfaithful believers remain in the mother church to the very end, unconverted members cannot remain in the little militant company. This is brought to our notice repeatedly. Let us consider a few more prophetic statements:

"The church will yet see troublous times. She will prophesy in sackcloth. But although she must meet heresies and persecutions, although she must battle with the infidel and the apostate, yet by the help of God she is bruising the head of Satan. The Lord will have a people as true as steel, and with faith as firm as the granite rock." 4T 594.

"The Lord will work so that the disaffected ones will be separated from the true and loyal ones." 3SM 422.

"The church may appear as about to fall, it does not fall. It remains, while the sinners in Zion will be sifted out-the chaff separated from the precious wheat. This is a terrible ordeal, but nevertheless it must take place. None but those who have been overcoming by the blood of the Lamb and the word of their testimony will be found with the loyal and true, without spot or stain of sin, without guile in their mouths." 2SM 380.

The descriptions of the two churches are so distinctive that we would be guilty of an unnecessary and inexcusable contradiction if we tried to apply to the mother church certain prophecies which refer specifically to the remnant church. For example:

While "through union with the world" the mother church is becoming "a cage of every unclean and hateful bird" (RH Feb. 26, 1895; TM 265), so that she will be full of abominations when God's wrath is to be manifested in the outpouring of the plagues (3T 267; 5T 211), the remnant church "will appear 'fair as the moon, clear as the sun, and terrible as an army with banners"'

(5T 82).

While the mother church will be the first target of God's wrath (5T 211), the remnant church will be protected from the wrath of God (PK 727, 728).

While the mother church is served by an unfaithful ministry to the very end (5T 211, 212), the remnant church will have a faithful ministry:

"Those who have proved themselves unfaithful will not then be entrusted with the flock. In the last solemn work few great men will be engaged.... The Lord has faithful servants, who in the shaking, testing time will be disclosed to view." 5T 80.

"The great issue so near at hand will weed out those whom God has not appointed and He will have a pure, true, sanctified ministry prepared for the latter rain." 3SM 385.

3. Final Separation in the Mother Church

The prophesied sifting will be completed when the last faithful soul comes out of the mother church ("the Lord's sanctuary") before the stroke of the wrath of God is felt. If the call to the true followers of Christ in Babylon is-"Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues" (Rev. 18:4)-then it stands to reason that refuge from the plagues cannot be found in the mother church, which will be the first target of the plagues (5T 211). If Christ has faithful followers in Babylon until shortly before the door of probation is closed (GC 390), He will certainly have them also in the mother church-sighing and crying for all the abominations that are done therein (3T 267). However, while we have no controversy with these faithful ones, but feel that we are one with them in spirit, we cannot, under the circumstances considered in this study, join the mother church with the excuse that "we also want to sigh and cry inside that church." For us, this would be as inexcusable as joining one of the fallen churches with the pretext that "we also want to be Christ's true followers in Babylon" (GC 390). Our peculiar convictions, our experience, and our position, would not even make us acceptable for fellowship in the mother church. We hope to be in close fellowship with the sighing and crying ones when they come out of the mother church. And this last separation is also prophesied. Sister White writes:

"The casting of the net is the preaching of the gospel. This gathers both good and evil into the church....

"Both the parable of the tares and that of the net plainly teach that there is no time when all the wicked will turn to God. The wheat and the tares grow together until the harvest. The good and the bad fish are together drawn ashore for a final separation.

"Again, these parables teach that there is to be no probation after the judgment. When the work of the gospel is completed, there immediately follows the separation between the good and the evil, and the destiny of each class is forever fixed." COL 122, I 23.

This separation which is the final stage of the shaking pro cess takes place under the final test caused by the mark of the beast, immediately before the door of probation is closed.

"In this time the gold will be separated from the dross in the church." 5T 81.

'When the day comes when the law of God is made void, and the church is sifted by the fiery trials that are to try all that live upon the earth, a great proportion of those who are supposed to be genuine will give heed to seducing spirits, and will turn traitors and betray sacred trusts. They will prove our very worst persecutors." 6BC 1065.

Concerning the persecuted minority, the "small remnant" (5T 213), Sister White says, in continuation:

"Those who have lived on the flesh and blood of the Son of God His Holy Word will be strengthened, rooted, and grounded in the faith. They will see increased evidence why they should prize and obey the Word of God. With David, they will say, 'They have made void thy law. Therefore love I thy commandments above gold; yea, above fine gold.' While others count them dross, they will arise to defend the faith." 6BC 1065.

Under the latter rain and the final test, there will be a great shaking. This was shown to Sister White in a vision. She says:

"I saw that God has honest children among the nominal Adventists and the fallen churches, and before the plagues shall be poured out, ministers and people will be called out from these churches and will gladly receive the truth.... The light will shine, and all who are honest will leave the fallen churches, and take their stand with the remnant." EW 261.

In the early days of the third angel's message, the First-day Adventists were referred to as "nominal Adventists." But, with the lapse of time, great changes have occurred. And a title which was at one time applied to one group may now be applicable, with more propriety, to another group. Example: In the days of the apostles, the "synagogue of Satan" was the Jewish church (Rev. 3:9). During the proclamation of the threefold message, this title is used to designate the confederacy of Satan's churches (TM 16). And, after the close of probation, the same title applies also to the multitude of fallen Adventists (compare A Word to the Little Flock, p. 12 with EW 15). In the light of this example, we think that, in the end, the mother church under God's wrath (5T 211), which is distinct from the "small remnant" with the seal of God (5T 213), must fit under the title of "nominal Adventists," because the only other alternative for her in EW 261 would be to stand under the title of "fallen churches."

 

IV-RESUME

There can be no doubt that the truth revealed to Seventh-day Adventists, in the threefold message, is the truth for today. The many doctrines that make up this truth, "with Christ as the living center," are "as firm and immovable as the throne of God" ( 2SM 87).

"The faith and feelings of men may change; but the truth of God, never. The third angel's message is sounding; it is infallible." 4T 595.

This is the message we love, cherish and strongly defend.

There are, nevertheless, more and more sincere Adventists disagreeing with the policies of the SDA Church. Individuals and offshoots who have adopted new doctrinal ideas are not meant here, but the many thousands of believers, both inside and outside the denomination, who support the original doctrines as revealed through the pioneers and the Spirit of Prophecy, but cannot agree with the modern practices of the church. It is evident that the works of the church, condemned by the True Witness (Rev. 3:15), do not correspond to her profession. Elder C. J. Ritchie, an SDA Bible scholar, describes the whole problem in a few words: "Lukewarmness [is] displeasing to God. We will be rejected if we do not change.... Our condition [is] one of self-deception. We have the truth but are in a poor spiritual condition. We have great light but do not walk in it."-study Outlines, p. 7 (published by the author). This is why so many lose their confidence in the church. And, as the result of this difficult situation, two divergent tendencies divide the Adventist people into two distinct classes of believers with widely differing attitudes. Old-fashioned Adventists, who take a firm stand on principle, believe that, eventually, while the church remains unreformed, only a small remnant will be saved. And the Spirit of Prophecy clearly delineates the distinctions between "the church" and "the remnant."

In the earlier writings of Sister White it is clear from the context that the remnant spoken of are the faithful few from the Philadelphian period (sixth church) that accepted the third angel's message.

Then, later, the context makes it evident that the writer is referring to the same remnant as in Revelation 12:17.

With the progress of the seventh prophetic church period and the development of the Laodicean church, it is obvious from the context that in many instances the term "remnant" can refer to none other than a "little company" distinguished from the mother church. If the declarations concerning one are applied to the other, only confusion will result.

The Spirt of Prophecy (3T 267; 5T 209-213, 524) proves wrong the teaching that in the end "the faithful remnant" is "the church" itself, which, they say, will be purified by the removal of sin and sinners. There is no such thing. The apostatized majority do not leave the church; they remain, and, as a matter of fact, they themselves are "the church," which becomes more and more corrupt, until they-as an organized church-receive the stroke of God's wrath.

The Jews made a great mistake by failing to see the distinction between the prophecies referring to the first coming of the Messiah and those alluding to His second appearing. Some time ago a religious Jew told us that he cannot believe that Jesus Christ is the true Messiah, because, he said, it is written that when the Messiah comes there will be no more wars (Zech. 9:10), and this condition has not been fulfilled until today. When we told him that his interpretation is true in connection with the second coming of the Messiah, he was surprised to see that, based on the prophecies of the Old Testament, we find a distinction between the first and the second advent of Christ.

As Satan was successful with the Jews, so he has had success with the Protestant denominations, leading them to confuse the moral law with the ceremonial law, and to say that there was only one law, which was nailed to the cross.

Should Adventists make a similar mistake by ignoring the clear distinction between "the church" and "the remnant church"? Of those who profess to believe the threefold message of Revelation 14, only a small number will be saved (lT 608; 2T 445). Together with "the great body of Christ's true followers" who are still to come out of Babylon (GC 390), the "living saints," at the coming of Christ, will be only "144,000 in number" (EW 15). Therefore: "Let us strive with all the power that God has given us to be among the hundred and forty-four thousand." 7BC 970.