Chapter 4—God's Last Day Church
God's People Keep His Commandments
God has a church on earth who are lifting up the downtrodden law, and presenting to the world the Lamb of God that taketh away the sins of the world....There is but one church in the world who are at the present time standing in the breach and making up the hedge, building up the old waste places....
Let all be careful not to make an outcry against the only people who are fulfilling the description given of the remnant people, who keep the commandments of God and have faith in Jesus.... God has a distinct people, a church on earth, second to none, but superior to all in their facilities to teach the truth, to vindicate the law of God.... My brother, if you are teaching that the Seventh-day Adventist Church is Babylon, you are wrong.—The book of Revelation focuses on two sets of God's people—the visible remnant (] ) and “My people” in Babylon ( ). This chapter deals with the former, and chapter 14, “The Loud Cry,” deals with the latter., . [
They Have the Testimony of Jesus
As the end draws near and the work of giving the last warning to the world extends, it becomes more important for those who accept present truth to have a clear understanding of the nature and influence of the testimonies, which God in His providence has linked with the work of the third angel's message from its very rise.—.
Men may get up scheme after scheme and the enemy will seek to seduce souls from the truth, but all who believe that the Lord has spoken through Sister White and has given her a message will be safe from the many delusions that will come in these last days.—.
There will be those who will claim to have visions. When God gives you clear evidence that the vision is from Him, you may accept it, but do not accept it on any other evidence, for people are going to be led more and more astray in foreign countries and in America.—.
Their “Landmark” Biblical Doctrines
The passing of the time in 1844 was a period of great events, opening to our astonished eyes the cleansing of the sanctuary transpiring in heaven, and having decided relation to God's people upon the earth, [also] the first and second angels’ messages and the third, unfurling the banner on which was inscribed, “The commandments of God and the faith of Jesus.” One of the landmarks under this message was the temple of God, seen by His truth-loving people in heaven, and the ark containing the law of God. The light of the Sabbath of the fourth commandment flashed its strong rays in the pathway of the transgressors of God's law. The nonimmortality of the wicked is an old landmark. I can call to mind nothing more that can come under the head of the old landmarks.—Counsels to Writers and Editors, 30, 31 (1889).
The Distinctive Mission of Seventh-day Adventists
The Lord has made us the depositaries of His law; He has committed to us sacred and eternal truth, which is to be given to others in faithful warnings, reproofs, and encouragement.—Testimonies for the Church 5:381 (1885).Seventh-day Adventists have been chosen by God as a peculiar people, separate from the world. By the great cleaver of truth He has cut them out from the quarry of the world and brought them into connection with Himself. He has made them His representatives and has called them to be ambassadors for Him in the last work of salvation. The greatest wealth of truth ever entrusted to mortals, the most solemn and fearful warnings ever sent by God to man, have been committed to them to be given to the world.—Testimonies for the Church 7:138 (1902).In a special sense Seventh-day Adventists have been set in the world as watchmen and light bearers. To them has been entrusted the last warning for a perishing world. On them is shining wonderful light from the Word of God. They have been given a work of the most solemn import—the proclamation of the first, second, and third angels’ messages. There is no other work of so great importance. They are to allow nothing else to absorb their attention.—Testimonies for the Church 9:19 (1909).
Reasons Why the Seventh-day Adventist Church Was Organized
As our numbers increased it was evident that without some form of organization there would be great confusion, and the work would not be carried forward successfully. To provide for the support of the ministry, for carrying the work in new fields, for protecting both the churches and the ministry from unworthy members, for holding church property, for the publication of the truth through the press, and for many other objects, organization was indispensable....
Light was given by His Spirit that there must be order and thorough discipline in the church—that organization was essential. System and order are manifest in all the works of God throughout the universe. Order is the law of heaven, and it should be the law of God's people on the earth.— .
Organization Will Always Be Essential
Unless the churches are so organized that they can carry out and enforce order, they have nothing to hope for in the future.—Testimonies For The Church 1:270 (1862).Oh, how Satan would rejoice if he could succeed in his efforts to get in among this people and disorganize the work at a time when thorough organization is essential and will be the greatest power to keep out spurious uprisings and to refute claims not endorsed by the Word of God! We want to hold the lines evenly, that there shall be no breaking down of the system of organization and order that has been built up by wise, careful labor. License must not be given to disorderly elements that desire to control the work at this time.Some have advanced the thought that, as we near the close of time, every child of God will act independently of any religious organization. But I have been instructed by the Lord that in this work there is no such thing as every man's being independent. [From manuscript read before the delegates at the General Conference Session, Washington, D.C., May 30, 1909.]—Testimonies for the Church 9:257, 258 (1909).As we near the final crisis, instead of feeling that there is less need of order and harmony of action, we should be more systematic than heretofore.—Selected Messages 3:26 (1892).
The Special Authority of God's Church
God has invested His church with special authority and power which no one can be justified in disregarding and despising, for in so doing he despises the voice of God.—.
God has bestowed the highest power under heaven upon His church. It is the voice of God in His united people in church capacity which is to be respected.—.
A Time of Spiritual Weakness and Blindness
I was confirmed in all I had stated in Minneapolis, that a reformation must go through the churches. Reforms must be made, for spiritual weakness and blindness were upon the people who had been blessed with great light and precious opportunities and privileges. As reformers they had come out of the denominational churches, but they now act a part similar to that which the churches acted. We hoped that there would not be the necessity for another coming out. [This is the only known statement from the pen of Ellen White indicating that she might have lost confidence in the Seventh-day Adventist Church organization. The doubt which she expressed here was never repeated during the remaining twenty-six years of her life.] While we will endeavor to keep the “unity of the Spirit” in the bonds of peace, we will not with pen or voice cease to protest against bigotry.— .
Of those who boast of their light and yet fail to walk in it Christ says, “But I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the day of judgment than for you. And thou, Capernaum [Seventh-day Adventists, who have had great light], which art exalted unto heaven [in point of privilege], shalt be brought down to hell: for if the mighty works which have been done in thee had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day.”—The bracketed comments are by Ellen White.]. [
The church is in the Laodicean state. The presence of God is not in her midst.—.
Abuse of Power at Church Headquarters
The General Conference is itself becoming corrupted with wrong sentiments and principles....
Men have taken unfair advantage of those whom they supposed to be under their jurisdiction. They were determined to bring the individuals to their terms; they would rule or ruin....
The high-handed power that has been developed, as though position has made men gods, makes me afraid, and ought to cause fear. It is a curse wherever and by whomsoever it is exercised.—.
There are altogether too many weighty responsibilities given to a few men, and some do not make God their Counselor. What do these men know of the necessities of the work in foreign countries? How can they know how to decide the questions which come to them asking for information? It would require three months for those in foreign countries to receive a response to their questions, even if there was no delay in writing.—.
Those living in distant countries will not do that which their judgment tells them is right unless they first send for permission to Battle Creek. Before they will advance they await Yes or No from that place.—.
It is not wise to choose one man as president of the General Conference. The work of the General Conference has extended, and some things have been made unnecessarily complicated. A want of discernment has been shown. There should be a division of the field, or some other plan should be devised to change the present order of things.—The Seventh-day Adventist Church was organized in 1863 with 3,500 members, half a dozen local conferences, about thirty ministerial laborers, and a General Conference Committee of three. The General Conference president was well able to provide the leadership and counsel required by such a small organization. He could personally attend every important meeting and in addition give personal attention to much of the business connected with the publishing work. However, by 1896 the work of the church had greatly expanded in the United States, and extended to Europe, Australia, and Africa as well. It was no longer possible for one man to give adequate supervision and direction to such a widespreading work. Ellen White urged a division of the field, so that our church members around the world would not look to just one man for counsel. This was accomplished by the creation of union conferences and world divisions.]. [
Unwise Leaders Do Not Speak for God]\
The voice from Battle Creek, which has been regarded as authority in counseling how the work should be done, is no longer the voice of God.—.
It has been some years since I have considered the General Conference as the voice of God.—.
That these men should stand in a sacred place, to be as the voice of God to the people, as we once believed the General Conference to be—that is past.—, p. 25.
A New Denomination Not Needed
You will take passages in the Testimonies that speak of the close of probation, of the shaking among God's people, and you will talk of a coming out from this people of a purer, holier people that will arise. Now all this pleases the enemy.... Should many accept the views you advance, and talk and act upon them, we would see one of the greatest fanatical excitements that has ever been witnessed among Seventh-day Adventists. This is what Satan wants.—.
The Lord has not given you a message to call the Seventh-day Adventists Babylon, and to call the people of God to come out of her. All the reasons you may present cannot have weight with me on this subject, because the Lord has given me decided light that is opposed to such a message....
I know that the Lord loves His church. It is not to be disorganized or broken up into independent atoms. There is not the least consistency in this; there is not the least evidence that such a thing will be.—.
I tell you, my brethren, the Lord has an organized body through whom He will work.... When anyone is drawing apart from the organized body of God's commandment-keeping people, when he begins to weigh the church in his human scales and begins to pronounce judgment against them, then you may know that God is not leading him. He is on the wrong track.—
God Will Set Everything in Order
There is no need to doubt, to be fearful that the work will not succeed. God is at the head of the work, and He will set everything in order. If matters need adjusting at the head of the work God will attend to that, and work to right every wrong. Let us have faith that God is going to carry the noble ship which bears the people of God safely into port.—.
Has God no living church? He has a church, but it is the church militant, not the church triumphant. We are sorry that there are defective members, that there are tares amid the wheat.... Although there are evils existing in the church, and will be until the end of the world, the church in these last days is to be the light of the world that is polluted and demoralized by sin. The church, enfeebled and defective, needing to be reproved, warned, and counseled, is the only object upon earth upon which Christ bestows His supreme regard.—.
The bulwarks of Satan will never triumph. Victory will attend the third angel's message. As the Captain of the Lord's host tore down the walls of Jericho, so will the Lord's commandment-keeping people triumph, and all opposing elements be defeated.—.
Distribution of Responsibility Urged
What we want now is a reorganization. We want to begin at the foundation, and to build upon a different principle....
Here are men who are standing at the head of our various institutions, of the educational interests, and of the conferences in different localities and in different States. All these are to stand as representative men, to have a voice in molding and fashioning the plans that shall be carried out. There are to be more than one or two or three men to consider the whole vast field. The work is great, and there is no one human mind that can plan for the work which needs to be done....
Now I want to say, God has not put any kingly power in our ranks to control this or that branch of the work. The work has been greatly restricted by the efforts to control it in every line.... There must be a renovation, a reorganization; a power and strength must be brought into the committees that are necessary.” [From Ellen White's opening address on April 2, 1901, to the General Conference Session in Battle Creek.]— , pp. 25, 26.
New Conferences must be formed. It was in the order of God that the Union conference was organized in Australasia.... It is not necessary to send thousands of miles to Battle Creek for advice, and then have to wait weeks for an answer. Those who are right on the ground are to decide what shall be done.—, pp. 69, 70.
The 1901 General Conference Session Responds
Who do you suppose has been among us since this Conference began? Who has kept away the objectionable features that generally appear in such a meeting? Who has walked up and down the aisles of this Tabernacle? The God of heaven and His angels. And they did not come here to tear you in pieces, but to give you right and peaceable minds. They have been among us to work the works of God, to keep back the powers of darkness, that the work God designed should be done should not be hindered. The angels of God have been working among us....
I was never more astonished in my life than at the turn things have taken at this meeting. This is not our work. God has brought it about. Instruction regarding this was presented to me, but until the sum was worked out at this meeting I could not comprehend this instruction. God's angels have been walking up and down in this congregation. I want every one of you to remember this, and I want you to remember also that God has said that He will heal the wounds of His people.—, pp. 463, 464.
During the General Conference the Lord wrought mightily for His people. Every time I think of that meeting, a sweet solemnity comes over me, and sends a glow of gratitude to my soul. We have seen the stately steppings of the Lord our Redeemer. We praise His holy name, for He has brought deliverance to His people.—.
It has been a necessity to organize union conferences, that the General Conference shall not exercise dictation over all the separate conferences. The power vested in the Conference is not to be centered in one man, or two men, or six men; there is to be a council of men over the separate divisions.—For further information regarding organizational changes made at the 1901 General Conference Session see the Seventh-day Adventist Encyclopedia (Vol. 10 of the Commentary Reference Series), Revised Edition, pp. 1050-1053.]. [
Confidence in SDA Organization Reaffirmed
We cannot now step off the foundation that God has established. We cannot now enter into any new organization, for this would mean apostasy from the truth.—
I am instructed to say to Seventh-day Adventists the world over, God has called us as a people to be a peculiar treasure unto Himself. He has appointed that His church on earth shall stand perfectly united in the Spirit and counsel of the Lord of hosts to the end of time.—.
At times, when a small group of men entrusted with the general management of the work have, in the name of the General Conference, sought to carry out unwise plans to restrict God's work, I have said that I could no longer regard the voice of the General Conference, represented by these few men, as the voice of God. But this is not saying that the decisions of a General Conference composed of an assembly of duly appointed, representative men from all parts of the field should not be respected.
God has ordained that the representatives of His church from all parts of the earth, when assembled in a General Conference, shall have authority. The error that some are in danger of committing is in giving to the mind and judgment of one man, or of a small group of men, the full measure of authority and influence that God has invested in His church in the judgment and voice of the General Conference assembled to plan for the prosperity and advancement of His work.—.
God has invested His church with special authority and power which no one can be justified in disregarding and despising, for he who does this despises the voice of God.—.
I am encouraged and blessed as I realize that the God of Israel is still guiding His people and that He will continue to be with them, even to the end.—From Ellen White's final message to the Seventh-day Adventist Church in General Conference Session. These reassuring words were read to the session by the General Conference president, A. G. Daniells, on May 27, 1913.]. [
A Statement by W. C. White
I told her [Mrs. Lida Scott] how Mother regarded the experience of the remnant church, and of her positive teaching that God would not permit this denomination to so fully apostatize that there would be the coming out of another church.—W. C. White to E. E. Andross, May 23, 1915, White Estate Correspondence File.
Spiritual Revival Still Needed
One day at noon I was writing of the work that might have been done at the last  General Conference if the men in positions of trust had followed the will and way of God. Those who have had great light have not walked in the light. The meeting was closed, and the break was not made. Men did not humble themselves before the Lord as they should have done, and the Holy Spirit was not imparted.I had written thus far when I lost consciousness, and I seemed to be witnessing a scene in Battle Creek.
We were assembled in the auditorium of the Tabernacle. Prayer was offered, a hymn was sung, and prayer was again offered. Most earnest supplication was made to God. The meeting was marked by the presence of the Holy Spirit....
No one seemed to be too proud to make heartfelt confession, and those who led in this work were the ones who had influence, but had not before had courage to confess their sins.
There was rejoicing such as never before had been heard in the Tabernacle.
Then I aroused from my unconsciousness, and for a while could not think where I was. My pen was still in my hand. The words were spoken to me: “This might have been. All this the Lord was waiting to do for His people. All heaven was waiting to be gracious.” I thought of where we might have been had thorough work been done at the last General Conference.— (January 5, 1903).
I have been deeply impressed by scenes that have recently passed before me in the night season. There seemed to be a great movement—a work of revival—going forward in many places. Our people were moving into line, responding to God's call.—From Ellen White's first message to the General Conference Session of 1913.]. [
The Patience of God With His People
The church has failed, sadly failed, to meet the expectations of her Redeemer, and yet the Lord does not withdraw Himself from His people. He bears with them still, not because of any goodness found in them, but that His name may not be dishonored before the enemies of truth and righteousness, that the satanic agencies may not triumph in the destruction of God's people. He has borne long with their waywardness, unbelief and folly. With wonderful forbearance and compassion He has disciplined them. If they will heed His instruction He will cleanse away their perverse tendencies, saving them with an everlasting salvation and making them eternal monuments of the power of His grace.—
We should remember that the church, enfeebled and defective though it be, is the only object on earth on which Christ bestows His supreme regard. He is constantly watching it with solicitude, and is strengthening it by His Holy Spirit.—.
God Works With Those Who Are Faithful to Him
The Lord Jesus will always have a chosen people to serve Him. When the Jewish people rejected Christ, the Prince of life, He took from them the kingdom of God and gave it unto the Gentiles. God will continue to work on this principle with every branch of His work.
When a church proves unfaithful to the word of the Lord, whatever their position may be, however high and sacred their calling, the Lord can no longer work with them. Others are then chosen to bear important responsibilities. But, if these in turn do not purify their lives from every wrong action, if they do not establish pure and holy principles in all their borders, then the Lord will grievously afflict and humble them and, unless they repent, will remove them from their place and make them a reproach.—.
Judged by the Light Bestowed
In the balances of the sanctuary the Seventh-day Adventist church is to be weighed. She will be judged by the privileges and advantages that she has had. If her spiritual experience does not correspond to the advantages that Christ, at infinite cost, has bestowed on her, if the blessings conferred have not qualified her to do the work entrusted to her, on her will be pronounced the sentence: “Found wanting.” By the light bestowed, the opportunities given, will she be judged....
Solemn admonitions of warning, manifest in the destruction of dearly cherished facilities [The Battle Creek Sanitarium, the largest and best-known Adventist institution in the world, burned to the ground February 18, 1902. this was followed by the destruction of the Review and Herald Publishing Association, also by fire, on December 30, 1902.] for service, say to us: “Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works” ( )....
Unless the church, which is now being leavened with her own backsliding, shall repent and be converted, she will eat of the fruit of her own doing, until she shall abhor herself. When she resists the evil and chooses the good, when she seeks God with all humility and reaches her high calling in Christ, standing on the platform of eternal truth and by faith laying hold upon the attainments prepared for her, she will be healed. She will appear in her God-given simplicity and purity, separate from earthly entanglements, showing that the truth has made her free indeed. Then her members will indeed be the chosen of God, His representatives.— (April 21, 1903).
Israel's History a Warning to Us
In these last days God's people will be exposed to the very same dangers as were ancient Israel. Those who will not receive the warnings that God gives will fall into the same perils as did ancient Israel and come short of entering into rest through unbelief. Ancient Israel suffered calamities on account of their unsanctified hearts and unsubmitted wills. Their final rejection as a nation was a result of their own unbelief, self-confidence, impenitence, blindness of mind, and hardness of heart. In their history we have a danger signal lifted before us.
“Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God.... For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast unto the end” ().— .
The Church Militant Is Imperfect
The church militant is not the church triumphant, and earth is not heaven. The church is composed of erring, imperfect men and women, who are but learners in the school of Christ, to be trained, disciplined, educated, for this life and for the future, immortal life.—
Some people seem to think that upon entering the church they will have their expectations fulfilled, and meet only with those who are pure and perfect. They are zealous in their faith, and when they see faults in church members, they say, “We left the world in order to have no association with evil characters, but the evil is here also;” and they ask, as did the servants in the parable, “From whence then hath it tares?” But we need not be thus disappointed, for the Lord has not warranted us in coming to the conclusion that the church is perfect; and all our zeal will not be successful in making the church militant as pure as the church triumphant.—.
The Church Triumphant Will Be Faithful and Christlike
The work is soon to close. The members of the church militant who have proved faithful will become the church triumphant.—
The life of Christ was a life charged with a divine message of the love of God, and He longed intensely to impart this love to others in rich measure. Compassion beamed from His countenance, and His conduct was characterized by grace, humility, truth, and love. Every member of His church militant must manifest the same qualities, if he would join the church triumphant.—.
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Jesus showed His disciples through His daily life how to maintain a connection with His Heavenly Father. What He taught them is also vitally important for us today. We pray that you are blessed by this short devotional sharing time with Elder Wilson.