I prayed earnestly about the matter of the 144,000, because Ellen White said that we should strive to be among them. I feel that God led me to data that secures beyond doubt that they are literal in number, 12,000 from each tribe etc., as well as being very different from the great multitude and the martyrs. I truly believe that only they (the 144,000) go into the temple on Mt. Zion, Early Writings, 19, and that they are Philadelphians who are made "pillars in the temple." Rev. 3:12. I believe this signifies leadership in the heavenly church of Hebrews 12:22, 23. In the antitypical Sanctuary in heaven, there has to be the high Priest, Jesus, and the lesser priests, whom I believe is His bride, the 144,000.
Then there is the matter about the 144,000 being translated without seeing death, Spiritual Gifts, vol. III, p. 26-7. If all Adventists are the 144,000, as sometimes implied by the leadership, they all would have to be leaders. (More on this below).
I believe that the bride is seated nearest the throne, and the martyrs (bridesmaidens) and guests are the second and third groups respectively, The Great Controversy, p. 665. Surely, Jesus would seat His bride next to Him on His throne!
Then there is the matter of the disciples being referred to as His bride, The Desire of Ages, 179. This, in context, refers specifically to the 12 disciples, and of course they were leaders. How will this part of the bride be translated without seeing death. I believe God has shown me that they (and the faithful bride of every generation) will be resurrected to give the loud cry. This will equate to the very stones crying out, because stones reduce to dust eventually. I believe that the qualification "without seeing death," refers to surviving the time of trouble without seeing death, and does not mean never having died. God has shown me that this is how folk in Ellen White's vision of some in a meeting (circa 1850's if I recall correctly) being reduced to food for worms (death), with others of the same group being alive when Christ comes.
Yet another example of the difference between the bride and her sons and daughters (Isa. 62) is found in Christ's Object Lessons, 405. There, the ten virgins are described as "lingering near the bride's house," not at it or in it. On page 406, it is the voice of God and the bride that awakens the ten (all ten slept) virgins. Clearly, the bride is different than the ten virgins.
Also, only the 144,000 sing the Song of Moses and the Lamb, and that song is one of victory, overcoming. In Revelation 7:1-8, it mentions the twelve different tribes comprising the 144,000, and then it says (verse 9):
"After this I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands...."
Then, in verses 14, 15, the 144,000 are described as before the throne serving God day and night IN HIS TEMPLE." Recall that Ellen White said that only the 144,000 go into the Temple on Mt. Zion, Early Writings, p. 19.
Then, Ellen White says that if guests, they cannot be the bride, and if the bride, they cannot be the guests, The Great Controversy, pp. 426-7. She says that the ten virgins represent the people of God, which I interpret as the laity "guests" and special bridesmaidens martyrs. They comprise group number 2 on P. 665 of the Great Controversy. Consider if you will Tom, that at your wedding, the bridesmaidens were not only guests, they were special guests. Neither were your wife's bridesmaids the bride! Ellen White says to let every word have its weight, interpreting so that nothing contradicts, and I'm trying, just trying.