GOD NOT BABYLON
by F. T.
to time, God has called His people to separate from an organization, which,
though originally called of Him, has fallen into deep apostasy. What God
does, Satan seeks to counter. Therefore, when God calls His children to
separate from those who are no longer His, Satan works very hard to prevent
where God is against separation, Satan is for it. God's reasons for His
children leaving the apostate churches are the same in every case, while
Satan never varies from the arguments he uses to prevent this. The enemy is
especially adept at using Scripture to achieve the opposite result from what
God intended it should. Therefore, it is necessary to understand the basic
principles involved in both God's and Satan's arguments in order to know what
the real truth is and to take the appropriate action.
This is a
study of those arguments and counter-arguments with special
to the way in which Paul used God's truth to meet Satan's errors.
has been prepared in response to numerous requests. It is intended to be a
specific answer to a specific problem. Only one particular problem will be
dealt with, thus leaving many phases of church relationships untouched. The
reader is asked to keep this in mind.
pages set forth a re-examination of statements which are being used to
justify unconditional continuation within a certain church organization. The
student would be wise to assume that the arguments herein could be valid,
substantial, and soul saving. Therefore, the wise course is to carefully
ascertain what the writer is actually saying before any evaluation is formed
or arguments in opposition are raised. It is a clever trick of Satan's to
build a straw man and then tear him apart, thereby missing the real issues
and leaving the vital truth untouched.
subject matter of this little paper is highly important. Some people would
not agree with this because they believe that it is not so critical where one's
loyalties are aligned; that it is possible to serve God just as well in one
organization as in another. But this cannot be, for if it were so, then why
has God repeatedly called His people to separate from church organizations
opposed to the pure principles of truth?
present situation is not new. The same issues, problems, and failings have
all been enacted and re-enacted in the past, with the same arguments and
counter-arguments being advanced in each re-run of the old story. The only
differences are the names of the actors, the geographical settings, and the
times in history. In each instance, both sides were sure they were right, but
they could not see, when they made their decisions, what the full outworking
of those choices would be.
It is here
that the records of history furnish the present generation with decided
advantages. It is possible to see the two sides of the question and to trace
the inevitable outworking of the respective positions taken. With great
clarity it will be seen that one position led unswervingly to separation from
God and the loss of eternal life while the other brought the opposite
drawn are the lessons of history that there is no excuse for any to stumble
in the wrong pathway at the present time. It is only necessary to trace from
cause to effect. When men in the past chose a particular course and followed
arguments justifying that decision, they ended up in a certain position.
Those who decided on the opposite choice, came to a different place altogether.
principles have not changed in the least. The same causes will still lead to
the same results, which are so critical as to involve the loss or gain of
eternal life. Therefore, it is essential that every professed child of God
learn the lessons of history and learn them well. Those who fail to do so
will be condemned to repeat the tragic errors of the past and suffer the same
principle which must become clearly established is that the many statements
in the Old Testament which speak about the perpetuity of Israel were never
designed to prove who Israel is, and that a particular body is going through
as God's church to the end. They are intended to show the ultimate triumph of
true Israel. Therefore, before the statements can be applied it
determined which is still the faithful company who number God's church at any
given time in history. First that church, that Israel, that Seventh-day
Adventist denomination, must be found and then the statements can be applied,
but not before.
his time, Paul was assailed by all the "proof" texts from the Old
Testament declaring that while the sun shone by day and the moon by night
Israel would still be God's people, he simply showed that there was more than
one Israel and that before the texts could be applied, it had to be
determined which of them was the one about whom the prophecies had been
written. He was on the correct pathway when he adopted this procedure.
Therefore, those who follow the same guidelines will be in a safe position
hoped that the reader will approach this paper with a thoughtful, prayerful
spirit, determined to learn the truth about who the church of God really is
today. It is hoped that all will escape the pit into which the Jews fell when
they believed in the unconditional continuation of their nation. The same
mistake was made by the Romanists in the Middle Ages and is being repeated by
the majority of Seventh-day Adventists today. It is a masterful device of the
devil. May you escape it.
the light and life of men was rejected by the ecclesiastical authorities in
the days of Christ, so it has been rejected in every succeeding generation.
Again and again the history of Christ's withdrawal from Judea has been
repeated. When the Reformers preached the word of God, they had no thought of
separating themselves from the established church; but the religious leaders
would not tolerate the light, and those that bore it were forced to seek
another class, who were longing for the truth. In our day few
professed followers of the Reformers are actuated by their spirit. Few are
listening for the voice of God, and ready to accept truth in whatever guise
it may be presented. Often those who follow in the steps of the Reformers are
forced to turn away from the churches they love, in order to declare the
plain teaching of the word of God. And many times those who are seeking for
light are by the same teaching obliged to leave the church of their fathers,
that they may render obedience." Desire of Ages, 232.
words are true, not exclusively of one time and situation in history, but in
every time and of every people. Wherever the same conditions exist, the same
course will be followed by those whom God has called to be His own. They will
find no choice but to separate from the decadent churches. It has always been
true that when such a move becomes necessary, there are those who will parade
what seem to be unanswerable Scriptural arguments condemning the separation.
Some will even go so far as to acknowledge that the reformers have the light
and the established church is in darkness, yet will still stay with "the
good old ship".
curious fact is that any people in any age are quick to recognize,
and apply the above principle when it is to their advantage, but utterly
deny, reject, and war against it if it is not to their favour. Thus the Jews
in Christ's day viewed with joy and pride any acquisition which came to them
from the heathen nations round about. They were indeed zealous missionaries
and were forever seeking to draw other peoples into the family of Israel.
This is evident from Christ's words when He said: ". . . ye compass sea
and land to make one proselyte, and when he is made, ye make him twofold more
the child of hell than yourselves." Matthew 23:15.
cheerfully accept the above statement when it told the
the heathen being forced to turn away from their own teachers to come and
learn from the Jews but when Christ came, who was the Truth then, they
fought with all the strength they had to prevent people from leaving the
hollow sham which was their message, to go to that which was the real and
only to study the history of the Reformation to find the same
as the Catholic church fought to keep her prisoners, and
situation is with us again as the churches fall into the sad pattern
question, the situation which existed in Christ's day and which was repeated
during the Reformation, imposed a severe test on the people who lived in
those periods. They had to make a difficult choice between the
security the long-established church organization appeared to
the seemingly fragile future of the infant movement led by Christ.
former, though it had buried the truth in mazes of speculative human
still commanded tremendous respect, while the latter appealed
those who desired the truth at any cost.
we look back, we marvel not only at how men could, as the
did, make the choice for the orthodox organization and against the
confidently feel that had we lived back then, we would without
have stood with Christ and the truth.
It is all
too easy to do this so far as the past is concerned, because, not only are we
not a part of the organization then involved, but we also see the
of the choice made by those men and women. Furthermore,
tend to be imprisoned in an identically intense loyalty to another
which we have been educated to believe is the called of God
beyond and besides which, there can be no other. This very attitude,
now, causes the mind to close against any consideration that we
mistaken, especially when it appears that the witness of God's
supports the concept we hold.
But we are
to understand that the tests imposed upon one generation are not confined to
it. They are common to every generation of men. Always the call is to choose
between established orthodoxy and the truth of God. So today this test has
come nearer home than we could ever have anticipated. Once again, the church
which was raised up, even as the Jews were, to proclaim the message of God,
has come down to the third and fourth generation. Evidence upon evidence
shows that a complex organizational structure has developed wherein the
authority of the church and its material prosperity are more important than
the clear proclamation of truth.
in the days of Christ and of the Reformers, the Lord has sent the living
message into the church. This message today is the one that was given in 1888
through Elders Waggoner and Jones, and which, after its unfortunate general
rejection then, has now been brought again to the church. In all this, the
history of the past is being repeated to the very letter, for, exactly as the
Jews and Romanists reacted to the fresh and living truth among them, so the
leaders of the church have today, while the emphasis on the supreme authority
of the church that was the major defense of the religionists then, likewise
has become the emphasis and defense of the church today. As the multitudes
blindly followed then, so they have followed as blindly today, while only a
few are able to see the real issues and make a correct choice between
denominationalism and the living truth.
history of the past is being repeated as once again this glorious message of
the Revelation 18 angel which is the light and life of men, has
rejected by the ecclesiastical authorities.
the church has arisen with all her strength to prevent this
to keep every one of the believers in the confines of her control.
enough, she has been strongly assisted in this work by many who
stood for the call to revival and reformation and declared loyalty to
wonderful truth, but who have turned back from following the Lord to
very adept at using His Word as a means of keeping the believers
church. So skilfully are they able to make it appear that the Word
God condemns any separation from the
established church, that some of
believers are perplexed as to what they should do about this problem.
to put the matter in its true perspective and to assist souls to
choose, the matter needs to be carefully and accurately analyzed.
an opponent's arguments clearly and successfully, it is
that the argument itself be plainly understood to avoid missing the
person's line of reasoning. No attempt should ever be made to deal
another position until it is well understood. Therefore, the case for the
will be briefly set forth here.
built up as follows:
comprehensive collection is made of every statement and verse found in the
Spirit of Prophecy and Bible which assert that the church is the depositary
of truth, the apple of God's eye, the called of God, the one object of His
supreme desire, and the channel through which He will finish the work. Then
it is argued that these are unbreakable prophecies of the church's present
and future status with God. They see anyone who leaves the church as being a
rebel separating not only from the church but from God and eternal life.
no need to quote all of these statements here. One or two will suffice as
samples. When separated from the rest of the Scriptures and compiled into a
single document, they do appear to teach just what the ecclesiastical
authorities would have them teach. But, when all the Scriptural evidence is
understood in the light of fundamental Bible principles, these statements do
not provide an argument against separation. Instead, they are a decided
call to separation!
statement is as follows:
"Again I say, The Lord hath not spoken
by any messenger who calls the church that keeps the commandments of God,
Babylon. True, there are tares with the wheat; but Christ said He would send
His angels to first gather the tares and bind them in bundles to burn them,
but gather the wheat into the garner. 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. Those who shall heed this false message and try to leaven
others will be deceived and prepared to receive advanced delusions, and they
will come to nought." Selected Messages 2: 68, 69.
It is not
necessary to openly teach that the Seventh-day Adventist church is Babylon in
order to be charged with advocating this position. All one needs to do is
separate from the organization. This action is sure to be interpreted as a declaration
that the church has become Babylon. Those who draw these conclusions
certainly have a point, for if the church has not fallen, there is no
justification for leaving it. Those who are zealous in their defence of the
"grand old ship", seize upon statements such as the one quoted
above in their battle to justify their position.
message to pronounce the Seventh-day Adventist Church Babylon, and call the
people of God out of her, does not come from any heavenly messenger, or any
human agent inspired by the Spirit of God." Selected Messages 2:
strong statements, and, used by enemies of the message, they can wield a
weighty influence. But they do not provide any difficulty when truly
understood. While those who are using these statements think they have a
winning position, it is to be found that they do not have any such thing.
opposing separation from an apostate organization will always charge that
those who are leaving deny the Scriptures by making them say the opposite
from their clear declarations. But this is an ill-founded accusation. The Word
of God means exactly what it says. Great care must be taken not to misread
it. Safety lies in taking all the evidence and examining it in the light of
consistent and proven principles of interpretation. Only then will it be
possible to understand what the Lord is really saying.
approaching this question, we are fortunate in that the situation for God's
people is not new. Exactly what we have to face, has been faced in past ages,
and we have the history of their experience as a sure guide. In fact, we have
been expressly told that "all these things happened unto them for
ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the
world are come." 1 Corinthians 10:11.
past, the Lord has brought the message of life and salvation to the church
which, having fallen into an apostate state, finds truth unacceptable to it.
The church fights against the light, forcing the believer to separate from
the ranks. Then she turns to denounce the ones whom she has forced out, by
using God's Word to condemn their separation. The Scriptures used are those
which proclaim quite truthfully, the eternal continuation of the church.
the fact that their actions seem to be utterly contrary to inspired
statements, the believers in present truth have separated from the
established organization. Further complicating the problem is that
simultaneously a number of other movements which do not have the truth, are
also separating from the organization on the basis of personal grudges or
lust for power. These have no justification for leaving and by so doing cast
a dark shadow over the true separation entered into by those who do have the
not new. Every time the true believers withdrew from the church which was
hostile to the living light God was sending, they found themselves confronted
with ecclesiastical opponents who argued from Scripture that the church was
going through to the end and only those who remained with it would safely
make the heavenly harbour. They likewise found themselves being relegated to
the same category as every other movement that was withdrawing on erroneous
true people of God separated back there despite all these assaults and God
blessed and guided them. They met their opponents with a clear "Thus
saith the Lord", and went forth conquering and to conquer.
they took was right, even though many taunted them with the claim that their
position was Scripturally unsound. Time has proven that their understanding
of God's Word was correct and that of their enemies incorrect. How fortunate
the modern generation is to have those arguments on record; for, if they were
the answer then, they are still the answer today.
specific point of history from which guidance will be drawn is a particularly
reliable one, for its chief spokesman was the inspired apostle
he wrote was in fact God's Word. This mighty reformer lived
floodlight of truth was shining on the earth, but, as usual, the
authorities were vigorously opposed to it. Paul withdrew from
church which was the established church of that time, but he
do it in the face of powerful statements from the Old Testament.
far stronger than those written in the Spirit of Prophecy about
Adventist church. Yet he left the church. No professed child of God
questions that he did what the Lord wanted him to do. His action is
and it is felt that if we had lived back then we would have
answer to the charges levelled against him is found in Romans 9. The
first verses of this chapter express a love for the Jewish people and a
recognition of what they had been called to be which reflects the character
the heart of the Eternal Father. Never will one who has the real truth of God
in his heart separate with a hateful, vindictive, and destructive spirit
within him. His departure will be on the basis of principle, not feeling.
we see a person come out of the church with a burden to condemn and malign
it, we know that his separation is on an entirely wrong basis. Time and again
this class of person has eventually rejoined the church and has supported it
more ardently than before he left it. [I think of John Osborne. rb]
was not the spirit of Paul. He left with the deepest love in his
he never returned. Here are his words:
say the truth in Christ, I lie not, my conscience also bearing me
the Holy Ghost, "That I have great heaviness and continual sorrow in my
heart. "For I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ for my
my kinsmen according to the flesh: "Who are Israelites; to whom
pertaineth the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of
the law, and the service of God, and the promises; "Whose are the
fathers, and of whom as concerning the flesh Christ came, who is over all,
God blessed for ever. Amen." Romans 9:1-5.
carefully that the same Paul who was protesting his love for the Jews even to
the point where he was prepared to lose his eternal life that they might be
saved, was calling for the complete separation of all believers from their
organization and communion.
also read this in 2 Corinthians 6:14-18:
ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath
righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with
darkness? "And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath
he that believeth with an infidel? "And what agreement hath the temple
of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said,
I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they
shall be My people. "Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye
separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive
you, "And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be My sons and
daughters, saith the Lord Almighty."
statement is applicable to all peoples of the earth who are not
believers—Romans, Greeks, and all other Gentiles. But let us never forget
that to Paul anyone who did not believe and receive Christ, was an
unbeliever. In his day, the most vigorous and outspoken unbelievers were the
Jews. Therefore, this statement names Jews among others. It means that Paul
was describing them as unbelievers, unrighteousness, darkness, Belial,
infidels, and idol worshippers.
strong terms to use in describing a religious people who have for centuries
taken the greatest pride in their religion. One does not normally take words
like these as expressions of love and one would hardly be blamed for
concluding that Paul no longer had any love for the Jewish people. It is not
a usual practise to go about calling those you love infidels, Belial, and the
like, yet we find that Paul did this.
the situation from a worldly viewpoint. Suppose you hear Mr.
say about Jim Brown, "That man is a waster, a thief, a liar. Have
do with him. Keep right away from him." The next day you hear
Anderson saying "There is nobody in the world I love so much as Jim
Whatever would you think? A crazy contradiction? But is not that
what Paul is doing? Here in 2 Corinthians 6 he says, "Come out
and do not
touch the unclean. They are infidels, Belial, darkness, unrighteousness,
unbelievers, a temple filled with idols." But in Romans 9
protests that he loves the Jews!
expressed his true feelings in Romans 9. This was not a mere
profession of love designed to convey a good impression. His love for the
Jews was as deep and true as God's love for them though not of course on so
infinite a scale. True love did not lead Paul to a false evaluation of the
truth about his people. He saw and stated the facts as they were and related
himself to them accordingly.
enemies, being totally unable to appreciate the spirit of love which
and wishing only to capitalize on his words, seized upon them as
with which to charge him with hatred of the Jews and desertion
church. Their accusation was that he made the prophecies of
effect, for, if he believed the Spirit of Prophecy as recorded in the Old
he must, according to their view, remain loyally within the organized church.
It is the same line of attack used by modern church leaders to destroy the
effect of God's call to separate from the fallen churches.
argument is examined it can be seen that the same tactics are still used. The
Pharisees based their contention on the truth that Israel had been called of
God, and with this Paul had no disagreement. Israel had been called of
God. But that was not the point. Paul was concerned about what they had
become, not what they had been called to be.
Pharisees argued that because the Israelites had been called of God they must
continue in this role forever, whereas Paul recognized the conditional nature
of God's commissions. Therefore, while their believing that God had called
the church required them to remain with it forever, Paul saw the
imperativeness of separating from those who, having professed to be the true
continuation of the movement called by God, had turned against the truths
which had been the original making of that people. He had to withdraw in
order to preserve that truth, just as God called Abraham out of Ur so that
the truth might be preserved in its purity.
Paul could cheerfully and sincerely state his belief in the call of
Read the words of his declaration: "Who are Israelites; to whom
the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law,
and the service of God, and the promises; . . ." Romans 9:4.
at the present time there is no question but that the Lord called the
Seventh-day Adventist church to be the channel of communication to a perishing
world. We are as firmly established on that truth as Paul ever was on the
raising of the Jewish church. The Great Second Advent Movement was no
mistake. It was of God, and the truths the Lord gave His people there, are to
be with them to the end.
preservation of truth in its purity requires separation from any organization
which despises God's light and wars against those who love it.
case is there any question about what the Lord called the people to be. The
dispute is entirely over what that people have become. That was the issue
in Paul's day, and it is the same today.
Paul and the early Christians raised any question as to what the Jewish
church had become and therefore charged that they had, by their apostasy and
rejection of the Lord, forfeited their divine calling, the Jews pointed to
the strong array of Old Testament Scriptures which foretold the perpetuity of
Israel to the end.
they cried at Paul in hot indignation, "make the Scriptures of
effect! You claim to believe them but, while they plainly say that we
the people of God to the very end, you declare that we are no longer
church, and you call people to come out of our fellowship and ranks.
at what the Scriptures say and then compare that with your stand!"
people in our day have been dismayed by the power, strength, and apparent
unanswerableness of the statements in Selected Messages and Testimonies
to Ministers which the church leaders have so carefully compiled. But
these statements are not one whit stronger than those that confronted Paul
from the Old Testament, in the face of which he had to separate from
the church of his day.
turn to some of these and see how the Pharisees would use them. The first
reference is in Isaiah 2:1-3.
word that Isaiah the son of Amoz saw concerning Judah and
it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the
house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be
above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it.
many people shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the
of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; and He will teach
us of His
ways, and we will walk in His paths: for out of Zion shall go forth
and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem."
Here is a
prophecy which distinctly says that in the last days Jerusalem
be the great centre from which the truth of God would go forth to
world. There might be some dark patches in between but the
always hold that city for Himself.
inference so strongly pressed upon the people was that to separate from that
church meant separation from the ship which was going through and consequently
to fail to go through oneself.
wily Pharisees and other church leaders arguing as they most certainly must
have done in the days of Christ and Paul:
not be disturbed by the Man from Galilee, or this preacher, Saul of
There is nothing new here. We have been through these problems
again. Remember how various offshoots have arisen in the past
proclaimed the apostasy of Israel, claiming that they had the real truth,
calling people to 'Come out'? But what has become of these movements and the
men who led them? Look and see!
man Theudas arose, followed by Judas (see Acts 5:36,
37), and then there was Barabbas (see Desire of Ages, 733). But where
are they now? In some cases the leaders were killed by the authorities and
the movements are scattered and come to naught. Look at the disappointment,
disillusionment, and sadness of the unfortunate people who were deceived by
these false teachers, every one of whom declared the end of the church but
who speedily came to their own end instead.
is the church in and through all this? It is still there. And we do not doubt
that others will arise even as this Paul, but they too will pass away while
the church continues. So save yourself the disappointment and sorrow; learn
the lesson of the past and stay with the ship. Go through with it to the very
end of time."
fatally wrong time has proved them to be. They were completely
in their argument that the men who had arisen had failed because
charged the church with apostasy and called for separation. This was
reason they had failed at all. They simply did not have the life
and the message to correct the apostasy. The Jewish leaders,
wrong in their basic argument, could not help being wrong in the
drawn from it. They propounded that the Jewish organization
going right through to the end as the church of God and the channel of
to the world, regardless of its spiritual state. To certify what
supposed to be the truth of this argument, they were able to quote
powerful Old Testament promises.
conclusion that the church as they defined it was going through, convinced
them that any group which separated must come to nothing, while the
"good ship" sailed majestically on. They saw in every movement
which had previously separated and failed, the confirmation that their
position was right.
be denied that the Old Testament Scriptures, as they understood them, did
state that the church was going through to the end and would thus forever be
the church of God. Without exception, until the appearance of the new
movement under the leadership of Christ and the apostles, every off-shoot had
come to nothing. Therefore, the Pharisees had what appeared to be a
most convincing argument
convincing their logic sounded to the men and women of that time! How many
indeed were won over and followed that line of reasoning! It took all the
worry and burden from their minds. It eased the troubled convictions stirred
by the mighty messages of Paul and other apostles. It led them to relax and
commit the keeping of their souls to the church. After all, the church was going
on through, and what did they need to worry about, but to be in her fold and
under her care?
today are those who propounded these arguments and those who believed them?
Their fate should teach us the sober lesson that we are not to take too easily
the arguments put forth to sustain a church which is manifestly departing
from the truth. There is something a little deeper in these statements
than appears on the surface.
of people was not so readily convinced by the arguments put
the Pharisees. To them it seemed that something was not quite
listening to the Pharisee quoting Isaiah 2:1-3 some would look
and say: "Yes, but look at Israel's condition. Look at the apostasy,
and departures from the truth that mark her ways. See how she
those who seek to do the right thing and who have the courage
out some of the wrongs in the church. How can she be thus and do
things, yet still claim to be the peculiar people of God? Are not the
in regard to the perpetuity of the church conditional on her
Pharisee, not lacking an answer, would say with a confident expression,
"Yes, I know the situation in the church is far from good. There are
many things I cannot endorse and there is nothing in the world that is needed
more right now than a revival in the church.
the Lord knows all about it, and He will take care of it in His own time and
way. The difficulty with these reformers is that they will run ahead
of the Lord. They are not prepared to wait for God to work it out.
is all written in the Word of prophecy. Read it here with me in Isaiah
'How is the faithful city become an harlot! it was full of judgment;
lodged in it; but now murderers.
silver is become dross, thy wine mixed with water:
princes are rebellious, and companions of thieves: every one
gifts, and followeth after rewards: they judge not the fatherless,
doth the cause of the widow come unto them.'
continues the wily Pharisee, "you can see that the Lord knows
situation. It has not caught Him by surprise and He is working to
it. Read now the words of verses 25-27. 'And I will turn My hand
and purely purge away thy dross, and take away all thy tin:
'And I will restore thy judges as at the first, and thy counsellors as at
beginning: afterward thou shalt be called, The city of righteousness, the
shall be redeemed with judgment, and her converts with righteousness.'
tell me, what could be plainer than that there is to be a great shaking in
Israel? God will bring it about and then all the elements in the church which
are out of tune with Him and His truth, will be shaken out and the true
people of God will remain to go on to victory. And when that shaking is over,
the church will be the mighty power for good that the Lord wants it to be. At
that time of grand victory, you are either going to be in or out of the
church. If you are in and faithful, you will share in its triumph, but, if
outside, then you will certainly fail to share in that victory no matter how
sincere you may be. So, would it not be better to take the safe path and stay
with the church? It is going through to the end."
the arguments that the Pharisees in Paul's time could use in deeking to turn
people away from the message. Undoubtedly, they were
in turning away many people who would otherwise have been
in the Saviour and His message. The truth of this is evident from a
in The Desire of Ages, 205, which reads, "If the priests and
rabbis had not interposed, His teaching would have wrought such a reformation
as this world has never witnessed."
something to really do some deep thinking about. On this earth was the living
Christ with the living message of living righteousness, and
the people were of a mind to receive that message. If they had, there would
the greatest revival the world has ever witnessed. Looking back
we can believe that if we had lived then, we certainly would have
part of the movement Christ was leading. Wonderful indeed should
But that mighty
revival never came. Only a very few took their stand for it.
prevented it? The apostate leaders of the church they had led into apostasy.
And with what weapons did they defeat it?
defeated it with the arguments that, irrespective of how far she had wandered
away from God's righteousness, the church would always remain the object of
God's supreme desire. They contended that God was fully aware of her
condition and had made provision to purify and reform her. They believed that
the church as they knew and defined it would then go through to the
proved to be an entirely erroneous position and it cost the ministry and
everyone who followed and believed them, their eternal lives. It was a
serious blunder to make. We have the witness of history to prove that. That
church as they knew and defined it, did not go through to the end as
they were so convinced it would. It became totally rejected and cut off, and
those who stayed with it were in like manner rejected and forever cut off.
This is not
saying that the church of God is not going through to the end. The church
as God knows and defines it, is going through, and all those who stay
with that church, and are faithful, will triumph with it. The failure
with the Pharisees and the people they led, was that they could not see and
know that church. They knew and saw a certain church
organization, and defined that as God's church. Then they applied the
statements in the Old Testament
prophecies, which were intended by God to speak only of His true
church, to that which they mistakenly thought was God's church.
And so, by
misapplying the statements of these prophecies to their own church
organization, they were able to make a case convincing enough to
majority astray. How effectively they could use Jeremiah 33:23-26
their opposition to Christ, provided their hearers did not question the false
premise on which their arguments were based! Let us read this passage and ask
ourselves whether stronger or more definite language could be used.
"Moreover the word of the Lord came to Jeremiah, saying,
thou not what this people have spoken, saying, The two
which the Lord hath chosen, He hath even cast them off? thus they
despised My people, that they should be no more a nation before
saith the Lord; If My covenant be not with day and night, and if I
appointed the ordinances of heaven and earth;
will I cast away the seed of Jacob, and David My servant, so that
I will not
take any of his seed to be rulers over the seed of Abraham, Isaac,
for I will cause their captivity to return, and have mercy on
compare this with Jeremiah 31:35-37. "Thus saith the Lord, which
giveth the sun for a light by day, and the ordinances of the moon and of the
stars for a light by night, which divideth the sea when the waves thereof
roar; The Lord of hosts is His name:
those ordinances depart from before Me, saith the Lord, then the seed of Israel
also shall cease from being a nation before Me for ever. "Thus saith the
Lord; If heaven above can be measured, and the foundations of the earth
searched out beneath, I will also cast off all the seed of Israel for all
that they have done, saith the Lord."
reader of the Spirit of Prophecy who seeks to disprove the
proving the perpetuity of the church, could hardly have found
statement than that. Imagine the line of reasoning the Pharisee
used. He would ask:
the sun still shine by day?"
the answer would be.
the moon shine by night at this present time?"
is it possible for God to cast off Israel for what it has done?"
how convincing this was to those people, but only because
not understand that first they must carefully identify who Israel was
they applied the verse.
tactic of Satan's to thwart the truth is so often used that one might think
it would no longer be of any value, but in every generation when God brings
forth the truth, Satan uses this weapon just as effectively as before. It was
the great weapon that helped to frustrate the marvellous revival which might
have been in the days of Christ and in the time of the Reformation. This latter
fact is well stated by A. T. Jones in his book Lessons from the
Reformation, pages 103-106, as follows:
dismal was the effort—the failure—of the Council of Constance at reformation,
when what was considered the best that it could do to save the church,—the
burning of Huss and Jerome—was the worst thing that it could possibly do, for
any cause or for any reason!
explanation of this blank incongruity, and the key of the whole vicious
circle of self-involved contradictions, is in the fact that all those men who
denounced the Popes and their evil practices, and the extortions and
oppressions of the clergy, held that the church of which all these evils were
expression, was the true and only church!
when they were compelled to admit that the church was inextricably involved
in it all, and when they were thus required to reflect even upon the church,
this was always done with the reservation and apology that in spite of all
this she was the true and only church.
denounced the men and the activities of the men, even of the
Popes and the papal court, but still apologized and pleaded for themachine.
condemned the evil practices, but justified the system by which
alone it was possible that those practices could not only be perpetuated, but
could even exist.
were evil, but 'the church,' which made the times what they were, was
were bad; but 'the church,' whose members and the expression of whose life those
church-men essentially were, was 'good!'
were pernicious; but 'the church,' whose the customs
were, was 'the abode of sanctity!'
were abominable; but 'the church,' which invented many
profited by all of these practices, was 'holy!'
were demoniac; but 'the church,' of which the Popes were 'the
acting will, the guiding mind—was 'divine!'
the grand churches and magnificent cathedrals! Hear the
music of the 'divine' chants! Catch the impressive odor of the
incense! Feel the awe of the 'solemn' services, as the richly-robed
minister at the 'altar,' kneel before the 'host,' and move in
procession! Think of the wide extent of her 'missions!' Behold her
by which she executes as by one man the wonders of
holds empires in awe, and rules the world! Isn't that the true and
church was 'the ark of God,' the 'ship of Salvation.' The pilot, the
and the crew, might all be pirates, and use every motion of the ship
piratical purposes, and load her to the sinking point with piratical
and keep her ever headed straight toward perdition, yet 'the grand
herself was all right and would come safely to the heavenly port.
'cling to the ark,' 'stand by the old ship,' and you will be safe and
at last on the heavenly shore.
in essence is the conception held, and that for ages had been
. . .
as this delusion was systematically inculcated, blindly
and fondly hugged, of course reformation was impossible.
as soon as there arose men with the courage of conviction and the
of truth, and spoke out plainly and flatly that the Roman system
is not The
Church at all in any feature or in any sense, then The
is how The Reformation came. And without that The Reformation never could
have come." [End quoting of A.T. Jones Lessons from the Reformation, pages
When I was
young, I read a great deal of church history. I studied the tactics of the
Roman Catholic priests and prelates to keep the people in the papal churches.
In pondering these things, I marvelled at how the people could be so ignorant
and enslaved as to be deceived by arguments such as the ones quoted above
from A. T. Jones. But then, it was an age of serious illiteracy, of
consequent ignorance, and therefore fear. Those were the "Dark
distinctly remember that, as I read past history, I felt a comforting glow of
thankfulness that those times were gone. I believed we had entered an
enlightened age wherein men would quickly perceive the falsity of such
But, to my intense surprise, I found that the same arguments used during
Christ's, Paul's, and Luther's times, are being used with equal success
today. This indicates the tragic fact that Christ's professed followers are
not learning the lessons of history. In physical warfare, a general knows not
to use the same tactics every time. He wisely varies his strategy with the
result that the enemy cannot predict his approach. Satan does not have to
take these precautions. He can see that men have not learned, so he is able
to use the same tactics repeatedly with equal or even better success each
time. That he is able to do this is a sad commentary on man's failure to
profit from his predecessors' errors. But these lessons must be learned. The
price of failure is very high—eternal life.
Pharisees and papal priests were masters at quoting the Scriptures. They
could pile argument on argument to prove their point and were largely
successful in convincing the majority. But none of this saved them. It is not
sincerity, nor weight of argument, but the truth that saves. Therefore,
we must firstly find the truth. Then we will have found the church and
Then Is The Answer?
disastrous outworking of the arguments employed by Pharisees and then papists
prove beyond doubt the falsity of their contentions, but this is not enough.
The arguments themselves must be examined to show wherein they are
the natural step to take once it has been demonstrated that because the
theories advanced by the Pharisees and papists confirmed them in direct
opposition to God and His faithful followers, they were decidedly and only of
Man is no
match for Satan, whose sophistries cannot be met by human devisings. Only the
Word of God can be used to meet him successfully for not even Christ, when
upon this earth, would confront the adversary with
weapon. The Scriptures expose the satanic sophistries so effectively that
none who understand will be deceived.
the position in which Paul found himself is reproduced today, the answers he
gave will resolve the same issues now. When the decision to
truth necessitated his separating from the Jewish organization, he
confronted with many arguments propounded by the religious teachers
advanced Old Testament Scriptures to support their contentions. Those who
today would follow the living truth will likewise find that they must leave
the established church organization. Leading men will resist this, advancing Spirit
of Prophecy statements to urge the idea that the church will never be
replaced by any other movement. The believers can make no mistake if they
respond with the same answers Paul used. Let his answer be their answer. They
will then stand on the only safe ground there is.
first five verses of Romans 9, Paul confirms his great love for the Jews and
his fixed conviction that God called them and gave them the treasures of the
did not prevent his departing from their organization, or from calling others
to join him in this move. In 2 Corinthians 6:14-18, he makes it clear
that separation from unbelievers, as he correctly evaluated the Jews to be,
was required if they would remain God's children.
did not misread Paul's evaluation of them as unbelievers, infidels, idols,
unrighteousness, and darkness.
they countered by representing themselves as being strictly obedient to the
Old Testament declarations while charging Paul with making that same Scripture
of none effect.
correctly denied that the Scriptures had been made of none effect. It was his
enemies who had misunderstood and misapplied them. He said very firmly,
"Not as though the Word of God hath taken none effect. For they are not
all Israel, which are of Israel.
because they are the seed of Abraham, are they all children:
Isaac shall thy seed be called.
is, They which are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of
God: but the children of the promise are counted for the seed." Romans
statement attacked the basis of the Pharisees' argument. They made no
distinction between the physical and spiritual descendants of Abraham,
although they were able to see differences between certain of his physical
children. While they regarded themselves as Abraham's children and therefore
heirs to the blessings promised to Abraham and his seed, they refused
Ishmael's and Esau's offspring any right to the divine birthright. On what
basis did they do this?
and Edomites were open rejecters of the message God had given to the Jews, so
the Jewish teachers would not recognize them as having any part in God's
church. In this, of course, they were right. They correctly assessed the
status of these children from Abraham on the basis of spiritual, not
physical, qualifications. Yet, when evaluating their own position, they
pointed to their being Abraham's physical seed as the guarantee that they
were also God's true children. Paul showed that this was an erroneous stand
to take. "The children of the flesh," he says, "these are not
the children of God."
failed to see that long established membership in the organization, the
history of which they could trace back over many generations, great zeal for
the work, and a vast knowledge of Bible information, did not make them God's
spiritual children. In this respect they were actually no better than the
Ishmaelites and Arabs whom they openly despised and relegated to the family
of the lost.
emphasizes the truth that Ishmael and Isaac were brothers from the same
father, yet the promises were given only to the latter. They might have
argued that this was understandable in view of Ishmael's having an Egyptian
bondwoman for a mother. This, however, was not the real problem as is proved
by the next generation. Esau and Jacob could not have had a closer
inheritance unless they had been identical instead of diversified twins. They
had the same parents, conception, and birth. Yet once again, Paul reminded
the Pharisees of a fact they could not deny—that only Jacob inherited a place
in God's kingdom on earth.
spiritual and not physical descent is the deciding factor. Therefore, only if
the Jews of Paul's day possessed the spirit and experience of Isaac and Jacob
could they have any claim to being members of God's church. The fact that
they crucified their Saviour, proved that they did not even know what the
truth was. The experience of two other Old Testament characters proves that
physical descent is not even necessary. They are Rahab, the harlot of
Jericho, and Ruth, the Moabitess.
could claim physical descent from Abraham. In fact, they came from races
which greatly despised and hated the Israelites, who in turn held them in
poor esteem. Yet they were taken into the family of Israel and actually
became mothers in the direct line of the Saviour. Thus, in the most
complete sense, were they the children of Abraham, for the promise was that
through Abraham, in the birth of Christ, all families of the earth would be
blessed. They were integrated into the commonwealth of Israel not as Gentile
believers, but as Israelites, and God so fully recognized this that the holy
seed was brought on down through them.
By such illustrations
would God teach us that the children of flesh are not the children of God.
Physical descent counts for nothing, or Ishmael's and Esau's children would
have as much claim to be the children of God and Israel as Paul or the
apostles, while Rahab and Ruth would be without hope.
Ruth and Rahab have that the Ishmaelites and Edomites never had? They had a
living, spiritual connection with God. Therefore, they were His children and thus
the children of Abraham. It becomes evident then, that the only children
God recognizes as being Abraham's and Israel's, are those who have a living
experience in righteousness and are faithful to His truth. No others can
claim sonship with Abraham no matter what their position or power in the
world might be.
age God has such a people, sometimes extremely obscure and small in number,
but He has them. The world may at the time be filled with large organizations
of long established churches, proudly claiming to be the true church as did
the Jews and Catholics, and the Adventists today. But God does not walk with
these bodies unless they are faithful and true to the principles of His
Not one of
His promises are for these organizations, nor were they ever intended for
anybody who did not walk with God. True, these people can say that their
fathers had the promises, but that was only because the fathers were faithful
to God and His truth. The faithfulness of the fathers does not automatically
guarantee that the promises will pass on to the children. The faithful sons
of Abraham and Isaac inherited the promises, while the unfaithful ones did
before the Jews in Paul's time ever dared to claim the promises of Isaiah and
Jeremiah as we have previously quoted, they should first have
determined by an examination of their faithfulness, if they were indeed the children of Abraham, if they were Israel, if they were Jerusalem.
manner, those who would quote the many Spirit of Prophecy statements assuring
that the church will never fall, should pause before
them to any given organization. These inspired words were never
to prove who the church is. They are given to show the future of
only after it has been accurately identified. Only when the assembly of
believers is found to be walking in the full light of present truth
experience to match, can its members claim to be God's people. It is not
enough for the Seventh-day Adventist organization to be able to point to the
Spirit of Prophecy and the Bible on their shelves and in their book shops.
in Christ's day could do that also, for the Old Testament was the Bible and
Spirit of Prophecy to them. But this did not make them God's church, nor did
it save them.
It is not
enough to point back to the accomplishments and the Lord's evident blessings
on the work of the Advent fathers as proof that today their children are the
church of God.
that the Jews could do all that too.
It is not
enough to be able to point to the prophetic proof that the Adventist church
rose at the right time with the right message for the hour. The Jews could do
It is not
enough, when grown large and prosperous, to claim all this as the result of
God's blessing, and therefore proof that the Lord is still with them.
that the Jews could do that too. So can the Roman Catholics. No church is
larger, more prosperous, or powerful than the papal church today.
things can be claimed by those who are the children of the flesh. They have
them by virtue of physical inheritance from their fathers. But, "They
which are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God."
have all the above without being a child of God or a true member of His church.
It is spiritual connection and faithfulness to God's truth which identifies
the one true church. Will men never learn the correct way to determine where
the church is? The common practice is to name the church and then claim that
the truth of God and its attendant blessings and promises are therein. But
this is in the reverse order. Firstly the truth must be found and then the
church has been identified. That is the whole point of the argument God gave
Paul in answer to the Pharisees' charges.
Look At The Situation
As seen in
the previous discussion, the question at issue is really what and where the
church is at any given point in history. It is evident that the true church
must first be found before we begin to apply the various
Scriptures and quotations which speak of her eternal perpetuity and favour
with God. But a moment's reflection will reveal that the arguments of those
who oppose separation, whether in the days of Paul, the Roman Catholic
supremacy of the Dark Ages, or today, are based upon the assumption that
a certain body of people is the church. No one is allowed to question this
idea. No matter how deviant from the path of righteousness a church may be,
she is the church, and therefore all statements written in the Word in regard
to God's true church are applied to her and to no other body. This is the
reasoning. But do not allow it to deceive and mislead, for the Pharisees in
Christ's time lost their eternal life through this very reasoning.
given to Sister White in the earliest days of the third angel's message, a
vision which accurately defined the history of the true church from that day
through to the kingdom of God. It is found in Early Writings,14, and
reads as follows:
I was praying at the family altar, the Holy Ghost fell upon me, and I seemed
to be rising higher and higher, far above the dark world. I turned to look
for the Advent people in the world, but could not find them, when a voice
said to me, 'Look again, and look a little higher.' At this I raised my eyes,
and saw a straight and narrow path, cast up high above the world. On this
path the Advent people were travelling to the city, which was at the farther
end of the path. They had a bright light set up behind them at the beginning
of the path, which an angel told me was the
midnight cry. This light shone all along the path, and gave light for
their feet so that they might not stumble. If they kept their eyes fixed on
Jesus, who was just before them, leading them to the city, they were safe.
But soon some grew weary, and said the city was a great way off, and they
expected to have entered it before. Then Jesus would encourage them by
raising His glorious right arm, and from His arm came a light which waved
over the Advent band, and they shouted, 'Alleluia!' Others rashly denied the
light behind them, and said that it was not God that had led them out so far.
The light behind them went out, leaving their feet in perfect darkness, and
they stumbled and lost sight of the mark and of Jesus, and fell off the path
down into the dark and wicked world below."
reason, a portion of the original vision was not included in Early Writings. The full account is published by F. D. Nichol in
Ellen G. White and Her Critics, 211. The extra portion reads: "It
was just as impossible for them to get on the path again and go to the City,
as all the wicked world which God had rejected. They fell all along the
path one after another, until we heard the voice of God like many waters,
which gave us the day and hour of Jesus' coming." (Emphasis ours.)
complete statement provides an accurate portrayal of the journey to be
undertaken by God's true children from the close of the two thousand three
hundred year prophecy to the second advent. They travel a straight and narrow
path cast high above the dark and wicked world below. Not all who begin to
walk the way to the kingdom, abide on this pathway. From time to time some
fall off it down into the darkness below, never to return. At the beginning
of the path is located a bright light that shines along its length. This is
the truth contained in the midnight cry which sounded immediately prior to
October 22, 1844, and contained all the light already revealed through the
first and second angels. This shaft of light was as narrow and straight as
the path, so that anyone not on the path was not illuminated by it.
Therefore, those who fell off the path likewise fell out of the beam of light
and were enclosed in darkness.
message of the vision is unmistakable. Only two classes of people are
revealed—God's faithful children and the dwellers in the dark and wicked
world. To be among the former was not a matter of being a member of a
specific organization; it required remaining on the path and staying in the
light. All others walked in darkness and could not be recognized as God's
true children. Therefore, they were not the church of God either. The only
ones to reach and occupy the kingdom are those who remain on the pathway and
in the light.
facts revealed in this communication from God were carefully relied upon to
guide in determining where His true church and people are to be found at
present, no one would misidentify the true church. The only question that
would be asked is, "What people are faithfully walking in the light
given back then, with their feet firmly placed upon the pathway seen in the
vision?" When a truly honest answer to that question is found, the time
will have come to apply the many statements in the Scriptures and Spirit of
Prophecy which assure that the true church will never fall but go through to
It is a
mistake to search for an organization bearing a certain name simply because
the true followers of the Saviour bore that name in the past. If this is the
guiding principle then we need only search for the church named Israel, since
it was the great original organization which God called after the flood. But,
there are very few who seek for true spiritual fellowship from this source,
for it is well known that the Jews long ago rejected their final
opportunities to repent and have been separated from God. Never again will He
be able to work through them.
be well if the reason for not joining the Jewish organization was
followed through in choosing the movement with which one will stand.
Perversely and inconsistently however, people will elect to leave one
because of their apostasy from the truth, but will remain with another
apostate. They will misapply statements written about God's true people, to
those who still carry the name but have not retained the truths
principles of the former generation. These have no right to claim the
and assurances contained in the prophetic utterances for they are
applied only to the people who have remained on the path and in the
light. They alone are the ones who must not be
called Babylon. If anyone
proclaiming that this body is Babylon, then he is neither to be received nor followed.
God has not sent such an one. All other organizations can be called any name
one cares to justifiably attach to them provided they are not declared to be
God's church. They can qualify for this only if they are on the path and in
critically important that one be able to identify the true from the false.
Every movement loudly clamours their claims to being God's true people while
urging all to join them, but one must not allow claims to impress and guide.
Each movement must be assessed according to Scripture tests and nothing else.
As time passes, continual reassessment must be made to ensure that the church
remains true. When it has manifestly departed from God, the sincere believer
must be open to Christ's leadings, so that when He raises a new movement to
take the place of the decadent one, they will follow on with Him.
This is a
test of loyalty which has already been experienced by Advent believers a
number of times in their short history. One of the earliest took
the rise of the Messenger Party which began in Jackson, Michigan, in
1853. They departed from the light shining on the pathway and sought to draw
all the Advent believers with them. Once they left, they never returned. At
the time, every Adventist had to assess the validity of the claims advanced
by these people. They had to decide which was the true church. The only way they could do that was by
determining which group was faithful to the light of the midnight cry.
years later came the Marian Party, which continues to this day as the Seventh-day
Church of God. Others followed. In the 1880's came D. M. Canright and E.
B. Jones. During the time Waggoner and Jones were proclaiming the third
angel's message in verity, various individuals arose to lead folk away from
the living truth and the movement where it was being taught. Later still came
the Shepherd's Rod movement, which, despite serious problems, still
one of these separations, those who were true to God remained where the truth
continued. The numbers of those who stood on one side or the other are not a
determining factor. The only guiding principle is the consideration of those
who remain in God's light and on His pathway.
1950's, there was another parting of the ways in the Adventist church
[Weiland and Short]. For the second and last time, God brought the third
angel's message in verity to the church, but, sad to say, they determinedly
rejected it. Some saw the light of the message and were greatly blessed by
it. When these people saw the attitude of the authorities, they were troubled
about what to do, especially when pressure was placed upon them to either
give up their faith or lose their church membership. Many yielded to this
pressure and returned to the fold, but others declared it was not important
how many stood for the truth. To them, the only guiding principle was the
They saw with great clarity that the church was no longer on the pathway or
in the light and so was not immune to the charge that she had become Babylon.
The prophecy that, unless she severed
all relationship to the world she would become Babylon, had been fulfilled.
In 1891 the warning was sounded but has been unheeded. "The world must not be introduced into
the church, and married to the church, forming a bond of unity. Through this
means the church will become indeed corrupt, and, as stated in Revelation,
'a cage of every unclean and hateful bird.' " Testimonies to Ministers, 265.
Babylon the great becomes the cage of every unclean and hateful bird, [Rev.
18:1-2] yet this is what the church was told she would become if she did not
sever all connection with the world. Such a statement denies the idea that
the church organization must necessarily always be God's church.
only one soul to save or to lose. Therefore, in every crisis great care must
be taken to ensure that the right side is chosen. Vital assistance is
provided in an accurate understanding of the lessons of history for Satan
does not change his tactics or his arguments from generation to generation.
The advantage of history is that a person is provided with the outworking of
the position taken, thus clearly demonstrating whether it leads to heaven or
to separation from God.
instance, the Jews took the stand that they were always to be favoured as
God's people no matter what course they chose, but history showed that this
led to complete separation from God and cost them their eternal life. Others
carefully considered the spiritual relation of the church to the truth, and,
when they found that the church had apostatized beyond recall, elected to
follow Christ. The chronicles of time unerringly show that whenever they
courageously did this, they prospered, were blessed and led by God, and
accomplished mighty things for Him.
must face the same test at some time or another. Let it be made with great
care, much prayer, and careful consideration of divine principles and the
lessons of history.
It is not
the purpose of this publication to prove that any particular organization
today is the true church of God. It is designed to show the
fallacies resident in a particular line of argument, thus removing
objections levelled at our present separation stand. If, as a result of
reading this, you find yourself evaluating every movement only on the basis
of whether it is on the path and in the light, then this study will have
achieved its purpose.’
But if you
persist in clinging to the notion that a certain church organization, because
it was once truly God's church, must still, by virtue of its clinging to the
same name, be the true church of God, then your understanding is no better
than the Jews' and the papists' and unfortunately you will suffer the same
separation from God that they experienced with its attendant loss of eternal
too high a price to have to pay. May it be that you will find the people who
today are on the path and in the light and be numbered among them.