The Invisible-Visible Church Triumphant
Most Christians (and especially professing Seventh-day Adventists) have thought that the church triumphant does not exist until the final generation of true Christians living on the earth when Christ returns. Professing Seventh-day Adventists have believed this error despite being taught the complete opposite by their acclaimed prophetess Ellen G. White. These professing SDAs have taught and believed that the church triumphant does not exist, nor come into play, until the final test of the National Sunday Law and the time of Jacob's Trouble. That is not true and that is one of the cherished errors of professing, New Movement Seventh-day Adventism.
Ellen White taught that the church triumphant co-exists with the church militant to come to the aid of the church militant. Here are her words:
"The members of the church triumphant--the church in heaven--will be permitted to draw near to the members of the church militant, to aid them in their necessity." E.G. White, The Southern Watchman, Sep. 8, 1903.
What is "The Church in Heaven" as Mentioned in the Above Statement?
"But ye are come unto mount Sion [a variation of Zion], and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels, To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect..." Hebrews 12:22, 23.
Obviously, then, Zion, the church triumphant, is the church that is written or registered in heaven. This is the true church triumphant as opposed to earthly church militants. Zion is comprised of all who are written in heaven as "perfect men," according to God's judgment, and not man's.
Is the Heavenly Church Triumphant Visible to Earthlings? Is There a Manifestation of True Zion Here on Earth?
Ellen White expands on the church triumphant, the church that is written or registered in heaven, to define it for us a little better:
"Characteristics of True Reformers.--Here [Isa. 8:11-14] are given the characteristics of those who shall be reformers, who will bear the banner of the third angel's message, those who avow themselves God's commandment-keeping people, and who honor God, and are earnestly engaged, in the sight of all the universe, in building up the old waste places. Who is it that calls them, The repairer of the breach, The restorers of paths to dwell in? It is God. Their names are registered [written--Heb. 12:22, 23] in heaven as reformers, restorers, as raising the foundations of many generations." E. G. White, SDA Bible Commentary, vol. 4, 1151.
So there is a invisible-visible church triumphant on earth who are known as True Reformers.
They are not always vissibly associated with any denomination, especially when the denomination they might have been associated with has fallen into apostasy. They often stand quite "invisibly" alone, as far as membership in any denomination is concerned! In every succeeding generation since Christ, they have SEPARATED from various ecclesiastical churches [except the era of the Philadelphia church, which was perfect] who have rejected their warning messages of truth:
"The Sanhedrin had rejected Christ's message and was bent upon His death; therefore Jesus departed from Jerusalem, from the priests, the temple, the religious leaders, the people who had been instructed in the law, and turned to another class to proclaim His message, and to gather out [SEPARATE] those who should carry the gospel to all nations.
As 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 of the 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." E.G. White, Desire of Ages, 232.
There is much precedent for principle stated in the above statement. Here are some of the principles which should be obvious to any discerning person:
- Jesus did not persist in telling truth to those who refused His message.
- Jesus separated from those who refused His message.
- Jesus separated others from those who refused to hear truth.
- Jesus did all the above as part of the first act of His ministry in 27 A.D., instituting these principles some 43 years before Jerusalem was destroyed in 70 A.D.
- Jesus "gathered out," SEPARATED, those who should carry the gospel to all nations.
- Again and again the history of Christ's withdrawal form Judea has been repeated. And why not when other reformers have met with the same response from organized churches? We have the right and the duty to follow Christ's example. We do not need another prophet to restate these principles, but we may need Swift Messengers to remind the sleeping virgins.
- We often have to turn away from the churches we love in order to declare the plain teaching of the word of God.
- We cannot render obedience to God, and remain in churches that have corporately disobeyed the counsel of God, for then we become corporately responsible for such disobedience, and it is impossible for the pure to unite with the corrupt and remain pure, according to Scripture and Ellen White.
"The church is God's fortress, his city of refuge, which he holds in a revolted world. Any betrayal of her sacred trust is treachery to him who has bought her with the precious blood of his only begotten Son. In the past, faithful souls have constituted the church on earth, and God has taken them into covenant relation with himself, uniting the church on earth with the church in heaven. He has sent forth his holy angels to minister to his church, and the gates of hell have not been able to prevail against it." E. G. White, Acts of The Apostles, p. 11, and Review and Herald, 12-04-1900.
So "faithful souls" on earth are united to the church in heaven. We find in the following statement that some of these faithful souls comprise the bride of Jesus Christ, and some the guests:
"The marriage represents the reception by Christ of His kingdom. The Holy City, the New Jerusalem, which is the capital and representative of the kingdom, is called 'the bride, the Lamb's wife.' Said the angel to John: 'Come hither, I will show thee the bride, the Lamb's wife.' 'He carried me away in the spirit,' says the prophet, 'and showed me the great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God.' Revelation 21:9, 10. Clearly, then, the bride represents the Holy City, and the virgins that go out to meet the bridegroom are a symbol of the church [militant]. In the Revelation the people of God are said to be the guests at the marriage supper. Revelation 19:9. If guests, they cannot be represented also as the bride...He will receive the New Jerusalem, the capital of His kingdom, 'prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.'" E. G. White, The Great Controversy, 426, 427.
Let us analyze the above statement very closely:
- The Holy City, the New Jerusalem, which is the CAPITAL and REPRESENTATIVE of the kingdom, is the bride, the Lamb's wife.
- The bride REPRESENTS [ambassadors of] the Holy City.
- The virgins that go out to meet the bridegroom are a symbol of the church; they are the "people of God;" they are guests at the marriage supper, and if guests, they cannot also be represented as the bride! They cannot be both!
- Christ receives the NEW JERUSALEM, the CAPITAL and REPRESENTATIVE [ambassadors] of His kingdom, as a bride adorned for her husband."
- Therefore, the bride, NEW JERSUSALEM," the representatives or earthly ambassadors, the true messengers of the heavenly NEW JERUSALEM CHURCH; the earthly REPRESENTATIVES of the heavenly church called ZION, Hebrews 12: 22, 23, the church triumphant, consisting of men made perfect [verse 23] are the bride of Jesus Christ.
"Him that overcometh will I make a pillar IN THE TEMPLE of my God, and he shall go no more out: and I will write upon him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, which is NEW JERUSALEM, which cometh down out of heaven from my God; and I will write upon him my NEW NAME" Rev. 3:12.
Will Scripture support Ellen White's View of the Matter? Lets explore:
Isaiah 62 tells us who Jesus marries: "For ZION'S SAKE will I no hold my peace, and for [New] Jerusalem's sake I will not rest, until THE RIGHTEOUSNESS THEREOF go forth as brightness, and the SALVATION THEREOF as a lamp that burneth.
And the Gentiles shall see THY [ZION'S] RIGHTEOUSNESS, and all kings thy GLORY: and thou shalt be called by A NEW NAME, which the mouth of the Lord shall name.
Thou shalt no more be termed Forsaken; neither shall thy land any more be termed Desolate [because it is Zion that appears to fall]: but thou shalt be called Hephzibah, and thy land Beulah: for the Lord delighteth in thee, and thy land shall be married.
For as a young man marrieth a virgin [bethulah in Hebrew], so shall thy sons marry thee: and as the bridegroom rejoiceth over the bride, so shall thy God rejoice over thee.
I have set watchmen upon thy walls, O Jerusalem, which shall never hold their peace day nor night: ye that make mention of the Lord, keep not silence. And give him no rest, till he establish, and till he make [NEW] Jerusalem a praise in the earth. . . .
Go through, go through the gates; prepare ye the way of the people; cast up, cast up the highway; gather out the stones [of stumbling--the errors the stumbling blocks]; lift up a standard [God's Holy Law] for the people [the guests--the body of the church].
Behold, the Lord hath proclaimed unto the end of the world, Say ye to the daughter of Zion, Behold, thy salvation cometh; behold, his reward is with him, and his work before him.
And they shall call them, The holy people, The redeemed of the Lord: and thou shalt be called, Sought out, A city [church kingdom] not forsaken." Isaiah 62:1-7; 10-12.
What you have just read is a Biblical description of Zion, the Bride of Jesus Christ.
She has sons, verse 5, and she has daughters, verse 11. She is the holy mother:
"The people of God, symbolized by a holy woman and her children, were represented as greatly in the minority. In the last days only a remnant still existed. Of these John speaks as they 'which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ." E. G. White, Signs of the Times, Nov. 1, 1899, and Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 7, p. 972.
Zion is the church triumphant, which has always existed to come to the aid of any valid church militant in any and every age.