• Home
  • /
  • A517 The Bible Before Church or Creed
Source: PJJ

A517 The Bible Before Church or Creed

If we have the truth, we have no fear of test or criticism.  We may invite the critics to analyse our stand with no fear of God’s Word or our stand being overthrown, for they are one and the same.

The Test of Truth

Acts 17:11 “These (Bereans) were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.”

John 10:27 “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me:”

Any other voice is a strange voice, with strange teachings?  We are warned against self sent men and the only test is “the word” of God.  “To the Law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.” Isa 8:20.

Humanity discovers many ideas which seem to be “better” than what God has provided.  Cain believed he had something better, by offering fruit instead of the animal as God required.  It is a common occurrance today, to substitute for God’s requirements.  In reality it is to resist and reject truth.  It is “something different” contrary to “God’s provision” that creates a strange voice, a strange god.

Prov 14:12 “There is a way that seemeth right unto a man but the end thereof are the ways of death.”

Thinking we have something better than God’s counsel places us on an unstable platform, out of harmony with God’s infallible advice.  This leads to tradition and bigotry, where the tendency is to defend the organisation rather than the truth.  Consequently any test measured against “God’s Word” becomes a threat to the organisation.  Therefore the rules are changed, bringing in a new order of books while they phase out that which rebukes their new ideas.

Need We Fear the Test of Truth?

While we uphold truth, we have no fear of being tested against truth.  “And there was given me a reed like unto a rod: and the angel stood, saying, Rise, and measure the temple of God, and the altar, and them that worship therein.” Rev. 11:1

“These worshipers … are to be measured as worshipers; and character can be measured only by some standard of right, namely, a law, or rule of action.  We are thus brought to the conclusion that the ten commandments, the standard which God has given by which to measure “the whole duty of man,” are embraced in the measuring rod put by the angel into the hands of John; and in the fulfilment of this prophecy, this very law has been put, under the third message, into the hands of the church.”  D&R 497-498

The tendency is to resist anything that contradicts our will, beliefs, or inherited traditions.  But we must have a trust which is absolutely secure in God, not in the church.  In turn this makes us secure with the truth and with the church, if we are with the church that upholds all truth.  We quote two examples of false security in the organisation:

..          Leaders in Position of Trust

A person in position enjoys the security of respect, income, or honour, and falls into the tradition of trust in the security of the vehicle, structure or organisation to which he belong.

John 12:42-43 “Nevertheless among the chief rulers also many believed on him; but because of the Pharisees they did not confess him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue: For they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God.”

..          Individuals under Trusted Leaders

Individuals also enjoy the traditions of the organisation, fearing separation from its security.  It is more the fear of letting go of traditional ties and inherited beliefs, eg: the parents of the blind man:

John 9:20-23 “…. These words spake his parents, because they feared the Jews: for the Jews had agreed already, that if any man did confess that he was Christ, he should be put out of the synagogue.  Therefore said his parents, He is of age; ask him.”

Early Adventism

For over a century, Seventh-day Adventists have been presenting to members of other denominations the soul stirring, heart-searching truths of the third angel’s message.  In doing this they have had to stand against opposition and prejudice inspired by ministers and church leaders who rejected the light themselves and were determined that it should not reach their flock.  The spiritual conflict and test for those who take their stand for truth is illustrated in the experience of the believers at the commencement of the Advent Movement.

EW 241 “Many who cherish the sacred light, broke the cords which confined them and stood out separated from those companies.  As they were doing this, men belonging to the different companies and revered by them passed through, some with pleasing words, and others with wrathful looks and threatening gestures, and fastened the cords which were weakening.  These men were constantly saying, `God is with us.  We stand in the light.  We have the truth.’  I inquired who these men were, and was told that they were ministers and leading men who had rejected the light themselves, and were unwilling that others should receive it.”

The Reform Movement’s Position

Reformers, in faith and practice, are in full harmony with the fundamentals established by the pioneers.  Reformers are in the unique position of being separate from the Seventh-day Adventist denomination, and like our pioneers we must stand against the prejudice, fears and inherited compromises.  Although Adventist leaders are unwilling to recognize us, we stand as defenders of the “faith once delivered unto the saints”.  We are Seventh Day Adventists advocating REFORM, and are interested in and jealous for the truth.

We do contend that we are founded upon God’s word.  We prove it from the foundation doctrines we uphold.  This is natural, but we must be aware of two extremes:

a) After a time it may become a habit to defend our church, rather than an honest study to know and understand bible truth.  This is bigotry, which is a blind bias for a belief which is not really understood.

b) The alternative extreme is in having “too liberal” an open-mindedness, catching every wind of doctrine (Matt 11:7, Luke 7:24).

Eph 4:14 “That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive;”

James 1:8 “A double minded man is unstable in all his ways.”

So there must not be a blind, hardened bigotry, nor a liberal blase’ attitude of double mindedness.  God’s faithful people must have a firm trust, familiarity with, and compliance to a “Thus saith the Lord”.

Early Advent Warnings and Counsels

The pioneers recorded for us principles as a warning of the danger of substituting church organization for Bible and Testimony instructions.

(Quoted from Topical Bible Studies, printed in Australia by the Signs Publishing Co.:)  (portions have been revised)

The Light of Truth – Brings Test

He who accepts truth stands with God.

  He who fights against truth fights against God,

for God is the `God of Truth.’

What is truth?  John 17:17 “Thy word is truth.”

Ps 119:142 “Thy righteousness is an everlasting righteousness, and Thy law is the truth.”

Jesus also said “I am the way the truth and the life” John 14:6.  To accept truth is to accept light, to accept light is to walk in the light, and walking in the light is to progress in truth.

It is our duty to love “truth”, and it is a fearful and dangerous thing to reject it.  2 Thess 2:10-12 “Because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved, for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie; that they all might be damned who believe not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.”  Therefore it is important whether we believe and love the truth.  If not, our problem is really a self deception in that we, by insincerity would believe a lie.  First we must be honest with ourselves, honest with God, and honest in our attitude toward truth.  This honesty develops with daily repentence and conversion, which are the first steps in the new christian life.  Then the study of truth will stand out in contrast to church or creed.

Truth comes first; then organization

It is the preaching of the word that makes believers (Rom 10:13-17); and believers associated together constitute the church.  Organisation is a fruit of truth.  The Bible, therefore, comes before the church.  The true church stands as “the pillar and ground of the truth.” 1 Tim 3:15.

While standing in the light of truth, the church becomes the defender of truth.  It is not just the defender of past history, or their past standing for truth, but as defender of present advancing truth.  To defend truth, we must know and believe it with all the heart, then, to advance in its growing glory (2 Cor 3:18).

This does not lessen the importance of organisation, but places it in its right perspective.

Humble Instruments Organized under the Banner of Truth

1. A Church True to Its Trust

God has always had a people in the earth as the defender of truth.  EW 124 tells us that no new truth will be given except through God’s church.  This is referring to His faithful people.

EW 124 “The different parties of professed Advent believers have each a little truth, but God has given all these truths to His children who are being prepared for the day of God.  He has also given them truths that none of these parties know, neither will they understand.  Things which are sealed up to them, the Lord has opened to those who will see and are ready to understand.  If God has any new light to communicate, He will let His chosen and beloved understand it, without their going to have their minds enlightened by hearing those who are in darkness and error.”  (see also 5T 293)

2. A Church Fallen into Apostatacy, – God Takes Control

Should an old organisation apostatize, then naturally God will call His faithful people out….  What concord hath Christ with Belial, or truth with error?

God has not always revealed new truths to the leaders of old organizations.

a)  The joyful news of Christ’s first advent was not revealed to the dignataries of the Jewish church, but to humble shepherds abiding in the field.

b) His star appeared, not to high priest or ruler, but to the wise men of the East, who, though not Jews, had studied the prophecies, and believed the word of God.

When the leaders betray their trust, God takes the reigns into his own hands.  The church guides had become haughty and proud, knew little of Scripture application, and were not prepared, therefore, to receive and proclaim the heaven-sent truth so appropriate and essential for the time.  Though God is high and lofty, He dwells with those of a humble and contrite spirit, and reveals His secret to those who fear Him (Isa. 57:15; Ps. 25:14).  New wine He puts into new bottles (or humble instruments).  But in this case it is not new light, but old light being re-established through humble instruments.

TM 300 “… they will not recognize the work of God when the loud cry of the third angel shall be heard.  When light goes forth to lighten the earth, instead of coming up to the help of the Lord, they will want to bind about His work to meet their narrow ideas.  Let me tell you that the Lord will work in this last work in a manner very much out of the common order of things, and in a way that will be contrary to any human planning.  There will be those among us who will always want to control the work of God, to dictate even what movements shall be made when the work goes forward under the direction of the angel who joins the third angel in the message to be given to the world.  God will use ways and means by which it will be seen that He is taking the reins in His own hands.  The workers will be surprised by the simple means that He will use to bring about and perfect His work of righteousness.”

History Repeats Itself

Organisation over several generations generally evolves into tradition.  When comes tradition, light is put for darkness, and darkness for light.

As of old, there are those who think more of what they style `their church’ than they do of `God’s Truth’.  They not only refuse to walk in the advancing light themselves, but seek to prevent others doing so.  They ask their friends, `In what church were you and your parents brought up?’ and `Is not the religion of your father and mother good enough for you?’

 a)        Had the disciples of Christ, when called to leave all and follow Him, listened to such reasoning, they would never have become the apostles and founders of the glorious Christian Chruch.

 b)        Had Luther listened to such arguments, there never would have been the revival of true religion during the sixteenth century.

 c)        Had Wesley given heed to such logic there would never have been a Wesleyan Church, or the great spiritual awakening in England and America of a century and half ago.

 d)        Had Sr White listened to the reasoning of the Methodist Church leaders, she would never have been called as God’s messenger under the third angel’s movement as we know it today.

Such reasoning, therefore, is unworthy of any Christian or lover of truth.  It would block all progress.  It places the church before the truth, and tradition before the word of God.

 a)        Accepting the truth led Abraham away from both country and kinsmen.

 b)        For preaching the most glorious truth Christ was expelled from His home-church and town (Luke 4:16-30).

 c)        Accepting the truth in Christ’s time meant separation from the church.  “Nevertheless among the chief rulers also many believed on Him; but because of the Pharisees they did not confess Him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue; for they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God.” John 12:42,43.

 d)        It led Paul, Luther, and Wesley out of the church of their forefathers.

 e)        It led our Advent Pioneers out of their former connections.

Why? – Because the church of their time had become bigoted, proud, stereotyped, dead, formal, lukewarm.  It would not receive God’s truth for the time; it would not advance; it would not reform.  With sorrow and reluctance Christ left the Jewish church.  And when the Church refused to hear and obey, He said, “Your house is left unto you desolate.”  “The kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof.” Matt. 23:38; 21:43.  The structure and form still exists, but it is a dead and lifeless church, “Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof:…” 2 Timothy 3:5.  They stand in contradiction and opposition to Bible Truth.

I Will Turn to Others

A Sad Separation from Hardened Church Leaders

Paul, Luther, and Wesley, all with reluctance left the church of their fathers.  But the leaders of the church, rejecting the truth God had committed to these men, drove them out of the church they loved.

Life of Wesley p134 by Richard Watson “Had the clergy been disposed to co-operate in this evident revival and spread of true religion, and had the heads of the church been willing to sanction itinerant labours among the serious part of the people for mutual edification, the great body of Methodists might have been retained in the communion with the Church of England.  On this matter, which was often brought before the leading and influential clergy, they had their own election.  They refused to co-operate.”

Advocates of Truth Maligned

This is the story of the church over and over again.  The leaders of old, established, formal organizations have almost invariably opposed the advancement of new truth, and treated its advocates and adherents as heretics, schismatics, and outlaws. … Christ was charged with blasphemy, of working miracles by the prince of devils, of deceiving the people, and being a menace to both church and state (Matt 9:3; 12:24; John 6:12; 11:47-50).  His accusers said:- “We found this fellow perverting the nation and forbidding to give tribute to Caesar, saying that He Himself is Christ a King. … He stirreth up the people, teaching throughout all Jewry, beginning from Galilee to this place.” Luke 23:1-5.

Paul was accused of being a `pestilent fellow’, of teaching `heresy’, and turning the world `upside down’ (Acts 24:5,14; 17:6).  Luther of putting forth `most horrid blasphemy against God’, of being `a most excessive drunkard’, and holding `intimate familiarity with devils’ (Sure Way, p53).  And Wesley, in 1745, gives his own experience:

Life of Wesley, pp190-191 “About seven years since, we began preaching inward present salvation, as obtainable by faith alone.  For preaching this doctrine we were forbidden to preach in the churches.  We then preached in private houses as occasion offered; and, when houses could not contain the people, in the open air.  For this many of the clergy preached against us, as both heretics and schismatics.  Persons who were convinced of sin begged us to advise them more particularly how to flee from the wrath to come.  We replied, if they would all come at one time we would endeavour it.  For this we were represented both from the pulpit and the press, as introducing popery, raising sedition, practicing both against church and state; and all manner of evil was publicly said both of us and those who were accustomed to meet with us.  Several of the bishops began to speak against us, either in conversation or in public.  On this encouragement, several of the clergy stirred up the people to treat us as outlaws or mad dogs.”

Parallel with Today

And so it is today.  God sends a message warning the people to flee from the judgments soon to fall; to repent, turn their feet into the path of obedience, prepare for the judgment, Christ’s second coming, and the end of the world.  And what is the result? – The same as of old.  The leaders of old organizations rise up against it, call it a `delusion’, style those who preach it `a heretical sect’, their teaching as `extremely presumptuous’, and their word as `impertinent interference’ with their people.

Was not the wise man right when he said “there is no new thing under the sun”?  History has again repeated itself in the action of those today, who would stifle the efforts made by sincere souls in the hope of bringing reform.  If such are the methods used against those who work for the reforming of the church from the outside, imagine the hopeless and impossible task of bringing the much needed and long hoped for reform of the church from within!  How futile the efforts, yet how little understood!

GC 143-144 “Opposition is the lot of all whom God employs to present truths specially applicable to their time.  There was a present truth in the days of Luther, – a truth at that time of special importance; there is a present truth for the church today. … But truth is no more desired by the majority today than it was by the papists who opposed Luther.  There is the same disposition to accept the theories and traditions of men instead of the word of God as in former ages.  Those who present the truth for this time should not expect to be received with greater favour than were earlier reformers.  The great controversy between truth and error, between Christ and Satan, is to increase in intensity to the close of this world’s history.”

The Danger Prosperous Organisations Face

When the Protestant churches lost the first simplicity of the gospel, they followed in the steps of Rome by building great institutions, large and magnificent churches, and by centralizing the work.  Thus the members of the various churches came to look on the organization as the mighty power upon which God was dependent for the accomplishment of His purposes in the earth.  When this state was reached these religious bodies ceased to advance in the progressive light of truth, and from then onwards walked in the light of the “sparks of their own kindling”.  They resorted to every human invention to keep their hold upon the people, and while still maintaining the forms of religion, the appearance of godliness, the spirit and power were lacking.

So the Devil keeps us busy with the forms of Religion.

4T 535 “The steady progress of our work, and increased facilities, are filling the hearts and minds of many people with satisfaction and pride, which we fear will take the place of the love of God in the soul.  Busy activity in the mechanical part of even the work of God may so occupy the mind that prayer shall be neglected, and self-importance and self-sufficiency, so ready to urge their way, shall take the place of true goodness, meekness, and lowliness of heart.”

History Repeated in Laodicea

History has again repeated itself in the experience of Laodicea.  Revelation 3:14-20 is specially directed to Laodicea and finds the professed people of God in a state of carnal security.  Having lost their first love, a great change has taken place.  The simplicity of the gospel has disappeared and formal religion has taken its place.  It is impossible for them to believe they are in such a deplorable state as pointed out by the True Witness.  They are blinded by outward signs of prosperity and progress.  They look upon the great army of trained missionary workers in the many branches of the work, increasing in numbers every year; the numerous institutions of learning, sanitariums and publishing houses; large and ultra-modern church buildings patterning those of other churches.  They are deeply impressed by the reports of a rapidly increasing membership, and the large revenue which today flows into the treasury is regarded as a sure sign of heavenly approval.  From the human viewpoint all these evidences of success inspire a great confidence in the organization.  In the face of these facts the Laodiceans decline to accept the diagnosis of the True Witness, “Thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked.”   The message which is so clear, cutting and direct is made of none effect.

While we wish to emphasize that the Reform Movement fully accepts the God-approved system of gospel order and organization as taught in the Bible and Spirit of Prophecy, there can be no sympathy with those who profess `reform’ yet teach a `no organization’ doctrine.   Still, we contend that a religious organization is never in itself infallible, and will only be used by God while it is the vehicle for His pure truth.

TM 366 “Organizations, institutions, unless kept by the power of God will work under Satan’s dictation to bring men under the control of men; and fraud and guile will bear the semblance of zeal for truth and for the advancement of the kingdom of God.”

6T 293 “It is not numerous institutions, large buildings, or great display that God requires, but the harmonious action of a peculiar people, a people chosen by God and precious.”

GC 596 “The spirit which actuated those priests and rulers is still manifested by many who make a high profession of piety.  They refuse to examine the testimony of the Scriptures concerning the special truths for this time.  They point to their own numbers, wealth, and popularity, and look with contempt upon the advocates of truth as few. poor, and unpopular, having a faith that separates them from the world.”

Stay in the Church Syndrome

In the days of Christ many believed that He was a teacher sent from God, but they failed to confess Him for fear of being “cast out of the synagogue.”  Open sins of every degree were tolerated by the Jewish leaders, but the one crime, which according to their teaching was the unpardonable sin, was to leave the church.  It had been zelously impressed upon the multitudes, that the Jewish organization and temple were infallible, and that the decision of the Sanhedrim was indeed the voice of God.  Because of this false conception of loyalty and duty “He came unto His own and His own received Him not.”

In like manner, there are many today who believe that there is need of Reformation.  The apostasy in the church is growing more and more evident each day, but they are at a loss to know what to do to stay the tide of worldliness and backsliding.  They would welcome the message which God has raised up at this time, to bear aloft the banner of truth and righteousness, but again the way is made difficult for them.  From the denominational pulpit and press they hear continually the “peace and safety” cry, “Stay in the church,” “The Laodicean Church is the last church,” “This is the remnant church which is going through to the kingdom.”

This leaves the impression upon members that the church is infallible.

Modern Corruption of Laodicean Message

The modern application of the message to Laodicea is vastly different from that taught by the pioneers.  Because of the overwhelming evidence found in the Spirit of Prophecy, it is today admitted that the Seventh-day Adventist church is the Laodicean church, but instead of taking the Bible as it is written, and recognizing that Laodicea is to be rejected, or “spewed out,” this new version has Laodicea as the triumphant church, and those who leave Laodicea as the ones who are “spewed out.”  For example, note carefully the following statement appearing in the Review and Herald of January 26, 1956:

“To leave this church, to be spewed out of it because of personal rejection of the testimony of the True Witness, is to be lost.  In no place does the Lord call His people out of the Laodicean church.  On the contrary, He would have us buy of Him the gold tried in the fire, the white raiment, and the eyesalve, then remain with Him in the Laodicean church. …. Fear, lest you should leave the Laodicean church by having Christ spew you out from it.  The Laodiceans are His people, the church He loves.”  The above is truly a Laodicean deduction, and an integral part of present day Laodicean theology.

Does the Laodicean Organization Finally Triumph?

If we place the word of the Bible and Spirit of Prophecy first, we must honestly say – No!

“So then because thou art Lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spew thee out of my mouth.” Rev. 3:16.

“Here we see that the church – the Lord’s sanctuary, was the first to feel the stroke of the wrath of God.  The ancient men, those to whom God had given great light and who had stood as guardians of the spiritual interests of the people had betrayed their trust.” 5T 211.

The following extract is taken from a Signs of the Times article written by M.C. Wilcox in 1909:  “There is hope in neither Sardis nor in Laodicea.  Out of these conditions must the victors come into that of Philadelphia – brotherly love. …. He has no promise to Laodicea as a whole.  `If any man hear my voice,’ He pleads with the individuals.”

Conclusion

Instead of urging members to remain in the church, it would be better to urge them to stand firm for Bible truth?  Advocating truth, we uplift God’s faithful church.  If the church were indeed free from worldly entanglements and compromise with sin, then “the love of God” would keep the members united in one body, in the bonds of love and truth.  By advocating truth, we uplift God’s faithful church.

“When God’s people are at ease, and satisfied with their present enlightenment, we may be sure that He will not favor them.  It is His will that they should be ever moving forward, to receive the increased and ever-increasing light which is shining for them.  The present attitude of the church is not pleasing to God.  There has come in a self-confidence that has led them to feel no necessity for more truth and greater light.  We are living at a time when Satan is at work on the right hand and on the left, before and behind us; and yet as a people we are asleep.  God wills that a voice shall be heard arousing His people to action” GW 300.

The Laodicean Message is to spur us into action.  It is the truth in the heart that bridges all hereditary, cultural, national barriers.  It is the truth, (the Message to Laodicea, the Message of the 4th Angel, the Sanctuary Sealing message – bible messages of Present Truth) which must preceed preconceived ideas and tradition.  Truth will set us free.  “If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.” John 8:36.

Share this.
Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on pinterest