The True Witness Testifies

By John Thiel

We all acknowledge that JESUS is the head of His visible church. As we live at a time of unprecedented confusion of church organizations who claim to be God’s visible church; does it do us well if we really enter the arena of contestants with that claim? How does the Head of the church teach us to think?

If I bear witness of myself, my witness is not true. There is another that beareth witness of me; and I know that the witness which he witnesseth of me is true.” John 5:31, 32.

We have one who is “The True Witness” of His church; He speaks in Revelation two and three, in fact throughout the book of Revelation. In chapter 14 verse 12 He testifies of His true church. “Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus.

The Spirit of Prophecy – named the Testimony of Jesus – declares that the banner His army holds aloft is that very statement.  Therefore, for us to be His visible church, all that we need to do is to understand and uplift that standard before the world with the power of the Holy Spirit.

Then the Lord can rightfully declare about us: “There are threescore queens, and fourscore concubines, and virgins without number. My dove, my undefiled is but one; she is the only one of her mother, she is the choice one of her that bare her. The daughters saw her, and blessed her; yea, the queens and the concubines, and they praised her. Who is she that looketh forth as the morning, fair as the moon, clear as the sun, and terrible as an army with banners?” Song of Solomon 6:8-10.

We can all look back through church history and recognize the visible church in 1844, namely – the SDA church. Then through 1888, the movement of the Revelation 18 angel and the manifestation of this movement in the separation of 1914. Then followed the most perplexing experience leading to the split of the brethren of this movement in 1951. Both companies claim to be the Revelation 18 angel, declaring their roots to be firmly established in the 1888 message presented by E.J. Waggoner and A.T. Jones together with Sister White.

At this point I wish to introduce myself to the reader. Having been raised in the Seventh-day Adventist church, I came across the detail of the 1888 message at the age of fifteen years. With burning heart I absorbed the writings of the sermons of Waggoner and Jones presented from 1893 to 1895 General Conferences and their other books on Christ and His Righteousness. Over the years I came to understand the practical application of the message and quickly found myself in conflict of belief with the general ministry and membership of the SDA church. By age twenty-one, I was convinced that the SDA church was no longer God’s church in that she had rejected Jesus in the 1888 message, especially in their unbelief that Jesus had come and taken sinful flesh in His task to save humanity.

Believing that God does have a visible church, I began my search for that church which believed the 1888 message together with all original doctrines of Seventh-day Adventism. After several years my encounter with the SDA Reform Movement led to one year of in-depth research of its doctrines. With great joy I discovered a church that represented to me all I was looking for, and believing this to be God’s church, I joined with my wife. Within three years, I was called into full-time service and continued as Field leader of three fields in Australasia for a period of approximately eighteen years.

During this period of service I proclaimed the message of original Adventism in the framework of the Lord our Righteousness, with heavy accent on the atonement, or the incarnation of Jesus. The Lord gave me success, and the fields within which I laboured prospered in both spiritual quality and increase in numbers. I truly did experience the meaning of 5BC, p. 1137: “The sacrifice of Christ as an atonement for sin is the great truth around which all other truths cluster. In order to be rightly understood and appreciated, every truth in the Word of God, from Genesis to Revelation, must be studied in the light which streams from the cross of Calvary, and in connection with the wondrous, central truth of the Saviour’s atonement.

In the early years of ministry, all seemed well, but very slowly I found myself in a groundswell of bewildering contradicting suggestions from the ministering brethren. Slowly it became evident that there was something wrong; I seemed to be preaching out of harmony with my ministering brethren on the nature of Christ. It was required of me to write my convictions in a document which found its way in scrutiny right to the 1987 General Conference in session.

From this session came the answering declaration:

While He, Christ, took our fallen nature we believe in harmony with what is written that there was in Him no evil propensity of sin, but that He was tempted from without, not from within, in all points as we are, yet without sin.” SDARM General Conference Session 1987

I was in difficulty, but still believing it to be God’s church I persevered for another thirteen years. During these later years I had many encounters between brethren from the International Missionary Society and my ministering brethren over souls with whom I was labouring. In these encounters the distressing details of the 1951 split were heavily dwelt upon, which caused me excruciating distress. How can brethren, who were meant to be proclaiming the Lord our Righteousness, be embroiled in claims and counter-claims of being God’s church through focus on personality conflicts of 1951 and different character assassinations? Within myself, I felt both parties were at fault, and could not identify the IMS as any different to the Nicolici Reform.

These perplexities only served as catalysts in me to proclaim more decidedly the Faith once delivered to the saints. Consequently my ministering brethren became increasingly disturbed and sought to divert my influence until the 18th General Conference Session held in 1999. There some delegates pressed the subject to the end that a resolution be launched to forever silence such as I on the proclamation of the true incarnation of Christ. The resolution read in part as follows:

Christ partook of our sinful nature (ST July 30, 1902; MM 180) and was thus encompassed with infirmities, weakness and liabilities (2T 202, 508, 509; DA 49; 1SM 131, 132; 4BC 1146:4), but He had no evil propensities or evil tendencies in His human nature. Evil tendencies or evil propensities are evil leanings, inclinations and bias. These reside in our minds not in our physical flesh (AH 127,128). Christ had none of these in His mind or flesh (human nature).The work of conversion and sanctification is the process which God uses to remove these evil propensities from our nature.” SDARM General Conference Resolution 1999

What total ignorance of the facts. Read AH 127, 128 and see how badly this has been used – in fact, it declares the opposite to their assertion. And besides, the process of conversion and sanctification to deal with sin in our flesh was achieved in the flesh of Jesus – Romans 8:4.

When the wife yields her body and mind to the control of her husband, being passive to his will in all things, sacrificing her conscience, her dignity, and even her identity, she loses the opportunity of exerting that mighty influence for good which she should possess to elevate her husband. She could soften his stern nature, and her sanctifying influence could be exerted in a manner to refine and purify, leading him to strive earnestly to govern his passions and be more spiritually minded, that they might be partakers together of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. The power of influence can be great to lead the mind to high and noble themes, above the low, sensual indulgences for which the heart unrenewed by grace naturally seeks. If the wife feels that in order to please her husband she must come down to his standard, when animal passion is the principal basis of his love and controls his actions, she displeases God; for she fails to exert a sanctifying influence upon her husband. If she feels that she must submit to his animal passions without a word of remonstrance, she does not understand her duty to him nor to her God. {AH 127.1}

The lower passions have their seat in the body and work through it. The words “flesh” or “fleshly” or “carnal lusts” embrace the lower, corrupt nature; the flesh of itself cannot act contrary to the will of God. We are commanded to crucify the flesh, with the affections and lusts. How shall we do it? Shall we inflict pain on the body? No; but put to death the temptation to sin. The corrupt thought is to be expelled. Every thought is to be brought into captivity to Jesus Christ. All animal propensities are to be subjected to the higher powers of the soul. The love of God must reign supreme; Christ must occupy an undivided throne. Our bodies are to be regarded as His purchased possession. The members of the body are to become the instruments of righteousness. {AH 127.2}

With a broken heart, I finally surrendered to the long term struggle, whether the Nicolici Reform was truly not God’s church but rather harboured the spirit of Anti-Christ according to 1 John:

Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world. Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God: and every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that [spirit] of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world.” 1 John 4:1-3

The term “the flesh” comes from the Greek “sarxs” meaning sinful flesh and relates to 1 Peter where, speaking of Jesus, it says:

Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree,” 1 Peter 2:24

After several weeks of despair in that I was destitute of a church organization to belong to, together with a number of believers who looked to me to lead out as under-shepherd of the little flock in Perth, Western Australia; I sensed One draw near to me with the impression – “You know that there is another church with its roots in the 1888 message; why not call them and enquire regarding their position on the flesh of Jesus Christ?”

Thus followed many conversations by phone and a visit from Brother Jerry Eaton. I was comforted to learn that the IMS held to the truth of Christ’s sinful flesh. By this dialogue with the IMS a clear representation of the difference between the Nicolici Reform and the IMS Reform unfolded before me and I came to the conclusion that can resolve the fifty years of claims and counterclaims between the two companies over the 1951 split. Let me conclude this article with this consideration.

The fruitless soul-destroying claims and counterclaims that either company is God’s acknowledged church on the basis of the actions, mistakes, accusations and mismanagements and apparently wrong spirit of either party or individuals during the 1951 split is forever over. In meeting the question as to whether there are two reforms, or which one of the two is the true God-acknowledged church organization, we no longer refer to the long-winded perplexing circumstantial evidences of 1951.

We have a message, “The commandments of God and the faith of Jesus.” Those that do not know need to be illuminated by the subject of the “faith of Jesus” as Waggoner and Jones presented it in 1888. That included the truth of the sinful flesh, which by His faith He came to conquer. As we so uplift Jesus before the people, that is the “new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, His flesh” Heb. 10:20; the attention of the enquirers will be so fixed upon Jesus that they will recognize Him among us. By this we will have nothing to lose.

If they still attack us on our assessment of the Nicolici Reform, we can simply show them the Nicolici GC resolution of 1999. The facts will speak for themselves and we are free from the guilt of enlarging the faults and the speaking evil of any man, let alone our former brethren.

Let us join ranks pressing together in the unity of the faith that will at length present the church triumphant, perfected, without spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing.

John Thiel, Australia.

Posted on August 25, 2009, in The Church of God, The Nature of Christ and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.

  1. Awesome testimony brother.
    I was raised as a Sunday Keeper in a Pentecostal AOG Church and i myself at 27yrs of age became a Sabbath-keeper in the SDA Church on 19/12/2009 after a 5yrs of intense study of my Bible.
    I was introduced to the SDA Church from exploring the Reformed SDA first.
    Just recently i have founded out through a friend on facebook about the IMS Reformed Movement.

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