The Church of God

By John Thiel

Throughout the ages God’s church has always remained the same.  Unconquerable and one day it will stand as strong as a mountain. Although the Church of God is pressing steadily towards the mark of becoming the church triumphant, the Bible warns us that the church faces great perils at this time because we are now living in the most perilous time of the earth’s history.  The reason why the perils of our time are so great is because they have an unconscious effect upon mind that unless revealed to us through God’s appointed agents in His church, the perils will deceive even the very elect. It is for this reason that the Laodicean message is given as you say you are rich and increased with goods because you have it all and yet you do not know how wretched, blind, miserable poor and naked you really are.

Christ looks mournfully upon His professed people who feel rich and increased in the knowledge of the truth, and who are yet destitute of the truth in life and character, and unconscious of their destitute condition. {TDG 228.2}

What a perfect display of this meaning, increased with a knowledge of the truth and yet destitute of the truth in life and character. Let me explain this further with an illustration; many children learn their times tables at school perfectly, but when they have to actually apply their times tables to a practical problem, they can’t do it. They may tell their teacher that they know it all off by heart, but in reality the situation is quite different. This is a condition that we’re in danger of falling into; a condition where the mind has become so deteriorated, simple Godliness is not discerned. It is this condition that we will deal with in relation to the topic of the Church of God.

1 Timothy 3:15 But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.

The council is given here that we need to understand the church of God in relation to what Jesus has said.  Matthew 24 foreshadows the perils we are subject to in reference to recognizing God’s church;

Matthew 24:5 For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many.

One peril that we need to watch for is that every ministry that comes to us claims to be the body of Christ. We are living in a time where so many wonderful truths are being taught and miracles performed that we start to think that it really doesn’t matter where the Church of God is.

Matthew 24:45 Who then is a faithful and wise servant, whom his lord hath made ruler over his household, to give them meat in due season?

Can you see the question? Who then in such a time as this, is the faithful church giving meat in due season. And what is the meat?

Matthew 24:48 But and if that evil servant shall say in his heart, My lord delayeth his coming; 49 And shall begin to smite his fellowservants, and to eat and drink with the drunken;

This scripture makes reference to wine and being drunk, remember the wine of Babylon (the false doctrine) which made them drunk. You have these numerous churches claiming to be Gods church and everyone is in a great state of danger because even the elect could be deceived.

The world is filled with strife for the supremacy. The spirit of pulling away from fellow laborers, the spirit of disorganization, is in the very air we breathe. By some, all efforts to establish order are regarded as dangerous–as a restriction of personal liberty, and hence to be feared as popery. These deceived souls regard it a virtue to boast of their freedom to think and act independently. They declare that they will not take any man’s say-so, that they are amenable to no man. I have been instructed that it is Satan’s special effort to lead men to feel that God is pleased to have them choose their own course independent of the counsel of their brethren. {9T 257.2}

There is peril is in the atmosphere we breath.

Some have advanced the thought that, as we near the close of time, every child of God will act independently of any religious organization. {9T 258.1}

This suggestion and the atmosphere of this thinking is rampant around me. There are so many churches now that the people think and feel they have the right to be free, and to believe whatever they like.

But I have been instructed by the Lord that in this work there is no such thing as every man’s being independent. The stars of heaven are all under law, each influencing the other to do the will of God, yielding their common obedience to the law that controls their action. And, in order that the Lord’s work may advance healthfully and solidly, His people must draw together. {9T 258.1}

Some have advanced the thought that as we near the close of time every child of God will act independently of any religious organisation, but the above quote plainly states that God’s people will draw even closer together. This atmosphere of I will do as I please because my relationship with God is my own or I can come and go to church as I please and it doesn’t matter which one I go to, prevails around us. Have you ever felt this temptation? Does it really matter which church I got to? After all, there are many Sabbath keeping churches now;

  • The Seventh Day Adventist Church
  • The International Missionary Society Seventh Day Adventist Reform Movement
  • The Seventh Day Adventist Reform Movement
  • The SDA Independents

Is it necessary then to belong and become entrenched with just one organisation?  Do we ever think to ourselves I will just go to church but not become involved with a church organisation?  This suggestion is continually played out before me. People say to me My relationship with God is all that matters, the church itself is not so important. I then seek council from the Lord in relation to this and ask him directly, does my relationship with God include a relationship with his church? Well, here we have an answer to this question directly from God’s word.  Let’s read it in the simple prayer of Jesus Christ, and mark this prayer because we will come back to it later.  Remember the question that is utmost now? Does my relationship include an in-depth relation with his church?

John 7:20 Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; 21 That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.

One in us, can you see the relationship; the relationship that Jesus had with God is the relationship we can have with him.

John 17:22 And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one: 23 I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me.

The beautiful relationship that I have with Jesus and the intimate relationship that Jesus has with the Father is articulated here. We are also instructed that this unity is to exist among the members of God’s church so that we may be made perfect in one. And it is this instruction which is so contrary to human opinion around us. Human opinion is the source of my study this morning because in human nature people always think their own opinions are right?  Here our relationship with God articulated very firmly with deep thought.

Hebrews 4:12 For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.

4:13 Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight: but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do.

With whom we have to do, what does that mean? There is no mucking around here, I have to do with God, and everything that God has said I have something to do with, and He knows me and my thoughts and He cuts me right to the core with His truth. So this God with whom we have to do identifies to us our relationship with Him in his church. Follow through very carefully in Mathew now. We know so well this passage where Peter answered Jesus and told Him that he knew who Jesus was.

Matthew 16:16 And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. 17 And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven.

When Peter identified Jesus as the Son of God, he didn’t really understand this according to his flesh and blood, it was something that the Holy Spirit had to reveal to him.

Matthew 16:18 And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.

God will build his church which the gates of hell will not be able to prevail against

Matthew 16:19 And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.

Here the keys of the kingdom of heaven are delivered into the hands of human beings such as the disciples, and Jesus prays for His disciples and for all those who believe upon their word right down the line.

Verily I say unto you, Christ continued, whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. Verse 18. {7T 263.2}

This statement holds its force in all ages. On the church has been conferred the power to act in Christ’s stead. It is God’s instrumentality for the preservation of order and discipline among His people. To it the Lord has delegated the power to settle all questions respecting its prosperity, purity, and order. Upon it rests the responsibility of excluding from its fellowship those who are unworthy, who by their un-Christlike conduct would bring dishonor on the truth. Whatever the church does that is in accordance with the directions given in God’s word will be ratified in heaven. {7T 263.3}

Matters of grave import come up for settlement by the church. God’s ministers, ordained by Him as guides of His people, after doing their part are to submit the whole matter to the church, that there may be unity in the decision made. {7T 263.4}

The Lord desires His followers to exercise great care in dealing with one another. They are to lift up, to restore, to heal. But there is to be in the church no neglect of proper discipline. The members are to regard themselves as pupils in a school, learning how to form characters worthy of their high calling. In the church here below, God’s children are to be prepared for the great reunion in the church above. Those who here live in harmony with Christ may look forward to an endless life in the family of the redeemed. How God has designated his church, The God with whom we have to do?

Ephesians 4:11 And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;

4:12 For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:

4:13 Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:

Can you see the leadership and ministries that God has orchestrated in His Church for the perfecting of the saints? God is going to use these ministries in the church so that what He has joined together, no man shall put asunder. It is a directive of God to use his church for the upbuilding and establishing of individuals into the image of Jesus Christ. So if we are going to be saved, the God with whom we have to do, tells us in His church how this is to be accomplished.

The church is God’s appointed agency for the salvation of men. It was organized for service, and its mission is to carry the gospel to the world. From the beginning it has been God’s plan that through His church shall be reflected to the world His fullness and His sufficiency. The members of the church, those whom He has called out of darkness into His marvelous light, are to show forth His glory. The church is the repository of the riches of the grace of Christ; and through the church will eventually be made manifest, even to the principalities and powers in heavenly places, the final and full display of the love of God. Ephesians 3:10. {AA 9.1}

What will God use the church for? It is his repository for the riches of his grace that he would display his love through his church. What God will do in reference to his church goes into a more powerful depth.

God has made His church on the earth a channel of light, and through it He communicates His purposes and His will. He does not give to one of His servants an experience independent of and contrary to the experience of the church itself. Neither does He gives one man a knowledge of His will for the entire church while the church–Christ’s body –is left in darkness. In His providence He places His servants in close connection with His church in order that they may have less confidence in themselves and greater confidence in others whom He is leading out to advance His work. {AA 163.1}

God has placed his servants in close connection with his church so that they might have less confidence in themselves and more confidence in others who are leading out. God does not work by one man only, he works by a team harmony.

Those who are inclined to regard their individual judgment as supreme are in grave peril. It is Satan’s studied effort to separate such ones from those who are channels of light, through whom God has wrought to build up and extend His work in the earth. To neglect or despise those whom God has appointed to bear the responsibilities of leadership in connection with the advancement of the truth, is to reject the means that He has ordained for the help, encouragement, and strength of His people. For any worker in the Lord’s cause to pass these by, and to think that his light must come through no other channel than directly from God, is to place himself in a position where he is liable to be deceived by the enemy and overthrown. The Lord in His wisdom has arranged that by means of the close relationship that should be maintained by all believers, Christian shall be united to Christian and church to church. Thus the human instrumentality will be enabled to co-operate with the divine. Every agency will be subordinate to the Holy Spirit, and all the believers will be united in an organized and well-directed effort to give to the world the glad tidings of the grace of God. {AA 164.1}

In the ministry of Christ and his apostles, those who were converted to the truth were brought into church relationship; and every stray, lost sheep that was found, was brought to the fold of the church, that under the direction of the Master, through the undershepherds, they might go in and out and find pasture. God has instituted his church and delegated to it his authority and power. He has given it the inspired oracles, provided it with pastors and teachers to carry forward his work on the earth when he should leave it. At a later date, when the church was weakened by its individual members being led into errors, and spiritual life was chilled and palsied by backslidings, the inspired apostle exclaimed, I am jealous over you with a godly jealousy. But I fear lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. Nothing is so demoralizing, so enfeebling to the church, as to have her individual members obtain a burden upon this false sanctification, which leads them away from the simplicity of the gospel of Christ. Satan always leads this class away from the church, and leads them to regard the church far behind them in spirituality and experience. The power and glory of God is revealed in his church. Here God gives the blessings of his grace. Here he reveals the mysteries of his will. {ST, October 23, 1879 par. 9}

How does God use the church? He delegates to his church his authority, and the inspired oracles. If we want to have a relationship with God, then we need a relationship with the church because the mysteries of his will are revealed in it.

The world’s Redeemer has invested great power with His church. He states the rules to be applied in cases of trial with its members. After He has given explicit directions as to the course to be pursued, He says: Verily I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever [in church discipline] ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. Thus even the heavenly authority ratifies the discipline of the church in regard to its members when the Bible rule has been followed. {3T 428.1}

This is very clear and very definite that our relationship with God is hidden with his church. Evidently if I have a relationship with God and I despise his church, how is my relationship then described with the God with whom I have to do?

God has appointed for the leadership of His people. God has invested His church with special authority and power which no one can be justified in disregarding and despising, for he who does this despises the voice of God. {AA 163.2}

We can say that we have a relationship with Jesus and that it’s lovely but if we despise the voice of the church then what is our relationship with God like? We might be dreaming but the reality is that most of the time we do despise his voice. Can you see the message to Laodicea that he who despises the authority of the church despises God?

He who despises the authority of the church despises the authority of Christ Himself. {DA 805.4}

This is not my opinion; I have to submit myself to it just as much as everyone else does. In today’s peril with countless numbers of churches and disorganizations in the air we breathe, how am I going to find my way through? Well, when perplexities and anomalies arise within the church, God provides the answer in His Word of how to deal with it.

Ephesians 4:1 I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called,

4:2 With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love;

4:3 Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.

What must we do in reference to this knowledge that God has a church and I have a relationship with it? Well in verse 1 we are beseeched to be worthy of the vocation which means that we are called. And how must we follow our vocation? With all lowliness, meekness and long suffering. We live in church affiliation today which has its problems but is that an excuse for me to distance myself? Does that mean I can say they’re all wrong and I’m right?
What does it say in Ephesians? I have a high calling and when I am lowly and meek I don’t withdraw myself from God’s church, I just do what Jesus did with all long suffering and forbearing of one another in love, endeavoring to keep the unity of the spirit in the bond of peace

Some are naturally combative. They do not care whether they harmonize with their brethren or not. They would like to enter into controversy, would like to fight for their particular ideas; but they should lay this aside, for it is not developing the Christian graces. Work with all your power to answer the prayer of Christ that His disciples may be one, as He is one with the Father. Not a soul of us is safe unless we learn of Christ daily, His meekness and lowliness. {1MCP 40.2}

As soon as you have a thought inside you that lifts you up over your brethren run to Christ. In your labour don’t be dictatorial or severe. Seek to be of one mind and one judgment and to speak the same things. Talking about divisions because all do not have the same ideas is the work of the enemy. Talk the simple truth wherein you can agree. You can enjoy the fellowship and love if you practice this. There is more direction so we can be part of God’s Church.

The neglect to cultivate tender consideration and forbearance for one another has caused dissension, distrust, faultfinding, and general disunion. God . . . calls upon us to put away this great sin and to strive to answer the prayer of Christ that His disciples may be one as He is one with the Father. . . . It is the special work of Satan to cause dissension, . . . that the world should be deprived of the most powerful testimony Christians can give it that God has sent His Son to bring into harmony turbulent, proud, envious, jealous, bigoted minds. . . . {OHC 237.3}

We are not to speak of disunion and we must remember to cultivate tender consideration to one another because if we fail to do this it will cause dissention. For this reason God calls us to put away the sins of fault finding, distrust, dissention and disunion. God wants us to answer the prayer of Christ that we will become one as Christ was one in the father. Satan doesn’t want the world to see that God has the power to bring different kinds of minds into harmony. Therefore we needn’t be surprised when we meet different kinds of minds in God’s church because it is his plan that we will all eventually come into harmony? God wants to conquer Satan in His church through unity. Let us endeavour to follow this instruction and to shun the Laodicean condition which is a knowledge of the truth and yet a destitution of the truth in life and character. What must we do to shun this condition?

A man may have a knowledge of the Scriptures which will not make him wise unto salvation, although he may be able to master his opponents in public controversy. If he does not have a yearning of soul after God; if he does not search his own heart as with a lighted candle, fearing that any wrong should lurk there; if he is not possessed with a desire to answer the prayer of Christ, that His disciples may be one as He is one with the Father, that the world may believe that Jesus is the Christ,– he flatters himself in vain that he is a Christian. His knowledge, begun in ambition, is carried forward in pride; but his soul is destitute of the divine love, the gentleness and meekness of Christ. He is not a wise man in the sight of God. He may have wisdom to overcome an opponent; but wise unto salvation, he cannot possibly be without the agency of the Holy Spirit. And the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance. Neither talent, eloquence, nor selfish study of the Scriptures, will produce love to God or conformity to the image of Christ. Nothing but divine power can regenerate the human heart and character, and imbue the soul with the love of Christ, which will ever manifest itself in love to those for whom He died.–Review and Herald, Nov. 28, 1893. {FE 240.1}

You can argue every doctrine correctly and yet you may not have knowledge of the scriptures which will make you wise unto salvation. Here is the instruction that we must shun these kinds of things if we would relate correctly in God’s church. But now we have this other element of what we must not pay attention to. Remember we are surrounded by an atmosphere of independence in both ourselves and in others.

The word of God does not give license for one man to set up his judgment in opposition to the judgment of the church, neither is he allowed to urge his opinions against the opinions of the church. Unless there was church discipline and church governments, the church would go to fragments. They could not hold together as a body. . . . {15MR 130.2}

The false theory of sanctification had threatened not only the unity and harmony of families, but the peace and prosperity of the church. Upon this subject I had a special testimony to bear. {ST, October 23, 1879 par. 5}

This false sanctification is most dangerous (remember the perils) and deceptive in its influence upon all who accept it. A peculiar atmosphere surrounds them, an influence which, when brought in contact with others, if not discerned, is breathed in unconsciously by the receiver. This atmosphere is charged with poison which is death to spirituality. There are no snares of Satan more hard to be discerned and defined, and souls be rescued from, than this delusion. {ST, October 23, 1879 par. 6}

Those who accept this bogus sanctification do not hesitate to draw away from the body and set themselves up as criteria. They claim that the Lord is leading them, and do not seek counsel of the church, but move out independently, deceived in themselves and deceiving others. The poison of this so-called sanctification is inhaled, and the atmosphere, apparently so balmy, is intoxicating and destructive to those who are charmed with it. Each individual will have an independence of his own, claiming to be taught of God; therefore no one must get in their way or interfere with their course of action. This is as Satan would have it. The voice of the church, God’s delegated power upon earth, is set aside and despised. These professedly sanctified ones are filled with vain conceit, and with presumption move on in their own wisdom, exhorting others to come up to the exalted standard of themselves. They disregard the teachings and prayer of Christ that his disciples may be one as he was one with the Father, that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. The unity and oneness of the church was to be the living epistle, known and read of all men. The world was to see in their harmony and love for each other the life of Christ exemplified. {ST, October 23, 1879 par. 7}

God instructs us that we must understand Him and His church with whom we have to do. As the church clings closely to every word of God it can be ratified by heaven, and its action is then something which we are to listen to. Here now comes the instruction to the church so that it does not cause a problem to the members.

The church must say about sin what God says about it. She must deal with it as God directs, and her action is ratified in heaven. {DA 805.4}

If the church is going to be God’s church, she must speak what God speaks. So there is a twofold challenger here. First of all, people in the church who are naturally independent in their thinking must not deviate from persisting in coming into the unity of the faith with each other, and secondly the church must not deviate from speaking the pure word of God. It is my prayer that we will pay close attention to the things that have been read and place ourselves under this instruction so that together we will become engaged in a deep relationship with God under His authority. We must remember our initial joy of how we came to find the church of God and not become blunted to it. Will we love the Lord and desire to follow him? Let us not despise Him by despising his church.

Song of Solomon 1:7 Tell me, O thou whom my soul loveth, where thou feedest, where thou makest thy flock to rest at noon: for why should I be as one that turneth aside by the flocks of thy companions?

1:8 If thou know not, O thou fairest among women, go thy way forth by the footsteps of the flock, and feed thy kids beside the shepherds’ tents.

Very relevant direction and next week we will follow that through. Identifying the footstep of the flock so we can identify them today. May God enable us to engage under the direction given today against the perils that surround us.


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Posted on 14/11/2009, in The Church of God and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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