Where is God’s Church Today?

By John Thiel, mp3

What is the position we find ourselves in in the religious world today? Here is the story of the predicament that we are in in these times:

Song of Solomon 6:8 There are threescore queens, and fourscore concubines, and virgins without number.

In the Bible a woman is a symbol of the church. We read here that there are threescore queens, and fourscore concubines, and virgins without number. In this bewildering circumstance of multiple churches, all of them claiming to be the Christian church of God, claiming to be the followers of Jesus but all having contradictory positions on different subjects, if we are going to be the sheep that follow Jesus the Shepherd, with all the folds that present themselves we find a bewilderment. Where is it?

O, tell me, Thou life and delight of my soul,
Where the flock of Thy pasture are feeding.

Where are they? We want to find some sound conclusions coming from God’s word, from an experience in searching for this comfort of where God’s flock, the flock of Jesus, is feeding.

With all these different churches, there is something that Jesus said which really comes into focus for our time. Jesus is here speaking to His little church, His little company which launched out the Christian church:

Matthew 28:16 Then the eleven disciples went away into Galilee, into a mountain where Jesus had appointed them. 17 And when they saw him, they worshipped him: but some doubted. 18 And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. 19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: 20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, [even] unto the end of the world. Amen.

Who is Jesus with? Here we are, unmistakably in the end of the world, and with whom is He? He says, I am with you, even unto the end of the world. With whom is He? When He was there with them, even back then they lived in a circumstance of denominational conflict. There were the Jewish church, the Sanhedrin, the Pharisees, the Sadducees, and different other groups, just like they exist today. There He was with the eleven, and to them He said, Go, and teach everything that I have taught you and commanded you; and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.

Here He was, so many centuries ago, and He said, I am with you. With whom? With those disciples who teach “to observe all things whatsoever He has commanded them.” There are so many who teach, but they teach all sorts of contradictory doctrines; can He be misunderstood to say that He is with them? It is those that are teaching to observe all things that He has commanded that He is with.

God’s church, according to the Bible, is not just any church that simply claims to be God’s church; it is a people; it is those who teach the truth. The apostle says:

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.

What is God’s church? It tells you here very emphatically. It is the pillar and ground of the truth. You cannot be a church based on any other foundation. It is the truth that identifies the church. And Jesus said, I am with you, this church, until the very end of the world.


There we are confronted with a challenge. Among so many voices of different folds and of different bodies of people, all having different ministries, all teaching, and yet contradicting one another, what security is there? How important is the truth? It is the truth that the church of God is to be identified by, and it is there to do a work for those who are part of that church.

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

Here is the church that God gave. Why did He give those apostles, prophets, evangelists, etc.; for what purpose?

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

What is the truth for? What is the church that is built upon the truth and is the pillar and ground of the truth for? So that there can be a people that can arise, the saints that are perfected by the work of this ministry; so that they can be built up as the body of Christ, until all will come, in the unity of the faith, of this teaching, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ. That is how important is the truth and the church that is to be instrumental in bringing that truth to fruition in the lives of those that are ministered to.


Ephesians 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; 15 But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, [even] Christ:

Here is a weighty scriptural directive. There needs to be the church to whom Jesus said, “I am with you, and you will be the pillar and ground of the truth; you will teach everything that I have commanded; and as you pursue this work in the ministry and the gifts that I have given, there will be a security in which you will no longer be tossed to and fro by every wind of doctrine.” We will be secure in pure doctrine. How can this be applied to the multiplicity of churches that teach multiple different approaches to Christianity which are not in harmony with what is written? People are all over the place. Where then is the church today, one that we can feel part of and in which we can feel secure, untrammelled by all these varying suggestive doctrines and teachings?

Colossians 2:6 As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, [so] walk ye in him: 7 Rooted and built up in him, and stablished in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving.

Can you see what is connected with receiving Christ? As we have received Christ, so we should walk in Him, rooted and built up in Him, and established in the faith, as we have been taught. The faith as we have been taught. Can you see how that connects with Jesus’ words, Go, and teach all nations everything that I have commanded you? As we have been taught, we become established in the faith, we are built up in Him, and we abound therein. This is what the Scripture is telling us God’s church is to provide.

For the past 55 years, this has been uppermost in my personal purpose for living on this planet. What I have just shared with you has been the underlying burden on my soul, because I grew up in the Seventh-day Adventist church; I was born to a Seventh-day Adventist family; I attended the Seventh-day Adventist school as a young boy, and I was taught all the typical things that the Seventh-day Adventist children were taught. I was taught that all. I was baptised at the age of 14, because I went to the presentations of the missionary outreach meetings and I was convinced; there were beautiful messages there, the prophecies, and I decided I would be baptised. Then, at the age of nineteen, I attended a medical S.D.A. institution, but also a training within the doctrines and teachings of the church, for three whole years. From about twelve through to twenty one, those formative years in my development, I was growing up and being taught basic original Seventh-day Adventism, however, in an atmosphere of splintering church leadership. It was in the days of Des Ford in Australia. I was there; I knew him personally. I grew up bewildered between the old ministry and the modern one. But underneath was my cry, because I loved my God. In the primary school I still remember walking down the playground, and the thoughts were going through my mind, Every church says they are the right church, God’s church; what makes mine correct? And this played in my mind, and I was in search of security right through. Where could I find it in a splintering experience of Adventism?

So much was I concerned that, when I came to about 20 years of age and more Seventh-day Adventist companies came to my attention, teaching different things differently from one to the other, I came to an experience where the prophet, Sister White, was placed before me whether she was of God or not. I had to test the prophet. This was then a challenge before me, because there were groups that were making little of the Spirit of Prophecy, and I myself had made little of it. But as I tested the prophet, she passed all the tests of the Bible, and I found it to be the Testimony of Jesus. And now it became vivid to me that He is speaking to me both through the Bible and the Testimony of Jesus, the Spirit of Prophecy.

There I was, at the age of 22, pleading because of all the bewilderment that I was going through. I need to know where the Shepherd is feeding His flock with pure truth. I give my testimony here, not because I regard myself as anyone special; I am not anyone special; I am simply an individual who was looking, and still is desiring to follow where the Shepherd is feeding His flock. This is my testimony, and I thank God that when I was in this initial bewilderment He answered my prayer with a direct statement from the Testimony of Jesus:

Upon the Platform

I saw a company who stood well guarded and firm, giving no countenance to those who would unsettle the established faith of the body. God looked upon them with approbation. I was shown three steps,–the first, second, and third angels’ messages. Said my accompanying angel, “Woe to him who shall move a block or stir a pin of these messages. {CW 53.1}

Woe to anyone who would do what? Who would move a block or stir a pin of these messages. Not a single item of any of the things that were established was to be altered; nothing.

The true understanding of these messages is of vital importance.{CW 53.1}

I take these things very seriously; these are words that call for full attention. It is of vital importance.

The destiny of souls hangs upon the manner in which they are received.”{CW 53.1}

Not only whether they are received or not, but the manner in which they are received – our destiny hangs upon that.

I was again brought down through these messages, and saw how dearly the people of God had purchased their experience. It had been obtained through much suffering and severe conflict. God had led them along step by step, until He had placed them upon a solid, immovable platform.{CW 53.1}

This following statement really got me clear:

In the future, deception of every kind is to arise, and we want solid ground for our feet. {CW 53.2}

When I first read that, I thought, Yes! This is what I’ve been crying for! This is what I want, and here it is! It’s being addressed.

We want solid pillars for the building. Not one pin is to be removed from that which the Lord has established. The enemy will bring in false theories, such as the doctrine that there is no sanctuary. {Ibid.}

When I read that at the age of 22, that was just what I was meeting – the teaching that was coming in that there was no two-apartment sanctuary in heaven. This was being taught at that time by the modern ministry even in the schools of the Adventist church.

This is one of the points on which there will be a departing from the faith. Where shall we find safety unless it be in the truths that the Lord has been giving for the last fifty years?Review and Herald, May 25, 1905. {CW 53.2}

You have no idea, when I read that at 22 years of age, I found such relief. I thought, Now I have found my place; I have found my security; this is where my safety lies – in the truths that the Lord has been giving for the last fifty years. And she said that in 1905. You can imagine what I decided to do. Lord, where is Thy sheep? There, it is there in the truths that the Lord has given back then, from 1905 back. I said, Alright, Lord, how can I get hold of these truths? And I found that there were books written by the people, the church, of that time. From 22 years of age to 24, I did a thorough research of all the works that were published up to 1905 by the recognised church in Sister White’s time. The most powerful ones were: Bible Readings for the Home Circle (a big book that you can only buy second hand), the version of that time; Daniel and the Revelation, by Uriah Smith; and the Bible Handbook, by Stephen Haskell. It was all there. The whole truth was there in those books. Then I found a few other ones here and there. So I determined that this was the direction that the Lord Jesus was giving me – to rely only on this – because the words of the Testimony of Jesus were, Where shall we find safety but in those truths that were established over that period of time? Here my personal repertoire of doctrines became established.

Seeking His Dove

But as I was doing that, I found myself out of harmony with the church that I was then a member of, the Seventh-day Adventist Church of the 1970s. Not only in the doctrines was I out of harmony with the church, but in the practice of those doctrines. Then there came this wonderful provision that presented itself before me, a movement, a company, a church! – the Seventh-day Adventist Reform Movement. I checked them out, and they believed all those truths; so I thought, Wonderful! I have found God’s church! and I joined them; I was ordained there; I ministered there, until 1997. But from 1987 to 1997 error started creeping in. One block was being moved; it was the great central truth around which all other truths cluster – the atonement of Jesus. The doctrine on the nature of Christ was being altered in front of my eyes, and I knew that I could only find safety in the teachings that were taught so clearly in that connection. In 1888 that beautiful doctrine of the nature of Christ was very clearly presented, and it was there in the writings.

So as I had to find my way through that problem, I discovered that the International Missionary Society Seventh-day Adventist Reform Movement also stood there, and they had the subject of that particular doctrine of the nature of Christ correct. But another problem later came up, and again I found myself bewildered with another doctrinal confusion. And there I was, and I thought, Lord, where do I go now? What should I do? My testimony here is not about me; my testimony here is, Where is my Shepherd and His flock? Where is He leading them?

I was faced with so many splinter groups around me that had developed over those years, and now, at the age of 55 I found myself in a state of bewilderment. I thought, I do not believe in being a splinter group; I do not believe in uniting with people who will be splintered and independent of God’s true church. I didn’t believe in independents. I did not believe that I should become an independent leader in these doctrines and teachings. So I was praying once again, as I had been praying all the way through, “Lord, where to now? I don’t believe in independents; there is enough written in Your Testimonies that You don’t support independence!” And the Lord reminded me of what I read to you before:

I saw a company who stood well guarded and firm, giving no countenance to those who would unsettle the established faith of the body. God looked upon them with approbation. I was shown three steps,–the first, second, and third angels’ messages. Said my accompanying angel, “Woe to him who shall move a block or stir a pin of these messages. {CW 53.1}

Sister White saw a company who would not countenance anybody who would destabilise this foundation. So I thought, That company, Lord, where are they? He said, “You didn’t want to be independent, did you? You don’t believe in independence; neither do I teach it. If you stand with this company on that platform, are you independent?” Oh, no. “Are you standing on that platform?” That was so clear again, emphatically placed into my being. “Do you stand on that platform where there is to be safety?” Yes! I thought, That is where I stand! I rely upon those who have gone before me; I rely upon that which God has stated is the true church. I want to follow and be with that true church.

God’s True Church

God has a church on earth who are lifting up the downtrodden law, and presenting to the world the Lamb of God that taketh away the sins of the world. . . .  {LDE 43.1} 

There is but one church in the world who are at the present time standing in the breach and making up the hedge, building up the old waste places. {LDE 43.2}

Sister White wrote that in 1893, and she said “at the present time” there was “but one church” who were standing in the breach.

Let all be careful not to make an outcry against the only people who are fulfilling the description given of the remnant people, who keep the commandments of God and have faith in Jesus. . . . God has a distinct people, a church on earth, second to none, but superior to all in their facilities to teach the truth, to vindicate the law of God. {LDE 43.3}

This is the church that is clearly identified as God’s church, and to be members of God’s church there it was. And if you and I stand together with that church that existed back there, not adulterated with any false doctrines in its public presentations, then we are not independent. We are not relying on our own fabrication of altered ideas and teachings, like so many professed Seventh-day Adventist ministries are doing today. They are independent because they have their independent views. Today an apostate SDA church cannot be compared with that church that existed back then when Sister White wrote that statement.

A New Organisation

The enemy of souls has sought to bring in the supposition that a great reformation was to take place among Seventh-day Adventists, and that this reformation would consist in giving up the doctrines which stand as the pillars of our faith, and engaging in a process of reorganization. Were this reformation to take place, what would result? The principles of truth that God in His wisdom has given to the remnant church, would be discarded. Our religion would be changed. The fundamental principles that have sustained the work for the last fifty years would be accounted as error. A new organization would be established. Books of a new order would be written. A system of intellectual philosophy would be introduced. The founders of this system would go into the cities, and do a wonderful work. The Sabbath of course, would be lightly regarded, as also the God who created it. Nothing would be allowed to stand in the way of the new movement. The leaders would teach that virtue is better than vice, but God being removed, they would place their dependence on human power, which, without God, is worthless. Their foundation would be built on the sand, and storm and tempest would sweep away the structure. {1SM 204.2}

Who has authority to begin such a movement? We have our Bibles. We have our experience, attested to by the miraculous working of the Holy Spirit. We have a truth that admits of no compromise. Shall we not repudiate everything that is not in harmony with this truth? {1SM 205.1}

Can you see where we are to fit in if we are going to be members of God’s church? We don’t have to say anything about “we are God’s true church.” We are called upon to follow God’s true church, which is here identified abundantly. We are told that a new organisation would come into existence which does not stand equal to the organisation that we read about before, which at the present time of Sister White’s time was the only church. If there was any change from that church of her time (remembering that the church is the pillar and ground of the truth), if that system of truth has been altered, is it the same church? Self-evident, isn’t it? It’s not the same church anymore. And this is exactly what we read. Books of a new order are sent out. This is precisely what has been taking place in that new organisation, which still claims to be Seventh-day Adventist.

Not Even a Pin

All the splintered companies that exist today have sets of varying doctrines that no longer comprise the entire platform of truth that was established over the fifty years. They say, This was what they taught back then, but we have greater light now. But all that does not present to us a satisfying, secure platform. God has a people. Jesus said, I am with you right to the very end of the world. God has a people; they are still standing on that platform, and I have decided, and whoever will choose can decide together with me, to be on that platform and give no countenance to any variation, not even the moving of a pin or a block, nothing, exactly as it was developed over those fifty years.

This is identified by the Testimony of Jesus as the church that is God’s church. For us in these last days who are looking for security, not in an independent movement, but in the movement that was established over those fifty years in a platform of doctrines, this is the qualifying statement:

God has a church. It is not the great cathedral, {UL 315.5}

He has a church; but it’s not the great cathedral. What else is it not?

…neither is it the national establishment, neither is it the various denominations; {UL 315.5}

Interesting; it is not the various denominations. What is it then?

…it is the people who love God and keep His commandments. “Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them” (Matthew 18:20). Where Christ is even among the humble few, this is Christ’s church, for the presence of the High and Holy One who inhabiteth eternity can alone constitute a church. {UL 315.5}

Where two or three are present who love and obey the commandments of God, Jesus there presides, let it be in the desolate place of the earth, in the wilderness, in the city enclosed in prison walls. The glory of God has penetrated the prison walls, flooding with glorious beams of heavenly light the darkest dungeon. {UL 315.6}

She describes the experience of a humble few. That is God’s church in today’s time. It is the same as the poor eleven disciples. It is the same as has happened through the history.

Joining the Company

From the beginning, faithful souls have constituted the church on earth. {AA 11.2}

It is the faithful souls that constitute the church on earth. And I, not as a minister, not as someone who wants to stand there and tell the people to follow me, but as a human being, am following that which God and Jesus my Lord and Saviour has laid out before us and me. There is my church. If I will follow that church, can I be secure? can I be absolutely sure that I am in God’s church? This is great comfort to me. And I love to find others out there who are also doing what I am doing. It is wonderful to find people in different places who are doing just this. And for all who hear this message, if this is in your heart, you can find security, not in this little company here in Australia, not in little companies wherever you are, but in the company that is on the platform of truth and that gives no countenance to anyone that would change anything that was established over the fifty years. And it falls upon every individual or ministry today to examine their doctrines to compare them with what the church taught back then. This is my choice, and if I am going to be an instrument in God’s hands, I invite those who are listening to me to join up with this company, that company which has been identified as God’s true people. If we will join together with them, then it is plainly expressed what we must do:

God has a church on earth who are lifting up the downtrodden law, and presenting to the world the Lamb of God that taketh away the sins of the world. . . . There is but one church in the world who are at the present time standing in the breach and making up the hedge, building up the old waste places. . . . {LDE 43.1-2}

We today are not in the present time of Sister White; therefore, if we want to find the church, the pillar and ground of the truth, we will go back there and we will examine what they stood on, because there was the one church that was God’s church. I have decided I am going to be a member of that church, and I invite anyone who wants to be a member of that church to be together with me, whether they are brethren in USA, in France, in Korea, in Africa, in PNG, or wherever they are; we may stand together, and although small in number, we will support one another in this wonderful security that is found, not in ourselves, in our own little company, but in the platform that that company back then in Sister White’s time stood on, so that we can stand together with them. This is God’s church; this is the same church that Jesus launched out, the eleven, and that grew and that then was persecuted, and out of which little faithful souls continued – God’s church in every generation.

We can respond in our own individual minds what we will be bound to and who we will be bound to in one another’s fellowship.

Occupied With Present Truth

Our minds must not be taken up with things around us, but must be occupied with the present truth and a preparation to give a reason of our hope with meekness and fear. We must seek wisdom from on high that we may stand in this day of error and delusion. {EW 87.2}

This is what we are hearing – error and delusion. This is the reality in which we are standing. We must seek wisdom from on high. Our minds must not be taken up to look at the things around us. Can you see what this is saying? If you look at the things around you, you will be bewildered. Where am I to look? I am to be occupied with the present truth, the platform of truth that was held back then, and prepare to give a reason of our hope with meekness and fear.

We must examine well the foundation of our hope, for we shall have to give a reason for it from the Scriptures. This delusion will spread, and we shall have to contend with it face to face; and unless we are prepared for it, we shall be ensnared and overcome. {EW 88.1}

Can’t we see it happening around us? People are ensnared and overcome; they are not sure; but they think they are sure of where they stand. So if we will not listen to the guidance of, and not be deluded by, the error that surrounds us, but concentrate on the platform, then we will be secure; we will not be ensnared and overcome.

But if we do what we can on our part to be ready for the conflict that is just before us, God will do His part, and His all-powerful arm will protect us.{EW 88.1}

This is real for us.

He would sooner send every angel out of glory to the relief of faithful souls, to make a hedge about them, than have them deceived and led away by the lying wonders of Satan. {EW 88.1}

She saw this delusion that was spreading from her time.

I saw the rapidity with which this delusion was spreading. A train of cars was shown me, going with the speed of lightning. The angel bade me look carefully. I fixed my eyes upon the train. It seemed that the whole world was on board, that there could not be one left. {EW 88.2}

Everyone seemed to be following that train, that delusion.

Said the angel, “They are binding in bundles ready to burn.” Then he showed me the conductor, who appeared like a stately, fair person, whom all the passengers looked up to and reverenced. I was perplexed and asked my attending angel who it was. He said, “It is Satan. He is the conductor in the form of an angel of light. He has taken the world captive. They are given over to strong delusions, to believe a lie, that they may be damned. This agent, the next highest in order to him, is the engineer, and other of his agents are employed in different offices as he may need them, and they are all going with lightning speed to perdition.” {EW 88.2}

I asked the angel if there were none left. He bade me look in an opposite direction, and I saw a little company traveling a narrow pathway. All seemed to be firmly united, bound together by the truth, in bundles, or companies. Said the angel, “The third angel is binding, or sealing, them in bundles for the heavenly garner.” This little company looked careworn, as if they had passed through severe trials and conflicts. And it appeared as if the sun had just risen from behind a cloud and shone upon their countenances, causing them to look triumphant, as if their victories were nearly won. {EW 88.3}

Bound together by the truth that was established for the end of the world; standing on the platform of truth, bound together in little companies. Wherever we may be, if we will decide to be secure in this platform of truth, we may know each other bound in bundles around the world, and we can have a sense of security, not in human wisdom, but in that which the Testimony of Jesus has plainly laid out. That is where I decide to be. I invite all who want to be on that platform to press together. We have wonderful possibilities through the internet and the different agencies of today, so that we can actually know that we belong together because we stand together on that platform of truth and we stand in practice on this.

We have different companies around the world. In Papua New Guinea they function together as a flock there, beautifully organised and functioning to the best of their ability. We have other people in other countries, like in Africa, who are doing the same thing, standing on that same platform. But for some of us, like here in Australia, we are small in number; we are a poor and afflicted people, but we stand on the platform. There are others out there whom we don’t know. Let us join together on that platform of truth, and that platform of truth will prepare us, no longer to be tossed to and fro with every wind of doctrine, but secure in the arms of Jesus, secure in His statement, “I am with you, even to the end of the world.”

May God bless us so that we, and all who will listen to this, can understand where I stand as a preacher, and that I have no other interest but to support that company that is identified back in Sister White’s time, so that we can stand together with them, not as independents, not as a ministry of my own, but simply in harmony with those who have been before us. This is our existence as a company. God bless us to stay in that platform.


(Illustration by Good News Productions, used under CC BY)

Posted on 07/03/2018, in Divine Service Sermons, The Pioneers and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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