Our Submission to God’s Church
The Church’s one foundation is Jesus Christ, her Lord; she is his new creation by water and the Word. From heav’n He came and sought her to be His holy bride; with His own blood He bought her, and for her life He died.
As we were singing this hymn, we saw a wonderful important connection in reference to Gods church that it is upon the foundation of Jesus Christ her Lord that there is one Lord, one faith, one birth and partaking of one holy food.
We often sing these words, but the practise of those words is often missing by many professed Christians. The theme of this divine service is our submission to Gods church. From one sabbath to another, we have been researching into Gods word in reference to righteousness by faith which we have seen is righteousness by love. That obedience, righteousness is to be motivated by nothing else but love that works, a faith that works by love. A love that is kindled by God giving His own Son to save us wretched sinners.
All that is involved, for God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten son. That whosoever believe in Him, should not perish. How are we going to cease from perishing if we are not obedient to Gods ways? It is through the meditation of the wonderful love of God in the detail of the atonement of Jesus Christ that our hearts are stirred into obedience.
1 John 4:19 We love him, because he first loved us.
We have addressed some points of obedience. Last Sabbath was regarding obedience to Gods art of healing that He approves of. Before that time, it was the place where we worship to have reverence for God because we love Him and the way that reverence is to be exercised in his house.
During this divine service, we want to occupy our minds in Gods word in reference to what He wants, how He wants us to respond to His church; submission to it.
According to our scripture reading, what is the church? Apostle Paul wrote to Timothy hoping to come to him shortly.
1 Timothy 3:15 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 the church? The pillar and ground of the truth. The church, Gods house is the pillar and ground of the truth. This church that is being spoken about here was established by Jesus Christ. The one who loved us so much, that He sacrificed himself in the atonement. He established the Christian church, the church of God as one church. I want to let Jesus picture this for us to help us appreciate the encompassing statement of Jesus that there is one church not many.
Matthew 28: 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.
What is Jesus saying here? First of all, “all power is given unto me” and then He says, go ye therefore. What has He just done? The church is Christ’s church. All power is in Him and He says, you are therefore to go and teach all nations. The power that is given unto me, I am channelling to you to teach people to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you. I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. The church that He was launching out, the disciples, He was going to be with them right through to the end of the world. Does that not say something? That the church that He launched there, is the church that is going to be right through to the end. The one church, the church that He has established.
The prayer of Christ is not only for those who are now his disciples, but for all those who shall believe on Christ through the words of his disciples, even to the end of the world. Jesus was just about to yield up his life to bring life and immortality to light. Christ, amid his sufferings, and being daily rejected of men, looks down the lines two thousand years to his church which would be in existence in the last days, before the close of this earth’s history. 3SM 18.2
In that one statement, He is visualising down through the centuries, two thousand years to the church that He said I am going to be with you in the end, that same church.
The Lord has had a church from that day, through all the changing scenes of time to the present period, 1893. The Bible sets before us a model church. They are to be in unity with each other, and with God. When believers are united to Christ, the living vine, the result is that they are one with Christ, full of sympathy and tenderness and love. 3SM 18.3
It’s the same for us now, 2022. What I have just been reading, is plain and simple. The church that Jesus launched out in the disciples, must be the same church at the end and that is the church that we are considering that we must be in submission to.
Mark the words of Jesus as He launched out this church in Matthew 16. Remember He said all power is given unto me, go ye therefore.
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. 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.
What has Jesus just done? He has just communicated that the church has the keys of the kingdom of heaven and what the church does here on earth, is directly in the functioning activity of Jesus Himself from heaven so that they become, the voice of God on earth.
Matthew 18: 18 Verily I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.
Don’t forget what’s behind that statement, the church has been given from God, from heaven; the keys. They are relying on the keys that were given from heaven. As they rely on those keys, whatever those keys are unlocking or locking, is there to pursue because all power is given to the rock Jesus Christ upon which the church is built and they are to fulfil what the kingdom of heaven is directing.
I want the Spirit of Prophecy to give us a clear understanding of what is contained in the words of Jesus. Sr White quotes the Bible verse whatever is bound on earth is bound in heaven;
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
You can see the keys of opening and shutting and doing all the works that Jesus told them to do, is dependent on the church being in perfect connection with Christ.
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
For the church to have power to do this, it must follow what God has directed the church to do. Then what they bind on earth, is bound in heaven. Because in heaven God is directing. This is an interesting exercise of mind. It will be bound in heaven what is bound on earth. How is that? The church on earth is inseparably connected to the church in heaven. When we come to Gods church that he has established, we come where?
Hebrews 12:22 But ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels, 23 To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect. 24 And to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better things than that of Abel.
That is where we approach the church, the church in heaven. That’s the church; the church in heaven which the church on earth that we come to in the visible church on earth, we come through that church to the church in heaven. To have our names on the church books, we must make sure that our names are in the church books of heaven.
The church of God below is one with the church of God above. Believers on the earth and the beings in heaven who have never fallen constitute one church. Every heavenly intelligence is interested in the assemblies of the saints who on earth meet to worship God. In the inner court of heaven they listen to the testimony of the witnesses for Christ in the outer court on earth, and the praise and thanksgiving from the worshipers below is taken up in the heavenly anthem, and praise and rejoicing sound through the heavenly courts because Christ has not died in vain for the fallen sons of Adam. 6T 366.1
Reading carefully, meditating upon these words, what does it say? God has only got one church. The church on earth that is in harmony with the church in heaven. That is one church. Believers on earth and beings in heaven who have never fallen, constitute one church. The meditation of this sermon is submission to God’s church – that one church.
As we come through from the time of Christ, that He is with them till the end of the world, what is that church with such power at the end of the world? That one church. It is very important that we establish our understanding here, but form the conclusions that inspiration is making for us. What is that church that has such a power? On earth. What is that church?
The church is God’s fortress, His city of refuge, which He holds in a revolted world. Any betrayal of the church is treachery to Him who has bought mankind with the blood of His only-begotten Son. From the beginning, faithful souls have constituted the church on earth. In every age the Lord has had His watchmen, who have borne a faithful testimony to the generation in which they lived. These sentinels gave the message of warning; and when they were called to lay off their armor, others took up the work. God brought these witnesses into covenant relation with Himself, uniting the church on earth with the church in heaven. He has sent forth His angels to minister to His church, and the gates of hell have not been able to prevail against His people. AA 11.2
Through centuries of persecution, conflict, and darkness, God has sustained His church. Not one cloud has fallen upon it that He has not prepared for; not one opposing force has risen to counterwork His work, that He has not foreseen. All has taken place as He predicted. He has not left His church forsaken, but has traced in prophetic declarations what would occur, and that which His Spirit inspired the prophets to foretell has been brought about. All His purposes will be fulfilled. His law is linked with His throne, and no power of evil can destroy it. Truth is inspired and guarded by God; and it will triumph over all opposition. AA 11.3
You can see how powerfully these words are connecting Gods immutable power of control through His church that is identified as the one church running right through the history.
During ages of spiritual darkness the church of God has been as a city set on a hill. From age to age, through successive generations, the pure doctrines of heaven have been unfolding within its borders. Enfeebled and defective as it may appear, the church is the one object upon which God bestows in a special sense His supreme regard. It is the theatre of His grace, in which He delights to reveal His power to transform hearts. AA 12.1
A theatre is not where you see acting taking place, but a theatre where you have an operation where God is operating in the church.
This tells us that it is the church of faithful people who down through the ages have been under God’s direction and the gates of hell have not prevailed against it in which the pure doctrines of the church have been unfolding. The pure doctrines are connected with Gods faithful church to the end. At this time, there is a church that is the same church Jesus launched out in the beginning. The Spirit of Prophecy identifies this church – that weak and enfeebled as it appears, it is s not a glorious big church with lots of people in it.
Weak and Enfeebled
God has a church. It is not the great cathedral, neither is it the national establishment, neither is it the various denominations; 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). UL 315.5
He is connecting who as the church to Himself? Where two or three are gathered who are keeping His commandments.
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. His saints may suffer, but their sufferings will, like the apostles of old, spread their faith and win souls to Christ and glorify His holy name. The bitterest opposition expressed by those who hate God’s great moral standard of righteousness should not and will not shake the steadfast soul who trusts fully in God. UL 315.6
They that will be doers of the word are building securely, and the tempest and storm of persecution will not shake their foundation, because their souls are rooted to the eternal Rock. UL 315.7
It is this church, this little number, not the great cathedral, not the many denominations that exist today that He said I will be with you to the end of the world, it is that church that has run through the history that he has foreseen right through the 2000 years.
In reference to this people, look at the power that is described in such a little company.
Ten members, who were walking in all humbleness of mind, would have a far greater power upon the world than has the entire church, with its present numbers and lack of unity. The more there is of the divided, inharmonious element, the less power will the church have for good in the world. 5T 119.1
Aren’t we seeing the divided state of Seventh Day Adventism today? Just look at it. It’s not the various denominations and the Seventh Day Adventist church of today is a denomination. You have all these different denominations. This is not the church; it is the faithful people who are bound to the rock Christ Jesus. It is these people. Even if it’s just ten. Follow very carefully as what is the theme of this sermon? Submission to Gods church. Follow Christ’s connection of these faithful few of Himself, to Himself.
Luke 10:16 He that heareth you heareth me; and he that despiseth you despiseth me; and he that despiseth me despiseth him that sent me.
The church that Jesus anointed as His church through to the very end, anybody that hears that church is hearing Him. In other words, that church is His voice isn’t it? He who despises this church, despises Him. Who else do they despise? The very God who sent Him. The people who are despising Jesus, are despising God unwittingly.
When Christ was upon the earth, there were men who had no respect or reverence for God’s messengers and no more regard for their warning than for their own judgment; also in this age of the world there are those who do not respect the testimony of God’s chosen servants so highly as their own opinions. Such cannot be benefited by the labors of God’s servants, and time should not be lost in degrading the work of God to meet such minds. Christ said to the servants whom He sent forth: “He that heareth you heareth Me; and he that despiseth you despiseth Me; and he that despiseth Me despiseth Him that sent Me.” 3T 450.2
Christ gives power to the voice of the church. “Verily I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” No such thing is countenanced as one man’s starting out upon his own individual responsibility and advocating what views he chooses, irrespective of the judgment of the church. God has bestowed the highest power under heaven upon His church. It is the voice of God in His united people in church capacity which is to be respected. 3T 450.3
Don’t we see this today? People put forth their own individual views irrespective of the judgement of the church. We read the spirit of prophecy and sometimes we wonder, we can’t see what is written here in regards to the church because we are looking in the wrong place. In the light of all we have read, this has been my choice and I’m laying this out before you for each one of us to make our choice because we are living in the time that we have to make choices in harmony with Gods will.
There are men who had no respect for Gods messengers in Christ’s time and also in our time. We are living in a time of Christians discussing together and putting forth their own opinions. They don’t like to be subject to a direction from God or the church. They don’t like that. These people cannot be benefited by the labours of Gods servants and time should not be wasted to meet their minds.
No such thing is countenanced as one man’s starting out upon his own individual responsibility and advocating what views he chooses, irrespective of the judgment of the church. 3T 450.3
When I came across this, I decided something. I would lay down every part of my own opinion and place it under those who have been clearly identified as Gods church under inspiration. I had to swallow hard and let go of my own opinions, my own practises I had to alter.
Obeying the Church
Each one of us have to come to that point of entire submission to Gods church. The church described in Acts of the Apostles page 12:1. The church that within it’s borders, the pure doctrines of heaven had been establishing.
We are living at the end and is there any doctrine that still needs to be established? Jesus could have come long before this because the doctrines were established but Gods people were not submissive to those doctrines. That was the problem and so He is waiting. The challenge before each one of us, is that my love for God that He aroused by demonstrating His love for me in giving His Son as an atonement for me, that love activated within me to make a choice. To unite and submit myself to those whom He has chosen as His servants. To live in unity with them.
God’s servants have been ordained like the apostles down through the ages, the faithful ones, even if it’s just ten of them, doesn’t matter if it’s few. He has chosen these servants to be the people to have the power to tell us what to do. I’m not raising popery here. I’m pointing to the church that is in absolute harmony with all of Gods doctrines and I found myself to examine the churches and I found that in my time, the church that I grew up in and the churches that surrounded me and all the different companies, they were out of order in one point or another with those whom God had established from 1844 to 1904. I made a decision to submit myself to their public presentation.
Hebrews 13:17 Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you.
Our submission to Gods church. There are few today who actually do this. Who have made the choice to obey even if it cuts across their own opinion. To obey that which has been firmly established Gods true church within the borders true doctrine has been developed. With all the confusion between the churches, as we move from one to the other, what is your love and response to God and His church? Let us do what apostle Paul invites us to do. Apostle Paul who has been called directly by Jesus and look at what he says:
1 Corinthians 5 For though ye have ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet have ye not many fathers: for in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel. 16 Wherefore I beseech you, be ye followers of me.
A human being is saying, you be followers of me. Why? He qualifies powerfully:
1 Corinthians 11: 1 Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ.
The church on earth; His servants can say like Apostle Paul, follow me as I follow Christ. That’s what the Apostle John referred to. Remember the words of Jesus in John 17 that His prayer for His church is expressed and the unity of His servants with Him.
John 17:20 Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word
Believe on Jesus through the words of faithful church.
John 17: 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.
Even if there is only ten people, two or three here, or two or three somewhere else, the world is to see a unity with those who have gone before and those among each other as Jesus has prayed for. Be ye followers of me as I am of Christ.
1 John 1: 1 That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life; 2 For the life was manifested, and we have seen it, and bear witness, and shew unto you that eternal life, which was with the Father, and was manifested unto us;)
3 That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ.
He who despises Apostle John, Apostle Paul, is despising Jesus because those following the witness of these faithful ministers are in fellowship with the Father and Son Jesus Christ as they were.
Here is Gods word for us. We all need to examine where I stand. If I believe in the work of righteousness by faith, then I will submit myself to the church that Jesus identifies as His church.