06. Identifying the Church

Posted Oct 07, 2011 by Adrian Ebens in Divine Pattern Original Articles Hits: 2,313

Placing ourselves correctly in our communities means that we need to identify who are the people and institutions that we are to show respect to as well as identify those who are under our care and that we are to protect and bless. Living in western society has flattened many aspects of the divine pattern and blurred the channel system for many. Even so, most of us can identify two cords of the threefold cord.

Most of us can identify our parents or guardians from childhood and the civil authorities in our lives such as government leaders and police are easy to identify. What is not so easy for many people is to identify the church authority in their lives. This subject we need to devote consideration time to because it is very important to have this part of the threefold cord clearly identified, so we can know who to approach, appeal to and pray for.

Let us keep in mind the threefold cord of blessing. We receive personal blessing through feeding on the Word of God individually and through following the divine pattern in our families and communities but there is also a blessing that comes through God’s church. The blessing that we are seeking through God’s church is the blessing that was given to Abraham.

Gen 12:2-3  And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing:  (3)  And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.

The Children of Israel were the recipients of the promises of God including the covenants. The most vital part of this covenant included:

Heb 8:9-11  Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt; because they continued not in my covenant, and I regarded them not, saith the Lord.  (10)  For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people:  (11)  And they shall not teach every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for all shall know me, from the least to the greatest.

Please note that this covenant was made with the house of Israel. It is important to realise that when Israel as a nation ceased to be God’s channel of blessing that the connection to God’s original promise to Abraham was transferred to the Christian church.

Gal 3:16,29  Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ…. (29)  And if ye be Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise.

We know that God’s church under the leadership of the apostles spread quickly throughout the world, but soon came under intense persecution. This drove the church into the wilderness where we see she was protected by God for 1260 years.

Rev 12:6  And the woman fled into the wilderness, where she hath a place prepared of God, that they should feed her there a thousand two hundred and threescore days.

When the 1260 year period ended, the remnant of God’s people came forth to proclaim the judgement hour message. This group are identified as keeping the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus.

Rev 12:17  And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.

It is vitally important to remember that this channel of blessing comes through Abraham. It is therefore important that we examine closely the key principles of his worship system which will them help us identify who are the true spiritual descendants of Abraham. I outline in detail these principles in chapter 11 of my book Life Matters, but for the scope of this series, I will simply provide the summary as reflected first with Abraham and then with Israel.

Abraham

Israel

1. Family Structure (Gen 18:19)

1. The 5th commandment restored the family structure. The release from slavery gave families more time to spend together. Inheritance determined by family genealogy.

2. Nomadic Rural Dwellers (Heb 11:8-10)

2. Israel returned to a rural setting in the wilderness living in tents.

3. Identity by Parental Blessing (Gen 12:2)

3. God promised to bless Israel if faithful. The 5th commandment concerning parents restored the family blessing channel.

4. Observe Sabbath and Commandments (Gen 26:5)

4. God gave the commandments on Mt Sinai and taught them about the Sabbath through the collection of the manna.

5. Belief in Death and Resurrection

(Heb 11:17-19)

5. The fourth commandment revealed God as the only source of life and the only One that keeps us alive. Without Him there is no life.

6. Saviour as Humble Life Restorer – Revealed in Slain Lamb (John 11:25)

6. A complete Sanctuary worship system was given to fully reveal the work of the coming Saviour and His work to teach us His commandments.

7. Focus of Worship on the Invisible

7. The second commandment focused worship on the invisible.

 

 The woman who comes out of the wilderness in Revelation 12 we understand to be the rise of the Seventh-day Adventist movement. Inspiration tells us in a number of places that Adventist movement is repeating the history of Israel. Let us note carefully some of those parallels.

Israel

Church

1. Entered Egypt Pure in Faith but after a time slipped into apostasy in faith and teaching. They went in with great knowledge and came out knowing very little – a bunch of slaves.

Apostolic started faithfully, but after a while slipped into apostasy in faith and teaching – They went into the dark ages knowing the power of the gospel and came out struggling to release themselves from the enslaving teachings of Romanism.

2. Israel got mixed up with Idolatry including bull and calf worship Ex 32:1-4

The church slipped into idolatry when Constantine mixed paganism with Christianity for the stability of the Roman Empire. The church soon after removed the second Commandment which forbids idolatry.

3. In Order for Israel to serve God probably again, they had separate themselves from the Egyptians so they could keep his commandments. Ex 5:1-5; Ps 105:43-45

God’s true followers had to separate from the fallen church(es) so they could worship God in truth and keep his commandments.

4. God used Moses as his mouth piece to instruct the children of Israel as to how they should best worship God. Moses died before they all went into Canaan – but Moses wrote down much instruction that carried them into the promised land.

God used Ellen White as his mouth piece to instruct the church how they should best worship God. Ellen White Died before Christ returned, but wrote much instruction which will carry God’s church into the heavenly Canaan

5. Just as Israel came out of Egypt, they experienced the high of the Red Sea and then the bitter disappointment at Mara. Shortly after this they received instruction about the Ten Commandments.

Just as the Adventist church came out of Babylon/Egypt they experienced the High of the Midnight cry and then the Bitter disappointment of 1844. Shortly after they studied and found they full light on the 10 commandments including the Sabbath

6. The Sabbath was used by God as a Test of loyalty to Him Ex 16:4,23-28

The Sabbath will be used as a test of Loyalty to him as shown in the First Angel’s message Rev 14:6,7

7. Israel was arranged into a complete organization ordered by 1000’s then 100’s then 50’s then 10,s Ex 18:14-24

Adventist church was ordered by General Conference, By Unions, By Conference and By Local Church. Special instruction was given on this subject.

8. Special Instruction was given on Healthful living

Special instruction was given on healthful living. 1863 EGW Received a number of visions of this subject.

9. Worship was based around the Sanctuary

Worship is based around the heavenly Sanctuary

10. Israel came to the edge of Canaan and received the message that God would give Canaan to them, but they rejected the Message and wandered in the wilderness for 40 years. God took a new Generation in to Canaan

The Adventist Church received a special message in 1888 which could have enabled them to enter heaven shortly after, but the message was in principle largely rejected and we have been wandering ever since. God will bring a new Generation into the Heavenly Canaan.

 

The Adventist Church was placed to receive the blessings of Abraham because it emerged from the 1260 period and then embraced the core components of that blessing system through a worship of the true God, His commandments and His sanctuary worship and health system.

Note carefully what inspiration says of the relationship Adventism has with the God of heaven.

Commandment-keeping Adventists are occupying a peculiar, exalted position. John viewed them in holy vision, and described them. "Here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus." The Lord made a special covenant with his ancient Israel if they would prove faithful: "Now, therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people; for all the earth is mine. And ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation." And he thus addresses his commandment-keeping people in these last days: "But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should show forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light." RH, September 7, 1886

"God has called His church in this day, as He called ancient Israel, to stand as a light in the earth. By the mighty cleaver of truth, the messages of the first, second, and third angels, He has separated them from the churches and from the world to bring them into a sacred nearness to Himself. He has made them the depositaries of His law and has committed to them the great truths of prophecy for this time. Like the holy oracles committed to ancient Israel, these are a sacred trust to be communicated to the world." 5T 455

"The Lord spake unto Moses, saying, Speak thou also unto the children of Israel, saying, Verily My Sabbaths ye shall keep: for it is a sign between Me and you throughout your generations; that ye may know that I am the Lord that doth sanctify you. Ye shall keep the Sabbath therefore; for it is holy unto you: everyone that defileth it shall surely be put to death: for whosoever doeth any work therein, that soul shall be cut off from among his people. Six days may work be done; but in the seventh is the Sabbath of rest, holy to the Lord: whosoever doeth any work in the Sabbath day, he shall surely be put to death. Wherefore the children of Israel shall keep the Sabbath, to observe the Sabbath throughout their generations, for a perpetual covenant. It is a sign between Me and the children of Israel forever: for in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, and on the seventh day He rested, and was refreshed." Exodus 31:12-17. Do not these words point us out as God's denominated people? and do they not declare to us that so long as time shall last, we are to cherish the sacred, denominational distinction placed upon us? The children of Israel were to observe the Sabbath throughout their generations "for a perpetual covenant." The Sabbath has lost none of its meaning. It is still the sign between God and His people, and it will be so forever. 9T 17

These inspired statements make it abundantly clear that God has placed the blessing of Abraham upon the Adventist movement. Yet these blessings poured upon the Adventist church have made her the special object of Satan’s wrath. As the verse in Rev 12:17 indicates:

Rev 12:17  And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.

This special attack has led Adventism to repeat the history of Israel.

Satan's snares are laid for us as verily as they were laid for the children of Israel just prior to their entrance into the land of Canaan. We are repeating the history of that people. 5T 160

If we study carefully Israel’s history right upon the borders of Canaan, we see that she fell into apostasy and participated in the false worship of the nations around them. If you study carefully chapter 41 – Apostasy at the Jordan you can read of what happened to Israel and hopefully discern the parallels for us today. The very fact that an apostasy has occurred within the Adventist movement actually confirms her special relationship to God rather than disproves it. Even as the disappointment of our pioneers confirmed their status through the parallel to the disappointment of the disciples at the death of Christ, so the current apostasy on the borders of the heavenly Canaan confirms the parallel to ancient Israel who originally held a covenant status with God.

As this situation, the prophet states concerning Israel:

They ventured upon the forbidden ground, and were entangled in the snare of Satan. Beguiled with music and dancing, and allured by the beauty of heathen vestals [daughters of Babylon], they cast off their fealty to Jehovah. As they united in mirth and feasting,[acceptance by protestant churches] indulgence in wine [Trinity, nature of Christ, atonement etc]beclouded their senses and broke down the barriers of self-control. Passion had full sway; and having defiled their consciences by lewdness, they were persuaded to bow down to idols. [The Trinity] They offered sacrifice upon heathen altars and participated in the most degrading rites. [Emergent church] It was not long before the poison had spread, like a deadly infection, through the camp of Israel. Those who would have conquered their enemies in battle were overcome by the wiles of heathen women. The people seemed to be infatuated. The rulers and the leading men were among the first to transgress, and so many of the people were guilty that the apostasy became national. "Israel joined himself unto Baalpeor." – Patriarchs and Prophets Page 454

Zimri, one of the nobles of Israel, came boldly into the camp, accompanied by a Midianitish harlot, a princess "of a chief house in Midian," whom he escorted to his tent. Never was vice bolder or more stubborn. Inflamed with wine[false teaching], Zimri declared his "sin as Sodom," and gloried in his shame. - Patriarchs and Prophets Page 455

How were Israel of old awakened to their sin?

By swift-coming judgments the people were awakened to the enormity of their sin. A terrible pestilence broke out in the camp, to which tens of thousands speedily fell a prey. God commanded that the leaders in this apostasy be put to death by the magistrates. This order was promptly obeyed. The offenders were slain, then their bodies were hung up in sight of all Israel that the congregation, seeing the leaders so severely dealt with, might have a deep sense of God's abhorrence of their sin and the terror of His wrath against them.  {PP 455.1} 

Is there any reason to believe that the history will not be faithfully followed today? Have we not been told that we are repeating the history of Israel?

Those who rise in anger against our church leaders both fail to understand their position in the blessing structure and also fail to trust that God is not mocked. It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

My appeal to my brethren is that we weep and plead for our leaders for at present they are marked for certain destruction. The work of repentance and pleading before the Lord is not one that is desired by the carnal heart. There is no love in the carnal heart for our poor leaders who are facing certain death at present.

Let us place ourselves in a position as a wife does to her unbelieving husband and seek to win them by our conduct. Those who rise in anger and connect this precious message of God’s dear son with aggression and calling the church Babylon are doing the work of Satan to harden our leaders in their apostasy. A soft answer turns away wrath and a word fitly spoken is as apples of gold in pictures of silver.