Why, no, we have never thought of starting a new denomination. We have never intended to do any such thing. We do not want to do anything like that. We have no intention of doing anything like that. So where are all these ideas coming from? Well, people are getting these ideas because other people are making accusations about things they do not really understand or know.
The basis for these accusations is the fact that they do not understand the New Testament concept about who and what is the church. The first time I heard about the New Testament concept of the church was in 1987; my brother had started preaching it. I had never heard of anything like this before. I had been a Seventh-day Adventist minister for over 20 years, and at that time I was working in the Texas Conference of Seventh-day Adventists. I had to study out this theory. In fact, before I ever preached on this subject myself, which was the next year, in 1988, I had studied it very thoroughly and very carefully for a number of months, to find out what the Bible and the Spirit of Prophecy really teach on this subject.
This is a critical subject. You see, Marshall and I were told, in effect, in 1988, that we could not do evangelism. It is a very serious matter when you cannot do evangelism. We are commanded in the gospel commission to go to all the world. The reason we were told that we could not do evangelism was very simple; when we got people ready for baptism, the church and the church organization would not accept them as members because they had been brought in by the "wrong" people.
We actually had people come to the Steps to Life camp meeting and say, I want to be a Seventh-day Adventist. I want to be baptized and become part of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, but where I live the pastor will not baptize me because the "wrong" people gave me Bible studies. Because of confusion on this subject, there are many people who are not doing any evangelism.
Publicly they have said, we cannot do any evangelism right now; we are just waiting for God to clean up the church and purify the church, and then we will do evangelism. Some of these people have been waiting now for the better part of 20 years. I do not know how long they plan to wait. How long do you want to wait to finish God's work? Do you want to wait 50 years? 100 years?
The reason people cannot get serious about finishing God's work is because of what they believe about who the church is. If the church tells them not to do it, they are afraid to do it for fear that they will be dishonoring God and disobeying Him. It is from the same misapprehensions that the questions are asked, Are you starting a new denomination?
So before we look at the specific question of, Are you starting a new denomination, let us ask a few very basic, very simple questions that can be answered right out of the Bible.
How Many "True" Churches are There?
First question: How many true churches are there? Now some people say that there have been lots of true churches. There was the church in Abraham's time; there was the church in Moses' time; there was the church in Jesus' time, the Jewish Church; there was the church during the Dark Ages, the Protestant Churches, the Waldensian Church, and there is the Seventh-day Adventist Church.
Some people think that there are lots of different churches, but that is not what the Bible says. What does the Bible say about how many churches there are? My brother, Marshall, used to say that if you want to know the truth about who and what the church is, the Bible would be a good place to look. So, let us look at the Bible.
In Ephesians 1:22, 23, Paul says very distinctly that Christ is the Head of the church; it only has one Head. There are some organizations in the Scripture that are described as having seven heads, but not the church of Christ. It does not have two or three or four or seven heads; it only has One.
According to Ephesians 1:22, 23, Christ is the Head. It is also stated there that the church is His body. So, how many bodies does Christ have? Look at Ephesians 4:4: "There is one body and one Spirit . . .." There are how many bodies? One. So how many true churches are there? One! There has only been one true church since the days of Adam and Eve, and there will never be more than one until the end of time. Whether you are talking about time or space, the answer is the same. There is only one body! The first three chapters of Ephesians say that His body is the fullness of Him who fills all in all. That is the whole universe.
Ellen White distinctly and very powerfully reaffirms, validates and verifies exactly what we just read in Ephesians 4. She says, "God had a church when Adam and Eve and Abel accepted and hailed with joy the good news that Jesus was their Redeemer. These realized as fully then as we realize now the promise of the presence of God in their midst. Wherever Enoch found one or two who were willing to hear the message he had for them, Jesus joined with them in their worship of God. In Enoch's day there were some among the wicked inhabitants of earth who believed. The Lord never yet has left His faithful few without His presence nor the world without a witness." The Upward Look, 228.
She talks in very similar language throughout the first chapter of The Acts of the Apostles. She speaks of the churches being one throughout the whole period of earth's history- from the apostles' time, through the Dark Ages, to our time, to the end. "Through the ages of moral darkness, through centuries of strife and persecution, the church of Christ has been as a city set on a hill. From age to age, through successive generations to the present time, the pure doctrines of the Bible have been unfolding within her borders." Our High Calling, 172.
Notice, she is talking singular here: "The church of Christ, enfeebled and defective though she may appear, is the one object on earth on which He bestows in a special sense His love and regard. The church is the theater of His grace, in which He delights to make experiments of mercy on human hearts." Ibid. Is that not exciting? The church is a theater; a "theater of His grace."
I want to tell you, friends, as I travel and as I visit with people in different countries and in different places, over and over again, I have been aghast as I have seen what God is doing. When Evelyn and I went to New Guinea a few years ago, they told us that the Lord is going all through this country, and some of the people who are the greatest criminals have accepted the gospel.
In fact, while we were there, they had a baptism on Sabbath afternoon. One of the people who was baptized had been the head of a drug gang. Unbelievable things like this happen! You see people who have been involved in every kind of crime and problem, and God is pulling them out of that lifestyle and completely changing their lives, by grace.
It is something that you cannot explain by any method of psychology, human education or anything like that. It is beyond explanation. It is "the theater of His grace," and it is worldwide. Ellen White says, in Testimonies, vol. 6, 367, that the church below and the church above are one. (See also Manuscript Releases, vol. 6, 316.) There are not two separate churches, one in heaven and one on earth. They are both one!
There is just one true church. Now it immediately follows that if there is only one true church in all time and all of space, if you or I would ever start another church or another denomination, that would be apostasy. Does that make sense? If there is only one true church in all of time and all of space, and that is exactly what the Bible and the Spirit of Prophecy teaches, then to start a new church would be apostasy from the true, and we certainly do not want to do that! There is only one true church!
You see, Adventists did not start a new church in 1863 or 1861 or 1844. The church has existed since the days of Adam and Eve, and it has been shaken over and over again. People have been shaken out, but there have always been some who have gone through.
Were there some people who went through in Jesus' day? Yes. The 12 apostles came right out of the Jewish Church. There were some people who endured the shaking and accepted the Messiah and stayed with it. Did the same thing happen in the times of Martin Luther? Yes. Did the same thing happen in the days of Ellen White? Absolutely!
Were there some people after the great disappointment who held on to their faith even though they were disappointed beyond measure and could not understand how God could have allowed such a thing to happen to them? Were there some people who hung on? Yes, there were, and they were not a new church. They are called, in the Bible, a remnant. Is a remnant something new? No, a remnant is not something new. A remnant is something that goes back to the beginning, but it is just the last part of the original.
But, of course, there is a dividing line in God's church. There always has been, because in this world, since the devil rebelled in heaven and since Adam and Eve fell, we are in a situation where there are people who profess things that are not true.
The devil and his angels profess things that are not true, and so do human beings, the devil's agents. If you are one of God's children, you will never make a profession that is not true, because then you are breaking the ninth commandment. That is why, by the way, you and I can never, ever make any profession that we are perfect or holy. We will never be making those professions, even during the time of trouble. We will be in heaven before we will be able to say, I am holy or I am perfect. God's children do not ever make a profession that is not true. But the devil's children do, and the devil has been doing this for thousands of years.
The devil brings his agents into God's church, and they make a profession of something that is not true. So now you have this group of people all together; some of them are true; some of them are not true, and you cannot tell for sure which is which because they all make the same profession. But God draws the dividing line.
You can find this in the Bible, (See Matthew 7:15, 21-23) and but I like the way Ellen White put it in Signs of the Times, June 30, 1881. She says, "He draws the dividing line between those who bear His name by profession, and those whose character shows them to be His children."
So, here you have a people, all professing to be part of the true church, the remnant. They all profess to be commandment keepers; they all profess to believe the Spirit of Prophecy, and they all profess to be Christians. Where does God put the dividing line? They all make this profession, but God draws a line. Some people are on one side of the line; some people are on the other side of the line.
You and I do not have to know where the line is. God has drawn it, and He knows which people are on which side of the line. As the shaking progresses, it will become apparent to everybody else, also. On one side of the dividing line there are the people who make the profession, but their profession is not true. On the other side of the dividing line is the true church. They are the people who make the profession, too, but their profession is true. Their character shows that they are God's children.
I want to go over several distinguishing points about the true church. I am not talking about the true church by profession, I am talking about the true church in character. Many, many times Ellen White describes the true church as being those who have a certain type of character. (See Christ's Object Lessons, 310.)
The true church does not have any tares in it. There are tares that make the profession; they are all part of the group, but notice carefully, this church does not have any tares in it. Jesus talked about people who do not go through the door, but they come in another way. He said they are thieves and robbers. (See John 10:1.)
You can have a thief in your house. A thief does not come through the door, he climbs through the window. So is he part of your family? He is in the house, but that does not make him part of your family. It is the same with the wolves in sheep's clothing; they have climbed over the wall, and they are in the fold. Does that make them part of the flock? Are they part of the true church? Well, they profess to be, but they are not. They may have their lamb's clothing all zipped up, clear up to the neck, but they are not really a part of the true church.
Notice what Ellen White says about the true church: "From the beginning, faithful souls have constituted the church on earth." The Acts of the Apostles, 11. Now what does the word constitute mean? That is who makes up the church, and it is the faithful souls.
By the way, are the faithful souls the tares? Is any tare a faithful soul? No, a tare is not a faithful soul. So this church that she is talking about here does not have any tares in it, because it is constituted by faithful souls. She says that, until the end of time, the true church will have the Holy Spirit. (See The Acts of the Apostles, 54, 55.)
And then there is this very familiar statement from The Upward Look, 315. It is a very interesting statement that I have pondered many, many times. A lot of people do not like some things in this statement, and they try to get around it. I am always afraid, if I am trying to get around something in God's Word. If there is something in God's Word that sounds like it is difficult, well, probably that means we just do not understand everything yet. Notice what this says: "God has a church. It is not the great cathedral, neither is it the national establishment, neither is it the various denominations."
Now that is a very pointed statement. It is not the various denominations. It is not?
Well, it is our denomination, people say.
No, it is not. It is not the various denominations.
Oh, but ours is an exception.
It does not say there are any exceptions. It just says that it is not the various denominations. Now that is a very powerful statement. I did not write it. I am not even interpreting it. I am just sharing it with you. Well, who is it then?
Oh, it is our denomination.
No, that is not what she said. Now she is going to tell you who it is.
"It is the people who love God and keep His commandments." Ibid.
So, do you love God and keep His commandments? Then you are part of the true church. You are a member of the church of which there is only one in all time and space. When the church is taken to heaven, all generations from all over the world, plus the angels and the beings up there, will all be one. And you will be part of it-if you are one of those who love God and keep His commandments.
This is important to understand right now, especially if some of you have heard Pastor Billy Paul tell about what is happening in Central and South America. People are being disfellowshipped all over Central and South America for standing up and proclaiming the Three Angels' Messages. Should these people become frightened and say, Oh, no, I am lost! I am not in the church anymore. Is that what they should think? Are they out of the church? No. Do they love God and keep His commandments? Yes, they do. Then they are in the church!
Now, just because you love God and keep His commandments does not mean that you should not be organized. All we are saying is that the organization is not the church. Our organization is not the church. We have a church at Steps to Life, and it is organized. We have elders, deacons, a church clerk, and a treasurer. We are an organized church so that we can do the work of Christ. But our church organization is not the church itself. Do you see the difference? And if that church organization should apostatize, even if all the leaders should apostatize, the church would still remain.
Let me tell you, I have seen that happen more than once. I have seen the leaders of a church all apostatize, but the church remains, because the church is the people who love God and keep His commandments.
And then, I thought about this. I asked myself, Should I get this pointed? I think that I had better do it. I think that I have an obligation to do it. So, brace yourself for this, because some people are going to read this and they are going to be shocked when they do.
The General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists is not the true church, and it has not been the true church, or even part of the true church, for a long time.
I am going to read that to you right out of the Spirit of Prophecy: "Says the prophet, '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.' [Now notice what she says about this text. She has just quoted Revelation 12:17.] We can see from this Scripture that it is not the true church of God that makes war with those who keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ." The Signs of the Times, April 22, 1889. [Emphasis supplied.]
Any organization, or group, that makes war with those who keep the commandments is not the true church. That is what Ellen White says. When you take people, who are keeping the commandments, to court and you put them in jail, and believe me, that has happened; when you take them to court and try to ruin them financially, you are waging war. Do you know what a lawsuit is? A lawsuit is a legal war, a legal battle. I do not know how anybody could controvert or dispute that. If you think that it is not, you have just not yet been sued.
People can lose everything that they have and go to jail because of a lawsuit, you know. Mrs. White says that it is not the true church of God that makes war with those who keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ. That makes it absolutely certain that the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists could not possibly be the true church today, or any part of it, because they are making war against those who are trying to take the Three Angels' Messages to all the world. They are making war on these people all over the world. In Inter-America they are disfellowshipping them. In South America they are disfellowshipping them. In the United States they are taking them to court. They are doing similar things in the South Pacific, in Australia and in Europe, and just about anywhere in the world where people are getting aggressive and saying that we need to get the Three Angels' Messages to the world now!
Now, I know that they are the true church by profession. So that nobody will misunderstand that, let me just remind you that Caiaphas and company were the true church by profession in the days of Jesus, but it was not true.
The true church is built, established, on the Rock. (See Matthew 16:18.) This is one of the favorite texts of the papacy. The true church is established on the Rock. It is established on the Rock, Christ Jesus. By the way, I have thought many times that, of all the apostles, the Lord chose to have the apostle Peter explain that explicitly so that nobody would be mixed up about who the Rock is upon whom the church is built.
So the apostle Peter spends about ten or eleven verses in I Peter 2, and he tells you exactly who the Rock is upon whom the church is built, so you cannot make a mistake. He says, Now the rest of you, you are living stones, too, but you are built on a Foundation and on the Chief Cornerstone. And any church that is not built on that Rock is not the true church. The church that is built on the apostle Peter is not the true church, because he is not the Rock.
Let us look at two or three more characteristics about the true church. In the book The Great Controversy, 51, Ellen White makes the following statement: "Romanists have persisted in bringing against Protestants the charge of heresy and willful separation from the true church. But these accusations apply rather to themselves. They are the ones who laid down the banner of Christ and departed from 'the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.' Jude 3."
Now, if you study that statement carefully, she says the accusation against the true church of departing from the church applies to whom? To the Romanists. And why does it apply to them? Because of two things: they laid down the banner of Christ and departed from the faith once delivered to the saints. Now that paragraph, if you study it carefully, reveals to you characteristics of the true church.
The true church is that group of people who will uphold the banner of Christ and who will defend the faith once delivered to the saints. They will defend the historic Christian teachings in the Bible. That is still true. That is where the term "historic" Adventists came from. People said, We want the doctrines that we know are true, that our people have believed and that Christians have believed throughout all ages. They studied their Bibles. That is what we want!
Now the Roman Church laid down the banner of Christ and departed from the faith that was once delivered to the saints, so they are the ones that willfully separated from the true church. You need to understand this point crystal clear. I am amazed that I find Seventh-day Adventists who are mixed up on this point, and I hope after you have studied this over with me that nobody will ever be able to be mixed up on this again.
Who was the true church during the Dark Ages, between the time that the apostles died and the Protestant Reformation or up to our own time? I find that people are very confused on this. I was absolutely shocked just a few weeks ago when I found out that there are Adventist leaders in the revival and reformation movement who apparently think that the Roman Church was the true church clear up until the sixth century.
I could have fallen off my chair. The Roman Church, friends, apostatized in the second century, and after they apostatized, they were not the true church any more. Who was the true church? Ellen White is very, very specific about this.
"'The church in the wilderness, [Now who is the church in the wilderness? That was those Bible-believing Christians who had to flee from persecution.] and not the proud hierarchy enthroned in the world's great capital, was the true church of Christ." The Great Controversy, 64. And that is as plain as you can state it!
Here is another one. "The professed church of God was swept into the ranks of this delusion, and for more than a thousand years the people of God suffered under the dragon's ire." The Signs of the Times, November 1, 1899.
So, the church at Rome went into apostasy in the second century, before A.D. 170 or 180. We have good historical evidence that it was starting in the late AD 120s at least, and that the apostasy was well under way by the late AD 150s. We do not need to look at the spiritual, religious, Bible side of things, you can go right to the history book and figure that out.
So the true church will uphold the banner of Christ, and it will not depart from the faith. In fact, the apostle Paul gives that as a definition of the true church. It is the pillar and ground of the truth. (See I Timothy 3:15.)
So who was the true church in Jesus' day? Was it Caiaphas and company? They professed to be, but it was not really true, was it? Remember that God draws the dividing line between those who are His children by profession and those whose characters show that they really are His children. So who was the true church in Jesus' day? It was the people who followed Jesus, and that is all that it was.
The people who were following Caiaphas crucified Jesus. Did the true church crucify Jesus? No, that was not the true church; those were the people following the devil. You cannot be following the devil and the Lord at the same time. Does that make sense? The true church in Jesus' day were those who followed Jesus.
Who was the true church in the second, third, fourth and fifth centuries? It was those Christians who maintained their faith, those who were Bible-believing Christians. They were scattered all over the world. They were called many, many different names. Ellen White says that the whole world became a battlefield over the Christian faith. You can see the evidence of the battle in England, the British Isles, the Continent of Europe, in the Middle East, down to Africa and India. (See The Great Controversy, 55, 56.)
The whole world became a battlefield, and what happened to the true church? Do you know where one of the most common places was that the true church met? One of the most common places where the true church met was in the fields of martyrdom, where their members were killed by those claiming to be the true church.
If you read the book, The Martyr's Mirror, one of the major debating points was the Waldenses claim that they were the only true church. The papists could not stand that, because if the Waldenses were the true church, then they were an apostate church.
The true church was in the wilderness, according to Revelation 12. So you know from Revelation 12 that you would not find the true church in London or Paris or Rome or Jerusalem. The true church was in the wilderness, in the desert.
Several years ago when I was traveling in southeastern France, in the Cevennes Mountains, which was where the headquarters of the Huguenots was located, I had the privilege of visiting a church. I looked on the stone wall that was built in 1696; I went inside the church, and the church was built like a fort. It had walls about three feet thick. You had to get on a ladder to see out the windows, as they were probably higher than the peak of most ceilings.
They still have the church Bible. You see, private people in those days often could not afford to have a Bible, so the church had a Bible and you would come to the church; somebody would read, and the rest of the church would listen. That is the way you studied the Bible back in those days. If they really wanted a part of the Bible for themselves, while it was being read they copied down the text, then they had part of the Bible for their own. The Bible is still there, in the front of the church.
It is very interesting what they called themselves. They called themselves the church in the desert. Where do you suppose they got that idea? They got it from Revelation 12. They knew that they were the church described in Revelation 12.
So who was the church in 1844? It was the people who accepted the truth about the hour of God's judgment to come. Like always, the church was the pillar and ground of the truth. Now, they did not understand what that meant yet, but it was the people who accepted that. There were a lot of people who claimed to accept it who were not true, so the Lord arranged to divide things so you could find out who really believed this message.
And that is what is going to happen to us, too. It is already under way. God is arranging things for the shaking to sort things out. By the time Jesus comes, all of the people who make a profession, and whose character does not agree with their profession, will be weeded out. But that is God's business, not ours. We do not take the tares out of the church. God does that, and He is doing it right now. We do have an obligation to disfellowship members living in open sin. When a tare becomes an open sinner, he is to be disfellowshipped by the church. (See I Corinthians 5; II John and Christ's Object Lessons, 71.)
Who is the church now? And who will be the church in the future? It will still be the same as it has always been, since the days of Adam and Eve. It is those who love God and keep His commandments; those who uphold the banner of Christ; those who defend the faith once delivered to the saints; those who have the Holy Spirit; those who are built on the Rock, and those who do not ever make war against those who are keeping God's commandments.
We need to be careful that we never have the wrong spirit. People might come to you and me and say, Well, you know so-and-so, look what they are doing; they are terrible; they are fanatics. They may be a fanatic. They may be doing something wrong, but let me tell you something, if they are keeping God's commandments, we had better not get in a war with them, even if they are making mistakes. Because, if we do, we will show the whole universe that we are on the opposite side of the great controversy, that we are not part of the church at all, no matter what our profession.
We are not self-supporting workers or some adjunct, some sideline, some irregular line. I believe Martin Luther put it best when he said, "The Pope and the priests need not make a noise. We are the church!" Do you believe that? It is still true. We are the church.
Melancthon said it just as well:. "'There is no other church than the assembly of those who have the word of God, and who are purified by it.'" Spirit of Prophecy, vol. 4, 237. That is who the true church is. It is those who have the Word of God and are purified by it.
So, if somebody says, of what denomination are you a part? Well, we are not part of any new one; I will tell you that! We are part of a denomination that existed since the days of Adam and Eve, and we do not ever intend to start a new one. We just want to stay with the old one. What is it that makes us a part of this denomination?
People say, Oh, you are non-denominational.
Well, I beg your pardon. We are strictly denominational. Ellen White said that she was strictly denominational. Here are a couple of statements that explain why we are denominational and what makes us denominational. People are very confused about this. I find people tend to think that we are just self-supporting workers, out there somewhere on the fringes.
No, we are strictly denominational, friend. This is what it means to be denominational. "As I was considering this matter in the night season, it seemed as if One stood up in the midst of us and pointed us back to the Israelites as an illustration of a distinct people, denominated of God. That which made them denominational, was the observance of God's commandments." Manuscript Releases, vol. 19, 38, 39.
Are you keeping God's commandments? If you are, that is what makes you denominational. That is what Ellen White says. "We are strictly denominational," she said. Testimonies, vol. 7, 109. We still are.
This next quote is even more pointed than the first one. "When you come to the point where you decide to serve God, you are denominational." Manuscript Releases, vol. 19, 52. Now what do you think of that? Have you decided that? Are you denominational? You are strictly denominational!
I am not claiming to be perfect. We do not claim to be the church triumphant. We do not claim that we are not making mistakes, but we have decided to serve God, have we not? We are trying to serve Him in an organized way. Then we are strictly denominational. That is what makes you denominational, she says. Then she says, "You should not link up with men who have no faith. . . . Such men are not to have a voice in your council-meetings. Even if they were very rich, I would not bind myself to them by a single thread. I would not seek their advice in regard to the business transactions and other matters connected with the management of the institution. The time has come when we must find our bearings. We must come to our senses, and know where we are standing. We are on the very borders of the eternal world. We cannot tell what may happen next." Ibid.
So, are we denominational? We are strictly denominational on two counts:
1. We have decided to keep God's commandments, and
2. We have decided to follow the Lord. When you make that decision, Ellen White says, you are denominational. You are not somebody out there on the fringes. All the people who have made those decisions are to press together and work for harmony and unity.
You see, we are not founded on any new denomination or any new organization. We are founded on an organization that goes back, back, back to the beginning. Here is the way Ellen White expressed it: "God has a church, and these churches [local churches] are organized on the foundation." Testimonies to Southern Africa, 7. To what foundation do you suppose she was referring? The foundation of 1863? The foundation of 1861? The foundation of 1517? The foundation of 1901? No, no, no!
These churches are organized on what foundation? "God has a church, and these churches are organized on the foundation of the apostles and the prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the Chief Cornerstone." Ibid.
So we belong to that same denomination for the very same reason that the Israelites did, because we decided to keep God's commandments, and we have decided to follow the Lord all the way.
Now having said that, that does not mean that you will not have to organize some new churches. When you organize a new church, have you started a new denomination? Absolutely not! Was Paul starting new churches when he went all over Galatia? We do not even know how many churches they formed there. It could have been in the hundreds.
Remember, in those days they did not have automobiles. You could not travel to a church that was 20 or 30 miles away, so they organized little churches. They had many churches in the big cities. Paul told Barnabas to ordain elders in every city. Why did he have to do that? Because they had a church in every city.
Was Paul starting a new denomination when he organized these new local churches? Absolutely not. In fact, friends, we need to organize new churches and new conferences all over the world. Let us read what Ellen White said about this. This is not starting a new denomination. This is just organizing to finish God's work, staying in the same organization.
She says, "New conferences must be formed." The General Conference Bulletin, April 5, 1901.
Oh, no, somebody says, that is starting a new organization! That is starting . . . No, it is not. Let us not be foolish. She was not talking about starting a new organization. Starting a new conference is not starting a new organization. It is not starting a new denomination. Ellen White does not contradict herself. She says starting a new organization would be apostasy from the truth. Was she telling people in the 1901 General Conference to go into apostasy against the truth by starting new conferences? Do you see, that starting a new conference and starting a new organization is not the same thing?
Is there any way, friends, that we can come to our senses and not just go contradicting ourselves and making the Spirit of Prophecy contradictory? You see, if the Spirit of Prophecy is the truth, it all has to agree with itself. Do you agree?
Ellen White says in Patriarch and Prophets, 113, 114, that the truth is consistent with itself in all of its manifestations. If we really understand the truth, the Spirit of Prophecy will all agree. And Ellen White, while she said not to start a new organization, did say new conferences must be formed.
Oh, somebody says, that was 1901. We have all we need now.
No, we do not, friends. We need many new churches and these churches need to be organized into conferences to finish God's work. Do you realize, that we still have billions of people to reach with the Third Angel's Message? Are we going to be able to reach these people if we are not organized? To be organized is not starting a new organization. We are organized on the foundation of the prophets and the apostles, Jesus Christ himself being the chief cornerstone. Ellen White said, "New Conferences must be formed." Local churches need to be established in all parts of the world.
When Evelyn and I were in India last year, we went out with the man we were visiting to look around. We were up in the mountains, out in the country, and there was a little village over there and another little village over there. There were not any Seventh-day Adventist churches in any of those villages.
I will tell you that when you go to a place like that, and you start looking around, you say, Lord, help us to get busy and to get organized so the work gets done. Those villages have to have the Three Angels' Messages before Jesus can come. Do you believe that? So do not let the devil trick you.
This is the devil's trick. The devil wants to keep God's people from being organized so that God's work can never be finished. That is the devil's program. So he invents all kinds of philosophical tricks to try to make people think that if you organize to finish God's work, then you are starting a new organization.
No, we are not! We believe and belong to the same denomination to which Adam and Eve belonged. The same one to which the disciples belonged. The same one to which Martin Luther belonged. The same one to which the Waldenses belonged. We are not starting anything new. All during all those times, God's people were organized to do His work. We have the biggest job that anybody has had since the days of Noah.
We have the job of getting the Three Angels' Messages to a world that is exploding in population. We are never going to do it, friends, unless we are organized. Becoming organized is not starting a new organization; it is getting back to the old principles that God taught us right in the Bible. In fact, Ellen White was so strong on this, that she said that the angels of God cannot bless His ministers if they work in an unorganized way. (See Testimonies, vol. 1, 49, 650.)
I do not want to work in a way so that angels cannot bless my work. How about you? If the angels are going to bless our work, we are going to have to be organized. That does not mean that we are going to start a new organization. We are going to start churches and organize conferences the same way that the apostle Paul did, the same way the Waldenses did, and the same way they did in the days of Ellen White.
The same way! We are not starting anything new! What we are doing is exactly what you read about in the book of Acts. Is it all right to get back to New Testament gospel order? That is what we need, friends, and that is what we are going to have to do if the work is going to be finished quickly.
Sometimes, when I see the opposition to it, I say, Lord, what is going to happen? If you do not help us get organized, we are going to be in this world for another 50 or 100 years. If something does not happen so that God's people can get organized to finish His work, we will be. But it is going to happen, and if you and I do not get involved in it, it will still happen. God will just finish His work with somebody else.
I have talked to the Lord many times about the thing that is scary to me. I have said, Lord, I do not need to be a leader, and I do not need to be known by anybody. I am not asking for any position or name or any title or anything else. But I just ask you one thing, Lord, since I see the evidence that You have decided to finish Your work in the world. Please, I know I am a sinner, and I know I need a powerful amount of grace so that I can overcome and do what is right, but Lord, please do not pass me by. I am willing to have the smallest part. I am willing to be the doorkeeper. I am willing to do whatever needs to be done. I am willing to take a lowly place and have nobody know anything about me; that is fine. But, Lord, please do not pass me by. Help me to have just a little part in Your work.
Do you want to have a part in God's finishing work? If we are going to have a part in it, we are going to have to quit fighting New Testament Church organization and start getting organized the way the apostles were organized. They were organized, and they took the gospel to the whole world in just one generation. It can happen again. It can happen very quickly, when God's people are ready.
Let me tell you it is already happening in some other countries, where they have almost no resources, faster than it is happening in the United States. I think that is a shame! With all the resources we have, I think we ought to be more organized than any other country in the world. But we are not. Could this be changed? Well, that is up to you and to me.