There is a text in the Bible that says, “If the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do?” Psalm 11:3. No matter how wonderful the building is that you build, if the foundation is not solid, if it is not secure, it can all go to ruin. Every one of you have seen instances, perhaps on television, when a flood swept away large houses. In Matthew 7, Jesus told a story about the man who built his house on the rock and the man who built his house on the sand. When the storm came, one house did not have a foundation. This is true not just for physical buildings. Jesus did not tell that story just so we would know how to build our house. What house was Jesus talking about? What does the Bible say is the house of God? Look at 1 Timothy 3:15 “…if I am delayed, I write so that you may know how you ought to conduct yourself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.” If the church is built on the rock, it will stand the storm. But every church that is not built on the rock is going to get blown away. In Matthew 16:18 Jesus said to Peter, “…you are Peter, [Petros: that is a stone] and on this rock [petra: that is a large rock or boulder] I will build My church.” Jesus is the living rock. If the church is built on the right foundation, it will go through. Every church that is built on the right foundation will go through and every church that is not built on the right foundation will not go through. It is very important to know what the foundation is because otherwise we will not know which church is going through. Let me give you an illustration on that.
There are texts in the Bible that tell us to flee from Babylon. How can you flee from something if you do not even know what it is? Have you ever thought about that?
Who is the Church of God?
There are texts in the Bible that tell us that we should seek to find the way to Zion. We know Zion is a symbol of God’s church. But, how can you go to Zion if you do not know what Zion is? I receive many letters from historic Seventh-day Adventists who do not know what Zion is. I also have books on the subject. What these books and letters tell me is a common misconception and a common false theory about the foundation of the church. These letters and books tell me that the church organization is the church. Have you ever heard that? These people tell me that the church organization is the church, and they send me stacks of material with references from the Spirit of Prophecy or from the Bible. I have read all of these references very carefully and I have not found one statement yet that says that the church organization is the church. I have read the books where they have attempted to prove this point, and I have read all of the statements and all of the inspired statements in these books. There is not one statement, I believe, in the Spirit of Prophecy, which defines the church this way. Not even one! There are many statements in Inspired writings, however, that exactly define God’s church. We read some of those in our previous articles.
In Acts of the Apostles, page 11 Ellen White says, “from the beginning, faithful souls have constituted the church.” That is a statement that people have spent a tremendous amount of time trying to explain or get around. They say that is about something that is invisible. But if you read the whole context, it is not talking about anything invisible, it is talking about something very visible that you can see. Or the one in Manuscript Releases, vol. 1, page 296 that is also in the SDA Bible Commentary, page 949, tells us who it is that composes the church of God. It says it is those that keep God’s commandments. It is those that live by every word that proceeds out of the Lord’s mouth. That is who it is.
The Faith of Jesus
One of the commandments that first began to be broken in heaven by Lucifer was the ninth commandment. The ninth commandment says that you shall not bear false witness. Did you know that it is very possible for a person who comes to church, who is a Christian, and who is a member of a church to bear false witness? How does a person become a member of a church, and what does it mean to become a member of a church? When a person studies the Bible and they learn the truth of this Book, they learn about the commandments of God and decide that they are going to keep all the commandments of God, including the fourth one. They learn about the faith of Jesus. The faith of Jesus is a faith that gives you the power to change your life—to obey. You receive divine power through the Holy Spirit to live a new life. That is recorded all through the New Testament. (Romans 8; Romans 6; 1 John 3.) When a person studies those things and wants to be part of this group that it talks about in Revelation 14:12—those who keep the commandments of God, those who have the faith of Jesus, they will be one of those who will be ready to go to heaven when Jesus comes, and I want to be part of that group.
What does the Lord tell people to do if they want to be part of His church? What did He say to His disciples just before He left? He said, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He who believes and is baptized will be saved.” Mark 16:15, 16. So when a person decides they are going to live by every word in the Bible, and they say that is what they choose to do; they leave aside their sinful life. The apostle Paul spoke to people in the Corinthian church who had been involved in all kinds of sin, and I want to tell you, friend, if you want to be saved, you can be saved. There is nobody who cannot be saved because they are too bad of a sinner. God can save every single one of us. Look what it says in 1 Corinthians 6:9-11. “Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God.” Paul lists a whole bunch of terrible sins. He says these people are not going to be in the kingdom of God. But notice verse 11: “And such were some of you.” There were people in the Corinthian church who had been sodomites, thieves and adulterers; they had been involved in every kind of sin. Paul said those people are not going to inherit the kingdom of God. Some of them were like this, but notice what happened to them: “…but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God.” Ibid. These people had been involved in every kind of sin that you can think of. He lists a whole bunch of awful ones right there in verses 9 and 10. He said the people who do these things are not going to be in the kingdom of God. You were like this, but you have been washed. Washed! What are you washed in? Revelation 1:5 says, “To Him Who loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood.” Washed—you cannot get sin out of your life with just water. But Jesus came and washed us from our sins with His blood.
There may be some whom the devil has tempted so much that you have felt like you will have to give up. You think you are so bad you cannot make it. You are no worse than these people were. These people were saved. God is no respecter of persons. God can save you. Is that good news? I am so happy when I preach the gospel. In fact, if I could not share this good news, I do not know if I could preach. How would you like it if a preacher got up to preach and said, “Look, some of you here can be saved because you are in this category, and some of you are such bad sinners that you cannot be saved. You are just stuck. You might as well leave the church right now because you cannot make it.” How would you like to hear that? That would be bad news would it not? But the word ‘gospel,’ means the glad tidings, the good news, “…that Christ Jesus came [Paul said] into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief.” 1 Timothy 1:15.
Paul was a bad sinner; he was a murderer. Can God save murderers? Yes! The apostle Paul is going to be in heaven, and he was a murderer. The people he murdered were not criminals. They were the most holy men and women on the face of the earth. But Paul was changed; he was washed. Do you want to be washed from your sins? Are you willing to commit your life to Christ and say, ‘Lord, I am committing my life to You. I will follow You. I am surrendering to You; please wash me from my sins.’ That is what it means to get baptized. When you are baptized, that is a symbol of the fact that your sins have been washed away by the blood of Jesus.
God’s People Have Two Qualifications
Remember we were looking at the ninth commandment? Is it possible for me to make all of that profession, and then not follow through? Is that possible? It not only is possible, but it has happened hundreds of millions of times. What if I make a profession but then I do not live according to my profession? You see, there is a church that is God’s people by profession. God’s remnant church, by profession, are those who call themselves Seventh-day Adventists. Seventh-day Adventists are the only people in the world who meet the specifications in Revelation 14:12. This text specifies who God’s people are going to be in the last days; and they have two qualifications.
First, they keep the commandments of God. James 2:10 says that if you keep all the law but you offend in one point you have broken it all. The Ten Commandments are not ten laws; the Ten Commandments are one law. Always remember that. (See Exodus 24:12.) If you break any one of the precepts, you have broken the whole law. God’s last day people will be people who keep all ten of the Ten Commandments.
Secondly, they have the faith of Jesus. I love to talk about the faith of Jesus. Do you have the faith of Jesus? What does the faith of Jesus do? If you have the same kind of faith that Jesus had, you are trusting God completely that He is going to get you through each test. Jesus prayed to His Father in the Garden of Gethsemane because He was afraid. Have you ever been afraid? Do you know why Jesus was afraid? Jesus was afraid that His humanity would not be able to stand the test, because He knew what test was coming; He knew He was going to the cross. He was afraid that His humanity would not endure. So He prayed. Did God answer His prayer? A mighty angel came from heaven to strengthen Him. Not to take away the test, but to strengthen Him. That is the faith of Jesus. Are you having any tests? Do you ever become afraid and say, “Oh, Lord, I will never make it. I will not be able to survive this test; I am going to fall; what am I going to do?” Do you ever feel like that? What is the faith of Jesus? The faith of Jesus is when you are depending on God and crying out to Him to give you the power and the strength to get you through whatever test it is that you are facing.
A Form of Godliness
There is a church that is God’s chosen people by profession. They claim to believe Revelation 14:12, to be part of that group; and some of these people really are that group. Unfortunately, some make a profession, but their profession is not true. They are breaking the ninth commandment. Often the professed church of God has gone so far in apostasy that it has persecuted the true church. This is predicted to happen at the end. “He [God] draws the dividing line between those who bear His name by profession and those whose character shows them to be His children.” Signs of the Times, June 30, 1881. God draws the dividing line, and some people are on one side of the line and some people are on the other side of that line. All the people make a profession, but where is the line? The line is between those who simply make a profession and those who show by their character that their profession is true. On which side of the line are you?
“Not their profession, but the fruit they bear, shows the character of the true. Many have a form of godliness, their names are upon the church records but they have a spotted record in heaven.” Appeal to the Battle Creek Church. It is not the profession, but the fruit. This is the difference between the wheat and the tares. The wheat bears fruit. The tares do not bear fruit. They look just like wheat for a long time, but in the harvest time there is no fruit. The Bible tells us what the fruit is in Galatians 5:22, 23. It talks about the fruit of the Spirit. If you really have the Holy Spirit inside and it is not just a profession, some fruit will appear in your life. Even if you have committed all of those sins that we just read about in 1 Corinthians 6:9 and 10, the Holy Spirit can purify your heart and give you love, joy, peace, patience, gentleness, goodness, faith, self-control, and temperance. All of those things the Holy Spirit can produce in your life no matter what your past has been. Is that good news? The gospel, Christianity, is a miracle religion. The person who has been beating his wife, stops. He does not just make a profession; he actually changes his behavior. The person who has been an alcoholic, stops using that poison. The person who has been a profligate, living an immoral life, becomes faithful and true. Their family, their spouse, can depend on them. The gospel actually changes their life. We all need to make the profession, but the profession needs to be true.
The Truth is to Change My Life
It would be better for us if we had never seen the light of truth than to profess to accept it and not be sanctified by it. If I profess to accept the truth, the truth is to change my life. Like we read in the last part of 2 Peter 2, it would be better if a person never even knew the truth than to know it and not be changed in character and in life. The good news of the gospel is that God wants to change your heart and mine through the Holy Spirit so that our profession becomes real and there is actually spiritual fruit in our lives. Because if there is not fruit in the life, the time is near when we are going to be separated. The wheat and the tares are going to be separated. It is a scary subject, but it is true and it is going to happen. It is not only going to happen, but it is happening right now. There is plenty of Inspired instruction that shows that clearly.
There is a reason that we have to spend so much time talking about who and what is the church, if you do not understand who and what it is, at the end you are going to be lost, because you will be going from the wrong place to the wrong place. Now if you are going from the wrong place and you are going to the wrong place, how can you be saved? In other words, if you think this is the church and you are running towards it, but it is not; and if you think that that is not the church and so you are running from it and it is the church, what is your situation? You are lost. Let us think this text through, and let us remember the inspired definitions of who and what the church is.
They Went Out From Us
The only thing that you can depend on is inspiration. There must be a “thus saith the Lord” for what you believe if you are going to be saved. In 1 John 2:19, it says, “They went out from us.” Who is the ‘us’? Is ‘us’ the church organization? Be careful! Who is the ‘us’? If you read from 1 John 1 up to 1 John 2:19, you should be able to figure out who the ‘us’ is, because it tells who the ‘us’ is. For instance, look at 1 John 2:13. It says, “…I write to you, young men, because you have overcome the wicked one.” Look at verse 14. He says again, “…and you have overcome the wicked one.” John calls these people His little children and he specifies in the first part of chapter 2, verses 3-11, the test of those who really know God. Notice, he says in verses 3 and 4, “Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments. He who says, ‘I know Him,’ and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.” Where is he drawing the line? It is those who keep the commandments. Does that sound similar to Revelation 14:12? Continuing in verse 6 we read, ” He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked.” He has the faith of Jesus. These are the people who are overcoming. These are the people who keep the commandments of God and have the faith of Jesus. That is who the ‘us’ is.
Then who are the ‘they’? Look at verse 19 again. “They went out from us.” Now the us are the people who are keeping God’s commandments. They are the people who have the faith of Jesus because they are walking like He walked. (See 1 John 2:6.) These are the people who keep the commandments of God and have the faith of Jesus. That is who the us is in verse 19. Then who are the ‘they’? It says, “They went out from us.” They used to be part of us then. Or did they? Have you read the whole verse yet? They went out from us, but they were not of us. How do you explain that? They used to be here with us, but they were not of us. Continuing in verse 19 we read, “If ‘they’ had been of us, they would have continued with us; but they went out that they might be made manifest, that none of them were of us.” How do you explain that? They were apparently church members; they were part of the church, but they were not really, they just professed to be. Apparently they were church members; they were apparently part of us, but not really. This verse is worth a lot of study. “They went out from us.” They left those who were keeping the commandments of God and had the faith of Jesus. They left them. That does not necessarily mean that they left the church building or quit going to church. The Spirit of Prophecy makes that very clear.