Summer 2011: No Man for Himself
Author: Professor Walter J. Veith, PhD
Publish date:
Summary: Excerpt from a sermon by Professor Walter J. Veith.
 
 

The following is an excerpt from Walter Veith’s Total Transformation series. It deals with the question of whether we need the Church. Many are discouraged by the state of the Church, and have pulled away, some believing that they need to separate altogether.

Many ask how they can continue to associate with an imperfect Church that may at times even be apostate. This excerpt contains a collection of quotes from the Spirit of Prophecy on this subject. Let us consider the words and understand them.

In the final conflict, God does not bypass His Church, but He will purify it in the fire of affliction and spew from its ranks those that have not made His righteousness their covering.

The church is God’s appointed agency for the salvation of men. It was organized for service, and its mission is to carry the gospel to the world. From the beginning it has been God’s plan that through His church shall be reflected to the world His fullness and His sufficiency. The members of the church, those whom He has called out of darkness into His marvelous light, are to show forth His glory. The church is the repository of the riches of the grace of Christ; and through the church will eventually be made manifest, even to “the principalities and powers in heavenly places,” the final and full display of the love of God. Ephesians 3:10. {AA 9.1}

The Redeemer of the world does not sanction experience and exercise in religious matters independent of his organized and acknowledged church. Many have an idea that they are responsible to Christ alone for their light and experience, independent of his recognized followers on earth. But in the history of the conversion of Saul, important principles are given us, which we should ever bear in mind. He was brought directly into the presence of Christ. He was one whom Christ intended for a most important work, one who was to be “a chosen vessel” unto him; yet he did not personally impart to him the lessons of truth. He arrested his course and convicted him; but when asked by him, “What wilt thou have me to do?” the Saviour placed him in connection with his church, and let them direct him what to do (LP 31.1).

You may ask, how can I be associated with such an imperfect church?

Persecution cleanses the Church.

Prosperity multiplies a mass of professors. Adversity purges them out of the church.--4T 89 (1876). {LDE 173.5}

The time is not far distant when the test will come to every soul. The mark of the beast will be urged upon us. Those who have step by step yielded to worldly demands and conformed to worldly customs will not find it a hard matter to yield to the powers that be, rather than subject themselves to derision, insult, threatened imprisonment, and death. The contest is between the commandments of God and the commandments of men. In this time the gold will be separated from the dross in the church.--5T 81 (1882). {LDE 173.6}

In spite of its condition, the church is not Babylon although there are Babylonians in its ranks.

In the absence of the persecution there have drifted into our ranks men who appear sound and their Christianity unquestionable, but who, if persecution should arise, would go out from us.--Ev 360 (1890). {LDE 174.1}

When the law of God is made void the church will be sifted by fiery trials, and a larger proportion than we now anticipate will give heed to seducing spirits and doctrines of devils.--2SM 368 (1891). {LDE 174.2}

Some trees on a green island under the deep blue sky... and the reflecting water all around.

As trials thicken around us, both separation and unity will be seen in our ranks. Some who are now ready to take up weapons of warfare will in times of real peril make it manifest that they have not built upon the solid rock; they will yield to temptation. Those who have had great light and precious privileges but have not improved them will, under one pretext or another, go out from us.--6T 400 (1900). {LDE 175.2}

The Lord has not given you a message to call the Seventh-day Adventists Babylon, and to call the people of God to come out of her. All the reasons you may present cannot have weight with me on this subject, because the Lord has given me decided light that is opposed to such a message. . . . {LDE 51.2}

I know that the Lord loves His church. It is not to be disorganized or broken up into independent atoms. There is not the least consistency in this; there is not the least evidence that such a thing will be.--2SM 63, 68, 69 (1893). {LDE 51.3}

I tell you, my brethren, the Lord has an organized body through whom He will work. . . . When anyone is drawing apart from the organized body of God’s commandment-keeping people, when he begins to weigh the church in his human scales and begins to pronounce judgment against them, then you may know that God is not leading him. He is on the wrong track.--3SM 17, 18 (1893). {LDE 51.4}

The straight testimony produces a shaking.

I asked the meaning of the shaking I had seen, and was shown that it would be caused by the straight testimony called forth by the counsel of the True Witness to the Laodiceans. This will have its effect upon the heart of the receiver, and will lead him to exalt the standard and pour forth the straight truth. Some will not bear this straight testimony. They will rise up against it, and this will cause a shaking among God’s people.--1T 181 (1857). {LDE 175.3}

There are those among us who will make confessions, as did Achan, too late to save themselves. . . . They are not in harmony with right. They despise the straight testimony that reaches the heart, and would rejoice to see everyone silenced who gives reproof.--3T 272 (1873). {LDE 175.4}

The Lord calls for a renewal of the straight testimony borne in years past. He calls for a renewal of spiritual life. The spiritual energies of His people have long been torpid, but there is to be a resurrection from apparent death. By prayer and confession of sin we must clear the King’s highway.--8T 297 (1904). {LDE 176.1}

Do we need an organized Church?

Oh, how Satan would rejoice if he could succeed in his efforts to get in among this people and disorganize the work at a time when thorough organization is essential and will be the greatest power to keep out spurious uprisings and to refute claims not endorsed by the Word of God! We want to hold the lines evenly, that there shall be no breaking down of the system of organization and order that has been built up by wise, careful labor. License must not be given to disorderly elements that desire to control the work at this time. {LDE 47.1}

As we near the final crisis, instead of feeling that there is less need of order and harmony of action, we should be more systematic than heretofore. 3SM 26 (1892). {LDE 47.3}

In his article “Beheading Christ,” Keith Drury makes an interesting point regarding Christ and His choice of bride, how many are willing to choose Christ but not His bride:

I have decided to submit to Christ’s tastes in bride-picking. If He wants the church as His bride I will accept her too. Jesus Christ, the head of the body is easy to love. The body of Christ is harder to love. But I have chosen to love her for one single reason—Christ loves her and considers her beautiful. Perhaps he sees possibilities in her I don’t see? Perhaps that’s how He sees me too?1

God’s Church has special authority.

God has invested His church with special authority and power which no one can be justified in disregarding and despising, for in so doing he despises the voice of God. 3T 417 (1875). {LDE 47.4}

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 451 (1875). {LDE 47.5}

I am instructed to say to Seventh day Adventists the world over, God has called us as a people to be a peculiar treasure unto Himself. He has appointed that His church on earth shall stand perfectly united in the Spirit and counsel of the Lord of hosts to the end of time. 2SM 397 (1908). {LDE 55.3}

While it is true that the Lord guides individuals, it is also true that He is leading out a people, not a few separate individuals here and there, one believing this thing, another that. Angels of God are doing the work committed to their trust. The third angel is leading out and purifying a people, and they should move with him unitedly. . . . {AG 110.4}

Some have advanced the thought that as we near the close of time, every child of God will act independently of any religious organization. But I have been instructed by the Lord that in this work there is no such thing as every man’s being independent.

. . . In order that the Lord’s work may advance healthfully and solidly, His people must draw together. {AG 110.5}

If men will not move in concert in the great and grand work for this time, there will be confusion. It is not a good sign when men refuse to unite with their brethren, and prefer to act alone. . .

On the other hand, the leaders among God’s people are to guard against the danger of condemning the methods of individual workers who are led by the Lord to do a special work that but few are fitted to do. Let brethren in responsibility be slow to criticize the movements that are not in perfect harmony with their methods of labor. Let them never suppose that every plan should reflect their own personality. Let them not fear to trust another’s methods; for by withholding their confidence from a fellow brother laborer who, with humility and consecrated zeal, is doing a special work in God’s appointed way, they are retarding the advancement of the Lord’s cause. . .God can and will use those who have not a thorough education in the schools of men. A doubt of his power to do this is manifest unbelief. {PH113 25.2}

Let’s look at both sides of the story. How can two walk together unless they are agreed? How is such unity possible in the light of such obvious conflict within the church?

Christ calls for unity.

Our church members see that there are differences of opinion among the leading men, and they themselves enter into controversy regarding the subjects under dispute. Christ calls for unity. But He does not call for us to unify on wrong practices. The God of heaven draws a sharp contrast between pure, elevating, ennobling truth and false, misleading doctrines. He calls sin and impenitence by the right name. He does not gloss over wrongdoing with a coat of untempered mortar. I urge our brethren to unify upon a true, scriptural basis.--Manuscript 10, 1905.

God is not asking us to be brain-dead, or to unify on wrong practices.

This means that there must be a church within the Church.

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” (Matt. 18:20). Where Christ is even among the humble few, this is Christ’s church, for the presence of the High and Holy One who inhabiteth eternity can alone constitute a church. {UL 315.5}

He has a body but he will purge the body.

In the light of the inner conflict can the church stand?

The church [militant] may appear as about to fall, but it does not fall. It remains [triumphant], while the sinners in Zion will be a terrible ordeal, but nevertheless it must take place. None but those who have been overcoming by the blood of the Lamb and the word of their testimony will be found with the loyal and true, without spot or stain of sin, without guile in their mouths. We must be divested of our self-righteousness and arrayed in the righteousness of Christ. {2SM 380.2}

Consider the circumstances of the Jewish nation when the prophecies of Daniel were given. The Israelites were in captivity, the Temple had been destroyed, their Temple service suspended. Their religion had centered in the ceremonies of the sacrificial system. They had made the outward form all-important, while they had lost the spirit of true worship. Their services were corrupted with traditions and practices of heathenism, and in the performance of the sacrificial rites they did not look beyond the shadow of the substance. They did not discern Christ, the True Offering for the sins of man. The Lord wrought to bring the people into captivity, and to suspend the services in the Temple, in order that the outward ceremonies might not become the total of their religion. The principles and practices must be purged of heathenism, the ritual service ceased, in order that the heart might be revived. The outward glory was removed, that the spiritual might be revealed. {UL 161.3}

Does the church within the Church mean that we can separate?

But what does this all mean? Sometimes we are caught between the desire to be a part of a community of believers who worships in Spirit and Truth, and yet we don’t find this in our local churches. Many have chosen to distance themselves from such a situation, and to start their own home churches.

Some have asked, “does Walter Veith really mean that we are to attend the nearest Seventh-day Adventist Church regardless of any error preached, or any kind of worship service, and to just be quiet and read our Bibles?”

Each one must answer for himself how he or she chooses to deal with a situation of apostasy, but here are some thoughts to ponder.

If everyone who wanted to follow God’s Truth distanced themselves from churches they felt were “apostate”, who would be there to befriend, love, and reach out to fellow church members? How are we to be “divested of our self-righteousness”? Should our “rightness” and “right doctrine” overpower our patience with those that don’t hold to our beliefs or understanding? Sometimes, there are those that separate because being “right” (and holy) is more important than loving the people with whom they fellowship.

But does that mean that silence against error is being advocated here? Of course not! It is the straight testimony that is to cause the shaking, and we should be prepared to stand for truth even if we are unpopular. We should not be silent when we hear error, but we do need to be kind and respectful even when we speak against error.

Some dear individuals have phoned us and told us how their church has asked them to leave because they held to the three angels’ message and Seventh-day Adventist teachings as shared by Walter Veith. One young couple, who had recently heard the Total Onslaught series came to a church in Germany, and asked to be baptized. When the pastor heard that they had come to a knowledge of the truth through Walter Veith’s series, he flatly told them that they were not welcome in his church. Such a statement would have discouraged anyone, but this young couple found another church a distance away that welcomed them, accepted them into fellowship, and baptized them upon the confession of their faith.

Lesson learned? Find a church that strives to follow Seventh-day Adventist doctrine and attend there, even if it is farther away.

Does that mean that one should never have a home church? That depends on your individual situation and circumstance. Unfortunately, sometimes home churches become gathering places for people who look down on their more “liberal” brothers, those that are in error, or apostate. Spiritual pride is very difficult to identify. We may feel that we are actually feeling sorcorrectly”, when in actuality, we are harboring spiritual pride.

There’s nothing wrong with having a home church if you have no other choice. But even if we participate in a home church, we should still be a part of the church body - and consider ourselves to be so, and attend a regular church whenever possible. Meeting occasionally with a group of like believers to study God’s word is certainly not wrong, but the important question that must be settled in each and every heart individually is what is the motivation?

If you really and truly do not have a church locally to worship in, then you may not have a choice but to have a home church setting. But we are always to strive to be with the Church. If, for some reason, we have been made unwelcome at a local Church, that does not give us license to now start our own church intending to never return.

The most difficult thing to do is to love those we consider to be “unloveable”.

When Walter Veith says to “not leave” the Church - he is not referring to specific local churches, but to the Church as a whole. Go and find the Seventh-day Adventist church that is most closest to what you can live with, and then learn to love the people in it. Many times we attend Church in order to correct others. Doctrinal errors and open sin do need to be met head on, but we also need to give liberty to our brothers and sisters and allow them to be where they are in their own growth process. Remember that you yourself may not have been at the same point in your growth process as you are now. Seek to minister to the members of your church, and to be an influence for good. And leave the rest in God’s hands. God will purge His church. Let us be sure that we are not one of those that are purged out because of our spiritual snobbery. This is difficult to do, but if we are all to live in harmony in heaven, a very critical thing to learn.

When the religion of Christ is most held in contempt, when His law is most despised, then should our zeal be the warmest and our courage and firmness the most unflinching. To stand in defence of truth and righteousness when the majority forsake us, to fight the battles of the Lord when champions are few— this will be our test. At this time we must gather warmth from the coldness of others, courage from their cowardice, and loyalty from their treason.--5T 136 (1882).

Remember Elijah when he thought he was the only one, and God told him He had yet 7000 in Israel that had not bowed the knee to Baal. They were still in Israel - they had not left, but they were hidden within the tares. Jesus has told us that we must not pull out the tares lest we pull out the wheat too.

 


 

1. Keith Drury, “Beheading Christ,” euangelion.topcities.com (October 18, 2005)

 

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