The Narrow Way Bible Study Lessons
On Belonging to the Church - How to Stay Faithful among the Faithless
We would sincerely wish that all of our church leaders, pastors, and members were unitedly upholding every facet of truth we hold dear, that on Sabbath we could visit any Adventist church and find its members and leaders living, teaching, and preaching in total harmony with all the Bible and Spirit of Prophecy counsel. But sadly. This is not the case. In this lesson we will consider briefly the condition of our beloved church today, and then what we are to do about it, and how we may remain true to our historic faith even when we find ourselves surrounded by those who wish to tear it down.
1) What is the condition of our Seventh-day Adventist Church today? _______________
“I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art ________________, and _________________________________
_________, I will spue thee out of my mouth. Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and ______________________ that thou art ________________, and __________________, and ________, and __________, and __________: I counsel thee to __________________ gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and [that] the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see. As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be ______________ therefore, and _____________. Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man ________ my voice, and ________ the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me. To him that ___________________ will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.” Revelation 3:15-22
“ I was shown the state of God's professed people. Many of them were in great darkness, yet seemed to be insensible of their true condition. The sensibilities of a large number seemed to be benumbed in regard to spiritual and eternal things, while their minds seemed all awake to their worldly interests. Many were cherishing idols in their hearts and were practicing iniquity which separated them from God. Some who occupy the position of watchmen to warn the people of danger have given up their watch and recline at ease. They are unfaithful sentinels. They remain inactive, while their wily foe enters the fort and works successfully by their side to tear down what God has commanded to be built up. They see that Satan is deceiving the inexperienced and unsuspecting; yet they take it all quietly, as though they had no special interest, as though these things did not concern them. They apprehend no special danger; they see no cause to raise an alarm. To them everything seems to be going well, and they see no necessity of raising the faithful, trumpet notes of warning which they hear borne by the plain testimonies, to show the people their transgressions and the house of Israel their sins. These reproofs and warnings disturb the quiet of these sleepy, ease-loving sentinels, and they are not pleased. They say in heart, if not in words: ‘This is all uncalled for. It is too severe, too harsh. These men are unnecessarily disturbed and excited, and seem unwilling to give us any rest or quietude 'Ye take too much upon you, seeing all the congregation are holy, every one of them.' They are not willing that we should have any comfort, peace, or happiness. It is active labor, toil, and unceasing vigilance alone which will satisfy these unreasonable, hard-to-be-suited watchmen. Why don't they prophesy smooth things, and cry: Peace, peace? Then everything would move on smoothly.’ These are the true feelings of many of our people. And Satan exults at his success in controlling the minds of so many who profess to be Christians. He has deceived them, benumbed their sensibilities, and planted his hellish banner right in their midst, and they are so completely deceived that they know not that it is he.” 2T 439, 440
“According to the light that God has given me in vision, wickedness and deception are increasing among God's people who profess to keep His commandments. Spiritual discernment to see sin as it exists, and then to put it out of the camp, is decreasing among God's people; and spiritual blindness is fast coming upon them. The straight testimony must be revived, and it will separate those from Israel who have ever been at war with the means that God has ordained to keep corruptions out of the church. Wrongs must be called wrongs. Grievous sins must be called by their right name. All of God's people should come nearer to Him and wash their robes of character in the blood of the Lamb. Then will they see sin in the true light and will realize how offensive it is in the sight of God.” 3T 324
“We have far more to fear from within than from without. The hindrances to strength and success are far greater from the church itself than from the world. Unbelievers have a right to expect that those who profess to be keeping the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus, will do more than any other class to promote and honor, by their consistent lives, by their godly example and their active influence, the cause which they represent. But how often have the professed advocates of the truth proved the greatest obstacle to its advancement! The unbelief indulged, the doubts expressed, the darkness cherished, encourage the presence of evil angels, and open the way for the accomplishment of Satan's devices.” 1SM 122
“The facts concerning the real condition of the professed people of God, speak more loudly than their profession, and make it evident that some power has cut the cable that anchored them to the Eternal Rock, and that they are drifting away to sea, without chart or compass. What is to be done? The True Witness points out the only remedy: "Repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent.”” RH, July 24, 1888
2) Has it been predicted that such a state of backsliding and apostasy would exist among God’s professed people in the last days, and have we been warned to be on guard against it? YES / NO
“Woe be unto the ______________ that ______________ and ______________ the sheep of my pasture! saith the LORD. Therefore thus saith the LORD God of Israel against the pastors that feed my people; Ye have scattered my flock, and driven them away, and have not visited them: behold, I will visit upon you the evil of your doings, saith the LORD.” Jeremiah 23:1-2
“Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel, prophesy, and say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD unto the shepherds; ______ [be] to the __________________ of Israel that do ______________________________! should not the shepherds feed the flocks?” Ezekiel 34:2
“My people hath been ____________________: their __________________ have ________________________________________________, they have turned them away [on] the mountains: they have gone from mountain to hill, they have _______________ _________________________________________.” Jeremiah 50:6
“For there are certain men __________________________________, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ.” Jude 4
“For there are many unruly and vain talkers and __________________, specially they of the circumcision: Whose mouths must be stopped, who subvert whole houses, ______________________________ which they __________________, for filthy lucre's sake…. This witness is true. Wherefore ____________ them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith; Not giving heed to Jewish fables, and commandments of men, that ______________________________________…. They ______________ that they know God; but in __________ they ________ [him], being abominable, and disobedient, and unto every good work reprobate.” Titus 1:10, 11, 13, 14, 16
“Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause __________________ and offences ________________________________________________ which ye have learned; and __________ them. For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and __________________________ deceive the hearts of the simple.” Romans 16:17-18
“Beware of ____________________________, which come to you in ______________ ________________, but inwardly they are ______________________________. Ye shall know them by their ____________. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit.” Matthew 7:15-17
“For such [are] __________ apostles, __________________ workers, transforming themselves into the ____________________________________. And no marvel; for __________ himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore [it is] no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose ______ shall be ________________________________________________.” 2 Corinthians 11:13-15
“For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God. Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood. For I know this, that after my departing shall ______________________________ enter in __________________, not __________________________________. Also of your ______ selves shall men arise, speaking ________________ things, to _____________ ________ disciples after them.” Acts 20:27-30
“This wisdom descendeth not from above, but [is] ______________, ______________, ________________.” James 3:15
“But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be __________ ________________ among you, who ______________ shall bring in damnable ________________, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift ______________________. And __________________________________ their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of __________ shall be ________________
______________. And through covetousness shall they with ______________________ __________ make merchandise of you: whose judgment now of a long time lingereth not, and their damnation slumbereth not.” 2 Peter 2:1-3
“For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall show great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if [it were] ________________, they shall _______________ ____________________________.” Matthew 24:24
“Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall ____________ from the __________, ________________________ to seducing spirits, and ______________________________________; Speaking _________ in hypocrisy; having their __________________________________ with a hot iron;” 1 Timothy 4:1-2
“Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. For the time will come when they will __________________ ______________________________; but after their own __________ shall they heap to themselves _________________________________________________________; And they shall __________________ [their] ears from the __________, and shall be ____________________________________.” 2 Timothy 4:2-4
“I marvel that ye are ______________________________ from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto ____________________________: Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would ______________ the gospel of Christ. But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be ________________. As we said before, so say I now again, If any [man] preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be ________________. For do I now persuade men, or God? or do I seek to please men? for if I yet ______________________, I should not be the ________________________ ____________.” Galatians 1:6-10
“Many will stand in our pulpits with the torch of false prophecy in their hands, kindled from the hellish torch of Satan.” TM 409
We believe that we are living in a time of great apostasy and falling away from the truth among God’s professed people that was foretold by prophecy; therefore we challenge all not to place their dependence on man and look to him alone for leadership, direction, and example, but to depend wholly on God and seek to know and follow His will.
Many church leaders and organizations are compromising and seeking to maintain organizational support and unity at the expense of faithfulness and obedience to the Scriptures. Such compromise leads to the exaltation of leaders and blind denominational loyalty, rather than loyalty to the Word of God.
We warn against succumbing to worldly pressures and trends, seeking for cultural relevance, or unity with other denominations. Some of the tragic results of making these compromises as have been seen in our church (many of them in the last 50 years) are listed here:
Accreditation of our schools which has led to secular control; shortened evangelistic series’ which has led to many new members who hardly know what true Adventism teaches; beliefs altered through the evangelical conferences and the printing of Seventh-day Adventists Answer Questions on Doctrine in the 1950’s; ecumenical ties with the NCC, WCC, and the Vatican; “new theology” taught in schools, churches, and publications; church statement of belief re-written in a generalized, watered-down way; pastors and teachers allowed to continue in position while teaching error; faithful members taken to court and disfellowshipped for standing up for truth; standards of morality, modesty, etc. lowered to the world; celebration churches raised up; worldly and atheistic materials required reading in SDA colleges; disregarding Sabbath by painting homes and raking leaves for the poor on it; women’s ordination, hypnotism and NLP, abortion, feminism, homosexuality, new age, alcohol, jewelry and makeup, immodest clothes, competitive sports, drama and theatrics, rock music, clowns, puppets and mimes, divorce, and evolution permitted, accepted, or even encouraged in homes, schools, and churches.
Some of the fundamental teachings of the “new theology”, which was mentioned above, are as follows:
*We can’t overcome sin in this life; we can’t be perfect
*God will automatically change us with no effort on our part
*We can still be in a saving relationship with Jesus while committing known sin
*Christ didn’t take our fallen human nature; He had a sinless, pre-fall nature
*The atonement was finished at the cross; the doctrine of the heavenly sanctuary is not that important
*The Spirit of Prophecy is for devotional purposes, not for doctrine or standards
*The teaching of original sin - we receive guilt from Adam and so are guilty at birth
You may be wondering, why do I have to know all these discouraging things? While it is not well to dwell on all the workings of Satan, it is vitally important that we have a basic understanding of the ways he is using to try to deceive us, and why the Bible and Spirit of Prophecy say these things are wrong. Satan is very subtle and clever, and he knows how to present sin in its most attractive light, and how to mix truth with error so that the error will not be as readily discerned. We must know what we believe and why we believe it, and we must be able to recognize error when it is presented, and refute it.
You may also be asking why God has allowed this condition of things to come among His professed people? We must realize that Satan is working extra hard on those who profess to be children of God and who have been blessed with so much light and truth, because he wants them to fail and bring dishonor to God’s name. the tragic fact is that the majority of God’s people have failed Him and have not lived up to their high calling. But do not be discouraged, because if you and I each individually repent and turn to God in full surrender, He will use us to help bring others to Him as well; and He will give us wisdom and strength to stand for truth and resist the wrong.
3) Is the church responsible for the sins it tolerates among its’ members? YES / NO
“The plain, straight testimony must live in the church, or the curse of God will rest upon His people as surely as it did upon ancient Israel because of their sins. God holds His people, as a body, responsible for the sins existing in individuals among them. If the leaders of the church neglect to diligently search out the sins which bring the displeasure of God upon the body, they become responsible for these sins.” 3T 269
The question of how church discipline is to be carried out is a separate question, and since it is something which we as individuals cannot carry out without the consent of the church, we will not address it in detail here. It should be remembered, though, that the purpose of church discipline must always be for the redemption of the one in error; so that he may stop and think about the course he is pursuing, and be led to repent of his sin and come back to the Lord. (For more on this, see Matthew 18:15-17, 1 Timothy 5:20). Later in this lesson, we will study what we as individuals are to do when open sin exists in the church and is not being dealt with.
4) Is it all right to water down the truth in order to make people feel more comfortable and to increase our membership? YES / NO
“Go ye therefore, and __________ all nations, __________________ them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: ________________ them to ____________________________________ whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, [even] unto the end of the world. Amen.” Matthew 28:19-20
“If those who have been in the church for weeks and months have not learned the straightness of the way, and what it is to be Christians, and cannot hear all the straight truths of the Word of God, it were better that they were cut off from Israel. It is too late in the day to feed with milk. If souls a month or two old in the truth, who are about to enter the time of trouble such as never was, cannot hear all the straight truth, or endure the strong meat of the straightness of the way, how will they stand in the day of battle? Truths that we have been years learning must be learned in a few months by those who now embrace the Third Angel's Message. We had to search and wait the opening of truth, receiving a ray of light here and a ray there, laboring and pleading for God to reveal truth to us. But now the truth is plain; its rays are brought together. The blazing light of truth when it is presented as it should be can be now seen and brought to bear upon the heart. There is no need of milk after souls are convinced of the truth. As soon as the conviction of truth is yielded to and the heart willing, the truth should have its effect, the truth will work like leaven, and purify and purge away the passions of the natural heart. It is a disgrace for those who have been in the truth for years to talk of feeding souls who have been months in the truth, upon milk. It shows they know little of the leadings of the Spirit of the Lord, and realize not the time we are living in. Those who embrace the truth now will have to step fast. There will have to be a breaking up of heart before the Lord, a rending of heart, and not the garment.” 1MR 33
“The accession of members who have not been renewed in heart and reformed in life is a source of weakness to the church. This fact is often ignored. Some ministers and churches are so desirous of securing an increase of numbers that they do not bear faithful testimony against unchristian habits and practices. Those who accept the truth are not taught that they cannot safely be worldlings in conduct while they are Christians in name. Heretofore they were Satan's subjects; henceforth they are to be subjects of Christ. The life must testify to the change of leaders. Public opinion favors a profession of Christianity. Little self-denial or self-sacrifice is required in order to put on a form of godliness and to have one's name enrolled upon the church book. Hence many join the church without first becoming united to Christ. In this Satan triumphs. Such converts are his most efficient agents. They serve as decoys to other souls. They are false lights, luring the unwary to perdition. It is in vain that men seek to make the Christian's path broad and pleasant for worldlings. God has not smoothed or widened the rugged, narrow way. If we would enter into life, we must follow the same path which Jesus and His disciples trod--the path of humility, self-denial, and sacrifice.” 5T 172
This practice of compromising truth for the sake of gaining increased membership and more tithe money is a grievous wrong, and one that is all too common in our churches today.
5) Why does it seem that there are often so few results from our evangelistic endeavors? Read the quote below, then write the answer in your own words:
“The Lord does not now work to bring many souls into the truth, because of the church members who have never been converted and those who were once converted but who have backslidden. What influence would these unconsecrated members have on new converts? Would they not make of no effect the God-given message which His people are to bear?” 6T 371
6) How can we find true unity in the church? ___________________________________
“And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the ____________________ of the saints, for the ________ of the ministry, for the ________________ of the body of Christ: Till we all come in the ____________________________________, and of the __________________ of the Son of God, unto a ______________ man, unto the ______________ of the stature of the __________________________________: That we [henceforth] be ______________ children, tossed to and fro, and __________________________ with _______________ ________________________________, by the sleight of men, [and] cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to ______________; But speaking the __________ in ________, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, [even] Christ: From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh ________________________________________ unto the edifying of itself in love.” Ephesians 4:11-16
“Jesus Himself never purchased peace by compromise. His heart overflowed with love for the whole human race, but He was never indulgent to their sins. He was too much their friend to remain silent while they were pursuing a course that would ruin their souls,--the souls He had purchased with His own blood. He labored that man should be true to himself, true to his higher and eternal interest. The servants of Christ are called to the same work, and they should beware lest, in seeking to prevent discord, they surrender the truth. They are to "follow after the things which make for peace" (Romans 14:19); but real peace can never be secured by compromising principle. And no man can be true to principle without exciting opposition. A Christianity that is spiritual will be opposed by the children of disobedience. But Jesus bade His disciples, "Fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul." Those who are true to God need not fear the power of men nor the enmity of Satan. In Christ their eternal life is secure. Their only fear should be lest they surrender the truth, and thus betray the trust with which God has honored them.” DA 356
“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…. I urge our brethren to unify upon a true, scriptural basis.”
“We are to unify, but not on a platform of error.” 15MR 259
Those who wish to uphold the truth are often urged by those who are promoting error, “Above all, we must strive for unity! We may have differences of opinion, but they’re not so major or important. We can agree on the important things - that we love Jesus, etc.” But as we have seen from the above quotes, there can be no true unity aside from that which is built on the platform of truth. All “unity” built on a mixture of truth with error, is false.
7) What is the difference between true love for souls, and the so-called “love” which really isn’t love at all? Read the quotes below, then write the answer in your own words:
“This base counterfeit (the world’s so-called “love”) has misled many souls. It would blot out the distinction between right and wrong, by agreeing with the transgressor instead of faithfully showing him his errors…. The spirit of Christ will lead us to hate sin, while we are willing to make any sacrifice to save the sinner.” 5T 171
“Satan deceives many with the plausible theory that God's love for His people is so great that He will excuse sin in them;… But in all His dealings with his creatures God has maintained the principles of righteousness by revealing sin in its true character--by demonstrating that its sure result is misery and death. The unconditional pardon of sin never has been, and never will be…. That so-called benevolence which would set aside justice is not benevolence but weakness.” PP 522
“That religion which makes of sin a light matter, dwelling upon the love of God to the sinner regardless of his actions, only encourages the sinner to believe that God will receive him while he continues in that which he knows to be sin. This is what some are doing who profess to believe present truth.” 5T 540
“ Love is dwelt upon as the chief attribute of God, but it is degraded to a weak sentimentalism, making little distinction between good and evil. God's justice, His denunciations of sin, the requirements of His holy law, are all kept out of sight.” GC 558 (This was written of modern-day spiritualism. Let us beware, not to adopt this same attitude in our own churches.)
“Many dare not condemn iniquity, lest they shall thereby sacrifice position or popularity. And by some it is considered uncharitable to rebuke sin. The servant of God . . . is under the most solemn obligation to present the Word of God, without fear or favor. He must call sin by its right name. . . . The love of God will never lead to the belittling of sin; it will never cover or excuse an unconfessed wrong.” SD 214
8) How does the Bible describe true, godly leaders and pastors, and how are we to relate to them? List several characteristics from the verses below that stand out to you:
“For this cause left I thee in Crete, that thou shouldest set in order the things that are wanting, and ordain elders in every city, as I had appointed thee: If any be __________________, the ______________ of one wife, having ________________ ________________ not accused of riot or unruly. For a bishop must be blameless, as the steward of God; not ____________________, not ____________________, not given to ________, no striker, not given to ________________________; But a lover of ______________________, a lover of good men, __________, ________, ________, __________________; ________________________ the faithful ________ as he hath been taught, that he may be able by ____________________________ both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers.” Titus 1:5-9
“This [is] a true saying, If a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work. A bishop then must be __________________, the husband of one wife, _______________, sober, of good __________________, given to hospitality, apt to teach;” 1 Timothy 3:1-2
“The elders which are among you I exhort, who am also an elder, and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed: ________ the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight [thereof], _____________ ___________________, but willingly; ________________________________________, but of a ready mind; Neither as being __________ over [God's] heritage, but being __________________ to the flock. And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away.” 1 Peter 5:1-4
“________ them that have the rule over you, and ____________ yourselves: for they _________________________________________, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that [is] unprofitable for you.”
“And we beseech you, brethren, to know them which ____________ among you, and are ________________________________________, and ________________ you; And to ____________ them ______________________ in love for their work's sake. [And] be at peace among yourselves.” 1 Thessalonians 5:12-13
9) What are we called to do when error is being taught, believed, and cherished around us?_____________________________________________________________________
“__________________, spare not, __________________________________ like a trumpet, and ____________________________ their __________________________, and the house of Jacob their ________.” Isaiah 58:1
“And the LORD said unto him, Go through the midst of the city, through the midst of Jerusalem, and set a mark upon the foreheads of the men that ________ and that ______ for ________________________________________ that be done in the midst thereof.” Ezekiel 9:4
“Who are standing in the counsel of God at this time? Is it those who virtually excuse wrongs among the professed people of God and who murmur in their hearts, if not openly, against those who would reprove sin? Is it those who take their stand against them and sympathize with those who commit wrong? No, indeed! Unless they repent, and leave the work of Satan in oppressing those who have the burden of the work and in holding up the hands of sinners in Zion, they will never receive the mark of God's sealing approval…. Mark this point with care: Those who receive the pure mark of truth, wrought in them by the power of the Holy Ghost,… are those "that sigh and that cry for all the abominations that be done" in the church. Their love for purity and the honor and glory of God is such, and they have so clear a view of the exceeding sinfulness of sin, that they are represented as being in agony, even sighing and crying.” 3T 267
“The greatest want of the world is the want of men…who do not fear to call sin by its right name,…” ED 57
“There must be a revival of the strait testimony. The path to heaven is no smoother now than in the days of our Saviour. All our sins must be put away. Every darling indulgence that hinders our religious life must be cut off.” 5T 222
“Deal faithfully with wrongdoing. Warn every soul that is in danger. Leave none to deceive themselves. Call sin by its right name. Declare what God has said in regard to lying, Sabbathbreaking, stealing, idolatry, and every other evil. "They which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God." Galatians 5:21. If they persist in sin, the judgment you have declared from God's word is pronounced upon them in heaven. In choosing to sin, they disown Christ; the church must show that she does not sanction their deeds, or she herself dishonors her Lord. She must say about sin what God says about it. She must deal with it as God directs, and her action is ratified in heaven.” DA 806
10) Isn’t giving the straight testimony the same as the “judging” which Jesus condemned?
YES / NO. Why? _________________________________________________________
“Judging and reproving are two different things. God has laid upon His servants the work of reproving in love those who err; but He has forbidden and denounced the thoughtless judging so common among professed believers.” RH, October 29, 1901
“Christ has plainly taught that those who persist in open sin must be separated from the church, but He has not committed to us the work of judging character and motive.”
11) How can we find the balance between reproof and pity when giving the straight testimony? ______________________________________________________________
“And of ________ have ____________________, making a difference: And __________________________________________, pulling [them] out of the fire; ____________ even the garment ________________________________________.” Jude 22, 23
“Now we exhort you, brethren, ________ them that are ____________, ______________ the ________________________, ______________ the ________, be ______________ toward _______________.” 1 Thessalonians 5: 14
“To hate and reprove sin, and at the same time to show pity and tenderness for the sinner, is a difficult attainment. The more earnest our own efforts to attain to holiness of heart and life, the more acute will be our perception of sin and the more decided our disapproval of any deviation from the right. We must guard against undue severity toward the wrongdoer, but we must also be careful not to lose sight of the exceeding sinfulness of sin. There is need of showing Christlike patience and love for the erring one, but there is also danger of showing so great toleration for his error that he will look upon himself as undeserving of reproof, and will reject it as uncalled for and unjust. Ministers of the gospel sometimes do great harm by allowing their forbearance toward the erring to degenerate into toleration of sins and even participation in them. Thus they are led to excuse and palliate that which God condemns, and after a time they become so blinded as to commend the very ones whom God commands them to reprove. He who has blunted his spiritual perceptions by sinful leniency toward those whom God condemns, will erelong commit a greater sin by severity and harshness toward those whom God approves.” AA 503, 504
“Jesus has given us in his life an example of pity and love for the erring. While he fearlessly reproved sin, he regarded the sinner with compassion. But while the servant of Christ should seek with all patience and love to save sinners, he should on no account give license to sin. He must not allow his perceptions to be dulled by contact with iniquity, or his judgment to be perverted by the world's opinion. By excusing and palliating sin, we lose a sense of its heinous character. Compassion for the erring should not degenerate into indulgence for transgression.” RH, December 20, 1881
“In the work of soul-winning, great tact and wisdom are needed. The Saviour never suppressed the truth, but He uttered it always in love. In His intercourse with others, He exercised the greatest tact, and He was always kind and thoughtful. He was never rude, never needlessly spoke a severe word, never gave unnecessary pain to a sensitive soul. He did not censure human weakness. He fearlessly denounced hypocrisy, unbelief, and iniquity, but tears were in His voice as He uttered His scathing rebukes…. He saw in all, souls whom it was His mission to save.” ChS 231
Giving the straight testimony and calling sin by its right name must ever be done in the spirit of Christ; not with harshness or disgust, but with love and longing for lost souls. We must love the sinner, but still hate the sin.
12) What are the results when the straight testimony is given?
A) It causes the ______________
B) Some will give heed to it, and be fitted for ______________________
C) Some will rise up ______________ it, and against those who give it
“And it came to pass, when Ahab saw Elijah, that Ahab said unto him, [Art] thou ________________________________________________? And he answered, ____________________ troubled Israel; ________________, and thy father's house, in that ye have _____________________________________________________________, and thou hast ______________________________.” 1 Kings 18:17-18
“When controversy is awakened, the advocates of truth are accredited with causing disturbance.” ST, October 17, 1895
“ Now as in former ages, the presentation of a truth that reproves the sins and errors of the times will excite opposition. "Everyone that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved." John 3:20. As men see that they cannot maintain their position by the Scriptures, many determine to maintain it at all hazards, and with a malicious spirit they assail the character and motives of those who stand in defense of unpopular truth. It is the same policy which has been pursued in all ages. Elijah was declared to be a troubler in Israel, Jeremiah a traitor, Paul a polluter of the temple. From that day to this, those who would be loyal to truth have been denounced as seditious, heretical, or schismatic. Multitudes who are too unbelieving to accept the sure word of prophecy will receive with unquestioning credulity an accusation against those who dare to reprove fashionable sins. This spirit will increase more and more…. In view of this, what is the duty of the messenger of truth? Shall he conclude that the truth ought not to be presented, since often its only effect is to arouse men to evade or resist its claims? No; he has no more reason for withholding the testimony of God's word, because it excites opposition, than had earlier Reformers.” GC 458, 459
“Sins exist in the church that God hates, but they are scarcely touched for fear of making enemies. Opposition has risen in the church to the plain testimony. Some will not bear it. They wish smooth things spoken unto them. And if the wrongs of individuals are touched, they complain of severity, and sympathize with those in the wrong.”
“I saw that individuals would rise up against the plain testimonies. It does not suit their natural feelings. They would choose to have smooth things spoken unto them, and have peace cried in their ears. I view the church in a more dangerous condition than they ever have been. Experimental religion is known but by a few. The shaking must soon take place to purify the church. Preachers should have no scruples to preach the truth as it is found in God's word. Let the truth cut. I have been shown that why ministers have not more success is, they are afraid of hurting feelings, fearful of not being courteous, and they lower the standard of truth, and conceal if possible the peculiarity of our faith. I saw that God could not make such successful. The truth must be made pointed, and the necessity of a decision urged. And as false shepherds are crying, Peace, and are preaching smooth things, the servants of God must cry aloud, and spare not, and leave the result with God.” 2SG 284-285
“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 is what will cause a shaking among God's people.”
“God leads His people on, step by step. He brings them up to different points calculated to manifest what is in the heart. Some endure at one point, but fall off at the next. At every advanced point the heart is tested and tried a little closer…. Some are willing to receive one point; but when God brings them to another testing point, they shrink from it and stand back, because they find that it strikes directly at some cherished idol. Here they have opportunity to see what is in their hearts that shuts out Jesus. They prize something higher than the truth, and their hearts are not prepared to receive Jesus. Individuals are tested and proved a length of time to see if they will sacrifice their idols and heed the counsel of the True Witness. If any will not be purified through obeying the truth, and overcome their selfishness, their pride, and evil passions, the angels of God have the charge: "They are joined to their idols, let them alone," and they pass on to their work, leaving these with their sinful traits unsubdued, to the control of evil angels. Those who come up to every point, and stand every test, and overcome, be the price what it may, have heeded the counsel of the True Witness, and they will receive the latter rain, and thus be fitted for translation.” 1T 187
Often when God’s people speak out against sins being tolerated in the church, those who are in the wrong turn on them, accusing them of being divisive and critical. But in actuality, it is those who are promoting error who are bringing trouble and divisions, and who are criticizing God’s faithful servants.
13) What will happen in the judgment to those who have rejected the straight testimony? Will they have any excuse? YES / NO
“Many who love self-indulgence and who murmur at the straight testimony of the Laodicean message, are ignorant of how sinful their actions really are; but in the judgment they will be ashamed of their course of ingratitude and rebellion against the One who has borne so long with them, and who has not cut them off in their sins. No confession, no weeping will then avail for those who have spoiled their record. Many who now claim to be the disciples of Christ, will be numbered among those who would not repent, but who have deceived their souls unto their eternal ruin. The evasion of truth will not give courage to any soul in the day of judgment to open his lips in self-defense. Then the books will be opened that bear the record of the works of every individual. . . .” TDG 278
14) Will the entire church ever be revived? YES / NO
“Are we hoping to see the whole church revived? That time will never come. There are persons in the church who are not converted, and who will not unite in earnest, prevailing prayer. We must enter upon the work individually. We must pray more, and talk less. Iniquity abounds, and the people must be taught not to be satisfied with a form of godliness without the spirit and power.” 1SM 122
15) What are we to do when we have presented the straight testimony and the people have rejected it? ______________________________________________________________
“I wrote unto you in an epistle ____________________________ with fornicators: Yet not altogether with the fornicators of this world, or with the covetous, or extortioners, or with idolaters; for then must ye needs go out of the world. But now I have written unto you _____________________________________, if any man that is ____________
____________________ be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one no not to eat. For what have I to do to judge them also that are without? do not ye judge them that are within? But them that are without God judgeth. Therefore ________________ from __________ yourselves that wicked person.” 1 Corinthians 5:9-13
“Can two __________________________, except they be ___________?” Amos 3:3
“And if any man obey not our word by this epistle, note that man, and ______________ ________________________________, that he may be ashamed. Yet count [him] not as an __________, but ________________ [him] as a ______________.”
2 Thessalonians 3:14-15
“And have __________________________ with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather ______________ [them].” Ephesians 5:11
“A man that is an heretic after the first and second admonition ____________; Knowing that he that is such is subverted, and sinneth, being _____________________________ _________________.” Titus 3:10-11
“Having a ________ of godliness, but ______________ the __________ thereof: from such __________________.” 2 Timothy 3:5
“Be ye not ______________________________ together with unbelievers: for what ____________________ hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what __________________ hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? And what ________________ hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in [them]; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Wherefore ________________________________________________, and ___________________________, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean [thing]; and _____________________________________, And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.” 2 Corinthians 6:14-18
“The Christian should withdraw himself from the company of those who are as a snare to his soul. When you come in contact with those whom you cannot lift into a pure and holy atmosphere, because their moral tastes are wholly perverted, you must shun their society.” YI, September 29, 1892
This counsel is especially for those who have children:
“There is hope in one direction. Take the young men and women and place them where they will come as little as possible in contact with our churches, that the low grade of piety which is current in this day shall not leaven their ideas of what it means to be a Christian.” PC 344
This is a very sensitive subject, but the counsel on separation from those who persist in doing wrong is clear. Where any of the marks of apostasy given in question #2 are present in the church congregation, we believe it is our duty to seek to arouse the people to their danger, and if there is no clear change, to separate from their fellowship, lest we become leavened by remaining there. For more on the separation principle, see lesson #6.
16) What solemn warning are we given by looking at the experience of God’s people in ancient times? God’s promises and threatenings are _____________________________.
“[At what] instant I shall speak concerning a nation, and concerning a kingdom, to pluck up, and to pull down, and to destroy [it]; ____ that nation, against whom I have pronounced, turn from their evil, __________________________ of the evil that I thought to do unto them. And [at what] instant I shall speak concerning a nation, and concerning a kingdom, to build and to plant [it]; ____ it do evil in my sight, that it obey not my voice, then __________________________ of the good, wherewith I said I would benefit them.” Jeremiah 18:7-10
“Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth __________________________________
________________.” 1 Corinthians 10:12
“For if God spared not the natural branches, ___________________ lest he also ____________________________.” Romans 11:21
“ The Lord Jesus will always have a chosen people to serve Him. When the Jewish people rejected Christ, the Prince of life, He took from them the kingdom of God and gave it unto the Gentiles. God will continue to work on this principle with every branch of His work. When a church proves unfaithful to the word of the Lord, whatever their position may be, however high and sacred their calling, the Lord can no longer work with them. Others are then chosen to bear important responsibilities. But if these in turn do not purify their lives from every wrong action; if they do not establish pure and holy principles in all their borders, then the Lord will grievously afflict and humble them, and, unless they repent, will remove them from their place and make them a reproach.” 14MR 102
“It should be remembered that the promises and the threatenings of God are alike conditional.” Ev 695
“Unless this church shall arouse from their lethargy and shake off the spirit of the world, they will mourn when, too late, they find their opportunities and privileges lost, lost forever.” 4T 619
“In the balances of the sanctuary the Seventh-day Adventist church is to be weighed. She will be judged by the privileges and advantages that she has had. If her spiritual experience does not correspond to the advantages that Christ, at infinite cost, has bestowed on her, if the blessings conferred have not qualified her to do the work entrusted to her, on her will be pronounced the sentence: "Found wanting." By the light bestowed, the opportunities given, will she be judged. . . .” LDE 59
We believe that the promises given to the organized church in the Bible and Spirit of Prophecy are conditional, as are all of God’s promises, and that if she fails to meet the condition of obedience, the Holy Spirit will withdraw and God will cease to be able to work through her.
We must never boast that our church is the true church, and therefore it can never fall, for we have been warned that God’s promises are based upon our obedience, and if we do not cherish the light that has been given us, and live up to it, we will be rejected as ancient Israel was.
17) Does God have a true church, a true remnant, that will go through to the end and be found faithful? YES / NO. What are the characteristics of this people?
They _____________________________ and _________________________________
“Here is the patience of the saints: here [are] they that _________________ ___________________________________, and the ____________________________.” Revelation 14:12
“And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the ______________ of her seed, which ________ the ________________________ of God, and have the ___________________ of Jesus Christ.” Revelation 12:17
“And I fell at his feet to worship him. And he said unto me, See [thou do it] not: I am thy fellowservant, and of thy brethren that have the testimony of Jesus: worship God: for the __________________________________is the _______________________________.” Revelation 19:10
“Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light: Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated [us] into the kingdom of his dear Son:… And ______________________ ________ of the body, the ____________: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all [things] he might have the preeminence.” Colossians 1:12, 13, 18
“For the husband is the head of the wife, even as ________________________________ of the ____________: and he is the saviour of the body.” Ephesians 5:23
“Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye ________________ in my ________, [then] are ye my ________________________________; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” John 8:31-32
“For as the body is one, and hath many ______________, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also [is] Christ. For by one Spirit are we all baptized into ________________, whether [we be] Jews or Gentiles, whether [we be] bond or free; and have been all made to drink into ____________________.” 1 Corinthians 12:12-13 (true unity)
“But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the _______________________________________________, the ____________ and ____________ of the __________.” 1 Timothy 3:15
“Verily I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall ________ on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever ye shall __________ on earth shall be loosed in heaven. Again I say unto you, That if two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven. For where ______ or __________ are __________________________________ in my name, there ________ in the midst of them.” Matthew 18:18-20
“From the beginning, faithful souls have constituted the church on earth.” AA 11
“God has a church. It is not the great cathedral, neither is it the national establishment, neither is it the various denominations; it is the people who love God and keep His commandments. "Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them" (Matthew 18:20). 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
God has a professed church, and within that professed church He has His true people, His true church. It is this group that we must strive to be among.
Here is a brief statement of our understanding of what God’s church is to be:
We believe that God’s true church is a community of believers separated from the world, joined together by surrender and commitment to Christ, and walking in all the ways of God made known to them.
We believe that the church on earth was organized for the purpose of the worship and glory of God, service and witness to mankind, fellowship with like believers, encouragement and instruction in righteousness, and maintaining the purity of the faith. It is the church’s divinely appointed mission to give the three angel’s messages to all the world, and to teach obedience to all God’s commandments. We believe that true unity can be found only on the platform of truth, not through laying aside our doctrines and principles.
We believe that the true church is not to be an ecclesiastical hierarchy where ministers, boards, committees, conferences, or presidents exercise kingly power; or a democracy where popular majority rules; but it is to be a Theocracy where God and His Word are the supreme and final authority in all things.
Christ is the head of His church, and it is to be in subjection to Him first and foremost. He has also given the responsibility to His faithful ministers and laborers to raise up congregations, teach and uphold true doctrines and standards, and administer discipline according to the principles already established in His Word.
We believe that God’s remnant church is composed of those who keep the commandments of God and have (obey) the testimony of Jesus Christ (which is the Spirit of Prophecy).
We call ourselves “Historic Seventh-day Adventists” because we believe that the Seventh-day Adventist movement of the 1840’s and onward as led by the Adventist pioneers was raised up by God to continue to carry the torch of truth which has been carried by God’s faithful people throughout all ages, and which grows ever brighter as we follow the truth as God reveals it to us in His Word. It is our commitment to continue to hold to the truths God has entrusted to us, even though others around us may be laying them down.
18) How can we keep from becoming discouraged when error surrounds us, or from becoming deceived into believing the error?
a. “And he said unto me, My ______________________________________ for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness.” 2 Corinthians 12:9
“I can do ____________________ through ____________ which __________________________ me.” Philippians 4:13
“And Jesus looking upon them saith, With men [it is] ____________________, but not with God: for ___________________________________________________________.” Mark 10:27
Ultimately, God alone has the strength to get us through this crisis, and only by moment-by-moment dependence upon Him can we stay faithful.
b. “For we dare not make ourselves of the number, or compare ourselves with some that commend themselves: but they __________________ themselves by themselves, and __________________ themselves among themselves, are ________________.”
2 Corinthians 10:12
“But Jesus did not ____________________________ unto them, because he knew all [men], And ____________________ that any should ______________ of man: for he knew what was in man.” John 2:24, 25
“________________ from ______, whose breath is in his nostrils: for wherein is he to be accounted of?” Isaiah 2:22
“[It is] better to __________________________________ than to put _________________________________.” Psalms 118:8
It is important that we not look to others around us, either for praise and acceptance, or to see how we should believe and act. No one will be excused in the judgment by saying, “But Lord, everyone else was doing it.” We must learn to stand by ourselves, alone, for there is no guarantee that we will always have someone else there to stand with us. But remember that, in reality, even when there is no other human being standing with you, if you are standing on God’s side, God, and all the hosts of heaven, are standing with you! What an amazing thought!
19) What hope then do we have, and what faith must we hold onto? _________________
“Thus saith the LORD, Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ______________________
___________________, where [is] the ________________, and _________________
______________, and ye shall find ______________________________________. But they said, We will not walk [therein].” Jeremiah 6:16
“Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort [you] that ye should __________________ ______________ for the __________ which was ______________________________ ______________________________.” Jude 3
We must be true Seventh-day Adventists, following in the footsteps of the early Christians and our pioneers who sought to know and obey the truth regardless of what others thought of them. We must be prepared to be misunderstood, mistreated, and rejected as were they, and as was our Lord Jesus; and we must be committed to stay faithful to Christ no matter what others may do or say to us.
20) After studying this lesson, a) how serious do you consider the church’s condition to be, and b) what do you feel God is asking you to do in your own life and in your sharing, to uphold the historic Seventh-day Adventist faith, and to resist and refute the errors that are coming in? ___________________________________________________________
Will you make it your prayer and commitment that with the help of God you will stand on His side in defense of His truth at all times, and will help others to take their stand for the truth as well? ____________________________________________________________
18) SDA Lifestyle