The Children of Yahweh are given signs for which to watch, so that we will not be surprised by the events that take place around us. (Amos 3:7)
Unlike most people, we welcome encounters with evangelists from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and/or Jehovah’s Witnesses. It gives us a rare opportunity to witness to those that we already know are interested in religion, and are not ashamed to show their faith. For all the contempt that the world seems to hold for door-to-door evangelists, these are people who – whether you agree with their motivations or not – have dedicated their time to what they believe the Gospel to be.
Now, one of the things that both Jehovah’s Witnesses and the Mormons have in common, and that they have correctly in common, is the concept of a true, united Church. This is, indeed, a Biblical concept. Christ is not divided, nor is He a polygamist; He has one Bride, and while Its members may be separated by time and space, they are not separated by doctrines, organizational loyalties or major lifestyle decisions. The only thing with which we would disagree with the messengers of these faiths (on that matter) is the means by which this true Church, this House of God upon the earth, is identified.
The Jehovah’s Witness focused on end-time prophecies, attempting to show that the early 1900s was the right “time” for the Church to appear. The Mormons, instead, focused on prophecy itself, explaining that by the revelations given to Joseph Smith, which can be known to be valid by individual prayer, they were now convinced that the religion he set up is the right one. However, as Biblical Creation Seventh Day Adventists christians, we would find issue with both of these approaches to identifying the Bride of Christ.
Prophecies are, according to the Bible, given for a particular reason. We read, “he that prophesieth edifieth the church.” (1Cor 14:4b) Several people are immediately attracted to a message that contains prophetic truth, and begin to study, eventually becoming a baptized member of a particular church, including the Seventh-day Adventist Church. However, in ignorance, many join a church that has already fallen. For example: Many not know (like most Adventists even today) that they have been betrayed by those whom they had chosen as their religious leaders. Many do not understand that by their membership they were entering or have entered into a covenant with men who, for the sake of fleshly concerns and “worries,” were and are persecuting Protestant Christians in civil courts. And yet, the prophecies very clearly indicated that Sabbath-keeping Adventists would be the individuals united in a final Christian movement.
Prophecies exist to edify a people who are already committed to righteousness. Prophecies are not always very useful when it comes to identifying the people who are fulfilling the prophecy, even assuming that the words of Scripture are being properly interpreted. For the most part, the prophetic interpretation of the mainstream Seventh-day Adventist Church is perfectly correct, but merely having a correct method of interpreting prophecy does not a Church make!
Of course, we would have problems with the way that Jehovah’s Witnesses interpret the prophecies anyway (for example, they have absolutely no comprehensible justification for applying the “seven times” of Daniel 4:16 to the “time of the Gentiles” that would exist until the restoration); but even were that correct, that is not conclusive evidence of the Body of Christ. But even were they perfectly correct, there is still something else that needs to be present to indicate the validity of their organization.
Now the Latter Day Saints make an appeal to emotion when discussing their acceptance of Joseph Smith as a prophet. And, to be fair, it is true that some things must be taken on faith; however, we must be very careful when deciding what we are going to use as our standard of truth. The Scriptures tell us, “To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this Word, it is because there is no light in them.” (Isa 8:20) Additionally, we know, “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:” (2Tim 3:16) And we are cautioned, “Trust in Yahweh with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.” (Pro 3:5)
In essence, we must judge our experiences, thoughts, emotions and beliefs by the Words of the Bible, trusting in its plain teachings more than what we “feel” to be true. The most profound testimony a Latter Day Saint typically provides is that they know that the Mormon Church is true, and that Joseph Smith is a prophet, because when they prayed and asked God if it was true, they received a witness of the Holy Spirit that it was. I asked our recent visitor, “So, this witness… is it a feeling, an emotion?” And he said, “Yes, it is a feeling.”
Now, as unstable as that may sound, the truth is that a good student of the Bible knows that the standard of truth must be the written Word. Most of our guest knew (although they are taught not to say that!) for we replied, “In our experience, it is best to judge our feelings by the Word, and not the Word by our feelings. How is it that you know your feelings are right? We know that in some religions, believers ‘feel’ very justified in blowing themselves up to promote their faith. We know their feelings are very strong, enough for them to die for, so what is it that separates your feeling from theirs?”
Most of them reply, “This feeling that comes is the true voice of God.” We say “Well, I understand you accept that from your perspective, but those who hear other messages also very strongly believe that they are hearing the true voice. Their convictions are as strong as yours that they are hearing God, so how do you deal with that? What I would say is, we know the feelings to be right ones when the behavior they produce is in accordance with the Word’s description of a born-again believer. Wouldn’t you agree that this is true?”
Some say, “Yes, the actions follow, and that is how we can tell.” So I said, “Ah, then you DO base your beliefs on the Bible, and not on the feeling, because you do what we do, and rightly so….you judge it to be true or false based upon the testimony in the Scriptures.”
Most agree with this, somewhat hesitantly, but… there are still other issues involved there. For example, an individual who accepts Joseph Smith as a prophet, and the Mormon Church as the true one, receives the feeling, and is generally baptized into the faith, before they see any real “fruit of the Spirit” based upon that feeling. Furthermore, from a CSDA perspective, we would not see this feeling as leading to the genuine Christian walk, because… one of the differences we had with both the Jehovah’s Witness missionary and our Latter Day Saint guests was that of the doctrine and life experience of Victory over sin.
All prophecy and prophets aside, temporarily, Creation Seventh Day Adventists (and anyone who reads the Gospels and the Epistles of John and others without accepting compromise) can never consider a message to be legitimate unless it teaches the full power of Christ in the believer, the power to overcome all deliberate acts of sin in the life through a thorough transformation of the mind. As it is written, “And be not conformed to this world; but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” (Rom 12:2) And again, “we have the mind of Christ.” (1Cor 2:16b)
The Messiah did not tell His followers, “Go forth and preach the prophecies to every creature,” nor did He say, “Baptize everyone by the authority of this or that prophet.” Instead, “He said unto them, ‘Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.’” (Mark 16:15) Of course, any evangelist will protest, “But I am preaching the Gospel.”
The Bible tells us that there are messages called “the gospel” that are not beneficial. In fact, Paul rebukes the Church at Galatia, saying, “I marvel that ye are so soon removed from Him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel; which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert 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 accursed.” (Gal 1:6-8) There are other “gospels,” yet, as Paul indicates, they are not truly gospel, not truly “good news” but rather news that is apparently good, yet results only in continued bondage to sin and self
But what is “good news?” Is it good news that our divine Parent takes us out of sin, cleans us up, and restores us, only to send us right back into the spiritual mud pits in which we had wallowed? This cannot be it, for Peter speaks of those who are not saved, and those who teach them a faulty gospel, saying, “While they promise them liberty, they themselves are the servants of corruption; for of whom a man is overcome, of the same is he brought in bondage. For if after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Yahshua the Messiah, they are again entangled therein, and overcome, the latter end is worse with them than the beginning. For it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them. But it is happened unto them according to the true proverb, ‘The dog is turned to his own vomit again; and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire.’” (2 Pet 2:19-22)
When we share this Word with those who are stuck in what we call the “sin-repent” cycle, they will often tell us, “You are not using that passage correctly. Peter is not talking about falling into known sins specifically, but a life of sin, a lifestyle that is sinful.” It may appear, upon a very casual reading of the passage, that this is so, yet Peter is specific to state something that is not absolutely necessary to the point he is making, “for of whom a man is overcome, of the same is he brought in bondage.” Those who know their Gospels well will recognize this as a parallel teaching to a statement made by Christ: “Yahshua answered them, ‘Verily, verily, I say unto you, whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin. And the servant abideth not in the house for ever: but the Son abideth ever. If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.” (John 8:34-36)
Here we see the same concepts being presented: sin, bondage, and freedom. But the wording there that Yahshua uses, “committeth sin,” is not referring to continuous acts. The word simply means to produce, to bring forth, to do. And lest this be read as loosely as possible, we have yet a third witness, for we are told, “Either make the tree good, and his fruit good; or else make the tree corrupt, and his fruit corrupt: for the tree is known by his fruit.” (Mat 12:33)
We say to our guests, “Well, that hasn’t really been my experience. When I accepted the faith of Jesus, this was what happened to me, not something that I earned or gained. It was given as a gift; and you know, the only thing the Bible says we must labor for, is to enter into God’s ‘rest.’” In referencing Hebrews 4, we are able to bring in another difference that we have with these two groups. Still holding the Gospel as “the chief thing,” we say, “This is what the Sabbath day teaches us, to rest from our works, and experience a spiritual rest,” for we have already told them that we were Adventists. “And we are curious also,” we conclude, “why it is that you do teach the commandments should be kept, yet you do not keep the 7th day Sabbath.”
Our guests replied that they believed that when Christ ascended to Heaven, the Sabbath was changed to Sunday. I asked where the Bible indicated this. He said, “The believers broke bread on the first day of the week.” I replied, “That is true, they did, yet the Bible says that they went daily from house to house, breaking bread and meeting to discuss their faith. I do not see that this practice of the early Christians can somehow, without any divine instruction, set aside the great emphasis within the Bible placed upon this period of time from the very first week of the creation down until after the crucifixion – for the disciples did rest after the death of the Savior.” I continued on to recount the historical records preserved from those early centuries, indicating that Christians, New Testament, age-of-Grace, born-again, Gospel-teaching believers, were Sabbath keepers right up until the time Rome came into power. Rome and Antioch were the first two congregations to begin keeping Sunday instead of Sabbath – and this was long after Yahshua ascended into Heaven
Our visitors said that they would research this and get back to us.
But so went that conversation; and so go all conversations between Creation Seventh Day Adventists and those of other faiths. We may occasionally speak with those who have some things in common with us, such as the Sabbath day or even the New Moon, yet the Scriptures tell us, as quoted above, “To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this Word, it is because there is no light in them.” (Isa 8:20) Having the Law (including, but not limited to, being a Sabbath keeping group) is not enough. Having a “testimony” or a message, even a prophetic one, is not enough. One must have a message that agrees with the Law, and a Gospel that is “the testimony of Jesus Christ.” (Rev 12:17)
This is how we identify the Church, the Body of Christ on earth. It will, of course, follow the Law of Christ – and make no mistake, the 10 Commandments are not merely the Law of the Father; in Psalm 89:30, the Father indicates that the faithful “children” of the Son are not to forsake the Law either. It will, of course, have a testimony – a message to share with the world. But that message will not be one of salvation in sin; it will be one of salvation from sin, for if we are “free indeed,” (John 8:34) how can we dare say, “We are free in spirit, but not in deed?”
Some religions forbid their people to read the material of other Churches. Some discourage them from speaking with those who are strong in other faiths. But we of the Light have no fear of such things. When our brothers and sisters are brought in to the faith, and are established on the foundation of Christ, what lesser message, what lesser Gospel, what lesser testimony, can move them? If a man is free of the bondage of sin, and walking in the light, and finding that he has power over his habits, thoughts and deeds, what profit is there in accepting a message that says to him, “What you claim to have been doing is impossible! Come enter a Church where it is ok to occasionally sin, because you know you will anyway… and we are not taught any higher position for man except, perhaps, that he will get to something like that after some striving, maybe after some time.”
The Gospel is the only thing about which we can afford to be impatient. Christ does not want to bring us out of sin “someday,” and after much effort on our parts. He has made the day – the day of the Cross; He has made the effort – the infinite sacrifice He provided, leaving the glories of Heaven to be mocked, abused, and nailed to a wooden frame – to suffer in body and (especially) spirit for the wrongs that we have done. The work of establishing the faith is over. The Church has been gathered, and is being gathered; and She is preparing Herself to meet Her Husband. The time for those yet on the outside to gather is yesterday; for already the Groom appears to delay His coming. But we, who have brought extra oil, await the surprising, but long-awaited cry, “He cometh!”
We have all that that is required for our sanctification, because Christ has given to us all we need, and has done no incomplete work. The true Bride has the Law, the Testimony, the Good News, and… we who are Her members have the means of knowing when we are hearing a message with which She agrees. That is how we recognize the House of God. Can you recognize It?
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