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The Invisible Church
There is a misconception prevalent amongst Christians, and indeed even among SDA's.
This is that God has an INVISIBLE church separate from His organised one on earth. The misconception is so great with some that they consider that ONLY the INVISIBLE church is the real one! This is not so!!! Few have ever seriously studied out this idea which has been handed down to us by tradition.
The words "invisible church" do not occur in the Bible or the Spirit of Prophecy. The word "invisible" is often applied to the church's Leader, but never to the church. Colossians 1:15; 1 Timothy 1:17. As the quote below will show, those whom many consider to be the "invisible" ones are simply the wheat among the tares. Sure, some, maybe even the majority of Christians, are in the opposing religious systems BUT THEY DO NOT FORM A CHURCH. They are simply individuals practising their Christianity in a false church, or in the world, and who must one day come out from it. In the Bible they are known as "the lost sheep of the house (church) of Israel". Matthew 15:24.
It is the "union" that binds the Christian to his or her LORD which is invisible - the person and the organisation they belong to is very real. One is the real church and the rest are impostors. God does not have two or more wives!!
Faith is that mysterious and mighty principle that attracts the soul of man to God. As the sapless branch is united to the living vine, so we must be connected with Christ.
There are two kinds of connection between the branches and the vine stock.
One is visible, but superficial.
The other is invisible and vital.
So there is an apparent union, a membership with the church, and a profession of religion, which, though in itself good, is too often unaccompanied by saving faith in Jesus or living obedience to the commandments of God.
The branches that are connected with Christ, the living vine, will make it manifest by bearing much fruit in good works to the glory of God.
But the branches which have nothing but an apparent union, will be fruitless. As the branch cannot possibly bring forth fruit without a vital connection with the parent stock, so the Christian can be fruitful in good works only as union with Christ is made and preserved. The ruin of those who are not connected with Christ, is as complete as though they had no name to live; for they are dead. Christ compares them to lifeless branches that are gathered and burned in the fire. "Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away; and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit."
There can be no actual connection with Christ if the person who claims it has no practical knowledge of the sufficiency of the grace of God that is potent to elevate, ennoble, refine, and fit the Christian for the courts of Heaven. Those who know Christ, will make manifest the desirableness of his love and peace.
Every genuine believer will taste, and see that the Lord is good, and will show forth the praises of him who called us out of darkness into the marvelous light of the children of God. The true believer not only has faith, but he has a knowledge of the efficacy of the blood of Christ to cleanse from the defilement of sin [He or she KNOWS how it works]. Christ crucified is the subject of his thought and meditation. The word of God to him is not a cunningly devised fable.
Christ crucified, though
unto the Jews a stumbling-block,
and unto the Greeks foolishness, is to him the power and wisdom of God. When assailed by skeptics, his living experience in the things of God will furnish him with arguments that cannot be gainsaid, and will enable him to resist every dart of the wicked one, so that even the uneducated believer may have simple and genuine proofs of his position, that cannot be overborne by the doubts and cavils of infidels. He can relate that which he has himself experienced. He can say, "I know whom I have believed."
We cannot see the arm of faith that connects believers with Christ, but we can see the "fruits", and it is by these that outsiders are to evaluate. Matthew 7:16. If they cannot "see" the people, then they cannot see the fruit.
The church is God's appointed agency for the salvation [education] 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.
Many and wonderful are the promises recorded in the Scriptures regarding the church. "Mine house shall be called an house of prayer for all people." Isaiah 56:7.
"I will make them and the places round about My hill a blessing; and I will cause the shower to come down in his season; there shall be showers of blessing."
"And I will raise up for them a plant of renown, and they shall be no more consumed with hunger in the land, neither bear the shame of the heathen any more. Thus shall they know that I the Lord their God am with them, and that they, even the house of Israel, are My people, saith the Lord God. And ye My flock, the flock of My pasture, are men, and I am your God, saith the Lord God." Ezekiel 34:26, 29-31.
"Ye are My witnesses, saith the Lord, and My servant whom I have chosen: that ye may know and believe Me, and understand that I am He: before Me there was no God formed, neither shall there be after Me. I, even I, am the Lord; and beside Me there is no Saviour. I have declared, and have saved, and I have showed, when there was no strange god among you: therefore ye are My witnesses."
"I the Lord have called
thee in righteousness, and will hold thine hand, and will keep thee, and give
thee for a covenant of the people, for a light of the Gentiles; to open the
to bring out the prisoners from the prison, and them that sit in darkness out of the prison house." Isaiah 43:10-12; 42:6-7.
The church is God's fortress. His city of refuge, which He holds in a revolted world [A city of refuge could not only be seen, but its whereabouts must be known beforehand. Joshua 21:13 etc.].
Any betrayal of the church is treachery to Him who has bought mankind with the blood of His only-begotten Son.
From the beginning, faithful souls have constituted the [one] church on earth.
In every age the Lord has had His watchmen, who have borne a faithful testimony to the generation in which they lived. These sentinels gave the message of warning; and when they were called to lay off their armor, others took up the work. God brought these witnesses into covenant relation with Himself, uniting the church on earth with the church in heaven. He has sent forth His angels to minister to His church, and the gates of hell have not been able to prevail against His people.
Through centuries of
persecution, conflict, and darkness,
God has sustained His church. Not one cloud has fallen upon it that He has not prepared for; not one opposing force has risen to counterwork His work, that He has not foreseen. All has taken place as He predicted.
He has not left His church forsaken, but has traced in prophetic declarations what would occur, and that which His Spirit inspired the prophets to foretell has been brought about. All His purposes will be fulfilled. His law is linked with His throne, and no power of evil can destroy it. Truth is inspired and guarded by God; and it will triumph over all opposition.
During ages of spiritual darkness the church of God has been as a city set on a hill [easy to see]. From age to age, through successive generations, the pure doctrines of heaven have been unfolding within its borders. Enfeebled and defective as it may appear, the church is the one object upon which God bestows in a special sense His supreme regard.
It is the theater of His grace, in which He delights to reveal His power to transform hearts.
Once again, an idea that many have clung to over the years, proves to be without foundation in the Bible or the Spirit of Prophecy.
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