Sermon delivered August 15, 1998

by Pastor Donald J. Gettys

McDonald Road Seventh-day Adventist Church

McDonald, Tennessee

Quotations from the bible are from the New International Version unless otherwise noted.

God's True Church

I really appreciate the blessing that God gives to His people. It seems to me like He makes provision for each one of us. God certainly takes care of His people. He gives us a beautiful Sabbath in which to worship. He knew we would need a day of rest. He Gives us a church in which to worship. He knew we would need one. And He gave us a "True Church". I'm thankful to be a part of God's church.

Today is the last in a series of seven on the distinctive teachings of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. We haven't mentioned them all, but we've mentioned a lot of them.

REVELATION 12:1- A great and wondrous sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun. What does that represent? Clothed with Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the Son of Righteousness. Here's a woman clothed with the sun. Not only is she the most beautiful woman in the world, but she is the oldest woman in the world. Isn't it interesting that the oldest is the prettiest.? She is almost six thousand years old and still remains pure to this day! Who is she?

Well if you read on down through here she gives birth to a man- child. Who is the man-child? Jesus. Therefore, the woman must be Mary. Right? No, she is not Mary. Who is this woman? Because she gives birth to Christ some think she represents Mary. But Mary did not go through a 1260 year persecution. 1260 years would make her older than Eve. I believe this woman represents God's true church. The opposite of Babylon.

ISAIAH 54:1-6 compares her to God's church to Zion. Jeremiah 6:2(KJV)- I have likened the daughter of Zion to a comely and delicate woman. Isaiah 51:16 says that Zion represents God's people. So, who is the church? The people. God compares a woman to people.

So by comparing several texts we see that this beautiful wonder woman is really God's true church. God only has one church. When Paul says in I Cor 12:27-28 that there is only one body. Which means there is only one church.

I believe we can find out which church that is. Today there is only one people who come close to the description in Revelation 12 of God's true church. Only one people who even come close to fulfilling the description given of God's true church here in Revelation.

Now I don't want you to think that you're going to find a perfect church. Is there anything perfect? Tell your children to go out this afternoon and find you one perfect leaf in your yard. You'll have a nice nap, probably, while they're out looking. Is there anything perfect in this world? Do you know of a perfect family? Is there such a thing as a perfect husband? Is there such a thing as a perfect church? I want to tell you that god's church, enfeebled and defective as it is, is the only object on earth upon which God bestows His supreme regard.

Now, you are hearing on the news, or probably will over the years, there's always things coming up criticizing the Seventh-day Adventist Church. Criticizing ADRA, criticizing all sorts of situations. Yes, the church is defective. We grant that. But I want you to know that it is still God's church.

Of course nearly all small Christian groups with an axe to grind claim to be the ONLY true group. They call everybody else wrong and claim that only they will be saved. If you don't join them you're out. Just like Noah's Ark. If you are not on the inside, you are hopeless. Do we believe that only Seventh-day Adventist are going to be saved? No, we don't believe that, do we.

I would like to contrast the picture of God's true church with the picture of the False church. The Bible describes both.

A description of the false church is in Revelation 17:1-5 One of the seven angels who had the seven bowls came and said to me, "Come, I will show you the punishment of the great prostitute, (So here's a bad woman, a bad church, a false church.) who sits on many waters. (Waters mean Peoples) With her the kings of the earth committed adultery and the inhabitants of the earth were intoxicated with the wine of her adulteries."

Then the angel carried me away in the Spirit into a desert. There I saw a woman sitting on a scarlet beast that was covered with blasphemous names and had seven heads and ten horns. The woman was dressed in purple and scarlet, and was glittering with gold, precious stones and pearls. She held a golden cup in her hand, filled with abominable things and the filth of her adulteries. This title was written on her forehead: MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF PROSTITUTES AND OF THE ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH."

Now if you compare that with Revelation 12:1, A WOMAN (CHURCH) CLOTHED WITH THE SUN! God's true church is bright and glorious. Not in buildings or golden relics. Because the church is not cement blocks but the truth, the child of God. The church is a people. Clothed with the SON! With Jesus...the Son of God! When looking for God's true church today, look for a people who have the truth clothed in the beautiful character of Jesus! As Seventh-day Adventists we ought to be known as the most Christ-like people on the earth. People ought to see Jesus in us.

Look at how the Worldly woman, the false church is dressed in Rev 17:4--- Dressed in purple, and scarlet, and glittering with gold and precious stones and pearls. A walking jewelry store. Expensive show-off clothing. Christians look different don't they? Ought not to look like that.

Contrast that to the simple pure lady clothed in the spotless righteousness of Jesus Christ. You cannot wear anything better than the all-covering, pure righteousness of our Savior. How do we get it? It's free. All you have to do is ask for it. That beautiful robe is free. Jesus will give it to you. All of the perfect righteousness of our Savior will be credited to your account if you will ask. You will stand as though you never sinned.

Revelation 12:1 says God's Beauty Queen is standing on the moon. What does that mean? Since it is under her feet, it's supporting her. The moon shines with light borrowed from the sun. It represents the borrowed glory of the Mosaic age of types and shadows. God's true church stands both on the basis of the OT and the full light of Christ in the NT. The whole Bible! The church is built upon the scriptures. Bible preaching is central in God's true church. That's the way it has to be, standing on the promises of God.

The Ugly woman, symbolizing all false churches, is not even standing. She is sitting down! The basis for her support is not the Bible but water! --Revelation 17:1 The great prostitute sits on MANY Waters! In Bible prophecy, Water represents people. Revelation 17:15 This woman is not standing on scripture, she's sitting on people. She's standing on human's doctrines.

Thus, the false churches base their doctrinal support on human ideas and the traditions of men and not on the sure word of God. They follow cunningly devised doctrines of men. You need to join a church that teaches the Bible. You need to join a church that is standing on the Word of God and not no cunningly devised fables.

In Rev. 17:3 this same woman is seen in the desert sitting on a bright red beast. Red is the color of sin. Red with the blood of the saints. Wicked beyond imagination! Caught red handed! This woman is sitting on this beast. A person who sits on a beast and isn't thrown off is in control of the beast. You can go down to a rodeo and that beast tries to throw that person off, but if the person remains on he eventually gets control of that beast. Then the beast will go wherever the person on top directs. The woman is in charge of the beast, the false church. She is in charge of the beast which represents the political powers, the governmental powers, the church in charge of the state. That's what this is a picture of. Red with the blood of the saints. This is an evil religious organization controlling the government. Involved in sin up to her elbows! The ugly beast she is sitting on is the state or the government that this evil woman controls. This false church is a dictator. She is an evil religious organization sitting on people. Much as a baby SITTER is in control, she controls many deluded people. And By sitting on the back of a big beast, she is directing the policies of civil government and calling for laws to force people into religion.

All throughout time God has had a true church. All throughout time the devil has had a counterfeit. The devil counterfeits everything that is good. I believe that just prior to the close of probation you will see the counterfeit take its most powerful and evil form. You are going to see God's people opposed and persecuted.

Now Revelation 12:6 speaks of this woman, and she is in hiding in the wilderness for 1,260 days. A time, times, and half a time: each time representing 360 years, 360 + 720 + 180 = 1260 years. You're going to wee a power in charge 1260 days (years). Then it will be out of charge for a while and then back in again. This took place basically from the year 538 until 1798. This is the false church. Now this power is out of control but it will be back in charge.

Revelation 17 pictures this false church at her worst, as she exists just prior to the close of probation and the end of the world. God's true church has always been opposed and persecuted by the false church. Revelation 12:6 and 14 speaks of the woman being in hiding in the wilderness for 1260 days. These 1260 days or years were basically the period of time of papal supremacy from 538 to 1798. After 1798 things get better for a while. That is where we have been for awhile. Now we are just on the verge of the final vexation. I think we're about to see some of the final movements being ushered in.

Revelation 12:17 Describes God's remnant church. His true church has several identifying marks. They keep the Ten Commandments, including the Sabbath, and they have the Faith of Jesus which is the testimony of Jesus which is the Spirit of Prophecy.

I firmly believe that the Seventh-day Adventist church is the closest church today to actual Bible teaching. I believe that. I don't believe it's perfect, it is defective. But I choose to be a member of this church because this church is the closest we can get to Bible teachings. I don't have any quarrel with the teachings of the church today. I believe it because it is following the Bible. Adventist teachings fulfill the specifications of God's true remnant church described in Revelation 12:17.

Today the Seventh-day Adventist Church is growing in relative freedom and safety. God is blessing his church. We have known of the prediction that some day more than 1000 will be baptized in a day into our church, (White Evangelism, p.693). Now we see more than eight thousand eight hundred being baptized every day into the Seventh-day Adventist Church! A new member is added every 45-50 seconds! That's amazing! While the church is growing, what is happening to us? Are you growing? Or are you slipping away into the world? I appeal to you come back. We don't have much longer. Get right with God.

I don't believe God's church is Babylon. Some people say, well the church is so bad. Things are awful and very very bad. I would like to read a statement to you from a little book that I brought. It's called, "Last Day Events" by Ellen G. White. On page 43 it says this: "God has a distinct people, a church on earth, second to none,... My brother, if you are teaching that the Seventh-day Adventist Church is BABYLON, you are wrong!" This was written in 1893. It is not Babylon. Babylon is that woman riding the ugly red beast. Not God's church. I love the Seventh-day Adventist Church. Make no mistake on this: the false church is riding the ugly red beast in control of the government. Is our church in charge of the government? No! I want Jesus to be in charge of me.

The greatest discovery any of us can make is to find and accept Jesus as our personal Savior and receive eternal life. To receive and put on the free robe of the pure righteousness of Jesus Who died on the old rugged cross and completely paid for all our sins.

After you become a child of God by being born again, another vital item is for you to discover which church today represents in a special sense God's only true church. Then you need to unite with it as soon as possible. You cannot be strong without belonging to a group. Even Jesus taught that. Once you have found the true church you need to unite with it. You need to join that church. Some people have said, "For years I've been thinking of becoming a Seventh-day Adventist Christian. Well, that's wonderful. But When are you going to do it? You need to be baptized. You need to join or whatever it takes to become a member. You need to be faithful.

If you are a Christian and you are searching for which church to join, how can you ever know? With so many different denominations, how can you ever know which one is right? It is not necessary for you to search through all these hundreds of different denominations. All you need to do is search the Bible and find the marks of the true church and then join the church that meets that blueprint.

Now let's get back to the woman and the beast. Look at Revelation 14:9ff- A third angel followed them and said in loud voice: "If anyone worships the beast and his image and receives his mark on the forehead on the hand, he too will drink of the wine of God's fury, which has been poured full strength into the cup of his wrath. He will be tormented with burning sulfur in the presence of the holy angles and of the Lamb. And the smoke of their torment rises forever and ever. There is no rest day or night for those who worship the beast and his image, or for anyone who receives the mark of his name." This calls for patient endurance on the part of the saints who obey God's commandments and remain faithful to Jesus. You put it together: Law and Grace. It goes together. That's the key to the whole thing. The saint are those who keep the commandments. Yes they are. And they're following Jesus. They love Jesus. Jesus is their Savior. They're faithful to Jesus.

Some day soon the whole world will be polarized into just two groups. Right now there are three! The Hot, the Cold, and the Luke warm. Those on the 1. right, 2. left, 3. those sitting on the fence.

But the time is coming soon when there will be just two sides. These fence sitters, these people that are kind of in church now and out and they're into the world a little bit and then they're back in church and they're kind of bouncing around. They don't really belong anywhere. They are going to get on one side or the other. The thing that puts the barbed wire under the fence sitters is the great shaking time. It's hard to sit on a barbed wire fence! When you see Sunday laws being passed and when you see the last day events really taking place you're going to see a lot of people coming back into the church. What a strength they could have been to the church in the meantime. I wish they'd get back into the church today and help and get out and give Bible studies and witness. We are either going to receive the seal of God someday or we're going to get the mark of the beast. I want the seal of God on my life. I want to be one of the Remnant. It's good to be a remnant.

There are a lot of ducks floating out there on the water. And you can hear a lot of quacking noises, but you want to make sure that you're the right one and not the false one. I want to be one of God's remnant.

One day somebody called on the phone, "Where is your church?" I said, "Well, I don't know. It's nine o'clock in the morning. They're probably at work." The church is a people. And those who worship the true God and are members of God's true remnant church will receive the mark or beautiful seal of God. They are pure and spotless because of Jesus their pure Savior. Do we have the right to call ourselves the Remnant Church? Yes. Are Seventh-day Adventists the only people who are going to be saved? No. Do Adventists consider all other Christians as unsaved? We consider that God has a people in every church, even in Babylon. Revelation 18:4- What does God want us to do for those who are in Babylon? Then I heard a another voice from heaven say: "Come out of her, my people, so that you will not share in her sins, so that you will not receive any of her plagues;"

One day someone asked me where my church was. I said: well, it is Monday about 9 A.M., so probably my church is punched in on the time clock, at work. You see, the church is the people. That's the church. They are the called out ones. They are the ones who are clothed with the righteousness of Jesus Christ. Called out of the sinful world. Called away from the beast. Called into a system of Christlike truth.

And that being the case, the church is actually the Beautiful Woman of Revelation. You and I are the remnant of her children. We are the last survivors living just prior to the capture of the beast. All of our church family have been involved in a life and death struggle with this big bloody beast. You could call it the Great Controversy.

If we stay in the family, we are God's church. In a sense, we are the woman! We are standing on the basis of the whole Bible and we are clothed with the Son! Clothed with Jesus bright and shining righteousness. Given to us free of charge because we are sons and daughters of Jesus.

Because you are one of Jesus children, you are an actor in this great and moving story. Satan is the evil beast. He knows his time is short. He goes around like a mad lion with murder in his blood shot eyes. Our only protection is Jesus. Stay close to Jesus. Stay in His true church. If you are not in then get in. The church is an ark. Get in before the bad weather of the last days wipes out everything you have.

A minister visited an elderly woman in the hospital who was dying of cancer. She was poor and now her health was ebbing away. Her daughters were at the bedside. They tried to cheer her up. One said: don't worry about your house. We have cleaned it from top to bottom and we even threw away all those old bags of fatback that have been in your refrigerator for years.

In a flash the dying woman rose up in the bed and said: You what?? That wasn't fatback! That was my life savings! Very quickly her daughters went to the landfill where after hours of digging in the garbage they retrieved about half of their poor mothers savings.

Let's not live in spiritual poverty. If you have Jesus you are wealthy! To live apart from Jesus and His true Church is to live in misery. To be one of God's remnant people, but on the books only, is to have access to great wealth but continue living in poverty.

Friends, someday we will either have the mark of the sea beast or we will receive the beautiful seal of God. It all depends on whether or not we are clothed with Jesus. Put on Jesus. Join His remnant church. Lead others into the truth before the great controversy is over.

Revelation 12:17 Then the dragon was enraged at the woman and went off to make war against the rest of her offspring--those who obey God's commandments and hold to the testimony of Jesus.


Opening Hymn #100  Great is Thy Faithfulness
Scripture Reading: Revelation 12:13-17
Closing Hymn # 348 The church has One Foundation.

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