In Search of the Church

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21

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Legend has it that Spanish explorer Juan Ponce de León discovered Florida in 1513 while he was searching for the legendary Fountain of Youth. The Fountain of Youth was said to miraculously restore the youthfulness of any person who drank from its waters.
While it might be exciting to think of discovering the Fountain of Youth or something as remarkable as Atlantis, many people would be satisfied if they could only nd the right church—a church faithfully teaching the truths of the Bible.
With numerous churches in existence, does it matter which church you belong to? And does God have a church for this time?
Does it matter if a person attends church?
Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves ___________________, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.
Hint

The Bible example is that God’s people gather together for worship and fellowship, as well as for the purpose of unitedly working to share the gospel with the world.
Did Jesus believe people should belong to a church?

On this rock I will build My _______________.
Hint

Jesus faithfully attended church every Sabbath. (Luke 4:16) He made it clear that His intention was that He would build a church. It is hard to imagine that Jesus would establish a church He would not want people to be part of!
Did Jesus establish a church in this world before He went to heaven?

The ___________________ throughout all Judea, Galilee, and Samaria had peace and were edi ed. And walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, they were multiplied.
Hint

After Jesus died, the church multiplied and grew, and was used by God to share light and blessing with the world.
Did the disciples work to establish a particular church?

The Lord added to the _______________ daily those who were being saved.
Hint

Although it did not have a denominational name, the disciples labored to build up Christ’s church. It was an organized church, described as the body of Christ (Colossians 1:18), which people became part of through the ordinance of baptism. (1 Corinthians 12:13) Christ’s church had deacons and elders and sent out missionaries. Jesus established an organized church.
How did the Apostle Paul describe the church?

I write so that you may know how you ought to conduct yourself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the _____________.
Hint

The Bible is clear that God’s church would be characterized by a commitment to teaching His truth—not traditions, customs or manmade doctrines.
What symbol is used in the Bible to represent a church?

I have likened the daughter of Zion to a lovely and delicate _________________.
Hint

Throughout the Bible, a woman symbolically represents a church. A pure woman represents God’s true church. An impure woman represents an impure church. (2 Corinthians 11:2; Revelation 17:1–6)
Hint

God’s end-time church will be characterized by faith in God and obedience to Him. These characteristics have always been present in those who have faithfully followed the God of the Bible. In Genesis 26:5, God said of Abraham, “Abraham obeyed My voice and kept My charge, My commandments, My statutes, and My laws.”

God is seeking to prepare a group of people who are ready to spend eternity with Him.
Hint

Revelation chapter 12 depicts a pure church—clothed with the beauty of nature and reflecting light to the world. However, God’s church would have a difficult experience throughout human history.
How has Satan especially targeted God’s church?

When the dragon saw that he had been cast to the earth, he persecuted the _______________ who gave birth to the male Child.
Hint

The devil knows the most effective way to hurt Jesus is to hurt those He loves. The early Christian church suffered greatly at the hands of pagan Rome. Enormous numbers of people were martyred.

But instead of destroying God’s church, persecution became the catalyst for growth. The Christian character in life and death was such a powerful witness that others were inspired to join the Christian church. The early Christian writer Tertullian is quoted as having said, “The blood of the martyrs is seed”—that is, the seed of the church.

Realizing that persecution would not achieve his aim of destroying the Christian church, the devil changed his tactics and resorted to corrupting the Christian church—bringing about its ruin from the inside out.
What happened to the Christian church during the Middle Ages?

Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day [the Second Coming] will not come unless the _________________ ____________ comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition.
Hint

After the first 300 years or so of Christianity, the truths of God’s Word were obscured by tradition and false teaching. When persecution was reintroduced, multitudes who would not yield to the authority of the ruling church were banished or killed.
Hint

In many parts of Europe, faithful believers in the Bible were forced to ee to remote wilderness areas where they could live their faith in God in some safety. In these areas, church members could still meet together, worship and study the Bible.

It is important to note that God’s church was still in existence during these times, but not as an official mainstream organization. The church was “in the wilderness.” It was comprised of groups of people who remained faithful to God at the risk of persecution and death.
Hint

The prophecy predicted a period of 1,260 years in the wilderness for God’s church. (Note: A “time” is one Jewish year of 360 days. “Times” is two years, 720 days. “Half a time” is half a year, 180 days. These add up to 1,260, showing that Revelation 12:6 and 12:14 describe the same time period.)

This prediction was perfectly fulfilled when the church went into hiding during the reign of the beast power, which stretched from AD 538 to 1798. [See It Is Written Bible Study Guide #18, “The Mystery Beast of Revelation,” for more details.]

Prior to the fall of the papacy, a movement began that brought reformation to the Christian church. The Bible was translated into the common language, and people understood the gospel of Jesus and Bible prophecy. After the darkness of tradition and error, the light of the gospel began to shine. The slow process of exiting the wilderness had begun.

As the light of the Word of God began to shine brighter in the world, churches emerged that built on the truths taught by earlier churches. The spirit of the Reformation continued throughout the world until God’s church was established for the last days—a church that returned to all the original teachings of the Christian church.
Hint

The devil is especially angry with the “rest of her o spring”—called the “remnant” in the King James Version—the church of the last days. The devil will do his best to deceive and discourage as many of God’s people as possible because he knows that time is short and that this is a war that he will ultimately lose!
Hint

The “rest” (or “remnant”) is the final church that represents Jesus Christ and His truth in the closing moments prior to the return of Jesus.

God has provided a number of clear characteristics to enable us to easily identify this church.

A. It will rise after AD 1798. (Revelation 12:6, 14)
In the wilderness until AD 1798—the end of the 1,260 years of papal supremacy—the church would emerge from obscurity to be a global representation of God’s love and truth.
B. It will believe the original teachings of the Christian church. (Revelation 12:17)
Just as a remnant of material is the end piece of cloth—the same color and pattern as the original—God’s nal church will teach the same message as the original Christian church.
C. It will be a global movement. (Revelation 14:6)
God’s church will proclaim His nal message to “every nation, tribe, tongue, and people.” (Revelation 14:6)
D. It will proclaim the everlasting gospel. (Revelation 14:6–12)
The everlasting gospel found in Revelation 14 presents several key teachings:

  • Fear God. (Revelation 14:7)

  • Give glory to Him. (Revelation 14:7)

  • The hour of His judgment has come. (Revelation 14:7)

  • Worship Him who made heaven and earth, the sea and springs of water. (Revelation 14:7) This is a call to worship the Creator God.

  • Babylon is fallen. (Revelation 14:8)

  • Do not worship the beast or receive the mark of the beast. (Revelation 14:9, 10)


E. It believes—and keeps—all of God’s commandments, including the seventh-day Sabbath. (Revelation 12:17; 14:12)
F. It will teach that death is a peaceful rest that lasts until the resurrection. (Revelation 14:13)
G. It will believe in the words of the prophets and in the gifts of the Holy Spirit, including the gift of prophecy. (Revelation 12:17; 19:10)
The only church organization in the world today that fulfills each of these identifying characteristics is the Seventh-day Adventist Church. Founded in 1863, the Seventh-day Adventist Church grew out of a sincere desire to know and follow Jesus according to the Word of God.

Building on the biblical understandings of the Reformers, the Adventist Church is the only global organization presenting the everlasting gospel
of Revelation 14. Just as the Bible presents faith in Jesus as the only means of salvation, and obedience to God’s commandments as the fruit of faith in Jesus, the Seventh-day Adventist Church teaches that Jesus will soon return to this world and take His faithful children home to heaven.

Committed to Christ’s commission to take the gospel to all, it is a church that believes in sharing Jesus with the world.
How many church organizations does Jesus desire to have on this earth?

There is _________ body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism.
Hint

Rather than a multitude of various churches presenting a wide range of differing messages, God is seeking to bring His people together—united in the truths of His Word.
Hint

The word “church” comes from the Greek word ekklesia, which means “called-out ones.” There are saved people within all churches—people who love God and are living up to the spiritual light they have. And as we approach the end of time, Jesus calls His people into “one flock”—His final church of the last days.

Soon there will be only two global religions. One will worship and obey Jesus Christ. The other will yield to the religious powers of the world. Now is the time to hear the call of Jesus—to follow Him in truth and be part of His last-day church.