Should we be organized outside the Seventh-day Adventist church?
There is nothing wrong with belonging to a religious denomination that teaches the truth, that teaches the beliefs of the Bible and the Spirit of Prophecy. When the conviction that these truths and beliefs are no longer held (or never were), nor taught by the denomination and there is not going to be any change, our responsibility is to leave. We can no longer support that denomination by our presence, our tithes and offerings, nor our membership. Separation is in order.~1~
It is a temptation to think that this apostasy came about because of the organization of the denomination. And those who have separated have been tempted to do as little organizing as possible. This is the way it was with the early adventists shortly after the great disappointment.~2~ This is the way it is now.
After separation takes place and a believer finds himself worshipping alone, he decides what he is going to study, what music he is going to listen to, where he is going to worship, when he is going to have it, and where to send his offering. He does his own organizing. He doesn't need to write it down. He doesn't need to consult anyone else. He can change his plans, as the Holy Spirit leads, without contacting anyone.
As soon as one person is added this all changes. First a plan has to be made that is agreeable to both. Any change to this plan needs to be agreed upon. The addition of this second person now makes a church.~3~
The members of the church are like minded, in one accord, ~4~separate from sin and sinners,~5~ and subject to one another.~6~
This church was formed because the members followed the Lamb out of apostasy into the truth. The truth comes from the Word of God. Jesus Christ is the Word of God and is the church's foundation.~7~ The truth is expressed in the pillars of our faith that support the church.~8~ The church is built on the Apostles and Prophets with Jesus Christ the chief cornerstone,~9~ and God is the one who chooses them.~10~
As the church increases in membership more organization is required. Duties need to be delegated.~11~
Elders need to be selected. The church follows the guidelines God has laid out~12~ in selecting those whom He has chosen~13~ to be Elders.
The Elders responsibility and accountability is to God and to the church. He is to feed the flock and not lord it over them,~14~ teach the difference between the holy and the profane,~15~ not to exalt himself or to seek power,~16~ guard from error (grevious wolfs),~17~ be a servant to the people.~18~
If you don't remember what is included in the guidelines for the Elder, look them up.~12~ That's a pretty tall order! That person is close to perfection if not already there. I like to think that it represents those who are striving for perfection. Not only the Elders but every member of the church should be in this category.
In my study preparing for this article I never once found the expression "Head Elder" in the Bible or the Spirit of Prophecy. In fact, the singular form, "elder", is seldom used. It is almost always discussed in the plural form, "elders". I did find that the Elder is not to lord over the members or seek for power. "All ye are brethren."~19~ It looks to me like the position of "Head Elder" is a tradition of man and bears no reflection on God's purposes.
As the church grows and duties increase the position of Deacon needs to be filled. The church selects the Deacons under the proper guidelines.~20~ The Deacons are to help out in the regular operations of the church.~21~
Not only is Christ the foundation of the church He is also the head of it. "Ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God."~22~ "I will give you pastors according to mine heart, which shall feed you with knowledge and understanding."~23~ God tells us that He will take His people away from the pastors that will not feed His sheep.~24~ "And believers were the more added to the Lord."~25~ "Having an high priest over the house of God."~26~ God has given man his responsibilities in His church and we are not to go beyond this.
Satan has set up a structure for churches, also. He always counterfeits the true. Satan's structure is based on the same policy that worldly corporations use. This is not God's plan. "How long halt ye between two opinions? if the Lord be God, follow him: but if Baal, then follow him."~27~ In Elijah's day "they answered him not a word." They could not answer because of ignorance of God's plan. Ignorance through lack of example (Ahab didn't do much for the true worship of God) and through lack of study. It was only after God showed them a mighty miracle that they answered, "The Lord he is the God; the Lord, he is the God."~28~ Brothers and sisters are we waiting for a mighty miracle to happen before we follow God's plan? He has given us His word in the Bible and Spirit of Prophecy that we might know what His plan is. I urge each and everyone of you to study how you can implement God's plan in your churches.
1. 2 Timothy 3:5; 2 Corinthians 6:14-18; Isaiah
52:11; 1 Corinthians 6:15-16; Patriarchs and Prophets, p 338, 166; Spirit of
Prophecy, vol 4, p 240; Desire of Ages, p 232; Acts of the Apostles, p 286;
Review and Herald, vol 2, p 48; Spirit of Prophecy, vol 4, p 46; Review and
Herald, vol 4, p 42; Sons and Daughters of God, p 164; Spiritual Gifts, book 2,
2. Testimonies, vol 1, p 270
3. Matthew 18:20
4. Philippians 2:2; John 17:20-23
5. John 17:14-17
6. 1 Peter 5:5
7. Isaiah 28:16; 1 Corinthians 3:9-11; 1 Peter 2:4-8
8. Counsels to Writers and Editors, p 30; Spirit of Prophecy, vol 4, p 399; Great Controversy, p 583
9. Ephesians 2:20-22; Desire of Ages, p 414
10. 1 Corinthians 1:1; 2 Timothy 2:4; Acts 1:2
11. 1 Corinthians 12
12. 1 Timothy 3:2-7; Titus 1:5-9
13. Acts 13:1-4; 1:2
14. 1 Peter 5:1-3
15. Ezekiel 44:23
16. Testimonies to Ministers, p 279
17. Acts 20:28-31
18. Matthew 23:11; 20:25-28; Luke 9:46-48
19. Matthew 23:8; Manuscript Releases, vol 9, p 179; Acts of the Apostles, p 199
20. 1 Timothy 3:8-13
21. Acts 6:1-6
22. Ephesians 2:19
23. Jeremiah 3:15
24. Ezekiel 34:10
25. Acts 5:14
26. Hebrews 10:21
27. 1 Kings 18:21
28. 1 Kings 18:39