What Is the Church?
QUESTION: Please send me information on what is the church, or what is the definition of the church.
ANSWER: Below are some quotations from the Spirit of Prophecy that show clearly what God considers to be His church:
“The church is God’s fortress, His city of refuge, which He holds in a revolted world. 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 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.” Acts of the Apostles, p. 11.
“In proclaiming the truths of the everlasting gospel to every nation, kindred, tongue, and people, God’s church on earth today is fulfilling the ancient prophecy, ‘Israel shall blossom and bud, and fill the face of the world with fruit.’ Isaiah 27:6. The followers of Jesus, in co-operation with heavenly intelligences, are rapidly occupying the waste places of the earth; and, as the result of their labors, an abundant fruitage of precious souls is developing. Today, as never before, the dissemination of Bible truth by means of a consecrated church is bringing to the sons of men the benefits foreshadowed centuries ago in the promise to Abraham and to all Israel,—to God’s church on earth in every age,—‘I will bless thee, . . . and thou shalt be a blessing.’ Genesis 12:2.” Prophets and Kings, p. 703.
“The church is God’s appointed agency for the salvation 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’ (Ephesians 3:10), the final and full display of the love of God.” Reflecting Christ, p. 196.
“We need the impartation of the Holy Spirit, that we may realize how closely heavenly things are bound up with God’s church on this earth.—Letter 115, 1903, pp. 2, 3. (To John Wessels, June 20, 1903.)” Manuscript Releases, Vol. 7, p. 151.
“Satan is trying to lead men and women away from right principles. The enemy of all good, he desires to see human beings so trained that they will exert their influence on the side of error, instead of using their talents to bless their fellow men. And multitudes who profess to belong to God’s true church are falling under his deceptions. They are being led to turn away from their allegiance to the King of heaven.” Counsels to Parents, Teachers and Students, p. 494.
“In the judgment many secret things will be revealed. Then we shall see what a belief in God’s Word has done for men and women. It will be seen how small companies, sometimes not more than three or four, have gathered together in secret places to seek the Lord, and how they received light and grace, and rich gems of thought. The Holy Spirit was their teacher, and their lives revealed the blessings that come from a possession of the oracles of God. When Christ shall separate the tares from the wheat, it will be seen that God recognizes and honors these lowly followers. In the world they may not have been thought worthy of recognition, but in the heavenly courts they are registered as true and faithful. Through trial and opposition they kept their faith untainted. They gathered strength from the Word of God, which told them of the hope of immortal life in the kingdom of God. Of ‘them that feared the Lord, and that thought upon His name,’ it is written, ‘They shall be Mine, saith the Lord of hosts, in that day when I make up My jewels; and I will spare them as a man spareth his own son that serveth him.’” Signs of the Times, November 23, 1904.
“God has a church. It is not the great cathedral, neither is it the national establishment, neither is it the various denominations; it is the people who love God and keep His commandments. ‘Where two or three are gathered together in My name, there am I in the midst of them.’ Where Christ is, even among the humble few, this is Christ’s church, for the presence of the High and Holy One who inhabiteth eternity can alone constitute a church. Where two or three are present who love and obey the commandments of God, Jesus there presides, let it be in the desolate place of the earth, in the wilderness, in the city, [or] enclosed in prison walls. The glory of God has penetrated the prison walls, flooding with glorious beams of heavenly light the darkest dungeon. His saints may suffer, but their sufferings will, like the apostles’ of old, spread their faith and win souls to Christ and glorify His holy name. The bitterest opposition expressed by those who hate God’s great moral standard of righteousness should not and will not shake the steadfast soul who trusts fully in God.” Manuscript Releases, Vol. 17, p. 81.