Return unto me, and I will return unto you, saith the LORD of hosts.
And it shall come to pass in that day, that the remnant of Israel, and such as are escaped of the house of Jacob, shall no more again stay upon him that smote them; but shall stay upon the LORD, the Holy One of Israel, in truth. The remnant shall return, even the remnant of Jacob, unto the mighty God.
The General Conference Bulletin, July 1, 1900
"O Israel, thou hast destroyed thyself; but in me is thine help." "Return unto the Lord thy God; for thou hast fallen by thine iniquity. Take with you words, and turn to the Lord: say unto him, Take away all iniquity, and receive us graciously.... I will heal their backsliding, I will love them freely: for mine anger is turned away from him.
Selected Messages, Book 2, p. 114
Divisions will come in the church. Two parties will be developed. The wheat and tares grow up together for the harvest.
In spite of the fact that Christ commanded to let the wheat and tares grow together, it is not an excuse for SDAs to allow open apostasy in the Church. We cannot know a person’s motives, but we can know the “fruits.” If the Church leaders truly wish to have a revival and reformation, it would necessitate removing many leaders, pastors, teachers and laypeople from the Church, if they do not repent.
Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers, p. 46
There are two opposing influences continually exerted on the members of the church. One influence is working for the purification of the church, and the other for the corrupting of the people of God.
Counsels for the Church, p. 338
But the days of purification of the church are hastening on apace. God will have a people pure and true. In the mighty sifting soon to take place we shall be better able to measure the strength of Israel.
The Review and Herald, June 3, 1880
What the church needs is to be cleansed of those who defile it. The spirit of reformation must be kindled among us, and this class must be converted or be separated from the church. We entreat those who have a connection with God to pray earnestly and in faith, and not to stop here, but to work as well as pray, for the purification of the church. The present time calls for men and women who have a moral fixedness of purpose, men and women who will not be molded or subdued by any unsanctified influences. Such persons will make a success in the work of perfecting Christian character through the grace of Christ so freely given.
Sermons and Talks, Vol. 2, p. 193
The church militant is not the church triumphant. Paul says, "We wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places" (Ephesians 6:12). We must meet human beings of power and influence who are on Satan's side of the controversy; and we must also meet unseen agencies of evil. Let us be found in the right position.
Reflecting Christ, p. 226
In vision I saw two armies in terrible conflict. One army was led by banners bearing the world's insignia; the other was led by the bloodstained banner of Prince Immanuel. Standard after standard was left to trail in the dust as company after company from the Lord's army joined the foe and tribe after tribe from the ranks of the enemy united with the commandment-keeping people of God. An angel flying in the midst of heaven put the standard of Immanuel into many hands, while a mighty general cried out with a loud voice: "Come into line. Let those who are loyal to the commandments of God and the testimony of Christ now take their position. Come out from among them, and be ye separate."
The battle raged. Victory alternated from side to side. Now the soldiers of the cross gave way, "as when a standardbearer fainteth" (Isaiah 10:18). But their apparent retreat was but to gain a more advantageous position. Shouts of joy were heard. A song of praise to God went up, and angel voices united in the song, as Christ's soldiers planted His banner on the walls of fortresses till then held by the enemy. The Captain of our salvation was ordering the battle and sending support to His soldiers. His power was mightily displayed, encouraging them to press the battle to the gates. He taught them terrible things in righteousness as He led them on step by step, conquering and to conquer.
At last the victory was gained. The army following the banner with the inscription, "The commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus," was gloriously triumphant....
Satan will work his miracles to deceive; he will set up his power as supreme. The church may appear as about to fall, but it does not fall. It remains, while the sinners in Zion will be sifted out--the chaff separated from the precious wheat. This is a terrible ordeal, but nevertheless it must take place. None but those who have been overcoming by the blood of the Lamb and the word of their testimony will be found with the loyal and true, without spot or stain of sin, without guile in their mouths. We must be divested of our self-righteousness and arrayed in the righteousness of Christ.
There are two groups in the Church today--those in the majority (the tares), who are celebrating and those in the minority (the wheat), who cry aloud and become the church that will not fall.
Evangelism, p. 707
The work is soon to close. The members of the church militant who have proved faithful will become the church triumphant.
The Acts of the Apostles, pp. 600-601
The church is God's agency for the proclamation of truth, empowered by Him to do a special work; and if she is loyal to Him, obedient to all His commandments, there will dwell within her the excellency of divine grace. If she will be true to her allegiance, if she will honor the Lord God of Israel, there is no power that can stand against her....
If the church will put on the robe of Christ's righteousness, withdrawing from all allegiance with the world, there is before her the dawn of a bright and glorious day. God's promise to her will stand fast forever. He will make her an eternal excellency, a joy of many generations. Truth, passing by those who despise and reject it, will triumph. Although at times apparently retarded, its progress has never been checked. When the message of God meets with opposition, He gives it additional force, that it may exert greater influence. Endowed with divine energy, it will cut its way through the strongest barriers and triumph over every obstacle.
Manuscript Releases, Vol. 15, p. 130
Many have the idea that they are responsible to Christ alone for their light and their experience independent of Christ's acknowledged body in the world. But this is condemned by Jesus Christ in His teachings and in the examples of facts given to us for our instruction. Here was Paul directly brought into the presence of Christ,--One whom Christ was to fit for a most important work, one who was to be a chosen vessel unto Him--yet He does not teach him the lessons of truth he must learn; He arrests his course, He convicts him. He asks Christ, "What wilt Thou have me to do?" The Saviour does not tell him directly but places him in His direction in connection with His church--They will tell thee what thou must do.
God’s church mentioned here can only be those in the church who are serving Him. We cannot acknowledge those who continue in apostasy. Notice the following quotes.
Testimonies for the Church, Vol. 1, p. 361
I saw that it is our duty in every case to obey the laws of our land, unless they conflict with the higher law which God spoke with an audible voice from Sinai, and afterward engraved on stone with His own finger. "I will put My laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to Me a people." He who has God's law written in the heart will obey God rather than men, and will sooner disobey all men than deviate in the least from the commandment of God. God's people, taught by the inspiration of truth, and led by a good conscience to live by every word of God, will take His law, written in their hearts, as the only authority which they can acknowledge or consent to obey. The wisdom and authority of the divine law are supreme.
The Paulson Collection of Ellen G. White Letters, p. 124 (January 27, 1903)
At present, I most decidedly dread to attend either camp meetings or Conferences. When present at such meetings, I am reigned up to speak plainly and strongly in regard to matters; for I dare not do otherwise than to tell the truth. The burden that comes upon me at such times is very heavy. The experiences I have passed through in attending meetings since returning to America, have been most afflicting; for it seems as if my efforts are of none effect. The testimonies borne bring upon me a great burden of soul, and seem to accomplish so little to change the order of things. The testimonies are speculated upon, and do not reform existing evils.
Just now my courage is not the best. Since the Fresno camp meeting, I have carried the burden of the Southern field in direct opposition to the plans of leading brethren. I have lost confidence in some of these men as being taught and directed of God. If they are thus taught and directed, I am not teaching the way of the Lord. Therefore I am convinced that my place is at home. I can continue to write, if I avoid the crushing burdens that overwhelm me. And these burdens come upon me whenever I attend a meeting where there are men whom I know are not walking in the counsel of God. I care not to face such matters any longer; for it seems useless.
Manuscript Releases, Vol. 17, p. 64
I have a work to do, and I am now making decisions. I must remain away from conference meetings. I must not attend camp meetings. The spirit of drawing apart, as the result of judging one another, has become so common, and the churches are becoming so leavened with this spirit, that I have no desire to attend these meetings. After returning from them, it is often weeks before I am able to take up my neglected work.
Because those in positions of responsibility have for years left the Southern field unworked, notwithstanding the most decided testimonies urging them to take up this work; because they continue to neglect this field and use every manner of device in trying to uproot the confidence of the people in those who have done the hardest and most self-sacrificing work in the South, I have but very little confidence that the Lord is giving these men in positions of responsibility spiritual eyesight and heavenly discernment. I am thrown into perplexity over their course; and I desire now to attend to my special work, to have no part in any of their councils, and to attend no camp-meetings, nigh nor afar off. My mind shall not be dragged into confusion by the tendency they manifest to work directly contrary to the light that God has given me. I am done. I will preserve my God-given intelligence.
My voice has been heard in the different conferences and at camp meetings. I must now make a change. I cannot enter the atmosphere of strife and then have to bear testimonies that cost me much more than those to whom they are sent can imagine. When I attend the different meetings, I am compelled to deal with men, standing in responsible places, who I know are not exerting an influence that God can endorse. And when I bear a testimony in reference to their course of action, advantage is taken of this testimony. These men have not clear understanding. Should I say the things that I know, they would not, with their present experience, use this instruction wisely, and would bring upon me inconceivable burdens.
The Ellen G. White 1888 Materials, p. 692
You know that I have not done any of my book writing to speak of since I came from Europe because of this terrible burden upon my soul of seeing men who are connected with our institutions so blinded by the enemy they cannot distinguish the voice of the True Shepherd from that of a stranger. They gather about their souls garments of unbelief and walk in the sparks of their own kindling. This has nearly broken my heart. With this is accompanied a spirit of iron. There is not the sympathy and love and tenderness of Christ, but an unfeeling heartlessness that is surely satanic in its character. All this has been so presented before me that I no longer feel it to be my duty to labor and wear out my life for this satanic spirit to come in and work with might and main to counteract all that I should attempt to do, either by pen or in letter writing or by voice. When my brethren decide to stand by me and second my efforts, and call things by their right name, then I shall feel that God will have me attend the large gatherings.
A spirit has come in among us that is bold, defiant, persevering, to resist the Spirit of God.
Australasian Union Conference Record, December 30, 1907
As you present the Word to your hearers, claim this promise of Christ's presence. There is no day, no hour of the day, when He will not be near you by His Holy Spirit. He is in every meeting that is held in His name [not Satan’s]. His promise is given for as long as time shall last.