Download The Church in the Light of Scripture PDF

TitleThe Church in the Light of Scripture
File Size3.5 MB
Total Pages219
Table of Contents
Document Text Contents
Page 1


[This paper has been reformulated from old, unformatted electronic files and may not
be identical to the edited version that appeared in print. The original pagination has
been maintained, despite the resulting odd page breaks, for ease of scholarly citation.
However, scholars quoting this article should use the print version or give the URL.]
Journal of the Adventist Theological Society, 7/2 (Autumn 1996): 1-22.
Article copyright © 1996 by Jack J. Blanco.

The Church in the Light of Scripture

Jack J. Blanco
Dean, School of Religion
Southern Adventist University

Late Tuesday afternoon of the Passion Week the disciples sat with Jesus on

the Mt. of Olives. Earlier, as they had left the Temple, several had called Jesus’
attention to its massive structure. Addressing their natural pride, He had told
them the Temple would soon be completely destroyed and that not one stone
would be left on another. The solemn comment disturbed the disciples, because
they associated the destruction of the Temple with the end of the world.

As the group rested on the side of the mountain, four of the disciples “pri-
vately” asked Him what would be the sign of His coming and of the end of the
world (Mark 13:3-4; Matt 24:1-3). Surprisingly, the first answer Jesus gave
them was not a sign about His coming, but rather He expressed His heartfelt
concern about their spiritual safety. “Take heed,” He said, “that no one deceives
you. For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am Christ,’ and will deceive
many. . . Many false prophets will rise up and deceive many. . . [they will] show
great signs and wonders, so as to deceive, if possible, even the elect” (Matt 24:4-
5, 11, 24).1

This conversation occurred only a few days before the Saviour’s death.
While He desired to share with them the signs of His coming,

Page 2



He was more concerned that his followers not be deceived. Jesus knew Satan
would attempt to confound the faith of God’s people, especially near the end of
time. He would try to confuse them about the authority of Scripture, the mean-
ing of Calvary, the prophecies of Daniel, and the importance of the church. In
our present study we will focus on Satan’s endeavor to confuse Christ’ s follow-
ers about the importance of the church.

In addition to the warnings Jesus uttered (Matt 24), are the pointed warnings
given in the book of Revelation. John writes, “And the dragon was enraged with
the woman, and he went to make war with the rest of her offspring, who keep
the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ” (Rev 12:17).
Commenting on this verse Ellen G. White says, “ I saw [in vision] that Satan
bade his angels lay their snares especially for those who were looking for
Christ’ s second appearing and keeping all the commandments of God. Satan told
his angels that. . . sect of ‘Sabbathkeepers we hate; they are continually working
against us, . . . As they appoint meetings in different places, we are in danger. Be
very vigilant then. Cause disturbance and confusion if possible. Destroy love for
one another. Discourage and dishearten their ministers; for we hate them.’ ” 2

Satan hates the church, because Jesus Christ gave His life for her (Eph
5:25). She is His bride (2 Cor 11:2). Satan also hates the church whenever the
members and ministers of the church love their Savior and put their faith in
Him. As Phillips in his translation says, “ In all this stands the endurance of the
saints–those who keep the commandments of God and their faith in Jesus” (Rev
14:12). Jesus is the Rock on whom the church is built and to whom we cling.

When Jesus asked His disciples, “Who do men say I am?” They told Him
some thought He was John the Baptist, or Elijah, or Jeremiah, or one of the
prophets (Matt 16:13, 14). When He wanted to know who they thought He was,
Peter spoke up and said, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God” (vss.
15, 16). Then Jesus said, “Blessed are you Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood
has not

Page 109



What is this new song? “None but the hundred and forty-four thousand can
learn that song; for it is the song of their experience—an experience such as no
other company have ever had.”76 They alone had passed through the great time
of trouble, and thus lived after the close of human probation. No other group has
ever done that. What do they sing about? Revelation records their song. It is
called the song of Moses and the song of the Lamb. It gives glory to God, just as
the message of the f irst angel (Rev 14:7). I t says, “Great and marvelous are your
deeds, Lord God Almighty. Just and true are your ways, King of the ages. Who
will not fear you, O Lord, and bring glory to your name? For you alone are holy.
All nations will come and worship before you, for your righteous acts have been
revealed” (Rev 15:3-4). This is the song of their experience. They worshiped
God when all the world worshiped the beast (Rev 13:3-4, 12-15). They wit-
nessed what God did to these false worshipers, and what He did for them as
those who worshiped Him. The final test has to do with worship. For it is the
final outworking of the cosmic controversy during which Satan and his angels
refuse to worship God anymore.

This song is called the song of Moses and the Lamb. The song of Moses
was sang after the mighty deliverance at the Red Sea (Exod 15:1-21). The Song
of Moses brings glory to God. “Your right hand, O Lord, was majestic in power.
Your right hand, O Lord, shattered the enemy. In the greatness of your majesty
you threw down those who opposed you. You unleashed your burning anger; it
consumed them like stubble. By the blast of your nostrils the waters piled up.
The surging waters stood firm like a wall; the deep waters congealed in the heart
of the sea” (Exod 15:6-8). Not one word is mentioned about what the Israelites
did. That's because they didn’ t bring about the deliverance. They were the re-
cipients of the deliverance. Had not Moses told them, “Do not be afraid. Stand
firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today. The Egyp-
tians you see today you will never see again. The Lord will fight for you; you
need only to be still” (Exod 14:13-14).

Page 110



What about the Egyptians? “The enemy boasted, ‘ I will pursue, I will over-
take them. I will divide the spoils; I will gorge myself on them. I will draw my
sword and my hand will destroy them’ ” (Exod 15:9). They reflected the spirit of
Satan who said, “ I will ascend to heaven; I will raise my throne above the stars
of God; I will sit enthroned on the mount of assembly, on the utmost heights of
the sacred mountain. I will ascend above the tops of the clouds. I will make my-
self like the Most High” (Isa 14:13-14). These were boastful words in the heart
of one in the presence of God. The Egyptians likewise boasted in the presence of
the Shekinah glory with Israel (Exod 14:19-20).

It is true that the final exodus, as it were, will be through the great time of
trouble. But Daniel 12:1 puts this future into proper perspective. “At that time
Michael, the great prince who protects your people, will arise. There will be a
time of distress such as has not happened from the beginning of nations until
then. But at that time your people–everyone whose name is found written in the
book–will be delivered” (Dan 12:1). The greater the trouble—the greater the
deliverance! Note that the 144,000 do not even mention the trouble, just as Israel
after the Exodus did not mention the ordeal of going through the Red Sea. The
Song of Moses and the Song of the Lamb are songs about God’s deliverance.
And if they are singing about this in the millennium and beyond in the new
earth—then it must be worth going through!

It is called the Song of the Lamb. He is the focus and the subject of wor-
ship. Christ, or Michael, is the One who delivers them, and Michael has never
lost a battle. He was the One who threw Satan and his fiends out of heaven (Rev
12:7-8). He will banish then again in the end time and deliver His people. Isaiah
speaks of this day. “Then the Lord will create over all of Mount Zion and over
those who assemble there a cloud of smoke by day and a glow of flaming fire by
night; over all the glory will be a canopy. It will be a shelter and shade from the
heat of the day, and a refuge and hiding place from the storm and

Page 218



even if it is correct teaching. The heart’s temptation to escape the ambiguities and problems of life
and to establish its own self as center always contributes to any distortion of the gospel. The heart
itself must bow in continual worship before God, whose name is Father, Son and Holy Spirit, to be
saved from its escape into death and from its prison of self-centeredness.”

72 For this section I am indebted to Frank Hasel’s helpful treatment of the subject in his
aforementioned article “Theology and the Role of Reason.”

73 Frank Hasel, p. 175, summarizing Immanuel Kant, “What is Enlightenment?” transl. and ed.
Lewis White Beck (Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill Educational Publishing, 1959).

74 As quoted by Frank Hasel, p. 176.
75 Frank Hasel, p. 190.
76 Doukhan, pp. 193-194.
77 Thielicke, p. 120.
78 Wilfred Cantwell Smith, Questions of Religious Truth (London: V. Gallancz, 1967), p. 68,

as quoted in Harold Netland, “Religious Pluralism and Truth,”Trinity Journal 6 NS (1985): 77.
79 Netland, p. 81.
80 Ibid, p. 78: “Truth is held to be a property of propositions such that a proposition is true if

and only if the state of affairs to which it refers obtains; otherwise it is false.”
81 See, e.g., John Hick, God Has Many Names (Philadelphia: Westminster, 1982); idem, Faith

and Knowledge, 2nd ed. (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1966); idem, “Religious Faith as Experi-
encing-As,” in Talk of God, ed. G. N. A. Vesey (New York: Macmillan, 1969); M. Goulder and J.
Hick, Why Believe in God? (London: SCM Press, 1983).

82 Terry O'Keeffe, “Religion and Pluralism,” in Philosophy and Pluralism, ed. David Archard
(Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996), p. 65.

83 For a detailed treatment of proper hermeneutical guidelines see Richard M. Davidson’s
presentation on hermeneutics in this publication.

84 Thielicke, p. 121.
85 See, for example, E. G. White, “The Truth Revealed in Jesus,”Review and Herald, February

8, 1898, pp. 85-86.
86 Ibid.
87 See Ellen G. White, The Great Controversy (Boise, ID: Pacific Press Publ. Assoc., 1950),

423; Paul A. Gordon, The Sanctuary, 1844, and the Pioneers (Hagerstown, MD: Review and Herald
Publ. Assoc., 1983), pp. 20-22; James White, “The Sanctuary and 2300 Days,” Review and Herald,
March 17, 1853, p. 172; R. F. Cottrell, “The Sanctuary,” Review and Herald, December 15, 1863, p.

Page 219



21; J. N. Andrews, “The Sanctuary,” Review and Herald, June 18, 1867, p. 12; U. Smith, “The Great
Central Subject,” Review and Herald, November 22, 1881, p. 328.

88 Richard M. Davidson, “Typology in the Book of Hebrews,” in Issues in the Book of He-
brews, Daniel and Revelation Committee Series, ed. Frank B. Holbrook (Silver Spring, MD: Biblical
Research Institute, 1989), 4: 163.

89 See the statements of A. Goppelt and Frank Cross, Jr., as quoted in Frank B. Holbrook,
“The Israelite Sanctuary,” in The Sanctuary and the Atonement, ed. Arnold V. Wallenkampf and
Richard W. Lesher (Washington, DC: General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, 1981), 5. See
also Davidson, “Typology . . . ,” pp. 164-165.

90 Holbrook, p. 4.
91 Davidson, “Typology . . . ,” p. 163.
92 For an excellent discussion of the various terms used for the process of atonement in the Bi-

ble see John R. W. Stott, The Cross of Christ (Downers Grove, IL : Inter-Varsity Press, 1986), pp.

93 See Jacques B. Doukhan, Daniel: The Vision of the End (Berrien Springs, MI: Andrews
University Press, 1987), pp. 60-64.

94 Ibid.
95 William H. Willimon, p. 22.
96 Ibid.

Similer Documents