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True Church

Scripture: Acts 2:47, Revelation 12:1, Jeremiah 6:2
Is there a true church on the earth today? Is it visible or invisible? What tests should we apply to determine what is God's true church? This broadcast looks at the topic of both a false church and a true church spoken of in the Bible.
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If we could find the answer to one question today, we would have settled a multitude of other intensely gripping issues and questions. Is there a true church in the world and how shall we recognize it? This is what we hear people asking on every side. This is the most perplexing question confronting us as we look out in a world containing about 212 different denominations of Christians. In fact, in the United States alone we have that many.

Now listen! In Acts 2:47 we read this: "The Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved." Now what is that church? Is it visible or invisible? What test shall we apply in order to identify this church in which people can be saved? There are two outstanding facts that we should understand in the very beginning of this message. First, the true church cannot be identified by the name it might choose. Of course there are scores of name combinations, but they don't reveal anything about the spiritual or the unspiritual nature of the organization. Second, don't feel that you must minutely examine every doctrine of those 212 Christian bodies in order to find the right one. There's a better way and an infallible way. Remember this - none of those churches can save you merely by receiving your name as a member. You have no guarantee of heaven just by joining any one of those organized groups.

Now friends, don't misunderstand me, I'm not against church membership but I'm saying this, that the one way the church can help save you would be by teaching you the Word of God and showing you the daily path of truth as revealed in the Bible. Then what does that mean? It means that if we do not find the church that holds the true doctrine of the Word of God, then we'd be better off probably not belonging to a church.

We could never subscribe to a doctrine that's not Biblical, and which we did not agree to. But if we can find a church which holds the truth as it's revealed in the Bible, we should by all means join it at once.

But how can we find the church which holds the truth? Friends, first find the truth in the Bible. Search out the doctrine as it is in Jesus; follow the light that shines on your pathway from the Word of God. Don't join a church and then begin to study their doctrines. Study the Bible and then search for the church that follows that doctrine. That's a method which can't fail. By a quick comparison of doctrinal positions of churches with a clear Bible teaching, all the 212 can be examined very quickly. The measuring rod of God's Word will reveal in a moment what weeks of denominational study might fail to reveal.

Now we're going to be digging again today in the great textbook, the Bible. We've already found, of course, many doctrines which we could not refuse to believe and accept. We've allowed the Bible to draw its own lines, where it would, as we presented the facts here on this broadcast. The result has been to draw our hearts more and more to follow only the Bible as an infallible guide. In our minds we've made comparisons, eliminations, many decisions. Today we're going to set out on a thrilling search for the church in these days which meets all the spiritual tests of the great Bible measuring rod. If we find one that does meet the requirements, of course, we should certainly join it and thank God for leading us to it.

Now we'll read the text which gives us a picture of the true church of the ages. It's symbolized by a woman, clothed with the sun, having twelve stars on her head, and you'll read it in Revelation 12:1. "And there appeared a great wonder in heaven; a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars." Now friends, a woman always symbolizes a church in prophecy. Jeremiah 6:2, "I have likened the daughter of Zion to a comely and delicate woman." "And I will say unto Zion, thou art my people." Isaiah 51:16. So a woman, a pure woman, represents a true church. A fallen woman, by the way, would represent a false religious system. But here now is a pure woman, in white, representing the apostolic faith. Those twelve stars stand for the twelve apostles who carried that gospel in their day. The reflected light of the moon under her feet seems to represent the fading glory of the Mosaic Age in contrast to the exceeding glory of the Christian Age which shines like the sun.

Now, friends, let's trace the history of the true church from its inception right down to the present. Reading on now in verse 2 of Revelation 12, "And she being with child cried, travailing in birth, and pained to be delivered. And there appeared another wonder in heaven; and behold a great red dragon, having seven heads and ten horns, and the dragon stood before the woman which was ready to be delivered, for to devour her child as soon as it was born. And she brought forth a man child, who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron: and her child was caught up unto God, and to his throne."

Now listen, who was that man child who was to rule all the world and who was finally caught up to the throne of God? Why, there has only been one man-child like that and it was Jesus Christ. But who tried to put Jesus to death when He was born? Well, of course, we say that was Herod, the old Roman king. Sure enough, but he was unable to destroy the man-child, for Joseph and Mary fled with Him down to Egypt.

Satan sought in every possible way to stamp out the truth through that cruel Roman Empire. When persecution failed, he developed a gigantic counterfeit system of amalgamated paganism and Christianity which has been a continual challenge to Bible religion. The great war of Satan against the truth has continued down through the ages. When he found that Jesus could not be overcome and destroyed, he began to wreck his vengeance upon the Christians who held that pure faith of Jesus. Notice verse 13. "And when the dragon saw that he was cast unto the earth, he persecuted the woman which brought forth the man child." Yes, there it is. The church came under the anger and wrath of the dragon. Thousands of martyrs died at the stake or were torn limb from limb by savage animals in the great amphitheaters of Rome but still the truth survived. And then the counterfeit system arose with its attempt to suppress the Bible and stifle the apostolic faith. Once more the Dragon's power was manifested in the tortures and persecutions which held sway during the Dark Ages.

But what happened to the truth of God during those days? Let's read the answer in verse 14. "And to the woman were given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness, into her place, where she is nourished for a time, and times, and half a time, from the face of the serpent." So you see the true church here represented by the pure woman had to flee from those persecutions and go into hiding. Now notice that she was in hiding for a time, and times, and a half of time. But in verse 6 we read this. "And the woman fled into the wilderness, where she hath a place prepared of God, that they should feed her there a thousand two hundred and three-score days." So this is how long the woman was to be in hiding. And, by the way, these people fled back to the very caves of the earth and hid in those rocks and mountains to hold on to their true apostolic faith, their true doctrines. And they stayed there, the Bible says, 1260 days. But listen, in Bible prophecy, a day stands for a year always. Ezekiel 4:6. God says, "I have appointed thee each day for a year." So this 1260 days would actually literally be 1260 years that the true church was to be unseen as far as the world was concerned. It would be represented by those who hid out during those long Dark Ages holding on to their true faith.

So this covers a great span of time, friends, from the 4th century down to about 1800. True believers, being persecuted, had to flee back into the Alps Mountains and hide out in the caves of the earth. Several refugee groups held out against the false doctrines at the risk of their lives. The Waldenses, Huguenots, and Albigenses are examples of those faithful ones who represented the true church during those dark years of suppression. Verse 15 tells how fierce was the dragon sought to destroy them so that the truth might perish from the earth. "And the serpent cast out of his mouth water as a flood after the woman, that he might cause her to be carried away of the flood."

But now, what we've learned so far, is this, friends: That the true church could not appear before the world until after this long period. During the time of this darkness when the truth was hiding out in the wilderness, it could not appear; but then it would come out of hiding later. The Apostolic Faith that gradually disappeared was to come forth and appear once again at the end of that long period. Just as a train disappears into a railroad tunnel once coach at a time, so the truth disappeared in hiding for 1260 years. But listen, my friends, just as surely as it went into the wilderness, just as surely was it to appear again. The same train that enters the tunnel must emerge on the other side. And so the fight to rise again was started by Luther, Huss, Jerome, and others. But the full truth was not to appear until after 1798 at the end of the 1260 years of darkness.

Does the Bible tell us what the true church would look like when it came out of the wilderness? Yes, and here's the text right here in Revelation 12:17. "And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ."

Who is the dragon? Alright, it's the devil primarily. Who is the woman? We found that is the true apostolic church. And what does it mean to be "wroth"? Well, that means to be angry. And what is the remnant? That's the last part of something, the very end. And what are the commandments of God? None other than the Ten Commandments of God. And what about the testimony of Jesus, what is that? In Revelation 19:10 we read, "For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy." Now we are prepared to paraphrase this verse. Listen. And the devil was angry with the woman, which is the true church, and went to make war with the remnant, or the last part of the true church in the last days, which keep the commandments of God, that's the Ten Commandments, and has the testimony of Jesus, and we found that that's the spirit of prophecy. Now let's read it once again, friends, and see what we have. Right from the Bible. "And the devil was angry with the true church and went to make war with the last part of the true church which keep the Ten Commandments and has the spirit of prophecy." Did you know that was in the Bible, friends?

If you're looking for the true church, then here it is described for you exactly 1, 2, 3. It would have to be a church which keeps the commandments of God - all of them now, not just four, five, six, seven, eight, or nine, but all ten of the commandments must be kept - and it will have to be a church which teaches prophecy and emphasizes prophecy because it has the spirit of prophecy. Well, we'll have to leave it today, right there in our broadcast, but friends, with these facts in mind and these wonderful truths from Revelation 12, you should be able to study and search and be able to find for yourselves that church which is teaching the truth today and keeping all the commandments of God.

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