One of the promoted teachings that has been among the splinter groups among us Seventh Day Adventists, is the view that according to some, the SDA church has become “Babylon”. This arose as far back as Ellen White’s day. We’ll term those who have that belief as ”Outers”. They believe that the church has become corrupt (this we do not dispute) and as such we should be “clean” and come out of her. Let’s look at a comprehensive view of this belief. As always, we’ll go to God’s three sources, the Scriptures, Ellen White “The Spirit of Prophecy”, and Bro. Houteff “The Elijah to come”.
The outers hold that since the early days of the church, we have steadily retreated towards Egypt and have allowed much sin and corruption to enter our church. Again this premise is solid and truthful. However these people assume the position that we as members must make a move, ie. get out of the SDA church. They often use these quotes (2 Cor.6:17) “Therefore come out from them and be separate, says the Lord. Touch no unclean thing and I will receive you.” (Isaiah 52:11) “Depart! Depart!, Go out from there, touch no unclean thing; Go out from the midst of her, be clean, you who bear the vessels of the Lord.’
The above assumption in effect says that “we” are to do the separating of God’s house (temple-sanctuary-church). This assumption, as we will see, throws in dis-array many other inspired writings on this subject. Scripture that contradicts this idea that man is to separate himself from sinners in the church, is Ezekiel 9. As we have learned from our present truth studies, this solemn chapter details what our Lord will do about HIS separating of those in the church, in the beginning phase of the judgment for the living. (For more on this see our post here- http://godsloveandlaw.com/2012/10/27/ezekiel-9-part-1-of-2/ )
We notice that He orders His angels to separate the sealed ones from the unsealed ones from among His church. The work of separation is not with man and his separating, but only with the Lord and His angels. Ellen White solidly confirms this. In the Review and Herald, Sept. 1893, under the title called “The Remnant Church Not Babylon” she emphatically points out that the SDA church is not Babylon and further that we are not to take upon ourselves the act of “separting” ourselves and coming out of the church.
She says “..the Master says, “Let both grow together until the harvest”, then the angels will gather out the tares, which will be appointed for destruction.” … “The church of Christ on earth will be imperfect, but God does not destroy His church because of it’s imperfection. There have been those and will be those who are filled with zeal not according to knowledge, who would purify the church, and uproot the tares from the midst of the wheat”… “the work of separation is given to the angels of God, and not committed into the hands of any man.”
“There is but one church in the world who are at the present time standing in the breach, and making up the hedge, building up the old waste places; and for any man to call the attention of the world and other churches to this church, denouncing her as Babylon, is to do a work in harmony with him who is an accuser of the brethren.” (Review and Herald, Sept 5, 1893)
So from the above we see clearly that our Lord will give the work of separation to His angels at the appointed time. And that those who work to call the SDA church -Babylon are doing Satan’s work. The church is to have sinners and righteous co-mingle (wheat and the tares). The outers think that they must form a new group or church and to “clean up” God’s people , and abandon the church. This we see is not God’s intent for His church right now, despite it’s current failings.
Some may ask, “Why not get out and become clean with other brethren, and not be a part of their worldly and unGodly ways and acts?” It is simply because our Lord has always had ONE church body that has been His regard. EGW explains ” The church, enfeebled and defective, needing to be reproved, warned and counseled, is the only object upon earth which Christ bestows His supreme regard.”(Same article above).
As with any important subject we must go to the Lord’s ”restorer” or “re-constitutioner” of all things, His Elijah messenger(Matt.17:11). The one who was to clear up any such confusions, like this Babylon thinking. Let’s look at what the final word says about this.
In brother Houteff’s Symbolic Code News, Vol. 1 , No. 14, page 9, we read “It matters not what they may do to us, we would rather die than to disobey the commandment of the Lord. The SDA church is not Babylon. If it were we would have been duty bound to come out, but since it is not, we have no place to go. Consequently, we shall stay in “Jerusalem” though it may be filled with thieves..”
So as we approach these last hours of probation, we must be so on guard for any and all the Satanic traps. One group will say you must do this, go there, and so forth. Another will say “Ah, we have interpreted Scripture this way, or that.” But to be safe and “remain standing” (see Mal. 3:2) we must read and study our Lord’s inspired words (Scripture, EGW, VTH).
Yes, our church is not right in many ways, and as true “sighers and criers” we feel quite sad at times about it. Brother Houteff explains “Many of our people are getting their eyes open, and as they do, their confidence becomes shaken in poor frail humanity in whom they have long trusted their salvation, not authoritatively, but traditonally, yet honestly. They have been led to believe that our human organization, which the Lord gave us for the prosecution of the work, is some sort of sacred institution where consciences of His people are to be surrendered in the hand of men to the extent that they dare not investigate for themselves even the doctrines of the Bible. Nevertheless, the poor sheep are beginning to awake to the situation.” (Same Sym. Code news, p.13)
In the above we see that, though our church has serious failings, the honest seekers of truth are being awaken. And as we have seen we remain in the church, and continue our best to keep ourselves unspotted despite failings all around.
Yes, we do indeed feel sometimes as one who is trapped in Babylon (unclean church). We see the worldliness in our churches but let’s not forget that the Lord knows all about it and will do something about it very soon. “It shall come to pass in that day, that the Lord shall set His hand again a second time to recover the remnant of His people who are left..He will set up a banner for the nations and will assemble the outcasts of Israel, and gather together the dispersed of Judah, from the four corners of the earth.” (Isaiah 11:11).
In closing, the outers may mean well but they make a big mistake. They take upon themselves a work of separation that belongs to the Lord and is part of His plan, not theirs, for the church.
“But those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; They shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.” (Isaiah 40:31)