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2014-04-24 09:25Z

Why a Church Charter?

David Qualls, December 13, 2004.

One thing separates the church from the world. That one thing is summed up in a single word: truth. The dividing line that sets the church apart is truth; truth that is proclaimed, believed, and lived by the church and its members. The Bible teaches that the church is the pillar of the truth; it marks the boundary line of truth (1 Timothy 3:15).

Seventh-day Adventists have been chosen by God as a peculiar people, separate from the world. By the great cleaver of truth He has cut them out from the quarry of the world and brought them into connection with Himself…. The greatest wealth of truth ever entrusted to mortals, the most solemn and fearful warnings ever sent by God to man, have been committed to them to be given to the world… (Ellen G. White, Testimonies, vol. 7, p. 138). (Emphasis supplied).

In another place she includes separation from the other churches as well as from the world:

By the mighty cleaver of truth, the messages of the first, second, and third angels, He has separated them from the churches and from the world to bring them into a sacred nearness to Himself (Ellen G. White, Testimonies, vol. 5, p. 455). (Emphasis supplied).

Jesus, in His great prayer recorded in John chapter 17, tells us what sets apart His church:

They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. Sanctify them [set them apart] through thy truth: thy word is truth (John 17:14 -17).

But not just any truth will accomplish this delineation between the world and the other churches on the one hand and God’s true church on the other. The setting apart of God’s church is the truth; present truth; truth for this time.

Each generation has had its own present truth. This generation is no exception. In reality, to the last generation heaven has more fully than ever revealed the interconnections of His truth. This is a time for the culmination of all things. It is a time when God’s glory will shine brightly as His church goes forth “fair as the moon, clear as the sun, and terrible as an army with banners” (Song of Solomon 6:10).

The Seventh-day Adventist Church has been and continues to be God’s true remnant church, the seventh and last church of Bible prophecy (Revelation 3:14-22). Historically, its members have been known as “a people of the book.” But times have changed.

It used to be that calling oneself a Seventh-day Adventist was sufficient to identify what one believed; what values one held; what standard was maintained. The reality of the situation is that this is no longer the case. It can no longer be taken for granted that a church calling itself Seventh-day Adventist adheres to the same Biblical truths that it once did. We have come to the age spoken of by Paul:

For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables (2 Timothy 4:3, 4).

In contrast to the prevailing sentiment of this age, God is calling His people to take a stand; to proclaim the messages He has entrusted to us with unmistakable clarity. Like Elijah on the mountain; like John the Baptist by the Jordan, God’s church is to raise the standard of truth ever higher and to speak it more boldly than in times past. Walking through the closing scenes of the great controversy war in company with Jesus, God’s church must look more closely to His counsel and guidance than ever before. He is the head of the church.

In this sensual, post-modernist age of no absolutes, where it has become common even in our own midst to celebrate the ever multiplying shades of gray, pride ourselves in our political correctness, non-judgmentalism, and compromise, and spin slippery, smooth, and soothing messages, boast of “love,” “unity,” and “compassion,”—in this hour—God is calling on His people to boldly proclaim His truth for this time. He sees that Satan has laid a snare especially designed for this age to lull the people into an enchanting slumber. But it is a fatal sleep. While Satan is busy gently rocking the church to sleep, God calls upon us to arouse the church and the world; to boldly speak the truth in love.

Today we are called to “arouse, and place the truth in bold relief” (Ellen G. White, Signs of the Times, January 6, 1898).

For this purpose we believe it highly beneficial for a local congregation, which understands present truth, to set forth a statement of its core beliefs and values; its commitment to truth. Especially is this the case for such newly forming local congregations. It is incumbent upon such churches to lay down a solid foundation, in writing, so that all will know for all time, what it is that sets this group apart.

While we recognize the need to put forth a clear statement of our beliefs, we also must guard against any tendency to move outside the boundaries of the Seventh-day Adventist message. Instead, we seek to call our members back to the fundamentals of the Adventist message; the faith that was once delivered to the saints. This is no new message we seek; instead, we aim to resurrect and proclaim the old truths that have become diluted and ignored, while we progress further into the ever-enlarging light shining on our path.

For these reasons we set forth the following founding church charter. We realize that others may discern in it an example or template which they may adapt for their own purposes. We hope it will serve as a learning tool and a resource to enable others who might consider the adoption of a similar statement. We believe that if studied carefully, it can serve as an instrument to awaken interest in God’s end-time, present truth.

We encourage pastors, church boards, elders, and members that understand present truth to study and make use of this charter in their own local settings. Especially, newly organizing churches would benefit greatly by undertaking a careful examination of precisely what it is they hold as their core beliefs. Additionally, we believe other organizations such as youth conferences, schools, and other ministries could benefit. May God grant a true revival and reformation in the world-wide Seventh-day Adventist Church as more and more within her borders dispense with the same old thing and move forward in boldness and in the fear of the Lord. May we all come up to higher ground by His grace. GCO

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David Qualls is involved in organizing a new local congregation in connection with the Oklahoma Conference, the Tulsa Three Angel’s Seventh-day Adventist Church, located in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Raised a Seventh-day Adventist by godly parents, he turned his back on God in his teens, but by the grace of God returned to the faith of his youth with a strong desire to serve God and to help others prepare for His soon coming. He has served in several self-supporting ministries and currently resides near Tulsa with his wife, Ruth. Having earned degrees in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, he currently works in the software development field for a software consulting firm. Taking an active interest in current theological issues within the Remnant Church, he desires to let God use him to spread the true gospel and to help others avoid being blown about by every wind of doctrine.