There are hundreds of different churches with various doctrines each of which considers itself to be God’s church on earth. But how can that be? It would seem that for any church to qualify as God’s church, it must teach and practice all that the Bible teaches. When Paul talks about “the house of God which is the church of the living God” he says it is “the pillar and the ground of the truth.” 1 Timothy 3:15. Read Revelation 12:1-17.
1. What are the three main symbols of Revelation 12?
1. First, there is the symbol of the woman who is clothed with the sun. This is a symbol of God’s church. A pure beautiful woman is God’s way of representing his church. Read Jeremiah 6:2; 2 Corinthians 11:2. The woman’s clothing would represent the robe of Christ’s righteousness. The moon is the symbol of the types and shadows of Old Testament times. The ceremonial law was of value only when it was fulfilled in the life, death and resurrection of Christ. The crown of twelve stars represents twelve leaders, in the Old Testament, Jacob’s son, and in the New Testament the twelve apostles.
2. Second, there is the symbol of the great red dragon. In verse 9 the dragon is identified as the devil. Satan always works through human agents. Pagan Rome was that agent at the time of John’s vision.
3. Third, the man-child represents Jesus Christ. For centuries the church had looked for the birth of the Messiah. When He came He was born a helpless babe. He was hated and attacked by the devil. Finally He will one day rule all nations. Jesus is the only person who fits all these specifications.
2. What three stages of the controversy between Christ and Satan are brought to light in Revelation 12?
1. First, there was the plot worked out by Satan to destroy Christ at His birth.
2. Second, during the Dark Ages God’s church was driven into the wilderness where she remained, often persecuted, but loyal and true to God. And even though the devil, through wars and Mohammedian hordes, tried to exterminate the fugitive church, yet “the earth helped the woman.” How? By providing hiding places in caves and secluded spots as well as by the discovery of the New World – America – where liberty to worship the way one chose was made possible. This period extended from A.D. 538 to A.D 1798.
3. Third, when the church emerged from her wilderness experience at the end of the 18th Century Satan again continued his terrible warfare against the latter end of God’s church – the remnant.
3. What are the identifying marks of God’s church in these last days?
“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.” Revelation 12:17. Here are given three marks which identify the remnant church with absolute certainty.
The devil in angry “with the remnant” of the church’s seed. Since a remnant is always identical to the original this means the last church is like the apostolic church. Therefore its teachings should square fully with the Bible, the Christian’s blueprint.
God’s last church will be a commandment keeping church in contrast to those who accept the teachings and traditions of men.
God’s church in these last days has “the testimony of Jesus Christ.” This testimony of Jesus through the prophets (1 Peter 1:10, 11) is the Bible term for the gift of prophecy which made it possible for “the holy men of God” to produce the sacred writings of the Bible (2 Peter 1:21). And it is the method God uses in guiding His church today.
The remnant church, being the last phase of God’s work, will naturally proclaim God’s last messages. These are found in Revelation 14:6-14. (I will cover these in my next study titled “God’s Last Warning Message”)
In the parable of the shepherd and the sheep Jesus said, “And other sheep I have which are not of this fold; them also I must bring, and they will hear My voice; and there will be one flock and one shepherd.” John 10:16. All the sheep will not only hear the voice of the shepherd but Jesus continued, “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.” John 10