This is such a misunderstood question. So much so that I thought it would be well to put together a short study on this issue. This issue can be made very clear and there should be total unity on this issue should we be willing to put aside the opinions of men and allow the word of God which is “spirit to guide us into all truth”. (John 6:63, 16:13)
In the book of Revelation chapter 12 and verse 17 we are told that “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.”
A woman in prophecy is symbolic of a church. In Revelation 17 we have an apostate church, her name being Babylon, and she having many daughters is called “the mother of harlots” (Rev 17:5). She has given birth to several apostate churches. However God’s Church also has a name. It is called “Jerusalem which is above is free, which is the mother of us all.” (Gal 4:26) It is important to note that she is not just “the mother of some” but “the mother of US ALL”. So what is the process by which we become the “remnant of her seed” or her children?
The New Birth
In the very same chapter where Paul talks about “the mother of us all” he says to the Galatians “My little children, of whom ***I travail in birth again*** until ***Christ be formed in you,***” (Gal 4:19) The bible tells us that “to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him.” (1 Cor 8:6) and that “the Lord is that Spirit:” And so therefore it must be that you must be “born of spirit” (Gal 4:29) having “Christ…formed in you” in order to become children of “the mother of us all” (Gal 4:26) and members of “the kingdom of God” (John 3:3). Therefore “the remnant of her seed” are those who are “born again”.
Speaking of Jerusalem above, the mother of us all, we are told the following:
Hebrews 12:22-23 But ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels, (23) To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect,
Some interesting notes that we can take from this passage. She is above or heavenly, and when it comes to adding to the church, it is “God the Judge of all” who will do so and not a council of men who decide who is the remnant. It is called the “church of the firstborn” because God said “Israel is my firstborn” (Exo 4:22) and the children of this woman are Israel. It consists only of “just men” and therefore only the saved, and they are not just written on a church roll on earth, but on the church roll “written in heaven.” Esau rejected the “birthright”. (Heb 12:16) Jacob accepting the new birth. Esau was Isaac’s firstborn, however, Israel was God’s firstborn again of spirit.
Only the born again constitute the remnant seed of “the mother of us all”. Some might say “well there has to be a visible organization”. This is only true in the sense of spiritual eyes can discern spiritual things. (1 Cor 2:13, 14) However regarding “the church, Which is his body” (Eph 1:22, 23) “The world … ***seeth him not***, neither knoweth him:” (John 14:17) Can a person see the kingdom of God without being born again? The bible tells us “NO”. (John 3:3) So therefore as ambassadors of this kingdom, the Jerusalem above we are told that “the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not.” (1 John 3:1) The world can never see the church unless they are born again.
With spiritual eyes however we can see that God has a church, a building. We are told that it can only be seen with spiritual eyes for it is a “spiritual house” (1 Pet 2:5). In the book of Acts, the apostles were fully organized. It tells us in Acts chapter two that three thousand were added to the church in a day. And it wasn’t a counsel of men that decided who would be part of this organization. It was God, and though some didn’t see, and they thought these men who were born of spirit may have been drunk with wine, some saw that “the Lord(not men) added to the church daily such as should be saved.” (Acts 2:47) But those of the world did not see nor understand what God was doing.
A Remnant Shall be Saved
The term “remnant” means “leftovers” or “residue”. It is used on occasion to refer to God’s people in the New Testament. It is used in the book of Romans twice, once in Romans 9:27, and also in Romans 11:6. The first time is in a chapter referring to the seed of Abraham, and it tells us who truly is the remnant seed. We read in Romans 9:6-8 the following:
Romans 9:6-8 Not as though the word of God hath taken none effect. For they are not all Israel, which are of Israel: (7) Neither, because they are the seed of Abraham, are they all children: but, In Isaac shall thy seed be called. (8) That is, ***They which are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God:*** but the children of the promise are counted for ***the seed***.
In other words, the child Ishmael was born of a fleshly covenant that Abraham and Sarah made promising to fulfill the word of God as if he had the power in himself to do so. The other covenant was based on the promise of God, better promises. Isaac was born of the word, which is spirit. Thus he was “counted for the seed” (Rom 9:8) or in other words “the remnant seed”. (Rev 12:17)
Rom 9:27 Esaias also crieth concerning Israel, Though the number of the children of Israel be as the sand of the sea, ***a remnant shall be saved:***
The remnant = The Saved
This covenant is mentioned in Galatians 4 as well, we read again of this promise Abraham made after the flesh. Speaking of Abraham’s children, Ishmael who came through Hagar, and the other son Isaac, who was born of the word, or promise. It likens the born again seed to the remnant of the woman’s seed in this chapter.
Galatians 4:23-26 But he who was of the bondwoman was born after the flesh; but he of the freewoman was by promise. (24) Which things are an allegory: for these are the two covenants; the one from the mount Sinai, which gendereth to bondage, which is Agar. (25) For this Agar is mount Sinai in Arabia, and answereth to Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children. (26) But Jerusalem which is above is free, which is the mother of us all.
It is important to understand that God has a covenant church, a remnant seed, however, as we continue to notice, it never refers to the fleshly seed as that remnant. It is only the born again or the saved. And only God judges that. And it is never referring to a business organization or worldly corporation.
The Elijah Message
There are some today proclaiming to give the Elijah Message, yet not realizing what the true Elijah Message really is to teach. John the Baptist whom Jesus said came in “the spirit and power of Elijah” (Luke 1:17) said the following to the professed church leaders of his day:
Matthew 3:9 And think not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father: for I say unto you, that God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham.
In Elijah’s day, all of Israel were worshiping other gods. A message was sent to Elijah to go to them and proclaim a message. After setting up an altar out of twelve stones, Elijah said of this altar “Israel shall be thy name” (1 Kings 18:31) Why is this so significant? Well, did Elijah just call a bunch of stones “Israel”? Yes. Were the stones crying out here? Oh yes. Was God able to raise stones to be the seed of Abraham even back then? Israel? A remnant? Did they have to be bowing at the altars with everyone else in order to be God’s remnant church?
Let’s take a look at Romans 11 and see what Paul says about “the remnant” in Elijah’s day. Also remember the following. Paul is not in any way connected with the corporate Jewish system at this time. They wanted him dead.
Romans 11:1-4 I say then, Hath God cast away his people? God forbid. For I also am an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin. (2) God hath not cast away his people which he foreknew. Wot ye not what the scripture saith of Elias? How he maketh intercession to God against Israel, saying, (3) Lord, they have killed thy prophets, and digged down thine altars; and I am left alone, and they seek my life. (4) But what saith the answer of God unto him? I have reserved to myself seven thousand men, who have not bowed the knee to the image of Baal.
Consider carefully, that these seven thousand men were not bowing at their altars trying to win converts. They were commanded not to. (Deu 7:1-8) In fact Elijah set up God’s altar and called the people to “come near unto me” (1 Kings 18:30) In other words, come and see what you’ve done to the Son of God. Come see what your BAAL worship has destroyed. “Come out from among them and be ye separate” (2 Cor 6:14-18) The next verse reads:
Rom 11:5 Even so then at this present time also there is a remnant according to the election of grace.
The remnant are the “saved by grace” (Eph 2:8) And it is the saved alone that make up the remnant.
The Spirit of Prophecy
With respect to “the remnant of her seed” we are told that they have “the testimony of Jesus.” (Rev 12:17) We are also told that “the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy” (Rev 19:10). So therefore God’s remnant church has “the spirit of prophecy”. Many Adventists today understand the term “spirit of prophecy” to be referring to the writings of Ellen G. White. And the proclamation is made that since we have her writings we are the remnant church. We have the oracles of God, so therefore we are His people. Let’s look at this with a little more care. I believe there is more to it.
Paul said this about the Jews:
Romans 3:1-2 What advantage then hath the Jew? or what profit is there of circumcision? (2) Much every way: chiefly, because that unto them were committed the oracles of God.
There is certainly an advantage to having some of the words of the prophets written in letter or paper. But is it good just to have them written in letter, or in ink, or just on dead tables of stone. What covenant is it if it isn’t written in the heart? And thus we read a couple verses earlier:
Romans 2:28-29 For ***he is not a Jew***, which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh: (29) But ***he is a Jew,*** which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and ***not in the letter;*** whose praise is not of men, but of God.
So then, how as Adventists shall we relate to this principle of having the spirit of prophecy only on paper. Well simple, he is not an Adventist who is one in flesh, who has a baptismal certificate from a business corporation using the name and has the spirit of prophecy written only in the letter. But he is an Adventist who has the oracles of God written on the heart by the finger of God.
To have the Spirit of prophecy is to have the spirit of truth, which teaches things to come, and guides into all truth. (John 16:13, 14) It is not just a covenant that man makes, but a covenant that God promises to write these oracles in the heart. A better covenant. (Heb 8:8-10)
Therefore, the remnant who have the testimony of Jesus are but those who are born again, children of the mother of us all, walking in newness of life and only God adds to the church. They which are of the flesh are not the children of God, the remnant seed, who only have a dead fleshly letter or certificate rather than the living spirit of prophecy written in the heart.
Remember that “the church, Which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all.” (Eph 1:22, 23) If God isn’t inside the building, it isn’t the remnant church. If Christ is on the outside knocking, then he is not inside, and therefore it is not the “fullness of him” and not “the body” and not “the church”. “For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body,” (1 Cor 12:13)
Ellen White wrote the following:
“God has a church. It is not the great cathedral, neither is it the national establishment, neither is it the various denominations; it is the people who love God and keep His commandments. “Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them” (Matt. 18:20).Where Christ is even among the humble few, this is Christ’s church, for the presence of the High and Holy One who inhabiteth eternity can alone constitute a church” (The Upward Look, p. 315).
And so what is that presence that ALONE constitutes the church?
“The divine Spirit that the world’s Redeemer promised to send, is the presence and power of God.” (Ellen White Sign of the Times, November 23, 1891 par. 1)
Spirit – The Presence of God
So therefore we can conclude that the spirit of God, and the spiritual seed, born of the mother of us all “can alone constitute a church” and that is what is God’s remnant church.
In a booklet by Ellen G. White entitled Early Writings, in a chapter about the foundation of our faith entitled “The Firm Platform”, we are warned of a danger just before the time of trouble as the Loud Cry is about to go forth in power.
“I saw that God has honest children among the nominal Adventists and the fallen churches, and before the plagues shall be poured out, ministers and people will be called out from these churches and will gladly receive the truth. Satan knows this; and before the loud cry of the third angel is given, he raises an excitement in these religious bodies, that those who have rejected the truth may think that God is with them. He hopes to deceive the honest and lead them to think that God is still working for the churches. But the light will shine, and all who are honest will leave the fallen churches, and take their stand with ***the remnant***. [Ellen White Early Writings 261]
So if we carefully consider what is said here, we will understand that this is still to be fulfilled right before the plagues are poured out. That there will be a “remnant” and they will actually be called out “these churches” including the “nominal Adventists” or in other words these churches call themselves Adventists. How do we know them? Rom 2:28-3:1 which we read above.
We also need to understand what the platform is, what the foundation of our faith is. And what the building on top of it looks like. In order to understand this more clearly please see the following booklet – The Omega of Deadly Heresies or ask for a copy and I will send you one. If you would like videos, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and send your mailing address.
May our Father richly bless you as you study this issue more thoroughly and come to stand on the platform with the remnant who truly keep his commandments and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.