In a couple of your past issues, you seemed to have suggested that God will have a pure church before Jesus' second coming. How can that be when we are told in the book, Christ Object Lesson, p. 73, that "false brethren will be found in the church till the close of time?"
The statement in question is certainly true, "false brethren" will be among God's people until the "close of time." The problem is our misunderstanding of the phrase, "close of time." We are inclined to believe that the phrase refers exclusively to the second advent of our Lord. But that cannot be the case.
The expression "close of time," is another way of saying: the "time of the end" or "the latter days." Thus the difficulty comes about because we have failed to realize that we are living in the "close of time,"or "time of the end," as it applies to the statement in question. Therefore, it is now, during the "latter days"--our time, that God is to have a purified church.
This can be proven in a number of ways, but let us for a moment briefly highlight or examine this important truth from a very revealing portion of Scripture.
In Matthew 13:24 -30, 36 -42, we find the parable of the wheat and tares. (Since time and space will not permit, we encourage you to review the above-mentioned verses). Note particularly that Matthew 13:30, says: "Let both grow together until [or up to] the harvest: and in [or during] the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, gather ye together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them: but gather the wheat into my barn."
Later on in the chapter, Christ explained the parable. He identified the wheat as the righteous and the tares the unrighteous (verse 38), all growing together in the "church through-out the world" (Christ Object Lessons, p. 70). Of course, Christ planted the good seed (verse 37) and Satan planted the bad seed, and the reapers are the angels (verse 39). Additionally, in verse 39, our Lord told His disciples that "the harvest is the end of the world." Now most people assume this phrase, "end of the world," refers to the second coming. However, note that the expression is just another way of saying, "the time of the end . . .close of time. . .or latter days." Paul in the book of Hebrews proves this point by showing that Christ entered the Most Holy Place of the Heavenly Sanctuary in the "end of the world" (Hebrews 9:24 26), an event we know that took place in 1844. This, of course, is long before the second coming of Christ!
And, by the way, note that the harvest typically refers to
a time of probation when people can be saved, not after it! (See, Jeremiah 8:20; Luke 10:1-3). Thus when the lost cry out that the "harvest is past," and the "summer is ended," (Jeremiah 8:20) probation would have already been closed, and they will wander all over trying to find the word of God but cannot not, (Amos 8:11,12). Thus the harvest is a time when people can be saved, but when it is over, Christ will throw down the censor and proclaim: "He that is unjust let him be unjust still . . .and he which is righteous, let him be righteous still." Revelation 22:11.
Hopefully now you can see that all this evidence clearly reveals a removal of the unfaithful before the second coming, yet the Scriptures predicts that it is to take place in the "end of the world!" Therefore, this means that the unrighteous will continue to remain in the church up to close of time, but only up to the beginning of the harvest. Why? Because the harvest begins with the separation of the two classes within the church worldwide! (Verse 30) plainly foretells that both would grow together until or up to the harvest, but in the harvest time they will be removed. Thus, to repeat, false brethren will remain in the church up to the harvest, but they will not be any longer in the church during the harvest or loud cry period, and certainly not up to the second coming! Yet, the harvest period is in the close of time!
Still skeptical? A comparison of the following two Scriptures will hopefully make the point a little clearer. From a quick glance they do seem like the same events, but they are really not. In (Matthew 13:41) it shows that the wicked are taken out of God's church, a form of purification or judgment leaving only the righteous in it; while in (Matthew 24:30,31) it shows the opposite, the righteous or the rest of God's people in other religious bodies or denominations are being separated from among the wicked in the world, who will face the seven last plagues.
Therefore it shows, two groups of people and two separations. One in the church and one in the world.
This indicates, positively, that God will have a purified church to go forth and proclaim the gospel to the world, because its false brethren will have been removed before the second return of our Savior. No wonder the servant of the Lord wrote: "Clad in the armor of Christ's righteousness, the church is to enter upon her final conflict. 'Fair as the moon, clear as the sun, and terrible as an army with banners' (Song of Solomon 6:10) she is to go forth into all the world conquering and to conquer." (Prophets and Kings, 725)