As an important factor in the spiritual growth of the new converts the apostles were careful to surround them with the safeguards of gospel order. Churches were duly organized in all places in Lycaonia and Pisidia where there were believers. Officers were appointed in each church, and proper order and system were established for the conduct of all the affairs pertaining to the spiritual welfare of the believers.
This was in harmony with the gospel plan of uniting in one body all believers in [the Messiah], and this plan Paul was careful to follow throughout his ministry. Those who in any place were by his labor led to accept [the Messiah] as the Saviour were at the proper time organized into a church. Even when the believers were but few in number, this was done. The Christians were thus taught to help one another, remembering the promise, “Where two or three are gathered together in My name, there am I in the midst of them.” Matthew 18:20.
— E.G. White, Acts of the Apostles, pp. 185-186
Ten Principles of Gospel Order
1. The Bible Our Only Creed
One man blunders in his interpretation of some portion of the Scripture, but shall this cause diversity and disunion? God forbid. We cannot then take a position that the unity of the church consists in viewing every text of Scripture in the very same shade of light.
The church may pass resolution upon resolution to put down all disagreement of opinions, but we cannot force the mind and will and thus root out disagreement. These resolutions may conceal the discord, but they cannot quench it and establish a perfect agreement.
Nothing can perfect a perfect unity in the church but the spirit of Christlike forbearance. Satan can sow discord; [the Messiah] alone can harmonize the disagreeing elements.
—E.G. White, Letter 29, 1889
The following form of a Church Covenant has been adopted by the Seventh-day Adventists:— “We, the undersigned, hereby associate ourselves together as a church, taking the name Seventh-day Adventists, and covenanting to keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus.” Many have sought to improve this by specifying favorite points of faith; but they have always failed. It is possible to weaken the faith in general by an effort to strengthen it in some particulars; for when some particular point is strengthened by being mentioned, others are proportionally weakened by omission.
It is for this reason that “Articles of Faith” are always inefficient, dwarfing both the faith and the life of those who accept them. In the holy Scriptures the man of God is “thoroughly furnished unto all good works” (2 Tim. 3:17), and by these alone is faith developed and perfected. Rom. 10:17.
— J.H. Waggoner, “The Church,” No. 2
If men revered the word of God properly, they would not be giving their support to Confessions of faith, Articles of faith, Books of discipline, and other mere human traditions; they would be content with God’s discipline, if they had confidence in the sufficiency of the blessed volume; they would give the inquiring sinner the instructions of the Bible, instead of the instructions of their church; they would not, contemptuously say of the commandment of the Lord, “That is only a command of God.”
— Anonymous, Review and Herald, 10/27/1859
Some suppose that if we should organize to hold our meeting-houses, we have got to get up a creed. I think that Bro. Loughborough is right. There is no necessity of the formation of articles of faith. But if a society is to be formed to hold meeting-houses, etc., why of course there would have to be some articles of association; but these would be nothing like articles of our religious faith as a body.
— James White, Review and Herald, 10/16/1860
In setting up of this “abomination that maketh desolate” (Dan.12:11), we see that five distinct steps were taken:-
1. Forming a creed, expressing their faith in man-made phrases instead of adhering to the word of the Lord.
2. Making that man-made creed a test of fellowship, and denouncing all as heretics who would not assent to the exact wording of their creeds.
3. Making the creed a rule by which all heretics must be tried. Many were thus declared sinners whose faith was more in harmony with the direct statements of the Bible than that of those who decreed against them.
4. Constituting themselves a tribunal for the trial of heretics, and excluding from their fellowship all who would not assent to their creeds. Not content to debar 77 such from church privileges in this world, they declared them subjects for the lake of fire.
5. Having thus kindled a hatred in their own hearts against all who did not conform to their creeds, they next invoked and obtained the aid of the civil power to torture, and kill with sword, with hunger, with flame, and with beasts of the earth, those whom they had declared unfit to remain in the world. […]
Instead of forming a creed in which is expressed every item of our faith, those entering into church fellowship attach their names to a church covenant which reads as follows: ‘We, the undersigned, hereby associate ourselves together as a church, taking the name Seventh-day Adventists, covenanting to keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus Christ.’ In a covenant of this character we endorse the entire Bible as a rule of faith, and leave room for the Spirit of God to enlighten us in regard to the truths of his Word, not being bound down by any creed.
— J.N. Loughborough, The Church: Its Organization, Order, and Discipline, pp. 76-77, 174
Organization and Baptismal Questions in 1907 by J.N. Loughborough
2. Conferences to Send Out Ministers As Evangelists
3. Ordained Elders to Lead Out in Order
Same reference as above
4. Missionary Meeting—Every Member Working Together
5. Order of Rules and Discipline
A series by James White
A series by J.H. Waggoner.
6. Closed Communion
See Part 9 from above.
7. Male Headship
The Symbol of Authority (Parts 1 & 2)
8. One-Year Offices
9. No Independent Ministries
10. Local Assemblies Occupying Fields
Sister White’s Articles and Compilations
Important Quotes from Sister White
The Need for Meeting Houses (Church Buildings)
As we look over the cities of America, where are the monuments for God? Where are the churches to glorify His name? I thank God for the medical missionary work. God will call for every soul who is educated to work in this line into connection with the gospel ministry. He has places for them. Let not one stone be placed in the way of those who are striving to teach our youth how to do this work. The Lord will show that He will work with those who will work. He says, “Ye are laborers together with God.”
My heart ached when I was in California. There are young men there laboring among the churches, but where is the power to open new fields? Where are those who will say, “We are not to stay with those who know the truth, but are to go to new fields”? There is a world to be saved, as far as men and women will yield to the claims of truth. The seeds of truth must be sown. “Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields,” Christ said; “for they are white already to harvest.” He wants us to see the condition of the field. And then are you to feel at ease and travel from place to place visiting the churches? No, no! God help you by giving you the spirit of the message, that you may yearn after souls and not let go until they are converted. This is the work God desires to see done; and till this spirit takes hold of every man and every conference, the work cannot go forward in power. The Lord desires His people to adopt the light on health reform, leading out in paths of self-denial and self-sacrifice.
— E.G. White, Manuscript 43, 1901
When the Lord shall bid us make no further effort to build meetinghouses and establish schools, sanitariums, and publishing institutions, it will be time for us to fold our hands and let the Lord close up the work; but now is our opportunity to show our zeal for God and our love for humanity.
— E.G. White, 6 Testimonies, p. 440
Church Rules Re: Dress
Without delay, renounce the cause of your backsliding, because it is sin against your own soul and against God. Be not hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. Fashion is deteriorating the intellect and eating out the spirituality of our people. Obedience to fashion is pervading our Seventh-day Adventist churches and is doing more than any other power to separate our people from God. I have been shown that our church rules are very deficient. All exhibitions of pride in dress, which is forbidden in the word of God, should be sufficient reason for church discipline. If there is a continuance, in face of warnings and appeals and entreaties, to still follow the perverse will, it may be regarded as proof that the heart is in no way assimilated to Christ. Self, and only self, is the object of adoration, and one such professed Christian will lead many away from God.
— E.G. White, 4 Testimonies, p. 647