What is the True Church?


This morning I was touched as I read a letter that came to me VIA e-mail.

Hello David Curtis,

I stopped attending any church service two years ago after I was discourage with a number of issues: one told me the church I was attending then on Sunday is a fake church started by men, another told me SDA are legalistic and not saved by grace because they refused Jesus and his grace. Both supported their argument with a number of scriptures both from old and new. I was confused and i decided to remain at home. I’m high school student, may after school I will search the truth of the matter, is my thought. What is the true church according to you?

Have a good day,



Good Morning,,


I will answer your question in two parts:

  1. The short answer
  2. The long answer


The Short Answer:


In my humble opinion, the Bible does NOT teach a true church, rather it teaches a TRUE SAVIOR! All but one church (the Philippians), whom Paul wrote had major issues, whom he had to address. Some of these issues were theological, doctrinal, and even immorality. Of all of these, only one was of such an extreme that he denounced it as a false church by declaring it had accepted “another gospel” (the Galatians). Although there is not a true church, we can know by this that there are false churches we need to avoid at all costs.


The Long Answer:

Four major churches of the world who claim to be the “true church” are:

  1. Roman Catholics
  2. Seventh-day Adventist
  3. Jehovah’s Witnesses
  4. Mormons

An interesting list! There are others whom we can add to the list, however this short list will suffice to serve as examples of what pit falls we ought to avoid. One thing each of them has in common is they all have a central figure or council of people whom they place on equal authority to the Bible, which stands as an infallible interpreter of scripture.

  1. Roman Catholics                –     The Pope
  2. Seventh-day Adventist      –     Ellen G. White
  3. Jehovah’s Witnesses          –     Watch Tower Society
  4. Mormons                              –     Joseph Smith

What is an “infallible interpreter of scripture?”

An infallible interpreter of scripture is someone the group looks to, to teach them the true meaning of the Bible. If a disagreement arises amongst the group concerning a passage of scripture, once the infallible interpreter gives its position; that ends the discussion. Any who disagrees with their infallible interpreter is considered a heretic, or an apostate. In their estimation their infallible interpreter is never wrong, and is to never be questioned, or doubted in any way! The infallible interpreter is the glue that holds the church together.

If you leave the church you lose salvation

Each of the churches we have listed each teaches in one form or another, that if you reject the interpretations given by its infallible interpreter or if you reject their church, you will ultimately lose your salvation.

There is no church, no prophet, no pastor, nothing, that is your mediator. None but Christ can claim that role! Any church, prophet, or pastor, that makes themselves that central thing in their religious teachings, is a church you ought to avoid at all costs. Which church you attend, is not a true Biblical test for salvation.

Seventh-day Adventist –v­‑ the Evangelical churches

Since we are discussing Seventh-day Adventists versus the Evangelical churches at this time we will drop the Mormons, Roman Catholics, and Jehovah’s Witnesses from our examination.

What are the marks of legalism held amongst the Seventh-day Adventists?

Legalism does have a definition, and unless we define exactly how legalism applies to the Seventh-day Adventists we are doing nothing more than “name calling.” Name calling is a scare tactic used amongst school children indicating to others that they ought to avoid a certain child as an outcast. If instead of merely using labels, such as “cult” or “legalist;” but rather look at the definition of these terms and see exactly how they apply we will have real reasons from which to draw our conclusions.

Please see Reformation Theology: 12 Points of Legalism I have highlighted the points which apply to the Seventh-day Adventists. Reformation Theology predates Adventism, and therefore was not written to offend the Adventists. These points were believed by the great reformers to be the point in which Christians ought to draw a line in the sand, which we dare not cross over. The writings of Ellen G. White match 9 out of 12 in the list.

Not one in twenty

Ellen White declared that not one in twenty Seventh-day Adventists were converted, and on another occasion she said not one in a hundred. Those you spoke to about the Seventh-day Adventists said they are “not saved by grace because they refused Jesus and his grace.”

After walking amongst the Seventh-day Adventists for nearly two decades I have encouraging words for you and the Seventh-day Adventists. I disagree with both Ellen White and those whom you spoke to. I think there are a great number of Adventists who are well balanced people and true Christians.

Ron Graybill director secretary of the Ellen White Estate (CLICK TO READ HIS REPORT) confessed that most of what Ellen White published was taken from other Christian authors of the 18th and 19th centuries. Many Adventists glean from the truths “borrowed” from the conservative Christian authors that are in Ellen White’s writings, and are aided in remaining true Christians by them. However there are a great number of other Adventists who cling more tightly to her own ideas that were pieced together and woven into these stolen works. These are the ones Reformation Theology would deem as legalistic. However not all Adventists go to their extremes. Rather only the ones who take Ellen White quite literally and authoritatively. Dr. Walter Martin after reviewing Adventism considered them true brothers in Christ, despite their doctrinal parodies. I must give a cliff note here: Any who hold devoutly to its doctrines of sanctification, the atonement, and the cleansing of sin as taught in the writings of Ellen White are in real peril.   A large class of Adventists do not truly understand the real meaning of these teachings. They read their Bibles regularly and hold more closely to the “precious gems” in Ellen White’s writings which were plagiarized from the conservative Christian authors of Ellen White’s era, and are able to for the most part avoid those pitfalls within Adventism because of the truths placed into her writings from other authors.

Therefore I do not condemn the Adventist people, rather I count many of them as true Christians, and have every right to believe I will see a great number of them in the Kingdom of God, a much larger number than 1 in 20!

Do not mistake these words as an endorsement of their church. Removing the people from the equation and looking squarely at the gospel as taught in the writings of Ellen White I give a much more strict warning. I see in her writings a form of “spiritual double personality.” On the one hand you have all the truths which were taken by other Christian authors, and then on the other hand you have her more rigid and strict view woven into them. It is no wonder great divisions and schisms exist amongst the Adventists, because the same divisions and schisms exist in her writings. As far as the salvation of the Adventist people goes, I thank God Ellen White did steal works from other authors; because if she did not and Adventists still held to her as they now do, they would be in every sense of the word, pure legalists. However because she did steal from other authors it is more difficult for the Adventists to see the true nature of what she herself wrote. When you point out to them the extremes in her own writings they point out the exact opposite in another place which I have no doubt was originally written by another author.

Which church to join

No matter which church you ultimately decide upon, you will find problems and even doctrinal issues with. All but one church (the Philippians), whom Paul wrote had major issues, whom he had to address. Some of these issues were theological, and doctrinal in nature. Despite this fact, Paul never told those people to leave these churches. So do not be discouraged by this.

Unfortunately Protestant Christianity does have a lot of disagreements within itself – Calvinism v Arminianism for example. However most all of mainstream and Evangelical Christianity is totally unified on the fundamentals of the gospel itself. Faith alone, grace alone, Christ alone etc.

Our Judicial Standing

Process or Event

Forensic or Moral Justification

Roman Catholic

Event & Process

Moral Justification


Event & Process

Moral Justification

Seventh-day Adventist

Event & Process

Moral Justification



Forensic Justification

United Methodist


Forensic Justification



Forensic Justification

Southern Baptist


Forensic Justification



Forensic Justification



Forensic Justification

Non-denominational Evangelicals

Plus Many Many more!


Forensic Justification

Christians ought to know their Bibles and the reasons for what they believe. At the same time they ought to be humble and teachable. So long as pride is left out of the equation, and there is no infallible interpreter, then we can all love one another and come together and reason in the Bible with one another. The Bible says, “until they come into the unity of the faith.” The Bible recognizes there are divisions amongst the Christian world. I believe, when Christians are truly humble and teachable, and love one another, these differences can be studied out and the truth can prevail, and unity can result. The greatest reason for division amongst Christianity is its own pride, and lack of true meekness and Christ like love towards one another. We are human, and our humanness can get in the way.

In 2001 I met with the president of the Alaskan Eskimo nation. He told me an amazing fact. He said his people were able to live in perfect harmony for nearly two thousand years. In all that time they never ended a vote without perfect harmony and consensus. WOW! HE really had my attention! So I asked him how they achieved this.

He told me, “We can thank our unity to the feather of a bird! When the council meets, only one feather is used, and only one person can hold the feather at a time. The only one, who speaks, is the person with the feather. When he has said everything that is on his mind, another is given the opportunity to hold the feather and then the next and so on. At the end of a meeting we do not always agree with what we heard, and when that happens we do not vote on the matter yet. In the next meeting we address the issue again, and the feather is once again passed around the circle. Sometimes it can take several months, but ultimately in the end, everyone in the council ends up agreeing with one another.”

“By this all men will know you are my disciples”

Seventh-day Adventists believe the identifier of the true church is doctrine. Jesus said the true identifier of his people is LOVE! So look for a church that

1. Loves God

2. Loves their Bibles and

3. Loves one another.

If you have these three things, then any differences can be ironed out. Just like a healthy family ought to do. Even Paul said if you have all the right doctrines and have not love, then it means nothing. (1 Corinthians 13:1,2). A healthy church will love you and support you and will be a Christ centered, Bible centered people. They have no infallible interpreter, and make no boasts of being perfect. Its pastor is a servant of all, not a lordly ruler. They bare the fruit of the Spirit, which is LOVE, gentleness, meekness, and kindness.  So avoid churches with an “infallible interpreter” or a minister who is at the center of the everything. One key pillar of Protestantism is the “priesthood of ALL believers,” which means you have as much right to study and share what you believe as the next guy!

A true minister of the gospel is a servant of all, and not its lord and master! People are indeed like sheep, who seek a shepherd, and there are many men who would be more than happy to fulfill that role. Christ alone is the Good Shepherd. He said, Call NO MAN MASTER, NO MAN RABBI, One is your teacher, and that is Christ’. Since His ascension the only one commissioned to lead you into all truth is His representative, the Holy Spirit. Submit your conscience to no ones lordship. The disciples all sought to become the greatest. Christ rebuked them saying, “Ye are all brethren!” Only after they became filled with the Holy Spirit did they come into unity, and went from being disciples to being Apostles and leaders of the church.  The apostles were indeed servant of all, they held no great honor among men, but rather were called to a life of total self denial and surrendered themselves to hardship, prison and even a martyrs death. Speaking of John the Baptist, Christ said, “what went ye out to see? Lordly palaces and fine garments?” James warned that if we esteem this type above the poor then we are respecter of persons and sin. You will often find the best ministers among the smaller community churches, who have modest incomes, and drive modest cars and live in modest homes.

A Mark of a False Prophet, and a False Church:

“Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them.” Acts 20:30

A true minister has a focus that is Christ centered. True ministers of the gospel teach men to follow Jesus Christ. A false shepherd is one who seeks to “draw away disciples after THEMSELVES!” Ultimately they are the center of everything. Avoid those churches like the plague!

Also avoid churches that are given to gossip and favor a critical disposition towards others. Avoid churches that think they are better than other Christians because of their high values, or those whose test of faith includes extra Biblical standards. Values are a wonderful thing to have. Society needs more people who have them. But receiving an imprint on your character from those who think of themselves as better than other people will only dry up and wither your  love towards others.

What kind of person are you should determine which church you join

I have attended a great many different churches over the years and been blessed with friendships with pastors of all the major denominations. I have had lengthy Bible studies with many of them. They shared with me and I shared with them, and both were blessed by the exchange. One thing you ought to consider is that different families have different values. Some are liberal, and others are conservative. More liberal persons should fellowship with a non-denominational church. Many former Adventists began fellow-shipping with a Calvary Chapel Fellowship. Conservative people tend to join a church like the Baptists. People that are real conservative ought to consider the Reformed Baptists. Many former Adventists become Methodists or the Church of Christ, or another major denomination. I would encourage you to consider becoming a part of a neighborhood community Bible believing church. No matter which church you ultimately decide to fellowship with remember the three most important things to look for.

1. Loves God

2. Loves their Bibles and

3. Loves one another.

Regardless of any differences, remain true to your conscience and NEVER conform your beliefs simply to be one of the gang. Be a Martin Luther, a John Wesley, A John Calvin, be a PROTESTANT, and a REFORMER, not a conformer. It is men like this, that have helped the church to continue to grow in grace and knowledge. If there is something you believe strongly in that the church people do not, remember the feather, and remember to love one another. Mostly remember to be meek and humble, not dogmatic, and infallible.  Why? Because there is no human being on the planet that is an “infallible interpreter of scripture” however there is a Holy Spirit who is here until we all come into the unity of the faith.

Thank you for writing, I hope my comments are helpful and ultimately I hope you find a fellowship that will love you and support you and give greater meaning to your life.

Untold thousands who have been introduced to Adventism, have experienced the same thing you have. On my website watch the video called, “Seventh-day Adventist Harm the Work of Evangelicals.” You can find it on the page, called Examining Ellen White’s Sabbath –v- Sunday Great Controversy. What you have experienced has been the experience of thousands for more than a century. Many become confused, and do not know what to believe or who to trust after hearing the Adventist view of things. So your reaction is perfectly natural. God loves you, he has never left you nor forsaken you. He does not want you to be all alone. He prayed, that his people would become one, even as He and His Father were one. The Bible says to not forsake the assembling together of our selves. Just avoid churches like the one in Galatia, who teach “another gospel.”

Remember! The Bible does NOT teach a true church, rather it teaches a TRUE SAVIOR! He is your ONLY mediator between you and God! So don’t make a church your focus. rather keep your focus on Jesus!

On a personal note, when looking for a church, there were two major issues that helped me determine which church I ought to attend. The first is that I want a church that understands the covenants, and second, I want a church that is not Calvinist.


David M. Curtis

P.S. You are the reason, I made my website. There are thousands more like you, and there are many thousands within Adventism, who have the same confusion, and wrestle with doubts. Whether you have these questions within you and stay at home or kept going to church either way, and in either situation. It was for these I made my website. If my website helps you to have a greater confidence in God, and assurance of salvation greater peace, if you decide to fellowship with a church once again, please let me know. It would be very encouraging to me. Please stay in touch and let me know how things work out for you.

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