Question No. 67:—If, at this late hour, we give our whole effort for the salvation of the church, how will the rest of the world ever be reached?
Answer:—The mission to save the world cannot be more important than the mission to save the church. Enlarging the church membership under the now prevailing lukewarm Laodicean conditions, could no more advance the Kingdom of Christ than could have been done under the conditions in the Jewish church in the days of His first advent. Understanding the true situation in that church, John the Baptist and Christ Himself and even the apostles at first, engaged themselves to work, not for the world in general, but only in the interest of their brethren in the church.
As the same departure from Christ exists within the church now as it did then (Testimonies, Vol. 5, p. 217), it will take much greater effort to rescue the people from the Laodicean “sad deception” (Testimonies, Vol. 3, p. 253), than if they were in heathenism. For in Laodicea they are made to believe that they have all the truth there is to be had, that they are rich increased with goods, and in need of nothing–their salvation forever secured as long as they hold membership in the church! Hence there is greater risk of their losing their souls in the church while she is “lukewarm” and about to be spued out, than if they remain in the world until the church awakes from her slumber, and anoints herself with the eyesalve (Truth)–sees right, does right, and leads and feeds the flock aright.
Let every honest member ask the question, If the church herself is not saved (Testimonies, Vol. 3, p. 253), not following Christ her Leader (Testimonies, Vol. 5, p. 217) and “has become an harlot” (Testimonies, Vol. 8, p. 250), how can she save others? The greatest need therefore is first to save those in the church, then those in the world. The “special work of purification, of putting away of sin, among God’s people” (The Great Controversy, p. 425), “the closing work for the church, in the sealing time of the one hundred and forty-four thousand” (Testimonies, Vol. 3, p. 266), must come first, then is to follow the sealing of those in the world.