Sabbath, August 20, 2005
“Likewise, ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder. Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble. Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time.” 1 Peter 5:5, 6.
• To understand that to be connected to Christ means to also be connected with the church.
• To inspire each member to fulfi ll his duty for the church, with love and faithfulness.
GUIDED TO BECOME MEMBERS
1. Why as members should we be glad to belong and to carry out the duties for the church?
1 Timothy 3:15 But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.
“Another obligation, too often lightly regarded–one that to the youth awakened to the claims of Christ needs to be made plain–is the obligation of church relationship.
“Very close and sacred is the relation between Christ and His church–He the bridegroom, and the church the bride; He the head, and the church the body. Connection with Christ, then, involves connection with His church.
“The church is organized for service; and in a life of service to Christ, connection with the church is one of the first steps. Loyalty to Christ demands the faithful performance of church duties. This is an important part of one’s training.” –Education, pp. 268, 269.
2. In relation with the experience of the apostle Paul, explain the meaning that being connected with Christ involves connection with His church.
Acts 9:1-6, 10-12 And Saul, yet breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord, went unto the high priest, And desired of him letters to Damascus to the synagogues, that if he found any of this way, whether they were men or women, he might bring them bound unto Jerusalem. And as he journeyed, he came near Damascus: and suddenly there shined round about him a light from heaven: And he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? And he said, Who art thou, Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest: it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks. And he trembling and astonished said, Lord, what wilt thou have me to do? And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the city, and it shall be told thee what thou must do…. And there was a certain disciple at Damascus, named Ananias; and to him said the Lord in a vision, Ananias. And he said, Behold, I am here, Lord. And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the street which is called Straight, and inquire in the house of Judas for one called Saul, of Tarsus: for, behold, he prayeth, And hath seen in a vision a man named Ananias coming in, and putting his hand on him, that he might receive his sight.
“ ‘And immediately there fell from his eyes as it had been scales: and he received sight forthwith, and arose, and was baptized.’
“Thus Jesus gave sanction to the authority of His organized church and placed Saul in connection with His appointed agencies on earth. Christ had now a church as His representative on earth, and to it belonged the work of directing the repentant sinner in the way of life.
“Many have an idea that they are responsible to Christ alone for their light and experience, independent of His recognized followers on earth. Jesus is the friend of sinners, and His heart is touched with their woe. He has all power, both in heaven and on earth; but He respects the means that He has ordained for the enlightenment and salvation of men; He directs sinners to the church, which He has made a channel of light to the world.” –The Acts of the Apostles, p. 122.
3. How should the members who are connected with the church maintain their relationship with it?
John 15:4, 5 Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.
“The Redeemer of the world does not sanction experience and exercise in religious matters independent of His organized and acknowledged church, where He has a church.
“Many have the idea that they are responsible to Christ alone for their light and experience, independent of His acknowledged followers in the world. But this is condemned by Jesus in His teachings and in the examples, the facts, which He has given for our instruction…And when he asks, ‘What wilt Thou have me to do?’ the Saviour does not tell him directly, but places him in connection with His church.” –Testimony Treasures, vol. 1, pp. 394, 395.
4. How did Jesus pray so that the members will not act independently out of relation with the church?
John 17:21-23 That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one: I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me.
“God is leading out a people to stand in perfect unity upon the platform of eternal truth. Christ gave Himself to the world that He might ‘purify unto Himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.’ This refining process is designed to purge the church from all unrighteousness and the spirit of discord and contention, that they may build up instead of tear down, and concentrate their energies on the great work before them. God designs that His people should all come into the unity of the faith. The prayer of the Christ just prior to His crucifixion was that His disciples might be one, even as He was one with the Father, that the world might believe that the Father had sent Him. This most touching and wonderful prayer reaches down the ages, even to our day; for His words were: ‘Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on Me through their word.’ ” –Testimonies for the Church, vol. 4, p. 17.
DANGER OF INDEPENDENCY
5. How should the danger of independent acts, ignoring the relation with the church, be considered?
1 Corinthians 3:16, 17 Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are.
John 2:19 Jesus answered and said unto them, Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.
“Through apostasy, fallen men and fallen angels are in the same confederacy, leagued to work against good. They are united in a desperate companionship. Through his evil angels, Satan contrives to form an alliance with professedly pious men, and thus he leavens the church of God. He knows that if he can induce men, as he induced the angels, to join in rebellion, under the guise of servants of God, he will have in them his most successful allies in his enterprise against heaven. Under the name of godliness, he can inspire them with his own accusing spirit, and lead them to charge God’s servants with evil and guile. They are his trained detectives; their work is to create feuds, to make charges which create discord and bitterness among brethren, to set tongues in active service for Satan, to sow seeds of dissension by watching for evil, and by speaking of that which will create discord…Thus Satan works today through his evil angels.” –Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 4, p. 1142.
6. If we are true believers, how much should we seek for the unity of the church and growth of the work? Why should members love the church?
Ephesians 5:25 Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it.
“Every believer should be wholehearted in his attachment to the church. Its prosperity should be his first interest, and unless he feels under sacred obligations to make his connection with the church a benefit to it in preference to himself, it can do far better without him. It is in the power of all to do something for the cause of God. There are those who spend a large amount for needless luxuries; they gratify their appetites, but feel it a great tax to contribute means to sustain the church.
“God surrendered His dearly beloved Son to the agonies of the crucifixion, that all who believe on Him might become one through the name of Jesus. When Christ made so great a sacrifice to save men and bring them into unity with one another, even as He was united with the Father, what sacrifice is too great for His followers to make in order to preserve that unity?” –Testimony Treasures, vol. 1, pp. 445, 446.
7. What is the important question that has to be applied to every member, who belongs to the church purchased by the blood of His Son?
Psalms 84:10 For a day in thy courts is better than a thousand. I had rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God, than to dwell in the tents of wickedness.
“The test question for every Christian to ask himself is, ‘Have I, in my inmost soul, supreme love for Christ? Do I love His tabernacle? Will not the Lord be honored by my making His sacred institution my first consideration?’ …
“Self interposes its desire to be first; but the Lord claims the whole heart, the entire affections. He will not come in as second. And should not Christ have our first and highest consideration?” –Gospel Workers, pp. 433, 434.
8. What are we specially guarded against in order to not to break the unity of members in the church?
Psalms 12:2, 3 They speak vanity every one with his neighbour: with flattering lips and with a double heart do they speak. The Lord shall cut off all flattering lips, and the tongue that speaketh proud things.
Proverbs 15:4 A wholesome tongue is a tree of life: but perverseness therein is a breach in the spirit.
“I saw that when sisters who are given to talk get together, Satan is generally present, for he finds employment. He stands by to excite the mind and make the most of the advantage he has gained. He knows that all this gossip, and tale-bearing, and revealing of secrets, and dissecting of character, separate the soul from God. It is death to spirituality and a calm religious influence.” –Testimonies for the Church, vol. 2, pp. 185, 186.
“Christians should be careful in regard to their words. They should never carry unfavorable reports from one of their friends to another, especially if they are aware that there is a lack of union between them. It is cruel to hint and insinuate, as though you knew a great deal in regard to this friend or that acquaintance of which others are ignorant. Such hints go further, and create more unfavorable impressions, than to frankly relate the facts in an unexaggerated manner. What harm has not the church of Christ suffered from these things! The inconsistent, unguarded course of her members has made her weak as water.” –Testimonies for the Church, vol. 2, p. 186.
FOR OUR THOUGHTS
• If we want to be connected with Christ, how must our connection with the church be? Is there any example in the Bible?
• What will happen if we ignore the relationship with the church and act independently? What parable of Jesus can be taken into consideration?
• Why is independence a danger and how much should we try for the unity of the church?
• What efforts is Satan putting to remove the affection between members and to break the unity? How much are we careful on this aspect?