Sabbath, August 27, 2005
“A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.” John 13:34, 35.
• To understand our sacred relationship with the church and respect its principles and rules.
• To recognize that what is counted by God is the godliness and unity of members.
THE CHURCH’S AUTHORITY AND MEMBERS’ DUTY
1. According the words of Jesus, why is it necessary to have order and submit personal ideas to the judgment of the church?
Matthew 18:18 Verily I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.
“The world’s Redeemer has invested great power with His church. He states the rules to be applied in cases of trial with its members. After He has given explicit directions as to the course to be pursued, He says: ‘Verily I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever
“The word of God does not give license for one man to set up his judgment in opposition to the judgment of the church, neither is he allowed to urge his opinions against the opinions of the church. If there were no church discipline and government, the church would go to fragments; it could not hold together as a body.” –Testimony Treasures, vol. 1, p. 390.
2. In what dangers can we run into if we do not follow the instruction and rules of the church? How does God consider this?
1 Corinthians 14:40 Let all things be done decently and in order.
Hebrews 13:17 Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you.
“The church is God’s fortress, His city of refuge, which He holds in a revolted world. Any betrayal of the church is treachery to Him who has bought mankind with the blood of His only-begotten Son.” –The Acts of the Apostles, p. 11.
“Many do not realize the sacredness of church relationship and are loath to submit to restraint and discipline. Their course of action shows that they exalt their own judgment above that of the united church, and they are not careful to guard themselves lest they encourage a spirit of opposition to its voice. Those who hold responsible positions in the church may have faults in common with other people and may err in their decisions; but notwithstanding this, the church of Christ on earth has given to them an authority that cannot be lightly esteemed. Church relationship is not to be lightly cancelled; yet when the path of some professed followers of Christ is crossed, or when their voice has not the controlling influence which they think it deserves, they will threaten to leave the church. True, in leaving the church they would themselves be the greatest sufferers; for in withdrawing beyond the pale of its influence, they subject themselves to the full temptations of the world.” –Testimony Treasures, vol. 1, pp. 444, 445.
DUTY OF LOVE
3. What is the reason that we, as members, should love each other?
1 John 3:14-16 But and if ye suffer for righteousness’ sake, happy are ye: and be not afraid of their terror, neither be troubled; But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear: Having a good conscience; that, whereas they speak evil of you, as of evildoers, they may be ashamed that falsely accuse your good conversation in Christ.
“Jesus says, ‘Love one another, as I have loved you.’ Love is not simply an impulse, a transitory emotion, dependent upon circumstances; it is a living principle, a permanent power. The soul is fed by the streams of pure love that flow from the heart of Christ, as a well-spring that never fails.
“To love as Christ loved means to manifest unselfishness at all times and in all places, by kind words and pleasant looks. These cost those who give them nothing, but they leave behind a fragrance that surrounds the soul. Their effect can never be estimated. Not only are they a blessing to the receiver, but to the giver.” –Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 5, p. 1140.
“The church is greatly deficient in love and humanity. Some preserve a cold, chilling reserve, an iron dignity, that repels those who are brought within their influence. This spirit is contagious; it creates an atmosphere that is withering to good impulses and good resolves; it chokes the natural current of human sympathy, cordiality, and love; and under its influence people become constrained, and their social and generous attributes are destroyed for want of exercise.” –Testimonies for the Church, vol. 4, pp. 63, 64.
4. Why is it so important that members are united in love among themselves in the church?
John 13:34, 35 A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.
“True sanctification unites believers to Christ and to one another in the bonds of tender sympathy. … It is the greatest and most fatal deception to suppose that a man can have faith unto life eternal, without possessing Christ like love for his brethren. … There is no such thing as a loveless Christian; for ‘God is love,’ and ‘hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments. He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.’ ” –Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 5, p. 1141.
“God has united believers in church capacity in order that one may strengthen another in good and righteous endeavor. The church on earth would indeed be a symbol of the church in heaven if the members were of one mind and of one faith.” –Testimonies for the Church, vol. 6, pp. 238, 239.
5. What is the greatest reason that God values the church as most precious?
Psalms 50:23 Whoso offereth praise glorifieth me: and to him that ordereth his conversation aright will I shew the salvation of God.
Malachi 3:17 And they shall be mine, saith the Lord of hosts, in that day when I make up my jewels; and I will spare them, as a man spareth his own son that serveth him.
“The church is very precious in God’s sight. He values it, not for its external advantages, but for the sincere piety, which distinguishes it from the world. He estimates it according to the growth of the members in the knowledge of Christ, according to their progress in spiritual experience.
“Christ hungers to receive from His vineyard the fruit of holiness and unselfishness. He looks for the principles of love and goodness. Not all the beauty of art can bear comparison with the beauty of temper and character to be revealed in those who are Christ’s representatives. …
“A congregation may be the poorest in the land. It may be without the attraction of any outward show; but if the members possess the principles of the character of Christ, they will have His joy in their souls. Angels will unite with them in their worship. The praise and thanksgiving from grateful hearts will ascend to God as a sweet oblation.” –Christ’s Object Lessons, p. 298.
6. What should each member do personally in order that our church may be more pure and godly?
Philippians 4:8 Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.
2 Peter 1:5-7 And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity.
“There should be but one interest in the church; one desire should control all, and that is the desire to conform to the image of Christ.” –Counsels on Stewardship, p. 298.
“Our work is plainly laid down in the word of God. Christian is to be united to Christian, church to church, the human instrumentality co-operating with the divine, every agency to be subordinate to the Holy Spirit” (General Conference Daily Bulletin, Feb.28. 1893). –Christian Service, p. 14.
“We are under obligation to control our thoughts, and to bring them into subjection to the law of God. …
“Let every one who desires to be a partaker of the divine nature, appreciate the fact that he must escape the corruption that is in the world through lust. There must be a constant, earnest struggling of the soul against the evil imaginings of the mind. There must be a steadfast resistance of temptation to sin in thought or act.” –Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 3, p. 1145.
7. What are the elements that destroy the unity of the church and the love among the members?
Philippians 2:14 Do all things without murmurings and disputings.
James 5:9 Grudge not one against another, brethren, lest ye be condemned: behold, the judge standeth before the door.
“The right culture and use of the power of speech has to do with every line of Christian work; it enters into the home life, and into all our intercourse with one another. We should accustom ourselves to speak in pleasant tones, to use pure and correct language, and words that are kind and courteous. Sweet, kind words are as dew and gentle showers to the soul. …
“Not one word is to be spoken unadvisedly. No evil speaking, no frivolous talk, no fretful repining or impure suggestion, will escape the lips of him who is following Christ. The apostle Paul, writing by the Holy Spirit, says, ‘Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth.’ Ephesians 4:29. A corrupt communication does not mean only words that are vile. It means any expression contrary to holy principles and pure and undefiled religion. It includes impure hints and covert insinuations of evil. Unless instantly resisted, these lead to great sin.” –Christ’s Object Lessons, pp. 336, 337.
8. How is Satan constantly seeking to break the unity of the church and the love among the believers? What is our solemn duty?
Proverbs 15:1, 2 A Soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger. The tongue of the wise useth knowledge aright: but the mouth of fools poureth out foolishness.
1 Peter 4:8-10 And above all things have fervent charity among yourselves: for charity shall cover the multitude of sins. Use hospitality one to another without grudging. As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.
“The plant of love must be carefully nourished, else it will die. Every good principle must be cherished if we would have it thrive in the soul. That which Satan plants in the heart–envy, jealousy, evil surmising, evil speaking, impatience, prejudice, selfishness, covetousness and vanity–must be uprooted. If these evil things are allowed to remain in the soul, they will bear fruit by which many shall be defiled. Oh, how many cultivate the poisonous plants that kill out the precious fruits of love and defile the soul!” –The Adventist Home, pp. 195, 196.
“God is the embodiment of benevolence, mercy, and love. Those who are truly connected with Him cannot be at variance with one another. His Spirit ruling in the heart will create harmony, love, and unity. The opposite of this is seen among the children of Satan. It is his work to stir up envy, strife, and jealousy.” –Counsels to Parents, Teachers, and Students, p. 90.
FOR OUR THOUGHTS
• Discuss the necessity of rules and order in the church, as well as the duty of members.
• Reflect on the duty of the members to love each other and its importance.
• By what standard is the church evaluated? Why it is so?
• Try to identify the main elements that destroy the unity of the church, and love among members, and check the present situation of your local church.