Sabbath, July 14, 2007
“Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” 2 Timothy 2:15.
“Buy the truth, and sell it not; also wisdom, and instruction, and understanding.” Proverbs 23:23.
Causes And Effects Of Division
1. What deception has Satan used effectively to divide the church?
Colossians 2:8 Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.
“Speculative ideas should not be agitated; for there are peculiar minds that love to get some point that others do not accept, and argue and attract everything to that one point, urging that point, magnifying that point, when it is really a matter which is not of vital importance, and will be understood differently.” –Counsels to Writers and Editors, p. 77.
“It is presumption to indulge in suppositions and theories regarding matters that the Lord has not revealed.” –Gospel Workers, p. 314.
2. What serious consequences can result when divisions appear?
James 4:11 Speak not evil one of another, brethren. He that speaketh evil of his brother, and judgeth his brother, speaketh evil of the law, and judgeth the law: but if thou judge the law, thou art not a doer of the law, but a judge.
2 Thessalonians 2:11 And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie.
“Now at the present time God designs a new and fresh impetus shall be given to His work. Satan sees this, and he is determined it shall be hindered. He knows that if he can deceive the people who claim to believe present truth, [and make them believe that] the work the Lord designs to do for His people is a removing of the old landmarks, something which they should, with most determined zeal, resist, then he exults over the deception he has led them to believe. The work for this time has certainly been a surprising work of various hindrances, owing to the false setting of matters before the minds of many of our people. That which is food to the churches is regarded as dangerous, and should not be given them. And this slight difference of ideas is allowed to unsettle the faith, to cause apostasy, to break up unity, to sow discord, all because they do not know what they are striving about themselves.” –Counsels to Writers and Editors, p. 31.
Biblical Solutions To Such Problems
3. How can many theological differences be resolved?
John 5:39 Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me
1 Thessalonians 5:17, 21 Pray without ceasing… Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.
Proverbs 24:6 For by wise counsel thou shalt make thy war: and in multitude of counsellers there is safety.
“Do not advocate theories or tests that Christ has never mentioned, and that have no foundation in the Bible. We have grand, solemn truths for the people. ‘It is written’ is the test that must be brought home to every soul.
“Let us go to the word of God for guidance. Let us seek for a ‘Thus saith the Lord.’ We have had enough of human methods. A mind trained only in worldly science will fail to understand the things of God; but the same mind, converted and sanctified, will see the divine power in the Word.” –Gospel Workers, pp. 309, 310.
“The preaching and teaching of His word is one of the means that God has ordained for diffusing light; but we must bring every man’s teaching to the test of Scripture. Whoever will prayerfully study the Bible, desiring to know the truth, that he may obey it, will receive divine enlightenment. He will understand the Scriptures.” –The Desire of Ages, p. 459.
“There are a thousand temptations in disguise prepared for those who have the light of truth; and the only safety for any of us is in receiving no new doctrine, no new interpretation of the Scriptures, without first submitting it to brethren of experience. Lay it before them in a humble, teachable spirit, with earnest prayer; and if they see no light in it, yield to their judgment; for ‘in the multitude of counselors there is safety.’ ” –Testimonies for the Church, vol. 5, p. 293.
4. Why are some brethren not willing to be united in the truth and the body of Christ?
Proverbs 16:18 Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall.
“Pride of heart is a fearful trait of character. ‘Pride goeth before destruction.’ This is true in the family, the church, and the nation.” –Testimonies for the Church, vol. 4, p. 377.
“Seek to be of one mind and one judgment with your brethren and to speak the same things. This talking about divisions because all do not have the same ideas as present themselves to your mind is not the work of God but of the enemy. Talk the simple truth wherein you can agree. Talk of unity; do not become narrow and conceited; let your mind broaden.” –Mind, Character and Personality, vol. 1, pp. 40, 41.
God’s Desire For His Church
5. What supreme goal does God desire for His church at the end of time?
John 17:21 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.
“Union is strength, and the Lord desires that this truth should be ever revealed in all the members of the body of Christ. All are to be united in love, in meekness, in lowliness of mind. Organized into a society of believers for the purpose of combining and diffusing their influence, they are to work as Christ worked. They are ever to show courtesy and respect for one another. Every talent has its place and is to be kept under the control of the Holy Spirit.” –Lift Him Up, p. 295.
6. Does the unity of the faith mean that we must lose our distinct individuality? Please explain. 1 Corinthians 12:12-20. What does the Lord teach us in the symbol of the vine and the branches?
1 Corinthians 12:12-20 For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ. For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit. For the body is not one member, but many. If the foot shall say, Because I am not the hand, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body? And if the ear shall say, Because I am not the eye, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body? If the whole body were an eye, where were the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where were the smelling? But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him. And if they were all one member, where were the body? But now are they many members, yet but one body.
John 15:1-6 I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman. Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit. Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you. 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. If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned.
“By the figure of the vine and the branches Christ illustrated not only the relation that should exist between Him and His followers but also the union between every believer and his fellow believer. The branches of the vine are related to each other; but they are not alike. Each has its own individuality, which cannot be merged into that of another, but all have a special connection with each other. The root that supplies nourishment to one branch supplies nourishment to every other branch. Each must depend alike on the vine for sustenance; all must be joined to the parent stalk. The life and growth and faithfulness of each depend alike on the parent vine. In obedience to the laws of nature, their common hold of the true vine makes them one; in their diversity there is unity.
“The lesson of the vine and its branches holds a deep meaning for the workers in the cause of God. Every worker is to draw his strength from the same Source, and while the individuality of each is to be maintained, unity and harmony is to be preserved. When this spirit of oneness pervades the work, our institutions throughout the world will be united in their interests, while the individuality of any one will not be merged into that of any other one.” –Manuscript Releases, vol. 5, p. 362.
Unity With Christ And Its Results
7. How is unity achieved among God’s people?
Philippians 2:2-5 Fulfil ye my joy, that ye be likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others. Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus.
Hebrews 12: 2 Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.
Hebrews 13:1 Let brotherly love continue.
“All dissension, all differences and faultfinding, should be put away, with all evil speaking and bitterness; kindness, love, and compassion for one another should be cherished, that the prayer of Christ that His disciples might be one as He is one with the Father may be answered.” –Testimonies for the Church, vol. 5, p. 279.
8. What will result when church members draw close to Christ?
Galatians 5:22, 23 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.
1 John 4:20, 21 If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen? And this commandment have we from him, That he who loveth God love his brother also.
“The Bible sets before us a model church. They are to be in unity with each other, and with God. When believers are united to Christ, the living vine, the result is that they are one with Christ, full of sympathy and tenderness and love.” –Selected Messages, vol. 3, p. 18.
“The members of the church must come into unity; and in order to do this, they must have less of self, and more of Jesus. They must learn of Christ. They must be meek and lowly of heart. Their selfish pride must die. Then their mountains of difficulty will be reduced to mole-hills.” –The Review and Herald, January 6, 1891.
“Our only safety is in constant watchfulness and prayer. The nearer we live to Jesus, the more will we partake of His pure and holy character; and the more offensive sin appears to us, the more exalted and desirable will appear the purity and brightness of Christ.” –Counsels on Health, p. 623.