Wednesday, December 7, 2011

By Orlando Florez, Colombia

“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.” John 17:21.

The daily happenings in the world show us the work of Satan: religious, social, economic and political divisions; divisions that lead to rebellion, violence, theft and wars, and which are bringing about the crisis foretold by the prophets of old, the final crisis. We read, “As we approach the last crisis, it is of vital moment that harmony and unity exist among the Lord’s instrumentalities.
The world is filled with storm and war and variance. Yet under one head–the papal power–the people will unite to oppose God in the person of His witnesses. This union is cemented by the great apostate.” –Testimonies for the Church, vol. 7, p. 182.

In the parable of the prodigal son found in Luke 15:11-32, we see that, as in Eden, Satan broke the unity with the Eternal Father and turned man into the prodigal son far from God through his rebellion of wanting to do his own will. Tearing apart the harmony of a home that had lost a member, the young man made his decision to travel far, but not before asking in advance for his inheritance, to live profligately spending his means and harming his life and health. Living a life lost in prostitution, eating unhealthy foods and drinking alcohol, he ended up destitute and
homeless, far from the society of his family. In the end, the prodigal son who had left his father’s house found himself without any means of livelihood, without money, without work, without love, without any prospects for life. Like stagnant water, he began to rot and die until by the grace of God he came to himself and in his heart the desire was awakened to return to the home he had left behind.

Unity with God

How can it be achieved? According to Eliphaz, it is through becoming friends with God. “Acquaint now thyself with him, and be at peace: thereby good shall come unto thee.” Job 22:21.

Not only for the son of the parable, but for all the prodigal sons who wish to be restored to liberty, it is necessary to return to the home where a loving father awaits them, ready to provide all possible means to restore the identity marred by sin, to cover the filthiness, misery and nakedness with His robe of love, to offer food and drink that satisfies hunger and thirst and combats weakness. The Father is waiting for him by organizing a joyous feast for his family’s restoration, restoring his son’s rightful standing in the family, giving him shoes so that he may walk more comfortably, leaving in the past his life of destitution where sin had taken him.

Avoid Disagreement

In verses 25 to 32 of Luke 15, physician and evangelist Luke tells us about the older brother who did not want to participate in the joy of the return of his brother and did not accept the reason presented by his father who reminded him that his brother had been lost and dead but now is found and alive. This story shows that there are various types of disagreement and we have several quotations from the Spirit of Prophecy in order to prepare ourselves not to have the spirit of the older brother.

“It has been the continual endeavor of the enemy to introduce into the church persons who assent to much that is truth, but who are not converted. Professed Christians who are false to their trust are channels through whom Satan works. He can use unconverted church members to advance his own ideas and retard the work of God. Their influence is always on the side of wrong. They place criticism and doubt as stumbling blocks in the way of reform. They introduce unbelief because they have closed their eyes to the righteousness of Christ and have not the glory of the Lord as their rearward. Unity is the strength of the church. Satan knows this, and he employs his whole force to bring in dissension. He desires to see a lack of harmony among the members
of the church of God. Greater attention should be given to the subject of unity. What is the recipe for the cure of the leprosy of strife and dissension? Obedience to the commandments of God.” –Selected Messages, Book 2, pp. 159, 160.

“God’s people are not to be in confusion, lacking order and harmony, consistency and beauty. The Lord is greatly dishonored when disunion exists among His people. Truth is a unit. The unity that God requires must be cultivated day by day if we would answer the prayer of Christ. The disunion that is striving for existence among those who profess to believe the last message
of mercy to be given to the world, must find no place; for it would be a fearful hindrance to the advancement of God’s work. His servants are to be one, as Christ is one with the Father; their powers, illuminated, inspired, and sanctified, must be united to make a complete whole. Those who love God and keep His commandments are not to draw apart; they are to press together.” –Testimonies for the Church, vol. 8, pp. 174, 175.

“One man may be conversant with the Scriptures, and some particular portion of the Scripture may be especially appreciated by him; another sees another portion as very important, and thus one may present one point, and another, another point, and both may be of highest value. This is all in the order of God. But if a man makes a mistake in his interpretation of some portion of the Scripture, shall this cause diversity and disunion? God forbid. We cannot then take a position that the unity of the church consists in viewing every text of Scripture in the very same light. The
church may pass resolution upon resolution to put down all disagreement of opinions, but we cannot force the mind and will, and thus root out disagreement. These resolutions may conceal the discord, but they cannot quench it and establish perfect agreement. Nothing can perfect unity in the church but the spirit of Christlike forbearance. Satan can sow discord; Christ alone can harmonize the disagreeing elements. Then let every soul sit down in Christ’s school and learn of Christ, who declares Himself to be meek and lowly of heart. Christ says that if we learn of Him,
worries will cease and we shall find rest to our souls.” –Manuscript Releases, vol. 11, p. 266.

Various Organs Form a Single Body One of the most appropriate images representing unity is surely that of the human body. Every body has different organs each with its specific attributes in order to fulfill its various functions. The hand is different from the foot, and the arm is different from the legs. Eyes have a different function than the ears, and the mouth has a different function
than the nose. The heart acts as the engine of this wonderful machinery, and is still different from the brain, which is one of the other great wonders with which the Creator has endowed human beings! What more can we say about the different bones, each one very different from another in size, shape and function. And of the different muscles and tissues? Yet, despite such diversity of nature, characteristics and functions, all these organs work together in perfect harmony and form a unified body. “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 the body is not one member, but many… But now are they many members, yet but one body.” 1 Corinthians 12:12, 14, 20.

Can we then say that because they are different there must of necessity exist conflicts between the various organs, or that one organ does not need the other? Can one imagine that the foot does not need the brain, nor the hand the heart? Of course not! “And the eye cannot say unto the hand, I have no need of thee: nor again the head to the feet, I have no need of you.” 1 Corinthians 12:21.

They are different and have different functions, but they are still closely linked and work together for the life of the body which is indispensable to the life of each one of them. It is exactly the same in the family and in the church.

Diversity of Gifts and Unity

This is also the case with spiritual gifts; there is diversity, but in spite of this, there is unity and all contribute their part to the progress of the work. “In all the Lord’s arrangements, there is nothing more beautiful than His plan of giving to men and women a diversity of gifts. The church is His garden, adorned with a variety of trees, plants, and flowers. He does not expect the hyssop to assume the proportions of the cedar, nor the olive to reach the height of the stately palm. Many have received but a limited religious and intellectual training, but God has a work for this class to do if they will labor in humility, trusting in Him.” –Letter 122, 1902. Evangelism, pp. 98, 99.

“In order successfully to carry forward the work to which they had been called, these disciples, differing so widely in natural characteristics, in training, and in habits of life, needed to come into unity of feeling, thought, and action. This unity it was Christ’s object to secure. To this end He sought to bring them into unity with Himself. The burden of His labor for them is expressed in His prayer to the Father, “that they all may be one; as Thou, Father, art in Me, and I in Thee, that they also may be one in Us.” –Education, p. 86.

We all need others’ help. God works on other minds besides our own. The various gifts given to different individuals should be combined “For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ; till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.” Ephesians 4:12, 13.

Different Temperaments and Harmony

“Harmony and union existing among men of varied dispositions is the strongest witness that can be borne that God has sent His Son into the world to save sinners. It is our privilege to bear this witness. But, in order to do this, we must place ourselves under Christ’s command. Our characters must be molded in harmony with His character, our wills must be surrendered to His will.” –God’s Amazing Grace, p. 210.

“The prayer of Christ to His Father, contained in the seventeenth chapter of John, is to be our church creed. It shows us that our difference and disunion are dishonoring to God. Read the whole chapter, verse by verse.” –Manuscript 12, 1899. –Selected Messages, Book 3, p. 21.

Unity between parents is necessary “Husband and wife are to be closely united in their work in the home school. They are to be very tender and very guarded in their speech, lest they open a door of temptation through which Satan will enter to obtain victory after victory. They are to be kind and courteous to each other, acting in such a way that they can respect one another. Each
is to help the other to bring into the home a pleasant, wholesome atmosphere. They should not differ in the presence of their children. Christian dignity is ever to be preserved.” – Child Guidance, p. 24.

Persecution Leads to Unity among God’s People

In the days of the apostolic church, in face of the coming danger, the disciples felt the need of surrendering in unity of praying one for another to be saved from the enemy. It was exactly when they were thus united in prayer that the great blessing of the Holy Spirit came upon them. Luke relates thus this wonderful experience: “And when they were come in, they went up into an upper
room, where abode both Peter, and James, and John, and Andrew, Philip, and Thomas, Bartholomew, and Matthew, James the Son of Alphaeus, and Simon Zelotes, and Judas the brother of James. These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brethren… And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting.” Acts 1:13, 14; 2:1, 2.

The Pen of Inspiration comments:
“As the disciples waited for the fulfillment of the promise, they humbled their hearts in true repentance and confessed their unbelief… The disciples prayed with intense earnestness for a fitness to meet men and in their daily intercourse to speak words that would lead sinners to Christ. Putting away all differences, all desire for the supremacy, they came close together in Christian fellowship.” –Acts of the Apostles, pp. 36, 37.

“It was after the disciples had come into perfect unity, when they were no longer striving for the highest place, that the Spirit was poured out.” –Last Day Events, p. 184. “Notice that it was after the disciples had come into perfect unity, when they were no longer striving for the highest place, that the Spirit was poured out. They were of one accord. All differences had been put away.

And the testimony borne of them after the Spirit had been given is the same. Mark the word: ‘The multitude of them that believed were of one heart and of one soul.’ The Spirit of Him who died that sinners might live, animated the entire congregation of believers.” –Evangelism, pp. 698, 699.

The Spirit of Prophecy writes that the same will happen with the people of God in the time of the end. “When the storm of persecution really breaks upon us, the true sheep will hear the true Shepherd’s voice. Selfdenying efforts will be put forth to save the lost, and many who have strayed from the fold will come back to follow the great Shepherd. The people of God will draw together and present to the enemy a united front. In view of the common peril strife for supremacy will cease, there will be no disputing as to who shall be accounted greatest.” –Last Day
Events, p. 152.

Let us pray, dear brothers and sisters around the world, that we may be able to respond positively to the prayer of Christ and to see the church united to fulfill its mission to the perishing world. May the Lord bless us!