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Wally

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Lesson 12 December 15-21




Church Organization and Unity




Sabbath Afternoon

Read for This Week’s Study: Eph. 5:23-27; Matt. 20:25-28; Titus 1:9; Matt. 16:19; Gal. 6:1, 2; Matt. 28:18-20.

Memory Text: “Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you, let him be your servant. And whoever desires to be first among you, let him be your slave” (Matthew 20:26, 27, NKJV).

As Seventh-day Adventists, we are Protestant Christians who believe that salvation is through faith alone in what Jesus Christ has accomplished for humanity. We do not need a church or a church hierarchy in order to receive the benefits of what Christ has done for us. What we get from Christ we get directly from Him, as our Substitute on the cross and as our mediating High Priest in the heavenly sanctuary.

Nevertheless, the church is God’s creation, and God placed it here for us, not as a means of salvation but as a vehicle to help us express and make manifest that salvation to the world. The church is an organization that Jesus created for the spreading of the Gospel into the world. Organization is important insofar as it solidifies and enables the mission of the church. Without a church organization, Jesus’ saving message could not as effectively be communicated to others. Church leaders are important, too, in that they foster unity and exemplify the example of Jesus.

This week we study why church organization is crucial for mission and how it can foster church unity.

Study this week’s lesson to prepare for Sabbath, December 23.

Sunday ↥         December 16

Christ, the Head of the Church

As we have seen already in an earlier lesson, in the New Testament the church is represented by the metaphor of body. The church is the body of Christ. This metaphor alludes to several aspects of the church and the relation between Christ and His people. As the body of Christ, the church depends on Him for its very existence. He is the Head (Col. 1:18, Eph. 1:22) and the Source of the life of the church. Without Him there would be no church.

The church also derives its identity from Christ, for He is the Source and the Foundation and the Originator of its belief and teachings. Yet, the church is more than these things, as crucial as they are to its identity. It is Christ and His Word as revealed in Scripture that determine what the church is. Thus, the church derives its identity and significance from Christ.

In Ephesians 5:23-27, Paul uses the relationship between Christ and His church to illustrate the kind of relationship there should be between husband and wife. What are the key ideas of this relationship between Christ and His church?

Although we may be hesitant with the concept of submission because of how leaders in the centuries past have abused it, the church is nonetheless to be subject to the Head, Christ, and is subject to His authority. Our acknowledgment of Christ as the Head of the church helps us remember to whom our ultimate allegiance must belong, and that is the Lord Himself and to no one else. The church is to be organized, but that organization always must be subordinate to the authority of Jesus, the true Leader of our church.

“The church is built upon Christ as its foundation; it is to obey Christ as its head. It is not to depend upon man, or be controlled by man. Many claim that a position of trust in the church gives them authority to dictate what other men shall believe and what they shall do. This claim God does not sanction. The Saviour declares, ‘All ye are brethren.’ All are exposed to temptation, and are liable to error. Upon no finite being can we depend for guidance. The Rock of faith is the living presence of Christ in the church. Upon this the weakest may depend, and those who think themselves the strongest will prove to be the weakest, unless they make Christ their efficiency.” - Ellen G. White, The Desire of Ages, p. 414.

How can we learn to depend upon Christ and not upon any other “finite being”, as it is so easy to do?

Monday ↥         December 17

Servant Leadership

During His ministry with His disciples, Jesus repeatedly experienced moments when He probably felt exasperated by the envy for power they seemed to have. The apostles appeared to be anxious to become powerful leaders of Jesus’ kingdom (Mark 9:33, 34; Luke 9:46). Even as the disciples were eating the Last Supper together, these feelings of domination and supremacy were palpably felt among them (Luke 22:24).

During one such occasion, Jesus clearly expressed His thoughts regarding spiritual leadership among His people. What principles of leadership do we learn from Jesus’ exhortation in Matthew 20:25-28? How can we manifest this principle in our lives and especially in our churches?

“In this concise passage Jesus presents us with two models of authority. The first is the Roman idea of authority. In this model, the elite stand hierarchically over others. They have the power to make decisions and expect submission from those below them. Jesus clearly rejected this model of authority when He stated, ‘Not so with you!’ Instead He presented the disciples with a breathtakingly new model of authority, a thorough rejection, or reversal, of the hierarchical model with which they were familiar.” - Darius Jankiewicz, “Serving Like Jesus: Authority in God’s Church”, Adventist Review, March 13, 2014, p. 18.

The concept of authority that Jesus presents in this story is based on two key words: servant (diakonos) and slave (doulos). In some translations the first word, servant, is often translated “minister”, and the second, “servant” or “bondservant.” Both words thus lose much of the force of Jesus’ intent. Although Jesus did not wish to abolish all authority structures, what He wished to emphasize is that church leaders must first of all be servants and slaves of God’s people. Their positions are not to exercise authority over people or to dominate them or to give themselves prestige and reputation. “Christ was establishing a kingdom on different principles. He called men, not to authority, but to service, the strong to bear the infirmities of the weak. Power, position, talent, education, placed their possessor under the greater obligation to serve his fellows.” - Ellen G. White, The Desire of Ages, p. 550.

Read John 13:1-20. What example of leadership did Jesus give His disciples? What is Jesus still trying to teach us in this passage? How can we manifest the principle here in all our actions with others, in and out of the church?
So likewise ye, when ye shall have done all those things which are commanded you, say, We are unprofitable servants:  we have done that which was our duty to do.  Luke 17:10

Wally

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Tuesday ↥         December 18

Preserving Church Unity

Read 2 Timothy 2:15 and Titus 1:9. According to Paul’s counsels to Timothy and Titus, what crucial tasks are the responsibility of a faithful church leader and elder?

Notice how much emphasis Paul puts on keeping the doctrines and teachings pure. This is crucial for unity, especially because one could argue that, more than anything else, our teachings are what unify our church. Again, as Adventists, as people from so many different walks of life, cultures, and backgrounds, our unity in Christ is found in our understanding of the truth that Christ has given. If we get confused on these teachings, then only chaos and division will come, especially as we near the end.

“I charge you therefore before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who will judge the living and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom: Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables” (2 Tim. 4:1-4, NKJV).

With these words, Paul focuses his inspired thoughts on the second coming of Jesus and on the day of judgment. The apostle uses all his God-given authority (see 1 Tim. 1:1) to give Timothy this important counsel. In the context of the last days, with false teachings abounding and immorality rising, Timothy is to preach the Word of God. That is the ministry he has been called for.

As part of his teaching ministry, Timothy is to convince, rebuke, and exhort. These verbs are reminiscent of the guidance given by the Scriptures (2 Tim. 3:16). Clearly, Timothy’s work is to follow, teach, and implement what he finds in the Scriptures and to do so with longsuffering and patience. Harsh and severe rebukes rarely bring a sinner to Christ. By following what Paul wrote, and following it under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, and with a servant-leader attitude, Timothy would be a powerfully unifying force in the church.

What are practical ways that we can help our church leaders maintain unity in the church? How can we make sure we are always a force for unity as opposed to disunity, even amid disputes?

Wednesday ↥         December 19

Church Discipline

One of the main issues of church organization is to deal with discipline. How discipline helps to preserve church unity is sometimes a touchy subject and easily may be misunderstood. But from a biblical perspective, church discipline centers on two important areas: preserving purity of doctrine and preserving purity of church life and practice.

As we already have seen, the New Testament maintains the importance of preserving the purity of biblical teaching in the wake of apostasy and false teaching, particularly at the end of time. The same goes for preserving the respectability of the community by guarding against immorality, dishonesty, and depravity. For this reason the Scripture is spoken of as “profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness” (2 Tim. 3:16, NKJV).

Read Matthew 16:19 and 18:15-20. What principles did Jesus give to the church regarding discipline and admonishing those who are at fault?

The Bible supports the concept of discipline and of our accountability to each other in our spiritual and moral lives. In fact, one of the distinguishing marks of the church is its holiness, or separation, from the world. We certainly find in the Bible many examples of difficult situations that required the church to act decisively against immoral behaviors. Moral standards must be maintained in the church.

What principles do these passages teach us to follow when addressing difficult issues in the church? Matt. 7:1-5; Gal. 6:1, 2.

We cannot deny the biblical teaching about the need of church discipline. We cannot be faithful to the Word without it. But notice the redemptive quality in many of these admonitions. As much as possible, discipline should be as redemptive as possible. We need to remember, too, that we are all sinners and that we all need grace. Thus, when we administer discipline we need to do it in humility and with a keen awareness of our own failings, as well.

How, in our dealings with those who err, can we learn to act with an attitude of redemption more than of punishment?
So likewise ye, when ye shall have done all those things which are commanded you, say, We are unprofitable servants:  we have done that which was our duty to do.  Luke 17:10

Wally

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Thursday ↥         December 20

Organizing for Mission

As we have seen throughout this quarter (and which bears repeating), as a church we have been organized and unified for mission, for outreach. We are not just a social club for like-minded people to get together and affirm each other in what we believe (though that can be important, as well). We have been brought together to share with the world the truth that we, ourselves, have come to love.

In Matthew 28:18-20, Jesus gave His disciples final instructions for their mission to the world. Identify the key words of Jesus’ command. What do these words imply for the church today?

Jesus’ great commission to His disciples includes four key verbs: go, make disciples, baptize, and teach. According to the Greek grammar of these verses, the main verb is to make disciples, and the other three verbs indicate how this can be done. Disciples are made when believers go to all nations to preach the Gospel, baptize people, and teach them to observe what Jesus said.

As the church responds to this commission, God’s kingdom is enlarged, and more and more people of all nations join the ranks of those who accept Jesus as Savior. Their obedience to Jesus’ commands to be baptized and to observe His teachings creates a new universal family. The new disciples also are assured of the presence of Jesus every day as they themselves make more disciples. The presence of Jesus is a promise of the presence of God. The Gospel of Matthew begins with the announcement that the birth of Jesus is about “God with us” (Matt. 1:23) and ends with the promise of Jesus’ continued presence with us until His second coming.

“Christ did not tell His disciples that their work would be easy. … He assured them that He would be with them; and that if they would go forth in faith, they should move under the shield of Omnipotence. He bade them be brave and strong; for One mightier than angels would be in their ranks-the General of the armies of heaven. He made full provision for the prosecution of their work and took upon Himself the responsibility of its success. So long as they obeyed His word, and worked in connection with Him, they could not fail.” - Ellen G. White, The Acts of the Apostles, p. 29.

Reflect on the meaning of the promise of Jesus’ presence with His people until His second coming. How should the reality of this promise impact us as we seek to fulfill the commission that we have been given by Jesus?

Friday ↥         December 21

Further Thought: Ellen G. White, “Individual Responsibility and Christian Unity”, pp. 485-505, in Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers; “Unity in Diversity”, pp. 483-485, and “Church Discipline”, pp. 498-503, in Gospel Workers. Read the articles “Church”, pp. 707-710, and “Church Organization”, pp. 712-714, in The Ellen G. White Encyclopedia.

“Principles of good leadership apply in all forms of society, including the church. However, the leader in the church must be more than a leader. He must also be a servant.

There is an apparent contradiction between being a leader and being a servant. How can one lead and serve at the same time? Does not the leader occupy a position of honor? Does he not command and expect others to obey him? How, then, does he occupy the lower position of being a servant, of receiving orders and fulfilling them?

In order to resolve the paradox we must look at Jesus. He supremely represented the principle of leadership that serves. His whole life was one of service. And at the same time He was the greatest leader the world has ever seen.” - G. Arthur Keough, Our Church Today: What It Is and Can Be (Washington, D.C., and Nashville: Review and Herald, 1980), p. 106.

Discussion Questions:

    Dwell more on the idea of a servant-leader. What, if any examples, can we find of this in the secular world?

    Read again Matthew 20:25-28. What does this tell us about how God understands the meaning of the word great (Matt. 20:26) in contrast to how the word is understood by the world?

    If one of the tasks of church leaders is to preserve unity, what should we do when church leaders falter, when their humanity prevents them from being a perfect example?

    Why is it so important that we administer church discipline with a spirit of graciousness and love toward the ones who are erring? Why should Matthew 7:12 always be foremost in our minds during the process?

Summary: Good church organization is essential to the mission of the church and to the unity of believers. Christ is the Head of the church, and church leaders are to follow His example as they lead the people of God. Unity is preserved through the faithful teaching of the Word of God and by living in faithfulness to that Word.
So likewise ye, when ye shall have done all those things which are commanded you, say, We are unprofitable servants:  we have done that which was our duty to do.  Luke 17:10

Wally

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Lesson 12 December 15-21

Church Organization and Unity


Sabbath Afternoon

Memory Text: “Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you, let him be your servant. And whoever desires to be first among you, let him be your slave” (Matthew 20:26, 27, NKJV).



If this were followed there would be unity among God's people.  We would not be having various entities within the church demanding their perceived "rights," and making disparaging remarks about those who don't see it their way.  This and Paul's counsel to Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves (Phil. 2:3), would eliminate virtually all disunity among us.
So likewise ye, when ye shall have done all those things which are commanded you, say, We are unprofitable servants:  we have done that which was our duty to do.  Luke 17:10

Wally

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Lesson 12 December 15-21

Church Organization and Unity

Sabbath Afternoon

 Organization is important insofar as it solidifies and enables the mission of the church. Without a church organization, Jesus’ saving message could not as effectively be communicated to others. Church leaders are important, too, in that they foster unity and exemplify the example of Jesus.



This follows the counsel of Paul in I Cor. 14:40.  Let all things be done decently and in order.  This is in the  context of speaking in tongues, but it applies everywhere because God is a God of  order, as Paul says, in I Cor. 14:33. For God is not the author of confusion.
So likewise ye, when ye shall have done all those things which are commanded you, say, We are unprofitable servants:  we have done that which was our duty to do.  Luke 17:10

Wally

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Lesson 12 December 15-21

Church Organization and Unity


Sunday ↥         December 16

Christ, the Head of the Church


In Ephesians 5:23-27, Paul uses the relationship between Christ and His church to illustrate the kind of relationship there should be between husband and wife. What are the key ideas of this relationship between Christ and His church?



What often gets forgotten when  quoting Paul on this subject in verse 22 (Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord), is his later statement to husbands in verse 25.   Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it.  If this counsel were followed, we would not dealing with some of the issues that are currently agitating the church.  How did Christ love the church?  He died for it.  It would be pretty hard to be dictatorial with one's wife if they were willing to die for her.
So likewise ye, when ye shall have done all those things which are commanded you, say, We are unprofitable servants:  we have done that which was our duty to do.  Luke 17:10

colporteur

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 Obedience and Worship are nearly synonymous.


"The religion that comes from God is the only religion that can lead to God. In order to serve Him aright, we must be born of the Divine Spirit. This wuill lead to watchfulness. It will purify the heart and renew the mind, and give us a new capacity from knowing and loving God. It will give us willing obedience to all His requirements. This is true worship."

It's easier to slow a fast horse down than to get a dead one going.

Wally

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Lesson 12 December 15-21

Church Organization and Unity


Monday ↥         December 17

Servant Leadership

During His ministry with His disciples, Jesus repeatedly experienced moments when He probably felt exasperated by the envy for power they seemed to have. The apostles appeared to be anxious to become powerful leaders of Jesus’ kingdom (Mark 9:33, 34; Luke 9:46). Even as the disciples were eating the Last Supper together, these feelings of domination and supremacy were palpably felt among them (Luke 22:24).



Things have not changed much.  There are still those who crave power and authority.  It seems to me that anyone who is campaigning for a position of authority, has thereby disqualified themselves.  We have the example of Moses.  He thought he was ready to lead a rebellion to free his people, but ended up fleeing to the desert.  After 40 years herding sheep, He was chosen by God to lead His people, but by then he felt completely unqualified for the job.  God can use those who have a humble opinion of their qualifications.  Those who are self-confident will too often take credit for their accomplishments, rather than attributing them to the blessing of God.

We had a situation recently in our Conference where the nominating committee chose a new person to replace one of the Conference officers.  On the morning of the constituency meeting the individual being replaced was busy campaigning to keep his job.  It turned a lot of people off, and he was indeed replaced.
So likewise ye, when ye shall have done all those things which are commanded you, say, We are unprofitable servants:  we have done that which was our duty to do.  Luke 17:10

Wally

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Tuesday ↥         December 18

Preserving Church Unity

Read 2 Timothy 2:15 and Titus 1:9. According to Paul’s counsels to Timothy and Titus, what crucial tasks are the responsibility of a faithful church leader and elder?

Notice how much emphasis Paul puts on keeping the doctrines and teachings pure. This is crucial for unity, especially because one could argue that, more than anything else, our teachings are what unify our church. Again, as Adventists, as people from so many different walks of life, cultures, and backgrounds, our unity in Christ is found in our understanding of the truth that Christ has given. If we get confused on these teachings, then only chaos and division will come, especially as we near the end.


Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.   II Tim. 2:15. 

[i]For a bishop must be blameless, as the steward of God; . . .  holding fast the faithful word as he hath been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers.[/i]  Titus 1:7, 9.

Herein lie many of our problems in the church; the lack of "rightly dividing the word of truth."  The failure to do so leads to unsound doctrine and outright heresy.  If we, as a church, cannot agree on the pillars of our faith, the doctrines (i.e. teachings), we will end up like so  many other denominations with various branches, all of which teach something slightly different.

We've been told plainly what the "landmarks" of our faith are, and they include the Sanctuary Doctrine, the Sabbath, the State of the Dead; and I would include Creation ex nihilo in 6 literal days, about 6000 years ago, because all of Scripture rests on the foundation of the validity of Genesis 1-11.  If we can't have faith in that as inspired history, then all the rest of Scripture becomes suspect.  If we can't accept a literal reading of Genesis, then how can we be sure about the virgin birth or the resurrection of Jesus, both of which are as "unscientific" as creation ex nihilo?
So likewise ye, when ye shall have done all those things which are commanded you, say, We are unprofitable servants:  we have done that which was our duty to do.  Luke 17:10

Wally

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Tuesday ↥         December 18



Wednesday ↥         December 19

Church Discipline

One of the main issues of church organization is to deal with discipline. How discipline helps to preserve church unity is sometimes a touchy subject and easily may be misunderstood. But from a biblical perspective, church discipline centers on two important areas: preserving purity of doctrine and preserving purity of church life and practice.


How, in our dealings with those who err, can we learn to act with an attitude of redemption more than of punishment?

This is one area in which the  church seems to have fallen by the wayside.  Very little is done in the way of church discipline these days.  And so we can have same sex couples "married" in the church without consequences, among other things.  Could it be that we've concentrated on Matt. 7:1-5 at the expense of Matt. 18:15-17?  We all know Matt. 7:  Judge not, that ye be not judged.  For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.  And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?  Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye?  Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye.   And Matt. 18: Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother.  But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.  And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican. And many of us are familiar with Ellen White's statement in MB, p. 128, 129.  "Not until you feel that you could sacrifice your own self-dignity, and even lay down your life in order to save an erring brother, have you cast the beam out of your own eye so that you are prepared to help your brother. Then you can approach him and touch his heart."  And since few of us, if honest with ourselves, are ready to lay down our lives for an erring brother, we end up keeping silent.

So how can we implement Matt. 18 in light of the statement from MB?  And then there is Paul's counsel in I Cor. 6:2, 3.  Do ye not know that the saints shall judge the world? and if the world shall be judged by you, are ye unworthy to judge the smallest matters? Know ye not that we shall judge angels? how much more things that pertain to this life?

Seems like we're in a quandary.  The only solution seems to be to get our relationship with Christ in order, and then we can be prepared to deal with those in error.  The fact that church discipline is so lacking these days, seems to be an indicator that too many of us are not in a right relationship with the Saviour.
So likewise ye, when ye shall have done all those things which are commanded you, say, We are unprofitable servants:  we have done that which was our duty to do.  Luke 17:10

Wally

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Thursday ↥         December 20

Organizing for Mission

As we have seen throughout this quarter (and which bears repeating), as a church we have been organized and unified for mission, for outreach. We are not just a social club for like-minded people to get together and affirm each other in what we believe.



This is what many of the mainline churches have become:  pious social clubs.  Rather than being salt and light, influencing the culture around them, they've assimilated into the current culture.  And so there are churches which celebrate Darwin's birthday every February, apparently oblivious to the fact that his bogus theory has been responsible for the loss of untold millions of souls who have abandoned the faith.  The social "gospel" is all they have.  They do many good works, but downplay doctrine (i.e. teachings), and tend to lean to the left politically, embracing the decadence in the culture around them, striving to be "politically correct."  They want to be accepted by the world.  Jesus said that His true followers would be hated by the world.

Unfortunately SDA's are not exempt from this danger.  To the extent that we listen to the voices in the culture who would tell  us what is "right" and "just" and "loving," rather than becoming grounded in God's word, and intelligent in regard to the counsels from the SOP, to that extent will we drift toward the world, instead of moving away from it.  Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.  For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.   I John 2:16, 16.
So likewise ye, when ye shall have done all those things which are commanded you, say, We are unprofitable servants:  we have done that which was our duty to do.  Luke 17:10

Wally

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Thursday ↥         December 20

Organizing for Mission



In Matthew 28:18-20, Jesus gave His disciples final instructions for their mission to the world.



The "Great Commission" is very broad in its scope.  Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:  teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you.

Emphasis is often placed on the idea of baptizing and "making disciples," but "teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you" goes far beyond the social gospel so common today. When one explores the teachings of Jesus, they discover that there is a lot of doctrine (a dirty word in some circles today) contained therein.  People tend to cherry pick from the teachings of Jesus.  The Sermon on the Mount is full of His teachings, but, outside of the Beatitudes, the one we here the most is "judge not . . . . ."  But this is the same Jesus that gave us principles for church discipline in Matt. 18.

It's all one package, not just the Golden Rule, as some contend.
So likewise ye, when ye shall have done all those things which are commanded you, say, We are unprofitable servants:  we have done that which was our duty to do.  Luke 17:10

colporteur

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Yes, many in the church are getting way too much mileage out of "judge not." It is probable that I will be nominated for elder again this go round. We have 3 instances in our church where members are living with non members out of wedlock. People used to call that "shacking up." Then we have another instance where the wife divorced her husband cause she wanted her own space. She remains on the church books and has her boys in sports on Sabbath. If asked to be elder this year I will only accept if the other elders are willing to pull in with me and address these things as well as visiting the congregation in their homes like elders ought to do. I turned down any significant church position two years ago when they voted in positions. I was new to the local church and did not want to come across as an upstart who comes in and throws their weight around.

Question for the brethren: Do you think a person ought to accept being an elder even if the other elders will not take responsibility and thereby pretty much go it alone ? Obsevation reveals that the othher elders may follow the lead but I would need to be the mover. Also a new pastor is coming in and speaking once a month. That adds another uncertainty in the mix. Currently and sadly, there is every evidence that the current elders are just waiting for the new pastor to come in and deal with whatever. I told them that that is not  being responsible.
It's easier to slow a fast horse down than to get a dead one going.

Wally

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Friday ↥         December 21

Further Thought: Ellen G. White, “Individual Responsibility and Christian Unity”, pp. 485-505, in Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers; “Unity in Diversity”, pp. 483-485, and “Church Discipline”, pp. 498-503, in Gospel Workers. Read the articles “Church”, pp. 707-710, and “Church Organization”, pp. 712-714, in The Ellen G. White Encyclopedia.



There seems to be some confusion these days (maybe contrived, in some cases) as to what "unity in diversity" means.  What it does not mean is plurality or diversity in doctrine.  We've been told that there are certain pillars (or landmarks) of our faith that are nonnegotiable, such as the Sabbath, the Sanctuary Doctrine, the State of the Dead, and the Second Coming.  So, any doctrine that deviates from those landmarks is false doctrine.  What "unity in diversity" means is well expressed in this quote from Gospel Workers, p. 483.  "God has different ways of working, and He has different workmen to whom He entrusts varied gifts. One worker may be a ready speaker; another a ready writer; another may have the gift of sincere, earnest, fervent prayer; another the gift of singing; another may have special power to explain the word of God with clearness. And each gift is to become a power for God, because He works with the laborer. To one God gives the word of wisdom, to another knowledge, to another faith; but all are to work under the same Head.  The Lord desires His chosen servants to learn how to unite in harmonious effort. It may seem to some that the contrast between their gifts and the gifts of a fellow-laborer is too great to allow them to unite in harmonious effort; but when they remember that there are varied minds to be reached, and that some will reject the truth as it is presented by one laborer, only to open their hearts to God’s truth as it is presented in a different manner by another laborer, they will hopefully endeavor to labor together in unity. Their talents, however diverse, may all be under the control of the same Spirit. In every word and act, kindness and love will be revealed; and as each worker fills his appointed place faithfully, the prayer of Christ for the unity of His followers will be answered, and the world will know that these are His disciples."

 So, the diversity is in gifts and talents, and within the framework of Scripture, methodology, but not in core doctrines.
So likewise ye, when ye shall have done all those things which are commanded you, say, We are unprofitable servants:  we have done that which was our duty to do.  Luke 17:10

colporteur

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If the quarterly says anything on Sunday's lesson regarding Christ delegating authority within the visible church I missed it. It just says that we are to be "organized." The SOP quote at the end speaks about not allowing one " finite being"  to lead the church. Some would like to include the entire GC in the "finite being" statement. The statement speaks of the authority of Jesus but leaves out anything about delegated authority. Often we can tell what people mean by what they do not say.
It's easier to slow a fast horse down than to get a dead one going.

Glen

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Lesson 12 December 15-21

Church Organization and Unity


Sabbath Afternoon

Memory Text: “Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you, let him be your servant. And whoever desires to be first among you, let him be your slave” (Matthew 20:26, 27, NKJV).

If this were followed there would be unity among God's people.  We would not be having various entities within the church demanding their perceived "rights," and making disparaging remarks about those who don't see it their way.  This and Paul's counsel to Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves (Phil. 2:3), would eliminate virtually all disunity among us.

I really appreciate the concern for unity, yet consider that there IS "unity among God's people." While there are those who merely profess to love God, they are not of God. Those within whom Christ abides, are one with Him.

The church militant is not the church triumphant. Selected Messages Book 2, p. 226.3

Has God no living church? He has a church, but it is the church militant, not the church triumphant. We are sorry that there are defective members....While the Lord brings into the church those who are truly converted, Satan at the same time brings persons who are not converted into its fellowship. While Christ is sowing the good seed, Satan is sowing the tares. There are two opposing influences continually exerted on the members of the church. One influence is working for the purification of the church, and the other for the corrupting of the people of God....


To as many as believe in Him, Christ gives power to become the sons of God. Those who are thus denominated as members of the royal family will live for Him who is the propitiation for their sins. As they follow on to know the truth, their feet are planted on the sure foundation. Neither flood nor storm can sweep away their foundation.—Letter 289, September 13, 1905, to “My Brethren in the Ministry.”
This Day With God, p. 265.8

Christ has a people He denominated in a most clear, remarkable manner. He calls them peculiar, His own, to do willingly whatsoever He would tell them to do—[people] whom He has chosen from the foundation of the world, and they become wedded with Christ. He has chosen them, denominated them for Himself, redeemed them from among men; and if they continue in their devoted service, He has communion with them. [They have] separated from worldlings to keep close beside Christ to learn that everything is to be done to the glory of God. They are specially good and cultured by the impartation of Christ’s grace. All those who are really Christ’s are denominated as coming out from the world and being separate from the world and are named as His disciples. [They are] ever to feel like docile children to hear the words of truth and obey them because they are truth. One with Christ, they are learners. Lt 271, 1902, par. 4

God has a church. It is not the great cathedral, neither is it the national establishment, neither is it the various denominations; it is the people who love God and keep His commandments. “Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them” (Matthew 18:20). Where Christ is even among the humble few, this is Christ's church, for the presence of the High and Holy One who inhabiteth eternity can alone constitute a church. The Upward Look 315


For the most part, I perceive that most members of the SDA Church think of themselves as "The Remnant"; however, the focus of the promise of Christ in the last Book of the Bible, is To him that overcometh will He give to eat of the tree of life; shall not be hurt of the second death; give to eat of the hidden manna, and will give...a white stone, and in the stone a new name written, which no man knoweth saving he that receiveth it.

The church is in the Laodicean state. The presence of God is not in her midst.—Notebook Leaflets 1:99 (1898)

Could it be said that "the overcomer" in the time of Laodicea is NOT Laodicean? The overcomer is hot, with the indwelling presence of God, who is a consuming fire Hebrews 12:29.

There seem to be many "in the Church", who appear to be
Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. 2 Timothy 3:7; 1 Corinthians 6:11

May we each hearken to the Spirit of God, that we might each verily Awake...arise from the dead, receiving the Light of Christ; walking circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, Redeeming the time, because the days are evil; understanding what the will of the Lord is...filled with the Spirit... Ephesians 5:14-18



...Jesus...will live through (YOU), giving (YOU) the inspiration of His sanctifying Spirit, imparting to (YOUR) soul a vital transfusion of Himself. Sabbath-School Worker 02-01-96.03  ...as the blood is in the body, and circulate there as a vitalizing power... 7T 189.02