October 30, 1999 – November 5, 1999
“But now are they many members, yet but one body.” 1 Corinthians 12:20.
Study Help: Testimonies, vol. 4, 16–20.
“The religion of Christ does not require us to lose our identity of character, but merely to adapt ourselves, in some measure, to the feelings and ways of others. Many people may be brought together in a unity of religious faith whose opinions, habits, and tastes in temporal matters are not in harmony; but if they have the love of Christ glowing in their bosoms, and are looking forward to the same heaven as their eternal home, they may have the sweetest and most intelligent communion together, and a unity the most wonderful. There are scarcely two whose experience is alike in every particular. The trials of one may not be the trials of another, and our hearts should ever be open to kindly sympathy and all aglow with the love that Jesus had for all His brethren.” Testimonies, vol. 4, 65, 66.
“How Good and How Pleasant It Is”
How does David describe the blessings of unity among God’s people? Psalm 133:1–3.
note: “The apostles differed widely in habits and disposition. There were the publican, Levi-Matthew, and the fiery zealot Simon, the uncompromising hater of the authority of Rome; the generous, impulsive Peter, and the mean-spirited Judas; Thomas, true-hearted, yet timid and fearful, Philip, slow of heart, and inclined to doubt, and the ambitious, outspoken sons of Zebedee, with their brethren. These were brought together, with their different faults, all with inherited and cultivated tendencies to evil; but in and through Christ they were to dwell in the family of God, learning to become one in faith, in doctrine, in spirit. They would have their tests, their grievances, their differences of opinion; but while Christ was abiding in the heart, there could be no dissension. His love would lead to love for one another; the lessons of the Master would lead to the harmonizing of all differences, bringing the disciples into unity, till they would be of one mind and one judgement. Christ is the great center, and they would approach one another just in proportion as they approached the center.” The Desire of Ages, 296.
What counsel did Paul give to the believers in Philippi? Philippians 2:1–5.
note: “Brethren and sisters, we have no time to dwell on little differences. For Christ’s sake, go to your knees in prayer! Go to God, and ask Him to give you a clean heart. Ask Him to help you to stand where He wants you to be. Labor in harmony with one another, even though you are not alike. Do you not know that of the leaves on a tree there are no two exactly alike? From this God would teach us that among His servants there is to be unity in diversity.” General Conference Bulletin, March 30, 1903.
“The Unity of the Spirit”
What earnest plea did Paul make to the believers in Ephesus? Ephesians 4:1–3.
note: “I spoke upon the necessity of laboring for unity and cultivating Christian courtesy, ‘endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.’ The effect of truth upon the heart is to cleanse it from every defilement. It will not increase self-love, but will lead the receiver to humble his heart, and to ascribe nothing to self, but all to God. He ceases to esteem himself more highly than his brethren. His former sensitiveness to reproach, neglect, or contempt disappears, and he is not so easily irritated; he becomes gentle and condescending, and exemplifies the simplicity of Christ who was meek and lowly of heart. His own nation and personal friends are no longer the boundary lines of his love. He loves Jesus with all his heart, and all who are trying to be the children of God he loves as himself. There is an entire change in his life.” Review and Herald, November 3, 1885.
What specific examples of the oneness of God’s people did Paul mention? Ephesians 4:4–6.
note: “There is but one body, and one Spirit, one Lord, one faith. As members of the body of Christ all believers are animated by the same spirit and the same hope. Divisions in the church dishonor the religion of Christ before the world and give occasion to the enemies of truth to justify their course. Paul’s instructions were not written alone for the church in his day. God designed that they should be sent down to us. What are we doing to preserve unity in the bonds of peace?” Testimonies, vol. 5, 239. (See also The Great Controversy, 379.)
“Unity in the Bond of Peace”
What sound counsel did Paul give to those whose views were causing division? Romans 14:19.
note: “In union there is strength; in disunion there is weakness. God’s chosen ones are to reveal to the world their union one with another. It is not possible for a few to walk to heaven alone because they can agree with no others. God’s people are to be a unit. If some entertain ideas so peculiar that others cannot accept them, they should compare notes in a teachable spirit, and all should be willing to learn. They should make the most strenuous efforts to be one, to come into the unity of the faith in the bonds of peace.” Review and Herald,
April 27, 1897.
What characteristics are we to cultivate in order to achieve unity in the bond of peace? Colossians 3:12–15.
note: “The apostle exhorts his brethren to manifest in their lives the power of the truth which he had presented to them. By meekness and gentleness, forbearance and love, they were to exemplify the character of Christ and the blessings of His salvation. There is but one body, one Spirit, one Lord, one faith. As members of the body of Christ, all members are to be animated by the same spirit and the same hope. 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. Our characters must be molded in harmony with His character, our wills must be surrendered to His will.” Review and Herald, November 12, 1908.
“The Unity of the Faith”
What was one of the purposes for members being given the different spiritual gifts in the church? Ephesians 4:11–13.
note: “Honest souls will see the straight chain of present truth. They will see its harmonious connections, link after link uniting into a great whole, and will lay hold upon it. The present truth is not difficult to be understood, and the people whom God is leading will be united upon this broad, firm platform. He will not use individuals of different faith, opinions, and views, to scatter and divide. Heaven and holy angels are working to unite, to bring into the unity of the faith, into the one body. Satan opposes this, and is determined to scatter, and divide, and bring in different sentiments, that the prayer of Christ may not be answered: ‘Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on Me through their word; 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 17:20, 21. Jesus designed that the faith of His people should be one.” Testimonies, vol. 1, 327.
Though God’s people have different gifts, what are we to do so that diversity does not become division? 1 Corinthians 1:10.
note: “Christ is leading out a people, and bringing them into the unity of the faith, that they may be one, as He is one with the Father. Differences of opinion must be yielded, that all may come into union with the body, that they may have one mind and one judgment. 1 Corinthians 1:10: ‘Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.’ Romans 15:5, 6: ‘Now the God of patience and consolation grant you to be like-minded one toward another according to Christ Jesus: that ye may with one mind and one mouth glorify God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.’ Philippians 2:2: ‘Fulfil ye my joy, that ye be like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind.’” Testimonies, vol. 1, 324.
“We, Being Many, Are One”
How does Paul describe the diversity that exists among God’s people? Romans 12:4, 6–8.
note: “Study this scripture carefully. God has not given to every one the same line of work. It is His plan that there shall be unity in diversity. When His plan is studied and followed, there will be far less friction in the working of the cause.” Pacific Union Recorder, December 29, 1904.
What picture did Paul use to demonstrate the importance of each individual member to the whole church? 1 Corinthians 12:12–21.
note: “The Lord desires His church to respect every gift that He has bestowed on the different members. Let us beware of allowing our minds to become fixed on ourselves, thinking that no one can be serving the Lord unless he is working on the same lines as those on which we are working. Never is a worker to say, ‘I do not want to work with such a one, because he does not see things as I do. I wish to work with some one who will agree with all I say, and follow out all my ideas.’ The one the worker thus refuses to connect with may have truths to present that have not yet been presented. Because of the worker’s refusal to accept the help provided by the Lord, the work is made one-sided. The work is hurt unless there are brought into it all the gifts that God has bestowed. Many times the progress of the work has been hindered because the laborers thought their gifts all that were necessary for its advancement. The Lord has not done for His people what He would have done if so many of the workers had not limited the development of the work by refusing to co-operate with laborers who should have been given standing room and encouragement. In self-sufficiency, men have ignored and pushed aside those to whom God has given a special work.” Pacific Union Recorder, December 29, 1904.
“By This Shall All Men Know…”
What counsel does Paul give to Christians concerning those who bring division among God’s people? Romans 16:17.
note: “Let the suspicious ones, who think and speak evil of their brethren, remember that they are doing the devil’s drudgery. Let each member of the church work with earnest determination, and with prayer for help, to cure the diseased member, the tongue. Let every one feel that it is his duty and privilege to pass over little differences and mistakes without comment. Do not magnify the small mistakes made by some one, but think of the good that is in him. Each time these mistakes are thought of and talked about, they grow larger. A mountain is made out of a molehill. Ill-feeling and a lack of confidence is the result.” Australasian Union Conference Record, April 15, 1903.
What did Christ say was convincing evidence that we are His disciples? John 13:35.
note: “The more closely we resemble our Savior in character, the greater will be our love toward those for whom He died. Christians who manifest a spirit of unselfish love for one another are bearing a testimony for Christ which unbelievers can neither gainsay nor resist. It is impossible to estimate the power of such an example. Nothing will so successfully defeat the devices of Satan and his emissaries, nothing will so build up the Redeemer’s kingdom, as will the love of Christ manifested by the members of the church. Peace and prosperity can be enjoyed only as meekness and love are in active exercise.” Testimonies, vol. 5, 168.