1. A PEOPLE TO REVEAL GOD’S CHARACTER
a. What purpose is to be accomplished through the church? Ephesians 3:9–11; 2 Corinthians 4:6; 1 Peter 2:9.
“From the beginning it has been God’s plan that through His church shall be reflected to the world His fullness and His sufficiency. The members of the church, those whom He has called out of darkness into His marvelous light, are to show forth His glory. The church is the repository of the riches of the grace of Christ; and through the church will eventually be made manifest, even to ‘the principalities and powers in heavenly places,’ the final and full display of the love of God. Ephesians 3:10.”—The Acts of the Apostles, p. 9.
b. What ministry has God given to us, and how are we partakers of this ministry? 2 Corinthians 5:18, 19; John 20:21.
“Man had become so degraded by sin that it was impossible for him, in himself, to come into harmony with Him whose nature is purity and goodness. But Christ, after having redeemed man from the condemnation of the law, could impart divine power to unite with human effort. Thus by repentance toward God and faith in Christ the fallen children of Adam might once more become ‘sons of God’ (1 John 3:2).”—Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 64.
2. WORKING IN UNION WITH CHRIST
a. What did Jesus ask the Father in behalf of the disciples so that they might have power to witness to the world? John 17:20, 21.
“In these first disciples [set apart by Christ] was presented marked diversity. They were to be the world’s teachers, and they represented widely varied types of character. In order successfully to carry forward the work to which they had been called, these men, differing in natural characteristics 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 Acts of the Apostles, p. 20.
“We seldom find two persons exactly alike. Among human beings as well as among the things of the natural world, there is diversity. Unity in diversity among God’s children—the manifestation of love and forbearance in spite of difference of disposition—this is the testimony that God sent His Son into the world to save sinners. . . .
“The closer our union with Christ, the closer will be our union with one another.”—Sons and Daughters of God, p. 286.
b. What attitude within the church is a powerful witness to others of the truth we profess to believe? Ephesians 4:1–3, 31, 32.
“We have a character to maintain, but it is the character of Christ. . . . The Christ in us will meet the Christ in our brethren, and the Holy Spirit will give that union of heart and action which testifies to the world that we are children of God.”—God’s Amazing Grace, p. 211.
“Learn of the great Teacher. Words of kindness and sympathy will do good as a medicine, and will heal souls that are in despair. The knowledge of the word of God brought into the practical life will have a healing, soothing power.”—Gospel Workers, p. 163.
“Many have fainted and become discouraged in the great struggle of life, whom one word of kindly cheer and courage would have strengthened to overcome. . . . We cannot tell how far reaching may be our tender words of kindness, our Christ-like efforts to lighten some burden. The erring can be restored in no other way than in the spirit of meekness, gentleness, and tender love.”—My Life Today, p. 235.
3. REVEALING GOD’S LOVE TO OTHERS
a. How should we act toward our brothers and sisters in the faith? Philippians 2:3. Why should we be humble in our opinions of ourselves? Matthew 23:8; 1 Corinthians 4:7; 2 Corinthians 10:12.
“Those who, in the spirit and love of Jesus, will become one with Him, will be in close fellowship one with another, bound up by the silken cords of love.”—Sons and Daughters of God, p. 300.
“Crucify self; esteem others better than yourselves. Thus you will be brought into oneness with Christ. Before the heavenly universe, and before the church and the world, you will bear unmistakable evidence that you are God’s sons and daughters. God will be glorified in the example that you set.”—Testimonies, vol. 9, p. 188.
b. Where there is no open transgression of principle, what rule should we follow in respect for each other’s convictions? Romans 14:10, 13.
“There are rights which belong to every individual. We have an individuality and an identity that is our own. No one can submerge his identity in that of any other. All must act for themselves, according to the dictates of their own conscience.”—Testimonies to Ministers, p. 422.
“No one man’s voice and influence should ever be allowed to become a controlling power.”—Medical Ministry, p. 165.
c. What condition must we meet if we are to have true fellowship with our brethren and sisters? What will then happen to our experience? 1 John 1:7.
“God will accept everyone that comes to Him trusting wholly in the merits of a crucified Saviour. Love springs up in the heart. There may be no ecstasy of feeling, but there is an abiding, peaceful trust. Every burden is light; for the yoke which Christ imposes is easy. Duty becomes a delight, and sacrifice a pleasure. The path that before seemed shrouded in darkness becomes bright with beams from the Sun of Righteousness. This is walking in the light as Christ is in the light.”—Selected Messages, bk1, p. 354.
4. WORKING IN HARMONY
a. How does Paul’s Damascus-road-experience and conversion reveal God’s plan to use members of the church to save sinners? Acts 9:6, 10, 11, 15.
“In the conversion of Paul are given us important principles which we should ever bear in mind. The Redeemer of the world does not sanction experience and exercise in religious matters independent of His organized and acknowledged church, where He has a church.
“Many have the idea that they are responsible to Christ alone for their light and experience, independent of His acknowledged followers in the world. But this is condemned by Jesus in His teachings and in the examples, the facts, which He has given for our instruction. Here was Paul, one whom Christ was to fit for a most important work, one who was to be a chosen vessel unto Him, brought directly into the presence of Christ; yet He does not teach him the lessons of truth. He arrests his course and convicts him; and when he asks, ‘What wilt Thou have me to do?’ the Saviour does not tell him directly, but places him in connection with His church. They will tell thee what thou must do.”—Testimonies, vol. 3, pp. 432, 433.
b. What interrelationship is there between us, the church body, and Christ? Ephesians 4:14–16.
“Although a company of Christians united in church capacity have not all the same talents, yet it is the duty of everyone to work. Talents differ, but to every man is given his work. All are dependent upon Christ in God. He is the glorious Head of all grades and classes of people associated through faith in the Word of God. Bound together by a common belief in heavenly principles, they are all dependent on Him who is the Author and Finisher of their faith. He has created the principles that produce universal oneness, universal love. His followers should meditate upon His love. They should not stop short of reaching the standard set before them. If the principles of Christianity are lived, they will produce universal harmony and perfect peace. When the heart is imbued with the Spirit of Christ, there is no quarreling, no seeking for the supremacy, no striving to be reigning lords.”—The Upward Look, p. 104.
5. ORGANIZED FOR SERVICE
a. How should we manifest our love for our brethren and sisters? 1 John 3:18.
“All who have been born into the heavenly family are in a special sense the brethren of our Lord. The love of Christ binds together the members of His family, and wherever that love is made manifest there the divine relationship is revealed. ‘Everyone that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God’ (1 John 4:7).
“Those whom Christ commends in the judgment may have known little of theology, but they have cherished His principles. Through the influence of the divine Spirit they have been a blessing to those about them.”—The Desire of Ages, p. 638.
b. How did Jesus show that the life of service is linked to true greatness? Mark 9:35; Matthew 20:25–28.
“The Saviour’s life on earth was not a life of ease and devotion to Himself, but He toiled with persistent, earnest, untiring effort for the salvation of lost mankind. From the manger to Calvary He followed the path of self-denial and sought not to be released from arduous tasks, painful travels and exhausting care and labor. . . . It was His meat and drink to do the will of God and to finish His work. Self and self-interest had no part in His labor.
“So those who are the partakers of the grace of Christ will be ready to make any sacrifice, that others for whom He died may share the heavenly gift. They will do all they can to make the world better for their stay in it.”—Steps to Christ, p. 78.
PERSONAL REVIEW QUESTIONS
1. What is the church meant to reveal to the world?
2. How can we show true unity in the church?
3. How can we have that love for others that goes beyond feelings?
4. What common bond unites us to our brethren and sisters?
5. If we follow Jesus’ example of service to others, what will we be willing to do?