1. THE PARAMOUNT WAYS OF GOD
a. What does God say about the difference between our ways and His ways? Isaiah 55:8, 9.
b. In all our plans to conduct the work of God, what should we take into serious consideration? Ephesians 6:6.
“As a people we should study God’s plans for conducting His work. Wherever He has given directions in regard to any point, we should carefully consider how to regard His expressed will.”—Testimonies to Ministers, p. 342.
c. Describe Paul’s attitude and that of the other apostles regarding gospel order. 1 Corinthians 4:1, 2.
“Paul stood firm for the right. He realized that the church must never be brought under the control of human power. The traditions and maxims of men must not take the place of revealed truth. . . . While looking to God for direct guidance, he was ever ready to recognize the authority vested in the body of believers united in church fellowship. He felt the need of counsel, and when matters of importance arose, he was glad to lay these before the church and to unite with his brethren in seeking God for wisdom to make right decisions.”—The Acts of the Apostles, pp. 199, 200.
2. ORGANIZATION IN OLD TESTAMENT TIMES
a. What counsel did Jethro give to his son-in-law, Moses, and why? Exodus 18:14–22.
“God is a God of order. Everything connected with heaven is in perfect order; subjection and thorough discipline mark the movements of the angelic host. Success can only attend order and harmonious action. God requires order and system in His work now no less than in the days of Israel. All who are working for Him are to labor intelligently, not in a careless, haphazard manner. He would have his work done with faith and exactness, that He may place the seal of His approval upon it.”—Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 376.
b. Specify the four main qualities to be sought in the men chosen to carry responsibilities in the camp of Israel. Exodus 18:21.
“[Exodus 18:19–23 quoted.] This counsel is for us. . . . In His instruction to Moses the Lord very plainly set forth the character of those who were to fill important positions as counselors. They are to be ‘able men, such as fear God, men of truth, hating covetousness.’ The Lord’s counsel has been strangely neglected.”—Testimonies to Ministers, p. 341.
c. Why was Balaam constrained to pronounce blessings upon Israel, while his mind was filled with curses? Numbers 23:8, 9. On what basis would Israel be blessed? Deuteronomy 4:1, 6–9.
“As Balaam looked upon the encampment of Israel he beheld with astonishment the evidence of their prosperity. They had been represented to him as a rude, disorganized multitude, infesting the country in roving bands that were a pest and terror to the surrounding nations; but their appearance was the reverse of all this. He saw the vast extent and perfect arrangement of their camp, everything bearing the marks of thorough discipline and order. He was shown the favor with which God regarded Israel, and their distinctive character as His chosen people. They were not to stand upon a level with other nations, but to be exalted above them all.”—Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 447.
3. ORGANIZATION IN THE NEW TESTAMENT CHURCH
a. For what purpose does God give gifts and grace to every one of His servants? Ephesians 4:7, 8, 11, 12.
“In our several callings there is to be a mutual dependence on one another for assistance.”—Testimonies to Ministers, p. 491.
b. In order for the Lord’s work to succeed in our midst, what must characterize our spirit? 1 Corinthians 12:21, 25; Ephesians 4:16. To what error should they close the door?
“Let us each wait on the Lord, and He will teach us how to labor. He will reveal to us the work that we are best adapted to perform. This will not lead men to start out in an independent spirit, to promulgate new theories. In this time when Satan is seeking to make void the law of God through the exaltation of false science, we need to guard most carefully against everything that would tend to lessen our faith and scatter our forces. As laborers together with God, we should be in harmony with the truth and with our brethren. There should be counsel and cooperation.”—Ibid., p. 490.
“The spirit of pulling away from our fellow laborers, the spirit of disorganization, is in the very air we breathe. By some, all efforts to establish order are regarded as dangerous—as a restriction of personal liberty, and hence to be feared as popery.”—Ibid., p. 488.
c. How should the followers of Christ respect one another? 1 Peter 5:5, 6.
“Among God’s people are some who have had long experience in His work, men who have not departed from the faith. Notwithstanding the great trials through which they have passed, they have remained faithful. These men should be regarded as tried and chosen counselors. They should be respected, and their judgment should be honored by those who are younger or who have had less experience, even though these younger men may be in official positions.”—Ibid., p. 497.
4. UNSELFISH SERVANTS
a. What standard are we to adopt in ordaining church officers? Titus 1:5–9.
“Solemn are the responsibilities resting upon those who are called to act as leaders in the church of God on earth.”—The Acts of the Apostles, p. 92.
“In the work of setting things in order in all the churches, and ordaining suitable men to act as officers, the apostles held to the high standards of leadership outlined in the Old Testament Scriptures.”—Ibid., p. 95.
“The church should feel their responsibility and should look carefully and attentively at the lives, qualifications, and general course of those who profess to be teachers. If unmistakable evidence is not given that God has called them, and that the ‘woe’ is upon them if they heed not this call, it is the duty of the church to act and let it be known that these persons are not acknowledged as teachers by the church.”—Early Writings, p. 100.
“Those who profess to be the ministers of Jesus should be men of experience and deep piety, and then at all times and in all places they can shed a holy influence.”—Ibid., p. 103.
“Suffering, want, despondency, misery, unbelief, the ministers of God will meet every day. Their work is not a work of self-pleasing. Many, many souls are unsaved. Fasten yourselves by faith to the Lord and tell sinners that the Saviour is calling for them.”—The Review and Herald, July 26, 1898.
b. What did the apostle Peter say to the elders of the church regarding their responsibilities as undershepherds of Christ’s flock? 1 Peter 5:1–5.
“Those who occupy the position of undershepherds are to exercise a watchful diligence over the Lord’s flock. This is not to be a dictatorial vigilance, but one that tends to encourage and strengthen and uplift. Ministry means more than sermonizing; it means earnest, personal labor.”—The Acts of the Apostles, p. 526.
“In connection with his instruction to those in positions of trust in the church, the apostle outlined some general principles that were to be followed by all who were associated in church fellowship. The younger members of the flock were urged to follow the example of their elders in the practice of Christlike humility”—Ibid., pp. 527, 528.
5. SELF-SENT MESSENGERS
a. What work is God doing in behalf of His children in these last days? What stratagem is Satan using to hinder the Lord’s work? Romans 16:17, 18; Acts 20:27–30.
“Now in these last days, while God is bringing His children into the unity of the faith, there is more real need of order than ever before; for, as God unites His children, Satan and his evil angels are very busy to prevent this unity and to destroy it. Therefore men are hurried into the field who lack wisdom and judgment, perhaps not ruling well their own house, and not having order or government over the few that God has given them charge of at home; yet they feel capable of having charge of the flock.”—Early Writings, p. 97.
“Men whose lives are not holy and who are unqualified to teach the present truth enter the field without being acknowledged by the church or the brethren generally, and confusion and disunion are the result.”—Ibid.
b. Which is easier—to go into places that have been spoiled by self-sent messengers or to enter new fields?
“It is much more wearing to the spirits of God’s messengers to go into places where those have been who have exerted [a] wrong influence than to enter new fields.”—Ibid., p. 99.
PERSONAL REVIEW QUESTIONS
1. What qualities should be evident in those who are selected for God’s work?
2. Why does God give gifts and grace to every one of His servants?
3. What attitude must we all manifest towards one another to ensure the success of the Lord’s work in our midst?
4. What standard did the apostles adopt in ordaining officers for the church?
5. What is the warning of Paul in Acts 20:27–30?