1. PRAYER FOR UNITY
a. What problem leading up to the crucifixion was manifested among the disciples—and what new principle did Jesus therefore introduce at the last Passover supper? Luke 22:24; John 13:34, 35; 17:21.
b. How can harmony be achieved? John 17:23; Isaiah 52:8; Colossians 1:23.
c. What is harmony—and has it ever been achieved? Acts 2:1; 1 Corinthians 1:10.
“Many things which have reference to outward forms are not all defined in the Scriptures, but are left unsettled; and personal preferences have often been urged too strongly over these matters. When every item is not in accordance with the practice of some other of the body of believers, let not little variances swell into grievances and cause disunion. The methods and measures by which we reach certain ends are not always precisely the same. We are required to use reason and judgment as to how we shall move. Experience will show what is the fittest course to pursue under existing circumstances. Let not controversy arise over trifles. The spirit of love and the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ will bind heart to heart, if each will open the windows of the heart heavenward and close them earthward.”—The Ellen G. White 1888 Materials, p. 1698.
2. THOSE THAT FOLLOW AFTER
a. What problem was foretold in the new church? 2 Thessalonians 2:3, 4.
b. What is the best way to identify the true teachers? John 10:27–29.
“The Eastern shepherd does not drive his sheep. He depends not upon force or fear; but going before, he calls them. They know his voice, and obey the call. So does the Saviour-Shepherd with His sheep. . . .Through the prophet, Jesus declares, ‘I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with loving-kindness have I drawn thee.’ He compels none to follow Him. ‘I drew them,’ He says, ‘with cords of a man, with bands of love.’ ”—The Desire of Ages, p. 480.
“When errors arise and are taught as Bible truth, those who have a connection with Christ will not trust to what the minister says, but like the noble Bereans, they will search the Scriptures daily to see if these things are so. When they discover what is the word of the Lord, they will take their stand on the side of the truth. They will hear the voice of the True Shepherd saying, ‘This is the way, walk ye in it.’ Thus you will be educated to make the Bible the man of your counsel, and the voice of a stranger you will neither hear nor follow.”—Faith and Works, p. 86.
c. What call is made to true believers in all places—and why do they choose to separate from those they have long loved? John 10:16; Revelation 18:4.
“Jesus thought upon the souls all over the earth who were misled by false shepherds. Those whom He longed to gather as the sheep of His pasture were scattered among wolves, and He said, ‘Other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear My voice; and they shall become one flock, one shepherd.’ John 10:16, R. V.”—The Desire of Ages, p. 483.
“In our day few of the professed followers of the Reformers are actuated by their spirit. Few are listening for the voice of God, and ready to accept truth in whatever guise it may be presented. Often those who follow in the steps of the Reformers are forced to turn away from the churches they love, in order to declare the plain teaching of the word of God. And many times those who are seeking for light are by the same teaching obliged to leave the church of their fathers, that they may render obedience.”—Ibid., p. 232.
d. Once separated, how do we survive and why do we need to be a part of the fold? Romans 12:4, 5; Ephesians 4:25; 2:19; 1 Corinthians 12:27.
3. PERFECTING THE SAINTS
a. What does God give to help the church, and for what purpose? Ephesians 4:8, 11–14; 1 Corinthians 12:18.
“In sending forth His ministers our Saviour gave gifts unto men, for through them He communicates to the world the words of eternal life. This is the means which God has ordained for the perfecting of the saints in knowledge and true holiness. The work of Christ’s servants is not merely to preach the truth; they are to watch for souls as they that must render account to God. They are to reprove, rebuke, exhort with long-suffering and doctrine.
“All who have been benefited by the labors of God’s servant should, according to their ability, unite with him in working for the salvation of souls. This is the work of all true believers, ministers and people. They should keep the grand object ever in view, each seeking to fill his proper position in the church, and all working together in order, harmony, and love.”—Testimonies for the Church, vol. 5, p. 237, 238.
b. What is the purpose of the various gifts in the church? Matthew 20:25–28.
“God dispenses His gifts as it pleases Him. He bestows one gift upon one, and another gift upon another, but all for the good of the whole body. It is in God’s order that some shall be of service in one line of work, and others in other lines—all working under the selfsame Spirit. The recognition of this plan will be a safeguard against emulation, pride, envy, or contempt of one another. It will strengthen unity and mutual love.”—Counsels to Parents, Teachers, and Students, pp. 314, 315.
“Every child of God should have sanctified judgment to consider the cause as a whole and the relation of each part to every other part, that none may lack. The field is large, and there is a great work of reform to be carried forward, not in one or two lines, but in every line. The medical missionary work is a part of this work of reform, but it should never become the means of separating the workers in the ministry from their field of labor. The education of students in medical missionary lines is not complete unless they are trained to work in connection with the church and the ministry, and the usefulness of those who are preparing for the ministry would be greatly increased if they would become intelligent on the great and important subject of health. The influence of the Holy Spirit is needed that the work may be properly balanced and that it may move forward solidly in every line.”—Testimonies for the Church, vol. 6, p. 291.
4. BUILDING THE BODY
a. What character will the redeemed have and what is necessary in order to develop that character? 1 John 3:2, 3; John 17:3.
“True sanctification comes through the working out of the principle of love. ‘God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him.’ 1 John 4:16. The life of him in whose heart Christ abides, will reveal practical godliness. The character will be purified, elevated, ennobled, and glorified. Pure doctrine will blend with works of righteousness; heavenly precepts will mingle with holy practices.”—The Acts of the Apostles, p. 560.
“Christ is the complete system of truth.”—Selected Messages, bk. 3, p. 198.
“The early Christians were indeed a peculiar people. Their blameless deportment and unswerving faith were a continual reproof that disturbed the sinner’s peace. Though few in numbers, without wealth, position, or honorary titles, they were a terror to evildoers wherever their character and doctrines were known.”—The Great Controversy, p. 46.
b. How important is preserving pure doctrines in this church as an essential part of the formation of character? Jude 3.
“The apostles and their colaborers in the early Christian church were constantly obliged to meet heresies, which were brought in by false teachers in the very bosom of the church. These teachers are represented not as coming openly, but creeping in unawares, with the gliding motion of a serpent. They followed their own pernicious ways, but were not satisfied without drawing away others with them. They had no connected chain of truth, but taught a disjointed medley of ideas, supported by a passage of Scripture here and another there. These disconnected scriptures were woven together into a tissue of falsehood that would strike the fancy, and would deceive those who had not, by searching the Scriptures for themselves, become established in the truth for that time.”—The Signs of the Times, March 27, 1884.
“The errors that crept into the early church, and threatened its prosperity, have never been extinct. They are peculiarly active at the present time, constituting one of the perils of the last days. And God requires us to stand, as did John in his time, unflinchingly for the truth. With the love of the truth burning in our hearts, we shall ‘earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered to the saints.’ ”—Ibid., January 29, 1885.
5. THE BODY OF CHRIST
a. What is the body of Christ? Colossians 1:18; Ephesians 4:15.
“The Redeemer of the world does not sanction experience and exercise in religious matters independent of his organized and acknowledged church. Many have an idea that they are responsible to Christ alone for their light and experience, independent of His recognized followers on earth. But in the history of the conversion of Saul, important principles are given us, which we should ever bear in mind. He was brought directly into the presence of Christ. He was one whom Christ intended for a most important work, one who was to be ‘a chosen vessel’ unto Him; yet He did not personally impart to him the lessons of truth. He arrested his course and convicted him; but when asked by him, ‘What wilt thou have me to do?’ the Saviour placed him in connection with His church, and let them direct him what to do.”—Sketches From the Life of Paul, p. 31.
b. How many bodies does Christ have and why are there at times many more that are professing allegiance to Him? Ephesians 4:4; Isaiah 4:1.
“Another obligation, too often lightly regarded . . . is the obligation of church relationship. . . .
“Connection with Christ . . . involves connection with His church.”—Education, p. 268.
c. Why are we placed in church capacity? 1 Corinthians 12:19–26.
“The church is organized for service; and in a life of service to Christ, connection with the church is one of the first steps. Loyalty to Christ demands the faithful performance of church duties.”—Ibid., pp. 268, 269.
PERSONAL REVIEW QUESTIONS
1. What should be our earnest prayer and how is that achieved?
2. How can we know who is teaching the truth?
3. How do the gifts in the church help to perfect the character of members?
4. What part do doctrines have in the transformation of character?
5. Why is it important to be part of the body of Christ, His recognized church?