1. LEADING GIFTS IN THE CHURCH
a. How should we treat one another regardless of gifts we may possess? Name some gifts mentioned first. Romans 12:10; 1 Corinthians 12:28–30, 11.
b. Explain some duties of ministers—and why their work is not limited to one church. John 21:15–17; 2 Corinthians 11:28; Titus 1:5; 1 Corinthians 4:17.
“The older ministers should be careful that they do not, by precept or example, give young men to understand that the work of laborers in the field consists in preaching. The education of which young ministers are in greatest need, is that which will enable them to work in the various departments of the cause, and relieve those who are wearing out from overwork. There are also laymen in the church who have ability that can be brought into service, and who should be made responsible for some part of the work. Let them feel that there are to be no idlers in the vineyard of the Lord.”—The Review and Herald, July 24, 1883.
c. Who selects the workers and what do they become once chosen? 2 Corinthians 8:16–19, 23.
“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.”—Early Writings, p. 97.
a. What is the role of elders and how should we treat them? Acts 20:28; 1 Peter 5:1–5; James 5:14; Hebrews 13:17, 18.
b. Describe the process of ordination and explain when it is appropriate. Acts 6:1–3, 6; 14:23; 1 Timothy 4:14; Titus 1:7–9.
“When responsibilities are to be entrusted to an individual, the question is not asked whether he is eloquent or wealthy, but whether he is honest, faithful, and industrious; for whatever may be his accomplishments, without these qualifications he is utterly unfit for any position of trust.”—Testimonies for the Church, vol. 4, p. 413.
“I saw that you had thought this one and that one were called to labor in the field, when you know nothing of the matter. You cannot read the heart. If you had drunk deep of the truth of the third angel’s message, you would not be so free to tell who were called of God, and who were not. The fact that one can pray and talk well is no evidence that God has called him. Everyone has an influence, and that influence should tell for God; but the question whether this one or that one should devote his time to labor for souls, is of the deepest importance, and none but God can decide who shall engage in the solemn work. There were good men in the apostles’ days, men who could pray with power and talk to the point; yet the apostles, who had power over unclean spirits and could heal the sick, dared not with merely their wisdom set one apart for the holy work of being mouthpiece for God. They waited unmistakable evidence of the manifestation of the Holy Spirit. I saw that God had laid upon His chosen ministers the duty of deciding who was fit for the holy work; and in union with the church and the manifest tokens of the Holy Spirit, they were to decide who should go and who were unfit to go. I saw that if it should be left to a few individuals here and there to decide who was sufficient for this great work, confusion and distraction everywhere would be the fruit.”—Ibid., vol. 1, pp. 208, 209.
“The same principles of piety and justice that were to guide the rulers among God’s people in the time of Moses and of David, were also to be followed by those given the oversight of the newly organized church of God in the gospel dispensation. 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.”—The Acts of the Apostles, p. 95.
3. OPEN SIN
a. How are we to deal with sin in the church? Matthew 18:15–20; James 5:19, 20. Once a person is separated from church membership, what is the only way for re-entry? Acts 2:38.
“You have excused yourself for speaking evil of your brother or sister or neighbor to others before going to him and taking the steps which God has absolutely commanded. You say: ‘Why, I did not speak to anyone until I was so burdened that I could not refrain.’ What burdened you? Was it not a plain neglect of your own duty, of a thus saith the Lord? You were under the guilt of sin because you did not go and tell the offender his fault between you and him alone. If you did not do this, if you disobeyed God, how could you be otherwise than burdened unless your heart was hardened while you were trampling the command of God underfoot, and in your heart hating your brother or neighbor? And what way have you found to unburden yourself? God reproves you for a sin of omission in not telling your brother his fault, and you excuse and comfort yourself by a sin of commission by telling your brother’s faults to another person! Is this the right way to purchase ease—by committing sin?”—Testimonies for the Church, vol. 2, p. 53.
“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. No one has ever been reclaimed from a wrong position by censure and reproach; but many have thus been driven from Christ and led to seal their hearts against conviction. A tender spirit, a gentle, winning deportment, may save the erring and hide a multitude of sins. The revelation of Christ in your own character will have a transforming power upon all with whom you come in contact.”—Thoughts From the Mount of Blessing, pp. 128, 129.
b. Do all sins need to follow Matthew 18? Explain. 1 Timothy 5:20.
“[The] husband [of a certain sister] seemed to feel unreconciled to my bringing out her faults before the church and stated that if Sister White had followed the directions of our Lord in Matthew 18:15–17 he should not have felt hurt. . . .
“My husband then stated that he should understand that these words of our Lord had reference to cases of personal trespass, and could not be applied in the case of this sister. She had not trespassed against Sister White. But that which had been reproved publicly was public wrongs which threatened the prosperity of the church and the cause.”—Testimonies for the Church, vol. 2, p. 15.
4. SETTLING DOCTRINES
a. Does every church member decide on doctrinal questions? Acts 15:3–6.
“The entire body of Christians were not called to vote upon the question. The apostles and elders—men of influence and judgment—framed and issued the decree, which was thereupon generally accepted by the Christian churches.”—Sketches From the Life of Paul, p. 70.
“Every member of the church has a voice in choosing officers of the church. The church chooses the officers of the state conferences. Delegates chosen by the state conferences choose the officers of the union conferences, and delegates chosen by the union conferences choose the officers of the General Conference. By this arrangement every conference, every institution, every church, and every individual, either directly or through representatives, has a voice in the election of the men who bear the chief responsibilities in the General Conference.”—Testimonies for the Church, vol. 8, pp. 236, 237.
b. Once an official decision is made, how are we to treat that decision and what effect does that have on the whole body? Acts 15:22–30; 16:4, 5.
c. What if individual members or workers refuse such decisions? Matthew 15:14; Revelation 2:1, 2; Romans 16:17.
“There are a thousand temptations in disguise prepared for those who have the light of truth; and the only safety for any of us is in receiving no new doctrine, no new interpretation of the Scriptures, without first submitting it to brethren of experience. Lay it before them in a humble, teachable spirit, with earnest prayer; and if they see no light in it, yield to their judgment; for ‘in the multitude of counselors there is safety.’ ”—Ibid., vol. 5, p. 293.
“God is leading out a people, not a few separate individuals here and there, one believing this thing, another that. Angels of God are doing the work committed to their trust. The third angel is leading out and purifying a people, and they should move with him unitedly. Some run ahead of the angels that are leading this people; but they have to retrace every step, and meekly follow no faster than the angels lead. I saw that the angels of God would lead His people no faster than they could receive and act upon the important truths that are communicated to them. But some restless spirits do not more than half do up their work. As the angel leads them, they get in haste for something new, and rush on without divine guidance, and thus bring confusion and discord into the ranks.”—Ibid., vol. 1, p. 207.
5. GOD’S CARE
a. How does God view His church? Deuteronomy 32:9, 10; Zechariah 2:8.
“When the Lord chose the Jewish nation, and bade them not to unite themselves with another people, it was that they might not be corrupted, that the light might be communicated to them to be given to the world. Did the Lord refuse to let His light shine upon other nations? No; but those idolatrous nations were raising up barriers, interposing obstructions, turning farther and farther away from the light; they were going deeper and deeper into the moral darkness, and becoming more and more blinded. One nation must be made the depository of sacred truth, so that there might be at least one channel through which the rays of light could shine forth to the world. So in this age God has committed to His people most sacred truth; He means that they shall have light to shed amid the darkness which surrounds them.”—The Ellen G. White 1888 Materials, p. 1012.
“If we place ourselves on the side of God, of Christ and the heavenly intelligences, the broad shield of Omnipotence is over us, the mighty God of Israel is our helper, and we need not fear. Those who touch the people of God, touch the apple of His eye.”—Ibid., p. 903.
b. What kind of church will be ready for Jesus? Titus 2:11–14; 1 John 3:2, 3.
“By [Christ’s] perfect obedience He has made it possible for every human being to obey God’s commandments. When we submit ourselves to Christ, the heart is united with His heart, the will is merged in His will, the mind becomes one with His mind, the thoughts are brought into captivity to Him; we live His life. This is what it means to be clothed with the garment of His righteousness.”—Christ’s Object Lessons, p. 312.
PERSONAL REVIEW QUESTIONS
1. Who gives the gifts to the church and who determines how they are used?
2. Name some key principles to keep in mind regarding ordination of workers.
3. Distinguish between the way personal vs. public sins are to be addressed.
4. Who is to settle doctrinal issues and how should we regard such decisions?
5. How is God’s care for His people on earth depicted and what character are they to have when Jesus comes again?