Further Thought: Ellen G. White, “Unity in Diversity”, pages 98-103, in Evangelism.
The following quote helps reveal how the early church, united in Christ, was able to maintain unity despite differences among them, and thus be a powerful witness to the world. “Within the church, Scripture illustrates how the Holy Spirit guided the early church in its decision-making process.
This is done in at least three closely interconnected ways: revelations (e.g., the Spirit told the people what to do; Cornelius, Ananias, Philip; and perhaps the casting of lots), Scripture (the church reached a conclusion in which the Scripture was used), and consensus (the Spirit worked from within the community, almost imperceptibly, creating a consensus through dialogue and study at the end of which the church realizes that the Spirit was working within it). It appears that when faced with cultural, doctrinal, and theological controversies among the community of believers, the Holy Spirit worked through consensus in its decision-making process. In this process, we see the active role of the community of believers and not just its leaders, and the importance of prayer for discernment. The guidance of the Holy Spirit is sensed throughout the community’s understanding of the Word of God, the experience of the community and its needs, and through the experience of its leaders as they minister. Various church decisions were made through a process guided by the Holy Spirit in which Scripture, prayer, and experience were elements of theological reflection.” – Denis Fortin, “The Holy Spirit and the Church”, Ángel Manuel Rodríguez, ed., Message, Mission, and Unity of the Church, pages 321, 322.