Wednesday: Unity of the Church
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The church-depicted as the “called out” of God, the “people of God,” the “body of Christ” and the “temple of the Holy Spirit” – is fitted for service or mission.

Image © Steve Creitz from GoodSalt.com

Unity is essential to the church because without it the church cannot successfully accomplish its mission. It is no wonder that the issue of unity was on Christ’s mind toward the close of his earthly life (John 17:21-22).

Jesus prayed for the unity of the church (John 17:21-22); Paul exhorted the believers about it (Rom. 15:5-6). How are we to understand unity as it is expressed in these texts? What does this unity mean?

The unity that Christ prayed for and that Paul exhorted the believers to attain clearly involved a union of feeling, thought, action, and much more. It is not a harmony that is achieved through social “engineering,” diplomatic management, or political subterfuge. It is a gift bestowed upon believers by the indwelling Christ (John 17:22-23) and kept by the power of God the Father (John 17:11).

Read 1 Corinthians 1:10 and 2 Corinthians 13:11. How are we to achieve what Paul calls for in these texts?

There is no question that we are all different people, and we have different views regarding many things, views that can at times make unity difficult. Though stresses and strains are inevitable at every level of the church, we all need to keep an attitude of humility, self-denial, and a desire for a good that is greater than ourselves. So many of the divisions that arise do so because of selfishness, pride, and a desire to exalt oneself and one’s views over others. None of us has it all right; none of us understands all things perfectly. Whatever the inevitable differences that will arise, were we all to daily take up our crosses, daily die to self, daily seek not only our own good but the good of others and the good of the church as a whole, so many of the problems with which we struggle and which hinder the work would vanish.

In short, unity begins with each one of us, individually, as followers of Christ – not just in name but in a life of true self-sacrifice; a life dedicated to a cause and a good greater than ourselves.

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Wednesday: Unity of the Church — 20 Comments

  1. Unity is very crucial for the church. This unity is not feasible should endeavoured on one accord. The common denominator to this unity is the Holy Spirit.
    The GC leadership is asking the world church (SDA) to unite in prayer for the out pouring of the Latter rain Spirit. This GC sponsored program is called "Tripple 7" meaning, members must prayer at 7am, 7pm & 7/7. Knowing the time in which we are living, above program is the step in the right direction and ideal. Through the enabling power of the H/Spirit, we be empowered to unite for a common course of evangelising the world around us with the advent message.

    The life of the members of the body of Christ and corporate church body depends on prayer and bible study. Given the intensity of whats happening in the spiritual realm, we need not take a layedback approach or being passive but intensity is what is being called for. Eph 6.12 says, For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. We need to depend on God for a united front in this great controversy.
    The leadership from all levels of church hierarchy (GC, Divisions, Conferences & Union Missions, Local Missions and Local church) must demonstrate unity leading the membership of the church.

    The South Pacific Division (SPD) leadership is very ignorant of tripple 7 prayer and bible reading program which commenced in April 17th, 2012 and ending in 2015 during GC session reading the last chapter of Rev. both of which are GC sponsored programs. Programs of such magnitude should be reverberated across pulpits and podiums to all members in the body of Christ but it is unfortunate. Is this is the kind of leadership we need to take us through in this testing times?

    We can't be aiming for victory should there be discord at the higher level of the church hierarchy, can we? This battle Eph 6.12 is talking about is not ours. However, God will fight the battle for us and we need to unite and align ourselves with God with an attitude of humility and self-denial desiring for good that is greater than ourselves.

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    • I remember many years ago in the church I was attending that we thought we needed the latter rain so the whole church prayed for days and nothing happened. At the time we were perplexed why after such fervent prayer we still hadn't received the outpouring of the spirit. Looking back I realize that we were completely unprepared for it and praying for the wrong thing as well. We wanted the experience but not the transformation that is supposed to precede it. Quite frankly, at that point we really didn't understand what was really needed and I wonder if we are any better off today.

      Besides that, to me GC sponsored programs is not where it is at - that is something we should have learned a long while ago. It needs to be a movement from the grass roots, one that deeply feels a need for righteousness and consecration to God. Such a thing cannot be mandated; it must come from a willing heart. While I say that I also recognize a need for good coordinating leadership and a bit of prodding now and then. I tend to view church organization as the lubrication in the transmission of the church that keeps everything moving smoothly. It isn't the force that drives the gears but has a moderation role, a kind of mediator that prevents things from clogging up.

      I realize that the church has been likened to an army but military organization is far more of a dictatorship than the democracy that Jesus would like to see in the church. It is the church body guided by the Holy Spirit that moves it forward and it is the Holy Spirit within it that purifies and refines the body.

      With that in mind here are two quotes from Ellen White that should cause some concern.

      The great outpouring of the Spirit of God, which lightens the whole earth with His glory, will not come until we have an enlightened people, that know by experience what it means to be laborers together with God. When we have entire, wholehearted consecration to the service of Christ, God will recognize the fact by an outpouring of His Spirit without measure; but this will not be while the largest portion of the church are not laborers together with God. God cannot pour out His Spirit when selfishness and self-indulgence are so manifest; when a spirit prevails that, if put into words, would express that answer of Cain,-- "Am I my brother's keeper?" (Review and Herald, July 21, 1896, https://egwwritings.org/?ref=en_RH.July.21.1896.par.2).

      It was by the confession and forsaking of sin, by earnest prayer and consecration of themselves to God, that the early disciples prepared for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost. The same work, only in greater degree, must be done now. Then the human agent had only to ask for the blessing, and wait for the Lord to perfect the work concerning him. It is God who began the work, and He will finish His work, making man complete in Jesus Christ. But there must be no neglect of the grace represented by the former rain. Only those who are living up to the light they have will receive greater light. Unless we are daily advancing in the exemplification of the active Christian virtues, we shall not recognize the manifestations of the Holy Spirit in the latter rain. It may be falling on hearts all around us, but we shall not discern or receive it. (Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers 507.1, https://egwwritings.org/?ref=en_TM.507.1)

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  2. We are called solemnly before the humble seat, to share the infallible passion we were granted as we sinned. Is not easy to let unity prevail where coercion is, but to the church we are one body. We came in with individual idealisms but whatever we do are automated to the tasks we've been assigned to. We have different values and precepts since we came in from different walks of life but as we become one, we look unto the pinnacle of ascertaining the victory since we have the same goal as Christians.

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  3. Unity is not uniformity, we are all gifted with different talents by Christ for a common purpose and objective. Unity is strength and once we humble ourselves in the presence of God and allow the Holy Spirit to baptise us we will be united. The world will know that we are christians by our love.

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  4. If the enemy is allowed, he will use any means necessary to divide the church. Each of us who are members of the church need to look at ourself to determine if we are engaged in dividing or uniting the church. Only when we are united with Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit can we work effectively and in unity to usher in God's Kingdom.

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  5. If the enemy is allowed, it will use any means necessary to divide the church.
    The apparent over whelming need we seem to have with the web is a red flag to me. As we approach the time of Christ's return we will experience that these needs to come into the web for what seem to be benevolent actions and site, it in turn affect us in ways we don't know or even are able to consider. We are being changed while we think we are learning the true we are being robbed of that very unity we will need, at which is essential, for the unity of His people. The enemy knows our brains well and it knows what it is doing to us. We are not whom we claim to be. Is not terminal yet but getting there
    .

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  6. We are having a problem at our church about the setting of baptismal goals, such that a church or a district is given a figure to baptize. This is causing disunity among us. This issue of goals is said to have been agreed upon by the GC, please help me. I am worried about this, and I am new in the eldership.

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    • I share your concern brother. It is not [in my personal view] good to set targets for churches. The great commission is, 'go ye into the world and teach people of a nations, and baptize them in the name of the Father, the Son and of the Holy Spirit:' The Master did not set a numerical target. The only universal target is 'teach and baptize ALL' so individual churches should work towards achieving that universal target. It seems the G.C is interested in the numerical growth rather than the spiritual which is a qualification to enter the kingdom of God. Remember the Master said, 'many are called few are chosen' but we are doing the opposite.

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  7. Hi brothers and sisters in Christ.
    I came here Tuesday for the first time. I think. Then today I am back but I am still on Tuesday’s lesson.
    How do we navigate to the next day’s lesson or to past and future lessons?
    I still think it is best to study away of the wed’s influence. Still I need to convince the Brethren.

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    • Hi byrl de lorena Welcome on board... just check the second top line after 'November 20, 2012' you will see arrowed titles for navigation e.g. 'One God – One Goal – One Glory →' for NEXT and '← 08: The Church: In Service to Humanity – Teaching Plan' for PREVIOUS

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  8. This week's lesson is an eye opener to my local church. I just hope those who are interested in governing the church as a political institution will stop forthwith. May the gentle Holy Spirit speak to their hearts.

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  9. Hello Nicholas. The same normally disturbs me. Setting goals may lead to a rushed evangelism and witnessing which may cause many to be baptized but over a short while the baptized members go to their former unclean ways because they lacked proper nurturing. Instead of goals let us set a continuous series of evangelism through which many can be baptized and wholly nurtured to bring many to the Master. Happy Sabbath.

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    • Amen, Kengere. While our goals may express our desires, God's command is to make disciples, and baptism is certainly only one part of the process of discipleship. May the Lord help us to be His disciples ourselves as well as disciple-makers for Him.

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  10. “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? And what communion hath light with darkness?” (2Cor 6:14) How can we claim to be under the shadow of the All Mighty while frequenting the bosom of lucifer at the same time? This will not be a mute point, even if some might not be willing to mention it because of intimidation. Those of us frequenting the web are having our brains/reasoning scrambled in ways not understood or even describable by human language. I read some place that; “Often, the sinners are more active doing wrong than the saints are in doing good.” Do you think? To that we can say; “very often indeed.” I also read that; “If we let the enemy have half it will take it all, and if we only give God half, He will have none.” In Genesis 11, God mentions, and we might feel cheated having someone need to point it out, that there is power in the wicked when they come into agreement.
    Lots of us might remember when sunglasses did not have UV protection. It was worse to wear them than to not use any at all. The reason is that the darker lenses would trick our eyes to open their pupils and to function as if it were darker. Say ah. By not blocking the UV rays these dark lens glasses were actually harmful to the eyes. Some of us might also recall recordings which became a fad back in the 1960s or so, which had sounds of animals and other nature sounds. It turns out, as we found out later with the development of better technology, that some of the sounds of the animals, which our parents were relaxing to, were sounds of agony and despair. They turned out to be animals being eaten by other animals or of mothers losing their young to that fate. Do we even consider that this might have a lasting effect on us as a society, in some decision making abilities or in some unknown ways? We have all given a person a ride in our vehicle, to some unknown place to us, and experienced when doing so that if they tell us where they need to go, we can figure out the way, then not hard to recall the route taken, afterwards. Not hard to remember our way of figuring it out. Yet, if when we get on the way, they take the co-pilot’s role, trying to be helpful yet being distracting, and to say the least mind numbing. By the time they get dropped, we have no idea of the route we took. To the point that if they were to call us the next day and ask that we retrace it, we would be mostly at a loss. Providing the driver with the address and sit back is best. The human mind seems to work in such ways. We do not know all the sophistication our brain was made with. “I will praise you; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvelous are your works; and that my soul knows very well.” (Ps. 139:14).

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    • Sister White writes: “The period of Christ’s personal ministry among men was a time of great activity for the forces of the kingdom of darkness. Satan summoned all its forces and at every step contested the work of Christ.” In the bottom of that same page, she uses the words; “technicalities” and “broadcast” when addressing the last day events. “History is repeating.” Repeats or echoes? It is human nature reflected in time. Christ will never need to go through another actual crucifixion. His bride, on the other hand, in some ways will. “Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Mk 8:37). We can thank God for the miracle of our changed nature. We are not to blame the enemy for our willingness to remain in the dark. Or for our unwillingness to notice leftovers, effects from the confusion and wilds the enemy has used and left us with. In the first paragraph of the next page of that same publication, Sister White makes comments on things which would turn lights on when viewed within the fresh confines presented here of the great controversy. Let us keep in mind that the web was not yet in existence back when, no PC’s no phones nor electric grids. In Revelations we are told that the enemy would be swift as a panther, when describing cunning, effective yet very accurate methods to perform wild, inebriating delusions, which is the unchangeable enemy’s nature focused on God’s bride.

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