Visit our blog for a discussion of the daily Sabbath School lesson with students from around the world.

This is the Biblia Edition
Click here for the BibleGateway Edition
Oneness in Christ
Sabbath School Lesson Begins
Bible Study Guide - 4th Quarter 2018

Lesson 2 October 6-12

Causes of Disunity

Sabbath Afternoon

Read for This Week’s Study: Deut. 28:1-14, Jer. 3:14-18, Judg. 17:6, 1 Kings 12:1-16, 1 Cor. 1:10-17, Acts 20:25-31.

Memory Text: “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding” (Proverbs 9:10, NKJV).

Old Testament prophets repeatedly called upon the people of Israel to obey God’s instructions. Disobedience and carelessness would lead to apostasy and disunity. Obedience to God’s laws was intended as a means to preserve the people from the natural consequences of sin and to sanctify them in the midst of many foreign nations. Following God’s will would create harmony among the people and strengthen their community resolve to withstand the inroads of the pagan and evil worship practices that surrounded them from almost every direction. God’s intention was for His people to be holy and to be a witness to the nations around them.

As the Lord said to them after delivering the Hebrews from Egypt: “Surely I have taught you statutes and judgments, just as the LORD my God commanded me, that you should act according to them in the land which you go to possess. Therefore be careful to observe them; for this is your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the peoples who will hear all these statutes, and say, ‘Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people’ ” (Deut. 4:5, 6, NKJV).

No question: were they to remain faithful, His people would be greatly blessed and would have been a blessing to others. Unfaithfulness, though, would lead to a host of problems, disunity being just one of many.

Study this week’s lesson to prepare for Sabbath, October 13.

Sunday ↥         October 7

“Return, O Backsliding Children”

The history of the people of Israel is filled with stories of disobedience and anarchy, followed by a return to God and obedience, and then followed again with more disobedience and conflicts. This pattern repeats itself over and over. Each time God’s people consciously followed His will, they were blessed with peace and life. Each time they disobeyed and followed their own ways, their lives became miserable, filled with wars and conflicts. Even before Israel entered the Promised Land, God had predicted this pattern and offered the solution to avoid such dire consequences to their existence.

Read Deuteronomy 28:1-14. What blessings would come to Israel if the people were obedient to God’s will?


Read Jeremiah 3:14-18. What do we learn from God’s call to Israel to repent and return to Him? What does it tell us about God’s love and patience for His people?


What is amazing in the book of Jeremiah is how God is seen as loving, merciful, and generous toward His people in spite of their rebellion, division, and idolatry. God constantly is inviting His people to return to Him and to repent from their wayward actions. Again and again God promised restoration and hope for the future.

“Return, backsliding Israel”, says the LORD; “I will not cause My anger to fall on you. For I am merciful”, says the LORD; “I will not remain angry forever. Only acknowledge your iniquity, that you have transgressed against the LORD your God, and have scattered your charms to alien deities under every green tree, and you have not obeyed My voice”, says the LORD” (Jer. 3:12, 13, NKJV).

Jeremiah’s words were spoken at a time of general neglect of God’s Word. Although some reforms were started in the time of King Josiah, most people felt no spiritual urge to continue in faithful obedience to God. Their sins, idolatry, and self-centered lives were causing spiritual and political ruin. The more they regressed from doing God’s will, the more dreadful would be their future prospects. Yet, through Jeremiah, God pleaded with them. God had a better future in mind for them, and He longed to bring them back to prosperity, unity, and health. But this could come only if they would live by faith and all that true faith entails.

What has the difference between obedience and disobedience meant in your own life?

Monday ↥         October 8

Right in His Own Eyes

Stories from the book of Judges show the numerous negative consequences of Israel not following the Lord’s will. Soon after Israel entered into Canaan, people began to pattern their spiritual lives on the false religions of the Canaanites surrounding them-exactly what they were told not to do! Unfortunately, that wasn’t the only problem they were facing either.

Read Judges 17:6 and Judges 21:25. What do these verses teach about more problems that arose among God’s people?


Talk about a recipe for division and disunity among God’s people. The unity of the nation was to be found in their loyal obedience to the Lord of the covenant, the covenant that they had entered into with God. By doing, however, what was right in their own eyes-especially as they were being influenced by the surrounding nations-they were on the sure road to disaster. We are all fallen beings, and if left to our own devices, if left to follow the inclinations of our hearts, we’ll surely wander from the path that God calls us to walk on.

What do the following passages tell us about the spiritual and social conditions of Israel during the time of the judges?

Judg. 2:11-13


Judg. 3:5-7


“The Lord had through Moses set before His people the result of unfaithfulness. By refusing to keep His covenant, they would cut themselves off from the life of God, and His blessing could not come upon them. At times these warnings were heeded, and rich blessings were bestowed upon the Jewish nation and through them upon surrounding peoples. But more often in their history they forgot God and lost sight of their high privilege as His representatives. They robbed Him of the service He required of them, and they robbed their fellow men of religious guidance and a holy example. They desired to appropriate to themselves the fruits of the vineyard over which they had been made stewards. Their covetousness and greed caused them to be despised even by the heathen. Thus the Gentile world was given occasion to misinterpret the character of God and the laws of His kingdom.” - Ellen G. White, Prophets and Kings, pp. 20, 21.

How do our own actions as a church impact those around us? What do they see in Seventh-day Adventists that would impress them in a positive manner?

Tuesday ↥         October 9

The Division of the Hebrew Nation

The path of apostasy, and its dire consequences, didn’t happen overnight. But the wrong choices and decisions that accumulated over the long centuries finally led to some terrible consequences for God’s people.

Read the story of King Rehoboam in 1 Kings 12:1-16. What caused this terrible division among God’s people?


“Had Rehoboam and his inexperienced counselors understood the divine will concerning Israel, they would have listened to the request of the people for decided reforms in the administration of the government. But in the hour of opportunity that came to them during the meeting in Shechem, they failed to reason from cause to effect, and thus forever weakened their influence over a large number of the people. Their expressed determination to perpetuate and add to the oppression introduced during Solomon’s reign was in direct conflict with God’s plan for Israel, and gave the people ample occasion to doubt the sincerity of their motives. In this unwise and unfeeling attempt to exercise power, the king and his chosen counselors revealed the pride of position and authority.” - Ellen G. White, Prophets and Kings, p. 90.

What do the following statements say about the need for wisdom in making the right decisions? Where is the source of true wisdom?

Prov. 4:1-9
Prov. 9:10
James 1:5

The story of Rehoboam and his rash and unwise decision to impose more conscripted labor on his people is a sad event in the life of the kingdom of Israel. The king sought counsel from two groups of advisors, but his final decision to follow the counsel of less-experienced young men his own age brought a catastrophe on the kingdom that his father Solomon and grandfather David had built during the preceding 80 years. The advice that the king should intimidate the crowd by declaring that he is tougher than his father was foolish counsel. The young advisors believed that to be sympathetic of the people’s demands for less-rigorous labor was not the leadership style the king should adopt. He should, they said, present himself as ruthless and cruel instead. In the end, he showed himself to be a bully and undeserving of his people’s allegiance and faithfulness. Hence, a division occurred among God’s people that never should have been there and that was never God’s plan for His people.

Wednesday ↥         October 10

Schism in Corinth

Unfortunately, the issue of disunity among God’s people didn’t end even in New Testament times.

For example, the first four chapters of Paul’s First Epistle to the Corinthians are an appeal for unity. While in Ephesus Paul heard that various divisions had erupted in the church at Corinth. Thus, he begins his letter with a lengthy address on church unity and the need to avoid schism. Paul is concerned about this development, and he seeks to provide inspired counsel to remedy this unfortunate situation.

According to 1 Corinthians 1:10-17, what seems to have been the cause of disunity, of their divisions and quarrels?


Paul became concerned for his brothers and sisters in Corinth when someone from Chloe’s people told him about the divisions and quarrels among them. His opening words show the depth of his concern: “Now I plead with you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you.” His solution was to remind them that, as Christians, they were to be joined together “in the same mind and in the same judgment” (1 Cor. 1:10, NKJV). Whatever exactly was causing this contention and division, Paul wanted it stopped.

Paul reminds the Corinthians that Christians are called to follow Christ, not a human being-however talented or gifted or called that person may be. While they seemed to have divided themselves along “party” lines, the apostle stated unequivocally that such divisiveness was not according to Christ’s will. He asserted that Christian unity is centered on Christ and His sacrifice on the cross (1 Cor. 1:13).

Christian unity finds its source in the truth as it is found in Jesus Christ and Him crucified, and in no one else, no matter how “worthy” a mentor or preacher or leader that person might be. At the foot of the cross we are all on the same level ground. Our baptism is into Jesus, who alone can cleanse us from sin. However, we must work toward this unity in Christ in practical ways.

What this should say to us is that as Seventh-day Adventists, we cannot take for granted our unity of faith and mission. Divisions and quarrels can undermine the unity of our church today unless the love and lordship of Christ unites us to Him.

How can we learn to avoid the kind of dangers that Paul was dealing with here? Why must we always be careful about how much loyalty we give to any person other than Christ?

Thursday ↥         October 11

“Wolves Will Come”

Read Acts 20:25-31. What did Paul warn the Ephesian elders about? What were they to do to prevent this from happening?


During his ministry Paul often faced opposition, and he knew that it would be difficult to preserve the purity of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. In his farewell to the Ephesian elders he drew from the watchman analogy in Ezekiel 33:1-6 to tell fellow leaders that they were also responsible for safeguarding the Gospel. They were to be faithful shepherds of their congregations.

Paul’s use of the expression “savage wolves” to describe false teachers (Acts 20:29, NKJV) is reminiscent of Jesus’ similar warning that false teachers would disguise themselves in sheep’s clothing (Matt. 7:15). These false teachers did arise soon after Paul spoke this warning, and they preyed upon believers in the Asian churches that he had established. In Ephesians 5:6-14 and Colossians 2:8, we see some of Paul’s warnings to churches in Asia Minor.

In his Second Epistle to Timothy, Paul also warns Timothy, who is responsible for the church at Ephesus, against errors in the church and godlessness in the last days.

Read 2 Timothy 2:14-19 and 3:12-17. What does Paul say to Timothy about how to counter false teachers and to preserve the unity of the church?


First, Timothy should know his Bible, “rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Tim. 2:15, NKJV). The antidote to these useless disputes and speculations is to correctly understand and teach the word given by God. The truths of the Bible must be rightly interpreted so that no part of the Scriptures will be set in opposition to the entire picture presented in the Bible, and also to prevent misinterpretations that may cause one to lose faith in Jesus. Irrelevancies and secondary issues are to be subordinated to the principles of God’s Word that actually will prepare believers to live a victorious life in Christ. Paul’s second recommendation is for Timothy himself to “shun profane and idle babblings” (2 Tim. 2:16, NKJV). Trivial and speculative topics are not to be part of Timothy’s teaching ministry if he is to be considered a worthy and faithful minister. These types of conversations lead only to more ungodliness and do not edify the faith of believers (2 Tim. 2:16). Truth alone leads to godliness and harmony among believers. The reason Timothy must avoid and urge his people to avoid such errors is that they sweep through the church like a disease (2 Tim. 2:17). In the end, obedience to the Word of God is the antidote to false teaching (2 Tim. 3:14-17) that could threaten the unity of the church.

How can we, as a church, protect ourselves from similar kinds of people who, through false teachings, could bring divisions among us?

Friday ↥         October 12

Further Thought: Ellen G. White, “The Rending of the Kingdom”, pp. 87-98, in Prophets and Kings; “A Message of Warning and Entreaty”, pp. 298-308, in The Acts of the Apostles.

“The Lord desires His chosen servants to learn how to unite in harmonious effort. It may seem to some that the contrast between their gifts and the gifts of a fellow laborer is too great to allow them to unite in harmonious effort; but when they remember that there are varied minds to be reached, and that some will reject the truth as it is presented by one laborer, only to open their hearts to God’s truth as it is presented in a different manner by another laborer, they will hopefully endeavor to labor together in unity. Their talents, however diverse, may all be under the control of the same Spirit. In every word and act, kindness and love will be revealed; and as each worker fills his appointed place faithfully, the prayer of Christ for the unity of His followers will be answered, and the world will know that these are His disciples.” - Ellen G. White, Gospel Workers, p. 483.

Discussion Questions:

  1. The question of doing what is right in one’s “own eyes” is nothing new. Postmodernism, which challenges the idea of any one central or overarching intellectual or moral authority, could potentially pave the way for the kind of moral anarchy that the Bible warns about. How do we as Christians, and as a church as a whole, confront this kind of challenge?
  2. Reflect on the story of King Rehoboam and the division of Israel (1 Kings 12). What lessons are there for us today?
  3. What can church leaders and members do to help prevent strife and cliques in a local church when it arises? How important is it to stop these issues before they grow and fester? How can we as church members be careful not to fall into the trap that some did in Corinth?
  4. Study the context of the passage on discord in Proverbs 6:16-19. What do you learn from this to prevent discord in your local church?

Summary: In the Bible we find situations that led to disunity. When God’s people lived in faithful obedience, the dangers of disunity were greatly diminished. Examples from the time of the Judges as well as from the reign of Rehoboam opened the door for division. Even in New Testament times, the potential for disunity remained. A proper understanding of God’s Word and the sanctified effort to obey it are the best protection against disunity and schism among us.

Inside Story

Adventists Sang, Priest Cursed

By Elvis Dumitru

I am a pastor because my grandfather, a lifelong Orthodox believer, endorsed the Seventh-day Adventist Church.

As my grandfather was growing old, he spoke to my father in their home in Ratesti, a small village in Romania. “If you ever want to belong to the only true Christian church, you have to go to the Seventh-day Adventist Church”, said my grandfather, Gherase Dumitru.

Those words planted a seed that led my father, Aurelian, to seek out the Adventist Church and be baptized in Communist-era Romania. As a result, I grew up in an Adventist home, and my brother and I are both Adventist pastors.

But how did my grandfather know about Adventists?

The story goes back to the early 1960s in Ratesti, located about 85 miles (135 kilometers) north of Romania’s capital, Bucharest. Only eight or so Adventists lived in the village, and the authorities ordered their arrest amid a crackdown on religion. A driver was called to transport the Adventists to jail by horse and cart.

As the cart shook and swayed on a bumpy dirt road, the prisoners began to sing hymns in the back. The driver listened, surprised, at the beautiful words about Jesus and His love. He thought, “How can these Adventists sing with such joy when they are going to jail?”

About a week later, the driver was called to take the village’s Orthodox priest to his church. The cart struck a pothole en route to the church, and the priest angrily unleashed a torrent of blasphemies.

The driver listened in shock. He thought, “Why is the priest cursing his God for a pothole as he goes to church? And why did those Adventists sing such beautiful songs of praise to Jesus as they went to jail?”

The two incidents left a deep impression on the driver, and he determined to learn more about the Adventists. After a while, he was baptized into the Adventist Church. The driver was a good friend of my grandfather.

Ratesti remains a small village today but has a strong Adventist presence, with about 40 church members.

We often think that people are not interested in what we are doing, but people are always watching. A cart of Adventist prisoners didn’t know that a driver was listening in awe to their songs of praise - and that their faithfulness would shape two generations of Adventists in my family.

Elvis Dumitru, 26, is the associate pastor of the Cuza Voda Seventh-day Adventist Church in Bucharest.


Produced by the General Conference Office of Adventist Mission.  email: info@adventistmission.org  website: www.adventistmission.org


All Rights Reserved. No part of the Adult Sabbath School Bible Study Guide may be edited, altered, modified, adapted, translated, reproduced, or published by any person or entity without prior written authorization from the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists.

Sabbath School Lesson Ends

For questions and concerns about the Study Guide,
please contact the editor of the Bible Study Guide, Clifford Goldstein


New: See list of helpful study materials for the lesson, with links to purchase on Amazon.

The web version of the Sabbath School lesson is published on this site by permission of the Office of the Adult Bible Study Guide, General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists.
Website contents copyright 1996-2018 by Sabbath School Net, an independent supporting ministry.
For permission to copy contents of the web version of the Sabbath School lesson, please contact both the Office of the Adult Bible Study Guide and the publisher of this site.


All art in these lessons and on the cover is published on this site by permission of GoodSalt.com.
Our Favorite Images come from GoodSalt.com


We invite you to join a discussion of this lesson each day on the Sabbath School Net Daily Lessons blog. And on Sabbath mornings, you are warmly invited to join a group discussion of the week's lesson in your local Seventh-day Adventist congregation.


Sabbath School Net Home page | Directory of Sabbath School Bible Study materials


Sabbath School Net is an independently funded supporting website not affiliated with nor funded by the Sabbath School Department of the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists)It is run by volunteers and costs are covered solely by donations from the users of this site as well as the small commissions generated by sales through our links to online stores.

If you are using this site regularly, please pray for God's blessing on our visitors and ask Him to impress you how you can help with the costs of putting this site up every month. We appreciate any gift to support the ongoing publication of SSNET, and only you and God know how much you can give. Even a small donation every month helps. And larger gifts are much appreciated. (No, you don't need a PayPal account. Just choose the "Continue" link to the left of the PayPal registration. And, yes, it's safe - as safe as your online bank account.)

Donate


Sabbath School Net is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.


You can find a sampling of materials available to aid you in your studies at our SSNET Store. (We will get a small commission not only from any books you purchase but also from whatever else you purchase at the same time. These commissions help to underwrite a small portion of the cost of publishing this site.)


Kindle Books are available instantly from most countries. Download the free Kindle Reading App from Amazon.com, and read eBooks on Most Devices


You can also go directly to the home pages of stores which will pay us a small commission for whatever you choose to buy, without costing you a penny extra: Amazon.com | Amazon.co.uk |Amazon.ca | ChristianBooks.com | AbeBooks Store


Archive of previous Adult Sabbath School Bible Study Guides
Prepared for the Internet by the SSNET Web Team.
Contact the Sabbath School Net Web Team
Go back to top of page