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Sabbath: The Most Convincing Proof — 19 Comments

  1. Which should come first, agreement on doctrine, or love for one another?

    This question came to mind when I thought of a family member who left the Seventh-day Adventist Church and ultimately lost their faith, not through any doctrinal issue but simply because they had no friends in the church. It became easier to stay at home rather than to go to church.

    In the last few weeks, much of our discussion on unity/disunity has been on doctrinal harmony. I am not saying that is unimportant, but the social aspect of our church family is probably much more important than we realize. A flowering plant is a beautiful thing, but for beautiful flowers, you need a well cultivated, fertilised garden bed. The source of good flowers is good dirt! Likewise, a harmonious church is based on a relationship between good friends united in Christ on a journey together.

    At the risk of repeating myself too often:

    By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another. John 13:35

    • Maurice, it's a fair question you ask, but I do not see how sinners become loving without the truth convicting and sanctifying them. Jesus prayed that His followers would be sanctified(made holy as God is holy) "by Thy Truth: Thy word is truth".

      So if you must choose between truth and love, choosing to love will fail as there is no power without the gospel truth, which "is the power of God unto salvation".

      Truth will set us free from sin. Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. The church is made to be "without spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing" by the "washing of water, by the Word".

      This word is more powerful than a two-edged sword, through which we are converted by "the Law of the Lord", which is; "perfect, converting the soul".

      Let's NOT choose between the two, but choose the latter by embracing the former. Does this make sense?

      • Hi Robert

        "So if you must choose between truth and love..."

        Where do you get the idea that anyone here is proposing that a person much choose between truth and love?

        Truth is a term used to denote what is real, genuine, authentic, etc. All that myself and others are doing is unpacking the details of what the real, genuine, authentic and therefore true things are - such as self-renouncing love.

        As you well know, Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life (Jn 14:6). And He is this because of the underpinning truth of self-renouncing love being the law of life. All the law and the prophets hang on love to God and to others (Matt 22:37-40).

        Jesus said that when he was lifted up He would draw all people to him (Jn 12:32). His death on the cross was the ultimate display of self-renouncing love. It is the truth of self-renouncing love that draws people to Jesus, that leads them to surrender and conversion to Jesus.

        The self-renouncing love being talked about is a PRINCIPLE that both underpins and pervades ABSOLUTELY EVERY facet of life and living within the entirety of the Kingdom of God - including God Himself. Consequently, everything that is part of the Kingdom of God, everything that is Truth, will have the nature of self-renouncing love at its core. It can't not.

        Keep in mind that self-renouncing love is completely different and distinct from the mere warm and fuzzy feelings or sentiments that are more common understand to constitute'love'. This is why I keep using the qualifying term self-renouncing when talking about love. The full magnitude and implications, and therefore importance, of self-renouncing love are easily missed, which is why I keep trying to hilight the nature and implications of self-renouncing love throughout the lessons.

        Myself and others here are NOT advocating embracing love to the exclusion of Truth (because that can't actually be done). I am unpacking the Truth about self-renouncing love.

        I welcome your feedback.

        • “Unity with Christ establishes a bond of unity with one another. This unity is the most convincing proof to the world of the majesty and virtue of Christ, and of His power to take away sin.” – Ellen G. White Comments, The SDA Bible Commentary, vol. 5, p. 1148.

          I recall being taught of basic principles, without the basic principle of loving God as expressed in today's lesson, all the rest is in vain, it's as if one is feeding on air.

        • Hi Phil, my only reply would be found in my comment above in reply to Maurice. You can't achieve agape without the Gospel truth, and receiving it. Agape is not a stand-alone acquirement that a sinner can receive apart from the truth found in God's word. Without this word, you can't even indict a sinner, for what is the standard for righteousness, thus revealing the presence of sin, without this Word?

          I believe the scriptures I cited above will answer all your inquiries.

          It was Maurice above who suggested they could be separated by choosing which to agree upon first. Love(agape) is the sure result of receiving the Truth(doctrine, 2 Tim 3:16).
          Notice the "instruction in righteousness" in 2Tim 3:16?

          My intention was to show that no one could even understand the meaning or need of "self-renouncing love" apart from scripture/doctrine.

          Lastly, does Jesus tell us to "baptizing them...,teaching them to" love one another?

          The answer is YES He does, through teaching them doctrine/commandments. You can't achieve this love without teaching all Jesus has commanded us. What has He commanded us? The doctrine of righteousness/love. Could we say that?

          • I am not sure what you have said is the definitive case when I read Rom 2:14,15.

            I actually believe that the Holy Spirit can work on people's hearts independently of a person having access to scripture. To me, having access to and a knowledge of scripture is the 'icing on the cake'. I therefore believe there will be people who will obtain salvation who have never even heard of scripture or even the name of God/Jesus - again as per what is being described in Rom 2:14,15.

            When the Bible says there is no other name under heaven by which we can/must be saved (Acts 4:12), I used to think that meant that people would need to know about Jesus or else. Now I have learned that 'name' means character, not title. And we know that the Holy Spirit strives with everyone until their heart is hardened - not just those who have access to or knowledge of scripture.

            According to scripture, there will be people who will not find themselves in the Kingdom who had full knowledge of scripture.

            I know that you and I will likely differ on this issue - and that is ok, because we each are accountable before God for being fully persuaded in our own minds about what we believe.

  2. Of course, we should love everyone in the Church that is the first and most enduring thing that we should do but we are not going to have any kind of meaning fellowship with them if they reject the teachings of Jesus.

    When the Bible says, 'By this shall men know that you are my disciples if you have love for one another' we must remember that we must love Him first and we cannot love Him if we refuse to accept what He tells us, and people will not be able to tell if we are His disciples if we are misrepresenting Him in word and deed.

    • John, I didn’t read Maurice as saying Christ should come second.[they left not through any doctrine issue, but simply because they had now friends]. Maurice is talking about our approach to people. We need to be there friends, no matter their difference. Then as the Holy Spirit lead them to ask questions out of the blue, and by observation of us sticking to our doctrines we kindly inform them of the Bible truth. We don’t ostracize them if they have different beliefs. We remain there friends inspite of the different beliefs. Maurice did not say to conform to them, he said to be their friends. What if Christ would have not presented Himself as a friend to the woman at the well? A previous quarter Paul reprimanded Peter for going to the circumcised side of the room and not proving himself friendly to the Gentiles. Most church members need 7 friends in the Church to stay. You can be one of them. We love them and don’t complain about a lack of ‘total oneness’. We have Christ to have a ‘meaningful relationship’ with, that’s all we need.

      • God's commandments have remained consistent over all the years and times. The church has established it's doctrines around these doctrines. On paper, our doctrines are sound, but let's be honest, we are at times found very guilty, misrepresenting the "letter and the spirit" of the doctrines or even commandments. On earth, Jesus came out very clearly on these inconsistencies amongst the Jews, mainly the teachers and scholars of the Law. He called out the hypocrisy underlying the teachings therein and how the teachings would accommodate the imbalances that would benefit the teachers of the Laws, while task the followers of God.

        In his teachings, Jesus was clear about loving God and keeping His commandments; he would follow it with loving our neighbors like we love ourselves. Something clear this way comes, then; We should love God, ourselves and our neighbors as we do ourselves. What should not be lost is the simple basics that there can be no prioritization of these, since they need to run concurrently. I mean you cannot love God with all your mind, power and might, while you hate your neighbor or yourself at the same moment. Inside God's commandments, loving the neighbors starting from our immediate neighbors - our parents - is prime.

        As Adventist today at times, we find ourselves - "at times" -, switching off one (mostly love one another) in favour of the another we consider is more prioritized (Keeping the Commandments of God); which is just defeats the entire mission of our faith. We have been warned not taking that seat of judgement (Matthew 7:1-3).

        The most convincing truth, then is "how Christ would have handled this, and we have all the examples documented in scripture" - the was no hate or scorn or spite in the heart of Jesus.

        I - this is personal though - believe that both can only work concurrently that "agreement on doctrine" as we "love for one another". Furthermore, how do we agree if we have no love for one another.

  3. Have not been able to attend church in several years. Can hardly walk due to severe neuropathy, can barely make doctor appointments. Miss attending so much but on the matter of friends in church I can see there is a problem there. A fellowship meal once a month helps but a generation or two ago Adventists made a regular practice of inviting someone home for lunch. Whatever happened to that?

    • Depends where you are Mike. There are some very hospitable folk around still. One thing that has happened (and this is a secular observation) is that people are much more particular about their diet these days and often dietary concerns lead to embarrassing situations. Even among friends, we have to take into consideration celiac, allergy, zyz intolerance that when I was much younger did not seem to worry us as much. Inviting people home for a meal does require a bit of forethought.

    • Mike Green, I am so sorry to hear of your neuropathy. My Father also has it. It has become the NEW Normal of your lives today. I will keep you in prayer, for that is all I can do Brother in Christ!

  4. John 17:20-23: “Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on Me through their word; that they all may be one; as Thou, Father, art in Me, and I in Thee, that they also may be one in Us: that the world may believe that Thou hast sent Me. And the glory which Thou gavest Me I have given them; that they may be one, even as We are one: I in them, and Thou in Me, that they may be made perfect in one: and that the world may know that Thou hast sent Me, and hast loved them, as Thou hast loved Me.” [Verses 20-23.]
    1) They also may be one in us: that the WORLD may believe
    2) The glory which though gavest me I have given them
    3) That they may be made perfect in one
    4) Hast loved them: as though as loved me
    By partaking of the Spirit of God, conforming to the law of God, man becomes a partaker of the divine nature. Christ brings His disciples into a living union with Himself and with the Father. Through the working of the Holy Spirit upon the human mind, man is made complete in Christ Jesus. The SDA Bible Commentary, vol. 5, p. 1148, quoting Ellen G. White, Manuscript 111, 1903

  5. Imagine a community where love for God and one another was always evident, and where the wickedness and ways of the world was not manifested. A people truly transformed by the “washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Ghost”. What a witness that could be to those who are looking for something better than what they find in this world.

    What prevents this from taking place?

    When they look back at this generation of Adventist Christians, what will be the conclusion? Will the counsel of the True Witness to the Laodiceans be finally accepted, or rejected?

  6. We must remember that Jesus also came to polarize. Not peace but a sword, He said. We need to discern when unity requires a sharp two edged sword to protect it

  7. As has been mentioned above, there is a dominant emphasis upon doctrinal unity within the lessons and within Adventism. Can doctrinal agreement actually create unity? What has the history and current status of Adventism revealed in regard to this matter?

    If doctrinal unity is the goal, as it appears it is, then that is all the church will have - if it ever gets there. What I mean by this is that doctrinal unity in and of itself only has, if I may borrow the words, a form of godliness, but lacks the power thereof.

    The Ellen White quote reproduced in today's lesson actually speaks of a totally different phenomenon. It speaks of each person being united in/with Christ via the (progressive) re-creating within each person's heart of the foundational principle of self-renouncing love as the underpinning motive to everything that person is and everything they do. This self-renouncing love is a PRINCIPLE - it is not mere warm and fuzzy "feelings".

    While this shared heart of self-renouncing love is the basis of the bond of unity between an individual and Christ, it also is the basis of the bond of unity that will develop between all other individuals that are likewise united to Christ (as per Col 3:12-14). Being genuinely united to Christ in self-renouncing love AUTOMATICALLY results in unity with all other individuals who are also united to Christ in self-renouncing love - it can't not. It is a cause-and-effect phenomenon. But note that genuine unity is a by-product.

    So what about 'the doctrines'? As Colossians 3 unpacks, individuals who are united in this way to Christ will grow in the re-creation/re-development of their character. This is where 'doctrines' are meant to be MANIFEST/expressed - in the changed lives/characters of those who are united with Christ via hearts being renewed in self-renouncing love. This is a form of Godliness that manifests the power thereof.

    I therefore fully affirm the Ellen White quote in today's lesson that accurately portrayed, "Unity with Christ establishes a bond of unity with one another. This unity is the most convincing proof to the world of the majesty and virtue of Christ, and of His power to take away sin".

    Within the core unity that I am talking about, there will be a 'doctrinal' unity to the extent that such is possible - meaning that there will also always be aspects of doctrinal differences this side of the second coming. But, again, this 'doctrinal' unity can and will only be a BY-PRODUCT of each of us being united in Christ through the bond of self-renouncing love.

    In light of what I have outlined above, I would propose that attempts to create doctrinal unity via any other (more direct) route will only, at best, result in a group (or more likely a sub-group) of people who share 'doctrinal' uniformity.

    Maurice, I do not believe it is possible to repeat yourself too often when pointing, and re-pointing us to Jn 13:35.

  8. It will be unrealistic for anyone to think that there are no segmentation's in our churches. Even with our firm and unique 27 Adventist beliefs, we still find some churches divided by tribe, culture, color, economic and social statues just to mention a few. Are we living by man-made rules, thinking that they are biblical instructions? We have to deal with our human nature and truly keep our focus on Christ.


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