Sabbath: Unity in Faith
Read for This Week’s Study: Acts 4:8-12; Acts 1:11; Matt. 25:1-13; Heb. 9:11-12; Exod. 20:8-11; 1 Cor. 15:51-54.
Memory Text: “Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12, NKJV).
In 1888 Seventh-day Adventists experienced a period of intense debate over the interpretations of some key Bible texts. While pastors and church leaders were debating the identity of the ten horns of the prophecy of Daniel 7 and of the law in Galatians 3:24, few realized how their hostile attitudes toward each other destroyed their fellowship and friendship and thus marred the unity and mission of the church.
Ellen G. White deeply deplored this state of affairs and encouraged all those involved in these discussions to think carefully about their relationship with Jesus and how love for Jesus ought to be demonstrated in our conduct, especially when we disagree. She also said that we should not expect everyone in the church to agree on every point of interpretation on all Bible texts.
But she also emphasized that we should seek unity of understanding when it comes to essential Adventist beliefs (see Ellen G. White, Counsels to Writers and Editors, pp. 28-32). This week we look at some essential biblical teachings that make us Adventists and that shape our unity in faith.
When we find ourselves in disagreement with one another, it has almost become a platitude to recite that we must look to Jesus and allow the Holy Spirit to work in our midst. What does that mean in practical terms?
For Christianity to be meaningful it must be practical and must go beyond the recitation of pet verses and phrases and have a profound impact on the way we live. I think of the most significant events in the Gospel story and find that they mostly occurred in one-on-one discussions between Jesus and individuals. The woman of Samaria, Nicodemus, and Peter. These events were where the Gospel had its impact because it was close up, personal and involved.
Our relationship with Jesus should be about playing the game, not shouting from the sidelines.
In 1888 Seventh-day Adventists experienced a period of intense debate.
130 years later there are debates still dividing the church while ironically studying about unity.
When you type in Google "what would the world be like without Christianity" you find
I quote from the site under the topic "Freedoms for women"
The early Christians gave women life in the church, and they in turn became ardent evangelists for the cause. Chrysostom (4th century) wrote, “The women of those days [early church] were more spirited than men.”
48And He said to them, “Whoever welcomes this little child in My name welcomes Me, and whoever welcomes Me welcomes the One who sent Me. For whoever is the least among all of you, he is the greatest.” 49“Master,” said John, “we saw someone driving out demons in Your name, and we tried to stop him, because he does not accompany us.” 50“Do not stop him,” Jesus replied, “for whoever is not against you is for you.”
What is the role of woman in Adventist faith?
Please read the posting by Maurice Ashton how backward our church is in treating women with equality.
Those of us fixated on the debate will be left on the earth to debate while those who are diligently plowing the field with the Lord will return unto him in His harvest.
Good to see you commenting again Newbegin. Welcome back.
It is my submission that unity and peace existed in heaven for a long time before the world was created. Suddenly rebellion and division arose in heaven instigated by Lucifer. Quite clearly God is hard at work to restore unity between Himself and His children as well as unity among members of His Church. Five times in John 17 Christ mentioned unity in His prayer before going to Calvary (verses 11;21;22 and 23). I believe the kind of unity Jesus wants is one that's in harmony with His teaching. It is quite evident therefore that unity is fundamentally a Biblical exhortation. Granted, as human beings we will not always agree on everything. But when we disagree let us do it agreebly with much humility and on the basis of our understanding of Scripture and Spirit of Prophecy.
Ellen White had an amazing ability to focus on the important issues. Her writings on and about the Bible continue to amaze me even though I have read them for close to 50 years. I continually read something she writes, and wonder how she saw a particular story so clearly and so differently. I go back to the Bible, and the story there that she saw I can see too now. How privelidged I am to have the light she shines on the Bible.
Her wisdom and teaching goes much further though. Take that remark of hers about the need to seek unity when it comes to essential Adventist beliefs, but not to expect it in every point of interpretation of all Bible texts.
I can feel her looking down through the years to this discussion on women's ordination. It is not an essential belief. It is hardly worth any discussion at all. Some believe this, others believe that. So what? Take her perceptive and sage advice to not sweat the small stuff and move forward. There are so many more important topics for study, and a world around us dying for a lack of God.
If I have to look for what divides us today (as Adventists), I'll get 30 instead. Today's Adventists is vastly knowledgeable and so much informed of various angles of scripture and it's interpretation. That then becomes a subject for divide as we engage in a showdown of spiritual understanding.
During all this we lose it all, and forget some scriptural basics and develop into religious elites. I'll give it to the author of the lesson, for not shying off from the subject at hand, that even in "truth" we somewhat find a way to be divisive.
Understanding that weeknesses allows us to revert back to God for counsel, and returns us back to focus on what unites us (I personally have this belief that that's what Paul intended in his message in Phillipians 4:8). Unity in faith is a major fundamental in living in Christ, the author deliberately is leading us to a better school of thought, and that is what do we have in common that we can agree on. In so thinking, then we would be focusing our attention to what hope in Christ is all about; uniting us further to God's purpose or mission.