SDA Sabbath School Lessons
Friday November 15, 1996

Further Study

The apostle Paul was creative and highly progressive-a definite individualist. Such a person could easily become a "maverick," a militant nonconformist, unconnected with any organization. What regulating elements existed in Paul's vision of life that made him an advocate of church unity? Rom. 14:7, 19; 1 Cor. 1: 10; 9:19; 10:32, 33; 12:13-27; Eph. 1:22, 23; 3:8-12.

Notice that these same elements kept him from becoming an organizational robot: Acts 20:20-35; Gal. 1: 10-12; 2:14-16; 1 Thess. 2:4-6. Also read "Jew and Gentile" in The Acts of the Apostles, p. 200.

"The great apostle Paul was firm where duty and principle were at stake; he preached Christ with great boldness; but he was never harsh and impolite. He had a tender heart, and was ever kind and thoughtful of others. Courtesy was a marked trait of his character....

"The most Christ like professors are those who are the most kind, pitiful, and courteous; their convictions are firm and their characters strong; nothing can swerve them from their faith or allure them from their duty."--My Life Today, p. 193.

Discussion Questions::

  1. After studying this week's lesson, how would you answer the Key Question in Sabbath Afternoon's material?
  2. What qualities in the teachings and life of Christ encourages the systematic gathering and fellowship that has marked the course of the church in all ages?
  3. Why is salvation not a completely private affair that encourages believers quietly to keep their faith to themselves while letting others learns directly from God without human aid?
  4. Some large regions of North Africa, Asia, and the Middle East are almost entirely unreached by the gospel.. How can church organization contribute to solving this problem?

Summary: Christ has organized His church to complete His family by systematically evangelizing the world. To the close of time, church organization is to reflect the wisdom of heaven, not the policies andprograms of humans. Church leaders are not overlords; they are under shepherds. Their authority is centered in the Word of God, which they are to uphold in their own teaching and life practice.Church discipline should be exercised in a spirit of fellowship andcommunity to fairly and faithfully uphold the gospel and reclaim members who are in spiritual jeopardy.