Respecting Personal Privacy

By John Thiel, mp3

I’ve been in the ranks of Adventism from my birth upwards and from the age of 12 I began to pay attention to church relationship. I would like to share with you an aspect of Jesus character which we need to copy and thus safeguard our fellowship in God’s church.

From my earliest years I have observed companies of believers launching out in joyful anticipation they have found each other’s fellowship because they have found a beautiful truth and revival and the revival has launched them in to a fellowship that was sweet. I saw their joy and hugs and kisses and I saw wonderful potential and anticipation of a long lasting fellowship and spiritual growth but then as I observed over the years all was well and then came the tragedy of broken relationships and cold formality that continued thereafter.

My heart used to sink within me as group after group that I had associated with fell into this kind of course. It happened again and again throughout my years of Adventist experience especially as I became associated with independent groups. They had found a new found faith and they were excited and thrilled and there was a precious fellowship and then before very long, the same old story repeated itself in my eyes. I searched and observed and prayed to understand the source of this kind of decline in the experience of these people that were so close and in deep loving fellowship.

My youthful mind could not comprehend how a thing could happen when once there was such joy. The thing that occupied my mind is that we are to be free of envy, scorn and pride. It sounds so lovely doesn’t it? I thought heaven is meant to be a place that we prepare for here on earth and we enjoy a little slice of heaven in the church so that we would be able to enjoy and enter it there. Are we not preparing for that fellowship? My observations have indicated over the years is what I would like to share today. What was it in the character of Jesus which made it that those who were attached to him would consistently remain in a close loving relationship with him and with one another? The prayer of Christ was that they would be one.

John 17:23 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.

What is it in Jesus Christ that endears the soul to him and that draw souls to a sustaining lasting relationship with him? What is it that will no doubt will be an answer for our own experience? As I thought about the experiences in front of me, I observed a characteristic that was repeatedly ignored in their relationships with one another. We need to consider a characteristic in Jesus so that we may too have a lasting union and not destroy that union.

The Attitude of Jesus

John 16:12 I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now. 13 Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, [that] shall he speak: and he will show you things to come.

Here is encapsulated the secret of sustaining united relationships in this world of sin. Consider it deeply with me. What was the attitude of Jesus revealed in verse 12? Can you see the sensitivity displayed by our wonderful saviour towards individuals? He sees things that he knows that they should know but they have a lack of individual ability to cope with the information that he would personally put upon them. They can’t cope with it. So he says I’m not going to practise upon you, you are not yet able to bear it. What did he say next?

John 16:13 Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth:

The spirit of truth. What did Jesus actually say here? Me as a person standing in front of you, I can tell you lots and really let you have it but I know you won’t be able to bear it so I’m going to let the Holy Spirit do the work not me. As you learn about the Holy Spirit as he points out, the Holy Spirit will not speak of himself, but what he hears he shall speak and show things to come. When we learn in the scripture about the work of the Holy Spirit it is beautiful conveyed. How does the Holy Spirit function that the man Jesus would step back and say I’m sorry I can’t tell you everything as it’s going to be the work of the Holy Spirit?

1 Corinthians 2:9 But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. 10 But God hath revealed [them] unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God. 12 Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God.

It has to do with the inward man that the Lord would show us things inwardly and personally the deep things of God.

 Only under the direction of the Omniscient One shall we, in the study of His works, be enabled to think His thoughts after Him. {Ed 134.5}

You as an individual and me as an individual. The work of the Holy Spirit is to guide you and me individually in the knowledge of the deep things of God. This is the work of the Holy Spirit. Proverbs shows the gentle and careful work the Holy Spirit does. Here is the path that the Holy Spirit leads each one of us individually.

Proverbs 4:18 But the path of the just [is] as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day.

How does the Holy Spirit shine? He shines in the face of Jesus inside of our hearts and he shines it brighter and brighter unto the perfect day. As he works like this, the change in our life will be very unobtrusive.

Imperceptibly to ourselves, we are changed day by day from our own ways and will into the ways and will of Christ, into the loveliness of his character. Thus we grow up into Christ, and unconsciously reflect his image. {RH, April 28, 1891 par. 2}

The work of the Holy Spirit is a very quiet unobtrusive way, one that doesn’t rush us any faster than we are able to bear it but reveals inwardly the deep things of God to us and as we see them, there will be an unconscious development of progress in my life that I will reflect his imagine unconsciously and imperceptibly to myself I am making changes. This is the characteristic of Jesus and the Holy Spirit.

Revelation 3:20 Behold, I stand at the door, and knock:

Jesus Refused to Do the Work of the Holy Spirit

Jesus and the Holy Spirit are dealing truth to us that we need to have as we proceed gently step by step. When Jesus was here on earth he refused to do the work of the Holy Spirit. Jesus refused to do the work of the Holy Spirit. What was the work of the Holy Spirit? To lead us inwardly as individuals step by step closer and closer to what Gods expectations are of me. If I or you or anyone else are going to be faulty in trying to do the work of the Holy Spirit what would we be doing? Wouldn’t we be trying to do the work of trying to tell other people of where they should be correcting something? That is the work of the Holy Spirit. Jesus refused to do that.

John 16:12 I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now.

I’m going to let the Holy Spirit show you. Here is the way that Jesus came to the people when he preached to them.

In the Sermon on the Mount He sought to undo the work that had been wrought by false education, and to give His hearers a right conception of His kingdom and of His own character. Yet He did not make a direct attack on the errors of the people. He saw the misery of the world on account of sin, yet He did not present before them a vivid delineation of their wretchedness. He taught them of something infinitely better than they had known. Without combating their ideas of the kingdom of God, He told them the conditions of entrance therein, leaving them to draw their own conclusions as to its nature. {DA 299.3}

Are you picking up the wonderful characteristics of Jesus and meeting the people and their minds? He didn’t go to them and say you, this is what you are doing wrong and this is where you are wrong. He did not attack their errors. This is the characteristic of Jesus dealing with other human beings. He didn’t draw conclusions for them. He placed the truth in front of their minds eye and then left them to draw their own conclusion. If this is the work that Jesus did and he didn’t ruffle or trammel the individually of others around him but drew them to him so they became his followers, what will his servants need to do? If we are going to harmonise in the precious union of one another?

The principle on which Christ acted is to actuate the members of the church which is His body. The plan and ground of salvation is love. In the kingdom of Christ those are greatest who follow the example He has given, and act as shepherds of His flock. {DA 550.4}

We see that if we are going to be part of the body of Christ, we are going to focus and appreciate this characteristic of Jesus and on this principle we will be actuated within his body. The principle of letting individuals draw their own conclusions instead of standing beside them and say do you know it yet and then trying to do it for them. Not only should we do this with the people out there but also with one another. Philip was calling Nathaniel to come to Jesus and all he said when Nathaniel was wanting to argue with him as Nathaniel couldn’t accept that Jesus was the Messiah, when he began to argue with him all that Philip could say was come and see for yourself I’m not going to convince you.

  Here is a lesson for all our ministers, colporteurs, and missionary workers. When you meet those, who, like Nathanael, are prejudiced against the truth, do not urge your peculiar views too strongly. Talk with them at first of subjects upon which you can agree. Bow with them in prayer, and in humble faith present your petitions at the throne of grace. Both you and they will be brought into a closer connection with heaven, prejudice will be weakened, and it will be easier to reach the heart.–Historical Sketches, p. 149. (1886)

What are we to do with souls that we are meeting together with? Just as Jesus did, don’t attack the errors of the people instead talk with them first of the subjects of which you agree. The attitude of Nathaniel was melted by Philip when he said come and see. Then it continued to grow and this is how Gods people, the very characteristic of Jesus in his body is going to be sustained so that there will be harmony in the midst of everyone at different stages. Which great tact Jesus deals with you and I wooing and leading gently and in the church at no stage can we break out of that procedure.

The grace of God takes men as they are, and works as an educator, using every principle on which an all-sided education depends. The steady influence of the grace of God trains the soul after Christ’s methods, and every fierce passion, every defective trait of character is worked upon by the molding influence of the spirit of Christ, until new motive power becomes filled with the Holy Spirit of God, after the likeness of the divine similitude. {UL 89.4}

How is God’s work taking place? The grace of God is an educating grace. It is one which gently educates using every principle. Remember when you went to school. Were you a student that found it easy to pick up the lessons? I wasn’t, it took me a long time. I recall being in grade 2 in Germany. There was a lady teacher who was very impatient with me as I couldn’t pick up fast enough and she would pull be by the ears. Come on, can’t you see? One day she pulled a girls ear off she was so impatient with the learning curve of her class. We can do that upon each other’s soul if we are impatient with each other’s learning curve.

Every one of us learns at different rates. What one person can learn quickly another person can’t learn so fast. Who is the teacher that will guide us into all truth? The Holy Spirit. Not one of us including me can do that work. Not one of us. Not even Jesus ventured to do it. We find ourselves in our human relationships on a track that somehow changes when we have been dealt with so carefully by the Lord and we learn something and then we learn that the church is meant to put that into practise and we learn we should be progressing and that we haven’t got much time left and we do what Gideon was trying to do. Not to refer to the Lord anymore but to do it as he saw it.

I have seen this and I am sharing it with you that we will understand how to prevent the beautiful fellowship of love that we have had beautiful tastes of amongst us. How that becomes ruined so that we will not ruin our precious fellowship in this church. When once I have come to know something, I begin to be in danger of encroaching on fellow human in my association. To encroach upon their individuality. We all listened to this together why haven’t you picked that up yet? You might not say it but if you think it, it will be affected upon you. This is what the Lord showed me.

I have to confess before you that sometimes in the manner of my presenting God’s word I have sometimes been impatient and I have sometimes in my manner been overbearing with the beautiful truth that I am sharing because I look at people around me and I become intensely concerned and then my human self is in danger of putting a lilt in the presentation of God’s word. We can do that to each other just like this. My experience over the years has shown that Christians can be very cruel one to another and very uncourteous. We assume that because we have heard the truth that we will see immediate results in one another and if we don’t see them we will comment to each other about them.

The Holy Spirit doesn’t do that. Jesus never did it. If we look back as to when we first came into this message how untrammelled was our experience in learning and discovering for ourselves. You weren’t pounced onto and told you should be dressing like this now. It didn’t come upon you that way. It came upon you in the revelation of what the word of God says. Then if you didn’t quite see it, there was not a word said.

I have sometimes heard people saying a word. That is not the work of anyone of us to do that. It is the gentle influence of our example that is to convince people in their own hearts. We can do this inadvertently as we can see we have had this message again and again and people can’t see it. My human nature is there and I say I have to go and help and step in and tell them a thing or two. We are doing the work of the Holy Spirit. Jesus stepped back and let them draw their conclusions. This is the very principle that ruins relationships in the church if we don’t perform as Jesus did.

In matters of conscience the soul must be left untrammeled. No one is to control another’s mind, to judge for another, or to prescribe his duty. God gives to every soul freedom to think, and to follow his own convictions. {DA 550.6}

As we listen to the word of God it is to be left with us to draw conclusions and not for another to draw them for us. We are not to judge for another or prescribe his duty.

God gives to every soul freedom to think, {DA 550.6}

Recall your years of school work as the teacher tried to teach you and began to encroach upon your own minds ability to think and pressed your mind faster than what you could comprehend. Did you succeed to understand? How did you pass it off so the teacher would get off your back? Oh yes I can see but you didn’t see at all. This has been my experience as I’m a very slow learner. To get these people off my back I had to make believe I understand. It wasn’t until year 11 that I came across a teacher who taught me maths so I could understand it. It took me a while to get my own way through it but by the time I got to year 11 I understood what it was all about as this teacher knew how to stimulate my mind. We are to be left free to think in our own mind in reference to the things we are hearing and to follow our own conviction. If you follow another person’s conviction you will go back to the old way anyway because after a while you will forget but after a while when you have gained your own convictions you won’t forget anymore, you will go forward with energy.

No one has a right to merge his own individuality in that of another. In all matters where principle is involved, “let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind.” Romans 14:12, 5. In Christ’s kingdom there is no Lordly oppression, no compulsion of manner. The angels of heaven do not come to the earth to rule, and to exact homage, but as messengers of mercy, to co-operate with men in uplifting humanity. {DA 550.6}

Are you able to comprehend this beautiful characteristic of Jesus that will maintain a love intimacy within Gods church where everyone is learning at different paces? What I have experienced in so many people’s lives in my past experience is that people really feel that when they know and understand something and they don’t think the other person understands it that then they become possessors of that other persons. That ruins relationships because we are all adults with individual minds and nobody is to stand over me.

There is coming in among us a spirit which God will not suffer to rule. Never should Christians feel that they are Lords over God’s heritage. There should not be among Christians a spirit which makes some patrons and some proteges. The commandments of God forbid this. “All ye are brethren” (Matthew 23:8). No man is to think that he is the owner of the minds and capabilities of his brethren. {TDG 192.3}

How do you show if you think this? I have seen this happening in front of me where people are demonstrating that they are the owners of the mind and capabilities of their brethren. How is this done? If you have a position of trust, you come to this person and you stand there as the instructor of that person as you know in your own soul is ignorant and you are not. You are now the patron and this person is your protégé. People say stop patronising me. A father figure or a patron telling the child what to do. This is not to be in the church at all because if it is it will destroy the precious fellowship which I have seen in the different churches and groups. This is not to take place.

No man is to think that he is the owner of the minds and capabilities of his brethren. He is not to think that others must submit to his dictation. He is liable to err, liable to make mistakes, as every man is. He is not to try to control matters in accordance with his ideas. {TDG 192.3}

We need to come to a unity of ideas but how do you do it? You cannot do it by one being a patron and one being a protégé. People must be free to think for themselves.

He who yields to this spirit of self-exaltation places himself under the control of the enemy. If ministers of the gospel cannot harmonize with all his ideas and imaginings, he turns from them and speaks against them, pouring out the sarcasm and bitterness in his heart upon ministers and ministry. {TDG 192.4}

None of this work bears the signature of Heaven.. {TDG 192.5}

We want to enjoy heaven? This is not the signature of heaven.

Christians should reveal the tenderness of Christ, and this they will do if Christ abides in the heart. They will recognize Christ in their brethren. They will take sweet counsel together. If the dark chapters of human history were traced out according to the truth, how much would be flattering to those who exercise so much authority, who feel competent to say that others shall do as they dictate. {TDG 192.5}

Jesus has given us an example in His life of purity and perfect holiness. The most exalted being in heaven, He was the most ready to serve. The most honored, He humbled Himself to minister to those who a short time before had been disputing as to who should be the greatest in His kingdom. {TDG 192.6}

Jesus could have said come on I’m your master and you are all my servants. No, he who was the greatest was totally different to this spirit of haranguing and reaching out for control and governing over others. As we look at Jesus and we see this beautiful quality and we know what a blessing it is to be the recipient of that quality when you can be free to think for yourself and you have no one breathing down your neck and you get the sense of someone watching you with a judgemental eye as you are not meeting up to the expectation. When this is all gone we have sweet precious fellowship but if it is there the relationship stresses and the sweet spirit of Jesus melts away. The things we sing in the hymn is non-existent, it is just words and I hate it, I yearn for a little slice of heaven on earth where we can truly relate together and give each other space and the sovereignty of our own personal life.

The Saviour is acquainted with the mental suffering of His children. {UL 31.7}

Wasn’t he being bombarded by the Pharisees? Wasn’t he being oppressed by other minds over his?

He knows how at times their hearts are wounded and bleeding. He would have the afflicted soothed and helped. He says to us, “Bear ye one another’s burdens” (Galatians 6:2). “We then that are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak, and not to please ourselves {UL 31.7}

You please yourself when you see someone weak and you tell them a thing or two. That feels better, now I’ve told them.

We are to relate ourselves rightly to one another, even though to do this demands sacrifice. Christ made an infinite sacrifice for us, and should we not be willing to sacrifice for others? We are to guard carefully against wounding or bruising the hearts of God’s children, for when we do this, we wound and bruise the heart of Christ.–. {UL 31.7}

Do we think, how I wish I could tell this to someones. No, I shut my mouth and I will concentrate on Jesus, that is a sacrifice. When he sees it being done to one of his children, he feels it. We have come to closed bonded fellowship and relationship.

Guard Against Familiarity

Guard against familiarity, take no liberties, none whatsoever. After you have heard the word of God and you feel are justified to take the liberty and tell another person a thing or two, don’t do it in your mind or in word. Leave each other alone to save the precious love fellowship amongst us. If I look at my own position, the Lord has instructed me when I share God’s word according to Ezekiel 3 that there are people that God chooses to do that kind of work but not everyone.

Ezekiel 3:17 Son of man, I have made thee a watchman unto the house of Israel: therefore hear the word at my mouth, and give them warning from me.

This is the work of the watchman, to hear God speaking in his word and to give others the warning.

 3:18 When I say unto the wicked, Thou shalt surely die; and thou givest him not warning, nor speakest to warn the wicked from his wicked way, to save his life; the same wicked [man] shall die in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at thine hand. 19 Yet if thou warn the wicked, and he turn not from his wickedness, nor from his wicked way, he shall die in his iniquity; but thou hast delivered thy soul. 20 Again, When a righteous [man] doth turn from his righteousness, and commit iniquity, and I lay a stumblingblock before him, he shall die: because thou hast not given him warning, he shall die in his sin, and his righteousness which he hath done shall not be remembered; but his blood will I require at thine hand. 21 Nevertheless if thou warn the righteous [man], that the righteous sin not, and he doth not sin, he shall surely live, because he is warned; also thou hast delivered thy soul.

These words the Lord imparted to me when I was very distressed one day many years ago in the ministry. The people were not listening and were complaining as I identified publically the realities that are there in the spirit of prophecy. As I was laying on my bed the Lord drew near and said why are you so perplexed? You will save your soul by sharing these messages; if you don’t share them you will lose your soul. After you shared them, don’t worry how the people react, it is none of your business, it is their work, you have done what I have required of you that’s all and that is what will save you. The message we find in Ezekiel 3 is enlarged Ezekiel 14. I have taken this seriously and by God’s grace if I don’t become too intense then I will be able to pursue this path.

Ezekiel 14:4 Therefore speak unto them, and say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Every man of the house of Israel that setteth up his idols in his heart, and putteth the stumblingblock of his iniquity before his face, and cometh to the prophet; I the LORD will answer him that cometh according to the multitude of his idols; 5 That I may take the house of Israel in their own heart, because they are all estranged from me through their idols. 6 Therefore say unto the house of Israel, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Repent, and turn [yourselves] from your idols; and turn away your faces from all your abominations.

What does God do through the messages that he communicates through his messengers? He passes along for the people to draw their own conclusions. He gives them freedom to do as they choose. If they don’t follow what has been conveyed, then the Lord will let them go their way and if they pursue a relationship with the messenger of God they will come to him and ask him questions and how was he to answer?

According to their idols. In other words, if a person really wants to submit and you can tell if a person doesn’t want to, you can see them edging around it, you dare not attack their individuality. You dare not enforce upon their mind that they should do what you think. You will answer them according to their idols. This is God’s way. Jesus is like that. He is so unobtrusive and so un-abrasive that he speaks and lives the truth and then walks on and will turn into people’s lives only if they invite him in. You saw that on the road to Emmaus. He met these weeping apostles and as he walked along with them he gave them wonderful answers and then as they got to the home, he made to move on and leave them behind and what did they do? Come in, stay with us and they received the blessing.

The Contrast

We have just learnt from Jesus and what does Satan do? He will give me in positions of trust so whatever your trust is, be careful.

Satan is seeking to lead men in positions of trust to seek the regeneration of the world by plans of their own devising. These men desire to be reformers, but they fail because they do not work in Christ’s lines. Can they reform others, when they cannot reform themselves? . . . {UL 88.6}

How can I express something that another person is doing when I know in another area in my life I am having troubles with and others can pick that up as well. How can I reform others when I’m having great trouble reforming myself? Satan works with minds in positions of trust where they will want to do a great work of regeneration which is not God’s way. I’ve seen this time and time again and this is why you see Adventist independents rise and fall.

They go well for a long time and then they go down. When I see something beautiful developing I know Satan is around the corner to try and spoil it and this is how he does it every time. I’ve never seen a failure on this. He does it like this every time when we think we can tell another person individually what they should or shouldn’t do. Let us focus to be his true follower we all must exercise respect for the private soul dominion of each other. You are not my possession and neither am I yours. You do not possess my mind and I do not possess yours. You are the sacred sovereign of your life. God is to be the monarch of your life if you choose but that is your choice.

  In every instance those with whom we associate are to be treated, if in humble circumstances with great deference and respect, because they have so little to make life happy, and because they need help. Souls are too precious to be trifled with. They are God’s purchased possession. {UL 89.3}

We need to look at each other with that mind. This is a no go area. I have no right to interfere with the individuality of any person in the church or outside. If I am inquisitive, we sometimes sit on the edge and think I wonder if this person is getting it right or not, we become inquisitive in regards to the personal details of another, what they are dressing like, I wonder if they are dressing as they have been told, what a waste of time. If we are inquisitive about another and their private lifestyle and private opinion, we have no right to pry or ask. That is there personal dominion and sovereign domain.

We have no right to interfere in that person’s individual searching of paths. Wait courteously. How courteous will we be with another? If you are so inquisitive to know wait courteously for the choice of the individual to tell you. If they don’t, be quiet. Sometimes in our love for one another we will expose when we feel safe. In church capacity we can only enjoy unity to the degree that the leaders open their personal space and beliefs to each other without any form of coercion. If it comes naturally because of the beauty of Jesus and we can talk to each other with sweet counsel, then we can come into sweet unity. That is how God will bring about unity in his church.

We must courteously wait for the Holy Spirit to develop a particular learning experience in a person and the individual will indicate yes now I’m in harmony with that point and the other and we can all walk humbly before one another with our Lord and we will unitedly come to the point by God’s Holy Spirit where we come to the perfect day where through the ministry of God’s word we will grow into the fullness of the stature of Christ and God will hasten the process when we step back and let each individual be the individual they should be. God can hasten the process of total unity.

May God grant this process. I yearn that we will not lose the precious love and union that is ours that I love to come back to when I come home from my trips. It’s wonderful to meet each other and to know there is a union amongst us that is growing and developing and we don’t have to feel there is a niggling ugly little thorn that is destroying the beautiful fellowship between us. Out there when I meet the people there are a lot of things that I am uncomfortable to meet as I help people. There are women going into the worldly ways but they love what they are hearing. I ignore those things but I feel terrible suffering inside. When I come here and I see unity because it is spontaneous it is a wonderful comfort for me. We have a home and unity and we want to safeguard it. Let not Satan destroy it. It’s my prayer we can sustain it.


About The Typist

Sabbath Sermons is a small resource information ministry in Australia standing upon the original platform of the Adventist truth. We are dedicated to spreading the special 'testing truths' for our time and are not affiliated with the various denominations. This website is administered by lay members only

Posted on 06/11/2010, in Divine Service Sermons. Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. Raymond Wilson

    Thank you so much for this sermon. It reminds me on a very personal level of the animosity I have caused in church members with my pronouncements regarding certain aspects of the church. May God forgive me for possessing this spirit and help me to renew my resolve to respect every member, those associated with the faith and even those non believers who profess unbelief and treat them with the love,patience and tolerance that the Lord extents to me.

  1. Pingback: Respecting Personal Privacy « Sabbath Sermons | INQUISITION NEWS

  2. Pingback: Jesus Refused to do the Work of the Holy Spirit on Earth « Sabbath Sermons

Leave a Reply