4. Harmony in the Church

By John Thiel, Relationships Part 4, Audio: Harmony in the Church

Romans 12:4 For as we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office: 5 So we, [being] many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another.

Relationships for heaven has been our meditation in this series. We are centering our attention on the relationships in the church that we are to develop so they will continue in the church in heaven. We saw that relationships we are studying are derived from the Godhead. The relationship between Father, Son and Holy Spirit are identified in the Spirit of Prophecy as the family of heaven which God then enlarged by creating. God had ordained a family, the family relationship that he created two human beings that should be one flesh. The DNA of both male and female should be united in one flesh in their children. There is a union that is symbolic of the union that God wants to have in eternity with his people.

God ordained that woman should be united with man in holy wedlock, to raise up families that would be crowned with honor who would be symbols of the family in heaven. . . . Marriage, when joined with purity and holiness, truth and righteousness, is one of the greatest blessings ever given to the human family. . . . {HP 202.2}

Marriage is a symbol of a higher order. Symbols of the family of heaven. We see that the parallel of the relationship of marriage and a family is parallel to the relationship of God with his church.

Genesis 2:23 And Adam said, This [is] now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.

In Ephesians we read the parallel which is meant for the church.

Ephesians 5:25 Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; 26 That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, 27 That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish. 30 For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones.

The church is a parallel situation of a marriage that she is now bone of my bone, flesh of my flesh. The church and Jesus are members together of the flesh and bones and intimacy of Jesus Christ. Jesus is the husband of the church. The relationship that we learnt what the family is meant to be is a symbol of the relationship the church is meant to have with Jesus Christ.

Ephesians 5:31 For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. 32 This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church.

If marriage is a great mystery what is this? The Bible is explicit describing this is a mystery that Jesus should be bone of our bone and flesh of our flesh. God in Jesus is with us and we who believe and embrace Jesus Christ in the atonement maybe truly at one with God, so intimately related. We are to be heirs of God and joint heirs of Christ. How? By us embracing the atonement. According to our response to what God is doing we may come into this intimate relationship of the Godhead.

2 Peter 1:4 Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.

What may we be partakers of? Through the knowledge of Jesus Christ, through this knowledge, we who embracing those precious promises are to become partakers of the divine nature as Jesus came himself into the human nature. This is indeed a mystery. Apostle Paul describes it well. This mystery that the divine nature can be part of you and me if we would embrace this knowledge.

Colossians 1:26 [Even] the mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to his saints: 27 To whom God would make known what [is] the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory:

This connects with everything in this series. The sense and reality of God’s presence with and in me. God can come into our private space and be so close that he is in me. Jesus came to demonstrate it. He is God and he became incarnate in the human nature so that you and I may be come incarnate in the divine nature. This mystery, bone of my bone, flesh of my flesh is being revealed in God’s word. The relationship of the divine with the human was his prayer. The church maybe experiencing this intimacy.

John 17:21 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.

Those words are a mysterious relationship that the world doesn’t know. The Holy Spirit is with and shall be in you. Those who open their hearts to the word of God and let the Bible be the voice of God speaking to them, the word can create them in his own image. If you open your heart, Christ will be in you.

1 Corinthians 12:27 Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular.

Those who are working for God should put away all unkind criticism, and draw together in unity. They need to study the Lord’s teaching in regard to this. Christ desires His soldiers to stand shoulder to shoulder, united in the work of fighting the battles of the cross. He desires the union between those who work for Him to be as close as the union between Him and His Father.. {UL 366.3}

Jesus desires our union with us to be as close between him and his father. Maybe a little euphoric? You are living in a dream. They can’t understand this. Can you? Can you understand it? Can you experience it? Do you know it? The church, the body of Christ, where is it? Where is such a church? I’ve asked that question and I’ve looked and laboured to engage in a church fellowship that is true to this and I’ve made many experiences seeking to have it. I love it when I meet brother and sister who actually enjoy that. They know it as they have opened their heart to the truth as it is in Jesus.

When I studied as nurse in a Seventh Day Adventist institution I thought this was the place and I only found one soul I could be at one with. Where is the body of Christ? It is elusive today. It says of our time, perilous times where there is a form of godliness where the power of God is missing. That is our time. when Jesus makes a promise I will be with you till the end of the world this is something for us to pursue and find.

Matthew 28:19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:

The outpouring of the Spirit in the days of the apostles was the beginning of the early, or former, rain, and glorious was the result. To the end of time the presence of the Spirit is to abide with the true church. {AA 54.2}

Who claims to be the true church today? Seventh Day Adventists, Protestants and independents all claim to be the true church. What proof do we have that they are? Jesus said that they may be one as we are one. That is the proof but where is it? Where has it been throughout the ages?

Here is the Church

From the beginning, faithful souls have constituted the church on earth. {AA 11.2}

That is the church from the beginning. Hebrews 11 gives you the true church.

In every age the Lord has had His watchmen, who have borne a faithful testimony to the generation in which they lived. These sentinels gave the message of warning; and when they were called to lay off their armor, others took up the work. God brought these witnesses into covenant relation with Himself, uniting the church on earth with the church in heaven. He has sent forth His angels to minister to His church, and the gates of hell have not been able to prevail against His people. {AA 11.2}

We want to have relationships here on earth that prepare us for relationships in heaven. It appears as though the gates of hell have prevailed because every organisation that has claimed to be Gods church have slipped and fallen so have the gates prevailed? No it hasn’t because all through the ages it is faithful souls that constitute the church on earth.

During ages of spiritual darkness the church of God has been as a city set on a hill. From age to age, through successive generations, the pure doctrines of heaven have been unfolding within its borders. Enfeebled and defective as it may appear, the church is the one object upon which God bestows in a special sense His supreme regard. It is the theater of His grace, in which He delights to reveal His power to transform hearts. {AA 12.1}

What doctrines? The pure doctrines have been unfolding. What happened to Nebuchadnezzar is going to happen to us if we would be faithful in following the Lord. He will transform us in his church. Many times people use statements like this and say that is us but when you read it carefully there is no name given to this church in every succeeding generations the church has changed hands and they still exist today but are they the faithful church of today?

Enfeebled and defective as they may appear, is that apostate? Not it is not. If a church is apostate it is not enfeebled and defective it is apostate. Enfeebled and defective means poor and afflicted without much power of public glory like the disciples who fled. The Waldenses and Huguenots were the offscouring of the earth, enfeebled and defective people but they were among who the pure doctrines were unfolding. Here we are today and the pure doctrines unfolded from 1844 to 1904 and the pure doctrines developed as a platform. Those pure doctrines safeguarded by a feeble few constitute Gods church.

God has a church. It is not the great cathedral, neither is it the national establishment, neither is it the various denominations; it is the people who love God and keep His commandments. “Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them” (Matthew 18:20). Where Christ is even among the humble few, this is Christ’s church, for the presence of the High and Holy One who inhabiteth eternity can alone constitute a church. {UL 315.5}

In all our relationship meditations we have seen that if I’m going to be what God intended for me and his people then I must have a relationship with God and that relationship with God with the individual and the congregation constitutes the church where the people are faithful loving God and keeping his commandments.

Where two or three are present who love and obey the commandments of God, Jesus there presides, let it be in the desolate place of the earth, in the wilderness, in the city enclosed in prison walls. The glory of God has penetrated the prison walls, flooding with glorious beams of heavenly light the darkest dungeon. His saints may suffer, but their sufferings will, like the apostles of old, spread their faith and win souls to Christ and glorify His holy name. The bitterest opposition expressed by those who hate God’s great moral standard of righteousness should not and will not shake the steadfast soul who trusts fully in God. . . . {UL 315.6}

They that will be doers of the word are building securely, and the tempest and storm of persecution will not shake their foundation, because their souls are rooted to the eternal Rock. {UL 315.7}

Oh how important the relationship with God is. All the proud posturing of a people claiming to be Gods church is of no available unless they have a deep relationship with God where love and obedience to his commandments is the character. Do you wish to be part of such a fellowship, such a union equal to the Godhead?

This request of Christ has no limit to its fulness. He desires that his followers shall reveal to the world his spirit of unity and love. But before this unity can exist among them, there must be a genuine renovation of every heart; there must be a vital connection with God; the character must be formed after the divine similitude. {RH, November 3, 1896 par. 3}

It is space, no limit. It is infinite. Can you grasp what is available? I really ache for that. The connection with God must be of such a nature that the character will develop into the divine similitude.

Though each is charged with responsibility, and each has a part to act, “none of us liveth to himself.” God has designed by the unity of his people to impress upon a sinful world, and also to reveal to the heavenly intelligences, the fact that Christ has not died in vain. . {RH, November 3, 1896 par. 4}

Do you want to prove to the world Christ has no died in vain?

“Ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should show forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light: which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God: which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy.” The pure and holy principle of love distinguishes the character and conduct of Christians from those of worldlings. Standing out from the world, we are to become representatives of the goodness, mercy, and love of God. Thus we may be spectacles unto the world, and to angels, and to men. {RH, November 3, 1896 par. 4}

If we want to know what the loud cry is? This is it. When Gods people are so perfectly united they will stand out from the world. Not as postulating as Gods church but by humbly keeping his commandments. If I’m going to have that unity to be the body of Christ in verity then that unity can only be in existence when I as an individual am renovated in my heart and when I have a vital connection with God and my character is formed under the divine similitude.

When I read that years ago I thought it was hard to understand as people were still developing. God’s people are going to stand under the power of the latter rain and we must get the answers now. We don’t have much time left anymore. The message of gaining this position is essential for us to embrace. Can you see the provocation? Where am I Lord? Is my heart truly renovated? Nebuchadnezzar had been touched by the Lord but he hadn’t been truly renovated and how long did it take? Going into madness and looking up to heaven. It was totally removed, God had worked it out.

God is leading out a people, and bringing them into the unity of the faith, that they may be one, as he is one with the Father. Various views and differences of opinion must be yielded, that all may come in union with the body, that they may have one mind and one judgment. {RH, May 6, 1862 par. 3}

Is that a challenge? I wanted to embrace this in my youth. I came up in Adventism through Desmond Fords infliction on the church. Also Brinsmead, Fred Wright and both the SDA Reform movements. Where are you Lord? Where is the body of Christ? The reason that this bifurcation and splintering in Adventism takes place, is because the challenge of various views and diff of opinion were not yield to come into unity.

The Lord showed me there was a company that were united and they proclaimed the message in unity and I have to give up my personal opinions to be part of such a union and I decided to do it. If anyone challenges me they are not challenging me, they are challenging in the company that demonstrated unity in the experience of original Adventism. The challenge of God’s word is in Corinthians. Notice his appeal;

1 Corinthians 1:10 Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and [that] there be no divisions among you; but [that] ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.

There is nothing more beautiful than a company of people that have the same mind and judgement. That is the judgement of Jesus Christ, the unity of the divine nature among us.

Romans 15:4 For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope. 5 Now the God of patience and consolation grant you to be likeminded one toward another according to Christ Jesus: 6 That ye may with one mind [and] one mouth glorify God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. 

This is the unity, this is the unity that the word of God is calling for. It is a joy to be in union.

Philippians 2:2 Fulfil ye my joy, that ye be likeminded, having the same love, [being] of one accord, of one mind.

When was the early Christian church a spectacle to the world? When they were all in one accord in one place and the power of the Holy Spirit was manifest and this must happen before Jesus comes to be the loud cry that calls the people out. How challenging is all this today? In today’s culture everybody is demonstrating, everybody is raising their voice against something or another. The scattering sentiments and the fact that we are here worshipping differently from so many others. We have been separated from various religious bodies and I ask myself time and time again will we be spared the implosions that happen frequently that happens in different companies?

We can only be spared if we heed the counsel of what I have been reading. Where there is a genuine renovation of every heart, the character formed after the divine similitude. Only then can we be prevented from imploding. It is so natural for us to have strong opinions of our own. It is so natural to claim I’m better on health or dress than my brother or sister, I’m better here or there. There will never be safety of imploding if we have that.. I see this all around splintered Seventh Day Adventism. We need to heed the work of the Holy Spirit.

The golden chain of love, binding the hearts of the believers in unity, in bonds of fellowship and love, and in oneness with Christ and the Father, makes the connection perfect, and bears to the world a testimony of the power of Christianity that cannot be controverted.  {TMK 173.2}

If you come up with the arguments of the doctrines of the Seventh Day Adventist church, do they make an effort to controvert it? The argumentation that goes on today comes from that. It goes on and on but the love and unity that will submit its own views and opinions to the view and opinion of Jesus Christ as he has demonstrated in the past, will be of such a power that it can’t be controverted. It has been said of us you are like tin soldiers, you are not individuals and you are all doing the same thing. That is the way it is interpreted. It can’t be controverted when it exists.

Then will selfishness be uprooted and unfaithfulness will not exist. There will not be strife and divisions. There will not be stubbornness in anyone who is bound up with Christ. Not one will act out the stubborn independence of the wayward, impulsive child who drops the hand that is leading him and chooses to stumble on alone. . . . {TMK 173.3}

We often spit the dummy/pacifier.* if things don’t go just the way I expect them to and I’m going through a terrible time of a renovation of heart and I’m being pounded into the dirt and I say that is enough and walk away where in the church of God he is interacting with opposites.

It is in the order of God that persons of varied temperament should associate together. When this is the case, each member of the household should sacredly regard the feelings and respect the rights of the others. By this means mutual consideration and forbearance will be cultivated, prejudices will be softened, and rough points of character smoothed. Harmony may be secured, and the blending of the varied temperaments may be a benefit to each. {AH 427.1}

So it is in the church. If I want to develop that beautiful love and that deference and mercy and unselfishness, it will be in the church which has different minds and temperaments but who will submit themselves. I can’t make you submit to me but I need to see how closely I can submit to you. We often say we are to be in unity, you should change your view to be like mine. This is not the way it is going to happen. The context of our scripture reading comes into focus.

Romans 12:3 For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think [of himself] more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith. 4 For as we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office: 5 So we, [being] many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another. 6 Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, whether prophecy, [let us prophesy] according to the proportion of faith; 7 Or ministry, [let us wait] on [our] ministering: or he that teacheth, on teaching; 8 Or he that exhorteth, on exhortation: he that giveth, [let him do it] with simplicity; he that ruleth, with diligence; he that showeth mercy, with cheerfulness. 9 [Let] love be without dissimulation. Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good. 10 [Be] kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another;

Didn’t we see Daniel do that to Nebuchadnezzar? He honoured him. Oh King, let this dream be of thine enemies. He was so hurt he would have to tell him the truth of the matter. He loved him and cared for his soul. When we have to care for the souls of Seventh Day Adventists who are a calibre of Nebuchadnezzar, the church with its pride, take the lessons. While we abhor evil; cleave to that which is good and we are kindly affectioned one to another in brotherly love in honour preferring with one another. Dealing with people as Jesus dealt with them. When Jesus spoke to the Pharisees he spoke with tears in his voice so then in our relationship with one another esteeming others higher than ourselves. Not thinking more highly of ourselves. Jesus is trying to teach us his internal fabric of character.

Colossians 3:11 Where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond [nor] free: but Christ [is] all, and in all. 12 Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering; 13 Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also [do] ye. 14 And above all these things [put on] charity, which is the bond of perfectness. 15 And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful.

The challenge of home relationships that I read in Reflecting Christ is the challenge for us.

Neither the husband nor the wife should attempt to exercise over the other an arbitrary control. Do not try to compel each other to yield to your wishes. You cannot do this and retain each other’s love. Be kind, patient, and forbearing, considerate, and courteous. By the grace of God you can succeed in making each other happy, as in your marriage vow you promised to do. {MH 361.5}

If there is lordship over the other as men often do, woman I am head over the house, you should obey me. That is not Christlike, that is lordship. The woman should submit to the husband but the woman is to be like Jesus. He does not compel his wife to yield to him. You can’t do this and retain each other’s love. God doesn’t use force. What does he use?

Men and women can reach God’s ideal for them if they will take Christ as their helper. What human wisdom cannot do, His grace will accomplish for those who give themselves to Him in loving trust. His providence can unite hearts in bonds that are of heavenly origin. {AH 112.4}

The bond that exists between Father, Son and Holy Spirit. If we are wanting to gain a union, there is a concentration on being kind, forbearing and all that transpires in the church. I must learn to trust the Lord. I see things that are not perfect in the church and I think I have to jump in and say you shouldn’t be doing this and that. How long we have done this? I’ve heard you and you may have heard me too. This is not the way in the brotherhood. It is everyone concentrating on the voice of Jesus in their own soul and having a sense of Jesus impressing upon me in his word and my submission to the message already established.

Look At Jesus

Here is the perfect detail.

Christ carried out in His life His own divine teachings. His zeal never led Him to become passionate. He manifested consistency without obstinacy, benevolence without weakness, tenderness and sympathy without sentimentalism. He was highly social, yet He possessed a reserved dignity that did not encourage undue familiarity. His temperance never led to bigotry or austerity. He was not conformed to this world, yet He was not indifferent to the wants of the least among men. He was awake to the needs of all. {ML 187.2}

Will you be a follower of Jesus then? You are very zealous for the truth and you contend earnestly but we will compose ourselves and not let it become a passionate zeal. That is what Jesus demonstrated. Do you wish to remain consistent and faithfully obedient and unbending? Do so without obstinacy. This is what I believe and I can’t listen to you, go away, don’t want to hear you. That is obstinacy. If someone disagrees remain long suffering and patient but remain stedfast.

Benevolence

It’s so good to share with others your wealth and goodness an then you become a patroniser. Jesus never showed weakness, he didn’t fall into sentimentality. A sentimental person is not living in the real world. You will see even in the church patronising as I feel so deeply for you that I need to talk to you like this. This is not Jesus.

Social

He was very social. We are to be social. We are to communicate socially with each other but with dignified reserve avoiding familiarity. To be very social mingling among the people, showing each other sympathy and kindness but there is a dignity that doesn’t overstep the mark so we start to become familiar with each other. Familiarity breeds contempt. Jesus followed that.

Temperance

We are health reformers and we have made progress on certain reforms of health that others haven’t. In our temperance we must not become bigots. What is bigotry? Bigotry or austerity. A bigot is someone who judges others that they are wrong and I’m right and you must come to my state of temperance. That is not Jesus. He was temperate but he prevented stiff bigotry and harshness. Have you seen people who are such health reformers and skinny as a rake and start to become judgemental on others who are not eating as they are eating. That is austerity.

Worldliness

We are to come out of worldliness but to continue to mingle among the world. Not to be worldly and yet be like Daniel. Daniel was in government. He was in the world but not of it. Be tactful to those who differ with our faith. Don’t rudely denounce them, see if you can win them. If they ridicule and persecute you, take it with remonstrance. When we practise this in the church then all the counsel given us and all that God intended for his church to do will take place. May the Lords presence in our individual life influence us to do these things.

Amen.

* spit the dummy = throw a tantrum.

Posted on April 10, 2011, in Divine Service Sermons, Relationships, Sermons by John Thiel. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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