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Manuscript Releases Volume Twelve : Page 113

24. Standard of Truth To Be Upheld in Christ's Love

Church Discipline to Be Considered in the Fear of God --Elders and deacons are chosen to have a care for the prosperity of the church; yet these leaders, especially in young churches, should not feel at liberty, on their own judgment and responsibility, to cut off offending members from the church; they are not invested with such authority. Many indulge a zeal like that of Jehu and rashly venture to make decisions in matters of grave importance, while they themselves have no connection with God. They should humbly and earnestly seek wisdom from the One who has placed them in their position, and should be very modest in assuming responsibilities. They should also lay the matter before the president of their conference and counsel with him. At some appointed time the subject should be patiently considered. In the fear of God, with much humility and sorrow for the erring, who are the purchase of the blood of Christ, with earnest, humble prayer the proper officers should deal with the offenders. How different has been the course when, with self-assumed authority and a hard, unfeeling spirit, accusations have been made and souls have been thrust out of the church of Christ.

The matter should be thoroughly investigated before any action is taken. Let such questions as the following be carefully considered: What is the charge brought against the erring? Has the law of God been willfully transgressed? Has the offender been dishonest in his dealing with his

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brethren or the world? Has he been guilty of licentious conduct? Has he been untruthful? Has he practiced deception? Has he been severe, overbearing, and abusive in his family, with his neighbors, his brethren, or worldlings? Has he shown a spirit of penuriousness, selfishness, covetousness, doubt, faultfinding, or talebearing? Has he talked of the faults of his brethren, magnifying their wrongs, and cherished a spirit of bitterness toward them, thus endangering the prosperity and unity of the church?

All these points require careful consideration, but the next question is, What course has been pursued toward the erring? Has the Bible rule been followed to the letter? Read before the church the rules given them by their Captain, and let the question be asked, Have they obeyed orders like faithful soldiers in the army? To go contrary to the positive orders of the Captain of our salvation is deserving of severest censure by those whom God has placed in authority.

Those who constitute the active element in the church at Ligonier are the ones who should see their wrongs and be willing to confess them, or they should be disconnected from the church. Their spirits are strong and uncontrollable; if checked lightly today, they will rise in triumph tomorrow if they have a chance. They will gather about them those who cannot see and understand their spirit and who will oppose any influence that would check their movements.

There is always danger and trouble in any church which is composed mostly of family connections. This is the curse of the Ligonier church. Relatives who are unconsecrated sympathize with one another and thus a sinful harmony exists among them. Jesus is united to His people by a love far greater and more enduring than ever bound together the hearts of human

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kindred. This love, so deep, so unchanging, is a continual assurance of His faithfulness to support the weak, confirm the wavering, comfort the feeble-minded, and bind up the bruises of the soul. Oh, wondrous love, that should lead the Saviour to yield up His honor, His glory, His royal throne and royal court, and for our sakes become poor, that we through His poverty might be made rich!

In order to secure us to Himself and ensure our eternal salvation He gave all that He had--His riches, His glory, and His own precious life. For us He endured the agony of the Garden of Gethsemane, when the mysterious cup trembled in His hand and His anguished soul cried out, "Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from Me." From His pale, quivering lips came this anguished prayer, and then the words of submission, "O My Father, if this cup may not pass away from Me except I drink it, Thy will be done." An angel from heaven strengthened the royal Sufferer to tread His blood-stained path to Calvary, and to drink the cup of suffering to its very dregs. Oh, why was all this suffering, this ignominy, and torturing agony? It was that by this sacrifice of Himself His love might stand revealed, that He might woo men from the ways of sin. After man has cost so much, will He leave him now? Oh no, no! He is faithful that has promised; His arms are outstretched to clasp the repentant, believing ones to His heart of love, with all the tenderness of divine affection. In Jesus we have an enduring, unchanging friend, and though all earthly prospects should fail and every earthly friend prove treacherous, yet He is faithful still.

His servants are as dear to Him as the apple of the eye. In trial, in want, in perplexity and distress, we are not alone; at every step, in tones of assurance, He bids us, "Follow Me." "I will never leave nor forsake

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thee." But this blessed assurance is given only on condition of our obedience and faithfulness to Him.

In view of the infinite price paid for man's redemption, how dare any professing the name of Christ treat with indifference one of His little ones? How carefully should brethren and sisters in the church guard every word and action, lest they hurt the oil and the wine! How patiently, kindly, and affectionately should they deal with the purchase of the blood of Christ! How faithfully and earnestly should they labor to lift up the desponding and the discouraged! How tenderly should they treat those who are trying to obey the truth and have no encouragement at home, who have constantly to breathe the atmosphere of unbelief and darkness!

In what contrast to the course of our Exemplar has been that pursued by Sister A and those connected with her. The reason is, they have not the spirit of Christ. He does not dwell in them. Satan will in every conceivable manner obstruct the path of all who try to follow the Saviour, and when Christ's professed friends allow themselves to tear down, to discourage and destroy, they show that they are not of Christ, but of Satan, for his works they do.--Ms 1, 1878, pp. 3-8. (To the Church at Ligonier, Indiana, n.d.)

All Our Powers to Be Under Control of the Spirit of God --There are two classes of people in our world who profess godliness--the self-complacent, and the self-abhorrent. The first class do not practice the lessons of Christ. They search the Scriptures, but it is for the purpose of picking out incidental portions which they misinterpret to strengthen their own peculiar views. They flatter themselves that they find a high morality reflected in their character.

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The lesson of Christ in the parable of the Pharisee and the publican is recorded for the benefit of all who believe the words of Christ. It was spoken to some who the great Teacher saw were self-conceited, full of their own righteousness, and who despised others. "Whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted" [Matt. 23:12]. Your position is that of exalting self. Your assumption of excellency that does not belong to you will certainly exclude you from the grace which, can truly exalt. True righteousness never produces such fruit; false righteousness always does.

If you could only see yourself and that past experience which you value so highly, as God sees you, you would abhor yourself. While you congratulate yourself that you are not like those in whom you think you see faults and wrongs, you are not awake to your own state. You will have no credit for your keen eyesight in discerning other's errors, for you do not see that you are making far greater blunders than you accuse them of making. Were your eyes anointed with the spiritual eyesalve, you would but have bitter self-upbraiding. You do not know what spirit prompts you to action. You are self-deceived. God alone can change your perverted heart. He alone can transform your character and prepare you for the kingdom of heaven. . . .

Sanctified knowledge is power, life, peace, and joy forever. If you had all your powers under the control of the Spirit of God, you could be a blessing to others, but as you are simply bring in confusion and heresy. Every effort you make to lead souls into the truth is fruitless because you bring up your daughter's spurious visions, comparing them with Sister White's, and thus lead souls to believe a lie. Satan can speak some truth

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to those he wishes to deceive, as he did to Christ. He can so interweave truth with falsehood that the truth will be of none effect. . . .

In your case, and those connected with you, the church has been zealously seeking to keep out these heresies. They have openly protested against them, and this has caused those in error to raise the cry, "Persecution!" The ones who dealt with these persistently inconsistent elements became excited and harsh, moved unwisely, and thus gave Satan great advantage. This is not the way to deal with the erring. The standard of truth should always be held up in the spirit of the Master. God alone is able to decide how far circumstances and personal infirmities were responsible for their accepting heresies--whether it was a sin of ignorance, or a lack of wisdom.

Some are so bold and defiant, so self-sufficient, and believe such inconsistent and superstitious things, that it is necessary to take decided action in their case. But after the reproof is given, it is not necessary to neglect them, or meet them with coldness, with an unsympathetic, denunciatory spirit.

The evils which have existed in all ages will continue to exist till the close of probation. We need to understand the cause of these evils, and the modes of Satan's attacks, that we may be able to resist them. We have to meet not only men who fall into error, but principalities and powers and spiritual wickedness in high places. Satan is battling for his empire, which the servants of God are determined to wrench from him. In this sharp warfare, for fear that errors will come into their ranks they have sometimes turned their weapons against the true messengers of God. What can keep the church from making these sad blunders, from putting light for darkness?

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Only the spirit of the blessed Jesus. They cannot avoid meeting these errors and will have to deal with them, but they should never do it in a harsh manner, with a fierce, haughty, tyrannical spirit.--Letter 12, 1890, pp. 5,6,22,29,30, (To Brother and Sister Garmire, Aug. 12, 1890.) White Estate Washington, D. C. October 27, 1982