E.G.White Library | HOME

Testimonies for the Church Volume Nine : Page 179

6. The Spirit of Unity

"That they all may be one."

John 17:21. Unity Among Different Nationalities[+ADDRESS DELIVERED AT THE EUROPEAN UNION COUNCIL, BASEL, SWITZERLAND, SEPTEMBER 24, 1885.]

"If any man thirst, let him come unto Me, and drink." "Whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life." John 7:37; 4:14.

If, with these promises before us, we choose to remain parched and withered for want of the water of life, it is our own fault. If we would come to Christ with the simplicity of a child coming to its earthly parents, and ask for the things that He has promised, believing that we receive them, we should have them. If all of us had exercised the faith we should we would have been blessed with far more of the Spirit of God in our meetings than we have yet received. I am glad that a few days of the meeting still remain. Now the question is: Will we come to the fountain and drink? Will the teachers of truth set the example? God will do great things for us if we by faith take Him at His word. Oh, that we might see here a general humbling of the heart before God!

Since these meetings began, I have felt urged to dwell much upon love and faith. This is because you need this

180

testimony. Some who have entered these missionary fields have said: "You do not understand the French people; you do not understand the Germans. They have to be met in just such a way."

But I inquire: Does not God understand them? Is it not He who gives His servants a message for the people? He knows just what they need; and if the message comes directly from Him through His servants to the people, it will accomplish the work whereunto it is sent; it will make all one in Christ. Though some are decidedly French, others decidedly German, and others decidedly American, they will be just as decidedly Christlike.

The Jewish temple was built of hewn stones quarried out of the mountains; and every stone was fitted for its place in the temple, hewed, polished, and tested before it was brought to Jerusalem. And when all were brought to the ground, the building went together without the sound of ax or hammer. This building represents God's spiritual temple, which is composed of material gathered out of every nation, and tongue, and people, of all grades, high and low, rich and poor, learned and unlearned. These are not dead substances to be fitted by hammer and chisel. They are living stones, quarried out from the world by the truth; and the great Master Builder, the Lord of the temple, is now hewing and polishing them, and fitting them for their respective places in the spiritual temple. When completed, this temple will be perfect in all its parts, the admiration of angels and of men; for its Builder and Maker is God.

Let no one think that there need not be a stroke placed upon him. There is no person, no nation, that is perfect in every habit and thought. One must learn of another. Therefore God wants the different nationalities to mingle

181

together, to be one in judgment, one in purpose. Then the union that there is in Christ will be exemplified.

I was almost afraid to come to this country because I heard so many say that the different nationalities of Europe were peculiar and had to be reached in a certain way. But the wisdom of God is promised to those who feel their need and who ask for it. God can bring the people where they will receive the truth. Let the Lord take possession of the mind and mold it as the clay is molded in the hands of the potter, and these differences will not exist. Look to Jesus, brethren; copy His manners and spirit, and you will have no trouble in reaching these different classes. We have not six patterns to follow, nor five; we have only one, and that is Christ Jesus. If the Italian brethren, the French brethren, and the German brethren try to be like Him, they will plant their feet upon the same foundation of truth; the same spirit that dwells in one will dwell in the other--Christ in them, the hope of glory. I warn you, brethren and sisters, not to build up a wall of partition between different nationalities. On the contrary, seek to break it down wherever it exists. We should endeavor to bring all into the harmony that there is in Jesus, laboring for the one object, the salvation of our fellow men.

Will you, my ministering brethren, grasp the rich promises of God? Will you put self out of sight and let Jesus appear? Self must die before God can work through you. I feel alarmed as I see self cropping out in one and another here and there. I tell you, in the name of Jesus of Nazareth, your wills must die; they must become as God's will. He wants to melt you over and to cleanse you from every defilement. There is a great work to be done for you before you can be filled with the

182

power of God. I beseech you to draw nigh to Him, that you may realize His rich blessing before this meeting closes.

There are those here upon whom great light in warnings and reproofs has shone. Whenever reproofs are given, the enemy seeks to create in those reproved a desire for human sympathy. Therefore I would warn you to beware lest in appealing to the sympathy of others and going back over your past trials, you again err on the same points in seeking to build yourselves up. The Lord brings His erring children over the same ground again and again; but if they continually fail to heed the admonitions of His Spirit, if they fail to reform on every point where they have erred, He will finally leave them to their own weakness.

I entreat you, brethren, to come to Christ and drink; drink freely of the water of salvation. Do not appeal to your own feelings. Do not think that sentimentalism is religion. Shake yourself from every human prop and lean heavily upon Christ. You need a new fitting up before you are prepared to engage in the work of saving souls. Your words, your actions, have an influence upon others, and you must meet that influence in the day of God. Jesus says: "Behold, I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it." Revelation 3:8. Light is shining from that door, and it is our privilege to receive it if we will. Let us direct our eyes within that open door and try to receive all that Christ is willing to bestow.

Each one will have a close struggle to overcome sin in his own heart. This is at times a very painful and discouraging work; because, as we see the deformities in our character, we keep looking at them, when we should look to Jesus and put on the robe of His righteousness.

183

Everyone who enters the pearly gates of the city of God will enter there as a conqueror, and his greatest conquest will have been the conquest of self.

"For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might by His Spirit in the inner man; that Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; and to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fullness of God." Ephesians 3:14-19.

As workers together for God, brethren and sisters, lean heavily upon the arm of the Mighty One. Labor for unity, labor for love, and you will become a power in the world.

(184)

Unity in Christ Jesus

Loma Linda, California, August 24, 1905. To Our Brethren Connected With the Publishing Work

at College View--

While attending the council meeting of the General Conference Committee, held in September, 1904, my mind was deeply exercised regarding the unity that should attend our work. I was not able to attend all the meetings, but in the night season scene after scene passed before me, and I felt that I had a message to bear to our people in many places.

My heart is pained as I see that, with such wonderful incentives to bring our powers and capabilities to the very highest state of development, we are content to be dwarfs in the work of Christ. God's desire is that all His workers shall grow to the full stature of men and women in Christ. Where there is vitality, there is growth; the growth testifies to the vitality. The words and works bear living testimony to the world of what Christianity does for the followers of Christ.

When you do your appointed work without contention or criticism of others, a freedom, a light, and a power will attend it that will give character and influence to the institutions and enterprises with which you are connected.

Remember that you are never on vantage ground when you are ruffled and when you carry the burden of setting right every soul who comes near you. If you yield to the temptation to criticize others, to point out their faults, to tear down what they are doing, you may be sure that you will fail to act your own part nobly and well.

185

This is a time when every man in a responsible position, and every member of the church, should bring every feature of his work into close accord with the teachings of the word of God. By untiring vigilance, by fervent prayer, by Christlike words and deeds, we are to show the world what God desires His church to be.

From His high position, Christ, the King of glory, the Majesty of heaven, saw the condition of men. He pitied human beings in their weakness and sinfulness, and came to this earth to reveal what God is to men. Leaving the royal courts, and clothing His divinity with humanity, He came to the world Himself, in our behalf to work out a perfect character. He did not choose His dwelling among the rich of the earth. He was born in poverty, of lowly parentage, and lived in the despised village of Nazareth. As soon as He was old enough to handle tools, He shared the burden of caring for the family.

Christ humbled Himself to stand at the head of humanity, to meet the temptations and endure the trials that humanity must meet and endure. He must know what humanity has to meet from the fallen foe, that He might know how to succor those who are tempted.

And Christ has been made our Judge. The Father is not the Judge. The angels are not. He who took humanity upon Himself, and in this world lived a perfect life, is to judge us. He only can be our Judge. Will you remember this, brethren? Will you remember it, ministers? Will you remember it, fathers and mothers? Christ took humanity that He might be our Judge. No one of you has been appointed to be a judge of others. It is all that you can do to discipline yourselves. In the name of Christ I entreat you to heed the injunction that He

186

gives you never to place yourselves on the judgment seat. From day to day this message has been sounded in my ears: "Come down from the judgment seat. Come down in humility."

Never was there a time when it was more important that we should deny ourselves and take up the cross daily than now. How much self-denial are we willing to practice?

A Life of Grace and Peace

In the first chapter of the second epistle of Peter you will find the promise that grace and peace will be multiplied unto you, if you will "add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; and to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; and to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity.' 2 Peter 1:5-7. These virtues are wonderful treasures. They "make a man more precious than fine gold; even a man than the golden wedge of Ophir." Isaiah 13:12.

"If these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ." 2 Peter 1:8.

Shall we not strive to use to the very best of our ability the little time that is left us in this life, adding grace to grace, power to power, making it manifest that we have a source of power in the heavens above? Christ says: "All power is given unto Me in heaven and in earth." Matthew 28:18. What is this power given to Him for? For us. He desires us to realize that He has returned to heaven as our Elder Brother and that the measureless power given Him has been placed at our disposal.

Those who will carry out in their lives the instruction

187

given to the church through the apostle Peter will receive power from above. We are to live upon the plan of addition, giving all diligence to make our calling and election sure. We are to represent Christ in all that we say and do. We are to live His life. The principles by which He was guided are to shape our course of action toward those with whom we are associated.

When we are securely anchored in Christ, we have a power that no human being can take from us. Why is this? Because we are partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust, partakers of the nature of Him who came to this earth clothed with the habiliments of humanity, that He might stand at the head of the human race and develop a character that was without spot or stain of sin.

Why are many of us so weak and inefficient? It is because we look to self, studying our own temperaments and wondering how we can make a place for ourselves, our individuality, and our peculiarities, in the place of studying Christ and His character.

Brethren who could work together in harmony if they would learn of Christ, forgetting that they are Americans or Europeans, Germans or Frenchmen, Swedes, Danes, or Norwegians, seem to feel that if they should blend with those of other nationalities, something of that which is peculiar to their own country and nation would be lost and something else would take its place.

My brethren, let us put all this aside.We have no right to keep our minds stayed on ourselves, our preferences, and our fancies. We are not to seek to maintain a peculiar identity of our own, a personality, an individuality, which will separate us from our fellow laborers. We have a character to maintain, but it is the character

188

of Christ. Having the character of Christ, we can carry on the work of God together. The Christ in us will meet the Christ in our brethren, and the Holy Spirit will give that union of heart and action which testifies to the world that we are children of God. May the Lord help us to die to self and be born again, that Christ may live in us, a living, active principle, a power that will keep us holy.

-

Strive earnestly for unity. Pray for it, work for it. It will bring spiritual health, elevation of thought, nobility of character, heavenly-mindedness, enabling you to overcome selfishness and evil surmisings, and to be more than conquerors through Him that loved you and gave Himself for you. Crucify self; esteem others better than yourselves. Thus you will be brought into oneness with Christ. Before the heavenly universe, and before the church and the world, you will bear unmistakable evidence that you are God's sons and daughters. God will be glorified in the example that you set.

The world needs to see worked out before it the miracle that binds the hearts of God's people together in Christian love. It needs to see the Lord's people sitting together in heavenly places in Christ. Will you not give in your lives an evidence of what the truth of God can do for those who love and serve Him? God knows what you can be. He knows what divine grace can do for you if you will be partakers of the divine nature.

189

The Publishing Work at College View

Loma Linda, California, August 24, 1905.

I approve of the efforts that have been made to establish our German and Scandinavian publishing work at College View. I hope that plans will be devised for the encouragement and strengthening of this work.

The whole burden of the work must not be left with our foreign brethren. Nor should our brethren throughout the field leave too heavy a load on the conferences near College View. The members of these conferences should lead out and do their best, and all should come to their assistance. The truth is to be proclaimed to all nations and kindreds and tongues and peoples.

Our German and Danish and Swedish brethren have no good reason for not being able to act in harmony in the publishing work. Those who believe the truth should remember that they are God's little children, that they are under His training. Let them be thankful to God for His manifold mercies and be kind to one another. They have one God and one Saviour; and one Spirit--the Spirit of Christ--is to bring unity into their ranks.

After His resurrection, Christ ascended to heaven, and He is today presenting our needs to the Father. "I have graven thee upon the palms of My hands," He says. Isaiah 49:16. It cost something to engrave them there. It cost untold agony. If we would humble ourselves before God, and be kind and courteous and tenderhearted and pitiful, there would be one hundred conversions to the truth where now there is only one. But, though professing to be converted, we carry around with us a bundle of self that we regard as altogether too precious to be given up. It is our privilege to lay this burden at

190

the feet of Christ and in its place take the character and similitude of Christ. The Saviour is waiting for us to do this.

Christ laid aside His royal robe, His kingly crown, and His high command, and stepped down, down, down, to the lowest depths of humiliation. Bearing human nature, He met all the temptations of humanity and in our behalf defeated the enemy on every point.

All this He did that He might bring men power by which they might be overcomers. "All power," He says, "is given unto Me." Matthew 28:18. And this He gives to all who will follow Him. They may demonstrate to the world the power that there is in the religion of Christ for the conquest of self.

"Learn of Me," Christ says, "and ye shall find rest unto your souls." Matthew 11:29. Why do we not learn of the Saviour every day? Why do we not live in constant communion with Him, so that in our connection with one another we can speak and act kindly and courteously? Why do we not honor the Lord by manifesting tenderness and love for one another? If we speak and act in harmony with the principles of heaven, unbelievers will be drawn to Christ by their association with us.

Christ's Relation to Nationality

Christ recognized no distinction of nationality or rank or creed. The scribes and Pharisees desired to make a local and a national benefit of all the gifts of heaven and to exclude the rest of God's family in the world. But Christ came to break down every wall of partition. He came to show that His gift of mercy and love is as unconfined as the air, the light, or the showers of rain that refresh the earth.

191

The life of Christ established a religion in which there is no caste, a religion by which Jew and Gentile, free and bond, are linked in a common brotherhood, equal before God. No question of policy influenced His movements. He made no difference between neighbors and strangers, friends and enemies. That which appealed to His heart was a soul thirsting for the waters of life.

He passed no human being by as worthless, but sought to apply the healing remedy to every soul. In whatever company He found Himself, He presented a lesson appropriate to the time and the circumstances. Every neglect or insult shown by men to their fellow men only made Him more conscious of their need of His divine-human sympathy. He sought to inspire with hope the roughest and most unpromising, setting before them the assurance that they might become blameless and harmless, attaining such a character as would make them the children of God.

A Sure Foundation

"Wherefore the rather, brethren," says the apostle Peter, "give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall: for so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ." 2 Peter 1:10, 11.

Years ago, when the company of believers in the soon coming of Christ was very small, the Sabbathkeepers at Topsham, Maine, met for worship in the large kitchen in the home of Brother Stockbridge Howland. One Sabbath morning Brother Howland was absent. We were surprised at this, because he was always so punctual. Soon he came in, his face aglow, shining with the glory

192

of God. "Brethren," he said, "I have found it. I have found that we can pursue a course of action regarding which the guarantee of God's word is: 'Ye shall never fall.' I am going to tell you about it."

He then told us that he had noticed that one brother, a poor fisherman, had been feeling that he was not as highly respected as he ought to be and that Brother Howland and others thought themselves above him. This was not true, but it seemed true to him; and for several weeks he had not attended the meetings. So Brother Howland went to his house and knelt before him, saying: "My brother, forgive me. What is it that I have done?" The man took him by the arm and tried to raise him to his feet. "No," said Brother Howland, "what have you against me?" "I have nothing against you." "But you must have," said Brother Howland, "because once we could speak to one another, but now you do not speak to me at all, and I want to know what is the matter."

"Get up, Brother Howland," he said. "No," said Brother Howland, "I will not." "Then I must get down," he said, and he fell on his knees, and confessed how childish he had been and how many evil surmisings he had cherished. "And now," he said, "I will put them all away."

As Brother Howland told this story, his face shone with the glory of the Lord. Just as he had finished, the fisherman and his family came in, and we had an excellent meeting.

Suppose that some of us should follow the course pursued by Brother Howland. If when our brethren surmise evil, we would go to them, saying, "Forgive me if I have done anything to harm you," we might break the spell of Satan and set our brethren free from their temptations.

193

Do not let anything interpose between you and your brethren. If there is anything that you can do by sacrifice to clear away the rubbish of suspicion, do it. God wants us to love one another as brethren. He wants us to be pitiful and courteous. He wants us to educate our selves to believe that our brethren love us, and to believe that Christ loves us. Love begets love.

Do we expect to meet our brethren in heaven? If we can live with them here in peace and harmony we could live with them there. But how could we live with them in heaven if we cannot live with them here without continued contention and strife? Those who are following a course of action that separates them from their brethren and brings in discord and dissension, need a thorough conversion. Our hearts must be melted and subdued by the love of Christ. We must cherish the love that He showed in dying for us on the cross of Calvary. We need to draw closer and closer to the Saviour. We should be much in prayer, and we must learn to exercise faith. We must be more tenderhearted, more pitiful and courteous. We shall pass through this world but once. Shall we not strive to leave on those with whom we associate the impress of the character of Christ?

Our hard hearts need to be broken. We need to come together in perfect unity, and we need to realize that we are the purchase of the blood of Jesus Christ of Nazareth. Let each one say: "He gave His life for me, and He wants me, as I go through this world, to reveal the love that He revealed in giving Himself for me." Christ bore our sins in His own body on the cross, that God might be just and yet the justifier of those who believe in Him. There is life, eternal life, for all who will surrender to Christ.

I want to see the King in His beauty. I want to behold

194

His matchless charms. I want you to behold Him, too. Christ will lead His redeemed ones beside the river of life and will explain to them all that perplexed them in this world. The mysteries of grace will unfold before them. Where their finite minds discerned only confusion and broken purposes, they will see the most perfect and beautiful harmony.

Let us serve God with all our capabilities, with all our intelligence. Our intelligence will increase as we make use of that which we have. Our religious experience will strengthen as we bring it into the daily life. Thus we shall climb round after round of the ladder reaching to heaven, until at last we step from off the topmost round into the kingdom of God. Let us be Christians in this world. Then we shall have eternal life in the kingdom of glory.

-

Unity existing among the followers of Christ is an evidence that the Father has sent His Son to save sinners. It is a witness to His power; for nothing short of the miraculous power of God can bring human beings with their different temperaments together in harmonious action, their one aim being to speak the truth in love.

God's warnings and counsels are plain and decided. As we read the Scriptures and see the power for good that there is in unity and the power for evil that there is in disunion, how can we fail to receive the word of God into our hearts? Suspicion and distrust are as evil leaven. Unity bears witness to the power of the truth.

195

German and Scandinavian Conferences

Loma Linda, California, September 1, 1905.

Dear Brethren: Some of our ministers have written to me, asking if the work among the Germans and Scandinavians should not be carried forward under separate organizations. This matter has been presented to me several times. When I was in College View, the Lord gave me a straight testimony to bear, and since that time the matter has been presented to me again.

At one time I seemed to be in a council meeting where these matters were being considered. One of authority stood in the midst of those assembled and opened before them principles that should be followed in the work of God. The instruction given was that should such separation take place, it would not tend to advance the interests of the work among the various nationalities. It would not lead to the highest spiritual development. Walls would be built up that would have to be removed in the near future.

According to the light given me of God, separate organizations, instead of bringing about unity, will create discord. If our brethren will seek the Lord together in humility of mind, those who now think it necessary to organize separate German and Scandinavian conferences will see that the Lord desires them to work together as brethren.

Were those who seek to disintegrate the work of God, to carry out their purpose, some would magnify themselves to do a work that should not be done. Such an arrangement would greatly retard the cause of God. If we are to carry on the work most successfully, the talents

196

to be found among the English and Americans should be united with the talents of those of every other nationality. And each nationality should labor earnestly for every other nationality. There is but one Lord, one faith. Our effort should be to answer Christ's prayer for His disciples, that they should be one.

"Sanctify them through Thy truth: Thy word is truth. As Thou hast sent Me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world. And for their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth.

"Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on Me through their word; 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." John 17:17-21.

It should be understood that perfect unity among the laborers is necessary to the successful accomplishment of the work of God. In order to preserve peace, all must seek wisdom from the Great Teacher. Let all be careful how they introduce ambitious propositions that will create dissension.

We are to be subject one to another. No man, in himself, is a complete whole. Through submission of the mind and will to the Holy Spirit we are ever to be learners of the Great Teacher.

Study the second chapter of Acts. In the early church the Spirit of God wrought mightily through those who were harmoniously united. On the Day of Pentecost they were all with one accord in one place.

We are to demonstrate to the world that men of every nationality are one in Christ Jesus. Then let us remove every barrier and come into unity in the service of the Master.

197

In the erection of national barriers you present to the world a plan of human invention that God can never endorse. To those who would do this, the apostle Paul says: "Ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal? . . . Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers by whom ye believed, even as the Lord gave to every man? I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase. So then neither is he that planteth anything, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase. Now he that planteth and he that watereth are one: and every man shall receive his own reward according to his own labor. For we are laborers together with God: ye are God's husbandry, ye are God's building." I Corinthians 3:3-9.

An Example of Brotherly Kindness

When our brethren in Scandinavia faced a financial crisis, the testimony was given that we must not permit our brethren to stand as bankrupt before the world. That would have been dishonoring to God. And the prompt and liberal action of our American brethren was an acknowledgment that the difference in nationality could not release them from their duty to assist one another in the work of God. "All ye are brethren." Matthew 23:8. We are one in the unity of the truth.

We must now, by diligent, self-sacrificing effort, endeavor to walk in the love of Christ, in the unity of the Spirit, through sanctification of the truth. No halfway work will suffice to fulfill the representation given in the prayer of Christ. We are to practice the principles of heaven here below. In heaven there is one grand meeting place.

I must write plainly regarding the building up of

198

partition walls in the work of God. Such an action has been revealed to me as a fallacy of human invention. It is not the Lord's plan for His people to separate themselves into separate companies, because of differences in nationality and language. Did they do this, their ideas would become narrow, and their influence would be greatly lessened. God calls for a harmonious blending of a variety of talents.

I again repeat the words of Christ. I would impress them deeply upon your minds. "Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on Me through their word; 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. And the glory which Thou gavest Me I have given them; that they may be one, even as We are one: 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."

Christ has hedged in His people from the world, but those who would build up national separation, would do a work for which the Lord Jesus Christ has given no encouragement.

Brethren, unify; draw close together, laying aside every human invention and following closely in the footsteps of Jesus, your great Example.