Bible Study Guides – Unity Among God’s People

Bible Study Guide- Week 4

By Gordon Anderson

MEMORY VERSE: “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 judgement.” 1 Corinthians 1:10.

STUDY HELP: Testimonies, vol. 3, 434-448.

INTRODUCTION: “Christ 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. Differences of opinion must be yielded, that all may come into union with the body, that they may have one mind and one judgement. 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 judgement.’ Romans 15:5, 6: `Now the God of patience and consolation grant you to be like-minded one toward another according to Christ Jesus: that ye may with one mind and one mouth glorify God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.’ Philippians 2:2: `Fulfil ye my joy, that ye be like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind.'” Testimonies, vol. 1, 324.

What vital command did Christ give to His disciples? John 13:34-35.

NOTE: “At the time when these words were spoken, the disciples could not understand them; but after they had witnessed the sufferings of Christ, after His crucifixion and resurrection, and ascension to heaven, and after the Holy Spirit had rested on them at Pentecost, they had a clearer conception of the love of God and of the nature of that love which they must have for one another. Then John could say to his fellow disciples: `Hereby perceive we the love of God, because He laid down His life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.’ After the descent of the Holy Spirit, when the disciples went forth to proclaim a living Saviour, their one desire was the salvation of souls. They rejoiced in the sweetness of communion with saints. They were tender, thoughtful, self-denying, willing to make any sacrifice for the truth’s sake. In their daily association with one another, they revealed the love that Christ had enjoined upon them. By unselfish words and deeds they strove to kindle this love in other hearts.” Acts of the Apostles, 547.

In what practical ways is this love to be manifested? 1 Corinthians 13:4-7.

NOTE: The word that the King James Bible translates as “charity” is precisely the same word translated as “love” elsewhere in the New Testament. This came from the word “caritas” in the Latin version, which did not use the word “amor,” because of its sexual overtones.

“Love is an active principle; it keeps the good of others continually before us, thus restraining us from inconsiderate actions lest we fail of our object in winning souls to Christ. Love seeks not its own. It will not prompt men to seek their own ease and indulgence of self. It is the respect we render to I that so often hinders the growth of love.” Testimonies, vol. 5, 124.

What indissoluble link does the Bible show between obedience to God’s Law and love? Joshua 22:5; Romans 13:8-10; Galatians 5:14; James 2:8.

NOTE: “`Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.’ Have you done this? `Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind.’ If this commandment is obeyed, it prepares the heart to obey the second, which is like unto it: `Love thy neighbour as thyself.’ All the Ten Commandments are embodied in the two specified. The first includes the first four commandments, which show the duty of man to his Creator. The second embraces the last six, which show the duty of man to his fellow man. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets. They are two great arms sustaining all ten of the commandments, the first four and the last six. These must be strictly obeyed.” Testimonies, vol. 2, 43.

How does John describe the man who claims to love God but does not show love to his brother? 1 John 4:20, 21; 1 John 2:9, 10.

NOTE: “But whoso hath this world’s good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him?” Take the question to your own hearts, and answer it as if before the Judge of all the earth. A reformation must take place in every family, in every institution, in every church. `Let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth.’ `Let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love . . . Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another . . . If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen? And this commandment have we from Him, That he who loveth God love his brother also.’ `If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and His love is perfected in us.’ These sacred lessons, if received into the heart, will bring about the reformation essential. Many will lose heaven unless they change their selfish, unlovable, unsympathetic ways, and learn that the Spirit of Christ is not selfish and forbidding, uncourteous and loveless.” Review and Herald, April 3, 1900.

What vital question did the Lord three times put to Peter? John 21:15-17.

NOTE: It is not easy in an English translation to convey the inner meaning of this conversation between the Lord and Peter. Christ asks Peter whether he loves his Lord more than these, the other disciples. In putting this question, Christ uses the word “agapan”, the love of 1 Corinthians 13. Peter dare not commit himself to such a love; he knows his frailty all too well. He will not compare himself with “these”, the other disciples, and uses another word for love, “philein,” the love between friends. The second time the Lord no longer asks Peter to compare himself with his brethren. This weakness (see Matthew 26:33) has gone from the apostle. “Now his self-confidence was gone. Never again were the old boastful assertions repeated.” Christ’s Object Lessons, 154. But again Peter is too doubtful of his constancy to commit himself to “agapan.” He will only undertake “philein.” The third time the Lord adopts Peter’s own word for love. Peter feels he cannot reach Christ’s standard of love and has chosen one of which he can be more sure. So the Lord asks Peter whether he will commit himself to friendship. Peter knows both his weakness and the Lord’s deep insight into his inner self. “Lord, thou knowest all things. Thou knowest that I love thee.” [“philein.”]

“Three times Peter had openly denied his Lord, and three times Jesus drew from him the assurance of his love and loyalty, pressing home that pointed question, like a barbed arrow to his wounded heart. Before the assembled disciples Jesus revealed the depth of Peter’s repentance, and showed how thoroughly humbled was the once boasting disciple.” The Desire of Ages, 812.

What commission did the Lord three times give to Peter? John 21:15-17.

NOTE: “The first work that Christ entrusted to Peter on restoring him to the ministry was to feed the lambs. This was a work in which Peter had little experience. It would require great care and tenderness, much patience and perseverance. It called him to minister to those who were young in the faith, to teach the ignorant, to open the Scriptures to them, and to educate them for usefulness in Christ’s service. Heretofore Peter had not been fitted to do this, or even to understand its importance. But this was the work which Jesus now called upon him to do. For this work his own experience of suffering and repentance had prepared him.” The Desire of Ages, 812.

“In his charge to Peter, the Savior first bade him, `Feed my lambs.’ and afterward commanded him, `Feed my sheep.’ In addressing the apostle, Christ says to all his ministers, `Feed my lambs.’ When Jesus admonished the disciples not to despise the little ones, he addressed all disciples, in all ages. His own love and care for children is a precious example for his followers.” Review and Herald, August 30, 1881.

What was the controlling power in the life of the apostles? 2 Corinthians 5:14.

NOTE: “Christ gave no stinted service. He did not measure His work by hours. His time, His heart, His soul and strength, were given to labor for the benefit of humanity. Through weary days He toiled, and through long nights He bent in prayer for grace and endurance that He might do a larger work. With strong crying and tears He sent His petitions to heaven, that His human nature might be strengthened, that He might be braced to meet the wily foe in all his deceptive workings, and fortified to fulfill His mission of uplifting humanity. To His workers He says, `I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done.’ John 13:15. `The love of Christ,’ said Paul, `constraineth us.’ 2 Corinthians 5:14. This was the actuating principle of his conduct; it was his motive power. If ever his ardor in the path of duty flagged for a moment, one glance at the cross caused him to gird up anew the loins of his mind and press forward in the way of self-denial. In his labors for his brethren he relied much upon the manifestation of infinite love in the sacrifice of Christ, with its subduing, constraining power.” Ministry of Healing, 500.

What example of loving service should we desire to follow? Philippians 2:5-8.

NOTE: “The third angel of Revelation is represented as flying swiftly through the midst of heaven crying: `Here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus.’ Here is shown the nature of the work of the people of God. They have a message of so great importance that they are represented as flying in the presentation of it to the world. They are holding in their hands the bread of life for a famishing world. The love of Christ constraineth them. This is the last message. There are no more to follow, no more invitations of mercy to be given after this message shall have done its work. What a trust! What a responsibility is resting upon all to carry the words of gracious invitation: `And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.’ Everyone who heareth is to say: Come. Not only ministers, but the people. All are to join in the invitation. Not only by their profession, but by their character and dress, all are to have a winning influence. They are made trustees for the world, executors of the will of One who has bequeathed sacred truth to men. Would that all could feel the dignity and glory of their God-given trust.” Testimonies, vol. 5, 206, 207.

What qualities should the Christian manifest in his attitude to his fellowmen? Colossians 3:12-15.

NOTE: “We must guard well every point; for Satan is unwearied in his work of temptation. Watch well your words; guard well the spirit that prompts your words. Stand as faithful sentinels over your own defective attributes of character, that you may do nothing which will prove a stumbling-block to your brother. Do not make crooked paths for your feet, paths that will turn his feet out of the way of life. I wish all to remember that a day is coming in which the case of every one will be revealed. Then the plague-spot that tainted your character, the rock of offence that wrecked your bark, will be seen. Many will then realize that the tongue, though a little member, can do a weight of mischief. Many, eternally lost, will then, in their despair, look reproachfully upon those who sowed bitterness in their hearts, and planted suspicious thoughts in their minds. No provision has been made for Christians to draw apart from one another. By our unity and love we are to reveal the character of Christ.” Review and Herald, April 27, 1897.

What counsel does the Lord give us concerning differences between brethren? Matthew 18:15-17.

NOTE: “Do not tell others of the wrong. One person is told, then another, and still another; and continually the report grows, and the evil increases, till the whole church is made to suffer. Settle the matter `between thee and him alone.’ This is God’s plan. `Go not forth hastily to strive, lest thou know not what to do in the end thereof, when thy neighbor hath put thee to shame. Debate thy cause with thy neighbor himself; and discover not a secret to another.’ Proverbs 25:8, 9. Do not suffer sin upon your brother; but do not expose him, and thus increase the difficulty, making the reproof seem like a revenge. Correct him in the way outlined in the word of God. Do not suffer resentment to ripen into malice. Do not allow the wound to fester and break out in poisoned words, which taint the minds of those who hear. Do not allow bitter thoughts to continue to fill your mind and his. Go to your brother, and in humility and sincerity talk with him about the matter.” Testimonies, vol. 7, 260, 261.

How did David describe unity among brethren? Psalm 133.

NOTE: “The religion of Christ does not require us to lose our identity of character, but merely to adapt ourselves, in some measure, to the feelings and ways of others. Many people may be brought together in a unity of religious faith whose opinions, habits, and tastes in temporal matters are not in harmony; but if they have the love of Christ glowing in their bosoms, and are looking forward to the same heaven as their eternal home, they may have the sweetest and most intelligent communion together, and a unity the most wonderful. There are scarcely two whose experience is alike in every particular. The trials of one may not be the trials of another, and our hearts should ever be open to kindly sympathy and all aglow with the love that Jesus had for all His brethren.” Testimonies, vol. 4, 65.

What work of the Holy Spirit will also bring a unity among God’s people? Ephesians 4:13.

NOTE: “God is leading a people out from the world upon the exalted platform of eternal truth, the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus. He will discipline and fit up His people. They will not be at variance, one believing one thing, and another having faith and views entirely opposite, each moving independently of the body. Through the diversity of the gifts and governments that He has placed in the church, they will all come to the unity of the faith. If one man takes his views of Bible truth without regard to the opinions of his brethren, and justifies his course, alleging that he has a right to his own peculiar views, and then presses them upon others, how can he be fulfilling the prayer of Christ? And if another and still another arises, each asserting his right to believe and talk what he pleases without reference to the faith of the body, where will be that harmony which existed between Christ and His Father, and which Christ prayed might exist among His brethren? God is leading out a people and establishing them upon the one great platform of faith, the commandments of God and the testimony of Jesus. He has given His people a straight chain of Bible truth, clear and connected. This truth is of heavenly origin and has been searched for as for hidden treasure. It has been dug out through careful searching of the Scriptures and through much prayer.” Testimonies, vol. 3, 446, 447.