This “unity” question continues to arise among God’s people. I, for one am glad it is still a major concern because it is good “sound doctrine.”
Will this “unity” really happen? If so, how? Will it come about as God’s Word describes it, or must it come about the way we as individuals perceive that it should? Or, if it does not, then we will just not accept it and throw out those who do not match our way of thinking? Saying, “These people cannot be of God because they do not see it as we do.”
Is it possible, even now, though many miles apart, that there can be unity existing among many brethren based upon the real gospel, the Three Angels’ Messages? I do not believe for a minute that the point has been reached that we can all say: “We have arrived.” But, that day will come. I am convinced, that God’s true people will be unified on the platform of truth and those who refuse the truth will not stay on the platform. This is why we must agree that the shaking is increasing—error is running rampant, and every wind of doctrine is blowing. Because of these things, we see people being blown around by every wind of doctrine and the other group settling into the truth of God’s word!
Unity—Just for the Sake of Unity?
What about unity and division? The Bible is clear that God wants His people united. 1 Corinthians 1:10 and 2 Corinthians 13:11, make it perfectly clear. “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. Finally, brethren, farewell. Be perfect, be of good comfort, be of one mind, live in peace, and the God of love and peace shall be with you.”
Our commission here is “that ye all speak the same thing, and there be no divisions.” This seems clear. But, notice we must speak the same things. If we are not, there will be division. Can this situation be possible? The Word says we must have unity. But if we are not speaking the same things should we maintain unity—just for the sake of unity?
Eleven words will answer this question, as found in Special Testimonies, Series B., #2, 47. “We are to unify, but not on a platform of error.” What constitutes error? Would it be any deviation from the truth?
“Satan uses those who claim to believe the truth, but whose light has become darkness as his medium to utter his falsehoods and transmit his darkness.” Review and Herald, August 19, 1890.
“Whosoever transgresseth and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ hath both the Father and the Son. If there come any unto you and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed: For he that biddeth him God speed is a partaker of his evil deed.” 2 John 9–11. [All emphasis supplied].
Is it possible to be a partaker of someone’s evil deeds by supporting their wrong concept of truth? “At times with burning earnestness and words of terrible severity Christ denounced the abomination that He saw in the Church and in the world. He would not allow the people to be deceived by false claims of righteousness and sanctity.” Special Testimonies, Series B., #2, 46, 47.
“It is impossible for you to unite with those who are corrupt and still remain pure.” Review and Herald, January 2, 1900.
“Mark them which cause divisions and offenses contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them.” Romans 16:17.
“Like will attract like. Those who are drinking from the same fountain of blessing will draw nearer together. Truth dwelling in the hearts of believers will lead to blessed and happy assimilation. Thus will be answered the prayer of Christ that His disciples might be one even as He is one with the Father. For this oneness every truly converted heart will be striving.” Testimonies, vol. 5, 100, 101.
Over and over in the Scripture and Spirit of Prophecy we are reminded to “Stand fast in one spirit, with one mind, being of one accord.” (See Philippians 1:27; 2:2.) And on the other hand, as we have just read, a warning is given to separate from those “which cause divisions and offenses contrary to the doctrine.”
Is it possible to balance these statements? Yes, I believe it is. And here is a clear “no argument” quotation that will give us some direction. “Christ calls for unity, but does not call for us to unify on wrong practices. The God of heaven draws a sharp contrast between pure elevating, ennobling truth and false, misleading doctrine . . . I urge our brethren to unify upon a true Scriptural basis.” Selected Messages, vol. 1, 175. This tells us not to unify on wrong practices, not to unify on false misleading doctrine. True unity can only come if it is based upon sound Scripture.
There will be some that call themselves the same name that we will not be able to work with, but we can certainly pray for them.
Amos 3:3 says: “Can two walk together, except they be agreed?” Independent ministries are constantly encouraged to have unity among the ranks. That is the way it should be as long as the doctrine is sound. If two ministries disagree, they are either both wrong, or one is right and the other is wrong, based on the Word. The situation now comes down to various supporters to evaluate what they believe is truth. Since we cannot support error, we must decide which ministry we will support.
Now, let me ask you a question. Is it not right for an individual (you) to choose to support or work with, or not to support and work with certain ministries? Each individual makes their decision based upon the teaching of each ministry. If their teaching does not line up with what you believe the truth is, you withdraw your support.
That is the way it should be conducted. But what is the difference when we, the ministries, must withdraw from another ministry because of differences of doctrine? I hope you are getting the point! Yes, there will be unity among God’s true and faithful, and at the same time division because of those who will not come into line.
Ellen White made this point very well in Early Writings, 140: “We are assured that the watchman shall see eye to eye when the Lord shall again bring Zion. In the time of the end the wise shall understand. When this is fulfilled, there will be unity of faith with all whom God accounts wise.”
The Lord’s messenger gives us the bottom line in Selected Messages, vol. 3, 412: “We have a testing message to give and I am instructed to say to our people, unify, unify, but we are not to unify with those who are departing from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits and doctrines of devils . . . we are to go forth to proclaim the message, giving no heed to those who lead away from truth.”
We must continue, as Ephesians 4:3 tells us, “Endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” And at the same time, “Proving what is acceptable unto the Lord. And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them.” Ephesians 5:10, 11.
Unity is coming! Thousands are praying for it to happen. God will hear and answer as this is His will for each of us.
All we need in preparation for this grand event is to follow Ephesians 4:23, 24, which is my prayer for all of God’s people. “And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; and that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.”