The Holy Spirit Unites the Church in Faith and Doctrine
Sabbath School Lesson 2017 Quarter 1 Lesson 9 Tuesday
Read the memory text at the top and then the first paragraph: “One Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.” Ephesians 4:5,6
“Unity in faith and doctrine is accomplished only in faithfulness to the Word of God. The Lord, who is the same yesterday, today, and forever, forms a spiritual bond with every believer. The same new birth, generated by the Holy Spirit, the same obedience to the Word of God, enabled by the Holy Spirit, leads to a unity of faith and practice that transcends all human and cultural differences.”
Do you have any concerns about the paragraph after reading the Bible verse?
Does the Bible say unity of doctrine?
Why does the Bible not say this? When Jesus comes, do you believe when He appears in the clouds there will be one person, amongst the saved on earth, who will know every text of the Bible with 100% accuracy? No! Not, one, which means what? We are not saved by the right comprehension of Bible facts, by right definitions of doctrines, but by right relationship with God, who through the Spirit takes what Christ achieved and forms right character within.
When Christ returns will ALL the saved have overcome selfishness in a trust relationship with God? Will ALL the saved love God and others more than self? Will ALL the saved present truth in love and leave others free, i.e. refuse to coerce people?
Our unity is not a unity of doctrines, but a unity of character, of God’s methods and principles, and eventually, as we mature, but I don’t think it will happen this side of eternity, we will one day have unity of understanding, of doctrines.
What is the unity of faith? It is a unity of confidence, or trust in God, in His goodness, trustworthiness, love, to always do what is good for His creation.
Why do you think the Bible did NOT say one doctrine? Because the doctrine is the teachings, the rituals, the interpretations, the expression, and people who love and trust God are at different levels of maturity. In a large family, in which all the children love and trust their parents, is there one doctrine for brushing teeth? Or, is there many doctrines—don’t brush get punished, or don’t get a bedtime story, or kids at school will tease, or teeth will decay? The explanation changes, the reason, the purpose is different depending on the maturity of the person. This is exactly like many Christian doctrines, people explain things differently at different levels of maturity—yet there is still only one reality.
Consider parents and love—in God’s design there is one love—but there is not one doctrine, i.e. one expression of love. Love always seeks what is best and therefore will express itself in many diverse ways depending on the child’s need.
In love a parent will:
- Hug, kiss and give presents
- Dunk in an ice bath if the child is feverish
- Stick needles in their legs and inject vaccines
- Put in time out
- Refuse to give something the child wants if it is not good for the child
- Yell and threaten if the child is running toward oncoming traffic
One cannot write a system of rules to account for every situation, there is unity of love, but not uniformity in parenting, likewise there is unity in faith, but there is not uniformity.
Remember the question of the woman at the well when she sought to have Jesus answer a doctrinal question, where is the right place to worship—and what did Jesus say? That doesn’t matter, it is about the heart and mind, worshipping God in spirit and truth!
Read third paragraph,
“The theological foundation of this unity is the Word of God. Any appeal to the Spirit without the Written Word can lead to suspect doctrines and practices. At the same time, any appeal to the Written Word of God without the Holy Spirit dries up the Word and makes it barren. Because there is only one Lord, there is only one faith that leads to one baptism. Only in joyful faithfulness to the Word of God will we be able to see unity within our church. And if there is no unity in faith and doctrine, there will be no unity in mission.”
What is the purpose of our doctrines? Rightly understood all our doctrines are only valuable as they lead us to understand, comprehend, and participate in God and His design for His universe. This means that all doctrines should be viewed as spokes on a wheel that all have their center in God leading us back to unity, or oneness with God and His kingdom of love.
The problem in most organized religions is that the doctrines become divorced from God and instead become stand alone tests of faith or orthodoxy that are in order to protect the organization not heal people. This type of teaching causes people to build their faith on a system of beliefs and loyalty to an institution rather than having faith and loyalty in God.
Read last paragraph,
“”We have one Lord, one faith, one baptism. The gospel of Christ is to reach all classes, all nations, all tongues and people. The influence of the gospel is to unite in one great brotherhood. We have only one Model that we are to imitate in character building, and then we all shall have Christ’s mold; we shall be in perfect harmony; nationalities will blend in Jesus Christ, having the same mind, and the same judgment, speaking the same things, and with one mouth glorifying God.” – Ellen G. White, Our High Calling, p. 171.”
What was the focus of this paragraph? Character building, healing and transforming the person!
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