God's Church, Unity, and Division

Ben J. Leibelt
How important is God’s Church in His plan of salvation? He has an answer. It is built upon “the Rock” Jesus. “The gates of hell shall not prevail against it.”
In Acts 20:28, we learn that the Lord purchased His Church. In Acts 2:47 we read that the Lord adds to His Church “such as should be saved.” We ask, How united does the Lord expect His followers to be? Again, He answers, praying not only that His followers be one as He and His Father are, but that they may be one so that the entire world may know that He is the true Savior sent by His Father (John 17:21-23)!
Paul will help us understand just how serious it is when God’s Church becomes divided. Not only does he clearly denounce such attitudes, but urges that in the name of Jesus, we all speak the same thing. He gives much additional counsel on the subject in other places. Division within our Lord’s Church is very dangerous. On the other hand, what supernatural force (with great hatred!) is constantly persecuting and attempting to bring division in God’s Church? All know the answer.
So, were the Lord and the apostle Paul to offer direction to us concerning the issue of Women’s Ordination (or any other) dividing the Lords Church, can we anticipate what might be the answer?
Adventists know that when our General Conference in session discusses, and takes a final vote on any issue, we accept this as the Lord’s will. At the last session it was determined that a further, thorough study be given to the sensitive issue of Women’s Ordination before declaring a final resolution to the matter.
At present, entire Unions are ignoring this General Conference vote. Spending thousands in the Lord’s money to select delegates, they bring them to special union sessions and have voted to ordain women. This, in spite of our world leader appealing to these delegates that such a vote is against General Conference—that is, world church—policy. And then they declare their loyalty to the church. According to the dictionary, that is not loyalty. It is subversiveness. I also looked up the meaning of the word “rebel.” A very interesting definition. Then, trying to prove their point, they reinterpret Bible texts. How sad!
So, let’s look at the Bible, if briefly. Having considered the importance the Lord places upon His Church and its functions, why didn’t He (in either Testament) direct His leaders to “ordain” women? Rather, He gives instruction all through His Word on the functions of women, along with His love and appreciation for them—all without a word suggesting their ordination to the gospel ministry.
But it seems that one argument is, “Haven’t we considered this question about the Ordination of Women long enough?” Can the observer be really be taken to task for wondering if this is not more like saying, “Haven’t we discussed and waited on this issue long enough—to get our way?” The position should be, “Let us be absolutely convinced we resolve this according to God’s will.”
It would seem that the more sensitive the issue that the Church must decide, the more time should be given to to help assure that we are getting it right, rather than criticizing the world church and arguing that the time has come to ignore her.
With the serious present divisiveness, the solution needs to be that individually or by groups we should let our Lord Jesus guide us to “speak the same thing” and become one in Him. And let us be sure that we do not agitate against General Conference voted action now on record.
When the Children of Israel rebelled against Moses, they sinned! May God help any who are creating divisiveness not to do the same thing. This is my burden and prayer.
BIOGRAPHICAL NOTE: Ben J. Liebelt began his pastoral service in Kansas and then Colorado. Soon he had served in several unions and with the General Conference. He was also conference president at various times of North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wyoming conferences. Aged 90, he still preaches the Third Angel’s Message.

One reply on “God's Church, Unity, and Division”

1. The only way to have unity:
AH 179.1 The cause of division and discord … in the church is separation from Christ. To come near to Christ is to come near to one another. The secret of true unity in the church … is not diplomacy, not management, not a superhuman effort to overcome difficulties–though there will be much of this to do–but union with Christ.
2. When unity is impossible:
BEcho 4/9/1894.6 There will never be any true unity existing between those who stand under the banner of the arch-deceiver, and those who stand under the blood-stained banner of Prince Emmanuel. The followers of Christ may follow the things that make for peace; they may earnestly desire to overcome the spirit of discord with the spirit of kindness and love; but the enemy will stir up his agents to bring about strife and division.
3. When unity is undesirable:
GC 45.3To secure peace and unity they were ready to make any concession consistent with fidelity to God; but they felt that even peace would be too dearly purchased at the sacrifice of principle. If unity could be secured only by the compromise of truth and righteousness, then let there be difference, and even war.
BEcho 4/9/1894.6 It is a grave mistake on the part of those who are children of God to seek to bridge the gulf that separates them from the children of darkness by yielding principle, by compromising the truth. It is surrendering the peace of Christ to make peace with the world, to fraternize with the world. The sacrifice is too costly to be made, to have peace with the world by giving up the principles of truth.

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