Section 5—The Spirit of Unity
“That they all may be one.” John 17:21.
Chapter 18—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 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 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 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. 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.
Chapter 19—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.
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 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 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 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.
Testimonies for the Church, Vol. 9 pp. 179-188