The Church

The Church

Scripture: John 17:20-21, Deuteronomy 32:4, Psalms 28:1
Date: 08/23/2014  Lesson: 8
"We need to remember that love without truth is blind, and truth without love is fruitless. Mind and heart must work together."
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Welcome to Sacramento central Seventh-day Adventist Church right here in the capital city of California, Sacramento. It's a beautiful sunny day here and rather hot but we are inside and we are excited to be here and sing songs with you and open up God's Word like we do every week and study together. We would love for you to pull your hymnals at this time. I'm sure most of you are ready to sing along, but we're going to start our program with 'fill my cup, lord', which is a huge request from all over the planet so today I picked a smattering of different places. We're going to the cayman islands with ruby and Ruth in india, vice in papau new guinea and may in south korea.

It was a long list, so you know who you are, God knows who you are, and thank you so much for sending in your favorite song. We're going to do all three stanzas. #493 - Join with us - 'fill my cup, lord.' Is that your prayer today? Fill my cup, lord. You know so many times we go looking for things to fill that longing in our hearts, but the only thing that can fill that is Jesus. So if you're looking for things that just aren't doing it and you're left not satisfied you know where to go.

If you have a favorite song you would like to sing with us on an upcoming program, all you have to do is go to our website at 'saccentral.org', click on the 'contact us' link and you can send in your favorite song - if it's right here - and we will sing that for you on an upcoming program. At this time let's turn to #148 - 'o love, how deep, how broad' - #148 - and this is our new song as we're working our way through the hymnal. We've been doing this now for just over two years, I think. We have ten more years to go. #148 - 'O love, how deep, how broad' and we're going to do the first, second, fourth, and fifth stanzas.

It's a beautiful song. Sing with us. Father in Heaven, your love is so deep, so broad, and so incredibly true. Thank you so much for loving us, for calling us your children, and father I just pray that we will be grateful children, that we will not turn our backs on you and hurt you, but we will love you with the love that you have demonstrated for us. Thank you so much for the opportunity that we have to be here, to study Your Word together.

I pray you will be with each one here and our extended family around the world. We thank you so much for each one and I pray now that you'll bless our speaker. Thank you so much for pastor doug and his ministry here at central and around the world as well. In Jesus' Name, amen. Our lesson study is going to be brought to us at this time by Pastor Doug Batchelor.

Thank you very much debbie and our musicians and friends for joining us and singing. And I want to welcome those who might be watching on satellite or on the internet and just this week someone at our office e-mailed us a list of - oh, it must have been 167 or 170 countries where song requests have come in from. That's very encouraging. That means there are, quite literally, people listening from all corners - I think there's only about 207 countries in the world so just about everywhere around the world, people are watching on satellite, through the internet, or some other mechanism and it's just a pleasure and honor to be able to study God's Word with you. Well, you know, at the - before we get into our lesson today, we're going to do something a little unique.

We're going to give you a glimpse, not on what's happening on this side of the camera, but what has been happening on the other side of the camera. We have a member of our media team that has been here with us for, I think, 19 years. Doug, why don't you join me up here for a moment. You know, when Amazing Facts first began to broadcast here at central church, we were just praying that God would help us find somebody that had the skills that could do a little bit of everything because there's a lot that goes on between producing and lighting and editing and at that time, the Lord brought us together with doug hill and doug has been a dear friend and part of the central family and the team here for 19 years and he has been behind the scenes. He's generally very quiet but I said you might actually want to say something.

Very humble gentleman and you may not know - I think we've got some pictures we're going to put up on the screen. Doug has literally been around the world with us. This is, let me see, this is, well this is central church. Oh, that's new guinea, I think, and I don't know, you're somewhere with charles - that's in india in 1999 with myself, lowell hargreaves, dawna sawatsky, and Micah, our son. Doug was there, again, helping lead out in the program.

That, again, is india and people turn their heads in india because doug is just a little taller than me and they're a little shorter than me in india. And here he is in his typical spot behind the director's booth in the production area. Again, you just - some of the things that doug's doing behind the scenes - you often - it's hard to think you could hide because he's 6 foot 6. Doug and sherle editing. He's been to New York with us, Michigan, Washington, d.

c., New guinea, india, almost weekly, for many years, for church and Sabbath school and we just have a lot of memories together. We just wanted to honor and thank doug and tell the Lord how much we appreciate him. Doug - the Lord has opened the door for him to take a new opportunity in houston. His family, if I'm not mistaken, is originally from Texas. Right, yes.

We are from houston so we are going to be returning home to the houston are and we are going to greatly miss our family here at Sacramento central and Amazing Facts, but embrace our new opportunities that God's put before us in the houston area. Yeah, and so we just wanted to thank doug. There are going to be thousands of people that will be in the kingdom because of what he and his team have done on the other side of the camera all around the world. And I thought it was appropriate to just ask him to come out and introduce him to everybody. He's always on the other side - you never meet him - and to thank him and have prayer for him as the extended Sabbath school family.

Don't you think that would be a good idea? And so I'd just like to pray with you doug. Is there anything else you'd like to say? No, I think I've covered it, you know? I will say that I just have loved you, doug, and your family and the Amazing Facts family so much over the 19 years I've been serving with you and it has just been an honor. He is such a joy to work with. And blessing. Amen.

And, you know, his name is douglas edward and my name is douglas edward Batchelor so we call each other 'doug e' - affectionately 'dougie'. And that's my e-mail name - dougie hill - so, yeah. Let's pray. Father in Heaven, we just want to thank you for your blessings that we can look to you for you to guide and lead in our lives and we just thank you and praise you for the blessing that doug and michelle, andrew and nicholas, and their whole family has been to the central family and the Amazing Facts ministry and we just pray, lord, that you'll be with them until we meet again and work together again. Watch over them through the stress of the move and I pray your blessing on their family.

And, lord, continue to just reveal your love and your spirit in their lives and guard them with your angels now. So we, again, praise you and thank you for their ministry here and ask that you be with them, in Jesus' Name, amen. And I think we've got a couple little gifts for you and maybe bonnie wants to bring that out and just - we didn't want to get you like a big sofa set since you're moving. It's something to show our appreciation. Thank you so much, doug.

God bless. Can you say 'amen'? Amen. But that's what it's like to be part of God's family. You make friends and God moves you around a little bit. And that's our study today.

It's dealing with the subject of the church. And we're in our lesson dealing with the teachings of Jesus. Today, in particular, we're on lesson #8 and we have a memory verse. And the memory verse is talking about unity, in particular. Memory verse is from John 17, verses 20 and 21.

I'd like to invite you to say that with us - John 17, verses 20 and 21. Are you ready? "I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in me through their word; that they all may be one, as you, father, are in me, and I in you; that they also may be one in us, that the world may believe that you sent me." the Lord tells us that he wants us to be one. He wants us to be united. And so there's so much I could say about the subject of the church, the lesson has helped in creating some high points that we're going to outline, but the first thing I'd like to make clear is when we think about the church we often think about the distinct and the unique church that existed after the time of Christ. You know, Jesus said - this verse comes up later - 'on this rock I will build my church.

' But don't let that make you think that Jesus did not have a church before the new testament times. The church prior to the coming of Christ was different than the church after the coming the of Christ, but it's all one church because it was all one truth. The main difference was the church before - they were living in the shadow of the cross where they were dealing with the sacrifice of lambs and the ceremonies, but after Christ came they were living in the reality of the substance of what Jesus did. But the Bible speaks of the church in the wilderness and the church is his gathering. Matter of fact, I should probably say a word about the word 'church.

' In the new testament, in particular - the old testament sometimes called it 'the congregation' or 'the people of Israel' or 'my people' or 'his bride' - a number of different words were used to talk about the gathering. In english, the word that we use 'church' is really only found a couple of times in the new testament. It comes from an old english word pronounced in german - it's a german-english word - kirche - or in scotland it was 'the kirk.' I don't know if any of you older saints remember that song that was in the hymnal called 'come to the kirk in the wildwood.' It was - they called it a 'kirk' and that's where we get the word 'church' and it comes from that Greek word 'kurios', which means, 'lord' - kuriakos - kuriakos, yeah, and that means 'pertaining to the lord; that which pertains to the lord, the church.' Most of the words for church that are translated in the new testament come from the word 'ecclesia' - ecclesia, which is where we get the word ecclesiastical or ecclesiastiology and that's talking about especially a calling out - a people who are called out. Now the church is often comprised of a group that is called out. In the very beginning you see there's a division between the children of adam and you've got - abel is killed, seth is separate and as long as he is separate they're - they try to maintain some form of purity but when The Sons of God saw the daughters of men and the children of seth intermarried with the daughters of cain wickedness proliferated in the world.

God was going to destroy the world so God called out a remnant. And that was Noah, in his family. And then, after the time of babel, when there was compromise again, God calls a remnant out of the plains of mesopotamia - that was Abraham. And then through the patriarchs - Abraham and Isaac and it's not all of Isaac's family but it's Isaac's family through Jacob and it's not all of Jacob's sons - Jacob is called out but it's not all of his sons. You remember he calls Israelites back out of Egypt? But more specifically, it's judah because ten of the tribes are carried to assyria.

But the children of judah come back from their Babylonian captivity. And then, from the tribe of David - and so you've often got this picture of a remnant. And even after the church grew and became accepted, apostasy crept in and God calls out a remnant. And so, often, you find the church is this group that God is calling out of the world. He calls a remnant.

In the beginning - in Genesis :5 - the Lord - the first prophecy you find in the Bible - the Lord foretold that there would be this enmity - there would be this war that would be raging and it reaches from Genesis to Revelation. Genesis 3:15 you find, "and I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; he" - the seed of the woman, or Jesus - "shall bruise your head," - God is speaking to the serpent - bruise the head of the serpent - "and you" - the serpent - "shall bruise his heel." Now if you get your head bruised too much you die. It's a mortal wound. You can have your heel bruised and it will make you limp but you can still get along. So the devil has been impeding the progress of the church but Jesus, the seed of the woman, dealt a mortal blow to the serpent.

And so you've got this prophecy. Now then you go to Revelation 12 - notice, verse 17 - "and the dragon" - that's the serpent - same one - because 'that old serpent called the dragon and satan - uses all those terms there in Revelation 12 - calls him the dragon and the serpent - same one - "and the dragon was enraged with the woman and he went to make war" - still trying to impede - nip at the heels of the church - "went to make war with the rest of her offspring." - Another way you could say that is 'the remnant' or remainder of her offspring - her descendents. And the two outstanding characteristics? "Who keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ." Now what does that mean? You know, you're going to find a pattern all through the Bible of the law and the prophets. Last prophecy in the old testament - Malachi chapter 4, "remember the law of Moses...behold, I will send you Elijah." Moses - Elijah - then you turn into the new testament and in the books of Matthew, Mark and Luke, Moses and Elijah appear to Jesus on the mount of transfiguration. Jesus said - prophecy said a prophet would come like Elijah, right? A prophet would come in the spirit and power of Elijah.

Who was that? John the baptist - was the first one. There may be others in the last days. And then Moses foretold 'a prophet will come like me.' Who was that? Jesus. So the last prophecy in the old testament it says, 'remember the law of Moses, behold I send Elijah.' You turn to the new testament and John the baptist and Jesus come. Moses and Elijah come endorsing that these were the fulfillment of that prophecy and they represent the law - Moses - and the prophets - Elijah.

And the Word of God is called 'the law and the prophets.' They're the two witnesses in Revelation. You might say the new and the old testaments - that's because the Bible is in a dual nature. It's a sword with how many edges? Two-edged sword. And so you've got the word of God and the church in the last days and the remnant all through history - the foundation for what the remnant believes is the Bible and that leads us into our next - by the way, you remember Isaiah 8:14? "Bind up the testimony?" What is the testimony? Spirit of prophecy - the prophets - the Word of God. 'Seal the law among my disciples.

According to the law and the testimony, if they speak not according to tHis Word' - right? Jesus rose from the dead. He said to the two on the road to emmaus, 'o fools and slow of heart to believe. All the prophets have spoken beginning at Moses and all the prophets' - the law and the prophets - 'he expounded unto them and all the Scriptures.' That's the law and the prophets - all the Scriptures - 'the things concerning himself.' So the foundation of the church - the rock is the Word of God. Now that'll take us into our section for the first day. Someone look up for me 1 Corinthians 3:11.

We gave out some slips, I think? We got that right up here with aaron. Get him a microphone. And while we're doing that, I'm going to read Ephesians 2, verses 19 to 22. If you have your Bibles you may want to join me there. Ephesians 2:19-22, "now, therefore, ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God; and are built upon the foundation" - here's the foundation - "of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself" - so the foundation is meaning the teachings and writings of the apostles and prophets that you would find in the new testament and the old testament.

"Jesus Christ himself being the chief cornerstone; in whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord: in whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the spirit." All of us are like living stones, Peter says, that build up this dwelling place for God and that's the church. You know, Seventh-day Adventists often focus on Christ's redemptive work in the temple of heaven, and that's appropriate, but we sometimes forget that he also has a redemptive work with the temple on earth. 'What? Don't you know that ye are the temple of God built upon the foundation and the cornerstone of Jesus?' And so, not only is he cleansing the temple in heaven, but he's cleansing the temple down here, too, isn't he? And he's trying to use it at the same time, to reach out to the world. Alright, go ahead - I think we're ready. Why don't you read your verse? "For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.

" Alright. And by the way, that's 1 Corinthians 3:11. "There is no other foundation than what is laid and that is Christ." What's another word for Jesus? What became flesh? The word became flesh and dwelt among us. Jesus is the word incarnate. So when we say that Christ is the foundation, what are we really saying? His teachings.

I mean, when you say Jesus is the foundation we're not talking about mummifying his body and building on top of it, right? You know, the mafia is famous for putting people in concrete and then building on top of them. And we're not talking about that. We're talking about building on top of the teachings of Jesus, right? Let me give you an example. You all know this. Not only is it in Matthew chapter 7, you find this is Luke :47, "whoever comes to me, and hears my sayings and does them, I will show you whom he is like: he is like a man building a house, who dug deep" - Luke says something that doesn't - it's not mentioned in Matthew - "who dug deep and laid the foundation on the rock.

And when the flood arose, the stream beat vehemently against that house, and could not shake it, for it was founded on the rock." - Jesus said this is the wise man. Then in Matthew he says 'the foolish man - he who hears these words of mine and does not do them is like a man who builds his house on earth' - or sand - "without a foundation, against which the stream beat vehemently; and immediately it fell. And the ruin of that house was great." Now there's a very, very important point I often hear missed when they read these verses about the wise man and the fool and the foundation. Both groups hear the word - the wise man and the fool - both groups build a house. Both groups experience a storm.

One hears the word and does it. One hears the word and does not do it. And so - how many churches are there that claim to be Christians that have Bibles? Thousands. What makes the difference between the true church and false churches? You know, every church I go to in North America - any denomination - will all agree there are false Christian churches. I mean, they'll say there are good people in all the churches.

Some churches will say that unless you're a member of our church you're all lost. We don't say that. But most churches will agree there are some good people in many churches, but you ask them 'are there false churches out there?' They'll say, 'absolutely.' So how do you separate the true from the false? Many hear the word but they don't do it. And so Christ says he has a people that will dig deep on the rock and that is not only hearing, that is doing. They're building their lives on what the Word of God says.

You can also read psalm 28, speaking of that rock again, it's a term that's often used for God. "To you I will cry, o lord my rock: do not be silent to me, lest, if you are silent to me, I become like those who go down to the pit." What were the Ten Commandments written on? Couldn't the Lord have written the Ten Commandments on parchment like the dead sea scrolls? Why did he choose stone? It represents something enduring and it's a type of Christ. We all sing that song 'rock of ages' - who are we singing about? It's about Jesus. He is the foundation stone for the church. And, again, in acts 4:11, "this is the 'stone which was rejected by you builders, which has become the chief cornerstone.

' Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved." And so this is the foundation for the church. And then Christ makes that statement - turn with me to Matthew 16, verse 18. This is in your lesson - Matthew :18 - and oh, how many people have been confused by this verse? I'm going to start with verse 13 - Matthew 16, verse 13, "when Jesus came into the region of caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, saying, 'who do men say that i, The Son of man, am?' So they said, 'some say John the baptist, some Elijah,'" - because John had died and they thought maybe somehow Jesus was the Spirit and power of John resurrected - "'and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.' He said to them, 'but who do you say that I am?'" - Now without waiting for anyone else to get a chance Peter blurts out - I threw that in - "Simon Peter answered and said, 'you are the Christ, the son of the living God.'" Now when he said 'the Christ' that word there he said 'you are the anointed - you are the Messiah' is what he was saying. "'Son of the living God.'" And then Jesus, did he say, 'no, no, that's not true' or did Jesus agree? He said, "blessed are you, Simon bar-Jonah," - Peter's father's name was Jonah - Simon, son of Jonah, that means - "for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you but my Father in Heaven." So did Jesus accept the declaration that he was the Messiah? I say that because I meet a lot of people - I did this week - from other religions and they say, 'well, we believe Jesus was a good man and he was a very good teacher and he was a prophet' - well, if he was a good man and he was a prophet - he said he was the Messiah, was he lying? So you can't have it both ways. You can't say that, you know, he was a good man, he told the truth, and he was a prophet.

And then he says, 'I am the Messiah.' Well that would make him a deceiver unless he really is the Messiah. And then Jesus makes this statement that's often misunderstood - verse 18 - "and I also say to you that you are Peter and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hades shall not prevail against it." People say, 'oh, Jesus built his church on Peter?' Well, that would be strange because if you look in verse 23 he turns to Peter and says, 'get behind me satan!' So one - same chapter, same discourse - one place they say he's building his church upon Peter and a little while later he calls Peter satan because satan was speaking through him. He said, 'get behind me, satan.' Peter was not the devil but the devil was speaking through Peter. Boy, that would be a pretty shaky foundation for a church. What Jesus is saying - he's making a contrast.

Peter's name is petros. They're two different words. One is a word that means pebble and the other is a word that means 'rock' - meaning a rock of immense proportions. Like some of you have seen that prudential rock or the rock of gibraltar called the gates of hercules - these great big rocks like half-dome - think of half-dome - for those of us in California - there in yosemite - the great big granite mountain. So Jesus is making a contrast that in the original language is very clear.

He's saying, 'you are a pebble, but on this petra - or petros - I will build my church.' What was the petra upon which he was building the church? What Peter said - that Christ was the Messiah. That was the rock upon which the church is built. That Jesus was the one where there's no other name given among men whereby we must be saved. That was the truth upon which the church was built. Not on that vacillating loud fisherman who was a good preacher but he also, you know, he's not the foundation for the church.

Christ is the foundation for the church, amen? So having said that, I think we covered the foundation pretty well. Yeah, let's go on to 'Christ's prayer for unity.' Now when you read John 17 - this is the longest prayer of Jesus in the Bible. It's the longest intercessory prayer in the Bible. You only find this specific prayer in the gospel of John, which is interesting. But he is specifically praying for his church - now you're about to die a terrible death.

You're going to be crucified. It's basically - you're about to be tortured for hours. Not only that, you're about to have the burden of all the guilt and shame and judgment, that belongs to a whole race of humanity, weighing down on your soul. And as you're preparing to face this - that just - it tore from the lips that cry, 'father, if there's any way that this can pass, let it pass.' Who was Jesus thinking about, himself or the church during those hours? I'd just be fretting and sweating thinking about myself at that time. But the burden of Christ's prayer - he's not praying for himself, he does that in the garden briefly, but he spends most of his time praying for this sacred charge.

He has spent three and a half years training very vacillating humans to grow into a mighty religious movement that will change the world and so he spends his time praying for the church. Notice, he not only prays for the church, in that prayer - and this is part of our memory verse - read it again, John 17 - wait a second, who has acts 2:1? Let's get you a microphone. Hold your hand up there. We'll go to you next. But in that prayer of John 17, notice Jesus said, "I do not pray" - this is verse 20 - "I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in me through their word;" now when you read the writings of Peter and the writings of Paul and the writings of Jude and James, you're reading the words of the apostles.

And if you and I believe, from reading those things, Jesus is praying for us, specifically in this prayer. You see, he's not just praying for the apostles, he's praying for those who would believe, down through the ages, on Christ through their word. This is very encouraging to me. That means Jesus prayed for me. What are the chances that God The Father is going to answer a prayer prayed by Jesus? When you wonder if you're going to make it, does it encourage you to know Jesus prayed for you? Does The Father want to answer a prayer? How does Jesus end a prayer? You and I end by saying, 'in Jesus' Name.

' Does Jesus end a prayer saying, 'in my name'? I mean, you don't get a better endorsement on a prayer than one that Jesus prayed. And so that should be encouraging to you. For one thing, he says, "I pray for those who will believe in me through their word;" - now what is he praying? It's a pretty high calling. "That they may" - some of them - "be one?" "All may be one, as" - now what kind of oneness? 'That they may be one as the apostles were one?' Well, they often fought among themselves. He said, "that they might be one as you, father, are in me and I in you, that they may be one in us, that the world may believe that you sent me.

" So one of the strongest evangelistic billboards to the world is the what? The oneness of Christianity. Jesus said, 'all men will know that you're my disciples by your love for one another.' We don't really need to study this lesson because we have no problems loving each other, do we? He said tongue-in cheek. This is a very important lesson. This is a lesson that's about unity. Matter of fact, as I studied the lesson I thought there's so many other things I could say about the church and I think this lesson is specifically written with the theme of unity.

I mean, you know, as an evangelist, when we talk about the church, I want to start going through 'how do you identify the true church in the last days?' And 'how do you become part of the church?' And you talk about those issues, but this is really talking about the nature of the church known by unity - by its love. You see, I believe that Jesus - the devil heard Jesus pray 'all men will know you're my disciples by your love for one another' and he thought, 'if everyone will know they're Christians by their love, the reverse of evangelism would be divide them. If our unity and love for one another will attract people, then the division in the church will repulse them. Is there a religion in the world that is more divided than Christianity? No. There are not - there are many fragments of judaism.

There are many fragments of islam - you've got the sunnis and the shiites that are fighting and killing each other and there are many fragments besides that. There are fragments within buddhism and hinduism and you've got a lot of different fragmented religions in the world but there is no religion that comes anywhere near being as fragmented - there are thousands of different divisions and every new self-proclaimed pastor that wants to start his own brand of Christianity - he kind of copyrights another denomination - that's why there's thousands of them. And often churches that divide over some doctrine, they'll break off and say, 'I'm the first reformed - second point of a category b baptist church.' I mean, I don't mean to pick on the baptists, but there's many different divisions of the baptists and the methodists. And, unfortunately, there are even, within the seventh-day adventist church, two different groups of reformed seventh-day adventist churches. Isn't that right? Lovely people.

I've met with their leaders on both sides. But some issue came along where they divided. You know, unfortunately - you know one of the most effective methods of church planting that happens? Two groups in a church have an argument and one decides to go plant a church somewhere else. It's true. It's true.

I'm - well, I won't tell you the history but there's - I could just - I could lay out the history for you. Churches have gotten into arguments over decorating issues and it became so heated they said, 'well, then we'll just go build our own church. That's not exactly what Jesus had in mind when he wanted us to do church planting. But God has turned some of those things together for good. Paul and barnabas had an argument, didn't they? They couldn't agree on whether or not to forgive Mark and take him with them and give them another chance.

Paul, actually, was wrong this time. And so they said, 'alright, we'll go on our own. I'll just take silas and I'll go.' And barnabas said, 'well, I'll take Mark and I'll go and there.' Well, you know, God worked it for good - he ended up with two missionary groups. But was that the way he wanted them to scatter and God'll work, sometimes, our bad decisions out for good but all men should know you are his disciples by our love for each other. Alright, go ahead.

Read for us acts 2, verse 1. Okay, acts 2, verse 1, "when the day of pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place." Notice, one accord, one place. And then they were baptized with one spirit. Does the church need another pentecostal baptism of the Spirit these days? What do you think is going to precede the outpouring of the Spirit? Well, for one thing, we need to put aside our differences - petty differences - forgive each other. And they're usually not theological differences.

You know, some of these theological differences are important - I'll get to that in a minute - but often it's strife and rivalry over different things and when we can put that aside - when did God send the rain in the days of Elijah? When God's people humbled themselves, the knelt down, they prayed 'the Lord he is God.' God opened up the heavens and he poured out the Spirit. But when they turned back to the lord - when there was reform and there was revival - notice, God didn't send the rain until they knocked down the altars of baal and killed the prophets. Now I'm not suggesting that we, you know, get out our machetes and run through the church. That did happen, though, back when they worshiped the golden calf, didn't it? I mean it's happened a couple of times in the church. I don't think we should do that literally, but I think sometimes we need to make some tough decisions.

That - you know it just broke my heart. I just came back from working at a university I won't mention and you hear stories about professors in the universities that don't believe the Bible's true and they'll come right out and say it. And they're still there. Or they, you know, they don't believe in creation. They don't believe some of the foundational principles.

I don't think we're going to have a revival in our church until we believe these things are important and I think that means sometimes you've got to make tough decisions. In the church, as well, it's not just in the - what's happening in maybe some of the schools - in churches. Is there ever supposed to be a time when you practice church discipline? Doesn't Paul talk about that in 1 Corinthians? I think that there needs to be reformation in our lives, individually. There needs to be repentance and sometimes even public confession. I think there needs to be some cleaning up of the books.

We've got people on church books that haven't been to church in years, they're just out there in the world, but it makes the Numbers look bad so we just don't deal with it. It's a shame for the name of Christ. There's people out there taking the name of Christian or they're Seventh-day Adventists and not living anything like a Christian and we don't do anything about it. We're not going to have peace and revival - they had to throw Jonah overboard before they had peace, didn't they? - Until we start waking up and really acting like a church is supposed to act. Loving each other as much as we can love each other, trying to win people back as much as we can, but then those who are recalcitrant and they're just living for the world, then at least acknowledge it and take their names off the book, right? You've got to stand for something because otherwise it's all - the world laughs at the church.

They laugh at the way we fight. They laugh at the false professions that are out there. If we really want to see an outpouring the Spirit, there needs to be reformation. There needs to be a revival. There needs to be changes in our families - in our lives.

You think God is going to pour his Holy Spirit on a church where the families don't even have worship? How - do you think he's going to baptize us with the Holy Spirit when we come once a week if we don't seek after the Spirit in our homes during the week? We need to have a revival and start being serious about our relationship with the Lord. So, now that I've got that off my chest, now we're going to talk about Christ's provision for unity. Alright, someone look up Ephesians 4 - we have a hand that's got Ephesians 4:4-6? I think we gave that out - oh, right over here. Richard's got that. Get him a microphone.

Jesus made a provision for unity. John 17:17 - now this is very important - John chapter 17, verse 17 - in that prayer - that appeal that Jesus made, "sanctify them by your truth. Your Word is truth." So unity must be based upon what? Do we say, 'let's just get together for the sake of being together?' I don't know if you've been watching the news lately, but pope francis seems like such a friendly guy and he's reaching out to all different groups that no other pope has reached out to before. He is going - for the first time he's visiting pentecostal and charismatic churches. I mean, popes never used to step foot in those churches because that would seem like, for the pope to step foot in those churches, that would seem like some form of acceptance.

They used to say all protestants were lost and doomed. And so this is revolutionary and he is meeting with religious leaders from all different persuasions and saying, 'look, let's pray for each other. You pray for me. I'll pray for you. We need to come together.

' I'm going, 'wow, that sounds wonderful.' But we're supposed to be united just for the sake of loving each other and getting along or are we supposed to be united for the sake of truth? Jesus' prayer was a prayer of being united in truth. That's a very important point. Alright, go ahead richard, read your verse for us. "There is one body and one spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; one lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all." What's the word that's being emphasized in all of this? One. But you notice he says there is one faith? It doesn't mean there's three different faiths we're to unite on.

You got that? One faith. One lord. Does that mean we should unite with people that worship many Gods? No. There's one true God. There's one faith.

Do we all agree that there's one truth? Do you want to get on an airplane with a pilot who thinks there may be several different varying truths of aerodynamics and he's going to try a different one when you get on board? Or do you want him to believe that there's a certain absolute truth of what keeps that plane in the air? There's not many different theories. You need to know that there is a truth and so we are to unite on not truths but the truth. And so - because Christ is the truth. He said, 'I am the truth.' So what is to be the foundation of our unity? Jesus and His Word? Christ himself? And, you know, it's just this simple, friends, I say this in marriage counseling but it also works for church counseling. The closer any two individuals come to the same point, the closer, inevitably, they come to each other.

And so, if Jesus is the center and if all of the members, whether they're members in a family or members in a church, if all of us are really moving closer to being in Christ, we cannot help but move closer to one another. If we are all moving closer to the truth - if we're really studying the Bible together and we're reading the same book and trying to bring our lives into harmony with that book, we will inevitably be drawing together if it's one spirit that is leading us in this one truth, right? We will be coming together. That must be the foundation for unity. But we hear, every now and then, people making wonderful, eloquent appeals for unity but they're doing it separate from truth and that is going to be the cry of the beast in the last days and so you've got to know the difference. You know, I saw a statement - I put it up on my Facebook page a few weeks ago because I thought it was said so well.

I actually have two statements. I've got one from Ellen white and one from spurgeon. They say pretty much the same thing, but notice - I'll read spurgeon's first. "To remain divided is sinful." - He's saying this mockingly or tongue-in-cheek - "did not our lord pray that we might be one? Even that they may be one even as we are one? A chorus of ecumenical voices keep harping the unity tune. What they are saying is Christians of all doctrinal shades and beliefs must come together in one visible organization regardless.

" - Isn't that what the beast power is going to advocate? - "Unite! Unite!" - Spurgeon says, "such teaching is false, reckless and dangerous. TRuth alone must determine our alignments. TRuth comes before unity. Unity without truth is hazardous. Our lord's prayer in John 17 must be read in its full context.

Look at verse 17, 'sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.' Only those who are sanctified through the word can be one in Christ. To teach otherwise would be to betray the gospel." That's very well said. Here's Ellen white, historical sketches, 197, "we cannot purchase peace and unity by sacrificing truth. The conflict might be long and painful but at any cost we must hold fast to the Word of God." Some people are ready to sacrifice principles of truth for the sake of unity. Won't the world come to the remnant church in the last days and say, 'look, the world's falling apart - natural disasters and political upheaval and wars and financial disaster and God wants us to be one.

So someone has to sacrifice some of their doctrinal beliefs so that we can worship together.' Who do you think is going to be asked to sacrifice? I mean, if they're all wanting to worship together, when do you think they're going to worship? Let's unite. You're going to hear that. Yes you are. It's going to sound so good and if you say, 'but, but...' They're going to say, 'oh, you don't believe in oneness. You don't believe in unity.

You don't love. Jesus wants us to be one.' Oh, and it's going to sound so poetic and eloquent and clever, but that'll be from the devil. That is the wrong kind of unity. Before you have the real unity you must being with, not unity, you must begin with truth and then we gather and unite around the truth. What spurgeon and Ellen white said here is absolutely correct.

They've got it right. So that's really important to understand. And if we really are studying the word, if we're loving each other - you know something else that I'll say, since I've gone this far I may as well go all the way, our church is not unlike many other churches. We have some serious divisions in our church right now that, to me, they seem to be getting worse. I mean, there are people dividing over the issue - whether we believe in a literal creation - I do - literal 6-day creation - but some don't.

I think it's hard to be a Seventh-day Adventist and think that first day was millions or billions or thousands of years. I don't know how you can reconcile - the whole Sabbath is a memorial of a divine creation. Anyway, having said that, there's divisions over everything from same-sex marriage to women's ordination and a whole panoply and the inspiration - the Spirit of prophecy - I think that is almost a pivotal issue. Matter of fact, Ellen white said one of the last tests that will come is regarding the inspiration of the testimonies and that's exactly what's happening right now. People who still believe in the inspiration of the Spirit of prophecy, they're tending to be more united.

But those that are downplaying it and questioning it - it seems likes that's where things are going to the fringes so we really need to be coming together but principally it must be the Word of God. But God's given us a wonderful gift in the Spirit of prophecy that I think will bring a unity when we read it together in God's Spirit. Anyway, I just wanted to say that because I believe it. So what are the obstacles to unity? Well, pride usually. One of the big obstacles - we divide in churches when people start to talk about one another.

Someone look up for me Luke :24 - Luke - got a hand right here. Hold your hand up so the mic will see you. Pass that down to jim. Proverbs 16:28 - a froward man sows strife and a whisperer separates chief friends." How many problems could we avoid if we obeyed that statement, "do not go about as a tale-bearer among your people." Leviticus 19:16. Why did Saul get upset with David? Samuel 18:7, "so the women sang as they danced, and said, 'Saul has slain his thousands,'" - and Saul was glowing when he heard that until he heard the second verse - "'and David his ten thousands.

Then Saul was very angry and the saying displeased him; and he said, 'they have ascribed to David ten thousands, and to me they have ascribed only thousands.'" - He was perfectly happy when he had two scoops until someone else had three - "'now what more can he have but the Kingdom?'" Do you know it says before that, 'Saul loved David?' But after he felt like David was getting more credit he got upset and he then tried to kill David. It brought a lot of division. Why did Joseph's brothers want to kill Joseph? Jealousy. And The Father probably didn't help matters by pampering and favoring one of his sons. And you can see that happening in the classrooms with the teacher's pet, but these are the obstacles to unity.

The mother of James and John said to Jesus, 'let my sons sit on your right hand and your left hand when you come into your kingdom.' Anyway, restoration of unity. What brings unity? Someone read James 4:6 - who got that one? Over here? Alright jolyne, we'll get to you in just a second. In the meantime, I'm going to read 2 Chronicles 7:14. You should all know this. "If my people, which are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn" - ht's the reformation I was talking about - making those real changes.

"...turn from those wicked ways. Then I will hear from heaven, I'll forgive their sin, and I will heal their land.' You know, it's talking about my people coming together and praying. When the Holy Spirit was poured out at pentecost they were not only of one accord, they were in one place. I think another thing that'll happen that will bring unity is us to come together more in these small groups and pray together, right? Alright, we ready? Go ahead, jolyne, why don't you read your verse? James 4:6, "but he gives more grace. Therefore he says: 'God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.

'" So humbling ourselves - 'if my people will humble themselves and pray.' Pride brings strife and division. That's where the devil fell. Humbling ourselves, forgiving each other, drawing together - that's what's going to bring unity. And that might mean that you need to go to a brother and a sister in the church and apologize. Now there are doctrinal essentials that we're very clear on.

These are foundational truths that we don't compromise. There's latitude in the church for people to believe different things, I mean, I think probably right here in this room we've got different views on whether the 144,000 is a literal number or a spiritual number. And there are probably different views in this room about the seven trumpets - whether they're all in the past, whether they're in the future, or whether there's a dualism for the past and the future. And there are a variety of different views on some of these non-essential minor teachings. There's certain foundational things and they're very important.

They're very important truths that we need to understand. But God wants us - when it comes to - most division is not the theology, it's the relationship problems. We need to humble ourselves, come together and pray. Amen? You know, I forgot to mention at the beginning of our lesson we have a free offer. And for anyone that asks we'll send you a free copy of 'the bride of Christ.

' It's a great lesson that talks about the church, how to identify the church, and being in one family in the church. If you simply call 866-788-3966 we'll send you a free copy. Please read it. Share it with your friends. Again, that's 866-study-more and ask for offer #133.

With that, friends, I think you can tell we ran out of time. God bless you 'til we study his word together again next. Week. Can't get enough Amazing Facts Bible study? You don't have to wait until next week to enjoy more truth- filled programming. Watch Amazing Facts television by visiting 'aftv.org'. At 'aftv.org' you can view Amazing Facts programming hours a day, 7 days a week, right from your computer or mobile device. Why wait a week? Visit 'aftv.org'.

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