Manuscript Releases, vol. 9 [Nos. 664-770]


Mr No. 720—Discipline of sda Church Members

Church Difficulties—Those who had a ruling influence in the church [at Ligonier, Indiana] were not right in heart themselves, notwithstanding they made high profession of faith. The outside was apparently right, as far as belief and profession were concerned, while the inward work of the heart—the grace of God in the life developing characters—was very much at fault. They had not the Spirit of Christ, and they labored with another spirit exhibiting self. Strong feelings would rise up under contradiction, or, if others differed with them in both their ideas or opinions, their own hearts being controlled by selfishness, they sought to exalt themselves, and censure and judge their brethren—a work God had not given them at all. 9MR 193.1

They had left the anxious work of taking care, lest they should fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness spring up, whereby many should be defiled. They turned their eyes outward to watch, lest others’ characters should not be right, when their eyes should have been turned inward to close searching of their own motives, scanning and criticizing their own characters, their own feelings; and emptying from the heart love of self, envy, evil surmisings, jealousy, malice, unkindness, and self-esteem. 9MR 193.2

When they do this, they will esteem others better than themselves, and will not be climbing upon the judgment seat to pronounce sentence upon others. This has caused all the difficulties in the church. Young churches may have leaders in elders and deacons chosen to have a burden and care for the prosperity of the church, yet these men should not feel at liberty in their own judgment and responsibility to cut off names from the church. They should not have so much zeal as to make decisive moves of so grave a character. 9MR 193.3

They should communicate with the one who has been appointed as president of their conference, and confer with him. At some appointed time have the matter particularly considered, and with great wisdom and in the fear of God, with much humility and earnest humble prayer, should erring ones be dealt with. 9MR 194.1

The matter should be thoroughly investigated. What is the charge brought against the erring one? Has he willfully transgressed the law of God? Has the offender been dishonest in his deal or trade with his brethren or the world? Has he been untruthful? Has he practiced deception? Has he been licentious? Has he been severe, overbearing, and abusive in his family, with his neighbors, with his brethren, or worldlings? Has he shown a spirit of penuriousness, selfishness, covetousness; of questioning doubts, of faultfinding, of talebearing, of talking of his brethren's faults, magnifying their wrongs, having a spirit of bitterness against them? All these things are grave matters, and deserving of consideration. 9MR 194.2

But the next question is: What course has been pursued toward the erring? Have the Bible rules been followed to the letter? Read before them the rules given by their Captain. Have they obeyed orders like faithful soldiers in the army? To go contrary to the positive orders of the Captain of our salvation is deserving of severest censure. 9MR 194.3

“Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother. But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established. And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as a heathen man and a publican. Verily I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven” (Matthew 18:15-18). 9MR 194.4

Jesus is united to His people by a love far greater and more enduring than ever bound human kindred hearts together, and this love, so deep, so unchanging, is a continual assurance, a guarantee of this faithfulness to you. Oh, wondrous love that should lead the Son of God in order to secure us to Himself, and ensure our eternal salvation, to yield up His honor, His glory, His royal throne, and royal court, and for our sakes became poor, that we, through His poverty, might be made rich.... 9MR 195.1

Some have taken a position that those who use tobacco should be dealt with and turned out of the church. In all of our experience for many years not a case of this kind has thus been treated by us. We have borne with them and labored with and prayed with them for years, and if after a time they did not reform, they became lax in other things and causes of a grievous character occurred which required an action on the part of the church, but then the responsibility was not assumed by merely the resident elder, the deacon, or any church member, but the church waited in patience for help, for wise counselors, and then moved with the greatest caution. These hasty movements in such cases tend to ruin a church. It shows a self-sufficient, self-important, bigoted spirit, which if indulged will ruin any church.... 9MR 195.2

Dr. _____ has not pursued that meek and Christlike course which the Bible requires, but those who have condemned him have pursued a course far more objectionable in the sight of God than that pursued by him, and they are answerable for their influence upon the doctor. 9MR 195.3

God calls upon Doctor_____to come near to Him by faith and obedience. The grace of God can subdue, sanctify, and refine, and make him an honor to the cause and a chosen vessel fit for the Master's use. The natural heart may be transformed by the grace of God.—Manuscript 1, 1880, pp. 1-3, 12-14. (“Church Difficulties,” February 18, 1880.) 9MR 196.1

Patience and Forbearance Needed—At the conference at Sylvan I saw the necessity of the messengers dwelling on the preparation more than they have done. Souls are not prepared for what is coming on the earth and unless they speedily get ready they will be weighed in the balance and found wanting. I saw that Brother_____had moved too fast in some cases, that there had not been that patience and forbearance with individuals that there ought to have been. Others of the brethren had moved too fast. 9MR 196.2

I saw that great caution should be used and the church will have to bear some with individuals who do not always understand the movings of the Spirit of God, and always have some errors. And, if these individuals were disfellowshipped, they would be brought more closely in connection with an unholy influence and the possibility of saving them be lost. But, if they were still retained in the fellowship of the church, they will be where the church can have some influence over them, and may, by moving judiciously and carefully, win them to all the truth, which will discover to them their errors, and cause them to yield them up and be fully united to the church. 9MR 196.3

I saw that the messengers and the church must have compassion with some, making a difference. Now the messengers of God must seek wisdom and know how to treat each individual case. Not all must be treated alike. By close examination it will be seen that individual cases differ. Some are to be borne with longer than others, but if one is living in disobedience to the commandments of God, the church must act and must separate them from them. And for other sins it will often be necessary to disfellowship souls if they continue in their sins; yet great care should be used and great patience and forbearance exercised. 9MR 196.4

I saw that Brother_____had tried to do right and just as well as he knew how, yet he has failed at times. I saw that judgment and caution must be used. The messengers must all move out unitedly and with decision and energy, yet they must have meekness and patience, and in love for souls fulfill their duty. They must all go among the people with the power and Spirit of God with them, and must have energy that will arouse the stupid and those who are off their watch and cause them to awake and get ready. 9MR 197.1

Prepare! Prepare! should be sounded in the ears of the people. For the great day of God's wrath is coming, and who shall be able to stand; and while messengers cry to God to prepare and get ready, they must be awake and have energy themselves and let it tell to all that hear them that they are standing between the living and the dead. Preachers and people who believe the third angel's message should set a holy, lively example. Their conversation and actions should show that they are looking for the appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ.—Manuscript 1, 1855, pp. 1, 2. (Untitled, undated.) 9MR 197.2

White Estate

Washington, D. C.,

April 6, 1979.