The Review and Herald


April 15, 1880

Order in the Church


When difficulties arise in the church, special study should be given to the word of God, with earnest prayer to learn what course Christ would pursue to settle the matter. It is a common practice for church-members to discuss the faults of the erring among themselves, while the one at fault is not visited, and no special effort is made to redeem him; and frequently he is treated with a coldness and neglect which has an influence to push him farther from light, and more fully upon the battle-field of the enemy, where it is far more difficult to recover him from the snare into which he is fallen. RH April 15, 1880, par. 1

Our Redeemer understood the perversity of human nature; and in order to save the souls for whom he sacrificed his life, and establish his church in unity and prosperity upon the earth, he has given explicit rules for church-members to follow in dealing with one another. Hear what he says: “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.” RH April 15, 1880, par. 2

Although it is no pleasant task to go to the one supposed to be in error, and tell him his fault between you and him alone, it is the very work Christ has given us to do to save the erring and preserve the harmony of the church. It is much more gratifying to human nature to tell our suspicions to our brethren, and make comments behind the back of the erring one, than to go to him frankly and say the same things we would say were he not present. RH April 15, 1880, par. 3

The church needs faithful, heroic men, who will dare to be right and true, and who will follow the Bible to the letter, refusing to basely submit to the forms and practices of this corrupt age. Such men, when they are fully known, will have great influence in the church, and their daily lives will be a confession of Christ before the world. RH April 15, 1880, par. 4

If we receive the eternal reward, many things for which self pleads will have to be yielded, and much will have to be endured for the sake of Christ and his gospel. Everything in social life must be held subordinate to the claims of religion. All who do this will be fruitful in God; and in time of extreme need, when there is help for them only in God, Jesus will stand up for those who have stood up for him. He will help them when they need help; and the light and strength which they receive from him, they will impart to others. Such men will have a molding influence in their families, in the church, and on the world. It is not always easy and convenient to do right. Satan's path is the broadest and the most deceptive. It is made to appear the most attractive, while it is hard, mystifying, and full of disappointment. The path of holiness is narrow, full of self-denial and continual sacrifice; and yet in this laborious, up-hill path is happiness, comfort, and hope. In the midst of conflicts, rebuffs, and trials, the most elevated consolation is enjoyed by those who walk in the path of obedience. RH April 15, 1880, par. 5

We should deal with the erring as Christ has dealt with us. He pities our weaknesses, and so we should pity the erring. He made every sacrifice to save man; we should not hesitate at any self-denial or sacrifice to save our fellow-men. Our duty is plain. If our brother trespass against us, even though he has no immediate connection with us, it is our duty to go to him alone, not with censure and bitterness, but with sorrow expressed in our words. The voice should be modulated to reach his heart, and not to arouse a spirit of combativeness. We should come as close to the erring as possible, and with a spirit of forbearance, calmness, and love for their souls, patiently tell them their faults; and, with a softened heart, bow down and pray with and for them. In nine cases out of ten, these efforts will be successful. If the erring one yields to advice and counsel, and humiliates his soul before God by humble repentance and confession, that disagreeable matter is ended, a soul saved, and the church no longer grieved and tortured. RH April 15, 1880, par. 6

But if the erring will not yield to the entreaties and faithful efforts of his brother, then his course is clear to take one or two more of the church and visit the one at fault. These should act with patience and tenderness; and in the spirit of Christ, having their own hearts imbued with his love, with words of kindness, try to correct and save the erring; making humble supplications to God to touch and subdue the heart of the one who has erred, and is under the power and darkness of Satan. But should all these efforts prove ineffectual, and the erring persistently remain independent and incorrigible, the third step should then be taken. Bring the matter before the church. The action taken by this body in the fear of God, after these rules have been followed to the letter, is recognized in Heaven. RH April 15, 1880, par. 7

If members of the church were all doers of the word of Christ as well as hearers, freedom and prosperity would be the result. How much sorrow might be saved families and churches, if all, in sincerity and truth, practiced the lessons given us by Jesus, our Redeemer. Religion is not mere doctrine and dry theory. It regulates the life as well as the faith. The Bible, on one page, tells us what the doctrine of Christ is, while on another page, it specifies our duty toward God and our brethren. Piety and devotion are united. The injunction of the world's Redeemer is, “All things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them; for this is the law and the prophets.” “Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath aught against thee, leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift.” RH April 15, 1880, par. 8

One great reason why our brethren and sisters have no more confidence toward God in prayer, is, that nearly all neglect to follow the words of Jesus in preserving harmony between brethren. They allow various wrongs to exist with members of the church, which create bitter envy and strife; and while these differences exist, God neither hears nor answers their prayers, and darkness comes over the mind, because they have neglected the duty so plainly pointed out by our Redeemer. There is a great want of Bible simplicity and genuine love for one another. Love and exaltation of self prevent that humility of mind which should characterize the life of every member of the church. Unless those who come together in church capacity shall observe the rules of Christ which are given them in his word, and which are so simple and reasonable that all may understand, regulating their conduct toward one another by them, there can be no such thing as spiritual strength, harmony, or prosperity in the church; but disaster and ruin will be the result. RH April 15, 1880, par. 9

It is necessary that each member of the church upon earth should cultivate those traits of character which will be the very attributes called into exercise to preserve harmony and happiness in the church above. Love is a plant of heavenly growth, and it must be cultivated by exercise. Supreme love to God and our neighbor is not cherished and does not abound more and more in the church. If there is one who has done wrong, that one is in darkness, and under the control of the destroyer of souls. While in this condition, he cannot clearly discern his own sinfulness, and will frequently make himself believe that he is right, and that his brethren are not kind, but trying to injure him. For the time being, reason seems to be dethroned; and he is a prey to ungovernable feelings, and seems hurried on to take a course which shall place him at the greatest possible distance from the church. Wisdom is needed to save that soul from ruining himself and others. Jesus understood all about the peril of these souls, and therefore gave rules which would prove a success if they were obeyed. Any departure from the Bible plan may place that soul fully on the enemy's ground, where it is not possible for him to be reached. RH April 15, 1880, par. 10

If the wrongs of the erring one are talked by one member of the church to another, or if his wrongs are opened to the church, thus taking the third step without the two former, the one in error feels justified in considering himself injured, and this makes it much more difficult to get access to him, and impress his mind. He places himself beyond the reach of help, and is lost to the church. Christ knew the worth of souls as man never can. He has paid the price of his own life for their redemption, and Satan is constantly at work with every device, to wrench souls from the hand of Jesus Christ, and place them in his ranks. Church members, in not following the rules Christ has given them, aid Satan in the accomplishment of his work, when, had they been doers of the words of Christ, and not hearers only, they might have been wholly successful in taking the steps Christ has given in the settlement of difficulties. RH April 15, 1880, par. 11

Frequently individual members are suspected of wrong where no wrong actually exists. True Christian love cherished in the heart and exemplified in the life, would teach us to put the best possible construction upon the course of our brethren. We should be as jealous of their reputation as of our own. If we are forever suspecting evil, this very fact will so shape their course of action as to produce the very evil which we have allowed ourselves to suspect. In this way, a great many difficulties are manufactured that otherwise would never have had birth, and brethren are often wronged by our being suspicious, free to judge their motives, and express our opinion to others in regard to their actions. That which one may be ready to construe into grave wrongs, may be no more than we ourselves are chargeable with every day. RH April 15, 1880, par. 12

While our tempers are tried and feelings chafed, there is great temptation to speak of the supposed wrongs of some one of our brethren, and frequently a thrust is made at him in public meeting. Thus it becomes a grave matter, is made church property, and church action is called for, when, if the grieved had gone to his brother alone, and, in the spirit of the Master, talked over the matter with him, they would have come to an understanding at once, and the church would never have been troubled and burdened with the difficulty. RH April 15, 1880, par. 13

In this world we shall never be free from the assaults of the enemy. “The disciple is not above his master, nor the servant above his lord. It is enough for the disciple that he be as his master, and the servant as his lord.” Satan did not hesitate to assail the world's Redeemer. He was tempted in all points like as we are, yet without sin. Again we read that he suffered, being tempted. The conflict was at times so severe that the soul of the Son of God was wrung with anguish. Temptation is not sin, nor any indication that our Heavenly Father is displeased with us. RH April 15, 1880, par. 14