Unity of Church
by Ellen G. White

I am filled with sorrow because statements made under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, and designed by God to be a great blessing to His people, to guard them against the seducing sentiments of Satan, are woven in with spiritualistic views, and are thus made to testify to falsehoods of Satan's own creating. How can I say to our people, Harmonize with those who advocate these wrong sentiments? How can I hold my peace, and say, Unify? God gives me the message, Beware of the leaven of those who have been destroying the faith of Seventh-day Adventists. There are those to whom I fear to write personally. God says, Beware of the leaven of those who have stepped off the platform of truth. Those who use my writings, given me by God, to build themselves up in sophistry and deceptive theories, steal that which was given to establish souls in the sanctification of the truth, and use it to testify to theories against which I am bidden to warn our people. Beware of the leaven that some who have lost their connection with God will introduce, declaring their theories to be in harmony with that which Sister White has written. 10MR 48

Through our relation of friendship and familiarity with human beings like ourselves, we may exert an uplifting influence. Those who are united in a common hope and faith in Christ Jesus can be a blessing to one another. Jesus says, "Love one another as I have loved you." Love is not simply an impulse, a transitory emotion, dependent upon circumstances; it is a living principle, a permanent power. The soul is fed by the streams of pure love that flow from the heart of Christ, as a well-spring that never fails. O, how is the heart quickened, how are its motives ennobled, its affections deepened, by this communion! Under the education and discipline of the Holy Spirit, the children of God love one another, truly, sincerely, unaffectedly,-- "without partiality, and without hypocrisy." And this because the heart is in love with Jesus. Our affection for one another springs from our common relation to God. We are one family, we love one another as he loved us. When compared with this true, sanctified, disciplined affection, the shallow courtesy of the world, the meaningless expressions of effusive friendship, are as chaff to the wheat. 1888 1509

Now at the present time God designs a new and fresh impetus shall be given to His work. Satan sees this, and he is determined it shall be hindered. He knows that if he can deceive the people who claim to believe present truth, [and make them believe] that the work the Lord designs to do for His people is a removing of the old landmarks, something which they should, with most determined zeal, resist, then he exults over the deception he has led them to believe. The work for this time has certainly been a surprising work of various hindrances, owing to the false setting of matters before the minds of many of our people. That which is food to the churches is regarded as dangerous, and should not be given them. And this slight difference of ideas is allowed to unsettle the faith, to cause apostasy, to break up unity, to sow discord, all because they do not know what they are striving about themselves. Brethren, is it not best to be sensible? Heaven is looking upon us all, and what can they think of recent developments? While in this condition of things, building up barriers, we not only deprive ourselves of great light and precious advantages, but just now, when we so much need it, we place ourselves where light cannot be communicated from heaven that we ought to communicate to others. 1888 518

Our church members see that there are differences of opinion among the leading men, and they themselves enter into controversy regarding the subjects under dispute. Christ calls for unity. But He does not call for us to unify on wrong practices. The God of heaven draws a sharp contrast between pure, elevating, ennobling truth and false, misleading doctrines. He calls sin and impenitence by the right name. He does not gloss over wrongdoing with a coat of untempered mortar. I urge our brethren to unify upon a true, scriptural basis.--Manuscript 10, 1905. 1SM 175

You will take passages in the Testimonies that speak of the close of probation, of the shaking among God's people, and you will talk of a coming out from this people of a purer, holier people that will arise. Now all this pleases the enemy. We should not needlessly take a course that will make differences or create dissension. We should not give the impression that if our particular ideas are not followed, it is because the ministers are lacking in comprehension and in faith, and are walking in darkness. 1SM 179

Students should be taught that they are not independent atoms but that each one is a thread which is to unite with other threads in composing a fabric. In no department can this instruction be more effectually given than in the school home. Here students are daily surrounded by opportunities which, if improved, will greatly aid in developing the social traits of their characters. It lies in their own power so to improve their time and opportunities as to develop a character that will make them happy and useful. 2MCP 621

No advice or sanction is given in the Word of God to those who believe the third angel's message to lead them to suppose that they can draw apart. This you may settle with yourselves forever. It is the devising of unsanctified minds that would encourage a state of disunion. The sophistry of men may appear right in their own eyes, but it is not truth and righteousness. "For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us; . . . that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross" (Eph. 2:14-16). 3SM 21

Dear Brethren: As all the different members of the human system unite to form the entire body, and each performs its office in obedience to the intelligence that governs the whole, so the members of the church of Christ should be united in one symmetrical body, subject to the sanctified intelligence of the whole. 4T 16

An army would be demoralized if they did not learn to obey orders of the captain. Each soldier must act in concert. Union is strength; without union efforts are meaningless. Whatever excellent qualities a soldier may possess, he cannot be a safe trustworthy soldier if he claims a right to act independently of his fellow comrades. This independent action cannot be maintained in the service of Christ.... 5MR 373

One point will have to be guarded, and that is individual independence. As soldiers in Christ's army, there should be concert of action in the various departments of the work. No one has the right to start out on his own responsibility and advance ideas in our papers on Bible doctrines when it is known that others among us hold different opinions on the subject and that it will create controversy. The first-day Adventists have done this. Each has followed his own independent judgment and sought to present original ideas, until there is no concerted action among them, except, perhaps, in opposing Seventh-day Adventists. We should not follow their example. Each laborer should act with reference to the others. Followers of Jesus Christ will not act independently one of another. Our strength must be in God, and it must be husbanded, to be put forth in noble, concentrated action. It must not be wasted in meaningless movements. 5T 534

In connection with the proclamation of the message in large cities, there are many kinds of work to be done by laborers with varied gifts. Some are to labor in one way, some in another. The Lord desires that the cities shall be worked by the united efforts of laborers of different capabilities. All are to look to Jesus for direction, not depending on man for wisdom, lest they be led astray. As laborers together with God they should seek to be in harmony with one another. There should be frequent councils and earnest, wholehearted co-operation. Yet all are to look to Jesus for wisdom, not depending upon men alone for direction. 9T 109

The spasmodic, fitful movements of some who claim to be Christians are well represented by the work of strong but untrained horses. When one pulls forward, another pulls back, and at the voice of their master one plunges ahead and the other stands immovable. If men will not move in concert in the great and grand work for this time, there will be confusion. It is not a good sign when men refuse to unite with their brethren and prefer to act alone. Let laborers take into their confidence the brethren who are free to point out every departure from right principles. If men wear the yoke of Christ, they can not pull apart; they will draw with Christ.

Some workers pull with all the power that God has given them, but they have not yet learned that they should not pull alone. Instead of isolating themselves, let them draw in harmony with their fellow laborers. Unless they do this, their activity will work at the wrong time and in the wrong way. They will often work counter to that which God would have done, and thus their work is worse than wasted. 9T 258

The apostles differed widely in habits and disposition. There were the publican, Levi-Matthew, and the fiery zealot Simon, the uncompromising hater of the authority of Rome; the generous, impulsive Peter, and the mean-spirited Judas; Thomas, true-hearted, yet timid and fearful, Philip, slow of heart, and inclined to doubt, and the ambitious, outspoken sons of Zebedee, with their brethren. These were brought together, with their different faults, all with inherited and cultivated tendencies to evil but in and through Christ they were to dwell in the family of God, learning to become one in faith, in doctrine, in spirit. They would have their tests, their grievances, their differences of opinion; but while Christ was abiding in the heart, there could be no dissension. His love would lead to love for one another; the lessons of the Master would lead to the harmonizing of all differences, bringing the disciples into unity, till they would be of one mind and one judgment. Christ is the great center, and they would approach one another just in proportion as they approached the center. DA 296

For forty years did unbelief, murmuring, and rebellion shut out ancient Israel from the land of Canaan. The same sins have delayed the entrance of modern Israel into the heavenly Canaan. In neither case were the promises of God at fault. It is the unbelief, the worldliness, unconsecration, and strife among the Lord's professed people that have kept us in this world of sin and sorrow so many years.-- Manuscript 4, 1883. EV 696

The laborers should counsel together. No one is to strike out on his independent judgment, and work according to his own mind, regardless of the counsel of those connected with him. If we think ourselves sufficient to manage the work of God, and depend for success on our own wisdom to plan and execute, we may expect defeats and losses; for they will surely come. It has been shown me that the planning of the work must not be trusted to inexperienced men. Those who have not had full breadth of experience are not the ones to take large responsibilities, although they may think themselves qualified to do so. Their brethren may see defects where they see only perfection. Too much is at stake now to allow any great risks to be run in investing means from the Lord's treasury. If any one wishes to try experiments which his brethren do not sanction, let him sustain himself from his own funds, so that if losses occur, he alone will be the loser. The workers are not many; the means are not abundant; and the work must be fashioned accordingly. It is not God's plan that large draughts should be made upon the treasury to support workers who labor in such a way that no special results can be seen. GW92 355

Some have a natural independence which leads them to think more highly of their own judgment than of that of their brethren. In so doing they place themselves where they fail to obtain much knowledge that God would have them gain. The history of God's work in the past shows that some have an understanding of one thing, others of another. It is his plan that there should be a counseling together. In the multitude of counselors there is safety. There should be harmony in sentiment and action among the workers. Doctrines and plans should be compared with the law and the testimony. We should never feel too independent to learn of one another. While it is not according to God's plan that one man's mind shall control all other minds, he is not pleased to have individuals strike out on a new track, and present new theories independent of the body. HS 125

God requires concerted action of his soldiers, and in order to have this in the church self-restraint is essential; self-restraint must be exercised. But some in Healdsburg, as well as in other churches, will have to learn this lesson; they will have to learn to forego their own wishes and preferences for the good of others. We have determined adversaries; we know not their number or their position. Satan works through agencies which we do not always see; through some whom we do not suspect. When we think Satan is routed, he is only preparing to make an attack to discomfit and repulse. When we fancy ourselves secure, we are in the very greatest danger. Watchfulness and prayer combined with persevering effort to keep the rank and file unbroken, is more necessary than ever before. The work of the cause of truth in Healdsburg is a spectacle to the world, to angels, and to men. Satan has brought elements into the Healdsburg church that will ever be a source of trial, unless these unconverted members shall see their defects of character as they have never yet seen them, and will repent of their evil surmisings, their envy, their fault-finding, their accusing of the brethren, their walking after their own independent judgment. These have made independent assertions, and are bold and forward, not knowing their place, and not realizing the order that must be observed in the church of God. PH096 5

Every believer should be whole-hearted in his attachment to the church. Its prosperity should be his first interest; and unless he feels under sacred obligations to make his connection with the church a benefit to it rather than to himself, it can do far better without him.... They should also feel it a solemn duty to illustrate in their characters the teachings of Christ, being at peace one with another, and moving in perfect harmony as an undivided whole. They should waive their individual opinion to the judgment of the church. Many live for themselves alone. They look upon their lives with great complacency, flattering themselves that they are blameless, when in fact they are doing nothing for God, and are living in direct opposition to his expressed word. The observance of external forms will never meet the great want of the human soul. A mere profession of Christ is not enough to prepare one to stand the test of the Judgment. There should be a perfect trust in God, a child like dependence upon his promises, and an utter consecration of self to his will. RH JAN.25,1887

If the world sees a perfect harmony existing in the church of God, it will be a powerful evidence to them in favor of the Christian religion. Dissensions, unhappy differences, and petty church-trials dishonor our Redeemer. All these may be avoided, if self is surrendered to God, and the followers of Jesus obey the voice of the church. Unbelief suggests that individual independence increases our importance; that it is weak to yield to the verdict of the church our own ideas of what is right and proper. But to cherish such feelings and views will only bring anarchy into the church and confusion to ourselves. Christ saw that unity and Christian fellowship were necessary to the cause of God; therefore he enjoins it upon his disciples. And the history of Christianity from that time until now proves conclusively that in union only there is strength. Let individual judgment submit to the authority of the church. RH JAN.25,1887

The scheme of salvation is not to be worked out under the laws and rules specified by men. There must be no fixed rules; our work is a progressive work, and there must be room left for methods to be improved upon. But under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, unity must and will be preserved. RH JUL.23,1895

The time has come when everything that can be shaken will be shaken. We are in the shaking time. Be assured that only those who live the prayer of Christ for unity among His disciples, working it out in practical life, will stand the test. RH JUN.18,1901

Our work is aggressive. We are to be awake and discerning as to the devices of Satan, and to press the triumphs of the cross of Christ. While Satan is planting his dark banner among us, perhaps even in our families, we should not be indifferent and inactive. But though we have an individual work and an individual responsibility before God, we are not to follow our own independent judgment, regardless of the opinions and feelings of our brethren; for this course would lead to disorder in the church. It is the duty of ministers to respect the judgment of their brethren; but their relations to one another, as well as the doctrines they teach, should be brought to the test of the law and the testimony; then, if hearts are teachable, there will be no divisions among us. Some are inclined to be disorderly, and are drifting away from the great landmarks of the faith; but God is moving upon his ministers to be one in doctrine and in spirit. RH JUN.3,1884

God has a special work for the men of experience to do. They are to guard the cause of God. They are to see that the work of God is not committed to men who feel it their privilege to move out on their own independent judgment, to preach whatever they please, and to be responsible to no one for their instructions or work. Let this spirit of self-sufficiency once rule in our midst, and there will be no harmony of action, no unity of spirit, no safety for the work, and no healthful growth in the cause. There will be false teachers, evil workers who will, by insinuating error, draw away souls from the truth. Christ prayed that His followers might be one as He and the Father were one. Those who desire to see this prayer answered, should seek to discourage the slightest tendency to division, and try to keep the spirit of unity and love among brethren. RH MAY 29,1888 (EV 212)

Those who have proclaimed the Seventh-day Adventist Church as Babylon, have made use of the Testimonies in giving their position a seeming support; but why is it that they did not present that which for years has been the burden of my message--the unity of the church? Why did they not quote the words of the angel, "Press together, press together, press together"? Why did they not repeat the admonition and state the principle, that "in union there is strength, in division there is weakness"? It is such messages as these men have borne that divide the church, and put us to shame before the enemies of truth; and in such messages is plainly revealed the specious working of the great deceiver, who would hinder the church from attaining unto perfection in unity. These teachers follow the sparks of their own kindling, move according to their own independent judgment, and cumber the truth with false notions and theories. They refuse the counsel of their brethren, and press on in their own way until they become just what Satan would desire to have them--unbalanced in mind. RH SEP.12,1893 (TM 56)

Our physicians are to stand where no binding influence will hold them speechless when they hear wrong sentiments expressed. At times, with burning earnestness and words of terrible severity, Christ denounced the abominations that He saw in the church and in the world. He would not allow the people to be deceived by false claims to righteousness and sanctity.

We are to unify, but not on a platform of error. That which has been said in the testimonies in regard to "Living Temple," and its misleading sentiments, is not overdrawn. Some of its theories are misleading, and their influence will be to close the minds of those who receive them against the truth for this time. Men may explain and explain in regard to these theories, nevertheless they are contrary to the truth. Scriptures are misplaced and misapplied, taken out of their connection and given a wrong application. Thus those are deceived who have not a vital, personal experience in the truths that have made us as a people what we are.

We are living amidst the perils of the last days. We are to watch unto prayer. We are to put our entire trust in God, glorifying Him. Daily we are to learn lessons from the greatest Medical Missionary that ever trod this earth. He is our tabernacle of witness for heavenly things. He will not accept that which has been done in bringing so much of a commercial spirit into the medical missionary work, neither will He accept the Laodicean condition of the Medical Missionary Association. This association is not doing the work indicated by its name. It is not preparing a people to obtain a sound, healthy experience, which will stand the test of the judgment. I am so sorry; for God is dishonored. His work, which should be a praise in the earth, is belittled. False sentiments have been entertained, and a strange work has been done. SPTB02 47

All who carry the burden of the Lord's work must make an alliance with Christ. They must study His nobility, His manliness. The Saviour is our criterion of character. Connected with Him, we purify ourselves, even as He is pure. We are to grow into closer and still closer familiarity with Christ's way and with His spirit of nobility, with His singleness of purpose and His virtues of character. Consider His unselfish retirement from the field when there was a conflict between His deciples and the deciples of John. SPTB05 33

Satan will work to bring in criticism and misstatements, and to lead men to want their own way. There is no safety for any one who retains his selfish habits. God calls upon every soul to take up the work of self-examination. If all will now take up the work God has given them, and be converted in the doing of that work they will grow in grace and in the knowledge of the truth. Satan will make every effort to create disunion, and unless the love of Christ fills the heart there will be divisions. But divisions always dishonor God, and a great deal of time is spent in an effort to set things right, when it ought not to be necessary to spend a moment in this way. God has a great work for His people to do. He will enable us to do this work if we will give ourselves into His keeping, and be led and guided by Him. SPTB05 34

Though we have an individual work and an individual responsibility before God, we are not to follow our own independent judgment, regardless of the opinions and feelings of our brethren; for this course would lead to disorder in the church. It is the duty of ministers to respect the judgment of their brethren; but their relations to one another, as well as the doctrines they teach, should be brought to the test of the law and the testimony; then, if hearts are teachable, there will be no divisions among us. Some are inclined to be disorderly, and are drifting away from the great landmarks of the faith; but God is moving upon His ministers to be one in doctrine and in spirit. TM 30