MANY divisive forces are at work today which threaten the unity of the church. Hardly a day passes that we do not receive here at denominational headquarters a tract, booklet, or circular letter written by some person who seems to cherish a querulous, faultfinding disposition, and whose obvious intent and purpose is to stir up strife and contention among the brethren, to destroy that unity without which the influence of the church will be ineffective.
Although these men profess a high degree of godliness, they make it their business to give wide publicity to the supposed or imagined faults of the brethren, misinterpret their motives, circulate insinuations, arouse suspicion, and in every conceivable manner break down confidence in the integrity of the leaders and destroy the unity of the Advent Movement.
Every true minister will guard the flock against the attacks of these enemies, for such they are regardless of their profession. Amid the perils of the last days every faithful shepherd will endeavor earnestly and perseveringly to keep the flock united, for when the sheep are scattered they are in great danger of being caught and torn by ravenous wolves.
"As we approach the last crisis," wrote Ellen G. White, "it is of vital importance that harmony and unity exist among the Lord's instrumentalities. The world is filled with storm and war and variance. . . . While he [the great apostate] seeks to unite his agents in warring against the truth he will work to divide and scatter its advocates. . . . The members of Christ's church have the power to thwart the purpose of the adversary of souls. At such a time as this let them not be found at variance with one another or with any of the Lord's workers. Amidst the general discord let there be one place where harmony and unity exists because the Bible is made the guide of life."—Testimonies, vol. 1, p. 182.
That "one place" should be the Seventh-day Adventist Church. "Unity is the strength of the church. Satan knows this, and he employs his whole force to bring in dissension. . . . Greater attention should be given to the subject of unity."—Selected Messages, vol. 2, pp. 159, 160. "We are coming to a time when, more than ever before, we shall need to press together, to labor unitedly. In union there is strength. In discord and disunion there is only weakness. ... In our separation from one another we are separated from Christ. . . . Oh, how many times, when I have seemed to be in the presence of God and holy angels, I have heard the angel voice saying, 'Press together, press together, press together. Do not let Satan cast his hellish shadow between brethren. Press together; in unity there is strength.' "—Ibid., p. 374.
When ministers and church members are living in harmony with God, they will be in harmony with one another. There will be complete unity. Someone has illustrated the principle of unity by the spokes in a wheel. The spokes come closer together as they near the hub. In like manner the people of God come closer to one another as they come closer to Him and become more like Him in character.
A Unifying Influence
As a unifying influence among us the Spirit of Prophecy writings have been deeply appreciated from the first appearance of the gift in 1844. In response to an urgently felt need, the General Conference has prepared a special correspondence course on Prophetic Guidance in the Advent Movement. This course consists of twenty-four lessons that give intimate, factual knowledge concerning the place and function of the prophetic gift in the church, and is accompanied by an informative, well-illustrated, and readable textbook of 192 pages entitled The Spirit of Prophecy Treasure Chest, for which a charge of $1.00 is made. The lessons are free. The formation of study groups in our churches would be a wonderful blessing. All supplies should be ordered from The Prophetic Guidance School of the Voice of Prophecy, Box 200, Glendale 5, California.
In numerous churches study groups have already been formed under the guidance of the pastor or other competent teacher. Each person answers the questions on his lesson sheet, but a deep interest is maintained by studying the lessons together.
A minister writes, "I have prayed for twenty-five years for just such a course." A layman says, "I believe the Lord has definitely led in the timing of this course at this very season for us His people." Another writes, "I have enjoyed these wonderful lessons and my soul has been refreshed and watered. I do hunger for more reading of the Spirit of Prophecy writings and will continue on."
Thousands of Seventh-day Adventist workers and church members have enrolled in the Prophetic Guidance course and have found it to be the answer to their personal need. Pastors, evangelists, and Bible instructors will wish to recommend this course to all new believers who are preparing for baptism, and to all church members as a sound basis for confidence in the gift of prophecy as a unifying influence among us in these times of peril.