Channeling God . . .

 There are serious problems in our Church.

Unity is essentially a pipe-dream, because we do not agree on what God would have us do with the questions that have arisen. Would it not be wonderful if there was some way to know what Jesus wants?

At the moment, the most divisive issue we face in North America is the issue of women’s ordination

cover-800x500.jpg

We can read what this theologian has to say, and what that theologian has to say, then we can choose to support the one who supports our opinion and quote him.

If our favorite Pastor on the internet takes a position and preaches a gripping sermon on the topic, we either love it and share it widely, or else he is no longer someone we can stand to listen to, because he has sold out to the culture, or else he is mired in tradition. Unity!

Meanwhile, EGW tells us that, “God is dishonored by the variance existing among His people. Those who love God and keep His commandments are not to draw apart but press together” [See Phil. 2:1-4.]  {2MR 342.1}

Many have never studied the issue for themselves, but only seek support for the position of their circle of friends in the Church. But, many have deeply studied the issue, and yet even among those there is still tremendous disagreement. On both sides, sincere servants of God have prayed, sought the Holy Spirit’s leading, done word studies, consulted tomes, read and quoted the Spirit of Prophecy, and still there is no agreement.

Of course, this is not the only area of disagreement. From the hermenuetics we employ, to our understanding of the Trinity, or the Godhead Itself (we can’t even agree on terms), to Last Generation Theology, the nature of Christ, to homosexuality, to abortion, and every other culture driven question, Satan has a panoply of issues to keep us occupied, and more to come.

The Third Angel’s message is set aside while we argue with each other

"The present truth, the special message given to our world, even the third angel's message, comprehends a vast field, containing heavenly treasures. No one can be excusable who says, "I will no longer have anything to do with these special messages; I will preach Christ."  No one can preach Christ, and present the truth as it is in Jesus, unless he presents the truths that are to come before the people at the present time, when such important developments are taking place" — Ms 33, 1897.

And,

“In a special sense Seventh-day Adventists have been set in the world as watchmen and light bearers. To them has been entrusted the last warning for a perishing world. On them is shining wonderful light from the word of God. They have been given a work of the most solemn import—the proclamation of the first, second, and third angels' messages. There is no other work of so great importance. They are to allow nothing else to absorb their attention”  (Testimonies 9_p19_1).

And now, the attack on GC leadership! Some write books accusing the GC of establishing popery in the Church, and use comparisons to Nazis, and online commentators speak of Elder Wilson in ways that Jesus refused to speak of Satan!

The GC session in San Antonio led some leaders to become involved in what I can only call open rebellion. While they call for a spirit of Christian forbearance, they continue to allow entities for which they are responsible to continue to ordain women to the ministry, in defiance to the vote of the representatives of His church from all parts of the earth, assembled in a General Conference. Leaders at the General Conference are charged with denying ordination to women in ministry, but it was not the leaders of the GC, but the representatives of His church who voted the issue. For the third time.

If only we could channel God!

Is it possible? Could we? Has God ordained a system which, like the urim and thummim, would leave all committed followers of God satisfied that they are following His will? Even if it is against our private judgment? What if I’ve prayed, studied, discussed, wrestled with the issues of morality and fairness, and have come to a rock solid personal conviction? Would I submit if God tells me that my private independence and private judgment must not be stubbornly maintained, but surrendered?

First, does God have a Church, or not? I’m talking about the visible and organized church, even though each and every member of that Church may not be part of the universal Church. If God does have an organized Church, is that Church the Seventh-day Adventist Church? My Brother, my Sister, if I did not believe that this is God’s Church, I would keep searching and go somewhere else, wouldn’t you?

To begin, some Bible texts quoted in Acts of the Apostles, page 200:

"Notwithstanding the fact that Paul was personally taught by God, he had no strained ideas of individual responsibility. While looking to God for direct guidance, he was ever ready to recognize the authority vested in the body of believers united in church fellowship. He felt the need of counsel, and when matters of importance arose, he was glad to lay these before the church and to unite with his brethren in seeking God for wisdom to make right decisions. Even "the spirits of the prophets," he declared, "are subject to the prophets. For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints." 1 Cor 14:32, 1 Cor 14:33. With Peter, he taught that all united in church capacity should be "subject one to another" (1 Peter 5:5).

Now, a quote on channeling God:

“God has made His church on the earth a channel of light, and through it He communicates His purposes and His will. He does not give to one of His servants an experience independent of and contrary to the experience of the church itself. Neither does He give one man a knowledge of His will for the entire church while the church—Christ's body —is left in darkness. In His providence He places His servants in close connection with His church in order that they may have less confidence in themselves and greater confidence in others whom He is leading out to advance His work”  (AA_p163_1).

We have a channel of light through which He communicates His purposes and His will! That channel is not me, and it’s not you. It’s not William G. Johnsson, it’s not George Knight, it’s not Dwight Nelson, it’s not Doug Batchelor, and it’s not even Elder Ted Wilson. It is “the body of believers united in church fellowship.”

“God has ordained that the representatives of His church from all parts of the earth, when assembled in a General Conference, shall have authority. The error that some are in danger of committing is in giving to the mind and judgment of one man, or of a small group of men, the full measure of authority and influence that God has vested in His church in the judgment and voice of the General Conference assembled to plan for the prosperity and advancement of His work”  (Test9_p260_2).

What about Church discipline?

“The word of God does not give license for one man to set up his judgment in opposition to the judgment of the church, neither is he allowed to urge his opinions against the opinions of the church. If there were no church discipline and government, the church would go to fragments; it could not hold together as a body. There have ever been individuals of independent minds who have claimed that they were right, that God had especially taught, impressed, and led them. Each has a theory of his own, views peculiar to himself, and each claims that his views are in accordance with the word of God. Each one has a different theory and faith, yet each claims special light from God. These draw away from the body, and each one is a separate church of himself. All these cannot be right, yet they all claim to be led of the Lord. The word of Inspiration is not Yea and Nay, but Yea and Amen in Christ Jesus” (Test3_p428_2). All emphases mine.

Now, what is the process, how should the lines of authority run? How should authority be exercised?

How does it work in your local Church?

The Church meeting in Business Session is the highest authority in the local church. This is as representative as it gets! Each member has a right to attend, and each member has a vote, on every issue, unless it involves discipline against that member, or the election of the member to an office. This is the opposite of popery, hierarchy, Nazism.

Next, the Church Board. Then the Pastor(s) Board of Elders, SS Council, Finance Committee, etc., which make recommendations to the Board.

The local church does not typically meet in Business Session every month. Perhaps only once per year. In between Sessions, the Board is the voice of the church. Items come up, someone has to make a decision, it cannot wait for the next Session. But, the Board has no authority to override the decisions of the church in Business Session. They must administer the decisions of the Session. If the Board makes an important decision, especially one that is controversial, the Business Session should affirm it or rescind it.

When assembled in a General Conference Session, the world Church is meeting in Business Session. I do not believe there is denomination in the world that has a more representative form of governance unless it is some one-church sect where every member votes every time. We have the opposite of popery, hierarchy, Nazism!

In between Sessions, Annual Councils and the Executive Committee have no right to override the decisions of the Church assembled in a General Conference. They must administer the decisions of the GC Session. That responsibility includes discipline. An Annual Council, or an Executive Committee which meets and fails to administer the decisions of the Representatives of the Church assembled in a General Conference has no legitimate purpose.

If an Annual Council or the Executive Committee makes an important decision, especially one that is controversial, the General Conference Session should affirm it or rescind it. An example would be the decision to ordain women as elders, which was never approved by the Representatives of the Church in full Session. Or the abortion guidelines.

Leaders, including Division Presidents, who refuse to recognize the channel of light through which God communicates His purposes and His will should face discipline, and if Annual Councils and the Executive Committee fail to impose such, that necessary discipline should be the first order of business at the GC Session in 2020. Or, we might as well cancel General Conference Sessions, since they would serve no purpose and have no actual authority. Then we would indeed be left with only a hierarchy or acute fragmentation.

The decisions of the GC session in San Antonio have yet to be administered. This must remain an object of prayer, lest God's Church be left powerless.

I have faith that no matter how dire the situation appears, that the words of Jesus will be fulfilled:

“And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (Matthew 16:18).

Please join me in prayer for God’s Church and for the leaders who are faithful at this portentous time. 

download.jpg
 

Ben Trujillo is an elder at Campion Seventh-day Adventist Church.