“For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints.” 1Cor.xiv,33.
The great Apostle, who had the daily care of all the churches, has said much in his epistles on the subject of order in the church of Christ. It was a subject of great importance to the early church, to preserve purity, unity and strength in the body. And it cannot be of less importance to the church in the last days of peril, when seeking that preparation necessary to meet the coming Judge. If gospel order was of such vast importance that it was necessary for Paul to dwell much upon it in his epistles to the churches, it should not be overlooked by the people of God at this day. We think that it has been much neglected, and that the attention of the church should be turned to this subject, and vigorous efforts should be put forth to restore as fast as possible the order of the gospel.
We want no human creed; the Bible is sufficient. The divine order of the New Testament is sufficient to organize the church of Christ. If more were needed, it would have been given by inspiration. But with only that which was “given by inspiration of God,” the man of God is “thoroughly furnished unto all good works.” 2Tim.iii,16,17.
God has been leading his people out of Babylon. The voice from heaven [Rev.xviii,4] is yet to be heard, saying to others of God‘s people, “Come out of her my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues.” It is the will of the Lord that his people should be called away from the confusion and bondage of man-made creeds, to enjoy the oneness and freedom of the gospel. But it is a lamentable fact that many of our Advent brethren who made a timely escape from the bondage of the different churches, who as a body rejected the Advent doctrine, have since been in a more perfect Babylon than ever before. Gospel order has been too much overlooked by them.
The Advent people professed to take the Bible as their guide in doctrine and in duty. If they had followed this guide strictly, and had carried out the gospel principles of order and discipline, much confusion would have been saved. Many in their zeal to come out of Babylon, partook of a rash, disorderly spirit, and were soon found in a perfect Babel of confusion. And there are those at the present time who start back at the idea of gospel order. They seem to see no difference between teaching and enforcing the pure doctrines and sweet harmony of the gospel, and the errors and confusion of the creeds of Babylon. Such need “eye-salve,” that they may see. They will have to learn that God has not called any of his people away from the confusion of the churches, designing that they should be left without discipline. In mercy he reached forth his hand, and enabled the Advent people in 1844 to break the cords of sectarianism that bound them, that they might be disciplined and guided into the kingdom by the order and pure doctrines of the gospel.
To suppose that the church of Christ is free from restraint and discipline, is the wildest fanaticism. O, ye scattered, bleeding flock, flee to the great Shepherd! He can heal his people, and lead them on in union and love, safely to Mount Zion. O, Church of Christ! – The Bible! The Bible! – Let the Bible be your rule of faith, and of order. Take heed to the sure word, the light that shineth in a dark place.
The Apostle has illustrated gospel order by the human body. And a more beautiful illustration of order cannot be named. He says:-
“For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body; so also is Christ. For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit. For the body is not one member, but many.
If the foot shall say, Because I am not the hand, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body? And if the ear shall say, Because I am not the eye, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body? If the whole body were an eye, where were the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where were the smelling? But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him. – And if they were all one member, where were the body? But now are they many members, yet but one body. And the eye cannot say unto the hand, I have no need of thee; nor again the head to the feet, I have no need of you. But God hath tempered the body together, having given more abundant honor to that part which lacked; that there should be no schism in the body; but that the members should have the same care one for another. And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honored, all the members rejoice with it. Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular. And God hath set some in the church, first, apostles; secondarily, prophets,” etc.
Where is the church whose order may be represented by the harmony of the members of the human body? If we look to the discord of the various sects, we shall not find it. And if we look to the divisions of the Advent people who have rejected the present truth, we shall see that precious body torn limb from limb, or its members moving in perfect discord, arrayed against each other. Imagine the members of one body all in disorder, acting in disunion, against each other. The sight would be indeed horrible. Yet such a body would fitly illustrate the different classes of Advent people who reject the present truth. How the dear Saviour has grieved over such a people as this! His wounds have been pierced afresh. The sincere, waiting ones have been made sad, and have indeed sighed and cried for the sins of this people.
But, thank Heaven, the friends of Jesus may hope for brighter days. A remnant will be rescued from the ruins of corrupted Christianity, and will yet stand in the order of the gospel, looking for the blessed hope. “For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men. Teaching us, that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present world; looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ: who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.”
This peculiar people will stand forth free from the confusion of creeds; free from the traditions and commandments of men – keeping the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus. This is enough to make them peculiar. The sweet and cheering voice of the chief Shepherd is now being heard in the message of the third angel, and many hearts are beginning to beat in union.
“Now the gathering call is sounding,
Solemn in its warning voice;
Union, faith and love, abounding,
Bid the little flock rejoice.”
— James White, Review and Herald, 12/6/1853