For those of us who hold membership within the Seventh-day Adventist Church, we have a responsibility to our leaders and their families to make an appeal to them regarding what we have found in Scripture concerning the Son of God.
From what we have examined in previous chapters, there are a number of reasons why we must do this:
- Our love for those in authority over us
- Our concern for their reputation
- Our need for their blessing and protection in our lives
- A need to make certain that we have not fallen into error
I say these are the reasons that we must make an appeal because there are many who are vulnerable to the practice of staying silent and seeking to quietly approach other church members to win them first. When a person comes under the conviction that they have found truth in the knowledge of the Son of God, that person is immediately tested as to whether they really believe this truth by submitting to the divine pattern and approaching their leaders in a spirit of submission and grace.
A failure to speak to your church leaders about these things after you have become fully convinced in your mind that it is the truth reveals that you do not love those in authority over you. There can be many reasons to embrace an idea contrary to the belief of those in authority over us. A spirit of independence and self-will can be attracted to contrary views. Men can even be attracted to the truth for the wrong reason of using it as a pretext to rebel against the channel of authority.
It is my observation that there are people who have been attracted to the truth of the Son of God in order that they might exalt themselves and engage in a campaign against God’s remnant church. Satan delights exceedingly when people embrace that which is right based on a motive of that which is wrong. He knows that the spirit of independence combined with the truth of the Son of God is well placed to offend many who would otherwise study this teaching.
Let us come back to this question of making an appeal. In my reading of Scripture, once we come to a knowledge of this truth and as we allow this truth to manifest itself by coming into the image of the divine pattern of Father and Son, we will find ourselves compelled to approach those in authority over us and appeal to them. Silence reveals both a lack of love for our authorities and also cowardice and an unwillingness to sacrifice for the truth’s sake.
I would hasten to add that the point of appeal for a wife of an unbelieving husband is her husband rather than the pastor of the church. If a wife of an unbelieving husband (meaning he believes in the Trinity) approaches the pastor then she shames her husband by her conduct and will certainly make things harder in reaching her husband.
In regard to making an appeal, I believe our Lord has placed before us a test of the heart. Are we willing to experience shame and contempt before our brethren for the sake of the Lord Jesus? If we are not willing to face scorn and derision now, how shall we stand when the Sunday Law comes to us? Those who walk through the door of appeal to their leaders, will be strengthened to face the coming crisis over the Sabbath.
It is on this point that every man finds whether he has an anchor that holds the soul, steadfast and sure though the billows role. It is through the appeal process that we find whether we are fastened to the rock which cannot move, anchored safe and deep in the Saviour’s love.
I confess that appealing to my brethren placed me in places emotionally and mentally that tested my soul to the utmost limit. I learnt things about myself that I never would have known otherwise. As I look back on my appeal experience I can say praise God for His mercy in revealing many things to me that needed changing in my life. Those who shortcut the appeal process may find the next level of testing too hard and may yield the faith. Oh I pray that this might not happen to any of us.
So once again in conclusion I state that the very knowledge we possess through the begotten Son formulates for us the divine pattern which demands of us the need to appeal to our leaders and ask them to consider the truth that Jesus is the Son of the Living God.
Once we have resolved to make an appeal I would encourage you to pray about who you should approach. Pick the authority figure in your life that you have the closest connection to and is the most likely to give you time to express your convictions. It may be an associate pastor, it may be an elder, it may be the conference president. As you pray the Lord will give you wisdom to know which direction to approach.
Write out what you found from Scripture concerning the Son of God. Place together the evidence as you see it and that has been most helpful to you. I would advise against simply handing someone else’s material to the person in authority. It needs to be a personal appeal from your own heart. If a leader expresses openness to study, then you might consider providing other materials. I might also add that any materials you would submit should come from sources that respect the divine pattern. If a leader should find material or hear speakers condemning the Adventist Church, your appeal is most certainly not going to be heard.
I raised the point earlier about motivation because making a Biblical appeal is all about trajectory. By trajectory we mean approaching your leader at the right angle as to give your appeal maximum impact. Get clear in your mind that you are submitting yourself and your research for the analysis of the person in authority. If in your trajectory there is any sense that you have come to show them the truth and that they need to submit to what you are saying then you will miss your target. The divine pattern demands that we entreat as son would entreat his father. We speak respectfully and with love. We be quick to listen and slow to speak. The aim of the appeal is to ask for help, to ask to be shown from the Scriptures where we might have made a mistake. We must be honest in this appeal and not assume that we are right and that no evidence could convince us otherwise. We must take whatever is given us to the Lord, pray about it and go back with our response.
When a leader perceives that you have studied this subject well then you may find that they will try to stall the process. This means facing long delays, missed meetings or a whole range of excuses that will surface. Let us remember that Satan is not keen on any appeals finding their mark and he will make it his business to stall the process and frustrate us in our appeal.
It is during this process that we might be accused of being stubborn, independent minded or divisive. It is at these times we need to remember Hannah when she was accused of being drunk by Eli. Let us like her reply “No my lord” I am not drunk but in bitterness of soul for the Son of God.
During this time, you may observe that other church members start to withdraw their affection from you. You may experience a total shunning for making your appeal, but this is the path of those who love the Son of God often must walk.
Ask the Lord to grant you patience as you make your appeal. If you can’t find any Scriptural reason to follow them, then appeal to them to discipline you as they see fit. It is within their power to censure or remove you from fellowship and bringing things to this point, places a leader in a position that if he feels he has enough authority to silence you, then he has the responsibility to discipline you. Any parent knows that to administer discipline to a child is something more painful to the parent than the child. If the minister has any of spirit of Christ in them, they will recoil from wanting to remove you from fellowship, but this is the price they must pay for their convictions that you are wrong and must be silent.
During this process we must refrain from the temptation to try and win others to our side. It is very tempting to act in a political manner and seek to bring other people to our point of view under the nose of the pastor. This shows a lack of respect and it also brings other people into controversy when they may not have yet had time to study the issue thoroughly.
Some people have the view that we must tell the members the truth. I assure you that nothing proclaims the truth more than your willingness to be deprived of privileges for the sake of what you believe. This speaks more for the truth than anything else. It may appear that this process yields no results but heaven marks the faithfulness of those who have stood stiffly for the truth in the face of great opposition and possible scorn and derision.
Once you have come to the point of being disciplined then you are at liberty to share your beliefs with all who approach you within the church. If no one approaches you then you have nothing to say. Use whatever public forums are available to you where you are not in conflict with an authority figure who has leadership of that forum.
What about those who have already been disfellowshipped? As you recall events did you act in a respectful way? Is there anything you can recall that would require an apology for wrong actions or conduct? Take the time to write to those who you may feel you have offended and offer your apology. Then join in the work of praying for forgiveness on behalf of the church. It is my daily prayer that our Father in heaven would forgive us as His people and help our leader and bless their families and help as many as possible to find the light before it is too late.
This path is a narrow path, but one I believe that will prepare God’s people to face the closing scenes of earth’s history. Let us also remember that as we present the Son of God to our leaders that it is the Son of God on trial and not us. Each time we appeal to the leaders of the church we are giving them the chance to vindicate the Son of God or condemn Him by your expulsion. The more people that are repelled in their appeals the more the Son of God is rejected in the church. The more he is rejected, the more certain will come the judgements of God in response to the cries of His people to vindicate His Son and restore true authority in the church. The more that Christ is accepted in these appeals the more certain will come the shaking of God’s people. Either way the much needed change will come.
Brethren, this current testing process is a gift from heaven to burn self out of us. Few people welcome being scorned or deprived of fellowship for their faith, but those who drink this cup now with be strengthened to drink a greater draught in the time of Jacob’s trouble.
[Yom Kippur, Sunday, Oct 09, 2011]