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part 4 - Independence, But What Kind?

1)    "For many years I have been instructed that you are in danger of looking at things in a wrong light....You have traits of character which need to be entirely changed, else you will be a hinderance to the work, leading some to entertain suspicions, and to strike out in independent lines of action.  Such a course of action is surely a mistake, and if followed will bring difficulties not easily managed....your temperament is such that it is hard for you to work in Christian union with your brethren....There are some who unless things appear right to their human judgment, draw apart from their ministering brethren.  Thus God is dishonored....Give your mind up to unifying rather than to drawing apart." 1888 Materials 1757-1760.

NOTE: True sanctified independence which heaven approves is briefly stated in the following principles:
     -- That we are an independent agent who is responsible to God for our own actions and spiritual life, so one else can be blamed if we lose heaven.
     -- We are responsible to God to do our own personal study, so no one else is to study for us.
     -- We are responsible to think for ourselves, so we are not to be the shadow or rubber stamp of any person.  
     -- We are responsible to help ourselves, so no one else is required to help when we are able.
     -- We are responsible for the performance of the work given us to do, so no one else can be blamed if it does not get done.
     -- We are responsible for our own daily maintenance and living, so no one owes us anything.
     -- We are responsible to maintain our integrity, moral righteousness, and obligations in the various affairs of life.
     -- We are responsible to stand for God, His honor, and His truth regardless of the consequences.

     -- This sanctified independence especially centers around us as individuals, not in a selfish self-centered way, but in an unselfish manner which does not adversely affect others.
     -- This kind of noble heavenly independence can be traced back to the two great and foundational principles of God's 10 commandments, an independence which places God first and foremost in our thoughts, feelings, and actions, and our neighbors as ourselves.
     -- This independence, founded upon love to God and love of one another ahead of self, heaven highly approves of and which we are right to manifest and adhere to at all times as it will lead to complete sanctification and eternal life.
     -- The fruits borne by this kind of unselfish independence are love, trust, confidence, fellowship, harmony, unity, order, and peace.
     -- This unselfish independence can be clearly seen in the unity, oneness, and functioning of the Godhead.

NOTE: Unsanctified false independence which heaven condemns is briefly stated in the following principles:
     -- That we are responsible to God alone, so no responsibility needs to be shown toward our fellow brethren.  
     -- We are responsible to God alone for our actions, so no one can hold us responsible, or correct, or censure, or discipline us for what we do--even if our actions adversely affect our fellow brethren.
     -- We are responsible to spiritually unite with God alone, so no one is to visibly unite with one another in church or in working capacity.
     -- We are responsible to believe and teach what we want to, regardless of what our fellow brethren agree is truth.
     -- We are responsible to follow our own way, regardless of the counsel of our brethren.
     -- We are responsible to God alone and must center our interests in our own work, regardless of the work and interests of our brethren.

     -- This unsanctified independence especially involves our relationship to others, not in an unselfish way, but in a selfish self-centered manner which adversely affects others.
     -- This unsanctified independence may be thought of as loving God supreme, but in reality it breaks God's law because it esteems self and places it first and foremost in our thoughts, feelings, and actions, and our neighbors last or unthought of.
     -- This kind of independence heaven highly condemns, and which we are not to manifest or adhere to as it will lead to complete corruption and eternal destruction.
     -- The fruits borne by this selfish independence are hate, distrust, envy, jealousy, dissension, division, disorder, strife, and rebellion.

2)    "...Satan chose to follow his own selfish, independent will." Desire of Ages, p 762.

3)    "'He that is not with Me is against Me,' Christ declares, 'and he that gathereth not with Me scattereth abroad.'  God has given to every man his work.  He expects every follower of His to exert an influence that will tell for the upbuilding of His kingdom.  He who is not actively engaged in promoting love and unity and equity is exerting an influence that is opposed to Christ." Special Testimonies, Series B#2, p 44.

4)    "Many who profess to love God and keep His commandments are making void His law.  God is greatly dishonored by the failure of professed Christians to reveal the unity that should be seen among His children." Review and Herald, February 11, 1902.

5)    "Some have advanced the thought that as we near the close of time, every child of God will act independently of any religious organization.  But I have been instructed by the Lord that in this work there is no such thing as every man's being independent....In order that the Lord's work may advance healthfully and solidly, His people must draw together." Gospel Workers, p 487.

     "There will be, among the remnant of these last days, as there were with ancient Israel, those who wish to move independently, who are not willing to submit to the teachings of the Holy Spirit of God, and who will not listen to advise and counsel.  Let such ever bear in mind that God has a church upon the earth, to which He has delegated power.  Men will want to follow their own independent judgment, despising counsel and reproof; but just as surely as they do this they will depart from the faith, and disaster and ruin of souls will follow.  Those who rally now to support and build up the truth of God are ranging themselves on one side, standing united in heart, mind, and voice in defense of the truth." Selected Messages, book 3, p 23.

     "God does not design that His workmen shall stand apart as independent atoms....I pray that you may now, as never before, both ministers and church members, come up to the help of the Lord, to the help of the Lord against the mighty powers of darkness.  Study prayerfully the 17th chapter of John.  This chapter is not only to be read again and again, but its truths are to be eaten and digested.
     "Are these words, of such import to us, to be always neglected?  God calls upon those who claim to be His children to study these words, to eat them, to live them.  Seek for unity and love, else the candlestick will be removed out of its place." Pamphlets #156, p 12-14.

     "I had a message to the believers...that all who are truly converted unto the proclamation of the third angel's message must not present to the world, to angels, and to men, division in the place of unity." Manuscript Releases, vol 4, p 297.

6)    "The cause of the trouble it is not difficult to determine.  The workers have been independent threads, when they should have regarded themselves as threads that must be woven together to help form the pattern.  These things grieve the Holy Spirit....Unsanctified independence places us where He (God) cannot work with us." Testimonies, vol 7, p 197.

7)    "Satan well knows that success can only attend order and harmonious action.  He well knows that everything connected with heaven is in perfect order, that subjection and perfect discipline mark the movements of the angelic host.  It is his studied effort to lead professed Christians just as far from heaven's arrangement as he can; therefore he deceives even the professed people of God and makes them believe that order and discipline are enemies to spirituality, that the only safety for them is to let each pursue his own course, and to remain especially distinct from bodies of Christians who are united and are laboring to establish discipline and harmony of action.  All the efforts made to establish order are considered dangerous, a restriction of rightful liberty, and hence are feared as popery.  These deceived souls consider it a virtue to boast of their freedom to think and act independently.  They will not take any man's say-so.  They are amenable to no man.  I was shown that it is Satan's special work to lead men to feel that it is God's order for them to strike out for themselves and choose their own course independent of their brethren.
     "God is leading a people out from the world upon the exalted platform of eternal truth...They will not be at variance, one believing one thing and another having faith and views entirely opposite, each moving independently of the body." Testimonies, vol 1, p 650.

8)    "...please do not use my name as sustaining you in taking an independent course." Manuscript Releases, vol 17, p 257.

9)    "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 independent of his fellow comrades.  This independent action cannot be maintained in the service of Christ.
     "Self-restraint is essential to be exercised by every Christian if they answer the prayer of Christ.  He is not a good soldier who will not submit his own judgement and his own ideas to preserve unity of action....The meekness and lowliness of Christ always leads to unity and hence to strength in united action." Manuscript Releases, vol 5, p 373-374.

     "Those who belong to Christ's army must work with concerted action.  They cannot be faithful soldiers unless they obey orders.  United action is essential.  An army in which every part acts without reference to the other parts, has no real strength.  In order to add new territory to Christ's kingdom, his soldiers must act in concert....He calls for a united army, which moves steadily forward, not for a company composed of independent atoms." Bible Commentary, vol 4, p 1146.

     "In spite of all the good qualities a man may have, he cannot be a good soldier if he acts independent of those connected with him....Take a strong team of horses.  If, instead of both pulling together, one should suddenly jerk forward and the other pull back, they would not move the load, notwithstanding their great strength.  So the soldiers of Christ must work in concert, else there will be a mere concourse of independent atoms....In union is strength.  A few men and women who unite together, having the glory of God in view, will be growing in strength and wisdom, and gaining new victories." Signs of Times, September 7, 1891.

10)    "Where there is unity there is strength.  United we stand, divided we fall.  It is the special, declared plan of the enemy of Christ and man, to break up the church into independent factions....He loves to see discord and want of harmonious action in the church." Review and Herald, July 10, 1888.

     "...never, never forget that you are either servants of Jesus Christ, working strenuously for that unity of believers which Christ prayed might exist, or you are working against this unity and against Christ." Testimonies, vol 5, p 478.

11)    "A self-confident, independent spirit will never enter into the kingdom of God." Selected Messages, book 2, p 216.

     "You would act an independent part in heaven as you have acted on the earth." Kress Collection, p 152.

12)    "Perfection of character means perfection in unity.  'That they all may be one,' Christ said, 'as Thou, Father, art in me, and I in Thee' (John 17:21).  What possibilities are before us.  Shall not our faith grasp them?" Manuscript Releases, vol 11, p 179.

     "...they should not take on an independent spirit, but as followers of Christ be subject one to another.  This is the very means that God has ordained that one shall have influence over another and all be transformed and molded after the divine Pattern, that all the believers in Christ are to be sanctified through the truth." Manuscript Releases, vol 15, p 357.

13)    "Jesus and holy angels are bringing up and uniting God's people into one faith, that they may all have one mind and one judgment.  And while they are being brought into the unity of the faith, to see eye to eye upon the solemn, important truths for this time, Satan is at work to oppose their advancement.  Jesus is at work through His instruments to gather and unite.  Satan works through his instruments to scatter and divide." Testimonies, vol 1, p 332.

14)    "Men are taking sides, according to their choice....All that have refused to be taught of God, hold the traditions of men.  They at last pass over on the side of the enemy, against God, and are written, 'antichrist.'  The people of God, who understand our position in this world's history, are, with ears open and hearts softened and subdued, pressing together in unity--one with Jesus Christ.  Those who will not practice the lessons of Christ, but keep themselves in hand to mold themselves, find in antichrist the center of their union." Special Testimonies, Series A#9, 55-56.

15)    "There is alienation and division where none should exist, among those who profess to be the children of God; and the reason of this is that men are hearers, readers, of the words of Christ, but not doers." Review and Herald, July 22, 1890.

* Here are the links to the quotes used for the other parts in this series:

God's True Church - part 1
God's True Church - part 2
God's True Church - part 3
God's True Church - part 5