At 6:15am this morning, different brethren from various units wished each other good morning and the Lord’s blessing as they walked to the meeting hall where all joined together in prayer meeting. This 20 minutes prayer session is a great privilege and blessing to all.
This morning, Br E. Custodio took the morning worship and spoke on the topic “Christ Died for All”.
“For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit:” 1Peter 3:18
“Today we are free and independent because of the death of Christ,” said Br. Custodio. Christ is the One who gave Himself as a Sacrifice for the human race. He was falsely accused and opened not His mouth. He endured the penalty of sin. His love was, and is, endless for us. We need to look with confidence to the cross of Christ. Look at Jesus for He is the Author and Finisher of our faith.
“There is a task before us brethren,” said Br. Custodio. “We need to reflect the character of our Saviour, Christ, to this dark world. We need to let all see the unconditional love that existed in our Saviour. We need to possess this love. Do you have this love in you?”
The Business of the Day
The business of the day started with a short appeal by Br. P. Lausevic. He spoke about how in our lives we prepare for various events: our wedding, the birth of our children, then their wedding, and so on. But there is something more important that, as a people, we need to prepare for—the second coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, our Creator and Saviour. “Are you ready to go home?” he asked. “We need to prepare, my brethren; we need to prepare a people for this event. The work of evangelism is very important and should be our first and foremost priority,” he said.
We say that the world is not interested, and it is hard to talk about God with people, but there is a Bible verse that describes the very reason why missionary work is not successful.
“That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.” John 17:21
“We misinterpret the meaning of this verse,” said Br. Lausevic. “We interpret it this way: we need to be one, and that means that I am right, and you need to agree with me so we may be united” Brethren we need to surrender our will to the will of God and give up the idea that we are right and everyone else needs to agree with us in order to have unity. We need to be united in Christ which means that my idea and your idea needs to be nailed on the cross, and Christ’s idea and will needs to be carried out. Are you ready to do this my brethren, today? May God help us achieve this experience.
This morning the session started at 9:0am and 175 people were seated for business. After the reading and accepting of the Sunday, September 6th minutes, the various committees resumed their work until 10:45am. The Doctrinal Committee presented the second reading of the tabled resolution on tribal marriage. It was accepted and voted upon. The resolution reads as follows:
WHEREAS a question regarding the properly conducted customary (tribal) marriage between a man and a woman was considered and how far we recognize this as a legal marriage, and further clarification was requested on Resolution #61/1995, it was
RESOLVED that in compliance with Resolution #32 /1955, such marriages properly conducted in the presence of witnesses and recognized by the society as an official marriage is binding before God and the church considers them married; and it was
FURTHER RESOLVED, that when the law or necessity requires further documentation of their marriage, then their marriage should be registered with the appropriate government body.
In such cases where the individuals are already members they must follow our existing principle on marriage that also requires a church blessing in addition to the above (see Principles of Faith and Church Order, point 18).
The next point taken up from the table was the matter of abortion; this was also accepted and voted upon by the session. The resolution on the point stands as follows:
WHEREAS the subject of abortion was analyzed because of its prevalence in many cultures, and WHEREAS it is the church’s duty to reiterate its clear stand against killing through abortion and also to instruct those that seek its guidance, it was
RESOLVED, that abortion is contrary to the biblical expression of human life beginning at conception.
The Bible supports the idea that human life begins at conception, not only at birth. At the moment of conception a new human being is created—possessing their own individuality with a God-given right to a future. (Jeremiah 1:5; Psalms 22:9, 10; 71:6; Job 31:15.)
Human life from conception is a wonderful and sacred gift of God that deserves all the protection from being destroyed by the actions of others that are afforded the human life outside the womb. (Psalm 139:13, 16.)
The taking of life at any stage of development is murder and forbidden by God. (Exodus 20:13; Matthew 19:18.)
Consequences of Choice
God does not arbitrarily rule the conscience of an individual. It is also not the role or intention of God’s church to control the individual’s conscience.
“[Thousands today] do not see that to deprive man of the freedom of choice would be to rob him of his prerogative as an intelligent being and make him a mere automaton. It is not God’s purpose to coerce the will. Man was created a free moral agent. Like the inhabitants of all other worlds, he must be subjected to the test of obedience; but he is never brought into such a position that yielding to evil becomes a matter of necessity. No temptation or trial is permitted to come to him which he is unable to resist. God made such ample provision that man need never have been defeated in the conflict with Satan.”—Patriarchs and Prophets, pp. 331, 332 (1890).
Each individual is endowed with the capability of choosing. Therefore each individual is responsible for their choices and those that abuse this capability and choose contrary to the requirements of God’s Word will be responsible for the tragic consequences of their choices. (Deuteronomy 30:19, 20.)
“Your entire future will be influenced for good or for evil by the path you now choose.” —Mind, Character, and Personality, vol. 2, p. 421.
God is the One who gives life to all and He is the only One who can maintain it. Therefore, He is the only One who has the right to take it away under any circumstance. (Acts 17:25, 26, 28; Genesis 2:7; Job 1:21.)
Opposition to the termination of human life before birth based on the biblical imperative to protect life is not a rejection of the choice of a woman to control her own destiny or her own body. A woman is free to avoid conception or to make the parental sacrifice and place the child in the care of another loving parent if the mother cannot raise the child herself.
We recognize that carrying human life inside her womb is a significant experience requiring effort and sacrifice from a mother. Having that experience forced upon her by the sin of another human being can be very difficult. Nonetheless, avoiding that experience by abortion is no more morally defensible or acceptable than infanticide after the birth of the child. In such cases adoption may be a viable option.
Any woman who has pregnancy forced upon her needs the support and encouragement of Christians. Avoiding or rejecting such a person is contrary to the example of Jesus (Matthew 9:10, 11) and the teachings of His word.
Implications for Family Planning and Contraception
To be a parent is a God-given responsibility and one not to be taken lightly nor given up lightly. In order to establish healthful families, part of the gospel work is to hold seminars for single young people, instructing them how to have a healthy relationship before marriage.
The church, as an institution that cares for the life and happiness of its members and of society in general, should hold family seminars in order to strengthen family ties. During these seminars, parents must be instructed about the privileges and responsibilities involved in training a child from the womb. (Judges 13: 7, 13, 17; The Ministry of Healing, pp. 372, 373 (1905).)
Proper birth control and family planning is a Christian requirement according to the following counsel: “Parents should not increase their families any faster than they know that their children can be well cared for, and educated. A child in the mother’s arms from year to year is great injustice to her. It lessens, and often destroys, social enjoyment, and increases domestic wretchedness. It robs their children of that care, education, and happiness, which parents should feel it their duty to bestow upon them. The husband violates the marriage vow, and the duties enjoined upon him in the word of God, when he disregards the health and happiness of the wife, by increasing her burdens and cares by numerous offspring. ‘Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it.’ ‘So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself. For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the lord the church’ (Ephesians 5:25, 28, 29).”—Selected Messages, bk. 2, p. 425.
We do not accept as a method of contraception intrauterine devices (such as intrauterine spirals) and medications which prevent the implantation of a fertilized egg or destroys a fertilized egg. (Proverbs 24:1012). This is not contraception in its proper understanding, but just another form of abortion—as it removes the fetus after conception.
A Supportive Role
Jesus demonstrated that humans struggling with temptation and its consequences need compassion. Attitudes of condemnation are inappropriate in those who have accepted the gospel. Among the responsibilities of the church is the care for the poor and needy. Therefore the church should provide relief for individuals and families facing pregnancy crises as well as support to those who mistakenly made wrong choices and are in need of spiritual, moral and psychological help. (Proverbs 29:7; 31:9; Job 4:3, 4; Isaiah 35:3; Acts 20:35.)
In cases where the baby has already died, the mother must follow the physician’s guidance to preserve her life and health. The removal of such dead fetus cannot be considered abortion.
In cases where insisting upon the continuation of a pregnancy imposes a great threat to the mother’s life and little possibility for the baby’s survival, then the mother, together with the physician’s guidance, must consider the options and possibilities according to the specific circumstances. Such decisions will be more appropriately dealt with inside a healthy family environment.
The third proposed resolution that had been tabled was taken and voted upon. This resolution deals with Photography on Sabbath Day, and it reads as follows:
WHEREAS the topic on photography, videography and other multimedia and their use on the Sabbath has been raised over many years due to concerns for true Sabbath observance; and while we realize the danger of photography and multimedia becoming a species of idolatry when abused, we also realize that when rightly used, it can have a beneficial effect in spreading the gospel message. In order to understand what is appropriate with photography or the use of multimedia on the Sabbath, the following considerations were made.
Why the Sabbath Is Given
The Sabbath is a time for us to come into a closer relationship with God and spend time in worship, meditation, praise, fellowship, holy deeds of necessity and commemoration of what He has done for us.
“If thou turn away thy foot from the sabbath, from doing thy pleasure on my holy day; and call the sabbath a delight, the holy of the Lord, honourable; and shalt honour him, not doing thine own ways, nor finding thine own pleasure, nor speaking thine own words.” Isaiah 58:13.
“There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God. For he that is entered into his rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from his.” Hebrews 4:9, 10.
“The Sabbath is not intended to be a period of useless inactivity. The law forbids secular labor on the rest day of the Lord; the toil that gains a livelihood must cease; no labor for worldly pleasure or profit is lawful upon that day; but as God ceased His labor of creating, and rested upon the Sabbath and blessed it, so man is to leave the occupations of his daily life, and devote those sacred hours to healthful rest, to worship, and to holy deeds.”—The Desire of Ages, p. 207.
“When you associate together, let the mind be reverently turned to the contemplation of eternal realities. Thus you will be helping one another to be spiritually minded.”—Manuscript Releases, vol. 9, p. 141.
Photography or videography on Sabbath
In view of the above principles of true Sabbathkeeping, it was
RESOLVED that the use of multimedia such as photos, video and similar technologies intended for use in the promotion or dissemination of the truth such as baptisms, religious meetings and other spiritual events when taken on the Sabbath is in harmony with the spirit of true Sabbathkeeping. However, we should keep in mind that “from doing works of necessity” we may “fall into the habit of doing things on the Sabbath that are not necessary. The sense of its sacredness is lost, and the holy commandment is of no effect” (MM 215). Also, care should be taken by all members that reverence for the Sabbath and house of God is maintained at all times. In order to maintain reverence during meetings it may be necessary for local organizers to appoint a limited number of people to be responsible for multimedia recording, including photography.
Common photography or videography
Ministers and members “upon the Sabbath . . . should conscientiously restrict themselves to conversation upon religious themes—to present truth, present duty, the Christian’s hopes and fears, trials, conflicts, and afflictions; to overcoming at last, and the reward to be received.” —Testimonies, vol. 2, p. 704.
The servant of the Lord counsels us that “albums filled with photographs of the family and their friends are placed where they will attract the attention of visitors. Thus the thoughts, which should be upon God and heavenly interests, are brought down to common things. Is not this a species of idolatry?” —Selected Messages, vol. 2, p. 317.
As the photography or videography of family and friends when taken, viewed or shared on the Sabbath in a non-religious context have a tendency to bring the thoughts down to common things, in order to keep the Sabbath day holy, we should avoid such practices.
Election of New Officers
The Nominating Committee presented three names for the office of the Colporteur Department Director. As a result of the vote, Br. Adrian Finaru was elected as the Colporteur Department Director.
Four names were put forward as candidates for the Youth Department Director, and the names were put to a vote. The session voted that Br. Radu Ionita be the Youth Department Director for the next four years. After the evening worship, the session was closed with a session of prayers.
The Bulletin Committee,
Olivine E. Uy