Wednesday, August 14, 2013

“Unity: The Bond of Revival”

​Insights #7 Aug. 17, 2013
Third Quarter 2013 Adult Sabbath School Lessons
“Unity: The Bond of Revival”
For the week of Aug. 17, 2013

Correlation and Causality

George and Bill were both enjoying a scoop of ice-cream during the summer in Chicago, when George told Bill he was starting an ice cream business in Florida.  Interested in this endeavor, Bill asked George if he had any plans to expand beyond Florida. George had mentioned many places around the U.S, but did not mention Chicago. “Why not Chicago?” Bill asked. George answered with, “Chicago is not the best market for ice-cream.”  Slightly puzzled, since they were enjoying ice cream in Chicago at that very moment, Bill, said, “Look at all the ice-cream that is sold in the summer. It’s big business.”  To which George replied, “Although successful, the market for ice cream in Chicago is seasonal; sales are only high in the summer.”

Yes, the market for ice cream in Chicago is seasonal and the amount of ice cream sold increases and peaks in the summer.  Ironically, the numbers of murders also increase in the summer.  In some circles, jokes surround some foolish social scientists who concluded that since ice cream consumption and murders increase in the summer, then, it must be the ice cream that causes the increase in the number of murders.  These scientists established causality between two factors. It did not take too long for someone to point out the fallacy of the scientists’ conclusion.  Instead according to statistical analysis, it was determined that ice cream and murder are correlated.
Correlation is a relation existing between phenomena or things which tend to be associated, or occur together in a way not expected on the basis of chance alone.  Causality is the relation between a cause and its effect or between regularly correlated events or phenomena.  In correlation, if event “a” happens, it is likely event “b” will too.  So, it is probable that if “A” is observed, then “B” will also be observed.  But, it does not mean that “A” causes “B,” or “B” causes “A.”  What may be happening is event “C”, which causes both “a” and “b” to occur. Let us illustrate these two terms with a simplified example: if your air conditioner (AC) and television (TV) were not working, typically, the malfunctioning AC did not cause the TV to malfunction. This may be correlation. Now, no electric power in the house would cause both the AC and the TV not to work; that is causality.
Language reflects the difference between correlation and causation. To illustrate, let us use the example above. We would express correlation as, “the TV and the AC are not working.” Causality would be expressed as “the electric power is out, so the TV and AC are not working.”  The conjunction “and” establishes an association between both devices.  The conjunction “so” is used in the case of causality. These small words change the entire meaning of the sentence.

This phenomenon also occurs in the Bible. Our lesson states that, “The “oneness,” or unity, of the disciples prepared their hearts for the reception of the fullness of the Holy Spirit’s power.”  In other words, the requirement for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit was “Oneness” or unity. This is pretty much what is taught in our denomination.  But, is it accurate? (Remember that the builders of the tower of Babel were also united in purpose and mission but they were not united by the outpouring of the Holy Spirit.) Let us read the verse used in our lesson to support their thought.

“Now the multitude of those who believed were of one heart and one soul; neither did anyone say that any of the things he possessed was his own, but they had all things in common. And with great power the apostles gave witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And great grace was upon them all” (Acts 4:32, 33, NKJV).

The lesson made this statement, “This passage links the disciples having ‘one heart and one soul’ with their ‘great power’ in witnessing.”  Notice, what is linking the two sentences in the passage is the conjunction “and”; not “so”. As we have established above, “and” is for correlation. This means, while the “Oneness” and the “Power” are associated, one does not cause the other. It implies that where you see “Oneness”, you will see “Power”, and vice versa. Where you see dissension, you will not see power; and vice versa. In fact, where there is dissension, self is exalted, which by implication means: there is no Agape. Given that the Holy Spirit is the One who sheds abroad the love of God (Romans 5: 5) in our hearts, it follows that where there is dissension and no power, there is no Holy Spirit. Could it be then, that the oneness is caused by the Holy Spirit?  And if so, are there any conditions?  John 17: 20 – 24 may give us an answer.  Let us read,
“Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; 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. And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one: I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me.”

Notice that Christ says the oneness which exists between Himself and His Father is maintained by abiding: I in You, and You in Me.  In John 15, Christ told the disciples to abide in Him, so they would bear fruit. How did they abide and bear fruit? It was through the power of the Holy Spirit, making of positive effect the words of Christ.

The Holy Spirit as Christ’s representative begins to abide in us when we give Him permission, and demonstrates that the principles of Christ abide or dwell in us, making us partakers of the divine nature. This in essence is revival, the continual partaking of the divine nature through faith. How was this displayed with the disciples?  Through yielding to the Holy Spirit’s prompting, they repented of their sins, and confessed their faults to one another.  Ellen White describes the change in the following quote,

“After Christ's ascension, His disciples--men of varied talents and capabilities--assembled in an upper chamber to pray for the gift of the Holy Spirit. In this room, 'all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication.' They made thorough work of repentance by confessing their own sins. Upon them was laid no burden to confess one another's sins. Settling all differences and alienations, they were of one accord, and prayed with unity of purpose for ten days, at the end of which time 'they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.”   Vol.7 Manuscript Release p 94 

The disciples laid aside all their personal ambitions.  Now, instead of fighting, they were convicted by the Holy Spirit to die to self.  The words of Paul became a reality in them: “…be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind,” and to not think more highly than you ought to think of yourself (Romans 12:2 – 3).  What causes the oneness is also what causes the power: the Holy Spirit abiding in a heart completely surrendered to Christ. 

    -Raul Diaz