Inspired Counsel on Side Issues

by

Clarence Settle

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INSPIRED COUNSEL ON SIDE ISSUES

 It is not my intention to become embroiled in the Godhead/Trinity issue. I was compelled to write the two studies “The Jesus Christ Controversy”, and “Jesus Christ and Jehovah”, to simply compare the words of Scripture and the Spirit of Prophecy with the teachings now being promoted by the Godhead/Trinity adherents. Since then I have received a few responses, in general favorable, but a few have tried to draw me into studying or discussing this teaching further. It is not my intention, as stated before, to do so, and I believe that this is the direction we are to take, according to the inspired counsel given below, but first let me state this.

 

Christ’s overriding theme of His prayer in John 17 was for the unity of His followers, His church. Paul wrote much on this issue also. A study of the history of the church will show that there are three main reasons that keep this oneness and unity that our Saviour prayed for and desires to see from happening. 1. Apostasy from the truth; 2. A failure to keep up with advancing light; and 3. Heresies and fanaticisms.

 

Following this inspired Spirit of Prophecy statement, we will look at the Godhead/Trinity issue and how it relates to 1.Promoting unity or causing division; 2, Its relation to present truth; 3. Its true origin; 4. Its ultimate result. We read:

 

 (Written to Brother Chapman from Petoskey, Michigan, June 11, 1891.) “I have received yours dated June 3. In this letter you speak in these words: ‘Elder Robinson does not wish me to leave, but urges that I enter the canvassing field until such time as the conference can afford to employ me in some other capacity, but states positively that I cannot be sent out to present the truth to others until some points held by me are changed or modified in order that the views regarded by us as a people should be properly set forth. He quotes as a sample, 'My idea in reference to the Holy Ghost's not being the Spirit of God, which is Christ, but the angel Gabriel, and my belief that the 144,000 will be Jews who will acknowledge Jesus as the Messiah. On all fundamental points I am in perfect harmony with our people; but when I try to show what seems to me to be new light on the truth, those in authority, none of whom have seemingly ever made a personal investigation of the matter, refuse to look into the Bible, but brand me as a fellow with queer ideas of the Bible.’

   My brother, you have asked me candidly for advice. Please read with attention John 17:17-27. I quote verses 20 to 23: [verses 20-23, quoted]. It is your privilege and your duty to seek for this oneness, this unity, and thus answer the prayer of Christ. This prayer is full of instruction and consolation. As our intercessor in heaven, Christ is ever working for the unity of His people. In order to be in harmony with heaven, we must seek to be one in faith and in practice.

   Our Lord especially prayed that His disciples might be united in the closest bonds of Christian fellowship and love; as one body, under one supreme Head. This will exist only in proportion to the degree of their illumination and sanctification. The more fully they receive the enlightenment of the living Spirit, the more nearly will they harmonize in their understanding of what is truth. The more closely they are united in judgment, the more confidence they have in one another. They are blessed with peace and harmony, believing and speaking the same things, "with one heart and one mouth glorifying God." Their love, their Christian unity, is an evidence to the world that God has sent Jesus to save sinners, and with convicting power it testifies that the Word of God is the safe rule of life.

   The differences that now exist among Christians did not exist in the days of Christ or His apostles. When the gospel was preached after the resurrection and ascension of Christ, union prevailed; the believers were all of one heart and one mind. For a short time there was a difference of understanding in regard to circumcision, as to whether admission to the church should be granted to the uncircumcised Gentiles; but this matter was soon settled, and through the divine illumination and sanctification of the Spirit the believers were perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment. This was and always will be the fruit that is borne under the influence of the Holy Spirit.

   Brethren should not feel that it is a virtue to stand apart because they do not see all minor points in exactly the same light. If on fundamental truths they are at an agreement, they should not differ and dispute about matters of little real importance. To dwell on perplexing questions that, after all, are of no vital importance, has a direct tendency to call the mind away from truths which are vital to the saving of the soul. Brethren should be very modest in urging these side issues which often they do not themselves understand, points that they do not know to be truth and that it is not essential to their salvation to know. When there is difference of opinion on such points, the less prominence you give to them the better it will be for your own spirituality and for the peace and unity that Christ prayed might exist among brethren.

   Unbelievers are critical, and they want to frame some excuse for not receiving the truth as it is in Jesus. Where these differences exist among us, those who stand outside will say, ‘It will be time enough for us to believe as you do when you can agree among yourselves as to what constitutes truth.’ The ungodly take advantage of the divisions and controversies among Christians.

   There are among us more who are merely nominal Christians than many suppose. These are not connected with Christ, are not one with Him, and therefore do not feel that it is incumbent on them to answer the prayer of Christ that His followers may be one. But some who are real believers catch the spirit of contention. Some are ever seeking to be original, to bring out something new and startling, and they do not realize as they should the importance of preserving the unity of the faith in the bonds of love.

   Christians are to be made complete in the one body--in Christ; and through Christ they are one with the Father. What is the result? They give evidence that they have not followed cunningly devised fables but the sure word of prophecy. By their words and actions, all men will take knowledge of them that they have been with Jesus and learned of Him. They are a holy, happy people, the objects of Christ’s divine love.

   ‘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’ [verse 23]. ‘And I have declared unto them Thy name, and will declare it: that the love wherewith Thou hast loved Me may be in them, and I in them’ [verse 26]. With what earnest effort should we seek for unity, for oneness. The church is to be perfected through sufferings after the example of Christ. Being conformed to His image, we shall be one with Him.

   We are to pray for divine enlightenment, but at the same time we should be careful how we receive everything termed new light. We must beware lest, under cover of searching for new truth, Satan shall divert our minds from Christ and the special truths for this time. I have been shown that it is the device of the enemy to lead minds to dwell upon some obscure or unimportant point, something that is not fully revealed or is not essential to our salvation. This is made the absorbing theme, the "present truth," when all their investigations and suppositions only serve to make matters more obscure than before, and to confuse the minds of some who ought to be seeking for oneness through sanctification of the truth.

   Your ideas of the two subjects you mention do not harmonize with the light which God has given me. The nature of the Holy Spirit is a mystery not clearly revealed, and you will never be able to explain it to others because the Lord has not revealed it to you. You may gather together scriptures and put your construction upon them, but the application is not correct. The expositions by which you sustain your position are not sound. You may lead some to accept your explanations, but you do them no good, nor are they, through accepting your views, enabled to do others good.

   It is not essential for you to know and be able to define just what the Holy Spirit is. Christ tells us that the Holy Spirit is the Comforter, and the Comforter is the Holy Ghost, ‘the Spirit of truth, which the Father shall send in My name.’ ‘I will pray the Father, and He shall give you another Comforter, that He may abide with you for ever; even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth Him not, neither knoweth Him: but ye know Him, for He dwelleth with you, and shall be in you’ [John 14:16, 17]. This refers to the omnipresence of the Spirit of Christ, called the Comforter. Again Jesus says, ‘I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now. Howbeit when He, the Spirit of truth is come, He will guide you into all truth’ [John 16:12, 13].

   There are many mysteries which I do not seek to understand or to explain; they are too high for me, and too high for you. On some of these points, silence is golden. Piety, devotion, sanctification of soul, body, and spirit--this is essential for us all. ‘This is life eternal, that they might know Thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom Thou hast sent [John 17:3].’‘This is the will of Him that sent Me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on Him, may have everlasting life [John 6:40].’

   I hope that you will seek to be in harmony with the body. I have been shown that you would not exert a saving influence in teaching the truth, because your mind is restless, and unless you drank deeper of the Fountain of life, you would make the mistake that many others have made, of thinking that you have new light, when it is only a new phase of error.

   You need to come into harmony with your brethren. You may take certain views of Scripture and, searching the Bible in the light of your ideas, may gather together a large number of texts and claim that they mean this and that, and call for anyone to prove to you that your views are incorrect. But what influence could anyone have upon your mind, when he takes the same scriptures and interprets and applies them differently? Both of you claim to found your views on the Bible.

   It is your duty to come as near to the people as you can, and not to get as far away from them as possible, and by your interpretation make a difference that should not exist. Here is your danger, of diverting minds from the real issues for this time. And you are not the only one who seems to be moved with ambition in this direction It would not be right or prudent to send you out as a worker to promulgate your peculiar ideas and thus cause division; we have plenty of this now. We want men of solid experience, who will anchor minds and not send them adrift without chart or compass.

   Now, my brother, it is truth that we want and must have, but do not introduce error as new truth. I would be glad to write further on this point, but must drop the subject now. God wants us to be a unit.” Letter 7, 1891. Other Manuscripts, Vol. 14, pages 176-178.

 

In the early Christian church the issue of circumcision became, for some, a matter of great importance, which led to much controversy and even division at that time. In fact it became a salvational issue––an issue that could affect ones very church membership. But what does the Holy Spirit tell us about this “essential” belief through His messenger? She refers to this and other “salvational” issues as “matters of little real...no vital importance…minor points…side issues…not essential to salvation”

 

So today, such matters as the wearing of bonnets, the feast days, the holy name, and the Godhead/Trinity teaching, have become “essential, salvational issues” among many. [Although the Godhead matter stands apart from the rest, as we shall see.] Should we not then, in light of the inspired counsel also view these matters in their true light as “matters of little real...no vital importance…minor points…side issues…not essential to salvation”

 

To reiterate, counsel tells us “I have been shown that it is the device of the enemy to lead minds to dwell upon some obscure or unimportant point, something that is not fully revealed or is not essential to our salvation. This is made the absorbing theme, the "present truth." I’m sure that we can agree that we have seen this attitude perfectly demonstrated in those who advocate the above-named heresies. What does God say about these individuals? We read: “Yet notwithstanding all the evidences that God has been leading the body, there are, and will continue to be, those who profess the Sabbath, who will move independent of the body, and believe and act as they choose. Their views are confused. Their scattered state is a standing testimony that God is not with them.” Notebook Leaflets: 56. And again: “God is leading a people out from the world upon the exalted platform of eternal truth, the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus. He will discipline and fit up His people. They will not be at variance, one believing one thing, and another having faith and views entirely opposite, each moving independently of the body. Through the diversity of the gifts and governments that He has placed in the church, they will all come to the unity of the faith.” 3T:446.  So these people are true “independent atoms” that prevent the unity and oneness that should be found among those who claim to be God’s people.

 

We also read, from that first statement that “We must beware lest, under cover of searching for new truth, Satan shall divert our minds from Christ and the special truths for this time.” So since we see these heresies as a tool of Satan to divert our minds from present truth, what then is the truth that we, as God’s remnant people, should be focusing on? We read: “In a special sense Seventh-day Adventists have been set in the world as watchmen and lightbearers. To them has been entrusted the last warning for a perishing world. On them is shining wonderful light from the word of God. They have been given a work of the most solemn import––the proclamation of the first, second, and third angel’s messages. There is no other work of so great importance. They are to allow nothing else to absorb their attention.” 9T: 19 As God’s true people we are to allow nothing else to absorb our attention, yet we just read that for those independent atoms their variant teachings and heresy “is made the absorbing theme, the present truth."

 

My question is, which of the three angel’s messages, found in Revelation 14: 6-12 mention the bonnet issue, the feast days, the holy name issue, the Godhead/Trinity issue, or any of the heresies now being promoted among independent Adventism, and touted by them as being of salvational import?

 

In closing, as stated at the beginning of this study. we will look at the Godhead/Trinity issue and how it relates to 1.Promoting unity or causing division; 2. Its relation to present truth; 3. Its true origin; 4. Its ultimate result.

  1. 1.      Does this teaching promote unity or cause division? As we have read, it is the desire of our Saviour that there be unity and oneness among His church, but this teaching has done nothing but cause division, dichotomy, variance, controversy, and disunity wherever it has been presented.
  2. What is this teachings relation to present truth? Anyone who is familiar with one who promotes this belief knows that this has been made “the absorbing theme, the present truth..," But according to inspiration nothing else is to absorb our attention away from the three angel’s       messages. That is the present truth we are to be presenting in these days!
  3. What is its true origin? Of course its proponents would be willing to “prove” to you that it is Scriptural. But again, from the first quoted inspired statement, we read: You may take certain       views of Scripture and, searching the Bible in the light of your ideas, may gather together a large number of texts and claim that they mean this and that, and call for anyone to prove to you that your views are incorrect.” But in reality theymake the mistake that many others have   made, of thinking that you have new light, when it is only a new phase of error. We will see that the answer to the next question will “prove” just where this teaching truly originated from––that it is not “new light,” but ancient, satanic heresy.

 

4. What is the ultimate result of this teaching? As stated before in my previous study [The Jesus Christ Controversy], it was shown that the belief that Jesus Christ in some fashion physically “emanated” from the Father is a view held not only by these proponents, but shared with them by spiritualists and occultists––so we see a direct connection to satanic, demonic teachings. Also, as stated in my study [Jesus Christ and Jehovah] it was shown that the Jehovah Witnesses, the Roman Catholics, the Mormons, the Jews, the Moslems, the Hindus and the New Agers––beliefs and religions, all the invention of the “father of lies” whose consuming passion is to tear Jesus from His throne and take his place upon it––hold one, and just ONE thing in common, they ALL diminish, minimize, lessen the Godhood of Jesus Christ––as do those who hold the Godhead/Trinity teaching! This is the ultimate result of this teaching––an attack on the divine Godhead itself, in the guise of defending it as we read: And that doctrine that denies the absolute Godhead of Jesus Christ, denies also the Godhead of the Father; for no man knoweth the Son but the Father. 5 ST: 06-27-95.

 

I stated before that this Godhead matter stands separate from all of the rest of the side issues, and it is in this way. This “all-absorbing” subject, according to inspiration, is a divine mystery. It is not something for us to dwell on, speculate upon, or try to dissect, examine, and tear apart. It is not a main issue. It is not a side issue. It is a NON-issue, as we read again: There are many mysteries which I do not seek to understand or to explain; they are too high for me, and too high for you. On some of these points, silence is golden.Again we read: “The revelation of Himself that God has given in His word is for our study. This we may seek to understand. But beyond this we are not to penetrate. The highest intellect may tax itself until it is wearied out in conjecture regarding the nature of God; but the effort will be fruitless. This problem has not been given us to solve. No human mind can comprehend God. Let NO finite mind ATTEMPT to interpret Him. Let NO ONE indulge in speculation regarding His nature. Here silence is eloquence. The Omniscient One is above discussion.”  8T: 279

 

Unity or division, truth or heresy, divine inspiration or doctrines of devils, obedience or disobedience––these are the choices that each of us will face as we are confronted with this and all other heresies presented as so-called “new light” in these last days, as Satan interweaves his subtle lies with certain elements of truth to “deceive if possible the very elect.” My prayer is that God will keep us from being among those mentioned prior as: Some are ever seeking to be original, to bring out something new and startling, and they do not realize as they should the importance of preserving the unity of the faith in the bonds of love.”

 

THIS, THEN, IS THE ISSUE!

Clarence Settle

PO Box 1666

Bonners Ferry, ID 8380