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Full Letter on Unity & the Holy Spirit PDF Print E-mail

 

MR No. 1107 - The Importance of Unity; The Holy Spirit a Mystery

 

    (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.'"  {14MR 175.1}

 

     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].  {14MR 175.2}

 

     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.  {14MR 175.3}

 

     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.  {14MR 176.1}

 

     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.

 

                                  -177-  {14MR 176.2}

 

     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.  {14MR 177.1}

 

     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.  {14MR 177.2}

 

     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.

 

                                    -178-  {14MR 177.3}

 

     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.  {14MR 178.1}

 

     "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.  {14MR 178.2}

 

     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.

 

                                      -179-  {14MR 178.3}

 

     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.  {14MR 179.1}

 

     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].  {14MR 179.2}

 

     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"

                                     -180-

 

[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].  {14MR 179.3}

 

     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.  {14MR 180.1}

 

     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.  {14MR 180.2}

 

     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.  {14MR 180.3}

 

     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.

 

Ellen G. White Estate Washington, D. C. December 6, 1984 Entire Letter  {14MR 180.4}