By Irvin Himmel
Differences, disputes, debates, and disagreements are common among men. Religious people hold to diverse views. Controversies arise over doctrinal positions. When discussions are conducted and conflicting issues are brought sharply into focus, some people may change their thinking, but in so many cases the differences are not really settled.
Sometimes when controversy rages over a long span of time, and there are strong feelings and reactions involved someone will remark, “I wish that issue could be settled.” A person may become rather frustrated over a cleavage that develops among brethren, and he asks, “Why can’t This whole matter be settled to the satisfaction of everyone?”
Invariably, following a public religious debate in which disputants have pressed their points and exposed each other’s arguments to careful analysis, a disappointed soul who does not really want to think for himself will go away with a bad taste toward such discussions. His observation will be, “That debate did not really settle anything.”
Certain questions and issues may never be settled to the satisfaction of a lot of people, but here is a fact worth remembering: Many things are settled so far as God is concerned. The Psalmist put the thought in these words: “For ever, O Lord, thy word is settled in heaven” (Psa. 119:89).
The apostles of Jesus Christ preached the gospel”with the Holy Spirit sent down from heaven” (1 Pet. 1:12). Jesus told them before sending them into all the world, “Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven” (Matt. 18:18). The New American Standard Bible renders this verse as follows: “Truly I say to you, whatever you shall bind on earth shall have been bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall have been loosed in heaven.” What the apostles preached was already fixed and settled in the mind of God in heaven. The Holy Spirit revealed it to them. They preached heaven’s message, not some doctrine which originated in human reasoning.
The New Testament reveals the things that are settled in heaven for the people of this age. Consider a few of them.
(1) It is settled in heaven that the blood of Jesus saves. “For if the blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh: How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?” (Heb. 9:14). Jesus “loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood” (Rev. 1:5). “But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin” (1 John 1:7).
(2) It is settled in heaven that faith is indispensable. “But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him” (Heb. 11:6). “For by grace are ye saved through faith . . .” (Eph. 2:8). The salvation of the soul depends on faith. Peter said, “Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls” (1 Pet. 1:9).
(3) It is settled in heaven that baptism is for the remission of sins. “Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost” (Acts 2:38). “And now why tarriest thou? Arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord” (Acts 22:16). “For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ. Jesus. For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ” (Gal. 3:26, 27).
(4) It is settled in heaven that baptism is a burial. Some people argue about whether baptism is sprinkling, pouring, or immersion. God settled that long ago for all who will follow His word. “Know ye now, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection” (Rom. 6:3-5). “Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead” (Col. 2:12). For an example of baptism, read Acts 8:36-39.
(5) It is settled in heaven that Christians are to live righteously. Paul taught that “denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world” (Tit. 1:12). John wrote, “Little children, let no man deceive you: he that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as he is righteous” (1 John 3:7).
(6) It is settled in heaven that it is possible for a child of God to fall away. “Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall” (1 Cor. 10:12). “Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God” (Heb. 3:12). “For if after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein, and overcome, the latter end is worse with them than the beginning” (2 Pet. 2:20).
Regardless of how unsettled we humans may be in our thinking, and no matter how many heated discussions we may have on certain subjects, the great truths revealed in the Bible are from God. Since the word of God is forever settled in heaven, it ought to be allowed to settle our disputes here on earth. If the infallible word teaches a certain point, that should be the end of all controversy on that point.
One who disputes something that is clearly taught in the Scriptures sets himself against God. How foolish is the individual who thinks he can alter or remove what is firmly fixed in the plan of God.
Truth Magazine XXIII: 14, pp. 236-237
April 5, 1979