Are We Missing Something Here
The Godhead, The Holy Spirit, and the
“Infinite Cost” of Our Salvation
The Sanctuary is Chapter 6 and 7
What follows is the preface to Bruce Bivens’ new book (Written this year, 2008) on the Holy Spirit. The entire book is available from:
All emphasis by way of emboldened parts are as they appear in Bruce’s book.
A Brief History of the “Trinity” Doctrine’s Entrance into the Seventh-day Adventist Faith
This preface has been added in order to give readers a brief overview of the “Trinity” doctrine’s entrance into the Seventh-day Adventist Church and to provide impetus for you to dig into the study that follows in this book. I have found that a surprising number of Seventh-day Adventist[s] have practically no knowledge of how we have come to believe in the Trinity and even believe that this doctrine was one of the “Fundamental” beliefs of our founding pioneers and of Ellen White herself. I was not. I myself was not aware of its complete history within our denomination nor the surprising fact that “one man” was primarily responsible for its induction into the SDA Church until this book was nearing completion. It will become clear why this doctrine is dangerous and why we need to “reconsider” our belief in it. It is my hope that this information will be helpful in creating a better-informed audience and provide a “reason” for our looking into this study of the Godhead—and more specifically, the Holy Spirit.
It is important for us to note that the Catholic Church considers the doctrine of the Trinity to be the “central doctrine” of their faith: “The mystery of the trinity is the central doctrine of the Catholic faith. Upon it are based all other teachings of the church.” (Handbook for Today’s Catholic, pg. 16).
So how did the “central doctrine” of the Catholic Church make its way into, and end up as a central doctrine of the Seventh-day Adventist faith? It may come as a surprise to many that LeRoy Froom (perhaps our Church’s most prominent historian) was primarily responsible for introducing the Trinitarian doctrine to the Seventh-day Adventist Church, and very purposefully set about to promote its acceptance and institute it into the beliefs of the Church.
In his book “Movement of Destiny,” which was published in 1971, he tells us how he came to write about the Holy Spirit and how he came to believe in the “Trinity.” His brief account of this is very enlightening in terms of both his history and his method. Here is what he has to say concerning this:
“May I here make a frank, personal confession? When back between 1926 and 1928 I was asked by our leaders to give a series of studies on “The Holy Spirit” . . . I found that aside from priceless leads found in the Spirit of Prophecy, there was practically nothing in our literature setting forth a sound, Biblical exposition in this tremendous field of study. There were no previous pathfinding books on the question in our literature.”
“I was compelled to search out a score of valuable books written by men outside of our faith . . . . for initial clues and suggestions, and to open up beckoning vistas to intensive personal study. Having these, I went on from there. But they were decided early helps. And scores, if not hundreds, could confirm the same sobering conviction that some of these other men frequently had a deeper insight into the spiritual things of God than many of our own men had on the Holy Spirit and the triumphant life. It was still a largely obscure theme . . . .”
“It was then that I again saw the peerless pre-eminence of the Spirit of Prophecy portrayals that not only supported but greatly enhanced the choicest gems of truth glimpsed in part by these other writers . . . .”
“Mr. Froom then exuberantly exclaims: “Thank God, that time of reticence and misunderstanding has passed . . . . This is the supreme hour . . . . Thank God, that final awakening is definitely underway. (Movement of Destiny, p. 332: Review & Herald Publishing Association, 1971; Used by permission; Emphasis Mine).
Froom goes on to state that the “Truth of the Trinity” was an inevitable evolution in our theology stemming from the 1888 Conference and message: “When once the sublime truth of the complete Deity of Christ . . . was affirmed by a growing number at and after the Minneapolis session, emphasis on certain inseparably related truths followed inevitably.”
“Thus the Truth of the Trinity was set forth in Tract form by the Pacific Press . . . in February, 1892 . . . . It was not written by one of our own men, but by “the late Dr. Samuel Spear.” . . . .This sound and helpful tract by Spear . . . . was simple, but adequate, as the first step in recognition and declaration. It was the logical aftermath of 1888.”
Mr Froom concludes his brief account by claiming that the book “The Desire of Ages” presented an “inspired depiction” of the trinity doctrine and because of this it has become our denominations’ “accepted position.” Froom also boasts that the “Desire of Ages” was even publicized in the prominent Catholic journal (as if this adds credibility to the book). Here it is in his own words: “. . .The Desire of Ages, of course, presented an inspired depiction, and was consequently destined to become the denominationally accepted position . . . . The Desire of Ages . . . . is one of the most highly esteemed books of the Denomination—a recognized classic, even publicized in such a Catholic journal as the “Universal Fatima News” for September 1965.” (Movement of Destiny; pp. 323, 324) I must admit that the reason for Mr. Froom’s obvious pride in its endorsement and publicity in a “Catholic Journal” puzzles me. One can hardly conclude that this inclusion adds anything to the credibility of the book, or proves that the Desire of Ages supports the doctrine of the Trinity!
The very first thing I would like to note about LeRoy Froom’s account of how he came to believe in the Trinity is the method he
Obviously employed in arriving at his conclusions. Mr. Froom did not start his study with the Bible and then move on to the writings of Ellen White before turning to “outside” sources. Indeed, Mr. Froom did his study in the exact opposite order! He began with the writings and theologies of “men outside our faith” and worked his way back to the writings of Ellen White in order to find support for his conclusions. Even if Ellen White had been alive and had agreed with his conclusions, I believe that she would NOT have approved of his method in arriving at his position. Our denomination would most certainly never have been brought into existence if we had begun our study of such topics as the Sabbath, the State of the Dead, the Sanctuary, and others if we had conducted our study of these subjects in the manner that Mr. Froom employed! And when it comes to the Trinity Doctrine the fact is that Ellen White never used the term “Trinity” in any of her writings, and as we will see, she did not actually support this doctrine.
The REASON LeRoy Froom could not find anything he considered “Pathfinding” written by any of our Pioneers—or by men within our faith on the subject of the Holy Spirit; is NOT because there had been nothing written on the subject but because NONE of our pioneers were “Trinitarians” and therefore did not agree with Elder Froom’s conclusions or opinions! Mr. Froom states that even the Spirit of Prophecy had only “priceless leads” to offer him as he began his study. Yet he later declares that The Desire of Ages set forth an “inspired depiction” of the Trinity. If the Desire of Ages truly sets forth an inspired depiction of the “Trinity” and was the “Denominationally accepted position” of the Trinity, why didn’t Mr. Froom acknowledge this to start with as he began his study of this subject in 1926? And if Mrs. White had truly set forth an inspired depiction of the Trinity as far back as 1898, why couldn’t He find much more material to support his position within the rest of the pages of the Spirit of Prophecy? If Mr. White truly believed in the doctrine of the Trinity, why is it that she NEVER used the term “Trinity” to describe the Godhead in any of her writings?
The fact is that LeRoy Froom “discovered” what he believed was the “truth of the Trinity” and the Holy Spirit from writers “not of our faith,” and then set out to support it with [selected] statements from the Spirit of Prophecy. LeRoy Froom wrote a book called, “The Coming of the Comforter” as a result of, and shortly following his study during 1926-1928.
Mr. Froom, talking about the publication of his book in a letter to Dr. Otto H. Christiansen on October 27, 1960; stated that: “May I state that my book, The Coming of the Comforter, was the result of a series of studies that I gave in 1927-28, to Ministerial institutes throughout North America. You cannot imagine how I was pummelled by some of the old-timers . . .” and speaking of his Trinitarian views he states: “Some men denied that . . . still deny it, but the book has come to be generally accepted as standard.” It should be noted that this book is still widely used and is available in our ABC bookstores.
In 1969, Russell Holt, in a term paper entitled “The Doctrine of the Trinity in the Seventh-day Adventist Denomination: Its Rejection and Acceptance” (Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary), divides our denominational history on the subject of the Trinity into three periods: During the first period, which he delineates as 1844-1890, he says: “The field was dominated by those who saw the trinity as illogical, unscriptural, pagan and subversive of the atonement . . . . anti-trinitarianism is the evident denominational stance.”
He next refers to the time period of 1890-1900, saying: “Roughly within this period, the course of the denomination on the trinity was decided by statements from Ellen G. White.” (Ibid. Emphasis Mine).
Finally, He states of the period between 1900-1930: “This period saw the death of most of those pioneers who had championed and held the anti-Trinitarian position. Their places were being taken by men who were changing their thinking, or had never opposed the doctrine . . . .” (see—
all Emphasis Mine).
Russell Holt, commenting on Froom’s publication of “The Coming of the Comforter (and the subsequent writing of other’s) states that: “The trinity began to be published, until by 1931 it had triumphed, and had become the standard denominational position. Isolated stalwarts remained who refused to yield, but the outcome had been decided.” (Emphasis Mine).
In 1931, F.M. Wilcox included the term “trinity” in the S.D.A. Yearbook’s 22-point “Statement of Beliefs” and this was the first time that this term was seen in any Adventist Statement of Beliefs. Immediately following, in 1932, this pro-trinitarian Statement of Beliefs was added to the first “Church Manual” and all succeeding “Adventist Yearbooks” and began to appear in nearly all the Church books. It had not been voted on by the Church at large, by the General Conference, nor even by a representative body of the leaders of the S.D.A. Church.
Note by Ron: This is a classic example of when Ellen White said that the General Conference is no longer the voice of God—when a few men acting on their own, enact things that aren’t even voted on by the General Conference in World Session, to wit:
General Conference as the Voice of God: "God has ordained that the representatives of His church from all parts of the earth, when assembled in a General Conference, shall have authority. The error that some are in danger of committing is in giving to the mind and judgment of one man, or of a small group of men, the full measure of authority and influence that God has vested in His church in the judgment and voice of the General Conference assembled to plan for the prosperity and advancement of His work.
When this power, which God has placed in the church, is accredited wholly to one man, and he is invested with the authority to be judgment for other minds, then the true Bible order is changed....Let us give to the highest organized authority in the church that which we are PRONE to give to one man or to a small group of men." E.G. White, Testimonies, vol. 9, 261.
IS THE CONFERENCE THE VOICE OF GOD?
Some Adventists believe the conference will always be the voice of God. In the early years Mrs. White described the opinions handed down by the conference in session as "the voice of God." If we look at later statements by her, we will find she changed her opinion over time as the conference changed and became less obedient to God. If the conference was a faithful organization, making Bible-based decisions, not popularity-based decisions, not following the world, we would be able to consider it to be the voice of God:
1899 "Let those in America who suppose the voice of the General Conference to be the voice of God, become one with God before they utter their opinions." Testimony to Elder S.N. Haskell 11-16-99
1899 "It has been some years since I have considered the General Conference as the voice of God." GCD 2-24-99
1901 "That these men should stand in a sacred place to be the voice of God to the people as we once believed the General Conference to be, that is past." GC Bulletin 1901, 25.
1901 "It is working upon wrong principles that has brought the cause of God into its present embarrassment. The people have lost confidence in those who have the management of the work. Yet we hear that the voice of the Conference is the Voice of God. Every time I have heard this, I have thought that it was almost blasphemy....We have reached the time when the work cannot advance while wrong principles are cherished." Man. 37, 1901.
1901 "Year after year the same acknowledgment was made, but the principles which exalt a people were not woven into the work. God gave them clear light as to what they should do, but they departed from that light and it is a marvel to me that we stand in as much prosperity as we do today." GC Bulletin, 1901, 23.
1909 "Every individual soul has a responsibility before God, and he is not to be arbitrarily instructed by men as to what he shall do, and what he shall say, and where he shall go. We are not to put confidence in the counsel of men and assent to all they say unless we have evidence that they are under the influence of the Spirit of God." RH 7-1-09. End note by Ron.
“The 1931 Statement of Beliefs read as follows: “That the Godhead, or Trinity, consists of the Eternal Father, a personal, spiritual Being, omnipotent, omnipresent, omniscient, infinite in wisdom and love; the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of the Eternal Father, through whom all things were created and through whom the salvation of the redeemed hosts will be accomplished; the Holy Spirit, the third person of the Godhead, the great regenerating power in the work of redemption. Matt. 28:19.” (Fundamental Beliefs of Seventh-day Adventists, “Seventh-day Adventist Year Book, [Washington, DC: Review and Herald, 1931], 377).
Holt comments on this change in our fundamental beliefs by noting: “A comparison of statements of faith issued at various times by the denomination shows a marked change in the opinion of the church concerning the trinity . . . .” He observes that: “. . . Separate statements appeared in 1874, 1889, 1894 and 1931. The first three of these are, for all practical purposes, identical in the articles dealing with the deity. A comparison of the statements of 1894 and 1931 shows the change.”
Please note that there was no change in the Statement of Beliefs in regard to the “Trinitarian” viewpoint while Ellen White was alive.
J.S. Washburn (1863-1955; a retired Adventist minister and contemporary of Ellen White—He was converted by J. N. Andrews at 11, baptized by James White at 12 and began preaching Adventism at 21), opposed this change in the strongest possible terms writing: “The doctrine of the trinity is a cruel, heathen monstrosity, removing Jesus from His true position of Divine Saviour and mediator. . . . This monstrous doctrine transplanted from heathenism into the Roman, papal church is seeking to intrude its evil presence into the teachings of the Third Angel’s Message.”
Washburn goes on to say: “If we should go back to the immortality of the soul, purgatory, eternal torment and the Sunday Sabbath, would that be anything less than apostasy? If however we leap over all these minor, secondary doctrines and accept and teach the very central, root doctrine of Romanism, the trinity, and teach that the Son of God did not die, even though our words seemed to be spiritual, is this anything else and anything less than apostasy and the very omega of apostasy?” (See Judson Washburn, “The Trinity,” 1929. Emphasis mine).
Benjamin Wilkinson, the man who wrote the book entitled “Truth Triumphant,” wrote a letter to Dr. T.S. Teters in 1936, saying: “Replying to your letter of October 13 regarding the doctrine of the Trinity, I will say that Seventh Day Adventists do not, and never have accepted the dark, mysterious, Catholic doctrine of the Trinity.”
In 1941, the Baptismal Vow was revised to include the Trinitarian statement (Mr. Froom was involved in this action as well). So that, NOW, in order to become a Seventh-day Adventist, you have to agree to belief in the trinity.
In a letter written to Roy Allan Anderson, J. L. Schuler, Denton Reebok, A.W. Peterson, W.G. Turner and J.E. Weaver; November 22, 1966; LeRoy Froom says: “I am writing to you brethren as a group for you are the only living members of the original committee of 13, appointed in 1931 to frame a uniform baptismal covenant. Elder Branson was the chairman and I was Secretary. The task of this committee was to formulate a uniform baptismal covenant and vow based on the 1931 Fundamental Beliefs statement in the yearbook and Manual. . . to point up a bit more sharply, the first, second and third persons of the Godhead.” (Emphasis mine).
In 1945, all the standard Adventist books were edited, and all the anti-trinitarian statements taken from them. In his book Movement of Destiny, LeRoy Froom states: “The next logical and inevitable step in the implementing of our unified fundamental beliefs involved revision of certain standard works, so as to eliminate statements that taught, and thus perpetuated erroneous views on the Godhead. Such sentiments were now sharply at variance with the accepted fundamental beliefs set forth in the Church Manual.” (Movement of Destiny, page 422 Emphasis mine).
The “official” acceptance of the “Trinity” into our fundamental beliefs did not come until 1946. According to Dr. Jerry A. Moon (in “Andrews University Seminary Studies, Vol. 41, No. 1, 113-129”): “when the statement had gained general acceptance, the General Conference session of 1946 made it official, voting that “no revision of this Statement of Fundamental Beliefs, as it now appears in the [Church] Manual, shall be made at any time except at a General Conference session.” [See Fifteenth Meeting, General Conference Report No. 8, Review and Herald, June 14, 1946] (Emphasis mine).
In 1946 the book Evangelism was compiled from the writings of Ellen White. LeRoy Froom (along with others) was instrumental in the choice and compilation of statements from Ellen White’s writings, which seemed to support the Trinitarian viewpoint. This book contains the quotes most often used now (from the writings of Ellen White), to support the trinitarian doctrine within our denomination.
Here’s what Froom had to say about this is a letter he wrote to Roy Allan Anderson on January 18, 1966: “I am sure that we are agreed, in evaluating the book Evangelism, as one of the great contributions in which the Ministerial Association had a part back in those days. You know what it did with men in the Columbia Union who came face-to-face with the clear, unequivocal statements of the Spirit of Prophecy on the deity of Christ, the personality of the Holy Spirit, the trinity and the like.” “They either had to lay down their arms and accept those statements, or else they had to reject the Spirit of Prophecy. I know that you and Miss Cluser and I had considerable to do with the selection of those things under the encouragement of men like Elder Branson, who felt that the earlier concept of the White Estate brethren on this book on evangelism was not adequate.”
Note: I fear that this is still the attitude of our Denomination and that it is based largely on the Ellen White quotes that were chosen to be included in the book Evangelism. The book you now hold in your hands will seriously challenge the assumptions that have been made because of the narrow and carefully selected use of Ellen’s writings on this subject.
In 1955 there were meetings of the leaders of the Adventist Church with Dr. Walter Martin and Dr. Barnhouse, two evangelical theologians who felt that the Seventh-day Adventist Church was a cult, and as a result of these meetings the book “Questions on Doctrine” (a book in which LeRoy Froom played a leading role) was produced in 1957 in an attempt to show that SDA’s were not a cult and that we were quite “mainstream” in our beliefs—including the doctrine of the Trinity. [This book, unfortunately, also contained statements that we do not believe the atonement is taking place in Heaven right now, that Christ came with an “unfallen” human nature, and other untrue and misleading statements regarding Seventh-day Adventist beliefs].
In 1980, the General Conference voted on a new set of “27 Fundamental Beliefs” in which the Trinity Doctrine was upheld. Fundamental belief number 2 now read: “2. The Trinity[.] There is one God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, a unity of three co-eternal Persons.” (Emphasis mine). The concept delineated here, that there are “three co-eternal Persons,” is in complete harmony with the Catholic Church’s teaching regarding the “Trinity” and, as we shall see, is incorrect (http://www.sdanet.org/atissue/trinity/moon/moon-trinity1.htm; note 60).
In 1988 the book “Seventh-day Adventists Believe . . . A Biblical Exposition of 27 Fundamental Beliefs” was published and included the doctrine of the Trinity. This book was highly promoted for use as an evangelistic tool to explain to non-Adventists what we believe our core doctrines to be.
It seems clear to me that as I review the history of the “Trinity” doctrine and its acceptance into the Seventh-day Adventist Church that something has gone seriously amiss within our denomination. We have not critically considered the “Truth” (or non-Truth) of this doctrine in light of the Great Controversy, and we have certainly not considered the serious implication this doctrine has on the sacrifice, mediation, and ministry of Jesus Christ! Indeed, the doctrine of the Trinity—with its focus on the Holy Spirit as a “third co-eternal person” of the Godhead—has successfully caused us to lose our focus on Christ, His Sacrifice, and His ministry in the lives of all believers since the Cross. It effectively limits Christ’s ministry to that of “Justification” only, while leaving the work of “Sanctification” to the “Third” person of the Godhead—the Holy Spirit. This is, frankly, unbiblical—and is why we must earnestly examine this subject. I pray that you will find, as a result of your prayerful consideration of this book, that your focus is returned [to] the person of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, and that your understanding of His great sacrifice in the plan of redemption will be broadened and enriched beyond words.
This is, in fact, a book about Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit and is not meant to be a refutation [of] our denomination’s “Trinity” doctrine per se, but rather a book that will open up to you the enormity of the sacrifice of Christ on your and my behalf. A clear understanding of this sacrifice will enable you to refute quite adequately the “Trinity” doctrine on your own.
Having said all this, let me state that I do believe that there are “three” persons in the Godhead. How there came to be three is the subject of the rest of this book. The “TRUTH” about the Holy Spirit will astound you! It is a beautiful and important truth for God’s Remnant people. My promise to you is that, by the time you have finished this book, you will understand why an understanding of all this is vitally important. You will clearly understand “who” the Holy Spirit really is and where He came from. You will have a much deeper appreciation of the “inconceivable” sacrifice made by Jesus Christ in order to redeem you and me. And you will be able to intelligently “pray with understanding” for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit in Latter Rain power. That said; I invite you now to delve into a careful, and prayerful study of the remainder of this book . . .
Introduction to The Godhead & The Holy Spirit
Let me make clear that the things that I am espousing in this book are not likely to be the “end-all” of this subject. I have not arrived at a perfect knowledge of this subject and make no claims to know the “whole Truth”—anyone who knows me, knows that. It is, however, my hope that those who are more knowledgeable than I will be able to take what I am setting forth here and expound upon it until we ALL arrive at an understanding of these vital Truths. I have studied, intensely, the things contained here for several years now (I expect to be studying this for the rest of eternity!) and it is my firm belief that this subject is vital and that it has everything to do with our experience with Christ and with our eventually being enabled to receive the promised blessing of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. With that in mind, let me tantalize you for a moment and start the wheels of your mind turning.
Consider this: We are told that, “The great gift of salvation has been placed within our reach at an infinite cost to the Father and the Son. To neglect salvation, is to neglect the knowledge of the Father and of the Son whom God hath sent in order that man might become a partaker of the divine nature, and thus, with Christ, an heir of all things.” (RH March 10, 1891; par. 2). Now I ask you: What was that “infinite cost” to the Father and to Christ? Was it merely Christ coming to live on this earth as a human; denying self and suffering ridicule, pain and death? Was it even having the sins of all of mankind laid upon Him? As great and as humiliating as all this was, it hardly seems to me that this would be an infinite
cost to God. What would 33 years as a human be in the life of a God who is eternal? Would that (if that was all that was involved) be considered an “infinite cost”? What would the sufferings of a moment be in the life and the glory of an eternal God?
I believe that “Sin” in its most basic and truest sense is “separation” from God. Apart from God, ultimately, there can be no life. I believe that Christ is my “Sin” bearer and that in order for Christ to bear my sin He had to experience this “separation” from God. I also believe that Christ, in taking my “Sin” upon Himself, suffered the penalty of that separation from God brings—which is “death” (for “the wages of sin is death” Rom. 6:23). “The spotless Son of God took upon Himself the burden of sin. He who had been one with God, felt in His soul the awful separation that sin makes between God and man. This wrung from His lips the anguished cry, “My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?” Matthew 27:46. It was the burden of sin, the sense of its terrible enormity, of its separation of the soul from God—it was this that broke the heart of the Son of God.” (SC, p. 13, par. 2). This “death” was not the death that all men must face (for many have died the natural, physical death (but was the “second death” from which there is no resurrection. If Christ was “GOD” and “died” then I must conclude that God died. That would certainly qualify as an “infinite cost” wouldn’t it? But how can God “die”? Could God really separate from Himself and die? Is it possible to reconcile this paradox? When we add to this paradox the fact that Christ was resurrected and that He lives, the paradox becomes even more complex and confusing. What are we to do with all this? How are we to understand and reconcile these truths?
As Seventh-day Adventists we put great stock in understanding the “Great Controversy” existing between Christ and Satan. This is fine and proper and is what has made our message unique and necessary. However, it seems to me that we have failed to apply this knowledge to certain doctrines (or aspects of doctrines), which we now hold. It is my firm belief that All Doctrine must be viewed in the context of the Great Controversy or we will fail to grasp the importance and/or Truth of the Doctrine. And I believe this failure has been especially true concerning our understanding of the Nature of the Godhead and the Holy Spirit. Have we been missing something here? There simply must be more to all this than we currently understand.
Not convinced? Then consider this interesting quote: “The incarnation of Christ has ever been, and will ever remain a mystery. That which is revealed, is for us and for our children, but let every human being be warned from the ground of making Christ altogether human, such an one as ourselves; for it cannot be. The exact time when humanity blended with divinity, it is not necessary for us to know. We are to keep our feet on the rock, Christ Jesus, as God revealed in humanity.” (Manuscript Releases, vol. 13; p. 19, par. 1).
This statement is NOT made in the context of some discussion as to when Christ was born—that is, it is not said in response to the question as to the exact “time” of Christ’s birth as a “human” here on this earth. This statement is made in response to the position put forth by some that Christ was “brought forth” (Proverbs 8:24, 25) or “Created”, and therefore was merely and “altogether” human. That is, some proposed, that He was “created” just as we were. The fact is that Jesus was neither “Created”, nor “brought forth as “altogether human”. Remember that even in His “birth” as a human there was a blending of the divine with the human: Mary was told that “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High [God] will overshadow you; and for that reason the holy Child shall be called the Son of God (Luke 1:35 emphasis mine).
According to the prophet of God; Jesus was God, existed as God, and even today exists as God: “…while God’s Word speaks of the humanity of Christ when upon this earth, it also speaks decidedly regarding his pre-existence. The Word existed as a divine being, even as the eternal Son of God, in union and oneness with his Father … The Word was with God, and the Word was God.” Before men or angels were created, the Word was with God and was God.” (RH April 5, 1906; par. 5). “In Christ is life, original, unborrowed, underived …. The divinity of Christ is the believer’s assurance of eternal life.” (DA; p. 530, par. 2). To suggest otherwise is to rob ourselves of any hope of salvation. If Christ had been “Created”, He could not be our savior, for no created being could redeem another created being. If Christ were “created” and “brought into existence”, even possessing all the qualities of the unfallen Adam, then we would be lost—left without a Savior. “The highest angel in heaven had not the power to pay the ransom for one lost soul … The reconciliation of man to God could be accomplished only through a mediator who was equal with God …” (RH December 22, 1891; par. 1) Only one who was equal with God—who
was God—could make atonement for those created beings who have transgressed His law.
That being understood, what then does this statement mean? Why would the Prophet of God tell us: “The exact time when humanity blended with divinity, it is not necessary for us to know.” This would seem to suggest that the blending of Christ’s divinity with that of humanity occurred at a time other than strictly at the time of His conception or at His birth as a babe in a manger. And this would seem to be in harmony with the Biblical position that Christ was “the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world” (Rev. 13:8)—that is, at a time prior to Creation. While it must be conceded that this information is not necessary for us to know in order to obtain “SALVATION” “There are many questions treated upon that are not necessary for the perfection of the faith.” (Manuscript Releases, vol. 13; p. 20, par. 2), it does suggest that there is more to the blending of Christ’s divinity with that of humanity than we have yet grasped (“there are things not yet simplified, statements that human minds cannot grasp and reason out … [Ibid]).
The fact is that Christ’s divinity did blend with that of humanity. He took upon Him our human nature. And while this happened in the fullest sense at the time of His birth here on earth—I believe that His “partaking” of the lot of His Created beings actually happened, or began, before He Created anything!
That is, that it took place in a mysterious manner at the time described in Proverbs 8:22-31 (prior to creation) when He was “brought forth” from the Father—with whom He was “One” and with whom He alone shared the Godhead. The text says: “When there were no depths I was brought forth … Before the hills I was brought forth; While He had not yet made the earth and the fields, nor the first dust of the world … Then I was beside Him, as a master workman; and I was daily His delight, rejoicing always before Him” (vs. 22, 24, 30).
Now, if Christ had existed as God from all eternity (which I fully believe) then how is it that He was “brought forth”? Was this bringing forth, as some of our scholars say, merely a change in His official “office” or work—or is there something of much greater significance being revealed here? Is there something more involved in the “incarnation” that we have yet to understand? Is there something of vital importance that we are missing in our understanding of the Nature of Christ and whether His Nature has changed or why it would be necessary for it to change? What was [is] actually involved in the incarnation, the plan of redemption, and God’s ultimate purpose and objective for us?
Is your interest still not aroused? Let me pose to you a few more “difficult” questions that even the “scholars” within our church have failed to give adequate response [to]. Why is it that when the “Throne of God” is spoken of, in both the Bible and the Spirit of Prophecy, there are only TWO personages ever associated with it—the Father and the Son [Christ]? Why aren’t there three spoken of? Why does Ellen White consistently speak only of the Father and the Son when she speaks of the “Councils of God”, the origin of the “Plan of Salvation”, or of the plan to “create” man? Here are a few examples:
“…Christ, the Word, the only begotten of God, was one with the eternal Father—one in nature, in character, in purpose—the only being that could enter into all the counsels and purposes of God….The Father wrought by His Son in the creation of all heavenly beings.” (PP p. 34, par. 1-2). “The Father and the Son engaged in the mighty, wondrous work they had contemplated—of creating the world.” (PP p. 44). “After the earth was created, and the beasts upon it, the Father and Son carried out their purpose, which was designed before the fall of Satan, to make man in their own image. They had wrought together in the creation of the earth and every living things upon it. And now God says to his Son, “Let us make man in our image.” (ST Jan. 9, 1879; par. 13). “In the beginning the Father and the Son had rested upon the Sabbath after Their work of creation.” (DA p. 769, par. 2). “The great plan of redemption was laid before the foundation
of the world. Christ did not stand alone in this wondrous undertaking for the ransom of man. In the councils of heaven, before the world was created, the Father and the Son covenanted together that if man proved disloyal to God, Christ, one with the Father, would take the place of the transgressor, and suffer the penalty of justice that must fall upon him.” (RH November 15, 1898; par. 1). “There is a personal God, the Father; there is a personal Christ, the Son.” (RH November 8, 1898; par. 9. “…Christ and the Father would redeem the fallen race.” (ST Feb 17, 1909; par. 9). “His death had answered the question whether the Father and the Son had sufficient love for man to exercise self-denial and a spirit of sacrifice.” (PP p. 69, par. 3).
Where is the Holy Spirit in all this? If there have always been THREE members of the Godhead, then why do we see so many key instances where only TWO are mentioned?
Here is another conundrum: Jesus said, “where two or three have gathered together in My name, I am there in their midst” (Mat. 18:20). He also said “I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Mat. 28:30). “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you” (John 14:18). Now this wouldn’t be a problem except for the fact that when Christ left this earth, He did so with a “human” body—He had taken on “human nature” and has retained that nature (including its physical limitations)—“He is our Sacrifice, our Advocate, our Brother, bearing our human form before the Father’s throne, and through the eternal ages one with the race He has redeemed—the Son of man.” [SC, p. 14])—He simply could not be here “with” us, in our “midst”, or “come” to us as He promised He would. “Christ did not make believe to take human nature; He did verily take it: He did in reality possess human nature.” (RH April 5, 1906; par. 4). “The Son of God, now at the Father’s right hand, still pleads as man’s intercessor. He still retains His human nature, is still the Saviour of mankind.” (ST July 15, 1908; par. 7). “Cumbered with humanity Christ could not be in every place personally …” (Manuscript #1084, p. 7—Manuscript Releases, vol. 14; p. 23). So what did Jesus mean when He said that He would come to us and always be with us—even in our “midst”? How could this be accomplished if He is limited by His adopted human nature—including its form?
Note by Ron: Here is another instance where Ellen White said that Christ retains His humanity forever.
"By His life and His death, Christ has achieved even more than recovery from the ruin wrought through sin. It was Satan's purpose to bring about an eternal separation between God and man but in Christ we become more closely united to God than if we had never fallen. In taking our nature, the Saviour has bound himself to humanity by a tie that is never to be broken. Through the eternal ages He is linked with us.” The Desire of Ages, p. 25. End note.
Jesus also made this remarkable statement: “no one knows the Son except the Father; nor does anyone know the Father except the Son, and anyone to whom the Son wills to reveal Him.” Luke 10:22 puts it this way: “no one knows who the Son is except the Father, and who the Father is except the Son, and anyone to whom the Son wills to reveal Him.” Are we to believe that the Holy Spirit doesn’t know the Father or the Son? Are we to believe that the third member of the Godhead doesn’t even know who the Father and the Son are? Sounds ludicrous doesn’t it? Was Jesus lying? Didn’t Jesus know what He was talking about? Are we willing to say: “Yes, that is what Christ said …but this is what He meant.” Are we so presumptuous that we would suggest that we know better than He what He meant to say?
And consider this: The Apostle Paul states that; “There is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus” (1 Tim. 2:5). There are several statements in the Spirit of Prophecy that confirm this; here are a couple from the book Steps to Christ: “Christ was the medium through which He [the Father] could pour out His infinite love upon a fallen world” ….”Jesus, the only medium of communication between God and man.” (SC, pp. 13&20). Here is another: “Men have only one advocate, one intercessor, who is able to pardon transgression.” (Bible Echo; May 1, 1899; par. 7). In Hebrews 7:25 Paul tells us that: “He is able also to save forever those who draw near to God through Him, since He [Jesus] always lives to make intercession for them [us]” (See also Rom. 8:34). Yet Paul also wrote that, “In the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groaning too deep for words” (Rom. 8:6)! This is supported in the SOP as well. So which position is correct?—Is there only one mediator and intercessor or are there two?
Was Paul mistaken? Was Ellen White confused? Are God’s Disciples, His chosen Apostles and His Prophets all wrong? I don’t think so. I believe that the reason that we have such a problem answering or resolving some of these problems is that we have become entrenched in what we have accepted to be “the truth” and have tenaciously defended our belief for so long that we will listen to nothing else. The Lord’s servant has said that this should not be the case among us: “Investigation of every point that has been received as truth will repay the searcher: He will find precious gems. And in closely investigating every jot and tittle which we thing is established truth, in comparing Scripture with
Scripture, we may discover errors in our interpretation of Scripture.” (RH, July 12, 1898). “The fact that certain doctrines have been held as truth for many years by our people is not proof that our ideas are infallible.” (RH, December 20, 1892). “We cannot hold that a position once taken, an idea once advocated, is not, under any circumstances, to be relinquished. There is but One Who is infallible—He Who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life.” (TM, 105). Indeed, we have been told: “New light will ever be revealed on the word of God to him who is in living connection with the Sun of Righteousness… The diligent seeker for truth will find precious rays of light yet to shine forth from the Word of God… Many gems are yet scattered that are to be gathered together to become the property of the remnant people of God… Let no one come to the conclusion that there is no more truth to be revealed … There is no excuse for anyone in taking the position that there is no more truth to be revealed… We are not safe when we take the position that we will not accept anything else than that upon which we have settled as truth.” (Counsels on Sabbath School Work, p. 34).
There are a couple of statements in the Spirit of Prophecy that have intrigued me, even bugged me, like an itch that you can’t reach to scratch. Here is one of them. “The man Christ Jesus was not the Lord God Almighty.” (SDA Bible Commentary, vol. 5, p. 1129). Or this one that was made concerning what God did when Lucifer had rebelled and had insisted that he be included in the councils of God. God responded in this way: “The Great Creator assembled with the heavenly host, that he might in the presence of all the angels confer special honor upon his Son. The Father then made known that it was ordained by himself that Christ, his Son, should be equal with himself.” (Spirit of Prophecy (1870), vol. 1, p. 17). And if you add to that quote, this one—“To Christ had been given an exalted position. He has been made equal with the Father.” (Testimonies, vol. 8, p. 268)—it ought to really leave you scratching your head!
Interesting questions aren’t they? There are many more, equally intriguing questions regarding the Godhead and the Holy Spirit, which we have yet to satisfactorily answer. As Seventh-day Adventists we believe in the “Latter Rain”—that the Holy Spirit is to be poured out in full measure upon God’s people just prior to His Second Coming—and that this outpouring of the Spirit is essential if the people of God are to be fitted and empowered to do the work which God has called us to do. We believe that it will be an essential component in the experience of God final representatives in revealing Christ to the world. And we believe
that the outpouring of the Spirit is what will enable us to actually be partakers of the divine Nature! If this is the case, it seems only logical to me that we will need to understand much more clearly who or what the Holy Spirit is.
It seems rather ludicrous for me to ask God for something when I have no idea what that thing is. Could God answer my prayers and bless me if I were praying to “Mary”, or for Mary to answer my prayers? He could not, because if He did He would be reinforcing my belief in that which is not Truth and would be sanctioning a lie. I would be praying to and for something that has no power to provide. I would, in reality, be praying to and for a false God—a god of my own making. Could we be doing exactly the same thing when we pray for the Holy Spirit, while not understanding what it is that we are actually praying for? Could we believe that the Holy Spirit is something that it is not, and therefore be limiting God in His desire to answer our prayers by the outpouring of His Spirit? If we don’t understand who or what the Holy Spirit is, while we are earnestly praying to receive it, might we be opening the door for the Devil to deceive us through an outpouring of a false spirit—his spirit?
How can we resolve these issues? Or, why even try to understand them at all? I would like to propose that the answer to these questions actually has much to add to the experience of those of us “upon whom the ends of the ages have come” (1 Cor. 10:11). I believe that all of these things can and will be resolved when we consider the Godhead, the plan of Salvation, and the Holy Spirit within the context of the Great Controversy! These questions and others beg an answer, which I have yet to see adequately addressed. But before we look at this, let me explain why.
I believe that these questions have not been adequately addressed or answered primarily because we have attempted to answer them by using the “proof-text” method exclusively. Let me explain why the proof-text method alone is inadequate for such a task.
Why the “Proof-Test” Method is Not Adequate or Sufficient for the Understanding or Explanation of Al Biblical “Truths” and Concepts
The Proof-Text method is not sufficient for the comprehension of all Biblical concepts for the simple reason that “Truth” is a progressive revelation. If Truth were not progressive we would find the Bible to be a very short book! God would simply lay out everything to us in a list and that would be that. But God does not operate like that and neither does His Truth. Proof-text studies tend to be very static, while God’s Truth is a living dynamic. Proof-texts may win you an argument, but they are unlikely to produce any meaningful change in the lives of those who approach the study of God in this way. Truth must be understood from that which has been revealed—that is, that which has come before—and understood from the ongoing revelation of the Holy Spirit, both from the Scriptures and within the life of the believer. Truth is person centered. It is centered in the person of Jesus Christ—who is “the way, the truth, and the life” (Jn. 14:6)—and it is centered in the lives of those who believe in Him and in whom He abides.
Paul uses the Old Testament Scriptures to support what he is revealing and expounding upon—but he does not do it exclusively in a “proof-text” fashion. He does not make a statement and then exclusively quote scripture to prove that statement. He
does quote scripture to back up, or “prove” what he is saying sometimes—but more often he uses scripture (what has been revealed) as a launching point (starting point) for the Truth that he is introducing and then expounds upon. In other words, Scripture is used by the inspired writers of the New Testament as the basis, or starting point, for the revelation and development of new truth—or the revelation of a deeper understanding of a truth already introduced elsewhere. Paul was interested in imparting knowledge, but he was more interested in the effect that true knowledge produces in the believer when it becomes an experience and not just a bunch of facts.
We should use the Scriptures (Old and New Testaments) in much the same way. “There are mines of truth yet to be discovered” (5T, p. 704). “There are bright and important truths of which we only discern the shadows.” (E.G. White; Letter 147, 1897). “We have only glimmerings of the rays of the light yet to come to us.” (RH, June 3, 1890). If there is much truth “yet to be discovered,” “truths of which we only discern the shadows,” then we can safely conclude that they are not written out in a concise fashion within a few texts of scripture (we must “dig” for Truth as for hidden treasure)! This is why the “proof-text” method will fail to reveal all of the rays of light yet to come to us.” We must use the scriptures, but we cannot expect a text here, and a text there, to be combined into a concise or total understanding of every truth. We must understand that God often has introduced concepts within the text of the scriptures, which are to be developed under the guidance and direction of the Holy Spirit. These concepts are not always laid out plainly in a fashion that lends itself solely to the proof-text method of interpretation or understanding.
Another reason that the “proof-text” method often fails is that, too often, people will use only those texts that will “prove” their own beliefs. We often have a preconceived idea of what the “truth” is and set out to “prove” it by quoting only those texts that support our preconceived views or positions. If one does this, one can make the Bible (or the Spirit of Prophecy) say almost anything!
This is why Christians often disagree on subjects such as the Sabbath or the state of the dead. Some Christians will use texts that “prove” that the day we are to keep holy is the 7th day Sabbath, while others use texts that seem to “prove” that Christians are to
Keep Sunday, the 1st day of the week, holy—or that it doesn’t matter which day you keep holy as long as you keep some day holy (Ex. 20:8; Acts 13:42, 44 & 18:4; Mar. 2:28; Heb. 4:9 cf. Acts 20:7; Col. 2:16; Rom. 14:5). One Christian will use texts that indicate that Death is an unconscious “sleep,” while others will use texts that would seem to indicate that we return to God (or go to be with Him) when we die (Jn. 11:11, 14; Eccl. 9:5; Ps. 115:17; 1 Thes. 4:15; 1 Cor. 15:18; Ps. 146:4 cf. Eccl. 12:7; 2 Cor. 5:8; Phil. 1:21; Ps. 146:4; etc.). Notice that Psalms 146:4 can be used by both groups to “prove” opposite positions! The Biblical concept of “Righteousness by Faith” is a particularly difficult thing to adequately explain using only the proof-text methodology. Perhaps that is why so few Christians “truly” understand or experience it.
When it comes to the Godhead and to the Holy Spirit I have heard prominent leaders in our own church using texts like “holy, Holy, Holy, is the LORD of hosts” (Isa. 6:3) to defend the Trinity doctrine (as we teach it) and to prove that there are three individual beings that have existed as God from all eternity and who comprise the Godhead because the text uses the word “Holy” three times. This is no different than those who use the text “Hear, O Israel, the Lord is our God, the Lord is ONE” (Duet. 6:4) to prove that there is only one person of the Godhead or who is God. It is also no different than many Christians using the text “the spirit shall return unto God who gave it” (Eccl. 12:7) to prove that man has a “spirit” that exists separately from his body and which “returns” to God (goes to heaven) at the time of death! These are the weakest of arguments and show the failing of trying to use the “proof-text” method alone to establish an understanding of the doctrine. It is also a terrible misuse of the Scriptures.
Adventists have rightly maintained that the whole Bible must be used to understand the truth of any given subject—that all the texts dealing with a subject must be gathered together and studied within their context in order to arrive at an understanding of “The Truth.” Any Scriptures that appear obscure, or appear to indicate something disagreeing with the majority of the rest of the texts, must either be resolved by the overriding majority opinion and context of the texts as a whole—or must be considered as having a meaning intended by its author of which we are unsure or simply don’t
Understand. For Adventists, this is further complicated by our belief in the inspiration of the writings of Ellen White; for we must gather everything from the vast additional light that she has provided on Biblical subjects and consider and compare her statements on those subjects as well. This comparison must be made, not only to what is contained in the Scriptures, but, also to that which is contained in the whole of her writings. When you consider that Ellen White has provided us with more than 100,000 pages of printed text (that’s more than 25 million words—or the equivalent of more words than could fit into 32 Bibles)—one can readily understand that this can be a daunting task!
We also must understand that “inspired” writers (whether the writers of the Bible or other inspired writers such as Ellen White) sometimes reveal things from their visions, or in their writings, which they themselves did not understand! This was certainly true for Daniel (see Dan. 12:8, 13) and it seems quite obvious that this was the case for Ezekiel and for John the Revelator in many of the things that they saw and recorded. Why would we assume that it would be different for Ellen White? Indeed, given the vast amount of information that God conveyed through her, it would seem quite unreasonable for us to assume that she “understood” everything about everything she wrote! She never made any claims to such “all-knowing” understanding, and often spoke of things as “mysteries” and as things that she did not understand fully (e.g. the Incarnation, the nature of the Holy Spirit, etc.).
This fact should not come as a surprise to us when we consider and realize that “Truth” is progressive. No-one has ever yet had and understood ALL the Truth that God has revealed—or that God is going to reveal! I find it unconscionable to think that God revealed to the Bible writers OR to Ellen White everything that He intended to reveal to mankind. When we consider that almost a century has elapsed since the death of Ellen White—can we possibly conclude that God has had nothing more to say to us? Can we really hold to the position that there was to be no more “new light” yet to be revealed? Mr. White speaks strongly to the contrary (see Appendix “D” on “New Light” quotes)!
Ellen White recognized and acknowledged her limitations as a human being—even as one through whom the Lord spoke directly.
She says: “There are many mysteries which I do not seek to understand or to explain; they are too high for me” (Manuscript 1107; p. 5; Manuscript Releases vol. 14, p. 179). Interestingly, she makes that statement in the context of (in the middle of a discussion about) the Nature of the Holy Spirit! Just a few sentences earlier she said: “The nature of the Holy Spirit is a mystery not clearly revealed.” (Ibid). These statements in no way imply that the nature of the Holy Spirit would forever remain a mystery, or that the truth about its nature would never be “clearly revealed.” I believe that it was a mystery to her in the same way that much of what Daniel wrote was a mystery to him: She could not understand it “fully” simply because it was a Truth who’s [whose] time had not yet come. Like Daniel, however, she faithfully revealed that which was revealed to her—in spite of the fact that she did not understand all that she revealed. I believe, that like Daniel, much of what she wrote about the “Godhead” and about the “Holy Spirit” will rise again for its “allotted portion at the end of the age” (Dan. 12:13)—that the things which she wrote will be “revealed” and “understood” in their proper light prior to our Lord’s coming. This “revealing,” however, will not come as the result of suing the proof-text method alone.
I do not think that it is a mere coincidence that Jesus told His disciples: “I have many more things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now” (John 16:12)—and that He said that in the middle of a discourse about the Holy Spirit! I also do not think that it is a mere coincidence that Mrs. White informs us that what Jesus left “unrevealed” (or not totally revealed) to the disciples involved the plan of Redemption. “What was it that Jesus withheld because they could not comprehend it?—It was the more spiritual, glorious truths concerning the plan of redemption.” (RH October 14, 1890; par. 4).
Within Adventism, we have found ourselves arguing about the nature of the Holy Spirit primarily because we have sought to “prove” our positions by using only the “proof-text” method. We have failed to consider the truth about the nature of the Holy Spirit within the context of the problem of Sin, the Great Controversy, and the Plan of Redemption. It is my opinion that this has caused us to misunderstand much about the “nature” of both the Godhead and the Holy Spirit.
Proof texts are not a bad thing. Indeed they are a necessary component in understanding the nature of God, the entrance of
Sin and the problems sin brought with it, and they are absolutely necessary to our understanding the plan of Salvation! I have used many “proof texts” in writing this book and in order to explain what I am expounding here—but I will be suing these “proof texts” within the context of the Plan of Redemption, and this is where their use will differ from merely “proving” a bunch of facts. They will be sued in order to gain a greater understanding of the immense Sacrifice that has been made in order to make possible the great plan of Redemption, what that Sacrifice entailed and how it actually affects us, and to give us a greater appreciation of both the Loving God (Father) an our Loving Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!
With all this in mind, I would like to consider the nature of the Godhead and the Holy Spirit within the context of the Great Controversy and the Plan of Salvation, and attempt to discover what God has revealed to us concerning these things. So let’s go back to the beginning and consider the predicament that faced God as He planned to create intelligent beings—beings that would have the freedom and capacity to choose for themselves whom they would serve.
Chapter 2 Summary
1. Truth is progressive—that is, it is ever unfolding and some subjects cannot be simply “proved,” and the matter permanently settled, because there is more to be learned and more to be revealed about the subject. The “proof-text” method will fail to reveal all the truth about some subjects for this reason.
2. The “proof-text” method is often used to “win” an argument (to prove that “our” position is correct and “theirs” is wrong). It may accomplish this objective, but little is achieved in simply “winning” an argument. The Truth must be explained in a way that will make a difference in one’s life and in their relationship with God. The proof-text method does not always do this.
3. The “proof-text” method often does not take into consideration the context of the texts themselves and can be sued to prove almost anything if one is not careful.
4. Finally, the “proof-text” method is a helpful aid in explaining truth when it is done within the context of the subject being explained. For Seventh-day Adventists, it is vitally important to consider all doctrine (and all proof-texts used to prove a doctrine) within the context of The Great Controversy between Christ and Satan. Failure to do this will cause us to fail in comprehending the “truth”—and the significance of the truth—of the subject being studied. This is especially true with regard to the subject of the Godhead and the Holy Spirit.
IN THE BEGINNING!
The “Problem” Facing God as He Considered
Creating Intelligent Life
In discussing the “Godhead” (exactly who and what it comprises) we must go back to the “Beginning”—before the “Creation” of Heaven and Earth, and everything that exists save God Himself. This is necessarily important because GOD is eternal and omniscient (all knowing—knowing the “end” from the “beginning”). Anything and everything God has done, is doing, or will do has a purpose—and if His purposes are not to be thwarted or overthrown in any way, He must have made provision for every contingency.
So let’s consider for a moment, as much as is humanly possible, the plans of God and the predicament in which those plans placed Him. Sometime in eternity past God purposed to Create intelligent life—Life that would exist not only “by” Him, but also “for” Him and “with” Him. Because God is a God of “LOVE” (because “God IS Love” [1 John 4:8)]) His special, intelligent, created beings would not only be capable of Love themselves—they must also be granted “free will” (because Love cannot be “forced” or “imposed” on anyone or anything). This poses certain problems because with the capacity to Love also come the capacity, or power NOT to Love. Love must be Chosen. In other words: Love can be given, but “giving” love does not insure that it will be received, accepted, or returned! If God were to Create Beings capable of experiencing,
Expressing and returning love (sharing in His very “essence” which is love) they must also be created as intelligent, “Free” moral agents—capable of acknowledging and returning God’s Love but also capable of deciding to reject that Love.
God wanted intelligent beings to share His life and essence. He wanted beings that were capable of appreciating HIM and who would acknowledge Him AS God—the source of Love. He wanted more than anything else to be the recipient of love as well as the giver of it! But this brought with it the risk (just as it does with us when we choose to love another) of rejection—the risk of being hurt—the risk of not having His love returned and thus, the inevitable consequences of that rejection. Which, in the case of God, meant not only pain and suffering—but also ultimately DEATH for those who would reject His Love. A life devoid of love; devoid of God; a life chosen to be lived apart from Him; a life in which His Creatures would assert themselves to be superior to Him could not be allowed to continue, for it would ultimately be a “Life” or existence worse than “Death.”
God, the consummate author and sustainer of life, could not allow HIS creatures (creations) of love to continue living apartr from His love. Because God is Love those beings choosing to reject love (and therefore HIM) would, of necessity, cease to exist. Death for these beings would, in reality, be the ultimate act of Love on God’s part for they would NEVER be happy, joyous and fulfilled apart from Him! That could be the subject of [an] entire study in itself but, sufficient for the one at hand, it brings into focus the problem God faced in creating intelligent, free-moral beings!
This brings up another conundrum. How could a God who IS LOVE and who’s very Being is SO PURE that it would consume anything impure instantly, create other beings that had the “potential” to become imperfect? God knew that He would create everything “perfect,” albeit with the capacity for growth. But in the case of free-moral agents, beings with the capacity to choose to become something other than He desired, how was He to exist in their presence—or they in His? What was HE to do?
God would have to make a way possible for created beings not only to exist in His presence but also to interact with Him (even those who would make the mistake of doubting Him). He
Would have to make it possible for intelligent beings to be able to approach and learn from Him. He would have to make it possible for them not only to receive His Love, but also provide a way for them to share it—a way for them to return and express their love for Him and a way for them to grow in it. He would have to have a way to communicate with them in a way that they would understand (He would have to come down to their level if you will). There would HAVE to be some sort of “go-between” or mediator between Himself in His Total Consuming Purity and those with whom He wished to commune—Someone capable of communing in HIS physical presence while also being able to commune in the presence of His created beings (even those who would become “imperfect” and separate from Him through sin). He would need someone through whom He could reveal Himself while maintain the opportunity for mercy and forgiveness if and when that should become necessary.
That “Someone” could NOT be one of the beings He intended to create. No, that “Someone” would have to be someone who was like Him. Indeed, someone who was ONE with Him—someone who shared His very essence. That someone would have to be (in human terms) “Flesh of His Flesh,” “Bone of His Bone,” Blood of His Blood;” while at the same time, being capable of partaking of the nature of the beings He intended to create. God would need someone who could communicate His love to created beings AND could communicate their love back to Him in return. It would have to be someone that could serve as a mediator, it you will, between Him and His creation when Sin would appear so that they would not simply be consumed and immediately cease to exist. Where was God to find such a being?
God was not alone:
The Bible informs us in John 1:2 that; “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” That this “Word” was the person of Jesus Christ in His pre-incarnate form is made evident by verse 14 of the same chapter: “And the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us.” This could only refer to the person of Jesus. The phrase “with God” in John 1:1 carries the meaning of being “by the
Side of God” and expresses a uniqueness or individuality from God (the Father). The phrase “was God” indicates a state of being and expresses the nature that Jesus had at this time. So Jesus co-existed “with” God the Father as a separate or individual being and He shared the Father’s nature of “being” God. Christ was in fact God AND existed with the Father (God) before the creation of intelligent life. “The Word existed as a divine being, even as the eternal Son of God, in union and oneness with his Father . . .Before men or angels were created, the Word was with God, and was God.” (RH April 5, 1905; par. 5). The fact that the Father God was not alone and that He had someone else who existed with Him who shared all of His attributes is what actually made it possible for Him to create intelligent life in who would be imbued the capacity and freedom of choice. Had He been alone in His creation of intelligent beings possessing the freedom to choose whom they would serve (God or “self”), those beings whom He created who would choose to serve themselves would have been incapable of existing in His presence and would have been instantly destroyed by His absolute purity.
This is why the Father created (and had to create) all things through the Son, Christ Jesus. There had to be a mediator between Himself and His created beings. Someone who could fully reveal the Father’s character and purposes to His created beings and who could interact directly with them and with Himself. Someone who could serve as a “buffer,” if you will, between the Father’s absolute and consuming purity and the beings He wished to create who would fall short of His ideal—while they were learning to serve Him, and when some would choose not to
serve Him. Jesus was that person. “From everlasting he was the Mediator of the covenant” (RH April 5, 1906; par. 5). “Christ is mediating in behalf of man, and the order of unseen worlds also is preserved by His mediatorial work.” (MYP, p. 254). “It was for them [unfallen worlds and Angels] as well as for us that the great work of redemption had been accomplished. They with us share the fruits of Christ’s victory.” (DA, p. 758). “Christ was appointed to the office of Mediator from the creation of God, set up from everlasting to be our substitute and surety.” (1SM p. 250).
The Bible clearly reveals that: “All things came into being through Him [Christ], and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being.” (John 1:3—see also Heb. 1:1). The Spirit of Prophecy (referred to as the “SOP” in the remainder of this book) confirms this in a most concise and clear way—“The Father wrought by His Son in the creation of all heavenly beings.” (PP p. 34, par. 2). Most of us have no problem accepting and acknowledging this fact. However, right here is where we have missed an important and vital Truth concerning the Godhead, the Creation, and the plan of Salvation. Here is what we have missed:
BEFORE God could create intelligent “free-will” beings through His Son, there had to be a change in the Nature of the Son and of the Godhead. Had Jesus maintained His “pure God” nature, the same problem would have existed as has been outlined above. Christ’s purely “God Nature” would have consumed imperfect beings and sinners just as surely as the Father’s pure nature would! So what was the change that took place? What change had to take place in order for God to accomplish both the work of creation and the plan of redemption? What was the change, and how would this change affect the Godhead?
Chapter 3 Summary
1. God was faced with a very real problem when He contemplated creating intelligent—free moral beings. If He were to create them with the potential to choose to separate from Him (Sin) then that potential in and of itself would create difficulty in His being able to directly commune with them. If they chose to sin, they would be immediately consumed and would have no chance to reconsider their choice. This would eventually lead to His creations being afraid of Him (and serving Him out of fear instead of out of love) as they saw their fellow beings “disappear” from existence. God must have a mediator, someone who could serve as a “go between” between Himself and His creations.
2. That mediator would have to be someone who was like Himself—someone who was equal with Him and could participate in His creation. He needed someone who could partake of His nature and be capable of partaking of the nature of His created beings as well—someone who could express and exhibit God’s nature and will to His creation and be capable of expressing and exhibiting their love in return. That person was the person of Jesus Christ.
3. Before Jesus could perform this role, there had to be a change in His very nature. He could not maintain His purely “God” nature and accomplish His mission. A drastic change in His very being had to take place before He could function in the role of mediator between the Father and His intelligent, free-willed creations.
Note by Ron Beaulieu: Bruce’s book ignores the fact of the Everlasting Covenant whereby in order for a mediator to exist at all, the Testator of the Covenant [Christ] would have to die, to wit:
God the Father could not be the Testator for man’s sin because He could not die. Someone had to be alive to keep the universe intact. This is another reason the Son had to be amongst the Godhead; to pay the penalty for man’s sin. That penalty was eternal death for us and it had to involved eternal death to something involving the Testator, Jesus Christ. And it did which we will discover further along. End of note by Ron.
The Original Godhead &
Christ’s Nature Prior to Creation
The “Trinity” doctrine, which has been espoused and taught as a major tenet of the Orthodox Christian Faith for many centuries, was not taught in its current form by Christ or by the Apostles. It entered into Christian Theology long after the first disciples had passed from the scene. The first real mention of the term “Trinity” was made by Tertullian (150-225 AD). The “doctrine” of the “Trinity”—that is, “One God in Three co-eternal persons” was developed over a period of years and “Officially” became the orthodox teaching of Christianity during the 4th century AD. Interestingly, it was introduced, developed and proclaimed by the Roman Catholic Church and is claimed to be the Doctrine upon which every other doctrine they hold and teach rests.
That, in and of itself ought to raise suspicion in the minds of God’s Remnant people!
Are we to believe that the “TRUTH” about the nature of God and the Godhead was revealed, by God, to the organization which His Word describes as “the Beast” (Rev. 11:7; 13:1-4, 18), the “Scarlet Woman” (Rev. 17:3, 4), the “Mother of harlots” (Rev. 17:5) and the “Anti-Christ” (1 Jn. 2:22; 4:3; 2 Jn. 1:7)? Are we to believe that God has sent His “Truth” through the organization that has been foremost in its propagation of “Error” regarding the nature of God and of His plan of Salvation? Does God send “light” through agents of darkness? The idea is preposterous and unconscionable, and yet this is exactly what mainstream Christianity has done—and what Seventh-day Adventist’s have done also. The fact is that God is not going to reveal Truth through an organization that is diametrically opposed to Him, and who teachings run contrary to His revealed Word! Please remember that the Devil introduces error by amalgamating (or mingling) it with truth. He creates “partial truths” (deception) with the sole intent of thwarting God’s purposes and through which acceptance he hopes to secure our eternal destruction.
Does this mean that I do not believe in the “Trinity?” Yes and no! I believe that “There are three living persons of the heavenly trio . . .three great powers of heaven—the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit” (Special Testimonies, Series B, No. 7, p. 63; 1905—quoted in Evangelism, p. 615). I believe this with all my heart. However, I do not believe it in the totality or sense that the Trinity doctrine (as developed by the Catholic and accepted by orthodox Christianity—including Seventh-day Adventists) is taught today.
The Orthodox doctrine of the Trinity, which Seventh-day Adventists have come to espouse and teach (see the “Preface” of this book for a brief history of [how and when] the Trinity doctrine entered the SDA Church), states that there are three members of the Godhead—the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—and that these three have always existed as “one” and yet as three separate individuals or persons. It is the latter half of this doctrine (or belief) that I question and
Which I believe we have failed to properly understand. Have there always been three members of the Godhead? I don’t think so—at least not in the “beginning!?
The “Original” Godhead
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” (Jn. 1:1). This text, I believe, reveals the “Original” Godhead. Other texts support this text and show that Christ existed as God with the Father from all eternity and indicate that He and the Father alone were responsible for creating the universe and the plan of salvation (see Jn. 17:5; Micah 5:2; Isa. 9:6; Jn. 1:1-3; Heb. 1:1, 2; Col. 1:13-16; Jn. 3:16; 17:3; 6:44-46; 2 Cor. 5:19; etc.). There are NO Biblical texts, which speak of or confirm that there was a third member of the Godhead from eternity past.
Note by Ron: Some would cite Genesis 1:2 as evidence that the Holy Spirit was extant as a third person at that time, but that is not the case. Scripture says that God is a Spirit and that there is one eternal spirit. It was the Spirit of God and Christ (who share the same ONE ETERNAL SPIRIT) that moved upon the face of the waters.
Gen 1:2 And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness [was] upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. End note.
I have also found NO Spirit of Prophecy quotes that speak of an independent third member of the Godhead from eternity past. Some may object that there are texts which speak of the Holy Spirit being the third member of the Godhead and of His being “as much of a person as God is a person” [e.g. Manuscript 66, 1899]—which does express both God-being and individuality), but I have found none that suggest the existence of an original, individual, third member of the Godhead apart from the Father or Christ. Frankly, it amazes me that we have not critically examined this glaring omission in both the Bible and the SOP! We will examine this in detail as we proceed and what we will find is a surprisingly “easy to be understood”
Note by Ron: See Appendix F wherein I comment on the statements that are most often proffered as “proof” that the Holy Spirit existed as a third SEPARATE person from eternity. He sure existed ETERNALLY in the person of the Son of Man, but not as a third, separate person until He was slain from the foundation of the earth.
Truth that may leave you wondering how we have been so slow to recognize and understand it.
We are told that: “... Christ, the Word, the only begotten of God, was one with the eternal Father—one in nature, in character, in purpose—the only being that could enter into all the counsels and purposes of God .... The Father wrought by His Son in the creation of all heavenly beings.” (PP p. 34, par. 1-2). In this statement, the word “nature” must refer to Christ’s physical substance—His physical “being”–because she makes the distinction between His “nature” and His “character.” If the “nature” being referred to here consisted of His “character” then the statement would be nonsensical—it would read like this: “Christ ... was one with the eternal Father—one in character, in character, in purpose ...”. I believe that in using the word “nature” (in this instance) she is referring to Christ’s existence prior to creation in which He existed as one with the Father in Spirit form.
This “Spirit” form, or “nature,” would include His physical form as well as the attributes that make God, God. These attributes include His Omniscience, His Omnipotence, and His Omnipresence. These three are attributes of His “being,” not simply of His character per se. For example, Omnipotence is an attribute of being “ALL-POWERFUL” and is a physical attribute (if you will) not one of character (as are “Love, Mercy, and Justness”). It implies the ability to create and to “act” upon both the animate nature (the physical dimension of matter) as well as on the inanimate nature (the spiritual dimension) of beings such
As in the “thoughts and desires of the heart.” This is not simply a character trait. Likewise, Omnipresence is the capacity or ability to be everywhere at once and is a physical attribute, not a character attribute. I believe that omniscience (the attribute of being “all-knowing”) is inseparably connected to Omnipresence (the attribute of being everywhere) because I find it inconceivable that one could be “all-knowing” if one was not also “ever-present” in some fashion. Christ showed this to be the case when, describing the timing of His Second Coming, He declared: “But of that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone.” (Mark 13:32). Jesus was not “all-knowing” (omniscient) when He said this because He did not possess the ability to be “ever-present” (omnipresent) at this point in time. This point is important as we consider the incarnation and will become clearer and more evident in a moment.
Christ existed as “one” with the Father in the beginning. He was “one” with Him in Character, purpose, substance, and in glory. God is a “Spirit” (John 4:24) and I believe that, since Christ was God in eternity past, that He existed with the Father before the creation in the form of “Spirit.” John 1:14 says that “the Word [Christ] became flesh, and dwelt among us.” If Christ “became” flesh then He must have existed in some other form before this time. “Before Christ came in the likeness of men, he existed in the express image of His Father.” (Youth’s Instructor; December 20, 1900; par. 4). Now I do not wish to get into a debate as to what “form” a “spirit” has (if does apparently have one for we are told in Early Writings, page 55: “I saw a throne, and on it sat the Father and the Son. I gazed on Jesus’ countenance and admired His lovely person. The Father’s person I could not behold, for a cloud of glorious light
Covered Him. I asked Jesus if His Father had a form like Himself. He said He had, but I could not behold it, for said He, “If you should once behold the glory of His person, you would cease to exist”), the point is that Jesus once shared the Father’s “Spirit form” (with God and as God) and enjoyed all the attributes of God including Omniscience, Omnipresence and Omnipotence. This is not entirely the case now.
Before the creation of other intelligent life forms—when Christ existed solely with the Father—there would have been no need for Christ to exist in any other form than that of “Spirit.” In this “Spirit” form, Christ and the Father were most fully, completely, and totally ONE! They were still individuals yet they were united in form, character, and purpose. It was only as the Father and the Son began their work of creation that the necessity for a change in this nature (or state of “being”) arose.
Some will argue that God does not and cannot change. They will cite Malachi 3:6 “For I, the LORD, do not change” as “proof” of this. But the context of this text shows that God is speaking of His character and not of His form or nature—the word “therefore” indicates this: “For I, the LORD, do not change; therefore [because of this fact] you, O sons of Jacob, are not consumed.” God indicates that He is willing to change His stated purposes based on our reaction and relationship to Him: “At one moment I might speak concerning a nation or concerning a kingdom to uproot, to pull down, or to destroy it; if that nation against which I have spoken turns from its evil, I will relent concerning the calamity I planned to bring on it. Or at another moment I might speak concerning a nation or concerning a kingdom to build up or to plant it; if it does evil in My sight by not obeying My voice, then I will think better of the good with which I had promised to bless it.” (Jer. 18:7-10; see also Jer. 42:10). God’s character does not change and is not subject to change. God could not change His Law, for instance, in order to accommodate man in his sinful condition or in order to save him. This type of “change” would have violated His character (for the Law is a transcript of His character) and would have caused Him
To become something that He is not. But to say that God cannot change in any way would effectively deny the incarnation. “Incarnation,” by its very definition, means “to invest with flesh or bodily nature and form... to give a concrete or actual form to...” If God cannot change in any way then Christ could not have become “flesh, and dwelt among us” (Jn. 1:14). It is evident that God can and indeed did change in the “bodily nature and form” of Jesus Christ. So let’s look at the “original” Godhead for a moment.
Where is the Holy Spirit? The “Creation?”:
When one reads in the Bible and in the Spirit of Prophecy one cannot help but be struck by the omission and absence of the Holy Spirit in the most vital acts and plans of God. For instance, the Bible clearly states that the Father and the Son were active in the creation, but there is no mention of a third member of the Godhead being involved here. In Hebrews 1:2 we are told that the Father created all things through the agency of His Son: “God [Father] ... in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world.” Likewise, Colossians 1:16 tells us “For by Him [Christ] all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones, or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things have been created by Him and for Him.” John 1:2 says: “All things came into being by Him; and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being.” Proverbs 8:30-31 states: “Then I [Christ] was beside Him [Father-singular], as a master workman; and I was daily His delight, rejoicing always before Him, rejoicing in the world, His earth, and having my delight in the sons of men.”
Mrs. White also speaks of the Father and the Son as those responsible for the creation, but like the Bible writers she omits any mention of a third person of the Godhead. Here are several of her quotes: “The sovereign of the universe was not alone in His work of beneficence.
He had an associate—a co-worker who could appreciate His purposes, and could share His joy in giving happiness to created beings ... Christ, the Word, the only begotten of God, was one with the eternal Father—one in nature, in character, in purpose—the only being that could enter into all the counsels and purposes of God .... The Father wrought by His Son in the creation of all heavenly beings.” (PP p. 34, par. 1-2). “The Father and the Son engaged in the mighty, wondrous work they had contemplated—of creating the world.” (PP p. 44). “After the earth was created, and the beasts upon it, the Father and Son carried out their purpose, which was designed before the fall of Satan, to make man in their own image. They had wrought together in the creation of the earth and every living thing upon it. And now God says to his Son, “Let us make man in our image.” (ST Jan. 9, 1879; par. 13). “In the beginning the Father and the Son had rested upon the Sabbath after their work of creation.” (DA p. 769, par. 2). “ . . . Adam and Eve united with them [the birds and all nature] in thanksgiving to the Father and the Son.” (PP p. 50).
Why is the Holy Spirit omitted? Why is He so glaringly absent in all these references? I am sure that some will argue that Genesis 1:1 speaks of the “Spirit of God’ moving over the surface of the waters and that this must mean that there was a third person involved here—but does it? We will consider this in a moment. One must be struck, however, by the many references to the creation and by the fact that only two persons are mentioned in connection with it!
The “Councils of Heaven” and the “Plan of Redemption”:
Who do we find involved in the “councils of heaven” and in the Plan of Redemption? Again, we find only two persons referred to as responsible for it—the Father and the Son. “Christ, the Word, the only begotten of God, was one with the eternal Father—one in nature, in character, in purpose—the only being that could enter into all the counsels and purposes of God” (PP p. 34, par. 1-2). “The Son of God shared the Father’s throne, and the glory of the eternal, self-existent One encircled both . . . . none but Christ, the Only Begotten of God, could fully enter into His purposes, and to Him it was committed to execute the mighty counsels of His will” (PP, p. 36). “The great plan of redemption was laid before the foundation of the world. Christ did not stand alone in this wondrous undertaking for the ransom of man. In the councils of heaven, before the world was created, the Father and the Son covenanted together that if man proved disloyal to God, Christ, one with the Father, would take the place of the transgressor, and suffer the penalty of justice that must fall upon him.” (RH November 15, 1898; par.
1). “. . . .Christ and the Father would redeem the fallen race.” (ST Feb 17, 1909; par. 9). “The great contest that had been so long in progress in this world was now decided, and Christ was conqueror. His death had answered the question whether the Father and the Son had sufficient love for man to exercise self-denial and a spirit of sacrifice.” (PP p. 69, par. 3). “There is a personal God, the Father, there is a personal Christ, the Son.” (RH November 8, 1896; par. 9).
The “Throne of God”:
There are at least 66 verses in the Bible that refer to the “Throne of God” (23 in the Old Testament and 43 in the New Testament-24 references to the “Throne” are found in the Book of Revelation alone!). Only two persons are ever named in connection with God’s Throne—the Father and the Son! In the Spirit of Prophecy there are over 2,000 references to the “Throne of God,” and while I cannot claim to have read every one of these I have read many and have found only two persons mentioned in relation to God’ Throne. Never have I come across a reference in either the Bible or the SOP where three persons are associated with the Throne of God, OR where the Holy Spirit is specifically identified (as a person) in connection with it. If someone can find a reference to a third person residing on God’s Throne I would welcome the opportunity to see it!
Surely, if there were three persons in the Godhead there would be three persons mentioned regarding God’s Throne, or regarding His Creation, or regarding the councils of God and the development of the Plan of Redemption. Why isn’t the Holy Spirit mentioned, named, and included in these references to the Godhead?
There is an important reason why we do not find the “Third Person”—the “Holy Spirit”—mentioned in any of these critical references to the “Godhead.” And it all has to do with the “change” that took place in the Godhead prior to the creation in order to accommodate the eventuality and entrance of Sin and in order to provide a means by which sinners could be redeemed and reconciled to God.
Chapter 4 Summary
1. The doctrine of the Trinity, which is accepted and taught by Orthodox Christianity, including Seventh-day Adventists, teaches that there are three members of the Godhead (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) and that these three individual members of the One true God have always existed as three individual persons within the Godhead. This is simply not true!
2. Christ existed in the beginning as “One” with the Father in nature (form), character, and in purpose. That is to say that Jesus existed, prior to the creation of intelligent life, in Spirit Form—with all the attributes inherent in God’s “Spirit” form including Omnipresence, Omniscience, and Omnipotence. Prior to creation all the evidence from the Bible and the Spirit of Prophecy indicates that there were only two members of the Godhead-0-the Father and the Son. These two—Jesus and the Father—comprised the Original Godhead.
3. In order for the Creation of intelligent and free moral beings to be accomplished—there had to be a change in the nature of the Godhead. The Holy Spirit is not mentioned in any of the critical references to the Godhead (e.g. The Councils of God, the Plan of Redemption, and the Throne of God) because of the change that took place in the nature of Christ—which resulted in a change in the composition of the Godhead. This will be explained more in the next chapter.
The “Change” in the “Person” of Jesus Before and After the Creation
The Lord possessed me at the beginning of His way, Before His works of old. From everlasting I was established, from the beginning, from the earliest times of the earth. When there were no depths I was brought forth, when there were no springs abounding with water. Before the mountains were settled, before the hills I was brought forth; While He had not yet made the earth and the field, Nor the first dust of the world. When He established the heavens, I was there. When He inscribed a circle on the face of the deep, When He made firm the skies above, When the springs of the deep became fixed, When He set for the sea its boundary So that the water would not transgress His command, When He marked out the foundations of the earth; Then I was beside Him, as a master workman; and I was daily His delight, Rejoicing always before Him” (Proverbs 8:22-30).
Dr. Richard M. Davidson has written a compelling research paper on Proverbs 8 in which, I believe, he conclusively shows that the being spoken of in Proverbs 8 (that is, “Wisdom”) pre-existed with God and was also, himself God. In his
Paper, I believe that Dr. Richardson not only only establishes the prexistence of “wisdom” in the form of a distinct person with God the Father prior to the creation, he also provides compelling proof that “Wisdom” is the person of Jesus Christ and that it was indeed Christ that was “brought forth” (vss. 24, 25) from the Father at, or more succinctly preceding, the creation. Some Bible Commentaries also confirm this position: Matthew Henry comments on Prov. 8:22-31 ( and the relationship existing between “Wisdom” and Christ) in this way:
“That it [Wisdom] is an intelligent and divine person that here speaks seems very plain, and that it is not meant of a mere essential property of the divine nature [character trait], for Wisdom here has personal properties and actions; and that intelligent divine person can be no other than the Son of God himself, to whom the principal things here spoken of wisdom are attributed in other scriptures . . .”
M Many modern commentaries are totally silent regarding Proverbs 8. Those Scholars that do comment on it generally take the position that the language of Christ’s being brought forth “is to be taken as technical terminology for the installment into office”—that is, that it is suggestive only of a change in the role (or office work) that Christ was to perform from that time forth and not indicative of a substantive change in His being (Davidson, p. 50). However, and much to his credit, Dr. Davidson also muses:
“Is it possible that, perhaps in a council between the members of the Godhead before creation, it was decided that the One we now call the Second Person of the Godhead would at the commencement of creation condescend to partially empty himself (cf. The kenosis of Phil 2), to step down (perhaps taking the form of an angel? [Emphasis mine]) to become the Mediator between the infinite God and finite creatures? And that Prov 8 is referring to this installation—this “begetting” of the Son of God—into the office of Mediator between the transcendent God and finite created beings? And that Prov 8 describes the mediatorial role of Wisdom—the pre-incarnate Christ?” (Davidson, p. 53).
I would take the language of Proverbs 8 a step further and suggest that Christ’s being “brought forth” involved much more than a mere change in His office work. I do not debate that Christ’s being “brought forth” did involve a change in His position and office work—but I believe that it involved a great deal more than that. I believe that His being “brought forth” involved a change in the very substance of Christ’s being—as well as a change in His office work and/or role. I believe that this “change” is very much a part of the incarnation—the beginning of it—and that one can only resolve the difficult and apparently contradictory statements in the Bible and the SOP regarding the Godhead and the nature of the Holy Spirit by accepting the position that Christ’s being “brought forth” involved a substantive change in His being.
Later, when we examine this “change” in detail, we will see that the personification of “Wisdom” takes on particular significance when it is viewed as an existential component of Christ: “Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom; and with all thy getting get understanding” (Proverbs 4:7; KJV), or “The beginning of wisdom is: Acquire wisdom; And with all your acquiring, get understanding” (NASB). “Christ [is] the power of God and the wisdom of God” (1 Cor. 1:24: Young’s Literal Translation, 1898). Righteousness, sanctification, and redemption are all intrinsically linked with Jesus Christ. But they are more than just linked to (associated with) Him, they are actually embodied in the person of Jesus Christ. “. . . .ye are in Christ Jesus, who became to us from God wisdom, righteousness also,
and sanctification and redemption,” (1 Cor. 1:30; Young’s). “And in none other is there salvation; for neither is there any other name under heaven, that is given among men, wherein we must be saved” (Acts 4:12); Revised Version). For the moment, however, I hope that we have established (and agree on) the fact that Jesus was “brought forth” from the Father prior to creation and that a very important change took place in the nature of the Godhead at this time.
Jesus had existed as God and with God from the depths of eternity past. This is confirmed in Proverbs 8:22 above, and in John 1:1-2. When He existed as God and with God, before the Creation of intelligent life, He existed as/with God in “nature [form], character, and purpose” (PP p. 34, par. 1). That “nature” (or form) was almost assuredly that of “Spirit”—for “God is Spirit” (Jn. 4:24). According to Proverbs 8:22-30, Christ was “Brought Forth” from the Father prior to the creation “when there were no depths I was brought forth . . . before the hills I was brought forth.” Proverbs 8 describes Christ being brought forth as “a Master Workman” (vs. 30) and is in harmony with other Biblical texts that teach that all things were created through and by Christ (Jn. 1:3; Heb. 1:1, 2; Col. 1:16). As outlined in chapter 3, this was necessary in order for God to commune with His intelligent (free-willed) created beings and to provide for the eventuality of Sin. But what exactly was this bringing forth? What did this involve? Was there a change in the nature of Christ at this time? And how does this change affect our understanding of the Scriptures, the Godhead, Christ’s nature, and the plan of Salvation?
It is clear from Proverbs 8:22-30 that Jesus was “Brought Forth” prior to the creation—but in what sense was He “Brought Forth?” Was it just in terms of the role He would assume from then on (His “office work”) or was it something more?
When we consider Christ’s interactions with the Angelic host prior to the fall of man, it becomes clear that Jesus had indeed changed in form and that He appeared in a form that was very much like their own! Throughout the Bible we find references to “the Angel of the Lord” which undeniably refer to the person of
Christ. Examples of these can be found in the accounts of Abraham and Sarah, Hagar, Jacob, Moses, Balaam, Gideon, Manoah, David, Joshua, and others (See: Gen. 16:7-9; 22:11, 15; Ex. 3:2; Num. 22:32; Judges 6:12, 21-22; 13:15-21; Zech. 3:1-7; etc.). The accounts of Abraham, Jacob, Moses, and Joshua are worthy of particular notice.
Genesis 22:10-18 describes one encounter Abraham had with the “angel of the Lord” where it can be clearly demonstrated that the “Angel” was actually the LORD! These passages recount the story of Abraham and Isaac. Abraham is just about to sacrifice his only son in obedience to the command of the LORD: “Abraham stretched out his hand and took the knife to slay his son. But the angel of the LORD called to him from heaven and said, “Abraham, Abraham! And he said, “Here I am.” He said, “Do not stretch out your hand against the lad, and do nothing to him; for now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your only son, from Me.” ... “Then the angel of the LORD called to Abraham a second time from heaven, and said, “By Myself I have sworn, declares the LORD, because you have done this thing and have not withheld your son, your only son, indeed I will greatly bless you, and I will greatly multiply your seed as the stars of the heavens and as the sand which is on the seashore; and your seed shall possess the gate of their enemies. In your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed, because you have obeyed My voice.”
When the Lord was about to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah He appeared to Abraham by the oaks of Mamre in the heat of the day and Abraham “lifted up his eyes and looked, behold, three men were standing opposite him; and when he saw them he ran from the tent door to meet them and bowed himself to the earth, and said, ‘My Lord, if now I have found favor in Your sight, please do not pass Your servant by’” (Gen. 18:2-3). Then he prepared a feast of the best he had to offer them and they ate with him. One of these “men” was the LORD. It was here that the Lord promised: “I will surely return to you at this time next year; and behold, Sarah your wife will have a son” (vs. 10). Sarah laughed at the thought but the LORD rebuked her and said: “Is anything too difficult for the LORD? At the appointed time I will return to you, at this time next year, and Sarah will have a son” (vs. 14). Then came the familiar conversation between Abraham and the LORD about the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. There are a couple of things worthy of note in these passages. First, it is clear that Abraham was speaking with the LORD! Second, the LORD, appeared
as a man. Third, the other “men” were angels (Gen. 19:1). Fourth, the LORD ate with Abraham (he ingested food!)—Does a “Spirit” ingest food?
When Moses was on the Mount, we are told: “The angel of the LORD appeared to him in a blazing fire from the midst of a bush” (Ex 3:2). And when Moses went closer to see why the bush was not consumed “the LORD saw that he turned aside to look, God called to him from the midst of the bush and said, ‘Moses, Moses!’ And he said, ‘Here I am.’ Then He said, ‘Do not come near here; remove your sandals from your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground.’ He said also, ‘I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.’ Then Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look at God.” (vs. 3-6). It was here that God (the “Angel of the LORD” in verse 2) declared His name: “I AM, WHO I AM.” In John 8:58 “Jesus said to them, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was born, I AM.” So we are on very safe ground when we conclude that JESUS was the “Angel of the LORD.”
In Exodus 24:9-10 we find Moses returning to the Mount: “Then Moses went up with Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel, and they saw the God of Israel; and under His feet there appeared to be a pavement of sapphire, as clear as the sky itself.” In Exodus 33:22-23 we find the LORD telling Moses: “and it will come about, while my glory is passing by, that I will put you in the cleft of the rock and cover you with My hand until I have passed by. Then I will take My hand away and you shall see My back, but My face shall not be seen.” Exodus 31:18 reveals that the Ten Commandments were written by God’s own hand: “When he had finished speaking with him upon Mount Sinai, He gave Moses the two tablets of the testimony, tablets of stone, written by the finger of God.” “Then Moses turned and went down from the mountain with the two tablets of the testimony in his hand, tablets which were written on both sides; they were written on one side and the other. The tablets were God’s work, and the writing was God’s writing engraved on the tablets” (Ex. 32:15-16). In all these texts we find physical attributes attributed to God—feet, hand, finger, back—that were seen by Moses. If Jesus was the One who appeared to Moses declaring Himself to be the “I AM”—then we can see that Jesus, as “the Angel of the LORD,” had physical attributes just like other Angels spoken of in the bible.
When Jacob wrestled with the Angel by the brook Jabbok, the being he wrestled with certainly had physical substance! Jacob
Wrestled all night with Him! And when the morning came and he realized who he had actually been wrestling with he declared: “I have seen God face to face, yet my life has been preserved.” (see Gen. 32:1-32). The Spirit of Prophecy confirms that the being spoken of in these passages as the “Angel of the LORD” was indeed Jesus:
“Abraham had seen in his guests
only three tired wayfarers, little thinking that among them was One whom he
might worship without sin. But the true character of the heavenly messengers
was not revealed . . . . Two of the heavenly messengers
departed, leaving Abraham alone with Him whom he now knew to be the Son of
God” (PP; p. 138, 139).
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?
“THE” eternal Spirit means one eternal spirit. The Spirit the Son of God laid aside at his incarnation was of the same essence and substance as the Father’s Spirit.
Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him.
But it was Christ’s Spirit that was “laid aside” for us and the Son was raised to take away our iniquities.
“Who but the Holy Spirit can work with human minds to transform character by withdrawing the affections from those things which are temporal, perishable, and imbues the soul with earnest desire by presenting the immortal inheritance, the eternal substance which is imperishable, and recreates, refines, and sanctifies the human agents that they may become members of the royal family, children of the heavenly King.” Ellen White, Ms. 1, 1892.
"The Power of God in the Third Person.--The prince of the power of evil can ONLY be held in check by the power of God in the third person of the Godhead, the Holy Spirit.-- Special Testimonies, Series A, No. 10, p. 37. (1897).
Acts 3:26 says that God raised up His Son Jesus to bless us in turning us away from our iniquities (Sins).
Ellen White said that such iniquity, evil, sin, can be held in check ONLY by the third person of the Godhead, the Holy Spirit.
So what Scripture means in John 14:23 by saying “we will come” is not certain except that evidently all three members of the Godhead come to those who receive them. But it is true that the Father comes to us through Christ’s Holy Spirit. It might be better to say that we partake of God’s Spirit through the Son, Jesus, and that is what Bruce says in essence in what follows. End note.
because of the critical differences between our being and His being (listed above). Christ could fully partake of the Father’s Spirit. He was of divine origin and had been brought forth from the Father. He had never sinned and this fact set Him apart from us in a very distinct manner. However, it should be noted that this gave Christ no advantage over us. Had Christ committed sin, He would have been consumed—the Father’s presence residing in Him would have consumed Him had He sinned. But as long as He remained without sin, Christ could partake of His Father’s Spirit and live through complete dependence on His (Father’s) strength and power to overcome temptation and sin. We are not in that exact position, but the “way” that we are to resist temptation and be victorious over sin is the same—we must depend on God’s Spirit (in this case Christ’s Spirit) for the strength and power to overcome. The process is the same for us as it was for Christ even though the direct agency of dependency differs.
Jesus has always pointed us to God the Father as the source of all goodness and of all power. But the Father can only give us these things in and through the person of Jesus Christ. He has appointed Christ as the only medium through which He can bless mankind. “No one has seen God at any time; the only begotten God who is in the bosom of the Father, He has explained Him” (Jn. 1:18). “All things have been handed over to Me by My Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father nor does anyone know the Father except the Son, and anyone to whom the Son wills to reveal Him” (Matt. 11:27).
God’s wisdom and strength and power are to flow to us, but they must flow through the agency of Christ. This “power” cannot flow to us through the physical person (man) of Christ. It must flow through Christ’s “Spirit.” Remember that Christ is the only means of communication between fallen man and God. ALL things must go through Him. “ . . . Man alienated himself from God; earth was cut off from heaven. Across the gulf that lay between, there could be no communion. But through Christ, earth is again linked with heaven . . . Christ connects fallen man in his weakness and helplessness with the Source of infinite power” (SC: p. 20, par. 2). Even the Angelis messengers are described, by Christ, as coming through Him. In His conversation with Nathanael, Christ said, “Truly truly, I say to you, you will see the heavens opened and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man” (Jn. 1:51). Christ is the
means by which God’s graces flow to us. “There is no true excellence of character apart from Him. And the only way to God is Christ” (SC: p. 21, par. 1). “ . . . the communication between God and man . . . was opened through Jesus Christ alone” (RH: March 25, 1875; par. 1). Jesus said: “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me” (Jn. 14:6).
Christ partook of His Father’s divine nature and “Christ expects that men will become partakers of His divine nature while in this world, thus not only reflecting His glory to the praise of God, but illumining the darkness of the world with the radiance of heaven” (5T p. 731, par. 1). Christ was dependent upon His heavenly Father—we are to be dependent upon our Heavenly Father, which is Christ Jesus!
One of the greatest temptations the Devil brought to Christ was to use or depend upon His own divine nature in order to overcome, or to relieve any of the burden and suffering He experienced. In the wilderness, the Devil tempted Christ in just such a manner. “The archdeceiver hoped that under the force of despondency and extreme hunger, Christ would lose faith in his Father, work a miracle in his own behalf, and take Himself out of his Father’s hands. ]He wanted Christ to take His power back up and use it for Himself\ Had He done this, the plan of salvation would have been broken; for it was contrary to its terms that Christ should work a miracle in his own behalf . . . . As man’s representative, He was to bear the trials of man, leaving a perfect example of submission and trust in God” (Bible Echo: November 15, 1892; par. 2). “He exercised in His own behalf no power that is not freely offered to us. As man, He met temptation, and overcame in the strength given Him from God.” (DA p. 24, par. 2).
When Christ was “brought forth,” prior to the creation, He had undergone a change in His nature—He had separated some part of Himself from the part of Himself that carried the attributes of God (Omnipresence, etc.). However, the brought forth Christ did not completely divorce Himself from using His divine power, but had subjected its use to the Will of the Father. When Christ was fully incarnated as a man, Christ relinquished His prerogative to use His divine power completely. From here on out, the brought forth—fully incarnated Christ would be forever dependent upon the Father for the source of His power. It should be noted that Christ never relinquished His “RIGHT” to power—which was His by “birth” and by “merit.” This fact is made clear by the Father’s pronouncement to the heavenly host regarding “the true position of His Son” and “the relationship He sustained to all created beings” (see PP: p. 36, par. 2). Jesus Christ was still the “Son of God” and shall always have “right” to the authority, power, and homage that goes with that title. This is also made clear in the Bible—for God has appointed Christ “heir of all things” (Heb. 1:2) and “of the Son He says, Thy throne, O GOD, is forever and ever” (Heb. 1:8).
However, after His incarnation as a man, Christ declared: “I can of mine own self do nothing: as I hear, I judge: and my judgment is just; because I see not mine own will, but the will of the Father which hat sent me” (Jn. 5:30). Even after His resurrection Christ declared that: “All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth” (Mat. 28:18). It was His by “right,” but it was not inherently His any longer—it was given to Him by His Father. Even His authority to rule as “Judge” has been given to Him: “This is the One who has been appointed by God as Judge of the living and the dead” (Acts 10:42; see also Acts 17:31). Things had changed dramatically for the One who in the beginning, “was with God and was God.” Things had changed even more drastically now that Christ had become a “man.” And things were about to change irreversibly for the “Son of God.”
Up until the point of His death on the Cross, Jesus could have abandoned His plans and picked up His Divine Power—reunited Himself with His divine “Spirit”—and returned to His original relationship with His Father. Had He done so, however, mankind (the entire human race) would have been lost. “Terrible was the temptation to let the human race bear the consequences of its own guilt, while He stood innocent before God . . . . Christ might even now refuse to drink the
cup apportioned to guilty man. It was not yet too late. He might wipe the bloody sweat from His brow, and leave man to perish in his iniquity. He might say, let the transgressor receive the penalty of his sin, and I will go back to My Father . . . . Three times his humanity shrunk from the last, crowning sacrifice. But now the history of the human race comes up before the world’s Redeemer. He sees that the transgressors of the law, if left to themselves, must perish. He sees the helplessness of man . . . . He will save man at any cost to Himself . . . . He will not turn from His mission” (DA pp. 688, 690, 693).
When Christ entered into His last hours here o this earth He began to feel the full affects of His Sacrifice. “As the substitute and surety for sinful man, Christ was to suffer under divine justice. He was to understand what justice meant. He was to know what it means for sinners to stand before God without an intercessor.” (PK: p. 691, par. 1). Christ began to suffer the total separation from God that sin brings. “The spotless Son of God took upon Himself the burden of sin. He who had been one with God, felt in His soul the awful separation that sin makes between God and man. This wrung from His lips the anguished cry, “My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?” Matthew 27:46. It was the burden of sin, the sense of its terrible enormity, of its separation of the soul from God—it was this that broke the heart of the Son of God” (SC, p. 13, par. 2).
As a “man” Christ had to bear the burden of the sins of the world. It is true that: “Deity suffered and sank under the agonies of Calvary” (SDA Bible Commentary, vol. 7, p. 907. [Manuscript #44, 1898])—But Christ was redeeming the human race and, as man’s surety and substitute, He must do so as the rightful head of the human race—He would have to accomplish this in His humanity. This meant that He would be “separated” from His Father. “Christ suffered upon the cross. He bore the sins of the whole world upon Him. He was separated from His Father and great bloody sweat came from His brow and moistened the sod of Gethsemane. He said, ‘If it be possible let this cup pass from me, nevertheless not my will but thine be done.’ He staggered, and the cup trembled in His hand. The destiny of a lost world was upon Him.” (Northern Illinois Recorder: August 17, 1909, par. A4). I really do not believe that we have grasped the enormity or significance of this “separation.”
Christ was paying the penalty for man’s sin. He was paying the penalty for “lawlessness”—the penalty for man’s transgression of the Law of God. The penalty for “lawlessness” (transgressing the Law) is “death.” But it is not the mere physical death that all men face. “. . . to
knowingly transgress the holy commandment . . . is a crime in the sight of heaven which was of such a magnitude under Mosaic law as to require the death of the offender. But this was not all the offender was to suffer, for God would not take a transgressor of His law [a lawless—“Selfish” person] to heaven. He must suffer the second death, which is the full and final penalty for the transgressor of the law of God” (1T, p. 533, par. 1). Although Christ had never sinned, He was taking the guilt of man’s transgression upon Himself and, as such, would have to suffer the consequences rightly due to man. The death that Jesus faced (and must experience) was the “second death.” We simply cannot escape this conclusion. This is “the full and final penalty for the transgressor of the law of God.” If Christ were to truly make a full and final atonement for our sin, He would have to pay the full and final penalty for sin. It could be no other way.
But “The penalty threatened is not mere temporal death, for all must suffer this. It is the second death, the opposite of everlasting life” (SOP vol. 4; p. 364, par. 2). What is the “second death?” If it is the “opposite of everlasting life” then it must be the final, permanent, everlasting death of the individual (or person). This poses a problem for us. If Christ must pay the penalty for sin, and that penalty is the “second death” (the final, permanent and everlasting death)—then how is it that Christ was resurrected? How is it that He “Lives?” The answer lies in what Christ did through the incarnation and through the Cross. We must understand how Christ actually “died” (and what was actually sacrificed) at the Cross. Did it involve only His “physical” human life?
We are told that: “Humanity died: divinity did not die” (Youth’s Instructor, August 4, 1898, par. 1). There is an awful lot contained in that short statement! The death that occurred on Calvary was not just the death of one man! All of “humanity” died in the person of Jesus Christ! Christ came to pay the penalty for the whole human race—every man, woman, and child that has ever lived! God has laid “the iniquity of us all” upon Christ” (Isa. 53:6). “For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive” (1 Cor. 15:22). “He Himself is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for those of the whole world” (1 John 2:2). In Christ is the hope of the entire human race.
But the quote says that “Humanity died: divinity did not die.” Christ obviously died as a man. It was in His humanity that Christ died. Christ became a man, died as a man, was raised as a man—and Christ still retains His human nature. “The Son of God, now at the Father’s right
hand, still pleads as man’s intercessor. He still retains His human nature, is still the Saviour of mankind.” (ST, July 15, 1908, par. 7). If His “divinity” did not die, then what happened to it? We know that Christ was “raised” in His humanity and that He will forever retain His human nature—so He could not have returned to His original divine Spirit self. “He who was one with God has linked Himself with the children of men by ties that are never to be broken. Jesus is “not ashamed to call them brethren” (Hebrews 2:11); He is our Sacrifice, our Advocate, our Brother, bearing our human form before the Father’s throne, and through eternal ages one with the race he has redeemed—the Son of man. And all this that man might be uplifted from the ruin and degradation of sin that he might reflect the love of God and share the joy of holiness” (SC, p. 14). What then became of His divinity—His “divine” self—the “Spirit” self that existed with God in the beginning?
The “death” that Christ suffered was the second death. It had to be Christ must suffer eternal separation from God. And this separation had to be of a permanent nature for there is no resurrection from the second death (Eternal separation from the life giving Spirit of God is the very nature of the second death). How then, was the man Jesus Christ eternally and permanently separated from God the Father when He died? Wasn’t He resurrected, and doesn’t He now exist in the Father’s presence?
Two things need to be recognized here. First, as a “man” Christ did not sin (individually considered) and therefore the Law could not condemn Him—it could hold no threat of eternal death for Him. The individual person of Christ could be resurrected because He had committed no sin and had no right to death. The man Jesus Christ, the only man who has ever lived without committing Sin, could not be held in the grave for death held no claim on Him. This is why the man Jesus Christ could be resurrected and “live.” God is a Just God and could not hold an innocent man—a man that had obeyed Him fully and without fail—a man who never sinned—guilty under the penalty of death for something that he had never done. The grave simply could not hold Christ. In Christ, humanity could be resurrected and live eternally.
But Christ had taken on the sins of the world. Christ literally “became Sin” for us, and suffered the results of Sin for us (2 Cor. 5:21 “He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”). Christ was able to do this
because he was of divine origin. “The law of Jehovah, the foundation of His government in heaven and upon earth, was as sacred as God Himself; and for this reason the life of an angel could not be accepted of God as a sacrifice for its transgression . . . . But the Son of God, who had in unison with the father created man, could make an atonement for man acceptable to God, by giving His life a sacrifice and bearing the wrath of His Father.” (Story of Redemption, p. 48, par. 1). “Since the divine law is as sacred as God Himself, only one equal with God could make atonement for its transgression. None but Christ could redeem fallen man from the curse of the law and bring him again into harmony with Heaven. Christ would take upon Himself the guilt and shame of sin—sin so offensive to a holy God that it must separate the Father and His Son.” (PP, p. 63, par. 2). As One who had been equal with God, Christ could take upon Himself the guilt and shame of sin—He could stand as man’s substitute—but in so doing Christ would suffer the consequences of sin and should be “separated” from the Father. How? And for how long?
If Christ must suffer the full and final penalty for sin—which is the second death (eternal and permanent separation from God) then He would have to be “separated” from the Father eternally. How could Christ be separated from the Father eternally? The answer lies in the incarnation and the full affects of the incarnation. In the Beginning Christ had been brought forth from the Father for the purpose of mediation (communication) between a Perfect and All-Consuming God and the creatures with which He wished to commune. At His birth Christ had laid aside His royal robe—laid down His own divinity—and became a man. He relinquished the use of His own divine Spirit on His own behalf. In effect, He separated Himself from it (it did not reside in Him). At His death, this separation between His brought forth, Divine Human “Self” and His Divine Spirit “Self” became permanent. Christ was to be “through eternal ages on with the race he has redeemed—the Son of man.” (SC, p. 14, par. 3). Christ would never again enjoy the intimate Oneness that he had enjoyed with the Father in the beginning when He was “with God and was God.”
Why would the Father allow such a thing? How could He part with His Son? “Nothing less than the infinite sacrifice made by Christ in behalf of fallen man could express the Father’s love to lost humanity.” (ibid. par. 2). “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” (Jn. 3:15).
And why would Christ consent to such humiliation and undergo such condescension? Why would He be willing to leave His Father’s side in order to rescue us? Why would Christ be willing to part with His Divine Spirit and eternally become a man? “Christ took upon Himself humanity, and laid down His life a sacrifice, that man, by becoming a partaker of the divine nature, might have eternal life.” (Selected Messages, Bk. 3, p. 141, par. 1). “Christ was treated as we deserve, that we might be treated as He deserves. He was condemned for our sins, in which He had no share, that we might be justified by His righteousness, in which we had no share. He suffered the death which was ours, that we might receive the life that was His.” (DA, p. 25, par. 2).
Christ came in order to demonstrate how man can overcome through faith in God—through a total submission to God’s Will. Christ also came in order to demonstrate what “MAN” can become through being a partaker of the divine nature! “The man Christ Jesus was not the Lord God Almighty.” (SDA Bible Commentary, vol. 5, p. 1129). Christ had “laid aside His divinity” and would demonstrate to us what being a partaker of the divine nature could actually do in us. In partaking of His Father’s divine nature, Christ, as a man, would actually unite divinity with humanity and would incorporate humanity into the Godhead!
Christ had to take on our nature and depend totally upon His Father in order to do this. Christ also had to give up His divine nature in order to give it to (or share it with) us so that we too could be united with God in a way that would actually qualify us to be called “Sons (and Daughters) of God” and share His Throne. “Divinity had united with humanity for the purpose of uniting humanity with divinity, that through Christ man might become a partaker of the divine nature” (RH, July 7, 1896, par. 5. Christ came, not only to restore man to his original glory but to elevate man to a state exceeding his original design.
“. . . Christ gave up His life for the human race. This sacrifice was offered for the purpose of restoring man to his original perfection; yea, more. It was offered to give him an entire transformation of character, making him more than a conqueror. Those who in the strength of Christ overcome the great enemy of God and man, will occupy a position in the heavenly courts above angels who have never fallen.” (General Conference Bulletin, April 1, 1899, par. 2). This is a tremendous thing! This is a tremendous Honor! “This is the mystery of godliness. That Christ should take human nature, and by a life of humiliation elevate man in a scale of moral worth with God; that He should carry His adopted nature
to the throne of God, and there present His children to the Father, to have conferred upon them an honour exceeding that conferred upon angels,--this is the marvel of the heavenly universe, the mystery into which angels desire to look. This is love that melts the sinner’s heart.” (Australasian Union Conference Record, June 6, 1900, par. 15). Yet we talk of it as though it were a mere novelty. Our appreciation of it is sadly lacking in most circles and our understanding of how this was accomplished is even more disturbing. Christ gave everything for us in order to make this possible—and we sit around like little school children praying for the latter rain and having no clue as to what it is, and what it has cost the “Son of God” to provide it for us.
Christ literally died to “self.” He died to the “self” that once existed with God and as God” in order to save you and me. He became “one” with us (and one of us) in order that we might become one with God. Christ not only gave Himself for us, He gave Himself to us! The "Son of Man” now at the Father’s Throne, would be forever dependent upon His Father’s Spirit for divine power. His own divine Spirit He has given to us, that we may become partakers of the divine nature. “The glory which You have given Me I have given to them, that they may be one, just as We are one; I in them and You in Me, that they may be perfected in unity, so that the world may know that You sent me, and loved them, even as You have loved Me.” John 17:22, 23.
Chapter 8 Summary
1. Christ created this earth and man using the power of His own divine Spirit in accordance with (and to the glory of) the Will of the Father.
2. When man sinned, Christ embarked on His mission to redeem man. This required Christ to enter into a different sort of ministry than He had performed prior to man’s fall. Christ now became the promised Messiah.
3. At the time that He was needed most, Christ incarnated Himself (through His Holy Spirit) into the womb of Mary and thereby into the human race.
4. This “incarnation” had already begun at the time Christ was brought forth from His Father (and His Spirit nature). His incarnation was now “completed” as He took on our human nature.
5. Christ did, in fact, take on human nature—He became human. “Christ did not make believe to take human nature; He did verily take it. He did in reality possess human nature.” (RH, April 5, 1906, par. 4).
6. Christ took all the steps that we must take in conversion, repentance, baptism, obedience, and resisting the evil one. Christ did this through a complete surrender to His Father’s Will and through complete dependence upon His Father for wisdom and strength to resist and overcome the tempter. Christ did not use His own power (His own divine Spirit) to do this—Christ partook of His Father’s Spirit and relied upon His Father in order to do all that He did.
7. In doing this (depending solely upon His Father), He gave us a living demonstration (example) of what we are to do by depending solely upon Him and His Spirit for the wisdom and strength to overcome sin and the devil.
8. Christ alone is the medium through which we may approach God the Father. All of the Father’s blessings flow through Christ, and our communication with the Father can only be done through Christ. “The only way to God is Christ.” (SC, p. 21, par. 1).
9. Christ’s humanity suffered the full and final penalty for our transgression which is the second death—eternal separation from God. In Christ’s case this meant that He would never
again be “One” with, and equal to, the Father in the way that He had been prior to the creation and the fall of man. Christ would be forever united with the human race. He would forever retain His human nature.
10. In permanently taking on human nature, Christ forever separated from His divine Spirit nature. This Spirit nature separated from His divine Spirit nature. This Spirit nature is what the Bible refers to as the Holy Spirit. Christ partook of His Father’s Spirit nature—not His own. His own Spirit He sacrificed for us, in order that we might become partakers of the divine nature (His) and thus, be “One” with God
11. Proof that the “Holy Spirit” is in fact “Christ’s Spirit” and why Christ sacrificed His Spirit for us is the subject of the following chapters.
The Holy Spirit
Difficult and Revealing Bible Texts
“They have one God and one Saviour; and one Spirit—the Spirit of Christ” (9T p. 289)
“Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is; there is Liberty.” (2 Cor. 3:17)
I wish that it were possible to devote this entire chapter to the beautiful aspects of Christ’s Spirit and what it means to us. However, in writing a book of this sort one is inescapably faced with the necessity of examining some of the technical issues, difficult Bible texts, and the inevitable objections bound to be raised in response to the position set forth her. I know that this sometimes makes for dryer reading but it is necessary before we can move on to the kind of things that will stir your soul. So I would like to start with these issues and conclude with the more glorious implications of all of this. We will begin by looking at some of the difficult Bible texts used by some to support the idea that the Holy Spirit is not Christ’s Spirit but an unrelated third person of the Godhead (the traditional Trinitarian viewpoint). Then we will take a look at the names of the Holy Spirit and the character attributes that inseparably link Him to Christ. We will also look at some of the Spirit of Prophecy quotes that have muddled the waters of our understanding of the nature of the Holy Spirit and which many people use as proof positive inspired quotes to prove that the traditional doctrine of the Trinity
is the correct one. Finally we will examine both the Bible and the SOP quotes that offer us a true understanding of exactly who the Holy Spirit is, and the beautiful implications of understanding this truth.
First, let me say that it is impossible for a believer in, or a student of, the Scriptures to conclude that the Holy Spirit is not God! His titles, His work, His relationship with God and His relationship to us, all prove His existence as “God.” I do not argue this point. The Holy Spirit is indeed a “Divine Being”—He is God. This fact, however, has caused many to erroneously conclude that the Holy Spirit has existed as a third, individual (or independent), member of the Godhead from all eternity. This is simply not the case. Let me explain.
Just because the Bible identifies the Holy Spirit as being God does not mean that He must have existed as a third person of the Godhead from all eternity. The Bible states that “God is Spirit and since it refers to the “holy Spirit” we could conclude that since the Holy Spirit is God that He has existed as a separate individual (third) member of the Godhead with the Father and Christ from all eternity. However, this type of reasoning is flawed for several reasons. We have already seen that it was the Father and the Son who created all things and who were involved in the councils of heaven, the plan of Salvation, and who are the only ones associated with the Throne of God. It would also be incorrect to assume that just because two things are true (fact) and are related to a single subject (or person) that they are directly correlated and must exhibit all the characteristics of that subject/person (i.e. personal history and existence)! Too many of us have approached the subject of the Holy Spirit with this type [of] faulty reasoning and have used it, ultimately, to supp[ort our preconceived opinions—or the teachings with which we were indoctrinated. Let me illustrate why this type of reasoning can lead us to a wrong conclusion.
I went to work yesterday—Yesterday I got sick. Does this mean that since I went to work yesterday that this is the reason I got sick? Absolutely not! I may have picked up a virus days ago (over the weekend) and only came down sick yesterday. The fact that I went to work yesterday had nothing to do with my getting sick. It would be totally fallacious to conclude that my going to work yesterday was responsible for my getting sick yesterday just because both things happened to me yesterday.
Students of the Scriptures sometimes employ this same kind of fallacious reasoning. For example: We know that God (Father) is “Spirit” and we know that the Holy Spirit is God. Does that mean that the Holy Spirit is the Father? Some believe He is. Their reasoning incorporates the reasoning that God (the Father) is “Spirit” and that He is “Holy” coupled with the fact that the Holy Spirit is God—
and they conclude that God the Father IS the Holy Spirit. This is correct in a sense—we can certainly refer to the Father as a “Holy Spirit”—but referring to the Father as The “Holy Spirit” would not be true to Biblical revelation or its teaching regarding “The Holy Spirit” as a being which is separate (or individual) from the Father. Just because the Bible says that the Father is “Spirit” and it also speaks of the “Holy Spirit” as being God, does not mean that the Holy Spirit is the Father God.
The same kind of fallacious reasoning is employed by many of us in concluding that the Holy Spirit, since He is God—and since God has existed from all eternity—must have existed as the third individual member of the Godhead from all eternity. This is simply not the case and it is wrong for us to make such a conclusion. God has indeed changed. Christ, who was “with God and was God,” was brought forth from the Father as a divine being who was different from the divine being that existed with the Father prior to the creation of intelligent, free-moral, beings. Even the brought forth Christ underwent further change when He incarnated Himself into the human family and took on the nature (form, intellect and character) of man. This change created a very real change in the nature of the Godhead. The Father and the Son no longer share the intimate ONENESS THAT THEY ONCE DID WHEN Christ Existed, singularly, as the same type of being (substance, attributes, and form) as the Father. In accomplishing the incarnation (beginning with Christ being “brought forth” from the Father) Christ could not maintain all the attributes that once made Him truly and singularly (individually) God.
Difficult Bible Texts:
John 3:12, 13: “If I have told you earthly things, and ye believe not, how shall ye believe, if I tell you of heavenly things? And no man hath ascended up to
Heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven.” (KJV emphasis added).
Some translations of the Bible, such as the New American Standard Version (NASB), do not include the last four words of verse 13: “which is in heaven.” They note it in a marginal reference but do not include it in the body of the text. Many other translations—The King James Version, the Revised Version, the International Standard Version, the American Standard Version, Young’s Analytical Translation, Webster’s, the Analytical-Literal Translation, etc.—all include these words.
I do not know exactly why the NASB does not include the last part of this passage. I realize that they are using what they consider to be the oldest and the best manuscripts available and that some of these do not include these words. I do wonder though, if the translator’s may have chosen not to include these words (which are found in other reputable manuscripts) because they appear to make no sense at all! Whatever may be the reason, these words are included in the majority of Bibles and are worth our attention and study.
Jesus is speaking here, and He (the Son of Man/God) is addressing Nicodemus as one standing in his midst—in his immediate presence. These were not words spoken through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit—as were many of the other words written by the disciples. Nicodemus related his encounter with Jesus to the Apostle John who recorded this account in his gospel (see DA p. 177, par. 2). Jesus revealed to Nicodemus his need to be “born again” “by an agency as unseen as the wind” (DA p. 172)—that is, “the Spirit.” In other words, Jesus was talking to Nicodemus about the Holy Spirit and his need to be re-born from above. Christ was trying to get Nicodemus to discern “heavenly things.” HE was trying to get him to go beyond his earthly wisdom and understanding and to focus on that which is from above, that is, on those truths which are spiritual and which are spiritually discerned. Christ had used “earthly” things to illustrate the spiritual things He was relating and while Nicodemus seemed eager to understand that which he was being taught, he stubbornly refused to do so. Christ told Him: “if I told you earthly things and you do not believe, how will you believe if I tell you heavenly things?” (Jn. 3:12). Then Christ threw him a real “bone” to chew on. This difficult bon (truth) is found in the
Very next words spoken by Jesus. It is the apparently contradictory statement found in verse 13: “no man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven.”
It is not difficult to understand the first part of this statement—that the One who came down from heaven and who has ascended up to heaven is the “Son of Man”—Jesus Christ, the Messiah. But the second part of this verse leaves most of us scratching our heads—“which [who] is in heaven.” How could the man speaking these words to Nicodemus, and who was physically present with him at that moment, say that He is also in heaven?! The tense that is used in the word translated as “which is” (in heaven) is the first person singular present indicative—this means that the word “is” is indicative of the state of the person speaking, at that moment—it indicates where the person speaking “is” right then. Jesus was saying, in effect, “although I am standing here speaking to you right now”—“I am in heaven.” That will blow a few brain cells! Especially if you understand that the Son of God, now incarnate as “The Son of man” (Jesus Christ), was not “Omnipresent.” “Cumbered with humanity Christ could not be in every place personally.” (Manuscript 1084, p. 7—MR vol. 14, p. 23, par. 3)]. How then, could Christ be present and speaking with Nicodemus