Are we missing something here?
The Godhead, the Holy Spirit, and the
“Infinite Cost” of our Salvation
Copyright © 2007 by Bruce Bivens
Printed in United States of America
All rights reserved.
No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in or introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording, or any information storage and retrieval system now known or to be invented, without permission in writing from the author. Scanning, uploading, and distribution of this book via the Internet or via any other means without the permission of the author is illegal and punishable by law.
All Bible quotes are from the New American Standard Bible (NASB) unless otherwise noted.
"Scripture quotations taken from the New American
Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973,
1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation
Used by permission." (www.Lockman.org)
RSV = Revised Standard Version
“Scriptures quotations from the Revised Standard Version of the Bible,
copyright © 1946, 1952, and 1971 by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA. Used by permission. All rights reserved.”
KJV = King James Version (Public Domain)
YLT = Young’s Literal Translation (Public Domain)
Note: ALL Emphasis (Bold, Italics,
Underline, etc.) of any quoted Bible verses, regardless of the Translation
used, are done by the Author of this book unless otherwise noted.
Ellen White Quoted Material Abbreviations:
Also referred to as “Spirit of Prophecy” or SOP are cited using the following abbreviations:
Australasian Union Conference Record (date and paragraph number)
BE = Bible Echo (date and paragraph number)
COL = Christ’s Object Lessons (page number)
CSW = Counsels on Sabbath School Work (page number)
DA = The Desire of Ages (page number)
ED = Education (page number)
EV = Evangelism
EW = Early Writings (page number)
The Faith I Live By (page number)
GC = The Great Controversy (page number)
General Conference Bulletins (date and paragraph number)
GW = Gospel Workers (page number)
Healthful Living (page number)
In Heavenly Places (page number)
Letter # = E. G. White Letter (letter number)
MB = Thoughts From the Mount of Blessings (page number)
MR = Manuscript Releases (volume number and page number)
MS = Manuscript (followed by it’s number and date)
My Life Today (page number)
MYP = Messages to Young People (page number)
Northern Illinois Recorder (periodical date, paragraph number)
PK = Prophets and Kings (page number)
PP = Patriarchs and Prophets (page number)
The Paulson Collection of E.G. White Letters (page and paragraph)
RH = Review and Herald (periodical date, paragraph number)
SC = Steps to Christ (page number)
SDA BC = Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary (volume number and page)
Sketches From the Life of Paul (page number)
SM = Selected Messages (volume number, page number)
SOP vol. 1,2,3,4 = Spirit of Prophecy, volume 1,2,3,4
Southern Watchman (periodical date, paragraph number)
Special Testimonies (series letter, page number, date)
Special Testimonies on Education (page number, date)
SR = The Story of Redemption (page number)
ST = Signs of the Times (periodical date and paragraph number)
1T, 2T, 3T, etc. = Testimonies to the Church: volume 1, 2, 3, etc.
TM = Testimonies to Ministers (page number)
The Messenger (periodical date, paragraph number)
Ye Shall Receive Power (page number)
YI = Youth’s Instructor (periodical date and paragraph number)
ALL emphasis added to cited material is done by the author of this book unless otherwise noted.
The author assumes full responsibility for the accuracy of all facts and quotations cited in this book.
This book is dedicated to my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and to His Holy Spirit. It is also dedicated to my loving wife Judy, who has patiently endured the arduous process of my writing this book and who has provided numerous helpful suggestions and thoughtful questions that have helped make this book complete. My thanks also goes out to the many people who have provided information and study materials and quotes for this book. A special thanks is given to my Brother in Christ, James Franks, who provided me with much of the information contained in the “Preface” of this book and who has been an excellent study partner. I also wish to extend thanks to my Church – the Seventh-day Adventist Church – for its willingness to continue study on the great themes of Salvation and its wealth of information (particularly the writings of Ellen G. White) concerning the same. It is my prayer that this book will be a special blessing for all who read it.
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 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. It 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 the 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. 322: 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 a 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; used by permission). 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 Mrs. 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 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 pummeled 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, Russel 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--http://www.sdanet.org/atissue/trinity/moon/moon-trinity1.htm, 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. 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 1874 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," 1939. 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 in 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.
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 the 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 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 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…
Table of Contents
1. Introduction “The Godhead and the Holy Spirit”…………………………… 1
2. Why the “Proof Text” Method is not Sufficient………………………………. 6
3. The Problem Facing God as He Considered Creating Intelligent Life. .11
4. The Original Godhead—Christ’s Nature Before & After the Creation.. 15
5. The Change in the Person of Christ after the Creation……………………. 22
6. The Pre-Advent Incarnation………………………………………………………… 31
7. Jesus—The God of the Old Testament……………………………………………39
8. The Incarnation—Jesus becomes Man……………………………………….... 53
9. The Holy Spirit—Difficult Bible Texts………………………………………….. 65
10. The Holy Spirit—The Mystery Explained……………………………………… 87
11. Partakers of the Divine Nature………………………………………..………….. 97
13. Appendix “A” The Oneness Doctrine.…………………………………………..115
14. Appendix “B” Beast Identified..…………………………………………………..117
15. Appendix “C” Archangel Michael=Christ…………………………………… 119
16. Appendix “D” New Light Quotes.………………………………………………..121
17. Appendix “E” The Promise of the Spirit..……………………………………..124
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 to 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 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 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 has 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. 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 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). “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?
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 groanings too deep for words” (Rom. 8:26)! 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 think is established truth, in comparing Scripture with Scripture, we may discover errors in our interpretation of Scripture." (RH, July 10, 1889). "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 counsels of God. God responded in this way: “The Great Creator assembled 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’s 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-Text” Method Is NOT Adequate or Sufficient For The Understanding Or Explanation Of All 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 affect 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 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. Mrs. 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 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 using 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 using 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 used 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) and 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 “yours” 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 used 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 comes 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 apart 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 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 maintaining 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, if 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 1:1 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, 1906; 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 whom 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 Him. 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.
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 it’s 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 whose 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 Church 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 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. 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” 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 (it 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 “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’s 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 – 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 fields, 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 establishes the pre-existence 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. . .”
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?
Brought Forth – How?
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 now 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). “God graciously spoke his law and wrote it with his own finger on stone, making a solemn covenant with his people at Sinai” (RH May 6, 1875; par. 14). “It was Christ who from the bush on Mount Horeb spoke to Moses saying, "I Am That I Am” (DA p. 24, par. 3). “Moses saw a bush in flames, branches, foliage, and trunk, all burning, yet seeming not to be consumed. . . . He was warned not to approach irreverently: ‘Put off thy shoes from off thy feet; for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground. . . . I am the God of they father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.’ It was He who, as the Angel of the covenant, had revealed Himself to the fathers in ages past. ‘And Moses hid his face; for he was afraid to look upon God.’” (PP; p. 251.252). “Moses was saved by the merits of Christ, who was the angel that led the armies of Israel in all their travels through the wilderness.” (ST July 18, 1878; par. 11). ). “The angel who went before Israel was the Lord Jesus Christ” (SR p. 143). “As Joshua withdrew from the armies of Israel, to meditate and pray for God’s special presence to attend him, he saw a man of lofty stature, clad in warlike garments, with his sword drawn in his hand. . . . In his zeal he [Joshua] accosted him, and said, ‘Art thou for us, or for our adversaries? And He said, Nay; but as captain of the host of the Lord am I now come. And Joshua fell on his face to the earth, and did worship. . . . And the Captain of the Lord’s host said unto Joshua, Loose thy shoe from off thy foot; for the place whereon thou standest is holy. . . . This was no common angel. It was the Lord Jesus Christ, He who had conducted the Hebrews through the wilderness, enshrouded in the pillar of fire by night and the pillar of cloud by day. The place was made sacred by His presence. . .” (SR p. 178). “It was Christ that was with Jacob through that night, with whom he wrestled, and whom he perseveringly held until He Blessed him” (SR p. 95). “The patriarch [Jacob] now discerned the character of his antagonist. He knew that he had been in conflict with a heavenly messenger. . . . It was Christ, ‘the Angel of the covenant,’ who had revealed Himself to Jacob” (PP, p. 197).
These are not mystical descriptions of encounters with mystical spiritual beings. These are descriptions of real encounters with real beings! These encounters with angels and with the “Angel of the Lord” describe interactions between real men and real physical (albeit “supernatural”) beings. Angels are real not mystical! They are created beings having both form and substance. Daniel describes an encounter with an angel (not the Lord Jesus) like this: “And behold, one who resembled a human being was touching my lips; then I opened my mouth and spoke and said to him who was standing before me, ‘O my lord, as a result of the vision anguish has come upon me, and I have retained no strength. For how can such a servant of my lord talk with such as my lord? As for me, there remains just now no strength in me, nor has any breath been left in me.’ Then this one with human appearance touched me again and strengthened me. He said, "O man of high esteem, do not be afraid. Peace be with you; take courage and be courageous!" Now as soon as he spoke to me, I received strength and said, "May my lord speak, for you have strengthened me." Then he said, "Do you understand why I came to you? But I shall now return to fight against the prince of Persia; so I am going forth, and behold, the prince of Greece is about to come. "However, I will tell you what is inscribed in the writing of truth. Yet there is no one who stands firmly with me against these forces except Michael your prince.” (Dan. 10:16-21).
In the New Testament we find statements referring to “Michael” the “Archangel”. We find one describing a dispute that “Michael” was having with Satan regarding the body of Moses. “But Michael the archangel, when he disputed with the devil and argued about the body of Moses, did not dare pronounce against him a railing judgment, but said, ‘The Lord rebuke you!’” (Jude 1:9). These are the exact same words that the “Angel of the LORD” (Jesus) said when Satan was accusing Joshua before Him: “Then he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the LORD, and Satan standing at his right hand to accuse him. “The LORD said to Satan, "The LORD rebuke you, Satan! Indeed, the LORD who has chosen Jerusalem rebuke you! Is this not a brand plucked from the fire?” (Zech. 3:1-2). “Michael” the Archangel is also described as the leader of the angelic host in the “war in heaven” when He battled against Lucifer after his fall from grace: “And there was war in heaven, Michael and his angels waging war with the dragon. The dragon and his angels waged war, and they were not strong enough, and there was no longer a place found for them in heaven” (Rev. 12:7-8). That “Michael the Archangel” is, in fact, the Lord Jesus Christ can be shown by comparing Scripture with Scripture. In 1 Thessalonians 4:16 we see that the “Lord Himself will descend from heaven with . . . the voice of the archangel. . . and the dead in Christ shall rise first.” Jesus said that it would be His voice which raises the dead: “Truly, truly, I say to you, an hour is coming and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God: and those who hear shall live” (Jn. 5:25). The voice of the Archangel and the voice of the Son of God are one in the same because Jesus is Michael! (see Appendix “C”).
We have seen that Jesus had physical attributes (He had hands, feet, back, face, mouth and stomach), a body if you will, when He interacted with Abraham, Moses, Jacob, and Joshua. In the reference to “Michael the Archangel” and the “war in heaven” we are brought back to a time before the fall of man and placed squarely at the time of Lucifer’s Rebellion. Michael (Christ) is described as angelic in nature and He is depicted as waging war with the Devil. We know that this was not a physical war but a war of ideas, principles, and authority – a war of good verses evil. Is there any proof that Jesus actually existed at this time in a form resembling angels? I believe that there is.
It has always intrigued and amazed me that Lucifer could ever think that he was equal with Jesus – the “Son of God”. How is it that Lucifer could have had the audacity to presume such a thing?! How could he believe that he had the right to be included in the councils of the “MOST HIGH”? What brought him to that conclusion? Lucifer was no dummy. We are told that Lucifer was “a being logical and philosophical, possessing a powerful intellect” (RH July 16, 1901; par. 1). We also know that Lucifer was “the sharer of God's glory in heaven, and second to Jesus in power and majesty. In the words of inspiration he is described as the one who "sealest up the sum, full of wisdom, and perfect in beauty." (Bible Echo; November 1, 1892; par. 3). How then, could he make such a gross error – UNLESS, of course, Jesus form was very much like his own? This is the only way (as I see it) that Lucifer could have presumed to be Christ’s equal.
As the leader of the Heavenly host, Jesus form must NOT have been much different from that of the angels else Lucifer would not have made such a presumptuous error in thinking that He was entitled to be equal with Christ. The Bible describes Lucifer as a being of incredible beauty and intellect: “Thus says the Lord GOD, ‘You had the seal of perfection, Full of wisdom and perfect in beauty. . . . You were the anointed cherub who covers, And I placed you there. You were on the holy mountain of God; You walked in the midst of the stones of fire. You were blameless in your ways from the day you were created until unrighteousness was found in you. By the abundance of your trade You were internally filled with violence, And you sinned; Therefore I have cast you as profane from the mountain of God. And I have destroyed you, O covering cherub, From the midst of the stones of fire’” (Eze. 28:12,14-16). So what reason does the Bible give for his corruption? “Your heart was lifted up because of your beauty; You corrupted your wisdom by reason of your splendor. . .” (vs. 17).
Commenting on Lucifer’s assertion that he was being treated unfairly in being considered “second” to Christ and by not being included in the councils of God, Ellen White writes: “Had not the Lord made the covering cherub so beautiful, so closely resembling his own image; had not God awarded him special honor; had anything been left undone in the gift of beauty and power and honor, then Satan might have had some excuse.” (General Conference Daily Bulletins; March 2, 1897; par.34). This statement is very revealing! Christ had apparently created Lucifer so nearly resembling Himself (in beauty, power, majesty and honor) that Lucifer felt justified to rebel against God for placing Christ above him. Lucifer corrupted his intellect (twisted his thinking into believing that he was equal with Christ, and that God was being “unfair” to exclude him from His most intimate Counsels) primarily because of his physical beauty, which so closely resembled Christ’s that he apparently did not understand that he and Christ were two very different kinds of beings! In short, Lucifer did not understand the Nature of Christ. As the rebellion grew it became apparent that many of the other angels did not completely understand this either.
We will see in a moment how all of this shows that God had already made provision for the entrance of Sin, before the creation of intelligent life, and that this was all part of His plan in dealing with the Sin problem – that it is all part of the plan of Redemption which the Father developed before the creation and which Christ (as a willing and voluntary participant ) was now fulfilling as the One “sent” by Father to fulfill His will!
Chapter 5 Summary
1. Christ existed as God in Spirit form prior to the Creation. “God is Spirit” (Jn. 4:24) and Jesus existed as God. John says that Christ “became flesh” which implies an existence not of the flesh prior to His incarnation. The words of Proverbs 8 – “Brought Forth” are given great significance by this fact.
2. The phrase “Brought Forth” refers to a change in the physical nature of Christ as well as in His role and office work in light of the fact that He possessed a truly physical form after the Creation – even before the Fall.
3. In the description of Christ being “Brought Forth” we have a description of the beginning of the incarnation.
4. In Christ’s “Brought Forth” form He appeared in the likeness of a man and of angels.
5. Men and Angels are not much different in form – they are described as being similar and as having similar features (hands, feet, face, eyes, mouth, etc.).
6. In Christ’s “Brought Forth” form there were certain physical restrictions placed upon Him. His powers were also limited – but He was still declared to be the “Son of God” and was invested with all the authority devolving to God.
7. Christ was still capable of exercising “Divine Power” and would exercise this power in the creation of the Earth – but His Divine Power would ONLY be used to carry out the will of His Father. He would not “seek power or exaltation for Himself.”
8. Christ humbled Himself (“voluntarily emptied Himself”) and took the form of a servant.
9. Christ’s “Brought Forth” role was to reveal the Father to His creations and to provide a means by which He could interact with them – and they with Him – even after some would separate from God through Sin.
10. Christ’s words are to be regarded by us “as the word of the Father.”
11. There is much more to be understood about the “Incarnation”!
The Pre-Advent Incarnation
“Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. . . . the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world” (Jn. 1:29; Rev. 13:18).
In the last chapter we saw that Christ existed in a form that resembled that of the Angels – even before the Fall – and that His likeness to them was partially responsible for Lucifer’s mistakenly thinking that he was equal to Christ and for his thinking that he should have been included in all of the councils of God. We also saw that Christ’s likeness to the angels at this time was one of the reasons that the Father had to clarify Christ’s relationship to them (and to all creation). We saw that the Father bestowed special honor to Christ at this time and that He was given the authority to speak for the Father. We noticed that Christ’s powers were limited while He existed in this form but that “Christ was still [yet] to exercise divine power, in the creation of the earth and its inhabitants” (PP; p. 36, par 2). – in it all he was not to exercise His own divine power for His own glory but to fulfill the will of the Father and to bring glory to Him.
We must be ever mindful of the fact that the plan of Redemption was conceived (and even implemented) prior to the creation of all intelligent life. At the very heart of the plan of Redemption lies the incarnation. The “incarnation” of the Son of God would be absolutely essential for “man” to be brought back into a proper relationship with God – for man to be forgiven – and for the claims of God’s law to be justly upheld and applied. The incarnation was essential if God were to prove Himself as both Just and Merciful. But even before the Fall of man the incarnation was essential for God and for His creations. God had to have a means by which He could communicate and interact with His “free-willed” created beings that would allow for the possibility of their separating from His Love – and allowing those who would separate from Him to not be immediately consumed. Christ was the mediator between God and His creation from eternity – long before the Fall (“From everlasting he was the Mediator of the covenant” (RH April 5, 1906). “. . . the order of unseen worlds is also 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).
Some will take exception with me on this point. They will argue that Jesus was still in a “spiritual form” (and therefore not in a different form than that which He had when He existed with the Father prior to the creation) since even Angels are “spiritual” beings. But this argument becomes moot (has no practical effect on the existing argument) in light of the Biblical revelation that Jesus was “Brought Forth” from the Father prior to the creation (that a “change” had taken place), and in light of the statements revealing that there existed a much different relationship between the Father and the Son after the creation of intelligent life. This argument is also rendered moot as we are forced to acknowledge that the Angels (spiritual beings or not) were created beings having physical attributes and Christ obviously had taken on a form resembling that of these created beings. As has been pointed out, God (Father) needed a mediator (or go-between) between Himself and His absolute purity and the free willed beings He wished to create. Jesus was that mediator. In His role as such, it was necessary for Him to take on the form (or nature) of His created beings. This incarnation (being “Brought Forth” from the Father) involved Jesus depriving Himself of many of the powers and attributes that He had shared with the Father prior to this event. A drastic change in Christ’s nature took place at this time.
Christ was still of “Divine” origin (not created) and He still was invested with supremacy and authority over ALL created beings, but there existed a huge change in His “being” from that which He had enjoyed when He was purely God. This “change” in His “being” resulted in the loss of many of the attributes that had made Him fully God. The change, or incarnation, through which He passed involved the giving up of certain attributes of His “God Nature” (Omnipresence being one of these) and helps us better understand what is meant by Christ’s being “the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.”
The word “slain” implies “death”. It also can imply being “struck” or injured. Whichever way we may choose to define the word “slain” we know, that in the case of Christ, it meant that He would die as a result. Did Christ “die” from the foundation of the world? If so, in what sense did He “die”? Can God die? How did Christ “die” – How are we to understand that He was “slain from the foundation of (prior to the creation of) the world”?
Was Christ a “man” when He was “brought forth”?
We have seen that both the Bible and the SOP describe “men” and “angels” as similar in form – they have similar attributes such as faces, hands, feet, mouth, eyes, etc. I do not believe that it is any real stretch at all to conclude that Christ would choose to be “brought forth” in the nature of man for the following reasons:
1. Men and angels share common attributes.
2. Man was to be “the crowning work of the Creator” (PP; p. 44, par. 3).
3. Man was “made in the image of God.” (Healthful Living; p. 10, par. 2).
4. The plan of Redemption was not an afterthought. It was conceived and implemented prior to the creation. Christ was “the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world” (Rev. 13:18). Christ was “brought forth”, in large measure, for the purpose of redeeming the created beings that would become embroiled in the Great Controversy through their fall into Sin. It seems perfectly logical that Christ would take on the form of the beings He would eventually Redeem and the attributes of the creatures with whom He would eternally associate Himself through the incarnation. While Christ was not fully human (or fully incarnated) at this time – He had begun the process and exhibited many of the attributes of man.
Let’s examine these points for a moment. We have already established that men and angels exhibit similar physical attributes. Although angels are distinct creatures (not identical to man) and exist as spiritual beings they still exhibit these attributes. It is not necessary to define all of the differences between men and angels for us to understand that there are striking similarities to their beings, and their appearance also.
Adam was a noble and majestic being when he came forth from the hands of the Creator! Man was indeed “the crowning work” of the Creator. “Above all lower orders of being, God designed that man, the crowning work of His creation, should express His thought and reveal His glory.” (8T; p. 264, par. 3). “He desires that man, the crowning work of His creative power, shall reach the highest possible development. . . . to share the glorious liberty of the sons of God.” (SC p. 43, par. 4).
“Man was the crowning act of the creation of God, made in the image of God, and designed to be a counterpart of God. . . . Man is very dear to God, because he was formed in his own image.” (Healthful Living, p. 10, par. 2). Dr. Waterhouse, a professor of mine in college, used to say: “in order to understand the future we must look to the past.” This is true when we consider the creation of man. In order to understand man’s true nature when he was brought forth from the hand of the Creator, we need to extrapolate from the existence of Christ prior to the creation. Man was made in God’s image, not the other way around! “What is man that You take thought of him, And the son of man that You care for him? Yet You have made him a little lower than God, And You crown him with glory and majesty! (Ps. 8:4-5).
“In the beginning. . . . God said, ‘Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness. . .” (Genesis 1:1,26). It is very illuminating to consider what Mrs. White says regarding this statement: “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). Notice that it is “the Father and the Son” who are carrying out their purpose in creating man in their image – and that this was “designed before the fall of Satan.” The Father now says to Christ; “Let us make man in our image, according to our likeness.” Who’s “likeness” was man created in? It had to be in the “likeness” of both the Father and the Son for He says: “Let us make man in our image.” But this statement has greater significance than we have traditionally given it. Exactly “How” was man to resemble God’s “likeness” – the “likeness” of both the Father and the Son?
“Man was to bear God's image, both in outward resemblance and in character.” (PP p. 45, par. 2; emphasis mine). I think most of us can accept the idea of Adam bearing God’s image “in character” – but did Adam really look like God in “outward resemblance”? “When Adam came from the Creator's hand, he bore, in his physical, mental, and spiritual nature, a likeness to his Maker. ‘God created man in His own image’ (Genesis 1:27), and it was His purpose that the longer man lived the more fully he should reveal this image--the more fully reflect the glory of the Creator.” (ED p. 15, par. 1). “Created to be ‘the image and glory of God’ (1 Corinthians 11:7), Adam and Eve had received endowments not unworthy of their high destiny. Graceful and symmetrical in form, regular and beautiful in feature, their countenances glowing with the tint of health and the light of joy and hope, they bore in outward resemblance the likeness of their Maker. Nor was this likeness manifest in the physical nature only. Every faculty of mind and soul reflected the Creator's glory.” (ED p. 20, par. 2). How could this be?
The only way that this could be is if Christ bore this likeness prior to the creation and then formed man in His image! Since God intended to create man prior to the creation of all intelligent life; since man was to be created just “a little lower than God” and would be God’s “Crowning” creation; and since man was the object of the plan of Redemption – it makes perfect sense that Christ would take on mankind’s form when He was “brought forth” from the Father. We cannot forget that it was Christ who created all things – that the Father has “appointed Him heir of all things” and that it was through Christ that “He made the world” (Heb. 1:2). We cannot escape the fact that man was to be created in the image of God and that this would include the image of the brought forth Christ as their Creator. “He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by Him 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 through Him and for Him. He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together” (Col. 1:15-17).
When Christ sat on His Father’s Throne at this time, it was the Father’s Glory that “encircled both.” Christ’s Own Glory was apparently not abiding in Himself -- in His “brought forth form” -- else there would have been no confusion on the part of the angels as to Christ’s “true position” or “the relation He sustained to all created beings.” Also, had Christ’s own glory been abiding in Him at this time, the angels who had “sinned” would have been consumed. Part of Christ’s own original glory was His Omnipotence and He had apparently laid this power aside in order that He might accomplish being “brought forth” in a form that would not consume His finite beings. “Christ, the Light of the world, veiled the dazzling splendor of His divinity and came to live as a man among men, that they might, without being consumed, become acquainted with their Creator. No man has seen God at any time except as He is revealed through Christ” (8T p. 265, par. 2).
The Father veiled His glory – His absolute purity – by not interacting on a personal one-to-one basis with created beings. Even the Covering Cherubs did not look directly upon the Fathers person for it was covered (veiled) with a dazzling light. In one of Ellen White’s early visions she beheld the Father and the Son on the Throne but could not see the Father’s “person” – she states, “a cloud of glorious light covered Him.” She was told by Christ that the Father’s person could not be seen by her: “[you] could not behold it, for said He, ‘If you should once behold the glory of His person, you would cease to exist.’” (Early Writings; p. 54, par. 2). The Father used another medium through which to reveal Himself and His Glory in a way that would not overwhelm and destroy His creations. The Father revealed Himself in a muted form – in the person of the brought forth Christ. I believe that it was necessary for Christ to do the same thing with Himself.
Since Christ was equal with the Father in every respect prior to His being “brought forth”, Christ would have to “veil” His own glory in order to interact with His Creation. Had Christ come in the totality of His divinity, we (and the angels) would have been consumed. Christ “veiled” His divinity by separating part of it from Himself. When Christ took on the form of man we could behold Him. And in “beholding” Him we are beholding a divine person. We cannot afford to forget that Christ, even in His “brought forth” form, was of Divine origin! So when we, or the angels, are beholding Him, we are beholding “Divinity.” But part of His divinity we cannot behold – it would consume us. How was Christ to “veil” that part from us? Remember, He could not be walking around with this aspect of Himself residing in Him. He had to separate this part of Himself from His brought forth self.
In separating or dividing Himself, He effectively became two persons. His “brought forth” self we know and behold as the “Son of Man.” The part of Himself that was not brought forth with Him became what we refer to as the “Holy Spirit.” Christ effectively “laid aside” that part of His divinity, which included His Omnipotence, Omnipresence, and Omniscience and this part of Christ’s divinity became the person of the Holy Spirit. Christ would still (yet) use His own divinity (His Holy Spirit) in the creation of the Earth and of man, but He would exercise His own divinity only in submission to the will of His Father. This is why we seem to see three individuals at work in the creation of the Earth and Man. When the Father said to His Son: “Let us make man in our image” it was the work of the Father and the Son alone. But the Holy Spirit is there, a part of the person of Christ and is active in the formation of the Earth and in the giving of life to man (see Gen. 1:2 & 2:7). The reason why we see only two persons spoken of in connection with God’s Throne, the councils of Heaven, the work of creation, etc.; is because the “Holy Spirit” is inclusively reckoned in the person of Jesus Christ!
The concept of Inclusive reckoning is important for us to understand. It is used in the Bible in such verses as Matthew 12:40 where Christ states that: “so shall the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.” In Hebrew thought, any part of a day was considered to be a whole day (night and day). Therefore, when Christ died on Friday afternoon, it was understood that this would include both the “evening and the morning” of that day. Likewise, when Christ rose on Sunday morning it was understood that He had been in “the heart of the earth” for the entire day of Sunday (evening and morning). Therefore, we understand that Christ was indeed in the tomb for three days and three nights. If we do not understand inclusive reckoning we will draw the wrong conclusions and arrive at an understanding of the Scriptures that is not “Truth.” This is why some people are confused as to the day on which Christ died and/or arose. Inclusive reckoning is also used in statements concerning Adam, Christ, and Levi: “For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive” (1 Cor. 15:22). “And, so to speak, through Abraham even Levi, who received tithes, paid tithes, for he was still in the loins of his father when Melchizedek met him” (Heb. 7:9-10). The use of inclusive reckoning concerning the relationship of Christ and the Holy Spirit will become abundantly clear and evident when we consider the Bible and SOP statements about the Holy Spirit and his role in the plan of redemption later in this book.
After the Fall of man, when the brought forth Christ promised to take man’s place and suffer the penalty for man’s transgression, this separation in Christ’s person widened. “Man is the crowning glory of the Creator's works, and he has been redeemed at an inconceivable cost to the Son of God. None but he could restore to man the moral image of God, which had been lost through transgression.” (ST January 6, 1887; par. 3). When Christ actually became fully incarnated as a man through His birth to Mary – the separation was complete (but not yet final). When Christ died on the Cross, the separation was final – the brought forth (incarnate) Christ would forever exist as a man. We will explore this in more detail later. Right now we need to take a look at “Who” the God of the Old Testament actually is, for this will tell us much about the “promise” of “the Spirit” and will reveal a great deal more about the role Christ’s “Spirit” plays in the plan of Salvation.
Jesus -- The “God” of the Old Testament
Early on in my Christian experience I used to believe that the God of the Old Testament was the Father and that Christ was the focus of the New Testament. Many things have changed my mind about this. First, I learned that Jesus came to reveal the Father to us. He did this throughout the Old Testament and well as the New – and the God that was revealed was the same God. This drastically changed how I approached and understood many of the things recorded in the Old Testament! Second, I learned that it was Christ that had performed many of the things that I had mistakenly attributed to the Father (e.g. Christ gave the Law and wrote them on the tables of stone. Christ delivered Israel from their Egyptian bondage. Christ was the one who created all things. Christ was the one who appeared and spoke to people like Abraham, Jacob, Moses, the prophets and others, etc.). Third, I learned that many of the names for God that I had believed were reserved for the Father alone, were actually names for Christ also. And finally, and perhaps most importantly, I learned that the Old Testament Sanctuary (Tabernacle) revealed the good news (Gospel) of the plan of redemption – That it typified Christ and that all of it’s design and furnishings are symbolic of Christ and of His work on man’s behalf. I now believe that the God that is revealed as the active agent in the Old Testament is Christ and Christ alone. As the only “medium through which He [Father] could pour out His infinite love upon a fallen world” (SC p. 13, par. 2), Christ came to reveal the true nature (character) of the Father. And while it is conceded that the Father was “in Christ reconciling the World to Himself” (2 Cor. 5:19); the Father acted only through Christ, so that it is Christ who was the One performing all of the acts attributed to God throughout the Old Testament. This realization brought many things sharply into focus for me in regards to the “Spirit of God” and the plan of Redemption. It clarified and deeply enriched my understanding of the process of “Righteousness by Faith” and the vehicle through which it is carried out, and why “One interest will prevail, one subject will swallow up every other,--Christ our righteousness.” (RH December 23, 1890; par. 19).
In Chapter 5 we explored many instances that showed that Christ – in His brought forth form – interacted with men like Abraham, Jacob, Moses, etc. It is not within the scope of this book to examine all the instances that show that it was the person of Christ that interacted with men of old to inspire, direct, lead, advise, command, free, bless, and reveal the character of God. We’ve already seen that Christ was the One who worked many miracles, in order to save His people and in order to convince us to follow the One True God. All of this is worthy of our study and I would encourage you to discover more about this yourself. Suffice for the purposes of this book, the instances sighted reveal that Christ – in His brought forth form – was the one who interacted with men on behalf of the Father and always for the purpose of revealing the character of God and the plan of Redemption.
We must be ever mindful of the fact that the Old Testament is as “Christ-Centered” as the New Testament! Christ is the One to whom all of the “types” and sacrifices pointed. Christ is the One who is revealed as the only hope for the salvation of mankind! And while Christ is the One upon whom our salvation rests – He is also the One who has been responsible for revealing Himself as our “Blessed Hope.” Christ is everything to us, and everything is Christ! I fear that we sometimes forget this and that in forgetting we have sometimes drawn the wrong conclusions with regard to how God is dealing with the Sin problem and how He has interacted with mankind in the past.
Some of the problem that we have had with certain of God’s dealings in the Old Testament is that we find it hard to reconcile the harshness and severity of the God exhibited here with the God that Jesus reveals in the New Testament. In short, we have often viewed the God of the Old Testament as stern and strict while the God of the New Testament seems so loving, forgiving and kind. Many of us have concluded that the God of the Old Testament is the Father (the One who is stern, strict and severe); and that the God of the New Testament is different from that of the Old because Jesus has interceded for us, and the Father has now tempered His anger and adopted a more gentle and loving attitude towards us because of what Jesus has done. Nothing could be further from the Truth!
The God of the Old Testament is the same as the God of the New Testament. God has not changed in His attitude towards us. Nor does He require anything more, or less, from us than what was required of the people living prior to Christ’s first coming. More importantly, we must remember that Christ is the medium through which the Father acts and interacts in the affairs of this world. Christ is effectively the God of the Old Testament. Christ not only delivered the Israelites and parted the Red Sea -- He is the one who sent the plagues upon Egypt and the one who slew Israel’s enemies. We often refer to Jesus as the “meek and lowly Jesus” –- but Jesus is the “Mighty” and “Just” God! Jesus is not some “watered-down” version of the Father – He is the Son of God: invested with authority, power, and ultimately judgment! If this is true (and it is) how then do we reconcile this Christ with the Christ of the New Testament?
The severity of many of God’s (Christ’s) actions in the Old Testament are reconciled with His Love when they are understood as “typical” of Christ’s final actions in resolving the Great Controversy and the eradication of “Sin” (and those who cling to it). Much of the violence and bloodshed of the Old Testament – such as the slaying of the Amorites and the Canaanites of Exodus 23:23 -- can be seen as a “type” of Christ’s eradication of all those who openly oppose God and attempt to hinder the entrance of His people into the “promised Land.” The deaths of people like Uzza, Achan, and in the New Testament--Ananias and Sapphira; can be understood as “typical” of those who refuse the “priceless gift of His [Christ’s] own righteousness” and treat the things of God lightly and with indifference. Any and all of God’s seemingly severe actions in His interactions with the people of Old Testament times, become understandably “Loving” when they are seen as “acted parables” (object lessons) that are associated with the final vindication of God and the permanent eradication of Sin at the end of the world!
Jesus took the high road – always. He never shrank from adversity or did only those things that were “pleasant” and “easy” for Him. Many times Jesus must have struggled with having to be “firm” and doing the “hard” things (just as we must often do as parents), but Jesus did not back down and try to sugar-coat the Truth. Jesus never shrank from doing whatever was needed, in order to save us. Jesus is a loving Father, and being a loving Father He has had to be strict sometimes, in order to get us to realize the dangers of Sin and to try to spare us the agony that Sin creates in our lives. Jesus said: “I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked” (Eze. 33:11) and describes His work in destroying the wicked as; “His strange work . . . His strange act” (Isa. 28:21) – yet Jesus has performed this act many times because it was necessary in order to teach us the dangers of Sin and to Redeem us from its destruction. Jesus knows how serious Sin is and He knows the “eternal price” that has been paid, by Himself and His Father, to provide us with eternal life – Do we? I really don’t think we do – else we would not trifle with it so often.
We have often mistakenly concluded that certain Hebrew names for God refer only to the Father and not to Christ. The one name that we have often attributed to the Father alone is “Yahweh,” or “Jehovah” (written in capital letters as “LORD” in our Bibles). This has caused us to mistakenly think that when we read the title “LORD” that it must always be speaking of the Father and that when we find the “LORD” speaking to the men of the Old Testament that it must be the Father that is speaking. This is simply not true! The name and title of “LORD” belongs to Christ as well. We have already examined and shown this to be the case earlier. Christ was the “LORD God Almighty” who revealed Himself and spoke with Moses:
“Then the LORD said to Moses, "Now you shall see what I will do to Pharaoh; for under compulsion he will let them go, and under compulsion he will drive them out of his land." God spoke further to Moses and said to him, "I am the LORD; and I appeared to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, as God Almighty, but by My name, LORD, I did not make Myself known to them. I also established My covenant with them, to give them the land of Canaan, the land in which they sojourned. Furthermore I have heard the groaning of the sons of Israel, because the Egyptians are holding them in bondage, and I have remembered My covenant. Say, therefore, to the sons of Israel, 'I am the LORD, and I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, and I will deliver you from their bondage. I will also redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great judgments. Then I will take you for My people, and I will be your God; and you shall know that I am the LORD your God, who brought you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians. I will bring you to the land which I swore to give to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and I will give it to you for a possession; I am the LORD.’” (Ex. 6:1-8 emphasis mine).
Christ was the “LORD” who established His covenant with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Christ was the “LORD” who freed Israel from Egyptian bondage and established them as His “chosen people” (Duet. 7:6). And Christ worked many mighty miracles in order to establish the fact that He was the “LORD.” If Christ was the One who did all of these essential, pivotal and impressive things for the Patriarchs, how then is it that we do not seem to recognize that it was Christ, the “LORD,” who spoke to all the prophets of Old? Why do we still seem to think the Father is the one speaking in the Old Testament?
“Jehovah is the name given to Christ. ‘Behold, God is my salvation,’ writes the prophet Isaiah; ‘I will trust, and not be afraid; for the Lord Jehovah is my strength and my song; He also is become my salvation. Therefore with joy shall ye draw water out of the wells of salvation. And in that day ye shall say, Praise the Lord, call upon His name, declare His doings among the people, make mention that His name is exalted.’ ‘In that day shall this song be sung in the land of Judah: We have a strong city; salvation will God appoint for walls and bulwarks. Open ye the gates, that the righteous nation which keepeth the truth may enter in. Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on Thee, because he trusteth in Thee. Trust ye in the Lord forever; for in the Lord Jehovah is everlasting strength.’” (ST: May 3, 1899, p. 2. [SDA BC 7A; p. 439, par. 3]).
It is my contention that we can only understand God’s workings in the Old Testament by viewing and understanding them within the context of the Great Controversy. If we fail to do this, and fail to scrutinize every experience and doctrine recorded in the Bible within the context of that Controversy – then we will never understand the Truth. We will most assuredly misunderstand much about such things as Christ’s being “brought forth”, the Fall, the Creation, the plan of Salvation, the Godhead and the nature of the Holy Spirit.
Christ is the only hope for the salvation of mankind and He has been appointed as such by the Father. Jesus is the person to whom all things pointed and who was active in the Old Testament, revealing the Father’s character as well as His “will” in all that He said and did. “From everlasting he was the Mediator of the covenant, the one in whom all nations of the earth, both Jews and Gentiles, if they accepted him, were to be blessed” (RH April 5, 1906; par. 5).
I believe that the only times that the Father spoke directly with mankind after the fall were the times when He wished to encourage Christ in His mission and when He wished to directly confirm Him as His Son in the eyes of the disciples (see Mat. 3:17; 17:5; Mk. 9:7; Lk. 9:35). Otherwise, the Father spoke through Christ and through Christ alone. “In the beginning was the Word ”-- Christ has always been the spokesperson for the Father, speaking as He has heard and doing that which He has been shown. (Jn. 5:30; 8:20,28,38; 12:49; etc). Christ has always been the executor of the Father’s will. Christ is the Father’s representative to His creations and in a very special way Christ is the Father’s representative to “mankind.”
Jesus was the GOD of “Israel.” “Christ Himself was the originator of the Jewish system of worship, in which, by types and symbols, were shadowed forth spiritual and heavenly things. Many forgot the true significance of these offerings; and the great truth that through Christ alone there is forgiveness of sin, was lost to them.” (ST Jan. 2, 1893 – [7BC 933.1]). Sadly, Israel never fully grasped this – “He came to His own, and those who were His own did not receive Him” (Jn. 1:11). The Lord God said: “My people…are called by My name…” (2 Chron. 7:14, see also Dan. 9:19). Were God’s people called “LORD”? Were they called “I AM”? Were they called Jehovah? Were they called by any other “name” we normally associate with God? No! God’s peculiar “people” were called “Israel.” Is “Israel” God’s name? More specifically, is “Israel” Jesus’ name? The answer is Yes!
In Hosea 11:1 we read, “When Israel was a youth I loved him, And out of Egypt I called My son.” Traditionally this has been understood to refer to the nation of Israel, and this is true in one sense. But we must let the Bible reveal it’s own primary meaning and understanding. In Matthew 2:13-16 we find the true meaning of the words contained in Hosea 11:1. Here we find the record of Joseph being instructed by an angel to take Mary and “the child” (Jesus) out of their land and into Egypt until King Herod should die. Then He was instructed to come back into the land of his forefathers. Matthew tells us that this is when “Israel” was “brought out of Egypt”: “So Joseph got up and took the Child and His mother while it was still night, and left for Egypt. He remained there until the death of Herod. This was to fulfill what had been spoken by the Lord through the prophet: ‘OUT OF EGYPT I CALLED MY SON.’” (Mat. 2:14,15).
Genesis 32:28 tells us the origin of the name Israel. Jacob had wrestled with the Christ all night and would not let Him go until He blessed Him. Jesus then renamed Jacob, “Israel” -- “He said, ‘Your name shall no longer be Jacob, but Israel; for you have striven with God and with men and have prevailed.’” We can immediately see that the name “Israel” has a “Spiritual” meaning and context. Did Jesus “strive” with God and prevail? Again the answer is yes. While the Father had developed the plan of Salvation and in unison with Christ agreed to carry it out -- still, when the time came for Christ to actually make His tremendous sacrifice, the Father was hesitant to let Him go!
“Sorrow filled heaven as it was realized that man was lost and that the world which God had created was to be filled with mortals doomed to misery, sickness, and death, and that there was no way of escape for the offender. The whole family of Adam must die. I then saw the lovely Jesus and beheld an expression of sympathy and sorrow upon His countenance. Soon I saw Him approach the exceeding bright light which enshrouded the Father. Said my accompanying angel, "He is in close converse with His Father." The anxiety of the angels seemed to be intense while Jesus was communing with His Father. Three times He was shut in by the glorious light about the Father, and the third time He came from the Father we could see His person. His countenance was calm, free from all perplexity and trouble, and shone with a loveliness which words cannot describe. He then made known to the angelic choir that a way of escape had been made for lost man; that He had been pleading with His Father, and had obtained permission to give His own life as a ransom for the race, to bear their sins, and take the sentence of death upon Himself, thus opening a way whereby they might, through the merits of His blood, find pardon for past transgressions, and by obedience be brought back to the garden from which they were driven. Then they could again have access to the glorious, immortal fruit of the tree of life to which they had now forfeited all right.” (Early Writings p. 126, par. 1).
Jesus “strove” with God. Jesus was the “Son” called “out of Egypt.” Jesus is “Israel,” and He was the GOD of Israel. Jesus was the “I AM” that spoke to Moses: “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob” (Jn. 8:58 & Ex. 3:6). And when Jesus was speaking to the Jews of His day, Jesus said: “if you believed Moses, you would believe Me, for he wrote about Me” (John 5:46). Jesus was the God of the Old Testament.
The people of God in New Testament times are also called by His Name – they are called “Christians”: “the disciples were first called Christians in Antioch” (Acts 11:26). Peter tells us that it is they, who take the name of Christ, that are favored by God as His “chosen people” -- “you are A CHOSEN RACE, A ROYAL PRIESTHOOD, A HOLY NATION, A PEOPLE FOR GOD’S OWN POSSESSION, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light” (1 Pet. 2:9). What is true in New Testament times was true in the Old Testament times and visa-versa: “if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham's descendants, heirs according to promise.” (Gal. 3:29). JESUS is our Lord, our Savior, and our God.
We simply must understand that Christ is the “LORD” who speaks in the Old Testament as well as the New (Gen. 17:1; Ex. 6:3 cf. Rev. 11:17). And since this is true, then this brings new significance to the words of the Old Testament where we find such statements as: “For I am the LORD your God, The Holy One of Israel, your Savior” (Isa. 43:3 – see also 2 Sam. 22:3 & Hos. 13:4). “I, even I, am He who comforts you” (Isa. 51:12). Or; “For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; And the government will rest on His shoulders; And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace” (Isa. 9:6). And: “It will come about after this That I will pour out My Sprit on all mankind; And your sons and daughters will prophesy, Your old men will dream dreams, Your young men will see visions” (Joel 2:28; see also Isa. 44:3 & Prov. 1:23). If it is indeed Christ who is speaking here – then He must be indicating that HE is our “God”, our “Father”, our “comforter” -- and that it is HIS “Spirit” that will be “poured out” upon His people at the end of Time!
1. The Table of Shewbread: On the North side of the first apartment we find the Table of Shewbread which held 12 loaves of Bread. These loaves of bread were baked fresh each Sabbath. The bread from the previous Sabbath was eaten by the priests on the Sabbath day after it had been replaced (or refurbished) with the new. The Table of Shewbread represented Christ and His care for the 12 Tribes of Israel which are representative of all of those who accept Jesus as their Messiah (See Mat. 19:28; Lk. 22: 28-30; James 1:1; and Rev. 21:12). Jesus said: “I am the living bread which came down from heaven; if any man eats of this bread, he shall live forever; and the bread also which I will give for the life of the world is My flesh.” (John 6:51). Jesus is the Word – the means of communication between God and man – and Jesus states in John 6:63 (in response to the Disciples’ perplexity concerning Christ’s statement) that “It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing; the words that I have spoken to you are spirit and are life.” Stephen Haskell summarizes this truth in this way: “His [Christ’s] word is the true bread, of which we are to eat” (Haskell; p. 57). The Table of Shewbread represents Christ.
2. The Alter of Incense: The Incense upon this Alter was continually burning and represents the prayers of God’s people, which are coming up before Him continually. It represents the continual intercession of Christ in the Heavenly Sanctuary. The priests renewed the incense each morning and evening at the time of the morning and evening sacrifice. The Alter of Incense is thus linked directly to the Alter of Burnt offering and the Sacrifice of Christ. Commenting on these alters (and particularly the Alter of Incense) Ellen White states: “The True Alter is Christ, and the true fire is the Holy Spirit.” (Ye Shall Receive Power, p. 178). She also states: “No sacrifice would be acceptable to God which was not salted nor seasoned with divine fire, which represented the communication between God and man that was opened through Jesus Christ alone” (RH: March 25, 1875; par. 1).
If the “divine fire” represented the communication between God and man that was opened through Jesus Christ alone, and we remember that Jesus is “the only medium of communication between God and man” (SC p. 19, par. 2) and that “Christ was the medium through which He could pour out His infinite love upon a fallen world,” (SC p. 13, par. 2) then we must conclude, if the “true fire” is the Holy Spirit and represents the communication between God and man opened through Christ alone, that the Holy Spirit must be intimately related to Jesus Christ – and not a separately defined individual. Remember that the man Jesus Christ, now at the Father’s right hand making intercession for us, cannot be in all places at once– He is not “Omnipresent” in His brought forth incarnate form. But His “Spirit” form is able to be “Omnipresent” and make effectual (in the earth and in man) the sacrifice and the work that Christ is performing in Heaven. “The Spirit was to be given as a regenerating agent, and without this the sacrifice of Christ would have been of no avail” (The Faith I Live By, p. 52).
3. The Seven Branched Candlestick: The Candlestick was located on the south wall of the first apartment of the Tabernacle. It was a Seven Branched Candlestick with bowls at to top of each arm. These bowls were filled with pure olive oil and provided the light for the Tabernacle. Like the incense, the Lamps were to burn continually (see Lev. 24:2). The lamps of the Candlestick were trimmed each morning and evening at the time that the incense in the censer was renewed (at the time of the morning and evening Sacrifice - Ex. 30:7). None but the High Priest could perform this service. The Candlestick is a very illuminating piece of furniture when it comes to revealing Christ and the two aspects of His nature (His brought forth nature and His Spirit nature). Seventh-day Adventists (and many other Christians) have long recognized and understood that the Candlestick represents Christ. The Bible clearly reveals that the Candlestick represents Christ, and by extension His Church (see Rev. 1:12-20). We have long held the belief, and correctly so, that the Holy Spirit is represented by the oil found in the Lampstand of the Sanctuary. But does this mean that the Holy Spirit is a person apart from the person of Christ? Not if we look carefully!
The LORD gave Zechariah a vision concerning the Candlestick and where the oil came from. The vision is found in Zechariah 4:1-14. In the vision Zechariah saw the lampstand and “seven lamps on it with seven spouts belonging to each of the lamps which are on the top of it; also two olive trees by it, one on the right side of the bowl and the other on its left side” (vss. 2,3). Zechariah was intrigued by the two olive trees and asked: “What are these, my Lord?” (vs. 4). The Lord responded: “Do you not know what these are?” Then He gave a very interesting answer. He said: “This is the word of the Lord… ‘Not by might nor by power, but my My Spirit says the LORD of hosts.’” (vs. 6). At first glance that doesn’t seem like much of an answer does it? Zechariah certainly did not understand what that answer meant. In verse 12 he asks the question again and the Lord gave him a much fuller explanation concerning the two olive trees that fed the Lampstand with Holy oil. In verse 12 we read Zechariah’s more expansive question regarding the olive trees that fed the lamp. Here is the exact question that he asked: “What are the two olive branches which are beside the two golden pipes, which empty the golden oil from themselves?” The Lord then responded: “Do you not know what these are?”… “These are the two anointed ones, who are standing by the Lord of the whole earth.” (vss. 13,14). In the marginal notes of your Bible you should find a literal translation of the two “anointed ones.” The literal meaning is: “sons of fresh oil.” Ellen White tells us: “In Zechariah's vision the two olive trees which stand before God are represented as emptying the golden oil out of themselves through golden tubes into the bowl of the sanctuary. From this the lamps of the sanctuary are fed, that they may give a continuous bright and shining light. So from the anointed ones that stand in God's presence the fullness of divine light, and love, and power, is imparted to His people, that they may impart to others life and joy and refreshing. They are to become channels through which divine and human instrumentalities co-operate in communicating to the world the tide of God's love” (Australasian Union Conference Record; June 1, 1900; par. 48). She also tells us that, “Unless God shall work through the two olive-trees, his witnesses, causing them to empty from themselves the golden oil through the golden tubes into the golden bowl, and hence to the burning lamps, representing the church, no one will be safe for a moment from the machinations of Satan…But this golden oil will revive the Spirit of God in the heart of man. A Christlike principle will be introduced which will be like leaven. Through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, satanic agencies will be overcome” (RH September 14, 1897; par. 6). “These heavenly messengers empty the golden oil out of themselves, that the light may be given to the earnest searcher for truth. ‘Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, saith the Lord of Hosts.’ ‘And ye shall know that I am in the midst of Israel, and that I am the Lord your God, and none else: and my people shall never be ashamed’” (RH April, 20, 1897; par. 2).
Now I must ask you, Did God the Father have two sons? No! He clearly tells us that Jesus is His only Son: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.” (Jn. 3:16; See also Jn. 3:18 & 1 Jn. 4:9). Jesus is clearly represented as the olive tree (see Hosea 14:4-7, Rom. 11:17-18, 22-24). But Jesus is represented in the vision of Zechariah as two olive trees. Why? I ask you again, did God have two sons? In a sense the answer is yes. When Jesus was “brought forth” from the Father, He was brought forth in a form that did not include some aspects of His divinity (e.g. His Omnipresence). Christ effectively divided Himself in order to accomplish the incarnation so that He might serve as the mediator between God and man (all intelligent life included). He effectively became two persons. One, His brought forth self; and the other, His Spirit self. They are distinct and individual persons; but they are persons of the same being –they are both Olive Trees – they are both Jesus Christ! [Interestingly, the two witnesses of Revelation 11:3-4 are said to be the two olive trees and two candlesticks!].
In human terms (attempting to use human language/understanding of this) Christ was like the egg in the womb of a woman which divides and becomes twins. These twins are both from the same egg and bear a similar resemblance, yet they are two individuals. There are two aspects of Christ’s nature that are at work in the Plan of Redemption – His brought-forth form which paid the penalty for our transgression and provides a means through which we can again approach God – and His Spirit form which enables Christ to actually live in us, transforming us into His image and making us a partaker of the divine nature. BOTH of these aspects of Christ’s nature are actively involved in our Redemption. Both are absolutely necessary to accomplish our restoration to the “image of God.” Both are Christ, and both enable the lampstand to lighten the world. Jesus said: “I am the Light of the world.” (Jn. 9:5). John picks up on the significance of this when he declares that Jesus is the “true Light which, coming into the world, enlightens every man.” (Jn. 1:9).
It is extremely interesting to me that there are two olive trees (Zech. 4:3,11,12), two anointed ones (Lit. “two sons of oil”, Zech. 4:14), and two witnesses (which are said to be the two olive trees and two candlesticks - Rev. 11:3,4). In Zechariah 4:12 the two anointed ones are said to be “standing by the LORD of the whole earth.” In Revelation 11:3,4 the two witnesses (which are said to be the two olive trees and the two candlesticks) are said to “stand before the LORD of the earth.” All of the descriptions occur within the context of the Sanctuary (see Zech 4:1-12 & Rev. 11:1-6) – and one cannot escape the conclusion that these two (“anointed ones”/“witnesses”) are standing in the very presence of GOD! This makes me seriously wonder if the two Cherubim found in the Most Holy Place of the Tabernacle are not “angels” at all – but are representations of the two olive trees, candlesticks, witnesses, and therefore also actually a representation of Christ (and His dual nature)! This possibility is made even more interesting (and plausible) when we consider that the two Cherubim were made out of Gold, which is also a symbol of Christ. In the Solomon’s Temple, Solomon had been instructed to make the Cherubim out of olive wood and overlay them with Gold (1 Kings 6:23,28)! The connection to the two olive trees is unmistakable -- especially when you consider that Solomon used cedar, fir, and acacia for the rest of the Temple and furniture. Why olive wood for the two Cherubim? The Cherubim are the Ones “standing before the LORD of the earth” – standing in His very presence.
Is not Christ the ONE who stands before the Father, and in His presence, ever reflecting the Glory of God?! Could not all of these references to “two” (olive trees, anointed ones, witnesses, candlesticks, and even the two Cherubim) be representative of Christ and the dual nature of His person? Is it not worth our consideration? I suspect that there is something quite beautiful in all of this that we have not yet laid hold of. “Thy way, O God, is in the Sanctuary” (Ps. 77:13)! Anyway, getting back to the Lampstand (Candlestick) and the oil, we can see that they both represent Jesus Christ.
4. The Mercy Seat and Shekinah Glory: As we move from the first apartment of the Tabernacle to the second apartment, we find only one piece of furniture located there – the Ark of the Covenant. Inside the Ark we find the two tables of stone containing the Ten Commandments – the Law of God (the ruling principles of His Government and the embodiment, or transcript of His Character). The space above the Ark is referred to as the “Mercy Seat.” Sitting upon the Mercy Seat we find the “Shekinah Glory.”
God is a Just God and could not change His Law in order to accommodate man in his transgression. He could not simply forgive man his transgression by laying aside the inevitable consequences of the transgression of His Law (which is death). To do so would be to lay aside His Law itself, and this He simply could not do. “The law of Jehovah, the foundation of His government in heaven and upon earth, was as sacred as God Himself” (Story of Redemption; p. 48, par. 1). “The law of God could not be changed to meet man’s necessity, for in God’s arrangement it was never to lose its force nor give up the smallest part of its claims” (Ibid. p. 46, par. 2). The Law of God could not be set aside for it is the foundation of God’s government and a transcript of His very Character. It was also the basis for the everlasting covenant. But man had transgressed this Law and was faced with the inevitable consequences – death (eternal death). Only God’s mercy could set Him free from the claims of His Law, but the Law itself must remain in force. How was He to provide this “mercy?” He provided it in the person of His Son – Jesus Christ. Jesus would pay the penalty for our transgression and make the mercy of God possible. Jesus would be the means of God’s mercy. Jesus would be God’s mercy seat. “The law of God, enshrined within the ark, was the great rule of righteousness and judgment. That law pronounced death upon the transgressor; but above the law was the mercy seat, upon which the presence of God was revealed, and from which, by virtue of the atonement, pardon was granted to the repentant sinner. Thus in the work of Christ for our redemption, symbolized by the sanctuary service, "mercy and truth are met together; righteousness and peace have kissed each other." Psalm 85:10.” (PP p. 349, par. 2).
Upon the mercy seat sat the visible presence of God – the Shekinah Glory. Most of us have viewed this Glory as the Glory of the Father God. Was it? Jesus is described as being the Glory of God: “and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace [mercy] and truth.” (Jn. 1:14; see also Mat. 16:27; Mk. 8:38; Jn. 17:5,24; Rev. 1:6). “For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men….looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus.” (Tit. 2:11,13; see also 1 Pet. 4:14; 5:10; 2 Cor. 4:6). Jesus was the embodiment of the Glory of God, revealing that Glory to mankind: “so that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belongs the glory and dominion forever” (1 Pet. 4:11; see also Phil. 1:9-11; 3:3).
The Father is the ultimate God, LORD, and Judge of this world – BUT – the Father has committed all things into the hands of His Son, Jesus Christ. While the Father may be considered the “Judge” of mankind, still, the Father has “fixed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness through a Man whom He has appointed, having furnished proof to all men by raising Him from the dead.” (Acts 17:31; see also Jn. 3:35; 13:3). Jesus is the One who has been appointed to judge the world: “We must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ.” (2 Cor. 5:10).
For man, Jesus is not only our sacrifice (substitute) – He is also our advocate (mercy provider) and our judge. Jesus is our LORD, our Savior, and our God. As the visible representation of the Father, it was the Lord Jesus who was manifest between the Cherubim -- sitting on the mercy seat and manifested as the Shekinah Glory. “Christ Himself was the Lord of the temple. When He should leave it, its glory would depart—that glory once visible in the holy of holies over the mercy seat, ...was the Shekinah, the visible pavilion of Jehovah” (SDA BC vol. 4; p.1139 [MS 71, 1897]). “Christ was their instructor. As He had been with them in the wilderness, so He was still to be their teacher and guide. In the tabernacle and the temple His glory dwelt in the holy Shekinah above the mercy seat. In their behalf He constantly manifested the riches of His love and patience.” (COL p. 288; See also 6T p.221, par.3 & 4).
It is significant that when the visible presence of Christ (the Shekinah Glory) had departed from the Temple, it had paused upon the Mount of Olives. Christ, when He was to Ascend to Heaven also paused upon this mount and with a yearning heart overlooked Jerusalem: “As the place of His ascension, Jesus chose the spot so often hallowed by His presence while He dwelt among men. Not Mount Zion, the place of David's city, not Mount Moriah, the temple site, was to be thus honored… Jesus, weary and heart-burdened, had gone forth to find rest in the Mount of Olives. The holy Shekinah, in departing from the first temple, had stood upon the eastern mountain, as if loath to forsake the chosen city; so Christ stood upon Olivet, with yearning heart overlooking Jerusalem” (DA p.829, par. 2).
1. The entire Bible is “Christ Centered” – not just the New Testament. Both the Old and the New Testament reveal Christ as the responsible for revealing the Father. In the Christ of the Old Testament as well as the Christ of the New Testament we see Christ revealed as our Creator, God, Savior, and connecting link between the Father and man.
2. Christ was the God of the Old Testament. Christ was the one who created this World and Man. Christ was the one who “walked” with Adam and Eve in the Garden—Appeared to the Patriarchs (Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, etc.) – Christ was the one who “called” Moses, Jeremiah, Isaiah, Daniel and all of the prophets—Christ was the one who gave the Law on Mount Sinai and it was Christ who led the children of Israel through their wanderings and beyond—Christ is the one who “spoke” through all the prophets the things concerning God and the things concerning Himself.
3. Christ is typified in the history of Israel and the happenings of the people of the Old Testament serve as types of the blessings and the judgments that await all mankind when He shall return a second time.
4. Christ and His ministry is symbolized in the Old Testament Sanctuary and its services; and these things serve as a reflection of the reality of both His earthly and heavenly ministry (from which they were patterned).
The Incarnation – Jesus Becomes Man
And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.”
Jesus had been “brought forth” from the Father before the creation of all life in order that God could commune with free-willed beings who had the capacity to fall from grace. In His brought-forth form Christ had communed with the Angels – so closely that He was even mistaken to be one of their own. When Lucifer rebelled it became necessary for God to “set forth the true position of His Son” and explain, “the relation He [Christ] sustained to all created beings.” At this time God also stated that; “Christ was still to exercise divine power, in the creation of the earth and its inhabitants. But in all this He [Christ] would not seek power or exaltation for Himself . . . but would exalt the Father’s glory and execute His purposes of beneficence and love.” (PP: p. 36, par. 2).
Christ did this when He created this earth and man. Man chose to separate from God by trusting in someone else (Satan) and was plunged into the pit of Sin. This brought with it the curse of death – “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom. 6:23). Christ now embarked on His mission (planned before the creation) to redeem man from this pit of sin. ONLY Christ could fulfill this mission: “None but he could restore to man the moral image of God, which had been lost through transgression” (ST: January 6, 1887; par. 3. – see also SR p.48, par. 1). Christ had already exercised great humility and condescension in His being “brought forth” as a mediator between God and His creations, but the steps that He would need to take in order to redeem man would require an even greater sacrifice. Man’s “redemption” has come “at an inconceivable cost to the Son of God” (Ibid). Christ would now have to become man’s substitute. And this would require that the Son of God would need to become the Son of Man – that Christ would now actually have to “become flesh” and dwell among us in order to pay the penalty for our transgression and to restore us to the “image” of God.
Christ had pledged to do this for man and had made clear to Adam that He would do this. The plan of redemption was explained in the Garden of Eden and was passed down from Adam to his descendants orally and in the form of typical services (the slaying and offering of an animal) that graphically demonstrated the horridness of Sin as well as the tremendous cost of sin --which is death. Only two options exist for mankind: We may either accept the substitutionary death of our very “Creator”, or the permanent death of ourselves.
After the “Fall” of Adam, and throughout the Old Testament period, Christ was to fulfill the role of the promised “Messiah” (or Savior) and would “reveal” the nature of God to man by speaking to him through the patriarchs and prophets. During this period of time Christ revealed the Law of God’s government -- emphasizing it as the Supreme Law of the Universe and the Standard by which all men are judged. Also during this time, Christ would continue to reveal Himself as the Savior of mankind through detailed “acted parables” and through the “typical” services of the Sanctuary. All the while Christ was attempting to draw men out of the pit of sin and into a clearer understanding of God’s character and purposes – man was retreating further into the realm of darkness. Christ’s repeated attempts to bring man to an understanding of God and back into a proper relationship to Him through faith in Christ’s atoning sacrifice had gone unheeded. But God would not give up. The time had come for Christ to actually become a human being. The time had come for Christ to show us what we can do through a total surrender of ourselves to God and a complete dependence upon Him. The time had come for Christ to give Himself for us – and to us. Christ was about to make the ultimate sacrifice for the salvation of man.
Sister White tells us over and over again that the study of the incarnation is vitally important and that there is much that we may learn and much yet to be revealed concerning what was involved in the incarnation and what actually transpired in order to make the plan of Salvation possible. Why have we been so delinquent and remiss in our responsibility to study these things? Why do we only talk of the incarnation as if it were a mere “historical event”? Why are we content to simply say ‘Jesus became a man and died for our sins? Do we really believe that this is all there is to it? Why are we so grossly ignorant of what God has actually done in order to grant us eternal life? Why haven’t we “dug deep” into the waters of His Word to discover how great a sacrifice has actually been made in order to redeem us? The “silence” is deafening.
“At no period of time has man learned all that can be learned of the word of God. There are yet new views of truth to be seen, and much to be understood of the character and attributes of God …‘And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.’ This is a most valuable study, taxing the intellect, and giving strength to the mental ability. After diligently searching the word, hidden treasures are discovered, and the lover of truth breaks out in triumph. Without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: ‘God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory.’ ‘Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: but made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men’” (Special Testimonies on Education; p. 147, par. 2). The study of the incarnation in the context of the Great Controversy has tremendous things to reveal to us concerning the Godhead, the nature of Christ and the nature of the Holy Spirit – and most importantly, The Plan of Salvation itself. It has much to teach us regarding the “infinite cost to the Father and the Son” (RH: March 10, 1891; par. 2) in making the plan of Salvation available to us. The sacrifice began before the Creation of the world, and step-by-step the Sacrifice of Christ has been greater and ever greater. Now He is about to become a man in order to redeem us. What condescension on the part of Christ! What LOVE is this? Why do we treat this like it is some grocery store transaction?
“At the time when He was most needed, Jesus, the Son of God, the world's Redeemer, laid aside His divinity, and came to earth in the garb of humanity. He came to live out in His life God's holy law that had been misrepresented, and buried beneath human tradition and the commandments of men. Forms and ceremonies had been put in the place of the word of God, until its pure and holy principles were almost extinct.” (Bible Echo: October 12, 1896; par. 1. Also repeated in ST: March 18, 1897; par. 3). Christ had parted with much of His own inherent divinity at the time of His being “brought forth” from the Father to act as a mediator between God and His creations – but now He was to lay “aside His divinity” and take on the nature of His Created Human Beings in order to stand in our stead, pay the penalty for our transgression, and to show us how we can be victorious over the power of sin and freed from it’s dominion over us. But Christ was to do even more than that. Christ, through His “infinite” Sacrifice, was not only going to restore man to his proper relationship with God – He was going to make man capable of being a partaker of the divine nature! “He is the costly sacrifice that has been given for the reconciliation of man….Calvary represents his crowning work. It is man's part to respond to his great love, by appropriating the great salvation the blessing of the Lord has made it possible for man to obtain. We are to show our appreciation of the wonderful gift of God by becoming partakers of the divine nature …” (Youth’s Instructor: October 17, 1895; par. 2).
In order to become a human being – to become our substitute, example, Savior, Lord, and King – Christ would have to incarnate Himself into the Human Race. Christ had begun this incarnation at the time that He was “brought forth” from the Father, but now He was to complete His incarnation into a man — a flesh and blood human being. In His brought forth form Christ was a “Spiritual” being, just as the angels are. Spiritual beings have a form – a body if you will (they exist in and occupy space and are not omnipresent) – but they are not constrained by the limitations of the physical world of matter, as we know it. They do not have to “open” a door, for instance, in order to pass through it as we do. Christ took on this type of nature when He was “brought forth” but was now about to limit Himself even further by becoming a flesh and blood man. In order to accomplish this Christ had to incarnate Himself into a human being.
It is extremely important to remember that Christ is the one who had to do this. He was the One whom it had been agreed upon would take up this mission and offer this sacrifice to save man. He would have to incarnate Himself into the human race and become one of us. Much of this is a mystery to us. We do not, and perhaps cannot, understand how a God could become a man – but the Bible does tell us some of how it was accomplished. The Bible tells us that the “Holy Spirit” came upon Mary and that the “Power of the Most High” overshadow her and she conceived (Luke 1:35). Matthew 1:18 & 20 tell us that Mary “was found to be with child by the Holy Spirit” and that “the Child who has been conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit.” Who was this “Holy Spirit”? Was this some third, independent individual of the Godhead? Was this “Holy Spirit” a separate individual – or was it a separated individual from Christ? Hmmm . . .
I believe that Christ’s “Spirit self” implanted His “brought forth” self into the womb of Mary. That it was Christ’s Spirit that overshadowed Mary and she conceived. I believe that this can be shown to be the case. But I will defer the examination of this and other proofs that the Holy Spirit is indeed Christ’s Spirit for the next chapter. For now, all we have to accept is the fact that Christ was implanted into the womb of Mary and that He was in fact born as a human being. He was incarnated into human flesh.
In human flesh, Christ would not (and could not) use His own divine power to overcome temptation or to win the victory over His flesh. Christ would have no advantage over us in this regard. Had Christ used His own divinity to overcome the temptations of the flesh then He would have been doing something that we cannot do and would be asking us to do something that it is impossible for us to do! In order for Christ to be our example in how to overcome, He must overcome through dependence on a power outside of Himself – a power that was not of Himself. “If we had to bear anything which Jesus did not endure, then upon this point Satan would represent the power of God as insufficient for us. Therefore Jesus was ‘in all points tempted like as we are.’ Heb. 4:15. He endured every trial to which we are subject. And 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). To do this, Christ “laid aside His divinity” and would face the Devil and the flesh in the same way that we must face them. Christ would depend wholly upon His Father for guidance, wisdom, strength and power. “He overcame to show man how he may overcome. He announced…‘The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because He hath anointed Me to preach the gospel’” (3T: p. 388, par. 2)….“He was not free from temptation…But our Saviour relied upon His heavenly Father for wisdom and strength to resist and overcome the tempter. The Spirit of His Heavenly Father animated and regulated His life. He was sinless.” (The Youth’s Instructor: February 1, 1873).
We are told that Jesus is our “example in all things” (Bible Echo: September 3, 1900; par. 13). We need to be careful that we do not take this to mean that His life is only an ideal that we are to strive to emulate. We need to understand that we are not to try to live the life of Christ by simply trying to imitate what Christ did -- through our own best efforts. This approach is a subtle form of legalism – it is us attempting to be God – it is us attempting to save ourselves. It cannot be done! This is not what is meant when we are told that Jesus was our example.
There can be little doubt that Christ fully took on Human Nature. “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 Bible often refers to Christ as the “Son of Man.” As a “man” Christ was to show us how we can overcome. “Christ…had taken the steps every sinner must take, in conversion, repentance, and baptism…as man’s surety, he must meet and resist every temptation with which man is assailed” (ST May 27, 1897). “He endured temptation even as every human being must endure. He believed God as we must believe. He learned obedience even as we are required to learn obedience. And He overcame as we must overcome” (Bible Echo: September 3, 1900; par. 13. See also Hebrews 5:8).
In taking human nature Christ did not come already equipped with a perfect character or with a perfect knowledge of what He was to do or how He was to do it. His life was an unfolding just as our lives are. True, His was unique. Still, Christ had to learn to trust in God. He had to learn how to obey. He had to learn how to take all of the steps that we must take to overcome temptation. These things were not inherently in Himself when He became a man.
Did Christ really take all the steps that the sinner must take in “conversion” and “repentance”? How can this be so? Why would Christ need to be “converted”? Of what would Christ need to “repent”? If Christ were without “sin” (which He was - See Heb. 4:15) then why would He need to do these things? How could He do these things? How could a sinless being be converted and repent? This may require us to re-think our definitions of conversion and repentance!
If repentance is simply “being sorry for committing sin” then Jesus could never have experienced repentance. If repentance is having a “change of mind” and “turning around” (which is the Greek meaning of the word) then it would still be hard to conceive of Jesus “repenting.” Did Jesus “change His mind” about anything? Did Jesus “turn and go in another direction”? NO! So how can we understand this? I propose that these things can be understood by reconsidering our definitions of conversion and repentance.
If conversion is understood as: “being fully persuaded as to the ‘rightness’ of another person’s thoughts, morals, and actions – and living one’s own life in accordance to that person’s principles”; then we can understand that Jesus truly experienced “conversion.”
If repentance is understood as: “turning away from one’s self (denying one’s own thoughts, wishes and desires) and accepting the ‘will’ of another as the rule for your life”; then we can see that Jesus experienced this also.
Someone once said that if you took the “I” out – there would be no sin. “Sin” is all about “self” and selfishness. Sin IS selfishness! The Bible defines sin as “the transgression of the Law”(1 Jn. 3:4). More succinctly, sin is “lawlessness.” Lawlessness and selfishness are the same thing. If a person were not “selfish” then they would never think to: dishonor their parents, murder, commit adultery, steal, bear false witness (lie), covet someone else’s possessions or position in life, break the Sabbath, take the Lord’s name in vain (proclaim to be a Christian but not obey Him), set your heart on things (idols), or put someone else above God. Lucifer would never have sinned had he not become selfish. As fallen human beings we are naturally selfish and must “repent” – or die to “self.” Jesus did not commit sin, but He still had to die to “self” in order to accomplish His mission. He had to fulfill His Father’s Will even when it was difficult for Himself.
Repentance is an ongoing process. Paul said “I die daily” (1 Cor. 15:31). Christ’s entire life was one of repentance! Christ continually denied “self” and lived only for the good of others. Christ continually sought to fulfill His “Father’s Will” and not His own. Even when He was suffering under the load of guilt in the Garden of Gethsemane and wished that He would not have to drink the cup of His Father’s wrath, still He said: “nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done” (Lk. 22:42). Christ is the ultimate example of “dying to self”. And we will see that in Christ’s case, He literally died to self.
Conversion and repentance are interrelated. Both involve a mental assent to something and both involve a decision to action. They both involve a submission on the part of the believer, in thought, word, and action, to the Will of God – and a dependence upon God for the power to perform His Will. Christ was a perfect example of these things.
Christ became a man, in part, to demonstrate what we, as men, could accomplish through dependence on God – a power outside of ourselves. While Christ demonstrated this in a very real way (He actually did this) there are some critical differences in what He did and what we are to do. Christ relied upon His Father for the wisdom and strength to resist and overcome temptation. And it was the “Spirit of His Heavenly Father” that enabled Him to do so. It was not His Spirit but the Spirit of His Father upon which He relied. Can we rely upon the “Father’s Spirit” to overcome sin? The answer is No! And the reason the answer is “no” involves Christ’s nature as compared with our own.
We are sinful -- He is not. We have committed sin – He never did. We are of created human origin – He is not (Christ was of Divine origin, even in His incarnate state). The Father (God) IS Spirit. If we were to partake of the fullness of the Father’s Spirit it would consume us. It would not, and could not consume Christ 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 sets 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 Angelic 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 seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath 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 to 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 has 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 on this earth Christ 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. 14). 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 would 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 become 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 one 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. 3:16).
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, vol. 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 Bulletins: 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 the 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 the 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 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 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. 189)
“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 here. 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 text 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 faulty reasoning and have used it, ultimately, to support 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 bone (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 here on this earth and be in heaven?
If you have followed the premise of this book so far, you can understand perfectly “how” this could be the case. Christ, in His brought-forth/incarnate form, was here speaking to Nicodemus -- while Christ, in His Holy Spirit form, was in heaven. Interestingly, the roles would be reversed following His death, resurrection and ascension – The Son of Man would be performing His work in Heaven while His Holy Spirit would be actively working here on earth. This is why Christ later told His disciples: “…‘It is expedient for you that I go away.’ No one could then have any preference because of his location or personal contact with Christ. The Saviour would be accessible to all alike, spiritually, and in this sense he would be nearer to us all than if he had not ascended on high” (RH December 5, 1912; par. 6).
1 John 5:6-8: “This is he that came by water and blood, even Jesus Christ; not by water only, but by water and blood. And it is the Spirit that beareth witness, because the Spirit is truth. For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one. And there are three that bear witness in earth, the spirit, and the water, and the blood: and these three agree in one.” (KJV).
In the King James Version verse 7 reads: “For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one.” In almost every other reputable translation these words are not included. Unlike John 3:13 above; these words are not omitted because of the use of different documents or because they don’t make sense. The words are omitted because they simply don’t belong there! They are not found in the original text. They were added from a corrupted text (more accurately, they became the corrupted text of this passage of the King James Version).
This verse made its way into the KJV primarily because Erasmus (a 16th century Theologian, Catholic Priest and humanist), who hurriedly published his translation of the New Testament in 1516, surcame to the pressure of the Catholic Church to include the words in verse 7 from the Latin Vulgate. Erasmus agreed to do so if a Greek manuscript could be found that contained these words – miraculously just such a manuscript was produced (by the Catholic Church) and Erasmus included this verse in the 1522 revision of his original work. The manuscript he worked from, however, was one included in what is known as the “Textus Recepticus” (meaning: “received” or “agreed upon” Text). This “Textus Recepticus” contains many errors primarily because it was a typed text that incorporated several scribal notes into the original text. 1 John 5:7 of the KJV is an example of one of those “scribal notes” that made it into the Bible. Interestingly, Erasmus was “encouraged” to add this text primarily in an effort by the Catholic Church to support and maintain the doctrine of the Trinity.
However it made its way into the King James Version, the text itself can be shown to be out of context (not belonging) here. I should say that I really don’t have any quarrel with the “truth” of the text – we certainly find the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit bearing record in heaven – but the insertion of this text into the text of 1 John 5:6-8 is completely out of place and does not belong there – and unfortunately, it gives a completely different flavor to these verses if it is retained. It tends to make you think that John is talking about the “Godhead” when he is not. Reputable scholars would not think to use this text to argue the Trinitarian position. Only those who are ignorant of its insertion, or, those who stubbornly deny that the King James Version could be in any way “corrupt”, or, those who are desperate to hold on to any text that would support their belief in the Trinity would ever think to use this text as a “Proof Text.”
For these reasons I have to agree with the translators of the NASB (and other versions) which omit this verse in 1 John 5 and translate verses 6-8 in this way(I will include verse 5 for clarity): “Who is the one who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God? This is the One who came by water and blood, Jesus Christ; not with the water only, but with the water and with the blood. It is the Spirit who testifies, because the Spirit is the truth. For there are three that testify: the Spirit and the water and the blood; and the three are in agreement.”
In verse 7 we read: “and it is the Spirit who bears witness, because the Spirit is the Truth.” Jesus emphatically declared: “I am…the Truth” (Jn. 14:6). Jesus’ own words must be the precedent upon which the Apostle John’s words are based and are to be understood. John certainly understood this and so must we. When John says that, “the Spirit is the Truth” he cannot be contradicting the words of Jesus. So, if “the Spirit is the Truth” and Jesus “is the Truth” then the Spirit must be Christ’s Spirit. John must be stating that the “Spirit” and “Jesus” are ONE of the same person, and if we continue reading in 1 John 5 we find that John says exactly that.
John explains that the “three” witnesses “agree in one” (vs. 8). The word translated as “agree” (KJV) or as “in agreement” (NASB) literally means: “are.” The word translated as “one” is exactly that: it is the word for the numerical value of 1 (one) or “only.” So the International Standard Version correctly translates the verse: “the Spirit, the water, and the blood-and these three are one.” John already explained to us in verse 5 that the “water” and the “blood” refer to the person of Jesus. Here in verse 8 he is telling us that the “Spirit” is “ONE” with the water and the blood – that the “Spirit” is an integral component of the person of Jesus Christ.
John launched his discourse with the words: “And who is the one who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?” (vs. 5). John summarizes his discourse with the same emphasis: “The one who believes in the Son of God has the witness in himself…And the witness is this, that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have the life” (1 John 5:10-12). How is it that we have this “witness” within ourselves? The incarnated Christ certainly cannot literally be “in” us – but His Spirit most assuredly can! And “The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are the children of God” (Romans 8:16).
The three witnesses are this: the water is representative of (witnesses to) the incarnation of Christ into the human race, the blood is representative of (witnesses to) the death (sacrifice) of Christ on our behalf by which He made possible both the Forgiveness of our sins and our Justification (returning us to a right standing) before God, and the Spirit is representative of (witnesses to) His ongoing work on our behalf in which He “transforms” us (Sanctifies us) into His image by the indwelling of His Spirit. “But when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law, so that He might redeem those who were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption as sons. Because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, "Abba! Father!" Therefore you are no longer a slave, but a son; and if a son, then an heir through God” (Galatians 4:4-7).
1 John 5:6-8 does not give us any proof of an eternally existing “Triune” Godhead. On the contrary, it confirms an original Godhead consisting of Jesus Christ and the Father, who, embarked on a mission to save a lost race through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. Instead of speaking of the Godhead itself (or of the Trinity), we see that John is speaking of the person of Jesus Christ when referring to the “three that bear witness” and John has shown us that the Holy Spirit is indeed Christ’s Spirit – not a separate member of the Godhead apart from Christ. The Holy Spirit is: “…Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Colossians 1:27. See also 1 Pet. 3:15).
Matthew 28:19: “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”
This is, by far, the most difficult Biblical Text to deal with if you don’t agree with the traditional doctrine of the Trinity. It is perhaps the only real Biblical text containing the Trinitarian formula per se. This text has bothered me for a very long time – since before I came to the belief I now hold regarding the Godhead and the Holy Spirit. Here is the reason it bothered me so.
In Matthew 28:19 (if we accept these words to be the words of Christ) we find a direct command from Jesus for His disciples to go and baptize in the “name, of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.” First of all, we have to wrestle with the fact that the text instructs them to baptize in the “name” (Singular) of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Now I understand that Jesus said that He and the Father are “one,” but if you want to show that these three are separate individuals then you would want to use the Plural (“names”) instead of the singular. More troubling than that though is the fact that this is a direct command. Surely the disciples realized the importance of obeying their Lord and Savior! Surely they would follow His instructions to the letter – especially if Christ had been as specific about the procedure as He appears to be in this verse. WHY is it then that we have absolutely NO examples of the disciples obeying Christ by following this direct instruction on how to baptize? You can search the entire New Testament through and never find an example of the disciples baptizing in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. What you will find are examples in which they always, and only, baptized in the name of JESUS. Why is that? Doesn’t that bother you?
In the book of Acts we find examples of the disciples “making disciples” of other men and baptizing them into the Lord Jesus Christ. In each of the examples recorded we find them baptizing in the name of “Jesus.”
Acts 2:38 “Peter said to them, ‘Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.’”
Acts 8:16 “For He [Holy Spirit] had not yet fallen upon any of them; they had simply been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.”
Acts 10:48 “And he ordered them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Then they asked him to stay on for a few days.”
Acts 19:5 “When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.”
Were the disciples careless about following our Lord’s instructions? Or did they understand perfectly what Jesus had told them to do? Isn’t it more plausible (likely) that the disciples were obedient to Jesus and followed His instructions? And if this is the case, isn’t it probable that those instructions were not stated as we find them recorded in Matthew 28:19?
Now I don’t want to sound like some naysayer who, whenever I come to a “difficult” text, immediately says that it “doesn’t belong there” or that it is “corrupt” and inserted by someone other than the actual author of the text. However, we need to be honest in our approach to God’s Word and not be afraid to critically examine it – comparing Scripture with Scripture – to insure that it maintains its integrity and continuity. Unfortunately, most of us do not want to critically examine these things and prefer to read into a text our own preconceived opinions and beliefs. We don’t want to “THINK” about or “QUESTION” anything. And we take great pride in suggesting that by accepting whatever we read in the Bible as being inspired by God that we are being more faithful to God than someone who critically examines and questions the statements found there (this is especially true in regards to difficult texts such as the one at hand). In fact, we are often predisposed to attack anyone who questions something we have believed for so long and who challenges us to look at our cherished beliefs in a different manner. I am quite certain that many will attack me for espousing the position I have set forth in this book. But that does not mean that these things are not true. Throughout history, many have been ridiculed (and even killed) for challenging a long-held belief – only to be proven correct as the Spirit of the Lord has brought Truth after Truth back into its proper light and understanding. Wasn’t Martin Luther severely chastised for preaching Righteousness by Faith? Haven’t Seventh-day Adventists been ridiculed for their preaching the Sabbath? Could we be in danger of rejecting further “light” simply because we are unwilling to let go of a long-held belief? Could we be in danger of rejecting “new light” simply because we have become too lazy to honestly and critically study God’s Word for ourselves – preferring instead to be spoon fed by the men we consider “leaders” and “scholars”? I simply cannot afford to do this – and neither can you. Mrs. White has told us that this can be a very risky thing to do:
“Every soul must look to God with contrition and humility, that He may guide and lead and bless. We must not trust to others to search the Scriptures for us. Some of our leading brethren have frequently taken their position on the wrong side; and if God would send a message and wait for these older brethren to open the way for its advancement, it would never reach the people” (GW 1913: p. 303).
“I have been shown that ministers and people are tempted more and more to trust in finite man for wisdom, and to make flesh their arm….I entreat of you to search the Scriptures as you have never yet searched them, that you may know the way and will of God. O that every soul might be impressed with this message, and put away the wrong” (Special Testimonies, Series B, No. 10 (1909); found in Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers, pp. 480,481).
"Investigation of every point that has been received as truth will repay the searcher: He will find precious gems. And in closely investigating ever jot and tittle which we think is established truth, in comparing Scripture with Scripture, we may discover errors in our interpretation of Scripture. Christ would have the searcher of his word sink the shaft deeper into the mines of truth. If the search is properly conducted, jewels of inestimable value will be found. The word of God is the mine of the unsearchable riches of Christ" (RH, July 12, 1889; par.15).
"There is no excuse for any one in taking the position that there is no more truth to be revealed, and that all our expositions of Scripture are without an error. The fact that certain doctrines have been held as truth for many years by our people, is not a proof that our ideas are infallible. Age will not make error into truth, and truth can afford to be fair. No true doctrine will lose anything by close investigation" (RH, December 20, 1892; par. 1).
"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. Those who allow prejudice to bar the mind against the reception of truth cannot receive the divine enlightenment" (Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers; p. 105, par. 2,3).
"When God's people are at ease, and satisfied with their present enlightenment, we may be sure that He will not favour them. It is His will that they should be ever moving forward, to receive the increased and ever increasing light that is shining for them. The present attitude of the church is not pleasing to God. There has come in a self-confidence that has led them to feel no necessity for more truth and greater light" (5T: pp. 708, 709). See Appendix “D” for additional New Light quotes from the Spirit of Prophecy (these are real eye-openers)!
Matthew 28:19 is indeed a very suspect text. One of the reasons this is the case is that there is a very large gap of time from the time Matthew wrote his Gospel and the earliest Greek manuscripts we have containing the words found in Matthew 28:19 – almost three hundred years exist between the two. Unfortunately, the “Church” during this time period was also slipping quickly into darkness. The Catholic Church developed much of their theology during this time and was doggedly zealous in its enforcement of these doctrines. If you dared to challenge them, you were labeled a heretic and could face shunning, censure, and even death. To have only manuscripts dating to this time (the 3rd and 4th centuries – during which the Catholic Church was firmly establishing itself and its beliefs as the authority of the Scriptures), is a very real and a very big problem. This fact alone should immediately call for some caution in our acceptance of “every word” contained in these documents. It would be nice if we had older, more reliable manuscripts to work from. Unfortunately, as F.C. Conybeare informs us; “In the only codices which would be even likely to preserve an older reading, namely the Sinaitic Syriac and the oldest Latin Manuscript, the pages are gone which contained the end of Matthew.” In “Shem-Tob’s Hebrew Matthew” which uses Hebrew texts pre-dating the Greek texts which we have, there is a very different ending to Matthew 28:19 which reads: “You go and teach them to carry out all the things that I have commanded you forever.” Eusebius, in at least 18 citations of Matthew 28:19, always wrote it this way: “Go ye and make disciples of all nations in my name, teaching them to observe all things, whatsoever I commanded you.” This reading would certainly be more in line with the Bible’s “in Christ” motif.
You do not have to go to the ancient manuscripts in order to deduce that the text, as it reads in most Bibles, does not fit the Bible’s Theology. Nor do you have to agree with my position concerning the Godhead to recognize that this text does not really fit into the Bible’s teaching about baptism. Please note that I am not suggesting that Christ didn’t give the great commission, only that the words that He used are unlikely to be those found in most of the translations we have of Matthew 28:19. If Christ gave the commission to go and “baptize” then it would only make sense that His words would be in harmony with the rest of the Bible’s teachings regarding baptism.
The Bible clearly states that we are baptized into Jesus Christ (not into the Father or the Holy Spirit):
Rom. 6:3,4 “Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death? Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life.”
Gal. 3:26,27 “For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.”
Acts 22:16 “And now why tarriest thou? arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord.” (KJV). “What are you waiting for now? Get up, be baptized, and have your sins washed away as you call on his name.” (ISV).
Acts 10:48 “And he ordered them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ.”
You will never find any deviation from this except as it is recorded in Matthew 28:19! Why is that? If Jesus actually said the disciples should be baptizing in the name of “the Father the Son and the Holy Spirit” then why don’t we find this being done? This is a very serious question and it demands a serious and straightforward answer.
Jesus could not have commanded the disciples to baptize people in the name of [into] the Holy Spirit for if we are baptized into the Holy Spirit what need would there be to be baptized with the Holy Spirit? Jesus could not have told His disciples to baptize people into the Holy Spirit quite simply because this is not a baptism that the disciples were to perform. We are told that Jesus is the one who will baptize us with the Holy Spirit – that this is the baptism of Jesus. John the Baptist said: “I baptized you with water, He [Christ] will baptize you with the Holy Spirit” (Mark 1:8 cf. Mat. 3:11 & Lk. 3:16). “…this [Jesus] is the One who baptizes in [with] the Holy Spirit” (Jn. 1:33). Since this is obviously a separate baptism – a baptism in which we are immersed [baptized] with the Holy Spirit – a baptism that Christ is to perform – then Jesus could not have told the disciples to baptize people into the name of the Holy Spirit.
Once we understand who Jesus is and how He has provided us with Salvation, we are to be baptized into Him. He will then baptize us with His Holy Spirit. Christ’s Holy Spirit is the gift we receive when we accept Him and are baptized into Him. In Galatians 3:27 we read: “For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.” To be “clothed with Christ” is to be baptized “with the Holy Spirit.” We “put on” Christ through the reception of His Spirit in our mind and heart. “He abides in us, by the Spirit whom He has given us” (1 Jn. 3:24). 1 John 4:13 makes all of this perfectly clear: “By this we know that we abide in Him and He in us, because He has given us of His Spirit.”
So the prescribed order is to learn of Christ, be baptized into Christ, and then to receive Christ’s Spirit. “Peter said to them, "Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” (Acts 2:38). While there are some exceptions to this order (see Acts 10:47), the normally prescribed order is repentance, baptism, and the reception of the Holy Spirit – and there is a reason for this order.
Jesus said to “go and teach” or “make disciples” of all nations. Teach them what? Make them disciples of whom? We are to teach men of Christ in who’s name is the “forgiveness of sins” (See Lk. 24:47; Acts 2:38 & 10:43) -- for “there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). Jesus said: “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through me” (John 14:6). We must be taught (learn) that we are in a lost condition and that there is only one hope for us – the person of Jesus Christ who gave Himself for us that we might not die but have eternal life. We must be persuaded to place our faith in the Son of God and we must learn to depend upon Him for the power to overcome and to live a new life in the power of His Spirit. We must repent (die to “self”) and make a public proclamation of that repentance and of our acceptance of Jesus Christ as our Savior, Lord, and God. That public proclamation is made through the ordinance of baptism – in which is symbolized our acceptance of Christ and His sacrifice, our death to self, and our resurrection to a new life in Christ – a life powered by the Spirit of Christ! Paul stated it very clearly in this way: “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me” (Galatians 2:20).
Baptism is an absolute imperative for all those who are mentally and physically capable of making such a public proclamation for to deny it is to deny Christ and to have no part in Him. To neglect such a proclamation is to neglect (or deny) the eternal price paid by Christ for our Salvation, and “how will we escape if we neglect so great a salvation?” (Heb. 2:3). To refuse baptism is really a “public proclamation” in itself – that we do not accept Christ’s death on our behalf and that we do not accept Him as our Lord and Savior. Refusing to repent (die to self) and be baptized (being buried with Christ and resurrected to a new life in Christ) is to remain “in the flesh” or in our “sin.” And the Bible tells us that this is to remain dead in sin: “For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit [Christ] is life and peace, because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so, and those who are in the flesh cannot please God. However, you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him” (Romans 8:6-10).
The Bible is very clear about the fact that Salvation is through Jesus Christ alone. No one need be confused about this: “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” (John 3:16). This is the whole theme of the Bible. Period. Once we understand this, we are to show our acceptance of Him by being baptized into Him. This is why I believe that Jesus did not instruct His disciples to baptize new disciples into the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. He instructed them to baptize men into HIS name – the only “name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).
We need to be baptized into the name of Jesus and not into the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit: because when we are baptized into the threefold name we are being baptized into a misconception. We are being baptized into a false belief about God, about Jesus Christ, about the Holy Spirit, and about the Plan of Salvation. What I am saying is not sacrilege. Nor is it heresy. I am not diminishing the value or the persons of the Father or the Holy Spirit in any way. Nor am I suggesting that the Father and the Holy Spirit do not play an important part in our salvation. I am simply saying that doing what the Lord has commanded and in the way that God has ordained is what we, as Christians, ought to be doing. When we are baptized into the threefold name (even ignorantly) we are being baptized into the traditions of men and not of God. Jesus said: “BUT IN VAIN DO THEY WORSHIP ME, TEACHING AS DOCTRINES THE PRECEPTS OF MEN” (Mark 7:7 & Matthew 15:9). I don’t want my worship, or my service to my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, to be “in vain” – do you?
John 14:16-18: “I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever; that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you. I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you.”
This is another favorite text of those who espouse the traditional view of the Trinity. In this text there are several words that they seize upon in order to deny that the Holy Spirit is actually Christ’s Spirit. Those words are: “another” (which they claim must indicate that it is not Christ); “He” and “Him” (which they claim indicates a person other than Christ); and, of course, “Spirit” (which they claim identifies a person who is another person, apart from Christ). These arguments simply don’t hold water, and we will examine this in detail in a moment – dissecting this passage using textual criticism, Greek meanings and usages, the Apostle’s understanding of the Holy Spirit, and the extra-Biblical inspired writings of E.G. White. But let me say right now that the meaning of what Christ was saying is contained right within the text itself. Christ says that the disciples already know Him (the “Helper/Comforter”) because He abides (is abiding) “with” them (Christ is the one abiding with them at this point). Then He says that He “will be” in them (yet future but soon to come to pass – Christ, after He ascends to Heaven following His crucifixion, would abide in His disciples through His Spirit). In verse 18, Christ explains that this other “comforter” is really Himself -- He would not leave them comfortless, He would “come” to them. It really isn’t that hard to understand is it? We are the ones that have muddled this up! When we get done examining all this I believe that you are going to be hard pressed to conclude that the Holy Spirit is not Christ’s Spirit! So if you want to hold on to your “cherished” traditional understanding of the Godhead and the Holy Spirit, STOP RIGHT HERE! Otherwise, leave your cherished positions at the door; humbly knock, and let the Spirit of our Lord speak to your heart.
“Who” did the Apostles understand this “other Helper,” this “Spirit of Truth,” to be? I am quite confident that the disciples did not understand who this “Spirit” was, at the time that Jesus spoke these words, for in another place John tells us “But this He spoke of the Spirit, whom those who believed in Him were to receive; for the Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified” (Jn. 7:39). Jesus had also told the disciples that there were many things which He did and was yet to do that they did not understand at the time He said or did them: “What I do you do not realize now, but you will understand hereafter” (John 13:7). Ellen tells us: “The words of Christ were not always comprehended by the disciples; and even when they were understood in a measure, the comprehension of them did not measure their full significance. In order to understand the sayings of our Lord, we should carefully and prayerfully contemplate the words of truth, not merely to reach that comprehension of them which the people of an earlier age might have had, but to reach a deeper significance; for if our minds are illuminated by the Spirit of God, more and more of the force and meaning attached to them by the Saviour himself will come to our hearts” (ST: April 6, 1891; par. 5). The disciples, however, did not remain ignorant as to the identity of the Holy Spirit. The Apostles and the early Church understood that the Holy Spirit was indeed Christ’s Spirit and not a completely separate being of the Godhead (as the Apostate Church teaches and from which the Traditional and Orthodox understanding of the Holy Spirit and the Trinity has come).
It is extremely interesting that when Jesus was right in the middle of His discourse on the Holy Spirit (in Jn. 16 & 17) Jesus stopped and said; “I have many more things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now” (Jn. 16:12). What were those “many more things”? Ellen White tells us quite clearly. “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). Obviously, the truth about the Holy Spirit is part of the “more spiritual, glorious truths concerning the plan of redemption” for she goes on to tell us that: “Only the Holy Spirit could enable them to appreciate the significance of the plan of redemption” (Ibid). She also tells us that this is a truth that must be “searched for” through the inspired testimony of the disciples. It is not something that will be understood by those who are given to a “casual” understanding of the truths of God’s Word. “The lessons of Christ, coming to the world through the inspired testimony of the disciples, have a significance and value far beyond that which the casual reader of the Scriptures gives them…. He spoke of the truths of the Bible as a treasure hid in a field….He represents the gems of truth, not as lying directly upon the surface, but as buried deep in the ground; as hidden treasures that must be searched for. We must dig for the precious jewels of truth, as a man would dig in a mine” (Ibid).
So let’s “dig” into the disciples’ testimony and see if we can’t come to a knowledge of the truth concerning the Holy Spirit. As I said before, the disciples came to understand clearly that the Holy Spirit is the “Spirit of Christ.”
Paul understood this:
Paul wrote a very emphatic statement about Jesus Christ (which is in complete harmony with the rest of the Bible) in 1 Timothy 2:5,6 where he writes: “For there is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself as a ransom for all...” Yet if we turn to the book of Romans we find Paul stating that there is someone else making intercession for us: “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 groanings too deep for words” (Rom. 8:26). So which way is it Paul? Is there only one mediator (“intercessor”) between God and men, or are there two? The simple truth is that there is only One, and Paul understood this perfectly.
Excepting the Apostle John, Paul most fully understood and explained that “the Spirit” who intercedes for us is “Christ’s Spirit.” We only have an “intercessor” or “mediator” in Christ Jesus if we have accepted Christ as our Savior and our Substitute – and if we have become His children. And Paul explains that if we have become His Children that Christ’s Spirit actively acts in our behalf: “Because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, ‘Abba! Father!’” (Gal. 4:6). Paul understood the workings of Christ’s Spirit on His behalf and he had complete confidence in this: “For I know that this will turn out for my deliverance through your prayers and the provisions of the Spirit of Jesus Christ” (Phil. 1:19). Paul understood that the person of Jesus Christ, in both His humanity and in His Spirit, are active in the process of our sanctification: “how much more will the blood of Christ [His humanity], who through the eternal Spirit [His Spirit self] offered Himself without blemish to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? And for this cause He is the mediator of the new covenant…” (Heb. 9:14,15).
As the mediator of this “new covenant,” and during the New Testament era (following Christ’s death and resurrection), Christ had promised to put His Spirit inside us, enabling us to obey Him and walk in His commandments: “I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will be careful to observe My ordinances” (Eze. 36:27). Paul understood all this! And Paul understood the importance – the necessity of the indwelling of Christ through His Spirit in our lives if we are to be victorious over our fleshly natures: “However, you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him” (Rom. 8:9). This is also why Paul exhorts us to: “Keep examining yourselves to see whether you are continuing in the faith. Test yourselves! You know, do not you, that Jesus Christ lives in you? Could it be that you are failing the test?” (2 Cor. 13:5 [ISV]).
Peter also understood that the Holy Spirit was Christ’s Spirit. Peter tells us: “But know this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one's own interpretation, for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God” (2 Pet. 1:20,21). Peter makes it very plain that no prophecy contained in God’s Word was spoken without the direct inspiration of the Holy Spirit. Who is that Holy Spirit? Peter tells us: “As to this salvation, the prophets who prophesied of the grace that would come to you made careful searches and inquiries, seeking to know what person or time the Spirit of Christ within them was indicating as He predicted the sufferings of Christ and the glories to follow” (1 Pet. 1:10,11). In other words the prophets who prophesied and predicted the sufferings of Christ and the glories to follow, did so through the inspiration of “the Spirit of Christ” which was “within them.” Peter understood that the “Holy Spirit” is the “Spirit of Christ,” and not some “other” person apart from Christ.
John understood this:
John had an intimate understanding of the person of Jesus Christ and of His Holy Spirit that surpassed that of many of his contemporaries. John wrote more comprehensively on this subject than any of the other Apostles. Because John recognized the importance of Christ’s words concerning His Holy Spirit, he recorded the teachings of Christ on this subject in greater detail than did any of the other Apostles. John realized the significance of the sacrifice Christ has made in order to give us “His Spirit.” And this is probably the reason Jesus chose John as the one through whom He spoke most intimately regarding the Holy Spirit and why John would be the one through whom Christ would give the “Revelation.” It is also the reason why John ascribes the personal pronoun of “He” and “Him” to the Holy Spirit. John knew that the Holy Spirit is a person, and that the person of the Holy Spirit is “part and parcel” of the person of Jesus Christ. Here is the reason why we know that John understood the Holy Spirit to be part of the person of Jesus Christ.
Technically the Greek noun “pneuma,” translated as “Spirit,” is neuter – meaning that it does not have a gender (masculine or feminine) ascribed to it. Technically, the pronoun used with a noun, must always agree with the noun to which it refers. Hence, the noun “Spirit” ought always take a neuter pronoun such as “it.” Consequently, any discussion about the “Spirit” ought (technically) be done without the use of the personal pronoun of “He” or “Him.” But John knew that the “Spirit” is not just an impersonal “power” (i.e. “the power of the flame” Isa. 47:14), and that the Holy Spirit is inseparably linked to the person of Christ and should rightfully be addressed as “He.” John is the only writer who consistently uses the masculine pronoun “He” when he speaks of the Holy Spirit precisely for this reason.
More Textual Criticism concerning the “Helper” of John 14:16-18 and “His” identity as Jesus Christ:
The word “another” is translated from the Greek word “αλλος” which means: “Another, numerically but of the same kind in contrast to héteros (G2087), another qualitatively, other, different one.” In other words, this “other Helper” is “another” numerically, but qualitatively He is of the same kind (character/nature) as Christ. Or, to put it another way, the “helper” that the Father would send would not be a different one than Christ.
While Jesus is the one who spoke the words recorded in John 14:16-18; it was John who chose which Greek words to use when he recorded them. The prudence of John in choosing this particular Greek word to describe what Christ had said, evidentially demonstrates an understanding of what Christ really meant that, unfortunately, has eluded most of us.
Jesus tells us in John 14:26 that this “helper” would be sent by the Father “in My name.” “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you.” Those words, “in My name,” are extremely significant. “It is through the name of Jesus that every favor is received” (MB: p. 133, par. 1). Anything that is truly done “in His name,” is intrinsically linked to Him. Something done in His name is to be accepted as being done by Him. Note these texts:
Mat 18:5 “And whoever receives one such child in My name receives Me”
Mat 18:20 “For where two or three have gathered together in My name, I am there in their midst.”
Mar 9:37 “Whoever receives one child like this in My name receives Me; and whoever receives Me does not receive Me, but Him who sent Me.”
Mar 9:39 But Jesus said, “Do not hinder him, for there is no one who will perform a miracle in My name, and be able soon afterward to speak evil of Me.
Luk 9:48 and said to them, “Whoever receives this child in My name receives Me, and whoever receives Me receives Him who sent Me”
Mar 16:17,18 “These signs will accompany those who have believed: in My name they will cast out demons, they will speak with new tongues; they will pick up serpents, and if they drink any deadly poison, it will not hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.”
Jn. 14:13 “Whatever you ask in My name, that will I do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son.”
Jn. 14:14 “If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it.”
Jn. 15:16 “You did not choose Me but I chose you, and appointed you that you would go and bear fruit, and that your fruit would remain, so that whatever you ask of the Father in My name He may give to you.”
Jn. 16:24 “Until now you have asked for nothing in My name; ask and you will receive, so that your joy may be made full.”
Jn. 16:26,27 “In that day you will ask in My name, and I do not say to you that I will request of the Father on your behalf; for the Father Himself loves you, because you have loved Me and have believed that I came forth from the Father.
Jn. 16:23 “In that day you will not question Me about anything. Truly, truly, I say to you, if you ask the Father for anything in My name, He will give it to you.” He (the Father) will give it to you because you are “in Christ” and your petition is considered as Christ’s petition (so long as it is in harmony with the will of God).
Someone sent in the “His name” is to be accepted as His representative. But, in the case of the “Holy Spirit” it reflects a much deeper meaning than that. The Holy Spirit is much more than Christ’s “representative” – He is Christ Himself, in “Spirit” form. Mrs. White tells us that the words of Christ, especially those recorded by John in the 16th and 17th chapters of his Gospel, carry a significance for us that we have not realized – a significance that our enemy (Satan) understands much more clearly than we do and is not willing to have us grasp.
“The salvation of human beings is a vast enterprise, that calls into action every attribute of the divine nature…. The Lord is gracious and long-suffering, not willing that any should perish. He has provided power to enable us to be overcomers. How full of comfort and love are the words of Christ to his disciples just before his trial and crucifixion. He was about to leave them, but he did not want them to think that they were to be left helpless orphans. "I go my way to him that sent me," he said, "and none of you asketh me, Whither goest thou? But because I have said these things unto you, sorrow hath filled your heart. Nevertheless I tell you the truth; it is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you. And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: of sin, because they believe not on me; of righteousness, because I go to my Father, and ye see me no more; of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged. I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now. Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will show you things to come. He shall glorify me; for he shall receive of mine, and shall show it unto you."
Then comes the wonderful prayer recorded in the seventeenth chapter of John,--a prayer that means much more to us than we realize. Let us receive it into the treasure-house of the soul, and make it the daily lesson of our lives:--
"As thou hast sent me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world. And for their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth. Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; that they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one: I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me. Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me; be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me: for thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world. O righteous Father, the world hath not known thee: but I have known thee, and these have known that thou hast sent me. And I have declared unto them thy name, and will declare it: that the love wherewith thou hast loved me may be in them, and I in them."
Satan understands this prayer better than do the members of churches and the heads of families. He does not want the people of God to understand it, lest they should see the advantage God has bestowed on them, and know the day of their visitation. He would keep them in discord and strife over little misunderstandings and little differences, which, dwelt upon, grow into variance and hatred. He knows that if he can keep them thus, they will present before the world a showing exactly the opposite of that which God desires them to present.
I urge our people to cease their criticism and evil speaking, and go to God in earnest prayer, asking him to help them to help the erring. Let them link up with one another and with Christ. Let them study the seventeenth of John, and learn how to pray and how to live the prayer of Christ. He is the Comforter. He will abide in their hearts, making their joy full. His words will be to them as the bread of life, and in the strength thus gained they will be enabled to develop characters that will be an honor to God…. Perfect oneness,--a union as close as the union existing between the Father and the Son,--this is what will give success to the efforts of God's workers…. It is this union that convinces the world that God has indeed sent his Son to save sinners. Christ gives to his true disciples the glory of his character, that his prayer may be answered. Through the impartation of his Spirit, he appears in their lives” (RH: January 27, 1903; par. 9-13,15).
The Apostle John realized that Jesus Christ is the only One “sent” by the Father (for our Salvation) -- notice how many times John records this fact (Jn. 3:34; 4:34; 5:23,24,30,36,37,38; 6:29,38,39,44,57; 7:16,18,28,29,33; 8:16,18,26,29,42; 9:4; 10:36; 11:42; 12:44,45,49; 13:20; 14:24; 15:21; 16:5; 17:3,8,18,21,23,25; 20:21 & 1 Jn. 4:9,10,14). The other Apostles realized this also, as did the early Church, but John really seems to have “honed” in on this fact (and for an important reason). Matthew records this fact only once (Mat. 10:40) as does Mark (Mk. 9:37). Luke records it only five times (Lk. 4:18,43; 9:48; 10:16 and Acts 3:26). Paul refers to Jesus being “sent” twice (Gal. 4:4,6). John records this fact at least 43 times! John seems to have recognized a significance in Jesus words regarding His being “sent.” Thirty-nine (39) out of those 43 John is recording the words of Jesus (Jesus was obviously stressing this point over and over again in order to get it through our heads that He is the only One “sent” by the Father for the Salvation of mankind – there is Salvation in none other).
John realized that when Christ said that the Father would send “another Helper” He was not referring to someone other than Himself (Christ). We know this from our earlier study of 1 John 5:6-8 where John showed us that the water and the blood and the spirit were all references to Christ. There is no contradiction indicated in these statements when applied to the premises of this book. But so that we are absolutely clear on this let’s review a few facts.
Regarding the Holy Spirit, we have absolutely no evidence that the He existed as a separate individual member of the Godhead (apart from Christ) prior to the Creation. In fact, we have a great deal of evidence that there were not three members of the Original Godhead. We cannot simply ignore this fact. And I don’t believe that we can simply explain it away as something that has not been revealed to us -- “…for there is nothing concealed that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known” (Mat. 10:26). There are simply too many quotes (Bible and SOP) which indicate that there are actually only two persons of the original Godhead, and that these two created and implemented the plan of Salvation. This plan required a tremendous sacrifice on the part of both the Father and the Son. Established before the creation of the World, this plan required a separation of the Son from the Father, which resulted in, or created, three members of the Godhead. Explaining the “when” and “how” and, especially the “why” of the Holy Spirit becoming the third member of the Godhead has been the whole purpose of this book.
An understanding of Christ’s sacrifice is vital for our Salvation. And an understanding of “What” Christ has actually done is absolutely crucial for those of us “upon whom the ends of the world are come” (1 Cor. 10:11). Understanding that He has actually given His Holy Spirit to us in order that we may truly be victorious over Sin and the Devil and in order that we may actually become partakers of the His Divine Nature is critical for those who would receive the Latter Rain. We’ll see why this is so crucial in chapter 11.
Before we look at the “Helper” of John 14:16 under the other descriptive titles He is referred to (e.g. “the Spirit of Truth” and “The Comforter”), we should probably look at some of the SOP quotes that are used by those who believe that the Holy Spirit is someone other than Christ. That way, when we have finished examining these seemingly definitive quotes on the nature of the Holy Spirit, we can move on to the most beautiful truths concerning the Holy Spirit.
Ellen White and the “Third” person of the Godhead:
“Evil had been accumulating for centuries and could only be restrained and resisted by the mighty power of the Holy Spirit, the Third Person of the Godhead, who would come with no modified energy, but in the fullness of divine power.” (Testimonies to Ministers, p. 392).
“Keep yourselves where the three great powers of heaven – the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit – can be your efficiency. These powers work with the one who gives himself unreservedly to God. The strength of heaven is at the command of God’s believing ones. The man who makes God his trust is barricaded by an impregnable wall.” (In Heavenly Places, p. 176).
“There are three living persons of the heavenly trio, in the name of these three great powers – the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit – those who receive Christ by living faith are baptized, and these powers will co-operate with the obedient subjects of heaven in their efforts to live the new life in Christ.” (Evangelism, p. 615).
“We need to realize that the Holy Spirit, who is as much a person as God is a person, is walking through these grounds. The Holy Spirit has a personality, else He could not bear witness to our spirits and with our spirits that we are the children of God. He must also be a divine person, else He could not search out the secrets which lie hidden in the mind of God. ‘For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? Even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God.’” (Evangelism, pp. 616, 617).
“We have been brought together as a school, and we need to realize that the Holy Spirit, who is as much a person as God is a person, is walking through these grounds, that the Lord God is our keeper, and helper. He hears every word we utter and knows every thought of the mind.” (Manuscript Releases, vol. 7, p. 299).
“The Holy Spirit is a person; for He beareth witness with our spirits that we are the children of God. . . At such times we believe and are sure that we are the children of God. . . ‘We have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love; and he that dwelleth in God, and God in him.’” (Manuscript Releases, vol. 20, pp. 68,69).
“For ages prayers had been offered for the fulfillment of God’s promise to impart His Spirit, . . . . He determined to give His representative, the third person of the Godhead. This gift could not be excelled. He would give all gifts in one, and therefore the divine Spirit, that converting, enlightening, and sanctifying powr, would be His donation. . . . It came with a fullness and power, as if for ages it had been restrained but was now being poured forth upon the church . . . .” (My Life Today, p. 36).
“We need to realize that the Holy Spirit . . . is as much a person as God is a person. . . .The Holy Spirit is a free, working, independent agency….The Holy Spirit was the highest of all gifts that He [Jesus] could solicit from His Father for the exaltation of His people. The Spirit was to be given as a regenerating agent, and without this the sacrifice of Christ would have been of no avail. . . . Sin could be resisted and overcome only through the mighty agency of the third person of the Godhead, who would come with no modified energy, but in the fullness of divine power. The Holy Spirit is an effective helper in restoring the image of God in the human soul.” (The Faith I Live By, p. 52).
I have absolutely no quarrels with these statements. In fact, I agree with them wholeheartedly! There are, however, a few mistakes that are often made by Adventists when it comes to Ellen White’s writings. First, we have assumed that she understood everything there is to know about the subjects she was inspired to write about. This is simply not the case. We readily admit that the Bible writers didn’t always understand everything they were inspired to record. Daniel certainly didn’t understand everything he recorded: “As for me, I heard but could not understand” (Dan. 12:8). Isaiah, Ezekiel, Jeremiah, and even the Apostle John certainly did not understand everything they recorded. Peter, speaking in Acts 2:16-18, told those gathered in Jerusalem that what they were witnessing on the day of Pentecost was the fulfillment of the prophecy of Joel 2:28-32 regarding the outpouring of God’s “Spirit.” But we know that the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost was only a partial fulfillment (the Early Rain) of what Christ intends to do in the “last days” when He will pour out His Spirit in Full measure (the Latter Rain). Peter did not understand all that was involved concerning the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. Why then do we insist that it was any different for Ellen White? She certainly admitted that she was not “all-knowing” and that there were many things yet to be revealed. In fact, when it came to the subject of the Holy Spirit, she made it clear that “the nature of the Holy Spirit is a mystery not clearly revealed” and she clearly stated: “there are many mysteries which I do not seek to understand or to explain, they are too high for me…” (MS #1107 [MR vol. 14, p. 179]. This statement is made in direct reference to the Holy Spirit).
The second error many of us have made is one of neglect. We have neglected to compile all of her writings on a particular subject before we have drawn our conclusions about what God was revealing through her. When people do this with the Bible we become very alarmed. Yet we often do this with Ellen’s writings. Why?
Third, we forget that the revelation of “Truth” is progressive and that some truths will only be brought into the “light” when God deems the time to be right. Ellen White was human and made human errors even during the many years that she received special revelations from the Lord. “In the vision given me June 12, 1868, I was shown the danger of the people of God in looking to Brother and Sister White, and thinking that they must come to them with their burdens, and seek counsel of them. This ought not so to be. They are invited by their compassionate, loving Saviour, to come unto Him, when weary and heavy laden, and He will relieve them. . . Brother and Sister White are striving for purity of life, striving to bring forth fruit unto holiness; yet they are only erring mortals…We utterly refuse to be conscience for you” (2T: p. 118 (119), par. 3). If you will read the 1st volume of the Testimonies you will see that Ellen rather severely rebuked a man and a woman who had rediscovered the truth about “unclean” meats: “If God requires His people to abstain from swine’s flesh, He will convict them on the matter…If it is the duty of the church to abstain from swine’s flesh, God will discover it to more than two or three. He will teach His church their duty” (p. 207). This statement was written on October 21, 1858; five years before the great health reform vision of 1863. Yet it was written during a time when Ellen was receiving other important instruction from the Lord and was under His “inspiration.”
This illustrates the fact that just because a prophet makes a statement at one moment it either may not be directly from God or it may indicate that God had not yet purposed that a particular truth be brought to the forefront. In either case, the prophets understanding of the subject would not be entirely correct. “The disciples themselves yet cherished a regard for the ceremonial law, and were too willing to make concessions, hoping by so doing to gain the confidence of their countrymen, remove their prejudice, and win them to faith in Christ as the world's Redeemer. . . . Though some of these men wrote under the inspiration of the Spirit of God, yet when not under its direct influence they sometimes erred. It will be remembered that on one occasion Paul withstood Peter to the face because he was acting a double part” (Sketches from the Life of Paul; p. 213, par. 2). This really should not bother us at all. Indeed, I find it comforting to realize that God uses erring human beings to shed forth His Truth – it gives me confidence and hope that He can use someone as erring as myself in His great work! When the time is right, God will reveal His truths.
We also often ignore the fact that inspired writers often recorded more than they themselves were aware, concerning the things they wrote about. Sister White tells us: “Mysteries into which angels desire to look, which prophets and kings and righteous men desired to understand, the remnant church will carry in messages from God to the world. The prophets prophesied of these things, and they longed to understand that which they foretold; but to them this privilege was not given” (6T p. 19, par. 4). Mrs. White understood this principle. The Biblical prophets understood this. Why don’t we?
So let’s look at more than just a few of Ellen’s statements regarding the Holy Spirit before we draw our conclusions about His nature. I believe that you will be pleasantly surprised at how much God actually revealed about the nature of the Holy Spirit through Ellen – even though she felt that it had not been “clearly revealed” and was “too high” for her.
“The doctrine of the incarnation of Christ in human flesh is a mystery, "even the mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations." It is the great and profound mystery of godliness. "The Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us." Christ took upon himself human nature, a nature inferior to his heavenly nature. Nothing so shows the wonderful condescension of God as this. He "so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son." John presents this wonderful subject with such simplicity that all may grasp the ideas set forth, and be enlightened” (RH April 5, 1906; par. 3).
The Holy Spirit IS Christ (is “Christ’s Spirit”):
We can use the Bible alone to show that the “Spirit” is Christ’s Spirit. In Proverbs 8 we see that it is “Wisdom” that was “brought forth.” We know that this refers to Christ and can refer to no one else. So “Wisdom” is Christ. Then we find references to the “Spirit of Wisdom” (see Isa. 11:2; Acts 6:3 and Eph. 1:17). If “Wisdom” is Christ, then the “Spirit of Wisdom” must be the “Spirit of Christ.” This same truth is expressed in the Holy Spirit’s title of the “Spirit of Truth.” Christ said: “I am…the Truth.” So if the Christ is the Truth, then the “Spirit of Truth” must be the “Spirit of Christ.”
In John 14:16-17, Jesus referred to the other “Helper” as “the Spirit of Truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him, but [Christ told his disciples] you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you” (John 14:17). If you believe the Spirit of Prophecy (and I hope you do), there can be no doubt that this other “Helper” – the “Spirit of Truth” – is, in fact, Jesus Christ (Christ’s Holy Spirit). “Christ was the spirit of truth. The world will not listen to His pleadings. They would not accept Him as their guide. They could not discern unseen things; spiritual things were unknown to them. But His disciples see in Him the Way, the Truth, and the Life. And they shall have His abiding presence. They shall have an experimental knowledge of the only true God and of Jesus Christ whom He hath sent. To them He says: You will no more say, I cannot comprehend. No longer shall you see through a glass darkly; you shall comprehend with all saints what is the length and depth and breadth and height of the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge. He who has begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ. The honor of God, the honor of Jesus Christ, is involved in the perfection of your character. Your work is to co-operate with Christ, that you may be complete in Him. In being united to Him by faith, believing and receiving Him, you become a part of Himself. Your character is His glory revealed in you. And when you shall appear in His presence, you will find the benediction awaiting you, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant, thou hast been faithful over a few things: I will make thee ruler over many things; enter thou into the joy of thy Lord’” (Southern Watchman; October 25, 1898; par. 2).
“There are many things that we ought to be able to understand, that we do not comprehend because we are so far behind our privileges. Christ said to his disciples, "I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now." This is our condition. Would they not have been able to understand what he had to say to them, if they had been doers of his word--if they had improved point after point of the truth which he had presented to them? But although they could not then understand, he told them that he would send the Comforter, who would lead them into all truth. We should be in a position where we can comprehend the teaching, leading, and working of the Spirit of Christ. We must not measure God or his truth by our finite understanding, or by our preconceived opinions…. Is Christ abiding in your hearts by faith? Is his Spirit in you? If it is, there will be such a yearning in your soul for the salvation of those for whom Christ has died, that self will sink into insignificance, and Christ alone will be exalted. Brethren and sisters, there is great need at this time of humbling ourselves before God, that the Holy Spirit may come upon us” (RH: October 8, 1889; par. 2).
Jesus not only described the Holy Spirit as the “Spirit of Truth,” but also as the “Comforter” (“Helper” and “Comforter” are used synonymously and come from the same Greek word): “But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you” (Jn. 14:26 KJV. See also: Jn. 15:26 & 16:7). Jesus is our comforter: “I, even I, am He who comforts you” (Isa. 51:12). The Spirit of Prophecy leaves us no doubt as to the identity of the “Comforter.”
“As by faith we look to Jesus, our faith pierces the shadow, and we adore God for His wondrous love in giving Jesus the Comforter.” (MS #1405 [MR: vol. 19, pp. 297,298]).
“The Saviour is our comforter. This I have proved Him to be.” (MS #548 [MR: vol. 8, p. 49]).
“Christ tells us that the Holy Spirit is the Comforter, and that the Comforter is the Holy Ghost, “the Spirit of truth, which the Father will send in my name….This refers to the omnipresence of the Spirit of Christ, called the Comforter.” (MS #1107 [MR: vol. 14, p. 179]).
“Let them be thankful to God for His manifold mercies and be kind to one another. They have one God and one Saviour; and one Spirit – the Spirit of Christ…” (9T p. 189, par. 3).
“The reason why the churches are weak and sickly and ready to die, is that the enemy has brought influences of a discouraging nature to bear upon trembling souls. He has sought to shut Jesus from their view as the Comforter, as one who reproves, who warns, who admonishes them, saying, "This is the way, walk ye in it." Christ has all power in heaven and in earth, and he can strengthen the wavering, and set right the erring.” (RH August 26, 1890; par. 10).
“Jesus is waiting to breathe upon all His disciples, and give them the inspiration of His sanctifying Spirit, and transfuse the vital influence from Himself to His people….they must act with His Spirit; that it may be no more they that live, but Christ that liveth in them. Jesus is seeking to impress upon them the thought that in giving His Holy Spirit He is giving to them the glory which the Father hath given Him, that He and His people may be one in God.” (MS #99 [MR: vol. 2, pp. 36,37]).
“Let them study the seventeenth of John, and learn how to pray and how to live the prayer of Christ. He is the Comforter.” (RH January 27, 1903; par. 13).
Jesus said that He would not leave us “comfortless” and said: “I will come to you” (John 14:18). Jesus also said “where two or three have gathered together in My name, I am there in their midst” (Mat. 18:20). He assured us; “lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the world” (Mat. 28:20 KJV). How is Jesus to “come” to us? How is He “in our midst”? How can He be with us “to the end of the world”? He tells us how in John 14:16 where He says that the “comforter/helper” would “abide with you forever.” Jesus, in His humanity cannot be in all places at all times – He cannot “abide” with everyone, everywhere, “forever.” “Cumbered with humanity Christ could not be in every place personally, therefore it was altogether for their advantage that He should leave them to go to His Father and send the Holy Spirit to be His successor on earth” (MS #1084 [MR: vol. 14, p. 23]). “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). In the person of His “Holy Spirit” form, Christ could be in all places at all times and “abide with us forever.” “While Jesus, our Intercessor, pleads for us in heaven, the Holy Spirit works in us, to will and do of His good pleasure” (MS #99 [MR: vol. 2, p. 37]). “Christ declared that after his ascension, he would send to his church, as his crowning gift, the Comforter, who was to take his place. This Comforter is the Holy Spirit,--the soul of his life, the efficacy of his church, the light and life of the world. With his Spirit Christ sends a reconciling influence and a power that takes away sin. In the gift of the Spirit, Jesus gave to man the highest good that heaven could bestow” (RH May 19, 1904; par. 1,2).
When Christ said “I will not leave you comfortless, I will come to you,” it is readily apparent that He was speaking of Himself as the “Comforter,” the Spirit of Truth that will “abide with you forever.” Jesus was speaking of His Spirit – “the soul of his life” which He has given to us. “John calls upon the world to ‘Behold what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us that we should be called the sons of God.’ It is a love that passeth knowledge. In the fullness of the sacrifice nothing was withheld. Jesus gave himself” (The Paulson Collection; p. 339, par. 3).
The inspired Apostles understood and taught that the Holy Spirit is Christ’s Spirit: “Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty” (2Cor. 3:17) – And that, “if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him.” (Rom. 8:9). They taught that it is only through our acceptance of Christ (expressed in our baptism) that His Spirit is given to us: “Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:38). The Bible states that Christ is “He who comforts you.” (Isa. 51:12). And Ellen White has clearly demonstrated that the “Comforter” -- the Spirit of Truth -- the Holy Spirit, is none other than Christ: “Christ was the spirit of truth” (Southern Watchman; October 25, 1898; par. 2). “He is the Comforter” (RH January 27, 1903; par. 13). She even tells us that the Holy Spirit is “the soul of His life” (RH: May 19, 1904; par. 1) which has been given to us that we may become a “partaker of the [His] divine nature” (Ibid, par. 3). This really ought to be argument enough to establish this fact – but apparently it isn’t, for we continue to deny this Truth! So, let’s dig a little deeper.
Chapter 9 Summary
1. Christ taught that the Holy Spirit is, in fact, His Spirit – but because the disciples hadn’t even understood fully that He was indeed the Messiah – He had to teach this truth in ways that were somewhat obscure and abstract. Concerning the Holy Spirit He told them “I have many more things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now” (Jn. 16:12). Christ would tell them later, but He would have to do so through the person of His Holy Spirit – after He had ascended into heaven.
2. The Disciples learned and taught the truth that the Holy Spirit is “the Spirit of Christ” (Rom. 8:9; Phil. 1:19) and they did this quite clearly. Their understanding of the full significance of this truth may have been limited, but they knew and they experienced this truth when Christ baptized them with His Holy Spirit.
3. Unfortunately for us, some of the texts recorded in the Bible have been corrupted over time and have introduced fallacious views of the Holy Spirit. These views have been propagated largely by the Catholic Church and have been accepted by the majority of Protestants as well (SDA’s included).
4. Satan does not want the people of God to understand the truth about the Holy Spirit because he knows that if we understood it clearly and appropriated Christ’s Spirit fully, that his power over us would be broken and his end would come.
5. Satan has been successful in encouraging us to make limited use of Mrs. White’s writings concerning the identity of the Holy Spirit and has gotten many of us to use only a few of her statements – sadly, mostly the one’s which seem to support the traditional doctrine of the Trinity. When we compile all of her writings on this subject and couple them with what the Apostles taught, we find that they are in agreement and that they clearly reveal that the Holy Spirit is Christ’s Spirit and not someone other than Christ.
The Holy Spirit
The Mystery Explained
There are many things that we ought to be able to understand, that we do not comprehend because we are so far behind our privileges. Christ said to his disciples, "I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now." This is our condition . . . .We should be in a position where we can comprehend the teaching, leading, and working of the Spirit of Christ. We must not measure God or his truth by our finite understanding, or by our preconceived opinions.” (RH October 8, 1889; par. 2).
Have you ever wondered “why,” in all of Ellen White’s writings, she never uses the term “Trinity” when speaking about the Godhead? I believe that this is a most meaningful omission. Ellen was certainly familiar with the term. She had come out of a church that believed in and taught this doctrine. Why, then, does she not use the term trinity when speaking of the Godhead? If the traditional “Orthodox” position of the Trinity is correct then why not use the word that has come to be the accepted term in describing this position? Ellen uses phrases that do describe three beings comprising the Godhead such as “heavenly trio” or “three divine dignitaries,” but she never uses the term Trinity – Why? Why didn’t God inspire her to use this term to describe the Godhead if it truthfully describes the doctrine of the Godhead and the members comprising it?
I can only conclude that God did not intend that the traditional doctrine of the Trinity – as taught and accepted by most within the Christian world (and perhaps especially important, His remnant church) – should be understood by His people in the way that we have been content to understand and teach it. I believe that God intended, and still intends, that His people would come to know the “Truth” about the Godhead and the Great price that has been paid by both the Father and the Son in order to redeem us and make us partakers of the Divine nature. I believe that God especially intends that we shall know the Truth about the Holy Spirit and the work that it is to accomplish in those in whom He is going to fully reproduce Christ’s character before the Great and Dreadful day of the Lord.
I believe that God intends that we shall understand that Christ’s incarnation and death involved not only the giving of His human life, but also the giving of His divine life (His Spirit) for the Salvation of His children. Christ sacrificed the fullness of His being in order to redeem the human race. This sacrifice meant “parting” with, or “laying aside,” His inherent powers of divinity – that is, He could no longer singularly posses all of His divinity in His person. His person underwent a change and effectively created a third person of the Godhead. Now, these two “individuals” of the Godhead comprise the totality of Christ. They exist as His divine humanity (which has been incorporated into the Godhead) and His divine Spirit (which is that part of Himself that encompasses His divine power and has always existed with the Father).
“Jesus has done everything for you; he withheld not even himself” (ST: November 20, 1884; par. 20). Christ has paid the penalty for our transgression and in His humanity Christ pleads His own merits on our behalf before the Father. But that is simply not enough to bring about our transformation into His likeness: “Christ must be in us a living, working power” (MS #39, 1896 [7BC p. 921, par. 5]). He can only transform us into His image by abiding in us through the indwelling of His Holy Spirit. It is His “Spirit” that confirms and makes effectual what Christ, in His humanity, has done for us. His Spirit is responsible for the completion of the Plan of Redemption. “It is the Spirit that makes effectual what has been wrought out by the world's Redeemer. It is by the Spirit that the heart is made pure. Through the Spirit the believer becomes a partaker of the divine nature. Christ has given his Spirit as a divine power to overcome all hereditary and cultivated tendencies to evil, and to impress his own character upon the church” (RH: May 19, 1904; par. 3). Christ’s divinity and His humanity combined constitute the perfect sacrifice that He has made in order to make us “One” with God.
Some of you are probably mindful of the statements made by Ellen White that; “He [Christ] did not part with His divinity” (RH: June 15, 1905. [SDA BC 7A; p. 444, par. 6]). We must address this issue very seriously, and I hope that I can do so here. I do not wish in any way to leave the impression that Jesus Christ “gave up” His divinity and that He is no longer God. If Christ is not divine, then He could not be our Savior – and this position would be completely unbiblical. I am acutely aware of the warnings that the prophet of God has given regarding our treatment of “the humanity of Christ.” And I believe that she had good reason for giving this advice. “Avoid every question in relation to the humanity of Christ which is liable to be misunderstood. Truth lies close to the track of presumption. In treating upon the humanity of Christ, you need to guard strenuously every assertion, lest your words be taken to mean more than they imply, and thus you lose or dim the clear perceptions of His humanity as combined with divinity. His birth was a miracle of God. . . . Never, in any way, leave the slightest impression upon human minds that a taint of, or inclination to, corruption rested upon Christ, or that He in any way yielded to corruption…. let every human being be warned from the ground of making Christ altogether human, such an one as ourselves; for it cannot be” (SDA BC vol. 5, pp. 1128,1129). So the warning is given so that we do not speak of Christ in such a way as to leave the impression that Christ was a sinner – such an one as ourselves.
We are, however, encouraged to study the incarnation and to “dig deep for hidden truth”: “As the worker studies the life of Christ, and the character of His mission is dwelt upon, each fresh search will reveal something more deeply interesting than has yet been unfolded. The subject is inexhaustible. The study of the incarnation of Christ, His atoning sacrifice and mediatorial work, will employ the mind of the diligent student as long as time shall last ” (Gospel Workers, p. 251. [SDA BC vol. 7A; p. 444, par. 1]). “We should come to this study with the humility of a learner, with a contrite heart. And the study of the incarnation of Christ is a fruitful field, which will repay the searcher who digs deep for hidden truth” (The Youth's Instructor, Oct. 13, 1898. (SDA BC vol. 7A; p. 443, par. 1). But we are to be ever mindful that in so doing we do not make Christ out to be “altogether human,” a sinner such as we are, and thereby lose our Savior.
While Christ was not “altogether human” (such a one as ourselves), the “truth” lies uncomfortably close to this. Christ did in fact become a man: “Christ did not make believe to take human nature; He did verily take it” (RH: April 5, 1906; par. 4). And: “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 . "God so loved the world, that He gave His only-begotten Son." John 3:16. He gave Him not only to bear our sins, and to die as our sacrifice; He gave Him to the fallen race . To assure us of His immutable counsel of peace, God gave His only-begotten Son to become one of the human family, forever to retain His human nature . This is the pledge that God will fulfill His word. "Unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon His shoulder." God has adopted human nature in the person of His Son, and has carried the same into the highest heaven” (DA: p. 25, par. 3). Indeed, Christ so fully partook of our human nature (became a “man”) that even He was, for a time, put on probation. “As a free agent, He [Christ] was placed on probation, with liberty to yield to Satan’s temptations and work at cross-purposes with God” (The Youth’s Instructor, October 26, 1899). “For a period of time Christ was on probation….Had He failed in His test and trial…the world would have been lost” (ST: May 10, 1899; par. 6). Had Christ “Sinned” He would have been personally liable to face our fate: “Could Satan in the least particular have tempted Christ to sin, he would have bruised the Saviour's head…Had the head of Christ been touched, the hope of the human race would have perished. Divine wrath would have come upon Christ as it came upon Adam” (SDA BC vol. 5, p. 1131). Yet Christ did not sin. “We should have no misgivings in regard to the perfect sinlessness of the human nature of Christ” (Ibid).
Many people do not accept the fact that Christ could, and did, in fact become a human being. We don’t like to consider such a prospect. We think that if we accept this fact that we are making Christ nothing more than “one of us.” We think that acknowledging this truth would somehow lessen the Glory of the person of Jesus Christ. Nothing could be further from the truth! Christ demonstrated the nature of God perfectly – in His humanity. As “One” who was once fully God, Christ condescended to become a man and to pass over the ground that we must tread. “Although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but [Literally] emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant…being made in the likeness of men.” (Phil. 2:6,7). Through complete dependence and surrender to His heavenly Father He never broke from God and never sinned. In His perfect humanity He took on our sin and paid the penalty for our transgression. And in His humanity He pleads before the Throne of God His merits on our behalf. By acknowledging the humanity of Christ we do not make Christ one like “us” – we acknowledge that Christ has made it possible for us to be “One” like “Him.” Rather than being uncomfortable with Christ’s humanity, we should be in “awe” of it, and embrace it.
The condescension on the part of Christ – in becoming “man” -- involved an inestimable cost to Christ and to His Father. The person of Christ would never again enjoy the “Oneness” with His Father that He once enjoyed. The “man” Jesus Christ would no longer be equal with the Father but would instead be subjected to Him. It is only in this light that we can understand the statement of the prophet: “The man Christ Jesus was not the Lord God Almighty” (MS #140 [SDA BC vol. 5, p. 1129]). The man Jesus Christ would forever be our example in dependence and trust in God. Christ has united Himself with us in such an intimate and real way that, “He is not ashamed to call us brethren” (Heb. 2:11). Through His sacrifice, Christ has not only restored us to a proper standing with God; but has made it possible for us to partake of His divine nature in such a real and intimate way that we are to be “joint heirs” with Him, living and reigning with Him -- sharing His throne, His Kingdom, His divine nature!
Traditionally, Christianity has taken one of three options in explaining Christ’s nature – none of which fully reveals the truth. They are: (1) Christ was fully human and thus a created being (Arianism) – (2) Christ was fully divine and not one of us (Catholicism) – and (3) Christ was fully human and fully divine in the same person (the view of most Protestants, including Seventh-day Adventists). But here is the problem: If we make Christ “altogether human, such an one as ourselves” we leave ourselves without a Savior. “…the life of an angel could not pay the debt” (Early Writings, p. 150). “In all the universe there was but one who could, in behalf of man, satisfy its [the Law’s] claims….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” (PP: p. 63, par. 2). If we make Christ fully divine (of divine nature alone), we leave ourselves without hope -- for we do not possess this divine nature within ourselves. “The humanity of the Son of God is everything to us. It is the golden chain that binds our souls to Christ, and through Christ to God. This is to be our study. Christ was a real man” (The Youth's Instructor, Oct. 13, 1898 [SDA BC vol. 7A; p. 443, par. 1]). “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). Even if we combine the two concepts and make Jesus fully human but maintaining His own divine power in His human form, we are still left with a Savior who is unlike ourselves, and who could not be “tempted in all things, as we are” (Hebrews 4:15). “If we had to bear anything which Jesus did not endure, then upon this point Satan would represent the power of God as insufficient for us. Therefore Jesus was ‘in all points tempted like as we are.’ Heb. 4:15. He endured every trial to which we are subject. And 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). “Our Saviour relied upon His heavenly Father for wisdom and strength to resist and overcome the tempter. The Spirit of His Heavenly Father animated and regulated His life” (The Youth’s Instructor, February 1, 1873). The “Truth” about Christ’s humanity and His divinity, and how they are combined, must lie beyond any of these positions.
In the person of Jesus Christ (“God with us”) we are faced with a divine “dichotomy” and a “paradox” of enormous proportions! The solution to understanding this paradox is in understanding that Christ’s divinity and His humanity were combined on two levels. We are told that in order to understand the mystery of the incarnation we must understand “the dual character of His [Christ’s] nature” (DA p. 507, par. 1). When Christ was incarnated He implanted His brought forth self into the womb of Mary – thus combining divinity with humanity and retaining His divine character. “In His human nature He maintained the purity of His divine character” (The Youth's Instructor, June 2, 1898 [SDA BC vol. 7A; p. 454, par. 4]). As part of this retained divine nature, He never had the propensity to sin – only the possibility of choosing to sin. “…our Saviour took humanity, with all its liabilities. He took the nature of man, with the possibility of yielding to temptation” (DA p. 117, par. 2). “He could have sinned; He could have fallen, but not for one moment was there in Him an evil propensity” (Letter #8, 1895. [SDA BC vol. 5, p. 1128]). Christ was of “divine” origin when He was incarnated and this He could in no way deny, give up, or “part” with. He was the Son of God.
However, in accomplishing the incarnation, Christ could not retain all the attributes of His divinity. It simply was not possible. These attributes included the attributes of His “Omnipresence,” “Omniscience,” and “Omnipotence.” Christ could not simply “clothe” or “veil” these powerful divine attributes as if they were things He stuck in His pockets to be kept out of our sight. For example: Had Christ been “Omniscient” in His humanity but simply concealing it, He could not have said that He did not know the hour or the day of His second coming without being dishonest. It is also quite clear that Christ, in His humanity, was not Omnipresent and could only be “present” with those in His immediate physical proximity (and this remains the case for the person of Christ now in heaven). Had Christ been Omnipotent in His humanity (and simply hiding it) He would have been “lying” when He claimed that He could do “nothing” of Himself and that it was His Father “abiding in Me who does His works” (See Jn. 5:19 & Jn. 14:10).
So whatever Ellen White meant when she said that Christ “clothed His divinity with humanity” (7T: p. 221, par. 2) she could not have meant that He retained these attributes of His divinity within the person of His humanity for in His humanity He “was not the Lord God Almighty.” Still, these divine attributes require “personality” and embodiment in a person. Can you imagine Omnipresence void of a personal being (wouldn’t that be nonsensical and meaningless)? -- Omniscience without the mind of a personal being? -- Omnipotence without the constraint of the personality, intelligence and character, of an actual being? The idea is ludicrous. We are faced with the fact that these attributes of Christ’s divinity could not be brought with Him into His incarnated state, and also with the fact that these attributes of His divinity could not “die” with Christ -- for Divinity cannot “die” – and must exist as a individual, apart from the man Jesus Christ. “When Christ was crucified, it was His human nature that died. Deity did not sink and die; that would have been impossible” (Letter #280, 1904 [SDA Bible Commentary vol. 5, p. 1113]). The man Jesus Christ, in His Humanity, died. The divine Spirit of Christ (His own divine Spirit nature) did not die. As I pointed out earlier, it would require an impossible stretch of the imagination to believe that Christ’s divine Spirit nature would go on living without some sort of personality and intelligence! If His divinity (Spirit) went on living without some kind of personality it would be nothing more than a mindless power and this would deny the testimony of the Scriptures: “He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God” (Romans 8:27).
What we are left with is the reality that Christ yielded up His divine attributes as part of His sacrifice for mankind. The person through whom these attributes would be maintained could not be the person of Jesus Christ in His “brought forth” or “incarnated” form (His humanity). And this is where we find the “Holy Spirit” coming into play. Through the Holy Spirit (a fitting title for the divine attributes of Christ), His divine attributes would ever remain alive and would be used to impart Christ’s life and righteousness to all those who accept Him as their Savior. “The influence of the Holy Spirit is the life of Christ in the soul. We do not now see Christ and speak to Him, but His Holy Spirit is just as near us in one place as another. It works in and through every one who receives Christ. Those who know the indwelling of the Spirit reveal the fruits of the Spirit,-love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith’” (Bible Echo, June 17, 1901; par. 6).
Christ “yielded up” His Spirit as a gift to us. Christ had been “brought forth” from the Father prior to the creation and had separated from His Spirit (fully divine form) at that time in order to “mediate” between the Father and all free-moral beings. Christ effectively became two beings at this time. Christ still maintained command of His Spirit and would use His Spirit power to create the earth and mankind (See PP: p. 36, par. 2). But when He became fully incarnated as a human being, Christ’s incarnated self was completely separated from His Spirit self. He would no longer exercise His own divine power. Incarnated into His human nature, He would be completely dependent upon the Father for His power. In His incarnated human form, Christ was totally dependent upon His Father’s Spirit: “our Saviour relied upon His heavenly Father for wisdom and strength to resist and overcome the tempter. The Spirit of His Heavenly Father animated and regulated His life. He was sinless” (The Youth’s Instructor: February 1, 1873). Christ – in His humanity -- had literally “emptied Himself” (Phil. 2:7) of His own divine power. When Christ died on the Cross this separation became irreversibly final. When He declared: “It is finished!” (Jn. 19:30), Christ was not only speaking of His human sacrifice on our behalf; He was also speaking of His spiritual sacrifice -- He “gave up His Spirit” (Jn. 19:30). Luke 23:46 states that Christ said: “Father, INTO YOUR HANDS I COMMIT MY SPIRIT.” Ellen says that, “Christ commended His spirit into the hands of His Father” (2T p. 211, par. 1). To “commit” or “commend” something to another means: to “entrust, or give in charge for care” – “To consign (for preservation).” When Christ commended His Spirit to the care of His Father, He was parting with His own divine Spirit form forever with the intent that it would be given to us – to dwell in us – to enable us to be partakers of the (His) divine nature. It was the only way that Christ could accomplish the reproduction of His character in us. Our trying to imitate His character can never accomplish this. Only through His Spirit, abiding in us, can we be made partakers of the divine nature and have His character reproduced in us. Consider what a sacrifice He has made that we may be called the Sons and Daughters of God!!
Christ maintained His “divinity” in character and origin in His human form, and He maintained His “divinity” in power and Godlikeness in His “Holy Spirit” form. These would, of necessity, exist in the form of two persons (the man and the Spirit) but they both are of the same being, Jesus Christ. In this sense, Jesus has not “parted” with His divinity in either case! But His divinity has certainly changed. Taken as a whole, these two forms of His being constitute the blending of humanity with divinity, but not quite in the way that we normally teach it.
Christ did “part” with His divine Spirit when He became man, but He did not part with His divine character, origin, or birthright. Christ, in His divine humanity, had taken upon Himself the “Sin” of the entire world and He suffered the separation that sin makes between man and God. “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” (Northern Illinois Recorder: August 17, 1909; par. 14). Christ suffered “the second death, which is the full and final penalty for the transgressor of the law of God” (1T p. 533, par. 1). And that “second death” is “the opposite of everlasting life” (SOP vol. 4; p. 364, par. 2). In other words, Christ would never again exist eternally as God (that is, with His Own divinity residing within Himself). Christ would forever be a partaker of His Father’s Spirit (divinity), but He would not retain His own divine Spirit. Christ’s human nature would forever exist separate from His divine Spirit nature. Christ was actually giving up the true Oneness He had enjoyed with the Father in the beginning when He had been “with God” and when He had been truly and fully “God.” Christ would never again experience the same existence He had once had with the Father. He would be forever human. Christ had suffered as a man, as a man He would die, as a man He would be resurrected, as a man He intercedes for us in the courts of heaven, as a man He will return to this earth, and as a man He will exist with us throughout eternity.
In His humanity, Christ became dependent upon His Father for the divine power to overcome Sin and to redeem the human race. He partook of His Father’s divine nature just as we must partake of His divine nature, which He has shed for us. He became God in His Humanity by partaking of His Father’s divine nature (Spirit). This is the only way that He could provide us with a perfect example of what we must do to become partakers of the divine nature, without doing (or using) something that we are incapable of doing. “He overcame in human nature, relying upon God for power” (The Youth's Instructor, April 25, 1901. [SDA BC vol. 7A; p. 447, par. 2]). “In His humanity He was a partaker of the divine nature. In His incarnation He gained in a new sense the title of the Son of God” (ST, August 2, 1905. [SDA BC 7A; p. 449, par. 3]). Christ came as a “man” to show us what we, as men, can do through dependence upon divine power.
“Christ’s overcoming and obedience is that of a true human being…When we give to His human nature a power that it is not possible for man to have in his conflicts with Satan, we destroy the completeness of His humanity…The obedience of Christ to His Father was the same obedience that is required of man. Man cannot overcome Satan’s temptations without divine power to combine with his instrumentality. So with Jesus Christ; He could lay hold of divine power [not His own but His Father’s]…The Lord Jesus came to our world, not to reveal what a God could do, but what a man could do, through faith in God’s power to help in every emergency. Man is, through faith, to be a partaker in the divine nature, and to overcome every temptation wherewith he is beset…Jesus, the world’s Redeemer, could only keep the commandments of God in the same way that humanity can keep them.” (MS #1, 1892 [SDA BC vol. 7: p. 929]).
Through complete dependence upon His heavenly Father, Christ has walked the same ground that we must walk and has given us an example of how we may overcome through His power and be partakers of His divine nature and Spirit.
We are told that when Christ’s “Humanity died: [His] divinity did not die” (Youth’s Instructor: August 4, 1898; par. 1). That “divinity” is what became what we refer to as the “third person of the Godhead” – the Holy Spirit. Christ would retain His human nature throughout eternity and His Spirit, He “yielded up” to His Father to be given to us that we might become partakers of Christ’s divine nature and literally become the “sons of God.” “Because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, ‘Abba! Father!’” (Galatians 4:6).
Through His Spirit (which He has given for us) Christ imparts to us His character, His righteousness, and makes it possible for us to be a partaker of His divine nature (next chapter). These two aspects of His nature – human and Spirit -- comprise the whole of which, makes possible our reconciliation to God. In taking our human nature and in partaking of the Father’s divine nature Christ has shown us how humanity is to be united with God. In separating from His Spirit and in giving it to us He has actually enabled us to be united with God. By becoming human God has laid hold of the human race and united with it. By giving us His Spirit, Christ has empowered us to lay hold of God and to become like Him. “Christ was the representative of humanity. He had laid aside his glory, stepped down from his throne, clothed his divinity with humanity, that with his human arm He might encircle the race, and with his divine arm reach the throne of the Infinite. He took upon Him the nature of man, and was tempted in all points like as we are. As a man He supplicated at the throne of God, beseeching his Father to accept his prayer in behalf of humanity; and to his earnest petition the heavens were opened. Never before had angels listened to such a prayer, and the glory of the Majesty of heaven shone upon Him, and words of love and approval assured Him of the acceptance of his petition as man's representative. God accepted the fallen race through the merits of Christ” (Periodicals: The Messenger, December 15, 1892; par. 2). “We can come off victorious; for through Christ we can be partakers of the divine nature, having "escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust."…When we had nothing to recommend us to God, Christ gave his life for us. With his long human arm he encircles the race, while with his divine arm he grasps the throne of the infinite. Thus finite man is united with the infinite God. The world, divorced from God by sin, has been restored to favor by the sacrifice of his Son. With his own body the Saviour has bridged the gulf that sin has made” (General Conference Bulletins; April 8, 1901; par. 13). This explains the necessity for, and the essence of, the “dual nature” of Christ’s character and nature, or form.
It is my belief that when Ellen White (and the Bible for that matter) make a distinction between the person of Jesus and the person of the Holy Spirit, that they are doing so in the understanding that the incarnated Jesus (who retains His human form before the throne of God in Heaven) and the His Holy Spirit (which retains His “Spirit” form both in heaven and upon this earth) now exist as two individual entities. How else are we to comprehend the words of Jesus in John 17:3? “This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.” Is Jesus saying that He isn’t truly GOD? The answer is “Yes” and the answer is “No.” Jesus was truly and fully God – “in the beginning.” But when He was “brought forth” prior to the Creation, that existence began to change in a very real and substantive way. The Father has never changed in form, substance or character. Jesus did change. Jesus was “brought forth” – He was incarnated -- and in so doing He became both a Human and a Spirit. It was not possible for Jesus to accomplish the incarnation and retain all of His “divine” attributes (His Omnipresence, Omnipotence, and His Omniscience). His humanity would posses none of these attributes (just as our humanity does not posses them). His divinity (or Spirit nature) would continue to posses these divine attributes – but would exist apart from the person of Christ’s humanity and would therefore not be the fullness of Christ by itself. These two parts make up the complete person of Jesus Christ, but neither of them alone is truly God in the fullest and truest sense. Christ has a “human” personality and a divine “Spiritual” personality. These two exist as separate individuals, but together comprise the totality of the person of Jesus Christ. Neither of these individuals alone posses the totality of Christ’s Oneness as God. Only the Father maintains His true and original existence as God. And I believe that this what Jesus meant when He said: “This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.”
We may speak of Jesus as a person and speak of the Holy Spirit as a person, but we must never separate the two from Christ – for it can never be so. Christ sacrificed Himself – body and Spirit in order to redeem us. The person of Jesus Christ must be understood in this light. It is He who has provided His Spirit “as a regenerating agency,” a “reconciling influence and a power that takes away sin” (RH: May 19, 1904; par. 3) -- and He has done so at an “enormous” and “eternal” cost to Himself. “Christ was treated as we deserve, that we might be treated as He deserves…He suffered the death which was ours, that we might receive the life which was His. ‘With His stripes we are healed’” (DA p. 25, par. 2).
I understand that this is a difficult thing to be understood – that Christ (God Himself) would sacrifice Himself so completely that He would become human (forever to retain that nature and forever subservient to His Father), and in so doing would also sacrifice His divine Spirit nature on our behalf in order that we might become One with Him – accepted of the Father – brothers and sisters of Christ. It is beyond human reasoning and beyond the heart of man. But it is in this mystery that we find our hope and our Salvation.
For those of you who still have trouble accepting that the Holy Spirit is Christ’s literal Spirit and that Christ effectively became two persons (human and Spirit) in order to save us; please consider these words of inspiration:
“The Holy Spirit is Himself [Christ] divested of the personality of humanity and independent thereof. He would represent Himself as present in all places by His Holy Spirit, as the Omnipresent.” (MS #1084 [MR vol. 14; p. 23, par. 3]).
“He might have helped His human nature to withstand the inroads of disease by pouring from His divine nature vitality and undecaying vigor to the human. But He humbled Himself to man's nature…God became man!” (RH: Sept. 4, 1900. [SDA BC 7A; p. 452, par. 4]).
“The influence of the Holy Spirit is the life of Christ in the soul. We do not now see Christ and speak to Him, but His Holy Spirit is just as near us in one place as another. It works in and through every one who receives Christ. Those who know the indwelling of the Spirit reveal the fruits of the Spirit,-‘love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith’” (Bible Echo: June 17, 1901; par. 6).
“There must be a power working from within, a new life from above, before man can be changed from sin to holiness. That power is Christ. His grace alone can quicken the lifeless faculties of the soul, and attract it to God, to holiness” (ST: May 28, 1902; par. 3).
“A healthy Christian is one who has Christ formed within, the hope of glory…. He who has sound faith finds that Christ is the life of the soul, that he is in him as a well of water springing up unto everlasting life, and he delights to conform every power of the soul to the obedience of his Lord. The Holy Spirit with its vivifying influence ever keeps such a soul in the love of God” (RH: December 11, 1894; par. 2).
“Jesus is waiting to breathe upon all his disciples, and give them the inspiration of his sanctifying spirit, and transfuse the vital influence from himself to his people…Christ is to live in his human agents, and work through their faculties, and act through their capabilities. Their will must be submitted to his will, they must act with his spirit, that it may be no more they that live, but Christ that liveth in them. Jesus is seeking to impress upon them the thought that in giving his Holy Spirit he is giving to them the glory which the Father has given him, that he and his people may be one in God” (ST: October 3, 1892; par. 4).
“Christ gives them the breath of His own Sprit, the life of His own Life” (DA p. 827, par. 3).
“The Holy Spirit is the breath of life in the soul. The impartation of the Spirit is the impartation of the life of Christ. It imbues the receiver with the attributes of Christ” (DA p. 805, par. 3).
“They have one God and one Saviour; and one Spirit—the Spirit of Christ—is to bring unity into their ranks” (9T p. 189, par. 3).
“Christ has made every provision for us to be strong. He has given us His Holy Spirit, whose office is to bring to our remembrance all the promises that Christ has made, that we may have peace and a sweet sense of forgiveness. If we will but keep our eyes fixed on the Saviour and trust in His power, we shall be filled with a sense of security; for the righteousness of Christ will become our righteousness” (My Life Today, p. 45, par. 5).
In Christ, through Christ, Christ in us! Christ has made it possible for God to be “over all and through all and in all” (Eph. 4:6). May we never forget 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).
I would encourage you to read what I consider to be Ellen White’s single-most revealing essay on “The Spirit” of Christ, which may be found in Appendix “E” of this book. It is a very precious message for our time and summarizes much of what I have tried to expound in this book. Namely, that Christ became a man in order to Justify us – He “became a life giving Spirit” (1 Cor. 15:45) in order to Sanctify us. The nature of His sacrifice is far beyond what we have traditionally acknowledged and the implications of this sacrifice have been ignored and unrealized by His people. Because we have failed to understand the fullness of Christ’s sacrifice (physical and Spiritual) we have failed to fully comprehend the significance and magnitude of the truth that Christ has literally given His Spirit to us in order that we may actually become ……
Chapter 10 Summary
1. God is not pleased that we have become “satisfied” with our present enlightenment and that we are “so far behind our privileges” (RH: October 8, 1889; par. 2). He is not pleased that we have been measuring Him “or His truth by our finite understanding, or by our preconceived opinions” (Ibid).
2. God would have us understand the fullness of Christ’s sacrifice for us—including the sacrifice of His “Spirit” (“the life of His own life” [DA p. 827, par. 3]).
3. Christ truly became human, and in His humanity He lived a life of perfect obedience to the Father. Through complete surrender to His Father and through complete dependence upon His Father for divine strength, Christ partook of His Father’s divine nature (“In His humanity He was a partaker of the divine nature” [ST: August 2, 1905]). Christ has given us a perfect example of how we are to depend upon Him and how we are to be partakers of His divine nature – His Spirit.
4. Christ became human and united His humanity with the divine nature of His Father. By so doing, He not only left us an example of what we may become by partaking of His divine nature, He has actually grafted humanity into the Godhead.
5. The Holy Spirit is “His own Spirit, the life of His own life.” “He has given us His Holy Spirit” and “if we will but keep our eyes fixed on the Saviour and trust in His power…the righteousness of Christ will become our righteousness” (My Life Today, p. 45, par. 5).
6. “The great gift of salvation has been placed within our reach at an infinite cost to the Father and the Son” (RH: March 10, 1891; par. 2) – and “at an inconceivable cost to the Son of God” (ST: January 6, 1887; par. 3).
Partakers of the Divine Nature
“Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord; seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence. For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, so that by them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust.” (2 Pet. 1:2-4).
“Oh, that those who have so little spiritual life would realize that eternal life can be granted only to those who become partakers of the divine nature…”
(9T p. 188).
“Through the Spirit the believer becomes a partaker of the divine nature.”
(RH May 19, 1904; par. 3).
Both the Bible and the Spirit of Prophecy make it very clear that the Holy Spirit is in fact Christ’s Spirit and not some abstruse, obscure, non-descript third person of the Godhead. However, proving that the Holy Spirit is Jesus’ Spirit is meaningless if we don’t understand the significance of Christ’s sacrifice in the giving of His Spirit. Why would Christ sacrifice His Spirit? For what purpose did He make this sacrifice? “Without the Spirit of God a knowledge of His word is of no avail. The theory of truth, unaccompanied by the Holy Spirit, cannot quicken the soul or sanctify the heart. One may be familiar with the commands and promises of the Bible; but unless the Spirit of God sets the truth home, the character will not be transformed. Without the enlightenment of the Spirit, men will not be able to distinguish truth from error, and they will fall under the masterful temptations of Satan” (Christ Object Lessons, p. 408, par. 3).
Most Christians have at least some understanding of the necessity of Christ’s death on the Cross. They realize that Christ came to pay the penalty for Sin on our behalf and that His death has made it possible for us to be reconciled to God and restored to a right standing with Him. Most Christians believe that Christ’s death has granted us eternal life. But this is not the truth. Christ’s death has made it possible for us to gain eternal life, but His death has not insured our attaining it. Christ “died” for all men (1 Jn. 2:2; 2 Cor. 5:14; 1 Pet. 3:18) – yet “all men” are not going to be saved! There are going to be many people who believe that they are “Christians” who shall never enter into His Kingdom (See Mat. 7:21-23). Many of these people will have believed (even accepted) that Christ died for their sins but will remain unchanged by that fact – they will refuse to be transformed into His likeness and He will declare to them: “I never knew you, depart from Me” (Ibid). Sadly, there will be many Seventh-day Adventists in this group (see Rev. 3:14-17).
The truth is that “Justification” is simply not enough. It would be enough if you were to die immediately after your acceptance of Christ’s substitutionary death on your behalf (like the thief on the cross) but this is never going to be enough for those who continue living or who will be alive at His Second coming. There has to be something more in the life of the believer than justification. Christ said that we must be “born again.” He taught that there must be a new life created within us transforming us into His image: “There must be a power working from within, a new life from above, before man can be changed from sin to holiness. That power is Christ. His grace alone can quicken the lifeless faculties of the soul, and attract it to God, to holiness” (ST: May 28, 1902; par. 3). We must “grow in the grace …. until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man [‘Perfect man’ KJV], to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ” (2 Pet. 3:18; Eph. 4:13). This process of growth – having Christ formed within us – is called Sanctification, and is an absolute necessity for our receiving Eternal Life. Both justification (the forgiveness of sins) and sanctification (the removal of Sin) are essential in the life of the believer. Justification was accomplished at the Cross, when Christ took on our sins and paid the penalty for our transgression. This work of Christ is “laid to our account” through the simple act of accepting Christ’s sacrifice on our behalf – without any work of our own being involved.
Sanctification, however, is not the work of a moment—it is the work of a lifetime. It is still Christ’s work, but it is accomplished in the life of the believer throughout their lifetime. It is the ongoing process of Christ’s work in our minds and in our hearts that transforms us into His image and enables us to live a life of obedience and victory. This work of Christ (sanctification) is imparted to us (not just laid to our account)—that is, it is implanted in us in a way that is both very real and very powerful. The words of inspiration have summarized this truth beautifully: “The righteousness by which we are justified is imputed. The righteousness by which we are sanctified is imparted. The first is our title to heaven; the second is our fitness for heaven” (RH: June 4, 1895; par. 7). Both are the Lord’s doing: “both our title to heaven [Justification] and our fitness for it [Sanctification] are found in the righteousness of Christ” (DA: p. 300, par. 1).
HOW the Lord accomplishes both of these things is explained through the mystery of the incarnation—through our Lord’s sacrifice in literally giving His Life for us. In taking our humanity and dying in our place, He has accomplished the first (Justification). In sacrificing His Spirit for us, He accomplishes the second (Sanctification).
Christ came in order that we might have “eternal life,” (Jn. 3:16,36) but “eternal life can be granted only to those who become partakers of the divine nature” (9T p. 188). This was Christ’s ultimate purpose in sacrificing both body and soul (Spirit) for us (“This Comforter is the Holy Spirit,--the soul of his life, the efficacy of his church, the light and life of the world. With his Spirit Christ sends a reconciling influence and a power that takes away sin. In the gift of the Spirit, Jesus gave to man the highest good that heaven could bestow.” (RH May 19, 1904; par. 1.)). “Christ expects that men will become partakers of His divine nature while in this world” (5T p. 731, par. 1). We know that it is “Through the Spirit [that] the believer becomes a partaker of the divine nature” (RH May 19, 1904; par. 3) and so, if Christ expects us to partake of His divine nature and partaking of His divine nature is accomplished through the “Spirit”, we can be reasonably sure that the “Spirit” that implants Christ’s divine nature in us is, in fact, Christ’s Spirit. “Christ gives them the breath of His own Sprit, the life of His own Life” (DA p. 827, par. 3). “The Holy Spirit is the breath of life in the soul. The impartation of the Spirit is the impartation of the life of Christ. It imbues the receiver with the attributes of Christ” (DA p. 805, par. 3).
Now maybe it is just me, but doesn’t it seem just a little bit ludicrous to think that some other member of the Godhead (someone other than Christ) would be responsible for imparting the “attributes of Christ” in us? Christ is not dead! Both His humanity and His divinity are very much alive. Why would anyone other than Christ be needed to impart Christ’s nature, Christ’s attributes, Christ’s character, Christ’s victory, Christ’s power, or Christ’s life in us? Why would someone, anyone, other than Christ be needed to make His sacrifice efficacious? Christ promised that He would “come” to us – that He would not leave us “comfortless” – that He would be here “in our midst” – that He would be “with” us “always, even unto the end of the world” (Jn. 14:18; Mat. 18:20 cf. Joel 2:27; Mat. 28:20 [KJV]). How could anyone but Christ make His presence a reality for us?
If our eternal destiny hinges on our being partakers of the divine nature, then we need to understand clearly what it means to be “partakers of His divine nature”! (5T p. 731, par. 1). Does being a partaker of His divine nature mean that we will simply become “good” people? Does it mean that we are only to become “nice,” honest, loving, trustworthy people? No! It means much more than that! Certainly we will be all of these things because God is all of these things. But God is much more than just a nice, loving person – and we are to become like Christ in ways that go far beyond being honest, or trustworthy, or even loving and nice.
When Christ was here on this earth, He was very nearly stoned to death for claiming to be God. You can read about this in John 10:24-38. The Jews were very angry with Jesus because He claimed to be “One” with the Father (vs. 30) and “The Jews picked up stones again to stone Him” (vs. 31). Christ asked them for which good work they were stoning Him (vs. 32), and they replied: “For a good work we do not stone You, but for blasphemy; and because You, being a man, make Yourself out to be God” (vs. 33). Jesus response to them is not only interesting; it is also full of meaning and truth (a truth that we have been reticent to believe). Jesus said: “Has it not been written in your Law, 'I SAID, YOU ARE GODS'” (vs. 34).
Christ’s mission to redeem man involves much more than simply “forgiving” us our sins. Christ’s purpose in sacrificing Himself goes far beyond that. Christ sacrificed Himself not only to restore man to his original image, but to “recreate” man in His image. Christ intends to elevate man to a state above that of even the most glorious Angels in heaven! “…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 Bulletins: April 1, 1899; par. 2). “That Christ should take human nature, and by a life of humiliation elevate man in the 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 the 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). So what stately position and honor could be conferred upon man that would make them above angels who have never sinned? Christ intends that we shall literally become “sons of God” (not merely one of His creations -- Rom. 8:14, 19; 9:26; Gal. 3:26, 4:6; Mat. 5:9; Lk. 20:36). He designs that we shall “be a counterpart of God” (Healthful Living, p. 10, par. 2). The Father intends that we shall be “joint–heirs with Christ” (Rom. 8:17) -- reigning with Christ (2 Tim. 2:12; Rev. 20:6) and sitting with Him upon His Throne! (Rev. 3:21).
Christ intends to so fully recreate Himself in His people that they will be elevated to a status equal to His own—the incarnated Christ. This is not my idea–it is the position set forth in the Scriptures. Paul said: “If ye be Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise” (Gal. 3:29 KJV). Remember, however, that Paul also made it clear that “the promises” were made to Abraham’s “seed” – not “as in many, but in one” – Christ Jesus (See Gal. 3: 16). By becoming a “partaker of the divine nature” – by allowing Christ to recreate and reproduce Himself in us – we become part of that “seed” (which is Christ Jesus) to whom the promises were given, and thus we become “heirs according to the promise.” According to the Word of God, by partaking of the divine nature, we are to attain “the measure of the stature of fullness of Christ” – and through Christ, “a perfect man” (Eph. 4:13 KJV). This will be the experience of the remnant people of God.
I know that there are those who will read into this statement more than is intended and so, I will qualify it with this explanation: We shall ever be indebted to Christ for making a way possible for us to be forgiven and for the power to be like Him. There will never come a time when this will not be so and in this way Christ shall forever be supreme. Still, the fact remains that Christ will have a “remnant” who will so totally be partakers of His nature that they will literally be like Him. They will be included in the councils of God and will be responsible with Christ for carrying out the Father’s Will and for executing His commands. This group will be, in the eyes of the Angels, the redeemed, and the unfallen worlds -- rulers with Christ throughout the universe. We shall not be “God” – we will never be independently divine – but we will so fully partake of Christ’s divine nature that we shall be like Him – a perfect blending of the human and the divine. “In Christ” we shall participate in all the privileges that our His – including being able to “see God” face to face! (Rev. 21:22-24).
The prophet says that: “God has adopted human nature in the person of His Son, and has carried the same into the highest heaven” (DA: p. 25, par. 3). She does not say that God has adopted the human race—like we might “adopt” a child into our family. She says, “God has adopted human nature in the person of His Son.” That means that “GOD” has taken the form of human nature in the person of Jesus Christ. God became “man” in Jesus Christ, and as a result, through the impartation of Christ’s divine nature, man may become a member of the Godhead.
In Matthew 22:2-14 we find a marriage ceremony described that is about to take place. Commenting on this marriage in the book Christ Object Lessons, Ellen White states: “By the marriage is represented the union of humanity with divinity” (COL: p. 307, par. 1). This describes Christ’s union of His humanity with divinity, which He has now made it possible for us to experience through our marriage to Him—through our partaking of His divine nature. “Divinity and humanity were united in Christ, that he might reveal to us God's purpose, and bring man into close communion with himself. This union will enable us to overcome the enemy; for through faith in Christ we shall have divine power” (RH: December 6, 1892; par. 2).
The marriage analogy is really a very good one for describing what our place and function will be when we are married to Christ through partaking of His divine nature. We can look back to the Garden of Eden for a deeper understanding of how this marriage is supposed to work. When Christ married Adam and Eve, it was His intent that Eve (Adam’s wife) would be in every way Adam’s equal. Adam was her husband, and as such commanded final responsibility and authority over the family, but Eve was his equal in fulfilling the purposes and the “Will” of God for the human family. So it is with us when we are married to Christ. He is our husband and holds final responsibility and authority over us, and yet -- we are His bride, His wife, His equal -- a partner with Him in the administration of all of His creations. We are responsible to our husband, but we have also been given responsibility for His family, and share in the duty and honor of that privilege. What honor is this! If that doesn’t thrill your heart then something is desperately wrong!
But with that honor comes great responsibility – “From everyone who has been given much, much will be required” (Luke 12:48). The husband, and the family, can never be dishonored. Our love and allegiance must always be to our husband – Christ Jesus. Any infidelity, and whoring after our own selfish desires, will never be tolerated. Our loving submission and obedience to Him, “with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow,” (James 1:17) will ever be the evidence that we have been partakers of His divine nature and that we honor Him as our husband, Lord, and Father of all. Christ intends that we shall be so fully partakers of His divine nature that we shall be in every way what He has become – we shall be “Gods” (John 10:34). He has made it possible for us to be grafted into the Godhead!
Many of you may be “gasping” at this point–thinking that I have completely overstepped my bounds–that I am being “presumptuous”—that this is unthinkable! We don’t like to talk of such things—but why? This is a marvelous truth! Hard to comprehend, to be sure, but it is truth nonetheless. I am acutely aware that: “Truth lies close to the track of presumption” (Letter 8, 1895 [SDA BC vol. 5; p. 1128]), but does that mean that we should not approach the truth? Remember that it is “the Truth” that lies close to the track of presumption, and we must dare to know the truth even though there is some danger involved–for “the truth will make you free” (John 8:32). We do not need to fear the truth – we need to fear presumption and error – but let’s not get so fearful of presumption that we fear to approach the truth! Could we become so afraid of error that we will not embrace the truth when it is staring us in the face? And if we do not embrace the truth, does our enemy not overcome us? We must embrace the truth and leave off the error. We must let the truth empower us, and leave the error for the son’s of perdition – for those who would rather be damned than come to the light. We are to be grafted into the Godhead and we are to partake fully of the divine nature – with all that that entails.
“Though he presented infinite truth, he left many things unsaid that he might have said, because even his disciples were not able to comprehend them…Jesus was the Life giver, the Teacher sent of God to provide salvation for a lost world, and to save men in spite of all Satan's temptations and lying deceptions. He himself was the gospel. In his teachings he clearly presented the great plan devised for the redemption of the race. 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).
Let me illustrate another way, and leave you with a balanced and “inspired” view of this truth. We are told “Error draws its life from the truth of God” (RH: October 22, 1895; par. 3). When the Devil told Eve that she would be like God—there was truth in that statement. The devil was saying the same thing that Jesus is saying. The problem is that the Devil blended this truth with error and deception. While he was telling the truth when he said “you will be like God” (Gen. 3:5), he was suggesting that the way Eve was to become like God was through disobedience – through separation from God! What a Lie! What a preposterous idea! “You will become like God by separating from Him, by not trusting Him; ignore what He says and trust in yourself.” Hogwash! This was never the way God intended to accomplish this!
Our minds, our thoughts, and our actions are to be brought into subjection to the mind of Christ. When this becomes a reality for us, Christ will subject all things to us–in Him. Paul made it clear that the one to whom all things are “subjected” is beholding (or in subjection themselves) to the One who has put all things in subjection to him (see 1 Cor. 15:27). This was true for Christ, and it is true for us. Therefore, there will never come a time when we will not be beholding to, and in subjection to Christ! The “equality” that we are to have with Christ is derived from Christ, and this will always be the case, so there can be no talk of our being Christ (or God) inherent in and of ourselves. The fact that God has made provision for us to be partakers of His divine nature does not mean that we are God. It means that God intends to share His “being” with us – a reality that leaves us forever beholding to Him. We can only “partake” of that which already exists and of that which is offered to us. So while we are to be partakers of His divine nature and thereby raised to the status of Christ, and therefore “Gods” – we shall never be Christ and we shall never be God. Rather, it will be “Christ in us” that will be our only boast to honor.
The Devil knew that God intended man to become a partaker of His divine nature in such a way as to elevate man above all God’s other created beings. This is why he hates man so much, and why he has sought to prevent this from happening. When the Devil came to Eve in the garden, he did not try to deny the truth that man was to become “like God,” but he did try to prevent man from realizing this honor by introducing a false way for them to achieve this. He deceived man, caused his fall, and brought upon him the curse of death (everlasting destruction).
When Satan realized that Christ was to offer Himself in man’s place and would continue to make man a partaker of the divine nature, he was furious and he set out to prevent Christ from accomplishing His mission. He has continually sought to get man to depend upon himself and upon his own works to gain his acceptance with God and whatever favors that acceptance might bring. And he has continued to propagate the rule of his own government – “self” exaltation. The same lie he used for Eve, he has used for God’s remnant people, only in a different form. And, sadly, he has been very successful with it. He has caused many of us to reject the idea that we are literally to be “partakers” of Christ’s nature by getting us to view His Word and His promises through the eyes of our own wisdom. He has told us that we shall be a partaker of the divine nature –we shall be like Christ (which is true), but he has suggested that the way we are to do this is through our own efforts, through our own strength, through our own obedience – that is, through our own works!
Tragically, many of us have swallowed this lie hook-line-and sinker. The truth is that we can only receive the righteousness of Christ and be partakers of His Holy Spirit by coming into close communion with Him, day by day, hour by hour, moment by moment. Our relationship with Him is what qualifies us to be a partaker of His divine nature–not our attempts at behavior modification. Our very motives must be changed and brought into alignment with those of Christ. As we come to have an intimate relationship with Him, He abides in us through His Spirit and sin is driven out. “In all who submit to His power the Spirit of God will consume sin” (DA p. 107, par. 4). “So long as we are united to Him by faith, sin has no more dominion over us” (DA p. 123). Behaviors, then, become the fruit of our relationship with Him – not the other way around.
We can only be prepared and qualified to receive power and glory through a complete surrender to the Will of God in which “self” is lost and our focus is solely upon person of Christ. Our mind, our thoughts and our will, must be brought into the subjection of Christ. There can be no thread of self will or self-interest left in us. And the only thing that can enable us to “lose self” and qualify us to partake of the glory and the power of God is the “righteousness of Christ.” His righteousness alone will enable us to wield the glory and the power that God wishes to grant us. Only Christ’s righteousness can insure that we will forever and always use the gift of God’s power for the sole benefit of others. Only Christ’s righteousness can keep “self” in check and enable us to use the power of God to His glory. So, exactly how are we to appropriate the gift of Christ’s righteousness? Must we work hard at achieving it? Are we to try to reproduce it through our own efforts? Have we only to imitate it? BEWARE THE DEVIL!
“The Christian’s life is not a modification or improvement of the old, but a transformation of nature” (DA p. 172).
“There are those who profess to serve God, while they rely upon their own efforts to obey His law, to form a right character, and secure salvation. Their hearts are not moved by any deep sense of the love of Christ, but they seek to perform the duties of the Christian life as that which God requires of them in order to gain heaven. Such religion is worth nothing. When Christ dwells in the heart, the soul will be so filled with His love, with the joy of communion with Him, that it will cleave to Him; and in the contemplation of Him, self will be forgotten. Love to Christ will be the spring of action…A profession of Christ without this deep love is mere talk, dry formality, and heavy drudgery” (SC p. 44, par. 2).
“He who is trying to become holy by his own works in keeping the Law, is attempting an impossibility…It is the grace of Christ alone, through faith that can make us holy…Obedience is not a mere outward compliance, but the service of love…the service and allegiance of love—is the true sign of discipleship…it is faith, and faith only that makes us partakers of the grace of Christ, which enables us to render obedience. We do not earn our salvation by our obedience; for salvation is the free gift of God, to be received by faith…obedience is the fruit of faith” (SC p. 60,61).
“It is impossible for us, of ourselves, to escape from the pit of sin in which we are sunken. Our hearts are evil, and we cannot change them… Education, culture, the exercise of the will, human effort, all have their proper sphere, but here they are powerless. They may produce an outward correctness of behavior, but they cannot change the heart; they cannot purify the springs of life. There must be a power working from within, a new life from above, before men can be changed from sin to holiness. That power is Christ. His grace alone can quicken the lifeless faculties of the soul, and attract it to God, to holiness” (SC p. 18).
“…the one who depends upon his own wisdom and power is separating himself from God. Instead of working in unison with Christ, he is fulfilling the purpose of the enemy of God and man” (DA p. 209).
“Some who come to God by repentance and confession do not accept the forgiveness he has promised. They do not see that Jesus is an ever-present Saviour; and they are not prepared to commit the keeping of their souls to him, relying upon him to perfect the work of grace begun in their hearts. They lose sight of the fact that Jesus came not to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance. While some think they are committing themselves to God, there is a great deal of self-dependence. There are conscientious souls that trust partly to God, and partly to themselves. They do not look to God to be kept by his power, but depend upon watchfulness and the performance of certain duties for acceptance with him. There are no victories in this kind of faith. Such persons toil to no purpose; their souls are in continual bondage, and they find no rest until their burdens are laid at the feet of Jesus” (RH: June 17, 1884; par. 1,2 [1SM p. 353, par. 3]).
“The effort to earn salvation by one’s own works inevitably leads men to pile up human exactions as a barrier against sin. For, seeing that they fail to keep the law, they will devise rules and regulations of their own to force themselves to obey. All this turns the mind from God to self” (MB p. 123).
So what does all this mean? Does it mean that we have nothing to do but sit around and wait for Christ to give us the victory, impart His grace and righteousness to us, and pour out His Spirit upon us? No! We have a work to do; we have a battle to fight. Sitting around hoping and waiting for Christ to pour out His Spirit upon us and make us partakers of His divine nature is an insult to Christ and to His sacrifice on our behalf. We have the hardest work we could ever be called upon to perform “For our struggle is not against a human opponent, but against rulers, against authorities, against cosmic powers in the darkness around us, against evil spiritual forces in the heavenly realm” (Eph. 6:12 International Standard Version). Our battle is not a physical battle but a spiritual one, and this is the hardest of all battles to fight. Sometimes I wish it were a physical battle, I think that that would be easier for me. But our battle is against a Spiritual foe--a foe of great cunning, deception and power—and we require divine help if we are ever going to hope to come out victorious. Our battle lies in connecting to, and staying connected to, the source of our help!
Now call me naïve, or weak, or anything else you want, but I find it extremely difficult to surrender fully to Christ. I have found it very difficult to maintain a meaningful spiritual relationship with a God that I cannot “see.” I have found it a real struggle to listen to Christ—to discern His voice--and, by faith, to do the things He has told me to do. I have found it hard to discipline myself to spend the kind of time with Him that allows me to know for sure that He is walking with me through my life’s struggles. I have found it difficult to consistently remain in an attitude where, in every situation, I am asking my Lord: “what wilt thou have me to do?” (Acts 9:6 KJV). How about you?
How much time do you spend with Jesus each day? How often do you talk with Him, and how hard do you try to really listen to what He is saying to you? Can you say that you are completely surrendered to Christ? Or do you find yourself trying to wage the war on your own? How much of you does the Lord really have? What do you find occupying most of your thoughts? Where do you find yourself spending most of your time? What is your highest priority? What gives you your greatest joy? Is it Christ? Or is it something else?
This is no game we are playing here. This is Life or Death—Eternal Life or Eternal Death! If we are ever going to hope to be partakers of Christ’s divine nature, we had better get serious about the battle! We had better get to the point where we “Know” Christ and not just about Christ. We had better get to the point where we are “so sensitive to Holy influences, that the slightest whisper of Jesus will move our souls, till He is in us, and we in Him, living by the faith of God” (ST: March 23, 1888. [3SM p.355]). If we are ever going to get out of this mess of a world that we are in, we had better get serious about our relationship with the only person who can get us out of here alive—our Lord, our Savior, our God—Jesus Christ. We don’t have to be Bible scholars, but we had better know what Christ has told us in the past—and what He is telling us today. We need His righteousness. We need His Holy Spirit. We need to become partakers of His divine nature!
“The work of overcoming is not a joyless work; no, indeed. It means communication with heaven. You can go to God in prayer; you can ask, and receive; you can believe, hanging your helpless soul on Christ. It means that humanity can work the will and ways of God. Humanity and divinity are combined for this very purpose” (General Conference Bulletins: May 17, 1909; par. 21).
“In Christ, God has provided means for subduing every evil trait and resisting every temptation, however strong. But many feel that they lack faith, and therefore they remain away from Christ. Let these souls, in their helpless unworthiness, cast themselves upon the mercy of their compassionate Saviour. Look not to self, but to Christ. He who healed the sick and cast out demons when He walked among men is still the same mighty Redeemer. Then grasp His promises as leaves from the tree of Life: ‘Him that cometh to Me I will in no wise cast out.’ John 6:37. As you come to Him, believe that He accepts you, because He has promised. You can never perish while you do this—never” (MH p. 65,66).
“Jesus is waiting to breath upon all His disciples, and give them the inspiration of His sanctifying Spirit, and transfuse the vital influence from Himself to His people…Their will must be submitted to His will, they must act with His Spirit that it may be no more they that live, but Christ that liveth in them. Jesus is seeking to impress upon them the thought that in giving His Holy Spirit He is giving to them the glory which the Father hath given Him” (Letter 11b, 1892 [MR vol. 4, p.334]).
Will you accept this honor and this privilege? Will you accept this challenge?
Chapter 11 Summary
1. We may become “partakers of the divine nature” (2 Pet. 1:4).
2. We must become partakers of the divine nature: “eternal life can be granted only to those who become partakers of the divine nature…”(9T p. 188).
3. We become partakers of the divine nature “Through the Holy Spirit.” (RH: May 19, 1904; par. 3).
4. Christ has “Justified” us in the eyes of God through His death on the Cross, where He paid the penalty for our transgression. This “Justification” is imputed (put to our account) when we receive Christ as our Savior through faith. However, Justification is not enough to insure believers will attain eternal life. There has to be something more done for us and in us before we will be granted eternal life. That “something” is Sanctification.
5. Sanctification, the removal of sin from the life of the believer, is accomplished by Christ through His Holy Spirit. Christ sacrificed His “Spirit” (separated from it permanently) for us in order that it might be given to us as a “divine power to overcome all hereditary and cultivated tendencies to evil, and to impress His own character upon the church” – “With His Spirit Christ sends a reconciling influence and a power that takes away sin” (RH: May 19, 1904).
6. In Christ we have been provided the means by which we may obtain pardon and by which we may overcome the Tempter and be victorious. Christ intends that we shall become free from sin in our lives—that we shall become perfect—by partaking of His divine nature (His Spirit).
7. Christ intends that we will be more than victorious. He intends that we shall be elevated to a status above that of the angels who never fell. He intends to elevate us to a status equal with Himself.
8. Through the incarnation, Christ became human. In His humanity He partook of His Father’s divine nature and thus: God the Father “adopted human nature in the person of His Son” (DA p. 25). By this action, Christ grafted humanity into the Godhead. By becoming “partakers of His [Christ’s] divine nature” we are considered “Sons” of God and we too are to be grafted into the Godhead.
9. Our work is to develop such an intimate relationship with Christ that He will be enabled to transform our characters into His own. All those who have this intimate relationship with Christ will be enabled to fully partake of the power of His Holy Spirit.
10. Those who partake fully of Christ’s divine nature (receive the Latter Rain) will “reign” and rule with Christ.
11. The choice is ours. We are the ones who will decide our own destinies—either by accepting the provision that Christ has made in order that we may become partakers of His divine nature and be granted eternal life—or by refusing to allow Him to perform this work in us and receive eternal death.
“The end is near. We have not a moment to lose. Light is to shine forth from God's people in clear, distinct rays, bringing Jesus before the churches and before the world. God will give additional light, and old truths will be recovered and replaced in the framework of truth; and wherever the laborers go they will triumph. As Christ's ambassadors, they are to search the Scriptures to seek for the truths that have been hidden beneath the rubbish of error, and every ray of light received is to be communicated to others. One interest will prevail, one subject will swallow up all others, Christ our Righteousness. This is life eternal, "That they might know thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent." "Thus saith the Lord, Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, neither let the mighty man glory in his might, let not the rich man glory in his riches; but let him that glorieth, glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth me, that I am the Lord which exerciseth loving kindness, judgment, and righteousness in the earth; for in these things I delight, saith the Lord” (The Paulson Collection of E. G. White Letters; p. 342, par. 2).
It is my hope that you will finish this chapter yourself – that you will go out and buy yourself a notebook or a journal and that you will add addendum after addendum to this chapter, and to this book. It is impossible for me to realize or cover all of the implications of the truths about the Godhead, the plan of redemption, and the Holy Spirit in this book (much less in this final chapter). I will list some of the most important implications of this study, as I see them, but I encourage you to add your own to those covered here. For you preachers and teachers out there, there is an inexhaustible mine of information you can bring forth from all of this to the people of your flock! God says: “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge” (Hosea 4:6). We must bring this vital knowledge to them. This book will only “open the door” – it will be up to you to walk through it and discover all that is on the other side! With that said, here are the most pressing implications of all of this as I see it.
“Therefore I say to you, any sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven people, but blasphemy against the Spirit shall not be forgiven. Whoever speaks a word against the Son of Man, it shall be forgiven him; but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit, it shall not be forgiven him, either in this age or in the age to come” (Mat. 12:31-32).
If you were the Devil and your goal was to entice me into “sin,” which sin would you be most interested in getting me to commit – one that can be forgiven or one that can’t be forgiven? Wouldn’t you focus most of your efforts, and try the hardest, to get me to commit the sin that God will not forgive? Of course you would, and so would the Devil. Satan has ever sought to get us to commit the Sin against the Holy Spirit and he would like to keep us from understanding what that sin is so that we will be more likely to commit it. So exactly what is the sin against the Holy Spirit?
The specific sin against the Holy Spirit, according to Jesus, is that of “Blasphemy.” What is blasphemy? The Bible gives us only two definitions of blasphemy: (1) You commit blasphemy when you speak against God, either in an irreverent way or in a way that denies the truth about God (speaking a lie about God). For example: anyone who denies that Jesus is the Christ, is committing blasphemy -- “Who is the liar but the one who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is the antichrist, the one who denies the Father and the Son.” (1 Jn. 2:22). (2) You commit blasphemy when you claim to be God – or if you claim that something is God when it is not. This is what got Jesus into so much trouble with the Jews – not that Jesus committed blasphemy, but that they thought He did: “The Jews answered Him, ‘For a good work we do not stone You, but for blasphemy; and because You, being a man, make Yourself out to be God.’” (Jn. 10:33).
Seventh-day Adventists have long taught that we commit blasphemy (the sin against the Holy Spirit) when we refuse to be led of God – when we refuse to the promptings of the Holy Spirit -- effectively placing ourselves above God (making ourselves God) – and this is an absolutely correct description of “blasphemy against the Spirit.” However, we seem to be blind to the fact that there is another way that we can commit blasphemy against the Spirit, which involves our denying the truth about the Spirit (and therefore about God). “The sin of blasphemy against the Holy Spirit does not lie in any sudden word or deed; it is the firm, determined resistance of truth and evidence” (MS # 30, 1890 [SDA BC vol. 5; p. 1093]). The Devil has been very successful in getting us to commit this blasphemy against the Spirit, and we shall see why this cunning deception is so fatal in a moment.
Perhaps you, like myself, have been frustrated because you never knew how you were to relate to the Holy Spirit. I knew that I needed Him, but I never really knew who He was. I knew that all the evidence indicates that the Holy Spirit is God, but since the Bible never tells us to pray to Him, or to worship Him, or includes Him in the councils of God or the Throne of God, I never really understood how I was to relate to Him. The Bible and the Spirit of Prophecy both make it abundantly clear that we are to worship the Father and the Son. Jesus Himself said: “This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent” (Jn. 17:3). 1 John 2:22 (quoted earlier) says that one is the antichrist “who denies the Father and the Son.” We find the Holy Spirit nowhere mentioned in this regard. We only find the Holy Spirit described as the active agent of our acceptance and worship of God. Yet the Bible refers to the Holy Spirit as a person, and an extremely important person at that. We know that we need the Holy Spirit in order to overcome sin and to be fitted for heaven. We are told that we must have the “Early” and the “Later Rain” contained in the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, but we have never really understood what we were actually praying for! Instead, we have blundered along in a state of confusion regarding the nature of the Holy Spirit, His purpose and how we are to relate to Him -- and this confusion has suited the Devil just fine. In fact, he has seized upon this confusion and ambiguity regarding the nature of the Holy Spirit and has used this to get us to unknowingly commit the sin (blasphemy) against the Holy Spirit.
The Devil really doesn’t care how he gets us to turn away from God and from His Truth, so long as he can get us to do it. He knows that Christians are not going to overtly worship him (Satan), so he has invented all kinds of counterfeits – other things – to take the place of Christ. He knows that if he can convince us to look to someone other than Christ for our hope and our salvation, that he has got us in his pocket and has secured our fate. This is what he has done in propagating the orthodox teachings of the Trinity doctrine. Through the doctrine of the Trinity, Satan has introduced someone other than Christ into the plan of salvation of mankind. He has done this very cleverly and almost imperceptibly – keeping his deception very close to the truth so as not to have it discovered or readily discerned. Here is how he has done this.
He would have us believe that the Holy Spirit is, and has always been, the third member of the Godhead. He would have us accept the Holy Spirit as someone other than Christ. He knows that if he can keep us believing that the Holy Spirit is someone other than Christ that, in effect, he is successful in getting us to deny Christ, and to deny the most important part of His sacrifice for us. He knows that if he can keep us believing that the Holy Spirit is someone other than Christ, that he can prevent the outpouring of Christ’s Holy Spirit and thus delay (or prevent) his doom. It is really a very masterful deception! Through our belief in the traditional Trinity doctrine he actually has gotten us to believe that we are rendering faithful service and obedience to God when, in fact, we are doing the very opposite – we are going after “other Gods.” He has gotten us to worship a lie. Satan knows that we must worship God “in Truth” (Jn. 4:23,24) and he is exalting in the fact that he has gotten us to pray both to and for a figment of our imaginations (that which is not Truth). He has gotten us to create another God in the person of the Holy Spirit when, in reality, the Holy Spirit is not another but is Christ Jesus. It is my firm belief that Jesus is speaking to us today, and is saying: “Turn to my reproof, Behold, I will pour out my spirit on you; I will make my words known to you” (Prov. 1:23. See also: Joel 2:28,29; Isa. 44:1-6; Acts 2:17-21).
Consider how far our belief in the Trinity doctrine has taken us:
George Knight, a professor and prominent SDA theologian makes this startling confession in Ministry Magazine, October 1993 – “Most of the founders of Seventh-Day Adventism would not be able to join the church today if they had to subscribe to the denomination's fundamental beliefs. More specifically, most would not be able to agree to belief number 2 which deals with the doctrine of the Trinity.” [Emphasis mine].
William Johnson, Editor of the Adventist Review, wrote in the January 6, 1994 issue that – “Adventist beliefs have changed over the years. Most startling is the teaching regarding Jesus Christ. Many of the pioneers, including James White, J.N. Andrews, Uriah Smith and J.H. Waggoner, held to an Arian or semi-Arian view. That is, that the Son at some point in time, before the creation of our world, was generated by the Father. The Trinitarian understanding of God, now part of our fundamental beliefs, was not generally held by early Adventists. Even today, a few do not subscribe to it.” [used by permission - Emphasis mine].
The pioneers of Adventism believed that Jesus was “brought forth” from the Father – and while their understanding of this may have been imperfect, God never directed Ellen White to rebuke them for believing this. In fact, Jesus Himself stressed that this belief is important and necessary, and pronounced the blessing of the Father’s love upon those who believe this truth: “In that day you will ask in My name, and I do not say to you that I will request of the Father on your behalf; for the Father Himself loves you, because you have loved Me and have believed that I came forth from the Father” (Jn. 16:26,27). “I proceeded forth and have come from God” (Jn. 8:42). Our pioneers may not have understood the full implications of this belief but they were on the right track and God never rebuked them for it. How would you like to be a pastor in one of our churches today and be forced to deny baptism and membership to people like James White, J.N. Andrews, Uriah Smith, J.H. Waggoner and others because they did not believe in the orthodox Trinitarian understanding of God? Sound preposterous? It happens.
There are basically three reasons, as I see it, that inhibit our ability to secure the outpouring of the Holy Spirit in full measure. They are:
1. We do not recognize and/or acknowledge that the Holy Spirit is Christ’s Spirit—that it is His divine nature, which He sacrificed on our behalf in order that we might become partakers of the divine nature, overcome the sin which so easily besets us, and become like Him.
2. We are not fully surrendered to Christ and are therefore unfit to receive His divine Spirit. There is tremendous power in the Holy Spirit and unless we are completely surrendered to Christ – willing to do His will – that power would destroy us and others.
3. We are not asking Christ for His Holy Spirit! We are currently asking for something that is not His or His to give.
Any one—or any combination of these—inhibits God’s ability to give us the Holy Spirit and has prevented us from receiving Christ’s Holy Spirit in the power and the fullness of the Latter Rain.
When our attitudes and beliefs towards God are out of kilter, we severely limit God’s ability to communicate effectively with us. God will not force our wills. He will not compel us to understand or believe Him. We must choose to do this. When our approach and attitude toward God is in error, or when we are not living up to the light we already have, He cannot give us additional light, understanding or power. It is our attitude toward God that determines how much of His grace He is able to impart to us. We must come to the point where we are humble, teachable and desiring of the things He wishes to impart to us (even if it means giving up some cherished belief). “When God's people are at ease, and satisfied with their present enlightenment, we may be sure that He will not favour them. It is His will that they should be ever moving forward, to receive the increased and ever increasing light that is shining for them. The present attitude of the church is not pleasing to God. There has come in a self-confidence that has led them to feel no necessity for more truth and greater light” (5T: pp. 708, 709). God will have a people who seek a right relationship with Him and will allow Him to impart knowledge and power to us – but we must accept the light that He gives us in order for this to happen.
Greater light concerning the sacrifice of Christ will be revealed and understood by God’s people before the end comes. The truth about the Holy Spirit is an essential component of the sacrifice of Christ and the plan of redemption – and it will be understood as such. But it will only be revealed and realized by those who desire more light and more truth from God – By those who are aware of their utter depravity and helplessness, and who feel their enormous need for the righteousness of Christ -- By those who are willing to be led, and molded, and transformed by the truth as it is in Jesus – cost be what it may.
Seventh-day Adventists have been given the privilege and responsibility of proclaiming the last warning message to be given to the world (the three angel’s messages). This message not only includes the message that “the hour of His judgment has come” and a warning about accepting the “mark of the Beast” (Rev. 14:7-9), it includes a warning against accepting the “wine” (doctrines) of Babylon. These doctrines, according to the Bible, are those of “confusion” and are the teaching of men. Through our acceptance of the Orthodox doctrine of the Trinity, handed down to us by the Catholic Church (the “Beast”), we have inadvertently accepted the wine of Babylon and it has had a tremendously negative effect on our ability to accurately proclaim the real message contained in the three angel’s messages. Here is why.
“The theme of greatest importance is the third angel’s message, embracing the messages of the first and second” (Evangelism, p. 196, Letter 97, 1902). This means that the “third angel’s message” includes the messages of the first and second angels and that they all contain a “theme of greatest importance.” What is this “theme” of great importance? What is the real message of the third angel? “Justification by faith [Righteousness by faith, or the message of “Christ our Righteousness”]…is the third angel’s message in verity” (RH: April 1, 1890; par. 8). “The time of test is just upon us, for the loud cry of the third angel has already begun in the revelation of the righteousness of Christ, the sin-pardoning Redeemer. This is the beginning of the light of the angel whose glory shall fill the whole earth” (RH: November 22, 1892; par. 7). “The message of Christ’s righteousness is to sound from one end of the earth to the other to prepare the way of the Lord. This is the glory of God, which closes the work of the third angel” (6T, p. 19).
“Christ our Righteousness” is the last glorious message that is to be proclaimed to our dying planet. Sounds simple enough doesn’t it? We certainly teach this don’t we? Haven’t we stressed the importance of being “born again,” of having “Christ formed within” – of being “in Christ” and of having “Christ in us”? We have, but here is the catch: “How” is this accomplished? We have been teaching that this is accomplished by the work of the Holy Spirit (and this is correct), BUT we teach that the Holy Spirit is someone other than Christ. So, in effect, what we are teaching (through the orthodox view of the Trinity) is that the “Spirit” that is responsible for enabling us to partake of Christ’s divine nature and is to reproduce Christ’s character in us – effectively allowing Christ to “abide in us” and making His sacrifice effectual --is someone other than Christ Himself! Does that make any sense to you at all? The fact is that this teaching directly contradicts the plain teaching of the Scriptures and the Spirit of Prophecy: for “there is salvation in no one else…there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).
“All power is given into His hands, that He may dispense rich gifts unto men, imparting the priceless gift of His own righteousness to the helpless human agent. This is the message that God commanded to be given to the world. It is the third angel’s message, which is to be proclaimed with a loud voice, and attended with the outpouring of HIS SPIRIT in large measure” (Testimonies to Ministers, p. 92). Are we really so naive as to believe that God will bless our refusal to accept the truth that the Holy Spirit is the “Spirit of Christ”? Can we really expect Christ to honor us with the outpouring of His Spirit while we are clinging to, and defending, a doctrine that denies this and has come to us straight out of the confusion of Babylon? This is the most serious of questions – especially at this moment in history.
There is a growing desire and movement within our church right now for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. This is a good thing. But we must ask ourselves why we desire the “outpouring”. Could we be coveting the glory and power of God as the disciples once did – seeking position, authority and personal honor? Could we be coveting a “feeling” and an experience that will prove that we are accepted and blessed of God? Such motives completely unfit us for the honor of the calling in Christ Jesus and leave us completely vulnerable to the deceptions of the Devil. Our desire for the outpouring of the Spirit must be coupled with a desire to understand the truth about the Holy Spirit and all that it entails. Paul said that when we pray, especially in regards to the Holy Spirit and its manifestation in our lives, that we should pray with our “minds” and with our “understanding” also (See 1 Cor. 14:15) – not as one blindly asking for what we know not. As long as we remain in confusion about the Holy Spirit, we can be sure that the Devil will be glad to step in with a counterfeit outpouring of the Spirit (his own spirit!) and will deceive many.
In fact, we are told that this is going to be the case at the end of time. You can read about it in the book “Early Writings” in the chapter entitled “End of the 2300 Days” pages 54-56. Here you will find a description of two very different groups of people. One group has understood clearly that Jesus work was not completed at the cross – that He still had the work of Sanctifying a people for Himself and that He had an investigative judgment to perform. These people understand clearly the work that Christ has been doing (and how He has been doing it) and have followed His movements through the Heavenly Sanctuary. These people understand that Christ is not only our substitute and Savior, they will also understand that He is much more than that—they will understand Him to be their Creator and “Father” (both by His initial act of creation and by His “re-creation” through the new birth experience). With this understanding: “Those who rose up with Jesus would send up their faith to Him in the holiest and pray, ‘My Father, give us Thy Spirit.’ Then Jesus would breath on them the Holy Ghost. In that breath was light, power, and much love, joy, and peace” (EW p. 55).
The second group of people did not understand Christ’s work of sanctification and judgment. They have not followed Him through His work in the Heavenly Sanctuary and, while desiring the “Holy Spirit,” are completely unprepared to receive it. Because they do not understand Christ’s work, they are deceived into worshiping Satan and receiving his counterfeit. Here is how Ellen describes this group of obviously sincere, yet deceived people: “I turned to look at the company who were still bowed before the throne; they did not know that Jesus had left it. Satan appeared to be by the throne, trying to carry on the work of God. I saw them look up to the throne, and pray, ‘Father, give us Thy Spirit.’ Satan would then breath upon them an unholy influence; in it there was light and much power, but no sweet love, joy, and peace. Satan’s object was to keep them deceived and to draw back and deceive God’s children” (Ibid. p. 56).
Truth matters! Coveting the things of God is a good thing if it is done with understanding—if it is done with the Spirit of Wisdom and Truth! Satan has always wanted to be the third member of the Godhead and he is accomplishing this in the minds and experience of many people. Following the great awakening of 1844 (the end of the 2300 days), there was a revival that took place in many denominations. Those who did not understand and/or accept Christ’s sacrifice and work for us began to be deceived by a host of manifestations of the devil’s spirit. During this time there was the mysterious “knocking” involving the Fox sisters, the “quaking” of the Quakers, the manifestation of the false gift of tongues, and many, many false doctrines introduced (Dispensationalism, Jehovah Witnesses, Mormonism, Evolution, etc.). All of these things happened just following the true spiritual enlightenment of Christ’s work in 1844. Isn’t it extremely likely that even greater false manifestations will take place at the very close of Christ’s work when His Spirit is about to be poured out in full measure in fulfillment of His promise found in Joel 2:28? What “Spirit” we will partake of will be decided in great measure by what we understand and accept the Holy Spirit to be! Will we understand and accept it to be Christ’s Spirit, or will we fall prey to the devil’s counterfeit?
Christ denied Himself in ways we have only begun to acknowledge and comprehend (much less appreciate). Christ always sought to give glory to His Father, we must have the same motive – to give glory to Christ. Christ sacrificed Himself in order to save us. Christ laid aside the power of His own divine nature (Spirit) in order that we may overcome as He overcame and be granted eternal life in Him. We are called to deny ourselves, and work as He did, for the good and salvation of others. Christ has not left us alone to accomplish this. He has given us His Holy Spirit, and through this gift He has promised to impart His own divine nature to us that we may be transformed into His image and do the works of God. What a puny sacrifice we are called to make – to give up our sin, our selfish desires, to love our fellow man, to be co-workers with Christ! What a puny sacrifice is ours, when compared to that of Christ’s! It takes my breath away! How must we respond to the privilege that is ours through Christ’s sacrifice?
God will have a people who will honor His Son. He will have a people who understand and appreciate the eternal sacrifice that has been made in order to redeem them -- a sacrifice that has come at an “infinite cost to the Father and the Son” (RH: March 10, 1891; par. 2) and “at an inconceivable cost to the Son of God” (ST: January 6, 1887; par. 3). God will have a people who will not deny Christ or His Spirit, and who will accept the provision that has been made in order the we may become partakers of His divine nature. That “provision” is the Holy Spirit of Christ. “Christ expects that men will become partakers of His divine nature while in this world” (5T p. 731, par. 1), and He has given us “His own Sprit, the life of His own Life” (DA p. 827, par. 3) in order that we may actually do this. But He can never give us His Spirit until we acknowledge it as such, and until we ask Him for it. Too many of us are praying for something for which we have no knowledge. The time has come for God’s Remnant people to reclaim this important truth -- to place it firmly into its proper place – giving Christ the honor, glory and respect He deserves by acknowledging and accepting the wonderful sacrifice of His Spirit on our behalf. When we do this, we enable God to accomplish His work in us. God will have a people who not only “know the Truth” but who will be empowered and set free by it.
It is extremely interesting to me to notice what was going on in the church when the outpouring of the Holy Spirit happened the first time, and when it very nearly happened again in 1888. When the early church gathered in the upper room, their focus was totally on Christ and what He had done – they recognized much more fully the sacrifice that Christ had made – they now knew who He was and what He had actually done – and they earnestly repented and asked Christ to fill them with His grace and power. It was then that the Holy Spirit was poured out in special measure. In 1888, our church’s focus began to center on Christ and Christ alone – people were repenting of their sins and were seeking for Christ to fill them with His righteousness – asking for His power to overcome sin and form a righteous character within them. The Holy Spirit began to be poured out once again, but then halted as we lost our focus and became embroiled in a host of other issues. It is my sincere belief that the “power” that is missing as we have attempted to recreate and proclaim the 1888 message, is the truth about Christ’s Holy Spirit. Christ cannot impart His righteousness to us until we understand that He is the one doing it!
Until we regain our focus on Christ and His righteousness – until we understand the sacrifice of Christ in giving His Spirit to us that we may become partakers of His divine nature, imparting His life and His righteousness to us – we will never experience the Latter Rain which is to be poured out in full measure. Christ literally became one with us, in order that we may literally become one with Him. When we finally accept this truth, we will be enabled to become “partakers” of His divine nature and become the Sons and Daughters of God as no other beings in history have had the privilege.
Then, the same words that were spoken by the Father to Christ, will be spoken of us also: “YOU ARE MY SON, TODAY I HAVE BEGOTTEN YOU.” And again, “I WILL BE A FATHER TO HIM AND HE SHALL BE A SON TO ME” (Heb. 1:5). To which of the Angels has God granted the privilege of partaking in the sufferings of Christ? To which of the Angels has He granted the privilege of being called “Son”? To which of the Angels has He promised to reign in His kingdom? Upon which of the Angels has He promised to “pour out” His Spirit? Behold what manner of Love the Father has given unto us – that we may actually partake of Christ’s divine nature and be called the “Sons and Daughters of God”!
“Man’s salvation depends upon his receiving Christ by faith. Those who will not receive Him lose eternal life because they refused to avail themselves of the only means provided by the Father and the Son for the salvation of the perishing world” (MS #142 [SDA BC vol. 7; p. 931]). The “only means” that the Father and the Son have provided—is the Spirit of Christ. By Christ, through Christ, Christ in us – the hope of glory! This is to be the theme song of the remnant people of God. “One interest will prevail, one subject will swallow up every other,-- Christ our righteousness” (RH December 23, 1890; par. 19).
“Jesus is waiting to breath upon all His disciples, and give them the inspiration of His sanctifying Spirit, and transfuse the vital influence from Himself to His people…Their will must be submitted to His will, they must act with His Spirit that it may be no more they that live, but Christ that liveth in them. Jesus is seeking to impress upon them the thought that in giving His Holy Spirit He is giving to them the glory which the Father hath given Him” (Letter 11b, 1892 [MR vol. 4, p.334]).
It is time for the people of God to wake up! The fullness of the incarnation of Christ is not yet complete. He has yet to reproduce Himself in His people – He has yet to incarnate His Spirit into you and I and us into Himself. Will we let Him do this? “May the Lord help us to die to self and be born again, that Christ may live in us, a living, active principle, a power that will keep us holy…God knows what you can be. He knows what divine grace can do for you if you will be partakers of the divine nature” (9T p. 187, par. 4 & p. 188, par. 2).
The “Oneness” Doctrine & Jesus’ Divinity
The “Oneness” doctrine, boiled down, states that there is only One true God and that He has manifested Himself in different ways – through the “Father” figure, the “Son” figure, and the “Holy Spirit” figure. Proponents of this doctrine believe that all three of these “manifestations” are all the same being – manifested in different forms at different times.
This doctrine is not only completely unbiblical, it is also dangerous and confusing. There are MANY Scriptures that dispel this myth and it is not necessary to go into a total refutation of this theory here. Suffice to say that the Scriptures teach that there is “God the Father” (Col. 1:3) and “God the Son” (Mark 1:1). And while Jesus made numerous statements that He and the Father are “ONE”, He in no way suggested that He and the Father were the “SAME” person.
In John 17:3 we read Jesus words “This is eternal life, that they may know thee the one true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent.” Many have seized upon this statement as “proving” that there is only ONE true God (a God made up of only ONE person) and that Jesus is not a separate, individual member of the Godhead. This is a terrible misuse of this text. It ignores all the “us’s” and the “ours” used to describe God’s creation of man (see Gen. 1:26). It presupposes that the “Father” is the God found in the Old Testament, that the “Son” was Himself manifested as a man here on earth, and that the “Holy Spirit” is the Father’s Spirit manifested after Christ ascended to heaven. There are insurmountable problems with this view.
First, it ignores the fact that the Bible teaches that “God” (the Father) created this earth through the agency of His Son (Jn. 1:1-4; Heb. 1:1,2; Col. 1:15-17). If I contact you through another person, I may be the one communicating the message I wish to have conveyed but it is someone else who is delivering it. The same is true in the creation; the Father created this earth through someone else, His Son – Jesus Christ.
Second, it ignores the fact that Jesus is the operative agent in (the God of) the Old Testament (see Chapter 7 of this book). It is Christ who was speaking and acting here, not the Father, and this was before God was supposedly manifested in the person of Christ. How could Christ be the one operating throughout the Old Testament if He had not yet been manifested as Christ?
Third, there are many instances where we find more than one person manifested as “God” at the same time. We have instances where there is a voice proclaiming Jesus to be His (God’s) Son (Mat. 3:17 & Mat. 17:5). Where did this voice come from? Was Jesus a ventriloquist? The Bible clearly teaches that the “voice” came from heaven while the person of Jesus Christ was clearly here on this earth. Also, Christ prayed to His Father. What sense would that make if Jesus was the Father manifest as the Son? I suppose one could argue that Jesus was only giving us an example of how we are to pray, but that ignores the fact that Jesus petitioned His Father for things such as His deliverance (Mat. 26:39). It also ignores the fact that Christ Himself said that His Father was “greater than I” (Jn. 14:28) and that He (Christ) could do nothing of Himself but only those things that the Father directed and empowered Him to do. We also find that the Father has committed all judgment to the Son. How does that compute if the Son and the Father are the same being?
Finally, this doctrine effectively destroys Christ as our “Savior” because if Christ was the Father (if there is only ONE divine entity) then He could not actually pay the penalty for our sin—for the penalty for sin is death. If Christ was the manifestation of the One and only divine entity, then His death would have meant the end of God or, at best, was only an elaborate theatrical display. If Jesus and the Father are the same person then we would have to declare that they both “DIED” on the cross – which would have left the universe subsisting by itself, with no God to uphold the Laws of Nature or the universe or the lives of men. It simply cannot be.
The “Oneness” doctrine may make sense to the minds of some, but the student and believer of the Scriptures will immediately recognize that it makes no sense at all—and that it denies the clear teachings of the Bible and Christ Himself.
Identifying Marks of the
LITTLE HORN & the BEAST POWERS
1. Would come up from the ten horns in Europe. [Dan.7:8] (Huruli-in part of Italy; Vandals-North Africa; Ostrogoths-Italian; Visogoths-Spanish; Suevi-Portuguese; Lombards-in part of Italy; Alamanni-Germans; Brigundians-Swiss; Franks-French; Anglo Saxons-English).
2. Would come up after them. They were already established. [Dan. 7:24].
3. Would uproot three horns (kingdoms – the Huruli 493AD, Vandals 534AD, and finally the defeat of the Ostrogoths in 538AD). [Dan. 7:8,24].
4. Would be different from other kingdoms (a “Religio-Political” Power: it would receive worship and would exercise Civil political power). [Dan. 7:24 & Revelation 13:3,4,8].
5. Would be the leading power. [Dan. 7:20].
6. “Dragon” would give the Beast his “seat and authority.” [Rev. 13:2]. Note: “Dragon” often refers to Satan but it also refers to Political Rome – see Rev. 12:4,9; Ezekiel 29:2-4; and Mat. 2:13-16.
7. Would sit on “seven mountains.” [Rev. 17:9]. "It is within the city of Rome, called the city of seven hills, that the entire area of Vatican State proper is now confined" (The Catholic Encyclopedia, Thomas Nelson, 1976, s.v. "Rome").
8. Would speak great words against God. [Dan. 7:25; Dan. 8:12,24,25; Rev. 13:1,5,6]. Please note Bible definitions of “Blasphemy” in Mark 2:7 & John 10:33 and see section on “Blasphemous Quote”.
9. Would make war on the Saints and would be identified in the Scriptures as the power that would persecute them for “a time, times, and a dividing of times (1260 years). [Dan 7:25 & Rev. 13:7; Rev. 12:13-17].
10. Would think to change God’s Law. [Dan. 7:25]. “The Pope can modify divine law.” (Prompta Bibliotheca, Papa, art. 2.). “The Pope has power to change times, to abrogate laws, and to dispense with all things, even the precepts of Christ.” (Decretal De Translat, Episcap, Cap.).
11. Would rule for 1260 years before receive a “deadly” wound that would “heal.” [Dan. 7:25; Rev. 12:6; Rev. 13:5]. Note: 3 ½ Times, 42 months, and 1260 days – ALL equal 1260 years. Look at Roman History and you will see some significant events taking place in 538AD and in 1798AD. In 538AD “Vigilius . . . ascended the papal chair under the military protection of Belisarius.” (History of the Christian Church, vol.3, p.327). This happened under a decree from Emperor Justinian, making the bishop of Rome head over all churches, the definer of doctrine and the corrector of heretics. “In 1798AD he (General Berthier) . . . made his entrance into Rome, ABOLISHED THE PAPAL GOVERNMENT and established a secular one.” (Encyclopedia Americana, 1941 edition). 538AD – 1798AD equals exactly 1260 years! Interestingly, the United States (Lamblike beast) was officially recognized by France as an independent power in 1798.
12. Would receive a “deadly wound” that would “heal.” [Rev. 13:3]. See above quote.
13. Its “Dominion” would be taken away and will be “utterly destroyed” – without hands (will be the work of God – at His second coming). [Dan. 2:45; Dan. 7:25].
14. This power is also called “Mystery Babylon” the “Mother of Harlots” and is clothed in scarlet and purple. The Roman Catholic Church claims to be the “Mother Church” and has colors of scarlet and purple. It also claims that Peter himself referred to Rome as “Babylon.” "Eusebius Pamphilius, writing about 303, noted that `it is said that Peter's first epistle ... was composed at Rome itself; and that he himself indicates this, referring to the city figuratively as Babylon" (Karl Keating, Catholicism and Fundamentalism: The Attack on "Romanism" by "Bible Christians," Kgnatius Press, 1988, p. 200). [see 1 Pet. 5:13].
“Give no belief to false words: because there will first be a falling away from the faith, and the revelation of the man of sin, the son of destruction, Who puts himself against all authority, lifting himself up over all which is named God or is given worship; so that he takes his seat in the Temple of God, putting himself forward as God.” (2 Thes. 2:3,4). “And he shall speak great words against the most High. . . and think to change times and laws” (Dan. 7:25).
“The pope is of so great dignity and so exalted that he is not a mere man, but as it were God, and the vicar of God. . . . The pope is of such lofty and supreme dignity that, properly speaking, he has not been established in any rank of dignity, but rather has been placed upon the very summit of all ranks of dignities. . . . The pope is called most holy because he is rightfully presumed to be such. . . . The pope alone is deservedly called by the name ‘most holy’ because he alone is the vicar of Christ. . . . ‘He is likewise the divine monarch and supreme emperor, and king of kings.’ . . . Hence the pope is crowned with a triple crown, as king of heaven and of earth and of the lower regions. . . . Moreover the superiority and the power of the Roman Pontiff by no means pertain only to heavenly things, to earthly things, and to things under the earth, but are even over angels, than whom he is greater. . . . So that if it were possible that the angels might err in the faith, or might think contrary to the faith, they could be judged and excommunicated by the pope. . . . For he is of so great dignity and power that he forms one and the same tribunal with Christ. . . . The pope is as it were God on earth, sole sovereign of the faithful of Christ, chief king of kings, having plenitude of power, to whom has been intrusted by the omnipotent God direction not only of the earthly but also of the heavenly kingdom. . . . The pope is of so great authority and power that he can modify, explain, or interpret even divine laws.” – Lucius Ferraris, Prompto Bibliotheca, art. “Papa,” II, vol. 6, pp. 26-29.