2013-05-18 – Ben Jones – The Godhead



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I am going to mainly use EGW in this, not because her writings are any more valuable than the bible, however, this sermon is aimed to end the debate among Adventists who have doubts on this topic. For those who wish to have the Godhead explained directly from the bible, I suggest these sermons:

Why does this topic matter?

There are many walking around stating that we are in the omega of apostasy. Can we ever get through to people if they believe we are in the omega of apostasy? No. Is it important then to get through to people? What is the point of our existence other than to teach people truth so that we can all be changed by it and go home?

It is also claimed that if we get this wrong, and that anyone who speaks “error” on this topic is Satan’s helper. Is that they case? I believe this issue, like all doctrine, is important, sure. And as a teacher of Bible truth, we are judged 10 times harder.

Does this scare me? Only when the answers are formed from the vague association of quotes and theories that are not clear. For the genuine seeker, the clarity of Spirit of Prophecy on this topic will probably surprise them, as it did me.

What are the different interpretations of the Godhead?

The most prevalent is the trinity. There are three persons in the Godhead, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost; and these three are one God, the same in substance, equal in power and glory.”

These vary widely, but they all centre around the concept:
Ice, water, steam or parent, manager, courier

Sounds moderately logical, but:

I am instructed to say, The sentiments of those who are searching for advanced scientific ideas are not to be trusted. Such representations as the following are made: “The Father is as the light invisible: the Son is as the light embodied; the Spirit is the light shed abroad.” “The Father is like the dew, invisible vapor; the Son is like the dew gathered in beauteous form; the Spirit is like the dew fallen to the seat of life.” Another representation: “The Father is like the invisible vapor; the Son is like the leaden cloud; the Spirit is rain fallen and working in refreshing power.” – {Ev 614.1}

All these spiritualistic representations are simply nothingness. They are imperfect, untrue. They weaken and diminish the Majesty which no earthly likeness can be compared to. God cannot be compared with the things His hands have made. These are mere earthly things, suffering under the curse of God because of the sins of man. The Father cannot be described by the things of earth. The Father is all the fullness of the Godhead bodily, and is invisible to mortal sight. – {Ev 614.2}

The Son is all the fullness of the Godhead manifested. The Word of God declares Him to be “the express image of His person.” “God so loved the world, that He gave His only-begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” Here is shown the personality of the Father. – {Ev 614.3}

Now does this mean the “trinity” word in the 28 fundamentals of belief prove the SDA church is Babylon now, because they are teaching Catholic doctrine? No
In saying it they define what it means:

“There is one God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, a unity of three co-eternal Persons.”

This is actually correct. We aren’t to get caught up in one word and ignore, the intention of a statement but rather meaning. Does that mean the main teaching of the Modern Adventist Church is correct? Let’s look into it, and I will let you decide.

The Second Understanding is Arianism

Arianism is the theological teaching attributed to Arius (ca. AD 250–336), a Christian presbyter in Alexandria, Egypt, concerning the relationship of God to the Son of God (Jesus of Nazareth). Arius asserted that the Son of God was a subordinate entity to God the Father. Deemed a heretic by the Ecumenical First Council of Nicaea of 325, Arius was later exonerated in 335 at the regional First Synod of Tyre,[1] and then, after his death, pronounced a heretic again at the Ecumenical First Council of Constantinople of 381.[2] The Roman Emperors Constantius II (337–361) and Valens (364–378) were Arians or Semi-Arians.

Another element of Arianism is that the Holy Spirit was not a being, but rather a force.

Many of the SDA pioneers took this view initially, though it is such a difficult topic to explain, it is not completely certain what the view of a number of them was. Especially when you consider it is true that the Holy Spirit is a force, and the spirit of God and the son, and it is also true that He is a person.

But whatever the pioneers say, power of veto always lies with Ellen White, we have very clear statements that show us the truth on this topic.

The Living Temple

I am instructed to speak plainly. “Meet it,” is the word spoken to me. “Meet it firmly, and without delay.” But it is not to be met by our taking our working forces from the field to investigate doctrines and points of difference. We have no such investigation to make. In the book Living Temple there is presented the alpha of deadly heresies. The omega will follow, and will be received by those who are not willing to heed the warning God has given. {1SM 200.1}

‘The teaching regarding God that is presented in ‘Living Temple’ is not such as our students need. Those who seek to define God are on forbidden ground. We are to enter into no controversy regarding God,–what He is and what He is not. He, the Omniscient One, is above discussion. Those who express such sentiments regarding Him show that they are departing from the faith.’ . . . {PH095 39.3}

Arthur Daniels conversation:

“Ever since the council closed I have felt that I should write you confidentially regarding Dr Kellogg’s plans for revising and republishing ‘The Living Temple’…. He (Kellogg) said that some days before coming to the council, he had been thinking the matter over, and began to see that he had made a slight mistake in expressing his views. He said that all the way along he had been troubled to know how to state the character of God and his relation to his creation works… He then stated that his former views regarding the trinity had stood in his way of making a clear and absolutely correct statement; but that within a short time he had come to believe in the trinity and could now see pretty clearly where all the difficulty was, and believed that he could clear the matter up satisfactorily.

He told me that he now believed in God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost; and his view was that it was God the Holy Ghost, and not God the Father, that filled all space, and every living thing. He said if he had believed this before writing the book, he could have expressed his views without giving the wrong impression the book now gives.

“I placed before him the objections I found in the teaching, and tried to show him that the teaching was so utterly contrary to the gospel that I did not see how it could be revised by changing a few expressions.

“We argued the matter at some length in a friendly way; but I felt sure that when we parted, the doctor did not understand himself, nor the character of his teaching. And I could not see how it would be possible for him to flop over, and in the course of a few days fix the books up so that it would be all right.”

(Letter: A G Daniells to W C White. Oct 29. 1903 page 1.2.)
Letter from Kellogg to GI Butler.
As far as I can fathom, the difficulty which is found in ‘The Living Temple’, the whole thing may be simmered down to the question: Is the Holy Ghost a person? You say no. I had supposed the Bible said this for the reason that the personal pronoun ‘he’ is used in speaking of the Holy Ghost. Sister White uses the pronoun ‘he’ and has said in so many words that the Holy Ghost is the third person of the Godhead. How the Holy Ghost can be the third person and not be a person at all is difficult for me to see.” Letter: J H Kellogg to G. I. Butler . Oct 28. 1903.

“I believe this Spirit of God to be a personality you don’t. But this is purely a question of definition. I believe the Spirit of God is a personality; you say, No, it is not a personality. Now the only reason why we differ is because we differ in our ideas as to what a personality is. Your idea of personality is perhaps that of semblance to a person or a human being. (Letter from J. H. Kellogg to G. I. Butler, February 21, 1904)

He said he would rewrite it. He thought the trinity was the issue, but was it the issue?

EGW response

I am given a message to bear to you and the rest of our physicians who are connected with the Medical Missionary Association. Separate from the influence exerted by the book Living Temple; [A 568-PAGE BOOK ISSUED IN 1903 BY DR. J. H. KELLOGG IN WHICH PANTHEISTIC PHILOSOPHIES WERE PROMULGATED.–COMPILERS.] for it contains specious sentiments. There are in it sentiments that are entirely true, but these are mingled with error. Scriptures are taken out of their connection, and are used to uphold erroneous theories. {1SM 199.1}

The thought of the errors contained in this book has given me great distress, and the experience that I have passed through in connection with the matter has nearly cost me my life. {1SM 199.2}

It will be said that Living Temple has been revised. But the Lord has shown me that the writer has not changed, and that there can be no unity between him and the ministers of the gospel while he continues to cherish his present sentiments. I am bidden to lift my voice in warning to our people, saying, “Be not deceived; God is not mocked” (Galatians 6:7). {1SM 199.3}

You have had access to Testimonies for the Church, volumes 7 and 8. In these Testimonies the danger signal is raised. But the light so clear and plain to minds that have not been influenced by deceptive theories, has not been discerned by some. While the misleading theories of this book are entertained by our physicians, there cannot be union between them and the ministers who are bearing the gospel message. There should be no union until there is a change. {1SM 199.4}

In the doctrine of the 3 person Godhead, is the holy spirit the person who is everywhere present? Yes.
Is God everywhere present? Yes
So is it not a far stretch to take the pantheistic view “God is in everything”. Yes… but would that be a deception. Absolutely.
Not only that, but if we go too far in defining God, that is the issue. We can take it only so far, Kellogg dug into areas that are not specifically revealed by inspiration.

But what is the truth? Ellen White said it was stated in plain ways, so rather than dig around with unclear statements an illusions, let’s look for statements that are blindingly clear. Let’s see exactly what Inspiration says on the issue:

In summary:

The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, the three holy dignitaries of heaven, have declared that they will strengthen men to overcome the powers of darkness. All the facilities of heaven are pledged to those who by their baptismal vows have entered into a covenant with God (Manuscript 92, 1901). – {5BC 1110.8}

Definition: Dignitaries:
A person considered to be important because of high rank or office.

The 3 Members of the Godhead:

God the Father

All the quotes cover the father, as in Adventism, there at least seems to be little dispute as to if the father exists.

There is no place for gods in the heaven above. God is the only true God. He fills all heaven. Those who now submit to his will shall see his face; and his name will be in the foreheads of all who are pure and holy. {1888 1633.2}

From eternity there was a complete unity between the Father and the Son. They were two, yet little short of being identical; two in individuality, yet one in spirit, and heart, and character. {YI, December 16, 1897 par. 5}

1Jn 5:7-8 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.

Jesus Christ / The Son

For unto which of the angels said He at any time, Thou art My Son, this day have I begotten Thee? And again, I will be to Him a Father, and He shall be to Me a Son?” Hebrews 1:1-5. {8T 268.2}

God is the Father of Christ; Christ is the Son of God. To Christ has been given an exalted position. He has been made equal with the Father. All the counsels of God are opened to His Son. {8T 268.3}

So this could be taken a number of ways. That Christ was at some stage in history taken to be equal with the father when he previously was not. That he was made, therefore he had a beginning? But is this the intention of the statement? We need to find another statement that is clear. Interpret the unclear with the clear.

Before the entrance of evil, there was peace and joy throughout the universe. All was in perfect harmony with the Creator’s will. Love for God was supreme, love for one another impartial. Christ the Word, the only begotten of God, was one with the eternal Father,—one in nature, in character, and in purpose,—the only being in all the universe that could enter into all the counsels and purposes of God. By Christ, the Father wrought in the creation of all heavenly beings. “By him were all things created, that are in Heaven, . . . whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers;” [Colossians 1:16.] and to Christ, equally with the Father, all Heaven gave allegiance. {GC88 493.1}

So the Father worked through Christ to Create. But we still need to look further as to Christ’s beginning. So this doesn’t quite answer it. It is only talking at a time before the fall.

The Godhead was stirred with pity for the race, and the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit gave Themselves to the working out of the plan of redemption. In order fully to carry out this plan, it was decided that Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, should give Himself an offering for sin.– {CH 222.2}

Our policy is, Do not make prominent the objectionable features of our faith, which strike most decidedly against the practices and customs of the people, until the Lord shall give the people a fair chance to know that we are believers in Christ, that we do believe in the divinity of Christ, and in His pre-existence.—Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers, 253 (1895). – {Ev 613.2}

But what does pre existence mean? existing previously or before something. Still not a clear answer.

The Pre-existent, Self-existent Son of God—Christ is the pre-existent, self-existent Son of God…. In speaking of his pre-existence, Christ carries the mind back through dateless ages. He assures us that there never was a time when He was not in close fellowship with the eternal God. He to whose voice the Jews were then listening had been with God as one brought up with Him.—The Signs of the Times, August 29, 1900. – {Ev 615.2}

He was equal with God, infinite and omnipotent…. He is the eternal, self-existent Son.—Manuscript 101, 1897. – {Ev 615.3}

So if they both were around for eternity, why is one seemingly subservient in title to the other? what does it mean to begotten?

Psalms 2:7 I will declare the decree: the LORD hath said unto me, Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee.

So by decree Christ received the title of Son, in order to work the salvation of men.

The apparently weak soul, who with a contrite, trusting spirit takes God at His word, and with a sense of his unworthiness asks for help, will be given grace to win victory after victory, and to gain the eternal weight of glory in the future life. The Lord Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of the Father, is truly God in infinity, but not in personality. He has wrought out the righteousness that enables human beings to overcome every assault of Satan. He will impute His righteousness to the believing saint who walks as He walked when on earth. {UL 367.4}

So now, there is one God, we know that. But does that mean one individual? Are we doing what Ellen White said “making room for more than one God”? No. This statement shows What Ellen White means by one God.

Christ is one with the Father, but Christ and God are two distinct personages. Read the prayer of Christ in the seventeenth chapter of John, and you will find this point clearly brought out.

John 17:20-23 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.

Will we all be of the same substance? Of course not. Will we all be of identical personalities? No. But when we are one, will we have the same Character? Absolutely.

How earnestly the Saviour prayed that his disciples might be one with him as he is one with the Father. But the unity that is to exist between Christ and his followers does not destroy the personality of either. They are to be one with him as he is one with the Father. By this unity they are to make it plain to the world that God sent his Son to save sinners. The oneness of Christ’s followers with him is to be the great, unmistakable proof that God did indeed send his Son into the world to save sinners. But a loose, lax religion leaves the world bewildered and confused. {RH, June 1, 1905 par. 14}

So that is it right? We figured out Christ… we have defined God? Absolutely not. This definition is no better than a shadow. You can see that there is a person casting the shadow, but do you really know what the person looks like from the shadow?

There is no one who can explain the mystery of the incarnation of Christ. Yet we know that He came to this earth and lived as a man among men. The man Christ Jesus was not the Lord God Almighty, yet Christ and the Father are one. The Deity did not sink under the agonizing torture of Calvary, yet it is nonetheless true that “God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” {LHU 235.3}

The Holy Spirit

Now here is where things get harder for people. The Holy Spirit is subject of much confusion and debate from the beginning of the Christian church, let alone the advent movement. Why is that?

Christ says, speaking of the Comforter, “He shall not speak of himself;” “he shall testify of me;” “he shall glorify me.” Mrs. E. G. White. {RH, December 23, 1890 par. 22}

So the Holy Spirit will not speak of himself. Is it any wonder that we know very little of him? Not only that, to define the Holy Spirit is beyond analogy, so is it any wonder there is confusion on this matter? But thankfully the Holy Spirit revealed himself enough for us to be at least clear enough to know He exists, and is a “He” not an “It”. Beyond that, I don’t dare define Him.

“And the child grew, and waxed strong in spirit, filled with wisdom: and the grace of God was upon him.” “And he went down with them, and came to Nazareth, and was subject unto them.” “And Jesus increased his wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man.” Let the brightest example the world has yet seen be your example, rather than the greatest and most learned men of the age, who know not God, nor Jesus Christ whom he has sent. The Father and the Son alone are to be exalted. {YI, July 7, 1898 par. 2}

So people say, therefore the Holy Spirit doesn’t exist. But think about it: Why can’t I exult the Holy Spirit? Because the flesh is enmity against God. If I exult God it can only be from the part of my brain that the Holy Spirit is controlling… so in essense the Holy Spirit would be exult himself. It doesn’t make any sense.

Let’s look at another one used to say he isn’t a person:

The Comforter that Christ promised to send after He ascended to heaven, is the Spirit in all the fullness of the Godhead, making manifest the power of divine grace to all who receive and believe in Christ as a personal Saviour. 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.—Special Testimonies, Series B, No. 7, pp. 62, 63. (1905). – {Ev 615.1}

So this sounds like the Holy Spirit is simply a manifestation of Christ and the Father?

Let’s keep searching:

Who is Melchisedec? He is the one that fills all the specifications the Bible gives of Melchisedec.

Hebrews 7:1-5 For this Melchisedec, king of Salem, priest of the most high God, who met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings, and blessed him; To whom also Abraham gave a tenth part of all; first being by interpretation King of righteousness, and after that also King of Salem, which is, King of peace; Without father, without mother, without descent, having neither beginning of days, nor end of life; but made like unto the Son of God; abideth a priest continually. Now consider how great this man was, unto whom even the patriarch Abraham gave the tenth of the spoils. And verily they that are of the sons of Levi, who receive the office of the priesthood, have a commandment to take tithes of the people according to the law, that is, of their brethren, though they come out of the loins of Abraham:

1. He was a man “Consider how great the man was.” Hebrews 7:4.
2. He was a king. “King of righteousness.” & “King of Peace”. Verse 2.
3. He “was priest of the most high God.” Verse 1.
4. He “abideth a priest continually.” Verse 3.
5. He was greater than Abraham, for Abraham paid tithes to him, “and without contradiction the less is blessed of the greater.” Verses 4-7.
6. Abraham received the promises, therefore Melchisedec was greater than the one who received the promises of God.
7. He is the one “of whom it is witnessed that He liveth.” Verse 8.
8. He was made “like unto the Son of God,” and therefore was not the Son of God.” Verse 3.
9. He was without father, without mother, without descent, having neither beginning of days, nor end of life.” Verse 3.

Is he Christ?

It was Christ that spoke through Melchizedek, the priest of the most high God. Melchizedek was not Christ, but he was the voice of God in the world, the representative of the Father. And all through the generations of the past, Christ has spoken; Christ has led His people, and has been the light of the world. {1SM 409.3}

Is it an angel? No all angels are created, therefore they have a beginning.

The Holy Spirit is the only possible option.

We need to recognize the Holy Spirit as our enlightener. That Spirit loves to address the children and discover to them the treasures and beauties of the Word. The promises spoken by the great Teacher will captivate the senses and animate the soul of the child with a spiritual power that is divine. There will grow in the receptive mind a familiarity with divine things which will be as a barricade against the temptations of the enemy. [9] – {CG 495.4}

So, can something without a personality love?

Personality of the Holy Spirit—We need to realize that the Holy Spirit, who is as much a person as God is a person, is walking through these grounds.—Manuscript 66, 1899 (From a talk to the students at the Avondale School.). – {Ev 616.5}

The Holy Spirit is a person, for He beareth witness with our spirits that we are the children of God. When this witness is borne, it carries with it its own evidence. At such times we believe and are sure that we are the children of God…. – {Ev 616.6}

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.”—Manuscript 20, 1906. – {Ev 617.1}

So to finish. God has told us he is beyond definition. He has told us we cannot fully comprehend him. He has given us a few clues. Let us now leave it to rest, and do what he says, and leave this topic where it needs to be. This is not the Omega of Apostasy… Apostasy only comes from ignoring clear statements of God, and to continually try to define or rationalise away the Holy Spirit is doing just that. So let us take the advice of this statement I will read in its full now:

Christ says, speaking of the Comforter, “He shall not speak of himself;” “he shall testify of me;” “he shall glorify me.” How little has Christ been preached! The laborers have presented theories, plenty of them, but little of Christ and his love. As the Saviour came to glorify the Father by the demonstration of his love, so the Spirit came to glorify Christ by revealing to the world the riches of his love and grace. If the Holy Spirit dwells in us, our work will testify to the fact, we shall lift up Jesus. Not one can afford to be silent now; the burden of the work is to present Christ to the world. All who venture to have their own way, who do not join the angels who are sent from heaven with a message to fill the whole earth with its glory, will be passed by. The work will go forward to victory without them, and they will have no part in its triumph. Mrs. E. G. White. {RH, December 23, 1890 par. 22}

Amen.