The Godhead: Who are they? My current understanding.

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My Current Understanding of the Godhead

10/6/09

There are three Persons who make up the Godhead:  The Ancient of Days, the Father, His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit.  This is what the Bible tells us.

I. Introduction

Exodus 3:1 Now Moses kept the flock of Jethro his father in law, the priest of Midian: and he led the flock to the backside of the desert, and came to the mountain of God, even to Horeb.

 

Moses had fled from Egypt for fear of his life. In attempting to do the work of God in delivering Israel from Egyptian bondage he had taken into his own hands the work that God has promised to do. It was not God's will to deliver His people by warfare as Moses had thought. Moses was not prepared for his great work. He had yet to learn the same lesson of faith we all need to learn. We need to learn not to rely upon human strength or wisdom, but upon the power of God for the fulfillment of His promises. Before Moses could govern wisely, he must be trained to obey. His own heart had to be fully in harmony with God before he could teach the knowledge of His will to Israel (see PP247).

 

God used 40 years of shepherding to train Moses to obey. In order to receive God's help, man must realize his weakness and inefficiency. Man must apply his own mind to the great change that must be wrought in himself. Man must be aroused to earnest and persevering prayer and effort (see PP248).

 

Exodus 3:2 And the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush: and he looked, and, behold, the bush burned with fire, and the bush was not consumed.

 

God's timing had arrived for the deliverance of His people. "God's purpose was to be accomplished in a manner to pour contempt on human pride" (PP251). Moses observed a burning bush that was not consumed by the fire. He went over to the bush to observe the cause of the fire without destruction and not resulting in the bush being consumed.

 

Exodus3:3 And Moses said, I will now turn aside, and see this great sight, why the bush is not burnt.

 

Being indwelt and sealed with the Holy Spirit does not destroy or consume our personality or will or freedom of choice nor our responsibilities that come with freedom of choice. It does not even destroy our pride! God will not do for us what He has given us power to do for ourselves. All who would be fitted for usefulness must be "trained by the severest mental and moral discipline". God will assist us in this work by "uniting divine power with human effort" (see PP248).

 

Exodus 3:4 And when the Lord saw that he turned aside to see, God called unto him out of the midst of the bush, and said, Moses, Moses. And he said, Here am I.

 

Moses was warned not to approach irreverently. We need the same warning in approaching the subject of the Godhead.

 

Exodus 3:5 And he said, Draw not nigh hither: put off thy shoes from off thy feet, for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground.

 

Humility and reverence should characterize our attitude and deportment as we approach the subject of the Godhead. We are coming to holy ground where God is revealing Himself to us.

 

Revelation 11:3, 4 And I will give power unto my two witnesses, and they shall prophesy a thousand two hundred and threescore days, clothed in sackcloth. 4 These are the two olive trees, and the two candlesticks standing before the God of the earth.

 

God has two witnesses, two olive trees, two candlesticks standing before the God of the earth.

 

Zechariah 4:3-6 And two olive trees by it, one upon the right side of the bowl, and the other upon the left side thereof. 4 So I answered and spake to the angel that talked with me, saying, What are these, my lord? 5 Then the angel that talked with me answered and said unto me, Knowest thou not what these be? And I said, No, my lord. 6 Then he answered and spake unto me, saying, This is the word of the Lord unto Zerubbabel, saying, Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the Lord of hosts.

 

The two olive trees are the word of the Lord, the Bible, which tells us that God accomplishes His will - not by force of power, but by His Spirit. It is by the Holy Spirit revealing to us and causing us to understand the word of the Lord in the Old and New Testaments of the Holy Bible.

 

Revelation 4:5 And out of the throne proceeded lightnings and thunderings and voices: and there were seven lamps of fire burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of God.

 

The seven lamps that give light and God's presence is the Holy Spirit. So it is appropriate for us to pray just now for a reverent attitude, to recognize our inability to know the things about God of ourselves, and for a receptive mind to receive what the Holy Spirit has and wants to reveal to us from the two witnesses - the Old and New Testaments of the Holy Bible. Let us "take off our shoes" as we approach Holy Ground.

 

God, through the words of Paul in the book of Hebrews and through Solomon in the book of Proverbs, speaks to us through the Old Testament witnesses to tell us about His only begotten Son. Let us now "Hear the word of the Lord". (see Hosea 4:1 and 23 other places in the Old Testament where this phrase is used.)

 

Hebrews 1:1 God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets,

 

God has taken the initiative to reveal Himself to us. God spoke to our fathers through the writings of the prophets in the Old Testament.

 

Hebrews 1:2 Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds;

 

In the days of the apostle Paul, God spoke to man through His Son, Jesus Christ. God then takes the initiative to tell us about His Son in the writings of Paul to the Hebrews who quotes Old Testament sources for authority. The Hebrews had just rejected and killed His Son. But God loves the world and His Son so much that He just had to tell the Hebrews and us, all about His Son. In fact the first five chapters of Hebrews is filled with words from God telling us about one subject - His Son. Paul calls this the doctrine of Christ. The first two points God makes is that He has appointed His Son heir of all things and that His Son is the Creator of the worlds. He reveals here the fact that the "worlds" which His Son created were more in number than planet earth, and that Jesus, the Son of God, is the Creator and heir of them all.

 

Hebrews 1:3 Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high;

 

It is obvious that God loves His Son, in that He keeps talking about Him and tells us more and more about His Son. The Father tells us that His Son is the brightness - the seen, the revelation of - His character (glory) and the express image of His person. By this which we are told about the Son, we know that the Father God has the character exactly like Jesus' character and a form (image) that is exactly like His Son's. This is why Jesus could say to Philip, "He that hath seen me hath seen the Father" John 14:9 We are told that the Son upholds all creation by the word of His power. It is amazing to me that God deliberately created things that need to be sustained by Him. I would have made self-sustaining things; but God did not! I would not want my creation to be dependent upon me; but God does! We are told that when His Son had by Himself purged our sins, that He sat down on the right hand of the Father on high. Beloved, our sins have been purged by the blood of Jesus! Now it is up to us to cooperate with Jesus, sitting on the right hand (the favorable side) of the Majesty on high, in overcoming all sin in our lives to reveal the grace and power of God in our lives. The promise is: "To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne." Revelation 3:21

 

Hebrews 1:4 Being made so much better than the angels, as he hath by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they.

 

The next thing God tells us about His Son is to contrast His Son to the angels. The Son is begotten so much better than the angels in that the Son, by the laws of genetic inheritance, obtained a character and status and reputation so much better than that of the angels who were created by the Son. The word "made"in this verse does not mean created because God created things mature-looking; mature in form and stature as recorded in Genesis. In contrast being begotten starts out small and needs to grow up and be brought up by the progenitor. In Proverbs 8 the "growing up" and "bringing up" of the Son is described and explained in some detail - particularly the time that it took place. In Psalms 2 God tells us that there was a day in which He begat His Son. This also tells us that Jesus was begotten and not created.

 

Hebrews 1:5 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?

 

Paul, now continues under the moving and direction of the Holy Spirit (2 Timothy 3:16), to press the same point of contrast between Jesus, the only begotten Son of the Father, and the angels whom the Son created. A series of questions are now asked. Psalm 2:7 is quoted and the question is: To which angel was it said at any time: Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee? The obvious answer is - None. Next, 2 Samuel 7:14 is quoted and another rhetorical question is asked: To which of the angels was it said: "I will be to him a Father, and He shall be to me a Son?" Again the obvious answer is - None.

 

Hebrews 1: 6 And again, when he bringeth in the firstbegotten into the world, he saith, And let all the angels of God worship him.

 

Not letting this question of God begetting His Son who is superior to the angels rest, Paul continues telling us that when God gave His only begotten Son to mankind and brought Him into the world, (and states that His only begotten was also His firstbegotten) that the angels were assured the baby (the body prepared for the Firstbegotten - Hebrews 10:5) in Bethlehem could be, and was worthy of worship. Clearly, the One being worshiped, that is approved of God to be worshiped, is greater than the worshipers.

 

Hebrews 1:7 And of the angels he saith, Who maketh his angels spirits, and his ministers a flame of fire.

 

Then lawyer-like, Paul does not change the subject of the pre-eminence by birth, by inheritance of Jesus being more excellent than the angels - but continues to contrast what God has said about His Son with what God said about the angels. To the angels it was said: "who maketh his angels spirits, and his ministers a flame of fire" quoting Psalm 104:4.

 

Hebrews 1:8 But unto the Son he saith, Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of thy kingdom.

 

By contrast to a "flame of fire" and "ministering spirits" which is said by God about the angels, God says of His Son: "Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of thy kingdom" quoting Psalm 45:6. Thus in the first 8 verses of Hebrews 1, God has told us 12 different things about His Firstbegotten and only begotten Son.

 

We now look at our second Old Testament witness, Solomon, and notice what God tells us about His Son. To help us understand who Solomon is really talking about we notice first in I Corinthians 1:30, that God tells us has made Jesus our wisdom and our righteousness, and sanctification and our redemption. So Jesus is our wisdom. Jesus is wisdom personified. This is the picture or name of Jesus that God uses to tell us much more about His Son by Solomon in Proverbs 8. Further, the servant of the Lord tells us the same thing in Patriarchs and Prophets page 34 and Selected Messages Book 1 page 247:

 

"And the Son of God declares concerning Himself: 'The Lord possessed Me in the beginning of His way, before His works of old. I was set up from everlasting'. . . ".PP34.1

 

"The Lord Jesus Christ, the divine Son of God, existed from eternity, a distinct person, yet one with the Father. He was the surpassing glory of heaven. He was the commander of the heavenly intelligences, and the adoring homage of the angels was received by Him as His right. This was no robbery of God. 'The Lord possessed me in the beginning of his way,' " 1SM247

 

So let us listen to what God tells us about His son in Proverbs 8:

 

Proverbs 8:22 The Lord possessed me in the beginning of his way, before his works of old.

 

God here tells us that His Son was possessed by Him and was with Him before His works of old and that the Son was with the Father in the beginning of The Father's way. This tells us that the Father possessed or owned or begat His Son early on in the Father's life.

 

Proverbs 8:23 I was set up from everlasting, from the beginning, or ever the earth was.

 

The time that the Father possessed and set up the Son was called the beginning; it is described as being from everlasting. Whenever it was, it was before the earth was created. "The beginning", is what the Father calls the time His Son was begotten or set up or possessed. This explains the time to us that John 1:1 tells us about: "In the beginning was the Word...".

 

Proverbs 8:24 When there were no depths, I was brought forth; when there were no fountains abounding with water.

 

This beginning time is explained further to be before "darkness was upon the face of the deep" Genesis 1:2. This beginning time was before there were fountains abounding with water. Jesus was begotten before the underground aquifers were created.

 

Proverbs 8:25 Before the mountains were settled, before the hills was I brought forth:

 

The Son of God was brought forth before the mountains were settled and before there were hills.

 

Proverbs 8:26 While as yet he had not made the earth, nor the fields, nor the highest part of the dust of the world.

 

God begat His Son before the earth or fields or mountains (the highest part of the dust of the world) were created.

 

Proverbs 8:27 When he prepared the heavens, I was there: when he set a compass upon the face of the depth:

 

This is a time that God is delighting to tell us about because He goes on and on about this time, telling us that it was before the preparation of the heavens; it was before the magnetism and the magnetic poles of the earth were set up - when He set a compass upon the face of the depth.

 

Proverbs 8:28 When he established the clouds above: when he strengthened the fountains of the deep:

 

Jesus was brought forth or begotten before the clouds were established above or the fountains of the deep were strengthened below.

 

Proverbs 8:29 When he gave to the sea his decree, that the waters should not pass his commandment: when he appointed the foundations of the earth:

 

At the time when God set the bounds of the sea and appointed the foundations of the earth, the Son of God had already been begotten.

 

Proverbs 8:30 Then I was by him, as one brought up with him: and I was daily his delight, rejoicing always before him;

 

The Son was by or with the Father. The Son grew up with His Father and was brought up with/by His Father. This was a happy time for both Father and Son. The Father delighted in His Son and the Son rejoiced before His Father.

 

Proverbs 8:31 Rejoicing in the habitable part of his earth; and my delights were with the sons of men.

 

The Son rejoiced in the part of the earth that could be home for mankind and He also delighted in the innocent and pure activities that the sons of men delighted in.

 

What God told us here through Solomon is what our church pioneer, E. J. Waggoner wrote in His book Christ and His Righteousness, on pages 21 and 22 in 1890 in reference to the time when the Father begat the Son: ...."but that time was so far back in the days of eternity that to finite comprehension it is practically without beginning.”

 

We now turn to the witness of the New Testament to God having begotten an only Son.

 

God tells us through His beloved disciple, John, that there is a connection between our salvation and the choice to believe what God has told us about His only begotten Son is true and believable.

 

1 John 5:1 Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God: and every one that loveth him that begat loveth him also that is begotten of him.

 

The new birth in Christ is conditional on our choice to believe that Jesus is the anointed of God. When we believe that Jesus is the anointed of God (the Christ), that is evidence that we have been born again of God. Those who love God that begat His Son will also love the Son that is begotten of the Father. Understanding it another way, it is also true that those who love God that begat them (the new creature of 2 Corinthians 5:17 and Galatians 6:15) as His sons, will also love his brother in Christ who is also begotten of the Father.

 

1 John 5:2 By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep his commandments.

 

Commandment keeping is the true evidence of love in the heart to God and to mankind, God's created and adopted children.

 

1 John 5:3 For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous.

 

The love of God in the human heart leads us to love the commandments of God and to love keeping God's commandments. The commandments are not a cause of grief to those who love God.

 

1 John 5:4 For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith.

 

Because we cannot see God or His only begotten Son with our physical eyes, faith is the link that connects us with God. And faith works by love with the power of the Holy Spirit and gives us the victory over sin and the love of the world in our hearts. This is the experience had by those who are born of God. Beloved, if you are experiencing habitual sinning and repenting, your birth-process has become stalled. Life in the birth canal is time-limited. The baby has to be completely born to live! Fully, completely-born children overcome the world as the next verse tells us. It is a fatal delusion to believe that it is genuine faith when we believe that only in heaven will the victory over sin be experienced. There is no change in character at death or the second coming of Jesus. Today is the day of salvation (Isaiah 49:8, 2 Corinthians 6:2).

 

1 John 5:5 Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God?

 

Here belief (which is a choice of a free will) in the truthfulness of God's witness that He begat a Son is linked to being born again by God.

 

Question: Who is he that overcometh the world?

 

Answer: The person who believes that God is telling the truth about His Son; that Jesus is indeed the Son of God!

 

1 John 5:6 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.

 

Jesus is the One from whom, when pierced, there flowed two distinct streams from His heart: (John 19:34,35) water and blood. It was not water only that flowed from the pierced Jesus. Water signifies baptism - the believing of the Biblical doctrines, profession of faith, and the keeping of the rituals of worship. Not water only, but also blood flowed from the pierced Jesus. Blood signifies life and death. It takes both water baptism and living the life of Jesus which includes dying daily (1 Corinthians 15:31) to self in order to live the victorious life of Jesus. This is what the blood and the water that flowed from the pierced body of Jesus means. The Jesus who lived His life without sin and died the death without condemnation on the cross of Calvary, is the Jesus from whom, when pierced, there flowed from Him two streams - blood and water. This is because He died from taking the sins of the world upon Him, experiencing separation from His Father which caused too severe mental anguish and despair to be compatible with life. The sins of the world killed Jesus. Jesus died of a mentally-caused broken heart. "Cardiac tamponade" is what it is called in today's medical terms. The blood inside the heart and vascular system and the exudate in the pericardium (the water) flowed out in two distinct streams. Jesus is the only begotten Son of God from all eternity spoken of in Proverbs 8. The Holy Spirit moved the prophets and Paul and John to bear witness to these truths. And the Holy Spirit is the truth and tells the truth.

 

1 John 5:7 For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one.

 

The Father and His only begotten Son and the Holy Spirit are not one in person but one in the sense that they see things from the same perspective (one in mind); they have the same character (habitual thoughts and feelings) and they have the same purpose in life (MH422, 8T269).

 

1 John 5:8 And there are three that bear witness in earth, the Spirit, and the water, and the blood: and these three agree in one.

 

Three witnesses on earth that Jesus is the only begotten Son of God are:

1) The Holy Spirit that inspired the Bible writers to tell the truth.

2) The ordinances and true beliefs/doctrines of the church that illustrate the truth from Scriptures (the water).

3) The life of Jesus lived out in true believers (the blood) that Jesus is indeed the Son of God.

These three witnesses agree with each other because truth is consistent and compatible with itself. The One in whom all truth comes together and agrees, and in whom can be seen, is Jesus, the only begotten Son of God who is truth (John 14:6).

 

1 John 5:9 If we receive the witness of men, the witness of God is greater: for this is the witness of God which he hath testified of his Son.

 

Since we believe man's witness to truth, how much greater should we believe the witness of God that He begat a Son.

 

1 John 5:10 He that believeth on the Son of God hath the witness in himself: he that believeth not God hath made him a liar; because he believeth not the record that God gave of his Son.

 

Believing that Jesus is the Son of God makes possible - it opens the way - for us to receive both the truth about Jesus being the Son of God in Scripture and also the presence and empowerment of the Holy Spirit that gives us the experience of overcoming sin in our lives and living the servant life of Jesus, following His example of living here on earth in the now time. Having the Holy Spirit and living the victorious life of Jesus in the here and now is what it means to have the witness of the Son of God in ourselves. Not believing that Jesus is the only begotten Son of God makes God out to be a liar because we choose not to believe the Bible record that Jesus is the only begotten Son of God and 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 (John 3:16). If we cannot believe God is telling us the truth about His Son - what can we believe that God tells us?

 

1 John 5:11 And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.

 

Scriptures witness and testify that God has given us eternal life and that eternal life is in His only begotten Son. He that hath the Son hath life (1 John 5:12). In order to have the Son we must believe that He is the Son of God. The more we believe and understand of what God tells us, the more we please Him. Without belief in God it is not possible to please Him. (Hebrews 11:6).

 

1 John 5:12 He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life.

 

Believing and obeying God is through partaking of His Son as Lord and Master. Not to believe and follow the Pattern of the life of the Son of God is not to have life.

 

1 John 5:13 These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.

 

The Bible is written to those who believe that Jesus is the Son of God. The Bible is written so that we may believe and know (experience here and now) that we have eternal life and trust that we will justify God in His judgment (of His court case now pending before the universe) by our lives, showing to the universe, the character of the life of Jesus, the Son of God, and prove that the plan of salvation works and is truth..

 

1 John 5:14 And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us:

 

Confidence in the Son of God is shown by asking anything according to His will and believing that we are heard by God.

 

1 John 5:15 And if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him.

 

If we know God hears our prayer - we know that the petition we made will be answered in the very best way for us. Believing and knowing that God has heard and answered our prayer we can go on our way rejoicing knowing that we will receive our desires in His time and way that is for our best good.

 

1 John 5:16 If any man see his brother sin a sin which is not unto death, he shall ask, and he shall give him life for them that sin not unto death. There is a sin unto death: I do not say that he shall pray for it.

 

There is a sin - departure from the will of God - that is not unto death. These are sins of ignorance that God winks at because of our ignorance (Acts 17:30). We may pray in the will of God for those to have life that commit a sin of ignorance. There is a sin that is not of ignorance, but knowingly. This is a sin of rebellion. This is a sin that will result in death. It is not according to God's will that we pray for life for the rebellious in their rebellion - but that they turn from their rebellion and repent and receive forgiveness and life for the obedient.

 

1 John 5:17 All unrighteousness is sin: and there is a sin not unto death.

 

All going against the will of God is sin and unrighteousness. There is an ignorant going against God's will that is sin but that will not lead to death unless ignorance is chosen above knowing and serving God in spirit and in truth.

 

1 John 5:18 We know that whosoever is born of God sinneth not; but he that is begotten of God keepeth himself, and that wicked one toucheth him not.

 

Being born of God means dying to self daily (1 Corinthians 15:31) and by the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit, living the life of Christ. This is a life where sin does not repeat regularly but dies out completely because sin has no more attraction and being like the Son of God in character is all attractive. Satan cannot touch such a person because self is on the cross and the old habit patterns responding to the temptation to sin have died out completely from disuse and suppression. It can be said of that person as it was said of Christ: "the prince of this world cometh, and hath nothing in me." John 14:30

 

1 John 5:19 And we know that we are of God, and the whole world lieth in wickedness.

 

We are conscious and aware of the fact that this supernatural life of Jesus lived in me by the grace of God through the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit and my continual choice and continual and undivided efforts to that end, free from habitual sin, is from God. We also are conscious and know that generally the whole world is in slavery to sin and to self and to the devil who deceives most people concerning themselves and concerning God..

 

1 John 5:20 And we know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding, that we may know him that is true, and we are in him that is true, even in his Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God, and eternal life.

 

We have known and do know and understand by experience that God had a Son Whom He gave to us in this world so that we could reconnect with God and live the life of victory over self and sin even as the Son of God did by constant reliance on His Father's power and by constant denying self and yielding His will to His Father's will, as an obedient Son. For us to be "in Christ" is the hope of glory (Colossians 1:27). Being "in Christ" means that Christ is in us by the indwelling Holy Spirit, as our Lord and Saviour and that we are obedient to Him as He was to His Father. This experience in Christ is eternal life from the true God. Calling God a liar in disbelieving that Jesus is the Son of God is an impediment - a serious block to experiencing Christ in me, the hope of glory! Whatever we choose to believe about the Son of God, if it is not the truth as it is in Jesus, we set up a false god which is an idol.

 

1 John 5:21 Little children, keep yourselves from idols. Amen.

 

The two usual and customary idols that we worship in place of the true God is 1) a false conception of ourselves and 2) false conceptions of the only true God and Jesus Christ, His only begotten Son. Either of these deceptions cherished, are idols that carry the risk of our eternal loss and may cause the Father, and His only begotten Son, and the Holy Spirit eternal grief and pain because of our eternal loss. Oh Beloved, Give your heart to Jesus and His Father and believe that God does indeed have an only begotten Son: "yea, let God be true, but every man a liar." Romans 3:4 "He that hath received his testimony hath set to his seal that God is true." John 3:33

 

 

 

II. Understanding what is revealed to us about Jesus

 

Understanding the Bible literally (other than when the obvious meaning is symbolic) means that it is believed that God says what He means and means what He says in Scripture. This also means that it takes no special training or education to understand the Bible. This understanding that God says what He means and means what He says and the understanding of the great controversy issues between Christ and Satan are the two concepts which are at the foundation of Seventh-day Adventists’ unique Biblical view of truth as it is in Jesus. The role of the writings of Ellen G. White, which are believed to be messages from God, have been instrumental in bringing Seventh-day Adventists to this place of understanding the Bible. These foundations of Biblical understanding were held by the pioneers of our faith but are eroding as the church begins the 21st century over one hundred years removed in time from the pioneers of our church.

 

With the lapse of time and the shift from the foundations of how our pioneers understood the Bible, comes a shift in understanding of the Godhead. What our pioneers, including Ellen White, believed about the only begotten Son of God is clearly expressed by a church pioneer named W.W.Prescott:

 

Christ was begotten, not created; Satan was created, not begotten. As the only begotten Son, Christ could enter fully into the councils of God. Because he could not do this as Christ did, envy sprang up in the heart of Satan, and he began to determine, I will exalt myself. He began to stir up rebellion, to say, God is arbitrary, and he began also to get his sympathisers. "We are in slavery, and I have a better plan of government. Choose me as leader, exalt me, and then I will exalt you." Do you not see the same principle that has been in the world ever since the fall? You exalt me and I will exalt you,-perhaps.” {February 17, 1896 WWP, BEST 52.12} Bible Echo Article February 17, 1896

 

In the above quotation, issues of the great controversy and the views of the Godhead are linked together. It would be more difficult to understand what has been revealed of the Godhead with no knowledge of the great controversy.

 

Another pioneer that lived and wrote as a contemporary of Ellen White was E. J. Waggoner. One quotation shows his understanding of Jesus:

 

The Scriptures declare that Christ is "the only begotten son of God." He is begotten, not created. As to when He was begotten, it is not for us to inquire, nor could our minds grasp it if we were told. The prophet Micah tells us all that we can know about it in these words, "But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall He come forth unto Me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from the days of eternity." Micah 5:2, margin. There was a time when Christ proceeded forth and came from God, from the bosom of the Father (John 8:42; 1:18), but that time was so far back in the days of eternity that to finite comprehension it is practically without beginning.” {1890 EJW, CHR 21.2}

 

Two quotations from the writings of Ellen White, the messenger of the Lord, shows that she also held and was in complete agreement with the “begotten, not created” concept of Jesus:

 

A complete offering has been made; for "God so loved the world, that he gave his only-begotten Son,"-- not a son by creation, as were the angels, nor a son by adoption, as is the forgiven sinner, but a Son begotten in the express image of the Father's person, and in all the brightness of his majesty and glory, one equal with God in authority, dignity, and divine perfection. In him dwelt all the fullness of the Godhead bodily.” {ST, May 30, 1895 par. 3}

 

Christ brought men and women power to overcome. He came to this world in human form, to live a man amongst men. He assumed the liabilities of human nature, to be proved and tried. 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. Said the angel to Mary, "The power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God" (Luke 1:35). While the Son of a human being, He became the Son of God in a new sense. Thus He stood in our world--the Son of God, yet allied by birth to the human race.” {1SM 226.2}

 

Statements from Jesus Himself endorse this “begotten, not created” view as truth as recorded in Scripture:

 

John14:28 Ye have heard how I said unto you, I go away, and come [again] unto you. If ye loved me, ye would rejoice, because I said, I go unto the Father: for my Father is greater than I.

 

Strongs Concordance number for the word “greater” in this text is 3187 which gives the meaning as larger in age; elder. This correlates with the designation of God the Father in Daniel as the “Ancient of Days” in Daniel 7:9,13,22.

 

In John chapters 16 and 17 Jesus repeatedly explained to His disciples that He came forth (Strongs # 1831 “to issue spread abroad”, “come forth”, “proceed forth”) from God. For example:

 

John 16:25 These things have I spoken unto you in proverbs: but the time cometh, when I shall no more speak unto you in proverbs, but I shall show you plainly of the Father.

16:26 At that day ye shall ask in my name: and I say not unto you, that I will pray the Father for you:

16:27 For the Father himself loveth you, because ye have loved me, and have believed that I came out from God.

16:28 I came forth from the Father, and am come into the world: again, I leave the world, and go to the Father.

 

The disciples response was recorded in the next verses:

 

John 16:29 His disciples said unto him, Lo, now speakest thou plainly, and speakest no proverb.

16:30 Now are we sure that thou knowest all things, and needest not that any man should ask thee: by this we believe that thou camest forth from God.

16:31 Jesus answered them, Do ye now believe?

 

Jesus repeats this “coming forth from the Father” again in the next chapter in which Jesus is praying to His Father:

 

John 17:8 For I have given unto them the words which thou gavest me; and they have received [them], and have known surely that I came out from thee, and they have believed that thou didst send me.

 

The Father God talks of the day that He begat His only Son in Psalm 2:

 

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

 

Paul quotes Psalm 2:7 in Hebrews chapters 1 and 5 in explaining that Jesus was “made” so much better than angels and God who begat also called His Son to be high priest:

 

Hebrews 1:4 Being made so much better than the angels, as he hath by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they.

1:5 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?

1:6 And again, when he bringeth in the firstbegotten into the world, he saith, And let all the angels of God worship him.

Hebrews 5:5,6 So also Christ glorified not himself to be made an high priest; but he that said unto him, Thou art my Son, to day have I begotten thee. 6 As he saith also in another place, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec.

 

Strongs definition of the word “made” in Hebrews 1:4 is number 1096 meaning “to become”, “to cause to be – generate”, “to come into being”. This is in contrast to the word translated into the KJV also as “make” in Hebrews 1:2 which Strong identifies as 4160 and defines as “make or do” telling us that Jesus created the worlds.

 

This explanation of God through Paul in Hebrews 1 answers a question sometimes raised by more information from God about Jesus through Ellen White in Desire of Ages page 530, sharing details of the conversation of Jesus with Martha at the death of Lazarus:

 

Still seeking to give a true direction to her faith, Jesus declared, "I am the resurrection, and the life." In Christ is life, original, unborrowed, underived. "He that hath the Son hath life." 1 John 5:12. The divinity of Christ is the believer's assurance of eternal life. "He that believeth in Me," said Jesus, "though he were dead, yet shall he live: and whosoever liveth and believeth in Me shall never die. Believest thou this?"”

 

How Jesus could be begotten and have “original, unborrowed, underived life” is explained to us by God through Paul. The answer is very simple – it was by inheritance. (Heb.1:4) The great law of inheritance has a principle, “after his kind”. This principle of being begotten “after his kind” must be very important to God for it is repeated five times in Genesis:1 in two verses:

 

Genesis 1:24 And God said, Let the earth bring forth the living creature after his kind, cattle, and creeping thing, and beast of the earth after his kind: and it was so.

1:25 And God made the beast of the earth after his kind, and cattle after their kind, and every thing that creepeth upon the earth after his kind: and God saw that [it was] good.

 

To repeat: “After his kind” must be a point God wanted us to get to have repeated it five times in two verses! So Jesus inherited His Father’s life – and that inherited life could not be other than the life of the Father - “original, unborrowed, underived life”. And this principle “after his kind” also operated in the human birth of the body prepared for Jesus:

 

“But Jesus accepted humanity when the race had been weakened by four thousand years of sin. Like every child of Adam He accepted the results of the working of the great law of heredity. What these results were is shown in the history of His earthly ancestors. He came with such a heredity to share our sorrows and temptations, and to give us the example of a sinless life.” DA45

 

Another question is sometimes asked about the Ellen White statement that there was never a time when the Son was not in close fellowship with the Father:

 

“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.” {ST, August 29, 1900 par. 15}

 

My wife and I have two daughters. By God’s grace we say the same of them: “We assure you that there never was a time when our daughters were not in close fellowship with us.”

 

More information about Jesus is given to us in Proverbs 8. That Proverbs 8 is talking about Jesus is explicitly told to us by God through Ellen White in this quotation:

 

"The Lord Jesus Christ, the divine Son of God, existed from eternity, a distinct person, yet one with the Father. He was the surpassing glory of heaven. He was the commander of the heavenly intelligences, and the adoring homage of the angels was received by Him as His right. This was no robbery of God. "The Lord possessed me in the beginning of his way," He declares, "before his works of old. I was set up from everlasting, from the beginning, or ever the earth was. When there were no depths, I was brought forth; when there were no fountains abounding with water. Before the mountains were settled, before the hills was I brought forth: while as yet he had not made the earth, nor the fields, nor the highest part of the dust of the world. When he prepared the heavens, I was there: when he set a compass upon the face of the depth" (Proverbs 8:22-27)". {1SM 247.4}

 

Thus it is seen that our pioneers, The messenger of the Lord, Scripture and Jesus Himself are all in harmony with the literal “begotten and not created” concept about Jesus.

 

Let us just look briefly again at the connection with the great controversy information in this connection.

 

At the beginning of the great controversy in heaven, the first step God took to try to solve the problem was to call a council in heaven and to formally explain the relationship between Jesus, Himself and the created beings. The content of the meeting as revealed to us by God through His messenger, Ellen White, bears evidence that the problem was just this relationship – between the Father, Son, and the created intelligences – specifically Lucifer.

 

Satan in Heaven, before his rebellion, was a high and exalted angel, next in honor to God's dear Son. His countenance, like those of the other angels, was mild and expressive of happiness. His forehead was high and broad, showing a powerful intellect. His form was perfect; his bearing noble and majestic. A special light beamed in his countenance, and shone around him brighter and more beautiful than around the other angels; yet Jesus, God's dear Son, had the pre-eminence over all the angelic host. He was one with the Father before the angels were created. Satan was envious of Christ, and gradually assumed command which devolved on Christ alone. {1SP 17.1}

"The great Creator assembled the heavenly host, that he might in the presence of all the angels confer special honor upon his Son. The Son was seated on the throne with the Father, and the heavenly throng of holy angels was gathered around them. The Father then made known that it was ordained by himself that Christ, his Son, should be equal with himself; so that wherever was the presence of his Son, it was as his own presence. The word of the Son was to be obeyed as readily as the word of the Father. His Son he had invested with authority to command the heavenly host. Especially was his Son to work in union with himself in the anticipated creation of the earth and every living thing that should exist upon the earth. His Son would carry out his will and his purposes, but would do nothing of himself alone. The Father's will would be fulfilled in him.” {1SP 17.2}

 

God’s plan to solve this revolt of Lucifer in heaven included creating our planet earth and populating it with mankind and animals and plants etc. to demonstrate the rightness of God’s character, law, government and the truthfulness that He had an only begotten son. Jesus tells us that procreation as we experience it on earth, is not a part of what happens in heaven (Matthew 22:30) and may have been totally unknown to the heavenly family before the creation of this earth. At the time of creation all the heavenly universe was watching and observing.

 

Job 38:7 When the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy.

 

This may be the reason and connection with the details of the creation of mankind. Mankind was created in two steps: step one – Adam, who had the responsibility of dominion over the earth and then later, step two – Eve, who was the mother of all humans to come:

 

Genesis 1:26 And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.

1:27 So God created man in his [own] image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.

 

Genesis 2:7 And the LORD God formed man [of] the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.

 

Genesis 2:18 And the LORD God said, [It is] not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him.

 

Genesis 2:19 And out of the ground the LORD God formed every beast of the field, and every fowl of the air; and brought [them] unto Adam to see what he would call them: and whatsoever Adam called every living creature, that [was] the name thereof.

2:20 And Adam gave names to all cattle, and to the fowl of the air, and to every beast of the field; but for Adam there was not found an help meet for him.

2:21 And the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept: and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof;

2:22 And the rib, which the LORD God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man.

2:23 And Adam said, This [is] now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.

 

Romans 1:19 Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath showed [it] unto them.

1:20 For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, [even] his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:

So we find four witnesses all telling us the same thing - that Jesus was literally begotten, not created and that His “goings forth” was from the beginning – before the creation of anything:

  1. Jesus

  2. Scripture

  3. Spirit of prophecy in the writings of Ellen White

  4. Creation and nature

 

III. Understanding what is revealed to us about God the Father

 

There is one God that is united!

 

The reportedly favorite text of the Hebrews in the Old Testament (the shami – “hear”):

 

Deuteronomy 6:4 Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God [is] one LORD:

 

The word “Lord” in this verse is Strong’s #3068 which is in the plural. The word translated “God” in this verse from the KJV is Strong’s #430 which is “Elohim” which is in the plural. The word translated “one” is Strong’s #259 which means “united”. Using the Strong’s translated words we could say that this verse says:

 

Hear, O Israel: The Lords our Gods are united.” This is certainly true of the Father and Son who are one in mind, character and purposes but not one in person. (8T269 & MH422)

 

God the Father is invisible:

 

John 1:18 No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared [him].

 

The Interlinear Bible translates it “No one hath seen God ..”

 

1 Timothy 1:17 Now unto the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God, [be] honour and glory for ever and ever. Amen.

 

God is eternal as stated above.

 

God begat a Son one day as we have seen in Psalms 2:

 

And there is much more told us of God the Father eg.

 

Exodus 34:6 And the LORD passed by before him, and proclaimed, The LORD, The LORD God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth,

34:7 Keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, and that will by no means clear [the guilty]; visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, and upon the children's children, unto the third and to the fourth [generation].

 

 

IV. Understanding what is revealed to us about the Holy Spirit

 

We could know nothing of the Godhead or the Holy Spirit except that it is revealed to us. We are told that the Holy Spirit is a Person. We are told that the Holy Spirit is the third person of the Godhead. That much we know and we know little more. Here are the references that tell us that much:

 

In describing to His disciples the office work of the Holy Spirit, Jesus sought to inspire them with the joy and hope that inspired His own heart. He rejoiced because of the abundant help He had provided for His church. The Holy Spirit was the highest of all gifts that He 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. The power of evil had been strengthening for centuries, and the submission of men to this satanic captivity was amazing. 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. 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 His church.” {DA 671.2}

 

Information about the Holy Spirit is where the plot thickens! This is complicated by two factors – in Scripture we are told that the Spirit will not speak of Himself. His not speaking of Himself (John 16:13) limits our knowledge of Him. Most of what we know about the Spirit comes from putting both the writings of Ellen White together with what is revealed in Scripture. So what we know of the third Person of the Godhead is limited – yet paradoxically this is the member of the Godhead that we are closest to – because true believers are sealed with the Holy Spirit! (Eph.1:13;4:30)

 

In planning this earth’s creation we are told that only the Father and the Son consulted in the planning (making Lucifer jealous of the Son of God):

 

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 where was the Holy Spirit then?

 

By the time the earth was created, the Spirit’s role is mentioned:

 

Genesis 1:2 And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness [was] upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.

 

Two things that can be put together from what God has revealed through Ellen White and Scripture are:

 

  1. Melchizedec had no beginning and no ending and is a priest of the Most High God forever.

 

Hebrews 7:1 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;

7:2 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;

7:3 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.

 

  1. Melchizedec is not 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. When God chose Abraham as a representative of His truth, He took him out of his country, and away from his kindred, and set him apart. He desired to mold him after His own model. He desired to teach him according to His own plan. The mold of the world's teachers was not to be upon him. He was to be taught how to command his children and his household after him, to keep the way of the Lord, to do justice and judgment. This is the work that God would have us do. He would have us understand how to govern our families, how to control our children, how to command our households to keep the way of the Lord.” {1SM 409.3}

 

It is of interest to note in passing that in Scripture, reference is made to a beginning, in telling us about Jesus Christ:

 

John 1:1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

1:2 The same was in the beginning with God.

1:3 All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.

1:4 In him was life; and the life was the light of men.

1:5 And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.

 

In contrast Melchizedek has no beginning of days. Interesting.

 

To my knowledge we are not told the answer to the question that nobody except the Father and the Son could consult on the creation of the world and Melchizedek (who when Ellen White was living was believed to be the Holy Spirit) has no beginning of days. For me, I am happy to leave that question to ask Jesus about face to face in heaven.

 

 

V. What does my current understanding of the Godhead do for me?

 

God so loved the world that He sent ..." His everlasting twin? His everlasting associate?

 

Genesis 22:2 And he said, Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest,...

 

We have no trouble understanding Genesis 22:2 to be literal - why do we question John 3:16 to be literal?

 

That would give an entirely different picture of God and set an entirely different example to the universe if Abraham was asked to sacrifice his best friend or twin brother or anybody else than his own flesh and blood in his only son of promise!

 

Any method of understanding what God tells us in Scripture except the literal meaning, unless clearly symbolic -–leaves us on the chartless seas of conjecture. “I’m OK, your OK – and anything goes” leaves us without chart and compass and greatly diminishes our knowledge and appreciation of our wonderful Father and His only begotten Son, our Lord and Savior.

 

The understanding that God literally begat one Son one day; the understanding that He literally sent His only begotten Son to earth as the Sacrifice to save mankind and an Example to literally follow for healing from sin for mankind; to literally know Jesus by faith, gives me a picture of the love of God and an understanding of God that nothing else can do. It is truly said: “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge”:

 

Hosea 4:6 My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee, that thou shalt be no priest to me: seeing thou hast forgotten the law of thy God, I will also forget thy children.

 

The above is my current understanding of the Godhead. Your feed-back and responses to deepen and broaden my understanding and hence appreciation of God would be valued.

 

Jude 1:3 Beloved, …it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort [you] that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.

 

The great apostasy, which is developing and increasing and waxing stronger, . . . will continue to do so until the Lord shall descend from heaven with a shout. We are to hold fast the first principles of our denominated faith, and go forward from strength to increased faith. Ever we are to keep the faith that has been substantiated by the Holy Spirit of God from the earlier events of our experience until the present time. We need now larger breadth, and deeper, more earnest, unwavering faith in the leadings of the Holy Spirit. … There must not be any languishing of soul now.“ {UL 352.2}

 

10-7-09 Intoduction study added 10-19-09

Ray Foster randf@starthealthcare.com

Colville, WA 99114