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"To us there is but one God, the Father, of
whom are all things."—1 Corinthians 8:6 .
NOTWITHSTANDING the wide-spread acceptance of the doctrine of the Trinity, we have held closely to the Bible teaching that there is but one God. Jesus called God His Father, and spoke of Himself as the Son of God. A father is a life-giver. A son is an offspring, one who receives life from a father. This distinction implies that the father existed first. And so Jesus says of Himself, "I proceeded forth and came from God."—John 8:42.
In our writings we show the clear teachings of the Bible, that Jesus in His pre-human condition was the Logos, the Word, or Message, from the Father; and that as such He was called a god, but not the God—the Father. On so important a question as the equality of the Father and the Son, we must not rely upon any man's testimony except that of the inspired writers of the Scriptures. We should accept no dictum save that of the Divine Word itself. Let us ask Jesus. He replies, "My Father is greater than I"; "I can of Mine own self do nothing; as I hear I judge"; "My Father is greater than all"; "I ascend to My Father and your Father, to My God and your God"; "This is life eternal, that they [R5748 : page 247] might know Thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom Thou hast sent."—John 14:28; 5:30; 10:29; 17:3; 20:17.
In our writings we point out that Jesus was the first of God's creatures, the only being directly created by Jehovah; and that Jehovah did all subsequent creating through the Son. Thus we read that Jesus was "the beginning of the creation of God," "the First-born of every creature," "the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last" of the Father's direct creation. (Revelation 3:14; 22:13; Colossians 1:15.) The Apostle John declares (John 1:1-3), "In the beginning [not Jehovah's beginning, for He had no beginning; but the world's beginning, or man's beginning] was the Word [the Logos], and the Word was with the God and the Word was a god. All things were made by Him, and without Him was not anything made that was made." Could this subject be made plainer? Why confuse ourselves needlessly? Why fight against the plain statements of God's Word to uphold a theory which is without Bible support and was formulated in the Dark Ages?
We teach, as does the Bible, that the Lord Jesus came from Heaven to earth; was born of a virgin mother; that He, "the Logos, was made flesh and dwelt among us," and His disciples "beheld His glory, the glory as of the Only Begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth!" (John 1:14.) Jesus had not two natures, but one nature, having changed the higher, the spiritual nature, for the human nature. As the Scriptures declare, "He who was rich, for our sakes became poor, that we through His poverty might be rich." (2 Corinthians 8:9.) And as He grew to manhood He grew in favor with God and man. He was perfect—"holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners."—Luke 2:52; Hebrews 7:26.
At thirty years of age, this Perfect One, having reached the perfection of manhood according to the Law consecrated, or devoted, His life to God as the great Sacrifice for human sin, fulfilling the Scriptures, "a body hast Thou prepared Me," "for the suffering of death." (Hebrews 10:5; 2:9.) That consecrated sacrifice of the Man Jesus God accepted, indicating His acceptance by the anointing of Jesus with the Holy Spirit at Jordan. Thenceforth He was dual—a perfect human body with [R5748 : page 248] a newly begotten mind—spirit-begotten. He then, as a New Creature, was to complete the sacrifice of His flesh; and His new mind—the New Creature—was to go on to perfection. He prayed that the Father would restore Him to the glory which He had with the Father "before the world was." (John 17:5.) In His humility He asked no higher glory. His sacrifice was finished at Calvary, and His new mind, His spirit-begotten new nature was, in the resurrection, granted the new body which the Father had promised. "Sown in dishonor," He was "raised in glory"; "sown in weakness," He was "raised in power"; "sown a natural body," He was "raised a spiritual body."—1 Corinthians 15:43,44.
Our Lord was not originally created in the way the angels were; for He was the direct creation of the Father, whereas the angels were the indirect creations of God, through the Son. St. Paul declares that all things are of the Father, and all things are through, by the Son. (1 Corinthians 8:6.) He was the Father's honored agent in all other works of creation.
Our Lord Jesus became the Christ, the Anointed, when He received the anointing of the Holy Spirit at His baptism. He was perfected as the Christ at His resurrection. He was a god (Mighty One) before He came into the world; He also was a god from the time He received the begetting of the Holy Spirit at Jordan; and He is still a god, set down at the right hand of the Father. But He is not The God, He never was and never will be. Note again His own words after His resurrection, when speaking to Mary Magdalene: "I ascend to My Father and your Father; to My God and your God." (John 20:17.) Hear what St. Paul says, "To us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, * * * and one Lord, Jesus Christ, by [or through] whom are all things." (1 Corinthians 8:6.) Again, in referring to Jehovah, the Apostle calls Him, "God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ"; and again, "The God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ," and "the God of our Lord Jesus Christ."—2 Corinthians 1:3; Ephesians 1:3,17.
The Lord Jesus is not the second person of a triune God. The word "triune" is unscriptural; so is the thought. St. Paul sets the matter straight in his words quoted above. He also declares that Jesus "thought not of robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation." No translation of this passage (Philippians 2:6), save in our Common Version gives the thought that Jesus considered Himself equal to God the Father, but all are to the contrary of this. Our Common Version rendering is evidently a mistranslation. The entire argument of the Apostle shows that Christ humiliated Himself, not that He claimed equality with Jehovah!
The word "trinity" is not found in the Bible. The only text in the Bible which seems in any way to suggest a trinity is acknowledged even by trinitarians themselves to be a forgery, incorporated into the text about the fifth century. This interpolation forms a part of 1 John 5:7,8. We quote the passage, with the interpolated words enclosed in brackets: "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." See Revised Version, Emphatic Diaglott, American Standard Union translation, Young's translation, etc. This passage is pronounced an interpolation by such eminent authorities as Sir Isaac Newton, Benson, Adam Clarke, Horne, Griesbach, Tischendorf and Alford.
We have explained in our writings that there was a time when our Lord Jesus did not exist, when Jehovah was alone. How else could the Bible declare that Jesus was the "beginning of the creation of God"? (Rev. 3:14.) What is the value of language, anyway, if we do not give words their manifest meaning? Jesus undoubtedly had a beginning. This beginning was ages before He came to earth as a human being to die for Adam and his race. Those who denounce us should read our writings before criticizing them. Then they would not criticize at all, if honest; for they would know that there is no ground for criticism on the part of those who hold to the Bible as the Word of God.
The Lord Jesus had a Heavenly nature before He came into the world. He exchanged that nature, as we have stated, for an earthly one, in order that He might give His flesh, His humanity, a Ransom-price for the sins of the whole world. Having accomplished this great work, He was granted by the Father an exaltation still higher than His previous glorious position and nature, even though His previous station had been second only to Jehovah Himself. St. Paul declares of the position given Christ at His resurrection: "Wherefore God also hath highly exalted Him and given Him a name above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in Heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth [those now in the tomb, but yet to be raised to learn the Truth as it is in Jesus]; and that every tongue should confess that Jesus is Lord, to the glory of God the Father."—Philippians 2:9-11.
When on earth Jesus was not a sinful man in any sense. His birth of the Virgin Mary was miraculous. His holy life was transferred to human conditions. He was made a man—"holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners," and fit, therefore, to be the great Sin offering for Adam and all his posterity. He was simply the Man Jesus up to the time of His immersion in Jordan; but the anointing He there received constituted Him the Anointed of God, the Christ, the Messiah.
Jesus was a god, a Mighty One, higher than the angels, before He became a man. When born a babe, He was not a god at all, but a human being; and as the perfect man of thirty He was not a god. But when He received the anointing of the Holy Spirit, of Divine power, He became a Mighty One, because of this spirit-begetting. And since His resurrection He is a god, greater than ever before, "partaker of the Divine nature"; for His Church are called to this great exaltation, and they are called to the obtaining of the glory of their Lord, that they may be with Him, as His Bride, and be like Him, members of His glorious Body.—2 Thessalonians 2:14; 1 John 3:2; Revelation 21:2,9; 22:17; 1 Corinthians 10:16,17; 12:12,13,27; 2 Peter 1:4.
Our Lord is the great Head of His Church, and Head and Body must partake of the same nature in glory. He gave up His human nature in death to purchase the human race. For parts of three days He lay dead in the tomb—not alive in any sense; for death is the absence of life. He had given up His human life never to take it up again. It was the purchase-price for the world. He was resurrected to the Divine plane, an exaltation never before given to any creature of God. His Bride is called to the same glorious nature as her Head, whose inheritance she is invited to share. Jesus was raised from the dead by the power of God.—Romans 6:4; 8:11; Acts 2:22,24,32,33.
Notice for a moment the great confusion from which we are saved by following the Bible's own testimony respecting our Lord Jesus and by throwing out the ridiculous nonsense of the Dark Ages. We are saved from thinking of our God as three beings with only one body or one being with three bodies. Trinitarians do not know which of these creedal statements to take—some say one and some say the other. But both are wholly irrational: three are not one and one is not three. The oneness between the Father and the Son is explained by our Lord Himself. He prayed that His disciples might become one in the same sense that He and the Father were one—surely not that His disciples might become one person, but that they might be one in spirit, in mind, in purpose, as were the Father and Himself. See John 17:20-23. The followers of Jesus become one in mind and purpose by each giving up his own will to do God's will. And Jesus and the Father are one because Jesus surrendered His will to the Father's will, saying, "Not My will, but Thine be done"; "I came not to do Mine own will, but the will of Him that sent Me"; "Lo, I come; I delight to do Thy will, O My God!" These are the words of the Lord Jesus to the Father.
Touching the rise of the Trinitarian view, Abbott and Conant's Religious Dictionary, page 944, says, "It was not until the beginning of the fourth century that the Trinitarian view began to be elaborated and formulated into a doctrine and an endeavor made to reconcile it with the belief of the Church in ONE GOD." "Out of the attempt to solve this problem sprang the doctrine of the Trinity." Trinity "is a very marked feature in Hindooism, and is discernible in Persian, Egyptian, Roman, Japanese and the most ancient Grecian mythologies."
Like some other doctrines received by Protestants from Papacy, this one is accepted and fully endorsed, although its educated adherents are aware that not a text of Scripture can be adduced to its support. Yea, more; whoever will not affirm this unscriptural doctrine as his faith is declared by the articles of the Evangelical Alliance to be non-orthodox—a heretic. Hebrews 1:8 has been used by Trinitarians as a proof text that Jesus is Jehovah, and the fact is cited that the word God here is theos, the same as verse 9 which refers to the Father. They seem not to have noticed that the word god, 2 Corinthians 4:4, which refers to Satan, is also theos in the Greek. Theos is used of any mighty one, the same as Elohim in the Hebrew.
Philippians 2:8,9 implies that our Lord's present glory is greater than the glory which He possessed before He became a man; otherwise it could not have been an exaltation. Now having the Divine, immortal nature He cannot die. "Christ dieth no more." How straightforward and simple and reasonable is the Scriptural presentation compared with human traditions! In what a jumble of contradictions and confusion do they find themselves who say that Jesus and the Father are one God! This would involve the idea that our Lord Jesus acted the hypocrite when on earth and only pretended to address God in prayer, when He Himself was the same God. Such should conclude, too, that since we read that God cannot be tempted of any, it was only a farce when Jesus was tempted of Satan. Again, the Father has always been immortal, hence could not die. How then, could Jesus have died? The Apostles are all false witnesses in declaring Jesus' death and resurrection if He did not die. The Scriptures declare, however, that He did die—"He poured out His soul [His being] unto death," not merely His body, as many assert.—Isaiah 53:12.
If they admit that Jesus really died, they take the other horn of the dilemma; for believing that their three Gods are all one person as many do, when Jesus died they must all three have died. If they all died, who raised them to life? How foolish all this sounds! Yet if Jesus and the Father are the same person, the same Being, then when Jesus died the Father must have died. Shall we thus contradict the Apostles and Prophets and Jesus Himself, and ignore reason and common sense, in order to hold to a dogma handed to us from the dark, superstitious past, by a corrupt apostate Church? Nay! "To the Law and to the testimony! If they speak not according to this Word, it is because there is no light in them."
We next inquire, What say the Scriptures with regard to the Holy Spirit? The nominal churches, Protestant and Catholic, affirm that the Holy Spirit is a person, the third person of the Trinity. They claim that all this is "a great mystery." Yes, truly it is a mystery, such as is characteristic of the confusion of man-made creeds held by Babylon. But to those who turn to the Word of God and let it speak, all is clear and plain. We suggest that whatever definition of the term "Holy Spirit" will meet all known conditions and harmonize all Scriptures bearing thereon may be understood to be the true meaning of the term. We will first give what we conceive to be such a definition, and then ask the reader to subject every Scripture where this term is used to this definition and see if it does not make harmony of all.
We understand the Bible to teach that the Holy Spirit is the Divine will, influence, power or disposition, exercised anywhere and for any purpose, at the Divine pleasure. God exercises His Spirit or energy in a variety of ways, using various agencies, and accomplishing various results. Whatever God does through agencies is as truly His work as though He were the direct actor, since all His agencies are His creation—created by His own Power; just as a contractor for building is said to build a house, though he may never have lifted a tool upon it. He does it with his materials and through his agents. Thus, when we read that Jehovah God created the heavens and the earth, we are not to suppose that He personally handled them. He used an Agent. "He spake and it was done. He commanded and it stood fast." His holy Power was exercised through His Only Begotten. God's Spirit was exercised in times past through the Prophets. "They spake as they were moved by the Holy Spirit" [Power] of God. The masculine pronoun is often used in our Common Version Bible in referring to the Holy Spirit of God, because God, who is a Spirit, is represented as masculine, as indicative of strength. The pronoun translated he when referring to the Holy Spirit can with equal consistency be translated it, and is often so rendered. See Diaglott rendering of John 14:17,26, as an example. For further elucidation of this subject of the Holy Spirit, we refer the interested reader to our Fifth Volume of STUDIES IN THE SCRIPTURES, Chapters 8-11, where we have treated the subject at length.
"One reads with father's specs upon his head,
And sees the thing just as his father did;
Another reads through Campbell or through Scott,
And thinks it means exactly what they thought.
Some read to prove a pre-adopted creed,
Thus understand but little what they read;
And every passage in the Book they bend
To make it suit that all-important end.
Some people read, as I have often thought,
To teach the Book, instead of to be taught."