Introduction to The Godhead and The Holy Spirit
Seventh-day Adventist readers will want to start this study by reading
"The Trinity doctrine in Adventism - A Brief History"
(see link below) before starting this study. This brief history contains important
information about how the "Trinity Doctrine" actually entered the Church and how it has come
to be "Accepted" as a Central Doctrine within the Denomination. All readers are welcome to
read this introduction, but Seventh-day Adventists will find this of particular interest. If you
are not a Seventh-day Adventist, the history of the Trinity Doctrine's entrance into the "Christian Church"
is adequately dealt with throughout the remainder of this Study -- so you will probably wish to Started Here (just below
the links below).
If you are Returning to this study, you can click on
any of the "Jump" Links below to continue from where you left off. Enjoy! You are in for a real treat!
Back to "The Trinity doctrine in Adventism--A Brief History"
Jump to #2 "Why the Proof-Text Method is Insufficient"
Jump to #3 "God's Predicament as He began to create Intelligent Life"
Jump to #4 "The Original Godhead and Christ's Nature Prior to Creation"
Jump to #5 "The Change in Christ Before and After Creation"
Jump to #6 "The "Pre-Advent" Incarnation of Christ"
Jump to #7 Jesus Is the God of the Old Testament"
Jump to #8 The Incarnation - Jesus Becomes A Man
Jump to #9 Difficult Bible Texts – Holy Spirit
Jump to #10 The Holy Spirit -- The Mystery Explained
Jump to #11 Partakers of the Divine Nature
Jump to #12 Implications and Ramifications of this Study
Next - #13 A Few Final Words and Thoughts
Let me make clear that the things that I am espousing in these studies are not likely to be the "end-all" of the subject
of the Godhead and the Holy Spirit. I have not arrived at a perfect knowledge of this subject and make no claims to know the
"whole Truth". Still, I promise that these studies are going to be far more enlightening and much more in-depth than anything
you have seen put out by the General Conference of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. I have studied, intensely, the things
contained here for several years now (I expect to be studying this for the rest of eternity!) and it is my firm belief that
this subject is vital and that it has everything to do with our experience with Christ and with our eventually being enabled
to receive the promised blessing of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. With that in mind, let me tantalize you for a moment
and start the wheels of your mind to turning.
Consider this: We are told that, "The great gift of salvation
has been placed within our reach at an infinite cost to the Father and the Son. To neglect salvation, is to neglect the
knowledge of the Father and of the Son whom God hath sent in order that man might become a partaker of the divine nature,
and thus, with Christ, an heir of all things." (RH March 10, 1891; par.2). Now I ask you:
What was that "infinite cost" to the Father and to Christ? Was it merely Christ coming to live on this earth as a human;
denying self and suffering ridicule, pain and death? Was it even having the sins of all of mankind laid upon Him? As
great and as humiliating as all this was, it hardly seems to me that this would be an infinite cost to God. What would
33 years as a human be in the life of a God who is eternal? Would that (if that was all that was involved) be considered
an "infinite cost"? What would the sufferings of a moment be in the life and the glory of an eternal God?
I believe that "Sin" in its most basic and truest sense is "separation" from God. Apart from God, ultimately, there
can be no life. I believe that Christ is my "Sin" bearer and that in order for Christ to bear my sin He had to experience
this "separation" from God. I also believe that Christ, in taking my "Sin" upon Himself, suffered the penalty that
separation from God brings - which is "death" (for "the wages of sin is death" Rom. 6:23).
"The spotless Son of God took upon Himself the burden of sin.
He who had been one with God, felt in His soul the awful separation that sin makes between God and man. This wrung
from His lips the anguished cry, "My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?" Matthew 27:46. It was the burden of sin,
the sense of its terrible enormity, of its separation of the soul from God--it was this that broke the heart of the
Son of God." (SC, p. 13, par.2). This "death" was not the death that all men must face
(for many have died the natural, physical death) but was the "second death" from which there is no resurrection.
If Christ was "GOD" and "died" then I must conclude that God died. That would certainly qualify as an "infinite
cost" wouldn't it? But how can God "die"? Could God really separate from Himself and die? Is it possible to
reconcile this paradox? When we add to this paradox the fact that Christ was resurrected and that He lives, the
paradox becomes even more complex and confusing. What are we to do with all this? How are we to understand and
reconcile these truths?
As Seventh-Day Adventists we put great stock in understanding the "Great Controversy" existing between Christ and Satan.
This is fine and proper and is what has made our message unique and necessary. However, it seems to me that we
have failed to apply this knowledge to certain doctrines (or aspects of doctrines), which we now hold. It is my
firm belief that All Doctrine must be viewed in the context of the Great Controversy or we will fail to grasp the
importance and/or Truth of the Doctrine. And I believe this failure has been especially true concerning our
understanding of the Nature of the Godhead and the Holy Spirit. Have we been missing something here? There
simply must be more to all this than we currently understand.
Not convinced? Then consider this interesting quote: "The
incarnation of Christ has ever been, and will ever remain a mystery. That which is revealed, is for us and for our
children, but let every human being be warned from the ground of making Christ altogether human, such an one as
ourselves: for it cannot be. The exact time when humanity blended with divinity, it is not necessary for us to know.
We are to keep our feet on the rock, Christ Jesus, as God revealed in humanity." (Manuscript Releases, vol. 13; p.19,
This statement is NOT made in the context of some discussion as to when Christ was born - that is, it is not
said in response to the question as to the exact "time" of Christ's birth as a "human" here on this earth. This
statement is made in response to the position put forth by some that Christ was "brought forth" (Proverbs 8:24,25)
or "Created", and therefore was merely and "altogether" human. That is, some proposed, that He was "created"
just as we were. The fact is that Jesus was neither "Created", nor "brought forth" as "altogether human".
Remember that even in His "birth" as a human there was a blending of the divine with the human: Mary was told
that "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High [God] will overshadow you; and for that
reason the holy Child shall be called the Son of God" (Luke 1:35 emphasis mine).
According to the prophet of God; Jesus was God, existed as God, and even today exists as God:
"…while God's Word speaks of the humanity of Christ
when upon this earth, it also speaks decidedly regarding his pre-existence. The Word existed as a divine
being, even as the eternal Son of God, in union and oneness with his Father. . .The Word was with God,
and the Word was God." Before men or angels were created, the Word was with God, and was God."
(RH April 5, 1906; par. 5). "In Christ is life, original, unborrowed, underived….The divinity of Christ
is the believer's assurance of eternal life." (DA; p. 530, par. 2). To suggest
otherwise is to rob ourselves of any hope of salvation. If Christ had been "Created", He could not be our
savior, for no created being could redeem another created being. If Christ were "created" and "brought
into existence", even possessing all the qualities of the unfallen Adam, then we would be lost - left without a Savior.
"The highest angel in heaven had not the power to
pay the ransom for one lost soul…the reconciliation of man to God could be accomplished only through a
mediator who was equal with God…" (RH December 22, 1891; par. 1). Only one who
was equal with God - who was God -- could make atonement for those created beings who have transgressed
That being understood, what then does this statement mean? Why would the Prophet of God tell us: "The
exact time when humanity blended with divinity, it is not necessary for us to know." This would seem to
suggest that the blending of Christ's divinity with that of humanity occurred at a time other than strictly
at the time His conception or at His birth as a babe in a manger. And this would seem to be in harmony
with the Biblical position that Christ was "the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world" (Rev. 13:8) -
that is, at a time prior to Creation. While it must be conceded that this information is not necessary for
us to know in order to obtain "SALVATION" "There are many questions treated upon that are not necessary for
the perfection of the faith." (Manuscript Releases, vol. 13; p. 20, par. 2), it does suggest that there is
more to the blending of Christ's divinity with that of humanity than we have yet grasped ("there are things
not yet simplified, statements that human minds cannot grasp and reason out. . . [Ibid]).
The fact is that Christ's divinity did blend with that of humanity. He took upon Him our human nature.
And while this happened in the fullest sense at the time of His birth here on earth - I believe that His
"partaking" of the lot of His Created beings actually happened, or began, before He Created anything!
That is, that it took place in a mysterious manner at the time described in Proverbs 8:22-31 (prior to creation)
when He was "brought forth" from the Father - with whom He was "One" and with whom He alone shared the Godhead.
The text says: "When there were no depths I was brought forth
. . . Before the hills I was brought forth; While He had not yet made the earth and the fields, nor the first dust
of the world . . . Then I was beside Him, as a master workman; and I was daily His delight, rejoicing always
before Him" (vs. 22,24,30).
Now, if Christ has existed as God from all eternity (which I fully believe) then how is it that He was
"brought forth"? Was this bringing forth, as some of our scholars say, merely a change in His official
"office" or work - or is there something of much greater significance being revealed here? Is there something
more involved in the "incarnation" that we have yet to understand? Is there something of vital importance that
we are missing in our understanding of the Nature of Christ and whether His Nature has changed or why it would
be necessary for it to change? What was [is] actually involved in the incarnation, the plan of redemption,
and God's ultimate purpose and objective for us?
Is your interest still not aroused? Let me pose to you a few more "difficult" questions that even the
"scholars" within our church have failed to give adequate response. Why is it that when the "Throne of God"
is spoken of, in both the Bible and the Spirit of Prophecy, there are only TWO personages ever associated
with it -- the Father and the Son [Christ]? Why aren't there three spoken of? Why does Ellen White consistently
speak only of the Father and the Son when she speaks of the "Councils of God", the origin of the "Plan of Salvation",
or of the plan to "create" man? Here are a few examples:
". . . Christ, the Word, the only begotten of God,
was one with the eternal Father--one in nature, in character, in purpose--the only being that could enter into
all the counsels and purposes of God. . . . The Father wrought by His Son in the creation of all heavenly beings." (PP p.34, par. 1-2).
"The Father and the Son engaged in the mighty, wondrous work they had contemplated - of creating the world." (PP p.44).
"After the earth was created, and the beasts upon it, the Father and Son carried out their purpose, which was
designed before the fall of Satan, to make man in their own image. They had wrought together in the creation of
the earth and every living thing upon it. And now God says to his Son, "Let us make man in our image."
(ST Jan. 9, 1879; par. 13).
"In the beginning the Father and the Son had rested upon the Sabbath after Their work of creation." (DA p.769, par.2).
"The great plan of redemption was laid before the foundation of the world. Christ did not stand alone in this
wondrous undertaking for the ransom of man. In the councils of heaven, before the world was created, the Father
and the Son covenanted together that if man proved disloyal to God, Christ, one with the Father, would take the
place of the transgressor, and suffer the penalty of justice that must fall upon him." (RH November 15, 1898; par. 1).
"There is a personal God, the Father; there is a personal Christ, the Son." (RH November 8, 1898; par. 9).
". . . Christ and the Father would redeem the fallen race." (ST Feb. 17, 1909; par. 9). "His death had
answered the question whether the Father and the Son had sufficient love for man to exercise self-denial and
a spirit of sacrifice." (PP p.69, par. 3).
Where is the Holy Spirit in all this? If there have always been THREE members of the Godhead, then why
do we see so many key instances where only TWO are mentioned?
Here is another conundrum: Jesus said, "where two or
three have gathered together in My name, I am there in their midst" (Mat. 18:20). He also said "I am with you
always, even to the end of the age" (Mat. 28:30). "I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you"
John 14:18). Now this wouldn't be a problem except for the fact that when Christ
left this earth, He did so with a "human" body - He had taken on "human nature" and has retained that nature
(including its physical limitations) - "He is our Sacrifice,
our Advocate, our Brother, bearing our human form before the Father's throne, and through the eternal ages one
with the race He has redeemed-the Son of man." [SC, p. 14]) - He simply could not be here "with"
us, in our "midst", or "come" to us as He promised He would. "Christ
did not make believe to take human nature; He did verily take it: He did in reality possess human nature."
(RH April 5, 1906; par. 4). "The Son of God, now at the Father's right hand, still pleads as man's intercessor.
He still retains His human nature, is still the Saviour of mankind." (ST July 15, 1908; par. 7).
"Cumbered with humanity Christ could not be in every place personally. . ." (Manuscript #1084, p. 7 --
Manuscript Releases, vol. 14; p. 23). So what did Jesus mean when He said that
He would come to us and always be with us - even in our "midst"? How could this be accomplished if He is
limited by His adopted human nature - including its form?
Jesus also made this remarkable statement: "no one knows the Son except
the Father; nor does anyone know the Father except the Son, and anyone to whom the Son wills to reveal Him."
Luke 10:22 puts it this way: "no one knows who the Son is except the Father, and who the Father is except the Son, and anyone to whom the Son wills to reveal Him." Are we to believe
that the Holy Spirit doesn't know the Father or the Son? Are we to believe that the third member of the Godhead
doesn't even know who the Father and the Son are? Sounds ludicrous doesn't it? Was Jesus lying? Didn't Jesus
know what He was talking about? Are we willing to say: "Yes, that is what Christ said. . . but this is what He
meant." Are we so presumptuous that we would suggest that we know better than He what He meant to say?
And consider this: The Apostle Paul states that; "there
is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus" (1 Tim. 2:5).
There are several statements in the Spirit of Prophecy that confirm this; here are a couple from the book Steps to
Christ. "Christ was the medium through which He [the Father]
could pour out His infinite love upon a fallen world". . . . "Jesus, the only medium of communication between God
and man." (SC, pp. 13 & 20). Here is another: "Men
have only one advocate, one intercessor, who is able to pardon transgression." (Bible Echo; May 1, 1899; par. 7).
In Hebrews 7:25 Paul tells us that: "He is able also to save forever those who draw
near to God through Him, since He [Jesus] always lives to make intercession for them [us]" (see also Rom. 8:34).
Yet Paul also wrote that, "In the same way the Spirit also
helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with
groanings too deep for words" (Rom. 8:26)! This is supported in the SOP as well.
So which position is correct? - Is there only one mediator and intercessor or are there two?
Was Paul mistaken? Was Ellen White confused? Are God's Disciples, His chosen Apostles and His Prophets
all wrong? I don't think so. I believe that the reason that we have such a problem answering or resolving some
of these problems is that we have become entrenched in what we have accepted to be "the truth" and have tenaciously
defended our belief for so long that we will listen to nothing else. The Lord's servant has said that this
should not be the case among us:
"Investigation of every point that has been received
as truth will repay the searcher: He will find precious gems. And in closely investigating every jot and tittle
which we think is established truth, in comparing Scripture with Scripture, we may discover
errors in our interpretation of Scripture." (RH, July 10, 1889).<
"The fact that certain doctrines have been held as truth for many years by our people is not
proof that our ideas are infallible." (RH, December 20, 1892).
"We cannot hold that a position once taken, an idea once advocated, is not, under any circumstances,
to be relinquished. There is but One Who is infallible -- He Who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life." (TM, 105).
Indeed, we have been told: "New Light will ever be
revealed on the word of God to him who is in living connection with the Sun of Righteousness . . . The diligent
seeker for truth will find precious rays of light yet to shine forth from the Word of God . . . Many gems are yet
scattered that are to be gathered together to become the property of the remnant people of God . . . Let no one
come to the conclusion that there is no more truth to be revealed . . . There is no excuse for anyone in taking
the position that there is no more truth to be revealed . . . We are not safe when we take the position that we
will not accept anything else than that upon which we have settled as truth." (Counsels on Sabbath School Work, p. 34).
There are a couple of statements in the Spirit of Prophecy that have intrigued me, even bugged me, like an
itch that you can't reach to scratch. Here is one of them. "The man
Christ Jesus was not the Lord God Almighty." (SDA Bible Commentary, vol. 5, p. 1129). Or
this one that was made concerning what God did when Lucifer had rebelled and had insisted that he be included in
the counsels of God. God responded in this way: "The Great
Creator assembled the heavenly host, that he might in the presence of all the angels confer special
honor upon his Son. The Father then made known that it was ordained by himself that Christ, his Son,
should be equal with himself." (Spirit of Prophecy (1870), vol. 1, p. 17). And if you
add to that quote, this one -- "To Christ had been given an exalted position. He
has been made equal with the Father." (Testimonies, vol. 8, p. 268) - it ought
to really leave you scratching your head!
Interesting questions aren't they? There are many more, equally
intriguing questions regarding the Godhead and the Holy Spirit, which we have yet to satisfactorily answer. As S
eventh-Day Adventists we believe in the "Latter Rain" - that the Holy Spirit is to be poured out in full measure
upon God's people just prior to His Second Coming - and that this outpouring of the Spirit is essential if the
people of God are to be fitted and empowered to do the work which God has called us to do. We believe that it
will be an essential component in the experience of God's final representatives in revealing Christ to the world.
And we believe that the outpouring of the Spirit is what will enable us to actually be partakers of the divine Nature!
If this is the case, it seems only logical to me that we will need to understand much more clearly who or what the Holy Spirit is.
It seems rather ludicrous for me to ask God for something when I have no idea what that thing is. Could God answer
my prayers and bless me if I were praying to a "Tree" (or to a deceased "Saint") to answer my prayers? He could not, because if He did
He would be reinforcing my belief in that which is not Truth and would be sanctioning a lie. I would be praying to and
for something that has no power to provide. I would, in reality, be praying to and for a false God - a god of my own making.
Could we be doing exactly the same thing when we pray for the Holy Spirit, while not understanding what it is that we are
actually praying for? Could we believe that the Holy Spirit is something that it is not, and therefore be limiting God in
His desire to answer our prayers by the outpouring of His Spirit? If we don't understand who or what the Holy Spirit is,
while we are earnestly praying to receive it, might we be opening the door for the Devil to deceive us through an outpouring
of a false spirit - his spirit?
How can we resolve these issues? Or, why even try to understand them at all? I would
like to propose that the answer to these questions actually has much to add to the experience of those of us "upon whom the ends
of the ages have come" (1 Cor. 10:11). I believe that all of these things can and will be resolved when we consider the Godhead,
the plan of Salvation, and the Holy Spirit within the context of the Great Controversy! These questions and others beg an answer,
which I have yet to see adequately addressed. But before we look at this, let me explain why.
I believe that these questions have not been adequately addressed or answered primarily because we have attempted
to answer them by using the "Proof-text" method exclusively. Let me explain why the proof-text method alone is inadequate
for such a task.