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Here is a challenge! Can anyone show one Scripture where God is described as Three-in-one, Triune or Trinity?
If we cannot find one Scripture that describes God as Three-in-one, Triune or Trinity, then we must ask ourselves, which God do we worship – the Biblical God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob or is it a god or theological concept of our own making?
Without going into the history of where this Three-in-one concept originated, namely in ancient Babylon – as the worship of Nimrod, Semiramis and Tammuz, which later became a snare to ancient Israel under various names such as Baal, Ashtoreth and Tammuz, my challenge to us today is the same as that which Elijah gave to Israel: “If Yahweh be God, follow Him: but if Baal, then follow him.” – 1 Kings 18:21.
Picture of God in Heaven
How much clearer can the Bible get than to give a physical description of heaven in which it shows God seated on the throne, with angels numbering “ten thousand times ten thousand and thousands of thousands” gathered before Him, and Jesus, one like the Son of man, in one case, being brought before Him to receive a kingdom, and in the other case, as the Lamb, to receive a book? These physical descriptions are given in Daniel 7 and Revelation 4 and 5 respectively.
According to the account in Revelation 4, “one sat on the throne” and the angels worshipped Him saying, “Holy, Holy, Holy, LORD God Almighty, which was and is, and is to come” – Rev. 4:8.
It goes on to say:
“The four and twenty elders fall down before him that sat on the throne, and worship him that liveth for ever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne, saying, Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.” – Rev. 4:10, 11.
Quite distinct from Him that sat on the throne, who is worshipped as the Creator – the One who “liveth for ever and ever”, is the Lamb that was slain. When Christ, the Lamb, came and took the book out of the hand of Him that sat on the throne, the angels sang: “Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing.” Rev. 5:12.
Then everyone sang:
“Blessing, and honour, and glory, and power, be unto him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever.” Rev. 5:13.
“And the four beasts said Amen. And the four and twenty elders fell down and worshipped him that liveth for ever and ever.” Rev. 5:14.
Who Else is Worshipped in Scripture?
Apart from the Almighty, who is the Creator – the Most High, and His only begotten Son Jesus Christ – the Lamb, who shed His blood for us, who else is worshipped in all the Scriptures? Can anyone find even one text of Scripture?
Will anyone take up the challenge?
If no one can find a text, then we must ask ourselves, who else in the entire universe wanted to be worshipped, who coveted the position of Christ and wanted to be like the Most High? Are we worshipping him unwittingly?
We are told that “the counsel of peace shall be between them both.” – Zech. 6:13.
“God is the Father of Christ; Christ is the Son of God. To Christ has been given an exalted position. He has been made equal with the Father. All the counsels of God are opened to his Son.” – Ellen G. White, Testimonies for the Church, Vol. 8, p. 268.
“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.” (Ellen. G. White, Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 34).
Someone wanted to be a third member of the heavenly council, and to be likewise worshipped. Lucifer said: “I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High.” – Isa. 14:13, 14.
One Supreme Being
But there is one Supreme Being and He admits only one other, his only begotten Son, to all His counsels and purposes. When Isaiah saw Him, Isaiah’s whole perspective changed. The account says:
“1 In the year that king Uzziah died I saw also the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and his train filled the temple.
2 Above it stood the seraphims: each one had six wings; with twain he covered his face, and with twain he covered his feet, and with twain he did fly.
3 And one cried unto another, and said, Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory.
4 And the posts of the door moved at the voice of him that cried, and the house was filled with smoke.
5 Then said I, Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts.” Isa. 6:1-5.
We need to get a glimpse of the Most High, like Isaiah. Then we would see our uncleanness – our unworthiness, and bow down in awe before Him so that we can obtain mercy and be cleansed like Isaiah was. Then, like Isaiah, when the LORD says: “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” we will be able to say: “Here am I; send me.” – Isa. 6:8. Then, we will be bold like Elijah in carrying God’s message and calling the world to “Fear God, and give glory to him; for the hour of his judgment is come: and worship him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters.” – Rev.14:7.
Elijah’s Challenge on Mount Carmel
So, back to where we started: Can anyone show one Scripture where God is described as Three-in-one, Triune or Trinity? Which God do we worship – the Biblical God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob or is it a god or theological concept of our own making?
Remember Elijah’s challenge on Mount Carmel:
“How long halt ye between two opinions? If the LORD be God, follow him: but if Baal, then follow him. And the people answered him not a word.” – 1 Kings 18:21.
Will anyone answer?
“He that hath ears to hear, let him hear” (Matt. 11:15).
– Zerubbabel (Zech. 4:6)
“And after these things I saw another angel come down from heaven, having great power; and the earth was lightened with his glory.” – Rev. 18:1.
An angel (Rev. 18:1) is commissioned to bring about the latter rain. The latter rain outpouring of the Holy Spirit will supersede the former rain outpouring at Pentecost. In Gethsemane an angel was sent to comfort Jesus. This brief presentation poses two questions that arise.
The first question
What evidence exists that the Comforter who brought the early rain at Pentecost could not have been an angel? As a corollary to that question, we may also ask, what is the basis for the view that the outpouring at Pentecost could only have been brought about by a Divine Personality? It should be emphasized that the relevance of the issue is the matter of whether we should worship the Comforter.
The typical answer has been that the Greek word for “another” in the promise that Christ made to send “another Comforter” means another of the same kind. This is not sufficient to answer the question as the subject was comfort and not divinity – so it’s another of the same kind in relation to the giving of comfort, not in relation to God-status. The point was that with Jesus’s departure, the disciples would be no less comforted.
In seeking to answer the question, one might wish to consider the following statements:
“Read and study the fourth chapter of Zechariah… The golden oil represents the Holy Spirit.” – Ellen G. White, Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers, p. 188.
“From the two olive trees the golden oil was emptied through the golden pipes into the bowl of the candlestick, and thence into the golden lamps that gave light to the sanctuary. So from the holy ones that stand in God’s presence His Spirit is imparted to the human instrumentalities who are consecrated to His service. The mission of the two anointed ones is to communicate to God’s people that heavenly grace which alone can make His word a lamp to the feet and a light to the path. “Not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit, saith the Lord of hosts.” Zechariah 4:6. – Ellen G. White, Christ’s Object Lessons, p. 408.15.
The same thought is expressed at another place, the only difference being that the golden oil that was said to be God’s Spirit is now said to be divine light, love and power. It says:
“In this vision the two olive trees which stand before God are represented as emptying the golden oil out of themselves through golden tubes into the bowl of the candlestick. From this the lamps of the sanctuary are fed, that they may give a bright, continuous light. So from the anointed ones that stand in God’s presence the fullness of divine light and love and power is imparted to His people, that they may impart to others light and joy and refreshing. Those who are thus enriched are to enrich others with the treasure of God’s love.” – Ellen G. White, Prophets and Kings p. 594.1
The anointed ones that stand before God and empty from themselves the Holy Spirit into the believer are said to be angels.
“And when these angels empty from themselves the golden oil of truth into the heart of him who is teaching the word, then the application of the truth will be a solemn, serious matter.” Ellen G. White, Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers, p. 337
“The anointed ones standing by the Lord of the whole earth have the position once given to Satan as covering cherub.” – Ellen G. White, The Review and Herald, July 20, 1897. (also Ellen G. White, The Truth about Angels, p. 150).
The second question
What evidence is there that the person sent to comfort and minister to us after Jesus’s return to heaven could not be an angel under whose direction the other ministering spirits (angels) minister to us? As a corollary to that question we may also ask, what is the basis for the view that none other than a Divine Personality could be sent to comfort us after Jesus returned to heaven? It should be noted that when Jesus was in Gethsemane and needed comfort and strength to face the cross, an angel was sent to comfort and strengthen Him.
We should consider the following:
Christ said that He would send the Comforter and when the Comforter comes, he would not speak of himself. He will only speak what he hears –“It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you.” (John 16:7). Further, “he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak:” (John 16:13).
Christ is obviously greater than the Comforter. In the sending of the Comforter, the order of authority is clearly seen. Christ prays to the Father and asks Him to give the Comforter. Then Christ sends the Comforter –“I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter” (John 14:16).
Angels are similarly commissioned: “And of the angels he saith, Who maketh his angels spirits, and his ministers a flame of fire.”; “Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation?” – Heb. 1:7, 14.
The ultimate issue
As stated before, the ultimate issue is worship. We are called upon to preach the “everlasting gospel” to “every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people, Saying with a loud voice, Fear God, and give glory to him; for the hour of his judgment is come: and worship him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters.” – Rev. 14:6, 7. Let us not adulterate our message by calling people to give worship where it does not belong.
“He that hath ears to hear, let him hear” (Matt. 11:15).
- Zerubbabel (Zech. 4:6)
“The great outpouring of the Spirit of God, which lightens the whole earth with His glory, will not come until we have enlightened people that know by experience what it means to be labourers together with God.” – Ellen G. White, Review and Herald, July 21, 1896.
In this presentation, two basic issues are raised: 1. why was the early rain given? 2. Will God empower us to go and preach error?
Why was the Early Rain Given?
Regarding the first question, the Bible is clear that the outpouring of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost was to empower the disciples to be witnesses of the truth concerning Jesus. Miracles were for the purpose of calling attention to the message that the disciples brought. Consider the following texts:
“But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.” – Acts 1:8.
“How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard him; God also bearing them witness, both with signs and wonders, and with divers miracles, and gifts of the Holy Ghost, according to his own will?” – Heb. 2:3, 4.
The gifts of the Spirit were also intended to build us up unto perfection.
“And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things” – Eph. 4:11-15.
It should be clear to us that the power to work miracles was not given to make the disciples feel powerful or to draw attention to themselves. Simon, the sorcerer, wanted the power for such reasons and Peter had to rebuke him and told him: “Repent therefore of this thy wickedness, and pray God, if perhaps the thought of thine heart may be forgiven thee.” – Acts 8:22.
The fact is, even if we heal someone today, the person will eventually die unless the person lives to see the second coming of Christ and is translated. In fact, at a certain point it will be considered a blessing to die because of what is coming upon the earth. We are told:
“And I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, Write, Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth: Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labours; and their works do follow them.” – Rev. 14:13.
The point is that the working of miracles is not an end in itself. It is the preaching of the truth that is paramount. It is by believing the truth that people are saved. Further, miraculous healing is not intended to replace obedience to God, which includes taking care of our bodies. Believing in God is the ultimate cure for sin, which is rebellion against God that leads to wilful disobedience. Christ came to earth to reveal the Father so that we can believe in Him – or trust Him (John 18:37). This includes accepting God’s promise to raise us from the dead, of which the resurrection of Christ is God’s confirmation of that promise.
Will God Empower Us to Go and Preach Error?
The answer to the second question is obviously, No! God will not empower us to go and preach error. We need to make it a priority to ensure that our doctrines are sound. We need to stop telling ourselves that we have it all together, thinking that the work is delayed because we are not working fast enough or pursuing the right programmes. The work will be finished, not by our projects and methods but by the Spirit of God – “Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the Lord of hosts.” – Zech. 4:6. What therefore hinders the outpouring of the Holy Spirit in the Latter Rain? It is our lack of knowledge of the truth which would strengthen our commitment!
Is there any area in which we are not exactly sound? The answer is, Yes! There are at least two areas in which we are not only unsound, but in those two areas we have actually deviated from the positions that were established by the pioneers and which were included in the Spirit of Prophecy testimony in what was described as “a solid, immovable platform” from which a block should not be moved nor a pin be stirred (Ellen G. White, Spiritual Gifts Vol. 1, pgs. 168, 169). The two areas are:
- The matter of who God is – the very first and great commandment ( 6:4, 5; Matt. 22:36-38). How can it be considered a light thing that we hold a different view of God from the pioneers?
- The atonement – the next most critical area of faith – the Gospel itself! How can it be seen as a light thing that we have a different view, as to what was accomplished at the cross, than the view that was held by the pioneers?
Is there any wonder that whereas miracles were being wrought among the pioneers and visions and dreams were given to them, today we are not able to say that we are experiencing the same?
Let the Pioneers Speak
So, the appeal is to go back and study again – study what God had led the pioneers to! The prophet said: “let the aged men who were pioneers in our work speak plainly, and let those who are dead speak also, by the reprinting of their articles” – Ellen G. White, Manuscript Releases Vol. 1, pg. 55 (also Manuscipt 62, 1905, pg. 6). She also said in 1905: “the past fifty years have not dimmed one jot or principle of our faith as we received the great and wonderful evidences that were made certain to us in 1844, after the passing of the time. . . . Not a word is changed or denied. That which the Holy Spirit testified to as truth after the passing of the time, in our great disappointment, is the solid foundation of truth. Pillars of truth were revealed, and we accepted the foundation principles that have made us what we are – Seventh-day Adventists, keeping the commandments of God and having the faith of Jesus.” – Ellen G. White, Special Testimonies Series B, – 57, Sanitarium, Cal., Dec. 4, 1905.
Consider the words of a few of the notable pioneers on the very points on which we have deviated:
“The greatest fault we can find in the Reformation is, the Reformers stopped reforming. Had they gone onward, till they had left the last vestige of Papacy behind, such as natural immortality, sprinkling, the trinity, and Sunday-keeping, the church would now be free from her unscriptural errors” – James White, Review & Herald, Feb. 7, 1856.
“The doctrine of the trinity was established in the church by the Council of Nicea, AD 325. This doctrine destroys the personality of God, and his Son Jesus Christ our Lord.” – J. N. Andrews, Review & Herald, March 6, 1855.
“Thus the remark is just, that the doctrine of a trinity degrades the Atonement…” – J. H. Waggoner, The Atonement, pg. 166.
“The Scriptures abundantly teach the pre-existence of Christ and His divinity, but are entirely silent in regard to a Trinity.” – J. H. Waggoner, The Atonement, pg. 173.
“It is not very consonant with common sense to talk of three being one, and one being three. Or as some express it, calling God “the Triune God”, or “the three-one-God”. If Father, Son, and Holy Ghost are each God, it would be three Gods; for three times one is not one, but three.” – J. N. Loughborough, Review & Herald, Nov. 5, 1861.
“But to hold the doctrine of the Trinity is not so much an evidence of evil intention as of intoxication from that wine of which all the nations have drunk. The fact that this was one of the leading doctrines, if not the very chief, upon which the bishop of Rome was exalted to popedom, does not say much in its favour.” – R. F. Cottrell, Review & Herald, July 6, 1869.
Central Doctrine of Rome
It should be noted that the doctrine of the Trinity on which we have now distanced ourselves from the position of the pioneers is the very central doctrine of Rome. Rome declares:
“The mystery of the Trinity is the central doctrine of the Catholic faith. Upon it are based all the other teachings of the church.” – Handbook for Today’s Catholic, pg. 16.
Is this a place where we want to be while we claim to be awaiting the Latter Rain outpouring of the Holy Spirit? I invite us to think again!
We need to go back and study. A good place to start is with the Pioneers’ 28 Fundamental Principles that were published in the Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook of 1889 which represented the defining Statements of Beliefs of the Seventh-day Adventist church from 1888 to 1930 before the Pioneers had passed off the scene. The link to the Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook of 1889 in the Adventist Archives is: http://documents.adventistarchives.org/Yearbooks/YB1889.pdf
The original document has 208 pages. An extract of the section that deals with the Pioneers’ 28 Fundamental Principles, as they were then held, can be found at http://thecommandmentsofgodandthefaithofjesus.com/2017/02/15/adventist-pioneers-28-beliefs-in-the-seventh-day-adventist-yearbook-1889/
“He that hath ears to hear, let him hear” (Matt. 11:15).
- Zerubbabel (Zech. 4:6)