A History of God is the title of this month’s Adventist Review article that concludes, “Now we know who He is” in its substitle.
Scripture has long known of God’s eternity, His timeless self-existence, and His spirit nature. Yet, when this essay suggests that “none of us has ever existed without a body; but God is spirit (John 4:24)”—the impression is made that God (the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, 2Cor 11:31; Eph 1:3; 1Peter 1:3) is a disembodied spirit. While the contrast is made between having or not having “flesh and bones, defining elements of human bodies (Luke 24:39)”, scripture also speaks of spiritual bodies (1Cor 15:44).
This was an important issue for young Ellen Harmon who saw in vision a throne in heaven. “The Father’s person I could not behold, for a cloud of glorious light covered Him. I asked Jesus if His Father had a form like Himself. He said He had, but I could not behold it”...“the glory of His person.” EW p. 54.2
James White was just as concerned. He cited Daniel 7:13 where “one like the Son of man...came to the Ancient of days” and concluded that this was “a sublime description of the action of two personages; viz, God the Father, and his Son Jesus Christ...the express image of his person.” James asked the question, “What is God? He is material, organized intelligence, possessing both body and parts. Man is in his image.” Personality of God, 8 page pamphlet published 1861, Battle Creek, Michigan.
The Review article continues. “Then God’s triune genius elected to begin beginnings by creating...” The Scriptural reference for this assertion? None is given but the only one that can be offered would be Genesis 1:2, the Spirit of God that moved upon the face of the waters covering the raw, formless and void earth. But since God is a spirit, as the writer has already acknowledged, this is no more than a recognition of God’s presence. After all, “Where shall I go from Your Spirit? Where shall I flee from Your presence?” Psalm 139:7. The Spirit of God is God’s presence.
While the term is certainly in agreement with the vast majority of orthodox Christian denominations, their creeds, and their theologians, this ‘triune genius’ does not find its source in the Bible. “God who created all things by Jesus Christ” Eph 3:9, is “the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory” Eph 1:17, “the one true God” John 17:3, who twice declared “this is My Son in whom I am well pleased” Matt 3:17; 17:5. It is this God who “in these last days has spoken to us by His Son...by whom also He made the worlds” Hebrews 1:2. It was this God who “established the foundations of the earth” with “His Son's name” Proverbs 30:4. Consequently, Jesus could say plainly, “Hitherto has my Father worked, and I work” John 5:17.
In spite of the final inclusion of 1John 5:7 and its “three witnesses in heaven,” not only Erasmus but the Seventh-day Adventist Commentary and many modern translations express misgivings regarding its legitimacy. Jesus said, “the testimony of two men is true. I am one that bear witness of myself, and the Father that sent me bears witness of me.” John 8:17,18. The apostle John, who recorded this statement agreed, “Truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ” 1John 1:3.
Appeals to Matthew 28:19 are appeals to a single verse without another line upon that line. With all recorded baptisms in the New Testament conducted in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ (Acts 2:38; 8:12,16; 10:48; 19:5), Matthew’s single reference can still be understood in terms of the Father and Son. Ellen White did. Her commentary from the July 1, 1897 issue of Home Missionary (reprinted in Review & Herald October 26) is telling: “Go ye therefore,“ he said, “and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father [a personal God,] and of the Son [a personal Prince and Saviour], and of the Holy Ghost [sent from heaven to represent Christ]: teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world.”
When “God sent His Son into the world” 1John 4:9 and brought in “the firstbegotten into the world” Heb 1:6, “the Word became flesh and dwelt among us” John 1:14. Now, for the first time, “the only being in all the universe who could enter into all the purposes and counsels of God” GC p. 493.1 became the only Being in all the universe to have two natures: divine and human. The powers of His divine nature, “the glories of the form of God He for a while relinquished.” Review and Herald Sept 4, 1900 [5BC p. 1126.8]. His omnipotence, His omniscience, His omnipresence, for a while were relinquished, laid aside, so that He might live the life that every son and daughter of Adam must live.
But when He ascended back to His Father, He “received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit” Acts 2:33, “the promise of the Father” Acts 1:4. He received back the glories of the form of God, His omnipotence, His omniscience, His omnipresence. And on the day of Pentecost Jesus poured out His very own spirit, His life, His presence just as He had promised, “I will come to you” and “I will be in you” John 14:18,20. That’s why Paul could say, “God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts” Gal 4:6. He came in the form of God, pure divinity, “divested of the personality of humanity” Desire of Ages p. 669. “This element, which is all divine,” is “the heavenly Guest,” the “Lord Jesus...knocking at the door of your heart.” Adventist Home p. 350.3.
The Spirit of Christ (Romans 8:9; 1Peter 1:11) is the Spirit of truth because He is the truth (John 14:6). “If Christ be in you...the Spirit is life” Romans 8:10 because “Christ is our life” Col 3:4. And “the Lord is that Spirit” 2Cor 3:17. And now we know who the Spirit of Christ is.
Grace and peace be unto you from God the Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ the Son of the Father in truth and love. 2 John 3