The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit
Study No. 69
A mark of cults is that they tend to humanize God, especially Jesus Christ, and deify man. A proper understanding of the nature of God, Jesus Christ and Godís Spirit is essential to the true Christian.
Has Jesus Eternally Existed?
John 1:1-14 shows that, in the beginning, Jesus was with God. He created all things. He is the only begotten of the Father who gives power to us to become the Sons of God. Verse 18 shows that no man has seen God at any time, i.e., God the Father. Jesus has life in Himself, as the Father does, John 5:26, 37 and II Peter 1:16-18.
The Messiah, our coming King, is immortal, I Timothy 1:15-17. Mortal man cannot approach Him in His glory, I Timothy 6:14-16, Revelation 1:13-18. We would die if we saw Him in His glorified form, verses 5-6. He was the God of the Old Testament, I Corinthians 10:4, 5, 9 and Hebrews 11:24-26. He said in John 8:58 that before Abraham existed, He existed. Other scriptures to consider are Hebrews 7:1-4, John 7:27, Isaiah 53:8, Daniel 7:9-14, 22 and Psalm 90:1-4.
Is Jesus God, But Second to His Father?
In John 5:18, the Savior said that God was His father. The Jews therefore accused Him of making Himself equal with God. Philippians 2:5-11 states that He thought it not robbery to be equal to God. This must mean equal in substance, equal in being eternal. John 10:25-38 shows that He and the Father are one, the Father in Him and He in the Father. John 14:28, however, shows that the Father is greater than the Son. Jesus was sent by the Father, John 8:28-29; 6:44-46; 5:30, 36-38. He of His own self could do nothing, when on the earth in the form of mortal man, yet He did the Fatherís works, and we are to learn of the Father through Him. So we conclude that the Son is God, but under the authority of the Father.
What is the Holy Spirit?
The Holy Spirit is used by God the Father to seal us, John 6:27, Ephesians 1:13-14. It is the mind of Christ that can be in us, Philippians 2:5. It is the gift of God, the mind of God that can lead us, I Corinthians 2:9-16. It is the sound mind that we so much need in these times of fear, that gives us the power to know the Almighty and to overcome, II Timothy 1:7.
In a very real sense, the Holy Spirit is Christ in us. He is the Holy Spirit, the Comforter that He promised His disciples, not some other entity or being, but the Savior Himself, Romans 8:9-16, John 16:7-16. Notice verse 16 which says that the disciples would see the Savior because He would go to the Father. How would they see Him? They would "see" Him in the form of the Comforter; they would see Him in their hearts and minds, changing them and guiding them into all truth. The Holy Spirit is a not a separate person from God the Father and God the Son. It is not some third person of a "trinity."
The Family of God
Ephesians 3:14-15 shows that God is a family in Heaven and earth. The family of God is composed of the Father, Jesus Christ, and those in whom God dwells through His Spirit, Ephesians 2:18-22. John 3:3-8 adds that we must be born of the Spirit, born again, before we can enter this family or kingdom. When man was created, the Word said, "Let us make man in our image" Genesis 1:26. God is a family, Elohim, a Hebrew word meaning mighty ones, more than one.
I learned of these truths through Herbert W. Armstrong and the Worldwide Church of God. One of the opposing viewpoints against him and these beliefs is that Armstrong supposedly got his anti-trinitarianism and family of God beliefs from Jehovahís Witnesses and Mormons. A study of these and other cults shows vast differences between them and Armstrong.
The Jehovahís Witnesses' Idea of the Nature of God
Fundamentalists label all groups that oppose the trinity as cults. Perhaps few of us realize just how important the trinity belief is to Catholics and Protestants. Seventh Day Adventists have many doctrines different from mainstream Protestantism. However, since they do believe in the trinity doctrine, they have generally escaped being labeled as a cult.
Jehovahís Witnesses do not believe in the trinity. But what do they believe? "Jesus," they say, was "the first and direct creation of Jehovah God . . . He was the start of Godís creative work." As a created being, Jesus did not intrinsically possess immortality. Prior to His incarnation, Jesus, so they say, was Michael the Archangel. God opened up the opportunity to His Son to gain immortality by being a human and thus being "born again" at the resurrection. Jesus returned to Heaven to resume His former identity as Michael.
These ideas are similar to Arianism. Arius was a Catholic bishop of the 3rd and 4th Centuries. He taught that the Son was a created being (see Colossians 1:14-15, and Revelation 3:14). Arius felt that if the Son were a son in the truest sense, then he must have come after the Father; therefore, there was obviously a time when he was not, and hence was a finite being. Arius gained many supporters and his ideas stirred up much controversy, so much so that the famous Council of Nicaea (325 A.D.) was undertaken with the express purpose of refuting Arius, and other "heretics." Arianism did not die out, although the decision of the Council was in favor of the Trinitarian side.
Arianism and ideas of Jehovahís Witnesses about the nature of the Savior are not difficult to refute. The truth is, that if Christ were created, by that very fact, He would not be God, and His death for our sins would be meaningless. Jesus, in quoting Psalms 110:1 in Matthew 22:41-46, shows that the Messiah as "Son of David," was Davidís Master whom He worshipped. Angels of God forbid themselves to be worshipped, Revelation 22:8-9. Micah 5:2 shows that the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem, and that He had existed from all eternity. The identity of the Christ would be Immanuel, meaning "God with us," Isaiah 7:14.
Jesus in the New Testament said continually, "Verily, Verily, I say unto you," while Old Testament prophets said, "Thus saith the LORD." Jesus was the Lord of the Old Testament. he equated Himself with God: to see Him was to see God, to know Him was to know the Father, and to reject Him was to reject God, Luke 10:16, John 8:19, 12:45, 14:7, 9, 15:23. He took the divine name, I AM THAT I AM, and applied it to Himself in John 8:58.
John called Jesus God in John 1:1,18. Thomas called Christ, "My Lord and my God," in John 20:28. Peter called Christ God in II Peter 1:1 (margin). Paul called Him God in Romans 9:5, Colossians 2:9, Titus 2:13. The Father refers to the Son as God in Hebrews 1:5-8. Jesus was God manifest in the flesh, I Timothy 3:16.
Mormonism: Up With Man, Down With God
Mormonism is one of the fastest growing religious organizations in the world. Mormons teach that after 1700 years of apostasy, "the true gospel of Jesus Christ was restored to earth in the latter days through the instrumentality of Joseph Smith. It is found only in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons)." Of this Smith, it is purported, "Every spirit that confesses that Joseph Smith is a Prophet, that he lived and died a Prophet and that the Book of Mormon is true, is of God, and every spirit that does not is of anti-Christ." These quotations are taken from Mormon sources. I John 4:3 shows to whom Mormons compare Joseph Smith.
What do Mormons believe about God the Father and Jesus Christ? Brigham Young said, "Jesus was not begotten by the Holy Ghost." He was not eternal, so says Young. Jesus had a beginning as "the Firstborn Spirit Child" of the Heavenly parents. "Man and Jesus were the same order of beings, of the same race, nature and essence. Jesus is literally our Elder Brother." Mormons hold that God the Father has a body of flesh and bones as does man. Jesus is the Son of God, and Mary is the mother of Jesus. "Christ was begotten by an immortal Father in the same way that mortal men are begotten by mortal fathers." Thus, Mormons believe that God the Father had sexual intercourse with Mary, and the result was Jesus. "The birth of the Savior was a natural occurrence . . . and the Father God was the literal Parent of Jesus in the flesh as well as in the Spirit." Mormons hold also that Jesus became married to several wives, and begot children.
As for God the Father, Mormons believe "we were begotten by our Father in Heaven, the person of our Father in Heaven was begotten on a previous heavenly world by His Father, and so on." They also say, "as man is, God once was. As God is, man may become." As we are the offspring of an Eternal Father, there is an Eternal Mother in Heaven also. Mormons believe God is married to several wives, and are thus polytheists.
I will not take the time to refute all these blasphemous ideas. God answers Mormonism in Isaiah 43:10, "Before Me there was no God formed, neither shall there be after Me."
Moonism: They Say Jesus Christ Was a Failure
The church of the "Moonies" is a recent cult formed by a Korean missionary named "Rev." Moon. Moon says that Jesus is not God, and is no different than other men. But Paul says Jesus is in very nature God, the fullness of the Godhead in bodily form, Philippians 2:6, Colossians 2:9.
Jesus, Moon says, was a failure. Jesus' death was "not essential," it was not Godís purpose. Moon believes that had Jesus fulfilled His fatherís will, He would have avoided the cross, married a perfect wife, and fathered a race of sinless children.
The Bible makes the truth clear: Christ died for our sins, Isaiah 53:5-6. It was predetermined that Christ die, Acts 2:23. Christ accomplished the work of His Father who sent Him, John 17:4-5. Jesus was the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world, Revelation 13:8. It was necessary that He die, Luke 24:26-27.
For Moon, Christ was an abysmal failure. But there is a replacement: Moonies teach that Moon is the Messiah.
Jehovahís Witnesses, Arians, Mormons and Moonies are cults that deny the Trinity, humanize God and deify man. We are free from Trinitarianism. But do we have the taint of a humanized God and a deified man?
Church of God Seventh Day: A Created Christ
Herbert Armstrong obviously did not learn much, if anything, from Jehovahís Witnesses and Mormons about the nature of God. Did he copy the Church of God, Seventh Day on this doctrine?
From the days of A.N. Dugger in the 1920ís, the Church of God Seventh Day has claimed to agree with the Arian believers of the 300ís A.D., who were opposed by Constantine. Duggerís book on the History of the True Church affirms that Arianism is right, as do older issues of their magazine, The Bible Advocate. The Nicene Creed of 325 A.D. asserted both the full divinity and humanity of Christ. But the Church of God (7th Day) says that the Bible consistently recognizes Christ as the Son of God. A 1970ís Advocate stated, "If Christ is not the Son in the only way known to man, the Bible is quite misleading. There is no example of a Son who did not originate after the Father." Jesus, it is claimed, is our mediator (third party). They say, how can Christ mediate between God and man if He is Almighty God? (I'd like to ask them, how could He mediate between God and man if he were a man or a created angelic being?)
The Church of God (7th Day) has agreed with Witnesses and Mormons that Jesus is not eternal, He has not always existed, pointing to Colossians 1:15 that He is the firstborn of all creation, and Revelation 3:14, the beginning of the creation of God, as well as John 6:57, He lives because of His Father. However, they do not quote verse 18 of Colossians 1, which shows how Christ is the firstborn of creation, which creation, and when this occurred.
Finally, these folks believe that although certain texts apply the title "God" to Christ (John 1:1, 20:28, Titus 2:13, Hebrews 1:8-9), Jesus is "god" only in the sense of Exodus 22:9, 28 and Psalm 82:6, John 10:33-36. Judges of Israel were termed "gods" because they spoke for God or were given special authority from God.
Thus, the Seventh Day Church of God believes Jesus was created and did not always exist, and that we are not born into Godís family. Only God the Father is held to be God. It appears, however, that the dominant Arian viewpoint in this grouping has had some recent inroads by those holding views more in line with Herbert Armstrong.
Two Key Scriptures
Apparently Colossians 1:14-15, and Revelation 3:14 are the two key scriptures used by those who claim Christ was created.
Colossians 1:15 says that Christ is the firstborn of every creature. The literal Greek phrases this passage "firstborn of all creation." The NIV translation is even more precise, "the firstborn over all creation." Our Savior has preeminence over all things, He being the one who created things in heaven and in earth (verses 16-19). Yes, the Messiah created even the angels in heaven. He was not an angel!
Mormons and Jehovahís Witnesses affirm that this passage shows that Christ was the first created and hence cannot be co-eternal with the Father. However, they forget that there are two meanings for the word "firstborn": The literal firstborn son or daughter, as in Luke 2:7 where Jesus is called Maryís firstborn son. Also, "firstborn" can denote highest rank or kingly preeminence. Although Ephraim was not the firstborn son of Joseph, he was declared to be so via the blessing of God and his grandfather Jacob, Genesis 41:50-52, Genesis 48 and Jeremiah 31:9. Also, in Psalm 89:20-27, David is called the "firstborn," even though he was Jesseís youngest son.
Look at the context of Colossians 1. Messiah is the Preeminent One over all creation. Like Ephraim and David, He is rightly called the firstborn, not by creation, but via His ranking authority and kingly preeminence over all. Even David called Him Lord, though Messiah came out of the loins of David!
The Jehovahís Witnessesí New World Translation adds words to Colossians 1:16-17 that are not found in the original Greek. It renders the passage: "Because by means of Him all other things were created in the heavens and upon the earth...all other things have been created through Him and for Him. Also, He is before all other things and by means of Him all other things were made to exist." Their usage of the word "other" makes Christ a creature, one of the things created. This is tampering with the Word, and is a dangerous thing to do. There are only two categories: (1) God and (2) creation. Jesus did not create Himself! If He is not part of the creation, He can only be Almighty God.
Not only is Christ over all the physical creation because He created the physical universe, He is also over the spiritual creation because He created the invisible angels, Colossians 1:16, and because He was the first to spiritually rise from the dead, in the new creation, verse 18. He is not some inferior being, but is our Lord and our God.
Revelation 3:14 says that the Savior is "the beginning of the creation of God." The NIV renders this as "the ruler of Godís creation." The Interlinear says, "the Head of the creation of God." The word translated "beginning" in the King James Version is the Greek word arche. This could be correctly rendered as beginner, originator or leader, ruler. Several scriptures render arche as principality: Romans 8:38, Ephesians 1:21, 3:10, 6:12, Colossians 1:16, 2:10, 15, Titus 3:1.
Christ is the arche, the origin, source, ruler or beginning of creation, for it is through Christ that all the creation came forth. He is the Alpha and Omega, the all in all, Revelation 1:8, 21:6, 22:13. In no stretch of the imagination could this passage be honestly construed to support the doctrine of a created Christ. This doctrine renders Christ to an inferior being. Well did the Apostle Paul say that some would preach "another Jesus," II Corinthians 11:4.
My Savior is Eternal, Micah 5:2, Hebrews 7:3, without descent and without lineage. However, in rejecting the Arian heresy, do we de-emphasize God and especially Jesus Christ? Do we greatly emphasize man and his works? Do we have taints of a cult? W
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