14. The Trinity

Posted Jul 11, 2007 by Adrian Ebens in Return of Elijah Hits: 11,542

Section 5 –Performance-Based-Thinking and the Doctrine of God

I want to now look at the subject of the Trinity because our view of God affects the way we view every other doctrine.[1] Also, this subject is directly related to the Sabbath/Law/Righteousness debate as we shall see. Notice the following premise:

Premise: There are three Persons of the Godhead.

Hidden/Underlying Assumption: Position of Divinity is only ascribed to beings of highest inherent power.

The above combination of premise and underlying assumption will demand that if there is more than one Divine Being (as our premise states), then those Beings must be co-equal and co-eternal, otherwise they would lose the title of Divine.

Even though at this point we should examine the hidden or underlying assumption, for the sake of the exercise let us follow along in the same sequence as our Sabbath discussion and seek to find texts that will support our premise.

Mat 3:16,17  And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him: And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.

Here we see (1) The Son being baptized (2) The Holy Spirit descending as a dove and (3) The Father’s voice calling from heaven.

Mat 28:19  Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:

This appears to give very direct evidence of three Persons in the Godhead.

1Pe 1:2  Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace unto you, and peace, be multiplied.

Here we see all members of the Godhead active in our salvation – Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

Rev 1:4  John to the seven churches which are in Asia: Grace be unto you, and peace, from him which is, and which was, and which is to come; and from the seven Spirits which are before his throne; And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood,

Here we find a greeting from the Father (was and is and is to come) and the Holy Spirit (Seven or complete Spirit of God) and Jesus Christ. Three greetings indicate three Persons. 

1Jo 5:7  For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one.

This text appears quite explanatory – there are definitely three Persons.

Let us add some supporting evidence from the writings of Ellen White.

“There are three living Persons of the heavenly trio; in the name of these three great powers --the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit--those who receive Christ by living faith are baptized, and these powers will co-operate with the obedient subjects of heaven in their efforts to live the new life in Christ.” Ev 616

“The eternal heavenly dignitaries--God, and Christ, and the Holy Spirit--arming them [the disciples] with more than mortal energy, . . . would advance with them to the work and convince the world of sin.” Ev 616

“You are born unto God, and you stand under the sanction and the power of the three holiest beings in heaven, who are able to keep you from falling.” 7MR 267

“Just call upon the three great Worthies, and say; You know I cannot do this work in my own strength. You must work in me, and by me and through me, sanctifying my tongue, sanctifying my spirit, sanctifying my words, and bringing me into a position where my spirit shall be susceptible to the movings of the Holy Spirit of God upon my mind and character.” 7MR 268

“The Godhead was stirred with pity for the race, and the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit gave Themselves to the working out of the plan of redemption.” CH 222

I think that to any candid mind we have fairly conclusively proved the premise that there are three Persons of the Godhead. Let us now look at some potential problem passages. I will list a number of them in sequence.

Deu 6:4  Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD:

Prov 8:22-30 The LORD possessed me in the beginning of his way, before his works of old.  I was set up from everlasting, from the beginning, or ever the earth was.  When there were no depths, I was brought forth; when there were no fountains abounding with water. Before the mountains were settled, before the hills was I brought forth:  While as yet he had not made the earth, nor the fields, nor the highest part of the dust of the world. When he prepared the heavens, I was there: when he set a compass upon the face of the depth: When he established the clouds above: when he strengthened the fountains of the deep:  When he gave to the sea his decree, that the waters should not pass his commandment: when he appointed the foundations of the earth:  Then I was by him, as one brought up with him: and I was daily his delight, rejoicing always before him;

Mic 5:2  But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting.

Joh 3:16  For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

Joh 5:19  Then answered Jesus and said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do: for what things soever he doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise.

Joh 5:26  For as the Father hath life in himself; so hath he given to the Son to have life in himself;

Joh 8:42  Jesus said unto them, If God were your Father, ye would love me: for I proceeded forth and came from God; neither came I of myself, but he sent me.

Joh 15:26  But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me:

Joh 14:16  And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever; Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.  I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you.

Gal 1:3  Grace be to you and peace from God the Father, and from our Lord Jesus Christ,

Note: Nearly every letter of Paul in the New Testament is stated with this formula. He offers grace on behalf of the Father and the Son. He does not mention the Holy Spirit.

1Co 8:6  But to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him.

1Co 15:28  And when all things shall be subdued unto him, then shall the Son also himself be subject unto him that put all things under him, that God may be all in all.  

Heb 1:1-4  God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds; Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high; Being made so much better than the angels, as he hath by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they.

Each of these texts propose potential problems for a Trinitarian concept. Since we have clearly proven that there are three Persons of the Godhead then it would be natural at this point to begin to apply the premise that we have already established. Before we do that lets look at some Ellen White statements that also may cause a problem to a standard Trinitarian view.

“The Sovereign of the universe was not alone in His work of beneficence. He had an associate--a co-worker who could appreciate His purposes, and could share His joy in giving happiness to created beings. "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God." John 1:1,2. 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. "His name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace." Isaiah 9:6. His "goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting." Micah 5:2. And the Son of God declares concerning Himself: "The Lord possessed Me in the beginning of His way, before His works of old. I was set up from everlasting. . . . When He appointed the foundations of the earth: then I was by Him, as one brought up with Him: and I was daily His delight, rejoicing always before Him." Proverbs 8:22-30.” PP 34                                              

“To dispute the supremacy of the Son of God, thus impeaching the wisdom and love of the Creator, had become the purpose of this prince of angels. To this object he was about to bend the energies of that master mind, which, next to Christ's, was first among the hosts of God.” … The King of the universe summoned the heavenly hosts before Him, that in their presence He might set forth the true position of His Son and show the relation He sustained to all created beings. The Son of God shared the Father's throne, and the glory of the eternal, self-existent One encircled both. About the throne gathered the holy angels, a vast, unnumbered throng--"ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands" (Revelation 5:11.), the most exalted angels, as ministers and subjects, rejoicing in the light that fell upon them from the presence of the Deity. Before the assembled inhabitants of heaven the King declared that none but Christ, the Only Begotten of God, could fully enter into His purposes, and to Him it was committed to execute the mighty counsels of His will. PP 36

“The great Creator assembled the heavenly host, that he might in the presence of all the angels confer special honor upon his Son. The Son was seated on the throne with the Father, and the heavenly throng of holy angels was gathered around them. The Father then made known that it was ordained by himself that Christ, his Son, should be equal with himself; so that wherever was the presence of his Son, it was as his own presence. The word of the Son was to be obeyed as readily as the word of the Father. His Son he had invested with authority to command the heavenly host. Especially was his Son to work in union with himself in the anticipated creation of the earth and every living thing that should exist upon the earth. His Son would carry out his will and his purposes, but would do nothing of himself alone. The Father's will would be fulfilled in him.”  1SP 17 

“Christ had been taken into the special counsel of God in regard to his plans, while Satan was unacquainted with them. He did not understand, neither was he permitted to know, the purposes of God. But Christ was acknowledged sovereign of Heaven, his power and authority to be the same as that of God himself.” 1SP 18

“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.’” 1SP 24

“God, in counsel with his Son, formed the plan of creating man in their own image.” RH 24 Feb 1874.

“In these words is set forth the great principle which is the law of life for the universe. All things Christ received from God, but He took to give. So in the heavenly courts, in His ministry for all created beings: through the beloved Son, the Father's life flows out to all; through the Son it returns, in praise and joyous service, a tide of love, to the great Source of all. And thus through Christ the circuit of beneficence is complete, representing the character of the great Giver, the law of life.”  DA 21

“Cumbered with humanity, Christ could not be in every place personally; therefore it was altogether for their advantage that He should leave them, go to His father, and send the Holy Spirit to be His successor on earth. The Holy Spirit is Himself divested of the personality of humanity and independent thereof. He would represent Himself as present in all places by His Holy Spirit, as the Omnipresent.” 14 MR 23.

Each of these statements pose serious problems to a candid reader if we accept them at face value. Again for the purpose of the exercise let us follow the logic sequence of enforcing the premise without questioning its hidden assumption.

[1] Review and Herald, Feb 13, 1919, The Personality of God page 4. “The greatest truths of Christianity are all bound up in the doctrine of the personality of God.”