The Book Evangelism pages 613-617

Posted Sep 27, 2011 by Gary Hullquist in Trinity Hits: 6,763

The book Evangelism was published in 1946 as a compilation of Ellen White statements.  Pages 613 to 617 are labeled "Misrepresentations of the Godhead." This section is frequently cited. Here are some comments regarding these selective quotations.

Let People Know Our Position—Our policy is, Do not make prominent the objectionable features of our faith, which strike most decidedly against the practices and customs of the people, until the Lord shall give the people a fair chance to know that we are believers in Christ, that we do believe in the divinity of Christ, and in His pre-existence.—Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers, 253. (1895) – {Ev 613.2}

Ellen White wrote these words in 1895 speaking from her experience in New Zealand two years previous. The Seventh-day Adventists were opposed there by spreading false statements about what they believed.

“…the denominational ministers tell the most unblushing falsehoods to their congregations in reference to our work and our people. Whatever false report has been started, is circulated by those who oppose the truth, and is repeated from church to church and from community to community. The circulators of these falsehoods take no pains to find out whether or not they are true, for many of those who repeat the reports, though not the framers of them, still love the false reports, and take delight in giving them a wide circulation. They do not, like honest, just men, come to those who are accused, and seek to find out what is the truth concerning what they have heard in regard to their faith; but without inquiry they spread false statements in order to prejudice the people against those who hold the truth.” Review & Herald, Dec 5, 1893

Like today, there was no attempt by the perpetrators of misinformation to investigate just what these Adventists believed.

“For instance, an effort was made to obtain the use of the hall at a village four miles from Hastings, where some of our workers proposed to present the gospel to the people; but they did not succeed in obtaining the hall, because a school-teacher there opposed the truth, and declared to the people that Seventh-day Adventists did not believe in the divinity of Christ. This man may not have known what our faith is on this point, but he was not left in ignorance. He was informed that there is not a people on earth who hold more firmly to the truth of Christ's pre-existence than do Seventh-day Adventists.”  Review & Herald, Dec 5, 1893

More than any other people on earth?  How can that be?  Do not all the other Christian denominations believe in Christ’s pre-existence?  Well, no, Unitarians teach that Christ was only born human and was then made divine. What made the Seventh-day Adventists in 1893 so unique?  If they had accepted the triune god along with everyone else, how could they hold to Christ’s pre-existence “more firmly” than anyone else?  The evidence is that our historical beliefs were founded on Fundamental Principles that took the Bible “as it reads” and taught that “the divine Son of God” (1SM p. 247) “the only begotten of God” (Signs of the Times, Aug 2, 1905)  was “God’s thought made audible” (Desire of Ages p. 19), “the first-born of heaven” (Desire of Ages p. 51), “from all eternity” (Review & Herald, April 5, 1906).

We Shall Have to Meet Erroneous Teaching—Again and again we shall be called to meet the influence of men who are studying sciences of satanic origin, through which Satan is working to make a nonentity of God and of Christ. The Father and the Son each have a personality. Christ declared, “I and My Father are one.” Yet it was the Son of God who came to the world in human form. Laying aside His royal robe and kingly crown, He clothed His divinity with humanity, that humanity through His infinite sacrifice might become partakers of the divine nature, and escape the corruption that is in the world through lust.—Testimonies For The Church 9:68. (1909) – {Ev 613.3}

Notice how she distinguishes between “God and of Christ.” 1909 Ellen is still dealing with the aftermath of Kellogg’s apostasy and his acceptance of the Trinity in 1903 which blurred the separate personalities of the Father and the Son. In 1905 Review & Herald July 13, she re-emphasized this danger of making the Son of God a nonentity:


"And truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ." All through the Scriptures, the Father and the Son are spoken of as two distinct personages. You will hear men endeavoring to make the Son of God a nonentity. He and the Father are one, but they are two personages. Wrong sentiments regarding this are coming in, and we shall all have to meet them.”

She never speaks of “three distinct personages” but of three powers (mostly) and three persons (rarely, though replicated in the many compilations).  Writing in the Review & Herald, Aug 1, 1907 she commented on Hebrews chapter 1:

“I read the first chapter of Hebrews as the basis of my discourse. This chapter clearly indicates the individual personalities of the Father and the Son. Speaking of the Son, the apostle says, ‘God . . . hath appointed [him] heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds; who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image.’ ”

Positive Truth Versus Spiritualistic Representations—I am instructed to say, The sentiments of those who are searching for advanced scientific ideas are not to be trusted. Such representations as the following are made: “The Father is as the light invisible: the Son is as the light embodied; the Spirit is the light shed abroad.” “The Father is like the dew, invisible vapor; the Son is like the dew gathered in beauteous form; the Spirit is like the dew fallen to the seat of life.” Another representation: “The Father is like the invisible vapor; the Son is like the leaden cloud; the Spirit is rain fallen and working in refreshing power.” – {Ev 614.1}

She is quoting William Boardman (Trinitarian who wrote the popular book, “The Higher Christian Life”). Again she is counteracting the influence that Kellogg was trying to promote. Then she gives some examples.

All these spiritualistic representations are simply nothingness. They are imperfect, untrue. They weaken and diminish the Majesty which no earthly likeness can be compared to. God cannot be compared with the things His hands have made. These are mere earthly things, suffering under the curse of God because of the sins of man. The Father cannot be described by the things of earth. The Father is all the fullness of the Godhead bodily, and is invisible to mortal sight. – {Ev 614.2}

The Son is all the fullness of the Godhead manifested. The Word of God declares Him to be “the express image of His person.” “God so loved the world, that He gave His only-begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” Here is shown the personality of the Father. – {Ev 614.3}

The Comforter that Christ promised to send after He ascended to heaven, is the Spirit in all the fullness of the Godhead, making manifest the power of divine grace to all who receive and believe in Christ as a personal Saviour. 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.—Special Testimonies, Series B, No. 7, pp. 62, 63. (1905) – {Ev 615.1}

She describes these representations of the Father, Son, and Spirit as “spiritualistic” because they “spiritualize away their literal meaning” (make figurative, metaphoric, unreal, symbolic—see Life Sketches p. 230; Spiritual Gifts vol. 2 p. 73) the personality of the Father and the Son as “two distinct personages” (5BC p. 1148.2)

EGW makes a noticeable distinction between the Father and Son who each “is all the fullness”, and the Spirit who is “in all the fullness”. This is consistent with her understanding and the witness of Scripture that the Spirit of God is the Presence of God; the Spirit of our Father (Matt 10:20) and the Spirit of His Son (Gal 4:6; 1Pet 1:10,11) together by the one Spirit (Eph 4:4; 1Cor 12:13; Eph 2:18; John 14:6) they abide in us (John 14:23; Rom 8:9).

The Pre-existent, Self-existent Son of God—Christ is the pre-existent, self-existent Son of God.... In speaking of his pre-existence, Christ carries the mind back through dateless ages. He assures us that there never was a time when He was not in close fellowship with the eternal God. He to whose voice the Jews were then listening had been with God as one brought up with Him.—The Signs of the Times, August 29, 1900. – {Ev 615.2}

Pre-existent (before the creation of all things- Col 1:15-17), self-existent (immortal because he has “life in himself” – John 5:26—which was given to him from his Father).  It is significant that Ellen White did not say “there never was a time when the eternal God was not in close fellowship with His Son.”  Her statement that Christ “had been with God as one brought up with Him” is a reference to Proverbs 8:30 which she quotes in the previous paragraph:

Through Solomon Christ declared: "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. . . . 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."  {ST, August 29, 1900 par. 14}

This harmonizes with the statements of Christ in John 8:42 “I proceeded forth and came from God”, John 16:27,28 “I came out from God” “I came forth from the Father”, and John 17:8 “I came out from Thee”—all using the same Greek word exelthon which explicitly indicates coming “out” ex- from God the Father.  It also is consistent with the creation of man “in our image and in our likeness” when Eve was “made” from “the rib which the LORD God had taken from man” and Adam named her “Woman, because she was taken out of Man” Genesis 2:22,23.

He was equal with God, infinite and omnipotent.... He is the eternal, self-existent Son.—Manuscript 101, 1897. – {Ev 615.3}

He is equal with God his Father because “all things are given me of my Father” Matt 11:27, “The Father loves the Son and has given all things into his hands” John 3:35, thus the Son is “heir of all things” Heb 1:2.  He is equal with God his Father because he is the Son of God John 5:18. He is self-existent because his Father, who has “life in Himself” “has He given to the Son to have life in himself” John 5:26.  The Son is infinite and omnipotent because “it pleased the Father than in him should all fullness dwell” Col 1:19.

From Everlasting—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. From everlasting He was the Mediator of the covenant, the one in whom all nations of the earth, both Jews and Gentiles, if they accepted Him, were to be blessed. “The Word was with God, and the Word was God.” Before men or angels were created, the Word was with God, and was God.—The Review and Herald, April 5, 1906. – {Ev 615.4}

Christ shows them that, although they might reckon His life to be less than fifty years, yet His divine life could not be reckoned by human computation. The existence of Christ before His incarnation is not measured by figures.—The Signs of the Times, May 3, 1899. – {Ev 616.1}

Human computation of time and duration is limited to the beginning of creation; before that there is no computation of time, no figures by which it can be measured. In the realms of eternity Christ’s divine life could only be reckoned by divine computation. The Biblical definition of eternal and everlasting is always stated in relative terms: prior to the creation of this world, before men or angels were created, before ever the world was, before the foundation of the world, before the mountains were settled, before the hills…

Life, Original, Unborrowed, Underived—Jesus declared, “I am the resurrection, and the life.” In Christ is life, original, unborrowed, underived. “He that hath the Son hath life.” The divinity of Christ is the believer’s assurance of eternal life.—The Desire of Ages, 530 (1898) – {Ev 616.2}

The life that was “in Christ” is the same life that was in the Father.  “For as the Father has life in Himself, so has He given to the Son to have life in himself” John 5:26.  The Father is “the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God” 1Tim 2:17, “the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords; who only has immortality, dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto; whom no man has seen, nor can see” 1Tim 6:16, because “no man has seen God at any time” John 1:18, “The Father Himself which has sent me…you have neither heard His voice at any time, nor seen His shape” John 5:37, “not that any man has seen the Father save he which is of God” John 6:46.  Because the Son of God is “of” or “from” God, he has “by inheritance” (Heb 1:4) received all things from his Father (John 13:3), His life (John 5:26; 6:57), His name (Heb 1:4; Phil 2:9; Exodus 23:21-23), His glory (John 17:22), His throne (Rev 3:21), and His power of authority (John 10:18; Matt 28:18). All this, all things, has Christ received from the original life, “the great Source of all” (Desire of Ages p. 21).

With the Father at Sinai—When they [Israel] came to Sinai, He took occasion to refresh their minds in regard to His requirements. Christ and the Father, standing side by side upon the mount, with solemn majesty proclaimed the Ten Commandments.—Historical Sketches, p. 231. (1866) – {Ev 616.3}

The Father and Son do everything together.  “My Father works hitherto, and I work” John 5:17.

“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.”  Spiritual Gifts vol. 3 p. 33,34; cf Early Writings p. 145

Jesus said, “My Father works hitherto, and I work. Therefore the Jews sought the more to kill him because he…said also that God was his Father, making himself equal with God.”  John 5:17,18  The Son is equal with his Father because he is the Son. He inherited the same divine nature, all the same divine attributes as his Father.

The Eternal Dignitaries of the Trinity—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.—Manuscript 145, 1901. – {Ev 616.4}

The term “Trinity” is supplied by the compilers of the book Evangelism. Ellen White never, in all her writing comprising 25 million words, used the word Trinity or Triune.  But she did repeatedly identify the two distinct personalities, who bind themselves to us through the “one mediator” who bridges himself between his Father who is Spirit (John 4:24) and our humanity because he, “the Word became flesh.”

“The religious bodies all over Christendom will become more and more closely united in sentiment. They will make of God a peculiar something in order to escape from loyalty to Him who is pure, holy, and undefiled, and who denounces all sin as a production of the apostate.”

“…that they all may be one; as Thou, Father, art in Me, and I in Thee, that they also may be one in us.’ These words present God and Christ as two distinct personalities. Christ prays that a pure, holy love may bind His followers to Himself, and to the Father, that this close fellowship may be a sign that God loves as His own Son those who believe in Him.”  Notebook Leaflets vol. 1 p. 124

Personality of the Holy Spirit—We need to realize that the Holy Spirit, who is as much a person as God is a person, is walking through these grounds.—Manuscript 66, 1899. (From a talk to the students at the Avondale School.) – {Ev 616.5}

This is a carefully selective excerpt from Manuscript 66 in which the paragraph begins:

‘The Lord says this because He knows it is for our good. He would build a wall around us, to keep us from transgression, so that His blessing and love may be bestowed on us in rich measure. This is the reason we have established a school here. The Lord instructed us that this was the place in which we should locate, and we have had every reason to think that we are in the right place. We have been brought together as a school, and we need to realize that the Holy Spirit, who is as much a person as God is a person, is walking through these grounds, that the Lord God is our keeper, and helper. He hears every word we utter and knows every thought of the mind.”

The full context clearly reveals that “the Lord is that Spirit” (2Cor 3:17). Who was walking?

“Christ walks unseen through our streets. With messages of mercy He comes to our homes. With all who are seeking to minister in His name, He waits to co-operate. He is in the midst of us, to heal and to bless, if we will receive Him. The Ministry of Healing, p. 107.

“The Lord Jesus standing by the side of the canvasser, walking with them, is the chief worker. If we recognize Christ as the One who is with us to prepare the way, the Holy Spirit by our side will make impressions in just the lines needed. E. G. White, Colporteur Ministry, p. 107.

“Remember that Jesus is beside you wherever you go, noting your actions and listening to your words. Would you be ashamed to hear his voice speaking to you, and to know that he hears your conversation?”  EG White, The Youth’s Instructor, February 4, 1897 par. 3.

The Holy Spirit is a person, for He beareth witness with our spirits that we are the children of God. When this witness is borne, it carries with it its own evidence. At such times we believe and are sure that we are the children of God.... – {Ev 616.6}

The Holy Spirit has a personality, else He could not bear witness to our spirits and with our spirits that we are the children of God. He must also be a divine person, else He could not search out the secrets which lie hidden in the mind of God. “For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God.”—Manuscript 20, 1906. – {Ev 617.1}

The Spirit of God bears witness with our spirit (Romans 8:16).  Our spirit is not a separate person; it is the personality of our person.  Likewise, God’s Spirit is not a separate person from Himself, but is the personality of His person (1Cor 2:11).

The word “person” comes from the Latin word persona which is formed from two roots: per- “through” and -sona “sound.”  It was used in ancient Roman times to refer to the masks that actors wore in plays and dramas. The actors would speak through the mask the words of their character. Jesus promises to “be present” when the scriptures are read, to speak through his representative, through the persona of his divine character. He communicates with our minds the thoughts of his divine mind.  But he does this himself. That is why the Spirit speaks not of himself (John 16:13) because the Son does not speak of himself but only the words which the Father gives him (John 8:26,28; 12:49; 17:8).

The Power of God in the Third Person—The prince of the power of evil can only be held in check by the power of God in the third person of the Godhead, the Holy Spirit.—Special Testimonies, Series A, No. 10, p. 37. (1897) – {Ev 617.2}

This is similar to the statement in Desire of Ages p. 671

“Sin could be resisted and overcome only through the mighty agency of the Third Person of the Godhead, who would come with no modified energy, but in the fullness of divine power.”  DA p. 671

Both are exclusive in force: “evil can only be held” and “sin could be resisted and overcome only” by the power of God in the third person and through the mighty agency of the third person.  Who is this third person who is the only one who can “break the hold of evil” ?

“There is but one power that can break the hold of evil from the hearts of men, and that is the power of God in Jesus Christ. Only through the blood of the Crucified One is there cleansing from sin. His grace alone can enable us to resist and subdue the tendencies of our fallen nature.”  Testimonies vol. 8 p. 291 1903

On the same page in Desire of Ages, Ellen White clearly identifies what this power is:

“Christ has given His Spirit as a divine power to overcome all hereditary and cultivated tendencies to evil, and to impress His own character upon His church.”  DA p. 671

“The only defense against evil is the indwelling of Christ in the heart through faith in His righteousness.” Desire of Ages p. 324

Jesus is the third person; he is the only one who overcame sin in human flesh, who is touched by the feelings of our infirmities. He gives us His Spirit to overcome as he overcame.

 

In Co-operation With the Three Highest Powers—We are to co-operate with the three highest powers in heaven,—the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost,—and these powers will work through us, making us workers together with God.—Special Testimonies, Series B, No. 7, p. 51. (1905) – {Ev 617.3}

“Those who believe the truth should remember that they are God's little children, that they are under His training. Let them be thankful to God for His manifold mercies and be kind to one another. They have one God and one Saviour; and one Spirit--the Spirit of Christ--is to bring unity into their ranks.”  Testimonies vol. 9 p. 189