Here we are in a wonderful world, a glance at our surroundings impresses us with the greatness, the fearfulness and the marvelous wisdom manifested in creation. Mystery! mystery! everywhere; and there is system, there is design, all inviting observation, investigation and the most profound exercise of thought and reason. An effect is traced to its cause; that cause proves to be another effect to be traced to another cause; all the effects and all the causes carry the mind backward and backward and refuse to give satisfaction till we have reached an ultimate cause, equal in power and in wisdom to the production of all causes and effects; and there the finite mind must stop because it has reached the infinite. It must stop and bow its head reverently, impressed with the thought that the Great Infinite, who could produce the wonders of the finite, has the right and the might to forbid further pursuit. Shall the finite complain in the presence of a thousand mysteries in its own permitted domain because the Author of the finite limits its intellectual powers, and, upon its attempt to penetrate the illimitable sphere of the Infinite, declares, "Stand back! thus far shalt thou go and no farther?" or shall the finite refuse to believe in the Infinite because it cannot understand the mode of His existence, when in the realms of its own domains it finds facts to behold and yet not to be understood? To reason, the very wonders of the finite world are facts which become a promise from which it is irresistibly forced to the conclusion that the Infinite IS, and that all creation is the marvelous work of His almighty hand.
Where there is law there must be a law-maker, a law-giver. Where there is design there must be a designer; for the one without the other is unthinkable, just as is effect without cause. And the fact that some things are thinkable and some are not thinkable, is of itself another proof that the finite creature is the product of the Infinite Creator. Limit, limit, everywhere is characteristic of things finite, and limit declares the existence of a Being having the right and the might to limit. Reason stands as an ever-watchful sentinel and forbids doubt ever questioning that the mighty forces in the heavens above and the earth beneath are the products of wisdom, power and goodness. Wisdom cries out to her children, who re-echo her words and send them reverberating through the vault of heaven, THERE IS A GOD, while folly is flattered by fools who jabber, "There is no God."
Who but the fool can say "There is no God," when confronted with the majesty and might and beauty and fearfulness of creation? To everyone but the fool
spacious firmament on high,
With all the blue, ethereal sky,
And spangled heavens--a shining frame.
Their Great Original proclaim.
The ungoverned sun from day to day,
Doth his Creatorís power display,
And publishes to every land,
The work of an Almighty hand."
But reason asks, Is there nothing to satisfy and gratify the finite mind beyond the horizon of this ephemeral life? Can this great world of many woes and wants be the end? or is it a means to an end? It cannot be that this fickle, fleeting life is all that is possible as a reward to Reason for reverence before the Great Infinite Creator whom she prays to lift the veil of mystery and open to view the glories which she thinks must shine in resplendent beauty beyond this vale of tears and death. While nature declares there is a God, her lips are closed in stolid silence and seemingly in a tantalizing disregard of Reasonís request. But He who is the author of this stupendous thing we call nature is found to be also the author of a Book--yea The Book, whose lids fly open and expose to the anxious view of the diligent seeker the words, "The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament showeth His handiwork. Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night showeth knowledge. * * * The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul; the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple. The statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart: the commandments of the Lord are pure, enlightening the eyes. The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever; the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether"--Psa. 19: 1, 9.
In this book reason is appealed to in words whose force is irresistible. The question is asked, "He that planted the ear, shall he not hear? He that formed the eye, shall he not see? He that chastiseth the heathen, shall he not correct? He that teacheth man knowledge, shall he not know?" (Psa. 94: 9, 10). Study the delicate formation of the eye and be convinced that it was designed to be the organ of sight, from which it follows that the Infinite Designer possessed the power of sight before He conceived and formed the organ of sight in the creature. The same is true of the ear and of the brain, the seat of thought. In the possession of the faculties of hearing, of sight, and of mind we are enabled to examine the wonderful open Book, and the finite mind becomes satisfied to look, though for the present as "through a glass, darkly," because there is a future revealed therein whose dawn will bring the glorious light in all its fullness. In the meantime its Author extends to us the invitation, "Come and let us reason together," and the book declares that "He that cometh to God must believe that he is. and that he is rewarder of them that diligently seek him"--Heb. 11: 6.
THERE IS BUT ONE GOD
The question is asked, "Canst thou by searching find out God? Canst thou find out the Almighty to perfection?" (Job 11: 7). We must indeed search in vain; but he has been pleased to reveal Himself to us as far as it is His good pleasure that we shall know Him now; and this is as far as finite minds can comprehend. To the extent that He has revealed Himself in the revelation of His purpose in the earth, we are required to know Him and trust in Him; for salvation is predicated upon this knowledge. Jesus says, "This is life eternal, that they may know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent" (John 17: 3). This knowledge is required because without it idolatry is almost certain in one form or another. A fundamental command is: "Thou shalt have no other gods before me" (Ex. 20: 3). His unity therefore is the first thing to be observed. Heathenism has multiplied its gods; and a perverted Christianity has made such a compromise between the teaching of Revelation of the oneness of God and the heathen "many gods" as to invent a theory which it claims to be too mysterious for the comprehension of its inventors, and they have called it "The Trinity." There was no way of escaping the clear declaration of Scripture that there is but one God; and pagans seem to have found it impossible to rid their minds of all their gods, so they retained the idea of three, but to suit scripture phraseology they declared it to be a threeness in a oneness--three to suit paganism, and yet only one, to suit Bible words. This compromise, wherein "many gods" are reduced to three and called a "Trinity," is no less idolatry than was the old fiction of heathenism. The oneness of God without any compromise with an invented threeness is clearly set forth in the following passages:
Deut. , 39--Unto thee it was showed, that thou mightest know that the Lord he is God; there is none else beside him. Know therefore this day, and consider it in thine heart, that the Lord he is God in heaven above, and upon earth beneath: there is none else. Chap. 6: 4--Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is one Lord.
II. Sam. --Wherefore thou art great, O Lord God: for there is none like thee, neither is there any God besides thee, according to all that we have heard with our ears. Chap. 22: 32--For who is God, save the Lord? or who is a rock save our God?
Isa. 43: 10-12--Ye are my witnesses, saith the Lord, and my servant whom I have chosen; that ye may know and believe me, and understand that I am he: before me there was no God formed, neither shall there be after me. I, even I, am the Lord; and besides me there is no Saviour.
Is. 46: 9--Remember the former things of old; for I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me.
Is. 44: 6--Thus saith the Lord, the King of Israel, and his redeemer, the Lord of Hosts; I am the first, and I am the last; and beside me there is no God.
Mark 12: 29--And Jesus answered him, The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is one Lord.
John 17: 3--And this is life eternal, that they may know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.
I. Cor. 8: 4, 6--As concerning therefore the eating of those things that are offered in sacrifice to idols, we know that an idol is nothing in the world, and that there is none other God but one. For though there be that are called gods, whether in heaven or in earth (as there be gods many and lords many), but to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we by Him.
Eph. 4: 4-6--There is one body, and one spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.
Gal. 3: 20--Now a mediator is not a mediator of one, but God is one.
I. Tim. 2: 5--For there is one God, and one mediator between God and man, the man Christ Jesus.
These passages entirely exclude the thought of there being three persons in one God. The oft repeated words of modern Christians, "God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Ghost," can be made to mean nothing else but three Gods, and the accepted Athanasian creed declares the co-equality and co-eternity of the three. If this does not mean three separate Gods, how can the comparison of "co-equality" or "co-eternity" be made between them? One can understand how a plurality of persons can be one in office, purpose, aim and object. In such a case any one of the three would be a separate personality, capable of acting separately and thinking separately, but to apply this as a comparison with the Trinity would force the conclusion of three distinct Gods, and that they are one only in purpose; and then how could one of these say, "Beside me there is no God?" How could one of them address another in the words, "This is life eternal, that they may know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent?" If there were three co-equals one could no more have "sent" one of the others than one of the others could have "sent" the one; and for one to tell another that He was the "only true God" was either to refuse to countenance the existence of the third ("God the Holy Ghost") or to imply that though he was "God very God," he was not a "true God"; for only one is declared to be the "true God."
NO MYSTERY IN THE TRINITY
Trinitarians say that the Father is co-equal, the son co-equal, and the Holy Ghost co-equal; and consistently with this, they use the phrase, "three persons." If there are "three persons," and if each one is co-equal with each one of the other two, there are three co-equal persons, and we cannot say there is only one person. If any one of the three persons is God (either Father, Son or Holy Ghost), then there are three personal Gods, and three personal Gods cannot be one personal God. When Trinitarians name the three as "God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Ghost," and then say "yet not three but one," and then cry out "Mystery, mystery!" mystery becomes a word to hide folly; for there is no mystery when three co-equals are named and then it is declared there is only one, it is a palpable absurdity and a flagrant perversion of language. "Father, Son and Holy Ghost" are spoken of in the Bible, but not "God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Ghost." As to what the Son and the Spirit are, we shall find the scriptures clear when we come to examine these under their proper headings. But since the testimonies given establish beyond question that God is one we must accept this as a settled fact; and be assured that nothing in the scriptures will be found to really contradict it.
THE PERSONALITY OF THE ONE GOD
The omnipresence of
Deity is difficult to understand consistent with the idea of his being a
personality, but what great truth is there without difficulties for finite
minds to understand? That God has a dwelling place and is therefore localized
is evident from the following testimonies. Solomon at the dedication of the temple, prays: "And hearken thou to the supplication of
thy servant, and of thy people
Now this localization of God, which implies his personality, is not in conflict with his omnipresence. He is everywhere by means of his Spirit, which radiates from his august presence and pervades the universe. Hence the psalmist asks, "Whither shall I go from thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence? If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there! if I make my bed in hell (sheol), behold, thou art there. If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me" (Ps. 139: 7, 10). The sun is located in the heavens above; but he is present here by his rays and the rays of the sun are an extension of the sun itself; a fact which in no way conflicts with his localization as a great body of focalized light. This helps the mind to understand, in measure, how God can be a being having a "dwelling place," and yet be everywhere by His spirit flowing out from himself. The idea that God is without personality and that He is a diffusion of spirit everywhere as much as anywhere is not in harmony with the revelation that God has been pleased to give of Himself.
It is not revealed as to what part of the universe is His "dwelling place." He "dwells in light unapproachable" by mortal man; and doubtless that light is the grand center of the mighty universe and around which all the planets revolve.
NO MAN HATH SEEN GOD
In many parts of the
Scriptures God is spoken of as having been seen and conversed with; yet Jesus
says, "No man hath seen God at any time" (John ). The Apostle Paul also says: "Now to the King
eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God, be honor and glory for
ever and ever" (
God is therefore one and invisible; dwelling in heaven, in light unapproachable, whom no mortal man hath seen or can see, and He is omnipresent and omniscient by His spirit which flows out from His glorious presence and fills immensity.
God is immortal, from
all eternity and to all eternity. "God is a spirit, and they that worship
Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth" (John ). "Now unto the King eternal, immortal, invisible,
the only wise God, be honor and glory for ever and ever, Amen." He only
hath immortality underived. His nature is therefore holy because it is
immortal, and to that holy and glorious nature angels and Christ have attained;
and men are exhorted to seek for immortality by a patient continuance in
He is holy; therefore men should strive to be like Him as nearly as it is possible for the finite to be like the Infinite; for He says, "I am the Lord, your Holy One, the Creator of Israel, your King" (Is. 43: 15). And of Him it is said, "Thou art of purer eyes than to behold evil, and canst not look on iniquity" (Hab. ).
He is just; therefore men should strive to do justly in all things, for "He is the Rock; his work is perfect, for all His ways are judgment; a God of truth and without iniquity; just and right is He" (Deut. 32: 4). "Doth God pervert judgment? or doth the Almighty pervert justice?" (Job 8: 3).
He is a God of love;
therefore men should love Him with all their hearts; for "he that loveth
not, knoweth not God; for God is love" (
He is good; therefore
"O give thanks unto the Lord; for He is good; for His mercy endureth
the great, eternal God,
Art high above our thoughts:
Worthy to be feared, adored--
By all Thy hands have wrought.
None can with Thyself compare,
Thy glory fills the earth and sky;
We, and all thy creatures, are
As nothing in thine eye."
THE SPIRIT OF GOD
We have already seen that the spirit of God is everywhere. By it he is omnipresent, and by it he upholds the universe; as the rays of the sun are an extension of the sun itself, so God being a spirit, his spirit is an extension of himself in various forms according as he wills. The fixed laws of nature teach us that all things are governed by one Great Mind which is in communication with every part of the mighty universe. That mind is God, "out of whom all things have been evolved." Wonderful it is, of course, but the wonder is in measure lessened by revelation. The apostle Paul eloquently cries out, "O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out! for who hath known the mind of the Lord? or who hath been his counselor? or who hath first given to him, and it shall be recompensed unto him again? For of him (ek anton--out of him), and through him, and to him, are all things: to whom be glory for ever. Amen" (Rom. , 36). The popular theory of creation is that "all things were made out of nothing." This is a contradiction of terms; for it is unthinkable that something can come out of nothing; and he who has given man thinking powers, though he may not fully reveal his wonderful works, does not ask us to try to think the unthinkable. The words "out of whom are all things" give us a glimpse which for the present affords the mind satisfaction in the assurance that by the will of the Creator the substantial universe was evolved out of something more substantial than "nothing"; for out of nothing nothing comes. Is it unreasonable to believe that what is called matter is but the grosser forms of spirit; and that the world of matter was spoken into its forms, and mode of existence, out of the spirit by the Great Eternal Spirit, the Deity? It is a thinkable thought, to say the least, while it is not thinkable that all things came from nothing.
Without presuming to venture too far into the marvelous works of Deity by reason alone, we can safely follow the paths of revelation. That which has been done by Deity through his spirit we may get a faint idea of from the following scriptures:
Gen. 1: 2--And the earth was without form and void: and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. And God said, Let there be light, and there was light.
Ps. 104: 30--Thou sendest forth thy spirit, they are created; and thou renewest the face of the earth.
Job 26: 13--By his spirit he hath garnished the heavens; his hand hath formed the crooked serpent.
Ps, 33: 6--By the word of the Lord were the heavens made; and all the host of them by the breath of his mouth.
Job 33: 4--The spirit of God hath made me, and the breath of the Almighty hath given me life.
Ps. 36: 9--For with thee is the fountain of life: in thy light shall we see light.
Job 12: 10--In those hands is the soul of every living thing, and the breath of all mankind.
Is. 42: 5--God giveth breath unto the people upon the earth, and spirit to them that walk therein.
Ps. 51: 12--Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free spirit.
From these testimonies
we learn that all things are evolved out of Deityís spirit, that his "free
spirit" is the substratum of all things, the medium of life of every
creature. Since Deityís "free spirit" flows out from himself as the
This "free spirit" is the vital force of all forms of life. In some men it is susceptible of being centered and focused by extraordinary will power, a fact which is to be seen in the art of mesmerism, hypnotism, and what is called spiritualism. For these phenomena we need look no further than the spirit of the flesh, that spirit by which creatures live and move and have their being; and which enables them to perform the various functions of life. But if God were to "gather unto himself his spirit and his breath, all flesh would perish together, and man would turn again unto dust" (Job 34: 14).
THERE IS BUT ONE SPIRIT
It is evident that
there is but one spirit, though its forms of manifestation are innumerable.
Hence we read, "Now there are diversities of gifts; but the same
HOLY SPIRIT NOT A PERSON
That the "Holy Spirit" is not the third person of a trinity is evident from the following scriptures:
Matt. 3: 11--I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance; but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Spirit, and with fire.
Luke --And it was revealed unto him by the Holy Spirit, that he should not see death, before he had seen the Lordís Christ.
John 1: 33--Upon whom thou shalt see the Spirit descending and remaining upon him, the same is he which baptizeth with the Holy Spirit.
John 14: 26--But the Comforter, which is the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, etc.
John --And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Spirit.
Acts 1: 1, 2--* * * Of all that Jesus began both to do and teach, until the day in which he was taken up, after that he through the Holy Spirit had given commandments unto the apostles whom he had chosen.
Acts 1: 5--For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days hence.
Verse 8--But ye shall receive power after that the Holy Spirit is come upon you.
Verse 16--Men and brethren, this Scripture must needs have been fulfilled, which the Holy Spirit by the mouth of David spake before concerning Judas.
Acts 2: 33--Therefore being by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he hath shed forth this, which ye now see and hear.
Verse 38--Ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
Acts 4: 8--Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said unto them, etc.
Acts --How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power.
Acts , 45--While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Spirit fell on all them which heard the word. And they of the circumcision which believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because that on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Spirit.
These passages are examples of how the Holy Spirit is spoken of in the New Testament. It is:
1. That with which persons are baptized.
2. That which is the means by which God reveals his will to men.
3. That which descends upon men on special occasions in bearing witness of important truths.
4. That which is sent to comfort and help the memory of those who were specially appointed to be witnesses of the work, death and resurrection of Christ.
5. That which is imparted to the disciples by Jesus breathing on them.
6. That through which Jesus is said to have given commandments unto his apostles.
7. That by means of which the apostles were to receive power.
8. That which inspired David and all the prophets of old.
9. That which Jesus received according to promise and which was "shed forth" upon the apostles.
10. That with which God anointed Jesus.
11. That which was "poured out" upon the Gentiles of the house of Cornelius.
12. That with which many were filled as a means of imparting to the recipients miraculous gifts.
Now if the Holy Spirit be viewed as the effluence proceeding from God and the vehicle of his power to men, these facts are easily understood; but if one has in mind a "third person" who is God along with two other persons, it is impossible to understand the passages given. How could persons be baptized with Holy Spirit if it were a person? If, however, it is spirit in diffusion, we can understand how baptism can take place in it or with it as easily as we can understand baptism with, or in, water and with fire. If fire or water were a person it would be absurd to speak of being "baptized with fire," and "with water."
Then, again, "God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit." That with which anointing takes place must be in diffusion, capable of being poured out. Hence the Holy Spirit is said to have been "poured out," and "shed forth." This too implies that it is subject to the will and power of the one who "pours" or "sheds" it forth. So likewise when it is said to be "sent" and "received" and "breathed." It is shown to be a means under the control of One who has the power to "send" it, to "breathe" it, to "pour" it and "shed" it forth. The results of all this are "gifts" of various kinds, and enlightenment from God, from one Mind which controls all. The very thought of three co-equals performing various parts by their own volition renders all confusion. But if Jesus was subject to God, and the Holy Spirit an effluence emanating from Him under the power of His will, there being only one supreme will begetting, guiding and controlling in the work of redemption, then we may repeat with the greatest emphasis possible the words of our Lord, "This is life eternal, that they may know thee the ONLY TRUE GOD, and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent." We may say that whatever Deity does he does by his power; but power can only be exercised and manifested by or through a medium, a vehicle. God being omnipresent by means of his spirit flowing out from his personal presence, his power is universal in upholding all things in the natural world. For the performance of a work that is supernatural and sacred the same spirit by special concentration of the divine will becomes Holy Spirit for the holy or sacred work determined to be done. When Jesus promised to send the Holy Spirit as a Comforter, he surely did not intend us to understand that one person intended sending another person to take the first personís place. But God having given Jesus the Holy Spirit without measure, had thereby imparted it to him with authority and power to impart it to others, making it subject to his will as well as to his Fatherís will. When Jesus fulfilled his promise the Comforter came by being "poured out" and "shed forth." It was caused to pervade the persons to whom it was given, influencing their minds in refreshing their memories and in inspiring their tongues to speak divine truth. Who will say that these results were the work of one person who had taken the place of the other who had, for the time, left his followers? Is it not that the One God, from whom all blessings flow, imparted power to His only begotten Son, and the Son, who owes his existence to and is, and always will be, subordinate to the Father imparted it to his faithful followers, the Spirit of God being the effluence, influence, or vehicle, through which the "power" or "gifts" were transmitted? Thus it will be seen that Jesus was Godís offspring by means of his power through his Holy Spirit, and therefore he was God manifested in the flesh by the Spirit. Thus "God was in Christ reconciling the world unto himself," and Jesus thereby being the Father in manifestation by the Spirit became the One (not three) "name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit;" and so it could be said of him, "Neither is there salvation in any other; for there is none other name under heaven given among men whereby we must be saved."--Acts .
In conclusion then we may safely say:
1. That when the Holy Spirit is spoken of as that with which people were baptized, it was the Spirit of God under the divine will through Christ, enveloping and overwhelming the subjects within its halo.
2. That when it is spoken of as the means of revelation to men, it is the vehicle which conveys the One Mind of One God to the minds of men, and not that one of three Gods by his volition performs a work specially in which the other two are not engaged except indirectly.
3. That when the Holy Spirit is said to descend upon men, it is not a personality that so descends, but an unction from the Father, compared in the Scriptures to the "early and the latter rain" descending upon the earth.
4. That the Holy Spirit is not a person, that is in any sense a "Comforter," more than, or different from, or separate from, God, but is the means by which God in special cases, sometimes through Christ, so influences the minds of his people as to fill them with joy and strength and courage for the performance of work of a special and extremely difficult character.
5. That for Jesus to breathe upon his disciples and to say, "Receive ye the Holy Spirit," was not an act of introducing to them a third person; but a means of enthusing their whole beings with an extraordinary thrill of life and courage, such as was needed to bear them up under the severe trials awaiting them.
6. That for Jesus to give commandments through the Holy Spirit was not for one "co-equal" to command by the authority of another "co-equal;" but it was that Jesus received all his instructions, power and authority from the Father by inspiration, the Holy Spirit being the means of bringing his mind en rapport with the mind of his Father. Therefore as he said, his words were not his, but the Fatherís who sent him.
7. When the apostles are said to have received the power of the Holy Spirit, it was not that the power came from a third co-equal, but that God imparted power to them by means of the Holy Spirit, which placed the recipients of the special power in special communion with the One only source of power.
8. When David prophesied by the Holy Spirit, it was not that the mind of a third "co-equal" moved his mind to foresee and his pen to foretell what would happen, but it was with him like all the prophets, "God in sundry times, and in divers manners spake in times past unto the fathers by the prophets;" and God did this by causing "holy men of old to speak as they were moved by the Holy Spirit" of God, the Spirit being Godís means of breathing upon men whose minds thus affected became "God-breathed."
9. It would be absurd to say that Jesus, when he received the Holy Spirit according to promise, did so as one second "co-equal" receiving another third "co-equal" God. He was filled with it while in the flesh; but when he was "fashioned into a glorious body" he became Holy Spirit in bodily form, a glorious, immortal nature which was the "joy set before him" for which he endured the cross and despised the shame of a malefactorís death.
10. For Jesus to be anointed with the Holy Spirit was not for one "co-equal" person to anoint a second "co-equal" person with a third "co-equal" person, an absurdity which the Trinity is reducible to. It was for God, after the custom of anointing with oil, to pour out upon Jesus and to envelop him in a special and copious concentration of spirit, through which he spake the words, "This is my (not our) beloved Son in whom I (not we) am well pleased." "The head of every man is Christ, the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God."--I Cor. 11: 3. God, being the head of Christ, could appropriately utter the words "in whom I am well pleased," leaving no room for a third "coequal" to have anything to say in the matter. There was, therefore, only one Great Mind to please.
11. To use the words "poured out" implies an actor and an instrument passive in his hands; and that which was "poured out" could not, of course, be a person. So again we have Deity, the source of all power pouring out his Spirit as the means of manifesting his acceptance of the Gentiles.
12. It is God that miraculously strengthens minds and muscles, though he has given his Son power and authority to use divine power. Thus for this purpose many were filled with the Holy Spirit and so enabled to confirm Godís words "with signs and wonders, and divers miracles and gifts of the Holy Spirit."
PERSONAL PRONOUN, WHY USED
Some depend upon the fact that the Comforter, which is the Holy Spirit, is represented by the personal pronoun, masculine gender, as proof of the Spiritís separate personality. This is a very slender thread to hang on. If the personal pronoun in this case proves the separate personality of the Spirit, then upon the same principle obedience and sin could be proved to be persons. Paul says, "Know ye not that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?"--Rom. . That which emanates from and whose existence depends upon a person is sometimes personified, the personality being derived from the source whence the power or influence or act proceeds. To illustrate: The sun is often personified, and the pronouns are used in the masculine gender-- "his heat," "his light," "his rays." An admirer might say of a beautiful sun-set, "See him sink behind a glowing horizon" The light of the sun is often spoken of as if it were the sun itself. This because the light or sun's rays emanate from the sun, are an extension of the sun and can have no existence apart from it. In phraseology the personality attaches to the sun proper and follows, as it were, its extention in its rays.
This will help us to trace the personal pronoun when applied to the Holy Spirit of God back to its source in Deity himself from whom Holy Spirit proceeds and apart from whom it has no existence There is often a noun implied in language, though not expressed. We may in using the words of the Saviour safely think of the real personality involved even to the extent of mentally supplying the noun when the pronoun is used. For instance, who can object to the following? "But the Comforter, which is the Holy Spirit (of God) whom the Father will send in my name, he (God through his Spirit) shall teach you all things" The person and gender attach to God, and follows, as it were, the Spirit which emanates from him; for truly God is the "Comforter" in the case; and it is the meaning we must seek, not words without meaning. In the illustration given from Paul, the person and gender attach to the "sinner" and the "obedient," and follows on to the act of "sin" and "obedience;" and no one would for a moment sever the acts from the actor in order to establish a theory of the personality of the acts. Then, again, the word Spirit sometimes is used for God. Several of the letters to the churches in the book of Revelation end with the words "He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit sayeth unto the churches."--Rev. 2: 17, 29; 3: 6, 22. Who is it that "saith unto the churches" what is revealed in this wonderful book? Is it the supposed third person of the Trinity? Absurd! It is none other than God himself, though speaking by means of his Spirit through Christ. Hence the book begins with the words "The Revelation of Jesus Christ which God gave unto him, to show unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass; and he sent and signified it unto his servant John, who bear record of the word of God," etc.
Again, Paul writes
Timothy, "Now the Spirit speaketh expressly."--1 Tim. 4: 1. If
there had been occasion to use a pronoun here, it might well have been personal
and masculine gender, yet who would have construed it to mean that the
"Spirit" was a third person of the Trinity? "Spirit" here
clearly stands for the one and only "true God" who has distinctly
declared, "I am the Lord (Yahweh), and there is none else, there is no God
beside me."--Isa. 45: 5. I once heard a minister argue that the Holy
Spirit must be a separate person because Jesus taught that sin against God and
against Christ could be forgiven, but sin against the Holy Spirit could not. If
this "argument" were true it would be strange indeed, a strangeness
which the gentlemanís zeal for a theory failed to see. It would mean that God
the Father would forgive a sin against him; and "God the Son" would
forgive a sin against him; but "God the Holy Ghost" would not forgive
a sin against him; and thus we should have one God differing to quite a degree
from the other two in this one respect; and if in one, why not in many? And so
it would be God against God, similar to heathenism, which had a god for each of
the forces of nature, one contending against the other. The passage referred to
is Luke 12: 10: "And whosoever shall speak a word
against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him; but unto him that blasphemeth
against the Holy Spirit it shall not be forgiven him." Now it is not said
here that "whosoever shall blaspheme" God it shall be forgiven him.
So that Godís willingness is not put in contrast with the unwillingness of the
Holy Spirit. Still it may be said that God does forgive sin against him. Yes,
some sins; but "there is a sin unto death," and surely that is a sin
against God. The blasphemy against the Holy Spirit in the passage is evidently
a specially heinous sin against God. The difference
between this sin and ordinary forgivable sins is in the fact that the latter is
what all men are prone to naturally when unaided in any special way by the Holy
Spirit, while the former was one that would be necessarily the most willful and
presumptuous in face of acts performed under the actual cognizance of the
senses, and where the sinners had "tasted of the heavenly gift, and were
made partakers of the Holy Spirit, and tasted the good word of God, and
the powers of the world to come."--Heb. 6: 4, 5. Now
in such a case will any one, even a Trinitarian, presume to say that there was
a sin committed against one God and not against the other two--a sin which two
of them would forgive, while one of them would not? To say so would almost be the
sin of blasphemy itself. One beholding with the natural eye the wonderful works
of the Holy Spirit through Christ and his apostles, works which the observers
must necessarily know were the works of God and could not be otherwise; and one
conscious of being possessed of the Holy Spirit and of the "powers of the
world to come," and still attribute such works to the "prince of
demons" or denying the power--surely this would be a sin against God, the
source of all power, which deserved no mercy and therefore "a sin unto
death." Let not man therefore suppose a God other than the One--a God who
can withhold forgiveness where others would grant it; for this is setting up
another God and ignoring the words of the One and only true God who has said, "Thou
shalt have no gods before me. * * * For I the Lord thy
God am a jealous God."--Ex. 20: 3-5. "God the Father, God the Son and
God the Holy Ghost" are the words of paganized Christianity and not of the
Scriptures of truth, either in word or meaning. "There is one God and one
Mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus."--
The Hebrew word ruach and the Greek word pueuma are used for breath, mind, spirit, influence, a state of feeling and wind; they also stand for a being and beings. If all things have been evolved out of spirit, which proceeds from Deity and under the power of His will were spoken into the various forms which compose the universe, then all creation may be said to be spirit in various forms of manifestation. The word matter would then be expressive of spirit in its grosser form, while spirit would represent the more attenuated parts of the universe.
Since God is a Spirit, we may conclude that Spirit in its primeval state is perfect. When evolved into the various forms which we call nature, it must be viewed as of a lower degree of perfection. Out of this creatures were formed, the highest of which in our planet is man, to whom is imparted moral and intellectual powers and consequently a degree of responsibility to the Creator. Manís exaltation to a higher state in the universe, or his fall to a lower was made dependent upon the use he would make of the mental and moral powers he was made the possessor of. He fell to a lower state; and out of this the plan of salvation proposes to redeem him and exalt him to the highest state, that state which, in contrast with matter, is called spirit, in which he will be a spirit being, an immortal being. A spirit being is spirit in corporeal, intelligent form; while spirit in the attenuated from is spirit in diffusion, "free spirit," filling immensity and upholding all things according to the will of Deity, who is the Great Spirit Being "out of whom are all things" (Rom. 11: 36).
The divine order in relation to man is "First that which is natural, afterwards that which is spiritual." The "natural" we know to some extent by experience and observation; but the "spiritual," in the sense of being, we can only know in our day by what the Scriptures reveal concerning
ANGELS, WHO ARE SPIRIT BEINGS
Of angels the apostle Paul says, "But of which of the angels said he at any time, Sit on my right hand until I make thine enemies thy footstool? Are they not all ministering spirits sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation?"--Heb. 1: 13, 14. Reasoning from analogy we may conclude that angels are the survivors of a pre-Adamic race, who have attained to their immortality, glory and honor by faithfulness under probation. Since man, who is said to have been "made lower than," or "a little while inferior to" the angels (Heb. 2: 9), is on probation for to be "made equal unto the angels" (Luke ), we may reason that their previous state was "lower," and that their present state is the result of probationary merit.
There are some who imagine that angels are the "disembodied souls" or spirits of men; but since when man was made he was "made lower than," and in the "image" (form) "of angels," it follows that they existed before manís formation, and that they therefore belonged to a previous age. Then again, men and angels are held in contrast in respect of dominion--the faithful of the former destined to be rulers in the "world to come," of which the apostle Paul says, "For unto the angels hath he not put in subjection the world to come"--Heb. 2: 5, implying that the world present is, in some sense, controlled by them under God and Christ.
A correct view of the
relation of angels to God will prevent misunderstanding of apparent
contradictions in the Scriptures. We are distinctly told that "no man hath
seen God at any time"--Jno. ; "whom no man can approach unto;
whom no man hath seen, nor can see"--
It was through the instrumentality of angels that God created man; and it was in the "image," or form, of angels man was made. The similarity of corporeal form was what caused Abraham to regard the three angels who visited him as "three men." Commissioned and empowered of God to perform His work in manís creation, they said, "Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion," etc.--Gen. 1: 26. Trinitarians quote this passage to prove the Trinity, because of the use of the plural pronoun; but it requires an extraordinary stretch of imagination to make the little word "us" declare the most "mysterious" theory ever heard of and at the same time perform the feat of counting exactly three. Without a controlling desire of proving an assumed and preconceived theory, one would view the little plural "us" as meaning any number above one. The words "LORD God" (chap. 2: 7) are Yahweh Elohim and mean "the strength of the mighty ones." The "mighty ones" performing the work are the angels, and their "strength" or the power and authority by which they do it is Yahweh--"He who will be", will be manifested in the Son of Man, of whom John the Baptist said, "Prepare ye the way of Yahweh," when God was about to be manifested in the flesh by His Spirit, in the person of Jesus, who was Immanuel.
THE MEANING OF THE WORD ANGEL
The word angel comes from the Greek word angelos, and means messenger. It is sometimes applied to mortal men. John is called an angel in the words, "Behold I send my messenger" (angelos) (Matt. ). The word is rendered "messengers" also in the following passages: Mark 1: 2; Luke -27; ; II. Cor. 12: 7; Jas. 2: 25. So the question of whether natural or supernatural beings are meant in any passage must be determined by the context, which is not difficult. If the text concerning John had been rendered, "Behold, I send my angel before thy face," it would have been clear that a mortal man was meant. On the other hand, if Matt. had been rendered, "Behold, the messenger of the Lord appeared to him (Joseph) in a dream," it would have been clear that a supernatural being was meant.
Angels are glorious, powerful and immortal beings; and what a blessing and an honor God has conferred upon us in rendering it possible to be made "like unto the angels, to die no more"--Luke . The words "corporeal spirit" appear to the advocates of the popular theory of "immaterial spirits" as a contradiction of terms. The word spirit is supposed to mean the opposite of corporeality, and when used for a person in the supposed "disembodied state" it is declared to be "without body and parts." To speak of a person or a being without body and parts is surely a contradiction of words; for how can we imagine such a thing as a personality devoid of form and parts and corporeality? To attach an arbitrary meaning to words to suit a theological theory will not serve the purpose of truth. Whether or not there are spirit beings--real, substantial, personal, corporeal beings--can be decided only by the Scriptures. We have seen that Abraham mistook angels for men; we have also seen that the Scriptures call angels "ministering spirits." Spirits therefore appeared like men. Abraham said to those who visited him "Let a little water, I pray you, be fetched, and wash your feet, and rest yourselves under the tree: and I will fetch a morsel of bread, and comfort ye your hearts; after that ye shall pass on: for therefore are ye come to your servant. And they said, So do as thou hast said"--Gen. 18: 4, 5. These "spirits" were real beings with bodies and parts, having feet that could be washed, and who could eat of material food.
JESUS A SPIRIT BEING AFTER RESURRECTION
It is evident that Jesus was immortalized on the day of his resurrection, and an immortal being is a spirit being. To Mary Jesus said, "Touch me not, for I am not yet ascended to my Father; but go to my brethren and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; unto my God and to your God"--John 20: 17. This could not refer to his ascent to heaven, which did not take place for forty days afterwards; and there would be no reason for sending a messenger to inform them of his ascent to heaven forty days hence, seeing he would be with his brethren during the interval. The "ascent" was therefore something that was to occur between the time he sent the message by Mary and the time he would meet his brethren himself. It is quite reasonable, therefore, to conclude that Jesus meant his ascent in nature--from the lower nature (mortality) to the higher nature (immortality). He would then be a spirit being. Yet, when Thomas doubted, Jesus said to him, "See my hands and my feet, that I am he; handle me and be convinced"--Luke 24: 39 (Diaglott rendering). If the objection is offered that he said, "A spirit hath not flesh and bones as ye see me have," it is worthy of note that Griesbachís Greek text has the word phantasma in the margin (phantom) here, not pneuma, corresponding with Mark .
Now Paul says, that
Jesus "shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto
his glorious body" (Phil. ); and
John says that at his appearing "we shall be like him; for we shall see
him as he is"--
If this is objected to on the ground that the argument largely depends upon whether Jesus was in the changed state when he told Thomas to handle him; and if it is questioned whether the words "I ascend to my Father," etc., are a positive proof of a change of nature, then we ask the objectors to explain these words upon any other hypothesis, without suggesting the unlikely thing, not to say the absurdity, of Jesus hastening Mary to tell his brethren of an event forty days hence, when he knew he would have many opportunities of telling them himself before the time arrived. According to the type of the firstfruits, the day he spoke the words to Mary was the day when he should become the first-fruits of the harvest of immortality; and there is nothing to show that he was changed subsequently, That he was immortal when he ascended to heaven is evident from the fact that the garments of the High Priest under Moses typified the garment of immortality; and the Most Holy Place was not to be entered without the high priestly robe. This in relation to Jesus, as the antitype, is clearly shown in Zech. 3: 3-8. In perhaps still clearer language it is proved in Heb. 9: 12--"Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption" ("for us" is supplied by the translators, and should be omitted). "Eternal redemption" is "redemption of the body" (Rom. ). Therefore "having obtained eternal redemption [of the body] he entered in once into the holy place," "even into heaven itself"--verse 24.
THE ARGUMENT SUMMARIZED
1. Jesus in the immortal state is a substantial, corporeal being.
2. The redeemed will be made like him by a change of the mortal body to an immortal body, which is a "spiritual body."
3. They will then be like unto the angels.
4. Angels are in form like unto men, and have been mistaken for men.
5. Since Jesus in the immortal state is a corporeal being; and since men are to be made like unto him, and thereby like unto the angels, it follows that angels, who are spirits, are yet real substantial, corporeal spirit beings, and not disembodied, immaterial entities "without body or parts."
As to the question of their origin, we may summarize the matter as follows:
1. Man when he was formed was "made lower than the angels."
2. Man when he is redeemed and made immortal is to be "equal unto the angels."
3. Since man was made lower than the angels, it follows that angels preceded man; and since man when redeemed at the resurrection is to be like unto the angels, we may conclude that angels are now, and have been since before the creation of man, immortal beings or spirit beings, as the result of successful probation in a pre-Adamic age.
4. Therefore, since all things are evolved out of the spirit of Deity by His supreme and omnipotent power and under the control of His will, we may conclude that all intelligent and moral creatures are first spirit evolved into flesh, "very good," whose physical, mental and moral status is made dependent upon obedience to divine law. That any fall from this "very good" status is always the consequence of breaking such law; and that redemption therefrom is the result of Godís mercy in adapting a law of redemption to the needs and capabilities of his fallen creatures, by faith in and obedience to which, flesh may be changed into spirit in the form of spirit beings, which is the ideal state of perfection.
5. To this spirit state angels had already attained before man was created; and to this Jesus attained (after his resurrection) by a perfect obedience, even unto the death of the cross; and through him men may attain to the same--"every man in his own order, Christ the firstfruits, afterwards they that are Christís at his coming."
ARE THERE EVIL SPIRITS?
It is supposed that
there are two classes of supernatural beings, or angels--one "evil
spirits"; the other "good spirits." If spirit in its primeval
state is perfect, it is impossible for there to be evil personal spirits, for
the spirit state, which is the immortal state, is the goal to which
righteousness leads, and therefore to which wickedness cannot attain. There can
be no evil supernatural spirit, therefore. The only evil spirits, in the
personal sense of "spirits," are false prophets and wicked men; but
they are all natural, of the flesh, and not supernatural. Hence John says,
"Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are
of God; because many false prophets are gone out into the world"--
"THE ANGELS THAT KEPT NOT THEIR FIRST ESTATE"
It is generally supposed that the angels spoken of in II. Pet. 2: 4 and Jude 6 are of a pre-Adamic race, and many believe them to be immortal. Jude says, "And the angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation, he hath reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great day." "Chains" are a symbol of bondage; and there is nothing darker than death and the grave. Solomon says, "Whoso curseth his father or his mother, his lamp [life] shall be put out in obscure darkness"--Pro. . Job 10: 22-22.--"Are not my days few? cease then, and let me alone, and I may take comfort a little, before I go whence I shall not return, even to the land of darkness and the shadow of death; a land of darkness, as darkness itself; and of the shadow of death, without any order, and where the light is as darkness." Ps. 88: 5.--"Free among the dead, like the slain that lie in the grave. * * * Thou hast laid me in the pit, in darkness, in the deeps."
"Chains under darkness" are words quite expressive of death and the grave; and these angels are "reserved" in death and the grave "unto the judgment of the great day." They are not, therefore, the supposed "evil spirits" roaming around in the air watching for opportunities to antagonize the angels who are "ministering spirits for them who are heirs of salvation;" for they are fastened in chains, and reserved in darkness. If they are of pre-Adamic times, and are the fallen of the race out of which the angels of God are the redeemed, the question arises, Why are they reserved for judgment from a previous age to another age; while their successful contemporaries are enjoying their rewards? Would not the judgment which rewarded the faithful also be executed upon the unfaithful? Why bring over to another age part of a race who lived under the laws, and should be judged by the laws, of the age they lived in? There is confusion here. The criterion revealed gives us to understand that when God judges and gives rewards to the faithful, He judges and punishes the unfaithful.
Since the word angel is
applied to mortal men and means messenger, it is reasonable to regard the words
of Jude as applicable to men, especially in view of his saying that it was an
event of which he would "put them in remembrance, though ye once knew
this"--verse 5. How could they know of angels of a pre-Adamic
age? But of angels, or messengers, who were sent to take formal possession of