The Three Powers of Heaven
Rev. 16 speaks of unclean spirits like frogs that will be gathering the whole world to the final battle (Rev. 16:13, 14). This final battle will see the world on one side and Christ and His people on the other side along with the hosts of heaven (Rev. 19:19, 20). The main agency of deception will be evil spirits. This domain of religious deception is called spiritualism, which capitalizes on two things: 1. The false notion that people can communicate with the dead – who are, in reality, evil spirits and; 2. Confusion in people’s minds as to who or what is the Holy Spirit and the nature of God’s presence. The Bible gives the final warning against this deception as follows:
“And after these things I saw another angel come down from heaven, having great power; and the earth was lightened with his glory. And he cried mightily with a strong voice, saying, Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen, and is become the habitation of devils, and the hold of every foul spirit, and a cage of every unclean and hateful bird.” – Rev. 18:1, 2.
“And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues. For her sins have reached unto heaven, and God hath remembered her iniquities.” Rev. 18:4, 5.
Our only safeguard is to know the truth from the scriptures about this very important matter. Regarding the first deception, Seventh-day Adventists have, for years, been teaching the truth from the scriptures that the dead are asleep and are unable to communicate with the living. Since there is an abundance of literature, from that source, on that particular point, it will not be the focus of this presentation. However, literature on the second deception is woefully lacking and so, the focus of this presentation is to establish the truth about God – who God is, who is Jesus Christ and who or what is the Holy Spirit.
In another presentation, “Multiple Meanings of Holy Spirit”, it was established that the terms “Spirit” and “Holy Spirit” have multiple meanings and are not always used in scripture to mean the same thing in every context. It has been shown that in some instances, God Himself (the Father) is referred to as “Spirit”. Of course, a danger that has previously been spoken of is that of worshiping a “Spirit” that is neither God (the Father) nor Christ (the Son of God) – for which there is no scriptural support and could be an act of false worship or idolatry.
It has also been shown that in some instances, “spirit” refers to holy angels sent from heaven who minister to and comfort the saints on Christ’s behalf. In other instances, “spirit” refers to Divine attributes such as life itself, light (truth), love and power that we receive from God – attributes that will be inside of us as a part of our being. Confusion often occurs when the latter case is confused with the idea of “spirit” referring to a living being that, it is assumed, takes up residence inside of us and takes over our mental faculties. This confusion is dangerous and could leave us open to demon possession. There is a difference between the ministering spirits of God and the spirit of God – both are referred to as “Holy Spirit” and “Holy Ghost”. This presentation will establish the difference.
The Biblical Testimony
A simple text summarizes quite eloquently the consistent perspective that is given throughout the scriptures, as follows:
“And of the angels he saith, who maketh his angels spirits, and his ministers a flame of fire. But unto the Son he saith, Thy throne, O God, is forever and ever: a scepter of righteousness is the scepter of thy kingdom. Thou hast loved righteousness and hated iniquity; therefore God, even thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows.” – Heb. 1:7-9.
The perspective is simply that the Supreme God (the Father) anoints His Son (Jesus Christ) who is God by nature and above the angels (spirits). Thus is presented the three powers of heaven – God, Christ and angels.
A simple question can help in showing the difference: With what was Jesus anointed? We are told:
“How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power: who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with him.” – Acts 10:38.
“Holy Ghost” here is that with which Jesus was anointed.
This is clearly different from the following reference where the Apostle John is conveying grace and peace from God, Christ and the Spirits. He says:
“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.”– Rev. 1: 4, 5.
The Three Powers of Heaven are identified – God, Christ and the Spirits. “Spirits” here are ministering spirits. Some people represent the “seven Spirits” here as the “seven-fold Spirit”, giving the impression that it is not seven but really one. This is easily clarified by comparing this verse with another verse that is very similar, in which there are four Spirits mentioned and each goes to a different place. Here it is.
“And the angel answered and said unto me, These are the four spirits of the heavens, which go forth from standing before the Lord of all the earth.” – Zech. 6:5
These spirits are of course ministering spirits or angels. Some go into the north country and others go into the south country (Zech. 6:6).
The next few verses again speak of the three powers of heaven:
- “I charge thee before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, and the elect angels, that thou observe these things.”- 1. Tim. 5:21. There we see the three powers – God, Christ and angels.
- “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Ghost.”- Matt. 28:19.
[The word Pneuma translated Ghost, is also properly translated Spirit or Spirits. It is the same word translated “spirits” in reference to the ministering spirits – Heb. 1:7, 14]. So, the reference is to the three powers again – God, Christ and angels. Note also that the whole family in heaven and earth is named after the Father (Eph. 3:14, 15).
- “For whosoever shall be ashamed of me and of my words, of him shall the Son of Man be ashamed, when he shall come in his own glory, and in his Father’s, and of the holy angels.” – St. Luke 9: 26. There we have the three powers again – God, Christ and angels.
- “But of that day and that hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father.” – Mark 13: 32. It is evident here that the three powers are not co-equal.
The Bible is clear that we should not worship angels. It says:
“Let no man beguile you of your reward in a voluntary humility and worshipping of angels.” Col. 2: 18.
“And I fell at his feet to worship him. And he said unto me, See thou do it not: I am thy fellowservant, and of thy brethren that have the testimony of Jesus: worship God: for the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.” Rev. 19:10.
- “For unto which of the angels said He at any time, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee? And again, I will be to Him a Father, and He shall be to me a Son? And again, when He bringeth the firstbegotten into the world, he saith, and let all the angels of God worship Him”- Heb. 1: 5,6. Here again the three powers are identified showing the order of precedence: God first, Christ next and then the angels.
- “The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him, to shew unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass; and he sent and signified it by his angel unto his servant John” Rev. 1:1 . Once again the three powers are indicated showing the order of precedence – God gave to Christ and Christ gave to the angel to dispense to John.
Some persons say that the Holy Spirit is a third divine being to be worshiped. If that were the case, these verses that have been highlighted would have presented the equivalent of a big elephant in a room being missed.
Testimonies of the Prophet of the Last Days
The pioneers of the Seventh-day Adventist Movement fully understood the truth as presented here from the scriptures. A sample of the perspective that was commonly understood among them is reflected in the following unambiguous statements from Ellen G. white:
“Read and study the fourth chapter of Zechariah… The golden oil represents the Holy Spirit.” Ellen G. White, Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers, p. 188.
“From the two olive trees the golden oil was emptied through the golden pipes into the bowl of the candlestick, and thence into the golden lamps that gave light to the sanctuary. So from the holy ones that stand in God’s presence His Spirit is imparted to the human instrumentalities who are consecrated to His service. The mission of the two anointed ones is to communicate to God’s people that heavenly grace which alone can make His word a lamp to the feet and a light to the path. “Not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit, saith the Lord of hosts.” Zechariah 4:6. – Ellen G. White, Christ’s Object Lessons, p. 408.15.
The same thought is expressed at another place, the only difference being that the golden oil that was said to be God’s Spirit, is now said to be divine light, love and power. It says:
“In this vision the two olive trees which stand before God are represented as emptying the golden oil out of themselves through golden tubes into the bowl of the candlestick. From this the lamps of the sanctuary are fed, that they may give a bright, continuous light. So from the anointed ones that stand in God’s presence the fullness of divine light and love and power is imparted to His people, that they may impart to others light and joy and refreshing. Those who are thus enriched are to enrich others with the treasure of God’s love.” – Ellen G. White, Prophets and Kings p. 594.1
“And when these angels empty from themselves the golden oil of truth into the heart of him who is teaching the word, then the application of the truth will be a solemn, serious matter.” Ellen G. White, Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers, p. 337
“The anointed ones standing by the Lord of the whole earth have the position once given to Satan as covering cherub.” – Ellen G. White, The Review and Herald, July 20, 1897. (also Ellen G. White, The Truth about Angels, p. 150).
This last statement is consistent with the “Great Controversy” vision that Ellen G. White had in which she indicated that she saw that, before Lucifer sinned in heaven, God (the Father) was supreme, Christ was next in position and line of authority to the Father, and Lucifer was next in position and line of authority to Christ. There was no third divine being. Lucifer wanted to be exalted as the third.
“The Lord has shown me that Satan was an honored angel in heaven, next to JESUS CHRIST. His countenance was mild, expressive of happiness like the other angels. His forehead was high and broad, and showed great intelligence. His form was perfect. He had a noble, majestic bearing. And I saw that when God said to his SON, Let us make man in our image, Satan was jealous of JESUS. He wished to be consulted concerning the formation of man. He was filled with envy, jealousy and hatred. He wished to be the highest in heaven, next to GOD, and receive the highest honors. Until this time all heaven was in order, harmony and perfect subjection to the government of God.
It was the highest sin to rebel against the order and will of God. All heaven seemed in commotion. The angels were marshaled in companies with a commanding angel at their head. All the angels were astir. Satan was insinuating against the government of God, ambitious to exalt himself, and unwilling to submit to the authority of JESUS. Some of the angels sympathized with Satan in his rebellion, and others strongly contended for the honor and wisdom of God in giving authority to his Son. And there was contention with the angels. Satan and his affected ones, who were striving to reform the government of God, wished to look into his unsearchable wisdom to ascertain his purpose in exalting JESUS, and endowing him with such unlimited power and command. They rebelled against the authority of the SON of GOD, and all the angels were summoned to appear before the FATHER, to have their cases decided. And it was decided that Satan should be expelled from heaven, and that the angels, all who joined with Satan in the rebellion, should be turned out with him. Then there was war in heaven. Angels were engaged in the battle; Satan wished to conquer the SON of GOD, and those who were submissive to his will. But the good and true angels prevailed, and Satan, with his followers, was driven from heaven.” (E. G. White, Spiritual Gifts, Vol. 1, pp. 17, 18.
She also said:
“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”.
“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.” (E. G. White, Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 34).
Speaking of the creation, she said:
“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.” (E. G. White, Signs of the Times, Jan. 9, 1879, pr. 2).
No need for Confusion
There need not be any confusion. It is doubtless for these reasons – to prevent us from falling into confusion – that the lesser light (the visions given to the last-days prophet) were given to help us understand the greater light (the Bible) especially in these last days when the Devil will intensify his deceptions so that “if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect” (Matt. 24:24).
In summary, the ministering spirits (angels) of God bring to us God’s spirit, the golden anointing oil (Divine light, love and power). The Holy Spirit is not someone to be worshiped. Neither is the Holy Spirit someone who takes up residence inside of us. Let us therefore hold fast to the truth and not be drawn into spiritualism or into modern Babylon. Our worship should be given to God and Christ, as it will be in the new earth, as the scriptures say:
“And I saw no temple therein: for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple of it.” Rev. 21:22.
May the Lord bless you.
“He that hath ears to hear, let him hear” (Matt. 11:15).
– Zerubbabel (Zech. 4:6)