March, 2020

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Love of religious establishment above truth

One of the saddest and most awful occurrences in human history occurred nearly two thousand years ago when the Son of God, Jesus Christ, was brutally and mercilessly killed by those who professed to be the chosen people of God. Every well-thinking person would do well to seek an explanation for such an awful paradox, lest ignorance and lack of understanding should break down possible safeguards against the repetition of similar anomalies in their own experience.

An explanation of such an awful paradox can be found in the phenomenon of misplaced affection; and specifically, love of religious establishment above love of truth. On the one hand was Jesus Christ who was the embodiment of truth, righteousness, justice, love and mercy. On the other hand, was Caiaphas, the designated spiritual leader of God’s professed people – the chief representative of the religious establishment. In between were the people, many of whom had seen the righteousness, innocence and blameless life of Christ but were also fully persuaded of the legitimacy of the religious institution to which they were committed.

Sometimes we must choose

What an awful choice for one to be called upon to make. Indeed, it would have been preferable if both were on the same side. But unfortunately, as it was then, so it has been on so many other occasions, not excluding the present, that institutionalized religion is not always aligned with truth. Thus, individuals, at times, are faced with a choice. The decision which prevailed on that fateful day, which culminated in the ignominious death of Christ on Calvary’s cross reveals the little appreciated truth that the majority is not always right.

Some persons, to avoid the unpleasant task of making such choices, make an unspoken rule for themselves that the church is always right. Unfortunately for them, their silence or indifference does constitute a choice which, though proven to be right in some instances, is also proven to be wrong in others. In which case, the individual stands either vindicated or condemned before God.

 The lessons

The lessons of Calvary are many. Calvary should impel religious leaders to be humble, recognizing that truth is not always the preserve of the religious elite. Jesus Christ was rejected largely because of his humble earthly beginnings and continuance. He was not educated in the schools of the rabbis. He did not court the favour of the religious establishment or patronize its leaders. The religious leaders felt that their authority was being bypassed and therefore, sought and succeeded, to some measure, in ridding the world of Him whom they considered to be a threat.

The lesson for the people at large who profess a religious faith is that a religious order, culture or establishment stands justified only when it is aligned with truth. Truth stands pre-eminent and is not always enunciated or embraced within the religious establishment to which one is committed. The choice with which one is faced is sometimes unpleasant, but nevertheless, weighted with eternal consequences.

When religious organizations that represent God find themselves embracing error, they should make the necessary adjustments so that they can stand with greater credibility in advancing their mission and avoid leading their members down the slippery slope of rejection of truth, because no one knows how far it will take them or where it will end.

Popular error

One very popular error that is based on assumptions, rather than on any clear biblical foundation is the idea that the “one God” of the Bible is a unity of three persons rather than one Person who is supreme. This concept, called the Trinity is not merely that there is Father, Son and Holy Ghost.  The Bible clearly teaches that.  Rather, the Trinity doctrine asserts that the one God of scripture is made up of three persons, Father, Son and Holy Ghost. Some people prefer to use the term Godhead, which is mentioned only three times in the Bible and is never used to mean three-in-one.  But they hold to the same concept as is held by those who use the term Trinity.

Standard definitions of Trinity are as follows:

Trinity n Christianity the union of three persons, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, in one God” – Collins Student’s Dictionary.

“(the Trinity) (in Christian belief) the three persons (Father, Son and Holy Spirit) that make up God.” – Little Oxford Dictionary.

Trinity noun in Christianity, the union of Father, Son and Holy Ghost in one God.” – Chambers English Dictionary.

Based on these definitions, the “one God” of the Bible is not a Person but a unity of three.  According to that view, when the Bible says that there is one God, the one God is really Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  Is this biblical?  And is it important?  Most churches think it is important and hold it as a required belief.  Those who do not hold to that view also consider the matter important because, in their view, the Bible says otherwise.

The Bible says: “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” (1 Cor. 8:6). And Jesus said the same, in His prayer to the Father: And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.” (John 17:3)God the Father commanded all to worship Jesus Christ, His only begotten son, in the same way that we worship Him, the Father, but He never told anyone to worship the Holy Spirit.  And worshipping the Holy Spirit is not taught anywhere in the Bible. Are persons, by worshipping and praying to the Holy Spirit, unwittingly breaking the first of the Ten Commandments, “Thou shalt have no other gods before me.” (Ex. 20:3)?

As we reflect on Calvary and on the fact that the chosen people of God were so misled as to crucify the Son of God, preferring rather that the criminal Barabbas be released instead, we should ask ourselves, do we love truth more than we love our religious traditions and establishments?  Most importantly, we should not be dismissive of questions that are raised regarding the legitimacy of any position that we have taken.  The questions that are raised might just be a wake-up call from God for us to get in line with truth.

“He that hath ears to hear, let him hear” (Matt. 11:15).

For further information, please visit Patience of the Saints at http://thecommandmentsofgodandthefaithofjesus.com/

Questions and comments may be sent by e-mail to: commandmentsofgodandfaithofjesus@yahoo.com

Follow on Twitter @JaZerubbabel

 

Father, Son and Holy Spirit – Do They Make a Trinity?

What is at Stake

It is popularly assumed that Father, Son and Holy Ghost make a Trinity; further, that the Trinity concept is difficult to explain but should be accepted by faith. But, does the supposed difficulty in explaining it really expose us to embracing questionable ideas that could be detrimental to accept? First of all, what is the Trinity and why is the question important? Consider this. On the assumption of a Trinity, people worship the Holy Ghost alongside the Father and the Son. Is this a valid position? Could we, unwittingly, be offering worship where it does not belong – making us guilty of idolatry?

This is a critical matter because the very first commandment of the Ten Commandments says: “Thou shalt have no other gods before me.” (Ex. 20:3). Repeatedly, God has warned against idolatry and has punished individuals and nations for practicing idolatry. God has made it clear that He is the only true God; “there is none else” (Isa. 45:5).

Jesus said the same, as He prayed, “And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.” (John 17:3).

Notwithstanding that, Jesus is the only begotten Son of God, “the express image of His person” (Heb. 1:3) and God, the Father, commands both us and angels to worship His Son (John 5:23; Heb. 1:6).

But there is nowhere in the Bible that says we should worship the Holy Ghost (Holy Spirit), neither is it said that we are allowed to do that. People do it on an assumption that Father, Son and Holy Spirit are equally God.

What the Trinity Concept is

The Trinity concept is not merely that there is Father, Son and Holy Ghost.  The Bible clearly teaches that.  Rather, the Trinity doctrine asserts that the one God of scripture is made up of three persons, Father, Son and Holy Ghost. Some people prefer to use the term Godhead, which is mentioned only three times in the Bible and is never used to mean three-in-one.  But in essence, they hold to the same concept as is held by those who use the term Trinity. Standard definitions of Trinity are as follows:

Trinity n Christianity the union of three persons, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, in one God” – Collins Student’s Dictionary.

“(the Trinity) (in Christian belief) the three persons (Father, Son and Holy Spirit) that make up God.” – Little Oxford Dictionary.

Trinity noun in Christianity, the union of Father, Son and Holy Ghost in one God.” – Chambers English Dictionary.

Based on these definitions, the idea is that when the Bible says that there is one God, the one God is really Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

So, since we are allowed to worship the Father and the Son, the assumption is that we should then be able to worship the Holy Spirit as well. But is it true that Father, Son and Holy Spirit are co-equal? Does the Bible teach that? And does the Bible teach that the one God is Father, Son and Holy Spirit? Let us see for ourselves what the Bible actually says.

What the Bible Teaches About God

The truth is that the Bible does not teach that Father, Son and Holy Spirit are co-equal. A few clear references will show this. Jesus said: “my Father is greater than I.” (John 14:28).

He said again, “For I have not spoken of myself; but the Father which sent me, he gave me a commandment, what I should say, and what I should speak.” (John 12:49). One might say: Oh, that was in reference to the Son only in His human state. But that is not true. Before the Son came to earth, it is said of Him, that His Father “anointed” Him (Heb. 1:9) and the Father “appointed” Him (Heb. 1:2). Further, the Bible tells us: “And without all contradiction the less is blessed of the better.” (Heb. 7:7).

It is very obvious. The Father is greater than the Son.

Further, after sin and death are done away with, the Son himself will be subject to the Father – “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.” (1 Cor. 15:28).

Therefore, the Father is greater than the Son at all phases: before the Son came to earth, while He was on earth, and after He left the earth, continuing into eternity.

Prophets of the Bible have referred to the Father as “the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Pet. 1:3; 2 Cor. 11:31). And God the Father is reported as saying to the Son that “Thou hast loved righteousness, and hated iniquity; therefore God, even thy God, hath anointed thee” (Heb. 1:9). Jesus, Himself, referred to the Father as “my God” (Rev. 3:12; John 20:17; Matt. 27:46). So, this concept of co-equality is totally unscriptural.

This is not to say that the Son is not to be worshipped. The Father says that we are to worship His Son.  And the Son exercises the authority of His Father.  The relationship is similar to a king and a prince.  God, the Father, is the King of the Universe and Jesus Christ, His only begotten Son is the Prince of the universe.  In another sense, Jesus Christ, as the second Adam, will be King of this particular territory in the universe called earth.  He will be King of kings and Lord of lords over His earthly subjects who will reign with Him as kings and priests (Rev. 5:10).

But as for the Holy Spirit, it is a different matter. While we need the Holy Spirit, nowhere is it ever said that we should worship the Holy Spirit.

Further, Christ the Son, is greater than the Comforter who is the Holy Spirit. Christ said that He would send the Comforter and when the Comforter comes, he would not speak of himself. He will only speak what he hears –“It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you.” (John 16:7). And “he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak:” (John 16:13).

So, Christ is obviously greater than the Comforter.

Even in the sending of the Comforter, the order of authority is clearly seen. Christ prays to the Father and asks Him to give the Comforter. Then Christ sends the Comforter –“I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter” (John 14:16).

“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” (John 15:26).

The concept of Father, Son and Holy Spirit being co-equal is totally false.

Further, the Bible tells us who the one God is. We are told:

“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” (1 Cor. 8:6). The idea that the one God is Father, Son and Holy Spirit is totally unscriptural.

Before concluding, we should consider two passages of scripture that people misconstrue and read into them things that they do not actually say, in order to promote a Trinity concept.  The first is: Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost” (Matt. 28:19). They say, there you go, an appeal is made to the authority of Father, Son and Holy Ghost, so they must be co-equal.  If that is the case, then what do we say of this one: I charge thee before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, and the elect angels, that thou observe these things(1 Tim. 5:21)?  An appeal is made to God, Christ and angels.  So, does that mean angels are co-equal with God and Christ?  Absolutely not!  So, in a similar way, the baptismal commission of Matt. 28:19 does not show that Father, Son and Holy Ghost are co-equal.

The other passage is: For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one.(1 John 5:7). Did it say, “these three are one God”? No, it did not!  The verse immediately following it tells what the oneness is that is being referred to.  It is oneness in terms of agreement – And there are three that bear witness in earth, the Spirit, and the water, and the blood: and these three agree in one.(1 John 5:8).  So, neither of these passages support or justify a Trinity concept.

Conclusion

What the facts show is that Father, Son and Holy Spirit do not make a Trinity.

The Bible is clear that there is only one Supreme Being, and that is the Father – “One God and Father of all, who is above all” (Eph. 4:6). When the Bible says that there is one God, it is a reference to the Father and the Father only.

Jesus Christ is the Son of God. He is of the same nature as God and is worshipped just as God the Father is worshipped. But He is, has been and will always be subject to and submissive to His Father. The Holy Spirit, however, is not to be worshipped as God. And one should not try to confuse the issue by saying, Oh, the Bible says that “God is a spirit”, so it’s really God we are worshipping when we worship the Holy Spirit.  “God is a spirit” means that God is a spirit-being.  That’s His nature.  We do not worship God’s nature; we worship God, Himself, as a Person.

This will remain true even into the new earth of which we are told: “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 help us to worship God in spirit and in truth and not to be drawn unwittingly into idolatry, giving worship where it does not belong.

Finally, if an organization that represents God finds itself teaching error, it should make the necessary adjustments in its teachings so that it can stand with greater credibility in carrying out its mission.

“He that hath ears to hear, let him hear” (Matt. 11:15).

For further information, please visit Patience of the Saints at http://thecommandmentsofgodandthefaithofjesus.com/

Questions and comments may be sent by e-mail to: commandmentsofgodandfaithofjesus@yahoo.com

Follow on Twitter @JaZerubbabel

 

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