THE TRINITY OF THE BIBLE
Syracuse, N Y -Pastor Russell addressed two large audiences here, one in the Empire Theater. We report one of his discourses from this text: "To us there is but one God, the Father of whom are all things, and we in Him; and one Lord Jesus, by whom are all things, and we by him. Howbeit there is not in every man that knowledge." 1 Cor. 8:6, 7.
For long centuries God’s people have been confessing a Divine trinity, taught by the creeds, which was incomprehensible; and meantime they have been neglecting the trinity taught by the Bible, which is more reasonable. If the trinity of the creeds was questioned, holy hands were lifted in horror, and the questioner was told that the subject was a mystery, which he could not possibly understand, but to doubt it would mean his damnation! Therefore he must profess to believe what he did not understand, and therefore could not believe.
The mysterious proposition was sometimes put in one form and sometimes in another. Some stated it to be 3 x 1 is one. But others stated it different, 1 x 3 is one. No wonder if some of the more intelligent specimens of our race [HGL549] declared themselves incapable of understanding such mathematics, and too honest to confess and profess what they could not believe. Many of these honest souls have been forced by their candor to remain outside the various denominations of Christendom.
Under such pressure it should not surprise us that there has sprung up an equally unscriptural theory, styled Universalism, desiring to worship God, yet too honest and conscientious to make false pretensions of faith. These have been driven to an antagonism of the popular theory of the trinity to the extent of ignoring the Divinity of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the teachings of the Bible to this effect. In a word, the great Adversary, during the Dark Ages, succeeded in swinging the pendulum first to one extreme and then to the opposite extreme, while the very Truth, which the Bible presents, lies midway between them. As Bible students, let us seek to know the mind of the Lord on this subject, as well as on other subjects, assured that the Wisdom which comes from above is alone capable of giving us proper instruction and guidance, and of solving our man-made mysteries.
CONSIDER NOW OUR TEXT
Note the simplicity of the Bible statement our text being an example. Not once from Genesis to Revelation does the word trinity occur. Not once is there any hint of such a trinity as the creeds describe—except in the one text 1 John 5:7 —which all scholars, including trinitarians, agree is spurious—not found in Greek manuscripts of an earlier date than the seventh century—evidently "doctored" by some trinitarian Doctor of Divinity to meet his long-felt want. Our Revised English Version omits the interpolated parts of this text—introduced about the seventh century to support the trinitarian theory—although the revisers all profess to be trinitarians. When one’s attention is called to this spurious passage, the bungling character of the addition to the Apostle’s words is quickly discerned. St. John is thereby made to say that the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit are going about heaven testifying to the angels that Jesus is the Son of God. Even a child’s mind can discern the absurdity of this statement, for surely the angels knew that Jesus was the Son of God before He came into the world and during His earthly ministry and since, without any necessity for a testimony to this effect from the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.
THE TESTIMONY OF THE BIBLE
The Bible sets forth that Jehovah is the Almighty God, and that our Lord Jesus is His Son, His offspring, gloriously exalted to the Father’s right hand of power, dominion and glory as His Chief Representative and Agent in all matters. The Father and the Son, although different persons, are one in the sense in which our Lord Jesus stated one in mind, in purpose, in plan, in action, in everything except in person. How clearly the Master stated this to us, and how strangely we overlooked the force of His words when He prayed for the Church that we might all be "one, even as Thou, Father, and I are one!" The oneness of the Church is certainly not a oneness of person, but a oneness of faith, hope, harmony, fellowship, even as is the oneness of the Father and the Son. Read over the Master’s words at your convenience at home. They are found in the 17th chapter of St. John’s Gospel.
As for the Holy Spirit, the spirit of Truth, the spirit of God, the spirit of Christ, the spirit of holiness, the spirit of a sound mind it is the antithesis, or opposite of a spirit of error, a spirit of vacillation, the spirit of Satan, or opposition to God, a spirit of unrighteousness, or unholiness. These are not different spirit beings, but emanations from spirit beings. As the spirit of Satan is a spirit of evil, or an evil influence, mind or disposition, a power emanating from Satan, so contrariwise, the spirit of God is a spirit of holiness, righteousness, truth, the emanation and display of the Divine will, purpose, energy and power. And this Holy Spirit proceeds from God the Father.
And our Lord Jesus Christ, being in the fullest harmony with the Father, His Spirit is the same spirit of holiness and truth. And all of God’s consecrated people, to the extent that they have the mind of Christ, the Spirit of Christ, have the Holy Spirit, and shed forth this holy influence upon all with whom they come in contact.
Thus we see that there is a trinity of the Scriptures very different from the trinity of the creeds a beautiful trinity. Before we proceed to demonstrate the Bible trinity and to give an array of Scripture texts proving it, let us glance backward and note well the conditions and circumstances which gave rise to the erroneous theory of the trinity set forth in our creeds, namely, as stated by some, that there are three Gods in one person God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit. Or, as stated by some other persons. There is one God in three persons, or a trinity of Gods, with one aim and object.
THE ORIGIN OF THE ERROR
It will not be disputed that for more than four thousand years there was no suggestion of a trinity of Gods, nor of more than one God, amongst the Israelites. The heathen nations recognized gods many polytheism and at least one of these as having a trinity. But God’s people were warned against all these, being instructed in these words, "Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is one Lord Jehovah. Thou shalt have no other gods (mighty ones, rulers) before me." (Deut. 6:4.) It should be noted that our Bible recognizes earthly gods or rulers, but none of these were ever to rank with the great Eternal One, whose Word and authority must stand supreme with those who would be His people. Indeed, the word elohim, as used in the Bible, and translated gods, signifies mere mighty ones.
Jehovah, being the Mightiest One of all, is frequently referred to by this word elohim. And sometimes, by way of showing His pre-eminence over other mighty ones (elohim), He is styled the All-Mighty One. The word elohim is also used in the Bible in respect to angels, because they are mightier than men, especially when they came to men as Divine agents, bearing the Divine message. In one instance the term elohim, or gods, is used in referring to men men placed in position of might or authority the seventy elders of Israel. Exo. 21:6; 22:8, 9, 28; Psa. 82:6.
As we shall shortly show, the words of Jesus and the Apostles fully corroborate the teaching of the Old Testament, adding that Jesus is the Son of God, and that the call of this Gospel Age is for the gathering of the Church, to be [HGL550] under and associates sons, "partakers of the divine nature." 2 Pet. 1:4.
It was after the death of the twelve Apostles that, without Divine authority, the bishops of the church were proclaimed to be the successors of the Apostles, and to possess Apostolic authority, as teachers in the church, and whose words were to be taken as of plenary inspiration. It was these bishops in council who declared the doctrine the 3 x 1 is one that God is one being, of three personalities or manifestations, all three being equal in power and in glory. The question is, Why did they make such a statement? Why should they concoct so unscriptural and so unreasonable a proposition? The Answer—is that it was done to combat certain errors prominent in their day. They flew from one extreme to another.
As soon as Christianity became prominent enough in the world to attract the attention of the Grecian philosophers, they confessed some of its teachings to be grand and noble, but they attacked the thought that Jesus was more than a man and that His death was in any sense of the word necessary as the Atonement price for the sins of the world. In proportion as they endeavored to discredit the Redeemer and to deny His prehuman existence, proportionately did the other party exalt and extol Him, until they claimed for Him that which neither He nor the Apostles ever claimed, namely, that He was the Father as well as the Son that He was not only equal to the Father in power and glory, but was the same in person, etc, etc.
HEARKEN TO THE WORDS OF JESUS
A little Scripture is worth far more than a great deal of reasoning, much more than all the statements in all the creeds, because the Word of God is Truth, and the testimony of our creeds has long ago been proven untrue in many particulars. We will take the words of Jesus first, of whom the Father said, "This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased;" "hear ye Him!" Matt. 3:17; Luke 9:35.
Jesus declared, "My Father is greater than I" John 14:28.
"My Father is greater than all." John 10:29.
"Of Mine Own Self I can do nothing." John 5:30.
"As the Father hath sent Me, so send I you." John 20:21.
"I came not to do Mine Own will, but the will of Him that sent Me." John 6:38.
There is a unity here manifested an absolute unity of mind and purpose, because the Redeemer sought not to do His own will, but the Father’s will. Hence they were one, even as we will be one with each other if we as disciples are in harmony with the Father’s will and Word, and in harmony with our Redeemer’s counsels.
Hear Jesus again: After His death, after His resurrection, when speaking to Mary, He said, "I have not yet ascended to My Father. . . . I ascend to My Father and to your Father; to My God and to your God." (John 20:17.) "Say ye of Him whom the Father hath sanctified and sent into the world, Thou blasphemest, because I said, I am the Son of God?" John 10:36.
Perhaps the strongest testimony of the Scriptures respecting the exalted position held by the Redeemer is the word of our Lord Jesus Himself, "That all men should honor the Son, even as they honor the Father." (John 5:23.) This is in harmony with the thought of the Father and the Son being of one mind, one will, one purpose; but it distinctly shows that they are separate persons, otherwise we could not reverence the one as we reverence the other.
Our text is to the point. It declares the faith once delivered to the saints, and says nothing about the trinity three Gods in one person. "To us there is one God, the Father," the context shows that the Apostle is contrasting our faith with the faith of others who recognize gods many and lords many. We Christians, says the Apostle, recognize only One Supreme God of all gods- "The God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ," as St. Peter styles Him. 1 Pet. 1:3.
Our text declares that all things are of or proceed from the Father. He is the Source and Fountain, the Father of mercies, "from whom cometh every good and perfect gift." His great Gift to mankind was the Gift of His Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, whom He sent into the world to be man’s Redeemer.
Three Gods, equal in power and glory, could not be said to send each other; neither would they pray to each other, as Jesus prayed to the Father- "Who in the days of His flesh, when He had offered up prayers and supplication with strong cryings and tears unto Him (Jehovah) that was able to save Him from death, was heard in that He feared." (Heb. 5:7.) An angel was sent to comfort Him and to assure Him of the Father’s love, that the Father had not forsaken Him, that He was well pleasing in His sight, and that He should have a glorious resurrection by the Father’s power in due time.
Our text proceeds to acknowledge our Lord Jesus, saying to us, "There is one Lord and Savior Jesus Christ" only one. "The Son of the Highest," our gracious Redeemer, "The chiefest among ten thousand, and the one altogether lovely" He who is to be the Bridegroom, the King of the future; He who is shortly to receive the Church to Himself as a Bride and Joint-heir in His Kingdom; He who, as King of the world and as Lord of the world, will reign for a thousand years, and backed by Divine power, will bring all into subjection to the Divine will.
It is He who will thus deliver up the Kingdom to God, even the Father, that Jehovah may be All and in all, and that the glorified Christ may be at the right hand of the Majesty on high next to the Father and we as His glorified Bride next to Him, at His right hand.
THE LOGOS - FIRST AND LAST
The Scriptures very explicitly declare to us that the Heavenly Father is from everlasting to everlasting God. But not so His creatures. From time to time He has exercised His Omnipotent Power and Wisdom in a variety of creations. Necessarily, however, these had a beginning one was first, and the Bible most clearly and repeatedly and distinctly tells us that that first one, "The Beginning of the creation of God," was the Logos.
And the Bible explains that Jehovah’s First-Born Son was highly honored, in that the Father used Him as the Channel and Agency through whom all subsequent creations were effected. He it was who was given the honorable commission and privilege of being man’s Redeemer, and [HGL551] of thereby proving His loyalty to Jehovah, and of being exalted to the divine nature, "far above angels, principalities and powers." From the very beginning He was above all other creations effected through Him; but by this last exaltation He attained, in His resurrection from the dead, a place far and away above all others next to the Father at God’s right hand, where He shall ever remain without a peer.
And, wonderful thought! The Call of this Gospel Age is to become heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Jesus Christ our Redeemer, by a manifestation of His spirit of obedience to the Father, and drinking the cup which the Father hath poured, and thus attesting our loyalty to Jehovah and to His perfect will in all things, even unto death.
THE LOGOS WAS A GOD
In the opening of St. John’s Gospel we have a record of the greatness of the Logos. And it is much more clear and distinct in the Greek than in our English. The word logos, I remind you, signifies the "word," the "message," and hence is a proper term for special messenger. In olden times kings addressed their people, not directly, but through such a messenger, or logos, who stood before the king, the latter being screened behind a lattice-work. As the logos or messenger received the message from the king, he uttered or proclaimed it to the people; hence he was styled the logos, the Word.
This is one of the grandest titles given to our Redeemer. He was the Father’s logos, or Messenger, or Mouthpiece. He was the Channel of the Highest in all His dealings with the angels, and in His creative work; and later He became to men the Voice of Him who speaketh from on high, for God hath spoken to mankind peace, through the blood of the cross of Christ.
Let us read together the inspired record of St. John (1:1-3, 14, 10, 11,) "In the beginning was the Logos was with the God, and the Logos was a god. The same was in the beginning with the God. By Him were all things made that were made, and without Him was not one thing made. . . . And the Logos was made flesh and dwelt amongst us, and we beheld His glory, as the glory of the Only Begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth." "He was in the world, and the world was made by Him, and the world knew Him not. He came to His own (people the Jews) and his own received Him not; but to as many as received Him to them gave He liberty (privilege) to become sons of God" (partakers of the divine nature 2 Pet. 1:4), even to those who believe on His Name, who were begotten, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God at Pentecost and subsequently.
How beautiful, simple and straightforward and non-mysterious is the Divine record respecting the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, and their absolute oneness or harmony! How different from the nonsense which for so long we endeavored to believe, because we thought it supported by the Bible! Good Brother Wesley was one of those honest souls who was seriously troubled on the subject. He remarked that only the one text, 1 John 5:6-7, could be used as a foundation for this doctrine. He knew not that the difficulty lay in an interpolation an addition to the Apostle’s words. It is only in comparatively recent years that the three original Greek manuscripts have been brought to light, namely, the Sinaitic, Vatican No. 1209 and the Alexandrian. . .
THE BEGINNING OF GOD’S CREATION
Let us hearken to the Apostle Paul’s statement respecting our dear Redeemer and His glorious station. He uttered not a word favoring the absurd theory that our redeemer was His own Father and His own Son one in person. He declared in harmony with St. John’s statement that our Lord Jesus was "the Beginning of the creation of God." (Rev. 3:14) St. Paul declared that Jesus was "The First-Born of every creature, that in all things He might have pre-eminence." (Col. 1:15, 18.) And when in one of his statements he spoke of our Lord Jesus as though He were the Father, the Apostle promptly followed the statement with another, saying, "It is manifest that the Father is excepted (1 Cor. 15:27) in all comparison for, as Jesus declared, the Father is above all."
Our Lord Jesus’ own testimony is that He is the First and the Last, "the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End" of the Divine creation. In other words, when the Father created the Son He never afterwards directly created any other person or thing. The Logos was the First and the Last, and by Him were all things made that were made.
Let us then honor the Son as the Son and as the glorious Agent and Representative of the Father in all things by whom (through whom) are all things of the Divine Plan; and let us honor also the Father, as "the Father of lights," and Father of mercies and grace and truth, "of whom are all things." The testimony of the Bible is beautiful, honoring to the Father, to the Son and to the Spirit of holiness. As the Scriptures declare, "The words of the Lord are pure, making wise the simple" the teachable.
- National Labor Tribune—June 30, 1912