BIBLE STUDY GUIDES

Lesson 13 - Seeming difficulties

This lesson will be a bit different in that we will be seeking to answer some of the main objections to the truth that the holy spirit is an extension of the personality of God, rather than a separate individual divine Being.

Several statements appear in the writings of Ellen White and a few in the Bible which are construed to mean that the holy spirit is a third being in a three-part God. With a little unbiased thought, these statements can be harmonized with the biblical truth that there is only one God, the Father, and only one other divine Being, the Son of the Father.

As more and more evidence comes in it seems clear that there has been some tampering with the writings of Ellen White. Some of these instances can be established beyond a shadow of doubt. There are cases where the meaning of What Ellen White has written has been dramatically altered often simply by the insertion of a word. With this kind of tampering, it is sometimes a little difficult to establish exactly what she wrote on every occasion. However, the truth is so clearly established in the Bible that the honest seeker for truth need not be confused.

Part 1: CHANGES IN THE BIBLE

For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one. 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 5:7-8)

In commenting on the above verse the SDA Bible Commentary has this to say:

“Textual evidence attests the omission of the passage “in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one. And there are three that bear witness in earth.” The resultant reading of vs. 7, 8 is as follows: “For there are three that bear record, the Spirit, and the water, and the blood: and these three agree in one.” The passage as given in the KJV is in no Greek MS earlier than the 15th and the 16th centuries. The disputed words found their way into the KJV by way of the Greek text of Erasmus (see Vol. V, p. 141). It is said that Erasmus offered to include the disputed words in his Greek Testament if he were shown even one Greek MS that contained them. A library in Dublin produced such a MS (known as 34), and Erasmus included the passage in his text. It is now believed that the later editions of the Vulgate acquired the passage by the mistake of a scribe who included an exegetical marginal comment in the Bible text that he was copying. The disputed words have been widely used in support of the doctrine of the Trinity, but, in view of such overwhelming evidence against their authenticity, their support is valueless and should not be used....” - SDA Bible Commentary, Comments on 1 John 5:7.

Is it possible that men could have tampered with the words of the Bible? Rev. 22:18,19

“I saw that God had especially guarded the Bible; yet when copies of it were few, learned men had in some instances changed the words, thinking that they were making it more plain, when in reality they were mystifying that which was plain, by causing it to lean to their established views, which were governed by tradition. But I saw that the Word of God, as a whole, is a perfect chain, one portion linking into and explaining another. True seekers for truth need not err; for not only is the Word of God plain and simple in declaring the way of life, but the Holy Spirit is given as a guide in understanding the way to life therein revealed. {EW 220.2}

In what way are the Father and the Son one? John 17:11

“The unity that exists between Christ and His disciples does not destroy the personality of either. They are one in purpose, in mind, in character, but not in person. It is thus that God and Christ are one.” {MH 422.1}

The unity between Father and Son assures us that in Jesus we have a complete revelation of the Father.

Part 2: CHANGES IN THE TESTIMONIES

But have renounced the hidden things of dishonesty, not walking in craftiness, nor handling the word of God deceitfully; but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God. (2 Cor 4:2)

Have the writings of Ellen White been tampered with in such a way as to distort their meaning in some instance? Examine the following example where a single word was added and then decide for yourself.

Written in 1896

“The teachers are to educate the youth to realize that if they receive Christ and believe in Him, they will be brought into close relationship with God. He gives them power to become the sons of God, to associate with the highest dignitaries in the kingdom of heaven, to unite with Gabriel, with cherubim and seraphim, with angels and the archangel. “ — The Essential Education “Sunnyside”, Cooranbong, N. S. W., Dec. 20, 1896. (Note: In this rendering, the leading angels are among the highest dignitaries which in other statements are referred to as the Father, Son and Holy Ghost.) SpM 52.01

The revised statement, published in 1990

“The teachers are to educate the youth to realize that if they receive Christ and believe on Him, they will be brought into close relationship with God. He gives them power to become the sons of God, to associate with the highest dignitaries in the kingdom of heaven, and to unite with Gabriel, with cherubim and seraphim, with angels and the archangel.” —(MS 41a 1896 - MR 900.24) 1SAT 285.1 (*The “and” has been added. – Reading it this way, the archangel - Michael, would not be among the highest dignitaries.)

We need to realize first, that everything published by the Ellen White Estate has been edited previous to it’s being published. This fact is openly acknowledged and does not in and of itself constitute something bad. This editing, compiling, etc., was something that Ellen White fully endorsed, and even asked for and arranged for. This practice of: compiling, editing, changing or adding words to properly transition between one thought and the next etc. has been continued after Sister White died. The living prophet was now no longer alive to do the final check before something was printed. Now one has to be especially careful not to jump at some new thing not previously clearly presented in her works published during her lifetime.

When coming to a conclusion concerning any biblical doctrine we must go with the weight of the evidence.

Part 3: ALL THREE TOGETHER IN ONE PLACE?

And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him: And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. (Mat 3:16-17)

“Never before had angels listened to such a prayer as Christ offered at his baptism, and they were solicitous to be the bearers of the message from the Father to his Son. But, no; direct from the Father issues the light of his glory. The heavens were opened, and beams of glory rested upon the Son of God, and assumed the form of a dove, in appearance like burnished gold. The dove-like form was emblematical of the meekness and gentleness of Christ. While the people stood spell-bound with amazement, their eyes fastened upon Christ, from the opening heavens came these words: “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” The words of confirmation that Christ is the Son of God was given to inspire faith in those who witnessed the scene, and to sustain the Son of God in his arduous work. Notwithstanding the Son of God was clothed with humanity, yet Jehovah, with his own voice, assures him of his sonship with the Eternal. In this manifestation to his Son, God accepts humanity as exalted through the excellence of his beloved Son. {2SP 60.2}

How does Paul reinforce the idea that the holy spirit is the medium by which the one God, the Father communicates with His children? (2 Cor 13:14)

Though this passage has been used to support the idea of a three - one God, yet as we examine the verse we see that there is mention of only one God. Though the grace of Jesus and the communion of the holy ghost are mentioned, neither of these is referred to as God. It is only the Father who is called God.

How did the apostles understand the commission of Jesus to baptize in the name of the Father, Son and holy spirit? Acts 2:38; Acts 8:12; Acts 8:16; Acts 10:48; Acts 19:5; Acts 22:16;

Without exception the apostles baptized in the name of Jesus. Were they disobedient to the command of Christ, or did they understand something which many people today fail to understand? The word “name” in the Bible signifies authority. The love of our Father, the grace of our Lord, and the power of the holy spirit are all essential to man’s salvation. This truth must be recognized by all who would become Christian’s. It was not a title that Jesus was emphasizing, but rather, the fact that we must acknowledge the elements which are involved in our salvation.

The unity between Father and Son assures us that in Jesus we have a complete revelation of the Father.

Part 4: INTERCESSION OF THE HOLY SPIRIT

Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. (Rom 8:26)

“We have only one channel of approach to God. Our prayers can come to him through one name only,—that of the Lord Jesus our advocate. His Spirit must inspire our petitions. No strange fire was to be used in the censers that were waved before God in the sanctuary. So the Lord himself must kindle in our hearts the burning desire, if our prayers are acceptable to him. The Holy Spirit within must make intercessions for us, with groanings that cannot be uttered. {RH, February 9, 1897 par. 10}

How does the intercessory work of the holy spirit emphasize the fact that it is not a person separate from Christ and His Father? 1 Tim. 2:5

“We must not only pray in Christ’s name, but by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. This explains what is meant when it is said that the Spirit “maketh intercession for us, with groanings which cannot be uttered.” Rom. 8:26. Such prayer God delights to answer. When with earnestness and intensity we breathe a prayer in the name of Christ, there is in that very intensity a pledge from God that He is about to answer our prayer “exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think.” Eph. 3:20. {COL 147.3}

Christ, our Mediator, and the Holy Spirit are constantly interceding in man’s behalf, but the Spirit pleads not for us as does Christ, who presents His blood, shed from the foundation of the world; the Spirit works upon our hearts, drawing out prayers and penitence, praise and thanksgiving. The gratitude which flows from our lips is the result of the Spirit’s striking the cords of the soul in holy memories, awakening the music of the heart.” {1SM 344.1}

What important reason did Christ give which made it necessary for Him to go away? (John 16:7)

Cumbered with humanity, Christ could not be in every place personally; therefore it was altogether for their advantage that He should leave them, go to His father, and send the Holy Spirit to be His successor on earth. The Holy Spirit is Himself divested of the personality of humanity and independent thereof. He would represent Himself as present in all places by His Holy Spirit, as the Omnipresent. “But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in My name, He shall (although unseen by you), [THIS PHRASE WAS ADDED BY ELLEN WHITE.] teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you” [John 14:26].— {14MR 23.3}

The one who is our intercessor is able to fully understand us, for he has partaken of our flesh.

Part 5: ELOHIM

And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. (Gen 1:26)

“The Lord has shown me that Satan was once 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.”— {1SG 17}

The claim is often made that the Hebrew word “elohim” suggests that God is a Trinity, because it is a plural word. How does the Bible prove this theory to be wrong? Mark 12: 29-34

“It is exegesis of a mischievous if pious sort that would find the doctrine of the Trinity in the plural form elohim [God]” (“God,” Encyclopedia of Religion and Ethics)

“The fanciful idea that Elohim referred to the Trinity of persons in the Godhead hardly finds now a supporter among scholars. It is either what the grammarians call the plural of majesty, or it denotes the fullness of divine strength, the sum of the powers displayed by God” (William Smith, A Dictionary of the Bible, ed. Peloubet, MacDonald Pub. Co., 1948, p. 220).

“Elohim must rather be explained as an intensive plural, denoting greatness and majesty” (The American Journal of Semitic Language and Literature, 1905, Vol. XXI, p. 208).

“Early dogmaticians were of the opinion that so essential a doctrine as that of the Trinity could not have been unknown to the men of the Old Testament…No modern theologian...can longer maintain such a view. Only an inaccurate exegesis which overlooks the more immediate grounds of interpretation can see references to the Trinity in the plural form of the divine name Elohim, the use of the plural in Genesis 1:26 or such liturgical phrases as three members of the Aaronic blessing of Numbers 6:24-26 and the Trisagion of Isaiah 6:3” (The New Schaff-Herzog Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge, Vol. 12, p. 18).

Understanding the truth that there is only one God enables is to have an understanding of the plan of salvation

Part 6: THE WORSHIP OF THE DRAGON

For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High. (Isa 14:13-14)

“Satan in Heaven, before his rebellion, was a high and exalted angel, next in honor to God’s dear Son. His countenance, like those of the other angels, was mild and expressive of happiness. His forehead was high and broad, showing a powerful intellect. His form was perfect; his bearing noble and majestic. A special light beamed in his countenance, and shone around him brighter and more beautiful than around the other angels; yet Jesus, God’s dear Son, had the pre-eminence over all the angelic host. He was one with the Father before the angels were created. Satan was envious of Christ, and gradually assumed command which devolved on Christ alone.” {1SP 17.1}

What has been Satan’s chief desire from the beginning of the great controversy? Mat 4:8,9

“....Satan thought that he was himself a favorite in Heaven among the angels. He had been highly exalted; but this did not call forth from him gratitude and praise to his Creator. He aspired to the height of God himself. He gloried in his loftiness. He knew that he was honored by the angels. He had a special mission to execute. He had been near the great Creator, and the ceaseless beams of glorious light enshrouding the eternal God, had shone especially upon him. Satan thought how angels had obeyed his command with pleasurable alacrity. Were not his garments light and beautiful? Why should Christ thus be honored before himself? {1SP 18.1}

How will Satan achieve his ambition in the end of time? Rev 13:4

“ .... Those who rose up with Jesus would send up their faith to Him in the holiest, and pray, “My Father, give us Thy Spirit.” Then Jesus would breathe upon them the Holy Ghost. In that breath was light, power, and much love, joy, and peace.

I turned to look at the company who were still bowed before the throne; they did not know that Jesus had left it. Satan appeared to be by the throne, trying to carry on the work of God. I saw them look up to the throne, and pray, “Father, give us Thy Spirit.” Satan would then breathe upon them an unholy influence; in it there was light and much power, but no sweet love, joy, and peace. Satan’s object was to keep them deceived and to draw back and deceive God’s children.” —EW 55

Those whose worship is false may call upon the name of God, but it is Satan who will answer their prayers.

Restoration Ministries

Restoration Ministries is dedicated to the promotion of the truths contained in the word of God. In particular to the restoration of those truths which have been cast down to the ground and trampled underfoot by the papacy, and adopted by her daughters.

Our purpose is to motivate men and women to commit themselves wholly to the task of personal preparation for the coming of the Lord, and to the taking of the final warning message to every nation, kindred, tongue and people.

Website: www.restorationministry.com
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