Chapter 4

The Third Person of the Godhead

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It amazes me how smart we think we are, and yet we are so willing to settle for a deception, thinking we understand truth. Pilate asked Jesus, “What is truth?” Unfortunately, he did not wait around for an answer. We read Sister White’s statements on the third person of the Godhead, and we override the sense of her words by using our own human reasoning to explain God. For example, Mrs. White wrote, “The prince of the power of evil can only be held in check by the power of God in the third person of the Godhead, the Holy Spirit.” (SpTA 37 [1897]) We conclude that since the Holy Spirit is the third Person of the Godhead, then the Father must be the first Person of the Godhead and the Son, the second Person of the Godhead. We also know Father and Son are divine Beings, so we automatically decide that  the Holy Spirit must be a third divine Being. In spite of evidence to the contrary, we close our minds to any other explanation, much to the pleasure of the arch-deceiver. In this chapter, therefore, we will take out our spiritual microscope and examine the evidence.

First, we need to understand what the word “person” means when talking about the Spirit. I want to bring this down to a human level first, in order to clarify an important principle. We all have a visible physical body and an invisible spirit. When someone says cruel and unjust things about us, are they inflicting physical pain on any part of our body? The answer, of course, is No, but we suffer deep emotional pain. Where does this suffering take place? Deep in our spirit. Man’s spirit is his mind, his personality—everything non-physical that makes him who he is. “For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him?” (1 Cor 2:11) Don’t miss this point. Our spirit is as much our person as our physical body is our person. Our spirit is not another human being; it is our mind. Christ’s Spirit in us has to do with our mind. We are “transformed by the renewing of our minds” (Rom 12:2), which work in us is done by the Holy Spirit. What our mind processes is reflected in what we think, say, and do. How much peace we have when our spirits “dwell in heavenly places.” (Eph 2:6) “The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God.” (Rom 8:16)

In the last chapter, the identity of the Holy Spirit was revealed to be Christ in His omnipresence. His Spirit is the “third person” or “agency” of the Godhead. “Godhead” means “deity, divinity,” so the Spirit of God and of Christ is the third agency “of divinity” active in the plan of redemption.

But there’s more to know about the Holy Spirit, and we will use God’s GPS to help us get to our destination. God’s GPS will help us clearly understand how well established it is just who the third person of the Godhead is and how important that gift is to us. The following are many GPS statements to help us in our search for the truth.

Gods Prophet Says, “Christ tells us that the Holy Spirit is the Comforter, and the Comforter is the Holy Ghost, ‘the Spirit of truth, which the Father shall send in My name.’ …This refers to the omnipresence of the Spirit of Christ, called the Comforter.” (14MR 179)

That explicit, definitive statement, by itself, speaks volumes. Christ couldn’t be everywhere physically with His growing church, but His invisible Spirit is in every believer, meaning in our minds/hearts. He will dwell where He is welcomed. Is a person’s spirit—his mind or personality—part of him, or separate from him? We know the common sense answer to that, because we just discussed it. Now let us read a similar statement from Ellen White’s pen with more context around it:

Gods Prophet Says, “The Spirit was given as a regenerating agency, and without this the sacrifice of Christ would have been of no avail. The power of evil had been strengthening for centuries, and the submission of man to this satanic captivity was amazing. Sin could be resisted and overcome only through the mighty agency of the third person of the Godhead, who would come with no modified energy, but in the fullness of divine power. It is the Spirit that makes effectual what has been wrought out by the world's Redeemer. It is by the Spirit that the heart is made pure. Through the Spirit the believer becomes a partaker of the divine nature. Christ has given his Spirit as a divine power to overcome all hereditary and cultivated tendencies to evil, and to impress his own character upon the church.” (RH May 19, 1904)

Christ’s Spirit is a divine power. It is “His own character” (His own mind, His own life). In that quotation were several references to the same Spirit. The principle of letting her writings interpret themselves tells us that “the” Spirit, without the possessive pronoun, is the same as “His” Spirit. The possessive indicates ownership by Christ, not independence from Christ.

“Our condition through sin has become preternatural [outside the ordinary course of nature], and the power that restores us must be supernatural, else it has no value. There is but one power that can break the hold of evil from the hearts of men, and that is the power of God in Jesus Christ. (8T 291)

And how does that power of God in Christ break the hold of evil in us? “There must be a power working from within, a new life from above, before men can be changed from sin to holiness. That power is Christ. His grace alone can quicken the lifeless faculties of the soul, and attract it to God, to holiness.” (SC 18) The Spirit of Christ, working “from within,” is the only power that can break the hold of evil from our hearts!

God’s prophet wrote, “The divine Spirit that the world's Redeemer promised to send is the presence and power of God.” (ST November 23, 1891) Now, come—let us reason together thoughtfully. If the “power of God” is “in Christ Jesus” (quoted in the second paragraph above), and if the “divine Spirit” is “the presence and power of God” (quoted in the previous sentence), and if that’s the “only power” that can break the hold of evil from us (previous paragraph), then we can praise God for His revelation that the “divine Spirit,” the “presence and power of God,” is none other than the indwelling Spirit of Christ! Ellen White’s inspired pen wrote explicitly: “That power is Christ” (previous paragraph).

Once the scales fall from our eyes, it seems so obvious and easy to understand. What wonderful light God has given us about the third person of the Godhead. Christ omnipresent is the Comforter, the Holy Spirit.

 “Christ declared that after his ascension, he would send to his church, as his crowning gift, the Comforter, who was to take his place. This Comforter is the Holy Spirit,--the soul of his life, the efficacy of his church, the light and life of the world. With his Spirit Christ sends a reconciling influence and a power that takes away sin.” (RH May 19, 1904) This quotation makes it plain that the Comforter that Christ promised to send “is the Holy Spirit,” which is “his Spirit,” meaning Christ’s Spirit, with all the power and blessings needed for our deliverance.

Ellen White wrote many such statements of perfect clarity, sometimes in the very book in which it is claimed she wrote a statement indicating her adoption of the Trinity doctrine. This next statement of hers from that same book, though, denies a third-god Holy Spirit and uplifts our Savior in His continuing efforts to save us: “The only defense against evil is the indwelling of Christ in the heart through faith in His righteousness.” (DA 324)

 “Not until the life of Christ becomes a vitalizing power in our lives can we resist the temptations that assail us from within and from without.” (MH 130)

  “The Holy Spirit, which proceeds from the only begotten Son of God, binds the human agent, body, soul, and spirit, to the perfect, divine-human nature of Christ.” (RH April 5, 1906)

“It is not safe to catch the spirit from another. We want the Holy Spirit, which is Jesus Christ.” (Lt 66 April 10, 1894) You cannot with honest heart make that absolutely clear statement say or mean anything else—unless you are willing to deny the divine inspiration of Ellen White.

 “God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father.” (Gal 4:6)  That fact—“Christ in us”—gives us “union with the divine.” (RH Jan. 5, 1911) And so that we may know the incomprehensible value of the Spirit of the Son of God given to believers to dwell in us, transforming us and fitting us for service to God, we have these words from Inspiration:

   

   “Heavenly intelligences are waiting to co-operate with human instrumentalities, that the world may see what human beings may become through a union with the divine. Those who consecrate body, soul and spirit to God’s service will constantly receive a new endowment of physical, mental, and spiritual power. The inexhaustible supplies of heaven are at their command. Christ gives them the life of his life. The Holy Spirit puts forth its highest energies to work in mind and heart. Through the grace given us, we may achieve victories which, because of our defects of character and the smallness of our faith, may have seemed to us impossible. To every one who offers himself to the Lord for service, withholding nothing, is given power for the attainment of measureless results.” (RH Jan. 5, 1911)


Thank you, Father, for raising up your faithful prophet who gives us clarity and understanding. Her writings are aGPS that lifts the fog as to who the third person of the Godhead is. And yet, why is there fog, in the first place? Sometimes I wonder if we read the Scriptures half-awake, when nothing registers. How many of us have read plainly-stated truths several times, but because of preconceptions, the truth never registered until finally, the light dawned? Perhaps it is because we were taught error by people we trusted, so that when truth was read in God’s Word, our brains could not accept it for what it was. Perhaps we couldn’t accept it because it would mean our trust was misplaced and that those whom we trusted to understand truth … didn’t! It is a hard thing to acknowledge, and yet the truth of God is abundant. We talked about John 14 earlier, but consider this further thought about the familiar passage.

Christ the Comforter

For three-and-a-half years, Christ was a constant comfort to the disciples by His physical presence. Then He prepared them for His departure. In John 14:16, Jesus told them, “And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever.”Jesus was talking about Himself in His omnipresent Spirit. He reassured His disciples of His continued presence in their lives in verse 18: “I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you.His disciples knew He was talking about Himself. “Judas saith unto him, not Iscariot, Lord, how is it that thouwilt manifest thyselfunto us, and not unto the world?” (John 14:22) If the disciples knew He was talking about Himself, why haven’t we understood the same thing as we’ve read the same words Jesus spoke to His disciples? Is this not Laodicean blindness? Shall we not pray earnestly for that eye salve Jesus offers to Laodicea without price?

Here are four more quotations from Inspiration that identify Christ as the Comforter:

“…Christ is everything to those who receive Him. He is their Comforter, their safety, their healthfulness…. (LHU 221)

“…We adore God for His wondrous love in giving Jesus the Comforter. (19MR 297)

“There is no comforter like Christ, so tender and so true. He is touched with the feeling of our infirmities. His Spirit speaks to the heart.” (AG 195.4) (TMK  171.5)

“God calls upon His people, many of whom are but half awake, to arouse, and engage in earnest labor, praying for strength for service. Workers are needed. Receive the Holy Spirit, and your efforts will be successful. Christ’s presence is what gives power.”(The Central Advance, Feb 25, 1903)Power for what? Power for service. Power to resist evil. Power to honor God by our belief and our obedience.

Why have we not known this?

As plain as this trustworthy evidence is, we might wonder again why so many of us have not known the truth about Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Why have we been so deceived? We are given the answer. We have been taken in Satan’s seductive trap.

“The reason why the churches are weak and sickly and ready to die, is that the enemy has brought influences of a discouraging nature to bear upon trembling souls. He has sought to shut Jesusfrom their view as the Comforter, as one who reproves, who warns, who admonishes them, saying, ‘This is the way, walk ye in it.’”(RH Aug. 26, 1890)

Satan, working through menhe has cunningly ensnared,is trying to keep us from realizing that our precious Lord is the One who dwells in us so closely as our invisible Comforter. How very welcome our Saviour is, and how much we need Him so close to us! But Satan and his servantswant you to believe that the Holy Spirit is someone else—a third god we don’t know. Don’t believe it; your eternal life is at stake in this matter. Eternal life is “that they might know thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.” No third God is named in this explanation of how we may receive eternal life.

Isaiah 60:1-2 has never had more meaning then it does at this time in earth’s history:“Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the LORD is risen upon thee. For, behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people: but the LORD shall arise upon thee, and his glory shall be seen upon thee.”

My own experience

Brothers and sisters, if we accept what the Bible literally says about God and His Son and the Spirit, as the pioneers of Adventism did, we would have to conclude that our leaders have been deceived and have passed the deception on to us. Let me tell you about myself. I first came into Adventism fifty-seven years ago. I was once an ardent defender of the Trinity doctrine—in particular,tritheism. I once bought into such beliefs as three co-eternal, co-existent, co-equal Gods who had no beginning and no relation to one another. None preceded the other in point of time; none came after the other; all three selecting which role they would play in the great controversy. I also believed the lie that Jesus permanently gave up His attribute of omnipresence when He became a man. I taught and defended these errors because I trusted the leadership who taught me. I rose up against non-trinitarians, thinking they were so deceived. But when I finally analyzed the Trinitarian beliefs, I saw that they really make no sense at all. I was reminded of the biblical counsel that we are to trust no man. Rather, we are to be noble Bereans and check all the sources for ourselves, earnestly praying for divine guidance that our Savior is more than happy to give through His comforting omnipresence.

It has been three-plus years since I learned and accepted the non-trinitarian position about the Godhead that our pioneers believed and taught. I thank God that a dear friend encouraged me to study the issue with an open mind. The evidence for our pioneer’s non-trinitarian position is solid and irrefutable. As truth began to unfold, I felt so betrayed. But as the light continued to dispel the darkness, I felt liberated! Praise God! I fell more deeply in love with our God and His Son, once I understood who They really are and what They, in divine love, have done for me and the whole world. They are real to me and dwell in me. Precious, precious truth!

If you study the issue with a closed mind, having prejudice and bias, you will be looking for errors and you will miss entirely what the Holy Spirit could show you. But if you study the issues presented in this book as a novice learner, God will lead you to understand the same truth about the Godhead that He showed to the pioneers and to me. Please understand that to believe in a third god called “God the Holy Spirit” is to place another god before the Father, who commanded, “Thou shalt have no other gods before me.”“Before” means “side by side with” me or “in addition to” me:

(http://biblehub.com/commentaries/exodus/20-3.htm). The “God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ” is alone the true God. That is the testimony of Jesus Himself in John 17:3. (Eph 1:3; 1 Pet 1:3)

A question for you

Answer this summary question, please: The Jews of Christ’s time were dutifully keeping the fourth commandment while simultaneously rejecting the Son of God. How can God save a person who chooses to willfully break the first commandment while dutifully keeping the fourth commandment? In other words, which is more important—the Sabbath, or the God of the Sabbath?

Satan is counting all Christian Trinitarians as his victims in the great controversy. He triumphs over their misplaced loyalty; he exults in their acceptance of his blasphemous holy spirit. As for those who choose to pray to God the Holy Spirit,for which there is no Scriptural precedence or authority, they will be praying to Satan’s counterfeit third god. Satan is always ready to intercept such prayers. He’s done something similar before; read Early Writings, pages 55-56. Satan knows “he cannot expel God from His throne, but through the system of idolatry [false god(s)], he plants his own throne between the heaven and the earth, between God and the human worshiper.” (RH Oct. 22, 1895) Remember what Isaiah 14:13 said of Satan? “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.

Friends, a false god cannot give us eternal life; only the true God can. Only the Holy Spirit will lead us aright; a false, unholy spirit will lead us to destruction. The leaders in Adventism who encourage praying to this false god do not understand the gravity of the situation. They do not realize the eternal ramifications of what they are encouraging the people to do. Isaiah 9:16 tells us the seriousness of the matter: “For the leaders of this people cause them to err; and they that are led of them are destroyed.”

What is divine counsel for this crisis—or for any crisis? “Believe in the LORD your God, so shall ye be established; believe his prophets, so shall ye prosper.” (2 Chron. 20:20)

 


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