By Cecil Willis
We have been studying the nature of the Godhead. That is, does the Godhead consist of one person, Jesus, or is it comprised of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Already we have studied a good number of Scriptures on the subject. And were it not for the interest there seems to be on the subject, both from those in the church of the Lord, and from those in denominational organizations, we might have pursued the subject no farther. But as we have promised to further investigate the subject, we want to continue to study the Scriptures on this point this week.
It is sometimes stated that Rev. 1:8 proves there is but one person in the Godhead. The passage reads, “I am the Alpha and the Omega, saith the Lord God, who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.” Remember that the apostle John writes this statement by divine inspiration. One cannot read the first seven verses of this chapter and get any inkling that there is but one person in the Godhead. John did not contradict himself. Notice “The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show unto his servants, even the things which must shortly come to pass: and he sent and signified it by his angel unto his servant John: who bare witness of the word of God, and of the testimony of Jesus Christ, even of all things that he saw” (Rev. 1:1,2). Where did Jesus get his message? This passage says God gave it to him. This message was signified to his servant John the apostle, by his angel. The word “angel” in the original language simply means messenger. We find in John 14, and also chapter 16 that the Holy Spirit would bring to the apostle’s remembrance all Jesus had spoken and would guide them into all truth. So in these first two verses of Rev. 1 we have God mentioned, Jesus mentioned, and the Holy Spirit inferred. Now John would not, in the next five verses, after having mentioned these three, have asserted that they were nonentities. He did not contradict himself. The eternal nature of God is asserted in this passage, He was, is, and is to come. And I know but few people that would question the eternal nature of God.
In Matt. 1:23 when Jesus was called, “Immanuel” (God with us), the statement means that Deity had been clothed upon with human flesh. This passage does not assert that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are one person. These people who labor to prove the proposition that there is one person in the Godhead, read a passage, then forget what the passage says, and merely assert their doctrine. When someone suggests that you read a certain passage to find that God and Jesus are one person, do not be afraid to look it up. Read it. If it says they are one person, send me a card telling me where it is found. I would like to read it too. Until someone does this, I will continue to teach that it is not to be found in God’s word.
In Eph. 4:1-6 we find seven things listed by Paul of which, he says there can be but one. These passages not only declare that there can be but one of each of these, but that there must be at least one, but no more. We shall cite only verses 3 through 6: “giving diligence to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” And then Paul set form a platform for Christian unity. He says, “There is one body, and one Spirit, even as also ye were called in one hope of your calling: one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all, and through all, and in all.” There is one body, one Spirit, one hope, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God. These are the direct words of Paul spoken by divine guidance. We occasionally hear people laud themselves with the fact that they preach the “one Lord, one faith, and one baptism” as though this were all this passage declared. One is not preaching the whole of the gospel if he is not preaching all this passage teaches.
Paul specifically says there is one God, one Lord, one Spirit. Our denominational friends want to tell us that Paul really misunderstood the divine teaching, and that there was not one God, one Lord and one Spirit, but that Jesus was all three. He is the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. “It Paul here distinguished the one body, one hope, the one faith, and the one baptism, of necessity he must distinguish between the one Spirit, the one Lord, and the one God. To say that the Spirit, the Lord and the one God are all one and the same person is as ridiculous as to say that the one hope, the one faith. and the one baptism are all the same act. If to hope, to believe and to be baptized are different acts, then the Spirit, the Lord and the one God are different persons. It is foolish to amalgamate the three persons in the Godhead, and at the same time, in the very same verse, uphold the distinction of the four unities mentioned” (Clevenger, Debate Notes). If one preaches the one Lord, one faith, and one baptism, he ought also to preach the one Lord, one God, and one Spirit, and quit trying to make them all one person.
In Acts 7 we read a powerful sermon. It was so cutting it cost the preacher his life. Not only was this sermon powerful and cutting to those Jews to whom it was addressed, but it equally as powerful and destructive of the doctrine we have just been studying. Stephen was the preacher. He had accused the Jews of being “stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears.” Of course the Jews deeply resented this rabid accusation. Luke’s account in the book of Acts reads, “Now when they heard these things, they were cut to the heart, and they gnashed on him with their teeth. But he, being full of the Holy Spirit, looked up stedfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the -right hand of God, and said, Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God” (Acts 7:54-56). The Scripture says that Stephen saw God, and Jesus standing or. the right hand of God. The theory we are discussing says this could not be so. Stephen must have seen an hallucination. He surely must have only thought he saw Jesus standing on the right hand of God. Now the theory that there is but one person in the Godhead is not plausible unless it can be explained how a person can sit on the right hand of himself. If Jesus is God, and Jesus is Jesus, then when Jesus sat on the right hand of God, He was sitting on the right hand of Himself. If there is just one person in heaven, then Stephen must have only seen Jesus sitting on His own right hand, and thought he saw Jesus sitting on the right hand o# God. Frankly, men would do well to alter their theories to conform with the Scripture, rather than perverting the Scripture to fit their theories. Most of us have seen a good many things in life, but I will venture a guess that none of you have even seen a person sitting on his own right hand. This passage teaches the same truth that so many others we have already cited to you in this series of studies declare. God and Jesus are not one person.
It seems almost futile, and purposeless to go on reciting Scripture after Scripture that plainly teach that Jesus, the Holy Spirit, and God are different beings. But if one is not gained by unegivocal statements of Scripture thus far studied, perhaps the weight of many bearing upon his mind will overpower his preconceived notions.
Hence another Scripture. Jno. 14:16,17, and Jno. 16:7,8 declare the same promise of Jesus. The first passage says, “And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may be with you for ever, even the Spirit of truth.” The second, “Nevertheless I tell you the truth: 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 go, I will send him unto you. And he, when he is come, will convict the world in respect of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment.” “Jesus here promises the disciples that He would pray the Father to send the Spirit after his departure. If the Father is the Spirit and the Spirit the Father, and Jesus is the Father and the Father is Jesus, and if Jesus is the Spirit and the Spirit is Jesus, if all are one person, we have quite a predicament. Really the passage is saying: I am going to leave the earth and go to heaven where the Father and the Spirit are: I am going to pray to the Father that he will send the Holy Spirit to you disciples here on earth. Now if there is just one person in the Godhead, here is the way the passage would read. If every time the word Father, Son or Holy Spirit is used, we may substitute the word Jesus, the passage would read something like this: “And I will pray to myself, and I myself shall give you myself, that I myself may abide with you forever. Nevertheless I tell you the truth: it is expedient for you that I go away, for if I go not away, I will not come unto you, but if I depart I will send myself unto you, and when I come, I will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment” (Taken in substance from Clevenger’s Debate Notes). Any doctrine that makes such sheer nonsense of the Holy Word of God must be rejected by thinking people. The Bible says what it means and means what it says.
Again we might think of the approximately fifteen times the Bible says that Jesus prayed to the Father. Was He merely praying to Himself, and in so doing, giving the impression to those about Him that there was someone up in heaven who would hear and answer the prayer? Certainly not. He was praying to the Father.
In closing this lesson, we would like to cite just one more passage that not only teaches there is more than one in the Godhead but expresses our desire for each and every person who may read this article. Jesus told His disciples to “Go ye therefore, and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them into the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit; teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I commanded you: lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world” (Matt. 28:19,20). Jesus desired that each person become a follower of Him submitting to baptism for the remission of sins. Won’t you become baptized into the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit?
Truth Magazine, XX:25, p. 3-5
June 17, 1976