One of the things I have learned to appreciate more and more the longer I study the Scriptures, is their accuracy. This is especially crucial when it comes to accurately understanding basic doctrines–the foundational beliefs that cannot be negotiated, for any reason. One of these foundational doctrinal beliefs has to do with our Triune God. The doctrine of the Trinity is a difficult one for us to comprehend, but difficult or not, we must be careful not to redefine what is clearly stated in the Word of God so that it fits within our finite understanding. God is Who He says He is, and no less.
Is there any one of us who can really define Him? None. But, the Bible–God’s personal message to the human race, does give us some things to go on. In this study, I hope to expose some of the heresies that have been, and continue to be, taught about God. I hope to also bring Scriptural confirmation to the things about God that we are meant to understand. The facts about God that Scripture provides are given so that we have “absolutes” on which to base our beliefs. God has not left us without a guidebook; if He had, we would have little or nothing other than man’s own feeble philosophical ideas as a foundation for our belief systems. However, even with the genuine Word of God available to us, there seems to be no end to the erroneous assumptions people have about God which have become incorporated into the study of theology–deadly errors which have become the basis of belief for many religions and religious organizations around the world. These errors originate from the father of lies, Satan himself.
One of the first realizations that we must come to, when we are attempting to understand God, is that His existence, His essence, or the fullness of “Who” He is, will not, nor can it be limited to the insufficient understanding of even the most intelligent human being. Even though the Bible tells us that we are made in His image, He does not share our limitations, nor is He confined to the image of a human being. In other words, man having been created in God’s image, does not automatically infer that God is made in man’s image. He is the Creator; we are the created. God has told us in His Word that the human spirit is created to live forever. Yet, every human spirit has a beginning, a time when it was created. God however, not only lives forever, but also has always been. He has no beginning. The human mind cannot fully comprehend this. The way we understand things, everything must have a beginning. Yet, God always was.
The definition of Who God is, What He is, and How He has chosen to reveal Himself to mankind, is the source of much religious debate…and much error. Some of the greatest characters from Biblical history have recognized the greatness of the Almighty…and their own “smallness.” The Jewish King David was one of these. He penned these words in Psalm 8:
When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, the moon and the stars, which You have ordained, what is man that You are mindful of him, and the son of man that You visit him? (verses 3-4)
The prophet Isaiah had an experience like few others and described it in Isaiah 6:
In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the LORD sitting on a throne, high and lifted up and the train of His robe filled the temple. Above it stood seraphim; each one had six wings; with two he covered his face, with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. And one cried to another and said: “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts. The whole earth is full of His glory!” And the posts of the door were shaken by the voice of him who cried out, and the house was filled with smoke. So I said: Woe is me, for I am undone! Because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts.” (verses 1-5)
We are familiar with the trials of the godly man, Job, in the Old Testament. The difficulties Job was going through were quite extreme. He found himself questioning the Almighty’s judgment and justice until God appeared to him and set him straight. Job’s view of God had been much too small. God’s omnipotence and unlimited authority over everything that exists became imprinted upon Job’s mind, changing his complete perspective of Who God really was.
When Job was confronted by Almighty God, he could only respond one way. The interchange between Job and his Creator is recorded in chapter 40.
Moreover the LORD answered Job, and said: “Shall the one who contends with the Almighty correct Him? He who rebukes God, let him answer it.” Then Job answered the LORD and said: “Behold, I am vile; what shall I answer You? I lay my hand over my mouth. Once I have spoken, but I will not answer. Yes, twice, but I will proceed no further.” Then the LORD answered Job out of the whirlwind, and said: “Now prepare yourself like a man; I will question you, and you shall answer Me…” (verses 1-7)
There are many examples of humans having an awe-inspiring experience when they encountered God. The prophet Daniel saw God in a way that very few have. We find his description in Daniel 7:9-10:
I watched till thrones were put in place, and the Ancient of Days was seated; His garment was white as snow, and the hair of His head was like pure wool. His throne was a fiery flame, its wheels a burning fire; A fiery stream issued and came forth from before him. A thousand thousands ministered to him. Ten thousand times ten thousand stood before Him. The court was seated, and the books were opened.
Revelation, chapter 1, tells of the Apostle John who had a vision that in many ways resembled the one the prophet Daniel had had, hundreds of years before. It is a passage we will revisit later in this article. This is how John’s account reads:
I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s Day, and I heard behind me a loud voice, as of a trumpet saying, “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last,” and, “What you see, write in a book and send it to the seven churches which are in Asia, to Ephesus, to Smyrna, to Pergamos, to Thyatira, to Sardis, to Philadelphia, and to Laodicea. Then I turned to see the voice that spoke with me. And having turned I saw seven golden lampstands, and in the midst of the seven lampstands One like the Son of Man, clothed with a garment down to the feet and girded about the chest with a golden band. His head and hair were white like wool, as white as snow, and His eyes like a flame of fire; white as snow, and His eyes like a flame of fire; his feet were like fine brass, as if refined in a furnace, and His voice as the sound of many waters; He had in His right hand seven stars, out of His out went a sharp two-edged sword, and His countenance was like the sun shining in its strength. And when I saw Him, I fell at His feet as dead. But he laid His right hand on me, saying to me, “Do not be afraid; I am the First and the Last. I am He who lives, and was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore. Amen. And I have the keys of Hades and of Death…”(verses 10-18)
Pagan religions have “gods” taking almost every imaginable form. There are gods made out of rock, wood, or clay and they are formed into everything from insects, to birds, to cattle. The God we serve is, however, a God like none other. There is only one true God, yet He represents Himself in three personages, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
We find that the disciples had difficulties really understanding who the Father and the Son were. In John 14. The conversation between Jesus and his disciples unfolded like this:
“Let not your heart be troubled, you believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many mansions. If it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also. And where I go you know, and the way you know.” Thomas said to Him, “Lord, we do not know where You are going, and how can we know the way?” Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No man comes to the Father except through Me. If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also, and from now on you know him and have seen him.” Philip said to Him, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is sufficient for us.” Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and yet you have not known Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; so how can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father in Me? The words that I speak to you I do not speak on My own authority; but the Father who dwells in Me does the works. Believe Me that I am in the Father and the Father in Me, or else believe Me for the sake of the works themselves.” (verses 1-11)
I used all of the first eleven verses for a reason. Jesus here was foretelling the future for the disciples. Jesus told them that He was soon going to be leaving them and after He left, He would be preparing their homes in paradise in preparation for their arrival. Both Thomas and Philip had questions about where Jesus was going and they desired to be shown the Father. Jesus responded that if the disciples had seen Jesus, they had already seen the Father also!
This statement by Jesus was meant to clarify something to the disciples about His true identity, but it has caused many to stumble over what it was that they think Jesus actually said. How can Jesus and the Father be one and the same? Let’s keep this Scripture in mind while we look at more.
In the Old Testament we find a Scripture that is quite well known by believers in Jesus the Messiah. It is found in Isaiah 9:6-7.
For unto us a Child is born. Unto us a Son is given; and the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God. Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end, upon the throne of David and over His kingdom. To order it and establish it with judgment and justice. From that time forward, even forever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this.
This passage is an Old Testament prophecy about the Messiah who would be born about seven hundred years later. The prophecy gives several titles that Jesus, the Messiah, would carry. One of these titles is “Everlasting Father.” How could the Son, Jesus, who was born as an infant to the young teenage virgin girl, Mary, also be the Everlasting Father? Let’s also keep this Scripture in mind as we research this a bit farther.
The author of Hebrews 3:1-4, which I believe was the Apostle Paul, made this definitive statement:
Therefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our confession, Christ Jesus, who was faithful to Him who appointed Him, as Moses also was faithful in all His house. For this One has been counted worthy of more glory than Moses, inasmuch as He who built the house has more honor than the house. For every house is built by someone, but He who built all things is God.
The Apostle Paul, here in the third chapter of Hebrews, is making a comparison between Jesus and Moses. The Jewish people had great respect for Moses because God had used him to lead the Israelite people out of bondage in Egypt. God had also used him to bring the law to the people when God met with him on the mountain. Moses was a highly revered prophet. Paul here was saying that Jesus was due more glory and honor than Moses, just as the builder of a house is honored more than the house he built. In other words, Jesus was the One who created Moses.
As we begin to tie together “Who” the Bible declares Jesus to be, let’s take a look at a powerful passage in John 1.
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without him nothing was made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it. (verses 1-4)
Before going farther in our search of Scriptures identifying God, we should summarize those we have already read. A question offered earlier was: How can Jesus, the baby son of God, also be given the title Everlasting Father? Could this be what Jesus was referring to when He told the disciples that He and the Father are one? Was the Apostle Paul confirming this very thing in Hebrews 3 when he said that Jesus was counted of more glory than Moses, because Jesus was the Creator of Moses? That is how I read it!
John the disciple confirms the same fact in John chapter 1. He wrote that the “Word” was in the beginning. What beginning is he referring to? He is referring to the same “beginning” that the writer of Genesis is referring to in the creation story. Genesis 1:1 says: “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” John was saying that the “Word” was in existence in the very beginning of creation. John then says that the “Word” was with God in the beginning. Then he adds to his case for the identity of the “Word” by stating that he was not only with God, but the “Word” was God! After making this statement, he adds even more. He says that everything that was created was created by the “Word”; in fact, nothing was created without Him! John finishes his statements by saying that the “Word” was the source of life and the light of life. The problem was, according to John, even though the Light was shining in the darkness, the darkness did not recognize it…The world didn’t recognize its own Messiah! So, who is the Father? Who is the Son? Let’s go yet a bit farther in our study.
Three times we find the term “Godhead” in the Bible (at least in the old King James version of the Scriptures). In each, even though the Greek translation is not identical, the definition every time has to do with “deity” or “divine nature.” The word “Godhead” has to do with essential nature of God. We will take a brief look at all three of these Scriptures. The first is found in Romans 1:20:
For since the creation of the world, His visible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse.
Everything in God’s creation cries out to be recognized as the creation of God. King David expressed his wonder at the glorious creation of the heavens. Paul the Apostle here is saying that mankind is left without excuse, because even creation itself shows the existence and power of the “Godhead.”
The second Scripture is found in Acts 17:29 (KJV). The Apostle Paul was preaching to a gathered group of philosophers on Mars hill in Greece. He was arguing against idolatry, emphasizing that there is only one true God:
Forasmuch then as we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Godhead is like unto gold, or silver, or stone, graven by art and man’s device.
The third Scripture using the term “Godhead” is found in Colossians 2:9:
For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily…
This verse happens to be one of the clearest verses in the Bible that declares His deity. Being embodied with the fullness of the Godhead, proves that Jesus Christ is God Incarnate. There is no other correct way to interpret this powerful verse. Because the fullness of God’s divine essence is present in the Son of God, Jesus could say to Philip, “Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father.” (John 14:9)
…..Part 2 (of 2) has been completed and will be available tomorrow…..