Many times, debates have arisen as to how many “Gods” there are. Is Jesus Christ God? Some say there are three, yet they are all just one being. The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are mere titles or offices held by the same Person. Given a chance to visit heaven, they say we would only find Jesus Christ there as God, and no one else. These and similar arguments continue to confuse people. What is the truth about this matter?
In order to understand the truth about a certain point, we need first to look at the beginning—Genesis. All Biblical doctrine begins in the book of Genesis and is continually unfolded all throughout the Bible until the book of Revelation. This means we cannot just read one or two texts (“For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little.” Isaiah 28:10). If we read any text in isolation, ignoring the beginning (foundation) of that doctrine, then we are likely to arrive at a wrong conclusion and believe error. This could result in our losing our salvation and being eternally lost.
This article will consider the matter using the Bible alone as the foundation and source of all points raised and the conclusions arrived at. (all emphases have been supplied).
The Issue at Hand
In the beginning God said: “Let Us make man in Our own image, after Our likeness.” Genesis 1:26. It is clear that God was not speaking to Himself here. Again we read, “Go to, let Us go down, and there confound their language, that they may not understand one another’s speech.” Genesis 11:7. And again, it is clear God is not speaking to Himself.
The plurality clearly would indicate that God had One, a Companion, whom He could council together with. The following verses rule out the fact that it could be an angel or any other created being. “For by Him [Jesus], were all things created that are in heaven, visible or invisible.” Colossians 1:16. “All things were made by Him and without Him was not any thing made that was made.” John 1:3. The word “Him” refers to the “Word”—Christ according to John 1:1.
Christ alone has been said to be the one By Whom all things were created. It would be incorrect to conclude that God was speaking to Himself or with a created being in the verses quoted from Genesis above.
There is an abundance of evidence in the Bible. We just need to read it. The truth is that God has a form because man was created in His image. People say we do not know what the form of God is, because John writes that God is Spirit, (“God is a Spirit: and they that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth.” John 4:24.) Even though it is true that God is Spirit, He has the form or structure of the man that He created in His image.
Ratified in the New Testament
There is evidence that the New Testament writers had a clear understanding of the verse, “let Us make.” in Genesis 1:26. The disciples John wrote, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God.” John1:1–2. John’s words here agree with the words of Moses in Genesis.
IS Christ Independent from His Father and Living as a Separate Being?
Although a little light has been shed in the book of Genesis, there is an abundance of evidence in the remainder of the Bible to support this teaching. During Jesus’earthly ministry, many events happened that supports the truth that they are separate beings.
“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.” Mathew 3:16–17
“While He thus spake, there came a cloud, and overshadowed them: and they feared as they entered into the cloud. And there came a voice out of the cloud, saying, This is My beloved Son: hear Him. And when the voice was past, Jesus was found alone.” Luke 9:34–36 (first part). “Father, glorify Thy name. Then came there a voice from heaven, saying, I have both glorified it, and will glorify it again.” John 12:28
These are just a few verses that show that Christ was on earth as a separate Being, while God the Father was in Heaven. At Jesus’ baptism His voice was heard from there. Even though “God is Spirit, and they that worship Him must worship Him in Spirit and in truth,” John 4:24, as mentioned earlier, at the baptism, The Holy Spirit was manifested in form of a dove. The voice, however, did not come from the Spirit, but from God out of heaven.
Is Christ alone in Heaven as God? Or is He with His Father, as a Separate Being?
The truth is that the Father is separate from the Son. They talk to each other and work together for the salvation of men, and seek to bring happiness to the created beings. From the Prophetic books of Daniel and Revelation, there are passages that can be confirmed with quotes from the apostolic letters regarding this.
“I beheld till the thrones were cast down, and the Ancient of days did sit, whose garment was white as snow, and the hair of His head like the pure wool: His throne was like the fiery flame, and His wheels as burning fire.” Daniel 7:9. “I saw in the night visions, and, behold, one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days, and they brought Him near before Him.” Daniel 7:13. Christ is speaking of Himself here. Many times He used the expression, “Son of man.” For Example: “For the Son of man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men.” Luke 24:7. “The Son of man came to save that which was lost.” Matthew 18:11. “And then shall they see the Son of man coming in the clouds with great power and glory.” Mark 13:26. “When the Son of man shall come in His glory and all the holy angels with Him, then shall He sit upon the thrown of His glory.” Matthew 25:31
Daniel was not referring to Ezekiel, whom the Lord at one point referred to with the same expression, “son of man.” (Ezekiel 2:1). The events in the above verse are happening in heaven, and nowhere do we have evidence that Ezekiel was ever taken to heaven and brought near the Ancient of days . As to who the Ancient of days is. Please read Psalms 90:1–11. It is clear that it is God the Father. So Christ was brought near the Father by a cloud (or retinue) of holy angels.
Revelation 4:2; says “And immediately I was in the Spirit: and behold a throne was set in heaven, and One sat on the throne.” In chapter 5:1–8, we read that the One sitting on the throne [a throne described similarly to that of Daniel 7:9] had a book in His hands. This Person, without a doubt, the Ancient of days. A proclamation was made by a strong angel, calling upon anyone to come and open the book for the One on the throne. We read that no one was worthy to do so which made John weep, until one of the elders comforted him with the words that there was One, “The Lion of the tribe of Juda, the Root of David” (v. 5) who was worthy to receive the book and
open it. The Lamb, as it had been slain—took the book (vs. 7–8). This clearly shows usChrist is not alone in heaven.
Quoting from the Apostles: Stephen, when he was stoned, just before he died, he stated. “And said, Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of Man standing on the right hand of God.” Acts 7:56. The apostle Paul wrote: “Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12:2
The INSTRUCTION of Christ TO BAPTIZE IN THE NAME OF THE FATHER, THE SON AND THE HOLY SPIRIT
Just prior to His ascension after spending 33 ½ on this earth, Jesus said: “All power is given unto Me in heaven and in earth.” He then gave the instruction, “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost. . . and lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world” Mathew 28:18(last part) 19–20. Some argue that, as they read about the apostles conducting baptisms after Christ’s accession, none baptized using the three names that they were instructed to use. They come to their own conclusion that this is evidence that Christ alone is all God and Holy Spirit, and that this was revealed to the apostles. This is very much an erroneous view! As we have seen, in fact, most of those verses proving that Christ and God are separate beings were written by the apostles.
The apostle John being one of those that was baptizing, writes the following at the beginning of the book of Revelation, “the Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto Him.” Revelation 1:1. Some time before this, it is recorded that Peter, James, and John met Paul the Apostle and greeted him and divided the labour among themselves. This shows that the apostles were fully united (Galatians 1:18–19; 2:9). Peter himself, after speaking of the need of repentance and conversion, says that such an experience will be followed by “the times of refreshing. . . from the presence of the Lord; and He shall send Jesus Christ.” Acts 3:19–20. Also, ”Ye men of Israel, hear these words; Jesus of Nazareth, a Man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did by Him in the midst of you, as ye yourselves also know. Whom God hath raised up, having loosed the pains of death: because it was not possible that He should be holden of it.” Acts 2:22, 24. Did Jesus raise Himself from the dead? No. Not according to this verse.
Why is it then supposed that they did not baptize in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, especially after we have seen from their teaching that they all unitedly believed Jesus was separate from the Father? It is because of the burden of their message. At that time, the central pillar of the message that one had to accept was that Jesus is the Saviour, the Son of God. We can see this as we read the message of Peter at Pentecost, Stephen before being stoned, Phillip to the Ethiopian Eunuch, and so on.
He that hath Seen Me Hath Seen the Father
“If ye had known Me, ye should have known My Father also: and from henceforth ye know Him, and have seen Him. Philip saith unto Him, Lord, show us the Father, and it sufficeth us. Jesus saith unto him, Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known Me, Philip? he that hath seen Me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, Show us the Father? Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in Me? the words that I speak unto you I speak not of Myself: but the Father that dwelleth in Me, He doeth the works. Believe Me that I am in the Father, and the Father in Me: or else believe Me for the very works’ sake.” John 14:7-11
These words of Christ have led some to think that Christ and the Father are not separate bodily as He is in His Father, and the Father in Him (v. 10) but such an understanding wrong. In the next chapter Jesus said, “abide in Me, and I in you.” John 15:4. In John 6:56 He says: “He that eateth My flesh, and drinketh My blood, dwelleth in Me, and I in Him.” Did He mean that the person who believes in Him will physically go and dwell inside Christ and become one physical person? No, of course not.
Then why is it that, as the disciples saw Christ, they were said to have seen the Father? Christ is speaking of His Father, and He says: “Sacrifice and offering Thou wouldest not, but a body hast Thou prepared Me.” Hebrews 10:5. This is why in John 1:14, we read that the Word [Jesus] became flesh as a human being and dwelt among us. He came to reveal God His Father, His love and His character to the world. “For in Him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily.” Colossians 2:9. Put differently, He was God seen as a human being. What about His appearance, character and disposition? He is “the express image of His person” Hebrews 1:3 [that is of the Father]. After saying, “He that hath seen Me hath seen the Father,” (John 14:9) He said in verse 12, “I go unto My Father!” It would not mean going inside Himself!
The Oneness of God the Father and Jesus Christ our Saviour
With all this evidence (which has not been exhaustive), we can briefly look at the oneness of Christ and His Father and the Spirit. “For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one.” 1 John 5:7. In John 17, Christ in His prayer simplifies our understanding of the oneness spoken of here. Is it physical oneness? Clearly, No, it is not. The Bible, as we have seen so far, has said No.
Let us then consider this: “And the glory which Thou gavest Me I have given them; that they may be one, even as We are one:” John 17:22. Here is the oneness of the disciples. Were they to become one body and cease to be individual persons, all in one? No. If yes, who among them was to be central that others must enter into him to become one? What a huge person that would be! Clearly it is not that. Further, in marriage, the husband and wife are said to be one (Genesis 2:24), yet we see them separate to their graves. There is One God. True. But, what kind of oneness? The Bible here talks of oneness in nature, character, and purpose existing between God and Christ. This is what Christ prays from His father, that His followers must have.
Christ as God
The Father calls His Son, God. “But unto the Son He saith, Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of Thy kingdom.” Hebrews 1:8. If the Father calls His Son Jesus, God, we can safely call Jesus, God, with joy, knowing that we are following the order and example set by our Father which is in Heaven.
God has in His word given us clear evidence that there is One God and His Son Jesus Christ. They are two different individuals. They have the same character, the same goal and do always agree and have the same purpose. In that sense they act like one.
Many are guilty of urging false theories about who God is. Following false teachings, many are led to believe in a false god. Others have acted with partial or no knowledge. Before the coming of the light, they are not condemned because there was no light to reject. But after the light has come, if they choose not to follow, they will receive their condemnation. To those who have the light, a theoretical knowledge alone of who God is, is not enough. “The Lord knoweth them that are His. And, Let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity.” 2 Timothy 2:19. Amen.
Joel Msiska, Malawi