"This is Life Eternal, that they might know Thee, the Only True God, and Jesus Christ, whom Thou hast sent" -- John 17:3.
THE NEXT SEVERAL LESSONS will dwell upon what the Bible reveals concerning God, the Holy Spirit, the angels, and Jesus Christ. Each of these topics are vitally important, and none more so than that with which this lesson is concerned - GOD.
Why is it important to have a sound knowledge about God? Firstly, we are told that our very salvation is dependent upon us becoming sons and daughters of God -
"...for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people....And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty".(2 Cor 6:16-18)
- which in turn is dependent upon us being knowledgeable about God -
"Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us,that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not". (1 John 3:1)
"I have manifested thy name unto the men which thou gavest me out of the world: thine they were, and thou gavest them me; and they have kept thy word". (John 17:6)
In the language of scripture, to manifest a name means to express everything about the history, character and purpose of the individual who bears the name.
Clearly, then, knowledge of God is essential. Without it, we cannot enter into the divine family. Furthermore, knowledge of God can be found only where He has placed it - in His inspired word. It is true that nature witnesses to the fact that all things are arranged with wisdom and understanding, and conform to laws of exceeding accuracy and regularity. It certainly forces upon any reasonable intelligence the fact that God really exists - that there must be a great central Source of wisdom and power. However, nature tells us nothing of God's being, character, purpose, or will concerning man. For that vital information there is only one source - God's Word, the Bible.
Blind human speculation, past and present, leads only to the monstrosities of ancient and modern heathen superstition. How deeply impressed, thankful and joyful we should be, to know that God, Who has created and controls the vast universe in all its splendor and magnificence, has condescended to reveal Himself to us, telling us of His glorious Purpose and His loving requirements. It means present peace, and future eternal joy.
Unfortunately, in the consideration of this subject we will find that once again Bible teaching parts company with traditional Christianity. While the knowledge of the Creator is clearly set forth in the Bible, and is beautiful in its profound simplicity and reasonableness, sadly the mixture of pagan theories with the original true apostolic teaching has resulted in confusion and darkness throughout Christendom on this subject; and this condition has so long held sway that the masses thoughtlessly and without question accept the concept of three gods in one - the "Trinity" - (an adopted pagan Greek speculation) as the God of the Bible.
To help us to understand the origins of this unfortunate doctrine, the Encyclopedia Britannica, 9th ed., article 'Theism by a Trinitarian', says -
"The propositions constitutive of the dogma of the Trinity were only formed through centuries of effort, only elaborated by the aid of conceptions, and formulated in the terms, of Greek and Roman metaphysics. The evolution of the doctrine of the Trinity was the most important doctrinal fact in the history of the Church in the first 5 centuries. The fusion of theology and philosophy was the distinctive feature of medieval Christendom."
Such is the Trinitarians' own explanation of the origin of the doctrine of the Trinity. Thus traditional theology, admittedly derived from Platonic Greek philosophy, teaches that there are three gods, or three eternal parts of their god: all equally eternal, equally powerful, equally self sustaining: and yet all parts of a single personal unity. Christendom's three gods are referred to as The Trinity (an expression that cannot be found in the Bible):
'God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost; each very God, each without a beginning, each omnipotent, each separate from the others, and yet all one.' The confusion of this doctrine describes itself as not understandable: "incomprehensible" which indeed is true.
Contrary to such traditional teaching, we find that the Scriptures constantly emphasize the Unity, the Oneness of God, as the most fundamental thing about Him - as if to warn us against any theories or concepts involving a plurality of Gods - such as the Trinity: for mankind has always multiplied his gods. Moses said -
"Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is ONE Lord" (Deuteronomy 6:4)
Jesus, when asked what was the FIRST commandment of all, referred to these inspired words of Moses:
"The first of all commandments is, Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God is One Lord" (Mark 12:29).
Paul taught exactly the same to the Corinthians -
"There is but One God, the Father, of Whom are all things, and we in Him -- AND one Lord Jesus Christ" (1 Corinthians 8:6)
Note especially that, first, he says there is one God; and that, besides that One God, there is the Lord Jesus Christ. Clearly this shows that Jesus is not part of the One supreme God. Jesus himself constantly addresses God as "Father"; prays to Him, says he himself can do nothing: Jesus can only say and do as the Father instructs him.
Paul says again -
"There is One God and Father of all, Who is above all, and through all, and in you all" (Ephesians 4:6.)
"There is One God, AND one mediator between God and men, the MAN Christ Jesus" (1 Timothy 2:5)
Note again the clear and careful distinction Paul makes between the "One God" and "the MAN Christ Jesus". Christ is the mediator between the One God and mankind. He is not part of the One God. He is spoken of as something other than the One God. He is spoken of, even in his present glorified immortalized state, as a man.
Again, we find God Himself specifically and repeatedly emphasizing His Oneness through Isaiah, such as appears in the following verses -
"I am the Lord, and there is none else: there is no God beside Me" (Isaiah 45:5)
"I am the First and I am the Last, and beside Me there is no God... Is there a God beside Me? There is no God: I know not any" (Isaiah 44 6 8)
"I am God, and there is none else . . there is none like Me, declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times things not yet done" (Isaiah 46:9)
The only passage in our Bibles which seems to support the doctrine of the Trinity is 1 John 5:7. These words have been inserted by man, obviously with the purpose of supporting the popular doctrine (an example of the "human element" that occasionally creeps into the translation of the Bible from one language to another). This passage has for over 200 years been known to be spurious (though some still use it, hoping their hearers will not know it is false). All honest Trinitarians with any knowledge of the facts admit it is spurious. It is not found in any Greek manuscript of the Bible before the 16th century, and only in 4 since then, none of which have any textual value. This passage has not been found to be quoted by any writer earlier than the end of the 5th century. It was never mentioned by anyone on either side of the question all through the fierce Trinitarian controversy that raged throughout the whole 4th century, when Trinitarianism was finally established as the state religion by the sword.
The Scriptures declare that all things are out of the Father (1 Corinthians 8:6; 1 Corinthians 11:16; Romans 6:36, etc.). This very name, "Father," indicates He is the Source. As the Source, He must be the Center. The Scriptures clearly teach that God has a located central existence (again in opposition to human religious philosophy), though He is everywhere present by His Spirit that fills heaven and earth. Paul says -
"God dwells in light which no man can approach unto" (1 Timothy 6:16)
If God dwells in unapproachable light, He must have a localized existence in some specific place, in a different and more personal sense than His universal presence being manifested everywhere (including here where human beings are) by His Spirit. Thus Solomon wrote: "God is in heaven, and thou upon earth: therefore let thy words be few" (Ecclesiates 5:2) And Christ told his disciples to pray: "Our Father which art in heaven" (Matthew 6:9)
David in the Psalms makes the same distinction of location, as -- "He hath looked down from the height of His sanctuary: from Heaven did the Lord behold the earth" (Psalm 102:19,20) "The heaven, even the heavens, are the Lord's; but the earth hath He given to the children of men" (Psalm 115:16)
Repeatedly Solomon in prayer illustrates this truth -
"Hear Thou in heaven, Thy dwelling place." (1 Kings 8:30)
When Jesus rose from the dead, it is recorded that...
"He was received up into heaven, and sat on the right hand of God." (Mark 16:19)
These statements have meaning - and can be understood - only on the principle that God has a personal manifested existence in the heavens.
It is impossible to fairly evade the testimony of these verses that God is a Person Who exists in the "Heaven of heavens" as He exists nowhere else.
Again, this clear Bible teaching is at odds with popular traditional religious teaching concerning God, which attempts to make out that He is merely a principle or energy diffused throughout the universe, without bodily existence, without local concentration, "without body and without parts," as the creed goes. But this is human philosophy as to what mankind thinks ought to be, rather than the true factual declarations of scripture. The verses given up to this point indicate the direct opposite of traditional teaching, when applied in their simple, natural sense.
There are yet other scriptural evidences of the bodily existence of the Creator, as we shall see. God revealed Himself personally to Moses as He has to no other human being except the Lord Jesus. In response to Moses' pleading to see His glory, He said:
"Thou canst not see My face: for there shall no man see Me, and live. And the Lord said, Behold, there is a place by Me, and thou shalt stand upon a rock. And it shall come to pass, while My glory passeth by, that I will put thee in a cleft of the rock, and will cover thee with My hand while I pass by. And I will take away Mine hand, and thou shalt see My back parts, but My face shall not be seen" (Exodus 33:20 -23)
We further read the following concerning God's manifestation to Moses -
"And the Lord said unto Moses, Ye have seen that I have talked with you from heaven" (Exodus 20:22)
"With Moses will I speak mouth to mouth, even apparently, and not in dark speeches: and the similitude of the Lord shall he behold" (Numbers 12:8). (The word "similitude" here refers to a visual appearance).
"And the Lord spake to Moses face to face, as a man speaketh unto his friend" (Exodus 23:11)
"And there arose not a prophet since in Israel like unto Moses, whom the Lord knew face to face" (Deuteronomy 34:10)
While these references apply to an angelic manifestation of God, that which is thereby manifested is higher and far greater than the manifestation. They are meaningless as 'manifestation': except as they bear testimony to the reality and existence of that which was being manifested. The power and the pre-eminence of the Creator are often declared -
"He inhabiteth eternity" (Isaiah 57:15).
"He is a consuming fire" (Hebrews 12:29)
"From everlasting to everlasting" (Psalm 90:2)
"He is of purer eyes than to behold iniquity" (Habakkuk 1:13).
"He is the everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth; Who fainteth not, neither is weary; and there is no searching of His understanding" (Isaiah 40:28)
"All nations before Him are as nothing" (Isaiah 40:17)
God alone has underived and self sustaining existence. All other life, including that of the glorified Jesus, is but a part of His power, issuing as a stream from the one Great Fountain Head. Thus we read of Him -
"King of kings, and Lord of lords, Who only hath immortality" (1 Timothy 6:15)
"IN HIM we live and move and have our being" (Acts 17:28)
"OUT OF HIM, and through Him, and to Him, are all things" (Romans 11:36)
"There is but One God, the Father, out of Whom are all things" (1 Corinthians 8:6)
"Thou sendest forth Thy Spirit, they (all creatures) are created .. . . Thou takest away their breath, they die, and return to their dust" (Psalm 104:30, 29)
Popular theology teaches that God made all things out of nothing. The Bible teaches that all things are made out of God Himself through the operation of His Spirit power, as the above passages declare. God's Spirit power, issuing forth from Him in radiant effulgence, under the direction of His will, has developed all things in the material Creation which we behold.
The more deeply an analysis is made of the universe - the material objects of our daily existence and the distant galaxies - the closer man comes to the realization that all "material" things are concretions in a myriad of different forms, of one original common Power. An atom of any particular element (according to man's present state of knowledge) is seen as simply a certain arrangement of common building blocks that men term protons, neutrons, electrons, etc., which in their essence are energy charges. The theoretical picture is constantly being refined as new facts emerge. And the deeper they dig, the more complex and infinite, and yet more basically unified and harmonious, the marvelous relations of Creation and Existence are seen to be. Yet with all this, they can still believe, or slavishly profess to believe, that all came out of an original nothing: and that all the infinite and endless variety of inter balanced intricacies just "happened" without power, plan or purpose. How unscientific can supposed "science" be!
The Spirit power of God is the basis of all creation and existence; the very essence and first cause of everything. In this way, God is always present (omnipresent). He is, therefore, aware of all that happens in any part of the universe, knowing thereby our thoughts and desires and inclinations at all times. In a word, He is all-knowing (omniscient) and all-powerful (omnipotent). To Him Who has mercifully revealed Himself so fully and gloriously to those who desire to know and be with Him for ever, belongs all our worship, all our service and all our thanksgiving; What a wonderful blessing! What a tremendous responsibility!