XXXI - 1 (98)

“Watchman,

what of the night?”

"The hour has come, the hour is striking and striking at you,
the hour and the end!" Eze. 7:6 (Moffatt)

The Eternal Verities – 1

The Godhead

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The Great Controversy Motif

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Editor's Preface

Thirty years have now passed since we published the first issue of WWN. Our original objective for the publication has not always been realized. (See "Footnote" on page 7) It is our intent as we continue to publish to achieve a better balance between our original objective with the need to comment on obvious events of importance to concerned members of the Adventist Community.

In this first issue of 1998, we introduce a series on the Eternal Verities. These will be summations, with added comments, from the 1997 Seminar studies on these verities. We would suggest that each reader take time to study this first article with his Bible open, and read, not in a hurried manner, but carefully and prayerfully, asking himself, do the suggested deductions tally with the Scripture exegetically. If after reading, or while reading, you have questions, please, either write or call us and we will be most happy to discuss with you the question, or questions you have. If we do not know the answer, we will tell you and seek to find the answer for you.

The second article is the type we have in mind when we suggest the concept of a "thought paper." The idea was not original with me. When taking graduate work at Andrews University following the closing of Madison College where I was teaching, I took classes under Dr. George Akers. He required that the students write "thought papers." In other words, do some thinking. Get out of the traditional mode of thought and get on the cutting edge of truth. Let your mind expand as the Spirit of truth opens new vistas of thought. We have sought to do so in the article based on the great controversy motif which was basic in revelations given to the messenger of the Lord for his people. We suggest that you ponder the force of a "new order" of being in the creation of man. What did God have in view when He desired man created in His own image to ultimately become a "counterpart" of Himself? Why did this ignite "the war" in Heaven? What battles ensued on earth? How met?

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The Eternal Verities – 1

THE GODHEAD

The great divide between two eternities; the great divide in time, and in the chronological reckoning of time, was the Incarnation. However, had there been no God, there would have been no Incarnation; and if no Incarnation, there would have been no atonement; and if no atonement, no Intercessor. Thus the "eternal verities" - the Godhead, the Incarnation, and the Atonement - are inseparably linked as a chain connecting and reconnecting earth with Heaven, and Heaven with earth.

As we study the Godhead, we shall note various verses of Scripture and seek to exegetically analyze them. Having done so, we shall draw certain conclusions, and where there is apparent mystery in reconciling the revelation, we shall leave it as a mystery until other texts which we will consider illuminate that mystery. It will be a progressive study with the sole objective to comprehend truth as far as a mortal can.

Luke 1:35

The angel [Gabriel] answered and said unto her, The Holy Spirit shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that Holy [One] which shall be borne of thee shall be called the Son of God.

{The word, "thing" is not in the Greek text, and we have substituted the word, "One" inasmuch as the word, "holy" is an adjective, and requires an object to modify. The word, "Spirit" could just as well be substituted. Such usage is found in the Writings. See 4BC:1147}

This text reveals the following data:

1) To speak "after the manner of men," the Holy Spirit was paternally related to Jesus Christ; thus the Holy Spirit pre-existed Bethlehem.

2) The "Holy One" born of Mary "shall be called the Son of God." Twice Gabriel reiterated this fact. In Luke 1:32, he declared that this Holy One "shall be called the Son of the Highest." Gabriel, who had "firsthand" information of relationships involving God, did not say, "was" or "is" the Son of God, but "shall be" called the Son of God.

3) There was to be conceived in the womb of Mary a unique Being, never before known in the Universe from all eternity - a God-man. Yet this unique Being inherits eternity through the Eternal Spirit. He had a pre-existence in Spirit, and now would become "flesh."

Now follow closely the conclusions which this data permits one to draw:

1) The Holy Spirit existed prior to Bethlehem as the "Eternal Spirit." (See also Heb.9:14)

2) Jesus "had a beginning at Bethlehem." (Note the name designation of "Jesus," the God-man, begins at Bethlehem)

3) With God as a "given" factor, you have Two Beings - God and the Eternal Spirit - before Bethlehem, and Three Beings - God, the Eternal Spirit, and Jesus - after.

One further factor to the "mystery" - He who had a beginning at Bethlehem as a unique Being, Jesus, of Him it could be prophesied that His "goings forth [were] from of old, from everlasting" (Micah 5:2).

John 1:1-3

In beginning was the Logos, and the Logos was with the God, and God was the Logos. The same was in beginning with the God. All things through Him came into being, and without Him came into being not even one [thing] which has come into being. (Greek, literal translation)

The Gospel of John was among the last books of the New Testament to be written, if not the last one. In the first eighteen verses of his Gospel, John gives a prologue, setting forth data of what was prior to the Incarnation, as well as what happened at the Incarnation.

From these verses, we can observe the following data:

1) There were Two Beings - the Logos (the Word) and God.

2) The Logos was of the same essence as God. He was as much God as God Himself. "God was the Logos." The article is used to denote separate Beings; and omitted when defining the nature of the Logos.

Conclusions which can be drawn:

1) Since "God" is defined as "Spirit" (John 4:24 - no article, literally, "God is Spirit"), then the Logos was as God, also "Spirit."

We are "flesh" in our reality; God is "spirit" in His reality. Paul could use the word, "form" to designate both the reality of God, and the reality of man. (Phil. 2:6, 7)

2) The Logos created all things in conjunction "with the God." Paul states that "God ... created all things by Jesus Christ." (Eph. 3:9)

3) In John 1:1-2, the word "was" (hn) is used 4x. This is in the Greek imperfect tense and denotes continuous action in past time. John is simply saying that there never was a time when the Logos was not.

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[ On page 3 we have reproduced the Greek text of John 1:1-35 from the Analytical Greek New Testament edited by Barbara and Timothy Friberg. On this text we have circled the verb hn  (was), and designated the absence of the article before arch and qeoV with arrows. The letters under hn tell you that it is verb ( V ) in the indicative mood ( I ) of the imperfect tense ( I ), active in voice ( A ), third person ( Z ) and singular ( S ) ]

 

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Genesis 1:1-2, 26

In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. ... And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. ... And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.

The Hebrew for "God" in these verses is Elohim, plural in form. It is used with singular verbs and adjectives, and thus perceived as the "pluralis majesticus" or majestic plural. However, in verse 26, the Elohim concur in "Let us." The question arises - How do you obtain a singular force from a plural word? Here is where the Shema of Israel enters the picture. It reads - "Hear, O Israel: The Lord God our God is one Lord." (Deut 6:4) [See page 3 for Hebrew text] The key word is the compound word (two words), Elohenu - "Gods" and the suffix, a plural pronoun, "our." "The masculine plural [In this case Elohim] has before all suffixes the ending ay. ... But certain modifications in the form of this ending take place, due to the character of the following consonants: ... b. The original form ay is contracted to e (הֵי) before all plural suffixes." (Elements of Hebrew, Wm. R. Harper, p.144) This is the case in the Shema of Israel. Thus it reads literally, "Jehovah, our Gods is one Jehovah."

The word for "one" (Echad) expresses oneness in duality. The word appears in Genesis 1:5 - "There was evening; there was morning, day one (echad)" It is also used in Genesis 2:24 - "They [two] shall be one (echad) flesh." This simply implies that both the Logos and God of John 1:1-3 are one Jehovah.

Let us return now to the text in Genesis 1:2 - "And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters." The Hebrew word translated, "moved" is merahepheth - brooded. Gesenius in his lexicon, observes that this word in the Piel Hebrew form (as used here) implies "to cherish one's young, to brood over, as the eagle its young (Deut 32:11) ... of the Spirit of God as thus brooding over and vivifying the chaotic mass of earth. Gen. 1:2" (p.976)

Does this suggest the conclusion that the Spirit of God which "vivified" the mass at creation is the Logos of John 1:1-3, by which nothing was created except by Him?

Exodus 3:13-14

And Moses said unto God, Behold, when I come unto the children of Israel, and shall say unto them, The God of your fathers hath sent me unto you; and they shall say to me, What is His name? what shall I say unto them? And God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM; and He said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel , I AM hath sent me unto you.

The Hebrew word translated, "I AM" is the imperfect form of the verb, hahyah, "to be." Most of us have names which are classified as nouns. Not so the name chosen by God to designate Himself. Further the verb is in the imperfect tense denoting unfinished action. Gesenius suggests in his Lexicon that the meaning of "I Am that I Am" is that God "will never be other than the same" and is. (p.384) In other words, by this name God designates Himself as eternal and immutable. This word is the root for the name Jehovah. Jesus in His humanity claimed this name for Himself. (John 8:58)

A comparison of various verses in Revelation (1:10-11, 17-18; 22:12-13 with 1:8) indicates that both He who liveth and was dead but is alive forevermore, has the same designation as "the Almighty." This reinforces the Hebrew Shema that the Gods of Israel is one Jehovah. Gesenius observes in his discussion of the Hebrew word, Yehowah that "several ancient writers" relate "that the God of the Hebrews was called IAW." (ibid.) ["I am Alpha and Omega"]

Isaiah 9:6

For unto us a child is born, unto us a child is given . . . and His name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace.

Young's Literal Translation of the Holy Bible, following closely the Hebrew, renders the titles of the prophesied God-man, as: "Wonderful, Counsellor, Mighty God, Father of Eternity, Mighty God." The expression, "the Father of Eternity" is the best that human language can find to express the eternal pre-existence of the Logos. Eternalness is an attribute of Deity, and thus "eternity" is synonymous with God, and not a creation of God. It is the "time" frame of God's ever-existence which the human mind, limited as it is by time as we know it, cannot comprehend.

The same thought is given in Micah 5:2 where the Messianic prophecy, revealing the place of the birth of the Coming One, describes His "goings forth" as being "from everlasting." The word translated "everlasting" (gohlahm) is the same word used in Psalm 90:2 - "From everlasting to everlasting, thou art God." Again, the eternalness of God cannot be limited because of the limitations of human language and thought to express or comprehend what "everlasting" really is. He who has existed from all eternity comes forth in time from that incomprehensible reality.

Zechariah 6:12-13

Thus saith the Lord of Hosts saying, Behold the man whose name is The BRANCH; and he shall grow up out of his place, and he shall build the temple of the Lord: Even he shall build the temple of the Lord: and he shall bear the glory, and shall sit and rule upon his throne: and he shall be a priest upon his throne: and the counsel of peace shall be between them both.

The literal Hebrew reads that "the counsel of peace shall be between the Two of Them." It was "through our Lord Jesus Christ" that man could be once more at peace with God. (Rom. 5:1) He, as the great High Priest, sits upon His "throne of grace" (Heb. 4:15-16), at "the right hand of the Majesty on high." (Heb. 1:3) It is in this context that the Sonship motif is set. Observe closely Hebrews 5:5-6:

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Christ glorified not Himself to be made an high priest; but He who said unto Him, Thou art my Son, today I have begotten thee. As He saith also in another place, Thou art a priest forever after the Order of Melchisedec.

The "Sonship" came to Christ in the same way that the High Priesthood came to Him - by the calling and decree of God. This calling is emphasized in the context of Hebrews 1. The rhetorical question is asked - "For unto which of the angels said He at any time, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee? And again, I will be to Him a Father, and He shall be to Me a Son?" (1:5) The first question is drawn from Psalms 2:7, and the second from II Samuel 7:14.

The Messianic second Psalm speaks of Christ by three titles or offices: the "Anointed" One (ver. 2); the "King" (ver. 6); and the "Son" (ver. 7). He who became the Anointed One (Messiah), and the Son, and who will come as King of kings, emanated from times eternal as the Logos. It is clearly stated in language that should not be misunderstood by anyone, that the "Sonship" was by "decree." Peter set forth to Cornelius that He who is "Lord of all" was "anointed ... with the Holy Spirit and with power" at His baptism. (Acts 10:36-38) While He is now a priest upon His throne, He anticipates His return as King of kings and Lord of lords. (Rev. 19:16) In this prophetic picture of Revelation, He is called "the Word (Gr. Logos) of God."

When one reviews the second quotation from II Samuel 7:14 in context, he can see, if he has eyes to see, that it is a literal promise made to David concerning Solomon. No stretch of the imagination can perceive of Solomon as having been "conceived" or "generated" by God. It was a commitment by God to David to make his son, Solomon, His son. Paul, recognizing this as an apt illustration of the relationship of the Logos to God in the redemptive process, lifted it from context and applied it to the "Sonship" of Jesus Christ.

In this same setting of Hebrews 1 there is another word, firstbegotten (prwtotokoV), which has been misrepresented so that its true meaning is misunderstood. The same word is used of Christ in Colossians 1:15, 18 - "first born (prwtotokoV) of every creature" and "the firstborn (prwtotokoV) from the dead." One has but to review the record of the Old Testament to know that Jesus was not the first to have been resurrected from the dead. (II Kings 4:34, 36) The Gospels tell of the Widow of Nain whose son was restored to her, and the resurrection of Lazarus. What then is the force of this word? Paul states it clearly - "that in all things, He might have the pre-eminence." (Col. 1:18) This concept of "pre-eminence" is the force used in Heb. 1:6. The One coming into the world is so pre-eminent that God instructs the angels of Heaven - "Let all the angels of God worship Him." Even though a Babe in Bethlehem's manger, He is God manifest in the flesh, to be the pre-eminent One of humanity, to stand at the head of the fallen race, the Second Adam.

To this same Son by decree, pre-eminent in every way, God speaks - "Thy throne, 0 God, is forever and ever: a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of thy kingdom." (Heb. 1:8) He "forever" will be as He "ever" has been, the I AM. He "laid the foundation of the earth; and the heavens are the works of His hands." (v.10)

Romans 9:4-5

My kinsmen according to the flesh: who are Israelites; ... and of whom as concerning the flesh Christ came, who is over all, God, blessed for ever. Amen.

In these verses, Paul is contrasting the origin of the Messiah - from the "flesh" of Israel, yet God in that flesh. Some have attempted to make this merely a doxology to God - "Blessed be God" - instead of Christ as God "over all ... blessed forever." The word, euloghtoV (blessed) follows the word, qeoV (God). Alford in commenting on this verse writes - "Without one exception in Hebrew or Greek, whenever an ascription of blessing is found, the predicate euloghtoV precedes the name of God." (Vol.11, p.405) In Romans 9:5, it follows, therefore cannot be interpreted as a blessing on God.

John 1:18

No man hath seen God at anytime; the only begotten Son; which is in the bosom of the Father, He hath declared Him.

This verse is the final verse of the preface to John's gospel, which is recognized as one of the last, if not the last book written of the books in the New Testament. Textual evidence is divided as to whether this verse should read - "only begotten Son" or "only begotten God." It must be understood, which ever reading is chosen, that John is writing from his viewpoint in time. He is saying that He who had declared Him in the flesh (verse 14), was then, at the time of the writing, in the "bosom of the Father."

The Greek word, monogenhV, is translated by two words in the KJV, "only begotten." This is a faulty translation and thus a false interpretation is drawn by those promoting the neo-Gnosticism.

In analyzing this word, we will first give every reference in the New Testament where this word is used and how it is translated in each verse:

Luke 7:12- the only son of his mother

8:42- For he had only one daughter,

9:35 - for he is my only child.

John 1:14 - as of the only begotten of the Father,

1:18 - the only begotten Son, which is

3:16 - his only begotten Son, that whosoever

3:18 - of the only begotten Son of God.

Heb. 11:17- offered up his only begotten (son),

I John 4:9 - God sent his only begotten Son

A careful comparison of the use of monogenhV in the New Testament indicates that only John uses the word in reference to Jesus. To translate it as "only begotten" places the Scrip-

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tures in error as seen by its use in Hebrews 11:17. Isaac was not the "only begotten" son of Abraham; but he was uniquely begotten, a son of promise by the intervention of God. The Greek word, monogenhV is from two words meaning "only" and "kind," thus could be translated "only (one) of a kind," or unique.

The translation "only begotten" in John's Gospel and First Epistle, originated with the Fathers of the Roman Catholic Church. It entered early English translations of the Bible through the influence of the Latin Vulgate, the official Bible of the Roman Church. Various Old Latin manuscripts which preceded the Vulgate read, "only" rather than "only begotten." The idea that Christ "was born of the Father before all creation" appears first in the writings of Origen, about A.D. 230. Arius, about one hundred years later, was the first to use gegennemenon, the correct Greek word for "begotten" if used in reference to Christ to affirm that He was "begotten of God before all ages." This Greek word is never used in the Bible in reference to the pre-incarnate Christ. "The idea that Christ was 'begotten' by the Father at some time in eternity past is altogether foreign to the Scriptures." (See Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, Vol.5, p.902)

To Be Continued

The Great Controversy Motif

Perhaps one of the greatest contributions, if not the greatest, to Adventist thinking, which God introduced through His "messenger," was the concept of the great controversy between Christ and Satan. Through the Writings we learn that the plan and purpose of God for the creation of man was the spark that ignited a rebellion which had been long - we do not know how long - simmering in the heart of one of the highest of the angelic orders - Lucifer.

In one of the earliest of the recorded visions on the great controversy motif, Ellen White wrote:

The Lord has shown me that Satan was once an honored angel in heaven, next to Jesus Christ ... And I saw that when God said to his Son, Let us make man in our image, Satan was jealous of Jesus ... He wished to be the highest in heaven, next to God, and receive the highest honors. Until this time all heaven was in order, harmony and perfect subjection to the government of God. (Spiritual Gifts, Vol.1, p.17)

Scripture reveals that Satan, as Lucifer before his fall, was one of "the anointed cherub(s) that covereth," and was so set by God (Eze. 28:14). Sanctuary symbolism reveals that there were two cherubs that stood in the presence of God. At this point, we must introduce a suggestive thought which cannot be documented. Michael was the other covering cherub as His first step of condescension, made mandatory because of His exercise of the Divine prerogative and power to create. From what is revealed, this condescension was not of the magnitude of what would be the ultimate. "God is spirit" (John 4:24). [No article in the Greek text] The angels are defined as "ministering spirits" (Heb. 1:14).

It is also reasonable to assume that Lucifer was party to the conversation between God and the Logos (John 1:1). The plan of the Elohim was to create a "new order" of beings. The exact language used by the Lord's messenger is thought provoking; "Human beings were a new and distinct order." (R&H, Feb.11, 1902) "God created man a superior being; he alone is formed in the image of God, ..." (R&H, April 21, 1885) Then in 1895, Ellen White wrote - "Man is the crowning act of the creation of God, made in the image of God, and designed to be a counterpart of God; ..." (R&H, June 18) Yet man was created flesh, not spirit. The difference between "flesh" and "spirit" is spelled out in Scripture. Jesus said - "A spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have." (Luke 24:39) Yet God who is "spirit" has a form which has been reflected in the image of man (Phil. 2:6). Further, the resurrected body of Jesus, while no longer limited as in the incarnate state, is referred to as a "glorious body," into which likeness all the saved will be imaged (Phil. 3:21).

At this point some interesting questions can arise, the answers to which we do not have. Did Lucifer question the feasibility of creating a being of flesh rather than one of spirit? What was the purpose of creating a being of flesh and one of that flesh becoming "a counterpart of God"? How far into eternity was God planning and thinking? When man sinned, was one basic element in the accusation, the suggestion that God did not create one capable of withstanding the power of a "spirit" being? It needs to be kept in mind that the incarnation is described as "a divine spirit dwelt in a temple of flesh." (YI, Dec. 20, 1900) In this encounter the fallen flesh withstood the most fierce assault of a fallen spirit.

It is at this point that a problem behind the incarnation comes into focus. Adam was created a mature being, not a baby, and did not have a childhood, nor an adolescence. It was with this mature being of flesh with which Satan contended and won. All that the Logos needed to demonstrate was that in the flesh in which Adam was created, He could conquer. However, the Logos did more than that. He took the flesh of fallen man and conquered, and then even submitted to death itself as a ransom for many.

At this point another question arises. How could the Logos get to the mature state of Adam, so that the contest could be unquestioned? If God created another body of flesh, it would not be of the line of Adam, and perhaps on the second try, He could do a better job, or at least it could so be alleged. So He came taking our flesh and blood, which meant He would begin the contest handicapped from where the first Adam stood. So coming as a baby,

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how could He be preserved, till as an accountable being He could make His own decisions?

Various theories and assumptions have been made to circumvent the reality of the condescension. The Roman dogma of the Immaculate Conception is the basic concept from which all other concepts are but variation in degree. The evangelical position is that only a part of the womb of Mary was sanctified from which Jesus was conceived. Certain "historic" Adventist voices are speaking of Jesus coming as a born again, converted person. Let us let that which is hidden remain hidden, from the developing fetus through the babyhood of Jesus. Jesus did make a decision when at twelve years of age, and that is recorded. He declared to His mother, "Wist ye not that I must be about my Father's business?" (Luke 2:49) The same Father whose business He perceived, kept Him till His hour was come.

The response is that Jesus then had an advantage over us. Yes and No. Let us consider the "No" first. When I, a sinner, accept "the redemption that is in Christ Jesus" (Rom. 3:24), I stand before God as if I had never sinned. What advantage then did Jesus have in this respect? While you may reluctantly answer, None, you will be quick to let me know there are other "respects." This is true. He had a tremendous advantage over us. He was "God manifest in the flesh" (I Tim. 3:16; KJV). He was "the Word made flesh" (John 1:14). We are not. Even partaking of the "divine nature" does not make us God in the flesh. But the same "messenger" who introduced us to the great controversy motif, has also emphasized Jesus Christ as Substitute and Surety. While the emphasis on "substitution" may make one wince a bit, and draw back in fear that "cheap grace" is being suggested, perhaps the approach through "surety" would be more helpful in understanding the depth of "the redemption in Christ Jesus."

Furthermore, while Jesus emptied Himself at the incarnation, laying aside the "form" of God, would it be too much to suggest that at His baptism, He laid aside the use of His powers as God manifest in the flesh, and accepted what we each have to accept when we are placed on vantage ground - the guidance of the Holy Spirit. To perceive of the incarnation and its objective outside of the motif of the great controversy between Christ and Satan, is to fail to take in the whole of God's plan and purpose in the original creation of man. Further, this failure has blurred our perception of what the judgment scene in Daniel is telling us.

A Footnote

This issue of WWN begins our 31st year of publication. The original idea and objective in publishing was to produce a monthly "thought paper," with articles to stimulate thinking - articles which might on occasion raise some questions and challenges. Over the years, the issues of WWN have tended to report events within the community of Adventism of a questionable nature and comments on these events. We plan to veer the issues of 1998 toward the original objective, and make secondary the reporting of events within the community of Adventism which are of a questionable nature. The above article on the great controversy motif is an example of the "thought paper" type of articles we have in mind. We do not expect the readers to agree with every thought expressed, but we would hope that all who read would do some thinking. We will preface each such article with the intent of its being written, or will make a notation even as we are doing now.

As we have written on other occasions, not only are the youth in their studies to be trained to be thinkers, but adults as well need to come to grips with concepts which require more than surface thinking. Traditionalism under the guise of "historic" Adventism, only keeps us Laodicean bound. One may break away from the corporate structure, but still not open the door for Jesus to come in and "sup" with him.