“You claim there is one God, yet you worship three. How do you explain that?’ C.H.
This question was pasted to me with the request that it be answered in this paper. There was an article earlier that dealt with the Godhead which in principle answers this inquiry. However, I am happy to consider the specifics of this question before us.
The confusion on this issue is kept alive by those who claim to be “The Apostolic Church Of Jesus Christ” a church that the New Testament knows nothing about nor does the Word Of God present anything that is a cousin to the theory. The manner of the people that belong to this organization are adept at asking questions that they believe off-sets scriptural teaching regarding the existence and work if the Godhead.
Let me first say that neither I nor any of my brethren worship more than one God, as we worship and praise “the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Eph.1:3).
THE QUESTION THAT MUST BE CONSIDERED
Is it possible that more than one person can be considered as one? The scriptures so aver. Consider first the matter of a husband and wife. Jesus declares that these are one. “For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife; and they twain shall be one flesh? Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.” (Mt. 19:5-6). Who can deny that these are one? To abort this relationship is to engage in a work against God.
Now, consider another situation the Lord prayed about. “Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou has sent me. (Jn. 17:20-21). There are several things to consider in this passage. First, the chosen men to be Apostles were to be one. Secondly, those hearing their word preached were to be one (that comes right down to us now living). Third, these disciples (all of us,) were to be one, said Jesus, in us-US, more than one. Fourth, Jesus declared He was in the Father and the Father was in Him. How can anyone read this passage and cling to the belief that the Godhead is made up of one person?
When Jesus prayed He addressed His prayer to “the Father.” Did Jesus pray to Himself, draw strength from Himself, and seek glory from Himself. The answer to all these must acknowledge that there are a plurality in the Godhead. Jesus prayed the Father in heaven He being on earth.
“Wherefore when he cometh into the world, he saith, Sacrifices and offerings thou wouldest not, but a body thou has prepared me.” (Heb. 10:5). The subject in this context is the sacrifices offered to God, sacrifices that were incapable of atoning for man’s sins. The reason being that animals are inferior to men and therefore could not atone for the sins of their superior. Therefore God dispatched His Son—one greater than man to supply our redemption. You will notice please that the one offered had a body prepared for Him—a body to offer. But that body was made for one already in existence. Who is there to doubt that Jesus was that sin offering? Jesus was Divine and the body composed humanity, Jesus was therefore divinity in a body. The passage says “a body hast thou prepared me.” Who prepared the body Jesus dwelt in? None other than the heavenly Father.
The Apostles were authorized to preach and to baptize people into a relationship that was made up of the entire Godhead. “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them into the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.” (Mt. 28:19). Preachers sent forth to preach the doctrine of the so-called “Apostolic Church of Jesus Christ” refuse to preach what Jesus commanded and will not baptize as the Lord commanded. Instead they spew forth questions that they think off-set what the Lord without question authorized.
ONE GOD—ONE MEDIATOR
“For There is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus” (I Tim. 2:5). Christ serves as mediator in Heaven. “If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God.” (Col. 3:1). Do we worship more than one God—no, we worship one God but we recognize the work of Jesus in His mediatoral work. Jesus is equal with God being a part of the Godhead. “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of man.” (Phil. 2:5-7). Jesus was just as much the likeness of God as He became the likeness of men. Why are some bent on denying that Jesus is a member of the Godhead and at the same time claim Him to be a man? To believe Jesus was a man, one must believe that He became such and that prior to that He occupied a place with the Father making Him deity.
That makes me think of another passage written by the Apostle John as he began his Gospel narrative. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” (1:1). There is a clear distinction between God and the Word as the Word was with God, yet at the same time the Word was God. What is meant by “Word?” Well we do not have to depend upon the definition of men, nor is there a long wondering what the meaning is, as John speaks of the “Word” again at verse fourteen, “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.” One would have to intentionally deceive himself to misunderstand what is meant by “Word.” It is none other than Jesus Christ the only begotten Son of God. Yet, He is Himself deity—God. What is called the golden text of the Bible marks it for us. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” (Jn. 3:16). The language of Paul as we have just noted is an inspired commentary on these passages. (See Phil. 2:5-7).
A FEW WORDS ABOUT THE GODHEAD
The Godhead is spoken of three times in the New Testament, all by the Apostle Paul. Once he uses it by contrasting the Godhead with the various supposed gods that had shrines made by men’s hands. The second passage is used to express what God is and denotes what is meant by God. The third shows that the Father and the Holy Spirit are seen in the work of Christ.
There are three personalities or members of the Godhead and these constitute what God is. Usually when all are spoken of at the same time the Father is put first, Christ is named second and the Holy Spirit third. Each of these is the same in essence in essence. They are therefore co-equal, persons. The scripture marks a clear distinction of the members of the Godhead. Even though they are one, each as a distinct work and personality. The same is true of the church or body of Christ. We are one yet are distinct as members of the body with our own particular abilities that make us peculiar to one another. “But now are they many members, yet but one body.” (I Cor. 12:20). Read the entire revelation in First Corinthians fourteen and see the various works and abilities of church members—YET WE ARE ONE BODY! If one can understand that and take the same principle to the Godhead, the confusion about one God or three gods will dissipate. (Passages from Boles 23-bottom).
Allow me to present several passages (there are many others,) that speak of the three members of the Godhead. In some of these personal pronouns are used to indicate person and personality. I will give emphasis to each of these persons of the Godhead and when a pronoun is used I will indicate which of the persons it is. This will be done as follows: when the pronoun refers to the Father I will use the letter F, when referring to Jesus Christ I will use the letter C and when speaking of the Holy Ghost (Spirit,) it will be indicated with the letter H.
“Now I beseech you, brethren, for the Lord Jesus Christ’s sake, and for the love of the Spirit, that ye strive together with me in your prayers to God for me; (Rom. 15:30. Their (and our,) prayers are directed to God our Father; these are made through Jesus Christ our mediator as taught by the Holy Spirit.
“The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost be with you all A-men.” (II Cor. 13:14). The passage places emphasis upon grace, love and communion. Christ is named first because the grace of God is seen in His sacrificial work, God is then named because the scheme of redemption is expressive of His love. And all men (specifically Jew and Gentile) have communion and fellowship of the Holy Ghost because of the word of God being preached that He revealed to the world.
“But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my (C) name, he (H) shall teach you all things and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I (C) have said unto you.” (Jn. 14:26). Christ was here on earth while the Father was in Heaven and with the Father was the Holy Ghost. To earth was the Holy Ghost going to be sent by the Father as Christ was going to ascend back to the Father.
“Howbeit when he (H), the Spirit (H) of truth, is come, he (H) will guide you into all truth: for he (H) shall not speak of himself (H); but whatsoever he (H) shall hear, that shall he (H) speak: and he (H) will shew you things to come. He (H) shall glorify me (C): for he (H) shall receive of mine (C), and shall show it unto you. All things that the Father hath are mine (C): therefore said I (C), that he (H) shall take of mine (C), and shall shew it unto you.” (Jn. 16:13-15). The Holy Ghost had not as yet descended to fill the Apostles, but Jesus assured them that when He arrived that He would lead them in all truth. In addition the Holy Ghost would glorify Christ because everything the Father possessed was His. So, Christ being taken from them would not leave them alone. Please read carefully John 14, 15, 16, 17. These chapters reveal to us over and over the distinct personalities and work of each member of the Godhead.
WORSHIP ONE GOD
Now to the charge that I worship three gods instead of One God. The charge is a false charge for the reasons asserted above. I admit that there are some things about the GODHEAD that I do not understand but that does not allow me to reject what is clearly revealed. The preacher among the Apostolic Church of Jesus Christ and like organizations spent their time trying to off-set what the New Testament given by the Holy Ghost to glorify Christ according to the will of God, rather than teaching the simple truth that there is ONE GOD MADE UP OF THREE MEMBERS. When people follow them they do so to their own destruction. Recalling the words of Jesus should cause one to shudder. “Let them alone: they be blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch.” (Mt. 15:13). Some facts in this passage are: (1) the blind leaders are persistent in spreading their false doctrine. (2) however, the blind leaders may be sincere in their preaching else they would not be blind. (3) those hearing and embracing their doctrine are also sincere else they would not be blind. (4) yet the ditch did not go away because they were sincere. (5) the ditch is indicative of destruction. The shameful thing is that not only the leaders will be destroyed but the followers shall also be victims. “Every plant, which my heavenly Father hath not planted, shall be rooted up.” (Mt. 15:13).
Barney Owens 1808
Even a child can ask questions that a wise man cannot answer
One who is wise can learn from the mistakes of others
while fools learn only from their own