Here, There and Everywhere
We have been created in the image of God
with a very limited degree of two of His specific attributes, the first being intelligence. At birth we
have a brain that is virtually an empty vessel. Over time it accumulates what
our senses experience, filtered through each individual’s unique brain pathways
according to prior thinking, choices, and experiences. At some point we may
even try to come to an understanding of our infinite, eternal Father God.
If we do so, we will learn that, unlike us, He has omniscience. Exactly
what does omniscience mean?
Webster’s 1828 dictionary defines it this way: “…The quality of knowing
all things at once; universal knowledge; knowledge unbounded or infinite.
Omniscience is an attribute peculiar to God.”
The second specific attribute of God that we
are born with in a very limited degree is strength, or power, both physical and
mental. As we increase in age, we generally increase in strength. At some
point, though, we plateau and then begin a decline in this attribute. We learn
that God has something we find difficult to understand, since it is outside and
beyond our experience. He is said to have omnipotence. What does omnipotence
same dictionary, we read, “…1. Almighty power; unlimited or infinite power; a word in strictness
applicable only to God. Hence it is sometimes used for God. The works of
creation demonstrate the omnipotence of God….
Unlimited power over particular things; as the omnipotence of love.”
third attribute of God that is unique to Him alone is omnipresence. What is omnipresence?
we resort to Webster’s 1828 dictionary for the definition: “…Presence in every place at the same time;
unbounded or universal presence; ubiquity. Omnipresence is an attribute
peculiar to God.”
we have endless reasons to be grateful for divine omnipotence and omniscience,
it is the importance to humanity of God’s third attribute of omnipresence that
will be referred to in this chapter, as well as other chapters of this book. It
is especially relevant in any discussion about the Godhead, for if understood,
it prevents misunderstandings.
of what we will study, with the resulting conclusions, will be how the pioneers
understood the Godhead. They searched the Scriptures and believed God’s Word “as it reads,” without additional
hermeneutical interpretations. That simple fact is why our pioneers were
did the Bible tell them? The same as it tells us. Here is what Jesus said, as
recorded in John 14:23: “Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man
love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come
unto him, and make our abode with him.” But in order for the Father and the Son
to abide in us—in our hearts/minds—there must be a non-physical way they can do
so. It can only be done by the Spirit of God and of Christ. They come to us now
spiritually, not physically. This is what Romans 8:9-11 told the pioneers, and
now tells us: “But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that
the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of
Christ, he is none of his. And if Christ be in you, the body is dead
because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. But if the Spirit
of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that
raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit
that dwelleth in you.”
Four times we are
told of God’s Spirit and/or Christ’s Spirit dwelling “in us.” (There is only
“one Spirit,” so they have the same Spirit. Eph 2:18; 4:4) There is no mystery;
the language is straightforward and plain. The “Spirit of truth,” also known as
the Comforter, is none other than God and Christ in their omnipresence. In John
14:17-18, Jesus stated that fact clearly to His disciples: “Even the Spirit of
truth; …ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you. I will not
leave you comfortless: I will come to you.” A divine Being, whom they already
knew because He was dwelling with them as He spoke to them, would soon be “in”
them—meaning by His invisible, omnipresent Spirit, which Jesus referred to in
the third person as “the Spirit of truth.” But in the next verse, He left no
doubt as to the identity of that coming Comforter: “‘I’ will not leave you
comfortless; ‘I’ will come to you.” This is the literal Word of God accepted as
truth near-unanimously by our denominational predecessors for the first 100
years of our existence.
same teaching is throughout the New Testament: “Christ in you, the hope of
glory.” “God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto Himself.” The Holy
Spirit is their non-physical presence! Read how God’s prophet affirms the
teaching of Scripture: “By the Spirit the Father and the Son will come and make
their abode with you.” (BEcho
Jan. 15, 1893) That Christ in His unlimited love comes to us via His omnipresent Spirit
is made so plain in this passage from the writings of Ellen White. God would
have us comprehend the depth of His love for us:
“…Cumbered with humanity, Christ could not be in every place personally; therefore it was altogether for their advantage that He should leave them, go to His Father, and send the Holy Spirit to be His successor on earth. The Holy Spirit is Himself, divested of the personality of humanity, and independent thereof. Christ would represent Himself as present in all places by His Holy Spirit,—as the Omnipresent….” (Lt119 Feb. 19, 1895; PrT May 30, 1895)
In at least one later publication of this passage, the comma after “Himself” was omitted, which could lead to a different understanding from that which was originally intended by the writer. Thus it is important to note the date of publication. However, only Christ had been invested with humanity, so only He could be divested of it. This passage, therefore, refers only to Jesus Christ. It cannot intelligently be used to argue for the existence of a third self-existent, coeternal god named “God the Holy Spirit.” And here’s another quotation from Ellen White’s writings, showing that same love manifested by the indwelling of Christ’s presence:
“In giving His commission to His followers, Christ did not tell them they would be left alone. He assured them that He would be near them. He spoke of His Omnipresence in a special way. Go to all nations, He said. Go, to the farthest portion of the habitable globe, but know that My presence will be there. Labor in faith and confidence, for the time will never come when I shall forsake you.
“The assurance of His abiding presence was the richest legacy Christ could give His disciples….” (Ms 138, Dec. 2, 1897)
It should be obvious by now that the Son of God did not permanently relinquish His divine attribute of omnipresence at the time of His incarnation, as some claim. If He is “in us,” He certainly isn’t there physically, so He must dwell in us spiritually—by His Spirit! And He doesn’t dwell in just one person, but in believers all around the world. So we’re talking about His omnipresence, which is accomplished by His own Spirit! It was only in His incarnation that He did not draw upon any of the attributes of divinity. There simply is no evidence that He permanently gave up any of them, and specifically not His omnipresence. Rather, there are many passages indicating He is even now continually making use of that divine attribute on our behalf. You’ve read a sampling in this chapter, and more will be seen in the next chapter.
evidence and reasoning so plain a child can comprehend it, it has been
rejected. The “new view” of Trinitarianism claims that the Holy Spirit is a
third, separate God, and not the biblical “Spirit of God” and “of
Christ.” The chasm between the two views is deep; they are so different in
their understanding of the Holy Spirit that both can’t be correct.
questions arise, as a result. First, on what basis are the clear biblical and
Spirit of prophecy statements rejected in favor of the claim that the Holy
Spirit is a third self-existent god? What reasoning can possibly be presented
for that third-god concept? It is the Trinitarian claim that Jesus gave up His
omnipresence forever when He incarnated. Therefore, it is reasoned, He now
needs a “representative” to dwell in believers, to guide them and teach them.
Since He can’t do it Himself, having forfeited omnipresence, a third god that
hasn’t given up omnipresence must do it for Him, for only divinity can do such
work. But that seemingly logical reasoning exposes the fundamental issue that
has caused all the debate about the topic in the first place: Where is the
inspired, trustworthy evidence that Jesus forfeited His omnipresence? If this
matter were soundly supported from Scripture and the Spirit of prophecy, its
opposers would be silenced. However, it is because the evidence has not been
forthcoming that the division arose. This lack will continue to divide us,
because there is no such evidence. But that’s not all there is to the problem.
That was only the first question.
second of the two questions is this: Why would the Son of God be said to have
permanently forfeited only one particular attribute, and not all three? Why
only His omnipresence, and not His omnipotence or His omniscience? Could it be
because only His omnipresence challenges the validity of the Trinity doctrine?
Could it be that only Jesus’ omnipresence—His spiritual presence—removes the
Trinitarian’s theological justification for a third self-existent “God the Holy
Spirit” to make up a triune god? And thus only His omnipresence needs to be
denied or explained away? Because if Jesus actually retained His omnipresence,
though not calling upon it during His
incarnation, and even now utilizes that divine attribute via His Spirit, does
it not make another god unnecessary—redundant—yes, even counterfeit? What is it
that Jesus cannot do for us now via His Spirit? Nothing. He is all we need.
Two reasons make it clear that this controversy
about the divine attribute of omnipresence is no small matter. First, “the
Father and Son alone are to be exalted.” (SD 58)
We want to be sure that we never exalt another god, as that would be a
violation of God’s first commandment, “Thou shalt have no other gods before
me.” God lets us know exactly how having another god before Him affects Him:
“For I the LORD thy God am a jealous God.” (Exodus 20:5)
Secondly, we must
be certain that the possibility of Satan intercepting worship meant for the
Father and the Son alone never becomes a reality. The concept of a third god invites worship due
that God, just as worship is truly due to Father and Son. If thoughts are
centered on, and worship is given to, and prayers are prayed to the Trinity
doctrine’s third god, Satan will triumph in his subtle idol-building plan to
divert worship from the true God to a false god of his own devising. Over and
over, the Spirit of prophecy teaches us this important point: “Jehovah, our
Father, and His Son Jesus Christ are alone to be exalted. The knowledge
of God is eternal life to those who receive it.” (Ms 11,
June 29, 1898)
Two important points must be made concerning that quotation.
First, if there were a third god called “God the Holy Spirit,” why then would
He not be exalted, as well? Thus, so long as some are persuaded that Jesus gave
up His omnipresence and therefore that third god is needed because Jesus can’t
come to us now, the risk exists that they will engage in the worship of a false
Secondly, Mrs. White wrote, “The knowledge of God is
eternal life to those who receive it.”
In messages from
Scripture and the pen of Inspiration, God has given us the correct understanding
Those messages, or teachings, can dispel the false teaching that has come into our
ranks. Correct understanding is
critical, for it obviously affects our eternal life. That is exactly what that
sentence means:“The knowledge of God is eternal life to those who receive
it.” Jesus made the same point when He said, “And this is
life eternal, that they might know thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou
hast sent.” (John 17:3) A correct knowledge of God and His Son is our safeguard
against deception and our hope of eternal life.
Unfortunately, what we have today in our
denominational midst is Jeremiah 6:16-17 fulfilled: “Thus saith the LORD, Stand
ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and
walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls. But they said, We will
not walk therein. Also I set watchmen over you, saying, Hearken to the
sound of the trumpet. But they said, We will not hearken.”
Jeremiah is telling Seventh-day Adventists today to
ask for the “old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein,” but certain
in leadership have said, “We will not walk therein.” While Isaiah 58:12
calls for this generation of Seventh-day Adventists to be restorers of paths to
dwell in, every Adventist that is rejecting these explicit God-given statements
in these chapters is saying to God, “…We will not hearken.” These “we
will not” refusals are no small matter. When hearts are not submitted to God,
there awaits only the second resurrection.
Especially, but not exclusively, does “not walking” and
“not hearkening” apply to the question of who the omnipresent Spirit is. So
long as Adventism clings to a third god it cannot justify with the weight of
evidence from inspired writings and sound reasoning, how can it obey God’s call
through Jeremiah to walk in the “old paths, where is the good way”?
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