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The Truth About the Three-Person Godhead


 

By Russell Standish

(Remnant Herald, March-April 2011, Pages 1-3)

Editor’s Introduction: The following sections were extracted from the final volume of The Godhead Series, which was the last major work undertaken by the late Pastor Russell Standish prior to his death. The fifth volume was especially written to address the differing concepts and erroneous beliefs advocated by a small but growing number of people within all branches of Adventism concerning the nature and substance of the Godhead, particularly that of the Holy Spirit. It is the editor’s prayer that this article will help the reader to be established upon the unequivocal testimony of the Spirit of Prophecy regarding the significant insight given to us pertaining to the nature of the Godhead. - Elvis Placer

The Godhead All Possess the Fullness of the Godhead

Listen to the words of Inspiration:

“The Father is all the fullness of the Godhead bodily, and is invisible to mortal sight.”

“The Son is all the fullness of the Godhead manifested. The Word of God declares Him to be ‘the express image of His person.’...

“The Comforter that Christ promised to send after He ascended to heaven, is the Spirit in all the fullness of the Godhead, making manifest the power of divine grace top all who receive and believe in Christ as a personal Saviour. There are three living persons in the heavenly trio; in the name of these three great powers ---the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit --- those who receive Christ by living faith are baptized, and these powers will co-operate with the obedient subjects of heaven in their effort to live the new life in Christ.” Special Testimonies, Series B, Number 7, pp. 62, 63. Quoted in Evangelism, pp. 614, 615.

This is a crucial passage in the Spirit of Prophecy. It elucidates in perfect clarity a number of telling issues:

The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit all possess the fullness of the Godhead bodily.

All Three are living persons.

The term “heavenly trio” means “three living persons”.

The term “three great powers” equals “three living persons”.

Here is represented an equality of all three beings, for each contains the fullness of the Godhead.

This statement is unequivocal and indisputable.

Russell researched this statement and numbers of others in the Heritage Room at Loma Linda University and read them from Sister White’s original manuscripts.

Threefold

The definition of the word “threefold” is as brief as it is precise:

“Consisting of three parts.” The Oxford English Reference Dictionary, p. 1502. Oxford University Press, Oxford, England. 1996

Lest it be asserted that the American meaning of this word is different from the English, we quote the even more concise definition in an American dictionary:

“Made up of three.” Standard Dictionary of the English Dictionary, International Edition, p.1308. Funk & Wagnalls Company, New York, USA. 1963

Now let us examine one usage of this adjective in the Spirit of Prophecy:

“Those who are baptized in the threefold name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, at the very entrance of their Christian life declare publicly that they have forsaken the service of Satan and have become members of the royal family, children of the heavenly King.” Testimonies for the Church, volume. 6, p. 91.

Clearly there is a threefold name involved in baptism. In English, the word “name” in such a context refers to a person, thus indicating that the names used belong to three distinct beings. This is evident since Sister White is alluding to Matthew 28:19, where the words “of the” are inserted between the Father and the Son and also between the Son and the Holy Ghost.

“Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.”

The conjunction “and” is used here to unite three distinct and separate beings in a common purpose.

Let us illustrate. If we were to state that we had visited the house of John and of William and of Edward, no right-thinking person would ever conclude that we had visited only one house and thus John, William and Edward were the same person. To draw such a conclusion is absurd.

Does Three Equal Two?

In the minds of some Seventh-day Adventists, the answer to this question is in the affirmative. Most acknowledge the numerous statements concerning the Godhead, found in the writings of the Spirit of Prophecy, which specify the number three. Yet they assert that this refers to two beings, our Father and our Saviour alone.

We possess a rather simple view of the English language. In the “Standish Dictionary”, three means three! If we were to expand that definition we would add, “It never refers to a value less than three nor a value greater than three.”

It would seem that Sister White used more than sufficient different nouns to describe the Godhead to which she attached the adjective “three”. This is to satisfy the searching inquirer who desired to ascertain the number of members of the Godhead. We cite a sample of these:

  • Three Holy Dignitaries

“The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, the three holy Dignitaries of heaven , have declared that they will strengthen men to overcome the powers of darkness. All the faculties of heaven are pledged to those who by their baptismal vows have entered into a covenant with God.” Manuscript 92, 1901. Quoted in Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, volume 5, p. 1110

  • Three Great and Glorious Heavenly Characters

“The three great and glorious heavenly Characters are present on the occasion of baptism. All the human capabilities ate to be henceforth consecrated powers to do service for God in representing the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost upon whom they depend. All heaven is represented by these three in covenant relation with the new life.” Manuscript 45 1904. Quoted in Manuscript Releases, volume 6, p. 389

  • Three Great Agencies

“By our baptismal pledge we avouched and solemnly confessed the Lord Jehovah as our Ruler. We virtually took a solemn oath, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, that henceforth our lives would be merged into the life of these three great agencies, that the life we should live in the flesh would be lived in faithful obedience to God’s sacred law.” Manuscript 67, 1907. Quoted in The Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, volume 1, p. 1120.

  • Three Great Powers

“The three great Powers in heaven pledge themselves to furnish to the Christian all the assistance he requires.” Reflecting Christ, p. 107. Quoted in Manuscript Releases, volume 4. P.368

“In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, the man is laid in his watery grave, buried with Christ in baptism, and raised from the water to live the new life of loyalty to God. The three great powers in heaven are witnesses; they are invisible but present.” [Manuscript 57 1900]. Quoted in The Seventh –day Adventist Bible Commentary, volume 6, p. 1074

‘Our sanctification is the work of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. It is the fulfilment of the covenant God has made with those who bind themselves up with Him, to stand with Him, His Son, and His Spirit in holy fellowship. Have you been born again? Have you become a new being in Jesus Christ? Then co-operate with the three great Powers of heaven who are working in your behalf.” Manuscript 11, 1901. Quoted in The Seventh –day Adventist Bible Commentary, volume 7, p. 908

“As at our baptism we pledge ourselves to Him, and receive the ordinance in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, these three great Powers of heaven pledged themselves to work in our behalf, not only to begin, but to finish our faith. I am so glad that we have the promises of God.” 1901 General Conference Bulletin, p. 215 (April 14, 1901)

  • Three Great Worthies

In the name of the whom were you baptized? You went down into the water in the name of the three great Worthies in heaven – the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost. In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost you were buried with Christ in baptism; and you were raised up out of the water to live in newness of life ...

“Those who have been baptised can claim the help of the three great Worthies in heaven to keep them from falling, and to reveal through them a character that is after the divine similitude ...

‘When I feel oppressed and hardly know how to relate myself toward the work that God has given me to do, I just call upon the three great worthies, and say; you know that I cannot do this work in my own strength. You must work with me, and by me, and through me, sanctifying my tongue, sanctifying my spirit, sanctifying my words, and bringing me into a position where my spirit shall be susceptible to the moving of the Holy Spirit of God upon my mind and character. And this is the prayer that every one of us may offer.” [Manuscript 95, 1906]. Quoted in Sermons and Talks, volume 1, pp. 363, 366, 368

  • Three Holiest Beings

“Here is where the work of the Holy Ghost comes in, after your baptism. You are baptized in the name of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.... You are born unto God, and you stand under the sanction and the power of the three holiest beings in heaven, who are able to keep you from falling.” [Manuscript 95, 1906]. Quoted in Sermons and Talks, volume 1, p. 367

  • Three Highest Powers

“We are to co-operate with the three highest Powers in heaven --- the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost --- and these powers will work through us, making us workers together with God.” Special Testimonies, Series B, Number 7, p. 51. Quoted in Evangelism, p. 617

  • Three Great, Infinite Powers

“We are baptized in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, and these three great infinite Powers are unitedly pledged to work in our behalf if we will co-operate with them.” Manuscript 144, 1901. Quoted in Sermons and Talks, volume 2, p. 167

  • Three Great Personal Dignitaries

“When you gave yourself to Christ, you made a pledge in the presence of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit --- the three great personal Dignitaries of heaven. ‘Hold fast” to this pledge.” Manuscript 92, 1901. Quoted in The Seventh –day Adventist Bible Commentary, volume 7, p. 959

  • Three Persons

“The work is laid out before every soul that has acknowledged is faith in Jesus Christ by baptism, and has become a receiver of the pledge from the three persons --- the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.” Manuscript 57, 1900. Quoted in The Seventh –day Adventist Bible Commentary, volume 6, p. 1074

  • Three Representatives of Heavenly Authority

“When men and women, truly converted, are baptized in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, these three Representatives of Heavenly Authority behold the scene, and accept the vows made by human agents to walk henceforth in newness of life. In talking the baptism vows, you have united with the Highest Powers in the heavenly courts, to live a life patterned after the life of Christ. I praise the Lord with my whole soul that you have taken this step..” [Letter 174, 1909]. Quoted in Manuscript Releases, volume 6, p. 29

  • These Three

After the Believing soul has received the ordinance of baptism, he is to bear in mind that he is dedicated to God, to Christ, and to the Holy Spirit. These three all co-operate in the great work of the covenant made by baptism, in the sight of the heavenly universe. The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit receive the believing soul into covenant relation with God.” Manuscript 56, 1900. Quoted in Manuscript Releases, volume 6, p. 163. [Please read again the second statement in reference to “these three”].

One cannot understand why any sincere Seventh-day Adventist would dare choose to undertake the mental gymnastics required to translate these three members of the Godhead into two. Since the authors are English-speaking and the Spirit of Prophecy writer was also a native English-speaking person, we do not need to delve into the possibilities of the use of the idioms of a language foreign to us. Sister White’s words make room for no misrepresentation. They are clear, unequivocal, and fixed in their meaning, unless the reader subscribes to the mathematical absurdity that three equals two.

Plainly the Holy Ghost is the third person of the Godhead, as other chapters will affirm.

The Godhead Series, Volume 5: The Godhead in the Spirit of Prophecy, pp. 14, 15, 32, 33, 94-99. Russell & Colin Standish. Hartland Publications. 2010

“The presence of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, the three highest Powers in the universe, and those in whose name the believer is baptised, is pledged to be with every striving soul. They will impart grace and strength to all who will watch unto prayer, to all who will purify the soul by obedience to the truth. And they will make the believer instrumental in leading other souls to accept Christ by faith.” Atlantic Union Gleaner, July 8, 1908.

"Used with permission of Remnant Ministries Inc” (Established in 1992 by Seventh-day Adventists).