Edited Sermon Transcript
Jon W. Brisby, 11-27-99
This afternoon, brethren, we are going to launch into a brand new series. This is actually the first time that I will have tackled a series of sermons and this one is probably going to take me a while. So at least I know what I am going to be doing here in the Eugene church now for the next number of weeks and months. This will be the follow-up on that which I promised you at the Feast in Newport where my theme throughout the Feast was “Back to Basics.” We went through many of the very fundamental and core doctrines that were a part of that revelation from the beginning. Then we went through a number of those things and tied them together. I made the comment at the Feast that afterwards, I would continue to address additional pieces of the basic belief, those things that are fundamental doctrines.
In the course of beginning to work in the church office here in Eugene and going through a lot of material and deciding how I was going to put that together, I had an opportunity, for other reasons, to be reading the article of the Church of God, the Eternal entitled Fundamentals of Belief. Reading through that, it struck me that very obviously there is no better place to start to talk about the continuation of basic beliefs of the church than to use the very fundamentals of belief that began first in the Radio Church of God and then that which this organization used as a platform and built upon for the Fundamentals of Beliefs for Church of God, the Eternal. Originally the Radio Church of God had twenty fundamentals of belief. Soon after that, with the organization of this remnant group, were added four additional fundamentals because they were relevant to things that were going on in the church in those particular decades. That has even since been expanded so that we now have a total of twenty-six specific paragraphs that we list as our fundamentals of belief which clarify and focus individuals, both within and without this organization, about what it is that we hold dear. So over the next weeks and months we are going to go through all twenty-six of the fundamentals of belief.
This was a series that was done long ago by someone else about twenty plus years ago, but that has been a long time ago so it is not only good for me to go through all of these things, but I think the rehearsal of each one of these things will be very beneficial to each one of you.
What is the purpose of that fundamental of belief statement? As I said, it is to be able to tell others, as well as to remind ourselves what are the things that are a part of the divine revelation that we have been given to hold onto. Because again, the very reason for coming up with the “back to basics” theme at the Feast and even the continuation of that through this new series is to answer those who have said, “Okay, I know and understand that we are supposed to hold on to the faith once delivered, but what is included in the faith once delivered?”
It is always good for us to have a rehearsal of that, and for those that are newer in the church who have more recently come into contact with this way of life in just the last few years, this will be a good opportunity to go through each one of those foundational building blocks that make up what we call the Faith Once Delivered.
So let’s begin with fundamental number one. Fundamental number one, originating from Mr. Armstrong in the Radio Church of God, is this:
We believe in ONE GOD, eternally existing in the heavens, who is a Spirit, a personal Being of supreme intelligence, knowledge, love, justice, power, and authority, the Creator of the heavens and the earth and all that in them is, and the source of life.
This is the first fundamental. I can already tell you that when I sat down to write the notes, I was intending to do this first fundamental in one sermon. I ended up writing enough notes—that will press me to get it all in this afternoon—on the very first phrase, “We believe in ONE GOD.” So that’s what we are going to talk about this afternoon. The concept of one God and then all the rest of the fundamental that I just read, which I’m classifying as a characterization of that God—all of those attributes that describe what that God is like. That will be, hopefully, the next sermon that we do.
We are going to focus, this afternoon then, on fundamental number one and the first phrase, which is, “We believe in ONE GOD” because I can tell you that as simple as that sounds you are going to find out as we get into this that it can be incredibly challenging to the human mind. To put those pieces together and understand what it really means to believe in one God and yet as you are going to find out, to believe simultaneously that there is more than one personality or Being included in the Godhead—in that Divinity. Those of you who have been in the church for years recognize that the original teaching of divine revelation is that there are two Beings in the Godhead: God of the first part and God of the second part. God of the second part becoming Jesus Christ, the individual in the Godhead who became the savior, Jesus Christ. For those then that are challenged with the concept that our fundamental says we believe in one God, and then if you don’t understand how to interpret that—immediately jumping to the conclusion that means a single individual, one and only personality and no other—that can appear contradictory or confusing.
Well, we are going to go through all that. We are going to show you why we believe in one God and at the very same time how we can say we believe in more than one being within that one God. It certainly is not contradictory when you see all the scriptures and the way it fits together. What does one God mean? The best way to understand the purpose of this in the fundamentals is to recognize that as opposed to all the myriad religious orientations and philosophies in this world that believe in all number of different gods, we believe in one unified source of power—a single uncompromising power, a Divinity, a supreme Divinity that is responsible as a source of life, as this fundamental says, for the creation and everything that exists. Many of the religions of this world hold to a concept of a plethora of gods, all with different agendas, none of them agreeing with one another. It’s the idea of having an entire society of eternal beings with unlimited power yet they are all fighting one another with their own goals.
You can remember either learning in school or reading stories of Roman and Greek mythology and understanding all of the confusion that’s involved in the belief, in all of these gods of this and gods of that and gods of the other and they all have different personalities. The good gods, bad gods and everything in between. That’s just one example of the type of orientation and thought concerning divine powers that exists among human beings and their state of deception.
The best way to think about the concept of one God and the way we emphasize one God is to see: 1) Because that’s what the Bible says. 2) That God focuses our attention on the fact that we are dealing with a unified, singular purpose of that Divinity. We are not dealing with contradiction. We are not dealing with different goals, one fighting against the other, one disagreeing with the other, but a total unity of purpose. We are going to find these examples that Jesus Christ gave, when He was here in the flesh, to describe His relationship with the one who became known as the Father—God of the first part—and to show what their relationship really is. It is really quite inspiring.
So unlike the myriad beliefs in this world’s religions, we believe in one central source of all power, not a pantheon of gods with conflicting goals and agendas. What we believe in, brethren, is neither classified as trinitarianism nor is it classified as monotheism. There is a very extensive work that is available that you can order called, “The Trinity and the Nature of God,” which goes into great historical detail to show you the origin of all those concepts about what the nature of God is. Not only that, but in the origin of the trinity belief of these so-called Christian churches who believe that God is three persons, you will find out that their belief is so undefinable and undescribable that they do not even know what that means. They certainly don’t believe that there are actually separate personalities or certain individuals that are separate and yet at the very same time are one; the Holy Spirit, the Son and the Father. But you will find in that article a description of exactly what they believe and all of the gyrations and the mental imaginations that go on to describe their concept of a trinity.
On the other side you have monotheism, which is the belief in one God, one being and only one being represented by God. These are the individuals that claim therefore that Jesus Christ is not God. The thing that I want us to focus on as we go through this is to be very, very careful that in spite of even the number of years that we might have been in the church, that we do not also have and hold to a monotheistic view of God. What you are going to find out is that the term God applies not just to a single individual. The Bible uses the word God in different Hebrew and Greek forms to apply to either God of the first part, God of the second part or together collectively as the family. What can be confusing is, that’s the very same word in either the Greek or the Hebrew. There are many places that show that those very words are used to apply to both beings and to them as a family together. Some of those things we are going to go through. We may believe that only the Father, the individual that we call the Father, is really God and that the one we call Jesus Christ is just in the God form, but because He is not at the same level of authority He is not really like God. I hope to give the kind of information that will help us clarify all of those concepts and help us to understand the truth of that revelation that we received.
First, verification that we are talking about one God. Romans 3:29–30. One of many, many scriptures, but we are just going to pick out a couple here:
Is he the God of the Jews only? is he not also of the Gentiles? Yes, of the Gentiles also: Seeing it is one God, which shall justify the circumcision by faith, and uncircumcision through faith.
Here, we see the Apostle Paul clarifying that which we learned by revelation, which he received directly from Jesus Christ, His revelation. “Seeing it is one God.” So why does our fundamental belief begin with saying we believe in one God? Because the Bible says there is one God.
Deuteronomy 6:4: A key scripture in the Old Testament, debated very much by different scholars as to the correct interpretation. “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God is One Lord:”
So here again is a scripture that those who seek to justify monotheism will use to try and assert that there is only one being that can be God and that anything else is idol worship or heresy. Just for the moment, look at this. In the King James Version it says; “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God is One Lord.” So we know that there is something that we are talking about here that has oneness, unity. Several different commentators have interpreted it by interpreting the different Hebrew words that can, in this scripture, be used. You can come up with different variations of the meaning. They are not relatively that important to us, as you will see in a moment, but just to give you three for an example. The Word Biblical Commentary translates it, “Hear, O Israel: YHVH.” That’s what that term, the Lord, is. “YHVH is our God, YHVH alone.” We do not have a problem with that because that is also an accurate interpretation. “Hear, O Israel: YHVH is our God.” Anytime you see the term, the Lord in the Old Testament it is a translation from the YHVH. However, what the pronunciation of that word is intended to be, is relatively inconsequential to us. We are going to find out who that YHVH is.
But recognize it says, therefore that “YHVH, our God is (and that’s the same word, the YHVH again) “YHVH, our God is one YHVH.” So there is the focus again, that we are talking about unity, oneness. Whatever this concept of God, whatever is included in the definition of God, we are talking about something that is one. Why then does our fundamental belief say we believe in one God? Because the Bible in both the Old Testament and the New Testament, in harmony, tell us there is one God. “The Lord our God is one Lord.” C.H. Gordon suggests the following interpretation; “YHVH is our God, YHVH is one.” Then M. Dahood translates it by actually taking the word “Hear,” which in the Hebrew can be interpreted either “hear” or “obey” and with a little bit different spin on it we get, “Obey, Israel: YHVH. YHVH, our God is unique.” So whether the intent is to say “Hear, O Israel:” or to say “Obey, O Israel,” to me, they accomplish the same purpose. If we are going to hear God, that means that we are going to pay attention to what that God is saying and we are going follow and respect it and do it. So I can easily use the words “Hear Israel” or “Obey Israel,” to me they mean the same thing. “Obey, Israel: YHVH. YHVH, our God is unique.” We know that God is unique. There is nothing that compares to God. So any of those translations to me are fine.
What we want to look at is the composition of the names for God that are found in Deuteronomy 6:4. We have already talked about YHVH, but what is this term God? “The Lord our God is one Lord.” This is the word, and those of you who have been in the church for many years understand the fundamental teaching and an explanation of our concept for the nature of God, included the fact that this is from the Hebrew word Elohiym. So we say, “Hear, O Israel: YHVH. Elohiym is one YHVH.” That’s what that says. So whoever this God is that is being described, his name is YHVH Elohiym.
Well, what is Elohiym? Elohiym is a uniplural noun, very similar to words like church and family and kingdom. It is a single word and yet the word itself denotes more than one within the composition. When we talk about a church it is singular and yet it is a uniplural noun that implies there are multiple individuals that make up the body that forms the church. The same way that the word family implies that it is made up of several members. So it is in a kingdom, it is one kingdom, a unified kingdom, and yet within that kingdom are several parts. That’s what we are talking about with this term God. Within the very uniplural noun that’s talking about one God is contained a description that tells us there is more than one part. So therefore an explanation that says there is only one being that is considered God is refuted by the very Hebrew words that were inspired to describe that God.
The word Elohiym is found 2,605 times in the Old Testament. It is the most prolific noun that is used where you see God. There are a number of others, but that is the one you are going to see most. The first place it is used is in the very first verse of the Bible.
Genesis 1:1: “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.”
That’s Elohiym, a God defined in a plural form. What’s further proof of that? Skip down to verse twenty-six and what do we read? What was it that God did and accomplished?
And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion of the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.
If “God” refers only to a single individual, why is Elohiym a uniplural noun and why then is it translated “us” and “our” in Genesis 1? This tells us very specifically that there is more than one being in that Godhead that had a part in the design and the execution of everything that was involved in that creation. God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.” Otherwise, maybe we think we are serving a God that is schizophrenic. We would be considered crazy, wouldn’t we, if we talked about ourselves individually as if we were two people or if you talked about yourself as “us,” “we,” or “our”? I think people would wonder about our sanity. Wonder if that’s what we do when we look at the scripture and see that whoever was involved in this creation talked about “us” and “our.” So we know by the use of Elohiym in the Old Testament that we are dealing with God, singular God, and yet it is a divinity, a family that is composed of more than one being. Who are those beings? Well, let us look next at that word YHVH.
We already saw in Deuteronomy 6:4 his name YHVH Elohiym. YHVH is the Hebrew word that means, “the self-existent one” or “Eternal.” That’s why you will often hear us, when we read Old Testament scriptures, instead of saying, “the Lord” more appropriately translating that, “the Eternal.” We do so because that is more accurate from the Hebrew, a description of what that being is and who it is that is being described. It is that YHVH who is the self-existent one or the Eternal. The word YHVH is used 6,580 times in the Old Testament. It seems like that is somebody we maybe should be concerned about getting to know—understanding who He is and how He fits into the divinity that is called God. Well, there is actually no better place to start in the understanding of YHVH than the New Testament. John 1:1. Here is a reference, at the very beginning of this book, that describes the very same events that we just saw in Genesis 1. It is a separate account of the very same event. Here the Apostle John was inspired to write a description of that God.
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God.
That again, if we have a false concept of God, will be very, very confusing. There is all manner of so-called scholars and technicians, which I hardly claim to be, who for the sake of justifying their own concept of God, whether that be trinitarianism, monotheism, polytheism, or any other number of philosophies on the nature of God will interpret and twist and do all kinds of gyrations in order to come up with a justification to prove what they want it to come out to be. I am here to tell you, brethren, that we did not receive the results of scholarship in what we believe and in our fundamentals and what we call the faith once delivered. We believe the simplicity of the Truth which came through divine revelation. So we do take the Bible at face value and we do not look for ways to massage it, to make it say what we want it to say. We received it, as it is, the Word of God.
“In the beginning was the Word.” The Greek term there is logos. It means “the spokesman.” Whoever this being is that was “in the beginning” was one who was designated as the spokesman. “And the Word,” that Logos, “was with God.” Now, if this spokesman is the only being in the Godhead, if it is the being that we refer to as God of the first part or God of the only part, for someone who has that concept, then why does it say that this spokesman was with God? Again, another apparent schizophrenic comment. “The Word was with God, and the Word was God.” Now there is a tricky angle. If we are dealing with one individual, how can we have a being that is with the one who is God and simultaneously is God himself? Except, as I said earlier, what we were taught and what we understand in order to reconcile all of the scripture, is the understanding that these terms for God, both in the Hebrew and the Greek; many of them apply not only to God of the first part, but God of the second part and in some cases to them collectively as the God family.
So here we see that word “God” in the Greek, is the word theos, which means, “the supreme divinity.” So what it says is whoever the spokesman was, this spokesman was with the supreme Divinity. Another being in that supreme Divinity, and simultaneously was considered the supreme Divinity as well. “Was with God and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God.”
From what we have already seen in Genesis 1:1 and verse twenty-six, we recognize we are dealing with two beings within that Godhead. There is unity of purpose and of mind. They are one God, it’s one God family, one God kingdom and yet there are two.
John 1:3: “All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life; and the life was the light of men.” Whoever this spokesman is, whoever this Logos is was the one then, who actuated that creation spoken of in Genesis 1. It said that Logos is the one who made all things. “All things were made by him.” Who was it that made that creation? That worked for six days and rested on the seventh? Was it God of the first part? This tells us right here in John 1 that no, it was the one who was the Logos, the spokesman. It was the Logos in Genesis 1 who executed his office to bring all things into being.
Keep in mind that at this point in time when we are talking about the beginning, they were not yet a father and a son. The titles of the Father and the Son and the relationship of Father and Son did not occur, had not occurred, until something happened. We are going to get to that in just a little bit. That is why we have always referred to that family as God of the first part and God of the second part when speaking of the time before the coming of Christ, because it is not accurate to call them Father and Son before the time of Christ. We will get to that.
The thing that we know already then is, we are dealing with two beings and yet at the very same time they are called one. That is hard for human minds to fathom because we think humanly by nature. We can have an affinity for another human being and we can think about having things in common but the concept of truly being one is hard to understand. But so it was at the time of Christ, after He was born in the flesh, as He tried to describe His relationship to the one we refer to as God of the first part who by Christ’s human birth became His father and He had the very same difficulty trying to describe that relationship between them because men could not understand appropriately how two can be one. John 10:27–30:
My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. My father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand. I and my Father are one.
Why do we say we believe in one God? Because Jesus Christ said He and the Father were one. It is not a contradiction to believe in two beings within that Godhead. John 17:11:
And now I am no more in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to thee. Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one, as we are.
Why does the nature of God matter? Why so much emphasis on the unity of God—the clarifying of the relationship of God of the first part and God of the second part? You are going to find out, brethren, as we go on it has everything to do with our salvation. If we do not understand the appropriate relevance of the nature of God we are going to find out that we do not have any hope. We have to fundamentally understand what is involved in the concept of God and the nature of those Beings of which God is composed. Our very hope is to become a part of that family. How can we hope, yearn, work to achieve birth into a family that we do not even understand—to become a part of something about which we do not even have a proper concept? God requires us to understand his nature and his divinity within the limits of these human minds and that which He has given and to accept it as it is, a revelation.
John 14:7: “If ye had known me, ye should have known my Father also.” How many human beings can say that about another human being? Even husbands and wives that are supposed to be one—no longer either themselves or the other, but in that marriage vow they become a new entity. That is supposed to be unity and oneness and yet how many of us could legitimately say to someone else, “If you know me you know the other because we are one?” Probably wouldn’t work would it? Here Christ said, “If ye had known me ye should have known my Father also.” What kind of unity and oneness must there be between those two beings in order for that to be a true statement? It is easy for us to read and skim right over it and to take it for granted, but that is a oneness of mind that defies the human mind to grasp and yet that is the very mind that we just read in John 17:11 we are trying to achieve. “That they may be one as we are.” John 14:7–9:
If ye had known me, ye should have know my Father also: and from henceforth ye know him, and have seen him. Phillip saith unto him, Lord, shew us the Father.
Human beings at that point probably would have wanted to slap Him. It would be like; “Are you not paying attention?” “I just told you and now you are asking me again as if he has not been revealed to you.”
Shew us the Father, and it sufficeth us. Jesus saith unto him, Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Phillip? he that hath seen me hath seen the Father.
How can we say we believe in two beings in the Godhead and yet believe in one God? Because one is the express image of the other.
He that hath seen me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, Shew us the Father? Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? the words that I speak unto you I speak not of myself: but the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works. Believe me that I am in the Father, and the Father in me: or else believe me for the very works’ sake.
He was trying to convey to those disciples at the time, who were to become the apostles, the urgency of understanding that Divinity. Furthermore, with that scripture, how can anyone who wants to relegate Christ to less than God reconcile this very scripture in John 14, because it says, “He that hath seen me hath seen the father.” If He is less in any way than the very same nature of that supreme Divinity then that would make God a liar. You see there is a natural concept of human beings to want to say, “Well, yes, I know that our hope is to be part of, to be sons of God, to have the God form, meaning that we can become eternal beings that cannot die, that live forever, that don’t need to eat, that don’t breath, don’t sleep. They are eternal with all types of abilities and powers but it is not really the same as being God.” Saying, “Only the Father is God and Jesus Christ is the Son. Yes, He’s in the God form, but He’s not really God.” But He is really God.
The thing that’s hard for human beings to reconcile is for two beings being that unified in purpose even though there is a relationship of authority. It is not because the God of the second part is not considered equal in the nature of that Godhead and the power of the use of the spirit. But there is certainly a relationship of authority and we are getting ready to see that in just a moment. He is nonetheless God; absolutely they are both considered God. Why is that important? We are going to find out later. I am going to comment on that because Christ is the forerunner.
This is considered a very arrogant belief for those who have been called and understand the truth as opposed to that which is believed by the majority of human beings in this world. Christ is the one who showed what our hope is, to follow in his footsteps. Whatever Christ is, is what we have an opportunity to be. Is it important to understand what Christ is and how He relates in that Godhead? Absolutely, because if you diminish Christ to being less than He is you are diminishing your own hope as a potential member of that family. That’s why it is important to understand it.
The Father is greater in authority. There is authority within that Godhead. Even though you are dealing with two beings that are both God, they are perfect in unity and purpose. Can you even fathom that concept? Perfect in unity and purpose together. John 5:30:
I can of mine own self do nothing: as I hear, I judge: and my judgment is just; because I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me.
One of them did the sending and one of them was sent. John 14:28:
Ye have heard how I said unto you, I go away, and come again unto you. If ye loved me, ye would rejoice, because I said, I go unto the Father: for my Father is greater than I.
That is not just a comment that can be explained away because, well, yes, at that particular time, when He said that He was in the flesh; His Father was in the third heaven. No, He was describing the actual relationship of authority which exists within that Godhead.
“My father is greater than I.” There is a distinction in authority within that Godhead. God of the first part, which became the Father, is the one who has ultimate authority. That authority does not diminish the divinity and the power of God of the second part one iota. That individual, that YHVH, who is the God of the second part is absolutely God and in perfect unity with the Father. If it is strictly a relationship, one with all the power and the glory and the other one who just kind of has a shadow of the glory then how can they be one and how can Christ say that seeing Him and knowing Him was the same thing as knowing the Father? If that Being was a representation of the Father then He had to have the fullness of every element that is contained within the Father. Otherwise, Christ could not have legitimately claimed that He was the personification of the Father.
They are of the same Divinity, the same Godhead, and the same power. It is only that one of them does have the supreme authority within that family. That becomes very important as we begin to apply and as we look at the next fundamentals later on, when we talk about the second fundamental on Jesus Christ—His mission. We talk about what the Holy Spirit is as we get into the later fundamentals that lay out the entire plan of salvation and our hope in the resurrections. All of these things are going to be very critical and pivotal. Yet, we’re beginning right now with this one to understand the nature of God and that relationship in the Divinity. Everything else builds upon this very concept.
What about texts that might seem to imply Christ is not God or to give those with that intent an idea to challenge? Well, let’s look at 1 Corinthians 8:4–6:
As concerning therefore the eating of those things that are offered in sacrifice unto idols, we know that an idol is nothing in the world, and that there is none other God but one.
Another scripture that supports the fact that there is one and only one God—”none other God but one.” Here is where the challenge is because it goes on to describe that God:
. . . none other God but one. For though there be that are called gods, whether in heaven or in earth, (as there be gods many, and lords many,) But to us there is but one God, the Father.
Uh-oh, is that a problem for us? Does that shoot in the head everything that we have just gone through and seen in both the Hebrew and the Greek and in the scriptures? Well let’s keep reading.
. . . there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him.
In the Greek in verse six, “But to us there is but one God.” That is the word theos. We have already seen theos, meaning “the supreme divinity.” Then, “one Lord,” applied to Jesus Christ is actually a separate word, it’s the Greek word kurios. But kurios, you see, means “supreme in authority.” It is also translated appropriately “God.” It also means “Lord and master” and so the translators interpreted it as “Lord,” but it could have easily been interpreted and translated as “God.” This kurios is another Greek word that means “God, supreme authority.” “. . . by whom are all things and we by him.” So you can just as easily read this scripture:
But to us there is but one God, the Father of whom are all things and we in him, and one [God], Jesus Christ by whom are all things and we by him.
Now that would make it seem to read a little bit contradictory to say there is one God, there is this one and that one. But that as we’ve already seen is what we are talking about. We are talking about two different individuals who are absolutely a part of that family and they are both God. How else can we prove that?
Remember John 1:1 where we talked about the Word? Let’s turn back to that quickly. “In the beginning was the Word,” the Logos, the spokesman, “and the Word was with God and the Word was God.”
That said, the spokesman who became Jesus Christ was God. What word is it in the Greek? The word theos, the one that we just read that is translated “the supreme divinity.” So we have already seen in John 1 that He is called theos and then we found as we just looked at 1 Corinthians 8, the one who was called the Father was called theos. Remember, “But to us there is but one God,” theos, “the Father,” and yet theos was absolutely used to describe the one who became Christ in John 1:1. So we better be able to come up with the reconciliation to justify how both of them are of that supreme Divinity because they are both referred to as theos and they are both included in Elohiym in the Hebrew.
Both words—theos and kurios—are translated as “God.” The Lord God, the YHVH, the Rock is the one who has dealt with man, not the Father—another very important verification of that relationship in the Divinity. In John 1:18 we read, “No man hath seen God at any time.” Now if we have our own concept about how to interpret that word “God” we are going to have a problem here. The Bible is going to contradict itself because there is an example back in Exodus 33 where Moses, who was a man, actually saw God. John 1:18 first:
No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him.
Then, before we turn to Exodus 33, let’s read one more text. John 5:37 says:
And the Father himself, which hath sent me, hath borne witness of me. Ye have neither heard his voice at any time, nor seen his shape.
Jesus Christ by his own words then said that the Father had been separated from mankind and mankind had to that point had no interaction with that Being who was God of the first part. “Ye have neither heard his voice at any time, nor seen his shape.” Keep that in mind now as we turn to Exodus 33 and begin in verse 11 because here we find that Moses did hear the voice of someone and saw the shape of someone who was called God. “And the Lord,” the Eternal—YHVH, “spake unto Moses face to face.” That wasn’t the Father. That wasn’t God of the first part it was YHVH. “. . .YHVH spake unto Moses face to face, as a man speaketh unto his friend.” And then skipping down to verses 18–23:
And he said, [speaking to Moses], I beseech thee, shew me thy glory. And he said, I will make all my goodness pass before thee, and I will proclaim the name of the Lord before thee; and will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will shew mercy on whom I will show mercy. And he said, Thou canst not see my face: for there shall no man see me, and live. And the [Eternal, that YHVH], 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 clift 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.
Here was the Lord. Here was one who was called God, and Moses saw the shape, the back parts of that being. This was not, therefore, God of the first part if we believe what Christ said. He said, no man at any time had seen the Father, heard His voice or seen His shape. We are dealing with a different person in that Divinity then. Exodus 34 continuing in verse 1–8:
And the Lord said unto Moses, Hew thee two tables of stone like unto the first: and I will write upon these tables the words that were in the first tables, which thou brakest. And be ready in the morning, and come up in the morning unto Mt. Sinai, and present thyself there to me in the top of the mount. And no man shall come up with thee, neither let any man be seen throughout all the mount; neither let the flocks nor herds feed before that mount. And he hewed two tables of stones like unto the first; and Moses rose up early in the morning, and went up to Mt. Sinai, as the Lord had commanded him, and took in his hand the two tables of stone. And the Lord, [that YHVH], descended in the cloud, and stood with him there, and proclaimed the name of the Lord. And the Lord passed by before him, and proclaimed . . .
What was it then that this Being called YHVH proclaimed? “The Lord God, merciful and gracious. . .”
Here He gave Himself, He pronounced His own names. And what did He call himself? YHVH. In this case the word God is not Elohiym. Just to throw you a curve. Here, the word which is translated “God” is the Hebrew word “El.” It is not a plural, it is not a uniplural noun, it is a singular noun. El means “The Almighty, God, power”—singular, not plural. Here He called Himself this Being whom Moses saw the hind parts of who spoke with him. And He called Himself The Mighty, the Almighty, the God. Was this an effrontery to God of the first part? Because He obviously was not dealing with God of the first part here, being separated from Him. And yet here, this YHVH called himself YHVH, El. The Almighty.
. . . merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth. Keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, and that will by no means clear the guilty; visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, and upon the children’s children, unto the third and to the fourth generation. And Moses made haste, and bowed his head toward the earth, and worshipped.
Was He committing idolatry by bowing and worshiping before this Being that he actually was allowed to see and to hear and who called Himself the Almighty? Was this Being who became Jesus Christ God? Yes, He was. Not in contradiction to God of the first part who became His Father but in total perfect unity of the family. El is used for both God of the first part and YHVH. Let’s turn to it in Genesis 14:18: “And Melchizedek king of Salem.”
Now I mentioned that at the Feast and went in to a little description of who that Melchizedek was. Hebrews tells us very clearly the high priesthood of Melchizedek was the priesthood of the Being who became Jesus Christ. And that priesthood was transferred from Melchizedek to Aaron and his descendants for God’s purpose in dealing with Israel and was returned again at the qualification of Jesus Christ as our high priest again to the priesthood of Melchizedek. So when we are talking about Melchizedek we are talking about the Being who became Jesus Christ—God of the second part. What do we see here?
And Melchizedek king of Salem [that being God of the second part] brought forth bread and wine: and he was the priest of the most high God.
Now wait a minute, is that saying He is priest of Himself? Or in this case, is God referring to God of the first part? Obviously, that is exactly what we are talking about. God of the second part, who became Christ, who was that Melchizedek, was priest of the Most High, El. We just saw it in Exodus 34 as the name of YHVH. And here we find it also used as the name of God of the first part.
What did we begin by saying? The confusion occurs when we try and think of God in singular terms, as a singular Being. And yet you will find all through the Bible the very same Greek and Hebrew words which are used to define one are used to define the other, or are used to define them both together as a family. That, by revelation for our understanding, is for the purpose of showing that there are two individuals revealed to us as members in that divinity and they are one because they are called by the same names. How much better opportunity do we have to see evidence of their oneness and their unity of mind than that they are called by the same names? Think about it.
What else do we know about that YHVH, that God of the second part? 1 Corinthians 10:1—conformation of the Being that Moses dealt with, who was the one who actuated the creation, who followed the instruction out of respect for the authority of God of the first part, with whom He was in total unity and harmony. Here we find:
Moreover, brethren, I would not that ye should be ignorant, how that all our fathers were under the cloud, and all passed through the sea; And were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea; And did all eat the same spiritual meat; And did all drink the same spiritual drink; for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ.
It was the Being who became Christ who was in that cloud by day and that pillar of fire by night, that brought them out of Egypt, that wrote upon the tables of stone with His own finger and gave those commandments to Moses. It was that Being, that very same Being who brought into action the will of the family in the unity and harmony with God of the first part and God of the second part. David also called that YHVH the Rock. 2 Samuel 22:1–3: “And David spake unto [Who?] the Lord . . .” That also was YHVH.
To whom was He speaking? He was speaking to God of the second part. That was the God that He worshiped.
And David spake unto [YHVH] the words of this song in the day that [YHVH] the Lord had delivered him out of the hand of all his enemies, and out of the hand of Saul: And he said, The [Eternal, the YHVH], is my rock, . . .
Just like we saw in 1 Corinthians 10, the Being that became known as Christ was the Rock that Israel followed in the wilderness and that is what David called that very same Being.
. . . The Lord [the Eternal, the YHVH] is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; The God of my rock; in him will I trust. . .
Here in verse three He is called God. Lest there be any doubt that this Being is fully worthy of being called God and worshiped as God, it was YHVH, God of the second part, not the Father, who gave the Ten Commandments. That is a very, very critical proof for those that have a monotheistic view of God. Let’s look at Exodus 20 where God, whoever that God is, gave the Ten Commandments because we want to focus on that first commandment.
What do we read in Exodus 20:1? Let’s first read it through verse three and then we will analyze it:
And God spake all these words, saying, I am the Lord thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. Thou shalt have no other gods before me.
I remember memorizing this as a child in Imperial Schools, a big part of the chapter, the long version. We didn’t get to memorize just the short abbreviated Ten Commandments. We had to memorize Exodus 20:1 through whatever—every word of it. I remember taking all these things for granted when reading, “God spake all these words, saying, I am the Lord thy God.” How often have you heard those words; “I am the Lord thy God?” And I remember thinking, “That’s fine, that’s God” and then going on. Okay, now, what’s He saying?” Let’s get to that. But what is it that He is actually saying? Why is it in there and why is it emphasized? When He says, “I am the Lord thy God,” it is for a reason.
First, verse one: “And God spake all these words . . .” Which God was that? The Hebrew word, Elohiym. It was referring therefore either to the Father, to the one who became the Father or to the one who became the Son or to them together as the Family. “Elohiym spake all these words saying . . .” So the one thing we know about it, it is the family, the Kingdom of God, that one God who is now speaking what is going to follow. Elohiym spake these words saying.
Then what you find is the next phrase very accurately clarifies a specific spokesman of Elohiym. We start from the general; it tells you first it is the God family Elohiym. It is the one and only God, the Creator, the sustainer, the source of all power in the universe. Those things we will get to in the next sermon. Further, we find He spake all these words saying, I am who? The Lord God, YHVH Elohiym. He repeats Elohiym and He clarifies, for our understanding, that of that family of God, this was specifically God of the second part, the YHVH of Elohiym that was speaking. Is He appropriating to Himself the name of God in vain? He calls himself not only YHVH, but He calls himself Elohiym. It is to say, it is the family of God that is speaking these words, and not only that; it is the YHVH of that family—that part of the Divinity of that family with which you were dealing. That’s what He was saying to Moses and the Israelites.
“Which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. Thou shalt have no other gods before . . .” God of the first part because I am just YHVH, you see, I am just God of the second part. I am not quite at that same level as God, so I am going to tell you, don’t worship me, worship God of the first part. Is that what He said? No. He clarified who He was. He said, “I am the Lord thy God, I am YHVH, Elohiym.” “I am God of the second part and I’m telling you as the very first commandment; Thou shalt have no other gods before me.” “Me,” He said. Is He on a par to be worshiped as God? The one who became Jesus Christ, is He a part of the Divinity—sharing in the oneness and the unity with the one who became the Father. Or is He on a little bit lower level in some way? Just in the God form with eternal life, but not with all the same power and the glory that the Father has. Or is this Being fully worthy to be called God? Better believe He is. It would have been idolatry if a Being other than someone who was qualified to have the God title to say, “Have no other gods but me.”
The very fact that it was God of the second part who gave this commandment tells you absolutely that He is fully God. How, therefore, did that Father/Son relationship originate? We referenced it briefly before. Let’s look at that again. Back to John 1:14. It began when something very miraculous occurred. It is difficult because we do not want to focus on all the parts concerning Jesus Christ because we have the second fundamental belief which is all about Christ and many of the following fundamentals that we will get to in the proper order. So we want to talk strictly about, not the mission of Christ, not all the things He was commissioned to do, but specifically about what His relationship is with the Father and that one God—to branch out just a little bit for the sake of clarity. John 1:14:
And the Word [that Logos] 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.
There was something incredibly miraculous and special that occurred at the moment that one of the Beings of the divinity of God became flesh. Notice when that occurred. Hebrews 2:9–10. Another quick description:
But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man. For it became him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things. . .
Referring again to the fact that He was the Being who made that creation come into existence.
. . . for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings.
A reference once again to how it applies to us and why we should be concerned, because whoever Christ is and whatever His position, this is also what is offered to us, as we will soon see. How did the Logos, the Spokesman, the Word, become a mortal man? Matthew 1:20–21:
But while he thought on these things,[referring to Joseph] behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy [Spirit]. And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins.
That was the point in time, brethren, when the Father/Son relationship occurred between those two Beings, the very moment of conception—however that occurred—when the totality of the power of God condensed, as it were, into a single seed of sperm and planted miraculously within the ova of a human, flesh and blood woman, to create a new life. That life was flesh and it was simultaneously divine. It is beyond our remotest ability to even comprehend that concept; that the power of one of those Beings in the Godhead actually became a living flesh and blood being through that conception.
When did He become a Father? At the very moment of that conception in Mary’s womb. And when did God of the second part become a son? At the very moment of that conception, when He began to live as that small embryo in the womb.
Those, then, of this world who have no regard for life and those who have no appreciation whatsoever for the creation of that eternal God Family and that God Kingdom, who want to argue about the point in time when life occurs, who want to say that life does not occur until the first or the second trimester or until after birth, they are arguing against the very existence of life at the time that Son was created in Mary’s womb. Without a doubt that’s exactly when He lived as a flesh being, even as that embryo with one cell and then two cells and then three cells. That was when God of the first part became a father. From that time on forward from His birth and His growth as a flesh and blood boy growing into a man, He had a Father in heaven whom He called by that name. That Being who was God of the first part then referred to that other Being as his Son.
Matthew 18:19: You have already seen several examples of Christ calling Himself the Son and referring to God of the first part as the Father, but we will notice it here:
Again I say unto you, That if two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father [the title He addressed Him by] which is heaven.
And then skipping down to verse thirty-five:
So likewise shall my heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses
Confirming again the relationship of Father and Son. After His resurrection, after He was killed, three days and three nights later He was resurrected, Christ was restored to His original position in His glory.
Revelation 3:21, another reference again to our hope and how it applies to us and why we should be concerned about the relationship of those Beings in the Divinity because it has everything to do with our hope.
To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne.
Where is He? Is He an angel? Is He just a lower level divine entity? Is His glory just a little bit tarnished compared to that of the Father? Or is this a being who qualifies to sit with the heavenly Father on His throne and furthermore what is it that we are promised? “To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne.” It doesn’t even say here a separate throne next to or below mine. It says to share the throne of God—something that can easily cause people difficulty because unlike the rest of so-called Christianity that believe the most that they can hope for if they get the ultimate reward that they want, is to hope to be in heaven as an angel. An angel is only a ministering spirit created to provide service even like a butler or a maid, but they are not part of the family. So the deception of Satan continues as he tries to delude those who are called into underestimating the promise that God has actually made to each one of us. Our hope is not to be a ministering servant in heaven like the angels. It is to be born into the very same family—into that Godhead with God of the first part and God of the second part who became the Father and the Son. He was the first of many sons and we have that very opportunity to join them with the same power and the same glory. Yes, to rule with them, but with a definite relationship of authority within that family as in all families—the Father with ultimate authority within the Godhead, Jesus Christ then with the authority who will rule as King of Kings and Lord of Lords on this Earth. But we will share that divinity and we will share that throne.
If you are one who becomes qualified at His return to receive eternal life you will be born as one into that God family and yes, you will also be God. And being God along with Jesus Christ and the Father will be worthy to be worshiped. Does that give us a problem? If we have a problem with worshipping Jesus Christ as God then we will have a problem with even considering the possibility that we have the hope to be in that family with the same power and authority. If, however, we understand the beauty of the revelation that we received through Mr. Armstrong—the correct interpretation—in spite of the fact that he was not a scholar, we will recognize the veracity of the truth about the nature of God, the oneness of that Divinity and therefore set the stage for understanding all of the other parts that we are going to take up in the remaining fundamentals of the Church of God, The Eternal.