The Last Countdown

144,000 WitnessesHave you ever wondered what would happen if one person were missing from the 144,000 witnesses? What consequences would that have for the Great Controversy? Do you understand why Jesus asked “when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?”

Most people assume without much thought that God is too powerful to ever lose the Great Controversy. Consider for a moment: is God just, or unjust? If He is just, then would the heavenly courtroom give a fair trial, or would it rule in favor of the party with the greatest power?

If you assume that God would not yield Himself to a fair trial, then you misunderstand what the plan of salvation is all about. If God were to rule by the might of His power regardless of fairness, there would be no need for Jesus, and no need for the 144,000 witnesses. But if God does submit to a fair trial, then Satan has a chance to show the universe that at the end of this world’s 6000-year history, not even 144,000 created beings will remain who still want to keep the Creator’s commandments. This would be the evidence that Satan needs to win the proceedings against God.

Consider for a moment why, after the millennium, Satan will attack the city of God. Is he really that stupid to think he can win? Or are we the stupid ones who can’t imagine God risking the whole universe on the faith of 144,000 people like you and me? For sure, Satan does not think his game is over.

First we need to understand what Jesus really did that only one equal with God could do, then we will be able to understand what must yet be done to secure the plan of salvation that could not be done by anyone equal with God. I pray that as you study this article you will recognize what your role is in the plan of salvation.

At The Cross

Jesus paid the penalty of the law for sin. Jesus also taught that the law was not merely ten brief commandments, but the implications of those commandments are as far reaching as the thoughts and intents of the heart. At other times he summarized them into two commandments. In other words, whether we state them briefly or at length, their scope is big enough to encompass the whole infinite character of God; they are a transcript of His character.

The law of God is as extensive as the universe, so it required a sacrifice of equal proportions to pay the price for our breaking it. Only one who was as great as the law could be a sufficient sacrifice.

The salvation of man is accomplished at an infinite expense to Heaven; the sacrifice made is equal to the broadest demands of the broken law of God. {GC88 489.1}

Until we understand the scope of the law, we can have no comprehension of how great our fall, or how great our redemption, or how great our value in the eyes of God:

The value of a soul, who can estimate? Would you know its worth, go to Gethsemane, and there watch with Christ through those hours of anguish, when He sweat as it were great drops of blood. Look upon the Saviour uplifted on the cross. Hear that despairing cry, “My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?” Mark 15:34. Look upon the wounded head, the pierced side, the marred feet. Remember that Christ risked all. For our redemption, heaven itself was imperiled. At the foot of the cross, remembering that for one sinner Christ would have laid down His life, you may estimate the value of a soul. {COL 196.4}

Have you ever wondered how one man, Jesus, could have actually paid the price for all the sins of the whole world? What exactly did He give up anyway? Did he just suffer a physically brutal death like many other men have suffered, and give up just three days of His life to spend asleep in the tomb? Sister White tells us in clear language that there was a permanent loss associated with His sacrifice:

By His life and His death, Christ has achieved even more than recovery from the ruin wrought through sin. It was Satan’s purpose to bring about an eternal separation between God and man; but in Christ we become more closely united to God than if we had never fallen. In taking our nature, the Saviour has bound Himself to humanity by a tie that is never to be broken. Through the eternal ages He is linked with us. “God so loved the world, that He gave His only-begotten Son.” John 3:16. He gave Him not only to bear our sins, and to die as our sacrifice; He gave Him to the fallen race. To assure us of His immutable counsel of peace, God gave His only-begotten Son to become one of the human family, forever to retain His human nature. This is the pledge that God will fulfill His word. “Unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon His shoulder.” God has adopted human nature in the person of His Son, and has carried the same into the highest heaven. It is the “Son of man” who shares the throne of the universe. It is the “Son of man” whose name shall be called, “Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.” Isaiah 9:6. The I AM is the Daysman between God and humanity, laying His hand upon both. He who is “holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners,” is not ashamed to call us brethren. Hebrews 7:26; 2:11. In Christ the family of earth and the family of heaven are bound together. Christ glorified is our brother. Heaven is enshrined in humanity, and humanity is enfolded in the bosom of Infinite Love. {DA 25.3}

Cumbered with humanity, Christ could not be in every place personally. {DA 669.2}

The fact that Jesus became human permanently explains how infinite His sacrifice really was, though He was only one man. He gave up His former omnipresent nature (the only nature able to atone for all sin of all time). He gave it up permanently, in other words to the “second death”, while His human nature only suffered the first death like the righteous of all the ages. He was resurrected as a righteous human man, like the faithful dead will be resurrected, not in His original omnipresent nature. This also explains how God could resurrect Him without “undoing” the second death that He had to suffer for our sins.

The Heavenly Sanctuary

There is no question that Jesus’ death on the cross was essential to the plan of salvation, but there is more to the plan that is equally essential:

The intercession of Christ in man’s behalf in the sanctuary above is as essential to the plan of salvation as was his death upon the cross. By his death he began that work which after his resurrection he ascended to complete in Heaven. We must by faith enter within the veil, “whither the forerunner is for us entered.” [Hebrews 6:20.] There the light from the cross of Calvary is reflected. There we may gain a clearer insight into the mysteries of redemption. The salvation of man is accomplished at an infinite expense to Heaven; the sacrifice made is equal to the broadest demands of the broken law of God. Jesus has opened the way to the Father’s throne, and through his mediation the sincere desire of all who come to him in faith may be presented before God. {GC88 489.1}

The Clock of God in Orion shows us the intercession of Jesus for the churches. It specifically shows the failures of the churches as marked by His wounds, showing how He is interceding with His blood on our behalf as the court session in the heavenly sanctuary goes on. The Clock also shows us that the intercession must come to an end.

Jesus paid the price for our sin when He died on the cross. However, the law of God is still the rule of the universe, and for us to live in heaven we must not only be forgiven of our sins but also restored to where we no longer commit sin, like Adam and Eve before the Fall. If we still cherish sin in our hearts, we will not be fit to live in heaven. This purity of heart, or sanctification, is what still remains to be completed in the 144,000 witnesses.

“And in their mouth was found no guile: for they are without fault before the throne of God.” (Revelation 14:5)

The Plaintiff and the Defendant

There is more than one court case playing out in the heavenly courtrooms. The first case that usually comes to mind is the case involving human souls to determine (judge) whether they should be granted to live in heaven, or be eternally destroyed. This case is further divided into two phases, the judgment of the dead, and the judgment of the living. It is natural for us to think of these judgments first, because we are naturally selfish and interested in the outcome FOR US. But there is another case of vastly greater importance that must be settled, and if it is not settled, heaven will not be heaven!

Let’s identify who the participants are in the court case of greatest importance. Obviously Satan is the accuser, or plaintiff. One would first think that the brethren are the accused, since Satan is the accuser of the brethren, but again that is selfish thinking and the following quote shows that he cares nothing about the brethren except so far as he can use them to injure Christ:

Satan’s accusations against those who seek the Lord are not prompted by displeasure at their sins. He exults in their defective characters; for he knows that only through their transgression of God’s law can he obtain power over them. His accusations arise solely from his enmity to Christ. {PK 585.3}

We will see in the next section just why Satan has such a hatred for Christ. Satan’s real accusations are not against people, but against God:

In the opening of the great controversy, Satan had declared that the law of God could not be obeyed, that justice was inconsistent with mercy, and that, should the law be broken, it would be impossible for the sinner to be pardoned. Every sin must meet its punishment, urged Satan; and if God should remit the punishment of sin, He would not be a God of truth and justice. When men broke the law of God, and defied His will, Satan exulted. It was proved, he declared, that the law could not be obeyed; man could not be forgiven. Because he, after his rebellion, had been banished from heaven, Satan claimed that the human race must be forever shut out from God’s favor. God could not be just, he urged, and yet show mercy to the sinner. {DA 761.4}

The Allegations

In the above quote, we see that Satan claimed that God’s law could not be obeyed, that justice is inconsistent with mercy, and that sin could not be pardoned.

Satan was very clever in how he challenged God’s love. Reading between the lines of his accusation, it is apparent that He either did not expect God to humble Himself to the point of taking upon Himself the penalty for sin, or he consoled himself with the thought that if God were to do so it would mean the end of God and victory for himself. In essence, he thought to back God into a corner to either rule by power, or surrender. (It is no wonder where Judas Iscariot got the idea.)

Pardoning, redeeming love is brought to view in Christ Jesus. Satan had misrepresented the character of God, and it was necessary that a correct representation should be made to worlds unfallen, to angels, and to men. Satan had declared that God knew nothing of self-denial, of mercy and love, but that he was stern, exacting, and unforgiving. Satan never tested the forgiving love of God; for he never exercised genuine repentance. His representations of God were incorrect; he was a false witness, an accuser of Christ, and an accuser of all those who throw off the Satanic yoke, and come back to render willing allegiance to the God of heaven. {RH March 9, 1897, par. 3}

In summary, Satan’s accusations against God are:

  1. God's character is not of self-denying love.
  2. God's law is unjust and cannot be obeyed by created beings.

It is because Christ demonstrated his first claim to be false, that Satan hates Him so much.

The Defense

In giving His only begotten Son to the world to pay the penalty for sin, God proved his character of self-denying love. He emptied heaven to redeem mankind, risking all. He loved you and me so much that He preferred to have US than His very own “flesh and blood”. The sacrifice was not merely or even mostly on the part of the Son, but supremely on the part of the Father. Jesus was the Father’s obedient Lamb which He gave as the sacrifice for the sins of the world.

As the priests ministered in the Old Testament sanctuary services, they experienced on a daily basis the killing of innocent victims. Surely for any warm-blooded human being, this had to be a painful experience. Indeed, the purpose of the sacrifices was to give mankind an inkling of the pain in God’s heart as He saw forward to the day His beloved Son would die for something He didn’t deserve.

While He lived on earth, Jesus kept the law perfectly. He did it while afflicted with the fallen human nature, yet he did it perfectly and was without sin as an example for us.

“For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: (Romans 8:3)

“For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.” (Hebrews 4:15)

However, Satan’s accusation is specifically that “created beings” cannot obey the law. It is nothing for God the Father or His Son to keep the very law that transcribes their character; they could not do otherwise. Jesus had no propensity to sin like we do. Even though Jesus took on the fallen human nature, His life testimony that God’s law can be kept could easily be considered as a special case or at best insufficient evidence in comparison to the vast majority of people that have ever lived.

The part of the plan of salvation that has not been completed yet is an overwhelming demonstration that God’s law can indeed be kept by created beings. Only when that can be proven in the court of heaven can the Great Controversy be settled.

The Witnesses

Who must prove that God’s law can be kept by created beings?

It is easy to answer in the third person:

“Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus.” (Revelation 14:12)

It is a lot harder to say with Isaiah:

“Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for us? Then said I, Here am I; send me.” (Isaiah 6:8)

Do I, do you want to keep God’s law, no matter what?

Why are the 144,000 the only people who can show that God’s law can indeed be kept by created beings? The un-fallen angels in heaven keep the law, but they are party to the case because they were there when the first rebellion began in heaven. In order to conduct a fair trial, witnesses are needed who are neutral to the case. Adam and Eve were created after Satan’s rebellion, and were neutral to the Great Controversy. When they fell, humanity became biased for Satan, and it became necessary for Jesus to redeem the human race in order to restore their capacity to deliver an un-biased testimony.

The 144,000 are being called out from among Earth’s last generation: the most degenerated people ever to live, and the ones most severely oppressed by Satan as he perfects his tyrannical rule over the earth. The testimony of the weakest generation that God’s law can be kept makes the strongest case in His defense. Again I plead, will you, dear reader, testify on God’s behalf by your sanctified life, no matter the cost?

The Earthly Sanctuary

In the study titled The Vessel of Time we see our (poor) record of how well we have kept the commandments of God and had the faith of Jesus as an organized church. In other words, we see our sins which Jesus is atoning for in the heavenly sanctuary.

In the great day of final award, the dead are to be “judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.” Revelation 20:12. Then by virtue of the atoning blood of Christ, the sins of all the truly penitent will be blotted from the books of heaven. Thus the sanctuary will be freed, or cleansed, from the record of sin. In the type, this great work of atonement, or blotting out of sins, was represented by the services of the Day of Atonement—the cleansing of the earthly sanctuary, which was accomplished by the removal, by virtue of the blood of the sin offering, of the sins by which it had been polluted. {PP 357.6}

In the periods before 1888 we were in obedience as a church, but after 1888 when we rejected the leadership of Christ, our works have proven us unfaithful (even in the same things we were once faithful in). This shows that it is only by the faith of Jesus that we can obey the law; it is only possible to have righteousness by faith in Christ.

If ever a people have need of clearer and increased light from heaven, it is the people whom God has made the repository of His law. The men to whom God has committed sacred trusts need to be spiritualized, elevated, vitalized by the sacred truth they profess to believe. When the history of our cause and work reveals that men who have occupied positions of sacred trust, who have been teachers of the truth to others, are found unfaithful and turn away from the holy commandment delivered unto them, what carefulness should it lead us to! What distrust of self! How it should strip us of self-sufficiency and spiritual pride! What humble views we should have of our wisdom and our own insufficiency! How we should sense the fact that we are kept by the power of God through faith! {1888 261.3}

We also see in The Vessel of Time that as we approach the heavenly Canaan, we have one last time to shine, to illustrate to the universe that the Law can be kept indeed by created beings through the faith of Jesus. Time will not go on indefinitely until we get our act together, contrary to popular belief. There are limits set for how long the court can take before coming to a verdict.

Near the close of this earth’s history Satan will work with all his powers in the same manner and with the same temptations wherewith he tempted ancient Israel just before their entering the land of promise. He will lay snares for those who claim to keep the commandments of God, and who are almost on the borders of the heavenly Canaan. He will use his powers to their utmost in order to entrap souls, and to take God’s professed people upon their weakest points. Those who have not brought the lower passions into subjection to the higher powers of their being, those who have allowed their minds to flow in a channel of carnal indulgence of the baser passions, Satan is determined to destroy with his temptations,—to pollute their souls with licentiousness. He is not aiming especially at the lower and less important marks, but he makes use of his snares through those whom he can enlist as his agents to allure or attract men to take liberties which are condemned in the law of God. And men in responsible positions, teaching the claims of God’s law, whose mouths are filled with arguments in vindication of his law, against which Satan has made such a raid,—over such he sets his hellish powers and his agencies at work, and overthrows them upon the weak points in their character, knowing that he who offends on one point is guilty of all, thus obtaining complete mastery over the entire man. Mind, soul, body, and conscience are involved in the ruin. If he be a messenger of righteousness, and has had great light, or if the Lord has used him as his special worker in the cause of truth, then how great is the triumph of Satan! How he exults! How God is dishonored! {RH May 17, 1887, par. 8}

The message of our history in The Vessel of Time is to serve as a warning, and a guide to show us especially which points to watch out for, which points we need to correct in our own characters in order to be faithful witnesses.

“For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith.” (I John 5:4)

Consequences of Failure

If there are not sufficient witnesses, either in number or quality, then the defense of God in His trial against the allegations of Satan might not be successful. Our role is to vindicate the infinite law of heaven, which represents the very character of God Himself, and wonder of wonders God has staked His very being and the entire universe on our defense. That is a task far beyond the capability of mere mortals, yet that is our high calling! Jesus led the way by His life, coming in the likeness of sinful flesh, and being in constant communion/union with the Divine. We must attain to His example in every respect! Only through faith in Him, dying to self, letting Him live His life in us, uniting with Him, can we succeed in such an infinite task. Only with the Holy Spirit (the mightiest of the host of heaven) working in us can we measure up to the task.

This is a truth that has never been fully (much less officially) taught by our Adventist Church. It is easy to believe from reading a few quotes of Ellen White that the Great Controversy was finished at the cross and that the whole universe is already decided for God and exempt from any further consequences from sin and the only thing we have to do is rescue the great multitude of humans in the Loud Cry. We Adventists talk a lot about the 144,000, the Loud Cry, the time of trouble, the time of Jacob's trouble, the Sunday Law and the Sabbath, and “justification by faith” (what seems to be the most important theme for Adventist theologians, preachers and writers). But when and where do we talk about our high calling and that we have to follow the example of Jesus to vindicate the Father to finally secure the plan of salvation for the entire universe?

The angels and the holy inhabitants of other worlds watch with intense interest the events taking place on this earth. Now as the close of the great controversy between Christ and Satan draws near, the heavenly host behold men trampling upon the law of Jehovah, making void the memorial of God,—the sign between Him and His commandment-keeping people,—setting it aside as a thing of naught, something to be despised, while the rival sabbath is exalted. They see men claiming to be Christians, calling upon the world to observe this spurious sabbath that they have made. {ST February 22, 1910, par. 3}

Have you ever considered what it means that we will do greater things than Jesus?

“Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father.” (John 14:12)

Jesus is interceding for us not so we can continue to live a life of failure in sin, but so that we can be purified of sin to do greater works than even He did! But all these years we didn't understand it and it did not come to our hearts. We thought that we just have to obey God to show our love to Him and that He rescued the universe. But the nature of the accusation of Satan does not allow God Himself to rescue the universe; it has to be done by the creatures that have fallen on the planet that was given to Satan’s influence.

Revelation even told us all along exactly whose task it would be to bring salvation to God:

“After this I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands; And cried with a loud voice, saying, Salvation to our God which sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb.” (Revelation 7:9-10)

This message in deed is THE LOUD CRY!

Is There Any Recourse, or Risk Mitigation?

The whole universe is looking upon us because we will decide if Satan’s reign will fall, or if it will extend to all the far reaches of the universe, poisoning one planet after another with the corruption of sin until it ends in total destruction. God created a universe full of intelligent creatures that could use their free will to love Him and reflect His love, but what if those creatures eventually all decide to separate themselves from The Life and chose death instead?

If that were to happen, God would stand where He stood at the beginning, before the creation of the first intelligent being with free will. His love could only be directed towards one of the three persons of the Godhead. But AGAPE love is directed toward others, not just love in between the persons of the Godhead. God IS love. He cannot be otherwise! He cannot switch off His love. He has to be a Creator, because He has to GIVE His love to others, because this is the NATURE of AGAPE love.

And if there is no one to give this love to because the creatures of the universe decided to follow the god of the dead, and therefore no longer exist?

God would have four possibilities:

1. Recreate the universe knowing that the same deadly circle of free will and refused agape love would eventually destroy the second universe, and the third, etc., OR

2. Refuse to create beings and live in all eternity in three persons without giving His love to others, OR

3. Create a universe full of robots without free will, OR

4. Do anew what Jesus proved even a member of the Godhead can do:

“Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it again.” (John 10:17)

Every person of the Godhead has the ability to LAY DOWN HIS LIFE. Jesus could do it, and so can God the Father, and the Holy Spirit. He also has the ability to not take it up again, because this would be HIS free will. Which of those possibilities would you choose if you saw that all kinds of free-will creatures that you created and would create in the future would eventually decide NOT to love you? Have you ever heard a sermon about these consequences? Did you ever understand that even God's personal well-being and His very existence is at stake in the Great Controversy?

The courage to face these questions is the kind of courage the 144,000 need to have in order to vindicate the Father in His great trial in front of the universe.

GOD IS LOVE, BUT LOVE CANNOT EXIST IF IT CANNOT BE GIVEN.

In the same way as mankind would commit suicide to decide not to love God, mankind would not only destroy the universe but the very reason for the existence of God Himself. Love would cease to exist, because it can only exist in being given.

 

Appendix A: Sin Will Not Rise Up a Second Time

After the witnesses testify in defense of God the Father during these final years of earth’s history, what will guarantee that sin does not arise a second time? The following table compares the experience of the 144,000 with the experience of others, in regard to the sin problem.

No other group of people has experienced en-masse the overcoming of sin within their lifetime that the 144,000 must experience. There have been a few isolated examples, such as Enoch, Daniel, Job, etc., but remember that the court needs ample evidence, not a scattered handful of anecdotal “special cases”. Even Jesus Himself did not experience the overcoming of sin, because He was without sin. Again, it rings true that “greater works than these shall he do.” (John 14:12)

The multitude clothed in white are also described as follows:

“Therefore are they before the throne of God, and serve him day and night in his temple: and he that sitteth on the throne shall dwell among them.” (Revelation 7:15)

This verse describes them as serving God continually. These witnesses will serve as ambassadors for God throughout the universe to forever “inoculate” creation against the “virus” of sin. They have in themselves known sin, experienced sin, resisted sin, and overcome sin, and their ceaseless testimony will serve to prevent sin from ever rising a second time!

 

Appendix B: The Glow on our Faces

A number of years ago, I (C.C. Lee) was going through a difficult part of my journey as an Adventist Christian. Weighing on my heart was the question of why the 144,000 must suffer and endure the trials that they must, and generally why this old world is still here. Day after day, this question was in the back of my mind as I went about my life activities. Why must they face the death sentence? Why must they endure the plagues, and the harassment of the wicked world?

At this point in my life, I was on the upward straight and narrow pathway but was only just starting to emerge from a heavy cloud of confusion that I had fallen into. I was searching earnestly for Truth, but I was in constant and deep heart-felt pain day after day as each step on the upward path brought the realization of just how far I had fallen. I did not feel like I could be saved, much less be among some 144,000, but I kept on searching and “looking up” anyway.

It was during this time in my experience that it came to me like a revelation. I began to study and write about it, and when I finally comprehended the full magnitude of what our Father in heaven is suffering in the Great Controversy, and how His very Person and all His beloved universe full of creatures is hanging in the balance, it broke my heart! I knew right then and there that I had found what I was searching for all along: I found my purpose for existence. I found a love for God springing up in my heart that I had never known before. I decided right then and there that no matter what happened to me, I would use every next breath in me to work for His cause. I made that decision at a time that I did not even know if I would be saved, and frankly it didn’t matter in comparison.

Years went by until recently this truth, coming down the corridors of church history, was brought to the attention of our study group with even greater definition. As we studied the subject together, one-by-one our faces began to shine like Moses when he came down from Mt. Sinai. With the additional light revealed and in the context of the times shown in Orion and the HSL, I reaffirmed my decision to give “my all” for our Heavenly Father’s defense, regardless of the consequences to me personally.

The Reason Moses’ Face Shined

“And it came to pass, when Moses came down from mount Sinai with the two tables of testimony in Moses' hand, when he came down from the mount, that Moses wist not that the skin of his face shone while he talked with him.” (Exodus 34:29)

These were the second tables of stone that Moses was holding. Briefly, the first tables of stone which were provided by God represent Jesus, who came from Heaven, and had the Law written on His heart.

“And the tables were the work of God, and the writing was the writing of God, graven upon the tables.” (Exodus 32:16)

The first tables were broken because of the sin of Israel, as Jesus was broken for us. By contrast, the second tables of stone were “hewn”:

“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.” (Exodus 34:1)

That the tables were “hewn” by Moses shows that they represent no longer Jesus who came from Heaven, but fallen men and women like you and me who’s hearts are “hewn” in preparation for the Law (character of God) to be written there. The 144,000 witnesses are represented by these tables.

Something special happened when Moses went up Sinai with the second tables that caused His face to shine by the time He came back down. We can read the verses from Exodus 34:10-26. In these verses God explains the Ten Commandments to Moses in a practical way that he can understand. He shows Moses how the children of Israel will fulfill the law in practice, thereby receiving God’s character in themselves and vindicating Him before the heathen nations. Moses realizes his part in God’s plan, his high calling to prepare the people to testify for God, and his face shines as a result!

Shining faces have been our experience too, as we have studied the subject of this article. I believe we are experiencing the fulfillment of the prophecy:

When God spoke the time, He poured upon us the Holy Ghost, and our faces began to light up and shine with the glory of God, as Moses’ did when he came down from Mount Sinai. {EW 14.1}

 

Appendix C: The Godhead

Note: in this appendix we will be very careful to use the names of the Persons of the Godhead very precisely according to the illustrations given.

Jesus Himself spoke these most important words:

“Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live:” (John 11:25)

And:

“For as the Father hath life in himself; so hath he given to the Son to have life in himself;” (John 5:26)

There are two known ways that life multiplies. We usually think about sexual multiplication, where the DNA of a male and a female partner are MIXED and a completely new and unique set of genes is created. The resulting individual or person is NOT exactly like either of the original two. It is definitely unique in its genetic base. The "character" of an individual is formed 30% by its genes. Therefore even the character of a person is not completely like one of his/her parents.

The second form of reproduction of life is even more fundamental and much more widespread. It is non-sexual reproduction or simply "cell division" or cytokinesis. Even in our own body, all cells are reproducing with exactly this principle like simple organisms reproduce. All "higher" living forms that reproduce sexually are based on cells that reproduce non-sexually with simple cell division. Even plants are based on this principle. The most numerous living organisms (in variety and quantity) like plankton and bacteria are also based on this principle.

When a cell divides, the resulting individual is not differentiable genetically. The DNA is replicated 1:1 and the cell separates. There is not even another substance involved. All the substance of the "second" cell comes from the first cell!

Now, please understand: when a cell divides, you CANNOT tell which was the original cell or the child cell! Both cells existed prior to the separation; they just were "together". They have the same substance and the same genetic code. There is absolutely NO WAY to differentiate the two cells. You would have to mark them to distinguish them. If you see one cell you would have seen the other, because it is absolutely equal!

You have probably guessed what we are trying to say.

What if God separated once and this is how the Son resulted? This would make very clear what Jesus wanted to explain in John 1: Father - Son

“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.” (John 1:1-2)

The question of WHEN God separated for the first time, is directly answered in the next verse:

“All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.” (John 1:3)

This separation must have taken place before God created the universe, the heavens and all living beings. That is how ALL THINGS were made by the Son of God.

The original God separated before creation into the Father and the Son. The Father never separated anymore since then. Therefore John states correctly about God:

“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.” (John 3:16)

And Jesus says clearly:

“I and my Father are one.” (John 10:30)

With the process of cell-division in mind, all these statements become clearer to us. And they shine in even brighter light as you will see.

The Holy Spirit

Why is there no Holy Spirit in the Old Testament? This question opened the door for many discussions, and whole libraries have been written about it. This subject brought Christianity to the verge of ruin. The personality of the Holy Spirit is a hot topic today, and views on the subject have even become a line of demarcation between different groups of professed Christians.

There are just a few places where the term “holy spirit” appears in the Old Testament, and it is always associated with the Person of God, not as an independent Person (Psalm 51:11, Isaiah 63:10-11, Daniel 4:8-9,18, 5:11). The "Spirit of God" is mentioned in the Old Testament several times, firstly during the creation account:

“And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.” (Genesis 1:2)

But God is Spirit:

“God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.” (John 4:24)

When God divided into the Father and the Son before creation, both were “Spirit” even the SAME Spirit. So when Genesis 1:2 speaks about the Creator “Spirit” it speaks about the Son “Spirit” and not about the “Holy Spirit” as the third Person of the Godhead.

Sister White makes the following statement that gives room for the many anti-Trinitarians in our midst, but we will counter them with just a few arguments.

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. He would represent Himself as present in all places by His Holy Spirit, as the Omnipresent. “But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in My name, He shall (although unseen by you), [this phrase was added by Ellen White.] teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you” [John 14:26]. “Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will come not unto you; but if I depart, I will send Him unto you” [John 16:7]. {14MR 23.3}

How can the Holy Spirit be Jesus HIMSELF? The anti-Trinitarians immediately explain: "Ha, now you see the Holy Spirit is just a force!" They already forgot how God divides and didn’t notice that the Word of God, the Holy Bible, tells us even the very moment when the Son divided again:

“And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.” (Luke 1:35) Jesus - Holy Ghost

Indeed the Son divided into “Jesus” and the “Holy Ghost” at the very moment when the Son overshadowed Mary. Of course you can exchange the names interchangeably because all Persons of the Godhead are made of the same substance and have the same genetic makeup! The Son was the Holy Ghost as well as Jesus at the same time!

It requires wisdom to understand this. Now the statement of Ellen White becomes completely clear to 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. {14MR 23.3}

Just Jesus adopted for eternity the human body! But the Holy Ghost is the same Son as eons before. Jesus and the Holy Spirit are both the Creator!

All these hard to understand and apparent contradictions in the Bible are solved now in a harmonious way! We just have been too blind to see that it was always true and important what Sister White told us:

The book of nature, which spread its living lessons before them, afforded an exhaustless source of instruction and delight. On every leaf of the forest and stone of the mountains, in every shining star, in earth and sea and sky, God’s name was written. With both the animate and the inanimate creation—with leaf and flower and tree, and with every living creature, from the leviathan of the waters to the mote in the sunbeam—the dwellers in Eden held converse, gathering from each the secrets of its life. God’s glory in the heavens, the innumerable worlds in their orderly revolutions, “the balancings of the clouds” (Job 37:16), the mysteries of light and sound, of day and night—all were objects of study by the pupils of earth’s first school. {Ed 21.3}

The messages of the Clock of God in Orion and the Vessel of Time (High Sabbath List) both bear the name of their Author. In the three belt stars of Orion, and in the triplet years of the High Sabbath List, the three independent Persons of the Godhead are represented. The three messages themselves each tell the story of their respective Person: The Clock of God in Orion tells the story of what Jesus did and is doing right now. The High Sabbath List shows how the Holy Spirit has been cleaning the church in seven steps. And the great theme about the Last Generation Theology reveals the mysteries of the Father’s great trial in which He has to be justified.

Christ Lives In Us

Jesus explained to us that He had to die in order for us to receive the Holy Spirit:

“Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you.” (John 16:7)

When Jesus became a man, He gave up permanently His divine nature (as we explained in detail in the section "At The Cross"). That divine (omnipresent) nature that He laid aside was none other than the Holy Spirit. The Son in becoming Jesus laid aside the Holy Spirit.

Jesus, suffering and dying, heard every word as the priests declared, “He saved others; Himself He cannot save. Let Christ the King of Israel descend now from the cross, that we may see and believe.” Christ could have come down from the cross. But it is because He would not save Himself that the sinner has hope of pardon and favor with God. {DA 749.1}

Jesus took on humanity when He was incarnated, but through His life He maintained communion with divinity. Many times the Holy Spirit revealed things to Him that He wouldn’t have known in His human form. At any point up to His death Jesus could have changed His mind and gone back to heaven, reassuming the Holy Spirit again and remaining the Son in His omnipresent form. But when He died, He sealed His decision to take on the human nature and was separated from the divine nature.

The Son was separated for us, and the death of Jesus (the final separation) was the evidence of the covenant:

“And he said unto him, Take me an heifer of three years old, and a she goat of three years old, and a ram of three years old, and a turtledove, and a young pigeon. And he took unto him all these, and divided them in the midst, and laid each piece one against another: but the birds divided he not….And it came to pass, that, when the sun went down, and it was dark, behold a smoking furnace, and a burning lamp that passed between those pieces. In the same day the LORD made a covenant with Abram, saying, Unto thy seed have I given this land, from the river of Egypt unto the great river, the river Euphrates:” (Genesis 15:9-10,17-18)

Remember what Jesus said, that He had to die in order to send the Comforter to us. Jesus had to be separated from the Holy Spirit so that He could send the Holy Spirit to us! His death put the covenant into effect, just like how the burning lamp passed between the pieces of the sacrifice that had been separated to confirm the covenant with Abram.

(There is an excellent article about the process of separation that Jesus went through on the cross at http://www.teachinghearts.org)

Now we understand how Christ (the Son) lives in us! It is through the omnipresent Holy Spirit, which is the Son Himself divested of humanity, and which can dwell in us when we have prepared our heart by cleaning it of all sin:

“For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.” (2 Corinthians 4:7)

The Bible also tells us that our receiving the Holy Spirit is what seals us, and proves to us that our inheritance is sure:

“That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ. In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.” (Ephesians 1:12-14)

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