God Whom We Worship / The God We Worship.

Islip Collyer



God whom we Worship

This, is the most solemn subject of all, and it must be approached with reverence and circumspection. There is no reason, however, for feeling, as some do, that we ought not to discuss a matter so sacred. On the contrary, the best qualities of the human, mind should be enlisted in the effort to find the truth. We must worship the God who has revealed Himself, or surely our worship is vain. The Lord Jesus said in prayer: "This is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent." (John 17:3) In the effort to know God we must make proper use of the faculties He has already given, or we cannot expect to be the subjects of a special gift of illuminating grace.

The Bible tells us (Job 11:7) that no man, by searching, can find out God, and human experience confirms this verdict. Human reason may postulate the existence of a great Creator, but it can form no judgment as to His purpose. For that, we are entirely dependent on revelation.

Unfortunately, it is almost impossible for anyone to approach this matter with an unbiased, mind. Long before a student can search the Scriptures for himself he is familiar with the general views of his contemporaries. Before he reads in the Bible of the Fatherhood of God and the Sonship of Christ, he has been taught to connect certain ideas with these words. An unprejudiced judgment is almost impossible.

The majority of earnest Christian students, in these days, have been taught from infancy to believe the doctrine of the Trinity. They come to regard it as a sacred mystery which must not be called in question, however incomprehensible and unbelievable it may appear. It is quite natural for such students to attempt to bring all Scripture into harmony with this conception of God. Always, it is assumed, that the onus of proof lies wholly with those who venture to call the doctrine of the Trinity in question.

A little reflection should convince anyone that this is not a reasonable attitude. It is true that the voice of man ¡ª Egypt, Babylon, India ¡ª has spoken in favour of some form of trinity, but when we discuss Bible subjects, the opinions of men count for nothing. The Bible says that the wisdom of man is foolishness with God. Plainly, the onus of proof lies with those who affirm that, in this matter, human traditions chance to be right.

Reflect for a few minutes on what is involved in this doctrine of the Trinity. We will state the case reverently, but we will try to state it plainly. We are asked to believe a proposition which seems not only mysterious, but contradictory. We are asked to believe that Jesus Christ was very God, yet, He was conceived in the womb of a human virgin and born as a helpless babe. He was nursed and nourished as other children, "increasing in wisdom" as He increased in stature. Finally, He died on the cross, saying with His last breath, " my God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? " (Mark 15:34)

What do theologians mean when they affirm that the one who so lived and so died was " very God," co-equal with the Father from all eternity ? To one who has not been cradled in Trinitarian belief such propositions seem self-destructive. Surely, if God required us to believe in the Trinity, He would teach the doctrine in plain language.

Even the fact of the Creator's existence is taught  plainly and reiterated in the Bible. "I am the Lord." "I am God and there is none beside me." (Isaiah 44:21) Such expressions are frequent in Scripture. The greatness, power and knowledge of God are all emphasised in language that cannot be mistaken. If we are to believe that God, supremely great, wise and powerful, in some way became a human baby and was born of a woman, we may surely expect that the doctrine will be taught in plain language. We may not reasonably expect to understand the details, but where is a plain affirmation of the fact?

All students are aware that the Bible does not contain any such affirmation of the doctrine of the Trinity. There is no language used in any way comparable to that of the Athanasian Creed. When a supporter of the Trinity is challenged to defend his belief from Scripture, he quotes passages from which inferences may be drawn in harmony with his creed, but which, certainly, played no part in forming it.

The favourite passages for such a purpose are those in which a form of language is used agreeable with the idea that Christ existed as a person, previous to His birth. The same form of language is often employed, however, where no such doctrine is involved. When we read in the book of Genesis : " Kings shall come out of thy loins," everyone understands the sense in which the words are used. When, however, the Lord Jesus expresses the truth of His divine origin in similar language, " I came forth from God," it is regarded as . proof that He came as a personality before being born as a baby. There is nothing to favour such a construction except the natural prejudice of opinions in which people have been nurtured.

Most of the passages quoted by Trinitarians are of this character. Often there is a companion passage which might have been designed to correct misconceptions and show the true meaning.

Thus, the Lord Jesus said: "I and my Father are one," (John 17:11) but He also prayed that the disciples might be one, even as He was one with the Father. He spoke of ¡°Glory I had with thee before the world was," (John 17:5) but the Apostle Paul also used the same language regarding the brethren, (Romans 8:30) showing that it was in the foreknowledge of God that Christ and all His disciples lived before the foundation of the world. The Apostle Peter so speaks regarding Christ: "Who, verily, was fore-ordained before the foundation of the world but was manifest in these last times." (1 Peter 1:20)

Jesus said : " I have power to lay down my life and I have power to take it again," (John 10:18) but He also added, " This commandment have I received of my Father." (also John 10:18) He said : "I am from above," but He immediately added, " ye are from beneath." Their life and character was from beneath, so that they were entirely earthly ; His life and character were direct from God, so that He was the Lord from Heaven. Jesus said that the Feather had sent Him into the world, but He added " even so, have I sent you into the world." In neither case are we to suppose the existence of the personality previous to birth.

In this manner, if space permitted, we might examine all the popular texts quoted in support of the Trinity. They are passages which admit of a Trinitarian interpretation, but which do not teach that doctrine and certainly played no part in forming the opinions of those who quote them. Very many people come to the Bible to find arguments in support of their convictions rather than to ascertain what their convictions should be.

Try, for a little while, to imagine the case of a man who has no prejudices studying the Bible to find the truth revealed regarding God and Jesus Christ. Surely He would study the law given to Israel as the first step towards finding the true God. He would read the records of the birth of Christ to find exactly who Christ was.

This is only common sense. If we have a reliable biography of a man, we can soon ascertain who his parents were if we will consult the chapter dealing with his birth. We must not bring a theory from outside and then try to find odd passages in the book that can be made to harmonise. Consult the first proclamation of a law to find the authority of the law-giver. Go to the account of a man's birth to find a plain statement of his ancestry.

If we adopt such a method with the Bible we are left in no doubt as to the only true God and Jesus Christ whom He has sent. God made proclamation to Israel : " Hear, O Israel, the Lord your God is one Lord." (Deut 6:4) This doctrine was supported by all the prophets. There were many angels, who, being sent by God, could speak the words of God, but it is always made clear, that, above them all, was one supreme God and Creator. The Jews recognised no Trinity.

If we turn to the record of Christ's birth, the account of His ancestry is as explicit as anything that has ever been written. " The Holy Spirit shall come upon thee,'' said the angel to Mary. ''The Power of the Highest shall overshadow thee, therefore that holy thing that shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God." (Luke 1:35)

Even a man who holds the doctrine of the Trinity may well pause at these words. Why should the third person of the Trinity come upon Mary in order that the second person of the Trinity should be born of her? And why is that word "therefore" there?

Try, however, to put yourself in the place of a man with no pre-conceived opinions to defend, searching the Scriptures in the pursuit of truth. In the Old Testament it is made clear that God is One. By the power of his Spirit He knows all and can perform according to His will. In Psalm 139 there is a wonderful description of the spirit filling the universe, and in its penetrating powers being equal to the actual presence of God. This Spirit came upon prophets to make them speak divine truth. It is constantly referred to as the "Word of the Lord." But, although God's word was spoken, men all sinned, and no one was found to carry out God's will perfectly. The word became articulate, the word became writing, but in Old Testament times it was never made flesh.

The student passes on to the New Testament Scriptures to read of the Saviour provided by God. He learns there, that the Holy Spirit came upon a chosen virgin of the house of Israel, not merely to make her speak the words of God, but to make her conceive a son without ever having known man. The child born was, therefore, to be called the Son of God. He was born as a babe, nourished according to nature, and as He grew He increased in wisdom and in favour. Early He showed His superiority to other children. He grew to manhood and constantly proclaimed His dependence on the Father who had sent Him.

"The words that I speak. I speak not of myself. The Father that dwelleth in me, He doeth the works." (John 14:10)

"My Father is greater than I." (John 14:28)  

"Of that day and hour knoweth no man, no not the angels which are in Heaven, neither the Son, but the Father." (Mark 13:32)

Even after His resurrection from the dead, when the days of fleshly weakness were over, He speaks of ascending " to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God." Even after the ascension, the book of Revelation is described as " the revelation of Jesus Christ which God gave to Him." In that book we still have the expression, " My God." (Rev. 4:12)

If the student pursues the matter further, studying the writings of the apostles, he will find the plainest of re-affirmations of the truth. " To us, there is but one God, the Father, and one Lord Jesus Christ." " There is one God and one mediator between God and man, the man Christ Jesus." (l Cor. 11:6)

These statements are in harmony with Christ's own presentation of the matter. He addressed the Father as " the only true God." In claiming power over all flesh, He made it clear that this authority was given Him by the Father. In harmony with this, the Apostle Paul, in writing of the time of the end when death shall be finally vanquished, states that God will put all things under Christ. He points out a truth that should be manifest, that God, being the giver of this subjecting power, is obviously excepted from the " all things " that are to be subjected. When all the works of creation are finally subdued by Christ, then, the Son shall be subject to the one who put all things under Him, that "God may be all in all." (l Cor. 15:28). Study these words of the Apostle. They cannot be harmonised with the Trinitarian view, but they blend perfectly with the true doctrine of the Bible.

A man who could study the Word of God entirely without prejudice would assuredly find no difficulty in grasping its teaching. One God with supreme power and understanding. One spirit or emanating power of God, carrying the searching knowledge of the Eternal to the desert, to the grave, or to the uttermost part of the sea, filling even the darkness with a divine light of knowledge and power as if the very presence of the Creator were there. (Ps. 139)

By His Holy Spirit, God made chosen servants speak His Word. By the same Holy Spirit He made a chosen virgin give birth to a Son who was, therefore, called the Son of God. By the in-dwelling power of His Spirit, He gave the Son wisdom and strength, so that He became a perfect manifestation of the divine character, the Word of God in the form of a man. By the same power He will put all things under the feet of this perfect mediator until the time when the last enemy shall be destroyed. Then, the Son will " deliver up the kingdom to God, even the Father," and God will be " all in all." (1 Cor. 15:28)

When we recognise the truth that Christ was begotten by the Holy Spirit of God as taught in the Gospel narrative of His birth, all that is written regarding Him becomes intelligible. He was the living Word, as the Bible is the written Word. He was the perfect expression of the will of God in the form of a man. He was '' God with us,''¡ªa manifestation of the character (Luke 1:80), of the Father in a living conscious being, who really grew in knowledge and increased in wisdom, (Luke 2:52), who really suffered and overcame, really died and was raised to life again.

Beware of any doctrine which shall, in effect, deny that the Father is the only true God, and that Jesus is the Son who can reveal the Creator to us. Remember that the Lord Jesus, in praying to the Father, said, " This is life eternal, that they might know Thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom Thou hast sent.




(original booklet ends with ¡°Issued by the Christadelphian Auxiliary Lecturing Society. Secretary: W. H. Hill, 45, Bayswater Road,  Birchfields, Birmingham, who will be pleased to answer any questions the interested reader may address to him.¡±) This address is now c/o 404 Shaftmoor Lane, Birmingham B28 8 SZ.