The Key to Bible Understanding

CHAPTER V

THE KEYS OF THE KINGDOM

1. What are the keys of the Kingdom and in what sense were they entrusted to Peter?

The primary answer is that keys are always for the purpose of unlocking.

2. Does Peter, then, possess the gate to heaven and have the authority to grant an entrance at his own discretion?

Absolutely not. Christ alone is judge and he alone can say "enter the Kingdom prepared for you." Also, observe that "keys" is in the plural. If heaven had a gate presided over by Peter there would surely be but one "key."

3. Why then did Jesus say "keys?"

To answer this we must take note of the entire context and read Matt. 16:14-19.

4. Then do we not read that Christ promised to build his Church upon Peter, the Rock?

No. That popular interpretation is not based upon the facts. First, because Christ himself is the foundation. "Other foundation can no man lay than that is laid which is Jesus Christ." (I Cor. 3:11)

5. What then did Jesus mean?

Jesus was affirming that his Church would be built upon the great foundation truth which Peter had just uttered.

6. What was this truth?

"Thou art the Christ, the Son of the Living God."

7. What exactly does the Christ mean?

The word "Christ" means "anointed." The Hebrew word for which is "Messiah." This properly understood conveys a great meaning.

8. What does "Messiah" mean?

Webster's Dictionary gives this definition "The expected King and Deliverer of the Hebrews; the Christ."

9. Did Peter understand this?

Yes, when Peter said "Thou art the Christ" (the Messiah) he was acknowledging that Jesus was the promised "seed," the promised king, in fact the one in whom all God's purpose would be consummated.

10. After saying "the Christ" Peter added "The Son of the Living God." Is that significant?

Very. The fact that Jesus is the Son of God is really the Rock upon which Christ's church is built. Peter was true to the meaning of his name and showed himself a lesser "rock" by expressing his firm belief in the fact that Jesus was not only the promised Messiah but actually the Son of the living God. However, the great Rock is all the truth concerning Christ–not Peter.

11. How did Peter know that Christ was the Son of God?

Jesus said, "The Father revealed it unto him." (Math-16:17)

12. Did God reveal this truth to Peter by direct revelation or through the prophetic Word?

Probably by both means.

13. Where do we read in the Old Testament that the promised Messiah would be the Son of God?

This is the outstanding promise of the covenant God made with David. Speaking of David's seed who would sit on David's throne forever, God said. "I will be his Father and he shall be my Son." (II Sam. 7:14)

14. Was Peter familiar with this promise?

Yes. Peter was very familiar with the Covenant God made with David. Being filled with the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost he said of David, "being a prophet and knowing that God had sworn with an oath unto him that of the fruit of his loins according to the flesh he would raise up Christ to sit on his throne." (Acts 2:30)

15. Have we further evidence that God would fulfill the covenant made with David?

Yes. When the time came to raise up the One who was to be the Son of God and also the fruit of David's loins, God sent his angel Gabriel to a virgin of the house of David to tell her that she was to bear a son, who would "be great and shall be called the Son of the Highest and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David, and of his kingdom there shall be no end." (Luke 1:32) Note he was to be the Son of the Highest (Son of God. v 35) as well as the Son of David just as had been promised in the covenant with David. (II Sam. 7:12-16)

16. This is a satisfactory explanation of the Rock upon which Christ's Church is built, but what of the gates of hell that will not prevail against it?

It is plain from other answers in this book that hell spoken of here is Hades–the grave. The grave can never prevail against Christ's church because he is "The Resurrection and the Life." Though members of his church sleep in the dust of the grave, "the dead in Christ shall rise." (I Thess. 4:16) The grave has only a temporary hold on Christ's church as Jesus said, "This is the Father's will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me, I should lose nothing but should raise it up again at the last day. " (John 6:39.)

17. Now, what of the keys of the Kingdom of heaven? Why does Jesus use the plural and how did Peter use them?

As stated at the first, keys are used for the purpose of unlocking. This unlocking of the way to the Kingdom was necessary on behalf of humanity who are sinners and in ignorance of the way. Humanity in God's sight consisted of two classes of people, Jew and Gentile. It was in God's purpose that both classes were to have the way of salvation opened to them, therefore two keys were necessary.

18. But what of Peter? Was he instrumental in this unlocking or expounding the way to enter the path that leads to eternal life in God's Kingdom?

Yes, indeed. Jesus said that the preaching in his name should begin at Jerusalem, so we find Peter there at the right time to use the first key.

19. How was this done?

When the Jews were convinced that they, as a nation, had crucified their Messiah they said, "Men and brethren what shall we do?" (Acts 2:37) Observe they were in ignorance; they asked what to do; in other words something needed to be unlocked for them.

20. But the people asked all the apostles what to do, addressing "men and brethren." Was not Peter presumptious to do all the answering?

No. Peter answered because his master had entrusted to him "the keys." One was needed now and was used to open to the Jews the way to the Kingdom.

21. How did Peter use the key?

By giving the necessary information "Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is unto you and to your children and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord your God shall call." Acts 2:38-39)

22. Did the Jews understand that something had been "unlocked" or opened to their understanding?

Yes. "Then they that gladly received his (Peter's) word were baptized."

23. In the above passages what did Peter mean by "all that are afar off?"

He meant the Gentiles who were far off from God, but whom it was God's purpose soon to receive.

24. Have we further proof of this?

Yes. Writing to the Gentile Ephesians, Paul says "Ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ." (Eph. 2:13)

25. Did Peter unlock the door of salvation for the Gentiles the same day he unlocked it for the Jews?

No. Not until sometime later. It required another key, hence Christ spoke of the keys of the Kingdom.

26. When and where did Peter use the key for the Gentiles?

In the home of Cornelius.

27. How could Cornelius be sure that Peter would tell him the proper thing to do?

Because God sent an angel to tell Cornelius that Peter would tell him what he ought to do. (Acts 10:6)

28. If God sent an angel to Cornelius, why did not the angel explain to him what to do?

Because Jesus had given Peter the keys and it was his right (not even an angel's) to unlock the way of salvation now to the Gentiles, just as he had previously done for the Jews.

29. Was it difficult for Peter to understand that a key was to be used to unlock the way of salvation to the Gentiles?

Yes, even Peter who had the key required a special revelation from God before he dared to use it.

30. Was he finally convinced?

He was. "Peter opened his mouth and said of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons." (Acts 10:34)

31. What other things did Peter say to Cornelius?

They are not all recorded but he reminds him of all the "word" which was published throughout all Judea and Galilee by Jesus Christ which "word" of course is the Gospel of the Kingdom which Jesus went everywhere preaching. (Mark 1:14)

32. What was the final result of this preaching and unlocking of the way to the Kingdom?

And Peter "commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord." (Acts 10:48) The door was opened and they entered therein.

Table of Contents | Top of Page



CHAPTER VI

BAPTISM

1. Is baptism essential to salvation?

Yes. The one baptism is closely connected with other elements of truth, One Lord, one faith. (Eph. 4:5)

2. Did Christ give a command concerning baptism?

"Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel . . . He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved." (Mark 16:15-16) Saved from what? Condemnation in Adam. At this stage in the race for eternal salvation, Paul makes it very clear in Rom. 8:1, "There is, therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus." There never can be any more Adamic condemnation, for baptism into Christ saved from that.

3. Is baptism Holy Spirit, or water baptism?

Water baptism. The Commission Christ gave was, "Go teach and baptize" the taught ones. Men cannot baptize with the Holy Spirit, so water baptism is the one practiced after Pentecost and the teachers did the baptizing.

4. Can you give examples of water baptism?

The Eunuch said to Philip, "See, here is water, what doth hinder me to be baptized?" (Acts 8:36) "And they both went down into the water, both Philip and the Eunuch, and he baptized him." (Acts 8:38)

5. What is the meaning and mode of baptism?

Baptize, from the Greek Bapto, baptizo. All authorities translate it by the word immerse, dip or plunge, not one by sprinkle or pour–Diaglott.

6. What is the symbolic meaning of baptism?

It symbolizes the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ. "Know ye not, that so many of us were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore, we are buried with him by baptism into death; that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also would walk in newness of life." (Rom. 6:4)

7. Without the shedding of blood is no remission. (Heb. 9:22 How and when does one come in contact with Christ's blood?

Not literally, of course, but symbolically when we are baptized into Christ's death where his blood was poured out.

8. Is infant baptism, i.e. sprinkling water on the head of a baby, scriptural?

Nowhere in the Bible is it commanded or referred to. Dean Stanley of Westminster admitted that the method practiced by the apostles was immersion–but that the adoption of sprinkling was a "triumph of convenience and common sense."

9. Has any man a right to substitute "convenience and common sense" for God's commands?

No man has that right. If he can change the mode of baptism, he could change anything else that God has commanded. "If any man shall take away from the words of the book – God shall take away his part out of the book of life." (Rev. 22:19)

10. Why was Christ baptized?

When John the Baptist was preaching, "Then went out unto him Jerusalem and all Judea, and all the region round about Jordan; and they were baptized of him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins." Jesus demanded baptism at the hands of John; and when John remonstrated, Jesus said, "Thus it becometh us to fulfill all righteousness." "And when Jesus was baptized, he went up straightway out of the water; and lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him. And, lo, a voice from heaven saying: This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased." (Math. 3:13-17) Christ was never called the beloved Son until after he was baptized. Jesus had no sins to be forgiven but in submitting to the ordinance of baptism, he gave his sanction to an element in the divine plan of salvation, also acknowledging His likeness of nature with those he came to redeem. (Heb. 2:14)

11. When did Christian baptism begin?

At Pentecost. Before Jesus went to heaven, he gave this command. "And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem." (Luke 24:47)

12. Why then did the twelve which Paul found at Ephesus have to be re-baptized? (Acts 19:1-5)

They knew nothing of Christian baptism which started at Pentecost, and it was after Pentecost when they were baptized unto John's baptism, so "they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus." (Acts 19:5)

13. Is baptism in any way connected with the promises made to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob ages before Pentecost?

Note carefully what Paul wrote to the Galatians, Chapter 3:27-29, "For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ . . . and if you be Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise." What promise? See Gen. 13:14, 15, 17. Gal. 3:16 tells us that Abraham's seed is Christ and in Christ we become heirs and if found faithful, will inherit the land promised to Abraham. Jesus said, "Blessed are the meek for they shall inherit the earth." (Math. 5:5)

14. How does the case of Cornelius emphasize the importance of baptism?

Take a look at this man, and his family. "A devout man and one that feared God with all his house, which gave alms to the people and prayed to God always." (Acts 10:2)

15. Wasn't Cornelius in a saved condition?

No. An angel directed him to send men to Joppa and call for Simon, a tanner, and "he shall tell thee what thou oughtest to do." (Acts 10:5-6) While Peter was speaking to Cornelius, the Holy Spirit fell on them that heard the word and Peter commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord. The fact that the Holy Spirit, came upon them that heard the word did not do away with water baptism, for Peter asked: "Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized, which have received the Holy Spirit as well as we? And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord." (Acts 10:47-48) Cornelius, after baptism in water, starts out a new creature in Christ Jesus. Baptism is no guarantee of eternal life. One must run the race successfully and at the resurrection mortality gives place to immortality–eternal life.

16. Is knowledge necessary before baptism?

"Philip went down to the city of Samaria, and preached Christ unto them." (Acts 8:5) The 12th verse in the same chapter reads: "But when they believed Philip preaching the things concerning the Kingdom of God, and the name of Jesus Christ they were baptized, both men and women." For the meaning of the things concerning the Kingdom of God, see question 28 in Chapter 4.

17. Is the gift of the Holy Spirit essential to entering the way of salvation?

No. "When the apostles which were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent unto them Peter and John; who, when they were come down, prayed for them, that they might receive the Holy Spirit; for as yet he was fallen upon none of them; only they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus." (Acts 8:14-16)

18. After one understands the meaning of the things concerning the Kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ and is baptized (immersed in water), is his eternal salvation secure, or does he have "to work out his salvation with fear and trembling?" (Phil. 2:12)

As a new creature in Christ Jesus, here are a few things one must do. Rejoice in the Lord always; cultivate the spirit of Christ without which you are none of his; do all things without murmurings and disputings; put on the whole armor of God so you will be strong in the Lord and in the power of his might; study to show yourself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth; shun the works of the flesh but cultivate the fruits of the Spirit; love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance; and "as we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all, especially unto them who are of the household of faith." (Gal. 6:10)

19. Can you mention a few things believers are exhorted to do for each other?

"Be kindly affectioned one to another." ( Rom. 12:10) "Love one another." (Rom. 13:8) "Be like minded one toward another." (Rom. 15:5) "Receive ye one another." (Rom. 15:7) "Care for one another." (I Cor. 12:25) Forbearing one another in love." (Eph. 4:2) "Forgiving one another." (Col. 3:13) "Comfort one another." (I Thes. 4:18) "Consider one another." (Heb. 10:24) "Use hospitality one to another." (I Pet. 4:9) "And above all things have fervent charity (love) among yourselves; for love shall cover a multitude of sins." (I Peter 4:8)

20. If one is scripturally baptized into Christ, will that person be resurrected?

Yes. "In Christ shall all be made alive." (I Cor. 15:22) The one made alive–if "faithful unto death," will be given a "crown of life." (Rev. 2:10) "He that overcometh shall not be hurt of the second death." (Rev. 2:11)

Table of Contents | Top of Page



CHAPTER VII

PRAYER

1. What is the purpose of prayer?

Prayer is to acknowledge and glorify God, seek divine guidance, ask God's forgiveness and forbearance, and to make request for such temporal blessings as God knows we are in need of. (See the Lord's prayer).

2. Is prayer a duty or a privilege?

Certainly the followers of Christ must consider prayer a duty for Christ admonished his followers on this wise, "Men ought always to pray." (Luke 18:1) We also have the words of Paul, "Pray without ceasing." (I Thess. 5:17) However, prayer is much more than a duty. It is one of the most glorious privileges that the brethren of Christ are permitted to enjoy in this dispensation.

3. What is the meaning of Paul's words, "Pray without ceasing." (I Thess. 5:17)

In this statement, Paul seems to have been telling the brethren that they could never reach a stage when prayer could be eliminated from their lives. They could no more cease making prayer a regular part of their spiritual lives than they could cease making eating and sleeping a regular part of their natural lives.

4. What are some of the qualifications of an acceptable prayer?

An acceptable prayer must be addressed to the One God of the Bible (John 17:3), it must be addressed in the name of Christ (I Tim. 2:5), and it must be in absolute conformity to God's revealed plan and purpose.

5. Is it necessary for us to pray for something God has already promised would come to pass?

Yes, we should even pray for those things which God has already predetermined should come to pass. An excellent example of this is "Thy Kingdom come." (Lord's prayer).

6. Does the prayer of the righteous actually avail anything?

Yes, "The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much." (James 5:16)

7. Are we permitted to pray for specific temporal blessings?

No. We are to pray for God to provide us with such blessings as he knows we are in need of. (Matt. 6:8) "Give us this day our daily bread." (Lord's prayer)

8. Are we allowed to indulge in self-glorification in prayer?

No. Consider the case of the Pharisee and the publican. (Luke 18:10-14)

9. Can you repeat the Lord's prayer? Have you carefully considered its meaning?

10. What specific promise concerning prayer has been made to the righteous?

"For the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and his ears are open unto their prayers." (I Pet. 3:12)

Table of Contents | Top of Page



CHAPTER VIII

THE TRINITY

1. Who, or what, is "The Trinity?"

The Athanasian Creed, which is accepted by the majority of the Churches professing to be Christian, furnishes an authoritative answer. It states:

"We worship one God in Trinity and Trinity in Unity there is one person of the Father, another of the Son; and another of Holy Ghost. But the Godhead of the Father, of the Son and of the Holy Ghost is all one; . . . so the Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Ghost is God, and yet there are not three Gods, but one God . . . And in this Trinity none is afore or after the other, none is greater or less than another, but the whole three Persons are co-eternal together and co-equal."

2. Are people expected to use their God-given faculties and apply the test of reason to their beliefs?

While there are undoubtedly things which man's finite mind cannot fully grasp we are not asked to believe things that are contrary to reason. This is evident from such passages as Isaiah 1:18, where God, through the prophet, exhorts Israel to "Come now, and let us reason together."

3. Was this practice followed in Apostolic times?

Yes. Acts 17:2 tells us: "Paul, as his manner was, went in unto them, and three Sabbath days reasoned with them out of the Scriptures." (See also Acts 18:4 and 19) He further exhorted the converts to "'prove all things" in connection with their beliefs. (I Thess. 5:21)

He did not ask or expect his followers to blindly accept his teachings as a matter of faith. On the contrary he commended those at Berea because "they received the word (i.e. his teachings), with all readiness of mind and searched the Scriptures daily, whether those things were so;" (Acts 17:11) – a process which required considerable intelligent reasoning.

4. What saith The Scriptures regarding the Athanasian Creed's affirmation that He (God) is made up of three persons–the Father, the Son (i.e. Jesus Christ) and the Holy Ghost (or Spirit)?

First Corinthians 8:6 particularizes most definitely that the one God is the Father, NOT a combination of Father, Son and Holy Spirit; in fact, to put the matter beyond any possibility of misunderstanding Paul goes on to show that our Lord Jesus Christ is not only quite a different person from God-the Father, but also that he is not God at all. "There is but one God, the Father . . . and one Lord Jesus Christ." Further, in First Timothy 2:5, Paul confirms this, saying: "For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus."

These Scriptures thus clearly teach that there is only one God, that the one God is the Father, and that Jesus Christ our Lord is not God, but that he is the son of God. (The expressions "God, the Son," and "God the Holy Ghost" (or Spirit) used in the Creed, do not appear anywhere in the Bible.

5. Are the Father and Son Co-eternal?

God (i. e. the Father (I Cor. 8:6), has always existed, and so the word "eternal" may properly be applied to Him, but not to His Son; in fact the very word "Father" signifies one from whom life proceeds and "Son" one to whom life is given by the Father. There must therefore have been a time when the Father existed and the Son did not. The Scriptures repeatedly refer to Jesus as begotten of God, e.g., John 3:16; 1 John 4:9. Since, therefore, (as the Athanasian Creed itself states) Jesus was begotten of the Father, the thought of his being co-eternal with the Father was never intended to be conveyed and is Scripturally unsound.

6. Are the Father and Son Co-equal?

In I John 4:9, 14, we are told that God (or the Father) "sent His only begotten Son into the world." Surely it would be an unreasonable supposition that one co-equal God would or could send another co-equal God.

Jesus himself said: "I can of mine own self do nothing." (John 5:30) "My Father is greater than I." (John 14:28) Further, Jesus knew and taught that there was only one God-the Father. That is why Jesus said to Mary "Go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father, and to my God, and your God." (John 20:17) This definitely contradicts the idea of equality. The inferiority of Jesus as compared with "The Father" is further borne out when we read in connection with the resurrection, "This Jesus hath God raised up . . . Therefore being by the right hand of God exalted . . ." (Acts 2:32-33) If Jesus himself were God, (which he never claimed to be), how could he have exalted himself by his own right hand? This absurdity is further emphasized in Phil. 2:9, where we read: "God . . . hath highly exalted him (Jesus), and given him a name which is above every name" and again in Heb. 1:3-4, He (Jesus) "sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high; being made so much better than the angels."

These Scriptures clearly show that Jesus is neither God nor co-equal with God, and it is of special importance to note that the words "on the right hand of the Majesty on high" prove that he is not himself the Majesty on high, who is God, that is the one God-the Father. Notice also that the words "being made" so much better than the angels definitely indicate a power greater than he, who actually did the work of making him (at his resurrection) so much better than the angels. At his birth, through the Spirit of God, Jesus had been "made a little lower than the angels (i.e. a man) . . . that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man." (Heb. 2:9) On the other hand it was at his resurrection that he was highly exalted, and made so much better than the angels.

Further, when Jesus instructed his disciples as to how to pray, he envisions only the Father: "Our Father which art in heaven hallowed be thy name . . . Thy will be done . . ." (Matt. 6:9-10) Surely this disregard would be most disparaging to God the Son and God the Holy Spirit, if such Gods existed and were co-equal with the Father. We can be quite sure, however, that Jesus knew that there is only one God, the Father, and that our prayers should be to Him, through and in the name of our Saviour and Mediator, Jesus Christ, the Father's Son.

We may also reasonably ask ourselves: If Jesus was himself God, why did he say: "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" (Mark 15:34) He could not forsake himself; and one God could not forsake another co-equal person in the same God. It is on record in John 17:1-3 that Jesus in his prayer to the Father said: "that they might know THEE, THE ONLY TRUE GOD, and Jesus Christ whom Thou HAST SENT." Thus does Jesus tell us that lie himself was not God, but that he was sent by the only true God-The Father. All other gods are therefore false gods.

Many other Scriptures show that Jesus is not on an equality with God, but two more will suffice for our purpose. Paul, in I Cor. 15:24-25, tells us that after Christ has reigned over the Kingdom of God on earth until all enemies have been put under his feet, he will then deliver "up the kingdom to God, even the Father." Notice, he does not deliver up the kingdom to God, even the Father, Son and Holy Ghost. Furthermore, it would be unreasonable in any case to suppose that he would deliver the kingdom to himself which he would have to do if he were God. It will also be noticed that the very fact of delivering up the kingdom to God, even the Father, shows that he is not equal to the Father, while the words "God, even the Father" substantiate I Cor. 8:4 and 6 in its claim that "there is one God, the Father." Finally, to clinch the matter, Paul in I Cor. 15:28 tells us, "then shall the Son (Jesus) also himself be subject unto Him (the Father), that God (the Father) may be all in all." We conclude, therefore, that Jesus Christ (1) Is not God (who is ONE, even the Father) and (2) Is not co-equal with God; but is the Son of God, second in position to the Father.

7. Is the Holy Ghost a God co-equal with God the Father?

We should keep in mind that the translators of the Authorized Version of our Bible believed in the Trinity, and instead of invariably translating the Greek word "pneuma" as "spirit" they used in many cases the rather objectionable word "ghost," thus conjuring up a shadowy and tenuous substance which tends to give an individuality to God's holy spirit power.

If this holy spirit power is in reality a separate person, called "God the Holy Ghost" then it necessarily follows that, when the virgin Mary conceived as described in Luke 1:35, He (God the Holy Ghost) would be the father of our Lord Jesus Christ. However, it was the one God, the Father, who, by His limitless power or holy spirit, implanted the necessary life-seed in the virgin Mary and no other person. He did not implant in her another co-equal God.

8. Seeing that the doctrine of "The Trinity" is not Scriptural, how is it that so many professing Christians believe it? How did it originate?

Mr. Donovan Cox, in his excellent work entitled, "Who is the God of the Bible?" has this to say about The Origin of the Trinitarian doctrine:

"In Hislop's remarkable book, The Two Babylons, we see that the false Papal doctrines are based on the doctrines of Babylon; and, just as might be expected, we find that ancient Babylon had their Trinitarian doctrine. To express the theory of Trinity in Unity they utilized the equilateral triangle just as some Romish churches do now. The Papacy has in some of its churches an image of a triune God with three heads on one body. The Assyrians also had a triune emblem with the head of an old man (the Father), a zero or circle for 'the seed' or Son, and wings and tail of a bird for the spirit.

The Religious Dictionary of which the Rev. Dr. Lyman Abbott, a professed Trinitarian, was One of the compilers and editors, on page 944 says: 'It was not until the beginning of the fourth century that the Trinitarian view began to be elaborated and formulated into a doctrine and an endeavor made to reconcile it with the belief of the church in one God out of the attempt to solve this problem sprang the problem of Trinity . . . Trinity is a very marked feature in Hindooism, and is discernible in Persian, Egyptian, Roman, Japanese, Indian and most ancient Greek mythologies.'

"The Trinitarian doctrine with its three gods in one god was a device of the Roman Church borrowed from Babylon to appeal to the pagans, who already had a Trinity of heathen gods while at the same time they avoided antagonizing the Christians who believed in the one true god."

"The general acceptance of this doctrine since those days and the tenacity with which it is still held, is based upon the superstitious fear first inculcated by the Roman clergy, and later also by the Protestant clergy, under the threat that whoever denies the Trinity is doomed. And in case there is anyone who considers this to be an unreasonably strong and unwarranted statement it is only necessary to turn again to the Common Prayer Book and to read the Athanasian Creed which explicitly states that 'whosoever will be saved must believe in the Trinity, otherwise he shall perish everlastingly.' So firmly entrenched is this false doctrine which was promulgated by the Protestants as a legacy from the Papacy, and which is still held so tenaciously, that belief in this incomprehensible and unscriptural doctrine is made a test of orthodoxy. Whoever disbelieves is declared to be a heretic."

9. Does not 1st John 5:7 and 8 clearly teach the doctrine of the Trinity? It reads: "For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one. And there are three that bear witness in earth…"

Perhaps it should be pointed out now that the well-informed orthodox believer rarely quotes this passage in support of his or her belief in the Trinity, although it is the only place in the Bible where there is a definite statement purporting to show that God is a Trinity. Why? Because the words from "in heaven" to "in earth" are a interpolation. They are not found in the older MSS. The Revised Version of our Bible leaves the words out. Even with the Authorized Version, a good reference Bible such as "The Companion Bible" or "Schofield" will give a marginal note explaining that the words are an interpolation.

A typical note appears in "Schofield." "It is generally agreed that this verse has no authority." The "Companion Bible," on page 1876, says: "Omit all words from 'in heaven' to 'in earth' (verse 8) inclusive. The words are not found in any Greek MSS before the 16th century. They were first seen in the margin of some Latin copies. Thence they have crept into the text."

Neither Dr. James Moffatt, nor Ferrar Fenton, nor Dr. R. F. Weymouth, nor Dr. Robert Young, includes this text in his translation. The words do not appear in the oldest Greek MSS., viz, the Vatican MSS. No. 1209, nor the Sinaitic MSS., nor the Syriac. They are not in any of the Arabic, Ethiopic, Coptic, Sahadic, Armenian or Slavonic MSS. The only exception is the Vulgate (Latin), and even in this version many of the most ancient copies exclude them.

Out of several hundreds of the older MSS., the only one which includes these words is in Trinity College, Dublin. Thus the Papal influence can be seen, firstly in the Vulgate and secondly in Roman Catholic Dublin.

10. What about Matthew 28:19: Does not this teach the "Trinity?" It reads: "Go ye therefore and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit."

Does our Lord here say "three persons in one God" or "three co-equal persons?" NO! Then what right have we to infer that he meant it? It is no more than an inference. After all we believe in all three: we believe in The Father, the supreme One God; we believe in the Son of God, the Lord Jesus Christ; and we believe in the Holy Spirit of God, the divine power by which Jesus Christ and the Apostles were enabled to work miracles.

Such belief, however, does not necessarily carry with it the belief in a Trinity of co-equal, co-eternal persons.

Surely it is reading more into the Scripture than is actually there, to consider that a person or power is God, merely because we are baptized into it, or in the name of it. If that were the case. Moses and John the Baptist would be God. (1 Cor. 10:1, 2; Acts 19:3) The Greek for "unto" in 1st Cor. 10:2, and Acts 19:3, is "eis," exactly the same word as is used in Gal. 3:27; Acts 8:16, and Acts 19:5.

Thus the meaning of the text is plainly that those so baptized will accept nothing as a part of their religion except that which proceeds from God the Father, and which is either revealed through His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, or through the inspiration or power of the Holy Spirit of God working externally through miracles, and internally through the prophets and others so inspired.

Furthermore, if this text necessitates three co-equal persons, comprising one God, thus making the Spirit a person (and God), it is only reasonable to deduce that the water and the blood mentioned in 1st John 5:8 are also persons (and God) as they are not only here linked together but in addition are shown as three agreeing in one.

11. Does not the Bible, in various places, speak of Jesus as God? e. g. Hebrews 1:8 which reads: Unto the Son he saith, "Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever."

This is, of course, a quotation from Psalm 45:6, where the Hebrew word for "O God" is "Elohim". Now this word "elohim" together with "theos" its Greek equivalent in Hebrews 1:8, although frequently and properly applied to God Himself, may also be applied to those who are not the Supreme God. Therefore the application of "elohim" to Christ no more entitles him to equality with God than the use of the same word elohim to denote Moses, (Exodus 7:1) and for others, entitles them to equality with God. (See Psalm 8:5 where elohim is translated angels; and in Judges 13:22 translated God; Judges 16:23 twice translated God, referring to idols; Exodus 21:6, 22:8 and 22:9 translated "The Judges")

In the same way the use of the word, Theos, in connection with Christ is no stronger proof that he was a person in a triune God than it is that the adversary of God and of Christ who is called "the god (theos) of this world," (2 Cor. 4:4) was also a person in such a Trinity, or that men, of whom Christ himself quoted, "Ye are gods," (John 10:34) quoting from Psalm 82:6, are entitled to equality with God. Furthermore, those who turn up John 10:34 will notice that Jesus goes on to say in verse 36: "because I said, I am the Son of God." Please remember the Jews had just challenged him with making himself God. His reply is surely a clear denial of this. Had Jesus in fact been God he would surely have said so and not attempted to mislead them with a half-truth. However, we are fully satisfied that Jesus spoke the whole truth when he said I am the Son of God.

Furthermore, if we return to Hebrews 1:8 and, instead of taking the verse by itself, read also the next verse, we notice the words, "Therefore God, even thy God, hath anointed thee…above thy fellows." So Jesus could not have been the supreme God seeing that we have here a God superior to him who anointed him. God (or the Father) was, of course, the Anointer, whereas Jesus, the Christ (i.e. the anointed) was by this very fact shown to be, not the supreme God, but the anointed of God–exalted above his fellows.

12. Does not John 1:1 teach the Trinity when it says: "in the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God?"

First, please notice that there are only two factors mentioned here, viz, the Word and God. At most, then, it could only teach a duality rather than a Trinity.

In the second place the term "logos" in Greek does not necessarily refer to a person e. g. Rom. 10:8 when it occurs twice and refers to the "word of faith" which the Apostles preached. So likewise in John 1:1 "the Word" (logos) does not represent a person but rather the spoken Word of The Father; (God spake and it was done, Psalm 33:9). Before the command goes forth from God it can be and is identified as being with or part of God (The Father).

There is thus only one person envisioned here and not a Trinity.

13. Since Jesus was God's Son, miraculously produced by the Father's Spirit power, would that make him God the Son?

No, not necessarily. Adam was produced by the same Spirit power and is called the Son of God. (see Luke 3:38) The only difference lay in the manner it operated. Further, the Scriptures show clearly that Jesus partook of the nature of his mother and not the divine nature. (Heb. 2:14-17)

14. But is not Jesus the "Word" or "logos" which was made flesh in the beginning? (John 1:14)

While this event was in the purpose or plan of God from the very beginning and was at various times foretold in prophecy, the actual event did not take place until "the beginning" of the Gospel dispensation, and then as described by Luke in chapter 1, verses 26 to 35. God (The Father) spake, i. e. gave the command to the angel Gabriel who conveyed the glad tidings to Mary and by the operation of God's almighty Spirit power God's Word, or command, was made flesh, i. e. the person of Jesus came into being "and dwelt among us (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father) full of grace and truth." (John 1:14)

15. What about those passages which speak of Jesus as having existed prior to New Testament times, for example, John 8:58: "Before Abraham was I am?" Does he not automatically claim to be God, by using the words, "I AM," of himself?

These same words occur in two other places in this very conversation, and once in the next chapter. (1) "For if ye believe not that I am He, ye shall die in your sins." (John 8:24) (2) "Then said Jesus unto them, "When ye have lifted up the Son of Man, then ye shall know that I am He, and that I do nothing of myself." (John 8:28) (3) "Some said this is He; others said, He is like him, but he said, I am He." (John 9:9)

Jesus is saying "I am he, the promised Messiah" but they rejected him.

Had the translators added the word "he" to John 8:58 making it read "Before Abraham was I am he" as they have done in the other three passages all exactly the same in the Greek (ego eimi), it would have been clear from the context that he was referring to himself not as God, but as the promised Messiah, predicted and predetermined before Abraham, "the lamb slain before the foundation of the world," (Rev. 13:8), and "who verily was fore-ordained before the foundation of the world." (I Peter 1:20)

16. Did not Jesus say, "I and my Father are one," (John 10:30), in this way claiming to be part of the One God?

If the fact that Jesus states that he and his Father are one proves that Jesus is God and on an equality with each other, then we shall find ourselves in grave difficulties.

Jesus, in prayer to the Father said: I pray "for them also which shall believe on me…that they all may be one; as Thou, Father, art in me, and in thee, that they also may be one in us; that they may be one, even as we are one; I in them and thou in Me, . . ." (John 17:20-23)

If, therefore, Jesus' statement in John 10:30, viz.: "I and my Father are one," proves that Jesus is God, co-equal with the Father, then his statement in John 17:20-23 quoted above equally proves that each member of the true church is God, co-equal with the Father, thus expanding the Trinity to an Infinity.

Jesus, however, was under no such illusion. He knew that God the Father was the only true God, but he also knew that there was complete harmony or oneness of spirit and purpose between himself and the Father. He carefully illustrated this in John 17:20-23, by speaking of the oneness (or harmony of spirit) of the true church, which could not be oneness of person. He also showed how this oneness of harmony was to be achieved. As he was one with the Father through doing the Father's will–"Not my will but thine be done" (Luke 22:42)–so each member of the true church will come into perfect harmony with the Father and with the Son by setting aside their own wills and accepting the will of Christ, which is the will of the Father. Jesus is showing here that this unity between himself and his Father was brought about by the Spirit of God which dwelt in the Son. Similarly the Spirit-filled Church will be in unity with Christ, and thus also with God.

17. How could Jesus say: "He that hath seen me hath seen the Father" (John 14:9), if he were not part of the one God?

Many of those who quote this as a proof that Jesus is God (i.e. God the Son co-equal with the Father) are inclined to overlook certain points: (1) That Jesus goes on to say "Believe 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." (John 14:10)

Now, we have seen in the previous question answered, that this means oneness of purpose or harmony of spirit, so that the implication of the words "He that hath seen me hath seen the Father" is obviously in the same sense, as we are assured by the Apostle that "No man hath seen God at any time." (John 1:18) But Jesus doing the will of the Father at all times was a perfect representation of God. He was indeed "the image of the invisible God," (Col. 1:15), "the express image of his person." (Heb. 1-3) He was the best, the closest, the most positive representation of God that it was possible to give to mankind, so that he could truly say "he that hath seen me hath seen the Father." He was the perfect image of the invisible God, and hence the best conception or illustration that could be presented.

(2) Jesus was "the image of the invisible God" and for this reason could say "he that hath seen me hath seen the Father," but surely this does not mean that Jesus was therefore God, because we have to remember that, according to Genesis 1:26, God purposed making man in His image; but this hardly gives man the right to look for equality with God.

(3) We also read that the Church of Christ will be like Christ. (I John 3:2) Therefore, if Christ is God and likeness proves identity, then each member of the Church will also be God, which is ridiculous.

(4) In fact, if the words, "He that hath seen me hath seen the Father" are to be taken in the absolutely literal sense, then Jesus was actually stating that he was God-the Father. But according to Trinitarians, Jesus was the second person in the Trinity, viz. God the Son, therefore the Son was in fact the Father, and these were not two persons at all; but at the same time the Son was his own Father and was greater than himself. The absurdity to which this logical deduction, (based on the doctrine of the Trinity) leads us clearly shows the falsity of that doctrine.

It is very clear from this that there is nothing in the words "He that hath seen me hath seen the Father" to indicate that he was in fact the Father, or that he was God.

18. Is not Jesus, Jehovah, and so necessarily God?

There are one or two texts which appear to convey this idea if they are taken individually without studying the teaching of the Scriptures as a whole. The idea, however, obviously arises from the confusion which the Trinitarian doctrine invariably and inevitably causes.

The Apostle Paul, speaking of Jesus, tells us quite clearly that God had "highly exalted him, and given him a name that is above every name" (Phil. 2:9), and that he, Jesus "sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high." (Heb. 1:3)

We notice that Jesus was exalted by God and sat on the right hand of God, and this is confirmed in Matthew 22:44; Acts 2:34, 35; Hebrews 1:13 and 10:12, 13. Now if we turn to Psalm 110:1 we find a foreview of this; "And the LORD (i.e. Jehovah) said unto my Lord (Adon), sit thou on my right hand . . . ."

If Jesus is Jehovah, then either he is sitting at his own right hand or else he raised some one else (Adon) to sit at his (Jesus) right hand. The absurdity of this is obvious as soon as it is stated.

But the Scriptures are quite clear that "Jehovah" is none other than the One and only God-the Father, and "Adon" is His dearly beloved Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, who is sitting at the right hand of Jehovah. This, of course, is in perfect harmony with all the other Scriptures and supports the statement that "The Lord (Jehovah) our God is one Lord." (Deut. 6:4) "There is but one God, the Father." (I Cor. 8:6) Thus Jehovah is the one God, the Father, and is not Jesus Christ who we are told by the prophet Isaiah is "the servant of Jehovah." (Isa. 53:11) This is confirmed by Jesus himself who tells us that he came not to do his own will, but to do the will of the Father. (John 5:30, etc.)


The Key to Bible Understanding
Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5