John 1:1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
“The Lord Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of the Father, is truly God in infinity, but not in personality.” (Ellen White UL 367 )
Christ is not God in personality. Christ is identified as “The Lord Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of the Father.” The identity of Christ is a pillar of our faith and she makes it clear in that quote that Christ is:
- The only begotten son of the father
- Not God in personality
“Christ is one with the father, but Christ and God are two distinct personages”(RH June 1, 1905)
“The man Christ Jesus was not the Lord God Almighty, yet Christ and the Father are one.” (Ellen White SDA Bible Commentary, vol.5 p.1129)
John 1:1 is a good question. It means exactly what it says. But it is referring to Christ’s nature. Not to who he is. This verse is not referring to his identity.
The verse says “He was with God”. Who is he with? He’s with the father right? He’s not with a Trinity. And “He was God”. How are we to understand this? Christ was “in the form of God and equal with God”[Phi 2:6]. However he was not the eternal God. He was with God. He was equal with God. Who was he with? Who was he equal with? Obviously he is equal with the father “The only true God”[John 17:3].
It’s God who gave Christ his nature by birth. “For it pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell;”. So Christ by inheritance obtained or recieved his nature[Heb 1:8]. This was “Given” to Christ[Matt 28:18]. The Trinitarian however believes that Christ posessed this on his own.
But Phillipians 2 tells us that”God also has highly exalted him… that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow”. In Hebrews 1:6 God said “let all the angels of God worship him”. All to the glory of our one God the father.
Compare it to having a child. This is a comparison.
When you are born let’s say your nature is God. In actuality and reality right now you are in the likeness of men. But let’s say you are “the God, the only God, there is no other God”.This is a comparison.
Let’s also say you have a son. This son by birth posesses your nature. He is born flesh of flesh, bone of bone, God by nature. So in the beginning was the word, the word was with “the God”[which would be you in the example], and the word was God by nature but yet that word is begotten or born from you. That word is by nature God.
Is the word the only true God in regards to identity? No. He is God by nature though. Now look closer at John 1 hopefully understanding the concept of his nature vs his identity.
Joh 1:14 And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.
The word was God in respect to his nature, then the word was made flesh in respect to his nature. This is not referring to the identity of the word. Otherwise since “the word was flesh” we would have to conclude that his identity is “flesh” and therefore when speaking of Jesus not only would we identify him as “God” but we could call him “flesh” as well. The word was the only begotten of the father. Now look at verse 18 and notice that God is the father alone, and no man has seen him. Regarding identity this verse defines him as the father, and Christ is identified as the son of God.
Joh 1:18 No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him.
No man has seen God at any time. It’s a fact. This refers to “THE God”. No man has seen him, but the son has declared him. The son is a perfect copy[express image] of him. But he “the God” is the father alone.
Now hopefully you can see here who is “THE God” and what is meant by Christ and his nature. Compare John 1 to this..
Php 2:6 Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God:
Php 2:7 But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men:
Who is he in the form of? The father. Who is he equal with? The father. No Trinity here obviously, and not 2 Gods. Christ is not another God, nor is he the eternal God himself, however he was fully God in nature. Hopefully you understand what I mean.
Notice a few verses later what it says..
Php 2:9 Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name:
Php 2:10 That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth;
Php 2:11 And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
God exalted him, God made him equal. And every knee is not bowing to the glory of God the trinity, nor are they bowing to the glory of God the father and God the son. But they are bowing and confessing Christ is Lord to the glory of God the father, the only true God, there is no other God but he.
1Co 8:6 But to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him.
You understand what is meant by the nature of Christ. He was God by nature, but yet not the eternal God.
“But although Christ’s glory was for a time veiled and eclipsed by His assuming humanity, yet He did not cease to be God when He became man…The man Christ Jesus was not the Lord God Almighty, yet Christ and the Father are one.” Ellen White SDA Bible Commentary, vol.5 p.1129
Regarding Christ’s nature AT Jones says he was by nature God by birth.
“He is the One whom the Lord possessed “in the beginning of His way;” who was “set up from everlasting;” who “was by Him as one brought up with Him.” Proverbs 8:22, 23, 30. He is the one “whose goings forth have been from of old, from the days of Eternity.” Micah 5:2, (with margin). He is the only begotten of the Father, and is therefore in very substance of the nature of God; in Him “dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily;” He, therefore, by divine right of “inheritance,” bears from the Father the name of “God.” John 3:16; Colossians 2:9; Hebrews 1:4-8. Thus Christ Jesus was indeed by divine and eternal right one of God – “equal with God.”"[AT Jones, The spirit of Papacy]
Also EJ Waggoner said similar saying Christ is “of the substance of the Father, so that in his very nature he is God“…In this sense “the word was God”
“In arguing the perfect equality of the Father and the Son, and the fact that Christ is in very nature God, we do not design to be understood as teaching that the Father was not before the Son. It should not be necessary to guard this point, lest some should think that the Son existed as soon as the Father; yet some go to that extreme, which adds nothing to the dignity of Christ, but rather detracts from the honor due him, since many throw the whole thing away rather than accept a theory so obviously out of harmony with the language of Scripture, that Jesus is the only begotten Son of God.He was begotten, not created. He is of the substance of the Father, so that in his very nature he is God; and since this is so “it pleased the Father that in him should all fullness dwell.” Col. 1:19 … While both are of the same nature, the Father is first in point of time. He is also greater in that he had no beginning, while Christ’s personality had a beginning (E. J. Waggoner, The Signs of the Times, April 8, 1889
“Christ, the Word, the only begotten of God, was one with the eternal Father—one in nature, in character, in purpose—the only being that could enter into all the counsels and purposes of God.” (Ellen White PP 34)
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