In working through Christendom Astray we have now come to a section dealing with the fundamental pillars of our understanding and faith. After dealing with Yahweh’s revelation concerning Himself under the heading “God”, he shows the relationship that Jesus Christ had in the divine plan as “Son of God”. Of necessity the following article is in synopsis form. However we would encourage readers to particularly read the section on the reason why the Holy Spirit was given (pp 148–149), and the section on “The Crucifixion” in which Brother Roberts defines it as Christ’s “greatest act of obedience” and “an expression of God’s love towards fallen humanity” (pp 165–171).

Lecture 6

The Overall Objective

 To expose the errors of church teaching regarding God, the angels, Jesus Christ and the crucifixion and to clarify what is the true Bible teaching.

God

 Knowledge of God is essential to becoming part of the divine family (John 17:3). The knowing of His being, character and purpose with both man and the universe can only be found in the Scriptures.

Popular theological teaching regarding God has deceived many, because on the one hand it proclaims truly that the God of the Bible is the God of Israel, but on the other it proclaims Him to be made up of three equal and eternal elements—God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Ghost or Spirit, each “very God” and separate from the other, and yet all one. Because this is a nonsense doctrine, the church is content to present it as a mystery.

 In contrast, what the Bible presents to us in relation to the Father, Son and Holy Spirit can be understood. God is ONE (Deut 6:4; Mark 12:29; 1 Cor 8:6; Eph 4:6; 1 Tim 2:5; Isa 46:9,10; 45:5; 44:6,8).

The Deity’s unity is consistent with the single and individual laws and forces which control all creation. The Father is at the unknown centre and source of this control—somewhere in the heavens (1 Tim 6:16; Ecc 5:2; Matt 6:9; Psa 102:19,20).

God is a real being whom no man has seen (1 Tim 6:16). But He has, through the angels, manifested Himself to men and women (Num 12:8; Deut 34:10).

God is immortal (1 Tim 6:16), pure (Hab 1:13), faints not, understands and controls all (Isa 40:12–18,28), and all things are of Him (Acts 17:28; Rom 11:36; 1 Cor 8:6).

The Spirit

 God is a Spirit (John 4:24) who dwells in the heavens, as distinct from His spirit which dwells everywhere (Psa 139:7–12).

Through His spirit God has created (Psa 104:30; Job 26:13; Gen 1:2), moved His prophets to speak or His messengers to perform miracles (Jud 15:14; Neh 9:30; 2 Pet 1:21).

God’s Spirit controls all matter and the forces which control its form. Man, being matter in this sense, has God’s spirit within him.

This spirit controls natural law and is distinct from the Holy Spirit through which God manifests powers which are above natural law.

It was the Holy Spirit with which God endowed the apostles that enabled them to speak in tongues, perform wonderful miraculous works, and have knowledge and speak of things which naturally were beyond them.

The Holy Spirit was a witness to the Gospel message preached by the apostles, for it gave weight and credibility to their preaching (Mark 16:20; Heb 2:3,4).

The apostles, through the laying on of hands, had the power to impart the Holy Spirit to new believers (Acts 8:14–19). The Spirit was promised to the disciples of Jesus (John 15:26,27) and to believers on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:38,39).

The Holy Spirit was necessary in order to hold infant Christianity together. It empowered its leaders to speak and rule with wisdom and authority (Eph 4:11–14).

The Holy Spirit ceased to be available to believers after the apostles’ time.

Latter-day claims of Holy Spirit possession are false. These claims are based on the experiences of those whose spirit of the flesh has been worked up into a state of religious excitement.

A belief in the Truth is the result of an intelligent apprehension of what the Spirit Word has caused to be written in the Scriptures, creating a “new man”.

The Angels

 God manifests Himself to men by His angels (Heb 2:2; Acts 7:38).

Scripture employs the names “Elohim” (gods or powerful ones) and “Shaddai” (mighty or powerful ones) in many cases when referring to angels, although many translations such as the AV use the terms “God” and “Lord” in place of these names (cp Psa 97:7 and Heb 1:6). “The angel of the Lord” who appeared to Moses is spoken of as “God” and “the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob” in Ex 3:2–6.

Angels “excel in strength” (Psa 103:20). However, when revealing themselves to men and women they have appeared as ordinary people (Gen 18:1–5; Heb 13:2; Gen 19:1–3, 12–13; Jud 13:15–16). They are not the ethereal beings presented in popular theology, but rather real creatures who can appear radiant when they so choose (Matt 28:2–3; Acts 10:30). They eat, drink, walk and talk but they are incorruptible, immortal, sinless and possess the power God has given them.

They are an exemplification of what the saints will be after the resurrection (Luke 20:35–36).

The Nature of Jesus Christ

 The Trinitarian doctrine incorrectly places Christ in the position of God. The Unitarian view states Christ to be a mere man, a teacher sent from God but without any divinely inherited quality.

Jesus’ own words place a distinction between him and his Father and show his dependence upon the Father (John 5:30; 7:16; 8:17–18).

The Father and Son are not equal. The Father is eternal and underived while the Son is the manifestation of the Father and was begotten by the Spirit (Luke 1:35).

The Unitarian view denies the divine begettal and claims Joseph to be father of Jesus, ignoring the record of Scripture. Joseph denies his paternity (Matt 1:19–20).

The Unitarian reduces Christ’s mission to being a moral example, but the Scripture presents Christ as the Messiah, bearing away sin and providing salvation (John 1:29; Heb 9:26; John 3:17; Acts 4:12).

With God as his Father, the Son inherited a capacity for the spiritual which was beyond his fellows. With Mary as his mother he partook of our nature (Heb 2:14,16,17; 2 Cor 5:21; Rom 8:3; Heb 5:8).

Christ was the manifestation of his Father anointed with the spirit power (1 John 1:2; John 1:14; John 3:34; Acts 10:38).

If Christ were “very God” he would have no need to be anointed with the spirit nor would he have proclaimed his complete dependence upon his Father in all that he did (John 5:30;14:10; Matt 27:46).

He now sits at the right hand of His father in Heaven, immortal and clothed in power and glory. Despite his exalted position he can still empathise with those he came to save (Heb 4:15).

Statements made by the Lord which are used to support claims that he existed before his birth do not convey this sense when considered in light of the Gospel record of his birth, development, ministry, death and resurrection, and the promises stemming right from Genesis which speak of a coming Saviour.

Jesus and his Father are one, not in person, power and equality, but in purpose and state of mind (John 10:30; 17:21).

The Crucifixion

 The crucifixion, the death of God’s Son, was not an act required by the Father to appease His wrath towards sinners. Contrary to this the Scriptures speak of his death as an act of love towards sinners (John 3:16; 1 John 4:9,14; Rom 5:8; 2 Cor 5:19). Jesus Christ laid down his life in love as a sacrifice for our sins (1 Cor 15:3; Isa 53:5; Heb 9:26; Col 1:14; Rev 5:9).

Death is the consequence of sin which came into the world through the transgression of one man, Adam (Rom 5:12).

God has not left the descendants of Adam in a position where there is no hope beyond death. He has provided a way whereby men can be reconciled back to Him, a way which does not contradict the laws which brought the penalty upon men.

For this reason Jesus Christ possessed the same nature which was condemned to death in Eden (Heb 2:14,16; Rom 8:3).

His sinless life provided a victory over this nature and the key to the path of reconciliation for the human race.

He died on the cross as a representative of those he came to save, not as a substitute. Paul shows that this death was a declaration of the righteousness of God which God required as a basis for the work of reconciliation and forgiveness (Rom 3:24–26). Those who find grace through his death must identify with his victory in their lives; they too must fight against the bias of their nature as he did. Baptism signals a believer’s intention to begin this fight.

The grave could not contain a sinless man—God raised His Son to immortality (1 Cor 15:17,20). This is the sure hope of all believers.

Men and women who are baptised into the death and resurrection of Christ put on Christ, the only name under Heaven ordained whereby they can receive grace and mercy, the forgiveness of their sins and be saved.