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“TO US THERE IS ONE GOD”
John Wesley preached a sermon on, and in support of, the Trinity, from 1 John 5:7. In that sermon he quotes the words of Servetus, viz., “I scruple using the words Trinity and Persons because I do not find those terms in the Bible.” His belief in the doctrine of the Trinity was based upon 1 John 5:7. Said he, “I would insist only on the direct words, unexplained as they lie in the text.” Had the Sinaitic Manuscript (the oldest, most complete and most authentic MS.) been found in Wesley’s time, would he have believed in the union of three persons in the Deity? We think not. He labored hard to prove this doctrine because he believed that 1 John 5:7 was genuine.
There is a good bit of sophism in some of Wesley’s argument, as there always is where men attempt to make error appear as truth. He asks—”How do the rays of light from a candle brought into the room, instantly disperse into every corner? Again, here are three candles, yet there is but one light. Explain this, and I will explain the three one God.”
(1) We would suggest, bring three hundred or three thousand candles into the room and there is but one light, in just the same sense that the rays from the three candles make but one light. (2) Bring a candle, an oil lamp, a gas lamp or an electric lamp into the room; would not their light blend into one?
Of these light-givers, might not one be greater than all the others, and yet the light, or rays of light, blend so as to be one light? The lamps are not one lamp, yet they may be one in the sense of giving one light, because their rays of light so agree, or harmonize as to blend into one. Therefore we believe the Father and Son are two, and not one being.
They are one, only in the sense of being in harmony. So far as light or truth is concerned, that which shines from the Father, through the Son [For said Jesus, “I can of myself do nothing.” “I seek not mine own will; but the will of him that sent me,” John 5:30. “The Son can do nothing of himself,” etc., John 5:19.], and through the saints blends into one, and is one light.
In this sense Christ is one with the Father, and his followers are one in him, even as he is one in the Father. (John 17:11,21,22,23.)
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The truth, like light, always blends and harmonizes, through whatever medium it shines. Whether you bring into the room three hundred candles, or whether the rays of light shine from various objects—the candle, the oil lamp, the gas jet, or the sun—the light will blend and harmonize, thus forming but one light.
All light being of the same nature, it blends and harmonizes into one, yet the objects from which the rays of light shine may differ in their capacity to transmit it. Then if all light and all truth is the same, may not all life be the same, and do not these all issue from the same fountain? Is not God that fountain?
None of these mediums through which light is given have any exhaustless supply in themselves. So with life. None but God possessed underived, unlimited, exhaustless life. The word in Scripture used to denote this independent life is immortality. It signifies death-proof. Scripture ascribes it to God, as it is written, “God only hath immortality,” etc. (1 Tim. 6:16, and 1:17.)
But, again, we read that the Father who alone possessed this independent life, has bestowed this same nature upon our Lord Jesus Christ. “For as the Father hath life in himself (God’s life being in himself and not drawn from other sources or dependent upon other things), so hath he given to the Son to have life in himself,” John 5:26. Thus we see that the Father gave to the Son to possess immortality.
And again, we see that God purposes to call out of the human race a few, a “little flock,” who by obedience to certain conditions shall become “sons of God,” “new creatures“—partakers of the divine nature.
Thus we see that immortality was given to the Son, and is also promised as a gift to those believers in and followers of Christ, “who by patient continuance in well doing, seek for glory, honor and IMMORTALITY” (Rom. 2:7); who “fight the good fight of faith (and thus), lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called.” 1 Tim. 6:12.
Christ’s followers, the “little flock,” the “bride” company, when united to him will be given immortality—become partakers of the divine nature, be adopted into the divine family of God, thus becoming heirs of God, and joint heirs with Jesus Christ—being made one with him in the same sense that the Father and Son are one. John 10:30, and 17:11,21,22,23. Thus will their lives harmonize and blend, yet the Father will be greater than all (John 10:29), even “the Son himself being subject unto him, that God may be all in all.” 1 Cor. 15:28.
Let us not attach a meaning to one portion of Scripture that will flatly contradict another. That the Father and Son are one we acknowledge, but not in a sense that contradicts the words, “My Father is greater than I” (John 14:28); “my Father is greater than all” (John 10:29), and many other scriptures.
“To us there is one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we unto him, and one Lord Jesus Christ through whom are all things, and we through him” (1 Cor. 8:6), and if there be one hundred and forty-four thousand heirs of God, and joint heirs with Christ (partakers with him of the divine nature), yet all these may be one, in harmony with the Father, but not in person, as taught by the creeds of men.
WM. C. MACMILLAN.
— January, 1885 —