Who is the Creator?
By: David K. Bernard
WHO IS THE CREATOR?
In the context of the Bible, which teaches absolute monotheism, identifying the Creator would appear to be simple; namely, the one God is the Creator. Nevertheless, the idea of a multi person God has evolved in Christendom, leading many people to speak of creation as a cooperative work of several divine persons. Some have even pictured one person called the Father creating the world through an agent or intermediary called the Son. But what does the Bible say?
The Bible unequivocally proclaims that there is one Creator and that He is Jehovah (the LORD). The following passages from the Old Testament clearly reveal that one solitary Being created the universe without assistance from anyone else.
* “O LORD of hosts, God of Israel, that dwellest between the cherubims, thou art the God, even thou alone, of all the kingdoms of the earth: thou hast made heaven and earth” (Isaiah 37:16).
* “I am the LORD that maketh all things; that stretcheth forth the heavens alone; that spreadeth abroad the earth by myself” (Isaiah 44:24.)
* “For thus saith the LORD that created the heavens . . . I am the LORD: and there is none else” (Isaiah 45:18).
* “Have we not all one father? hath not one God created us?” (Malachi 2:10).
No stronger language could have been used to establish the Creator’s absolute numerical oneness than the terms used in these passages, such as “alone;’ “by myself,” and “none else.”
“Let Us Make Man”
Despite these unambiguous statements, some suppose from the plural pronouns in Genesis 1:26 that a committee of three divine persons performed the work of creation. Genesis 1:26 reads, “And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.”
Whatever the plural pronouns in this verse signify, they could not contradict the previously examined biblical statements of the Creator’s singleness. In fact, the next verse uses a singular pronoun to describe what actually happened: “So God created man in his own image” (Genesis 1:27).
When we look at Adam-the image creature God made in fulfillment of Genesis 1:26-we find that he was one person. Although we may identify various components of a man-such as body, soul, spirit, will, mind-Adam was one being in every sense. As such, he was the image of the one God who created him.
Genesis 1:26 is not a trinitarian proof text. First, if the verse refers to multiple divine persons, it does not identify them specifically as a trinity; many persons or gods could be involved. Second, if God is defined
as a trinity, then the words “God said” would indicate that the whole trinity was talking to some other being, which opens the possibility of other deities. If, on the other hand, only one member of the trinity was talking, then why was he not identified by his proper name? If he can be distinguished from the other divine persons by the title God, then he would appear to be more divine than they, in contradiction to the trinitarian doctrine of co-equality. Third, if an eternal or preexistent Son was being addressed, then his mother must have existed at that time also, for the Son was “made of a woman, made under the law” (Galatians 4:4).
If the plural pronouns do not refer to a trinity, then what do they signify? The simplest explanation is that God was communing within Himself. Ephesians 1:11 informs us that God “worketh all things after the counsel of his own will.” If a finite human being can make plans with himself by saying, “Let’s see” (“Let us see”), and if the rich fool could address his own soul (Luke 12:19), then it is not unreasonable to suppose that the infinite, omniscient God could counsel with Himself.
Jews have traditionally taught that God addressed the angels, not that angels assisted in creation but that God courteously informed them of His plans and created humanity in the spiritual, intellectual, and moral likeness of Himself and the angels. The angels were present at creation (Job 38:4-7), and God does consult with them on occasion, not to obtain guidance but to include them in His plans (1 Kings 22:19-22). In three other scriptural passages God spoke in the first person plural, and their contexts make it plausible that He addressed angels (Genesis 3:22; 11:7; Isaiah 6:8).
Another possibility is that God used a majestic or literary plural, which humans use on occasion. (See Daniel 2:36; Ezra 4:18; 7:24.)
It could also be that Fod spoke prophetically to the future Son of God, for redeemed humanity will be molded into the physical and spiritual likeness of Christ. (See Romans 5:14; 8:29; II Corinthians 3:18; Philippians 3:21.) As we shall see, some New Testament passages convey this thought of creation with the Son in view.
Creation by Jesus Christ
The New Testament reveals that Jesus Christ is the one God of the Old Testament-Jehovah-manifested in the flesh (John 8:58; 20:28; Colossians
2:9; 1 Timothy 3:16). Thus, as the following passages declare, Jesus is the
* “All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made” (John 1:3).
* “By him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him and for him” (Colossians 1:16).
* “Thou, Lord, in the beginning hast laid the foundation of the earth; and the heavens are the work of thine hands” (Hebrews 1:10).
Some of the passages that speak of Jesus as the Creator also refer toHim as the Son. (See Colossians 1:13; Hebrews 1:8.) Consequently, trinitarians maintain that an eternal Son co-created the world alongside a distinct person called the Father. But these passages can be understood as simply stating that the One who later became the Son created the world. For example, when we say, “President Bush was born in Massachusetts,” we do not mean that he was president at that time. Rather, the one who later became president was born there. The title Son refers to the humanity conceived in the womb of Mary. (See Luke 1:35; Galatians 4:4; Hebrews 1:5.) As such, the Son did not preexist the Incarnation and did not create the world in the beginning. The Creator is the eternal Spirit of God who later incarnated Himself in the Son and was manifested as Jesus Christ.
Creation with the Son in View
Some passages express a further truth: God created the world with the Son in view, or in dependence upon the future manifestation of Himself in the Son. “God . . . hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, . . . by whom also he made the worlds” (Hebrews 1:1-2).
God based all creation on the future incarnation and Atonement. Though He did not pick up the humanity until the fullness of time, the incarnation was His plan from the beginning, and He acted upon it from the start. In the plan of God, the Lamb was “slain from the foundation of the world” (Revelation 13:8). The Lamb was “foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times” (1 Peter 1:19-20).
How and why did God depend upon the incarnation at creation? God created humans in the beginning so that they would love, worship, and have fellowship with Him, give Him glory, and perform His will. (See Isaiah 43:7; Revelation 4:11.) At the same time, God foreknew that they would fall into sin and thereby defeat His purpose for creation. But God, “Who calleth those things which be not as though they were” (Romans 4:17), also had in His mind the Incarnation and the plan of salvation through the atoning death of Christ. Even though He knew humanity would sin, He also knew that through the Son of God humanity could be restored and could still fulfill His original purpose. In this sense God created the world through the Son, or by using the Son. In the same way, God justified Old Testament believers on the basis of the future Cross (Romans 3:25).
This explanation fits Hebrews 1. Verse 2 shows that the Son was not eternal but is the revelation of God “in these last days.” Verse 3 shows that the Son is not another divine person but rather “the brightness of his (God’s) glory, and the express image of his (God’s) person.” The word worlds in verse 2 is from the plural of the Greek word aion, which is usually translated “age.” This word possibly connotes that God’s creative work “by the Son” relates to time, to redemptive history. Thus, some translations say that by the Son God created “the ages,” “all orders of existence,” or “this world of time.”
Other verses also show that God created and now sustains all things “by” Jesus Christ in the sense of purpose and plan. “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” (I Corinthians 8:6). Ephesians 3:9 says, “God . . . created all things by Jesus Christ,” and verse 11 speaks of “the eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
A study of Greek reinforces this understanding. The first preposition in Colossians 1:16 is en, literally “in.” Colossians 1:16 also uses the preposition dia, as does Hebrews 1:2 and I Corinthians 8:6, and it literally means “through.” In other words, Christ was not a second person who served as the agent of creation (which would make Him subordinate, and not co-equal as trinitarians teach). Rather, we can say that God created all things in Christ and through Christ.
The one God, who is known by various names and titles such as Father, Word, Holy Spirit, and Jehovah, is our Creator. In view of the impending Fall of humanity, God’s plan of creation was predicated upon the man Jesus Christ, the Son of God.
The church exists and we have spiritual life today not only because of God’s initial creative act thousands of years ago but also because of God’s redemptive act in Jesus Christ. We are sustained daily by the grace of God bestowed upon us through the Cross, and the living Christ imparts life to us through His indwelling Holy Spirit. The Spirit of Jesus created the human race initially and is yet transforming and molding those who believe in Him, for Jesus is “the author and finisher of our faith” (Hebrews 12:2).
(The above material appeared in an April, 1989 issue of Pentecostal Herald.)
HOW MANY GODS?
Recently I received a letter from a denominational Sunday school class, asking for an explanation of the doctrine of the Trinity. They asked me to answer a question for their class: “How many Gods are there, and can I know Him (Them)?” The following is my reply.
There is one God. We can know Him only through His Son, Jesus Christ.
The Bible clearly establishes that God is one. “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one!” (Deuteronomy 6:4, NKJV). The LORD God of the Old Testament (Jehovah or Yahweh) is one and cannot be divided. He is the only creator, only God, only savior, only redeemer, first, and last (Isaiah 37:16; 43:10-11; 44:6,8,24). There is no God beside Him, there is none like Him, and He will not give His glory to another (Isaiah 45:6, 21-22; 46:9; 48:11). Regardless of what human terminology we use to describe God-being, person, substance, nature-He is one (Galatians 3:20). Even the demons believe and know that there is one God (James 2:19). There is only one throne in heaven, and One on the throne (Revelation 4:2).
The Bible describes God as Father, as being in the Son, and as the Holy Ghost (or Holy Spirit), but this does not mean that God is three different beings with three personalities. If we avoid nonbiblical terms such as “trinity” or “three persons,” it will be easier to see this truth. These three titles, Father, Son and Holy Ghost, reveal different roles, functions, or relationships of the one God without defining Him in terms of an essential threeness of nature. For example, I have three significant relationships or functions-editor, preacher, and writer-yet I am one being in every sense of the word.
The title of rather refers to God’s roles as rather of all creation (Malachi 2:10), as rather of the only begotten Son, and as rather of the born-again believer. The title of Son refers to God’s manifestation in flesh (Galatians 4:4), for the man Christ was literally conceived (begotten) by the Spirit of God (Matthew 1:18-20). The title of Holy Spirit describes the fundamental character of God’s nature. Holiness forms the basis of His moral attributes, while spirituality forms the basis of His nonmoral attributes. The title of Holy Ghost specifically refers to God in activity, particularly acting as only Spirit can (Genesis 1:2). rather refers to God in parental relationship to man, Son refers to God incarnate, and Spirit refers to God in activity.
The one God has fully revealed Himself through Jesus Christ. “For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily” (Colossians 2:9). Jesus is not one of several persons in the Godhead; all the fulness of the one God is manifested in Jesus. Jesus is God in every sense of the word (Isaiah 7:14; John 20:28; Acts 20:28; I Timothy 3:16; Titus 2:13; II Peter 1:1). “God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself” (II Corinthians 5:19). Jesus is not a separate person from God; He is the visible expression of the invisible God (John 1:1, 14; II Corinthians 4:4; Colossians 1:15; Hebrews 1:3).
All three roles or functions of God are revealed in Jesus Christ. God’s role as Father is revealed through Jesus (Isaiah 9:6; John 10:30; 14:8-11; Revelation 21:6-7). Jesus is not only God, but He is also the Son of God, for God’s Spirit caused Christ’s conception to take place in His virgin mother’s womb (Luke 1:35; Galatians 4:4). The Holy Spirit is none other than the Spirit of Jesus Christ (John 14:16-18; II Corinthians 3:17; Philippians 1:19).
The name of Jesus reveals all of God’s manifestations, including Father, Son, and Holy Ghost (John 5:4-3; Matthew 1:21; John 14-:26). The apostles understood that the one name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost in Matthew 28:19 was Jesus (Mark 16:17; Luke 24:4-7). Thus they obeyed Christ’s command by baptizing all their converts in the name of Jesus (Acts 2:38; 8:16; 10:4-8; 19:5; 22:16; Romans 6:3-4; I Corinthians 1:13; 6:11; Galatians 3:27; Colossians 2:12).
In heaven we will see Jesus as the visible manifestation of the one God. Jesus is the One on the throne. (Compare Revelation 1:8, 11, 18 with 4:2, 8.) In eternity, there will be one God, with one throne, one face, and one name (Revelation 22:3-4). The One on the throne is “God and the Lamb; which means Jesus Christ, for only He is both deity and humanity, Savior and sacrifice for sin, God and Lamb. As Dr. W. A. Criswell, past president of the Southern Baptist Convention, said, “We are not going to see three Gods in heaven . . .There is one great Lord God. We know Him as our Father, we know Him as our Savior, we know Him as the Holy Spirit in our hearts. There is one God and this is the great God, called in the Old Testament Jehovah, and, incarnate, called in the New Testament Jesus, the Prince of heaven, who is coming” (Expository Sermons on Revelation, V,42).
In conclusion, there is one God, not three. This one God has never changed His basic nature, although in Christ He manifested Himself in a new way-in flesh. God does not change from one being to another. He is at once Father, Savior and Holy Spirit. The fullness of God is revealed through Jesus Christ, for He is the one God in flesh and the only God we will ever see. We are complete in Him (Colossians 2:10), and we can look to Him for salvation.
What should our response be to Jesus Christ? We should acknowledge that God is one and that Jesus is the one God come in the flesh. We should acknowledge the true deity and the true humanity of Jesus (John 8:24; 1 John 4:3). We should believe the gospel of Jesus Christ-the good news that He died, was buried, and rose again for our salvation (Acts 16:31; 1 Corinthians 15:1-4). This means accepting His redemptive work as the sole means of salvation and applying it to our lives. As a person begins to believe on Jesus, expressing that belief by obedience, he will repent from sin, be baptized in the name of Jesus, and receive the gift of the Holy Spirit, accompanied by speaking in tongues (Acts 2:1-4, 37-39). Then he should live a holy, Spirit-filled life, walking in the obedience of faith until Christ’s coming.
(The above material appeared in an April, 1988 issue of Pentecostal Herald.)
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