'Replies from Christadelphians'

5.  Tim Miles……(cont.)

19th September, 2004 >

(Continued from page 239)

John 1:2-3 reads:

'He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made' (NIV).

In the booklet: 'Who is Jesus Christ?' (page 12), Christadelphians refer to Jesus, 'the Word' (with reference to
John 1:1) in this way:

'The Greek term translated 'word' is logos. It signifies the outward form of inward thought or reason, or the spoken word as illustrative of thought, wisdom and doctrine. The Bible teaching is that in the very beginning, God's purpose, wisdom or revelation was proclaimed through His Word. This Word was 'with God' in that it emanated from Him; it 'was God' in that it represented Him to mankind. . .'

Although they are willing to concede that the Word was the wisdom and emanation from God, they attempt to baulk at the obvious and explicit declaration of Scripture: the Word
was God!  Jesus is the Word and He is God, not simply a manifestation of some divine attribute or quality.  Christadelphians also try to ignore the context.  Too many cults are willing to call Jesus the 'wisdom' spoken of in  Proverbs 8:1-2, but ignore the fact that wisdom is personified as feminine in that passage, but 'the Word' is referred to as masculine in John. There is clearly no logic to the Scripture twisting of the cults.

How can Christadelphians ignore the clear teaching that 'the Word' created
all things (cf. Colossians 1:16-17) and thus fail to see that this clearly negates the possibility that Christ could have been created.  'The Word' is clearly referred to as a person, not a quality which the Christadelphians try to impose on the text.

John 1:1 (NASB-U) reads:

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

Again, we should not consider this verse alone for there are many other verses that help to reveal the real interpretation of the nature and attributes of 'the Word' , e.g.:

John 1:3 (NASB-U)  All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being.

John 1:10 (NASB-U) He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him.

John 17:5 (NASB-U)  'Now, Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was.

John 17:24 (NASB-U)  'Father, I desire that they also, whom You have given Me, be with Me where I am, so that they may see My glory which You have given Me, for You loved Me before the foundation of the world.

We have detailed the clear teachings of these verses in more depth in 'The Trinity' which we have e-mailed you.

The phrase, 'In the beginning' refers to the beginning of all time and
created existence, for this Word gave it being (John 1:3, 10), but 'before the world was' (John 17:5, 24), or from all eternity.  The Word clearly had a conscious personal existence distinct from God - as one is from the person he is 'with' - but inseparable from Him and associated with Him (John 1:18; John 17:5; 1 John 1:2), where 'the Father' is used in the same sense as 'God' here.  Too many people fail to take all Scripture into account when they read passages like these without recognising when 'God' refers to the Father or to the 'full' Godhead.  The phrase 'was God' makes it clear that 'the Word' is in substance and essence God - that is, was possessed of essential or proper divinity.  Thus, each of these brief but pregnant statements is the complement of the other, correcting any misconceptions which the others might produce.  Was 'the Word' eternal? It was not the eternity of 'the Father,' but of a conscious personal existence distinct from Him and associated with Him. Was the Word thus 'with God?'  It was not the distinctness and the fellowship of another being, as if there were more Gods than one, but of One who was Himself God - in such sense that the absolute unity of the Godhead is revealed and to show who it was that in the fulness of time 'was made flesh.' 

John 1:2 states: 'He was in the beginning with God.'  So 'the Word' (the Lord Jesus Christ) was with God (the Father) in the same beginning spoken of in verse 1.  Clearly, as you agree, God had no beginning and by the same logic proven from Scripture - neither did 'the Word'!

We have proven that Jesus is the Word and He was with God literally.  This leads to some obvious questions which we would like you to answer:

  1.   If He was merely a thought in God*s mind, as Christadelphians claim, how could He be described as being 'rich, yet for your sake he became poor' (2 Corinthians 8:9)?
  2.   Likewise, how can 'a thought' or 'a plan' empty Himself [or 'itself ' as you would have it] (Philippians 2:5-7)?
  3.   We would also like you to explain the prophecy from Micah 5:2 (cf. John 14:9; 17:5; Hebrews 13:5).
  4.   Please explain the following problem that Christadelphians have by claiming that Christ had no pre-existence prior to His baptism:

'The Spirit descended upon him in bodily shape at his baptism...
This was the anointing which constituted him Christ... before his anointing he was simply the 'body prepared* for the divine manifestation that was to take place through him' (Roberts: Christendom Astray p.160)

By contrast, the Bible which you claim to believe in teaches:

'for to you is
born this day in the city of David, a Saviour who is Christ the Lord' (Luke 2:11).

25Now there was a man in Jerusalem called Simeon, who was righteous and devout. He was waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. 26It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that
he would not die before he had seen the Lord's Christ.  (Luke 2:25-26)

Clearly, if the Christadelphians were correct then both of these passages are false and it was a mere baby who was born and seen by Simeon because,
according to Christadelphians, Christ did not yet exist!

Orthodox belief has no problem with accepting the teaching of
2 Timothy 1v8-10:

8 So do not be ashamed to testify about our Lord, or ashamed of me his prisoner. But join with me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God, 9 who has saved us and called us to a holy life - not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time, 10 but it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Savior, Christ Jesus, who has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.

Clearly, true believers were saved by grace in Christ Jesus '
before the beginning of time' and we have proven [see 'The Trinity'] that He is Almighty God, 'the first and last', described repeatedly in Isaiah and other places, e.g. Isaiah 48:12-17:

12 'Listen to me, O Jacob, Israel, whom I have called:
I am he; I am the first and I am the last. 13 My own hand laid the foundations of the earth, and my right hand spread out the heavens; when I summon them, they all stand up together. 14 'Come together, all of you, and listen: Which of the idols has foretold these things? The LORD's chosen ally will carry out his purpose against Babylon; his arm will be against the Babylonians.15 I, even I, have spoken; yes, I have called him.  I will bring him, and he will succeed in his mission. 16 'Come near me and listen to this: 'From the first announcement I have not spoken in secret; at the time it happens, I am there.'  And now the Sovereign LORD has sent me, with his Spirit.  17 This is what the LORD says- your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel: 'I am the LORD your God, who teaches you what is best for you, who directs you in the way you should go.

5.  Can you explain how the One speaking who '
laid the foundations of the earth, and my right hand spread out the heavens' can be the YHWH [the LORD] who is sent by YHWH [the LORD] if he does not already exist as the pre-incarnate Lord Jesus Christ - as you claim?

We have gone into much more detail in 'The Trinity', but consider these facts:

Hebrews 7v3 Jesus is compared to Melchizedek, 'having neither beginning of days nor end of life.'  However we view the mysterious figure of Melchizedek, and remembering your efforts to prove Jesus had a beginning, we are clearly told that Jesus had no beginning! 

God appeared many times to people in different circumstances in the Old Testament (
Genesis 17:1; 18:1; Exodus 6:2-3; 24:9-11; 33:20; Numbers 12:6-8), yet we need to reconcile the verses that declare that you cannot see God (Exodus 33:20; John 1:18).

The New Testament supports the literal appearance of God, for
Acts 7:2 states:

'The God of glory appeared to our Father Abraham. . . '

Those who believe that the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are co-equally God have no problem in believing that God appeared, literally, to men and women in the Old Testament.  The Christadelphian view of 'God manifestation' fails to answer the questions raised by these appearances.

How does Scripture describe these appearances:

Exodus 6:23: 'God spoke further to Moses and said to him, 'I am the LORD; and I appeared to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, as God Almighty, but by My name LORD I did not make myself known to them.'

Exodus 24:9-11: 'Then Moses went up with Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel, and they saw the God of Israel; and under His feet there appeared to be a pavement of sapphire, as clear as the sky itself. Yet He did not stretch out His hand against the nobles of the sons of Israel; and they beheld God, and they ate and drank.'

Exodus 33:11: 'Thus the LORD used to speak to Moses face to face, just as a man speaks to his friend...'

Numbers 12:6-8:   He [God] said, 'Hear now My words: If there is a prophet among you, I, the LORD, shall make Myself known to him in a vision. I shall speak with him in a dream. Not so, with My servant Moses, He is faithful in all My household; with him I speak mouth to mouth, even openly, and not in dark sayings, and he beholds the form of the LORD . . .'

Acts 7:2:  And he [Stephen] said, 'Hear me, brethren and fathers! The God of glory appeared to our father Abraham when he was in Mesopotamia, before he lived in Haran . . .'

Some will say that the appearances of God were nothing more than visions, dreams, or angels that represented God, but how can this possibly be said of the description of His appearances in these Scriptures?

Clearly, when God says He appeared to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, as God Almighty in
Exodus 6:23 we have no good reason to accept any other explanation.  These are not visions, dreams or the appearances of 'ordinary' angels.  And when God says that He appeared to Moses, in Numbers 12:6-8,  He specified that He did not appear to Moses in a vision or dream, but that His servant Moses beheld God's very form.  Was God literally seen?  The evidence of Scripture is clear.  Exodus 24:9-11 states that 74 people 'saw the God of Israel.'  The appearance is not described as a vision, a dream, a cloud, a flame, or of an angel, but states clearly that they saw God.

Christadelphian teaching is that God's appearances in the Old Testament were really those of a representative angel, a 'manifestation' of God due to that angel carrying the 'name' of God, and that the angel was therefore 'considered' to be God Himself.  However, this view is nullified by
Exodus 6:2-3 where God says that He appeared as God Almighty.  Since the tetragrammaton (YHWH) is a title only applied to God Himself, we can know that it was not an angel who appeared, but God Himself.

But what of the verses that say that God cannot be seen (
John 1:1; Exodus 33:20)?

John 1:18 reveals:

No one has seen God at anytime. The only begotten Son in the bosom of the Father, He has explained Him.'

As we have read,
John 1:1 began that gospel:

'In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God.'

verse 14 declares:

'And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us. . .'

The Word is obviously Jesus and 'the Word was with God' as clearly stated.  Contextually, the God who the Son (the Word) was 'with' is the Father so, when 
John 1:18 declares that no man has seen God, the Bible record is remaining consistent in declaring that no one has seen the Father, but God the Son 'has explained Him.'

Jesus affirmed this truth in
John 6:46:

'Not that anyone has seen the Father, except
He who is from God; He has seen the Father.'

How does the evidence of
Exodus 33:20 ('You cannot see My face, for no one can see Me and live') gel with this view?   There is no problem for believers in the 'Triune' God, for the following verses clearly reveal that God allowed Moses to see His back, not His face:

EX 33:21 Then the LORD said, 'There is a place near me where you may stand on a rock. 22 When My glory passes by,
I will put you in a cleft in the rock and cover you with My hand until I have passed by. 23 Then I will remove my hand and you will see My back; but My face must not be seen.'

Other verses deal with the clear plurality of God - the idea that there is more than one person in the Godhead - and shed light on the verses of
John 1:18 and Exodus 33:20.  The first is dealt with in more detail in 'The Trinity': 

Genesis 19:24:  'Then the LORD rained brimstone and fire on Sodom and Gomorrah, from the LORD out of the heavens.' 

The word 'LORD' in the Hebrew is the tetragrammaton (YHWH) from which the names for God - 'Yahweh', and subsequently 'Jehovah' - are derived.  But the verse clearly declares that there are two 'Jehovah's', that is, two LORD's.  When I shared this point with Christadelphian spokesman, Stephen Palmer, he could do no more than question why, if he accepted that Jesus was the LORD who came to earth to converse with Abraham, He would make a pre-Incarnation appearance.

Another clue to this relationship in the Godhead is found in
Amos 4:10-11: 

'I sent among you a plague after the manner of Egypt; Your young men I killed with a sword, Along with your captive horses; I made the stench of your camps come up into your nostrils; Yet you have not returned to Me,' Says the LORD.
11'I overthrew [some] of you, As God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah, And you were like a firebrand plucked from the burning; Yet you have not returned to Me,' Says the LORD.'

Who is the one speaking in
verse 10? The LORD, YHWH.  But the LORD says, in verse 11:  'I overthrew some of you, as God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah. . .'  The LORD is speaking and He speaks about God overthrowing Sodom and Gomorrah.  Once more Scripture speaks of a plurality of the Godhead.

For believers in the 'Triune' God there is no problem.  God Almighty was clearly seen in the Old Testament, but it was Jesus who was seen and not the Father.  This is consistent with Jesus statement to the Jews in
John 8:58:  'Before Abraham was, I Am'.  He was quoting God speaking to Moses at the burning bush in Exodus 3:14.  Jesus clearly claimed to be the I AM, YHWH, of the Old Testament [see the fuller explanation in 'The Trinity'] .

The attempts to explain away these facts in Christadelphian literature are breathtaking in their deception and utterly fail to deal with the clear facts of Scripture. 

God was clearly seen in the Old Testament, but it was not the Father but the Son who was seen.

6.   Who are we to believe, God's Word or heretics?

Revelation 1v17-18 describes 'the first and the last' as the One who 'liveth and was dead' - a clear reference to the Lord Jesus. Revelation 21v6 describes God as 'the Alpha and the Omega' and chapter 22v12-13 uses the same title of the Lord Jesus. So the Lord Jesus is 'the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last.' Looking at Revelation 1v8 we see that the same One who is 'the first and the last, the Alpha and Omega,' is 'the Almighty'!  The 'Mighty God' of Isaiah 9v6 is therefore 'the Almighty.'  How can there be more than one who is 'first and last' - and how can there be more than one 'Mighty God' (for Isaiah 10v21 and Jeremiah 32v18 show that the Mighty God is the Lord of hosts) - unless the 'Trinity' exists?

Jesus is
Lord of Lord and King of Kings, the Alpha and Omega - with no beginning and no end because, as we have shown from Scripture, He has always existed because He is 'the SAME yesterday, today, and forever' (Hebrews 13v8).

(Continued on page 241)

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