Concept of One

Article by Paul Chung

Concept of One God according to Seventh-day Adventists:

According to the current SDA website, the One God of the Bible is describe as "God is a relationship of Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The ONLY BEING worthy of our worship..."

The Seventh-day Adventist 28 Fundamental Beliefs No. 2 further explains this "one God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit" as "a unity of three co-eternal Persons. God is immortal, all-powerful, all-knowing, above all, and ever present. HE is infinite and beyond human comprehension, yet known through HIS self-revelation." (emphasis in caps added)

According to what Seventh-day Adventists believe, "the Only Being" is really composed of three Persons, and therefore the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit together are thus expressed as "He" or “His.”

Are the three Persons really a “He”? The intended implication here is unmistakable; the expression “He” or “His” clearly denotes that the three Persons are in fact a single Being. Apparently, much thought went into wording the Statement No 2 to avoid sounding tritheistic, according to the GC minutes.

The above statement of belief, notwithstanding, most Seventh-day Adventists deny this fact and insist that they believe in three separate Gods with three distinct personalities and thus, they lean towards some form of tri-theism. Either way, both beliefs are not consistent with the Scripture.

Concept of One According to the Scripture:

Deuteronomy 6:4 “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one (Strongs H259 'echad)  LORD:”

When Jesus created Adam and Eve and married them we are told that He said that they had become one (Strongs H259 'echad) flesh (Genesis 2:24). And when Jesus came to this earth, He further stated that Adam and Eve were no longer two but one (Matthew 19:4-6). It is obvious that Adam and Eve were still two separate persons (not a single being) but they were to be one in the sense of having a harmonious, loving, and intimate relationship.

Note: Coincidentally, the word used in Genesis 2:24, referring to a man and a woman becoming one (’echad), to describe a union of two separate entities, is significantly the same word used of God in Deuteronomy 6:4; “our God is one (’echad).” Therefore, Trinitarians argue that, not unlike marriage being a union of two, God’s nature is described as a plural unity.

But despite the several often referred Scriptures which unquestionably reveal a unity between the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit (Matthew 28:191 John 5:7), is it not a fact that never in an instance is this unity referred to as “One God”, either in nature or in operation or that this unity would be understood as a singular Being? Furthermore, the Bible never describes the Father and the Son together as “He” or in any other singular pronoun.

In John 10:30 Jesus says, “I and [my] Father are one.” In this passage, Jesus claimed to be one with the Father.

Does this mean that Jesus is confirming the concept of Trinity and that He is one of the three members of the triune Godhead? There is no evidence within the passage to suggest this.

In John chapter 17, verse 3, Jesus prays to the Father and says, “And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent. Jesus called God "the only true God."

Note: In the above passage, Jesus called the Father "the only true God" and yet He did not include Himself as one being part of that distinction, but added, “AND Jesus Christ”.  Never did He refer to God as a deity of plural persons.

In verse 11 of the same chapter, Jesus says, “And now I am no more in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to thee. Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one, AS WE ARE.”

John 17:20-23 continues the thought, “Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one: I IN THEM, AND THOU IN ME, THAT THEY MAY BE MADE PERFECT IN ONE; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me.”

They are one in the same sense in which Jesus prayed that His disciples might be one. He asked his Father that his disciples might be one. His language is, ‘that they may be one, even as we are one.’

John chapter 17 clearly points out that the oneness Jesus has with the Father is not referring to some concept of Trinity, rather a spiritual oneness He experiences with His Father.  Apparently, this oneness is something all of us can also experience as His disciples through an abiding or indwelling Spirit of the Father and Jesus in us; “I in them, and thou in me.”  Jesus prayed that His disciples might become one EVEN AS He and His Father are one. Was Jesus saying that He, His Father and the disciples are to become the same person or a singular God? Of course not! Again, He was simply stating that there is a unity of purpose and spiritual oneness between the three. 

Regarding the intimate unity between Jesus and His Father in John 17, Ellen White explains:

"The Scriptures clearly indicate the relation between God and Christ, and they bring to view as clearly the personality and individuality of each.... The personality of the Father and the Son, also the unity that exists between Them, are presented in the seventeenth chapter of John, in the prayer of Christ for His disciples... The unity that exists between Christ and His disciples does not destroy the personality of either. They are one in purpose, in mind, in character, but not in person. It is thus that God and Christ are one.” (The Ministry of Healing, p. 421, 422)

Note: Here, Sister White refers to the concept of “one” as it relates to how the Father and Son “ARE ONE IN PURPOSE, IN MIND, IN CHARACTER, BUT NOT IN PERSON.” She says, “IT IS THUS THAT GOD AND CHRIST ARE ONE.” (It is not saying the Father and Son together make up the one God of the Bible.)

“With what firmness and power he uttered these words. The Jews had never before heard such words from human lips, and a convicting influence attended them; for it seemed that divinity flashed through humanity as Jesus said, "I AND MY FATHER ARE ONE." The words of Christ were full of deep meaning as he put forth the claim that he and the Father were of ONE SUBSTANCE, POSSESSING THE SAME ATTRIBUTESThe Jews understood his meaning, there was no reason why they should misunderstand, and they took up stones to stone him." (ST. November 27, 1893 par. 5)

Note: Here, Sister white refers to the Father and the Son having “one substance” but she qualifies the statement by adding, “possessing the same attributes.” The Father and Son are two separate, distinct personalities and yet they have the SAME divine nature—“one substance, possessing the same attributes”. (Ellen White is not saying: the Father and Son are an amalgamation of one indivisible being.)

"Here the position of Jesus Christ in reference to his Father is brought to view. While they are one in purpose, and one in mind, YET IN PERSONALITY THEY ARE TWO." {RH August 15, 1907, Art. A, par. 4}

The oneness existing between the Father and the Son DOES NOT AFFECT THE DISTINCT PERSONALITY OF EACH. And though believers are to be one with Christ, their identity and personality are recognized through the whole of this prayer. {14MR 220.4}

Christians should bear in mind that God HAS A PERSONALITY AS VERILY AS HAS CHRIST. They should so represent Christ’s person and conduct that by doing His work they will manifest the character and spirit of the Father. {18MR 110.1}

You will not find a single statement from Ellen White’s writings where she refers to “one” (as it relates to the Father and the Son) God of plurality made up of three persons.

DOES 1 JOHN 5:7 TEACH A TRINITY?

It reads in the King James Version: “For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one. And there are three that bear witness in earth, the Spirit, and the water, and the blood: and these three agree in one.” (1 JOHN 5:7-8; Bold emphasis added)(Bold emphasis added—words in bold are considered by many

 The words in bold (above) are considered by many, including SDA Bible Commentary to be spurious. Click here to learn more: HERE

Trinitarian’s Objection: The verse states that the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost are one. This teaches one God, a trinity of three co-eternal persons.

Again, there are many evidences to suggest that 1 John 5:7-8 is an interpolation and is spurious. Many suspect that the words in bold are not part of the generally accepted New Testament manuscripts and have valid reasons to believe this.

Still, even the added wording does not by itself proclaim the Trinity doctrine. The addition, illegitimate though it may be, merely presents the Father, the Word and the Holy Spirit as witnesses. This says nothing about the personhood of all three since verse 7 shows inanimate water and blood serving as such.

First of all, the passage does not say that these three are a trinity, nor that these three constitute "one God", made up of three co-eternal persons. It simply says: “they are one”. We are admonished not to add onto God’s word (Proverbs 30:6).

Let’s take a look and see what the passage really reveals (with the noted passage included).

1 John 5:7 begins with the words: “For there are three that bear record in heaven”. The Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost are one in the record they bear.

Notice also the following verse. “And there are three that bear witness in earth, the Spirit, and the water, and the blood: and these three agree in one.” 1 John 5:8

Please note, when 1 John 5:7 says “these three are one”, it refers to the record they bear. They are one in witness and testimony.

Now, what is the record they are united in? “Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God?” 1 John 5:5

If one interprets 1 John 5:7 to teach a trinity of three co-eternals, they deny that Jesus is truly the Son of God. This is because the trinity teaches that Jesus is only a metaphorical son. Yet only two verses prior, we are admonished that the only way to overcome the world is to believe that Jesus is “the Son of God”!

Furthermore, in verse 6 we read:

“This is he that came by water and blood, [even] Jesus Christ; not by water only, but by water and blood. And it is the Spirit that beareth witness, because the Spirit is truth.” 1 John 5:6

Notice that the Spirit also bears witness that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God. Now in verse 9, we see the Father’s testimony of His Son. “If we receive the witness of men, the witness of God is greater: for this is the witness of God which he hath testified of his Son.” 1 John 5:9(See also Matthew 3:17 and Matthew 17:5).

And what if we do not believe the record, which God gave of His Son? John continues:

“He that believeth on the Son of God hath the witness in himself: he that believeth not God hath made him a liar; because he believeth not the record that God gave of his Son.” 1 John 5:10

How important is it to believe in the Son of God? John once again affirms:

“And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He that hath the Son hath life; [and] he that hath not the Son of God hath not life.” 1 John 5:11-1222

Let us not forget the testimony of Jesus Himself, as penned by the same author:

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” John 3:16

It is interesting to note that in 1 John 5:7, the term John uses for the Son is “the Word”. This is important because in John’s gospel, he tells us exactly who the Word is.

“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.” John 1:14

Thus, one could rightly translate 1 John 5:7 as: “For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word [the only begotten of the Father], and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one.” 1 John 5:7

We have seen that the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost are one in the record that they bear, and that record is “that Jesus is the Son of God” (1 John 5:5).

Amazing! The very text which Trinitarians use to teach a trinity of three co-eternal persons (and thereby deny that Jesus is the Son of God) actually testifies to the record that Jesus is the Son of God. Moreover, the same chapter clearly states that our eternal life depends on us believing this truth.

“These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life...” 1 John 5:13

Again, the concept of “one” illustrated here do not refer to one triune godhead, made up of three persons but rather of the Father, Son, and their own Spirit’s testimony being of “one” accord.

“…that there is none other God but one. For though there be that are called gods, whether in heaven or in earth, (as there be gods many, and lords many,) 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. Howbeit there is not in every man that knowledge…” 1 Corinthians 8:4-7