Did Ellen White believe and teach Volunteerism?

Did Ellen White believe and teach Volunteerism?

JASON SMITH·FRIDAY, APRIL 20, 2018

Did Ellen White teach that the Fatherhood and Sonship of the 1st and 2nd Persons of the Godhead are roles that were entered upon at some distant point in eternity? Did she teach that before this decision was made that the 3 Persons were ambiguous and that any One of Them could have been the Other?

This idea or doctrine has been aptly dubbed “volunteerism.” It is the idea that before creation (or at least before sin) the 3 Persons of the Godhead opted or volunteered for certain roles in order to relate to created beings and/or execute the plan of salvation in response to sin. This idea is found within Seventh-day Adventism on a fairly consistent basis with numerous scholars and pastors holding to it.

A good example can be found in this statement from Gorden Jensen:

“A plan of salvation was encompassed in the covenant made by the Three Persons of the Godhead, who possessed the attributes of Deity equally. In order to eradicate sin and rebellion from the universe and to restore harmony and peace, ONE OF THE DIVINE BEINGS accepted, and entered into, THE ROLE OF THE FATHER, ANOTHER THE ROLE OF THE SON. The REMAINING DIVINE BEING, the Holy Spirit, was also to participate in effecting the plan of salvation. ALL OF THIS TOOK PLACE BEFORE SIN AND REBELLION TRANSPIRED IN HEAVEN.

“By ACCEPTING THE ROLES that the plan entailed, THE DIVINE BEINGS lost none of the powers of Deity. With regard to their eternal existence and other attributes, they were one and equal. But with regard to the plan of salvation, there was, in a sense, a submission on the part of the Son to the Father.”­ (Adventist Review, October 31, 1996, p.12)

Note: Here brother Jensen argues that these roles are the result of the plan of salvation and that this is where the Son’s submission stems from. This doctrine is very problematic in my thinking. According to Jensen 2 Persons of the Godhead took upon themselves the roles of Father and Son before sin happened in heaven. Do you know the implication of this? Let's look at what inspiration reveals to us about the angelic rebellion. What was Lucifer thinking and what was the matter of his warfare?

“CHRIST WAS THE ONLY BEGOTTEN SON OF GOD, and Lucifer, that glorious angel, GOT UP A WARFARE OVER THE MATTER, he had to be thrust down to the earth…{Ms86-1910.30}

"And COVETING the honor which THE INFINITE FATHER had bestowed upon HIS SON, this prince of angels aspired to power which it was the prerogative of Christ alone to wield… Yet the Son of God was the acknowledged Sovereign of heaven, one in power and authority with the Father. In all the councils of God, Christ was a participant, while Lucifer was not permitted thus to enter into the divine purposes. “Why,” questioned this mighty angel, “should Christ have the supremacy? Why is He thus honored above Lucifer?” {GC 494.1; 495.1; }

Basically you would have Two Beings presenting Themselves as Father and only begotten Son in the presence of all the angels. Now, according to brother Jensen, They took upon themselves these roles before sin and rebellion ever took place, "in order to eradicate sin and rebellion from the universe and to restore harmony and peace." In other words entering into the Fatherhood and Sonship roles was a preemptive move against the upcoming sin problem.

Now what is it exactly that Lucifer became jealous of? The honor which God the Father had bestowed upon His Son. What was the matter of his warfare? That Christ was the only begotten Son! This leaves us with a very reasonable question. Why in the world would the 3 God Beings do this? Why masquerade as Father and only begotten Son if the Sonship would become the object of Luciferian coveteousness? In this scenario They would have created the very environment and order in which sin fomented by making it appear that They had this relationship to Each Other. Arguably that would make Them culpable. Why would They do this? What answer did brother Jensen offer? Well Two of the Three Persons entered into the roles of Father and Son because They knew They had to get rid of sin! Do you not see the circular reasoning behind this view of the Godhead?

It has the Three Beings establishing an order in heaven (something that is not actually an inherent part of who They are) which then triggers the very start of the sinful rebellion (Lucifer gets jealous of the role playing Son) and They did this for the very purpose of eradicating sin and rebellion. In all sincerity what type of idiots would this make Them? They very thing They supposedly did to solve the sin problem is what made the environment in which the sin problem first arose! It would be like a man who knows that another man is going to shoot him actually loading a gun and handing it to his future assailant. This particular theory of volunteerism makes sense if one believes in the Calvinistic god but it does not make sense if you believe in the God of the Bible who did not actually want sin to arise.

Brethren, I believe a much simpler and far more logical explanation is that God the Father has an actual Son. This is not a role that the Two created to eradicate sin but an actual, ontological reality. Thus when Lucifer became jealous of the Son of God this was not something that God the Father could say – “Oh no, you misunderstand, it's just a role!” No, it was an unalterable reality that Lucifer either had to accept or reject. And this, by the way, is a point frequently obscured.

“This fact the [fallen] angels would obscure, that Christ was the only begotten Son of God, and they came to consider that they were not to consult Christ. {TDG 128.2}

According to sister White, the rebellious angels (and the timing of this quote is while they were still in heaven) were seeking to hide the “fact” that Christ was God’s only begotten Son. Now the plan of salvation was not yet known to the angels. In fact, at this point, the earth did not even exist yet! Thus they could not have understood the only begotten Son to be a prophetic title in anticipation of the plan of salvation. Evidence suggests that they understood it ontologically and that they knew that this is what made the Son of God different from themselves and justified His exaltation above themselves. Therefore they sought to hide this point in order to make Him seem like He was a created being, an angel just like themselves. In this way they could make God’s law seem arbitrary in having Him exalted above themselves. All the angels should be equal, they claimed, and there should be no law putting them under the Headship of the Son of God. This was an angelic egalitarian agenda with a necessary component to justify it being the removal of the distinction between a Son begotten and a son by creation.

“A complete offering has been made; for “God so loved the world, that he gave HIS ONLY-BEGOTTEN SON,”—NOT A SON BY CREATION, AS WERE ANGELS, nor a son by adoption, as is the forgiven sinner, BUT A SON BEGOTTEN IN THE EXPRESS IMAGE OF THE FATHER’S PERSON, AND IN ALL THE BRIGHTNESS OF HIS MAJESTY AND GLORY, ONE EQUAL WITH GOD IN AUTHORITY, DIGNITY AND DIVINE PERFECTION. In him dwelt all the fullness of the Godhead bodily. {ST May 30, 1895, par. 3}

A few quick points here:

1) This statement reveals that Mrs. White’s understanding of the “monogenes” Son (aka: only begotten) is “a Son begotten.” Her explanation is very clear here.

2) Typical SDA apologetic argues that this passage is about His human begetting but this statement refers to Him as a Son begotten in ALL the brightness of the Father’s majesty and glory. This does not match the incarnation for we are told:

“Christ came, BUT NOT IN THE BRIGHTNESS OF HIS DIVINE GLORY. He laid aside his royal robe and kingly crown, clothed his divinity with humanity, and came to live upon the earth as a man among men. HAD HE COME IN THE FULL POWER AND GLORY OF HIS DIVINITY, SINNERS COULD NOT HAVE STOOD IN HIS PRESENCE WITHOUT BEING DESTROYED. He came to meet humanity in its most sinful and corrupt form. Thus divine love was manifested toward erring mortals. {RH September 13, 1906, par. 5}

3) This language is borrowed from other SDA authors (i.e. D.M. Canright; E.J. Waggoner) who used it to refer to the begetting pre-incarnate Christ. While Mrs. White does not place the pre-incarnate begetting at a point in time as they do, she never repudiates the concept.

Now returning back to the point revealed in This Day With God pg 128 we see that the “fact” that the fallen angels tried to obscure was that Christ was the only begotten Son. By hiding this fact they could make the Son of God out to be the same type of being as themselves. So this is actually an issue of ontology. They were challenging His Divinity by distorting the nature of His Sonship. Hence we read this commentary about the interaction that Jesus and satan had here on the earth.

“When Satan and the Son of God first met in conflict, Christ was the commander of the heavenly hosts; and Satan, the leader of revolt in heaven, was cast out. Now their condition is apparently reversed, and Satan makes the most of his supposed advantage. ONE OF THE MOST POWERFUL OF THE ANGELS, HE SAYS, HAS BEEN BANISHED FROM HEAVEN. THE APPEARANCE OF JESUS INDICATES THAT HE IS THAT FALLEN ANGEL, forsaken by God, and deserted by man. A DIVINE BEING WOULD BE ABLE TO SUSTAIN HIS CLAIM BY WORKING A MIRACLE; “IF THOU BE THE SON OF GOD, command this stone that it be made bread.” SUCH AN ACT OF CREATIVE POWER, URGES THE TEMPTER, WOULD BE CONCLUSIVE EVIDENCE OF DIVINITY. IT WOULD BRING THE CONTROVERSY TO AN END.{DA 119.2}

“In taking the nature of man, Christ was not equal in appearance with the angels of Heaven, but this was one of the necessary humiliations that he willingly accepted when he became man’s Redeemer. SATAN URGED THAT IF HE WAS INDEED THE SON OF GOD he should give him some evidence of his exalted character. He suggested that God would not leave his Son in so deplorable a condition. HE DECLARED THAT ONE OF THE HEAVENLY ANGELS HAD BEEN EXILED TO EARTH, AND HIS APPEARANCE INDICATED THAT INSTEAD OF BEING THE KING OF HEAVEN, HE WAS THAT FALLEN ANGEL. He called attention to his own beautiful appearance, clothed with light and strength, and insultingly contrasted the wretchedness of Christ with his own glory. {2SP 91.1}

“He claimed direct authority from Heaven to demand proof of Christ that he was the Son of God. He taunted him with being a poor representative of the angels, much less their high Commander, the acknowledged King in the royal courts; and insinuated that his present appearance indicated that he was forsaken of God and man. HE DECLARED THAT IF HE WERE THE SON OF GOD HE WAS EQUAL WITH GOD AND SHOULD EVIDENCE THIS by working a miracle to relieve his hunger. He then urged him to change the stone at his feet to bread, and AGREED THAT IF THIS WERE DONE HE WOULD AT ONCE YIELD HIS CLAIMS TO SUPERIORITY, AND THE CONTEST BETWEEN THE TWO SHOULD BE FOREVER ENDED.{2SP 91.2}

Note: These inspired quotes help us to understand a core component of the great controversy. It effectively explains why the controversy is particularly between Christ and satan. Lucifer tried to make the only begotten Son of God out to be a son of God like the angels were (a son by creation) instead of a Divine Son (a Son begotten). Please think about it. Did Jesus look anything like an angel here? Of course not! He looked like an emaciated human. So then why did satan say he looked like a fallen angel? It should be apparent that the enemy was going back to the original issue of the controversy! In the quotes above he tried to goad the Son of God into using His Divine power and thus break the plan of salvation, by falsely claiming that if He did so then it would end the war.

Let’s return now to the issue of volunteerism:

Another example of this doctrine within Adventism can be found in this quote from Roy Adams:

"Imagine a situation in which the Being WE HAVE COME TO KNOW AS GOD THE FATHER came to die for us, and the One WE HAVE COME TO KNOW AS JESUS stayed back in heaven (we are speaking in human terms to make a point). NOTHING WOULD HAVE CHANGED EXCEPT THAT WE WOULD HAVE BEEN CALLING EACH BY THE NAME WE NOW USE FOR THE OTHER. (Roy Adams, Sabbath School Bible Study Guide, Lesson for April 10, 2008.)

Note: Brother Adams point here is that the roles of Father and Son could have been swapped. He believes that the Being that we have come to know as the Father could actually have been Jesus and the Being we have come to know as Jesus could have actually have been the Father. I believe that this doctrine teaching is actually a distortion of a landmark pillar of Adventism and a change of doctrine. You see modern Sevennth-day Adventist doctrine, at least as articulated by some, makes the 3 Persons interchangeable. Any One of Them could have been the Other.

“The gospel commission commands surrendered souls to be baptized in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Ghost. The apostolic benediction lists the Three and names Christ first. Paul usually places God the Father first but here it is reversed. To me this signifies THE INTERCHANGEABLENESS OF THE MEMBERS OF THE GODHEAD they are on in action and purpose." – [J.R. Spangler Review & Herald, Oct. 21, 1971 (I BELIEVE in the Triune God)]

So the Father/Son relationship is not an eternal reality but actually roles that were entered into at some distant point of eternity past.

“While the three divine persons are one, THEY HAVE TAKEN DIFFERENT ROLES OR POSITIONS in the Godhead’s work of creation, redemption and loving administration of the universe. The Father has assumed overall leadership, the Son has subordinated Himself to the leadership of the Father, and the Spirit is voluntarily subordinate to both the Father an the Son” (The Trinity, pg 243)

“It may be INFERRED from the Scriptures that when the Godhead laid out the plan of salvation AT SOME POINT IN ETERNITY PAST, THEY ALSO TOOK CERTAIN POSITIONS OR ROLES to carry out the provisions of the plan. (These Times, our Times, June 1st, 1981)

In this system God the Father is not an actual Father and thus He is not really the great Source of all like how Desire of Ages pg 21 says He is. No, instead He just “seems” to be this.

“The Father SEEMS to act as source, the Son as mediator, and the Spirit as actualizer or applier (SDAs believe pg 30)

The result is that the final authority in the Godhead is not actually found within the Father.

“In the Godhead, final authority resides in all three members (SDAs Believe pg 30)

Richard Davidson also teaches this same doctrine via his interpretation of Proverbs 8. He asserts:

“….THE PASSAGE SEEMS TO REFER TO THE TIME OF HIS INSTALLMENT INTO HIS OFFICE OF SONSHIP “IN THE BEGINNING” (which in light of the allusion to the “in the beginning” [using the same Hebrew word] of Gen 1:1, refers to the commencement of creation in the universe).

Davidson continue on to say:

“IS IT POSSIBLE THAT, PERHAPS IN A COUNCIL BETWEEN THE MEMBERS OF THE GODHEAD BEFORE CREATION, IT WAS DECIDED THAT THE ONE WE NOW CALL THE SECOND PERSON OF THE GODHEAD WOULD AT THE COMMENTS OF CREATION CONDESCEND TO PARTIALLY EMPTY HIMSELF (cf. the kenosis of Phil 2) TO STEP DOWN (PERHAPS TAKING THE FORM OF AN ANGEL?) to become the Mediator between the infinite God and finite creatures? And that Prov 8 is referring to this installation – this “begetting” of the Son of God – into the office of Mediator between the transcendent God and finite created beings?... (Proverbs 8 and Place of Christ in the Trinity pg 50, 52)

I have also heard this same doctrine – volunteerism – from the pulpit at my old congregation and, recently, in a presentation on April 7th, 2018 entitled “Why the Trinity Matters” by Dr. Stephen Bauer of Southern Adventist University. He supported the concept with a particular quote from Ellen White that we will examine here shortly.

Now what the doctrine of volunteerism ends up producing is the idea that God the Father is not an eternal Father because He was not always in that role. And the Son of God is not an eternal Son because He too was not always in that role. While the Persons who are NOW known as the Father and Son have been eternally existent, the Fatherhood and Sonship relationship aspect is not from all eternity in this system.

In my experience this teaching with Seventh-day Adventism, for the most part, has not been based upon the Word of God and certainly not upon the testimonies. Most of the time when I have heard it taught there hasn’t been a single Bible verse or quote from the testimonies to sustain it. This led me to investigate the matter for myself.

So now, in this document, I would like to show evidence that the testimonies do not support this view:

Did Mrs. White teach that the Fatherhood and Sonship of the 1st and 2nd Persons of the Godhead were roles that occurred at some distant point in eternity? Let’s read for ourselves:

“CHRIST IS DECLARED IN THE SCRIPTURES TO BE THE SON OF GOD. FROM ALL ETERNITY HE HAS SUSTAINED THIS RELATION TO JEHOVAH. Before the foundations of the world were laid, He, the only begotten Son of God, pledged Himself to become the Redeemer of the human race should men sin. {Ms22-1905.4}

Whatever else we might say I believe this quote completely shatters the idea that God the Father was not actually the eternal Father and that His Son was not actually the eternal Son. She very clearly asserts that “this relation,” that is the relation of Father and Son, has been sustained “from all eternity.”

This helps us to understand that when she refers to the “eternal Son of God” she is not writing an anachronism. She is not talking about a Being who is eternal who at some later point became the Son. No, no! She is talking about a Being who was really God’s Son “from all eternity.” He is, from the very realm or dimension that God alone inhabits, His very Son.

“When in the fulness of time THE ETERNAL SON OF THE INFINTE GOD came forth from the bosom of His Father to this world, He came in the garb of humanity, clothing His divinity with humanity. The Father and the Son in consultation decided that Christ must come to the world as a babe and live the life that human beings must live from childhood to manhood, bearing the trials that they must bear and at the same time living a sinless life, that men might see in Him an example of what they can become, and that he might know by experience how to help them in their struggles with sin. He was tried as man is tried, tempted as man is tempted. The life that He lived in this world men can live through His power and under His instruction. {Lt232-1903.19}

It is my understanding that in EGW’s theology the fact that He is “the eternal Son of the infinite God” is what makes Him “the infinite God” just as verily as His Father. It is a “reality” of His Being in her system.

“But while God’s Word speaks of the humanity of Christ when upon this earth, it also speaks decidedly regarding his pre-existence. THE WORD EXISTED AS A DIVINE BEING, EVEN AS THE ETERNAL SON OF GOD, IN UNION AND ONENESS WITH HIS FATHER. From everlasting he was the Mediator of the covenant, the one in whom all nations of the earth, both Jews and Gentiles, if they accepted him, were to be blessed. “The Word was with God, and the Word was God.” Before men or angels were created, the Word was with God, and was God. {RH April 5, 1906, par. 5}

“WHEN CHRIST FIRST ANNOUNCED TO THE HEAVENLY HOST HIS MISSION AND HIS WORK IN THE WORLD, He declared that He was to leave His position of dignity and disguise His holy mission by assuming the likeness of a man, WHEN IN REALITY HE WAS THE SON OF THE INFINITE GOD... {Lt303-1903.14}

So the “reality” that the pre-incarnate Christ told that angels is that “He was the Son of the infinite God.” Yet He would disguise His identity by becoming a man.

“Then LOOK BENEATH THE DISGUISE, and whom do we see?—DIVINITY, THE ETERNAL SON OF GOD, JUST AS MIGHTY, JUST AS INFINITELY GIFTED all the resources of power, and He was found in fashion as a man. {Lt37-1887.22}

Thus we have Two Persons in an Father/Son relationship – Two separate Beings – yet Both are the infinite God. One by virtue of His Sonship for what the Father is – infinite God – His Son must also be because He is His Father’s express image. Thus the Son of the infinite God is also infinite God right alongside Him.

Now if this was a relationship “from all eternity” it cannot have been entered into as volunteerism teaches. So then what are we to make of this quote?

“Had God the Father come to our world and dwelt among us, veiling His glory, humbling Himself, that humanity might look upon Him, the history that we have of the life of Christ would not have been changed in unfolding its record of His own condescending grace. In every act of Jesus, in every lesson of His instruction, we are to see and hear and recognize God. In sight, in hearing, in effect, it is the voice and movements of the Father. But language seems to be so feeble! I refrain, and with John exclaim, “Behold what manner of love hath the Father bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God; therefore the world knoweth us not because it knew him not.” {Lt83-1895.25}

The first point is to read the quote for what it says and what it does not say. Having communicated with a few SDA ministers I am convinced that they are reading this quote as if it said this:

“The Being we now know as God the Father could have actually come to our world and dwelt among us, veiling His glory, humbling Himself that humanity might look upon Him. And if He had done this then He would have been the Christ and the history we have of the life of Christ would not have been changed….”

My point here is that I believe they are doing eisegsis and not exegesis of the testimonies. Please note the following points.

Point 1: Nowhere in the quote does Mrs. White suggest that the Persons are interchangeable or ever were. God the Father remains as God the Father in the quote. She does not say that if He had come He would have been the Son of God or any other combination of the Three Persons. In fact you could just as easily argue that if He had come then He would have been His own grandpa (think about it! – In His Divinity He would be the grandfather of His humanity)

Point 2: The language of the quote indicates to me that it is an hypothetical. Mrs. White is making a point about how precise the personification of the Father was by the Son. She is saying that even if the Father Himself had come to the earth there would be no difference in the way that He would have operated in comparison to His Son who actually did. As she says elsewhere the Son of God was “the personification of the only true God” {RH January 30, 1900 Art. A. par. 6}

It is very important to understand that a landmark pillar of SDA theology is the distinct and separate personalities of God and Christ. Each acts in His own individuality. One as the Father and the Other as the Son.

“Those who seek to remove THE OLD LANDMARKS are not holding fast; THEY ARE NOT REMEMBERING HOW THEY HAVE RECEIVED AND HEARD. Those who try to bring in theories that would remove THE PILLARS OF OUR FAITH concerning the sanctuary, or CONCERNING THE PERSONALITY OF GOD OR OF CHRIST, are working as blind men. They are seeking to bring in uncertainties and to set the people of God adrift, without an anchor. {Ms62-1905.14}

“In this Scripture God and Christ are spoken of as two distinct personalities, EACH ACTING THEIR OWN INDIVIDUALITY. {Ms145-1905.18}

“FROM ETERNITY there was a complete unity between THE FATHER AND THE SON. They were two, YET LITTLE SHORT OF BEING IDENTICAL; TWO IN INDIVIDUALITY, yet one in spirit, and heart, and character. {YI December 16, 1897, par. 5}

“The Lord Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of the Father, is truly God in infinity, BUT NOT IN PERSONALITY” {MS116-1905.19}

As I understand these quotes the apparent point is that the Father and Son are not identical twins. No, no, One is the Father and the Other is the Son. There is a real filial relationship between Them. Yet the Two are so closely united, They are united on so many levels, that the Son can represent the Father perfectly. He can personify Him to such an extent that everything that He says and does is exactly what the Father would say and do if He were in the same position. Thus, as Christ could say to Phillip, even while walking as a man, that he that hath seen Me hath seen the Father!

“WE HAVE ONLY ONE PERFECT PHOTOGRAPH OF GOD, AND THIS IS JESUS CHRIST.{Ms70-1899.15}

So whether in His incarnated state walking as a Man among men or in His pre-incarnate state as the glorified Son of God walking among the angels, He was the perfect representation of His Father – the express image. He was assimilated to God’s image.

“The enemy is frequently working your mind. He has endeavored to implant in your mind the same desires that he cherished when in the heavenly courts he occupied the position of covering cherub. CHRIST IS THE EXPRESS IMAGE OF HIS FATHER’S PERSON, AND THE ANGELS COULD SEE IN THE SON A PERFECT REPRESENTATION OF GOD. Lucifer coveted the honor and glory given to Christ. He became so self-exalted that he supposed that he could do anything he desired to do because of his high position as covering cherub, and he tried to obtain for himself the position given to Christ. But Lucifer fell. He was cast out of heaven; and now he works on human minds, tempting them to follow in his footsteps. He strives to fill minds with feelings of self-exaltation and to lead them to dishonor God by turning from their allegiance to the truth and inventing many things not after God’s order. {Lt55-1903.15}

“Lucifer was the most beautiful angel in the heavenly courts next to Jesus Christ, BUT CHRIST WAS ONE WITH GOD, ASSIMILATED TO THE IMAGE OF GOD TO DO THE WILL OF GOD. Satan, knowing that Christ had the first place next to God, began to insinuate to the angels that he should be next to God. His great beauty and exalted position made him feel that he was not receiving due honor in being second to Christ. Therefore he would suggest this to the angels, and this suggestion [began] to be communicated to the heavenly angels, and finally [it was] brought before God that Lucifer was the one who should be next to God. Thus the seed was sown and the result was that angels sympathized with Lucifer; next, there was war in heaven. Lucifer’s beautiful appearance was constantly exalted and the Lord God of heaven [saw] that Lucifer and his party were very strong against Christ. {Ms90-1910.4}

Point 3: If Mrs. White was presenting an actual historical possibility then the next logical question becomes why didn’t God the Father do this? If the Father really could have come instead of sending His Son then what prevented Him? Surely if there was any way that it was possible He would have done so Himself. After all this is the Being who had His Son teach us that the greatest love that one can show is to lay down one’s own life. Here we could end up going down a route of making God into a selfish being. If He was actually capable of coming to die for the race but sent His Son instead then we have a problem that undermines the character of God as self-sacrificial.

Point 4: In EGW’s theology God the Father is the great Source of all. He is the foundation of His law. Thus He is the highest or supreme Authority in the universe and the Being unto Whom all must account. This order cannot be changed.

“The Ancient of Days is GOD THE FATHER. Says the psalmist: “Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever Thou hadst formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, Thou art God.” Psalm 90:2. It is HE, THE SOURCE OF ALL BEING, AND THE FOUNTAIN OF ALL LAW, that is to preside in the judgment... {GC 479.2}

“God is a moral governor as well as a Father. HE IS THE LAWGIVER. He makes and executes His laws. Law that has no penalty is of no force. {Ms5-1876.13}

“ALL THINGS CHRIST RECEIVED FROM GOD, but He took to give. So in the heavenly courts, in His ministry for all created beings: through the beloved Son, THE FATHER’S LIFE flows out to all; through the Son it returns, in praise and joyous service, a tide of love, TO THE GREAT SOURCE OF ALL. And thus through Christ the circuit of beneficence is complete, representing the character of THE GREAT GIVER, the law of life. {DA 21.2}

Point 5: Due to a new view of the Godhead, many SDAs today do not recognize that even in the pre-incarnate existence the Son was ruling “under God” and operated as “next in authority” to Him. This failure has blinded them to the reason why God the Father Himself could not come in Person to this earth to die but rather gave permission to His Son for Him to do so when the Son volunteered for the mission. You see the Father had given the world to His Son and He ruled it under Him. It was His Divine inheritance and He volunteered to redeem it back unto Himself and the Father but that’s another study.

"The creation of our world was brought into the councils of heaven. There the covering cherub prepared his request that he should be made PRINCE to govern the world then in prospect. This was not accorded him. JESUS CHRIST WAS TO RULE THE EARHTLY KINGDOM; UNDER GOD He engaged to take the world with all its probabilities. THE LAW OF HEAVEN SHOULD BE THE STANDARD LAW FOR THIS NEW WORLD, for human intelligences.... {Ms43b-1891 (July 4, 1891) par. 3}

Note: This is before the creation of our world. Lucifer wanted to have the princely dominion that belonged to Christ but God did not allow this. The law of heaven is very clearly explained here. Christ would rule “under God”

“THE SON OF GOD WAS NEXT IN AUTHORITY TO THE GREAT LAWGIVER. He knew that his life alone could be sufficient to ransom fallen man. He was of as much more value than man as his noble, spotless character, and exalted office as commander of all the heavenly host, were above the work of man. He was in the express image of his Father, not in features alone, but in perfection of character. {2SP 9.1}

Note: The Son of God “was next in authority to the great Lawgiver.” Thus the Lawgiver, in the ultimate sense is God the Father.

“He [the Son] then made known to the angelic choir that a way of escape had been made for lost man; that He had been pleading with His Father, and had OBTAINED PERMISSION to give His own life as a ransom for the race, to bear their sins, and take the sentence of death upon Himself,... Said the angel, “Think ye that the Father YIELDED UP His dearly beloved Son without a struggle? No, no.” It was even a struggle with the God of heaven, whether TO LET guilty man perish, or TO GIVE His darling Son to die for them….{EW 126.1; 127.1 [brackets added for clarity]}

Note: Please note that the Son did not tell the Father what He would do but first “obtained permission” to give His life. That really sounds like ultimate decision rested with the Father who was supreme.

“CHRIST VOLUNTEERED TO COME TO OUR WORLD and give to men the true light. God gave His only begotten Son to the world TO REVEAL THE FATHER AS SUPREME IN HEAVEN AND IN EARTH. Christ came in the form of humanity, to meet and overcome the enemy and his devices. {Lt132-1910.6}

Note: Here we see, again, that Christ “volunteered” and He revealed the Father as supreme in heaven and in earth.

“Lucifer, who was determined to have Christ’s place in the heavenly courts, lost his glorious position and was exiled to this world. In contrast to this, Christ laid aside His royal robe and kingly crown and came to this world to stand at the head of humanity as man’s Saviour. HE TRANSFERRED HIS HOME TO THE WORLD OCCUPIED BY FALLEN HUMAN BEINGS, BUT HIS CHARACTER AND HIS RELATIONSHIP TO GOD WERE UNCHANGED…{Lt128-1910.16}

Note: Some believe that Jesus changed His relationship to God when He became a man but we are informed that His relationship to God was not changed.

“Christ’s time to show His divine power had not yet come. He was fully aware of the glory He had with the Father before the world was. But THEN HE WILLINGLY SUBMITTED TO THE DIVINE WILL, AND HE WAS UNCHANGED NOW. {BEcho July 23, 1900, par. 6}

Note: Whether incarnate or pre-incarnate the Son of God willingly submitted to the Divine will. You see it is not obedience that He learned, per se, but rather obedience while experience suffering because of it (see Heb 5:8). Prior to His humanity when Jesus submitted to the Divine will it was nothing but joy. He loved to pass along His Father’s commands and do His will. In His humanity, however, Jesus learned an obedience that originated out from suffering. Continuing on with quotes: “Before the great contest should open, all were to have a clear presentation of HIS WILL, whose wisdom and goodness were the spring of all their joy.{PP 36.1}

“THE KING OF THE UNIVERSE summoned the heavenly hosts before Him, that in their presence He might set forth THE TRUE POSITION OF HIS SON and show the relation He sustained to all created beings. THE SON OF GOD shared the Father’s throne, and the glory of the eternal, self-existent One encircled both….Before the assembled inhabitants of heaven the King declared that none but Christ, THE ONLY BEGOTTEN OF GOD, could fully enter into His purposes, and TO HIM IT WAS COMMITTED TO EXECUTE THE MIGHTY COUNSELS OF HIS WILL. The Son of God had WROUGHT THE FATHER'S WILL in the creation of all the hosts of heaven; and TO HIM, AS WELL AS TO GOD, their homage and allegiance were due. Christ was still to exercise divine power, in the creation of the earth and its inhabitants. But in all this HE WOULD NOT SEEK POWER OR EXALTATION FOR HIMSELF CONTRARY TO GOD'S PLAN, BUT WOULD EXALT THE FATHER'S GLORY AND EXECUTE HIS PURPOSES OF BENEFICENCE AND LOVE. {PP 36.2}

Note: Again, quote after quote, establishes this same truth. Even when existing in His fully glory with the Father as His co-Regent with the glory of the self-existent One surrounding Both Himself and the Father, it is clear that He worked the Father’s will and did not seek power or exaltation for Himself contrary to God’s plan.

Point 6: Thus the broken law of God must be met by the judgment of God Himself (meaning the Father). This is an immutable aspect of His being. Here we begin to understand better why the Father could not incarnate. He is the Judge, the Author of the law, and the well being of the universe depends on His holding this position without compromise.

“The law of God could not be set aside even to save lost man. The well-being of the universe demanded that the divine government should be maintained... {ST November 4, 1908, par. 14}

“As Creator of all, God is governor over all, and HE IS BOUND TO ENFORCE HIS LAW throughout the universe. To require less from His creatures than obedience to His law would be to abandon them to ruin. To fail to punish transgression of His law would be to place the universe in confusion. The moral law is God’s barrier between the human agent and sin. Thus infinite wisdom has placed before men the distinction between right and wrong, between sin and holiness. {ST June 5, 1901, par. 5}

“…The law of Jehovah, the foundation of his government in Heaven and upon earth, was as sacred as its divine Author; and for this reason the life of an angel could not be accepted of God as a sacrifice for its transgression. His law was of more importance in his sight than the holy angels around his throne. THE FATHER could not change nor abolish one precept of HIS LAW to meet man in his fallen condition… {ST January 30, 1879, par. 12}

Point 7: In EGW’s theology the begotten Son of God is the Vindicator of God’s character and law. There is an “equal yet next to” God dichotomy that exists with Him. As the Son of God’s substance He is the Father’s ontological equal and thus able to meet the claims of the Father’s law.

“THE SON OF GOD presented before him [Lucifer] the greatness, the goodness, and the justice of the Creator, and THE SACRED, UNCHANGING NATURE OF HIS LAW. GOD HIMSELF HAD ESTABLISHED THE ORDER OF HEAVEN; and in departing from it, Lucifer would dishonor his Maker, and bring ruin upon himself…. {GC 494.2}

“We need an advocate with the Father, BECAUSE IT IS THE FATHER’S LAW THAT WE HAVE BROKEN... {RH July 24, 1888, par. 12}

“They could only behold in amazement their loved Commander suffering the penalty of man's transgression of THE FATHER’S LAW.” (Ellen G. White, Signs of the Times. 21st August 1879 ‘The Sufferings of Christ’)

Note: Hopefully sufficient evidence has been shown for all to see why the Father Himself could not incarnate. And hopefully enough evidence has also been shown to demonstrate that God the Father could not have been the Son or vice versa. God the Father is the great Source of all, the highest authority and the foundation of law for the universe. It is His law that was transgressed. Thus He is the Judge whose law had to be atoned for. For Him to leave the throne would be the equivalent of the abrogation of the Divine law.

Point 8: And there was only One Being capable of doing this –God’s Son.

“THE DIVINE SON OF GOD WAS THE ONLY SACRIFICE OF SUFFICIENT VALUE TO FULLY SATISFY THE CLAIMS OF GOD’S PERFECT LAW. The angels were sinless, but of less value than the law of God. (Ellen G. White, Review and Herald, 17th December 1872, 'The First Advent of Christ')

“ONLY BY THE GIFT OF GOD’S SON could the ransom of the human race be obtained. Without THIS SACRIFICE, all that remained for man was death in his sins…. (Ellen G. White. Signs of the Times, 22nd February 1899, 'The measure of God's love')

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