Not seeing a Scroll to Top Button? Go to our FAQ page for more info.

Jesus as the Only True God?

Jesus as the Only True God?

By Paul Chung

The following article was in response to an enquiry asitreads.com received through its Contact, asking, “Does Ellen White indicate that Jesus is ‘the one true God’ in 6T 311.1?”

The mentioned quote has been addressed by a few and by some, I believe erroneously and by others (some within the non-trinitarian camp) reject it and regard it as another of EGW's statements that they will throw out because it does not agree with their theology...

Let’s look at the quote:

It was published twice by Mrs. White. Once in Testimonies Volume 6 pg. 311 in 1901 and again in the Review and Herald January 5th, 1905.

“The redeemed will meet and recognize those whose attention they have directed to the uplifted Saviour. What blessed converse they have with these souls! “I was a sinner,” it will be said, “without God and without hope in the world, and you came to me, and drew my attention to the precious Saviour as my only hope. And I believed in Him. I repented of my sins, and was made to sit together with His saints in heavenly places in Christ Jesus.” Others will say: “I was a heathen in heathen lands. You left your friends and comfortable home, and came to teach me how to find JESUS and believe in him AS THE ONLY TRUE GOD. I demolished my idols and worshiped God, and now I see Him face to face. I am saved, eternally saved, ever to behold Him whom I love. I then saw Him only with the eye of faith, but now I see Him as He is. I can now express my gratitude for His redeeming mercy to Him who loved me and washed me from my sins in His own blood.” — 6T 311.1 (cap supplied)

Contextually this statement comes from the redeemed heathen who used to worship idols. The missionaries who came to them taught them how to find Jesus and the redeemed heathen testifies of having believed in Jesus as the only true God. There can be no evasion of this passage. I've seen some try to make a case here but it really amounts to nothing more than special pleading in my estimation. The antecedent for the pronoun “Him” is clearly “Jesus” and the description of said belief in Him is “as the only true God.”

The primary objection comes from the fact that John 17:3 clearly distinguishes God the Father as the “only true God.”

”And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.” —John 17:3

Regarding the noted statement, some have made a case stating that the expression used in the statement was the testimony of the redeemed heathen and not necessarily a clear endorsement of Ellen White as to what he was saying. It is reasoned that perhaps the redeemed heathen did not have the full knowledge of the position of God the Father in relation to His dear Son. And as far as Jesus was concerned, the heathen may have, perhaps ignorantly, understood Him to be the only true God, etc. and the following statement may support that sort of reasoning.

"Those whom Christ commends in the judgment may have known little of theology, but they have cherished His principles. Through the influence of the divine Spirit they have been a blessing to those about them. Even among the heathen are those who have cherished the spirit of kindness; before the words of life had fallen upon their ears, they have befriended the missionaries, even ministering to them at the peril of their own lives. AMONG THE HEATHEN ARE THOSE WHO WORSHIP GOD IGNORANTLY, those to whom the light is never brought by human instrumentality, yet they will not perish. Though ignorant of the written law of God, they have heard His voice speaking to them in nature, and have done the things that the law required. Their works are evidence that the Holy Spirit has touched their hearts, and they are recognized as the children of God." — Desire of Ages, p. 638.2 • EGW

Add to that, James 4:17 also says, "Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin."

Accountability based on the person's knowledge is considered here...

However,

2 Peter 3:5 says "For this they WILLINGLY are ignorant of, that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water:"

"In the judgment men will not be condemned because they conscientiously believed a lie, but because they did not believe the truth, because they neglected the opportunity of learning what is truth." {PP 55.2}

So, we learned that while God does overlook our ignorance, we are accountable for neglecting "the opportunity of learning what is truth." Being willingly ignorant will not stand before the judgment as an excuse.

That said,

Many non-trintiarians are quite uncomfortable with the above statement because they maintain that the title, the “only true God” is exclusive to God the Father and that is all they see. In fact, what I’ve observed among some non-trinitarian camp is that they will likely reject any of Mrs. White writings as inspired if they see that her quote does not necessarily agree with their cherished views and will add to their dubious conspiracy theory about how Mrs. White’s writings have been tampered with, etc.

But while there is certainly an exclusive sense to God, there is simultaneously an inclusive sense where the Son of God can rightly be included with His Father as the only true God.

As I understand it, this is because Jesus is a part of God Himself. We do not have to reject the former to accept the latter and vice versa. This is an inclusive sense where the Son is truly God, even the only true God, right along with the Father.

We know that Bible uses the term "God" in two ways. It can refer either quantitatively (as in appellation/title) to the individual One True God - the Father. Or it can refer qualitatively to the QUALITY (essence/nature) of divinity. In this sense, the Son is 100% fully God; Christ is ontologically equal with the Father and shares the same quality of divinity as the Father, having “all the fullness of the Godhead bodily” (Col 2:9). Though, we understand that the substance/material of the Son, which makes him God is of the Father and was received by the virtue of His begetting or inheritance.

Yes, "only true God" does refer to a specific individual, namely to God the Father but I think ”only true God" can also refer to Jesus if we apply it as in only "God-kind."

To use Adam and Eve’s analogy,

“Male and female created he them [Adam and Eve]; and blessed them [Adam and Eve], and called THEIR name Adam, in the day when they were created” — Genesis 5:2 (bracket supplied)

It says, “called THEIR name Adam [mankind-singular, NOT “Adams].”

There was one quantitative "Adam", the first male, Eve’s husband, the progenitor of the human race. There is one “Adam” in an exclusive sense if we are referring to the name and the title. But Eve was also "Adam" (Genesis 5:2). "Adam" in this sense means "Adam-kind" or we would say "mankind." Eve is Adam in the sense that her substance/nature or the “material” is the same as Adam, her husband.

There is STILL ONE "Adam-kind" but the posterity of Adam is now made up of billions of people at the present moment.

In a similar sense, Christ bears all that is the Father (Col 2:9). He is the only other Personality in all of universe who is of the same “kind” as His Father, not unlike how Eve is of the same “kind” as Adam, her husband. In other words, there is only “one kind” of God the “true kind” and Father and the Son are the only two that qualify. it is thus the Son is the express image of His Father’s Person and the brightness of His glory (Heb 1:3).

“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 ATTRIBUTES. The Jews understood his meaning, there was no reason why they should misunderstand, and they took up stones to stone him." — Ellen White, ST. November 27, 1893 par. 5

Note: Here, Sister white refers to the Father and the Son as 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 Father and Son make a single being (an amalgamation made up of two persons sharing one substance), nor is she saying Father and Son together make one God.

God the Father is the only true God in an exclusive sense. He is the great Source of all. Or to use Biblical language He is the "One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all." (Eph 4:6) Yet can we really think of Him this way in complete isolation or exclusion? I would argue no, we cannot. Because, He would not be this to us without His Son, who is Lord, BY whom are all things.

Keep in mind also, God the Father is only true God to us by MEANS of His Son. So even though Father is exclusively the only true God you can only conceive of Him that way ONLY BY HIS SON. Remove the Son from the equation and God does not exist to us at all because, well, we wouldn't even exist for it was BY Christ that all things were created; While is it the Father, OF whom are all things, Christ executed all of Father's plans.

“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 — 1 Corinthians 8:6

Consider the following statements:

“THROUGH CHRIST ALONE CAN MAN NOW FIND ACCESS TO GOD. AND THROUGH CHRIST ALONE WILL THE LORD HOLD COMMUNICATION WITH MAN.” — Ellen G. White, Review and Herald, 24th February, 1874, Redemption No. 1'

“After the fall, Christ became Adam's instructor. HE ACTED IN GOD’S STEAD toward humanity, saving the race from immediate death. He took upon Him the work of MEDIATOR BETWEEN GOD AND MAN.” — Ellen G. White, Signs of the Times. 29th May 1901, ‘God’s purpose for us’, see also Letter 91 1900

“The great Creator assembled the heavenly host, that He might in the presence of all the angels confer special honor upon His Son. The Son was seated on the throne with the Father, and the heavenly throng of holy angels was gathered around them. THE FATHER THEN MADE KNOWN THAT IT WAS ORDAINED BY HIMSELF THAT CHRIST, HIS SON, SHOULD BE EQUAL WITH HIMSELF; SO THAT WHEREVER WAS THE PRESENCE OF HIS SON, IT WAS AS HIS OWN PRESENCE. THE WORD OF THE SON WAS TO BE OBEYED AS READILY AS THE WORD OF THE FATHER. HIS SON HE HAD INVESTED WITH AUTHORITY to command the heavenly host. Especially was His Son to work in union with Himself in the anticipated creation of the earth and every living thing that should exist upon the earth. HIS SON WOULD CARRY OUT HIS WILL AND HIS PURPOSES BUT WOULD DO NOTHING OF HIMSELF ALONE. THE FATHER'S WILL WOULD BE FULFILLED IN HIM.” — Lift Him Up, pg. 18

As legislator, JESUS EXERCISED THE AUTHORITY OF GOD; His commands and decisions were supported by the Sovereignty of the eternal throne. The glory of the Father was revealed in the Son; Christ made manifest the character of the Father. He was so perfectly connected with God... that He who had seen the Son had seen the Father. HIS VOICE WAS AS THE VOICE OF GOD....” — FH 164.3

You see, the only way man can find access to God is through Christ alone, therefore, Christ “acted in God’s stead toward humanity” whereby Christ’s presence was as the Father’s own presence. Even the “THE WORD OF THE SON WAS TO BE OBEYED AS READILY AS THE WORD OF THE FATHER;" The Son was the Father's mouthpiece; “HIS VOICE WAS AS THE VOICE OF GOD.” If the Father is the “only true God” and if Jesus is acting in His Father’s stead as though He is the Father, speaking as though He was the Father, then would it not be appropriate for Christ to be rightly be referred as the “only true God?”

At least, to the redeemed heathen was concerned, this would not violate the truth about the Father and the Son.

This is not to say that Father and Son make a single God nor does this mean that they are one person in personality:

"The Father and the Son EACH HAVE A PERSONALITY. Christ declared, “I and My Father are one.” Yet it was the Son of God who came to the world in human form. Laying aside His royal robe and kingly crown, He clothed His divinity with humanity, that humanity through His infinite sacrifice might become partakers of the divine nature, and escape the corruption that is in the world through lust.—Testimonies For The Church Vol. 9, pg. 68 (1909).

Therefore we should not fear including the Son of God, right along with His Father, under this heading. If you believe in Him as the only true God what does that do to your theology? Does it create any danger? Does it hinder your salvation? No, it does not. Absolutely nothing is lost here but I would argue that something is gained. We see Him for what He truly is -as the begotten Son of the only true God Who is also Himself the only true God.

“And we know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding, that we may know Him that is true, and we are in Him that is true, even in His Son Jesus Christ. THIS IS THE TRUE GOD, and eternal life — 1 John 5:20

I suspect that the ambiguity of this passage was intentional on John’s part. The Son is the eternal life of the true God. You really can't think of God without His eternal life can you? There is always a conjunction that joins the Father and Son together, even in John 17:3. They are never separated (with the exception of the Father's sundering at the cross). We must always bear this mind because it prevents us from creating an unnecessary division between the Father and the Son. Even in His humanity we should not draw a sharper distinction than warranted.

“…By rejecting the Son of God, THE PERSONIFICATION OF THE ONLY TRUE GOD, who possessed goodness, mercy, and untiring love, whose heart was ever touched with human woe, and choosing a murderer in his stead, the Jews showed what human nature can and will do when the restraining power of the Spirit of God is removed, and men are under the control of the apostate... {RH January 30, 1900, Art. A, par. 6}

Yet how can He personify the only true God as a man? Is not the answer that He was begotten in the express image of His Father in His pre-incarnation and thus is truly God in His nature?

“The Lord Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of the Father, is TRULY GOD IN INFINITY, BUT NOT IN PERSONALITY. He has wrought out the righteousness that enables human beings to overcome every assault of Satan. He will impute His righteousness to the believing saint who walks as He walked when on earth. {Ms116-1905.19}

And again, we see that He was the personification of all human goodness:

“Are we on the side of those who refuse to be loyal to God? They have no interest in knowing God. They reject the divine Son of God, THE PERSONIFICATION OF ALL HUMAN GOODNESS. They place themselves with those who although no fault could be preferred against Christ, chose instead a thief and a murderer. This testifies to the moral taste of the world. Shall we be on the side of the world, or on the side of Christ, who declared, “I have kept my father’s commandments”? {PH086 36.1}

Yet how can He personify all human goodness? Is not the answer that He was begotten in the likeness of humanity in His incarnation and thus is truly man in His nature?

“We want to comprehend so far as possible the truly human nature of our Lord. The divine and human were linked in Christ, and both were complete. {Lt69-1897.28}

The point here is that I believe we should have no qualm with embracing the Son as the only true God because of His unity with the Father. Fear of trinitarianism is a poor excuse to reject inspiration. If we do this then we would be just as guilty of those who reject the pre-incarnate begotten Son because they fear anti-trintiarianism.

Consider the following statements:

Instead of seeking to exalt your name as a great man among men, exalt Jesus and let your life be hid with Christ in God. Let Christ alone appear as the One worthy to receive all honor, all majesty, all praise, for He is the first and the last. When men high or low, rich or poor, seek to obtain the praise of men, they always forfeit the commendation of God. They are wise in their own conceit, and show their greatest weakness in their over-estimation of themselves. A name written in the earth is as written in the sand, to be obliterated by the waves of the seas. See that your name is written in the Lamb’s book of life and it will live through eternal ages. {Lt8-1890.15}

All the praise belongs to God. When great men are called upon to speak, it is too often the case that their words do not carry with them a solemn weight of conviction; for much of their address is given to win the applause of the people. They render praise to men, and fail to realize that all power and ability are from God, to whom all the glory belongs. When you exalt man, you lay a snare for his soul, and do just as Satan would have you. You should praise God with all your heart, soul, might, mind, and strength; for God alone is worthy to be glorified. If we should realize that our salvation cost the infinite price of the life of the Son of God, we should have more humble views of self. Our Saviour knew that there was no hope of redemption for us except through him, and he came to the world to be wounded for our transgression, to be bruised for our iniquities, to bear our chastisement, that through his stripes we might be healed. {RH June 9, 1891, par. 2}

What we have here are two seemingly contradicting statements. it appears as though that this statement would only make sense if God and Christ are actually the same Person. I don’t believe Ellen White is referring to some orthodox, consubstantial variety of trinitarianism, where one divine Being is made up of 3 person, etc. But bare in mind we also have another statement that says, “The Father and the Son alone are to be exalted.” {YI July 7, 1898, par. 2} Thus in one sense there is one but in another sense, there are two.

The way I see it, even though the Father and Son are two distinct individuals, since the Son perfectly personifies the Father (Christ acts in His Father’s stead as though He is the Father), Christ is qualified here as one who is deserving of the worship, as though He alone is receiving it. However, nothing about this undermines the fact that Christ was begotten of Him.

God bless,