THE NICENE CREED
Many of you are familiar with the Nicene Creed. Those who have tritheistic leanings (even though they would not admit they do) for the most part subscribe to this creed. You need to be aware of the background from which the creed came. In A.D. 325 the Emperor Constantine convened a council at Nicaea to resolve the theological questions that were causing disputations. Constantine’s efforts were directed toward unifying the many diverse peoples and cultures that comprised the Roman Empire. The Council of Nicaea was part of this effort. After hearing the arguments presented at the Council by the various factions, Constantine, who was presiding, proposed the position to be taken. These beliefs were embodied in the Nicene Creed, which both Catholicism and most Protestant denominations endorse.
Strange to say, at the time when this pagan Emperor was decreeing what beliefs Christians should hold, there were seven books of the Bible that were not even officially recognized as canonical. Hebrews and Revelation were two of these. Not until A.D. 397 did a council of Carthage, North Africa, decide that these and five other books should also be considered as part of the Bible. Thus, the light from these books —like the seven Spirits, for example, which are only mentioned in Revelation—did not enter in to the statement the Council of Nicaea drew up about the Trinity.
THE PERSON OF THE SPIRIT
The saints throughout the centuries past have been ignorant as to the human spirit and the Spirit of God as well. In the seventeenth century, when the King James Version was done, the translators considered the Spirit as a power, not as a person. Thus, in Romans 8, twice we find the term “the Spirit itself” (vv. 16, 26). It was in the last century that the Brethren realized this error and saw that the Spirit was a Person, like the Father and the Son. Yet the Brethren did not pay much attention to the importance of the seven Spirits, nor did they have any idea that these Spirits are the ultimate expression of God.
A PROGRESSIVE REVELATION
From these glimpses into the past we can see that the revelation of the Bible is progressive. The same is true with regard to the recovery of the Bible. Martin Luther’s revelation was only to a certain point. Gradually, more and more has been uncovered and recovered. Our vision today is the most far-reaching, because we stand on the shoulders of those who have gone before. Edison is regarded as the father of electricity, but what we know today about electricity goes far beyond Edison’s knowledge. The recovery of the truth, like the advances in science, builds upon the past.
Martin Luther was in Romans, the early chapters, and in Galatians. Today we are in the beginning of Revelation. We are at least in chapter one, for we as the local churches are the golden lampstands. If we were to discuss this with someone in the denominations, however, he would probably wonder what on earth we were talking about. Why are those in the denominations ignorant of the golden lampstands? It is because, for the most part, they are still in the first part of Romans.
The Jews believe the Bible, but their belief stops with Malachi. They know God as God and as Jehovah. In the New Testament we have Jesus Christ. The name Jesus means Jehovah the Savior or Jehovah our salvation. But the Jews reject Jesus Christ. Christians, however, all believe in God, Jehovah, and Jesus Christ; but when it comes to the Spirit, not all believe that the Holy Spirit is God. We believe that Christ is the Spirit; He is both Jehovah and the Spirit. We also believe in the seven Spirits, who are the ultimate expression of God. God is Jehovah. Jehovah is Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ is the Spirit. The Spirit is the seven Spirits.
Does your belief in God go only as far as Genesis? If so, perhaps you should meet with the Jews in the synagogue! If you believe that Jesus Christ is God, but that He is not the Spirit, you are still in the Gospels. This is the extent of what many in the denominations believe about God. We in the church today, however, believe in the seven Spirits. We do not believe in only a portion of the Bible. We believe it from Genesis to Revelation.
I would encourage you to read the books we have written on the matter of the Triune God. These books have been written only after a thorough study of the Bible and also after much research into the historic teachings of the great scholars in Christianity. We have not lightly or arbitrarily taken a position on any truth. We do not incline toward the right or toward the left. We have avoided extremes. I believe the truth in our midst is most accurate and balanced. We recognize that in the Triune God there is the aspect of the three, yet we are not tritheists. We acknowledge that the Triune God has also the aspect of the one, yet we cannot accept modalism. Throughout the centuries orthodox Bible scholars have all recognized that God is three and also one, yet He is not three Gods nor did He exist in three different modes. He is triune, three in one!
THE SPIRIT AND THE BRIDE
The seven Spirits, as we have said, are the ultimate expression of God, Jehovah, Jesus Christ, and the Spirit. These seven Spirits are being wrought into the church, so that it becomes one with the Triune God. Thus both the Triune God and the church are portrayed by a golden lampstand. The ultimate expression of both is the seven lamps.
These seven lamps shining from the lampstand symbolize the testimony of God. This testimony is God Himself. At the end of the Bible, when the Spirit and the Bride together say, “Come!” (Rev. 22:17), the two have become one in reality.
(Life Messages, Vol. 2 (#42-75), Chapter 31, by Witness Lee)