Is God a Person?

Whatever may be the truth in this matter, it certainly cannot be wrong for us to examine what the Word says respecting it. Many there are that would refrain from the investigation of unpopular truths because the cry of heresy is raised against them. We shall not consider ourselves subjects of the appellation, neither are we prying into the secrets of the Almighty, as we pursue the investigation of this matter. The Bible certainly contains testimony upon this point, and we again repeat, “Things which are revealed belong to us.” We inquire then, What saith the Scripture?

The very testimony we have been examining in regard to man’s being formed of the dust in the image of God, proves conclusively that God has a form, although the sentiment is contrary to what we have been taught, while children, from the catechism:

“Question. What is God?

“Answer. An infinite and eternal spirit; one that always was and always will be.

“Q. Where is God?

A. Everywhere.”

But we inquire, Is not God in one place more than another? Oh no, say you: the Bible says he is a spirit, and if so he must be everywhere alike. Well, if when man dies his spirit goes to God, it must go everywhere. But the Bible certainly represents God as located in heaven. “For he hath looked down from the height of his sanctuary; from heaven did the Lord behold the earth.” Ps. cii, 19. Then certainly heaven cannot be everywhere, for God is represented as looking down from it. “Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven.” 2 Kings ii, 11. But, says one, does not the Bible represent God as everywhere present? Ps. cxxxix, 8, 9, 10. “If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there; if I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me.”

We reply, the subject is introduced in verse 7, as follows: “Whither shall I go from thy Spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence?” The Spirit is God’s representative. His power is manifested wherever he listeth, through the agency of his Spirit. Christ, when giving the commission to the disciples, says, “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature, and lo! I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Now, no one would contend that Christ had been on the earth personally ever since the disciples commenced to fulfill this commission. But his Spirit has been on the earth; the Comforter that he promised to send. So in the same manner God manifests himself by his Spirit which is also the power through which he works. “But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you.” Rom. viii, 11. Here is a plain distinction made between the Spirit, and God that raises the dead by that Spirit.

If the living God is a Spirit in the strictest sense of the term, and at the same time is in possession of a Spirit, then we have at once the novel idea of the Spirit of a Spirit, something it will take at least a Spiritualist to explain.

There is at least one impassable difficulty in the way of those who believe God is immaterial, and heaven is not a literal, located place: they are obliged to admit that Jesus is there bodily, a literal person; the same Jesus that was crucified, dead, and buried, was raised from the dead, ascended up to heaven, and is now at the right hand of God. Jesus was possessed of flesh and bones after his resurrection. Luke xxiv, 39. “Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I, myself; handle me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones as ye see me have.” If Jesus is there in heaven with a literal body of flesh and bones, may not heaven after all be a literal place, a habitation for a literal God, a literal Saviour, literal angels, and resurrected immortal saints! Oh no, says one, “God is a Spirit.” So Christ said to the woman of Samaria at the well. It does not necessarily follow because God is a Spirit, that he has no body. In John iii, 6, Christ says to Nicodemus, “That which is born of the Spirit is spirit.” If that which is born of the Spirit is spirit, then on the same principle, that which has a spiritual nature is spirit. God is a spirit being, his nature is spirit, he is not of a mortal nature; but this does not exclude the idea of his having a body. David says, [Ps. cxiv, 4,] “Who maketh his angels spirits;” yet angels have bodies. Angels appeared to both Abraham and Lot, and ate with them. We see the idea that angels are spirits, does not prove that they are not literal beings.

It is inferred because the Bible says that God is a Spirit, that he is not a person. An inference should not be made the basis for an argument. Great Scripture truths are plainly stated, and it will not do for us to found a doctrine on inferences, contrary to positive statements in the word of God. If the Scripture states in positive terms that God is a person, it will not answer for us to draw an inference from the text which says “God is a Spirit,” that he has no body*…

Paul, [Col. i, 15.] speaking of Christ, says, “Who is the image of the invisible God, the first born of every creature.” Here Christ is said to be “the image of the invisible God.” We have already shown, that Christ has a body composed of substance, flesh and bones; and he is said to be, “the image of the invisible God.” Well, says one, we admit his divine nature is in the image of God. If by his divine nature you mean the part that existed in glory with the Father before the world was, we reply, that which was in the beginning with God, (the Word,) was made flesh, not came into flesh, or as some state, clothed upon with a human nature, but made flesh. But says another, God is said to be invisible. Because he is invisible now, it does not prove that he never will be seen. The Word says, “The pure in heart shall see” him. Willing faith says, Amen.

Paul’s testimony in Phil. ii, 5, 6, shows plainly what may be understood by the statement, that Christ is the image of God. “Let this mind be in you which was in Christ Jesus: who being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God.” How can Christ be said to be in the form of God, if God has no form! Rom. viii, 3. “God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh.” Christ is in the form of God, and in the form of men. This at once reveals to us the form of God.

Daniel speaking of God, calls him the Ancient of days. Dan. vii, 9. “And the Ancient of days did sit, whose garment was white as snow, and the hair of his head like the pure wool.” This personage is said to have a head, and hair; this certainly could not be said of him if he was immaterial and had no form. But Paul’s testimony in Heb. i, 3, ought to settle every candid mind in regard to the personality of God. Speaking of Christ, he says, “Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his (the Father’s) person.” Here then it is plainly stated God has a person. Christ is the express image of it. Then we can understand Christ where he says, “He that hath seen me, hath seen the Father.” John xiv, 19. He could not have meant, that he was his own father; for when he prayed he addressed his Father as another person who had sent him into the world. He styled himself the Son of God. Then he could not be the Father of which he was the son. When he says, “He that hath seen me hath seen the Father,” he must mean, that as he was the express image of the Father’s person, those who saw him saw the likeness of the Father in him.

— J.N. Loughborough, An Examination of the Scripture Testimony Concerning Man’s Present Condition and His Future Reward or Punishment, pp. 25-32

* This article was truncated in the specified spot to make it a readily readable size.

Please note that though some Trinitarians believe that the Father and the Son each have a body, they still believe that the same God—whether sharing the same essence or not—includes the Spirit, thus still making God to be “everywhere” as the Catholic Catechism says. Thus, the personality of God is still destroyed, since it denies that God is a singular literal person, which our pioneers defined as a body that is in one place, albeit a spiritual one. If God is everywhere, then He is in all things, which is a Pagan pantheistic idea, since everywhere there is matter, whether gas, liquid, or solid. It is God’s Spirit proceeding from Him that can be everywhere, representing Him, but not Himself.

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Historical Author

This is a republished article or book excerpt from early Adventist history. The author will be credited at the end of the article.

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