The Official Journal of the Ensign Trust, London

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THE ENSIGN MESSAGE

THE MYSTERY OF THE TRINITY & GOD’S IMAGE IN MAN

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The claims and bearing of Evolution, Astronomy and Higher Criticism carefully examined

THE basis on which evolution rests is the existence of features common to each branch of creation. The possession of these
features of similarity is claimed as proof of their common origin. Thus, the inorganic world, bearing certain features common to the world of vegetation, is in consequence, parent to it; and like-wise the animal kingdom grew out of the vegetable and, finally, man was evolved out of the ape, owing to their physical similarity.

Yet the mere possession of common features by no means proves this. It points more reasonably to a common Creator. To take a simple illustration. There is a row of detached houses. Each one is different to every other in form and construction, yet, on examination, all are found to possess certain similar features, the same type of roof, the same building materials, etc. If the principle of evolution were here applied, it might be claimed from this fact that an architect made an original design; but the builders, representing the forces of nature, after erecting the first house, discarded the original plan of the architect, and erected all the rest after their own designs, merely adapting features from the first. Everyone knows that this is never done, and that each house of a different form of construction must have its own architect’s design. The possession of common features is not proof that they grew one out of the other according to the whim of the builder, but it is rather proof that the designs from which they were built were all by the same architect. Such is the case with creation. The fact that all branches of creation possess similar features is proof only that the same Creator designed them separately. An architect has preconceived ideas of house construction, and, whilst preparing separate designs for each building, naturally and instinctively introduces his preconceived ideas into each, to produce harmony throughout.

If it can be shown that God had a preconceived idea, and that this idea recurs in every branch of creation, we shall prove, not evolution, but that each branch of creation was the design of the same Creator. Such indeed was the case. God when He created the world, had before Him a principle or pattern. That pattern was Himself. Every branch of creation was designed according to this pattern. Everything that was made was good, because everything bore the image of God, – an image growing more distinct with each act of creation until it reached perfection in man himself. The pattern of Himself, upon which God worked, was His triune nature. We are specially told this in the very first verse of the Bible in the use of the name for God, Elohim, which is plural, in form, but takes a singular verb. Again, when man is created, God says “Let us make man in our image.” In seeking to find the image of God reflected in each separate branch of creation we look for a threefold image, a Trinity.

 

THE TRINITY DEFINED


God is one. That fact is over and over again emphasized in the Bible. “The Lord your God is one Lord.” Polytheism was the prevalent idea in ancient times, and that had to be eradicated at all costs.. And yet, that God is a Trinity lies behind all God’s dealings with man. He is three in one: the unity manifesting Himself threefold. The three Persons are not separate existences. Each, while being one of the three, is at the same time all three in one. Such is the mystery which the human mind cannot fathom or explain. It is a fact which is only abundantly evident in every revelation of God, and, as we shall see, reflects itself in every branch of creation. God the Father, self-existent, is omnipresent; all pervading, all-controlling.

God the Son is merely God manifesting Himself in such a manner as to be appreciable to man. “He that hath seen me hath seen the Father.” By knowing Christ and understanding His character, man knows and understands the nature and character of God.

God the Holy Spirit is God in action, God reaching out, and making Himself known as it were at a distance far and wide. He is God at work.

Such briefly is God, a Trinity of Mysteries, and at the same time a mysterious unity ; and we shall find Him reflecting this mystery in threefold unity in every branch of creation, which we shall proceed to trace out.

 

THE TRINITY IN THE UNIVERSE

What has physical science to tell us about the universe? First and foremost her philosophers are as keen on maintaining her unity as the theologian is the unity of God. The universe, he says, is certainly not a series of material bodies, independent, and disconnected, filling what is called space; but it is one vast unity. In demonstrating this unity the scientist discovers it is a trinity. It exists as a trinity of ether, matter, and force or energy. He cannot separate them, for ether is all-pervading and indissolubly associated with matter and energy. Matter is everywhere, either in vastly attenuated particles, or in solid masses, but, again, inseparably associated with ether and energy. Energy, again, is ether and matter in action everywhere.

Let us separately study what science can tell us of these three foundation elements of the universe.

 

ETHER

We are told that the physical universe is filled with this mysterious something called ether. It is all-pervading. While it is spoken of as a substance, yet it cannot be seen, it cannot be weighed or measured, or touched. What it is the scientist does not know: It is rarer than the rarest vacuum, and yet it is the medium for conducting vibration, and the great storehouse of invisible light. Why then has the existence of this mysterious something been assumed by the scientist? Simply because he cannot explain the universe without it. Some medium is necessary as the conveyor of light and heat. The scientist thus admits the existence of something which only his reason can discover, but of which the senses cannot be conscious.

Is it not strange that the scientist has arrived at the counter part of what, the theologian recognizes as God?

God is self-existent, all-pervading, invisible, and all- controlling. He is the giver of the light of Christ and the warmth of the Holy Spirit.

 

MATTER

Whilst some may question the scientists’ belief in the existence of ether, none doubts the existence of matter. Matter can be seen, felt, weighed, and measured. The existence of matter reveals that there is a universe, for the other elements, ether and energy, are invisible. Everything about us is composed of matter. Yet what matter is the scientist cannot explain. All that he can say about it is that it is composed of atoms, combined in a thousand different ways to produce a thousand different forms. We know that it exists only because we can touch and see material objects. Every scientist; however, admits that it is a mystery. One point is of special interest. He reasons out the existence of ether only because he knows of the existence of matter. The
one necessitates the other.

And have we not here a reflection of Jesus Christ, the Second Person of the Trinity? He was visible among men. He dwelt among us. He was very man. And yet He was more than man. He was the God-man. No one can explain the mystery of the Incarnation. He was God manifesting Himself in the flesh. Very God and very Man. As matter reveals the necessity of ether, Christ reveals the Father. “ He that hath seen me hath seen the Father,” said Christ. “If ye have known me ye have known the Father also;” And as ether and matter are inseparably one, so Christ and the Father are one.

 

FORCE OR ENERGY

But the scientist finds there is another element, which together with ether and matter makes up the unity of the universe. He describes it as force or energy He finds that everything is in motion. The varied forms or matter are the result of motion, and motion is caused by force or energy. Energy is a very definite thing. It can be measured and conserved. It pervades everything and penetrates everywhere. It is the universe in action. It unifies the universe. It cannot be seen or felt, yet the movements of matter are apparent, but not the force or energy which causes motion; thus the effect of energy can be appreciated, but not energy itself. One thing upon which scientists are agreed is that all the powers of the physical universe are united by one force, one mighty energy This one energy can and does produce varied effects – varied farms of motion – but it is one.

In coming to this remarkable conclusion the scientist has arrived at the counterpart of the Third Person of the Trinity. He is invisible, intangible, yet we do not doubt His existence, any more than the scientist doubts the existence of energy, because we appreciate the effect of His presence. The results of His work can be seen and experienced. While there is one Holy Spirit, He manifests Himself in a thousand different ways. His works are of wonderful variety. The scientist tells us that ether is in motion, that force is causing ether waves to radiate in all directions. Ether again is the storehouse of light. It is therefore energy which makes light manifest. It is the work of the Holy Spirit to reveal Christ to man. “He shall testify of me,” said Christ of the Holy
Spirit.

Such are the conclusions regarding the universe arrived at by the scientist. Apart from any Biblical revelation, he finds in the universe a mighty trinity. He attempts to define it, and unconsciously finds himself using the very same language with which the
theologian defines or describes the Trinity, and in doing so he has to admit all is mystery.

The explanation lies is the fact that God created the universe after the pattern of Himself, and stamped it with His own image.

 

THE SUN A TRINITY OF MYSTERIES

The universe, as we have seen, bears the stamp of the image of God. We find the reflection of this image also in the stellar-bodies which compose the universe.

We take first of all, as perhaps the most comprehensible instance of this law which runs through all creation, that of the Sun itself. Who has ever doubted the existence of the sun above our heads ? To do so is unimaginable. Yet it presents a mystery almost parallel to that of the Divine Trinity. No scientist has yet been able to explain its origin, or how it came to occupy its place in space. The nebula theory is but a guess, and only takes us a stage further back. No one has ever explained how the sun comes to maintain its equilibrium, supported by nothing, and suspended from nothing. No eye has ever probed its secrets, for its dazzling brilliance would blind any who attempted to do so, and that very brilliance is only a cloak which enshrouds its body. In fact we do not even know for certain if there is a body. Its age cannot even be guessed at with any assurance.

But this we do know, that it is there because we experience its benefits. Without any visible attachment it holds our earth in its mighty grip of attraction. Sometimes in summer, when we are more directly beneath its influence, it reminds us by the heat it gives of the danger of too close a proximity to its awful majesty, and anon in winter, when we receive its rays more obliquely, we are warned of the disaster that would befall us if we sought a greater independence of it.

These points are all beautifully applicable to the Godhead. None knows His origin, or how He comes to exist. The most sacred Bible name is Jehovah “I am,” that is all we are allowed to know of Him. So awe-inspiring was this name to the Jews that they hardly dared to mention it, and in writing never inserted the vowel points. He is self-existent and self-created; that must suffice us. No eye can look upon Him, for His glory would blind the sight. Moses who was privileged to see something of His glory on the mount, received such a refulgence of His reflected brilliance, that his very face had to be veiled before his fellow men: Isaiah, when permitted of God to see a vision of God’s throne, fell on his face expecting instant death. The age of God’s existence cannot even be spoken of, for He was before all time, and knows no time.

But this we do know: He is there, because we experience His beneficence. We are surrounded on all sides by the evidence of His love and goodness to us. We are dimly conscious that, as in the case of the sun, without any visible sign of attachment, we are held in the hollow of His hand. Our lives are guided and controlled by Him. Sometimes He gives us a spiritual summer, and draws us closer beneath the warming influence of His beneficence, near enough to make us know the reality of our unworthiness and the impossibility of too close an approach. Sometimes He appears to repel us with a spiritual winter, whereby He shows us the terrible danger of wandering too far away from Him. But whether seemingly near to Him or far from Him, we are always held in His grip. Such is the God-head: an unfathomable mystery.

But if the sun itself is a mystery, it comprises too a Trinity of mysteries, each as deep and unfathomable as the other. There emanates from the sun the mystery of light. What is light? Who can answer? The cleverest brain has only been able to divide it up into its seven component parts, but can go no further. Although we speak of it as the light of the sun, yet it is not part of the sun, but the sun itself. It cannot be severed or dissected from the sun. Place a screen in front of the sun, and the sunlight is cut off. All that can be said of the sunlight is that it is the evidence of the sun here on earth, by which it renders itself best visible and appreciable to men.

But once again if we cannot explain the mystery of the sunlight, we can experience its benefits. It dispels the darkness, illuminates the world, gives sight to the eyes. The colours of the flowers are but the component parts of the sunlight gathered and reproduced by the flowers themselves. And how great a power of penetration has the sunlight! No corner is so dark, but that the sunlight, when admitted, can lay it bare.

And has not Christ, the Second Person of the Trinity, been called the Sun of Righteousness, and the Light of the World? Who can explain the mystery of His being? Though we speak of Him as the Son of God, yet in doing so we are at the same time fully conscious that He is God Himself, and that no separate identity exists. He can only be described, like the sunlight, as God evidencing Himself here on earth in a way by which He can render Himself best visible and appreciable to mankind.

But though we cannot explain the mystery of the Incarnation, and the being of Christ, any more than we can explain how sunlight comes from the sun, and is at one and the same time part of the sun and the sun itself, yet we can experience the benefits of His presence. Every attribute of the sunlight seems applicable to Jesus Christ also.

He came to dispel the darkness of fallen human nature, to illuminate the world, to lay bare the hideous fact of sin, to give sight to the spiritually blind, and to reveal God in all His glory. As the sunlight imparts itself to the flowers, so that each reproduces the colour it receives, so Christ imparts His character to His children; and the traits of Christ’s character are reflected from the lives of men each of the quality that nature has best fitted him to reproduce, and no heart is so dark or black but that the Christ light can penetrate and lay it bare.

But yet another mystery unfolds itself. It is that of the sun’s heat. What is it? How does it come to us? No one has ever been able to explain. It cannot be seen. It cannot be touched. It can only be experienced. It is perhaps best described as an influence – an influence emanating from the sun, and indissolubly associated with the sun. It is not part of the sun because it cannot be severed from the sun. In common with the light it can only be described as the sun itself in that aspect in which it evidences itself to mankind. But one quality it possesses peculiar to itself.

Its power and presence as experienced on earth are due to the sunlight. It is the light which conveys the heat to the earth, which receives it and radiates it forth. Who can explain this process of radiation? Millions of miles intervene between the earth and the sun, through which sunlight and heat pass, and yet that space remains cold and unaffected, and only the earth is affected when they reach it. And so powerfully does the earth receive the sun’s heat that were it not for the softening influence of the atmosphere, no creature could stand against it. Climb up to the top of a Swiss mountain. You are there closer to the outer edge of the earth’s atmosphere, and the vast space through which light and heat travel. There you find it is intensely cold showing how unaffected is space through which they travel: and yet, when the sun’s rays beat down on you at those heights, the heat is almost unbearable, showing that the sun only affects what it strikes.

Once again we find in this mystery of heat a clear parallel with the Third Person of the Trinity. What is He like? How does He come? He cannot be seen He cannot be felt; for He is invisible and immaterial.

He can only be experienced, He can best be described as an influence – an influence emanating from God, indissolubly associated with God, for He is God. He can only be described as God Himself in that aspect in which He evidences Himself to mankind. Heat comes from the sun through the medium of the light. The Holy Spirit comes from the Father, but it is through the Son that He is given. “I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Comforter.” And what is His work?

We find the same mysterious principle of radiation. The Holy Spirit comes down passing through the world until He reaches one particular heart which glows with Divine Life. Only that heart is affected which is touched by the Spirit, while all around are unaffected.

But what is the main effect of the sun’s heat on the earth? Is it not to bring light, and warmth and comfort? There can be no vegetable growth apart from heat. The very trees and foliage are said to be only the sun’s heat gathered and developed. The very coal we burn is said to be the sun’s heat stored away in past ages. The Holy Spirit comes down to give life. It is He who quickens. It is His presence in the heart, which brings peace, and comfort, and warmth of love.

Thus we have in the sun a trinity of mysteries apparent to all. It holds and controls the earth, and pours down upon it the benefits of its light and heat.

These are the very attributes of God, which may be experienced by all. In His Triune nature He holds and controls us, and enshrouds us with the light of Christ, and with the warmth of His Holy Spirit.

The Great Architect of the Universe has, as shown above, stamped His own image on the Universe as a whole by producing it as a great tri-unity of ether, matter, and force. He has further introduced this preconceived principle into the separate stella-bodies which compose that universe.

Nor did He stop there. In the Vegetable Kingdom we find the same principle exemplified.

 

THE TRINITY IN THE VEGETABLE WORLD

Although no more complete illustration of the Divine Trinity is perhaps to be found than that presented by the Sun, yet, that we should not be left in any further doubt, God has in his goodness provided yet other Trinities of Mysteries similarly bearing the reflection of the image of the Divine Trinity.

The commonest flower of the field is such a Trinity and bears the stamp of His image. Its existence none can doubt, but that very existence is a mystery that no man can explain. It springs from a seed, a hard material substance visible to the eye, and appreciable to the touch, but who can explain how that seed becomes the plant? The best that the scientist can say is that there exists what he terms a germ of life which, under the influences of moisture and warmth, will grow and absorb the material substance of the seed itself. He cannot explain what he means by growth. He can only define it by describing the results that follow, and if you ask him to show you that germ of life, he cannot do so, for it is an invisible, immaterial something that exists, or does not exist, within the substance of the seed itself. No microscope can discover it. The very existence origin, and growth of the plant are thus a profound mystery. But men do not doubt that existence, because they cannot explain it, for they profit by that existence, even as they are content to accept the existence of God, inexplicable though He be, because they are conscious of the beneficence of His being.

But if the plant in its very existence is a mystery, it is also a Trinity of Mysteries. It reflects all around it what is called colour, yet who can explain colour? The scientist will explain that it is the light reflected from it, yet he cannot explain what colour is. He cannot dissect it from the plant, and say this is the colour, and this is the plant; for the colour is not a material part of the plant, but the plant itself, and cannot be severed or dissociated from it. The best that can be said of it is that it is that evidence of the flower by which it becomes appreciable to the world around. It is the light of the flower, the character of the flower. The form and shape, too, with its colour reveal the nature of the life within, and reveal its character.

Jesus Christ is the light of God, – the character of God, absorbed by and reflected from human material form. Once again He can best be described as God evidencing Himself in the way by which He can render Himself best visible and appreciable among men. It is the colour and form of the flowers that makes them beautiful and attractive to mankind. The hard material substance of vegetable life is glorified by colour and form. Jesus Christ is the glory of God reflected from, and adorning fallen human nature.

And if the flower in its existence, and in its colour and form presents two impenetrable mysteries, it presents also yet a third, the mystery of scent. The rose casts about it a fragrance known by this name; yet again it cannot be explained. What is scent? Can it be collected and reproduced? Can it be removed from the rose which produces it, and be stored away in a bag to be distributed at will? This we know cannot be done. Remove the plant and the scent is removed also. Rose leaves may be stored in a jar, or the precious ointment known as attar of roses may be collected in a bottle, but it is not scent that is thus stored. What is collected and stored is material substance of the rose from which emanates what is termed scent. All that can be said it is that it is an invisible, immaterial influence of the rose by which it makes its presence appreciable at a distance, an influence, for it cannot be dissected or severed from the plant.

Yet so also is the Holy Spirit. He is God Himself evidencing Himself among men, and spreading abroad His influence in men’s hearts to cheer and comfort the soul.

Thus again we have in the simplest flower of the field a Trinity of mysteries, and we are once more reminded thereby that it is ours to accept, and rejoice in His blessings without seeking with finite minds to probe too deeply into the mystery of the infinite. God has again stamped His image on the vegetable kingdom as on the universe, and the stellar bodies.

In the animal kingdom may be traced out the same method of creation, God again using His own Triune nature as His pattern. That pattern is to be found in much the same way as in man, which we now proceed to trace out.

 

THE TRINITY IN MAN

While a Trinity of mysteries, comparable to the Divine Trinity, may be found in the Sun which holds, controls and glorifies our earth, and in the stellar bodies, and every flower of the meadow may supply another such comparison, there is yet a third Trinity of Mysteries, equally wonderful, equally inexplicable, and equally comparable to that of the Divine Trinity. It is to be found in man himself.

“And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness … So God created man in His own image, in the image of God created He him.” – (Genesis 1:26, 27.)

It is the mysterious Elohim, the plural noun which takes the singular verb, the Triune God, the three persons yet one God, who thus creates, and yet created man. “Let us make man,” says God. Then man must reflect the Triune nature of God. We must seek in him three persons yet one man, one man reflecting all three persons of the Trinity.

Who can explain the existence of man? In the womb he is “conceived,” a word coined in the English language to convey a fact which is self-evident, but totally inexplicable. “Thou knowest not how the bones do grow in the womb” – (Ecclesiastes 11:5) The origin of life, and the power that dominates growth, can only be assigned to the mysterious word God.

We live and we grow, and have our being, and with these facts we must be satisfied. How and why we cannot tell. The fact of life is the God-head image in man. The visible, material body is but the case, of marvellous workmanship, which holds the invisible, intangible, inexplicable mystery jewel called life.

We dust, clean, and polish a case for the sake of the jewel inside. We feed, discipline and care for the body for the sake of the life it contains. Remove the jewel, and the case is worthless. Destroy the life, and the body is but dust and corruption. God made the jewel case of  ”the dust of the earth.” Into this jewel case He “breathed the breath of life.” He thus imparted the God-head image by the gift of life. It was, as it were, the Father doing His part.

But because we cannot explain or even see the mysterious principle called life, we do not for a moment doubt its existence, for we are only too conscious of the evidences and results of its presence for movement and growth eventuate. Destroy the life and the body is motionless and ceases to grow. Similarly we cannot doubt the existence of the God-head, invisible though He be, because we are conscious that the whole of creation throbs with the evidences and results of that Presence, for creation is but the case which holds the jewel of His Divine Being. No higher type of life is to be found than man-life. It is the highest form of His own image which God has imparted to any branch of creation.

But if the very life and being of man presents a profound mystery, comparable to, and a dim reflection of, the Divine Godhead, manhood presents yet another mystery, the mind. Yet how describe or explain the mind? We venture to locate it in the brain, but the brain is not the mind. We cannot explain the mind and the power of thought, all we can say is they are the character of man. They are that attribute, not part, of man by which he makes himself appreciable to the world around. The mind is, therefore, the Jesus Christ part or image in man, for Christ was the character of God evidencing Himself among men. Words and actions are but the expression. of the mind of man, the means by which he is recognized and understood by others. God the Father is only revealed in God the Son. Jesus came in order to evidence and reveal the love, mercy, goodness, and power of God. The true character of God is made known in Christ. The true character of man is made known by his words, man alone possessing the gift of speech, and his actions, which result from his mind.

And yet you cannot say the mind is part of a man, although often spoken of as such, any more than you can speak of Christ as being part of God, for Christ is God himself, and a man’s mind is the man himself evidencing himself to others.

But there is yet a third mystery in man, which none can explain, called Spirit or influence. A man’s spirit is invisible, intangible, indescribable. Yet once again, we do not doubt its existence, for we see the evidence of its presence.

A man’s spirit may be defined as the influence he throws around him. Those he comes in contact with are instinctively affected by that contact, even as he is effected by them. The words, actions, and manners of two people who meet mutually affect each other. Each is throwing his personality across to the other by that invisible medium called spirit. Parents imprint by daily intercourse their character upon their children; friend influences friend; pupils catch the character of their teacher.

This spirit which emanates from every man towards his fellow men cannot be described as part of him for it cannot be severed or dissociated from him. It is the man himself in that aspect in which he evidences himself to others, and may rightly be described as the Holy Spirit image in him.

Man is, therefore, a triple mystery, and yet a unity. The one man exists in the threefold mystery of life, mind and spirit. Those who speak of man as being a trinity of body, soul, and spirit are overlooking the fact that the body is corruptible, and mortal, and cannot be the image of God, for God is a Spirit. The body is but the jewel case that holds the immortal, mysterious, inexplicable trinity of His being.

After defining and tracing out the Image of God in man, we may perhaps find some clue to the mystery of sin. Satan naturally desires to harm man, not because of himself, but because of God’s image in him. Temptations of the body are aimed rather at the life within it, since the life is the Godhead image.

Drink and drugs, suggestive pictures and unwholesome literature spoil the mind because it is the Jesus Christ image in man. Satan seeks to corrupt men’s lives in order to affect the influence they shed around them which is the Holy Spirit image in them. Yet God, having made man in His own image, has not left us powerless to maintain that image unsullied. His power and presence are with us for “it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure.” – (Philippians 2:13)

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