The recent conclusion of my personal research of scripture reveals some important contradictions to the wide-spread doctrine of the Trinity. Many denominations hold to this dogma, professing the Godhead to consist of three persons – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit – all co-equals as God. While scripture definitely supports the idea that all three are at times revealed as God, the contradictions revolve around the assumption that these three manifestations of God are separate persons and the revelations of God are limited to these three.
The Christian doctrine of the Trinity (from Latin “trinitas” = “triad”, and from “trinus” = “threefold”) defines God as three consubstantial persons, expressions, or hypostases: the Father, the Son (Jesus Christ), and the Holy Spirit; “one God in three persons”. If three “persons”, what should one understand regarding God’s own profession of self – “The Lord our God is ONE Lord” – Dut. 6:4 and “Know therefore that the Lord thy God He is God, the faithful God” – Dut. 7:9.
There are some who profess to be scholarly theologians that deny the translations of the term “lord” to be a consistent reference to God, claiming that when it is associated with Christ, it means a somewhat lesser lord. But that interpretation still does NOT negate the scriptural admonitions – “the Lord your God is God of gods, and Lord of lords, a great God, a mighty, and a terrible, which regardeth not persons, nor taketh reward” – Dut. 10:17 (where the term is obviously referring to God), and then “He has on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS” –Rev.19:16, a clear reference to Jesus Christ.
Notice also in the passage (Dut. 10:17) that God is called “a mighty”. Some have attempted to distinguish the Son as different from the Father by implying that the Father is “the Almighty God” but the Son is merely “a mighty god”. Of course such declaration implies that more than one God exists and is therefore, a topic for another article.
This article shall confine itself to addressing the scriptural passages that reveal God in many more manifestations than merely the three that the Trinity Doctrine teaches. There is notably, a misuse of terms that refer to the different manifestations of God as PERSONS, when there is ONE GOD (the INFINITE PERSON) who has revealed Himself in several various FORMS, NOT INDIVIDUAL PERSONS.
The confusion stems from the fact that each FORM is referred to as a PERSON, which they All are – but they ALL are the SAME PERSON, revealed in different FORMS. Just as many individuals “appear” to some as “uncle” while to others the SAME person is “father”, and yet still to others he is “son”— but he is ALL the SAME person!
So, with that intention, the following are some passages of scripture in which God is revealed. It is NOT an exhaustive list of EVERY manifestation of God cited in scripture, but hopefully, sufficient to motivate further independent prayerful research.
God was present and His presence was known to Adam and Eve in Eden. “They heard the voice of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God amongst the trees of the garden” – Gen.3: 8. While the term “walking” probably refers to Adam and Eve and NOT God, They “heard” his voice (an audible manifestation) and “hid” themselves (a literal physical action) in direct response to the known “presence” of God in the garden.
The implication should be obvious. Whatever other interpretations may consider His “presence” to mean, God was manifest in some form among the inhabitants of Eden.
The Lord appeared to Abraham (Gen. 17:1); to Isaac (Gen. 26:24); and to Jacob (Gen. 35:1-9); although the exact FORM is NOT cited, it can be assumed to be human. Such OT references are coined “Christophanies” by theologians, meaning pre-incarnate appearances of God the Son.
A very interesting passage that seems to support such inclinations is Gen, 14:18 = “Melchizedek King of Salem brought forth bread and wine: and he was the priest of the most high God”. Although scripture clearly calls him “the priest of the most high God” and NOT God Himself, the title “King of Salem” coupled with his identity as “priest” bears too familiar a similarity to what the author of Psalms testifies regarding the Son. “You are a priest forever after the order of Melchizedek” –Psa.110:4.
When further consideration is given to the following passage in Hebrews 7, it is clear that God is wanting to reveal much more about this “Melchizedek” who was a priest centuries BEFORE the Aaronic priesthood was established. “For this Melchizedek, King of Salem, priest of the most high God, who met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings, and blessed him; to whom also Abraham gave a tenth part of all; first being by interpretation King of Righteousness, and after that also King of Salem, which is, King of Peace; without father, without mother, without descent, having neither beginning of days, nor end of life; but made like unto the Son of God; abides a priest continually”.
Other references to Christ’s priesthood include = “Wherefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our profession, Christ Jesus” – Heb. 3;1 and “Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God” – Heb. 4:14.
In Exodus 3, God appeared to Moses in the form of a burning bush. “That they may believe that the Lord God of their fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has appeared unto you” – Gen. 4:5.
In Gibeon the Lord appeared to Solomon in a dream by night – 1Ki. 3:5.
Some other forms not easy to fully comprehend are also mentioned: “The Lord thy God is a consuming fire” – Dut. 4:24; “Our God is a consuming fire” –Heb. 12:29. “The Lord went before them by day in a pillar of a cloud, to lead them the way; and by night in a pillar of fire, to give them light; to go by day and night” – Ex. 13:21.
Referring the the Israelites sojourn through the desert, Paul shares this insight, alluding to another manifestation of God and a Christophany. “They drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ” – 1Cor. 10:4.
Moses received “tables of stone, written with the finger of God” – Ex.31:18. “The writing was the writing of God, graven upon the tables” Ex. 32:16. Some theologians suggest these are merely euphemisms, NOT signifying the literal appearance of God in some human-like form. But never-the-less, apart from a private interpretation, scripture states that Moses met with God on Mt. Sinai where he received the tables of stone.
The record of physical manifestations of God continues in the NT where He has taken several forms. “He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him” – Mt. 3:16. ”“The Holy Spirit descended in a BODILY shape like a dove upon him, and a voice came from heaven, which said, Thou art my beloved Son; in thee I am well pleased” –Lk. 3:22
“There appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.” – Ac2:3.
Of course the undisputed greatest manifestation of God in physical form is Christ Jesus. “God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spoke in times past unto the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom He has appointed heir of ALL things, by whom also He made the worlds; who being the brightness of His glory, and the EXPRESS IMAGE of His person, and upholding ALL things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins . . . ” – Heb. 1:1-3.
Especially important to believers in the present age are the appearances of Christ after His ascension back into heaven. As Saul came near Damascus, “suddenly there shined round about him a light from heaven: and he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why do you persecute Me? And he said, Who are you, Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom you persecute” – Ac. 9: 3-5.
John also testifies of a physical manifestation when encountering Christ after His ascension– “I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day, and heard behind me a great voice, as of a trumpet, saying, I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last … And I turned to see the voice that spake with me. And being turned, I saw seven golden candlesticks; and in the midst of the seven candlesticks one like unto the Son of man, clothed with a garment down to the foot, and girt about the paps with a golden girdle. His head and his hairs were white like wool, as white as snow; and His eyes were as a flame of fire; and His feet like unto fine brass, as if they burned in a furnace; and his voice as the sound of many waters. And he had in his right hand seven stars: and out of his mouth went a sharp two-edged sword: and His countenance was as the sun shining in His strength. And when I SAW Him, I fell at His feet as dead. And He laid His right hand upon me, saying unto me, Fear not; I am the first and the last: I am He that lives, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive forevermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death.” – Rev. 1: 10-19.
Peter too, while yet following Jewish rituals was confronted by God. “Peter went up upon the housetop to pray about the sixth hour: and he became very hungry, and would have eaten: but while they made ready, he fell into a trance, and saw heaven opened, and a certain vessel descending unto him, as it had been a great sheet knit at the four corners, and let down to the earth: wherein were all manner of four-footed beasts of the earth, and wild beasts, and creeping things, and fowls of the air. And there came a voice to him, Rise, Peter; kill, and eat. But Peter said, Not so, Lord; for I have never eaten anything that is common or unclean. And the voice spake unto him again the second time, What God hath cleansed, that call you not common. This was done thrice: and the vessel was received up again into heaven” Ac.10: 9-16.
Paul also speaks of other spiritual encounters, “I will come to visions and revelations of the Lord. I knew a man in Christ above fourteen years ago, (whether in the body, I cannot tell; or whether out of the body, I cannot tell: God knows;) such an one caught up to the third heaven. And I knew such a man, (whether in the body, or out of the body, I cannot tell: God knows;) how that he was caught up into paradise, and heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter” – 2Cor 12:1-4.
Lest anyone think that such appearances are reserved for “holy men”, remember, Saul was NOT yet born again at the time of His 1st encounter with Christ, and he was guilty of killing believers for their testimony.
The multiple different ways in which the ALMIGHTY has revealed His presence must never confuse one to the point of unbelief or argument. God is God, and when you encounter HIM in a personal relationship as He promised, all that you need to know about HIM will be revealed as you grow in spiritual awareness and understanding. Jesus proclaimed, “Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me” – Rev. 3:20.
Why not take HIM up on HIS invitation instead of constantly seeking mere “head” knowledge about God derived from mere doctrines of men? Want to know God? Ask Him!