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Harlot of Babylon According to Irvin Baxter; Trinity and Oneness, Part 11

by Karl Kemp  
2/17/2016 / Bible Studies


Before I give a last paragraph that deals with chapter 13 of White's book, which we were discussing at the end of Part 10 of this paper, I'll continue for about two pages discussing the relationship between God the Father and God the Son (and to some extent the Holy Spirit) in the Trinity here in Part 11 of this 12 Part paper.

I'm going to quote part of a long footnote, #8, from under John 1:1 in my paper on John 1:1-18 and Colossians 1:15-3:17. The footnote was included after the word Father in the two sentences from that paper that I'll quote here: "The orthodox Christian view from the beginning has always been that there is one God, three Persons - there are not three Gods. The fact that God the Son (and God the Spirit) is in some ways subordinate to the Father helps explain why the Bible doesn't speak of three Gods, even though God the Son is fully deity/God (and the Spirit is fully deity/God too)." In the part of the footnote I am excerpting here, I am quoting from Wayne Grudem under the subheading "The Persons of the Trinity Eternally Existed as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit" ("Systematic Theology" [Zondervan, 1994], pages 251, 252)." "Finally, it may be said that there are no differences in deity, attributes, or essential nature between the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Each person is fully God and has all the attributes of God. The only distinctions between the members of the Trinity are in the ways they relate to each other and to creation [Gruden put this sentence in italics]. In those relationships they carry out the roles that are appropriate to each person.

[[(I'm adding this bracket.) I'm not being dogmatic here, but I feel more comfortable saying that each Person is fully deity/God, without saying more than what I believe God has clearly revealed to us. We cannot know with any assurance details that God has not revealed to us, and especially when commenting on the details regarding the three Persons of the Trinity. When we say more than what God has revealed, we may introduce error, even if what we are saying seems logical and obvious to us. Some details about our universe seemed obvious to scientists before the days of Einstein too, and I suggest that some of the details regarding the Trinity are more mysterious (including the fact that these things have not been fully revealed). The Bible makes it clear that the Holy Spirit is fully deity with the Father and the Son, but does that demonstrate that the Holy Spirit is fully like the Father in His being? For one thing, I believe it is clear that we will see God the Father and God the Son after we are glorified, but I don't believe it is clear that we will be able to see the Holy Spirit in the same way we will see the Father and the Son.]]

This truth about the Trinity has sometimes been summarized in the phrase 'ontological equality but economic subordination,' where the word ontological means 'being.' [Grudem has a footnote, "See section D.1. above, where economy was explained to refer to different activities or roles."] Another way of expressing this more simply would be to say 'equal in being but subordinate in role [referring to the roles of God the Son and God the Spirit].' Both parts of the phrase are necessary to a true doctrine of the Trinity: If we do not have ontological equality, not all the persons are fully God. But if we do not have economic subordination [[Grudem has a footnote, "Economic subordination should be carefully distinguished from the error of 'subordinationism,' which holds that the Son or Holy Spirit are inferior in being to the Father (see section C. 2, above, p. 245)." It seems clear to me that we are not to think of the Son being inferior to the Father, but I don't believe this means that the Son has to be equal to the Father in every aspect of His being, including authority. As we continue Grudem points out that some Trinitarians insist that the Son was only subordinate in authority during the years he lived on the earth. Grudem believes that the Son was/is eternally subordinate to the Father in authority. We will discuss these things in some detail in my next paper.]], then there is no inherent difference in the way the three persons relate to one another, and consequently we do not have the three distinct persons existing as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit for all eternity. For example, if the Son is not eternally subordinated to the Father in role, then the Father is not eternally 'Father' and the Son is not eternally 'Son.' This would mean that the Trinity has not eternally existed.

... Surprisingly, some recent evangelical writings have denied an eternal subordination in role among the members of the Trinity [Grudem has a footnote here, giving examples. I'll quote one of the three paragraphs he has here: 'Millard Erickson, in his "Christian Theology" (...Baker, 1983-85), pp 338 and 698, is willing only to affirm that Christ had a temporary subordination in function for the period of ministry on earth, but nowhere affirms an eternal subordination in role of the Son to the Father...." (K. Kemp speaking) The viewpoint that Erickson expresses is in line with what I was taught in seminary, but I have always thought that that viewpoint didn't go far enough in acknowledging the eternal subordinate roles (I didn't say inferiority) of the Son and the Spirit.], but it has clearly been part of the church's doctrine of the Trinity (in Catholic, Protestant, and Orthodox expressions) at least since Nicea (A.D. 325). [Based on what I have read the Christians before Nicea, and at Nicea didn't have a problem acknowledging the subordinate role of the Son.] So Charles Hodge says: 'The Nicene doctrine includes, (1) the principle of the subordination of the Son to the Father.... But this subordination does not imply inferiority.... The subordination intended is only that which concerns the mode of subsistence [existence] and operation.... ...'."

In chapter 13 James R. White somewhat briefly discusses the Trinitarian viewpoints of three early Christian writers, Clement of Rome (in the first century), Ignatius (who died in 107) and Melito of Sardis (who died around AD 180). And he discusses a few details about the Council of Nicea. In his last chapter, a short chapter, White deals with the total need to know and worship the true God, the triune God.


VERSE-BY-VERSE INTERPRETATION OF REVELATION CHAPTERS 4 AND 5. Baxter deals with these chapters in Lesson 2 of his "Revelation Commentary," pages 18-27. I'm going to quote what I said on these chapters in my "Introduction to the Mid-Week Rapture" and introduce some comments in {{ }} to respond to some of the things that Baxter says on these chapters, mostly dealing with oneness. These chapters are discussed in more detail in my paper on Revelation chapters 1-10 on my internet site.

REVELATION 4:1. "After these things, I looked, and behold, a door standing open in heaven, and the first voice which I had heard, like the sound of a trumpet speaking with me, said, 'Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after these things.' " The first voice that the apostle John heard, like the sound of a trumpet speaking with him, refers back to Rev. 1:10, where the Lord Jesus Christ Himself apparently spoke (see Rev. 1:12-20), so He apparently speaks here too. If it wasn't the voice of Christ it undoubtedly was the voice of His angel speaking for Him; His angel is mentioned in Rev. 1:1 and other verses of the book of Revelation.

John was invited to come up to heaven to receive the rest of the revelation that would become the book of Revelation. He was taken to heaven, to the throne room of God, but he didn't remain at that location throughout the rest of the revelation. In Rev. 17:3, for example, he was carried away in the Spirit to a wilderness to receive part of the revelation.

The words, "what must take place after these things," here undoubtedly is the equivalent of "the things which will take place after these things" of Rev. 1:19. I'll read REVELATION 1:19, where John was told, "Write these things which you have seen, and the things which are, and the things which will take place after these things." The "things which are" of Rev. 1:19 have been completed now that the messages to the seven churches have been delivered in Revelation chapters 2 and 3. Revelation chapters 4 and 5 don't prophesy regarding "the things which will take place after these things" hardly at all, but they set the stage for the detailed revelation regarding those future things. The time setting for the glorious scene pictured in Revelation chapters 4 and 5 is early, apparently right after the resurrection and glorification of the Lamb of God, after He had overcome so as to earn the right to bring to pass the things prophesied in the book of Revelation. This includes His saving all the elect and taking them to the eternal glory of God's new heaven and new earth with its New Jerusalem, and His removing Satan and all who continue to follow him in his rebellion.

Most of the things prophesied in the book of Revelation will not come to pass until the end of this age. Many of those things will come to pass during Daniel's 70th week. Most of the detailed revelation regarding the future is apparently contained in the scroll that the Lord Jesus Christ takes from the hand of God the Father in Revelation chapter 5. (He was the only One found worthy to take the scroll, to break the seven seals and open the scroll, and to bring these things to pass.) We don't receive much in the way of new revelation until He breaks the seventh and last seal at Rev. 8:1; then the scroll can be opened. The first six seals are broken in Revelation chapter 6.

Many who believe that the rapture will take place before Daniel's 70th week begins (the pre-week-rapture viewpoint) teach that the rapture takes place here in Rev. 4:1. It has always seemed obvious to me that John's being called up to heaven to receive further revelation does not refer to the rapture. The fact that this verse is the best they can do to find the rapture in the book of Revelation tends to demonstrate the weakness of that viewpoint. On the other hand, as we have discussed in some detail in these articles (and as we will further discuss soon [but not in this present paper]), it is easy to find the return of the Lord Jesus Christ and the resurrection, glorification, and rapture of the saints in the book of Revelation if we are open to the viewpoint that these things will come to pass in the middle of Daniel's 70th week, at the sounding of the seventh and last trumpet of the book of Revelation.

Those who believe the rapture will take place at the end of Daniel's 70th week (the end-of-the-week rapture viewpoint) also have trouble finding the rapture in the book of Revelation. They typically find the rapture in Rev. 19:11-16, but I don't see the rapture in those verses. Rather, the glorified, raptured saints are already with the Lord Jesus Christ in those verses. There is no resurrection, rapture, trumpet, or clouds mentioned in those verses. We will discuss Revelation chapter 19 later in these articles [in my book "Introduction to the Mid-Week Rapture," but not in this paper dealing with Irvin Baxter's "Revelation Commentary"].

I'm not saying these things to be argumentative, or to insult my brothers and sisters in Christ, not at all. I'm thankful I can say that I have a lot of respect for many of those teaching the pre-week rapture viewpoint and for many of those teaching the end-of-the-week rapture viewpoint, and I have learned from those holding both viewpoints. I also have a lot of respect for many of those holding other viewpoints. But all these viewpoints cannot be right regarding when the rapture will take place (and other details). All Christians must be humble before God and seek Him for the balanced truth of what the Bible teaches. One primary reason so many Christians have a hard time seeking God for the balanced truth of what the Bible teaches on this topic (and other topics) is that so many are so sure that they have the balanced truth already, and they have totally closed their minds.

All end-time viewpoints have what can be considered weak points. I suppose that the primary charge that can be brought against the mid-week rapture viewpoint I am teaching is that it leans heavily on the book of Revelation. However, I don't really consider this to be a weakness. The book of Revelation is God's last word on Bible prophecy, and it isn't surprising to me that we are so dependent on the book of Revelation to understand MANY details regarding God's plans for the end of this age.

THERE ARE MANY VERY IMPORTANT END-TIME DETAILS THAT WE WOULDN'T KNOW WITHOUT THE BOOK OF REVELATION. For example, we wouldn't know about the seven trumpets or the seven bowls of wrath; we wouldn't know about the spectacular ministry, death, resurrection, and rapture of the two witnesses, and it is significant that they will be resurrected, glorified and raptured right in the middle of Daniel's 70th week; we wouldn't know that the devil and his angels will be cast down to the earth in the middle of Daniel's 70th week and that the devil will give Antichrist his power and his throne and great authority at that time, and we wouldn't know many other important details regarding Antichrist (including the fact that he will come back from the dead, that he will be supported by the powerful ministry of the false prophet, and regarding the image of the beast [image of Antichrist] that even speaks, and the mark of the beast [Antichrist], and the number 666); we wouldn't know that the gospel will still be proclaimed after the rapture and that many, including the end-time remnant of Israel, will be converted after the rapture; we wouldn't know about Babylon the great harlot and God's judgment of her (this topic is so important that God devoted some three chapters of the book of Revelation to it); and we wouldn't know about the millennial kingdom and God's salvation plans for the nations, or about His new heaven and new earth with its new Jerusalem. A few of the things just listed could be known to some extent before the book of Revelation was given, but the book of Revelation supplies the details. THE BOOK OF REVELATION IS A VERY SPECIAL BOOK OF THE BIBLE!

The most important feature of the book of Revelation that enables us to see that the Lord Jesus Christ will return, and the resurrection, glorification, and rapture will take place right in middle of Daniel's 70th week is the fact that Revelation chapters 11-13 build on the pattern of Daniel's 70th week. Daniel prophesied of that seven-year period, and significantly, he prophesied several times regarding half (the second half) of that seven-year period. Revelation chapters 11-13 don't mention seven years, but they mention one-half of that seven-year period five times. And, as we have discussed in some detail [but not in this present paper], the first two uses refer to the first half of Daniel's 70th week, and the next three uses refer to the second half of that seven-year period. These chapters enable us to see that the seventh and last trumpet will sound right in the middle of Daniel's 70th week and that the Lord Jesus Christ will return, and the resurrection, glorification, and rapture will take place at that time. They also enable us to see that the repentant end-time elect remnant of Israel will be converted and become Christians at that time; that the devil and his angels will be cast down to the earth at that time; and that Antichrist will begin his super-evil three and one-half year reign at that time.

The book of Revelation was given about AD 95, some thirty years after the apostle Paul died. I doubt that Paul knew many of the end-time details that were revealed in the book of Revelation. There is no indication that Paul thought in terms of Daniel's 70th week, or that he taught the mid-week rapture. Based on his writings, especially 2 Thess. 1:8-2:12, his teaching fits best with the Lord Jesus Christ returning and the rapture taking place a short while before He destroys Antichrist at the end of the seven years. It is important for me to add that what Paul taught leaves room for the mid-week rapture. (Second Thessalonians 2:1-12 are discussed in some detail in the last chapter of my book, "The Mid-Week Rapture.")

It is important to understand that God's revelation is progressive, supplying more details as time goes on, and sometimes correcting wrong impressions. Sometimes we have to modify what we thought we knew, based on subsequent revelation. The Old Testament prophets and Israel, for example, didn't understand the very important fact that the Messiah was to come twice, with the two comings being very different, and Israel didn't know that Messiah was to be God Himself, that is, God the Son. They didn't know about, and they were very reluctant to make room for, the Person of God the Son. These things could have been known based on the Old Testament, but these things that are so clear to us now were not at all clear in Old Testament days. We must be humble and stay open to God.

Looking at the all-important book of Revelation from the point of view of the mid-week return of the Lord Jesus Christ, we can see the rapture several places. Revelation 7:9-17 don't specifically mention the rapture, but we see the just-raptured saints before the throne of God in these verses. This glorious scene of Rev. 7:9-17 comes, appropriately enough, at the very time judgment day begins. (See Rev. 6:12-17. These verses in Revelation chapter 6 give us an early look at the arrival of judgment day, before the scroll is opened.) As I mentioned we don't receive hardly any new revelation before the seventh and last seal is broken and the scroll is opened at Rev. 8:1. The resurrection and rapture of the two witnesses in the middle of Daniel's 70th week, which is pictured in Rev. 11:11, 12, is quite relevant, because their rapture will just be part of the mid-week rapture of all the saints. (As I have mentioned, their resurrection and rapture may take place a short while before the rest of the saints, maybe a few hours, for example.) The most important verse for the mid-week rapture is Rev. 12:5, which we have discussed in some detail [but not in this present paper]. Also, we can see the glorified, raptured saints with the Lord Jesus Christ during the second half of Daniel's 70th week in Rev. 17:14; and 19:8, 14, and 19 (cf. 13:6), and apparently we can see the saints on the white cloud with the Lord Jesus Christ in Rev. 14:14. Also see Rev. 12:12. All of these verses are discussed in my book, "The Mid-Week Rapture"; many of these verses are discussed in my "Introduction to the Mid-Week Rapture" (which should be read first by most people in that it is easier to read, but "The Mid-Week Rapture" contains much more information); and many of them are discussed in my verse-by-verse studies of the book of Revelation that are located on my internet site.

I'll read REVELATION 4:1 again; then we'll go on to REVELATION 4:2 and 3, "After these things I looked, and behold, a door standing open in heaven, and the first voice which I had heard, like the sound of a trumpet speaking with me, said, 'Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after these things.' (2) Immediately I was in the Spirit; and behold, a throne was standing in heaven, and One sitting on the throne [[As we keep reading, it becomes clear that God the Father is the One sitting on the throne here (see Rev. 5:1 [with 5:2-7]; 5:13; 6:16; and 7:10). For one thing, in Revelation chapter 5 we see the Lord Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God, come take the scroll from the right hand of God the Father who is sitting on the throne. {{Baxter says "He [the writer of the book of Revelation] says emphatically that there was one throne in heaven and there was one that sat upon the throne. [For Baxter, from his oneness point of view, that "one" is Jesus. There is one Person, not the Father and the Son (and the Spirit).] John is stating the cornerstone of all truth - that there is one God" (page 18). And Baxter refers to Deut. 6:4, which we have discussed in this paper. As I mentioned, I am sure that the One on the throne in Rev. 4: 2, 3 is God the Father. We will discuss this super-important point further as we continue. (I'll discuss Baxter's viewpoint further under Rev. 4:8-11 below.) As we keep reading we see the Son, the Lamb of God on the throne too, with God the Father (see on Rev. 5:6 as we continue). Verses like Rev. 3:21; 7:17; and 22:1, 3 picture the Son/Lamb on the one throne with God the Father. So, one throne two Persons, and three with the Holy Spirit, and God the Father clearly has the preeminent role.}}]] (3) And He who was sitting was like a jasper stone and a sardius in appearance; and there was a rainbow around the throne, like an emerald in appearance." Revelation 21:11 helps us understand that what John saw here was the glory of God. He certainly did not see God the Father Himself in any clear way (see, for example, Col. 1:15; 1 Tim. 1:17; 1 John 4:12). The time will come, however, when we will see God the Father (see, for example, Matt. 5:8; 1 Cor. 13:12; 1 John 3:2; Rev. 22:4). Regarding the rainbow around the throne, see Ezek. 1:27, 28; Rev. 10:1.

REVELATION 4:4. "Around the throne were twenty-four thrones; and upon the thrones I saw twenty-four elders sitting, clothed in white garments, and golden crowns on their heads." The "twenty-four elders" are mentioned quite often in the book of Revelation. I agree with the widespread viewpoint that the twenty-four elders are high-level angelic beings. They can undoubtedly be considered part of "the council of the holy ones" mentioned in Psalm 89:7. Their "thrones" and "crowns" show that they are reigning with God, and under God. At least part of their area of responsibility has to do with the people of God's true Israel (see Rev. 5:5, 9-10; 7:13-17; 11:15-18). "White garments" are appropriate for God's angelic beings (see, for example, Matt. 28:3; Mark 16:5; John 20:12; Acts 1:10; and Rev. 15:6).

REVELATION 4:5. "Out from the throne come flashes of lightning and sounds and peals of thunder. [Cf. Exod. 19:16; Rev. 8:5; 11:19; and 16:18.] And there were seven lamps of fire burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of God;" This is a symbolic way to refer to the Holy Spirit, with the number seven symbolizing perfection (Rev. 1:4; 3:1; 5:6; and Zech. 4:10).

REVELATION 4:6. "and before the throne there was something like a sea of glass, like crystal [cf. Exod. 24:10; Ezek. 1:22; and Rev. 15:2]; and in the center [or, "in the middle of the throne"] and around the throne, four living creatures full of eyes in front and behind. [[These "four living creatures" are mentioned quite often in the book of Revelation. The four living creatures are comparable with, but not identical with, the four living beings of Ezekiel chapters 1 and 10, who are called cherubim in Ezekiel chapter 10. The four living creatures are also comparable with, but not identical with, the seraphim of Isaiah chapter 6. (The "im" ending of the words cherubim and seraphim comes from the Hebrew and shows that these nouns are masculine and plural.) The fact that the four living creatures are "full of eyes in front and behind" makes it impossible, for one thing, for anyone to sneak up on them. Verse 8 says they "are full of eyes around and within." One function of these high-level beings is to guard access to God, and access to the life that comes from Him (see Gen. 3:24). The four living creatures do more than guard the throne and worship God; they are involved with the events that take place in the book of Revelation (Rev. 5:1-8; 15:7). The four living creatures are pictured being "around the throne"; they are inside of the twenty-four elders.

REVELATION 4:7, 8, "The first creature was like a lion, and the second creature like a calf [or, ox], and the third creature had a face like that of a man, and the fourth creature was like a flying eagle. (8) And the four living creatures, each one of them having six wings, are full of eyes around and within; and day and night they do not cease to say, 'HOLY, HOLY, HOLY IS THE LORD GOD, THE ALMIGHTY, WHO WAS AND WHO IS AND WHO IS TO COME.' " The cherubim of the book of Ezekiel had four wings, but the seraphim of Isaiah chapter six had six wings. The first line of what the four living creatures say in worship here in verse 8 is similar to the first line of what the seraphim said in worship in Isa. 6:3. I'll read those words, "Holy, Holy, Holy, is the LORD [Yahweh] of hosts." {{Baxter wrongly says that the living creatures of Revelation chapter 4 are the "exact same living creatures" that Ezekiel saw in his chapter 1 and that "they have the exact same description." Later Baxter mentions the difference with the face/faces, but he doesn't mention the difference with the wings.}}

REVELATION 4:9-11. "And when the living creatures give glory and honor and thanks to Him who sits on the throne [God the Father], to Him who lives forever and ever, (10) the twenty-four elders will fall down before Him who sits on the throne, and will worship Him who lives forever and ever, and will cast their crowns before the throne, saying, (11) 'Worthy are You, our Lord and our God, to receive glory and honor and power; for You created all things, and because of Your will they existed and were created.' " God the Father created all things through His Son (cf. John 1:1-3; 1 Cor. 8:6; Col. 1:1; and Heb. 1:2). He receives "glory and honor and power" in the sense that these things that belong to Him by virtue of who He is and what He has done are ascribed to Him by His worshipers.

On page 24 Baxter wrongly appeals to Rev. 4:8 to show that the Lamb was the One on the one throne. "The one on the throne is the Lord God Almighty - the One which was, which is and is to come." Revelation 1:4-8, which are key verses at the beginning of the book of Revelation, clearly show that these words refer to God the Father, the One who consistently has the preeminent role in the Trinity.

I'll quote REVELATION 1:4-8 (NASB, which is very similar to the KJV here, except for one key word in 1:5; I'll just comment on the points relevant to the oneness issue here, with one important exception; see my paper on Revelation chapters 1-10 for a more detailed discussion on these verses): "John to the seven churches that are in Asia: Grace to you and peace, from Him who is and who was and who is to come [[John lists the three Persons of the Trinity here in verses 4-7. God the Father, the One with the preeminent role in the Trinity, is listed first. Also see Rev. 1:8 and 4:8; cf. 11:17 and 16:5. We typically think of the Lord Jesus coming (returning to the earth) at the end of this age. The Father will send Him back to the earth to save and to judge. When the Lord Jesus returns, He will represent the One who sent Him. I believe the Lord Jesus will come right in the middle of the seven years of Daniel's 70th week, but it is clear that the Father is coming in Person too, at the right time(s), and we will see Him face to face throughout the rest of eternity, which never ends (cf. e.g., Matt. 5:8; 1 Cor. 13:12; Heb. 12:14; 1 John 3:2; Rev. 22:4).

We will continue to discuss these words in Part 12 of this 12 Part paper.

Copyright by Karl Kemp

http://www.karlkempteachingministries.com Karl Kemp worked as an engineer in the space field throughout the 60s. He became a born-again Christian in 1964. He received an MA in Biblical Studies in 1972. He has been a Bible teacher for 45 years. See the website for more info on his books, papers, etc.

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