Seventh-day Adventists believe in the full divinity of Jesus. We make no apologies for this fact. We believe that there are three members of the Godhead. None were created or brought into existence by the other. They have existed side by side forever. The Bible has many more verses on the subject, and none suggest any other interpretation than the one above.
Yet many within our church have begun to question this belief. Some have even gone so far as to withdraw their membership from their local churches and worship elsewhere. Others work from within and seek to win members to their perspective on the Trinity. There is probably no other fundamental belief that has caused more questions and confusion in recent days than the issue of the Trinity and the nature of Jesus.
Adventism's official statement on the Trinity is found on the Adventist.org website. It reads:
“There is one God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, a unity of three co-eternal Persons. God is immortal, all-powerful, all-knowing, above all, and ever present. He is infinite and beyond human comprehension, yet known through His self-revelation. God, who is love, is forever worthy of worship, adoration, and service by the whole creation. (Gen. 1:26; Deut. 6:4; Isa. 6:8; Matt. 28:19; John 3:16 2 Cor. 1:21, 22; 13:14; Eph. 4:4-6; 1 Peter 1:2.)” https://www.adventist.org/en/beliefs/god/trinity/
Three co-eternal and immortal Persons exist side by side and have done so forever. If this is indeed the case, then how do we reconcile the fact that Jesus is called the Son of God? This question is something that the Christian church has wrestled with since the late AD 200s. Around that time, the belief was taught that Jesus was a created being, essentially denying the divinity of Christ. The Christian church rejected that teaching officially in AD 325.
Even though it was officially rejected, this belief has reemerged within Adventism. There have been many variations of the same teaching claiming Jesus was a created being and not divine in the same way God is. Some say Jesus was created at his birth and reference the phrase from John 3:16, “Only-begotten Son,” as proof. Others say He was created sometime long before his incarnation going as far to say that Jesus was born before he was born a baby in Bethlehem. Whatever variation of this teaching, they all still hold that Jesus was created and thus not fully divine like God.
Seventh-day Adventists do not believe that Jesus was created or existed in any other form than the form of God prior to His incarnation. Since this issue is affecting members within our church as a whole and in Michigan in particular, it would be wise for us to study deeper into this issue. We need to be ready to provide an answer to anyone who asks about our beliefs. We also need to be aware of the many arguments for why an anti-trinitarian view of Scripture is not correct and why Jesus is and always has been fully God.
One passage commonly used to deny the divinity and forever existence of Jesus is found in Psalm 2:7. It is a Messianic Psalm that reads, "I will surely tell of the decree of the Lord: He said to Me, 'You are My Son, Today I have begotten You.'" When is “today” referring to? Some say Jesus was begotten at his incarnation or in heaven or some other time. There are other verses in the Bible, which also reference this passage, including many in the New Testament that seemingly give support to the idea of Jesus being begotten by God at some point in history. Yet a closer look reveals this to not be the case.
Hebrews 1:5-6 quotes from Psalm 2:7 referencing the incarnation when Jesus entered as the “firstborn into the world.” If we stopped there, then those denying the divinity of Jesus would have all the evidence they need. But Psalm 2:7 is also quoted in Acts 13:33 in reference to Jesus resurrection. Verse 34 also connects this to a fulfillment of the Davidic covenant. Psalm 2:7 is again quoted in Hebrews 5:5 in reference to Jesus High Priestly ministry in the heavenly sanctuary. When Jesus was baptized God spoke a partial reference to Psalm 2:7 found in Luke 3:22 and again at the transfiguration in Matt 17:5.
Taken together Jesus was called the “Begotten” Son of God at His incarnation, baptism, transfiguration, resurrection and during the inauguration of His heavenly sanctuary ministry. This leads us to believe that the phrase does not make Jesus a literal son (born like a child with a father) but one in the figurative sense. The Bible uses the word “son” figuratively many times. In Isaiah 9:6, the Son who is born is also the “everlasting Father.” Exodus 4:22 uses it figuratively from God’s perspective to say that Israel was His. The book of Ezekiel uses the phrase “son of man” 93 times. Mark 3:17 uses the phrase “sons of thunder” to describe James and John yet we know their father was a man named Zebedee (Matt 4:21).
When the Bible uses the phrase of Psalm 2:7 to say Jesus was the begotten son of God, it is not speaking in the literal sense but the figurative sense. Why? Because this is probably the best analogy to help us understand the intimate relationship the two members of the Godhead share. What other relationship could be used? Husband and wife? No for obvious reasons. Brother to Brother? That’s not nearly as close to the father and son relationship. So, the phrase is figurative, but it is used to mark each new phase in Jesus’ ministry (incarnation, baptism, transfiguration, resurrection, priestly ministry). It is God’s way of confirming Jesus in that new role.
This is important to the book of Hebrews because Jesus is not a son but is “called” Son. The name of Jesus in Hebrews 1:4 is “Son” referenced from verse 3. It is used as the name of a person rather than the designation that he is so-and-so’s son. Hebrews 1:5 quotes Psalm 2:7 to signify the fulfillment of the Messianic Psalm but then quotes 2 Sam 7:14 where the Davidic covenant states there would be a Son of David sitting on the throne forever (verses 12-16). The book of Hebrews is setting the stage that Jesus ministry in the heavenly sanctuary is a fulfillment of the Davidic covenant. When Jesus lived on earth and referred to Himself as the Son of David or Son of God, He likely had this future fulfillment in mind.
When we understand this, it is easy to address those who claim that Jesus was created and not fully divine. Jesus was never created. He is God just like the other members of the Trinity.