The Triune God
by John G. Lake
September 27, 1914
Yesterday I knew what I was to preach about—at least, I thought I did—and I was so sure about it that I gave the secretary the subject I was going to preach on, but tonight I do not know. It is all gone. Somehow or other I feel like telling you of an incident by which God taught me the greatest lesson of obedience to the Spirit that I believe has ever come in my lifetime.
If I were in my own congregation in South Africa, I would expect to see a descent of the Spirit upon the people and appearance of the glory of God, manifest in different ways as the Spirit manifests Himself, as I have many times witnessed.
As the days have gone by since I have ministered at this church, every day has brought an increasing consciousness that God has a great and wondrous purpose that He is endeavoring to work out through this congregation.
One of the things of which my spirit is impressed, is that our consciousness of Christ is not as vivid as it ought to be and as God desires that it should be.
God’s method for man in conceiving Himself was through the manifestation of Himself in Jesus Christ. And the individual who wants to understand the character of God has only to turn his face and heart toward the Lord Jesus Christ, observe His ways, listen to His words and His Spirit, to know the heart of God.
Indeed, beloved, I have felt, and I feel today, that the world has never had a proper comprehension of the Lord Jesus Christ. We all realize the common conception of the Christ as it has been presented to us by the Orthodox Church at large. And I want to say with all frankness that while in a large measure that conception of the church largely is true, yet it is ten thousand miles below the real standard, or God’s conception of presentation, of the Christ as I see it in the Word of God as the Spirit of God has made my own consciousness aware of.
On the other hand, I feel that liberal Christianity hasn’t given the Christ His due place, and I believe that God wants to establish a clearness of conscience concerning the Christ in the hearts of men. And this which I desire to say (and I believe not of myself, but by the Spirit of God) is that Jesus Christ was much more than a man. He was the Christ of God, the eternal Spirit.
Somebody says now, “Define the distinction between God and Christ.” One of the difficulties that always presents itself to one’s heart, and it did to mine from a very early time, was this: It seemed to me Christianity had confused God, and instead of one God it had established three Gods. And while in a sense that is true (in the real sense it is true), in the sense it has been presented to the world, mankind has stood facing the fact that there were three Gods. The creed said that they were one, but it has always seemed to be confused in men’s hearts how such a thing was possible.
I wish I could refer to other people’s experiences rather than my own, but when a man breaks out on a new track, he has no guide but his own heart and his own experiences. So I am compelled in teaching some of these things to refer to personal experiences.
One experience I want to speak of because I believe it will give the key that will help many minds to become clear on one of the distinctions, at least, between God the Father and the Son, Jesus Christ, and their union as one.
I have told you in this congregation on another occasion of how a friend of mine arose one Sunday morning in our tabernacle and presented a request for prayer with many tears, saying, “I have been a member of this congregation for four years. I have witnessed God heal all kinds of people—the lame, the halt, blind, deaf, dumb, insane, etc. And this morning I am convicted of God that I have never even presented a request for prayer for a cousin of mine, who is in an insane asylum in Wales.”
Something about the man’s spirit touched my own heart. The Spirit of God was deeply present. I invited the congregation to join in prayer as I knelt on the platform to pray. As my heart went out to God in prayer, something transpired within and to me that I can describe only like this:
Presently, my sight and consciousness were awakened to the fact that from this one and that one, from perhaps a hundred divergent streams, faith and power were coming to my spirit and concentrating in me as shafts of light. Indeed, it was the spirit of faith being imparted to my spirit from the hearts of those who knelt throughout the house. An unusual consciousness of God’s power and presence swept over me, and presently this seemed to take place, and I believe it did take place.
In my consciousness, I observed that I was no longer in that tabernacle. The first place I became aware of was passing the city of Kimberly. Then I became conscious that I was at Cape Town, South Africa, one thousand miles from Johannesburg. Presently, I remember of the Cape Verde Lighthouse on the coast of Spain, and I remember distinctly of passing the shores of France. I entered the hills of Wales (I had never been in Wales), but as I went over those hills, presently I came to a little village, and outstanding was a building that I recognized as the asylum.
I went into that place, walked straight into the room where a woman was strapped to the sides of a cot, and as consciously as I stand here now, I put my hands on the woman’s head and in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ rebuked the insane spirit that possessed her and cast it out.
Her face became calm, and she smiled up into my face. I recognized in the look of her eyes the awakened consciousness.
All the time I had been kneeling on the platform at Johannesburg, and my heart and my voice had been expressing my desire to God.
You ask me what it was—how do I explain it? And I try to in this way. Perhaps I am right. If so, perhaps it will help us in the question that is before our hearts now.
Throughout the Word of God we read many times this expression, “The Spirit of the Lord caught away Elijah, the Spirit of the Lord caught away Elisha, the Spirit of the Lord caught away Jeremiah, or Amos or one of the other prophets.” (See Acts 8:39.) Now, that doesn’t mean that their physical bodies were transported to another place in all instances, though in some I believe it does. But it does mean that the inner man, the conscious spirit man, was transported for the time being to another place, and he saw and performed acts there.
As quickly as a letter could come from Wales, my friend received a letter saying, “A strange thing has happened. Our cousin who has been in the asylum was suddenly and instantly healed on last Lord ’s Day, and she is well.”
Beloved, I was there. I could tell you to this hour of the old-fashioned brass that was on the door and the pattern of that old Welsh knocker on the door. There was not a detail of the room that I didn’t see, and there was not a detail of the trip from Africa to Wales that I was not as conscious of as I was at a later time when I came via that route on purpose, to prove whether or not it were a fact.
Now beloved, I am going on.
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life; and the life was the light of men. (John 1:1–4)
And that is the thing that distinguishes Jesus Christ from all other reformers. Varied philosophies have been presented by various minds, but the Christ imparted life. “In Him was life.” And the individual today who enters into Christ, and whose heart and soul have touched the realm of God-consciousness that God desires we should touch, received from God, through that open and quickened consciousness, a ministry of life—not a ministry of words, not a ministry of inspiration, but a ministry of life. “In Him was life, and the life was the light of men.”
“The light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not” (John 1:5). If for five minutes God’s spiritual illumination could come over our souls, and our consciousness be awakened, and the things of God as they are and our own relationship to our God be realized, there isn’t a man or woman in this house who would not fall prostrate on his or her face before God.
“The light shineth in darkness.” It shone then, and it is shining just as brilliantly now.
The darkness comprehended it not. There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. The same came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light. He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light. (John 1:5–8)
Now I will return. Man is the image of God. He was made in His own image. Every function of spirit and soul that we observe within our own souls is but the counterpart of the functions of God.
But someone says, “God has no body. He is Spirit.” No, He hasn’t a material body, but there is a heavenly materiality as well as an earthly. Spirit itself has a heavenly, or definite, materiality. We cannot define it in the terms of material as we understand it in this world, but consciousness causes us to realize that all things, whether angels or God Himself, have a form of some character of heavenly material.
In my own mind I have tried sometimes to think of what could be the substance of which the person of angels is composed, and my mind has settled on three things as a possibility: light and fire and spirit.
But be that as it may, the Word declares to us that Christ was with the Father in the beginning (see John 1:2), and that through Him or by Him all things were made that are made, and that “in him was life” (John 1:4).
And this is my thought, be it right or wrong. I give it to you for what it is worth. The individual who knows everything usually knows nothing, and the man who is sure he knows everything is usually an ignoramus.
My person—my being—was in the attitude of prayer on the platform at Johannesburg, but I was conscious. And the woman was conscious that out from my being something went that carried my consciousness with it, and I consciously performed acts and witnessed scenes that in the natural were impossible. What was it that was transported or projected, for the time being, from my person but the spiritual entity—the real me, self, or ego—in such a degree that it was able to bring back to me all the consciousness that it possessed?
My thought of the Christ is exactly that thing. All through the Word of God we see this. The visible manifestation of God as He appeared to man at different times was in the form of the Christ. I say “as He appeared to man at different times,” for the Word records many appearances of the Christ in the world. Once, He appeared to Abraham as he sat under the tree and conversed with him and ate supper with him as a man in the flesh. (See Genesis 18.) The Christ for the time being was embodied in flesh. (See Micah 5:2.)
Over and over again throughout the Bible, we read of the angel of the Lord—not an angel of the Lord, but the spiritual entity of God, the spiritual presence of God, “The angel of the Lord.”
It would be just as proper to speak of the angel of Brother Fogwell, the angel of Brother Mills, the angel of Brother Grier, or anyone else. The spiritual presence that had power to make itself recognized was present. So the angel of the Lord was the visible, projecting entity of the Spirit of the Lord made visible to the individual.
And my convictions are that the Christ of God, who dwelt in the bosom of the Father from the eternal ages, and who has been presented to us usually as one who came to earth to mollify the anger of God against man [this was not finished]. And the thought has usually been that the Christ is moving the heart of the Father toward mankind. Why, bless your loving hearts! The Father’s heart did not need any moving toward the heart of man. For Jesus Christ, instead of moving the heart of the Father, was the movement of God in behalf of mankind. “He gave his only begotten Son” (John 3:16). And the Christ who moved out of God and was present with mankind, in my conviction before God, was the spiritual entity of God Himself.
Then you say, “How can you then explain the Spirit, the Holy Spirit, as separate from the Christ?” And I reply that from your person and mine at this present moment there is a continual radiation of the Spirit of God going on. We feel the conscious presence of the Spirit. We realize the influence of the Spirit. We are conscious of that Spirit passing from our person, not in the form of an entity that carries our consciousness with it or any part of our consciousness, but the simple radiation from within going out.
So God, by the Holy Spirit, is universally present in all the world everywhere.
Way back when the Catholic Church divided into the Eastern and Western branches of the church, they separated over this issue: whether the Holy Spirit proceeded from the Father or whether He proceeded from the Father and the Son. It has just been such foolish questions as this that have interested ecclesiastic minds from times immemorial.
Beloved, no truer word was ever spoken in the world than the pastor of this church spoke this morning, when he said, in substance, “The individual who knows himself knows God.” For every function of our being is the counterpart of God and beyond question in a degree that our consciousness has never realized. We are the image of God in truth.
So God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit are one God, bless God, just as my person, the entity that proceeds from me, and the influence that radiates from my being is one man—spirit and soul and body. Bless God.
A further word—each one is conscious of our own personality to this extent: at least in our material consciousness, our earth consciousness, we are aware of our environments and the things that take place about us. And through the sensory organs we are brought into harmony with the world about us. All our life and being is on that plane to a great extent, without realizing as we should that the spiritual man and the real man—the God-man, the indestructible, eternal man, the God in us—has a being, a consciousness, and spiritual sensory organs, just the same as our material man has.
The soul is the consciousness, the ego, by which either that which takes place in the natural or that which takes place in the spiritual is brought to us and understood by us.
What, then, can be the greatest awakening that can come to the human heart? Is it not when the clouds are driven back and the soul becomes aware that he is linked to God, that he is a part of God, and that he came out of God? How different our five senses would be if our spiritual nature was developed on the material so that the things of the Spirit were coming to us as they should, with just as much ease as the things of the natural come to us.
When our fellowship should and could be with the angels of God, with the spirits of just men made perfect, with the things of heaven, what a world this would be! People talk about the heaven they are going to, but I want to tell you that heaven is right here when the consciousness is awakened to comprehend and understand and realize what our environment in the Spirit is.
One day, in a time of darkness and distress, as men speak of distress—a time of great strain, but a time that I look back to as the most marvelous of all my life, when, for weeks and months, I walked in the consciousness of the presence of God, so that when I would lie down and relax my spirit instantly would raise into the realms of God—I was walking through the veldt with my eldest daughter and another young lady when an awe of the presence of God overshadowed me, and I realized God wanted to manifest Himself to me. So I hurried on to the house and went quickly upstairs and threw myself on the bed, giving myself up to my spiritual reverie. In a moment, in the twinkle of an eye, the heavens seemed to open before me, and there was a choir of angels who sang the most soul-ravishing song that my soul ever listened to. And, whether you believe it or not, I declare before God that among that chorus of angels there was one voice that I had known and loved on earth. Those soprano notes were unmistakable. I had heard them on earth, but that voice had a new radius. Heaven is not far away.
Paul said concerning his own personal experience,
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 knoweth;) 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 knoweth;) how that he was caught up into paradise, and heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter. (2 Corinthians 12:2–4)
God is not far away. God is right here. Angels are not far away, only our eyes need to be opened to
The incident I am about to relate I have on the testimony of three men whose testimony would be received anywhere on earth on any matter of general knowledge.
A little meeting was going on in a little native tabernacle in South Africa. I was not there, but three other white men were present. One of them was Brother _______________ from Los Angeles, California. Another gentleman was a businessman from Johannesburg, Mr. _______________ , a Christian gentleman. But the third was a man whose name is Harry ________________ , a hardheaded businessman, as keen as a razor, a man not given to spiritual life at all, as we understand it, but a man who was seeking God. His heart was hungry.
Some hundreds of native children were in prayer. (And if you ever saw a company of native children in prayer, you would understand what real prayer is, bless God.) As these children prayed, they said a company of white angel children commenced to file into the church. And they stood in a line all around the wall as they sang, “Suffer the little children and forbid them not, to come unto Me, for of such is the kingdom of heaven” (Mark 10:14). When they had finished the song, they filed out again, and one brother said, “I went to the door and stood and looked until they vanished.” They seemed to vanish at a distance of one hundred and fifty feet from the church.
You tell me that the kingdom of heaven is a long piece off? Not so. It is right here. It is here tonight. The Spirit of God is as consciously present here in this room tonight as it was on the Day of Pentecost. God is as desirous to pour out His Spirit upon this congregation as He was upon the hundred and twenty of Jerusalem.
I say from the bottom of my heart that I have a conviction that almighty God wants to pour His Spirit upon this congregation and give this old world a new demonstration of the love and power of God.
We turn our eyes with gladness to the Christ who lived two thousand years ago, but we turn our faces with rejoicing to the Christ who we see living in men’s lives today. Right now, God’s purpose is that the Christ shall be manifested through every man and every woman, bless God, and that we will realize that in God, in Christ, our union with Him as our elder Brother is a fact, bless God, and that He was one manifestation of God to the world, and we are another manifestation of God to the world. Bless God.
Interpretation of a Message in Tongues
Let the Word of God enter into your hearts with all fullness. Do not be deceived, for God is not only in heaven above, but He is in the earth beneath. The Spirit of God is permeating everybody, every spirit, every soul of man that will admit Him.
Let the Word of God enter into your hearts at this time, so that He may get the glory and the praise therefore. Let the Word of God settle down in your hearts and your minds.
Be not constrained by the evil spirit to turn away from that just God, but be constrained to enter into the fullness of God. Do not be afraid of the manifestation of the Spirit, whether it be in humility or whether it be for raising up.
O God, in this hour we lift our hearts to Thee. We are little children and we desire to know God. Not many of us want to pay the price. But, our Lord, we feel tonight that there is a new desire in all our hearts and a new yearning that God should have all our life, and that mankind should have all of God in us. Amen.