Brief explanation of the Prophesies of Christ
concerning the "Second Coming"
Also, an explanation of the "Reality" of Christ,
or the resolution of the debate regarding what some call the "Trinity"(a term not used in the Bible)
Quotations from the Bible and the Baha'i Writings,
with commentary by Gregory D. Watson
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*******All Christians refer to the 24th Chapter of the Gospel of Matthew as Christ's own three classic promises (detailed with signs) of His "second coming" or His "return." By the year 1844, Christian scholars were agreed that all three of the promises had been fulfilled:
* Note: Chapters 8-12 of the Book of Daniel foretell the first coming of Christ as well as the second, using the same calculation method from the same date as the "2300 days prophesy", and thus are very important in proving the legitimacy of Jesus's claim to be the Christ in the "first coming." See . . . http://www.simjon.com/John/Bahai_Faith_in_Prophesy.htm for a full explanation of the three prophesies, and you may wish to read the page from "Some Answered Questions" from the top: http://reference.bahai.org/en/t/ab/SAQ/saq-10.html
- His Gospel would be preached everywhere on earth.
- The "Times of the Gentiles" would be fulfilled. (The Jews were first allowed to return to Israel under the "Edict of Toleration" in 1844.)
- All mankind would see the 'abomination of desolation' foretold by the Prophet Daniel. This is a reference to the "2300 Days" prophesy of Daniel*, each day representing a year from the time of the decree to rebuild the temple in Jerusalem in 457 B.C. See http://reference.bahai.org/en/t/ab/SAQ/saq-10.html#pg42
Another simplified explanation of this is found in the Appendix of Release the Sun (This book is available online by downloading OCEAN), which is like a miniature version of "Thief in the Night" by the same author.
Every sincere seeker must pray not to fall into the category referred to in the following verse: "for I will work a work in your days which ye will not believe, though it be told unto you." Bible: Habakkuk 1:5 and Acts 13:41
"He that hath an ear, let him hear. . . " Bible: Book of Revelation 2:17
Although the following verses of Christ are not commonly regarded as a reference to His "return" (even though the Christ Spirit is designated as the Holy Spirit or the Spirit of Truth), a closer examination will reveal that this "Spirit of Truth," must "come" embodied in a Person.
"And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever; [Even] the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him. . . . (John 14:16-17)
But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me: (John 15:26)
Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you. (John 16:7)
I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now. Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, [that] shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come. He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew [it] unto you. All things that the Father hath are mine: therefore said I, that he shall take of mine, and shall shew [it] unto you." (John 16:12-15)
A Brief Explanation of the Above Verse
". . . In some passages in the Holy Books the Spirit is spoken of, signifying a certain person, as it is currently said in speech and conversation that such a person is an embodied spirit, or he is a personification of mercy and generosity. In this case, it is the light we look at, and not the glass.
In the Gospel of John, in speaking of the Promised One Who was to come after Christ, it is said in chapter 16, verses 12, 13: 'I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now. Howbeit when He, the Spirit of truth, is come, He will guide you into all truth: for He shall not speak of Himself; but whatsoever He shall hear, that shall He speak.'
Now consider carefully that from these words, 'for He shall not speak of Himself; but whatsoever He shall hear, that shall He speak,' it is clear that the Spirit of truth is embodied in a Man Who has individuality, Who has ears to hear and a tongue to speak. In the same way the name 'Spirit of God' is used in relation to Christ, as you speak of a light, meaning both the light and the lamp." (`Abdu'l-Baha: Some Answered Questions, Pages: 108-109)
Broader Context for the Same Bible Prophesy about the "Return"
"A little while, and ye shall not see me: and again, a little while, and ye shall see me, because I go to the Father. Then said [some] of his disciples among themselves, What is this that he saith unto us, A little while, and ye shall not see me: and again, a little while, and ye shall see me: and, Because I go to the Father? They said therefore, What is this that he saith, A little while? we cannot tell what he saith. Now Jesus knew that they were desirous to ask him, and said unto them, Do ye enquire among yourselves of that I said, A little while, and ye shall not see me: and again, a little while, and ye shall see me? . . .These things have I spoken unto you in proverbs: but the time cometh, when I shall no more speak unto you in proverbs, but I shall show you plainly of the Father. I came forth from the Father, and am come into the world: again, I leave the world, and go to the Father." (John 16:16-28)
"In that day you will ask me no questions."(John 16:23) I shall show you plainly... (John 16:28)
The verse, "shall show you plainly of the Father," is a reference to the "unsealed books," and the language of plain speech to be used in the new Revelation (at the time of the "return"). Notice that these sequences of prophesies in the 16th Chapter of the Gospel of John, beginning with Christ's promise of the coming Comforter in the 7th verse, His renaming the Comforter the "Spirit of Truth" in the 14th and 15th chapters, and then discussing this coming of "another" in the context of His own "return," all mean one and the same thing. Christ declares that He has more to say to us through the "coming of another," who will "take of His and show it unto us." Baha'u'llah tells us, therefore, that Christ's own return and the coming of "another" refer to the same event. This is confirmed by the Bible's declaration that Christ would return with a "new name," and that His followers would also be called by the new name. ". . .I will write upon him my new name." (The Revelation of Saint John 3:12)
(Also see Rev. 2:17 and Isaiah 62:2.)
Again, the verse, "shall show you plainly of the Father," is a reference to the "unsealed books," and the language of plain speech in the new Revelation -- the Revelation of Baha'u'llah. The "Comforter," Baha'u'llah reveals, is a reference to Himself.
Again, the language of scripture has sealed or hidden this meaning until this new Day. This is no surprise. The Bible declares that the new name of Christ would be hidden, except to those who received it -- except to those who believed in Him, in the time of His return.
". . . in the stone a new name written, which no man knoweth saving he that receiveth it." (Rev. 2:17)
The following verses show us that the word "stone" or "rock" (in Rev. 2:17 above) is a reference to Christ -- the same symbol referring to Christ at the time His "second coming" as well as His first.
". . . a stumblingstone and rock of offense: and whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed. (Romans 9:33)
". . . that rock was Christ." (1st Corinthians 10:4)
". . .To whom coming, as unto a living stone, disallowed indeed of men, but chosen of God, and precious. . ." (1st Peter 2:4)
(Also see Matthew 21:42, Mark 12:10, Acts 4:11, which refer to Psalm 118:22-23 and Isaiah 28:16)
Likewise, the "hidden manna (bread)" in the same prophesy (Rev. 2:17) is a direct reference to the Word of God (Christ) at the time of His return. For example, Christ's own words in the Book of John (6:31), refer to Himself as the "manna" at the time of the "first" coming. In the second coming, Rev. 2:17 says this spiritual food will be "hidden" except "to him who overcometh." Here is the Biblical basis for the interpretation:Our forefathers ate the manna in the desert; as it is written: `He gave them bread from heaven to eat.' Jesus said to them, "I tell you the truth, it is not Moses who has given you the bread from heaven, but it is my Father who gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is He who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world." "Sir," they said, "from now on give us this bread." Then Jesus declared, "I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty." (John 6:31-35)
Divergent Bible Teachings on the "Station" of the Christ
The Baha'i teachings accord with Christian Biblical teachings:
We have already mentioned (above), that the Gospel of John, Chapter 16, verses 12 and 13, designates the Promised One Who was to come after Christ as the "Spirit of Truth." Indeed the Spirit of Truth is the Holy Spirit, and it was this Spirit which descended upon the Apostles at Pentecost (Acts 2). While it is true that the Holy Spirit is independent of bodily form, it is also true that the Holy Spirit animated Christ and thus became "manifest" in physical form -- "the Word made flesh." In like manner, the prophesy of the "second coming," John 16:12-13 refers to the condition in which the Spirit appears in a man, speaking with authority. Based on my own understanding of the Baha'i Writings, I will attempt to support the Baha'i view of the station of Christ as both God and man, beginning with five Biblical texts. The fifth text, along with some of my own comments, explains how John 16:12-13 refers to a "man" with "ears to hear and a tongue to speak."
CHRIST AS GOD
"He that hath seen me hath seen the Father. . ." (John 14:9)
"And whoever sees me sees Him who sent me." (John 12:45)
CHRIST AS MESSENGER (someone "sent" by "another")
"My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to complete his work." (John 4:34)
"I can do nothing on my own. As I hear, I judge; and my judgment is just, because I seek to do not my own will but the will of him who sent me." ". . .the very works that I am doing, testify on my behalf that the Father has sent me." (John 5:30-36)
". . .for I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will, but the will of Him who sent me." (John 6:38)
Then Jesus answered them, "My teaching is not mine but His who sent me. (John 7:16)
JESUS WAS A MAN (as a being other than God)
". . .and being found in fashion as a man. . . (Philippians 2:8)
. . .Christ Jesus, himself human. . ." (1 Timothy 2:5)
"Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone." (Luke 18:19 and Mark 10:18)
"So also Christ did not glorify himself in becoming a high priest, but was appointed by the one who said to him, 'You are my Son, today I have begotten you'" (Hebrews 5:5)
"And the Father himself, which hath sent me, hath borne witness of me. Ye have neither heard His voice at any time, nor seen His shape." (John 5:37)(click here to see one of Baha'u'llah's explanations, below, of this truth.)Comment:Fourth:
The Jesus who was tempted by Satan was not God. God cannot be tempted. A temptation is meaningful only if the person being tempted is vulnerable to the temptation and conquers that vulnerability. Only a man can be vulnerable, especially to an evil influence. Only the human side of Jesus could have been subject to such temptation (though He was created to withstand it), not the Christ Spirit within Him. Moreover, Jesus was called the "Son" (even the "son of man") to distinguish Him from the "Father"-- God.
A more detailed explanation of the "Sonship" of Christ is found in the writings of Abdu'l-Baha, in book called Some Answered Questions. For example:
". . . In the Gospel it is said that a man came to Christ and called Him 'Good Master.' Christ answered, 'Why callest thou Me good? there is none good but One, that is, God.' This did not mean -- God forbid! -- that Christ was a sinner; but the intention was to teach submission, humility, meekness and modesty to the man to whom He spoke. These Holy Beings [the Manifestations of God] are lights, and light does not unite itself with darkness. They are life, and life and death are not confounded. They are for guidance, and guidance and error cannot be together. They are the essence of obedience, and obedience cannot exist with rebellion. . .
Salutations be upon you." (`Abdu'l-Baha: Some Answered Questions, pp: 169-171)
CHRIST IS THE MEDIATOR BETWEEN GOD AND MAN (the Intermediary)
"For there is one God; there is also one mediator between God and humankind, Christ Jesus, himself human. . ." (1 Timothy 2:5)
"Now a mediator involves more than one party; but God is one." (Galatians 3:20)
"But Jesus has now obtained a more excellent ministry, and to that degree he is the mediator of a better covenant, which has been enacted through better promises." (Hebrews 8:6)
Jesus said to him, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except throughMe." (John 14:6)Abdu'l Baha's explanation of the necessity for an intermediary is below (also see my explanation of the need for an intermediary which also links back to this page).Fifth:(click here to go back to above explanation of Abdu'l-Baha)
GOD IS THE SPEAKER -- JESUS WAS IN THE CONDITION OF A LISTENER
Christ describes his own condition as a "listener" to the Spirit of God within Him in these words: "I can of mine own self do nothing: as I hear, I judge: and my judgment is just; because I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me." (John 5:30)
Notice that the words from John 16:12-13 describe the same very same condition for the Promised One as that which Jesus uses to describe Himself -- i.e., as one who "hears:"
". . .He shall not speak of Himself; but whatsoever He shall hear, that shall He speak."
Now, one must ask, if this verse were not referring to a Man in the station, or condition, of a listener -- if this blessed verse were referring to the Holy Spirit not embodied in a man -- then what need would He have to listen to anyone? Does the Spirit of God need to listen to anyone? The Spirit of God is the speaker. This verse describes, as Abdu'l-Baha has explained, "a Man Who has individuality, Who has ears to hear and a tongue to speak."
Jesus Christ was animated by the Spirit of God. When we speak of the Christ Spirit we refer to that Holy Spirit which revealed the Word of God through His chosen Mouthpiece. Christ appeared in this station of the Mouthpiece, or as the "Manifestation" of God, and thus spoke with the Voice of God Himself. At other times, Christ (Jesus) spoke as a man with such sayings as, "I do nothing on my own authority except by the will of Him who sent me." He called Himself the Son so as to distinguish Himself from the Father, even saying, "the Father is greater than I." Thus, the Manifestation of God is in two conditions, sometimes speaking as the "man" and sometimes speaking with the Voice of God Himself -- the Voice of Divinity.(click here to see a fuller explanation of "...the divergent utterances of the Manifestations..." so that they "...may cease to agitate the soul and perplex the mind.")
The Books are "Sealed and Unsealed"
"Go thy way, Daniel: for the words [are] closed up
and sealed till the time of the end." (Daniel 12:4-10)
'Who is worthy to open the book, and to loose the seals thereof?' (Revelation 5:2-4)
The Holy Books have been "unsealed" through the Revelation of Baha'u'llah, in fulfillment of the prophesies of all the Dispensations of the past. The Revelation of Baha'u'llah comes fulfilling the prophesy of the "end time," in which the books would have their hidden meanings revealed, through plain language. Prior to the possibility of that fulfillment -- that is, before the appearance of the Promised One -- anyone offering up his own interpretations as authoritative was in direct violation of the scriptural warnings against doing so. Both the Old and the New Testament warn against "man" interpreting the texts, on his own authority (see section below). Such interpretation is prohibited. Yet many divines (clergy) have offered authoritative interpretations without first making the claim that they have the authority.
Moreover, the conditions for making the claim of divine authority are spelled out clearly in the Biblical scriptures, as well as certain punishments for this ultimate false claim (click here to see "criteria of Moses," below). For example, read Numbers 12:2-10, wherein Miriam, the sister of Moses, is punished for assuming that she could speak for God.Miriam asks, ". . . hath he not spoken also by us?. . . ."In short, no one is authorized to represent the Word of God, except the Prophet Himself. The Holy Books and prophesies were to remain "sealed" until "one who is worthy" comes to "unseal" the hidden meanings, "at the end of the age."
And God answers, "If there be a prophet among you, I the Lord will make myself known unto him in a vision. . . With him will I speak mouth to mouth, even apparently, and not in dark speeches; and the similitude of the Lord shall he behold: wherefore then were ye not afraid to speak against my servant Moses?"
And the anger of the Lord was kindled against them. . . and Miriam became leprous, white as snow. . . .
"But thou, O Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book, [even] to the time of the end: many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased. . . .
And I heard, but I understood not: then said I, O my Lord, what [shall be] the end of these [things]? And he said, Go thy way, Daniel: for the words [are] closed up and sealed till the time of the end. (Daniel 12:4-10)
Similarly the verses in Isaiah 29:11--- "When men give it to one who can read, saying, 'read this,' he says, 'I cannot, for it is sealed.'" Also, in Isaiah 6:9-10-- "...make the ears heavy, and shut their eyes, lest they see with their eyes and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and convert, and be healed."
"And I saw a strong angel proclaiming with a loud voice, 'Who is worthy to open the book, and to loose the seals thereof?' And I wept much, because no man was found worthy to open and to read the book, neither to look thereon." (Revelation 5:2-4)
"I was about to write: and I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, Seal up those things which the seven thunders uttered, and write them not." (Revelation 10:4)The Prophets of God claim to have the Divine authority -- the only authority -- to bring a new Revelation, and to interpret the Revelations of the past. They declare that any other interpretations are not authoritative, however likely they may be to be true. As one Christian leader seeking to settle the many differences of opinion on the meaning of the scriptures put it, "What we need is someone who can speak with authority!" His mission can be accomplished only by the permission of God.
"For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book. . ." (Revelation 22:18)
"Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish [ought] from it, that ye may keep the commandments of the Lord your God which I command you." (Deuteronomy 4:2) (Note: The Jews used this verse to oppose Christ's claim to speak the Word of God in His day. This verse forbids the followers of the Book from "adding to" or "taking away from" the Book, but did not prevent God from sending His next Messenger, the Christ. Likewise in the New Testament, Revelation 22:18 prohibits the Christian believers from adding new meaning to Word of God. Neither verse means that God cannot speak to us through another "Manifestation," however.)
EXAMPLE of the need for authority:
The above Biblical verse (John 16:12-13) has for many, many years been interpreted by Christians to refer to the Holy Spirit. While the Baha'i Writings accord with this understanding that the Spirit of Truth refers to the Holy Spirit, a further condition is required to explain the condition of "for He shall not speak of Himself; but whatsoever He shall hear, that shall He speak." As stated, this verse refers to a Man, in the condition of a listener. If the verse referred only to the Spirit of God as the speaker, what need would there be for Him to listen to anyone? (below).
This new interpretation from the Revelation of Baha'u'llah (the Prophet or Messenger of God for this Day) comes fulfilling the prophecy of the "end time," in which the books would have their hidden meanings revealed, through plain language and with Divine authority.
"I will raise them up a Prophet from among their brethren, like unto thee, and will put my words in his mouth; and he shall speak unto them all that I shall command him. And it shall come to pass, [that] whosoever will not hearken unto my words which he shall speak in my name, I will require [it] of him. But the prophet, which shall presume to speak a word in my name, which I have not commanded him to speak, or that shall speak in the name of other gods, even that prophet shall die. And if thou say in thine heart, How shall we know the word which the Lord hath not spoken? When a prophet speaketh in the name of the Lord, if the thing follow not, nor come to pass, that [is] the thing which the Lord hath not spoken, [but] the prophet hath spoken it presumptuously: thou shalt not be afraid of him." (Deuteronomy 18:18-22)
How Shall We Know Who Has this Authority?
The criteria of Moses will suffice:(click here if you wish to go back to beginning of "Seals" section above)
Thus, if a Prophet claims to speak in the name of God -- if He claims Divine authority -- and the things He proclaims DO "come to pass," then we should "fear God" and follow that Prophet. "...whosoever will not hearken" -- whosoever will not listen to the words which the Prophet speaks with Divine authority, God will hold him accountable for his failure to do so.
No one can make the claim to be a Messenger of God without proofs, nor can He accomplish His designs without the permission of God. Moses said that a man cannot bring forth a good teaching if he makes the extraordinary and bold claim that his teaching is a Revelation direct from God ("face to face"). God will stop him. It doesn't happen. However, a good man with an inspired teaching can suceed in promoting it, so long as he does not make the great claim that God has spoken it through him.
One of the greatest proofs of Baha'u'llah is the removal of the kings and rulers of the earth. He wrote tablets to them, outlining the process whereby peace could be established on earth, and warned them if they did not turn to Him and heed His message. Two of these kings were the very ones that had him in prison. Every one of the kings, dynasties and royal houses is gone except the one that responded favorably to His letter. Napoleon III, the most powerful monarch in Europe at the time, cast the tablet of Baha'u'llah behind his back saying, "if this is from God, I am two gods." Baha'u'llah wrote him again, telling him that He had seen what he had done, and that for rejecting His Message his empire would be thrown into confusion and fall from his hands. Within less than a year Napoleon was captured at the battle of Sedan (1870), and lived in exile for the rest of his life. His Prussian conqueror, head of the Hohenzollern family that had led Germany since the 12th century, met the same fate and found his own kingdom evaporating when he, too, rejected Baha'u'llah. You can read about these kingdoms that disappeared practically overnight, after existing for generations, in William Sears' Book, The Prisoner and the Kings. You can actually read the original texts of Baha'u'llah's Epistles to the kings and rulers. (See Proclamations of Baha'u'llah at http://sunsite.unc.edu/Bahai/Texts/English/PB/) Baha'u'llah said that part of His mission was to seize power from kings and ecclesiastics and give it to the people. Since then the world has become increasingly democratic. More of His prophesies we should see fulfilled in our lifetime, including a lasting peace among the nations -- some form of binding international legal system or world government (Isaiah 9:6 ". . .and the government shall be upon His shoulder").
The Proof of Moses was His Staff ---
The proof of this Prisoner of Akka (Baha'u'llah) was His Pen
"Could such a thing," exclaims Baha'u'llah, "be made manifest except through the power of a Divine Revelation and the potency of God's invincible Will? By the righteousness of God! Were any one to entertain so great a Revelation in his heart the thought of such a declaration would alone confound him! Were the hearts of all men to be crowded into his heart, he would still hesitate to venture upon so awful an enterprise." "No eye," He in another passage affirms, "hath beheld so great an outpouring of bounty, nor hath any ear heard of such a Revelation of loving-kindness... The Prophets `endowed with constancy,' whose loftiness and glory shine as the sun, were each honored with a Book which all have seen, and the verses of which have been duly ascertained. Whereas the verses which have rained from this Cloud of divine mercy have been so abundant that none hath yet been able to estimate their number... How can they belittle this Revelation? Hath any age witnessed such momentous happenings?"(Shoghi Effendi: World Order of Baha'u'llah, Pages: 124-125)
The Prophets are of two kinds. One are the independent Prophets Who are followed; the other kind are not independent and are themselves followers. . .
Two Classes of Prophets
The independent Prophets are the lawgivers and the founders of a new cycle. They are like the sun which is luminous in itself: the light is its essential necessity; it does not receive light from any other star. . . .
The other Prophets are followers and promoters, for they are branches and not independent; they receive the bounty of the independent Prophets, and they profit by the light of the Guidance of the universal Prophets. They are like the moon, which is not luminous and radiant in itself, but receives its light from the sun.
The Manifestations of universal Prophethood Who appeared independently are, for example, Abraham, Moses, Christ, Muhammad, the Bab and Baha'u'llah. But the others who are followers and promoters are like Solomon, David, Isaiah, Jeremiah and Ezekiel....(see full text below, taken from the teachings of `Abdu'l-Bahá, found in Some Answered Questions, p. 164)
`Abdu'l-Baha spoke, " Praise thou God that thou hast found thy way into the Kingdom of Splendours, and hast rent asunder the veil of vain imaginings, and that the core of the inner mystery hath been made known unto thee.
The Nature of the Divinty
This people, all of them, have pictured a god in the realm of the mind, and worship that image which they have made for themselves. And yet that image is comprehended, the human mind being the comprehender thereof, and certainly the comprehender is greater than that which lieth within its grasp; for imagination is but the branch, while mind is the root; and certainly the root is greater than the branch. Consider then, how all the peoples of the world are bowing the knee to a fancy of their own contriving, how they have created a creator within their own minds, and they call it the Fashioner of all that is -- whereas in truth it is but an illusion. Thus are the people worshipping only an error of perception.
But that Essence of Essences, that Invisible of Invisibles, is sanctified above all human speculation, and never to be overtaken by the mind of man. Never shall that immemorial Reality lodge within the compass of a contingent being. His is another realm, and of that realm no understanding can be won. No access can be gained thereto; all entry is forbidden there. The utmost one can say is that Its existence can be proved, but the conditions of Its existence are unknown.
That such an Essence doth exist, the philosophers and learned doctors one and all have understood; but whenever they tried to learn something of Its being, they were left bewildered and dismayed, and at the end, despairing, their hopes in ruins, they went their way, out of this life. For to comprehend the state and the inner mystery of that Essence of Essences, that Most Secret of Secrets, one needs must have another power and other faculties; and such a power, such faculties would be more than humankind can bear, wherefore no word of Him can come to them.
If, for example, one be endowed with the senses of hearing, of taste, of smell, of touch - but be deprived of the sense of sight, it will not be possible for one to gaze about; for sight cannot be realized through hearing or tasting, or the sense of smell or touch. In the same way, with the faculties at man's disposal it is beyond the realm of possibility for him to grasp that unseeable Reality, holy and sanctified above all the sceptics' doubts. For this, other faculties are required, other senses; should such powers become available to him, then could a human being receive some knowledge of that world; otherwise, never."(Selections from the Writings of `Abdu'l-Baha, Pages: 53-54)(also see Japan Will Turn Ablaze, Pages: 22-23)
Manifestation and Incarnation
(The word "incarnation" is not in the Bible.)
Teachings on the "Station" of the Manifestation of God
“… Christ [Jesus] …Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you.” (Holy Bible, 1 Peter 1:20)
“I have manifested Thy name unto the men ....” (Holy Bible, John 17:6 )
“. . . . I will . . . manifest myself. . . ” (Holy Bible, John 14:21)
"The divinity attributed to so great a Being and the complete incarnation of the names and attributes of God in so exalted a Person should, under no circumstances, be misconceived or misinterpreted..." (Shoghi Effendi, WOB 112)
"Know thou of a certainty that the Unseen can in no wise incarnate His Essence and reveal it unto men. He is, and hath ever been, immensely exalted beyond all that can either be recounted or perceived. From His retreat of glory His voice is ever proclaiming: "Verily, I am God; there is none other God besides Me, the All-Knowing, the All-Wise. I have manifested Myself unto men, and have sent down Him Who is the Day Spring of the signs of My Revelation. Through Him I have caused all creation to testify that there is none other God except Him, the Incomparable, the All-Informed, the All-Wise." He Who is everlastingly hidden from the eyes of men can never be known except through His Manifestation, and His Manifestation can adduce no greater proof of the truth of His Mission than the proof of His own Person.
. . . .The door of the knowledge of the Ancient Being hath ever been, and will continue for ever to be, closed in the face of men. No man's understanding shall ever gain access unto His holy court. As a token of His mercy, however, and as a proof of His loving-kindness, He hath manifested unto men the Day Stars of His divine guidance, the Symbols of His divine unity, and hath ordained the knowledge of these sanctified Beings to be identical with the knowledge of His own Self. Whoso recognizeth them hath recognized God. Whoso hearkeneth to their call, hath hearkened to the Voice of God, and whoso testifieth to the truth of their Revelation, hath testified to the truth of God Himself. Whoso turneth away from them, hath turned away from God, and whoso disbelieveth in them, hath disbelieved in God. Every one of them is the Way of God that connecteth this world with the realms above, and the Standard of His Truth unto every one in the kingdoms of earth and heaven. They are the Manifestations of God amidst men, the evidences of His Truth, and the signs of His glory."(Baha'u'llah: Gleanings. . ., Pages: 49-50)And since there can be no tie of direct intercourse to bind the one true God with His creation, and no resemblance whatever can exist between the transient and the Eternal, the contingent and the Absolute, He hath ordained that in every age and dispensation a pure and stainless Soul be made manifest in the kingdoms of earth and heaven. Unto this subtle, this mysterious and ethereal Being He hath assigned a twofold nature; the physical, pertaining to the world of matter, and the spiritual, which is born of the substance of God Himself. He hath, moreover, conferred upon Him a double station. The first station, which is related to His innermost reality, representeth Him as One Whose voice is the voice of God Himself. To this testifieth the tradition: "Manifold and mysterious is My relationship with God. I am He, Himself, and He is I, Myself, except that I am that I am, and He is that He is."
. . .The second station is the human station, exemplified by the following verses: "I am but a man like you."(Gleanings from the Writings of Baha'u'llah, p.66)
"Let no one meditating, in the light of the afore-quoted passages, on the nature of the Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh, mistake its character or misconstrue the intent of its Author. The divinity attributed to so great a Being and the complete incarnation of the names and attributes of God in so exalted a Person should, under no circumstances, be misconceived or misinterpreted. The human temple that has been made the vehicle of so overpowering a Revelation must, if we be faithful to the tenets of our Faith, ever remain entirely distinguished from that "innermost Spirit of Spirits" and "eternal Essence of Essences" -- that invisible yet rational God Who, however much we extol the divinity of His Manifestations on earth, can in no wise incarnate His infinite, His unknowable, His incorruptible and all-embracing Reality in the concrete and limited frame of a mortal being. Indeed, the God Who could so incarnate His own reality would, in the light of the teachings of Bahá'u'lláh, cease immediately to be God. So crude and fantastic a theory of Divine incarnation is as removed from, and incompatible with, the essentials of Bahá'í belief as are the no less inadmissible pantheistic and anthropomorphic conceptions of God -- both of which the utterances of Bahá'u'lláh emphatically repudiate and the fallacy of which they expose.
He Who in unnumbered passages claimed His utterance to be the "Voice of Divinity, the Call of God Himself" thus solemnly affirms in the Kitáb-i-Íqán: "To every discerning and illumined heart it is evident that God, the unknowable Essence, the Divine Being, is immeasurably exalted beyond every human attribute such as corporeal existence, ascent and descent, egress and regress... He is, and hath ever been, veiled in the ancient eternity of His Essence, and will remain in His Reality everlastingly hidden from the sight of men... He standeth exalted beyond and above all separation and union, all proximity and remoteness... 'God was alone; there was none else beside Him' is a sure testimony of this truth."
"From time immemorial," Bahá'u'lláh, speaking of God, explains, "He, the Divine Being, hath been veiled in the ineffable sanctity of His exalted Self, and will everlasting continue to be wrapt in the impenetrable mystery of His unknowable Essence... Ten thousand Prophets, each a Moses, are thunderstruck upon the Sinai of their search at God's forbidding voice, 'Thou shalt never behold Me!'; whilst a myriad Messengers, each as great as Jesus, stand dismayed upon their heavenly thrones by the interdiction 'Mine Essence thou shalt never apprehend!'" "How bewildering to me, insignificant as I am," Bahá'u'lláh in His communion with God affirms, "is the attempt to fathom the sacred depths of Thy knowledge! How futile my efforts to visualize the magnitude of the power inherent in Thine handiwork -- the revelation of Thy creative power!" "When I contemplate, O my God, the relationship that bindeth me to Thee," He, in yet another prayer revealed in His own handwriting, testifies, "I am moved to proclaim to all created things 'verily I am God!'; and when I consider my own self, lo, I find it coarser than clay!"
'The door of the knowledge of the Ancient of Days,' Bahá'u'lláh further states in the Kitáb-i-Íqán, 'being thus closed in the face of all beings, He, the Source of infinite grace ... hath caused those luminous Gems of Holiness to appear out of the realm of the spirit, in the noble form of the human temple, and be made manifest unto all men, that they may impart unto the world the mysteries of the unchangeable Being and tell of the subtleties of His imperishable Essence... All the Prophets of God, His well-favored, His holy and chosen Messengers are, without exception, the bearers of His names and the embodiments of His attributes... These Tabernacles of Holiness, these primal Mirrors which reflect the Light of unfading glory, are but expressions of Him Who is the Invisible of the Invisibles.'
That Bahá'u'lláh should, notwithstanding the overwhelming intensity of His Revelation, be regarded as essentially one of these Manifestations of God, never to be identified with that invisible Reality, the Essence of Divinity itself, is one of the major beliefs of our Faith -- a belief which should never be obscured and the integrity of which no one of its followers should allow to be compromised." (Shoghi Effendi, The World Order of Baha'u'llah, p. 112)
In the above passage, in relation to Bahá'u'lláh, the Guardian wrote that the "human temple that has been the vehicle of so overpowering a Revelation" is not to be identified with the "Reality" of God. Concerning the uniqueness of Bahá'u'lláh's station and the greatness of His Revelation, Shoghi Effendi affirms that the prophetic statements concerning the "Day of God", found in the Sacred Scriptures of past Dispensations, are fulfilled by the advent of Bahá'u'lláh:
To Israel He was neither more nor less than the incarnation of the "Everlasting Father", the "Lord of Hosts" come down "with ten thousands of saints"; to Christendom Christ returned "in the glory of the Father"; to Shí'ah Islam the return of the Imam Husayn; to Sunni Islam the descent of the "Spirit of God" (Jesus Christ); to the Zoroastrians the promised Shah-Bahram; to the Hindus the reincarnation of Krishna; to the Buddhists the fifth Buddha.
Bahá'u'lláh describes the station of "Divinity" which He shares with all the Manifestations of God as
...the station in which one dieth to himself and liveth in God. Divinity, whenever I mention it, indicateth My complete and absolute self-effacement. This is the station in which I have no control over mine own weal or woe nor over my life nor over my resurrection.
And, regarding His own relationship to God, He testifies:
When I contemplate, O my God, the relationship that bindeth me to Thee, I am moved to proclaim to all created things "verily I am God"; and when I consider my own self, lo, I find it coarser than clay!
To every discerning and illuminated heart it is evident that God, the unknowable Essence, the Divine Being, is immensely exalted beyond every human attribute, such as corporeal existence, ascent and descent, egress and regress. Far be it from His glory that human tongue should adequately recount His praise, or that human heart comprehend His fathomless mystery. He is, and hath ever been, veiled in the ancient eternity of His Essence, and will remain in His Reality everlastingly hidden from the sight of men. "No vision taketh in Him, but He taketh in all vision; He is the Subtile, the All-Perceiving."...(click here to see Christ's statement , above, of this truth.)
The door of the knowledge of the Ancient of Days being thus closed in the face of all beings, the Source of infinite grace, according to His saying, "His grace hath transcended all things; My grace hath encompassed them all," hath caused those luminous Gems of Holiness to appear out of the realm of the spirit, in the noble form of the human temple, and be made manifest unto all men, that they may impart unto the world the mysteries of the unchangeable Being, and tell of the subtleties of His imperishable Essence.
These sanctified Mirrors, these Day Springs of ancient glory, are, one and all, the Exponents on earth of Him Who is the central Orb of the universe, its Essence and ultimate Purpose. From Him proceed their knowledge and power; from Him is derived their sovereignty. The beauty of their countenance is but a reflection of His image, and their revelation a sign of His deathless glory. They are the Treasuries of Divine knowledge, and the Repositories of celestial wisdom. Through them is transmitted a grace that is infinite, and by them is revealed the Light that can never fade.... These Tabernacles of Holiness, these Primal Mirrors which reflect the light of unfading glory, are but expressions of Him Who is the Invisible of the Invisibles. By the revelation of these Gems of Divine virtue all the names and attributes of God, such as knowledge and power, sovereignty and dominion, mercy and wisdom, glory, bounty, and grace, are made manifest.(Gleanings from the Writings of Baha'u'llah, p.46-48)
On the Proceeding of the Human Spirit from God
Question. - In the Bible it is said that God breathed the spirit into the body of man. What is the meaning of this verse?
Answer. - Know that proceeding is of two kinds: the proceeding and appearance through emanation, and the proceeding and appearance through manifestation. The proceeding through emanation is like the coming forth of the action from the actor, of the writing from the writer. Now the writing emanates from the writer, and the discourse emanates from the speaker, and in the same way the human spirit emanates from God. It is not that it manifests God -- that is to say, no part has been detached from the Divine Reality to enter the body of man. No, as the discourse emanates from the speaker, the spirit appears in the body of man.
But the proceeding through manifestation is the manifestation of the reality of a thing in other forms, like the coming forth of this tree from the seed of the tree, or the coming forth of the flower from the seed of the flower, for it is the seed itself which appears in the form of the branches, leaves and flowers. This is called the proceeding through manifestation. The spirits of men, with reference to God, have dependence through emanation, just as the discourse proceeds from the speaker and the writing from the writer - that is to say, the speaker himself does not become the discourse, nor does the writer himself become the writing; no, rather they have the proceeding of emanation. The speaker has perfect ability and power, and the discourse emanates from him, as the action does from the actor. The Real Speaker, the Essence of Unity, has always been in one condition, which neither changes nor alters, has neither transformation nor vicissitude. He is the Eternal, the Immortal. Therefore, the proceeding of the human spirits from God is through emanation. When it is said in the Bible that God breathed His spirit into man, this spirit is that which, like the discourse, emanates from the Real Speaker, taking effect in the reality of man.
But the proceeding through manifestation (if by this is meant the divine appearance, and not division into parts), we have said, is the proceeding and the appearance of the Holy Spirit and the Word, which is from God. As it is said in the Gospel of John,"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God"; then the Holy Spirit and the Word are the appearance of God. The Spirit and the Word mean the divine perfections that appeared in the Reality of Christ, and these perfections were with God; so the sun manifests all its glory in the mirror. For the Word does not signify the body of Christ, no, but the divine perfections manifested in Him. For Christ was like a clear mirror which was facing the Sun of Reality; and the perfections of the Sun of Reality -- that is to say, its light and heat -- were visible and apparent in this mirror. If we look into the mirror, we see the sun, and we say, "It is the sun." Therefore, the Word and the Holy Spirit, which signify the perfections of God, are the divine appearance. This is the meaning of the verse in the Gospel which says: "The Word was with God, and the Word was God"; for the divine perfections are not different from the Essence of Oneness. The perfections of Christ are called the Word because all the beings are in the condition of letters, and one letter has not a complete meaning, while the perfections of Christ have the power of the word because a complete meaning can be inferred from a word. As the Reality of Christ was the manifestation of the divine perfections, therefore, it was like the word. Why? because He is the sum of perfect meanings. This is why He is called the Word.
And know that the proceeding of the Word and the Holy Spirit from God, which is the proceeding and appearance of manifestation, must not be understood to mean that the Reality of Divinity had been divided into parts, or multiplied, or that it had descended from the exaltation of holiness and purity. God forbid! If a pure, fine mirror faces the sun, the light and heat, the form and the image of the sun will be resplendent in it with such manifestation that if a beholder says of the sun, which is brilliant and visible in the mirror, "This is the sun," it is true. Nevertheless, the mirror is the mirror, and the sun is the sun. The One Sun, even if it appears in numerous mirrors, is one.This state is neither abiding nor entering, neither commingling nor descending; for entering, abiding, descending, issuing forth and commingling are the necessities and characteristics of bodies, not of spirits; then how much less do they belong to the sanctified and pure Reality of God. God is exempt from all that is not in accordance with His purity and His exalted and sublime sanctity.
The Sun of Reality, as we have said, has always been in one condition; it has no change, no alteration, no transformation and no vicissitude. It is eternal and everlasting. But the Holy Reality of the Word of God is in the condition of the pure, fine and shining mirror; the heat, the light, the image and likeness -- that is to say, the perfections of the Sun of Reality -- appear in it. That is why Christ says in the Gospel, "The Father is in the Son" -- that is to say, the Sun of Reality appears in the mirror. Praise be to the One Who shone upon this Holy Reality, Who is sanctified among the beings!(`Abdu'l-Baha: Some Answered Questions, Pages: 205-207)A fuller explanation of the "Trinity," is on this page several paragraphs below.
Baha'i Teachings on the "Station" of the Manifestation of God
"By virtue of this station they have claimed for themselves the Voice of Divinity and the like, whilst by virtue of their station of Messengership, they have declared themselves the Messengers of God. In every instance they have voiced an utterance that would conform to the requirements of the occasion, and have ascribed all these declarations to Themselves, declarations ranging from the realm of Divine Revelation to the realm of creation, and from the domain of Divinity even unto the domain of earthly existence. Thus it is that whatsoever be their utterance, whether it pertain to the realm of Divinity, Lordship, Prophethood, Messengership, Guardianship, Apostleship, or Servitude, all is true, beyond the shadow of a doubt. Therefore these sayings which We have quoted in support of Our argument must be attentively considered, that the divergent utterances of the Manifestations of the Unseen and Day Springs of Holiness may cease to agitate the soul and perplex the mind."(Gleanings from the Writings of Baha'u'llah, Pages: 55-56)(Click here to see the "divergent utterances" of Christ refering to His own "station" above)
Know that the Holy Manifestations, though They have the degrees of endless perfections, yet, speaking generally, have only three stations. The first station is the physical; the second station is the human, which is that of the rational soul; the third is that of the divine appearance and the heavenly splendor.
The physical station is phenomenal; it is composed of elements, and necessarily everything that is composed is subject to decomposition. It is not possible that a composition should not be disintegrated.
The second is the station of the rational soul, which is the human reality. This also is phenomenal, and the Holy Manifestations share it with all mankind.
Know that, although the human soul has existed on the earth for prolonged times and ages, yet it is phenomenal. As it is a divine sign, when once it has come into existence, it is eternal. The spirit of man has a beginning, but it has no end; it continues eternally. In the same way the species existing on this earth are phenomenal, for it is established that there was a time when these species did not exist on the surface of the earth. Moreover, the earth has not always existed, but the world of existence has always been, for the universe is not limited to this terrestrial globe. The meaning of this is that, although human souls are phenomenal, they are nevertheless immortal, everlasting and perpetual; for the world of things is the world of imperfection in comparison with that of man, and the world of man is the world of perfection in comparison with that of things. When imperfections reach the station of perfection, they become eternal. This is an example of which you must comprehend the meaning.
The third station is that of the divine appearance and heavenly splendor: it is the Word of God, the Eternal Bounty, the Holy Spirit. It has neither beginning nor end, for these things are related to the world of contingencies and not to the divine world. For God the end is the same thing as the beginning. So the reckoning of days, weeks, months and years, of yesterday and today, is connected with the terrestrial globe; but in the sun there is no such thing - there is neither yesterday, today nor tomorrow, neither months nor years: all are equal. In the same way the Word of God is purified from all these conditions and is exempt from the boundaries, the laws and the limits of the world of contingency. Therefore, the reality of prophethood, which is the Word of God and the perfect state of manifestation, did not have any beginning and will not have any end; its rising is different from all others and is like that of the sun. For example, its dawning in the sign of Christ was with the utmost splendor and radiance, and this is eternal and everlasting. See how many conquering kings there have been, how many statesmen and princes, powerful organizers, all of whom have disappeared, whereas the breezes of Christ are still blowing; His light is still shining; His melody is still resounding; His standard is still waving; His armies are still fighting; His heavenly voice is still sweetly melodious; His clouds are still showering gems; His lightning is still flashing; His reflection is still clear and brilliant; His splendor is still radiating and luminous; and it is the same with those souls who are under His protection and are shining with His light.
Then it is evident that the Manifestations possess three conditions: the physical condition, the condition of the rational soul, and the condition of the divine appearance and heavenly splendor. The physical condition will certainly become decomposed, but the condition of the rational soul, though it has a beginning, has no end: nay, it is endowed with everlasting life. But the Holy Reality, of which Christ says, "The Father is in the Son," has neither beginning nor end. When beginning is spoken of, it signifies the state of manifesting; and, symbolically, the condition of silence is compared to sleep. For example, a man is sleeping -- when he begins to speak, he is awake -- but it is always the same individual, whether he be asleep or awake; no difference has occurred in his station, his elevation, his glory, his reality or his nature. The state of silence is compared to sleep, and that of manifestation to wakefulness. A man sleeping or waking is the same man; sleep is one state, and wakefulness is another. The time of silence is compared to sleep, and manifestation and guidance are compared to wakefulness.
In the Gospel it is said, "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God." Then it is evident and clear that Christ did not reach to the station of Messiahship and its perfections at the time of baptism, when the Holy Spirit descended upon Him in the likeness of a dove. Nay, the Word of God from all eternity has always been, and will be, in the exaltation of sanctification. (Abdu'l-Baha: Some Answered Questions, Pages: 151-153)
The Holy Spirit, The Intermediary Power
Between God and Man
The Divine Reality is Unthinkable, Limitless, Eternal, Immortal and Invisible.
The world of creation is bound by natural law, finite and mortal.
The Infinite Reality cannot be said to ascend or descend. It is beyond the understanding of man, and cannot be described in terms which apply to the phenomenal sphere of the created world.
Man, then, is in extreme need of the only Power by which he is able to receive help from the Divine Reality, that Power alone bringing him into contact with the Source of all life.
An intermediary is needed to bring two extremes into relation with each other. Riches and poverty, plenty and need: without an intermediary power there could be no relation between these pairs of opposites.
So we can say there must be a Mediator between God and Man, and this is none other than the Holy Spirit, which brings the created earth into relation with the `Unthinkable One', the Divine Reality.
The Divine Reality may be likened to the sun and the Holy Spirit to the rays of the sun. As the rays of the sun bring the light and warmth of the sun to the earth, giving life to all created beings, so do the `Manifestations' bring the power of the Holy Spirit from the Divine Sun of Reality to give light and life to the souls of men.
Behold, there is an intermediary necessary between the sun and the earth; the sun does not descend to the earth, neither does the earth ascend to the sun. This contact is made by the rays of the sun which bring light and warmth and heat.
The Holy Spirit is the Light from the Sun of Truth bringing, by its infinite power, life and illumination to all mankind, flooding all souls with Divine Radiance, conveying the blessings of God's Mercy to the whole world. The earth, without the medium of the warmth and light of the rays of the sun, could receive no benefits from the sun.
Likewise the Holy Spirit is the very cause of the life of man; without the Holy Spirit he would have no intellect, he would be unable to acquire his scientific knowledge by which his great influence over the rest of creation is gained. The illumination of the Holy Spirit gives to man the power of thought, and enables him to make discoveries by which he bends the laws of nature to his will.
The Holy Spirit it is which, through the mediation of the Prophets of God, teaches spiritual virtues to man and enables him to attain Eternal Life.
All these blessings are brought to man by the Holy Spirit; therefore we can understand that the Holy Spirit is the Intermediary between the Creator and the created. The light and heat of the sun cause the earth to be fruitful, and create life in all things that grow; and the Holy Spirit quickens the souls of men.
The two great apostles, St Peter and St John the Evangelist, were once simple, humble workmen, toiling for their daily bread. By the Power of the Holy Spirit their souls were illumined, and they received the eternal blessings of the Lord Christ.(`Abdu'l-Baha: Paris Talks, Pages: 57-60)
Explanation of the "Trinity"
Question. - What is the meaning of the Trinity, of the Three Persons in One?
Answer. - The Divine Reality, which is purified and sanctified from the understanding of human beings and which can never be imagined by the people of wisdom and of intelligence, is exempt from all conception. That Lordly Reality admits of no division; for division and multiplicity are properties of creatures which are contingent existences, and not accidents which happen to the self-existent.
The Divine Reality is sanctified from singleness, then how much more from plurality. The descent of that Lordly Reality into conditions and degrees would be equivalent to imperfection and contrary to perfection, and is, therefore, absolutely impossible. It perpetually has been, and is, in the exaltation of holiness and sanctity. All that is mentioned of the Manifestations and Dawning-places of God signifies the divine reflection, and not a descent into the conditions of existence.
God is pure perfection, and creatures are but imperfections. For God to descend into the conditions of existence would be the greatest of imperfections; on the contrary, His manifestation, His appearance, His rising are like the reflection of the sun in a clear, pure, polished mirror. All the creatures are evident signs of God, like the earthly beings upon all of which the rays of the sun shine. But upon the plains, the mountains, the trees and fruits, only a portion of the light shines, through which they become visible, and are reared, and attain to the object of their existence, while the Perfect Man is in the condition of a clear mirror in which the Sun of Reality becomes visible and manifest with all its qualities and perfections. So the Reality of Christ was a clear and polished mirror of the greatest purity and fineness. The Sun of Reality, the Essence of Divinity, reflected itself in this mirror and manifested its light and heat in it; but from the exaltation of its holiness, and the heaven of its sanctity, the Sun did not descend to dwell and abide in the mirror. No, it continues to subsist in its exaltation and sublimity, while appearing and becoming manifest in the mirror in beauty and perfection.
Now if we say that we have seen the Sun in two mirrors -- one the Christ and one the Holy Spirit -- that is to say, that we have seen three Suns, one in heaven and the two others on the earth, we speak truly. And if we say that there is one Sun, and it is pure singleness, and has no partner and equal, we again speak truly.
The epitome of the discourse is that the Reality of Christ was a clear mirror, and the Sun of Reality -- that is to say, the Essence of Oneness, with its infinite perfections and attributes - became visible in the mirror. The meaning is not that the Sun, which is the Essence of the Divinity, became divided and multiplied -- for the Sun is one -- but it appeared in the mirror. This is why Christ said, "The Father is in the Son," meaning that the Sun is visible and manifest in this mirror.
The Holy Spirit is the Bounty of God which becomes visible and evident in the Reality of Christ. The Sonship station is the heart of Christ, and the Holy Spirit is the station of the spirit of Christ. Hence it has become certain and proved that the Essence of Divinity is absolutely unique and has no equal, no likeness, no equivalent.
This is the signification of the Three Persons of the Trinity. If it were otherwise, the foundations of the Religion of God would rest upon an illogical proposition which the mind could never conceive, and how can the mind be forced to believe a thing which it cannot conceive? A thing cannot be grasped by the intelligence except when it is clothed in an intelligible form; otherwise, it is but an effort of the imagination.
It has now become clear, from this explanation, what is the meaning of the Three Persons of the Trinity. The Oneness of God is also proved. (Some Answered Questions, Pages: 113) Back to Top of Page
Explanation of Bible Verse -- John 5:17
"And now, O Father, glorify Thou Me with Thine own self, with the glory which I had with Thee before the world was."
There are two kinds of priorities: one is essential and is not preceded by a cause, but its existence is in itself, as, for example, the sun has light in itself, for its shining is not dependent on the light of other stars. This is called an essential light. But the light of the moon is received from the sun, for the moon is dependent on the sun for its light; therefore, the sun, with regard to light, is the cause, and the moon becomes the effect. The former is the ancient, the precedent, the antecedent, while the latter is the preceded and the last.
The second sort of preexistence is the preexistence of time, and that has no beginning. The Word of God is sanctified from time. The past, the present, the future, all, in relation to God, are equal. Yesterday, today, tomorrow do not exist in the sun.
In the same way there is a priority with regard to glory -- that is to say, the most glorious precedes the glorious. Therefore, the Reality of Christ, Who is the Word of God, with regard to essence, attributes and glory, certainly precedes the creatures. Before appearing in the human form, the Word of God was in the utmost sanctity and glory, existing in perfect beauty and splendor in the height of its magnificence. When through the wisdom of God the Most High it shone from the heights of glory in the world of the body, the Word of God, through this body, became oppressed, so that it fell into the hands of the Jews, and became the captive of the tyrannical and ignorant, and at last was crucified. That is why He addressed God, saying: "Free Me from the bonds of the world of the body, and liberate Me from this cage, so that I may ascend to the heights of honor and glory, and attain unto the former grandeur and might which existed before the bodily world, that I may rejoice in the eternal world and may ascend to the original abode, the placeless world, the invisible kingdom."
It is thus that you see even in the kingdom of this world -- that is to say, in the realm of souls and countries -- that the glory and the grandeur of Christ appeared in this earth after His ascension. When in the world of the body He was subject to the contempt and jeers of the weakest nation of the world, the Jews, who thought it fitting to set a crown of thorns upon His sacred head. But after His ascension the bejeweled crowns of all the kings were humbled and bowed before the crown of thorns.
Behold the glory that the Word of God attained even in this world!(`Abdu'l-Baha: Some Answered Questions, Pages: 113-117)
". . .the perfect man, the Prophet, is one who is transfigured, one who has the purity and clearness of a perfect mirror -- one who reflects the Sun of Truth. Of such a one -- of such a Prophet and Messenger -- we can say that the Light of Divinity with the heavenly Perfections dwells in him.
If we claim that the sun is seen in the mirror, we do not mean that the sun itself has descended from the holy heights of his heaven and entered into the mirror! This is impossible. The Divine Nature is seen in the Manifestations and its Light and Splendor are visible in extreme glory.
Therefore, men have always been taught and led by the Prophets of God. The Prophets of God are the Mediators of God. All the Prophets and Messengers have come from One Holy Spirit and bear the Message of God, fitted to the age in which they appear. The One Light is in them and they are One with each other. But the Eternal does not become phenomenal; neither can the phenomenal become Eternal. (Abdu'l-Baha in London, Pages: 23-24) To man is given the special gift of the intellect by which he is able to receive a larger share of the light Divine. The Perfect Man is as a polished mirror reflecting the Sun of Truth, manifesting the attributes of God.
The Lord Christ said, `He that hath seen Me hath seen the Father' -- God manifested in man. The sun does not leave his place in the heavens and descend into the mirror, for the actions of ascent and descent, coming and going, do not belong to the Infinite, they are the methods of finite beings. In the Manifestation of God, the perfectly polished mirror, appear the qualities of the Divine in a form that man is capable of comprehending.( Paris Talks, Pages: 25-26)The perfect soul of man -- that is to say, the perfect individual -- is like a mirror wherein the Sun of Reality is reflected. The perfections, the image and light of that Sun have been revealed in the mirror; its heat and illumination are manifest therein, for that pure soul is a perfect expression of the Sun.
These mirrors are the Messengers of God Who tell the story of Divinity, just as the material mirror reflects the light and disc of the outer sun in the skies. In this way the image and effulgence of the Sun of Reality appear in the mirrors of the Manifestations of God. This is what Jesus Christ meant when He declared, "the father is in the son," the purpose being that the reality of that eternal Sun had become reflected in its glory in Christ Himself. It does not signify that the Sun of Reality had descended from its place in heaven or that its essential being had effected an entrance into the mirror, for there is neither entrance nor exit for the reality of Divinity; there is no ingress or egress; it is sanctified above all things and ever occupies its own holy station. Changes and transformations are not applicable to that eternal reality. Transformation from condition to condition is the attribute of contingent realities.(`Abdu'l-Baha: Promulgation of Universal Peace, Pages: 173-174)
Is it possible then for the reality of Divinity to be finite and the human creature infinite? On the contrary, the reverse is true; the human is finite while the essence of Divinity is infinite. Whatever comes within the sphere of human comprehension must be limited and finite. As the essence of Divinity transcends the comprehension of man, therefore God brings forth certain Manifestations of the divine Reality upon Whom He bestows heavenly effulgences in order that They may be intermediaries between humanity and Himself. These holy Manifestations or Prophets of God are as mirrors which have acquired illumination from the Sun of Truth, but the Sun does not descend from its high zenith and does not effect entrance within the mirror. In truth, this mirror has attained complete polish and purity until the utmost capacity of reflection has been developed in it; therefore, the Sun of Reality with its fullest effulgence and splendor is revealed therein. These mirrors are earthly, whereas the reality of Divinity is in its highest apogee. Although its lights are shining and its heat is manifest in them, although these mirrors are telling their story of its effulgence, the Sun, nevertheless, remains in its own lofty station; it does not descend; it does not effect entrance, because it is holy and sanctified.
The Sun of Divinity and of Reality has revealed itself in various mirrors. Though these mirrors are many, yet the Sun is one. The bestowals of God are one; the reality of the divine religion is one. Consider how one and the same light has reflected itself in the different mirrors or manifestations of it. There are certain souls who are lovers of the Sun; they perceive the effulgence of the Sun from every mirror. They are not fettered or attached to the mirrors; they are attached to the Sun itself and adore it, no matter from what point it may shine. But those who adore the mirror and are attached to it become deprived of witnessing the light of the Sun when it shines forth from another mirror. For instance, the Sun of Reality revealed itself from the Mosaic mirror. The people who were sincere accepted and believed in it. When the same Sun shone from the Messianic mirror, the Jews who were not lovers of the Sun and who were fettered by their adoration of the mirror of Moses did not perceive the lights and effulgences of the Sun of Reality resplendent in Jesus; therefore, they were deprived of its bestowals. Yet the Sun of Reality, the Word of God, shone from the Messianic mirror through the wonderful channel of Jesus Christ more fully and more wonderfully. Its effulgences were manifestly radiant, but even to this day the Jews are holding to the Mosaic mirror. Therefore, they are bereft of witnessing the lights of eternity in Jesus.
In brief, the sun is one sun, the light is one light which shines upon all phenomenal beings. Every creature has a portion thereof, but the pure mirror can reveal the story of its bounty more fully and completely. Therefore, we must adore the light of the Sun, no matter through what mirror it may be revealed. We must not entertain prejudice, for prejudice is an obstacle to realization. Inasmuch as the effulgence is one effulgence, the human realities must all become recipients of the same light, recognizing in it the compelling force that unites them in its illumination.
As this is the radiant century, it is my hope that the Sun of Truth may illumine all humanity. May the eyes be opened and the ears become attentive; may souls become resuscitated and consort together in the utmost harmony as recipients of the same light. Perchance, God will remove this strife and warfare of thousands of years. May this bloodshed pass away, this tyranny and oppression cease, this warfare be ended. May the light of love shine forth and illumine hearts, and may human lives be cemented and connected until all of us may find agreement and tranquillity beneath the same tabernacle and with the standard of the Most Great Peace above us move steadily onward.(Promulgation of Universal Peace, Pages: 114-116)
This Holy Spirit is the mediator between God and His creatures. It is like a mirror facing the sun. As the pure mirror receives light from the sun and transmits this bounty to others, so the Holy Spirit is the mediator of the Holy Light from the Sun of Reality, which it gives to the sanctified realities. It is adorned with all the divine perfections. Every time it appears, the world is renewed, and a new cycle is founded.(`Abdu'l-Baha: Some Answered Questions, Page: 145)
The Baha'i Writings contain many passages that elucidate the nature of the Manifestation and His relationship to God. Baha'u'llah underlines the unique and transcendent nature of the Godhead. He explains that "since there can be no tie of direct intercourse to bind the one true God with His creation" God ordains that "in every age and dispensation a pure and stainless Soul be made manifest in the kingdoms of earth and heaven". This "mysterious and ethereal Being", the Manifestation of God, has a human nature which pertains to "the world of matter" and a spiritual nature "born of the substance of God Himself". He is also endowed with a 'double station':
A Commentary on the Baha'i texts explains the Twofold-Condition of the Manifestation:
The first station, which is related to His innermost reality, representeth Him as One Whose voice is the voice of God Himself...
The second station is the human station, exemplified by the following verses: "I am but a man like you." "Say, praise be to my Lord! Am I more than a man, an apostle?" "Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone." (Luke 18:19 and Mark 10:18)
Baha'u'llah also affirms that, in the spiritual realm, there is an "essential unity" between all the Manifestations of God. They all reveal the "Beauty of God", manifest His names and attributes, and give utterance to His Revelation. In this regard, He states:
Were any of the all-embracing Manifestations of God to declare: "I am God", He, verily, speaketh the truth, and no doubt attacheth thereto. For it hath been repeatedly demonstrated that through their Revelation, their attributes and names, the Revelation of God, His names and His attributes, are made manifest in the world...
While the Manifestations reveal the names and attributes of God and are the means by which humanity has access to the knowledge of God and His Revelation, Shoghi Effendi (Guardian of the Baha'i Faith) states that the Manifestations should "never ... be identified with that invisible Reality, the Essence of Divinity itself". In relation to Baha'u'llah, the Guardian wrote that the "human temple that has been the vehicle of so overpowering a Revelation" is not to be identified with the "Reality" of God. (Aqdas: Notes, Pages: 233-234)
Christ said, `They shall see the Son of Man coming in the clouds of Heaven'. Baha'u'llah said, `When Christ came for the first time He came upon the clouds'. Christ said that He had come from the sky, from Heaven - that He came forth from God - while He was born of Mary, His Mother. But when He declared that He had come from Heaven, it is clear that He did not mean the blue firmament but that He spoke of the Heaven of the Kingdom of God, and that from this Heaven He descended upon the clouds. As clouds are obstacles to the shining of the sun, so the clouds of the world of humanity hid from the eyes of men the radiance of the Divinity of Christ.
The Clouds that Obscure the Sun of Truth
Men said, `He is of Nazareth, born of Mary, we know Him and we know his brethren. What can He mean? What is He saying? That He came forth from God?'
The Body of Christ was born of Mary of Nazareth, but the Spirit was of God. The capacities of His human body were limited but the strength of His spirit was vast, infinite, immeasurable.
Men asked, `Why does He say He is of God?' If they had understood the reality of Christ, they would have known that the body of His humanity was a cloud that hid His Divinity. The world only saw His human form, and therefore wondered how He could have `come down from Heaven'.
Baha'u'llah said, `Even as the clouds hide the sun and the sky from our gaze, even so did the humanity of Christ hide from men His real Divine character'.
I hope that you will turn with unclouded eyes towards the Sun of Truth, beholding not the things of earth, lest your hearts be attracted to the worthless and passing pleasures of the world; let that Sun give you of His strength, then will not the clouds of prejudice veil His illumination from your eyes! Then will the Sun be without clouds for you.
Breathe the air of purity. May you each and all share in the Divine Bounties of the Kingdom of Heaven. May the world be for you no obstacle hiding the truth from your sight, as the human body of Christ hid His Divinity from the people of His day. May you receive the clear vision of the Holy Spirit, so that your hearts may be illumined and able to recognize the Sun of Truth shining through all material clouds, His splendour flooding the universe.
Let not the things of the body obscure the celestial light of the spirit, so that, by the Divine Bounty, you may enter with the children of God into His Eternal Kingdom.(`Abdu'l-Baha: Paris Talks, Pages: 43-45)
"Know of a certainty that in every Dispensation the light of Divine Revelation hath been vouchsafed unto men in direct proportion to their spiritual capacity. Consider the sun. How feeble its rays the moment it appeareth above the horizon. How gradually its warmth and potency increase as it approacheth its zenith, enabling meanwhile all created things to adapt themselves to the growing intensity of its light. How steadily it declineth until it reacheth its setting point. Were it, all of a sudden, to manifest the energies latent within it, it would, no doubt, cause injury to all created things.... In like manner, if the Sun of Truth were suddenly to reveal, at the earliest stages of its manifestation, the full measure of the potencies which the providence of the Almighty hath bestowed upon it, the earth of human understanding would waste away and be consumed; for men's hearts would neither sustain the intensity of its revelation, nor be able to mirror forth the radiance of its light. Dismayed and overpowered, they would cease to exist."
Why the Sun of Truth is Gradually Revealed ("hidden") in this Day.
(Gleanings from the Writings of Baha'u'llah)
who has also revealed new teachings applicable to present conditions in the world of humanity.
Christ said: "I have more to tell you.... but you cannot bear it now."
(John 16: 12)
He [Bahá'u'lláh] has trained the people of the East through the power and protection of the Holy Spirit, cemented the souls of humanity together and established the foundations of international unity.
Through the power of his words the hearts of the people of all religions have been attuned in harmony. For instance, among the Bahá'ís. . . .there are Christians, Mohammedans, Zoroastrians, Jews and many others of varying denominations and beliefs who have been brought together in unity and love in the cause of Bahá'u'lláh. . . . they have now become loving and filled with the radiant zeal of fellowship and brotherhood, the purpose of them all being service to the world of humanity, promotion of international peace, the unification of the divine religions and deeds of universal philanthropy. By their words and actions they are proving the verity of His Holiness Bahá'u'lláh.(`Abdu'l-Bahá, Foundations of World Unity, p.72)
Question. - How many kinds of Prophets are there?
Two Classes of Prophets
Answer. - Universally, the Prophets are of two kinds. One are the independent Prophets Who are followed; the other kind are not independent and are themselves followers.
The independent Prophets are the lawgivers and the founders of a new cycle. Through Their appearance the world puts on a new garment, the foundations of religion are established, and a new book is revealed. Without an intermediary They receive bounty from the Reality of the Divinity, and Their illumination is an essential illumination. They are like the sun which is luminous in itself: the light is its essential necessity; it does not receive light from any other star. These Dawning-places of the morn of Unity are the sources of bounty and the mirrors of the Essence of Reality.
The other Prophets are followers and promoters, for they are branches and not independent; they receive the bounty of the independent Prophets, and they profit by the light of the Guidance of the universal Prophets. They are like the moon, which is not luminous and radiant in itself, but receives its light from the sun.
The Manifestations of universal Prophethood Who appeared independently are, for example, Abraham, Moses, Christ, Muhammad, the Bab and Baha'u'llah. But the others who are followers and promoters are like Solomon, David, Isaiah, Jeremiah and Ezekiel. For the independent Prophets are founders; They establish a new religion and make new creatures of men; They change the general morals, promote new customs and rules, renew the cycle and the Law. Their appearance is like the season of spring, which arrays all earthly beings in a new garment, and gives them a new life.
With regard to the second sort of Prophets who are followers, these also promote the Law of God, make known the Religion of God, and proclaim His word. Of themselves they have no power and might, except what they receive from the independent Prophets.(`Abdu'l-Baha: Some Answered Questions, Pages: 164-165). . . The Prophets "endowed with constancy," whose loftiness and glory shine as the sun, were each honoured with a Book which all have seen, and the verses of which have been duly ascertained. (Baha'u'llah: The Kitab-i-Iqan, Page: 216)
"Therefore, should a person arise and bring forth a myriad verses, discourses, epistles, and prayers, none of which have been acquired through learning, what conceivable excuse could justify those that reject them, and deprive themselves of the potency of their grace? What answer could they give when once their soul hath ascended and departed from its gloomy temple? Could they seek to justify themselves by saying: 'We have clung to a certain tradition, and not having beheld the literal fulfilment thereof, we have therefore raised such cavils against the Embodiments of divine Revelation, and kept remote from the law of God?' Hast thou not heard that among the reasons why certain Prophets have been designated as Prophets "endowed with constancy" was the revelation of a Book unto them? And yet, how could this people be justified in rejecting the Revealer and Author of so many volumes of verses, and follow the sayings of him who hath foolishly sown the seeds of doubt in the hearts of men, and who, Satan-like, hath risen to lead the people into the paths of perdition and error? How could they allow such things to deprive them of the light of the Sun of divine bounty? Aside from these things, if these people shun and reject such a divine Soul, such holy Breath, to whom, We wonder, could they cling, to whose face besides His Face could they turn? Yea -- "All have a quarter of the Heavens to which they turn." We have shown thee these two ways; walk thou the way thou choosest. This verily is the truth, and after truth there remaineth naught but error." (Baha'u'llah: The Book of Certitude, pages: 220-221)
In confirmation of the exalted rank of the true believer, referred to by Baha'u'llah, He reveals the following: "The station which he who hath truly recognized this Revelation will attain is the same as the one ordained for such prophets of the house of Israel as are not regarded as Manifestations `endowed with constancy.'"
In connection with the Manifestations destined to follow the Revelation of Baha'u'llah, Abdu'l-Baha makes this definite and weighty declaration: "Concerning the Manifestations that will come down in the future `in the shadows of the clouds,' know verily that in so far as their relation to the source of their inspiration is concerned they are under the shadow of the Ancient Beauty. In their relation, however, to the age in which they appear, each and every one of them `doeth whatsoever He willeth.'"(Shoghi Effendi: World Order of Baha'u'llah, Page: 111)Click here to see other Christian prophesies referring to Baha'u'llah
Messianic expectation pointing to Baha'u'llah
Millennial Zeal in anticipation of the Promised One.
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