Matthew 3:16-17 – the baptism of Jesus
v16 - And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him: v17 And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.
Who was present at the time of Jesus’ baptism? THREE BEINGS!
Jesus 2. God the Father 3. John who baptized
God was present thru his own Spirit (Spirit OF God) and then He spoke (VOICE from heaven).
Making this into another ‘being’ called God the Holy Spirit is like coming up with another ‘being’ called God the Voice. The Spirit and Voice belong to the one and only true and living God. Not a God divisible by three. Anything else makes the testimony a lie.
Are the beams of God’s glory an individual?
“…the Father Himself will answer the petition of His Son. Direct from the throne issue the beams of His glory. The heavens are opened, and upon the Saviour’s head descends a dovelike form of purest light.” - Ellen White, Desire of Ages, p. 112
2 Peter 1:16-18 – v16 For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of his majesty. v17 For he received from God the Father honour and glory, when there came such a voice to him from the excellent glory, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. v18 And this voice which came from heaven we heard, when we were with him in the holy mount.
Is the Holy Spirit another being or is it the Glory of God?
“Jesus is seeking to impress upon them the thought that in giving his Holy Spirit he is giving to them the glory which the Father has given him, that he and his people may be one in God.” - Ellen White, Signs of the Times, Oct. 3, 1892, par. 4
Now to address “THE DOVE” that everyone seems to one to make into something larger than it is.
Matthew 3:16 - "And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him."
Mark 1:10 - "And straightway coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens opened, and the Spirit like a dove descending upon him."
Luke 3:21, 22 - "Now when all the people were baptized, it came to pass, that Jesus also being baptized, and praying, the heaven was opened, And the Holy Ghost descended in a bodily shape like a dove upon him, and a voice came from heaven, which said, Thou art my beloved Son; in thee I am well pleased."
John 1:32 - "And John bare record, saying, I saw THE SPIRIT descending from heaven like a dove, and IT ABODE UPON HIM."
A few facts we learn from these accounts are:
a. It is the Spirit of God. Not someone or anything else.
b. Its descent was like a dove.
c. Its shape was like a dove.
d. It is called an “IT” by John
Do these facts support the conclusion that the Holy Spirit is a different person separate to God? No. John certainly would not have used “it” to refer to a divine being. The Holy Spirit is actually used in possessive language to note who it’s owner is, which is God the Father (it is the “Spirit OF God”. Not “God the Spirit” or “God the Holy Spirit”).
How does one conclude the Holy Spirit is another being from the beams of glory that came from the Father and rested on His Son in the form of a dove?
“Never before had angels listened to such a prayer as Christ offered at his baptism, and they were solicitous to be the bearers of the message from the Father to his Son. But, no! direct from the Father issues the light of his glory. The heavens were opened, and BEAMS OF GLORY RESTED UPON THE SON OF GOD AND ASSUMED THE FORM OF A DOVE, in appearance like burnished gold. The dove-like form was EMBLEMATICAL OF THE MEEKNESS AND GENTLENESS OF CHRIST. While the people stood spell-bound with amazement, their eyes fastened upon Christ, from the opening heavens came these words: “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” The words of confirmation that Christ is the Son of God were given to inspire faith in those who witnessed the scene, and to sustain the Son of God in his arduous work. Notwithstanding the Son of God was clothed with humanity, yet Jehovah, with his own voice, assures him of his sonship with the Eternal. In this manifestation to his Son, God accepts humanity as exalted through the excellence of his beloved Son.” — Ellen White, Review & Herald, Jan 21, 1873
Thus we find there was no third being, but God's presence and power by His Holy Spirit, represented symbolically in the form of a dove.
God's presence by His Spirit, shown visibly at Christ's baptism by beams of glory in the form of a dove, was a sign to John the Baptist that Jesus was indeed the Son of God. See John 1:33-34. "And I knew him not: but he that sent me to baptize with water, the same said unto me, Upon whom thou shalt see the Spirit descending, and remaining on him, the same is he which baptizeth with the Holy Ghost. v34 And I saw, and bare record that this is the Son of God."
“The heavenly angels were looking with intense interest upon the scene of the Saviour's baptism, and could the eyes of those who were looking on, have been opened, they would have seen the heavenly host surrounding the Son of God as he bowed on the banks of the Jordan. The Lord had promised to give John a sign whereby he might know who was the Messiah, and now as Jesus went up out of the water, the promised sign was given;” — Ellen White, Youth Instructor, June 23, 1892