Our Awesome God (He is One)
“God is One”
“What kind of guy is God?” “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” (Gen. 1:1). Who is that God? In Romans 1:20, Paul writes that we can know from the creation around us the “eternal power and divine nature” of our Creator. Who is that Creator?
A. W. Tozer is a Protestant theologian and stated that “God is not like anything.”
Today we embark on a year-long study of the nature of God, the God of the heavens and earth, the God of the Bible, the God whom we love and worship and serve. But, James Denny, a Scottish preacher, told his students that they should be careful about thinking that they could learn all there was to know about God during their university studies. He stated, “To study infinity requires eternity.” Perhaps even after we have lived in heaven for 10,000 years, we might not be much closer to understanding the depths of the wisdom and knowledge of God than what the Bible itself reveals.
Everything taught in the Bible is, in fact, dependent on its teachings about God. In other words, the nature of God is the very foundation on which everything else is built in the Scriptures.
We need to know the nature of the one true God so that we can identify false gods which the world presents to us.
The nature of the God whom we serve impacts how we live our lives.
We will never live better than our concept of God. Mankind tends to become like the god/God they worship and serve.
Every human being seeks for someone or something that grabs their highest allegiance and their deepest convictions. We will not be satisfied until we truly embrace the Ultimate Being who is God.
Let’s begin our journey…
THE BIBLICAL BASIS OF GOD’S UNITY:
“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” (Gen. 1:1). After God made Adam and Eve, Satan appeared to them in the Garden of Eden and tempted them by saying that if they ate of that forbidden fruit, they would be “like God, knowing good and evil” (3:5). Ever since that day, man has tried to create gods that would take the place of the one true God and not require righteousness and holiness from him.
The further removed mankind was from the Garden of Eden, the deeper into idolatry mankind fell. While we know that Abraham’s family were pagans, based on Joshua 24:2, the first false gods or “idols” mentioned in the book of Genesis do not show up until chapter 31 when Jacob’s wife Rachel steals her father’s household gods, called “teraphim” (31:19, 30, 32, 34, 35). Before Jacob and Rachel enter into the Promised Land on the way back home, God commands Jacob to bury those household gods, those “teraphim” under an oak tree near Shechem (Gen. 35:2, 4).
Of course, when Israel spent hundreds of years in Egypt, they were surrounded by the gods of the Egyptians. The Egyptian pantheon of gods numbered around 80 or so. Man came up with lots of gods and this is the mentality men have of “gods.” The Bible mentions lots of gods: Baal, Astarte, Asherah, Chemosh, Dagon, Moloch, Tammuz, etc. But the Bible wants us to understand that there is only one God.
When God assembled Israel at Mount Sinai, He wanted them to understand that they could not worship other gods and could not make images of even Him and could not bow down to them. Listen again to the words of the Ten Commandments:
“You shall have no other gods before Me. “You shall not make for yourself an idol, or any likeness of what is in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the water under the earth. “You shall not worship them or serve them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, on the third and the fourth generations of those who hate Me, but showing lovingkindness to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments.”
Worshipping other gods was among the sins for which God required the death penalty numerous times in the Law of Moses.
When God reminded Israel 40 years later that He required their ultimate allegiance, He told them in Deuteronomy 6:4-9:
“Hear, O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord is one! “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. “These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart. “You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up. “You shall bind them as a sign on your hand and they shall be as frontals on your forehead. “You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.”
But, of course, Israel was more strongly influenced by her pagan neighbors than she was the Bible, so Israel started worshipping false gods and Isaiah had to remind them that there is only one God:
Isaiah 44:6 - “Thus says the Lord, the King of Israel and his Redeemer, the Lord of hosts: ‘I am the first and I am the last, And there is no God besides Me.”
Let’s read a little further into Isaiah 44 and notice how Isaiah mocks God’s children for the stupidity of worshipping idols:
“The man shapes iron into a cutting tool and does his work over the coals, fashioning it with hammers and working it with his strong arm. He also gets hungry and his strength fails; he drinks no water and becomes weary. Another shapes wood, he extends a measuring line; he outlines it with red chalk. He works it with planes and outlines it with a compass, and makes it like the form of a man, like the beauty of man, so that it may sit in a house. Surely he cuts cedars for himself, and takes a cypress or an oak and raises it for himself among the trees of the forest. He plants a fir, and the rain makes it grow. Then it becomes something for a man to burn, so he takes one of them and warms himself; he also makes a fire to bake bread. He also makes a god and worships it; he makes it a graven image and falls down before it. Half of it he burns in the fire; over this half he eats meat as he roasts a roast and is satisfied. He also warms himself and says, “Aha! I am warm, I have seen the fire.” But the rest of it he makes into a god, his graven image. He falls down before it and worships; he also prays to it and says, “Deliver me, for you are my god.” Isaiah 44:12-17.
One more verse before we turn to the NT; Isaiah 45:18: “For thus says the Lord, who created the heavens (He is the God who formed the earth and made it, He established it and did not create it a waste place, but formed it to be inhabited), “I am the Lord, and there is none else.”
The word for this idea that there is only one God is “monotheism.” “Mono” means “one” and “theism” refers to belief in God. So, both the Jewish religion as God designed it and Christianity are “monotheistic” religions. There is only one God.
It was important for God to keep Israel monotheistic because if Israel gave herself to idolatry just like everyone around her, then when Jesus came to earth, no one would believe that Jesus was unique, that He was the only begotten Son of the living God. We’ll talk about “God the Father,” “God the Son,” and “God the Holy Spirit” next month…
Let’s turn to the NT now…
JESUS TAUGHT THAT THERE IS ONLY ONE GOD:
In Mark 10:17, a ruler came to Jesus to ask Him what to do to have eternal life and he referred to Jesus as “Good teacher.” Jesus first responded to him, saying, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good except God alone.”
Later, we read: “One of the scribes came and heard them arguing, and recognizing that He had answered them well, asked Him, “What commandment is the foremost of all?” Jesus answered, “The foremost is, ‘Hear, O Israel! The Lord our God is one Lord; and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength’” (Mark 12:28-30).
With Gentiles becoming Christians, they needed to understand the nature of God also, so Paul wrote to them in the church at Corinth: “Therefore concerning the eating of things sacrificed to idols, we know that there is no such thing as an idol in the world, and that there is no God but one” (1 Cor. 8:4).
To the Christians in Ephesus, Paul wrote there is “one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all” (4:6).
To Timothy, Paul wrote: “there is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus” (1 Tim. 2:5).
Finally, James, the brother of Jesus, wrote also: “You believe that God is one. You do well” (James 2:19).
IMPLICATIONS OF THE ONE-NESS OF GOD:
First, because God is one, nobody and nothing can become God. Human beings - in contrast with various religious groups - cannot become God. It is impossible. God is one; He is unity.
Second, related to that, Jesus of Nazareth did to become God. Some believe the Spirit of God came into the body of Jesus at His baptism and made Him God. No. That’s not true. There is no God but Jehovah God; we’ll talk about the nature of Jesus next month. Of course, the Bible teaches that Jesus is Jehovah God in the flesh.
Third, the fact that God is one means that the “Godhead” (which is a biblical word: Colossians 2:9) has no division within it. There are no disagreements, no fusses, no fights, no strife, no arguments, no discord. The Godhead is one in intentions, desires, plans, goals, aims, objectives, love, and hate. God is one.
Fourth, God does not become anything at any time. He is One. He does not have the potential to become anything. He is everything today that He has always been. He does not need to grow; He has never been incomplete.
Fifth, God is infinite in all His attributes that we’ll study this year. I have a list of 30 attributes of God, which could take 3 years if I need a lesson once a month. We’re only going to take 12 of those attributes. But to say that God is “One” means that God is not partial in any attribute. He has all His attributes which He has to the perfect degree, which is infinite.
Sixth, God then is perfect. He is the Most Perfect Being that a human being could even imagine. This means that God is not imperfect in any attribute. Nor is it proper to say that God’s love is stronger than His hate. They are both perfect, infinite attributes of a Being who is One and United in all His essence.
Seventh, this is why God deserves our ultimate allegiance and deepest convictions. When Satan tempted Jesus to fall down and worship Him, you remember, Jesus said, “You shall worship the Lord your God, and serve Him only’” (Matt. 4:10). The only true God is the only one who deserves our service and our worship.
And again, in Mark 12, Jesus said that because there is only one God, we need to love Him with all of our heart, soul, mind and strength.
Take home message: Our awesome God is One! Jesus tells us to serve and worship Him.