Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.
This verse from is probably a familiar one for most of us. It is a doctrinal pillar for the Judeo-Christian faith and distinguishes monotheism (belief in a single God) and pantheism (belief in many gods). If we went back into human history, Adam and Eve, would have testified to only one God … the One who walked and fellow-shipped with them in the cool of the day each morning. Noah believed in the one God; and his reverence compelled him to build an ark to save all living creatures from the appointed judgment (Epic Flood) God would inflict upon the earth for the continual evil intentions and thoughts of their hearts … including the worship of other gods and idols. If we continue up until the time of Abraham, there are diverse human cultures and civilizations had developed belief systems that included multiple gods – most of whom represented celestial bodies, animals, forces of nature, and human ideas which led to the creation of idols. Except for a remnant of the Adamic lineage, it appears most people had abandoned the one, true God who is the Creator … who is the Lord.
In some of
the earliest literature contained in our canon of Scripture, we can find this
philosophical and theological chasm between monotheism and pantheism. The Book of Job, for instance, is the oldest
inspired narrative recorded in the Bible according to most scholars. It was written before Moses even penned the
Torah (Pentateuch – the first five books of the 24 Books of the Tanakh). Job believes in and dialogues with one God;
and of course; Moses develops an entire structure of worship for the “I AM” or
self-existent One under holy inspiration.
And so along with other records
from the contemporary period (Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob) we find the Jewish
descendants holding firm to faith in the “one” true God. He is not a plethora or composite of many
gods, but a single, self-existent being who created all that is seen and unseen
– with a unique, revealed purpose for the people He created “in His image”.
understand and believe that God is One … there is language found in the
Scriptures that might suggest something other than one unique, self-existent
Creator. We can find it in the Book of
Genesis … the foundational construction (the
beginning) and explanation of how human existence came into being. The first sentence … Verse 1 … states, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” The word translated “God” here in our English
bibles is the word “Elohim”. It is a plural
form of the general name “El” as used for God in the Ancient Near East. So when we arrive at Verse 26, we see the plural form used again, “Let US make man in
OUR image, according to OUR likeness….”
Yet, in Verse 27 we read the singular
form, “God created man in His own image, in the
image of God He created him; male and female He created them.” I mention these distinctions not to imply an inconsistency
in the concept of God or His nature; rather, the two forms to me will actually affirm
a singleness or oneness of the revealed nature of God in the whole of Scripture. The trinity (Father, Son, and Spirit) and the
unity (God) are evident in the inspired language used to impart this theological
concept to us.
the word “trinity” is not used in the Bible; its applicability to our
understanding of the “One” God is revealed when Jesus Christ boldly declares His
oneness with the Father in John 10:30.
And when Jesus spoke of the Holy Spirit in Luke 12:10, He taught
that anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be
forgiven, but anyone who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will not be
forgiven. In essence, Jesus
implied that blasphemy against the Holy Spirit was blasphemy against God. When the resurrected Jesus gave “parting”
instructions to the disciples in Matthew
28:19, He instructed them to go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit….
The name of
God is the unifying image or concept of three beings of the same substance
or nature … if you will. God is One, but
He manifests or reveals Himself as Father, Son, and Spirit. Jesus taught us that God is Spirit in John 4:24. When Jesus prayed for His
disciples as recorded in John 17:11-12,
He said, “I will remain in the world no
longer, but they are still in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy
Father, protect them by the power of your name, the name you gave me, so that they may be one as we are
one. While I was with them, I protected them and kept them safe by that name you gave me.”
I find it interesting that we can infer
here that the name of the Holy Father is the name given to the Son – Jesus. The interpretation here does not have to literal
(i.e. the name Jesus). But think of it
in these terms, the name (image or nature) of the Father is the same name (image
or nature) given to the Son. The concept
is still the unity of oneness of the Father and the Son … as well as the Holy
Spirit as we will see.
So where am I going with this train of thought? The OT Scripture declares God is one – but it
reveals that God is plural in His nature and in the sense of His self-revelation
to man. Mankind is commanded to love God
… the Lord our God … with all of our heart, soul, and strength. Contrast with the NT Scripture and the declaration
in 1 John 5:1 which reads, “Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and everyone who loves the Father loves His child as well. When you and I love Jesus with all of our heart,
soul, and strength … we fulfill the commandment of God. Perhaps the following passage will better
explain what I am trying to share here:
John 16:7-15; 25-28 (NIV)
7 But very truly I tell you, it is for your good that I am going
away. Unless I go away, the Advocate (Holy
Spirit) will not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him to you. 8 When
He comes, He will prove the world to be in the wrong about sin and
righteousness and judgment: 9 about
sin, because people do not believe in me; 10 about
righteousness, because I am going to the Father, where you can see me no
longer; 11 and about judgment, because the prince
of this world now stands condemned.
12 “I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear. 13 But
when He, the Spirit of Truth, comes, He will guide you into all the
truth. He will not speak on His own; He will speak only what He hears, and
He will tell you what is yet to come. 14 He will
glorify me because it is from me that He will receive what He will make known
to you. 15 All that belongs to the Father is
mine. That is why I said the Spirit will receive from me what He will make
known to you.”
25 “Though I have been speaking figuratively, a time is
coming when I will no longer use this kind of language but will tell you
plainly about my Father. 26 In
that day you will ask in my name. I am not saying that I will ask
the Father on your behalf. 27 No, the Father Himself loves you
because you have loved me and have believed that I came from God. 28 I
came from the Father and entered the world; now I am leaving the world and
going back to the Father.”
So, the message I want to share is that God (Father, Son, and
Spirit) has revealed Himself to us … to all people … in “forms” or “persona”
that we can understand in order to have the fellowship and life He desires for
us to have and experience. He has made
known His passionate, everlasting love for us.
And though we should respond with like passion … I believe if we were
honest… we often fail to love God as we ought … with ALL of our heart, soul,
and strength. But I hope we might
consider that God has given us relational ways to experience Him AND to express
our love to Him. Profoundly and
literally, Jesus the Son, has truly shared our human form. And Jesus said “the Spirit will receive from
me what He will make known to you.” So,
again, we have an Advocate who is relational to us as well. And as we pray to the Father, I believe our
own spirits can feel connected to Him as approach His throne of grace to
receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. (Cf. Hebrews 4:16)
There is so much we do not know and will never know about God. But instead of focusing on what remains mysterious, let us delight ourselves in all He has revealed. We have creation itself which reveals God’s invisible qualities – His eternal power and divine nature. (Romans 1:20). We have Jesus Christ the Son who is the image of the invisible God. (Colossians 1:15) And we have the Holy Spirit … the gift from God (cf. Acts 1:8; 2:4; 2:38; Romans 5:5; 1 Corinthians 6:19). He is the seal of our redemption through Christ Jesus … who is the only way to the Father. I pray that we will walk in the knowledge we do have … and love the Lord our God with ALL of our hearts, souls, and minds as He has empowered us to do…. Amen.
So Know You Know….
Have a Blessed Day!