Only One God
The Bible proclaims plainly and clearly that there is one and only one God. When the Bible says that God is one, the word one does not refer to a "God Family," but to one God. Let’s look at a few passages in the Old Testament.
- "You were shown these things so that you might know that the Lord is God; besides him there is no other" (Deuteronomy 4:35).
- "There is no one holy like the Lord; there is no one besides you; there is no Rock like our God" (1 Samuel 2:2).
- "How great you are, O Sovereign Lord! There is no one like you, and there is no God but you, as we have heard with our own ears" (2 Samuel 7:22).
- "So that all the peoples of the earth may know that the Lord is God and that there is no other" (1 Kings 8:60).
- "I am the Lord, and there is no other; apart from me there is no God. I will strengthen you, though you have not acknowledged me" (Isaiah 45:5).
- "For this is what the Lord says — he who created the heavens, he is God; he who fashioned and made the earth, he founded it; he did not create it to be empty, but formed it to be inhabited — he says: `I am the Lord, and there is no other’ " (Isaiah 45:18).
- "Declare what is to be, present it — let them take counsel together. Who foretold this long ago, who declared it from the distant past? Was it not I, the Lord? And there is no God apart from me, a righteous God and a Savior; there is none but me. Turn to me and be saved, all you ends of the earth; for I am God, and there is no other" (Isaiah 45:21-22).
- "Remember the former things, those of long ago; I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me" (Isaiah 46:9).
As you can see, there is no question about the biblical fact that there is one and only one God, not two or more "Gods." God says: "I am God, and there is no other." He speaks in the singular, as "I," saying that he is the only God, and there is no other being that is even like him. That’s why God commands us, "You shall have no other gods before me" (Exodus 20:3).
The idea of more than one being in a family or hierarchy of gods is condemned throughout the Scriptures. That was precisely the concept that the polytheistic nations surrounding Israel taught. Polytheistic is a word that refers to a belief in more than one god (poly = many; theos = god). The Bible teaches that there is only one God, a belief called monotheism, from mono (one) and theos (God).
A family is made up of more than one being. The pagan hierarchies of gods were mostly made up of more than one "god being," and at the top of the hierarchy were usually a father god, a mother god and one or more son and daughter gods. The Bible condemns the concept of a family of gods.
The Bible does not allow for the existence of two God Beings. It categorically denies it. Let’s take a look at some New Testament passages.
- Jesus quoted Deuteronomy 6:4 when he affirmed that there is one God. Answering the question about what is the greatest commandment, he said: "The most important one...is this: `Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one’" (Mark 12:29). There is no other being that is worthy of worship (Matthew 4:10).
- Likewise, Paul taught that there is one God. He wrote: "Yes, of Gentiles too, since there is only one God, who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through that same faith" (Romans 3:29-30).
- In 1 Corinthians 8:4 he wrote: "So then, about eating food sacrificed to idols: We know that an idol is nothing at all in the world and that there is no God but one." In 1 Timothy 2:5 he wrote: "For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus."
- James wrote: "You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that — and shudder" (James 2:19).
As we saw above, Paul points out that the man Jesus Christ is the mediator between humans and the one God. Even while describing the role of Jesus Christ, who was God in the flesh, Paul still affirmed that there is only one God. When the Son became flesh, he did not cease to be God — he was God in the flesh (John 1:14). But there was not, never has been, never will be, two Gods.
So the Bible gives us two facts that are apparently contradictory. But I say apparently, because they only appear to be contradictory because our minds are finite and limited, while God, our Creator, is infinite and unlimited. The Bible tells us there is one God. The Father is God. The Son is also God (John 20:28-29). He was eternally with God and also was God (John 1:1-2). The Father is God and the Son is God, but there is only one God.
The Father and the Son are persons in the God being. This is part of the Christian doctrine usually called the doctrine of the Trinity. This doctrine does not teach three Gods, but only one. They are distinct, but not separate. There is no "family" that people can be born into. We will never be God in the same way that God is God. Rather, we are partakers of the divine nature (2 Peter 1:4) — children of God, but never Gods. There can be only one God.
This is not a matter of confusion, as some say. It is a matter of believing the Bible and realizing that God is greater than our finite imaginations can perceive. It is a matter of faith, because we believe the Bible.
It’s true that the "average" Protestant or Catholic cannot explain God’s nature. Some may even think that there are three God Beings in one Godhead, or a three-headed Being of some sort. But their misunderstandings do not affect the truth of the teaching. The Bible teaching is that there is one God who is the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. It is not my idea, nor is it the idea of some fourth-century theologians. It is the teaching of the Bible.
What the fourth-century theologians did was to formulate a doctrine that denies certain unbiblical teachings about God that were in vogue at the time. One such teaching was the idea that the Son was a created being. Another heresy is the idea that the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are not distinct but are really all the same — in other words, the idea that the one God is sometimes the Father, sometimes the Son, and sometimes the Holy Spirit, but not all three all the time. This was declared to be false.
God is not like a human
God transcends our world of time and space. He created time and space. He appears in it when he desires, but he is in no way limited to time and space. He does not need time and space to exist. We can only think in created terms, in terms of time and space. Therefore, God is everything we can conceive of and more! He uses all sorts of concepts in the Bible to reveal himself to us, and he does it in terms we can understand — like King, Redeemer, Shepherd, Defender, Fire, Rock, Shelter. But he is all those and more, and not just like any of them, because they are all part of the created world.
God does not have or need a "mighty arm," for example. God uses the human term, "mighty arm," because it is one we can understand, one that helps us understand something important about the power of God. But it is not a literal description of God. It is a metaphor. God also speaks of his "right hand." Is that because his "right hand" is stronger or more skilled than his "left hand"? Of course not. He is conveying the fact that he is powerful, that he intends to do a particular thing, and that he is going to do it in a powerful way. Bible-believers should not take such descriptions literally and think of God as subject to time and space like ourselves.
This brings to mind Paul’s statement in Romans 1:22-23: "Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles." There are stone images and there are mental images. Now, none of us would want to make God like a created thing, but if we think that God has a body (a male body, some will attest), or is subject to time and space (who can only be in only one place at one time), and needs to have something in order to create (that he needs a preexisting "substance"), just like we need physical matter to fashion things, then we have inadvertently reduced God to an "image made to look like mortal man."
God is not created. He does not have a body. Bodies are put together or composed, and God is neither put together nor composed of anything. He is the Creator, not the created. Until God created, there was nothing. Only God is eternal. Only God is uncreated. There is no eternal matter or "spiritual substance" that co-existed with God. That would mean that God did not create everything, and such a God is not the God of the Bible. Such a God is a limited God, a less-than-supreme God, a God who needs something beside himself to act as God.
One other important point. God is personal — and he relates to us in a personal way. We should never think of God as so transcendent that we cannot relate to him in a personal way. That, again, is precisely why he reveals himself to us in the Bible in human terms, in terms we can understand. That is why the Son of God became human to reconcile us to God. God wants a close and personal relationship with us. He wants fellowship with us. That is the reason he made us, and he has made it possible (despite our sin) through our mediator, the God-made-human Jesus Christ.