Chapter 2 in About God
God is one -- the only God, and single in mind, emotions and purpose. This truth is stated repeatedly throughout the scriptures, but its clearest statement is found in the first and greatest commandment of a certain ten:
Hear, Israel, the Lord 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 mind, and with all your strength.
Mark 12:29b-30, restating Deuteronomy 6:4-5 (WEB)
In this commandment, God's unity is posited as the reason we should give him undivided love. Because there is only one God, we should not divide our love between him and any other god. Moreover, because God is one, united in himself, we should love him undividedly, with all of our being.
That there is only one God and there is no other follows logically from His self-existence and creatorhood. Paul declares that:
For though there are things that are called "gods," whether in the heavens or on earth; as there are many "gods" and many "lords;" yet to us there is one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we for him; and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things, and we live through him.
I Corinthians 8:5-6 (WEB)
Likewise, Isaiah explains:
For thus says Yahweh who created the heavens, the God who formed the earth and made it, who established it and didn't create it a waste, who formed it to be inhabited: "I am Yahweh; and there is no other."
Isaiah 45:18 (WEB), compare Isaiah 40:21-28, 44:24; Jeremiah 10:6-16.
In Genesis 1:1, we have it written that "Eloheem", a plural word, is the Creator.
In Genesis 1:26, God refers to Himself as "Us".
In I Corinthians 8:5-6, quoted above, Paul recognizes that there are many "gods" and many "lords." Numerous passages condemn, and even mock, the foolishness of men who make worthless idols in the form of created things. Some of these passages primarily contrast the power of the one true God to the impotence of the idols men make -- objects of wood, stone and metal which are unable to see, hear, speak or do anything.
You shall not make idols for yourselves or erect an image or pillar, and you shall not set up a figured stone in your land to bow down to it, for I am the Lord your God.
Why should the nations say,
“Where is their God?”
Our God is in the heavens;
he does all that he pleases.
Their idols are silver and gold,
the work of human hands.
They have mouths, but do not speak;
eyes, but do not see.
They have ears, but do not hear;
noses, but do not smell.
They have hands, but do not feel;
feet, but do not walk;
and they do not make a sound in their throat.
Those who make them become like them;
so do all who trust in them.
Also see I Chronicles 16:26; Psalm 96:4-6; Psalm 97:6-7; Psalm 135:13-18; Isaiah 31:7; Isaiah 40:18-25; Isaiah 41:1-7; Isaiah 41:21-24; Isaiah 44:6-23; Isaiah 46:3-7; Jeremiah 10:1-16; Habakkuk 2:18-20.
But idolatry -- devotion to idols -- is not merely carving of dolls and lighting candles or incense to them.
Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. On account of these the wrath of God is coming.
Covetousness is lust in the general sense, it is the devotion to acquiring and wallowing in more and more things and purposes of this world. The Lord put it this way:
No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other; or else he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You can’t serve both God and Mammon.
Matthew 6:24 (WEB)
Note the last word above. Many translations put it there, although it is not an English word at all. A few say "money," but this is not sufficient. "Mammon" was a demon-god of a number of ancient peoples; it was called upon to bring a human heart's desires for the material in general. But the largest issue in that one statement is most important. By it we may know, that a human heart can be devoted only to exactly one target in truth.
Today remembrance is rare in many places -- but this is holy.
All the nations are like nothing before him.Above is from the book of Isaiah, chapter 40, verses 17 through 25.
They are regarded by him as less than nothing, and vanity.
To whom then will you liken God?
Or what likeness will you compare to him?
A workman has cast an image,
and the goldsmith overlays it with gold,
and casts silver chains for it.
He who is too impoverished for such an offering
chooses a tree that will not rot.
He seeks a skillful workman to set up an engraved image
for him that will not be moved.
Haven’t you known?
Haven’t you heard, yet?
Haven’t you been told from the beginning?
Haven’t you understood from the foundations of the earth?
It is he who sits above the circle of the earth,
and its inhabitants are like grasshoppers;
who stretches out the heavens like a curtain,
and spreads them out like a tent to dwell in;
who brings princes to nothing;
who makes the judges of the earth like meaningless.
They are planted scarcely.
They are sown scarcely.
Their stock has scarcely taken root in the ground.
He merely blows on them, and they wither,
and the whirlwind takes them away as stubble.
“To whom then will you liken me?
Who is my equal?” says the Holy One.
Just as God is one, his will and purpose are also one. God
Hebrews 1:10-12, 6:17-18, 13:8; Psalm 33:11; Malachi 3:6.
God created the universe by speaking his word, and now upholds
all things by the word of his power.
Genesis 1; John 1:1-3; Colossians 1:16-17.
Every word of God is pure, and God honors his word above his
Psalm 12:6, 119:89 & 138:2; Proverbs 30:5; Romans 11:28-29.
Once God speaks his will, it cannot change. God's word is
John 8:31-32, 14:6 & 17:17.
God cannot lie or change his mind.
Numbers 23:19-20; I Samuel 15:29.
Because God is above time, existing simultaneously throughout it, his thoughts are unified and his will is forever one, from the beginning God knew both every choice that would be made by every person who would ever live and the manner in which those choices and their consequences would be fit into his own will. See Proverbs 19:21; Isaiah 48:3-11; for a few of many examples, see Genesis 50:20; Deuteronomy 28:1-30:20; I Chronicles 28:9; 2 Chronicles 36:22-23; Psalms 105-107.
The scriptures are clear that God has complete foreknowledge of future events, as we see time (although from his perspective he simply knows). Isaiah 42:9, 44: 6-8, 46:9-10; Acts 15:17-18.
Yet the scriptures are also clear that God gave men freedom to choose their own course and even to choose sin and destruction. Deuteronomy 30:19-20; John 3:16-21; Acts 2:37-41; Acts 18:6; 2 Thessalonians 2:8-12.
However, these seemingly contradictory lines of scripture may be reconciled without asserting that God makes us sin if it is observed that none of the passages which directly discuss God's predetermination of events on their faces assert that God foreordains sin or evil. See, Romans 8:28-30, Ephesians 1:4-12. Rather, as will be discussed at more length in a later chapter, God is said to foreordain or predestine good things. For instance, God is said to predestine his elect to be conformed to the image of his Son. Romans 8:28-30. Further, he chose us and predestined us to adoption as sons and to be holy and blameless before him, to the praise of his glory. Ephesians 1: 4-6, 11-12; 2 Thessalonians 2:13-14.
Yet, in a manner which is possible only because of his place above time, the scriptures affirm that, although God chose us in him before the creation of the world and at that time predestined us to be conformed to the image of his Son, he chose us according to his foreknowledge and we were included in Christ when we heard the Gospel and believed. Ephesians 1:4-13; 2 Thessalonians 2:13-14; I Peter 1:1-2. God, who from before the creation of the world knew both our faith and everything that would happen in our world, predestined us from before creation to be like Jesus. Even today he makes all things work together to bring to pass his "good" determined purpose in our lives. Romans 8:28-30.
Indeed, God's unchanging will for us is good. He has said:
Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom can be no variation, nor turning shadow. Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth, that we should be a kind of first fruits of his creatures.
James 1:17-18 (WEB)
God is not good and evil, light and darkness. His purposes and actions toward us are not good and bad, sometimes constructive and sometimes destructive. God is one, and that one is good.
Ian Johnson & Jonathan Brickman
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© 2010 Ian Johnson and Jonathan Brickman
Next Page: Chapter 3. God is love
on God Reaching Out
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