Who is the One God of the Bible?
It is perfectly obvious that Jesus confirmed the age-old creed of Israel. As every Jew knows this creed asserts that the true God, the God of Israel, is One Person — certainly not three! Jesus subscribed to the understanding of his fellow Jews. Jesus allied himself to the Jews when he defined God. He said, “We [Jews] know whom we worship” (John 4:22). And no Jew ever worshipped the Triune God. Jesus did not deviate one inch from the unitary, non-trinitarian monotheism of Israel. Jesus quoted the Old Testament definition of who God is and thus presented us Christian disciples with our basic creed. It is arrogant in the extreme for us Gentile converts to Christianity to interfere with the creed declared with such clarity by Jesus himself. Note carefully how many persons there are in this creed: “The Lord our God is one Lord.” One Lord is one Person, not three! A popular theory declares that God is “one ‘what’ and three ‘who’s.’” This of course depersonalizes God. The One God is never a “what” in the Bible. He is presented as one personal being, denoted thousands and thousands of times by the personal pronouns in the singular, I, Me, Thou, Thee, He, Him. In the Bible the word three never occurs in connection with the One God.
Deuteronomy 32:39: “See now that I, even I, am He and there is no God besides Me.”
Isaiah 43:11: “I, even I, am the LORD [YAHWEH] and there is no Savior besides Me.”
Isaiah 44:6: “Thus says YAHWEH, the King of Israel and his Redeemer, YAHWEH of Hosts, ‘I am the first and I am the last; and there is no God besides Me.’”
Isaiah 44:8: “Is there a God besides Me? Indeed there is no rock; I know not one.”
Isaiah 45:5: “I am YAHWEH, and there is no other; besides Me there is no God.”
Isaiah 45:6: “That they may know from the rising of the sun to its setting that there is none besides Me. I am YAHWEH and there is none other.”
Hosea 13:4: “Yet I am YAHWEH your God from the land of Egypt; you know no God but Me, and besides Me there is no Savior.”
Deuteronomy 4:35: “To you it was shown, that you might know that YAHWEH, He is God; there is no other besides Him.”
Deuteronomy 6:4: “Hear, O Israel, the Lord [YAHWEH] your God is one Lord [YAHWEH is one] …”
Mark 12:32 (the scribe agreeing with Jesus): “Right, teacher, you have truly stated that He is One; and there is no one else besides Him.”
God had a unique, virginally conceived Son, the Messiah, and God’s spirit is the Spirit of God, His divine presence and power active in the world to enlighten and save. But God never spoke to His own Spirit and the Spirit never sent greetings, was never worshipped nor prayed to. Both the Father and the Son are addressed ... and both are worshipped, Jesus as the Messiah and the Father as the one true God. The biblical word “worship” is an “elastic” term with a meaning different from our English word “worship.” David was “worshipped” alongside the One God (I Chron. 29:20) and the saints are going to be “worshipped” by their former persecutors (Rev. 3:9). The Hebrew and Greek words for “worship” apply both to God and to persons who are not the One God, but superior human agents of the One God. Jesus is the ultimate spokesman for God, His very image, reflecting His mind and character perfectly. But this does not mean that Jesus is God. If Jesus were God, this would make two Gods, a biblical impossibility.
The Father is the One Lord God, and Jesus is the Lord Messiah.The distinction between the Father and the Son is brilliantly illumined for us by Psalm 110:1 where the One God, Yahweh, is a different, separate and distinct person from the Lord Messiah. The Lord Messiah is addressed in this prophecy as “Adoni.” “Adoni” means “my lord.” It never refers to God, but always to a person who is not God, but a human superior (occasionally an angel). If Jesus were God he would be described in this Psalm as “Adonai,” the word used exclusively for the One God (449 times in the Old Testament). Psalm 110:5, by contrast, depicts “Adonai,” the One God, as supporting the Messiah in his future battle for world dominance. The distinction between “Adoni” and “Adonai” is maintained in every case.
“Adonai” is the One God and “Adoni” is never a reference to God.How very striking then that in Psalm 110:1 the Messiah Jesus is distinctly given the superior human title, not the title of eternal Deity! The Jews knew well what was at stake in any departure from the strict monotheism of the creed of Israel. John and all the Apostles were outstanding exponents of unitary monotheism (i.e., God is a single Person). John recorded Jesus as defining the Father as the “the one who alone is truly God” (John 17:3; 5:44). It follows then that the Apostles and Jesus would have difficulty with some current mainstream religious authorities who would express horror that they were not Trinitarian following the creeds of the 4th and 5th centuries! Some try to defend post-biblical creeds by appealing to John 1:1. But they read this passage with their minds already made up that the Son of God was an uncreated eternal Second Person in the Godhead. They then make the huge assumption that the “word” means the Son before his birth. But the text tells us that God’s word, not His Son, preexisted from the beginning. Anyone familiar with Jewish ways of thinking recognizes here a strong parallel with Wisdom which is figuratively presented as being “with God” from the beginning (Prov. 8) Wisdom is personified (i.e., “She” speaks as though she was a person). She says “I was always with Him [God].” Thus the word or wisdom of God was “with God” (John 1:1) and was itself God, that is to say fully expressive of God. Wisdom says in Proverbs, “I am understanding.” She is the fullest expression of the mind of God. The word “is” God, not as a one-to-one identity, because the word is also “with God,” but as fully expressive of God. The word is God in His self-revelation. But note carefully that there is only one Person in John 1:1, 2. It is the Father and His word/wisdom created everything. Then, amazingly, in verse 14 the Son is introduced for the first time, and we learn of the only begotten Son who reveals the Father. John’s intention is to tell us that the very word/expression/wisdom of God was manifested in history in a human Person, the Son of God. Jesus is therefore what the word/wisdom of God became. Just as the car on the drawing board takes “flesh” as a real, functioning automobile, so the wisdom/word of God was fully expressed in Jesus. Jesus is the most perfect demonstration of God in a human being, but he is not himself God, that is to say the Son is not an uncreated eternal Person. There is only One such uncreated Person in the universe and that is the Father. No wonder the Father is called “the [one] God” (ho theos, in Greek) over 1300 times in the New Testament. The term “God” is very occasionally applied to Jesus as reflecting God. Remember that Moses was to be “God” to Pharaoh (Exod. 7:1). This does not mean that Moses was actually God, but that he was His spokesman. In a parallel way Jesus is the ultimate speaker for God, the supreme prophet and the chosen King of David’s royal line. Over and over again the New Testament informs us that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of the living God, a title applicable also to the converted Israel of the future (Hosea 1:10). Jesus founded his church on the firm belief that he was the “Messiah, Son of the living God,” and remember what Professor Brown of Fuller Seminary tells us, along with many other expert biblical scholars:
“To be called Son of God in the Bible means that you are not God.”This is an obvious truth which can be searched out and confirmed by anyone. Simply note that Adam, Israel and men especially close to God are called “Sons of God.” Christians are said to be “Sons of God.” Jesus is the pioneer Christian, the perfect model of what it means to be “Son of God.” Now listen to Paul: How does he define the One God in whom Christians believe? Paul repeats exactly the Old Testament One God texts quoted above: His statement defining the God of Christianity is based on the Old Testament words we have cited earlier (Deut. 32:39, etc.). Paul tells us precisely who that unique divine Person is: “We know that there is no God but One…To us [Christians] there is but One God, the Father” (I Cor. 8:4-6). This is unitary monotheism. (Why didn’t Paul write “There is One God, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit”?) Paul also believed that “there is one God and one mediator between God and man, the man Messiah Jesus” (I Tim. 2:5). Was Paul a Trinitarian? Hardly. He wrote: “God is only one Person” (Gal. 3:20, Amplified Version). Paul’s and Jesus’ creed is strikingly different from the creed of contemporary churches which reads: “We believe in One God, existing eternally in three Persons.” Listen again to Paul: “There is no God but One…There is but One God — the Father” (I Cor. 8:4-6). The extent of the confusion about this most basic of all questions can be measured by the confident assertions of some that unless one believes in the “historic creed” (of Church Councils) that God is three in One, one is a “cultic figure” and “decidedly non-Christian.” It is to be regretted that Paul and Jesus would not qualify as Christian by the standards decreed by some of America’s “Bible answer men.” Something has gone terribly wrong! Happily there are signs that a return to the God of the Bible may be coming. Evangelical fundamentalist John MacArthur rightly says: “There is no such thing as ‘the eternal Son’ in the Bible” (see his Commentary on Hebrews, ch. 1). MacArthur agrees here with famed commentator Adam Clark, who believed that the concept of the “eternally begotten Son,” central to traditional creeds, was not only meaningless but dangerous. A world-known systematic theologian of Fuller Seminary, Dr. Colin Brown, says correctly: “It is a common but patent error to read John 1:1 as if it said ‘In the beginning was the Son….’”(Ex Auditu, 7, 1991).
Taken from: Who is the One God of the Bible?