The Only True God
What does the word “idolatry” bring to your mind? Do you impulsively think of statues, gruesome totem poles and pagan gods and goddesses? All of these are forms of idolatry, the worship of false gods. But we can also worship ourselves, our money, our success, our nation, our ethnicity, or any number of seemingly benign things. The Bible says that covetousness is idolatry (Ephesians 5:5).
But idolatry can take on even more subtle forms. We can worship a distorted, warped and unbalanced view of God. We can elevate one aspect of His character, like love, to the exclusion of another, like righteousness, and this would be idolatry too. In Acts, chapter 17, the apostle Paul is in the city of Athens, Greece. He has been proclaiming the good news of Jesus Christ, and news about Paul reached the academics of the city. So they brought him to their council to hear what he had to say. The apostle seizes the opportunity to tell them about the one true God.
Now while Paul waited for them 52 at Athens, his spirit was provoked within him when he saw that the city was given over to idols. 53 Therefore he reasoned in the synagogue with the Jews and with the Gentile worshippers, and in the marketplace daily with those who happened to be there.
Then certain Epicurean and Stoic philosophers 54 encountered him. And some said, “What does the babbler want to say?” Others said, “He seems to be a proclaimer of foreign gods,” because he preached to them Jesus and the resurrection. And they took him and brought him to the Areopagus, 55 saying, “May we know what this new doctrine is of which you speak? For you are bringing some strange things to our ears.
Therefore we want to know what these things mean.” For all the Athenians and the foreigners who were there spent their time in nothing else but either to tell or hear some new thing.
Then Paul stood in the midst of the Areopagus and said, “Men of Athens, I perceive that in all things you are very religious; for as I was passing through and considering the objects of your worship, I even found an altar with this inscription:
TO THE UNKNOWN GOD. Therefore, the One whom you worship without knowing, Him I proclaim to you. (Acts 17:16-23)
The people of Athens were very religious. They had an altar or statue for every god they knew. In fact they had an altar to an unknown god in case they missed one. In every human heart there is a natural inclination to worship. And if we are not worshipping the one true God, we will find something upon which to set the affection of our hearts.
So Paul used the altar to the unknown god as a bridge to tell these philosophers about the one true God. The apostle tells them what God is like, what He desires for us and what He requires of us. God wants us to know Him, to understand Him, and to love Him with all our heart, soul, mind and strength. This is the first duty of mankind and our highest and most sacred privilege. But if we do not know the one true God or if we have a misconception about Him, we will miss Him and worship something other than God.
Sadly, many Christians have a misconception about God. They believe that God consists of a trinity of persons, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. They are taught that these three persons, who are all God, make up together, and not alone, one God. But this is not who God is.
Suppose that you had never met me but were told many things about me, some of which were true and some of which were not. You were excited to meet me, and you were asked to pick me up at the airport. You were told that I am six feet tall, with curly blonde hair and blue eyes. Well, you would go to the airport and search for me with all earnestness. But you would walk right past me, because I am five foot five inches tall and bald with brown eyes! In the same way, many Christians walk right past the one true God because He is one person and not three. In the Bible, God tells us exactly what He is like and who He is.
For thus says the LORD, Who created the heavens, Who is God, Who formed the earth and made it, Who has established it, Who did not create it in vain, Who formed it to be inhabited: “I am the LORD, and there is no other. I have not spoken in secret, In a dark place of the earth; I did not say to the seed of Jacob, ‘Seek Me in vain’; I the LORD speak righteousness, I declare things that are right. (Isaiah 45:18, 19)
Our awesome God has not hidden Himself or made it difficult to know who Him. He has spoken openly about Himself. Notice in verse 18 the Scripture says, “For thus says the LORD.” The words “the LORD” are translated from the Hebrew word Yahweh, which is not a title but a personal name. The name means “I am that I am” or “I will be what I will be.” God had His name revealed thousands of times in the Bible, not to have it hidden from us by a faulty translation. He revealed His name so that we might know Him. Yahweh is the personal name for a single person who is God and there is no other. Earlier in this same chapter of Isaiah, Yahweh again declares that he alone is God.
I am the LORD [Yahweh], and there is no other; There is no God besides Me. (Isaiah 45:5)
There is no other person besides Yahweh who is God! However, the sad reality is that this simple truth is either unknown or not believed by many who call themselves Christians. From the time of Adam, to the ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ, up to the time of the original apostles, all true believers had faith in one God and one person who is God alone—Yahweh.
But in 325 A.D. this truth suffered a tragic blow. In that year the Emperor Constantine called a council of church leaders to the city of Nicea, 56 to settle a question that was unsettling the Empire. The question concerned the relationship between God and His Son Jesus Christ. Due to political concerns, the influence of Greek philosophy and a disdain for Judaism, a minority of church leaders began to teach that Jesus was both God and man. 57 They declared that there was one God, but this one God consisted of three persons; the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. The majority of the church leaders at the council rejected this idea as unbiblical. But those who held to the concept of the Trinity had the power of the Emperor Constantine behind them. Therefore many of those who rejected the Trinity signed on to the new creed for fear of reprisals from the emperor.
Since the end of the 4th century, the doctrine of the Trinity has dominated the Christian church, but it is wrong. The simple and clear teaching of the Word of God is that there is only one true God and one person who is God.
To you it was shown, that you might know that the LORD [Yahweh] Himself is God; there is none other besides Him. (Deuteronomy 4:35)
Notice the singular pronoun “Him.” How can you grammatically and logically call a being who consists of three distinct persons, “Him”? You can’t!
Therefore know this day, and consider it in your heart, that the LORD [Yahweh] Himself is God in heaven above and on the earth beneath; there is no other. (Deuteronomy 4:39)
Hear, O Israel: The LORD [Yahweh] our God, the LORD [Yahweh] is one! (Deuteronomy 6:4)
This verse is the celebrated creed of Judaism called the Shema, which means hear, listen, pay attention. It was the creed of Moses, King David, the Old Testament prophets and the Lord Jesus Christ. It is a confession of faith that states there is only one God and one person who is God—Yahweh. This verse could also read, “Hear, O Israel, Yahweh is our God, Yahweh alone.” The truth is God is one in essence and one in person.
The Hebrew word for one in Deuteronomy 6:4, is echad, meaning a simple unity as compared to a compound unity. Let me give you some examples of the word as used in the Old Testament.
And the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall on Adam, and he slept; and He took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh in its place. (Genesis 2:21)
When God made Eve from Adam, He took one rib, a single rib, not the whole rib cage.
And the LORD turned a very strong west wind, which took the locusts away and blew them into the Red Sea. There remained not one locust in all the territory of Egypt. (Exodus 10:19)
The emphasis here is that not a single locust, not even one, was left in Egypt. The word echad occurs over 500 times in the Old Testament, and never does it lose its numerical value. There is only one God and one person who is God. The Old Testament tells us this over and over again.
For who is God, except the LORD [Yahweh]? And who is a rock, except our God? (2 Samuel 22:32)
that all the peoples of the earth may know that the LORD [Yahweh] is God; there is no other. (1 Kings 8:60)
O LORD [Yahweh] of hosts, God of Israel, the One who dwells between the cherubim, You are God, You alone, of all the kingdoms of the earth. You have made heaven and earth. (Isaiah 37:16)
“You are My witnesses,” says the LORD [Yahweh], And My servant whom I have chosen, That you may know and believe Me, And understand that I am He. Before Me there was no God formed, Nor shall there be after Me. I, even I, am the LORD [Yahweh], And besides Me there is no savior (Isaiah 43:10, 11)
But the LORD [Yahweh] is the true God; He is the living God and the everlasting King. (Jeremiah 10:10a)
And the LORD [Yahweh] shall be King over all the earth. In that day it shall be—“The LORD [Yahweh] is one,” And His name one. (Zechariah 14:9)
The doctrine of the Trinity, of three persons making up one God, is not a teaching from the Old Testament. Nor is it a teaching of the New Testament, in spite of how some sections of Scripture have been mistranslated to prop up the doctrine. 58 The Old Testament is the foundation of the New Testament. The Old Testament is the root of the New Testament flower. And the truth of one God and one person who is God flows from root to flower.
Therefore concerning the eating of things offered to idols, we know that an idol is nothing in the world, and that there is no other God but one. For even if there are so-called gods, whether in heaven or on earth (as there are many gods and many lords), yet for 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 through whom we live. (1 Corinthians 8:4-6, my emphasis in bold)
These verses of Scripture make it perfectly clear that there is only one person who is God and this is our heavenly Father who is also the Father of the Lord Jesus Christ. God is not composed of Father, Son and Holy Spirit. He is, always has been, and always will be one person.
For whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope. Now may the God of patience and comfort grant you to be likeminded toward one another, according to Christ Jesus, that you may with one mind and one mouth glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. (Romans 15:4-6, my emphasis in bold)
All that was written in the Old Testament about Yahweh being the one and only person who is God was written for our learning. The one true God is the person revealed as Yahweh in the Old Testament and as “the God and Father” of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Corinthians 1:3)
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, (2 Corinthians 1:3)
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. (Ephesians 1:2)
and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Philippians 2:11)
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. (Colossians 1:2b)
If words have any meaning at all, if we believe the Holy Scriptures to be the authoritative Word of God, then we must understand that the person who is God alone is Yahweh, the God and Father of the Lord Jesus Christ, and our God and Father. Even the Lord Jesus Christ Himself attested to the fact that He is not God but that He has a God. Speaking to Mary Magdalene after His resurrection, Jesus said,
Do not cling to Me, for I have not yet ascended to My Father; but go to My brethren and say to them, ‘I am ascending to My Father and your Father, and to My God and your God.’ (John 20:17)
The Lord Jesus Christ is not God. He has a God—Yahweh, who is His Father and our Father. In John 17, we have Jesus Christ praying at the climax of His ministry before His arrest and crucifixion. If ever there were a time to reveal that the one true God was a trinity of persons, this certainly would have been an appropriate time. But Jesus reveals that there is only one true God, His Father.
Father, the hour has come. Glorify Your Son, that Your Son also may glorify You . . . And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent. ( John 17:1, 3)
Finally, one day a scribe came to the Lord Jesus Christ and asked Him, “Which is the first commandment of all?” The answer that Christ gave should grip our hearts! The first of all the commandments is:
“Hear, O Israel, the LORD [Yahweh] our God, the LORD [Yahweh] is one. And you shall love the LORD [Yahweh] your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.” (Mark 12:28-30)
The words of the Lord Jesus Christ should carry more authority for us than the words of theologians and church councils. It requires a closed and prejudiced mind to continue to believe in the idolatrous teaching of the Trinity in the light of such powerful biblical evidence.
The time has come for people to read the Scriptures and take them to heart as God’s written Word and will. The Bible is God’s revelation to us concerning who He is, what He has done, what He is doing, and what He will do. The Bible, both the Old and New Testaments, clearly and boldly proclaims that there is only one God and one person who is God—Yahweh, the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. The church of Jesus Christ must stop its idolatrous relationship with the Trinity. This is a grave sin that dishonors God. And it robs His people of fully loving God, who is our all in all.