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The God of Jesus

  

Tragically, Christianity is in a muddle over who their God is. The Bible says that there is only one true God, but there are many different understandings of who the only true God is – all coming from the same Bible! It’s no wonder the secular world thinks Christians are crazy – they can’t even agree on who their God is!

There are three main perspectives in Christianity that define the nature of who God is. The majority of Christians subscribe to the orthodox belief that God is a Trinity. This doctrine proposes that God is one essence, made up of three divine persons – the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit – all of whom are equally God and have existed together since eternity. However, there are others who reject the doctrine of the Trinity and instead believe that the God of the Bible is a Binitarian God. They believe that “The Father and the Son comprise the “Godhead.” There is one God. Scripture shows that God is a divine Family which began with two, God the Father and the Word.”[1] Finally, there are those that believe in a “one-person God, the Father, uncreated and unique in all the universe” who are known as Unitarians.[2]

With all these different perspectives concerning the nature and identity of God, it is only natural – and altogether necessary – that one ask the following question: Are any of these perceptions correct? Who is the only, true God of the Bible? It is a question that absolutely must be answered, for as Jesus says, “God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth” (John 4:24).

It is a truth that God desires all of mankind to come to. In Paul’s second letter to Timothy, Paul writes that God wishes “everyone to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (1Timothy 2:4). He goes on to explain this precious truth in the very next verse: That “there is one God and one mediator between God and humanity, Christ Jesus, Himself human” (1Timothy 2:5). The only true God desires that we know both Him and His Son, for as Jesus rightly said in his High Priestly prayer: “This is eternal life: that they may know You, the only true God, and the One You have sent—Jesus Christ” (John 17:3).

Since God desires intimate and exclusive fellowship with His creation, He has plainly revealed the truth about who He is to all of mankind. He has revealed Himself through nature, through His self-revelation to His chosen people Israel, and in these last days through His Son Jesus. In the book of Romans, Paul writes that the people of the world are without any excuse “since what can be known about God is evident among them, because God has shown it to them” (Romans 1:19). He goes on to say that “His invisible attributes, that is, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen since the creation of the world, being understood through what He has made” (Romans 1:20). Therefore, as Paul writes, “people are without excuse” because in His desire to fellowship with His creation, God has not hidden Himself.

After appearing to the patriarchs as El Shaddai or God Almighty, God later disclosed His personal name, Yahweh, for the first time in history to His servant Moses (Exodus 6:2-3). The God who identified Himself as Yahweh, is very clear that He is only one person. In fact, it is widely agreed upon by both secular and religious scholars that “the Jews of Jesus’ time held firmly to faith in a unipersonal God.”[3]The central Jewish creed, the Shema of Deuteronomy 6:4, reflects this: “Hear, Israel: Yahweh is our God; Yahweh is one” (Deuteronomy 6:4). According to Lev Gillet, a French monk and author of the book, Communion in the Messiah: Studies in the Relationship between Judaism and Christianity:

“The Shema Israel (Deut 6:4) is not only a liturgical formula and a commandment; it is also a confession of faith, and considered as more important than the historical Jewish creeds. As a confession of faith, the Shema is the affirmation of the unity and uniqueness of God. It constitutes the highest expression of the ‘Jewish monotheism’: ‘Adonai is our God, Adonai is one…’”[4]

The extreme importance of this creed to the Israelite people must not be understated: the Shema is absolutely crucial to the Jewish faith, “it is the verse that binds Jewish life and community together.”[5] The Shema has been, and still is today; the first verse learned by young Jewish children and it is faithfully recited each day by devout Jews until the day of their death.[6] Throughout the centuries the Jews have continued to hold tenaciously to their monotheistic belief that Yahweh alone is God and that He is one Lord – not two or three Lords. It is from this foundation, therefore, that the rest of the Scriptures must be examined, in order to develop a clear understanding of the identity and nature of the one true God of the Bible.

After establishing the key foundation of the faith, namely that Yahweh is one person; God continued to reveal the uniqueness of His divine person through the prophets. God declared through the prophet Isaiah: “I am Yahweh, and there is no other; there is no God but Me” (Isaiah 45:5). He identified Himself as the sole Creator of the heavens and earth, saying “Thus says Yahweh, your redeemer, he who formed you in the womb: I, Yahweh, have made all things, I alone spread out the heavens. When I hammered the earth into shape, who was with me” (Isaiah 44:24b)? Finally, Yahweh chose to reveal Himself through Isaiah as the Father and Redeemer of Israel: “After all, you are our Father. If Abraham will not own us, if Israel will not acknowledge us, you, Yahweh, are our Father, ‘Our Redeemer’ is your name from of old” (Isaiah 63:16b). The prophet Malachi summarizes these same ideas beautifully when, in reference to Yahweh, he asked, “Do we not all have one father? Has not one God created us” (Malachi 2:10)? Through the prophets, Yahweh plainly revealed that He alone is God – and that He alone is the Father, Creator, and Redeemer of Israel.

According to the author of Hebrews, God has spoken in these last days to His people through His Son Jesus (Hebrews 1:1-2). However, there is much confusion in the church over the identity of God’s Son. Some say that he is himself God, a part of the Godhead, while others say that he is a man, both appointed and anointed as God’s agent to carry out His work in His name. These two views are not reconcilable and are plainly in opposition, so a careful study of Jesus’ relationship to his Father and his testimony about God must be made in order to reconcile the evidence from the Old Testament and to verify the whole truth that the Bible presents.

The first observation that must be made is that the writers of the New Testament have clearly identified God the Father and his Son Jesus as two separate and independent persons. In over 450 New Testament verses, God and Jesus are shown to interact with each other as two single individuals in a relationship.[7] Sixty two of these verses use the grammatical conjunction “and” (or “kai” in the Greek) to link the two subjects that are identified, God and Jesus.[8] This can be most readily seen in Paul’s greetings to the churches, where he says on eight different occasions, “Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ”(Philippians 1:2). Clearly, through the use of the grammatical conjunction “and,” Paul is identifying two different subjects, God and Jesus, from whom come the blessing of grace and peace. It is not possible to say that God the Father and Jesus are one and the same person, unless we want to nullify both the rules of grammar and the revelation of the God of the Hebrew Scriptures.

Jesus understood this very well. It is clear that he understood that he was not God. In fact, that very concept would have been foreign to him – not to mention blasphemous! After all, Jesus was born in first century Palestine, into the monotheistic faith of the Jews. Jesus was a Jew and he grew up under the care of two devout Jewish parents. He was raised amongst the members of the Jewish community and brought up on the teachings of the Hebrew Scriptures – all of which pointed to Yahweh as the only true God and Father of Israel. It is clear that he understood the  Jewish teachings well, even from childhood, because when he sat in the temple listening to the teachers and asking them questions, it is said that “all who heard Him were amazed at His understanding and answers” ( Luke 2:44-45). It is fair to say then, that as a child, Jesus was not presenting any foreign or earth-shattering views about who God was, because the monotheistic Jewish community was praising his God-given wisdom.

But did Jesus’ later teachings reflect the monotheistic faith that he clung to in his youth? Or did Jesus reject the central monotheistic creed of Israel, and instead begin to introduce himself as Deity, even a secondary member of the Godhead? A careful examination of Jesus’ words would suggest that Jesus did not, in fact, reject his Jewish heritage as many would suppose he did.

The first clue to this puzzle is Jesus’ continued affirmation of the creed of Israel, the Shema. The Gospel of Mark recounts a story of Jesus debating with the teachers of law, as a Jewish scribe looked on. The scribe observed that Jesus had answered their questions well, and asked him, “‘Of all the commandments, which is the most important’” (Mark 12:28-32)? And Jesus, the founder of Christianity, responds by quoting the Shema. If Jesus were trying to introduce a new truth about God – this would have been his opportune moment. As author Greg Deuble writes, “Here was his great chance to include himself in the Godhead: ‘Hear, O Church, the Lord your God is Three in One! You shall love God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit with all your heart!’ But no, his creed is the creed of the prophets.”[9] It was in this moment that Jesus had his chance to reveal a new “truth” about God. Surely, if Jesus came to reveal the truth about who God was, he would not keep silent about the monotheistic “lie” that the Jews so fervently believed. But clearly, Jesus chose to embrace the monotheistic tradition of his Jewish contemporaries. Perhaps then, one might be inclined to believe that the Jews were, and still are, actually correct in their understanding of the singluar nature of the only true God.

Jesus’ personal affirmation of the monotheistic creed of Israel provides solid evidence that he too believed that Yahweh, the Father, was the only true God of Israel. This conclusion is further supported by Jesus’ own statements about his Father. In his High Priestly prayer found in John 17, Jesus prays to his Father, saying “Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent” (John 17:3). It could not be any clearer: not only is there a clear separation made between the person of God and the person of Jesus, but also the Father is identified as the “only true God!” By applying the word “only” to the Father, this means that there can be no other God besides the Father. Not only that, but also the Jewish Shema continues to affirm the unipersonal nature of God. In other words, if the Father is the only true God, Jesus cannot also be God, because they are two distinct persons. Once again, Jesus’s words demonstrate his faith in the only true God of Israel.

Furthermore, Jesus openly acknowledges that he is not the “only One” who is good, i.e God (Matthew 19:17).  After all, how can he be the only true God, when he himself has a God? After Jesus was crucified and buried, he appeared to Mary Magdalene as she was weeping bitterly beside his empty tomb. Supposing Jesus to be the gardener, she begged him to show her where he had taken the body of her Lord. But when Jesus called out her name, she recognized him and rushed toward him joyfully. He then said to her “‘Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God’” (John 20:18, italics added). Pause for a moment and think about that incredible truth – both Mary Magdalene and Jesus had the same Father, the same God.

One must also consider the revelation that Jesus shared with the apostle John, after he had ascended to the right hand of the Father. In the letter to the church of Philadelphia, Jesus tells John to write the following exhortation: “He who overcomes, I will make him a pillar in the temple of My God, and he will not go out from it anymore; and I will write on him the name of My God, and the name of the city of My God, the new Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from My God, and My new name” (Revelation 3:12). Once again, it is clear that Jesus himself has a God. After all, he said it four times in that one verse, and five times total in the book of Revelation. Chances are pretty good that if Jesus emphasized the phrase “My God,” by using it four times in one sentence, he must be making an important point. Namely, that he has a God. One can safely conclude that Jesus never abandoned the faith of his youth, for even to the end, he worshiped the same God as his fellow Jews.

This is by no means an exhaustive study of the only true God, but it does clearly point to the fact that the God of the Bible has never wavered in His self-revelation. He has consistently revealed Himself throughout history as one Being. He is not a single God made of multiple persons, because that would be contrary to the revelation given to His people Israel and through His Son. It would even go against God’s revelation through His Creation. Paul says that God has made known His divine nature through the things that have been made. God’s describes His relationship to mankind in terms of human family relationships so that we might understand His nature more clearly. God has described His relationship to us as that of a father. A human father is only one person; the “creator,” protector, and head of a family. In the same way, God is one person – the Sovereign Creator of all things and the defender, and redeemer of His beloved Creation. It is time that Christianity returns to the only true God of the Bible, Yahweh our God and Father.

“Hear O Church! Yahweh is our God, Yahweh is One.”

 


[1] “Official Statement of Fundamental Beliefs.” Living Church of God. http://www.lcg.org/statement-of-beliefs.shtml (accessed February 26, 2013).

[2] Buzzard, Anthony F., and Charles F. Hunting. The Doctrine of the Trinity: Christianity’s Self-Inflicted Wound. Lanham, New York: International Scholars Publications, 1998.

[3] Buzzard, Anthony F., and Charles F. Hunting. The Doctrine of the Trinity: Christianity’s Self-Inflicted Wound. Lanham, New York: International Scholars Publications, 1998, p 29.

[4] Lev Gillet, Communion in the Messiah: Studies in the Relationship Between Judaism and Christianity (Lutterworth Press, 1986), p 75-76.

[5] Deuble, Greg S. They Never Told Me THIS in Church!: A Call to Read the Bible with New Eyes. Restoration Fellowship, 2006, p 78.

[6] Ibid, 78.

[7] Martin, Dr. Joe. “God and Jesus Differentiated.” Paper presented at Theological Conference.

[8] Ibid

[9] Deuble, Greg S. They Never Told Me THIS in Church!: A Call to Read the Bible with New Eyes. Restoration Fellowship, 2006, p 106.

11 Responses to “The God of Jesus”

  1. on 12 Apr 2013 at 5:02 pmO12

    The soundbite response popularized by mr.white is ” do you really expect the perfect man to be an athiest?” of course this his typical style of rhetoric. I would reply that of course is trying to change the focus, again typical of my whites style, I would for starters say “could the perfect man think of himself as God, while having a God?”

  2. on 12 Apr 2013 at 8:39 pmO12

    In order for Jesus to be fully Human and Fully Divine he would have to have a human mind and a Divine mind. The human mind to be perfect and truthful cannot think of itself as God. The Divine mind to be perfect and truthful cannot think of Itself as Human. For these two contradictory ontologies to be in one person is as contradictory as “hot ice cubes” or “entertaining day time television”.

    Could God create a rock to heavy he could not lift it? Is about equally as valid as a question as God becoming an incarnate being.

    I don’t even have to go here, Yahweh(who trinitarians think Jesus is) has already refuted the incarnation, Lets look to Ezekiel 28, God refutes a man who thinks he is God, God asks him rhetorical questions such as “are you wiser than Daniel[a]?

    Is no secret hidden from you?” to denote that since the person is not omniscient then he cannot be God. Furthermore, later in the passage God offers another argument,
    “Will you then say, “I am a god,”
    in the presence of those who kill you?
    You will be but a mortal, not a god,
    in the hands of those who slay you.
    10 You will die the death of the uncircumcised
    at the hands of foreigners.”
    Notice the pronouns “You” God didn’t make absurd Greek philosophical distinctions.

  3. on 12 Apr 2013 at 8:46 pmJas

    O12
    Welcome and very interesting

  4. on 12 Apr 2013 at 8:49 pmO12

    Additionally, This is quite the nifty proof text.

    Isaiah 46:5
    “With whom will you compare me or count me equal? To whom will you liken me that we may be compared?

    Who is the me here? It can’t be an individual person for it excludes the other persons. Nor could it be the essence because that would be conflating essence and person. The trinitarian has only one option, the triune we.

    Of course this can’t work, as we can see in the passage God is an “I” and the comparison with another person cause God to use “we” at the end of the passage.

    Lets see what the trinitarian passage would look like

    Isiah 46:5
    “With whom will you compare (triune we) or count (triune we) equal? To whom will you liken (triune we) that (triune we + another) may be compared?

    This doesn’t work. How about we read it buy looking at what it actually says and not what theological presuppositions force it to be.

  5. on 12 Apr 2013 at 8:57 pmO12

    How can Jesus be the Most High is the Father is an authority over him? Or is the Most High a title of impersonal essence the “it” God. The “divine nature/essence” is mentioned in scripture, but not in the foreign greek ontological way. Lets take a look–>

    2 Peter 1:4

    Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the DIVINE NATURE, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.

    So let me get this straight, the only time when the “divine nature” or what trinitarians call the “what definition of God” is mentioned in scripture, its of a completely different sense then what the trinitarian term is? So the New testament writers were capable of using the term, but none of them choose to use it in the Greek ontological sense? Something is clearly Fishy.

  6. on 12 Apr 2013 at 9:04 pmO12

    This Greek philosophical ESSENCE is all that trinitarians have, how else can the Holy spirit be fully God if he doesn’t know the hour or day? Indeed they have no choice but to say the Father limited the traits of the other member, yes, they propose a “limited” God, what ever happened to immutablity?

    In any case lets read:

    Holman Christian Standard Bible (©2009)
    It will be a day known only to Yahweh, without day or night, but there will be light at evening. (Zechariah 14:7)

    “But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father”(mark 13:32)

    So look, we have Yahweh in ezekial refuting that someone that isn’t omnicient is not God, and we have Zachariah saying that only Yahweh knows the Day/hour.

    Only the father knows the day/hour(mark 13:32)
    Only Yahweh knows the day/hour(zechariah 14:7)

    Only the Father is only YHWH.

    Amen.

  7. on 12 Apr 2013 at 9:07 pmO12

    Correction: Yahweh in Ezekeil refuting that someone that is not omnicient is God.

    ‘takes deep breath’

    So what do y’all think of what I’ve found?

    From Canada

  8. on 13 Apr 2013 at 12:09 amO12

    Another refutation from Elijah of the Incarnation,

    And at noon Elijah mocked them, saying, “Cry aloud, for he is a god. Either he is musing, or he is relieving himself, or he is on a journey, or perhaps he is asleep and must be awakened.”

    Elijah is totally on point, here he is insulting the Baal God calling it a sleeper and traveller, these do seem like weak and mundane insults, but such arbitrary things do not befit Deity.

    God proclaiming is awesome majestic self is something God does often. To say God emptied himself of divine attributes(Trinitarian interpretation of phillipians) and then dressed up as a zygote(with characteristics that don’t befit deity) should offend us greatly.

  9. on 13 Apr 2013 at 8:39 amSarah

    Hi O12,

    Welcome to the blog! You’re absolutely right, the Bible knows nothing of Greek philosophical concepts like a “dual nature” or the alleged difference between “person” and “being.”

    I like your observation on Isaiah 46:5 in particular because it exposes the logical problems with the idea of a triune “we.” There’s a reason scripture refers to God using singular personal pronouns from Genesis to Revelation.

    If you could, please condense your comments into a single post when possible so you don’t flood a thread, as per the communications policy of the blog. And once again, welcome – glad to have you aboard.

  10. on 13 Apr 2013 at 3:08 pmO12

    Greetings Sarah,

    My apologies for machine gunning those posts, I got a little too trigger happy there. I’ll keep them condensed for now on.

    In regards to 46:5, what is excellent about this verse is God makes a distinction between “me” (1 person) and “we” (more then 1 person) in the same sentence. Trinitarian Dogma has one believe that the Son, the HS and the Father are co equal, if God in this passage is saying that “he” is equal to no one, and uses “we” to denote the hypothetical other person he is being compared to. From this it is quite evidence that the trinitarian doctine can not work for there it automatically refutes the notion of three co equal divine persons.

    And also, I wonder what trinitarians would say if we mirrored their concept of making up philosophical concepts like “functional subordination within the God head” and just made up something or said “its a mystery” when something difficult comes up. Would trinitarians except that? If not, why should we?

  11. on 15 Apr 2013 at 6:15 pmGeorge

    Wonderful,thanks!

  

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