By Kenneth V. Reeves
ONE GOD IS THERE ONE GOD?
“Hear, 0 Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD” (Deuteronomy 6:4 and Mark 12:29).
“Thou shalt have no other gods before me” (Exodus 20:3).
“Is there a God beside me? yea, there is no God; I know not any” (Isaiah 44:8).
“Hath not one God created us?” (Malachi 2:10). “Now a mediator is not a mediator of one, but God is one” (Galatians 3:20).
“Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble” (James 2:19).
To the question as to whether there is One God, the Bible affirmatively answers YES! Paul affirmed that a mediator was not a mediator of one, but God is one. That is while a mediator stands in the middle between two or more contending parties, yet God was one, not two or more.
Paul again said, “For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus” (1 Timothy 2:5).
All who believe the Bible must believe in One God—for God is One (Galatians 3:20).
GOD and gods
IS GOD ONE OR THREE?
This is perhaps the most basic question in or out of the universe. Ditheists say there are two Gods and Tritheists say there are three Gods. Trinitarians say there is one God in three separate and distinct persons. Monotheists, other than Christian Monotheists say there is one God. Christian Monotheists say there is one God Who has revealed Himself in three basic ways, but is not divided into persons after the analogy of the human species.
WHAT IS THE TRITHEISTIC VIEW?
Tritheism is a belief in three gods with separate and distinct existences.
WHAT IS THE TRINITARIAN CONCEPT?
The doctrine of the Trinity is that God is one God subsisting in three separate and distinct persons. They confess that this is a mystery above reason but not contrary to reason. They do not all say that these three persons have a body, but they have all the attributes that define a person to be a person, which they say does not always mean that a body is involved.
WHAT IS DITHEISM?
Ditheism is a belief in two Gods. Some of this belief partakes of the nature of God in an uncreated sense, creating t he Son of God in the beginning, who in turn by delegated authority created all things that are made. This is believed to be the origin of the Son of God in the Sonship relationship. This means to the so-called Ditheist that this is the origin of the created Son, but not His origin as God, in the uncreated sense. The impression one gets is of a Senior and Junior God.
WHAT IS MONOTHEISM?
Monotheism is the ancient doctrine that God is One, not many. It is succinctly summarized by the verse: “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD” (Deuteronomy 6:4). This is the extreme opposite of a plurality of beings whether called Tritheism or even Tritheism in its modified form termed Trinity. It is this fundamental belief that is the root and branch of Jewish rejection of the Trinitarianism and Tritheism of the so-called Christian world, for they feel that their Messiah will be the one God of the Old Testament coming in the form of man.
WHAT IS CHRISTIAN MONOTHEISM?
It is the same as Jewish Monotheism with the exception that the Son of God is the Messiah, and that this One God has sent His Spirit in and upon the people as the Holy Ghost. There is One God Who lives in and out of the universe as the source of all things, yet Who also assumed the human nature of man through Mary, within which His divine form and nature were fused and called the Son of God in relation to divine origin and present dwelling in the flesh; and also called the Son of Man in relation to His human origin and dwelling in the flesh; with the added manifestation of Himself under the appellation of the Holy Ghost or Spirit dwelling and being imparted in and to the lives of believers in Jesus Christ.
IS IT ACCURATE TO SAY THAT CHRISTIAN MONOTHEISTS ARE JESUS ONLY?
NO! Christian Monotheists believe that Jesus Christ is God made visible through incarnation, but that God is basically an Omnipresent Spirit Substance, whose Absolute Being transcends even the universe as an unlimited existence. Although Jesus Christ is the One God of the Old Testament, He is not all there is to God as to quantity, speaking from the standpoint of the size of the body.
The idea may be conveyed in a rough analogy by the use of water and ice:
Ice is of water, and may be in water, but is water in a solid form. Jesus is God in human form, but God is an omnipresent Spirit, too. As Jesus said concerning His connection with God in this Spirit sense, “I am in the Father and the Father is in me.” Ice is in the water and the water is in the ice. “I and my Father are one.” The Holy Ghost is sometimes called the Spirit of my Father and the Spirit of God’s Son. This analogy is imperfect, since God assumed the flesh and life of man in order to live and move among men; and is not Spirit converted to flesh.
IS IT ACCURATE TO SAY THAT CHRISTIAN MONOTHEISTS DENY THE FATHER?
This has been told and retold but is highly inaccurate and misleading. The Christian Monotheist simply denies that God should be characterized under the appellation of three separate and distinct persons, whether under the extreme Tritheistic concept or the modified Tritheistic concept commonly called Trinity. Christian Monotheists believe that when God is referred to as Father, He is being addressed as the source from whence all things originated. When the One God of the Bible assumed a mode of Being in the flesh, this distinct manifestation of Himself originated from God in the sense of Spirit. The Spirit Substance, which is eternal and omnipresent, is the source or Father of the fusion of God and man in one body and called the Son of God. This Fatherhood of the Spirit has carried over and been applied to Jesus when His Deity or divine nature or substance is being identified, and/or emphasized more in particular, in contradistinction to His humanity. Thus, when His substance, which is the same as the Spirit, is preeminently in mind, Jesus Christ is also identified as God or WORD. In His Deity Jesus, in the body, is One or the same as the Deity outside of the body. When viewed as being the product of a fusion of the divine and the human, the appellation of Son of God and Son of Man are used. Unlike Tritheism or Trinitarianism, Christian Monotheism includes the whole Deity in an Undivided Substance, rather than to project a troika (three) of separated individuals or council of persons like to the unity that perhaps three people may form—a unity though plural. Christian Monotheism includes both the God of infinity in His Unlimited Omnipresence as a Spirit Substance, and also this Substance expressed in human form; thus fusing, as it were, the Divine Nature and the human nature. God is, therefore, to be understood from two senses: God apart from the flesh and God manifested in the flesh. Again the analogy of water and ice: The water is in the ice and the ice is in the water (ice in the lake and the lake in the ice).
Monotheism (belief in One God) is a Oneity not a Trinitarian Unity. The Trinitarian Unity is a United Council of Three Persons in sociological agreement. The Monotheistic Oneity is One Being made known in various ways, degrees and quantities, etc.
WHAT TRUTH IS THERE IN THE CHARGE THAT THE PEOPLE WHO HAVE BEEN CALLED ONENESS PENTECOSTAL ARE JESUS ONLY?
This charge is partly based on the notion that the so-called One God Church excludes the rest of God from the Godhead when the statement is made that Jesus is the one true God of the Bible. However, the fact that Jesus is God does not mean that the total quantity of Deity is enclosed or encased within the small body of the Savior. It simply means that the total quality of the Godhead resides in Jesus from a bodily standpoint—that His is the only body in the Godhead—that there is not another separated body. “For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily” (Colossians 2:9). The statement of Jesus Only, in the sense of limiting the total quantity of God to the body of Jesus is, therefore, an inaccurate description; and does not fit the One God doctrine of the Christian Monotheist.
SHOULD THE TERM “PERSON” BE USED TO DESCRIBE THE GODHEAD?
For sometime this writer has felt that the use of the human term person or persons should be excluded from the definition of God. The term is used to identify human be ings, and is not used of lower creatures such as monkeys or higher creatures such as angels. A disservice has been done by calling God or any part of God “Person”. The very word is derived from the word mask and perhaps got its origin from the actors who wore masks to portray different characters. If the term person is to be retained, let it be limited to Jesus Christ in His humanity as the Son of Man.
This may be permitted on the grounds that He was truly a man in His humanity, and it might not be too imprecise to term Jesus by the word person. Even at that, it seems that this should be carefully defined and carefully construed.
BUT DOES NOT THE SCRIPTURE RECORD THAT JESUS IS THE EXPRESS IMAGE OF HIS (God’s) PERSON?
The King James Version of the Bible translates as follows: “Who [Jesus] being the brightness of his [God’s] glory, and the express image of his [God’s] person, . . .” (Hebrews 1:3). The revised version is: the very image of his substance. The term image is from the Greek word character, and the word express is impressed. Jesus is the impressed character of God’s substance. God’s substance was expressed in the flesh—Paul said, “God was manifest in the flesh” (1 Timothy 3:16).
DOES NOT PAUL SAY THAT IF HE FORGAVE “FORGAVE I IT IN THE PERSON OF CHRIST?”
In 2 Corinthians 2:10 Paul used the words “The person of Christ.” As said in a previous answer, the term person may be qualifiedly used of Jesus if His identity as a man is intended. Of course, as is known, the King James Version of the Bible contains many terms that are not used today in the same sense. One may translate and say “with the approval of Christ I forgive” or “in His presence” or “on His behalf.” At any rate, the term person has now taken to itself such a specific content in ordinary speech that it should more fittingly be limited to the human family or specie.
WOULD THE TERMS THERE IS ONE GOD AND ONE BODY IN THE GODHEAD BE MORE READILY UNDERSTOOD?
Yes, because the confusion that exists now, as to just what qualities are required to constitute a person, is perhaps too great to convey a proper concept of Jesus being God in a Body. The scriptures in other places, where God in a Body is not the subject, describe God as One—as being Spirit as to substance—of existing everywhere or omnipresent. This fully describes that the One God of the Bible is bigger than the frame, form or image of Jesus Christ. Hence, the total Deity can be described whether in respect to a particular Body or in general as an Omnipresent Spirit. So by saying that there is One God and One Body, (containing two forms i.e. the form of God and the form of man) in the Godhead the concrete position of the Christian Monotheist is more clearly stated.
HAS THE ADDITION OF THE TERMS THREE PERSONS BEEN AN ASSET IN UNDERSTANDING THE GODHEAD?
Not really, although, that is the proposed reason for the adoption of the terms. The Bible does not say that God is Three Persons, but that God is One. Even though such terms as Father, Son, and Holy Ghost are freely used, the term “Three Persons” (or three masks) was not used by Bible writers. The reason is obvious once we fully understand that God is not related within Himself as human beings are; in a sociological sense. For instance, the Father is in the Lord Jesus (John 14:10). The Lord Jesus is in the Father (John 14:11, 12). The Father is in Christians, the Son is in Christians, and the Holy Ghost is in Christians. Actually, the Holy Ghost is the one who is in us as can be shown later. So, for the present, eliminate the Gentile definition of God into person or persons as too misleading. We will be able to describe more of the details of the Godhead by using other terms.
SPIRIT AND WORD
INTO WHAT ASPECTS CAN GOD’S NATURE OR SUBSTANCE BE ANALYZED OR INTO WHAT TWO ELEMENTS IS IT POSSIBLE TO ANALYZE THE BASIC NATURE OF GOD?
The answer is: Spirit and Word.
Jesus gave us the essence of God in its most ultimate sense when He said, “God is a Spirit” (John 4:24). However, John the beloved in this same Gospel said, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God” (John 1:1-2). There is One God, and God is One; but here the Word is identified as God, and is with God. How can these things be?
The key to this question is the term beginning. This is the origin of time and of God’s identification in relation to time. This is the connection of God to the creation of heaven and earth as is found in Genesis 1:1, “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth,” and “All things were made by him [the Word]; and without him [the Word] was not any thing made that was made” (John 1:3).
Hence, the God Who had no beginning connected Himself to time and creation by means of the Word. David said, “Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever thou hadst formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, thou art God” (Psalm 90:2).
So, this second element enters into the question— . . .and the Word was with GOD, and the Word was GOD.” The Spirit is the ultimate essence that makes up God, yet the Word, which is God’s essence expressed, reveals God. It is the way that a timeless God related Himself to time.
The term Word means logic, wisdom, plan, purpose, speech, etc. It is from the Greek word “Logos.” Hence, God made all things by His Word, or wisdom, or plan; and by speaking these things into existence through His Word-Image.
To sum up, the Word is God related to the beginning of the heaven and the earth and the creation thereof. The Word is God in time. But to forestall the belief that the God Who has stepped out of eternity into time is two Beings, John said that the Word that was with God, was God; and is the same God as the God related to eternity—One God, related to time as the Word, but as ever a God related to that vast eternity before time and creation.
The relation of the Word to the Spirit is that of channel, cause, and means. The Spirit is the force that is behind the word. The word is the means, but the Spirit is the force using the means.
WHAT DID ADAM CLARK HAVE TO SAY?
“Logos, which signifies a word spoken, speech eloquence, doctrine, reason or the faculty of reasoning is very properly applied to Him, Who is the true light which lighteth every man who cometh into the world.”
“AND THE WORD WAS GOD”—or God was the Logos, and therefore no subordinate being—no second to the most high, but the supreme eternal Jehovah.
“ALL THINGS WERE MADE BY HIM” —that is by this Logos. In Genesis 1:1 God is said to have created all things. In this verse, Christ is said to have created all things. The same unerring Spirit spoke in Moses and in the evangelists. Therefore, Christ and the Father are One. To say that Christ made all things by a delegated power from God is absurd because the thing is impossible. Creation means causing that to exist that had no previous being. This is evidently a work that can be effected only by omnipotence. Now, God cannot delegate His omnipotence to another. If this were possible, he to whom this omnipotence was delegated would, in consequence, become God; and he from whom it was delegated would cease to be such. It is impossible that there should be two omnipotent beings. On these two important passages I find that many imminently learned men differ from me. It seems that they cannot be of my opinion, and I feel I cannot be of theirs. May He Who is the Light and Truth guide them and myself into all truth!
“And dwelt among us”—(John 1:14) or, and tabernacl-ed among us in the human nature which He took of the virgin.”
SINCE THE WORD IS VERBAL WHEN SPOKEN, IS THE SAME WORD IN BODY OR SHAPE FORM, WHEN EXPRESSED IN JESUS CHRIST?
“By the word of the LORD were the heavens made; and all the host of them by the breath of his mouth. . .For he spake, and it was done” (Psalm 33:6, 9).
“Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God” (Hebrews 11:3).
But when the Word was made flesh, the Word was heard, seen, looked upon and handled. This Word existed in an Image as well as being verbal.
“That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life” (1 John 1:1).
One writer speaks of the full-orbed Deity of Jesus Christ. He is the Light of the World, and His Word is the outbeaming of Himself in act and speech.
GOD MANIFEST IN THE FLESH
WHAT IS IT THAT MUST BE KEPT IN MIND WHEN VIEWING JESUS CHRIST AS GOD MANIFEST IN THE FLESH?
One must always be remembered that when God assumed the form and nature of man and became a servant (Philippians 2:6-8), the Self-Imposed limits were so real that Jesus was the weakness of God, and the Gospel He preached was the foolishness of God (1 Corinthians 1:25). Do not forget that God was putting on no act when He assumed, in particular, those limits that belong to man. God lived under the conditions and circumstances of men, in the Incarnation. The veil of flesh served as more than a shield between Himself and man. That veil limited God, to a great degree, within the body. He knew much more in His Omnipresence, Omniscience and Omnipotence outside of the body. God in the assumed likeness and limits of man prayed for us and also spoke of the Glory that was stripped from Him in the Incarnation (John 17).
Even the miracles He did are, in effect, duplicated by His disciples—Peter also walked on the water. Jesus Christ is God reduced to such proportions that God has stooped as low as He can and yet remain God in the earth. However, God did not shortchange Jesus Christ as to His relationship to us in respect to wisdom, righteousness, sanctification and redemption (1 Corinthians 1:30).
God in a particular place is only Omniscient in relation to God in all other places. God in a particular place is also only Omnipresent in relation to God in all other places. Again, God is only Omnipotent in relation to God in His entirety. Jesus is God’s only body, and in the resurrection, the weakness of God as caused by the flesh is largely, if not altogether, removed by the immortality given the flesh thereby. He was crucified in weakness but raised in power. God in particular has by the resurrection of the physical body, been restored to the glory He had before the world began. His contact with God in His Omnipresence, Omniscience and Omnipotence is not encumbered with the weakness and limitations to which the virgin birth had surrounded Him. The super-injection of the God-life did not destroy His humanity in the resurrection, but it caused the humanity He assumed to take on immortality.
The incarnation limited Him as God when viewed within that particular body. The resurrection from the dead unlimited Him to God, Omnipresent and exterior to that particular body. Also, it must not be forgotten that God within the body is the same, being as God exterior to the body. The distinction is the particularity of the bodily manifestation from the generality or non-bodily manifestation. Jesus said, “I and my Father are one” (John 10:30).
To further illustrate the point: The Holy Ghost in Peter was God, but surely not all of God, since the other eleven also had the Holy Ghost. Not only the twelve had the Holy Ghost, but many others received the Holy Ghost then and later. While the Holy Ghost in each of us is One with the rest of God elsewhere, yet the particular God in us only knows that aspect of knowledge within its orbit when viewed within the context of the human life. Being part of the total God, the Holy Ghost in each one has an unlimited aspect exterior to that particular human life.
The difference, however, in Jesus Christ is that He is God fused in and with man through the virgin birth, and we are men anointed with the Holy Ghost after having been born of a natural father and mother. His very Being is a fusion of God and man, while ours is the engrafting of the Word in our lives and the coming of God by impartation in the Holy Ghost. It is true that the Holy Ghost descended upon Jesus, and He was said to have been full of the Holy Ghost. However, as truly man as well as God, He had various offices to fill and had to be anointed as Prophet, Priest and King.
The above article, “One God” is written by Kenneth V. Reeves. The article was excerpted from pages 21-35 of Reeves’ book The Godhead.
The material is copyrighted and should not be reprinted under any other name or author. However, this material may be freely used for personal study or research purposes.