Sunday: The Oneness of God
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The belief system of the ancient Hebrews was rigorously monotheistic, “mono” expressing “one” and “theistic” from the Greek word for “God,” meaning that there is only one true God. This position is unwavering all through the Old Testament.

 

There is but one God, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and not many gods as the nations and tribes around the Hebrews believed. In this sense, the religion of the Bible was unique.

How does God speak about Himself in Exodus 3:13–15? How do these verses imply the oneness of God? 



The oneness of God is also found in the text (Deut. 6:4) called by the Jews “the Shema.” It was given this name because the opening word, the command “Hear” in Hebrew, is the word “shema.” This statement is one of the great truths about God, which the people of Israel were commanded to believe and to teach their children.

“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one” (Deut. 6:4, ESV). Compare that verse with Genesis 2:24(ESV), “Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.” What might it mean that the same Hebrew word for “one” appears in both texts? 



The same word, echad, for “one,” is used of God in the “Shema” of Deuteronomy 6:4. This word echad for oneness does not imply a mathematical sum but a complex unity instead. Something is being affirmed here about a unity of distinct parts. Husbands and wives are to be “one” (echad) according to Genesis 2:24, just as in Deuteronomy God is “one.

How does the New Testament talk about the oneness of God? James 2:191 Cor. 8:4



How should the understanding of God as one help us avoid the pitfalls of idolatry in any form? Why should the Lord alone be the one whom we worship? How can you eradicate any “idols” in your own life?

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Sunday: The Oneness of God — 12 Comments

  1. Another place that supports Dr Davidson's understanding of oneness is concerning the tower of Babel, "And the LORD said, "Indeed the people are one and they all have one language, and this is what they begin to do; now nothing that they propose to do will be withheld from them" (Gen 11:6 NKJV).

    Isaiah basically says the same thing

    Tell and bring forth your case; Yes, let them take counsel together. Who has declared this from ancient time? Who has told it from that time? Have not I, the LORD? And there is no other God besides Me, A just God and a Savior; There is none besides Me. "Look to Me, and be saved, All you ends of the earth! For I am God, and there is no other (Isa 45:21-22 NKJV).

    In fact the entire chapter of Isaiah 45 is worth reading because it speaks of creation and salvation which involve Christ, "All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made" (John 1:3 NKJV).

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  2. Is the oneness of the Godhead three persons contained in one entity, as the trinity doctrine suggests - it argues this but there's no evidence from the Bible for it, or is the true oneness of the Godhead the one divine nature of the Father personally which is also bodily in his Son, and so with the Spirit they are of the same nature while distinct persons, the Father and Son?
    Their omnipresence, the Spirit of God and of Jesus, is the personality of their presence, speaking of Christ and not of itself as his Spirit: an independent agency but not an independent individual as Christ is.
    The oneness of God is Father and Son in whom is the Godhead/divine nature bodily, in harmony, etc.

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    • Colin, I'm not sure I understand you correctly, but are you denying that the Holy Spirit is a person, just as truly as the Father is a Person and the Son is a person?

      While there is no definitive statement in the Bible that the Holy Spirit is a person, it is implicit in Christ's promise that "I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever." (John 14:16) As I understand it, the original meaning of "another" in this suggests someone just like Christ, Someone who would take His place. A non-personal "agency" could never truly be "in place of" the person of Christ.

      The references to "grieving" the Holy Spirit in both the Old and the New Testament. (See Isa. 64:10; Eph. 4:30) are further evidence that the Holy Spirit is a real person.

      Please also check our page on the Trinity, our Fundamental Belief 3.

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  3. I do understand that the hebrew word "echad" or english equivalent "one" appears in about 21 verses in the same book of Deutoronomy including Deut 6:4 - "Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is [echad] one LORD" (KJV). Verses like Deuteronomy 1:23; 4:42; 6:4; 12:14; 15:7; 17:6; 19:5; 19:11; 19:15; 21:15;2 3:16 etc also have the same hebrew word "echad" in them but not "yachid". For example Deut 1:23 - "And the saying pleased me well: and I took twelve men of you, [echad] one of a tribe"; Deut 4:42 - "That the slayer might flee thither, which should kill his neighbour unawares, and hated him not in times past; and that fleeing unto [echad] one of these cities he might live"; In these verses just as in Deut 6:4, the inspired writer, Moses,also uses the word echad. And in these 20 verses in Deutoronomy the hebrew word "echad" is clearly a numerical or mathematical one ie one as in one - one man, one city, etc. Therefore what makes us confident to conclude that the echad in Deutoronomy 6:4 is not a numerical one but rather as a compound unity in Genesis 2:24 where man and woman shall become [echad] flesh? Just as in English language, "one" can indicate numerical oneness and also compound oneness. Therefore, in my opinion, just the word "echad" does not provide sufficient evidence of the plurality of Elohim (God).

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    • Yes, indeed: ask any Rabbi today - they're open to the question! - and they'll say that "echad" has a mathematical quality, too, not just a "complex unity". We need more proof of monotheism than just that word, since it isn't definitely talking about unity in plurality.

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  4. My concern is in that of misinterpreting what God is really saying about his oneness.
    from where we read in Exodus3:13-15; I think God is trying to warn about any being or entity sharing in his glory, thus his emphasies "I AM".
    Even Moses warned against it in Deut.6:4 "hear O isreal: The lord our God is One Lord".
    my point really is that are these verses really implying the oneness of God in terms of the trinity or are they telling us about the position of the ALMIGHTY in the practice of idolatory.

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  5. @ David:
    I believe you're right that the affirmations of the Creator God being ONE Lord are particularly meant to affirm His uniqueness in contrast to the gods of the heathen. That said, it also has implications for the doctrine of God -- that He is One God, even while He made Himself known to us as the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

    @ Bennett:
    Of course you are correct in noting that the Hebrew "echad" is not enough to establish the teaching of the Triune God, but it doesn't need to. This fundamental belief was formulated to take all the biblical evidence into account.

    In my opinion, the lesson editors would have been wise to have the note read more accurately thus:

    "This word echad for oneness does not imply only a mathematical sum, but it may also be used to refer to a complex unity instead." (The latter is quite evident in its usage regarding husband and wife becoming "one.")

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    • Yes, "echad" speaks for monotheism very well, too.

      What about Heb 1:1-5 for establishing Father and Son, personally, in whom is the fulness of the Godhead? Doesn't Ellen White say of these very verses that they are declare "God" to be the Father and his Son to be by his side - much like Jn 1:1-5, in each of whom we know the Godhead is bodily?

      "God is the Father of Christ; Christ is the Son of God. To Christ has been given an exalted position. He has been made equal with the Father. All the counsel of God are opened to his Son." 8T 268

      It preserves their personalities, she says: it also states their relationship, since before Lucifer was jealous of God's Son and access to God's personal counsel, as she states in Patriarchs & Prophets, p.34. She writes of the Son's supremacy over all other heavenly beings and God the Father, the Sovereign of the universe, making their relationship crystal clear to everyone even though all angels rejoiced to execute the commands of God's only Begotten.

      "Christ, the Word, the only begotten of God, was one with the eternal Father—one in nature, in character, in purpose—the only being that could enter into all the counsels and purposes of God." (PP 34.1)

      Such wonderful truths: God and Christ our Saviour, of one nature, working together in holiness and righteousness to restore us to their image.

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  6. The nature of the Holy Spirit is a mystery, remember, and we can learn only what is revealed: the personality of the Spirit is indeed implicit in the Bible, but the agency of God that the Holy Spirit is is demonstrative, too - Ellen White speaks of this routinely. "To the church in the wilderness also, in the time of Moses, God gave His “good Spirit to instruct them.” Nehemiah 9:20. And in the days of the apostles He wrought mightily for His church through the agency of the Holy Spirit." (AA 53.1)

    Isn't the personality of the Spirit the very presence of Christ dwelling within us, Christ pouring his own, divine, infinite Spirit on to and into us?

    "I will not leave you comfortless; I will come to you...and he that loveth me shall be loved by my Father, and I will love and will manifest myself to him...and we will come unto him and make our abode with him." (Jn 14:18,21,23)

    "The influence of the Holy Spirit is the life of Christ in the soul." (MS 41, 1897; SDABC, vol.6, p.1112)

    The Holy Spirit is the omnipresence of Christ and of God our Father dwelling within us by the power of God as we believe in Jesus and receive his Spirit. This is all joy for us; let us not diminish the glory of the Spirit poured out in answer to prayer - Christ personally present by his Spirit: the Spirit is as much a person as God and Christ, but not evidently from that Bible text, at least, an individual like them since they personally remain in heaven as their Spirit dwells within us.

    Remember when pantheism tried to make a place for itself in our teachings, about 100 years ago: it was an attempt - may I name names? - to make the Spirit a person just like God and Christ, so that its presence within us and its power sustaining inanimate nature should be interpreted as God's personal presence being, not in heaven where God and Christ should be personally, but spiritually down here where the Holy Spirit is present. That mistake displaces God the Father and Christ the Son from heaven and puts them personally, where the Spirit is present, since the Spirit of God would be a real person just like them and not, instead, their omnipresence going to where they individually are not. Let us not make the same mistake.

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    • Colin, thank you for some beautiful quotes.

      As noted in Trinity: Fundamental Belief 2, and the following comments, there is indeed Scriptural evidence that the Holy Spirit is a real Person, just like Christ.

      Note that Christ said that "the Father is in me and I am in the Father." (John 10:38) This does not diminish the personhood of either the Father or the Son. Neither does the Spirit being in the believer diminish the Spirit's Personhood.

      As for your reference of the inroads of "pantheism" into Adventism through the writings of J H Kellogg, I understand things very differently. Nowadays we use the term "panentheism" to describe what Kellogg taught. He taught that God is in the grass, He is in you and me, He is within all of creation. His wording was deceptively close to some of the things Ellen White wrote, but his teaching was actually contrary to the doctrine of the personal Triune God -- the very thing that you seem to deny.

      I believe that your understanding, as expressed in a number of posts, is more likely to lead to panentheism than the belief in the Father, Son and Holy Spirit as three Persons in the divine Trinity.

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