THE ONE TRUE GOD

OUR CREATOR, REDEEMER AND SANCTIFIER

A STUDY BY
GARY RAY BRANSCOME

Lesson 2  

    From the very dawn of history, God’s prophets have emphasized the fact that there is only one God. It is written, “Hear O Israel, The Lord our God is one Lord” (Deuteronomy 6:4, Mark 12:29). For that reason, the truth of God’s oneness is the foundation of all that He has revealed about Himself in His Word. It is basic to both the First Commandment (which forbids the worship of any other god) and to a correct understanding of His threefold nature.

    Within the pages of Holy Writ, God has revealed Himself to us through the words of His inspired prophets and the historical events recorded in that Word. Because God has identified Himself with those historical events, Our God is the God who created all things in six days, the God of Abraham, the God of Moses, and the God who took upon Himself the nature of man in the person of Christ Jesus. Those who worship any other God are not worshipping the God of the Bible, the one God who has revealed Himself as:

1- Jehovah, our Everlasting Father (Isaiah 63:16)
2- Jehovah, our Savior (Isaiah 43:11; Isaiah 12:2)
3- Jehovah, our Comforter and Strength (Isaiah 51:3, John 14:26)
 

JEHOVAH OUR FATHER


    With the words, “O Jehovah, Thou art our Father, we are the clay and Thou our potter and we are the work of Thy hand,” God reveals Himself as our Father and Creator — the God who made us and the One to whom we must ultimately give account (Isaiah 64:8). Those words make it clear that God has given us life just as surely as our earthly father. Just as we provide for our children, protect them, and discipline them; God provides for us, protects us, and disciplines us. Moreover, God’s revelation of Himself as our heavenly Father corresponds to the first mention of the name Jehovah in the Aaronic blessing, “Jehovah bless thee, and keep thee” (Numbers 6:23,24).

    Jehovah has blessed us by giving us our body and soul, eyes, ears, reason, and all our senses, and He continues to bless us by providing us with clothing and shoes, food and drink, house and home, spouse and children, land, income, and all our goods.

    Jehovah keeps us by providing us with health, by preserving our reason and our senses, by defending us against the wiles of the devil, by helping us in time of trouble, and by protecting us from evil. [See Luther's explanation of the Apostles' Creed.]

    The following are but a few of many passages of Scripture in which Jehovah reveals Himself as our Father. (Isaiah 63:16, 2Thessalonians 1:1, Ephesians 1:2, John 8:41,42, 1Thessalonians 3:11, John 14:9, Matthew 6:9, Luke 11:2, Matthew 28:19, Isaiah 9:6)

JEHOVAH OUR SAVIOR


    With the words, “I am Jehovah and there is no savior besides Me,” God reveals that He is our redeemer, and that we have no Savior other than Him (Isaiah 43:11). The Bible tells us that He saved us from our sins by taking upon Himself the nature of man (through the virgin birth of Christ), coming into the world as that child who would be called, “The mighty God, The Everlasting Father,” and dying in our place (Isaiah 9:6). He is the long foretold “Holy One of Israel” (holy descendant of Israel) who has redeemed us by His death (Isaiah 47:4, Isaiah 44:6, Isaiah 43:14). Moreover, God’s revelation of Himself as our Savior corresponds to the second mention of the name Jehovah in the Aaronic blessing, “Jehovah make His face shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee” (Numbers 6:25, Psalm 80:3).

    Jehovah has made His face to shine upon us by causing the virgin Mary to conceive a son, who, unlike any other son ever conceived, was God manifest in the flesh (1Timothy 3:16). A son, who, as the prophet Jeremiah foretold, was born of the line of David, yet is, “Jehovah Our Righteousness” (Jeremiah 23:5-6).

    Jehovah is gracious unto us in that He has provided the payment for our sins and redeemed us, not with gold or silver, but through the holy precious blood and innocent suffering and death of Jesus Christ. Even though we are by nature children of wrath who deserve only hell, God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that we might be redeemed from the power of sin and through faith in Him have everlasting life (Ephesians 2:3, 1Peter 1:18,19, Ephesians 1:7, Romans 3:24, Acts 20:28). [See Luther's Explanation of the Apostles' Creed.]

    The following are a few of many passages in which Jehovah reveals Himself as our Savior. Those who wish to study this topic in depth might want to get a copy of the “Holman Topical Concordance” or the book, “Jesus: A Biblical Defense of His Deity” by Josh McDowell with Bart Larson. (Isaiah 43:3,14, Isaiah 35:10, Psalm 2:7,12, Isaiah 45:15,21, Isaiah 47:4, 2 Peter 1:1, 1 Timothy 1:1, Luke 1:47, Acts 5:31, 1 Timothy 4:10, John 14:9, Titus 1:3,4, Isaiah 60:16, Matthew 1:23, Psalm 103:4, Psalm 34:22, Job 19:25, Psalm 19:14, Isaiah 33:22, Psalm 78:35, 1 Chronicles 16:36) (Also, Compare Jeremiah 23:5,6 with Revelation 22:16. Compare Isaiah 44:6 with Revelation 21:6. Compare Psalm 23:1 and Isaiah 40:10,11, with John 10:11,13, Hebrews 13:20, and 1Peter 2:25. Compare Isaiah 25:8,9 with 1Corinthians 15:54. Compare Galatians 4:6 with Romans 8:14,15.)

[Note: Because the Bible identifies Jesus as Jehovah, we understand that those passages which refer to Jesus as a servant of Jehovah are referring to Christ's human nature rather than His divine nature. Nevertheless, it is important to remember that there is only one Christ, not two (one divine and one human). Christ is at once both true God and true man (Romans 1:3,4, Philippians 2:5-11, 1 Corinthians 11:3).]

JEHOVAH OUR COMFORTER


    With the words, “Jehovah hath comforted His people, He hath redeemed Jerusalem // The LORD JEHOVAH is my strength,” God reveals Himself as our comforter and strength (Isaiah 52:9 and 12:2). He is our comforter because the Bible makes it clear that without His help we neither could nor would believe on the Lord Jesus Christ. He is our strength because without His help we could never stand against the wiles of the devil (1Corinthians 12:3, 2Corinthians 4:4, Romans 7:18, Ephesians 2:8,9). Moreover, God’s revelation of Himself as our comforter and strength corresponds to the third mention of the name Jehovah in the Aaronic blessing, “Jehovah lift up His countenance upon thee, and give thee peace” (Numbers 6:26, Psalm 85:7-9).

    Jehovah has lifted up His countenance upon us by causing the Bible to be written, by causing the gospel to be proclaimed, and by working through His Word to enable us to recognize our sinful condition and look to Christ for forgiveness (Acts 18:27b).

    Jehovah gives us peace by daily strengthening our faith, forgiving our sins, assuring us of His mercy, and keeping us in the faith (1Peter 1:5). [See Luther's explanation of the Apostles' Creed.]

    The following are a few of many passages in which Jehovah reveals Himself as our comforter and strength: (Acts 5:3-4, Job 33:4, Isaiah 12:1,2, Isaiah 51:3, Isaiah 61:2, Luke 4:18, Isaiah 48:16, Isaiah 52:9. John 14:16,17,26, John 15:26, John 16:7,13, Psalm 19:14, Psalm 27:14, 1Peter 5:10, 2Corinthians 1:3,4,10, Isaiah 49:13, Isaiah 40:1,13, Romans 16:20, 1Thessalonians 5:23, 2Corinthians 13:11, Hebrews 13:20-21).

JEHOVAH IN THREE PERSONS


    God’s revelation of Himself as our Father, Savior, and Comforter involves far more than just three roles, for the Bible makes it clear that each person of the Trinity is distinct from the other two. The Father is not the Son or the Holy Ghost (John 14:16,26). The Son is not the Father or the Holy Ghost (Matthew 3:16,17). The Holy Spirit is not the Father or the Son (John 15:26). Each person of the Trinity is distinct from the others, yet they are One Divine Being, not three beings. Furthermore, each person is God, not just a part of God (Jude 1:1, 1John 5:20, Acts 5:3-4). This only seems hard to understand if you wrongly think of Father, Son, and Holy Ghost as three men. The One God has a threefold nature simply because He is not a man and His nature is quite different from man's nature (Romans 1:22,23). [Note: Because the universe was designed to reveal certain things about God space itself is triune, consisting of length, width, and height. Take away any one of the three and you have nothing.]

    The following are some of the passages that reveal the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit to be distinct persons within the One Divine Being: (Matthew 28:19, Isaiah 48:16, 2Corinthians 13:14, Genesis 18:1, 1 John 5:7, John 14:9,16,26, John 1:1,14, Philippians 2:6, Matthew 3:16,17, John 12:28, John 8:58, John 5:23, Colossians 1:16,17, Genesis 19:24, Colossians 2:9,10, Psalm 110:1, Matthew 22:41-25, 1Thessalonians 1:1, Galatians 1:1, 2 Peter 1:1).

    The ancient Jews were aware of the threefold nature of Jehovah, for they saw a plurality of the one God revealed in those passages where the Bible joins the plural form of the word God to a singular pronoun. They also saw a threefold nature (which they called “the three names” of Jehovah) revealed in the Aaronic blessing with its threefold use of the name Jehovah, and in the Shema itself with its threefold reference to God (Numbers 6:23-26, Deuteronomy 6:4). Furthermore, Jehovah (who has clearly identified Himself with the name “I Am,” [Exodus 3:14,15] declared, through the Prophet Isaiah, “From the beginning, from the time that it was, there I Am: and now the Lord God and His Spirit hath sent me” (Isaiah 48:16) [See John 8:58]. [The book, “The Great Mystery, or How Can Three Be One” by Rabbi Hirsch Prinz examines references to the Trinity in ancient Rabbinical writings, some dating from before the time of Christ, that have been suppressed since the destruction of Jerusalem. That book may still be available through Hebrew Christian sources.]

SPEAKING ACCORDING TO GOD'S WORD


    Christians not only accept God’s revelation of Himself as triune (three-one), but also reject all attempts to simplify what God has revealed by explaining away some part of that revelation, such as the threeness or the oneness of God. Since the Bible teaches both the threeness and the oneness of God, we must believe and teach both; for anyone who contradicts those teachings of Scripture is not speaking according to God's Word (Isaiah 8:20, 1John 4:6). For that reason we reject as false:

1. All attempts to portray Father, Son, and Holy Spirit as differing in authority. For example, the Father being greater in authority than the Son. Because Father, Son, and Holy Ghost are all One God, they all have the same authority. God cannot be greater or less than Himself.

2. All attempts to portray Christ as a cross between God and man, half-man and half-God. A Christ who was half-man and half-God would be a completely different being from the Father, a being who is neither true man nor true God. We know that Christ is not a different being from the Father because there is only one God. Therefore, the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost are all One Divine Being.

3. All attempts to portray Father, Son, and Holy Ghost as three Gods. The Bible teaches that there is only one God (Isaiah 43:10).

4. All attempts to portray Father, Son, and Holy Ghost as simply three roles that God takes — as if God sometimes appears as the Father and other times as the Son, etc. This view contradicts those passages of Scripture that speak of Father, Son, and Holy Ghost as distinct from each other. It also contradicts those passages in which all three persons are present at once, such as Christ's baptism. At His baptism Jesus comes up out of the water, the Spirit of God descends and lights upon Him, and the Father speaks from heaven (Matthew 3:16,17).

5. All attempts to deny that the Son is true God. The Bible teaches that Jesus is God manifest in the flesh (1Timothy 3:16, John 20:28, 1John 5:20). The Bible does not say, “For God so loved the world that He gave something He made,” It says, “He gave His only begotten Son” (John 3:16). It takes no great love to give up something you have made.

6. All attempts to explain away the Holy Ghost as simply a force or energy. The Bible speaks of the Holy Ghost as a person. He has a mind, speaks, testifies of Christ, convicts the world of sin, and is grieved when we do wrong. We could not grieve an impersonal force. (Romans 8:27, John 14:26, 1 Timothy 4:1, Acts 5:3-4, John 4:17, John 15:26, John 16:8,13, Ephesians 4:30, Acts 13:2)
 

CONCLUSION


    The doctrine of the Trinity does not consist of man-made ideas, but of the truth of God as it is explicitly stated in God’s Word, “Line upon line; here a little, and there a little” (Isaiah 28:10). Therefore, all attempts to modify what is revealed in order to make it conform to man’s limited understanding only corrupts what God has revealed about Himself.
 

STUDY QUESTIONS


1- What truth is the foundation of all that God reveals about Himself in the Bible?
2- Does Isaiah 43:11 reveal God as our Creator, Redeemer, or Comforter?
3- Give six Bible passages in which God reveals Himself as our Father.
4- How has Jehovah made His face to shine upon us?
5- How can we explain those passages of Scripture that speak of Jesus as a servant of Jehovah?
6- List six Bible passages in which Jehovah reveals Himself as our Savior.
7- How does Jehovah give us peace?
8- Were the ancient Jews aware of the threefold nature of Jehovah?
9- Who is the “I AM” spoken of in Exodus 3:14-15?
10- Why must we believe and teach both the threeness and the oneness of God?
11- Why do the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost all have the same authority?
12- Why must we reject the idea that Christ is half man and half God?
13- How do we know that the Holy Ghost is a person and not just a force or energy?
14- List six passages of Scripture that reveal the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost to be distinct persons within the One Divine Being.
15- How does the Bible distinguish God the Father from God the Son?