Summary: Both Jews and Christians declare that they only worship one God. Yet, Christians also believe there is a God, the Father, a God, the Son, and a God, the Holy Ghost. This would seem to indicate that they believe in three Gods, In addition to this, all Christians believe that the Bible is God’s word to us, wherein he reveals the mysteries of heaven. If that is so, then it would seem that the New Testament especially should reveal how there is one God while explaining how there can be three individuals who each are also considered as being a God. This article looks at what the Bible has to say on this subject
One day, a scribe asked Jesus, “Which is the first commandment of all? And Jesus answered him, The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord:…And the scribe said unto him, Well, Master, thou hast said the truth: for there is one God; and there is none other but he” (Mark 12:28,29,32).
Throughout the entire New Testament, the doctrine of there being only one God is constantly repeated. For example, Jesus said, “Why callest thou me good? none is good, save one, that is, God” (Matthew 19:17; Luke 18:19). The apostle Paul wrote, “But to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him” (1 Corinthians 8:6), and that there is “one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all” (Ephesians 4:6).
Throughout the centuries, many different cultures have worshipped a multitude of gods, but for both Jews and Christians, we only worship one God. Yet, for Christians especially, this presents a problem because they also believe there is a God, the Father, a God, the Son, and a God, the Holy Ghost. This would seem to indicate that they believe in three Gods, but despite this belief, they still adamantly declare that there is just one God who is the only God they worship.
To get around this dilemma, Christians say that the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost together constitute one God, while also saying that they are three separate beings. Through the centuries, many different explanations have been put forth to explain this seeming contradiction, but the most common is that God is so different than us, and his ways are so much greater than ours, that the human mind cannot possibly comprehend this mystery. It’s like trying to understand the concept of infinity. It’s beyond our limited ability to fully grasp.
The first attempt to give a definitive statement explaining how three beings could be one God was made in 327 A.D. at a meeting of bishops in Nicea, which came up with what we today call the Nicene Creed. Later it was further developed and enlarged by the Athanasian Creed, yet, even so, it is still something people have a hard time trying to understand.
At the same time, all Christians believe that the Bible is God’s word to us, wherein he reveals the mysteries of heaven. If that is so, then it would seem that the New Testament especially should reveal how there is one God while explaining how there can be three individuals who each are also considered as being a God. To see if that is true, let us look at what the Bible has to say on this subject.
The apostle John tells us that Jesus is the word of God “and that the Word was God,” and that “All things were made by him; and without him was not anything made that was made” (John 1:1,3). Later we read that it was “the living God, which made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all things that are therein” (Acts 14:15). Paul wrote that God is our Savior (1 Timothy 2:3) and that “God was manifest in the flesh” (1 Timothy3:16). The apostle Peter wrote that God is “our Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 1:1), and the apostle Jude wrote that “the only Lord God, and our Lord [is] Jesus Christ” (Jude 1:4), while the book of Revelations declares “Alleluia; Salvation, and glory, and honor, and power, unto the Lord our God” (Revelation 19:1).
With so many scriptures testifying that Jesus Christ is God, it would seem easy to conclude that the one God we worship is Jesus Christ. Yet, the scriptures consistently refer to Jesus as “the Son of God,” and the creeds of Christendom positively state that the Son and the Father are not the same. In other words, they are two separate and individual beings. Therefore, these scriptures don’t solve our dilemma, but rather magnify it.
To underscore this problem, in almost every one of Paul’s letters, as well as the letters of Peter, James, and John, they speak of “God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ.” What this phrase tells us is that there are two beings. One is “God our Father,” and the other is “the Lord Jesus Christ.” In fact, this phrase, and others very similar to it, are made over 20 times in the New Testament.
People have tried to claim that what this salutatory phrase is saying is that Jesus is both God our Father as well as our Lord Jesus Christ. but that contradicts what most Christians believe about the Trinity. However, when we take a critical look at this statement, such an interpretation is not supported by the way this sentence is constructed. It clearly and unambiguously states that there are two beings – God, the Father, and his Son, Jesus Christ. Then, if Jesus is God, and he is a different being than the Father, who is also a God, that means there are at least two Gods. But if that is so, then how can we believe that there is only one God?
The apostle Paul wrote “For though there be that are called gods, whether in heaven or in earth, (as there be gods many, and lords many,) But to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him” (1 Corinthians 8:5,6). In this verse, the “gods many, and Lords many” are referring to the many different pagan gods, but Paul declares that for believers in Christ, there “is but one God” who he identifies as being “the Father.”
It is significant, that in all the 20 salutations just referenced, only the Father is addressed as God. In almost everyone one of those statements, Jesus is addressed as “Lord,” not as “God.” The question this raises is, why? If Jesus is God, then why isn’t he also addressed as God in these salutations?
In all religions, whatever being is considered to be a god, they are the object of worship. In other words, gods are to be worshipped. Since this also applies to Christians, the question then becomes, who do we worship as God? Do we worship the Father, the Son, or the Holy Ghost, or do we worship all three?
The usual answer is, that we worship Jesus, but is that what the Bible teaches? When he was talking to the Samaritan woman at the well, “Jesus saith unto her, Woman, believe me, the hour cometh, when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father… But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him” (John 4:21,23, italics added).
Jesus taught his disciples to “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 5:16, italics added). Throughout his entire ministry Jesus never sought to glorify himself but only gave glory and honor to his Father.
When Jesus taught his disciples to pray, he instructed them to say, “Our Father, which art in heaven.” In fact, Jesus himself frequently prayed to his Father. However, if Jesus is God, then there would be no reason for him to pray to his Father in heaven because, by definition, prayer is a request for some favor from God or the giving of thanks for blessings received from God.
When Jesus taught his disciples to pray, he said we should ask that the Father’s will be done on earth, just as the angels do in heaven, and he consistently taught that he came not to do his own will but the will of the Father (John 5:30). This was most poignantly exemplified as he was suffering in the garden of Gethsemane when he submitted his will to that of his Father (Matthew 26:42).
Although the scriptures do tell of how people worshipped Jesus because of the miracles he performed, yet there is no instance in the scriptures where Jesus ever commanded people to worship him. In every recorded statement by Jesus, he always told the people to worship the Father. But if Jesus is God, and gods are to be worshipped, then why didn’t Jesus tell people to worship him as well? Shouldn’t he be worshipped just as much if he and his Father are equal in glory, power and authority, as Christians believe?
As we relook at the scriptures quoted earlier that talk about there being one God we find that it is the Father, not Jesus, who is identified as being the one God we worship. For example, “But to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him” (1 Corinthians 8:6), and that there is “one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all” (Ephesians 4:6).
The apostle Paul wrote “For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus” (1 Timothy 2:5). To a Christian, there is only “one God” and that God is not Jesus Christ. Rather, Jesus Christ is the mediator, who stands between us and the one and only true God, who is the Father. In another scripture it refers to Jesus as our advocate with the Father (1 John 2:1). A mediator or advocate is someone who pleads our case before a judge. If Jesus is the God we worship, there would be no reason for him to be a mediator or an advocate between us and himself. Furthermore, if we only worship one God, and that God is Jesus Christ, then we should not be worshipping the Father because, if we did, we’d be worshipping two Gods – the Father and the Son. But, as we have already seen, there is no instance in the scriptures where Jesus commanded us to worship anyone else except the Father.
Jesus said that it was his Father who delivered all things unto him (Matthew 11:27), and it was the Father who anointed him with power (Acts 10:38). It was the Father who called and ordained Jesus to be a high priest after the order of Melchisedec (Hebrews 5:10). It was the Father who glorified his Son, Jesus (Acts 3:13), it was from the Father that Jesus received honor and glory (2 Peter 1:17), and it was the Father who “highly exalted him and given him a name which is above every name” (Philippians 2:9).
If Jesus is the one true God we worship then it is impossible for the Father to give him anything because he would have already fully possessed everything the Father has. Yet the Bible clearly teaches that it was the Father who bestowed all these gifts upon his Son, thereby showing that the Son did not possess these things until the Father bestowed them upon him. Therefore, it is abundantly clear that the Father has greater authority and power than the Son.
Paul goes on to tell us that “everyone of us shall give an account of himself to God” (Romans 14:12). However, John tells us that God “hath given him (Jesus) authority to execute judgement” (John 5:22). In other words, although it is God, the Father who will judge us, he has given his Son, Jesus Christ the authority to act in his place as the judge. Therefore, we will all someday stand before the judgement bar of Christ to give an account of every word and deed we’ve done (Matthew 12:36; Romans 2:6).
Does that mean Jesus is the God who will judge us? Jesus explained, “I can of mine own self do nothing: as I hear, I judge: and my judgment is just; because I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me” (John 5:30). In other words, although Jesus will judge us, he will do so according to the Father’s wisdom of justice. Therefore, the judgement he makes will be the same as if it was the Father judging us.
In the book of Revelation, John tells us that he was in the Spirit and beheld “a throne that was set in heaven, and one sat on the throne… And round about the throne were four and twenty seats: and upon the seats I saw four and twenty elders sitting, clothed in white raiment; and they had on their heads crowns of gold.” (Revelation 4:2,4).
Besides them there were also four beasts around the throne “and they rest not day and night, saying, Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come. And when those beasts give glory and honour and thanks to him that sat on the throne, who liveth for ever and ever, The four and twenty elders fall down before him that sat on the throne, and worship him that liveth for ever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne, saying, Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created” (Revelations 4:8-11).
John then goes to say, “And I saw in the right hand of him that sat on the throne a book written within and on the backside, sealed with seven seals… And no man in heaven, nor in earth, neither under the earth, was able to open the book, neither to look thereon… And I beheld, and, lo, in the midst of the throne and of the four beasts, and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as it had been slain… And he came and took the book out of the right hand of him that sat upon the throne. And when he had taken the book, the four beasts and four and twenty elders fell down before the Lamb… And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation” (Revelation 5:1,3, 6-9).
In this vision we are told there was someone who sat on a throne who was worshipped as the “holy Lord God Almighty” who alone was worthy of “glory and honor and power” and who created all things for his pleasure. Although the scriptures don’t identify who this person is, Christians usually assume it is Jesus Christ. However, John says that the person sitting on the throne had a book in his right hand that was sealed, which no one could unseal.
Then there came forth “a lamb as it had been slain… and took the book out of the right hand of him who sat on the throne.” A little later, John identifies this lamb as he who “wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation.” Clearly, this lamb is Jesus Christ and it was he who took the sealed book out of the hand of the one who sat on the throne. Therefore, the one who was sitting on the throne couldn’t be Jesus Christ and neither can Jesus be the “holy Lord God Almighty.” In that case, the one who sits on the throne, has to be greater than the lamb who was slain to redeem us by his blood. Then who is the person who sits on the throne?
It was Jesus himself who taught us the true relationship between him and his Father. When Jesus was hanging on the cross he “cried with a loud voice, saying, Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani? which is, being interpreted, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” (Mark 15:34, italics added). On the day of his resurrection, as Mary went to embrace him “Jesus saith unto her, Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father: but go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God” (John 20:17, italics added).
When Jesus was describing the reward of those who overcome tribulation he said, “Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go no more out: and I will write upon him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, which is new Jerusalem, which cometh down out of heaven from my God: and I will write upon him my new name” (Revelation 3:12).
Although the Bible does say that Jesus is God, what we see in these verses is that even he has a God who is over him, who Jesus is obedient to, and that God is the same being who is our God, and who we too are to worship, pray to, and obey, just as Jesus did. Paul taught, “But I would have you know, that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God” (1 Corinthians 11:3, italics added). “And ye are Christ’s; and Christ is God’s” (1 Corinthians 3:23, italics added). In speaking of Jesus we are told “Thou hast loved righteousness, and hated iniquity; therefore God, even thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows” (Hebrews 1:9, italics added).
Paul clearly taught this principle when he wrote, “Then cometh the end, when he (Jesus) shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have put down all rule and all authority and power… And when all things shall be subdued unto him, then shall the Son also himself be subject unto him that put all things under him, that God [the Father] may be all in all” (1 Corinthians 15:24, 28, italics added).
Jesus often declared that he came to do the will of his Father, and we are told that “though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered” (Hebrews 5:8). In all that he did, Jesus acted in the capacity of a messenger or servant of God, obediently doing what he had been commanded to do by someone who was superior to him. This is why in the scriptures Jesus is referred to as “the Word of God,” (John 1:1), the “minister of God” (Romans 13:4), and “the Christ of God” (Luke 9:20). In many of the newer translations, Jesus is referred to as a servant of God (Acts 3:13) These are not the titles of someone we would consider to be a God because a God is not someone who is subservient to anyone. Yet throughout the New Testament, Jesus is constantly being portrayed as being perfectly obedient and submissive to the will of his Father in heaven.
And there is yet another way the Bible teaches us who our God is. All Christians acknowledge that Jesus is the “Son of God.” What that clearly states is that God is the Father of Jesus. When Jesus rose from the grave he told Mary “go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God.” We have a Father in heaven and it is the same Father that Jesus has, and that Father is both our God and the God of Jesus. Therefore, that makes us sons of God, the Father as well.
The scripture also clearly state, “Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God” (1 John 3:1). “And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ” (Romans 8:17). We are not the sons of Jesus Christ, but the sons of God, the Father, and will become “heirs of God.” But what will we inherit from our Father? The scriptures say that we will be “joint-heirs with Christ,” and a “joint-heir” is someone who shares in or enjoys the same inheritance as the other heirs of the Father.
The scriptures tell us that Jesus “received from God the Father honor and glory” (2 Peter 1:17) and that “God also hath highly exalted him” (Philippians 2:9), “Who is gone into heaven, and is on the right hand of God” (1 Peter 3:22). This is what Jesus inherited from his Father and if we are joint-heirs with Christ, then that is also what we, as sons and daughters of God, our Father, will also inherit.
The Bible tells us, “Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time” (1 Peter 5:6). “He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son” (Revelation 21:7). “To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne” (Revelation 3:21). “And hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father” (Revelation 1:6), “and we shall reign on the earth” (Revelation 5:10).
Those who are faithful in obeying the Father, will be exalted, given a crown of life, be given glory and honor, sit on thrones, and rule and reign along with or in partnership with Christ. This is the inheritance that Jesus received from his Father and it is also our inheritance as well.
It is true there is God the Father, God, the Son, and God, the Holy Ghost, but for believers in Christ. it is the Father who is the only one and true God.
Related articles can be found at The Nature of God