Q. 5. Are there more Gods than one?
Q. 5. Are there more Gods than one?
A. There is but one only, the living and true God.
“Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.” (Deut 6:4-5)
“that all the peoples of the earth may know that the Lord is God; there is no other.” (1 Kings 8:60)
“Therefore, as to the eating of food offered to idols, we know that “an idol has no real existence,” and that “there is no God but one.”” (1 Cor 8:4)
“You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe-and shudder!” (Jas 2:19)
Questions 5 & 6 of the Shorter Catechism deal with the important subject of the Trinity. Given the greatness of our God, God’s trinity is appropriately difficult to understand. But that something is hard to understand does not make it any less true or unimportant. After all, how many of us understand the principles of thermodynamics? Yet we depend on it daily. The engines in our cars won’t run without it. Our refrigerators are built around thermodynamic principles, too. Yet most of us are ill-equipped to make much sense of it. Still, we live with it, and benefit from it daily.
In some ways, Trinity is like that, only more so. Car engines and refrigerators exist in the same world as we do. The same laws of nature govern them that govern us. Even so, they are difficult to understand. But God and man are not part of the same nature. We are part of the created nature, while the Creator is outside the created nature. To be sure, he is fully present throughout the world he has created. No corner of this world is hidden from him. He actively governs all of his creation. But he is not part of it. So, if we can’t even easily understand the things of this world of which we are a part (if you are one of those few people who actually understand thermodynamics, just substitute something you don’t know), then that we cannot ultimately understand the Trinity is really no reason to reject it. Our God is a great God. Everything about him is bigger and greater than we can imagine. In fact, I have no interest worshiping a god who is just a little smarter and bigger than I am. Either take my breath away and humble me to pieces, or, I say, sit down and be quiet!
The God of the Bible takes my breath away. For the Scripture says there is One God, and that he exists in three persons! The Bible speaks of God’s triune nature often enough that we can receive the multiple and abundant testimony of the Scriptures concerning it with full confidence. Sinclair Ferguson points out somewhere that Jesus spent the last few hours before his arrest teaching his disciples about what we now understand as God’s Trinity. Go ahead, read John’s gospel. It will surprise you, as it surprised me. Jesus knew that in mere hours his disciples’ world will be turned upside down in great sadness and trials the likes of which they had never experienced before. So what does Jesus teach them? About the Father, about himself the Son, and about the Holy Spirit! Either Jesus had no clue about preparing his disciples for their greatest trials, or he was right. There is nothing more important than knowing God: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit in our daily lives. Jesus himself took great comfort in the truths of the One God existing in three persons. If so, maybe there is nothing more practical for us to know than our God in three persons. Remember this was Jesus’ ministry to his disciples! This is how he encouraged himself in the face of his greatest trial, too.
So, then, on to Trinity. Question 5 deals with the one of two things which we have to keep in mind when we believe God. 1. There is one God. 2. That one God exists in three persons (question 6). Complex? Yes. A hopeless contradiction and nonsense? No.
Here is how we should think about God’s “one-ness.” There is no other being but the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob who should be worshipped and obeyed. Isn’t it interesting that Moses tells us our response to God’s one-ness is to love him with all our heart, all our soul, and all our might? (Deut 6:4-5) Or think about what James says in 2:19. Even the demons believe God is one and shudder. Now, what’s the point? James is telling us believing in the One God should result in a life glorifying to God.
Obviously, the one-ness of God has profound theological and practical significance. There is only one who deserves our adoration. All other so-called “gods” are false gods. They are silly inventions of men at best, or manifestations of demons, who are themselves created beings. Either way, don’t waste your time on them. Worse still, don’t throw away your eternity because of them. Our only hope of salvation is in the One God of the Bible. But also, the one-ness of God means our devotion and love should be directed toward him alone. Idolatry is at the root of all sin. We choose to bow down before the things that are not gods and worship them, instead of the true and living God.
God is one. There is only one true God. Do you know him? Is it your desire to glorify and enjoy him forever? If not, what drives you? Why do you do the things you do? Are you serving the idols of your heart? What do you truly worship?