The Power of One
In school we learn that 1 is the smallest number that can be counted. 1 when multiplied by another 1 is equal to 1. There is no increment in quantity. According to Benson’s law in mathematics around 30 per cent of the numbers in a given data set will start with a 1, 18 per cent with a 2, right down to just 4.6 per cent starting with a 9. In mathematics 1 is not powerful, but in theology, the study of things pertaining to God, 1 is a very powerful number.
One of the scribes, who is a religious scholar, once asked our Lord Jesus Christ this question; "Which is the first commandment of all?" Jesus answered him, "the first of all the commandments is; ‘Hear, O Israel, the LORD our God, the LORD is one." (Mk. 12:28-29) The commandment that Jesus identified as the most important is known in Jewish circles as the Shema.
What is the SHEMA?
SHMA Israel adonai elohaynu adonai echad
Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD –Deuteronomy 6:4
Shema is the Hebrew word for HEAR (Strongs # 8085) and means: hear intelligently (often with implication of attention, obedience, etc.)
Shema (Hear) is the first word in Deut. 6:4…… "Shema Yisra’el, ADONAI Eloheinu, ADONAI echad."……Translated: Hear, Israel, the LORD (YHWH) our God, the LORD (YHWH) is One".
The Shema is a confession of faith in the One True God of Israel. Pious Jews today recite an expanded or developed version of the Shema (Deuteronomy 6:4-9, Deuteronomy 11:13-21 and Numbers 15:37-41) twice per day, once in the morning and again in the evening. The Shema guards the Jew from falling into idolatry, worship of false and many other gods. The Shema appears to be a primary factor in which the Jews reject traditional Christianity because of its Trinitarian description of three Persons in the Godhead.
The Jews believe in a strict monotheism and rejects the Trinity as being incompatible with the Shema. Now we come to the heart of the matter. If the Lord Jesus Christ believes in the Shema and pronounced it as the most important commandment then He would surely believe in strict monotheism just like the Jews. He does but there is something more about the Shema.
What is the Truth contained in the Shema?
What does it mean that the LORD (YHWH) is One? The Hebrew word for ONE is ECHAD (Strongs # 259) and means: united, i.e. one; or first: a, alike, alone, altogether, one and only. I do not believe we will ever fully understand HOW God is ONE. We must accept the truth by faith that He is ONE. God’s Oneness is His Divine Nature and God’s power is in His Oneness. Judaism points to the Shema to refute the traditional Christian concept of a Trinity.
Judaism is monotheistic (mono = ONE and theistic = GOD). Traditional Christians have been accused of being polytheistic (poly = MANY). My purpose in this study is not to get into a big discussion concerning the Trinity. True Christians worship ONE God, not three gods. If He is more than One God then He is not the True God.
In John 17:3 our Lord Jesus Christ declared the Father is the Only True God. Paul echoed this in I Corinthians 8:6. Many other scriptures may be cited to demonstrate with confidence that the Shema supports the absolute unity of God (strict monotheism).
I believe that Jesus wants His followers today to hear, comprehend and ground their faith in the belief and worship of the One True God. We can guard ourselves from falling into the worship of false gods by observing what our Lord Jesus Christ called the greatest commandment – the Shema.
One True God in the Lord Jesus Christ
One of the most astounding statements ever made by our Lord Jesus Christ is when He declared: "I and My Father are one." (Jn. 10:30) Some apologetics explained the Jews had misunderstood our Lord’s statement that this was a claim that He is God so they stoned Him. (Jn. 10:31) Others explain that Jesus indicated He had the unity of purpose with the Father and did not claim to be God. What is the truth of this statement: "I and My Father are one."? Here is the truth. The Lord Jesus Christ had warned the Jews, "You are from beneath; I am from above. You are of this world; I am not of this world. Therefore I said to you that you will die in your sins; for if you do not believe that I am He, you will die in your sins.’ Then they said to Him, ‘Who are You?’ And Jesus said to them, ‘Just what I have been saying to you from the beginning. I have many things to say and to judge concerning you, but He who sent Me is true; and I speak to the world those things which I heard from Him.’ They did not understand that He spoke to them of the Father." (Jn. 8:23-27) Here is a clear unmistakable statement that Jesus claimed Himself to be the One True God. His oneness with the Father is more than in aims and purposes. Jesus and the Father is the same Diving Being.
The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of God
God is Spirit. Our Lord Jesus Christ said, "God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth." (John 4:24) "Therefore I say to you, every sin and blasphemy will be given men, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven men." (Mt. 12:31) The Holy Spirit is called "the Holy Spirit of God." (Eph. 4:30) From this we understand that blasphemy against the Holy Spirit is blasphemy against God and lying to the Holy Spirit is lying to God. "But Peter said, ‘Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and keep back part of the price of the land for yourself? While it remained, was it not your own control? Why have you conceived this thing in your heart? You have not lied to men but to God." (Acts 5:3-4)
The Holy Spirit is personal. Our Lord Jesus Christ refers to the coming Spirit as a Comforter or Helper. "But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you" (John 14:26). The Holy Spirit has characteristics of a person. He has a mind. We read of "the mind of the Spirit" in Romans 8:27. He has a will (1 Cor. 12:11). He can speak (1 Tim. 4:1). He refers to himself as ‘Me’ and ‘I’ in Acts 13:2. (See also John 15:26; Romans 8:26; 1 Corinthians 2:10-13.)
There is one Spirit. "There is one body and one Spirit" (Eph. 4:4). "For through Him we both have access by one Spirit to the Father" (Eph. 2:18). "For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body – whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free – and have all been made to drink into one Spirit" (1 Cor. 12:13). The Spirit of God and the Spirit of Christ are the same Spirit. "But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His" (Rom. 8:9).
The Holy Spirit is omnipresent. "Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence?" (Psm. 139:7).
The Holy Spirit is all-knowing. "Who has directed the Spirit of the Lord, or as His counselor has taught Him?" (Isa. 40:13). "For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God. For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God" (1 Cor. 2:10-11). These scriptural verses indicate the Holy Spirit knows everything that God knows.
The Spirit is eternal. "How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?" (Heb. 9:14).
The Spirit is the truth. "And it is the Spirit who bears witness, because the Spirit is truth" (1 John 5:6). He is called "the Spirit of truth" in John 14:17.
The Spirit proceeds from the Father and is sent by God and the Lord Jesus Christ. "And now the Lord GOD and His Spirit have sent Me" (Isa. 48:16). "But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you" (John 14:26). "But when the Helper comes, whom I shall send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify of Me" (John 15:26).
From these scriptural verses we have learned that the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are one and the same God. The Holy Spirit is personal. There is one Spirit. HE is omnipresent. He is all-knowing. He is eternal. The Spirit is the truth. The Spirit proceeds from the Father and is sent by God and the Lord Jesus Christ.
The One True God manifests Himself as the Father, Son and Holy Spirit
There is only One True God who manifests Himself to mankind as:
A. The Father – Creator (Mal. 2:10; Acts 17:28-29)
B. The Son – Savior (Mt. 1:20-21; Lk. 2:11; 1 Tim. 4:10)
C. The Holy Spirit – Comforter (Jn. 14:16-17, 26; Acts 9:29-31)
The Lord Jesus Christ is YAHWEH of the Old Testament. His original Hebrew name YAHSHUA means YAH is Savior. He is the promised Messiah, who was born of a virgin, suffered, shed His precious blood and bore the sins of mankind on the cross. He died, was buried, resurrected and ascended into heaven and is now making intercession for believers here on earth. (Heb. 8:1)
Jesus prayed for the Oneness of His Believers
"Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth. As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world. And for their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they also may be sanctified by the truth." (Jn. 17:17-19)
A. "Sanctify them by Your truth" Sanctify means to be set apart and exclusively for God’s special use. It implies holiness, being distinguished from the corruption of the world and falsehood. Jesus didn’t just leave the disciples to sanctify themselves. He prayed for their sanctification. This process, as the keeping process, is not left to us alone; it is a work of God in us and through us.
B. "Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth" The dynamic behind sanctification is truth. The word of God must be read, heard, understood and applied.
C. "As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world," Every true disciple of Christ is sent out into the world as His emissary.
Jesus broadens the scope of His prayer.
"I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word;" (Jn. 17:20)
A. "I do not pray for these alone," Jesus prayed for not only His eleven disciples, but He also had the heart and the vision to pray beyond them. He prayed for those who would come to faith by the testimony of these disciples. He prayed for us.
B. "Those who will believe in Me through their word." Jesus had envisioned many people from all over the world would believe in Him through their testimonies. He knew the New Testament would be written and published and believed by people who read it.
Jesus prays for a unity among all believers
"That they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me." (Jn. 17:21)
A. "That they all may be one," Jesus knew that the Christianity would be divided into various denominations. His prayer is for the believers to throw away their different human traditions, false teachings and doctrines and become united in the truth that He had taught.
B. Jesus envisions that great multitude before the throne of God, of every race, tongue, class and social strata; and prays that they may overcome their different backgrounds and understand their unity is based on Christian love, joy and peace.
C. "That the world may believe" The stakes of the unity Jesus prayed for are high. The spiritual unity of Christians is linked to the way the church represents Jesus to the world.
"That they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You." The foundation of the unity amongst believers is the same as the foundation of unity between the Father and the Son which is to have the same Spirit.
Jesus prays that the Church would be marked by glory
"And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one:" (Jn. 17:22)
A. "The glory which You gave Me I have given them." There should be a shared glory among believers, the glory of the present Christ. A focus on Jesus in our presence will promote unity.
B. If we have the glory that the Father gave the Son, remember that it was a glory that often appeared humble, weak and suffering, and was ultimately displayed in sacrifice.
Jesus prays for a unity founded in love
"I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me. Father, I desire that they also whom You gave Me may be with Me where I am, that they may behold My glory which You have given Me; for You loved Me before the foundation of the world." (Jn. 17:23-24)
Oneness in the Marital Relationship
"And He answered and said to them, ‘Have you not read that He who made them at the beginning ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So then, they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate." (Mt. 19:4-6)
Marriage is a structure of human life built into the creation of male and female in God’s image (Gen. 1:27). Sexual differences are of God s good design, intended to bring joy and enrichment to human life as well as to provide for procreation. The essence of marriage is that in the act and relationships of marriage two persons become one flesh (Gen. 2:24). In this complementary nature of the two sexes as God created them lies the basis for marriage and each new family.
Christian people recognize their marital union as belonging to God’s created order; seeking also the fulfillment of their marital union in the Lord Jesus Christ. Their marriage grow through loving one another even as Christ has loved them; they also learn to forgive one another in the spirit of Christ. The faith of Christian people affects, often decisively, every aspect of their marriage.
The Unity of Marriage
The devotion to one another and the unity described in Genesis 2:24 are of the essence of marriage. Husband and wife ought to become a harmony of personalities, a couple belonging together, "So then, they are no longer two but one flesh." (Mt. 19;5, 8; Eph. 5:31). They become a paired unity-in sexual expression, in values and goals, and often in parenthood.
The unity that God intends for marriage requires a lifelong commitment of husband and wife to each other. Such commitment provides the foundation for real freedom and growth. The oneness of husband and wife,marked by unwavering lifetime fidelity, is compared in Scripture to the oneness of Christ and his church. Just as love, faithfulness, and service mark the relationship of Christ and the church, so also they should characterize the relationship of husbands and wives. Both husband and wife are to be subject to one another out of reverence for Christ (Eph. 5:21). Husband and wife yield to each other full devotion and unselfish consideration. It is on this exalted level that conjugal rights and obligations are granted and accepted. Neither lords it over the other nor insists selfishly on rights or duties. Together husband and wife become one in love, serving one another within marriage. (See Gal. 5:22, 23; Eph. 5:21-25; Col. 3:18, 19; 1 Peter 3:1-7).
Every person has been created by God with gifts that make him or her a unique personality. The strength and unity of marriage come from mutual recognition and sharing of each other’s needs and gifts. This unity recognizes the freedoms of husband and wife to express their own interests as well as their duty to share in those relationships where sharing is essential to the success of the marriage. The unique gifts of husband and wife should be utilized, within the harmony of marriage, toward the meaningful goals and purposes of human life assigned by God.
A Sermon based on this Article was preached by Paul Wong to a Congregation in Houston, Texas on December 7, 2002
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May God bless you.
Paul Wong is a Christian minister and the President of ARK International. His ministry also serves as an architectural service company in Houston.The ARK Forum on the Internet is international and non-denominational. Click here to this Website. Write to: ARK International, P.O. Box 19707, Houston, Texas, 77224-9707, U.S.A. (713) 467-1462. Posted December 14, 2002