Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Four implications of the fact that the LORD is one.

Having preached on Deuteronomy 6 last Sunday, I had the chance to do some reflecting on what is meant by the idea that "the LORD is one". This is the section from the sermon pointing out four implications of the oneness of God.

Did you notice, that the reason to love the Lord though isn’t merely because God Commands it? Before he commands to love him, he tells him something about himself that shows that me must love him.

Verse 4:

The LORD our God, the LORD is one

In the Hebrew there are merely four words here, but whether we understand these four words will make the difference between understanding the purpose of life or failing to understand it.

1) (cf 1 Corinthians 6:8) At the very least what is being affirmed here is complete monotheism. There is only one God and he has no rivals.

This reaffirms the first of the ten Commandments, that there is only one God and therefore he alone is to be worshipped.

But far more is implied that merely monotheism.

2) (cf Exodus 3) The idea is that because God is one he will not change.

That is in fact the significance of his name “The Lord” – literally YHWH meaning “he is”. We call him “He is” because he calls himself, EHYH, “I AM”

He is already perfect so he cannot change for the better, and he certainly will not change for the worse.

But more than that, as the eternal God who sees all things at once, he is entirely trustworthy. He will never make a promise and then have some unforeseen circumstance make him change his mind.

He will never do something and then think better of it.

Israel needed to know this on the brink of the promised land.

His power has not diminished. (He would be able to look after them in the land as surely as he was able to rescue them from Egypt
His love has not diminished. He is not like a forgetful spouse who wanders away from his marriage vows.

If you are following the Lord Jesus Christ today, take comfort in the character of God. It is his good and sovereign action that brought you to trust in Christ, and saved you. He will not think better of it.

Have you been weighed down by your sin this week? He hasn’t thought better of saving you. You may still approach him. Turn to him and love him once again. He did not turn you away the first time you turned to him. He will not turn you away if you turn from your sin and love him today.

3) (cf I wonder if you think that you have grasped the reality of Deuteronomy 6:4, just because you don’t believe that there are lots of gods, but know there is but one. Perhaps you are a Muslim, or a follower of Judaism, or maybe you don't follow any particular religion, but you like the idea that there is just one God. You are most welcome here.

I’d love to ask you a question, though.

If God is ONE, then he doesn’t need us. He may love us, but if he is really infinitely more significant than us, he is the one LORD, he doesn’t need us.

Yet, if he is at his very essence LOVE, how can he love if he is merely ONE. For him to be love, he must have an object of his love. Who do you think is the eternal object of God’s love. The object of his love that he had before he made the world?

Jesus is very clear that he is the eternal object of God’s love.

On the night before Jesus died, he prayed in the hearing of his disciples.

"Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of he world."
On another occasion, Jesus said,
“I and the Father are one."

He was clearly referring back to this verse. The Lord is ONE. Who is the LORD? 'I and the Father are One', says Jesus.

The religious leaders certainly understood what Jesus was implying as they picked up stones to stone him,

but Jesus said to them, "I have shown you many great miracles from the Father.
For which of these do you stone me?"
"We are not stoning you for any of these," replied the Jews, "but for blasphemy, because you, a mere man, claim to be God."

If you have not recognized that Jesus himself, together with the Holy Spirit are one God, then you haven’t understood this verse, and, according to Jesus, you haven’t understood what you were created for.
God’s oneness necessarily implies that he is also three.

4)(cf Romans 3:30) But more than that, God’s oneness means that His attributes do not contradict each other. He is character is consistent.

Be careful not to suggest that there is somehow division or conflict within God’s character. If we are not careful, we can end up saying things like, “I know God is holy and just, but in the end is love overrides his justice and he forgives.”

No: God is ONE. There is no internal struggle between love and justice within him. He will only exercise his love in ways that are consistent with his justice. He will only exercise his justice in ways that are consistent with his love for all that is good. His justice is loving justice. His love is just love.

The extraordinary news of the gospel is that God has provided a way to be just and the one who declares the guilty innocent.

I’m going to say that again: God has provided a way to be just and the one who declares the guilty innocent.

If there is only one thing that you are going to understand this morning it must be this, so I’ll say it again:

God has provided a way to be just and the one who declares the guilty innocent.

That is what we need. We are all guilty. If we want to know God as we were designed to we must be declared innocent. He is just – if we are declared guilty on the day we meet him, we will be sent to hell. He will not overlook his justice for the sake of his mercy. He is one. Yet we are all guilty

We are all made to perfectly love God. We haven’t. We have lived as if we were the only God, not Him. God in his love for all that is good, hates our rebellion against him, and in his justice will see that our rebellion is punished. We deserve to face that punishment ourselves in hell. But in his incredible love God has provided another place for his justice to be met. He sent his SON. The one who is himself God, whom he loved before the creation of the world. That same son he sent to live as a man. He lived a perfect live, but died on the cross taking the punishment that his people deserved.

He calls us now to turn from our sin, and put our trust in the death of Jesus, so that he might justly punish our sin, and justly declare us righteous.

It is right that the Lord commands us to love him:, for he is the one Lord, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

It’s as if we are great Picasso paintings. But we are unsigned. Who’s name will you put at the bottom of the painting? Picasso’s? or someone else’s?

Well, if you are a Picasso painting, then only Picasso is worthy of having your name at the bottom. You can’t say, ‘well, I prefer Monet” Picasso would be rightly insensed.

If the Lord is the only God, then only He is worthy of our undivided worshipping love, and he is right to command such love.

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