The Bible says that there is only one true God, but there are many different understandings of the nature of that God – all coming from the same Bible!
There are three main perspectives in Christianity that define the nature of who God is. The majority of Christians subscribe to the orthodox belief that God is a Trinity. This doctrine proposes that God is one essence, made up of three divine persons – the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit – all of whom are equally God and have existed together since eternity.
However, there are others who reject the doctrine of the Trinity and instead believe that the God of the Bible is a Binitarian God. They believe that “The Father and the Son comprise the “Godhead.” There is one God. Scripture shows that God is a divine Family which began with two, God the Father and the Word.”
Finally, there are those that believe in a “one-person God, the Father, uncreated and unique in all the universe” who are known as Unitarians.
God Desires Us to Know the Truth
With all these different perspectives concerning the nature and identity of God, it is only natural – and altogether necessary – that one ask the following question: Are any of these perceptions correct? Who is the only true God of the Bible? It is a question that absolutely must be answered, for as Jesus says, “God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth” (John 4:24).
It is a truth that God desires all of humanity to come to. In Paul’s second letter to Timothy, Paul writes that God wishes “everyone to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (1Timothy 2:4). He elaborates on this truth in the next verse: “there is one God and one mediator between God and humanity, Christ Jesus, himself human” (1Timothy 2:5). The only true God desires that we know both him and his son, for as Jesus said in his high priestly prayer: “This is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and the one you have sent—Jesus Christ” (John 17:3).
Since God desires intimate and exclusive fellowship with his creation, he has revealed the truth about who he is to all of humanity through nature, through his self-revelation to Israel, and in these last days through his son Jesus. In the book of Romans, Paul writes that we are without any excuse “since what can be known about God is evident among them, because God has shown it to them” (Romans 1:19). He goes on to say that “his invisible attributes, that is, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen since the creation of the world, being understood through what he has made” (Romans 1:20). Therefore, we can know that in his desire to fellowship with his creation, God has not hidden himself.
Old Testament References to the Oneness of God
After appearing to the patriarchs as El Shaddai or God Almighty, God later disclosed his personal name, Yahweh, for the first time in history to his servant Moses (Exodus 6:2-3). The God who identified himself as Yahweh, is very clear that he is only one person. In fact, it is widely agreed upon by both secular and religious scholars that “the Jews of Jesus’ time held firmly to faith in a unipersonal God.” The central Jewish creed, the Shema of Deuteronomy 6:4, reflects this: “Hear, Israel: Yahweh is our God; Yahweh is one” (Deuteronomy 6:4). According to Lev Gillet, a French monk and author of the book, Communion in the Messiah: Studies in the Relationship between Judaism and Christianity:
“The Shema Israel (Deut 6:4) is not only a liturgical formula and a commandment; it is also a confession of faith, and considered as more important than the historical Jewish creeds. As a confession of faith, the Shema is the affirmation of the unity and uniqueness of God. It constitutes the highest expression of the ‘Jewish monotheism’: ‘Adonai is our God, Adonai is one…’”
The extreme importance of this creed to the Israelite people must not be understated: the Shema is absolutely crucial to the Jewish faith, “it is the verse that binds Jewish life and community together.” The Shema has been, and still is today the first verse learned by young Jewish children and it is faithfully recited each day by devout Jews until the day of their death. Throughout the centuries the Jews have continued to hold tenaciously to their monotheistic belief that Yahweh alone is God and that he is one Lord – not two or three Lords. It is from this foundation, therefore, that the rest of the Scriptures must be examined, in order to develop a clear understanding of the identity and nature of the one true God of the Bible.
After establishing that Yahweh is one person, God continued to reveal the uniqueness of his divine person through the prophets. God declared through the prophet Isaiah: “I am Yahweh, and there is no other; there is no God but me” (Isaiah 45:5). He identified himself as the sole Creator of the heavens and earth, saying “Thus says Yahweh, your redeemer, he who formed you in the womb: I, Yahweh, have made all things, I alone spread out the heavens. When I hammered the earth into shape, who was with me” (Isaiah 44:24b)? Finally, Yahweh chose to reveal himself through Isaiah as the Father and Redeemer of Israel: “After all, you are our Father. If Abraham will not own us, if Israel will not acknowledge us, you, Yahweh, are our Father, ‘Our Redeemer’ is your name from of old” (Isaiah 63:16b). The prophet Malachi summarizes these same ideas beautifully when in reference to Yahweh he asked, “Do we not all have one father? Has not one God created us” (Malachi 2:10)? Through the prophets, Yahweh plainly revealed that he alone is God – and that he alone is the Father, Creator, and Redeemer of Israel.
New Testament References to the Oneness of God
According to the author of Hebrews, God has spoken in these last days to his people through his son Jesus (Hebrews 1:1-2). However, there is much confusion in the church over the identity of God’s Son. Some say that he is himself God, a part of the Godhead, while others say that he is a man, both appointed and anointed as God’s agent to carry out his work in his name. These two views are not reconcilable, so a careful study of Jesus’ relationship to his Father and his testimony about God must be made in order to examine the evidence from the Old Testament and to verify the whole truth that the Bible presents.
The writers of the New Testament identify God the Father and his Son Jesus as two separate and independent persons. In over 450 New Testament verses, God and Jesus are shown to interact with each other as two single individuals in a relationship. Sixty two of these verses use the grammatical conjunction “and” (or “kai” in the Greek) to link the two subjects that are identified, God and Jesus. This can be most readily seen in Paul’s greetings to the churches, where he says on eight different occasions, “Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1:2). Clearly, through the use of the grammatical conjunction “and,” Paul is identifying two different subjects, God and Jesus, from whom come the blessing of grace and peace. It is not possible to say that God the Father and Jesus are one and the same person unless we want to nullify both the rules of grammar and the revelation of the God.
Jesus understood this very well. He understood that he was not God. In fact, that very concept would have been foreign to him – not to mention blasphemous! After all, Jesus was born in first century Palestine, into the monotheistic faith of the Jews. Jesus was a Jew and he grew up under the care of two devout Jewish parents. He was raised among members of the Jewish community and taught the Hebrew Scriptures – all of which pointed to Yahweh as the only true God and Father of Israel. It is evident that he understood the Jewish teachings well, even from childhood, because when he sat in the temple listening to the teachers and asking them questions, “all who heard Him were amazed at his understanding and answers” (Luke 2:44-45). This shows that as a child Jesus was not presenting any foreign conceptions about God’s nature, because the Jewish community praised his God-given wisdom.
But did Jesus’ later teachings reflect his monotheistic faith? Or did Jesus reject the central creed of Israel and instead begin to introduce himself as deity, even a secondary member of the Godhead? A careful examination of Jesus’ words would suggest that Jesus did not reject his Jewish heritage.
The first clue to this puzzle is Jesus’ continued affirmation of the creed of Israel, the Shema. The Gospel of Mark recounts a story of Jesus debating with the teachers of law, as a Jewish scribe looked on. The scribe observed that Jesus had answered their questions well, and asked him, “‘Of all the commandments, which is the most important’” (Mark 12:28-32)? And Jesus, the founder of Christianity, responds by quoting the Shema.
If Jesus were trying to introduce a new truth about God – this would have been his opportune moment. As author Greg Deuble writes, “Here was his great chance to include himself in the Godhead: ‘Hear, O Church, the Lord your God is Three in One! You shall love God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit with all your heart!’ But no, his creed is the creed of the prophets.” It was in this moment that Jesus had his chance to reveal a new “truth” about God. Surely, if Jesus came to reveal the truth about who God was, he would not keep silent about the monotheistic “lie” that the Jews so fervently believed. But, Jesus instead chose to embrace the monotheistic tradition of his Jewish contemporaries. Perhaps then, one might be inclined to believe that the Jews were, and still are, correct in their understanding of the nature of God.
Jesus’ personal affirmation of the creed of Israel provides solid evidence that he too believed that Yahweh, the Father, was the only true God of Israel. This conclusion is further supported by Jesus’ own statements about his Father. In his High Priestly prayer found in John 17, Jesus prays to his Father, saying “Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent” (John 17:3). It could not be any clearer: not only is there a distinct separation made between the person of God and the person of Jesus, but also the Father is identified as the “only true God!” By applying the word “only” to the Father, this means that there can be no other God besides the Father. Not only that, but also the Jewish Shema continues to affirm the unipersonal nature of God. In other words, if the Father is the only true God, Jesus cannot also be God, because they are two distinct persons. Once again, Jesus’s words demonstrate his faith in the only true God of Israel.
Furthermore, Jesus openly acknowledges that he is not the “only One” who is God (Matthew 19:17). After all, how can he be the only true God, when he himself has a God? After Jesus was crucified and buried, he appeared to Mary Magdalene as she was weeping bitterly beside his empty tomb. Supposing Jesus to be the gardener, she begged him to show her where he had taken the body of her Lord. But when Jesus called out her name, she recognized him and rushed toward him joyfully. He then said to her “‘Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God’” (John 20:18, italics added). Pause for a moment and think about that incredible truth – both Mary Magdalene and Jesus had the same Father, the same God.
One must also consider the revelation that Jesus shared with the apostle John, after he had ascended to the right hand of the Father. In the letter to the church of Philadelphia, Jesus tells John to write the following exhortation: “He who overcomes, I will make him a pillar in the temple of my God, and he will not go out from it anymore; and I will write on him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from my God, and my new name” (Revelation 3:12, italics added). Once again, it is clear that Jesus himself has a God because he said it four times in one verse, five times total in the book of Revelation. One can safely conclude that Jesus never abandoned the faith of his youth, for even after his resurrection, he worshiped the same God as his fellow Jews.
This is by no means an exhaustive study of the only true God, but it does point to the fact that the God of the Bible has never wavered in his self-revelation. He has consistently revealed Himself throughout history as one Being. He is not a single God made of multiple persons, because that would be contrary to the revelation given to his people Israel and through his son Jesus. It would even go against God’s revelation through his creation. Paul says that God has made known His divine nature through the things that have been made. God’s describes his relationship to humanity in terms of human family relationships so that we might understand his nature more clearly. God has described his relationship to us as that of a father. A human father is only one person; the “creator,” protector and head of a family. In the same way, God is one person – the sovereign creator of all things and the defender, and redeemer of his beloved creation. It is time that Christians return to the only true God of the Bible, Yahweh our God and Father.
“Hear O Church! Yahweh is our God, Yahweh is One.”
 “Official Statement of Fundamental Beliefs.” Living Church of God. http://www.lcg.org/statement-of-beliefs.shtml (accessed February 26, 2013);  Buzzard, Anthony F., and Charles F. Hunting. The Doctrine of the Trinity: Christianity’s Self-Inflicted Wound. Lanham, New York: International Scholars Publications, 1998;  Buzzard, Anthony F., and Charles F. Hunting. The Doctrine of the Trinity: Christianity’s Self-Inflicted Wound. Lanham, New York: International Scholars Publications, 1998, p 29;  Lev Gillet, Communion in the Messiah: Studies in the Relationship Between Judaism and Christianity (Lutterworth Press, 1986), p 75-76;  Deuble, Greg S. They Never Told Me THIS in Church!: A Call to Read the Bible with New Eyes. Restoration Fellowship, 2006, p 78;  Ibid, 78;  Martin, Dr. Joe. “God and Jesus Differentiated.” Paper presented at Theological Conference;  Ibid;  Deuble, Greg S. They Never Told Me THIS in Church!: A Call to Read the Bible with New Eyes. Restoration Fellowship, 2006, p 106.