Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Day 3 ~ What Christians Believe. In One God...

"I Believe In One God..."

Christians have looked for a single verse to capsulize the entire Gospel, and many have settled on John 3.16. This is the verse that many little Christian boys and girls memorize before they learn any other. In the Hebrew world of the Old Testament, every little Jewish boy and girl also had a first verse to memorize. It was understood to capsulize the whole of their faith, and it was the most important verse in the Bible. In fact, the context of the verse is a command from God through Moses that its content should be memorized, written down, posted on the walls, said before rising from bed and before closing the eyes to sleep. This verse is the epitome of what it means to be Jewish, as opposed to the pagans in the surrounding nations: “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength” (Deuteronomy 6.4-5)

When Jesus was asked what is the greatest commandment in the Bible, being a good and faithful Jew, he immediately quoted the verse he had memorized since his childhood: “Hear O Israel the Lord our God, the Lord is one...” (Mark 12.29). He went on to say that this verse was the fundamental basis for everything else in the Law and the Prophets. So the verse, called in Hebrew the Schema, is foundational not only for the Old Testament faith, but also for the Christian faith.

This idea of one God stands over against two pagan ideas, and you should remember that Judaism was an island of monotheism (“one God”) in a sea of polytheism (“many gods”).

The first pagan idea which belief in one God stands over against is polytheism, the idea that there is a plurality of gods. Idolaters, both ancient and modern, hold that there is a plethora of deities to which we pray and make petition. One god controls the rain, another orders the seasons, another gives strength in battle, another brings fertility to women. There were literally hundreds of gods, all requiring a sacrifice in order to answer a prayer. Often times (as in Greek and Roman mythology) these gods were somewhat scandalous beings epitomizing all the more base characteristics of humans themselves. Sometimes the gods were tricksters and deceivers; sometimes they were drunken sexual predators taking on human form and raping women; sometimes they were fierce in unjust battle and slaughtered innocent people. Almost always they carried some sense of arrogance and had to be appeased in various ways - including the extreme appeasement of human sacrifice. One neighboring nation of Israel worshipped a god named Molech whose chief sacrifice was newborn babies.

In contrast to this Israel stood up and proclaimed, “God is One”! There weren’t a multitude of gods to be petitioned for various favors and appeased with various sacrifices; there was only one and he was unique, holy, and other. He was the God who had made everything and who was himself unlike everyone and everything else.

The second pagan idea that the Schema stands over against is pantheism - the idea that God is the same as creation. In other words, some pagans believed that all things are, in some way, God. The trees are God, the rivers are God, the animals are God, other people are God. Not, mind you, a multitude of gods, but that all things are part of God. There was, among these pagans, no distinction between the Creator and the created. In contrast, the Jews declared that God was wholly other. That everything else, and I mean everything, was made by him, but he was himself unmade. That everything else was finite - had a beginning and an end, but he was himself infinite. That everything else depended on him for its very existence, but he himself depended on no one or nothing. He simply was. He simply is. When Moses encountered God and asked him his name he simply said, “I AM” (Exodus 3.14).

(from Chapter Two, What Christians Believe by Kenneth N. Myers)

To order Bishop Kenneth's book - What Christians Believe go to -

He is truly the "I AM"...The God, Elohim, The Mighty Creator, The ONE!!

ELOHIM ~ Hebrew word for God.
He made everything out of nothing, gave birth to beauty, and called it good!
He is reliable and trustworthy...He is the answer to your needs!

When I called out to Him in my darkness and pain. He delivered me and touched my life with His love, mercy and peace!

Be encouraged with these words and know the One who is Lord of all never changes...He is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow.
May He steady your world today and be your peace.

So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
Isaiah 41:10

We appreciate your comments and would love for you to take the time to share with us any prayer needs or testimonies of praise!

Thank you for your visit today and congratulations to our first winner - Jen at Balancing Beauty and Bedlam! Contact me and I will send you a copy of Bishop Kenneth's book!!

We will have another giveaway on Friday...leave your comments on today or tomorrows post and be qualified for something special!!

Live Inspired!


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