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There may be no more unpopular response to the question about how many gods exist than the Christian response that there is one true God. In a culture that screams for tolerance and inclusiveness that idea of someone claiming that there is only one true God and all others are false gods is likely to upset people. But the bible is clear that there is only one true God, Yahweh. Consider the passages below:

Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. (Deuteronomy 6:4)

But the Lord is the true God; he is the living God and the everlasting King. At his wrath the earth quakes, and the nations cannot endure his indignation. (Jeremiah 10:10)

For great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised;
he is to be feared above all gods.
For all the gods of the peoples are worthless idols,
but the Lord made the heavens. (Psalm 96:4-5)

Now let me identify three ways in which the Christian claim of monotheism makes people uncomfortable.

Only One God is Worthy of Worship

First, notice the words of Psalm 96 above. “Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised, he is to be feared above all gods.” Words like “praised” and “feared” are words connected to worship. The psalmist is telling us that we are not entitle to respond to God is neutral. Atheism and agnostic are just as offensive to God as Buddhism or Islam. The God of the Bible, Yahweh, alone is worthy of worship. Sin is not just a matter of worshiping other things, it is also a failure to give God the worship that He is rightly due.

All Other”Gods” are Worthless Idols

If the Psalm 96:4 makes people uncomfortable or irritable, the next verse is likely provoke an argument. It is one thing to claim that your god is superior to all other gods, but to claim their gods are “worthless idols” is something else entirely. I mean think about it. If I said that my favorite sports team was better than yours, you might be a little offended. However, if I claimed that my team is not only better than yours, but all other teams are gutter trash and shouldn’t even be compare to mine, you would probably be even more offended.

Yet here the psalmist claims that other “gods” do not even deserve the title, because they are ultimately false gods or idols. Even more, while Yahweh is deserving of “great praise” these idols really do not deserve any. After all, they are “worthless.” Who in their right mind would offer worship to something that has no worth? Yet the reality is that we all do. Someone once described the heart as an idol factory. In our fallen natures, we are prone to replace God with other things. We try to replace the “great” God with things that are by comparison “worthless.” It is the height of folly to exchange the greatest treasure for junk. It would be like selling your most prized possession for counterfeit money.

Unbelief Does Not Change Reality

Finally, notice the end of Psalm 96:5 – “the Lord made the heavens.” How easily people attend to avoid the offensiveness of the first two claims (that God is superior and that their idols are worthless) by trying to make it relative. I’m sure you have heard it before: that’s your opinion, but I disagree. You can believe what you want, but I don’t believe that is true. You may believe that there is only one God, but they believe that it is okay for people for having radically divergent views about God.

Many people, at least in western cultures, have embraced the notion that we are the determiners of what is real. Like Descartes once said, “I think therefore I am.” We tend to believe that thinks are true or false because we have thought them. I have faith in one thing or believe in another and so they must be real. After all I would never place my faith in something unreal. We become the creators of reality, but the reality is that God is the creator of us. He created the heavens, and He created you and me.

While many people have convinced themselves that what they believe is simply a matter of personal choice, the reality is that it is not a neutral choice. When we choose to believe God, we give him the respect and honor, He is rightly due. However, when we choose not to believe God, when we choose to believe lie, we dishonor God and place ourselves in opposition to Him. While what people believe may ultimately be their choice, God will hold them accountable for the choices they make.

But you did not learn Christ in this way, if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught in Him, just as truth is in Jesus,” (Ephesians 4:20-21)

I have been thinking a lot about the nature of reality an how we attempt to make sense of the world. And the more I have considered the meaning of everything in life, the more convinced I have become that their must be one singular purpose that serves as the fountain from which everything else must flow. But what is that source that provides the basis for making sense of life. Ephesians 4 points us the Son of God as the source of all knowledge – all truth – upon which our lives must be founded.

I should first point to the failings of worldly philosophical systems or other religious systems, namely that they provide no basis for truth. Even in Ephesians 4:17-19, those who do not have Christ are seen as being “in the futility of their minds”, “darkened in their understanding”, “ignorant”, and living in “lusts of deceit. Why are they like this? Simple they have forsaken God who is the standard against all knowledge and truth were to be measured. He alone provides a basis for knowing anything. He is self-sufficient, so so His actions and thoughts are not dependent upon His creation. I do not have to be concerned about some else discovering something that God will need to learn from them. God is not taught by us, but we are to be taught by Him. He is eternal and unchanging, so truth has not and can not change, but will be the same yesterday today and forever. Therefore, I can rest assured that if it was right to tell the truth today it will be right to tell the truth tomorrow.

Yet here in Ephesians 4:21, we see that truth is does not reside in God as some simple abstract idea, but in the person of Jesus Christ. There can be know true knowledge of God, let alone any true understanding of life, without Jesus Christ. So if someone desires to know the truth, what must they do? They must run to God through Jesus Christ. Jesus Himself said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.” (John 14:6) Let me point out two quick observations that point to Christ’s sole position as the mediator of knowledge of the Father to those who are children of God.

  1. All Truth is in Jesus Christ. Because Jesus is not simply a man, but God clothed in human flesh, He is the standard against which all knowledge must be measured. Who His is, what He says, and what He does is not simply a reflect what truth is, but defines it. Thus every speculation of man must be tested against Jesus Christ for its validity. And when our assertions of “truth” conflict with His, it becomes abundantly clear that our so called “truths” are really lies.
  2. Christ is the Sole Dispenser of Truth. Not only is He the source and definer of truth, but He alone is the dispenser of if. Thus we read that these Christians “have heard Him and have been taught in Him”. As the apostle Paul else where describes Christ a shepherd who calls his sheep and they follow Him, here Paul tells us that those who have heard the truth were not simply hear about Jesus but they “heard Him”. When Paul had appealed for them to reconciled to God, that had received not as a mans testimony, but has Christ Himself appealing through Paul for them to be reconciled. Thus those who refuse to listen to Christ – refuse to listen to truth. They may seek their “truth” or their “wisdom” from other sources, but they are only learning falsehood and folly.

So let us look to expose the folly that remains in our hearts, because of the ignorance that is in us by running to Christ to shed the light of truth in lives and teach us how to walk in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus.

And all were speaking well of Him, and wondering at the gracious words which were falling from His lips; and they were saying, “Is this not Joseph’s son?” (Luke 4:22)

 When was the last time you stopped to consider the “gracious words” which our Lord has spoken? As I think about what Christ said in the course of his ministry and even more so the sheer magnitude of what might rightly be called the Word of God, grace seems to be the last thing that comes to mind.  I am quick to think of the word of God as being powerful. For it was by the word of God that the world came into being (Gen 1) and it by the Word of Christ that the world is upheld (Heb 1). There is nothing that is or has been or that will be that is not dependent about the word of God for its existence.  I am quick to think of the truthfulness and the authority that His Word carries. As the sovereign ruler of the entire universe, when He speaks He is to be obeyed. In fact, His Word is Truth (Jn 17:17). What God has revealed is truth. There is nothing that can rightly be called truth that does not depend upon the Word of God for its veracity. But to think that His words are gracious, what a wonderful that should be indeed, for the one who was full of truth was also full of grace (Jn 1:14). It is by His gracious words that we behold the glory of the gospel in the face of Christ (2 Cor. 4:4-6). It is by His gracious words that our sins are made known to us and we are warned about the wrath that awaits our disobedience. It is by His gracious words that we come to know the propitiation that He has made for our transgressions. And it is by His gracious words that we are sanctified. So the next time you pick up your Bible and student the Word of God, remember that it is not only Word of Power and of Truth, but also a Word of Grace.

I have been reading, or should I say re-reading, Words to the Winners of Soulsby Horatius Bonar. It has been an enlightening read, at times convicting and at other times encouraging, usually the former. There is one passage I could not help but share. Bonar writes of the gospel:

“All other things are but opiates, drugs, quackeries; this is the divine medicine; this is the sole, the speedy, the eternal cure. It is not by “opinion” that we are to meet “opinion”; it is the Truth of God that we are to wield; and applying the edge of the “sword of the Spirit” to the theories of man (which he proudly calls his “opinions”), make him feel what a web of sophistry and folly he has been weaving for his own entanglement and ruin.

It is not opinions that man needs: it is Truth. It is not theology: it is God. It is not religion: it is Christ. It is not literature and science; but the knowledge of the free love of God in the gift of His only-begotten Son.” (page 7)

There are two main reasons that I like this quote. First, It draws the lines for our apologetics. The unbeliever brings to us their “opinions”, their beliefs about the world, and they expect us to give hearty approval to them. But when all is said and done, they are but mere “opinion” or should I say they are “futile speculations” (Rom. 1:21).  They are empty notions about a world in which they live, which are not just devoid of truth, but are the result of suppressing the truth (Rom. 1:18). Let us not play parlor games with the unbeliever, but rather let us speak the truth in love. When they offer their opinions, let us give them the truth.

The second thing I would like to highlight is the focal point of the gospel. Bonar reminds us that the gospel is bound in the Truth and not merely in opinion. He reminds us that at the heart of a mans need is not just a knowledge of God, but the need for God to act in their life. He reminds us that the gospel is about more that outward religious performances; it is about knowing Christ. And most importantly that the gospel is not just about stories it is about God demonstrating His love toward His people through the death of His Only-begotten Son, so that by His grace they may trust in Him.