Deuteronomy 6:4 Bible Commentary:
“Hear, O Israel! The LORD is our God, the LORD is one!
This verse is the watch word of the Jewish people and confirms that there is only one God.
The Father is God. The Holy Spirit is God. Jesus Christ is God.
Anything that even hinted that there was more than One God was considered as counter to their faith.
Thus began the separation of the Christians from the main stream of the Jewish community.
In the Deuteronomy 6:4 Bible Commentary we see that the Jews claimed that the Christians were professing three gods, while the Christians accepted by faith the One God existing at the same time as Father, Son and Spirit.
Perhaps it was part of this very discussion that prompted the writer to the Hebrews to state, “Now faith is the assurance [or substance] of things hoped for, the conviction [or evidence] of things not seen.” (Hebrews 11:1)
One could see the Son in the substance of man.
The evidence pointed to a human and not to God.
It was only by faith that such a concept of God in three forms could be fully understood.
But how can you properly and effectively express such faith in a physical world?
This spiritual concept perplexed the early Christian Church and even many people today.
Some early Christians, like Noetus, saw this Scriptural proclamation of one God and asked, “What evil am I doing in glorifying Christ?”
Others, such as Hilary of Poitiers, stated that such a claim violated the Gospels in which Jesus specifically refers to the Father as being separate from Himself in many areas.
What Hilary failed to see is a verse such as, “I and the Father are one.” (John 10:30), and to be able to separate the physical being from the Spiritual Unity.
Thus, if one doesn’t look at both sets of facts, it appears that we are speaking of two Gods, the problem with which Tertullian wrestled.
He tried to explain this Unity and difference with metaphors, such as referring to the Father as the sun and the Son as the ray of light from the sun, that one cannot exist without the other; but this posed another problem.
Origen said that if the Christ were as the ray, then He would be subordinate to the Father. Origen believed that Christ was equal to the Father, but Tertullian believed Christ was subordinate to the Father.
Their debate was due in most part to trying to equate the physical with the spiritual.
Arius also saw Christ as subordinate to the Father and referred to Jesus as the Word becoming flesh, thus saying that the Father spoke the Word into existence, and even set his words to music, saying, “There was a time when the Son was not,” which made Christ a created being.
Athanasius then stepped into the picture to debate this position by saying that Christ was eternally begotten and not created at some point in time.
This debate between Arius and Athanasius concerned Constantine, for he could not understand what the theological arguments and problems were all about. He feared it would split the Christians, and he wanted them in unity for support of the empire; thus, Constantine called the bishops together in a council at Nicea.
After hearing all of this, you probably don’t feel so bad about some of the questions you’ve had, do you?
The basic conclusion of the Council was to condemn the Arian view about Jesus Christ, and to set forth the basics of Christian faith, the Nicene Creed.
They placed in this Creed the clarification of the differences between the Arian perspective, and that of Athanasius.
They stated that Jesus Christ was begotten, not made, and even emphasized it further by saying that He was begotten of the Father before all worlds, or as the New Methodist Hymnal says, “eternally begotten.”
They clarified the point that Jesus is “the only-begotten Son of God” and of “one substance” with Him and by Him all things were made.
Their view was from a spiritual perspective, for the one substance is the Spirit of God, not the body in which the Spirit was housed.
God as Spirit is eternal, whether manifested as Father or Son or Holy Spirit.
They expressed the divinity of Jesus Christ as “God of God, Light of Light.”
They also brought out the special humanity of Jesus, in that He “came down from heaven, and was incarnate by the Holy Spirit of the Virgin Mary, and was made man…”
If we specifically look at the incarnation of Jesus Christ, we have a totally different form of conception.
Jesus was born of woman, and not of man.
Today we are beginning to understand a great deal about genes and genetic structure.
The people of that day knew nothing of such things, except for the visible things, such as a child having the same features as the parent.
This is what is so remarkable about Scripture, for it tells us the way it happened, but not the specific scientific reasons which brought it about, for the people of that day would not have understood.
One thing that was forgotten and is rarely considered today in all of this, is that the Jews discussed about the spirits of God, and whether there are 7 or 6 or even 3, and whether they were angels or actually part of God, but they do acknowledge that the Holy Spirit is part of God (the Spirit of God), and from later writings in the Bible it appears to say that Messiah is spiritually part of God, which He is, and since all three are spiritual beings and part of God, we have the Trinity.
The first thing we need to consider in our own lives, and as teachers of others, is that there is only one God who we are to serve and follow.
We are to cease following the corrupt ways of this world, for by doing so, people are making the devil and the corrupt things of this world a god in their lives, and as a result, they become followers and teachers of Christian indifference.
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