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How Is God One?

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“Hear O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one!” (Deuteronomy 6:4 Deuteronomy 6:4Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD:
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).

The Bible makes it abundantly clear that there is only one God. As commonly translated, Jesus quotes Moses in saying, “Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one” (Mark 12:29 Mark 12:29And Jesus answered him, The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord:
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; compare Deuteronomy 6:4 Deuteronomy 6:4Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD:
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). Paul tells us that “there is no other God but one” (1 Corinthians 8:4 1 Corinthians 8:4As concerning therefore the eating of those things that are offered in sacrifice to idols, we know that an idol is nothing in the world, and that there is none other God but one.
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) and that “there is one God” (1 Timothy 2:5 1 Timothy 2:5For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus;
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).

The Bible also tells us that all other supposed gods are idols—figments of man’s own imagination gone awry. Throughout history man has created many false gods. It is with this contrast in mind that we should approach Deuteronomy 6:4 Deuteronomy 6:4Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD:
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as it is typically rendered—”the Lord is one.” (For more on this wording, read “’ The Lord Our God, the Lord Is One .’”)

Many do not fully comprehend how the Bible uses numbers. This factor contributes to considerable confusion about God.

How should we understand the oneness of God? As well as the usual straightforward use of numbering, the concept of complete unity is associated with the Hebrew word translated “one” in Deuteronomy 6:4 Deuteronomy 6:4Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD:
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and other verses.

Two become one

Let’s go back to the first book of the Bible, Genesis. There, after the creation of Adam and Eve, we see the institution of the marriage relationship: “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh” (Genesis 2:24 Genesis 2:24Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall join to his wife: and they shall be one flesh.
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). A couple becomes “one flesh” in a marital sexual union. But there is another important metaphorical meaning as well. Though two separate and distinct beings, in this context the two become one.

Some 4,000 years later Jesus reiterated this concept when He said, regarding marriage, that “ ‘the two shall become one flesh’; so then they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate” (Mark 10:8-9 Mark 10:8-9 8 And they two shall be one flesh: so then they are no more two, but one flesh. 9 What therefore God has joined together, let not man put asunder.
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). In marriage the two become one when joined in sexual union and in the covenant relationship they share. But they still remain two separate individuals, still one male and one female—joined together in marriage as one family unit.

Of course, this oneness is not complete or total. Yet in a physical sense an obvious oneness is reached when man and woman come together at the moment of conceiving a child. As one science book put it: “Human life begins in … cooperation of the most intimate sort. The two cells wholly merge. They combine their genetic material. Two very different beings become one. The act of making a human being involves … cooperation so perfect that the partners’ separate identities vanish” (Carl Sagan and Ann Druyan, Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors, 1992, p. 199).

The separate DNA substances of two distinct human beings combine at conception to form a new, unique human being, one different from all other persons.

How wonderful are the things of God! How sublime are His purposes for the human family. Understanding marriage and the family helps us grasp aspects of the Kingdom of God. 

One Church but many members

Continuing with our study of the biblical use of numbers, Paul wrote that “there is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28 Galatians 3:28There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
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). That is, these social distinctions would not divide God’s people. They were to be at one—in unity with each other.

There is one Church, said Paul, but composed of many individual members possessing various spiritual gifts and talents. As he later explained to the Christians in the city of Corinth: “There are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are differences of ministries, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of activities, but it is the same God who works all in all” (1 Corinthians 12:4-6 1 Corinthians 12:4-6 4 Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. 5 And there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord. 6 And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which works all in all.
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).

Paul spent considerable effort to get this simple point across. He continues in 1 Corinthians 12:12 1 Corinthians 12:12For as the body is one, and has many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ.
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: “For as the body is one and has many members, but all the members of that one body, being many, are one body, so also is Christ.” Here Paul compares the Church to the human body.

Next he reminds us in principle of what he had earlier written in Galatians 3:28 Galatians 3:28There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
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, which we just read, stating, “For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free—and have all been made to drink into one Spirit” (1 Corinthians 12:13 1 Corinthians 12:13For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit.
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).

The Church is the spiritual body of Jesus Christ (Ephesians 1:22-23 Ephesians 1:22-23 22 And has put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, 23 Which is his body, the fullness of him that fills all in all.
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). So that we fully understand, Paul then repeats Himself by continuing in 1 Corinthians 12 to compare the Church to the human body, which likewise has many members performing different functions: “For in fact the [human] body is not one member, but many … But now indeed there are many members, yet one body” (1 Corinthians 12:14 1 Corinthians 12:14For the body is not one member, but many.
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,  1 Corinthians 12:20 1 Corinthians 12:20But now are they many members, yet but one body.
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)—that is, there are many Church members but one Church.

Finally, in 1 Corinthians 12:27 1 Corinthians 12:27Now you are the body of Christ, and members in particular.
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, he makes this basic point yet again: “Now you are the [one] body of Christ and individually [different] members of it” (verse 27, NRSV). In that sense the divine family is similar: one God and only one God, yet two individual glorious family members now constituting that one God—plus many more members yet to be glorified among mankind (Romans 8:29 Romans 8:29For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.
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).

Paul also wrote in another context, “For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom his whole family in heaven and on earth derives its name” (Ephesians 3:14-15 Ephesians 3:14-15 14 For this cause I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, 15 Of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named,
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, NIV). Although there is only one family, there are many members. Truly converted Christians, led by God’s Spirit, are already counted as members of the family (Romans 8:14 Romans 8:14For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.
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; 1 John 3:1-2 1 John 3:1-2 1 Behold, what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knows us not, because it knew him not. 2 Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it does not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.
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), even though they have not yet received glorification and immortality in the resurrection to eternal life, which will take place at Christ’s return (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 16 For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: 17 Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.
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).

Elsewhere Paul tells us that “flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God” (1 Corinthians 15:50 1 Corinthians 15:50Now this I say, brothers, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither does corruption inherit incorruption.
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). We must be changed at the time of the resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:51-54 1 Corinthians 15:51-54 51 Behold, I show you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, 52 In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. 53 For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. 54 So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory.
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; Philippians 3:20-21 Philippians 3:20-21 20 For our conversation is in heaven; from where also we look for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ: 21 Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like to his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things to himself.
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). God will accomplish that in due course—provided we have overcome and developed righteous, godly character (Revelation 2:26 Revelation 2:26And he that overcomes, and keeps my works to the end, to him will I give power over the nations:
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; Revelation 3:21; Revelation 21:7-8).

One Church, one God

In John 17 Jesus prayed to the Father, “And this is eternal life, that they [Christ’s disciples] may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent” (John 17:3 John 17:3And this is life eternal, that they might know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.
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). Jesus thus distinguishes between God the Father and Himself. They are not the same being. Nevertheless, They share perfect union and oneness.

Continuing in this incredible prayer spoken shortly before His crucifixion, Christ said regarding His followers, “Holy Father, protect them in your name that you have given me, so that they may be one, as we are one” (John 17:11 John 17:11And now I am no more in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to you. Holy Father, keep through your own name those whom you have given me, that they may be one, as we are.
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, NRSV). Earlier He had said, “I and My Father are one” (John 10:30 John 10:30I and my Father are one.
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).

You need to grasp this enormously important point. The Church is to be one just as God the Father and Jesus Christ are one. That’s quite a tall order! The various members should be unified with each other just as Christ and the Father are in perfect union. Although we have to realistically admit that this has rarely been the case in church history, God expects us to strive for that spiritual unity.

The members of the true Church of God are all to be joined together by the Spirit of God (1 Corinthians 12:13 1 Corinthians 12:13For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit.
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)— living by that Spirit. It is every individual’s responsibility to seek out the organized fellowship that best represents the biblical model of the New Testament Church. 

We see, then, that the Father and Jesus Christ are also one in the same sense that Jesus prayed for the Church to be one—one in purpose, belief, direction, faith, spirit and attitude—joined together by the Holy Spirit.

Consider the additional insight Jesus gives us in His prayer in John 17:

“I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me. And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one: I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one” (John 17:20-23 John 17:20-23 20 Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; 21 That they all may be one; as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22 And the glory which you gave me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one: 23 I in them, and you in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that you have sent me, and have loved them, as you have loved me.
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).

This spiritual oneness, this unity between and among all truly converted Christians, can be accomplished only through God’s Spirit working in them. Their unity through the Holy Spirit should reflect the perfect unity—the oneness—of God the Father and Jesus Christ the Son.

Another biblical example of oneness

Christ tells us we are to live “by every word of God” (Luke 4:4 Luke 4:4And Jesus answered him, saying, It is written, That man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God.
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). Before any of the books of the New Testament were written, the Hebrew Scriptures—what we call the Old Testament—were the only recorded “word of God” available. Often the Old Testament can clear our foggy vision and help us understand the spiritual intent of the New. After all, we should understand that all the books of the Bible are the revealed Word of God, and all increase our understanding (2 Timothy 3:16 2 Timothy 3:16All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:
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).

Consider a seldom-read passage back in the book of Judges that illustrates how oneness can mean unity: “So all the children of Israel came out, from Dan to Beersheba, as well as from the land of Gilead, and the congregation gathered together as one man before the Lord at Mizpah” (Judges 20:1 Judges 20:1Then all the children of Israel went out, and the congregation was gathered together as one man, from Dan even to Beersheba, with the land of Gilead, to the LORD in Mizpeh.
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).

For once, the entire nation of Israel was wholly unified in purpose to meet a serious problem affecting the whole country. The expression “as one man” is used to convey the point that the nation was fully united at that particular time.

Judges 20:8 Judges 20:8And all the people arose as one man, saying, We will not any of us go to his tent, neither will we any of us turn into his house.
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and Judges 20:11 Judges 20:11So all the men of Israel were gathered against the city, knit together as one man.
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emphasize the point: “So all the people arose as one man … So all the men of Israel were gathered against the city, united together as one man.” Of course, they still remained many individual citizens of the same nation. So again, the Bible itself sheds light on the meaning of oneness.

Comprehending God’s oneness

Scripture reveals two separate, distinct persons, both spirit, yet one in unity, belief, direction and purpose—members of the same divine family. “I and My Father are one,” said Jesus (John 10:30 John 10:30I and my Father are one.
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).

When we understand what the Bible teaches, we see that there is only one God, just as there is only one human race—one extended family descended from Adam of nearly 7 billion individuals. Just the same, the one divine family—the family of God—is open to an unlimited number of members.

The traditionalhuman family is a microcosm of that one great divine family (compare Romans 1:20 Romans 1:20For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:
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). If we comprehend this marvelous, wondrous biblical principle, we should be reflecting our ultimate destiny in our marriages, other family relationships and everyday lives. We should strive to reflect the love and unity of the divine family—God the Father and His Son Jesus—in our human families.

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