God Is One
Ask any Christian, “What is the single most important teaching in the Bible?” He should be able to answer, “That God is One.”
This is in fact the answer that Jesus Christ Himself gave. A man asked Him, “What is the most important commandment of all?”
Jesus began, “The first is, ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is One…’” (Mark 12: 20-32). The Jew who asked this was not at all surprised by the answer. He knew that this commandment about loving the One Lord was to be written on their hearts, taught to their children, and discussed at home and while traveling, morning and evening (Deuteronomy 6: 4-7). He knew also that the first of the Ten Commandments was to “have no other gods”(Exodus 20:3).
Again and again the Bible emphasizes the oneness of God. “Thou art God, and Thou alone” (2 Kings 19:15). “There is no God with Me” (Deuteronomy 32:39). “I am Jehovah (Yahweh) and there is none else” (Isaiah 45:5). My glory will I not give to another” (Isaiah 42:8, 48:11). It is very clear that the unity of God must be central to all our thought about Him.
It might seem that the birth, life, and resurrection of Jesus Christ presents a challenge to this. Did the One God Himself come to earth? Or was Jesus someone else? Some Christians have accepted the idea that the One God is made up of Three equal and eternal Persons. Others have said that Jesus is not God, but the Son of God, or just “a child of God” like everyone else.
How can we understand better who Jesus is? Who Is Jesus?
There is a common tendency with people to make negative judgments about other people. In high schools, this tendency shows itself in cliques. A few popular kids get into a group, and gradually begin to think that they are better than others because they are better liked. Kids who aren’t “in” may become objects of pity, or contempt, or even of cruel jokes. In one way or another, the clique passes subtle judgment on the others as being a lower class of human beings.
The same tendency to look down on others shows itself in various religions. Some religious groups become so self-centered that they believe no one of a different faith can go to heaven. When taken to an extreme, this kind of attitude is far more cruel than the snobbish teenage cliques.
The teachings of the Bible are quite a contrast to this. To begin with, God’s Word tells us that we should not label people as “saved” or “sinner.” Jesus said, “Judge not, that you be not condemned. Why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye?” (Matthew 7: 1, 3) James put it this way: “There is one Lawgiver, who is able to save and to destroy. Who are you to judge another?” (James 4: 1)
When the Lord was on earth, a judging attitude was prevalent among the leaders of the church. Many thought that when the Messiah came, He would save Jews, and not others. When Jesus did come, they condemned Him for associating with non-Jews and Jews alike.
Jesus discouraged this kind of attitude. Who Is Saved? Who Needs Works?
God Is Love
Most readers of the Bible have noticed numerous references to the anger of God. Judging from some of these passages, it would seem that God is at least sometimes excessively angry. He says, “A fire is kindled in My anger, and shall burn unto the lowest hell” (Deuteronomy 32:22). “And I myself will fight against you with an outstretched hand and with a strong arm, even in anger, and in fury, and in great wrath” (Jeremiah 21:5). In may seem that His anger is vicious, more than the offense would call for. One time the children of Israel were complaining, and “it displeased the Lord,…and His anger was kindled, and the fire of the Lord burnt among them and consumed” some of them (Numbers 11:1). In some cases His anger even seems to harm the innocent: “My wrath shall become hot, and I will kill you with the sword; your wives shall be widows, and your children fatherless” (Exodus 22:24).
This picture of God as merciful and loving is quite a contrast to the picture of Him as vengeful and fierce. If these were all the teachings we had, we might suppose that He alternates between the opposites of wrath and mercy: condemning one moment, redeeming the next. God’s Anger
Heaven & Hell
Many people take it as a matter of course that when we die, if we are good, we will become angels in heaven. There are many Christians, on the other hand, who believe that angels are members of a superior race of spiritual beings, who were created before the world began. Some even picture angels, as having wings and living among the clouds. This concept of angels, however, is not solidly based on the Bible. In fact, the Bible gives us quite a few reasons for believing that angels are simply people who have died and gone to heaven. Where Angels Come From