As God is Three in One and One in Three, His church is an earthly reflection of Himself, a perfect unity. And right here is the importance of unity in the church. For a believer to spoil the unity that is part of God’s church is to despoil the very image of God Himself. I wonder how many believers, if they were not ignorant of these truths, but truly recognized and understood them, would have thought twice before propagating disunifying behavior. Why must it be ignorance that marks that type of behavior? Because it is the height of satanic pride to know these truths, and believe you have the right to besmirch the image of God anyway. Surly someone would not understand these realities and be disunifying anyway. That would be foolhardy and reckless. Let us look at these truths a little closer.
First, Paul stated that just as there exists “one Spirit” and “one Lord” who were involved in bringing the unity of the church into existence, so too the “one God and Father” was also involved. Now, we should not make the mistake of thinking that Paul was by this statement indicating that the “one Spirit” and the “one Lord” are not God in the same sense as is the Father. The three are co-equal in power, attributes, glory, and divinity. There can be no ontological difference between them or else all three could not be properly referred to as God.
Jesus Christ Himself said in John 10:30, “I and the Father are one.” Here we see that Jesus and the Father differ not in the nature of their divinity nor the splendidness of their glory. The Spirit also shares in this, for although He is sometimes called the Spirit of Christ (Rom. 8:9; 1 Pet. 1:11), when linked to the other member of the Godhead, He is most often referred to as the Spirit of God (Mt. 3:16; 1 Cor. 2:11; 1 Jn. 4:2). In fact, the deity of the Spirit and the Son is clearly affirmed by the apostle Paul himself (Spirit–Ac. 28:25ff; 1 Cor. 2:10-11; 3:16; Son–Col. 2:9; Tit. 2:13).
So, if Paul does not mean to make a distinction between the divinity of the Father and that of the Spirit and the Son, of what is it that Paul is trying to make the Ephesians aware? Well, he was affirming to the Ephesians the reality that there was only one God and that God was the God of the Christian faith. Paul remarked to the Corinthian believers in 1 Corinthians 8:4, “Therefore concerning the eating of things sacrificed to idols, we know that there is no such thing as an idol in the world, and that there is no God but one.” The point is very simple and clear. We as Christians deny that there is any other God except the one that is worshiped by us. And we deny this without shame, question, or compromise.
We truly need reminding of this fact today. Let me explain. The Christian faith in many ways benefits from the pluralistic Western culture in which we live. Our faith is tolerated and such has allowed us to publish many Christian books, translate the Bible into many languages, send out many missionaries, and do other innumerable things for the kingdom of God. However, this same pluralistic culture has also damaged us in many ways. One of the most obvious is our tendency to want to compromise with other supposedly “true seekers of God.” I was asked an interesting question during a seminar I had conducted on Christian doctrine. After referring to the name of God and how God communicated that He was to be referred to, one of the participants asked if the name was all that important. Could not Allah be used? My response was that, no, Allah could not be used, because that is not God’s name, that is not how He has revealed Himself, and Allah is the false God of Islam. The God of Islam is not the God of Christianity, the God of Islam is a false god.
This is something about which we refuse to back down. I find it interesting that in the story of Jesus and the woman at the well a very similar situation arose. Jesus was right in the midst of witnessing to her. Then she brought up the issue of religion and worship of God. John 4:19-20 says, “The woman said to Him, ‘Sir, I perceive that You are a prophet. Our fathers worshiped in this mountain, and you people say that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship.” Now, it would seem that this would be an opportune time to not make a big deal or fuss of the worship of God, after all, it could be cleaned up later. Get her saved first. After all, Jesus knew the truth, no need to muddy the water, after all religion is such a touchy subject, anyway. Take note of Jesus’ response,
“Jesus said to her, ‘Woman, believe Me, an hour is coming when neither in this mountain, nor in Jerusalem, shall you worship the Father. You worship that which you do not know; we worship that which we know, for salvation is from the Jews. But an hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers shall worship the Father in spirit and truth; for such people the Father seeks to be His worshipers. God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth’” (4:21-24).
Jesus did not skip it. Rather He wove into His evangelism of this woman the correction of her false view on God. He plainly identified that they were worshiping in ignorance and therefore were incorrect and invalid in their worship. It was unacceptable to God. Any worship offered to God that is not worship offered as prescribed by Him is false, illegitimate, and heretical worship. So, although the Samaritans used part of the same Bible the Jews did and that comprises our Bibles, they still were not offering legitimate worship of God.
Why is the fact that there is only “one God” so important to the church and unity? We will explore this in a final part of our discussion.