Friday, August 08, 2008

Westminster Shorter Catechism Question 5

Question 5: Are there more Gods than one?

Answer: There is but One only, the living and true God.

God Himself makes it abundantly plain, in His word, putting it beyond any shadow of doubt, that He is the only true and living God. In Isaiah 45:21,22, we read, “Tell ye, and bring them near; yea, let them take counsel together: who hath declared this from ancient time? Have not I the LORD? And there is no God else beside me; a just God and a Saviour; there is none beside me. Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else”. He is the only living and true God.

There are, as God reveals in His word, others, or certain things which are called gods, or are referred to as being a god.

Firstly. Angels. Psalm 97:7, “Confounded be all they that serve graven images, that boast themselves of idols: worship him, all ye gods”. The apostle citing this verse in Hebrews 1:6, calls them “angels”.

Secondly. Magistrates. Exodus 22:28, “Thou shalt not revile the gods, nor curse the ruler of thy people”. (margin, “judges”). See also John 10:34.

Thirdly. Idols. Deuteronomy 32:16,17, “They provoked him to jealousy with strange gods, with abominations provoked they him to anger. They sacrificed unto devils, not to God; to gods whom they knew not, to new gods that came newly up, whom your fathers feared not”. Further in 1 Kings 11:33, we read of “Ashtoreth the goddess of the Zidonians, Chemosh the god of the Moabites, and Mil-com the god of the children of Ammon”.

Fourthly. Satan. The devil is called the god of this world. Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 4:4, “In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them”. John Brown of Haddington writes, “He is believed, obeyed, adored, under various form, by most of the inhabitants (of this world)”.

Fifthly. Man's belly. Philippians 3:19, “Whose end is destruction, whose god is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things”. Such a man has a carnal appetite, being chiefly concerned about themselves.

John Flavel writes, “But doth not the Scriptures say”, (in 1 Corinthians 8:5), “that there are gods many, and lords many? Yes; there are many in title, and many in opinion, but only one in truth”. There is, as the Scriptures make plain, and further as the catechism states, “but one only, the living and true God. Jeremiah writes, “But the LORD is the true God, he is the living God, and an everlasting king: at his wrath the earth shall tremble, and the nations shall not be able to abide his indignation”. Jeremiah 10:10.

Firstly. He is the true God. James Fisher asks, “Why is he called the true God?” And then answers, “In opposition to all false and imaginary gods”. “Thus shall ye say unto them, the gods that have not made the heavens and the earth, even they shall perish from the earth, and from under these heavens”. Jeremiah 10: 11. Other gods are false gods, but our God, who is ours through grace, is the true God, the real God. The first command of the Decalogue says, “Thou shalt have no other gods before me”. He alone is to be worshipped in a religious way, why? For other gods are false. In seeking to keep that command we wholeheartedly acknowledge and humbly confess before God, that He is the only true God. Ebenezer Erskine speaking of the positive duty of obeying the first commandment writes, “to know and acknowledge God to be the only true God, and our God”.

As being true, He is referred to as “A God of truth”. Moses in Deuteronomy 32:4 said, “He is the Rock, his work is perfect: for all his ways are judgement: a God of truth and without iniquity, just and right is he”. God is infinitely holy, pure and just. The Psalmist, in Psalm 92:15 says, “there is no unrighteousness in him”. There is none whatsoever in God, He is free from, and, is the complete opposite to sin.

We know him to be true, for in all his words and works, He speaks and acts in perfection.

First, His words. Christ in that High priestly prayer to His Father said, “Thy word is truth”. John 17:17. The apostle writes in Hebrews 6:18, “It is impossible for God to lie”.

Second, His works. “He is the Rock, His work is perfect: for all His ways are judgment: a God of truth and without iniquity, just and right is He.” Deuteronomy 32:4. In the work of creation, then in His unfolding providence, and further by the work of Redemption we bear testimony to the truth of God.

Secondly, He is the living God. These two words “true” and “living” go together. If He were not the true God, He would not be the living God, if He were not the living God, He could not be the true God. His name “Jehovah” in itself, conveys to us that He is the living God. The name Jehovah means the eternal, self existent one. “I am that I am”. Exodus 3:14. He has always been there, He is there, and will always be there. Christ says in Revelation 1:8, “I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty”. He needs none other. He exists by His own infinite power. He is the living God. The Psalmist in Psalm 90:2 writes, “Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever Thou hadst formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting Thou art God”.

Pause and reflect on those words: “Thou art God!” He knows God to be there. We, as believers, know God to be there.

Consider firstly, by our existence here upon earth. Paul said in Acts 17:28, “For in Him we live, and move, and have our being”. We breathe, walk, talk, sing, eat, drink and sleep. We exist because He is the living God.

Secondly, by the existence of that new Spiritual life within. Through the work of the Holy Spirit, that principle of grace, has been implanted within us. Faith along with those other graces from Christ have been put within. We have faith in Him, we love Him, we live for Him, our new life bears evidence that He is a living God. Recall what Paul said, “Christ liveth in me”. Galatians 2:20. Job could say by faith, “I know that my Redeemer liveth”. Job 19:25. The apostle Paul, in writing his first epistle to the brethren that were at Thessalonica, wrote concerning their faith that was being spoken of by many. In verse 9 of the first chapter he wrote, “how ye turned to God from idols, to serve the living and true God”.

My dear friends , let us pause and consider, we serve and worship the living and true God, He who is the only God.