WEEK 1 – I Believe in One God
Many cultures around the world have, or at least had, a host of different deities, each playing a distinct role. For example, Thor was the Norse god of thunder and warfare, Erebos was the Greek god of darkness, and Coyolxauhqui (pronounced ‘Co-hol-SHAW-ki’) was the Aztec goddess of the moon.
How many such gods and goddesses can you think of, and what were their areas of responsibility?
- Genesis 1:1
- Deuteronomy 6:4–5
- Psalm 14:1
- Isaiah 46:8–11
- 1 John 3:1
I believe in God, the Father, Almighty, creator of heaven and earth.
Opening Our Eyes
‘Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one.’ (Deut. 6:4)
When Moses spoke these words to the Israelites it was to remind them that they were different. They had left Egypt with their pantheon of gods, and the promised land lay before them, filled with even more gods. The Israelites needed to remember that they worshipped the one, true God.
The Creed opens with a declaration of belief in God, and the writer to the Hebrews said, ‘… anyone who comes to [God] must believe that he exists’ (Heb. 11:6). But our belief is not simply in divine beings in general. The Nicene Creed includes the word ‘one’ – we believe not
in many gods, but in ‘one God’. And let’s face it, this is much easier than having lots of gods and goddesses for different areas of life. ‘Want your crops to grow? You need to pray to that god.’ ‘Having trouble at work? You need
to offer a sacrifice to this goddess.’ That said, we don’t believe in one God because it is easier, but because the Bible tells us, ‘The LORD is one.’
It also tells us that this one God is our Father. Back in the ancient world, kings would sometimes take the title of ‘father’ to imply: • Principality – the king had headship over the people. • Provision – the king would ensure his people had all
they needed to survive. • Protection – the king would keep his people safe.
Certainly these three things are true of God. He is the principal over all, sovereign of everything. He is the provider, giving us all that we need. And He is our protector. But when Jesus called God, ‘Our Father’
(Matt. 6:9), He was talking about something even more amazing. He was talking about a relationship – a loving relationship with God as our Father and us as His children. And those of us who have put our faith in Him really are His children, ‘born’, as John wrote, ‘not of natural descent… but born of God.’ (John 1:13)
Kings would also use the title ‘father’ to imply power, and the Creed refers to God as ‘Almighty’. When this word is used in the Bible it does not necessary suggest the ability to do anything whatsoever – after all, “God cannot lie” (Heb. 6:18). Rather it suggests an ability to do what you desire. The Hebrew term ‘El Shaddai’, usually translated ‘God Almighty’, really means ‘God, who is sufficient’. He is Almighty in that His power is sufficient for His purpose, or as He puts it, ‘What I have said, that I will bring about; what I have planned, that I will do.’ (Isa. 46:11)
This is great news for us since it means that God is able to fulfil all the promises laid out in Scripture, no matter how fantastic they may seem. Not only able, but He will fulfil His promises!
As if to illustrate this, the Creed ends with the declaration that God created the heavens and the earth. ‘The heavens declare the glory of God,’ wrote David, ‘the skies proclaim the work of his hands.’ (Psa. 19:1). And Paul stated that, ‘since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities… have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made’ (Rom. 1:20). If we are ever in any doubt that there is a God, the world around us, even our own existence – even the existence of those who say there is no God! – is our proof that He does exist.
1. Psalm 14:1 says, ‘The fools says in his heart, “There is no God”’ and yet there are many atheists we would consider intelligent, even wise. Why do you think people choose not to believe, or even cannot believe, in God?
2. Why do you believe there is a God, and what difference does this make to your life?
3. Read Isaiah 46:10–11 and Rom. 8:31. How might statements such as these be affected if there was not only one God, but many gods, such as those worshipped in Ancient Rome?
4. Read 1 John 3:1. How does it make a difference to your life knowing God as your Father?
5. What promises have you had from God, either in the Bible or personally? How does knowing that His power is sufficient for His purposes shape your thinking about those promises?
6. What suggestions have you come across explaining how God created the heavens and the earth? Does it matter what you believe about the method of creation?
7. If you were asked by an atheist friend why you believe in God, how would you answer them?
Belief in Action
Terms like God, Almighty and creator can seem somewhat irrelevant to daily life – they are so grand and abstract it can be hard to ground such concepts. But the point of the Creed is not to reel off objective facts, but to help us grasp truths that should shape our lives.
Although these terms are indeed grand and somewhat abstract, when we consider that they apply to the One we call ‘Father’, with whom we have been granted an intimate, loving relationship, suddenly the objective facts become wonderful, personal, life-changing truths.
If we really believe that there is a God, a single being who created the heavens, the earth and everything in it, and who rules over them, then the whole purpose of our lives must surely be given over to seeking Him and must be lived in complete devotion and service to Him.
If we really believe that God is our Father, who has brought us into His family, then we must surely live as though we are His children – ‘And that is what we are!’ (1 John 3:1) – following His teaching on how best to live, and coming to Him with confidence even when we mess up.
And if we really believe the God is Almighty, that He is able to do what He says He will do, then we will trust Him no matter what life in this fallen world throws at us. And we will come to Him with our requests, because He alone has the power to do as He desires.