Paulʼs statement, “But to us there is but one God, the Father”, is the simple and clear fundamental of all Bible doctrine, and the pillar upon which our faith is built. This is the doctrine that separates us from the majority of so-called ʻChristianityʼ with its false doctrine of the trinity. This doctrine that there is one God, together with the other fundamental doctrinal fact that Jesus was a ʻmanʼ, makes the gulf between ʻthe Bride of Christʼ and ʻthe Harlot and her daughtersʼ so clearly marked. Whilst theologians of the harlot system have debated the mystery of the ʻincarnation of God the Sonʼ, Christadelphians have the simple Bible facts before them: “By one man (Adam) sin entered into the world, and death by sin”, but “the grace of God, and the gift by grace, which is by one man, Jesus Christ, hath abounded unto many” (Rom 5:12,15). The same truth is stated in 1 Corinthians 15:21,22: “For since by man (Adam) came death, by man (Christ) came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive”.

So in Jesus we see the fulfilment of the Psalmistʼs words: “Let thy hand be upon the man of thy right hand, upon the son of man whom thou madest strong for thyself” (Psa 80:17). Our reconciliation to God was not, and could not, be achieved through a ʻGod the Sonʼ of trinitarian teaching. So to us, as a community, there should be “but one God, the Father” (1 Cor 8:6).

The Moral Import

When Paul made this statement to the Corinthians he was not setting forth a new doctrine—he was dealing with the moral import of a doctrine that they had all accepted as a Biblical fact when they were baptised. Sadly, their ʻliberalisingʼ of the moral power of this pre-eminent of all doctrines had allowed them to live a life of self-deception and blasphemy against God.

The context in which Paul uses this statement commences with the words, “Now as touching things offered unto idols” (1 Cor 8:1), and continues to flow through the next few chapters. He was writing to the Corinthians concerning a problem that was affecting the unity of the ecclesia and leading some brethren (the strong ones!) into areas that ought to have had no place in their lives. They gave assent to Paulʼs comment: “we know that an idol is nothing in the world”—they were “strong”, so that going to the local ʻchurchʼ was no problem to them at all. They would “sit at meat in the idolʼs temple” and enjoy the loving, ecumenical company of the priestesses of Aphrodite and all the trappings of those harlot daughters of the idol god. But if questioned on this they would use words similar to the current expression, ʻit doesnʼt affect meʼ. Possibly they felt sorry for the conservative brother who was not ʻliberatedʼ in mind as they were. Why, even Paul called it a “liberty” (v9).

However, the power of Paulʼs argument against such conduct is seen in the summary verses in 1 Corinthians 10:14,22. There he says, “Wherefore, my dearly beloved, flee from idolatry”, and then goes on to explain the kernel of the issue—“fellowship”. Week by week the ecclesia gathered to worship God and remember their Lord and his sacrifice. “The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion [Grk koinonia, fellowship] of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion [Grk koinonia)]of the body of Christ? For we being many are one bread, and one body: for we are all partakers of that one bread” (v16,17). By identifying with the emblems they were showing the unity that was to be seen in our life with Christ and him crucified.

Paul now makes clear the seriousness of the issue. “I say, that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to devils, and not to God: and I would not that ye should have fellowship [Grk koinonia] with devils. Ye cannot drink the cup of the Lord, and the cup of devils: ye cannot be partakers of the Lordʼs table, and of the table of devils. Do we provoke the Lord to jealousy? Are we stronger than he?” (v20–22). It was utterly intolerable to think one could fellowship the Lord Jesus Christ and fellowship “devils” as well. They believed that “devils”, or “demons” as the term is more correctly translated, were their immortalised departed leaders and champions who now acted as intermediaries with the gods. This idea of departed victors being immortalised with the gods became the basis of the ʻpatron saintsʼ of the harlot system and her daughters in Christendom.

For brethren to associate with the local church in Corinth with all its attractive worship, social activity and friendliness was a denial of the fundamental doctrine—“to us there is but one God, the Father”. So it is for us today—attending the local church to enjoy the company and ʻfellowshipʼ of the harlot and her daughters is a violation of the fundamental doctrine, “But to us there is but one God, the Father”.

Israelʼs History of Dual Worship

There was not an Israelite attending the Temple in Jerusalem who did not know this passage: “Hear, O Israel: Yahweh our God is one Yahweh” (Deut 6:4). This clear statement of fact should have immediately separated Israel from the idolatry of Canaan. This was then followed with the sober instruction, “And thou shalt love Yahweh thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might” (v5).

Let us try to grasp the power of this total commitment to love Yahweh by considering a human parallel. When a husband takes a wife he promises to love her completely and be faithful to her. We know the disaster that would follow if he said: “Look, dear, I love you with 80% of my heart but I also love another woman with the other 20% of my affections”. Such action would be ʻprovoking her to jealousyʼ, just as Paul says the Corinthians were doing to the Lord by associating with the local church in Corinth (1 Cor 10:22). Such behaviour was totally unacceptable. It was playing with fire, for Yahweh had warned, “Take heed unto yourselves…for Yahweh thy God is a consuming fire, even a jealous God” (Deut 4:23,24).

Throughout Israelʼs history there was the constant need for the prophets to remind the nation that there is only one Yahweh. This was needful as the people trifled with the religions of Canaan. Isaiah is one such prophet who spoke so emphatically on this. His words were, “I am Yahweh, and there is none else, there is no God beside me…there is none beside me. I am Yahweh, and there is none else” (Isa 45:5,6). Again in this chapter he says, “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” (v21,22). There can be no mistake here. Yahweh our God is “one” and there is none else—no pagan gods or trinity of ʻGod the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Ghostʼ. We should note in this last verse that Yahweh says to all the earth, “Look unto me, and be ye saved”. Yahweh is the Saviour and His plan of salvation was worked out through His Son whom he called Jesus, meaning “Yahwehʼs Salvation”, for he was to save his people from their sins (Matt 1:21).

So Jesus was sent forth by “a just God and a Saviour” and he fulfilled the work that was given him to do. Paul describes this as follows: “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God” (Rom 3:23–25). These principles stated here find no counterpart in the blasphemous teachings of an apostate Christendom with its trinitarian views.

An Example of a Faithful Ecclesial Doorman

It was Jeremiah who was commanded to take up his position as the doorman at the Temple, for the people had provoked Yahweh to anger with their duality in worship. His cry was, “Hear the word of Yahweh, all ye of Judah, that enter in at these gates to worship Yahweh” (Jer 7:2). Jeremiah was talking to people who were actually coming to the Temple to worship. However he had to remind them that they were living a life of deception because they “burnt incense unto Baal, and walked after other gods whom ye know not” (v9). They shared their worship and heart between Yahweh and the gods of the local churches. They enjoyed the fraternisation with the other church groups, not realising where their liberal spirit had taken them. Ultimately the whole family became involved in false worship and provoked Yahweh to anger: “The children gather wood, and the fathers kindle the fire, and the women knead their dough, to make cakes to the queen of heaven, and to pour out drink offerings unto other gods, that they may provoke me to anger” (v18).

Possibly many entering the Temple, on hearing Jeremiahʼs message, would have quietly said, ʻThereʼs a self-righteous legalist”, or “Thereʼs a brother who is too conservative—wants to live in the past”. Little did they realise that Jeremiahʼs desire was for their good. He was a priest who knew that to worship Yahweh “in the beauty of holiness” meant that there must be a single-hearted love and fear of Yahweh.

So often throughout the history of Israel they fell away to a duality in worship. They did not see the seriousness of what they were doing. They did not realise that they had “profaned the holiness of Yahweh which he loved, and married the daughter of a strange god” (Mal 2:11). By their ʻliberalʼ spirit “they had provoked Yahweh to jealousy”.

Do we Provoke Yahweh to Jealousy?

As a community we must be honest and answer this question. We know we all fail at times in faithful obedience to Him, but that is not what we are asking here. Are there some in our community who are treading down the path that leads to a duality of worship? Are there brethren and sisters who are experimenting with the modern ways of worship and study to seek a form of spiritual satisfaction by mimicking the ways of the churches around us—particularly those of the Pentecostals and the like?

The trinitarian god they worship is not the “one God” of our faith. The Jesus they preach is a fictitious character and not Jesus Christ our Lord. The noisy, modern music they use for their ʻworshipʼ, which often expresses the blasphemous teachings they hold, is not the robust praise we see in such places as the Psalms. The appearance of their musicians and singers is, so often, far from the modest deportment of those who are of a “meek and quiet spirit”. The CDʼs of the ʻChristian Bookshopsʼ are generally not the praise that we, as part of the Bride of Christ, should be singing. The novels of ʻChristendomʼ, designed to excite the emotions and spark unwholesome ʻdaydreamsʼ for the spiritually unstable, are not our ways. The modern paraphrase versions of the Bible are not a valid substitute for the more literal translations of the Word of our God.

The trinkets of the Roman Catholic Church once bemused one, but now her daughters have learnt her commercial ways. Let us be vigilant if we do go to a ʻChristian Bookshopʼ to purchase something to assist us in our service to God that we do not come away with something that may provoke Him to jealousy. Let us not be found in close fellowship with those who worship another god, seeking to mimic their ways. We are called upon to “give unto Yahweh the glory due unto his name; and worship Yahweh in the beauty of holiness” (Psa 29:2). Our Lord, when questioned by the woman of Samaria about worship said: “True worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him” (John 4:23). There is no alternate way of acceptable worship.

Paulʼs final instruction to Timothy was, “Preach the word”. The reason—“for the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine [or wholesome teaching]”. So it is the Word of God alone that is the basis of all truth. Paul foretold that there would be those who would “turn away their ears from the truth, and be turned unto fables” (2 Tim 4:2–4). Just as in Corinth, so in this permissive and ecumenical age we need to be very vigilant for “to us there is but one God, the Father”.

Let us then love Him with all our heart, soul, and might, and not provoke Him to jealousy by associating with the harlot and her ways. God calls her a harlot because she plays a deceitful role. She was called to be part of the Bride of Christ and to wait faithfully for his return—but her liberal spirit allowed her to play loose and fast with other gods and gain emotional satisfaction with them. Let this spirit not enter into our hearts or our ecclesias. Rather let us maintain a purity of worship and love for our Father and His Son, and as the Bride of Christ keep ourselves spiritually and morally chaste, patiently waiting for our Lord to return and take us unto himself.