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Free Books » Bonar, Horatius » Light & Truth: Acts and the Larger Epistles

Chapter 72 - 1 Corinthians 8:4-6 - The Many Gods and the One God Light & Truth: Acts and the Larger Epistles by Bonar, Horatius

The meaning of this passage might be more fully expressed thus: "As concerning the things sacrificed to idols, we know that an idol is a nothing in the world, and that there is no God but one; but even were there those beings that are called gods, either in heaven or on earth, as indeed there are gods many and lords many (gods and demigods as they are called), yet to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we for Him (for His service and glory, έζ and έις contrasted); and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by Him." It is like Joshua's "as for me" (Joshua 24:15).

Here are (1) the world's many gods; (2) the saint's one God; (3) the saint's one Christ.

I. The world's many gods. To make gods for himself has been man's great object all along. Every nation has had its gods, and every age. Assyria had its gods; Babylon, Egypt, Persia, Greece, Rome. Men multiplied gods without number. Everything or anything that could be a substitute for God, in any shape, animate or inanimate, men set up and worshipped. They were never tired of god-making. All of them vanity; things that profit nothing; vain helpers in the time of need. O world! what will become of thy many gods in the day when Jehovah arises to shake terribly the earth? And what profit will these gods afford the millions who have fled to them for refuge? Is there no god-making still, even in our day? Money, business, pleasure, lusts, luxuries! Are not these thy gods, O world? And are these better than the gods of Greece? Will they prove more helpful in the day of trouble than Baal, or Jupiter, or Buddha? Will they forgive, and save, and comfort?

II. The saint's one God. Yes; one only, the living and the true God. Jehovah is His name. With undistracted eye the Christian looks but to One, not many; with undivided heart he fixes on One, not many; His heart was made for only One, and that one sufficient to fill his whole heart, and soul, and being. How the thought of that one God,—infinite, eternal, and unchangeable,—makes all that are called gods to vanish utterly away. One infinite Jehovah, King eternal, immortal and invisible, He is our portion. "Jehovah is my portion, saith my soul." We need no other; we need no more. This God is our God. Whom have we in heaven but Him, and whom on earth do we desire besides Him? One God, Jehovah, King of kings, and Lord of lords, Creator of heaven and earth, who filleth all in all, "this is our God forever and ever: He will be our guide even unto death" (Psalm 48:14).

III. The saint's one Christ. "To us there is but one Lord Jesus Christ." As there are many beings who go under the name of God, so are there many who go under the name of Christ, yet there is but one Christ, not two, nor many. The tendency of the present day is to multiply Christ's. A Christ as the impersonation or representative of humanity is quite in accordance with the spirit of the age. But every one wants to have his own Christ, just as each heathen wanted to have his own god; the Christ that suits his own fancy, or his own philosophy, or his own intellect, or his own circumstances. So that there are many Christ's in the world even among those who profess to take the Bible as their instructor; still more among those who reject it; for even among those there is a groping after a Christ, and the cry goes up, Ecce Homo! Some want a Christ who is not God; others a Christ who is not a sacrifice; a Christ without a cross, and without blood; a Christ who will teach but not expiate sin; a Christ whose life and death are an example of self-surrender to the utmost, but not an atonement; a Christ who is not a judge, nor a law-giver, nor a priest, and only a prophet in the sense of teacher. Thus in the present day there are many Christ's. It has been so all along; only the apostle John calls them not Christ's but Antichrists—"many Antichrists." To us there is but one Christ. He who was announced as the woman's seed; He of whom Abel's sacrifice spoke; He of whom Enoch prophesied as the avenger; He who was revealed to Abraham as his seed; He of whom Job spoke as the Redeemer; He of whom Moses spoke as the Prophet; of whose work the whole book of Leviticus is full; He of whom David sang, as the sufferer, yet the King; He of whom Isaiah and all the prophets sang; He who proclaimed Himself as come to seek the lost; to whom John the Baptist pointed as the Lamb of God; who hung on the cross, and died in anguish, yet rose again and ascended on high; He is the one Christ whom we recognize.

If thus, then, there is but one Christ, then there is but

(1.) One cross. Only one; the cross in which Paul gloried, and on which our Surety hung. To acknowledge that one cross is life; to reject it is death.

(2.) One Priest. Jesus, our great High Priest, whose is the one unchangeable and everlasting Priesthood; Jesus, who suffered the just for the unjust, and now ever liveth to make intercession for us!

(3.) One altar. The altar of the great burnt-offering is the one altar for us. If there be many Christ's, there may be many altars; if one Christ, then but one altar.

(4.) One sacrifice. Only one! No victim but the one Christ. No blood but that of the one Christ. All self appointed, self-made sacrifices are vain. They cannot take away sin. The one offering can.

(5.) One way to the kingdom. There is but a single gate, and a single way; yet these suffice. We need no more. "I am the way." "No man cometh unto the Father but by me."