The Christian faith is a monotheistic faith. Though Jehovah’s Witnesses and Muslims tell me I am a polytheist, such is not the case. I am always quick to begin our conversations with the words of Isaiah: “Before me no god was formed, nor shall there be any after me. I, I am the Lord, and besides me there is no savior” (Isa 43:10-11, ESV). Of course, I also use this passage when sharing with Mormons–polytheists who relegate Isaiah’s words to the god over planet earth.
While we take great delight and comfort in the Shema (“Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is one.” -Deu 6:4, ESV), I am not convinced that we recognize the connection of the Oneness of God to the uniqueness of His mission and exclusivity of His salvation.
Writing to Timothy, Paul provides an important teaching regarding this God, His salvation, and the apostolic nature of the Church. After requesting prayers for all people, especially those in places of government, he writes:
This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all. . . . For this I was appointed a preacher and an apostle. . . a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth (1 Tim 2:3-7, ESV).
From this passage, we see God’s singularity and heart. This God loves the world (John 3:16) for He desires everyone to be saved. He is the only God (Hos 13:4) and knows there is no other god providing another option for salvation.
No god of eros, or wine, or pleasure is able to save. Neptune is unavailable. Hermes is not an option for salvation. Zeus is not an alternative savior. There is only One; and He knows this. It is His way or the highway. And He does not give His glory to another (Isa 48:11).
So, this One, apostolic God:
- Sends Himself into creation and calls out: “Turn to me and be saved, all the ends of the earth! For I am God, and there is no other” (Isa 45:22, ESV).
- Sends the Son into creation and calls out: He is the ransom for all (1 Tim 2:6)!
- (along with the Son and Spirit) sends the Church into creation to carry out the apostolic work of making disciples of panta ta ethne “in faith and truth” (1 Tim 2:7).
The apostolic nature of the Church is derived from God’s essence and actions. He sends Himself to cross the cultural gap to redeem and restore. He calls the Church to have His heart and imitate His actions. He sends the Church to continue this apostolic work, across the street and across the world.
John Stott states it well: “Our exclusive faith (there is one God, and no other), leads necessarily to our inclusive mission (the one God wants all men to be saved)” (The Message of 1 Timothy and Titus, 67).
Our one, Savior God sends us, across cultural gaps, to our community, across the continent, and throughout the world because He “desires all people to be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth (1 Tim 2:4).”