Let's start with what God reveals to us in His Word, the Bible:
"Hear, O Israel ! The LORD is our God, the LORD is one!" Deuteronomy 6:4 NAS(1)
"For I am the LORD your God, The Holy One of Israel, your Savior; I have given Egypt as your ransom, Cush and Seba in your place."Isaiah 43:3
"Remember the former things long past, For I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is no one like Me," Isaiah 46:9 Are You not from everlasting, O LORD, my God, my Holy One? We will not die. You, O LORD, have appointed them to judge ; And You, O Rock, have established them to correct." Habakkuk 1:12
"And the LORD will be king over all the earth; in that day the LORD will be the only one, and His name the only one. Zechariah 14:9 So, the Bible calls God: One. The Holy One. The LORD. Your Savior. My God. My Holy One. You, O Rock. King. LORD. His Name. The Only One.
You get the idea. God is One God. He is referenced by singular names. These verses are Old Testament references to God. When you study the New Testament, the concept of the Trinity emerges, but I will have to address that at a later time.
Next, the idea of one:NumeroUno.
At what age do you recognize your name? (Turn to look, when someone says your name?) Your stuff. ("Mine!") When do you obtain the concept of "me" "mine" "my____"? At what age do you recognize your own personhood? Your will? (No!") How early do you begin to talk about singular items? "Just one,pleeese?"
Some years ago, my sister took her son, who was just a few months over his first birthday, on a plane trip. When he indicated he wanted a dime, she was surprised. "Dime? dime?" "You want a dime, Joey?" "Uh, huh." "Why do you want a dime?" "Candy." Joe had already grasped the idea of one. One dime could get him candy.
This illustration shows the idea of one (self or other) occurs before you are old enough to go to school. Most kids, by the time they are able to hold up two fingers to indicate their age, can count to one (or two).
My point is: the idea of One is very basic. (I resist asking at what age some learn the idea of two: "we." Don't answer, I need some hope for mankind).
God is revealed as One in the Bible, and the idea of One is basic, so why do people have a difficult idea with One God? (I don't have an answer, I'm just asking.)
Now let's take a stroll through Mathematics and discover some things about the number One.
For review: How old do you have to be to count to one? Very good.
Now, Let's say you were travelling down a yardstick on the back of a ladybug. (Work with me here).
How far is the distance between zero and one?
0 + 1" = 1
So you need to go one inch to get from zero to one, right?
How about the distance to go from one to two.
1 + 1" = 2
Answer is the same 1".
Pretty easy, huh? Counting up one inch at a time (addition) makes the journey "quick and easy."
1 + 1 + 1 + 1 + 1. . .
Just for fun: Let's pretend your ladybug is tired. She can only move once a day, and each day she can only go 1/2 the distance of one inch.
Day one = 1/2 inch
Day two = 1/2 inch
Therefore it takes 2 days to go 1" because from zero to one, she travels 1/2" the first day, and 1/2" the second day. 1/2" + 1/2" = 1" Easy. (How old do you have to be to do the math?)
Here's the deal: Let's pretend your ladybug can only go 1/2 the distance of the day before. She starts at zero, and goes 1/2 the distance to 1.
Day one = 1/2"
The next day she starts at 1/2 and goes half of the previous day's 1/2 inch (1/2" x 1/2" = 1/4" or half of a half is a quarter)
Day two = 1/4" (You need to add both distances together for the new stopping point so the total for Days 1 & 2 = 3/4")
The third day, she starts at 3/4" and goes half the distance (1/4") of the day before. (1/2 x 1/4 = 1/8 or Half of a quarter is one-eighth). Started at 3/4" and moved 1/8" Total is now 7/8." We are making progress! (Are we there yet?. . .No)
Day 3 you are at 7/8"
Now the question: Continuing on the same schedule, how many days does it take you to get to 1?
Don't forget: Each day you are covering half the distance of the day before.
When does the total reach 1(2)? Keep working, keep working. . .Use your calculator?
Okay, this question is a bit tricky. You don't have enough numbers small enough [or large enough(3)] to measure the distance from 0 to 1.
But I did a minute ago!
That's because you measured in chunks. You took a chunk called 1 and it became your unit of measure. You cut it into 2 pieces, called them each half, used one-half and the other one half putting them back together and called them one. However, if you divide the unit into small enough parts that you can't measure them, you can't put them back together and call them one.
When I taught Math, I called the distance between the numbered points on a yardstick: "pockets of Infinity." There is a lot more between zero and one, than you can count. If you were to draw the distance as a loop from zero to 1, and tried to measure it the way we just tried to, you still couldn't label all the numbers. If one and zero were on Earth 1" apart, and you drew the loop from the earth to the sun, you could not indicate all the numbers on the line.
I believe that measures are only as accurate as the mind that made them. In higher forms of math we deal with square roots, imaginary numbers, infinity: all ideas that measure concepts we don't understand - but God does. God measured incredible distances when he formed the universe- so far in fact, that we measure them in terms of speed? [Light-years] His mind is light-years beyond ours. He says His ways are "higher" than ours. How high? How far? How fast? We cannot measure them.
Isn't it interesting, that although our God inhabits eternity and has many limitless qualities, He didn't reveal Himself as Infinity or Innumerable light-years - but as One?
How big IS your God?
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ (1) All scriptures used are from the New American Standard translation of the Bible. (2) Never? Forever? Only God knows! (3) For example: 1/x where x= to the largest number that exists -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
I woke up in a panic. Fear and darkness were pressing in on me.
I went into the living room in full panic and shook as I sat on the couch.
I had made only three tiny fly bodies out of black thread.
It was up to me to make the bodies for my next life.
Then it hit me: “How will I make bodies for subsequent lives when I am a fly?
As I called out in prayer,
split the darkness
and spoke emphatically to me,
“. . . I am the Resurrection
and the Life;
he who believes in Me . . .will never die.”
Although not a perfect representation of reincarnation, my dream left me with the angst and hopelessness of dying - to live & die - again & again. It also highlighted the aspect in the cycle of reincarnation, that it is up to the individual to prepare for the "next life."
Many people in the West are adding the idea of reincarnation to their belief system. It sounds a bit like resurrection on the surface. You die, then you come back, hopefully in a “higher” life. But, this is where the comparison ends. Reincarnation is a cycle of death. You live, then die, to live and die again. The highest state in Hinduism and Buddhism is to attain Nirvana – or the state of nothingness. This is the place where you have finally graduated from the physical cycle of death and have merged with the life force (or the one spirit that flows through all living things). The goal is to escape the body (any body) to exist without a body as spirit (not a spirit). Individuality is gone. (You are "assimilated" into the life force).
By contrast, Resurrection is when person dies they are given an eternal body. They go live with God and never die again. In the book of Hebrews chapter 9:27 we are told “it is appointed for men to die once” (physically). There is no circle of life, death, life, and death. Also, in Resurrection, one does not escape the body and merge with one spirit, but rather each person remains unique, living in an eternal body that God has prepared for them. The Bible also indicates that we recognize one another and will be recognized by others. There is no loss of individuality.
The Resurrection of Christ is the most important event in Christianity. You see, for Christ to have risen from the dead, He had to conquer death and sin. The fact of the Resurrection(1) of Christ, a) demonstrates His sacrifice satisfied the Father’s judgment against sin,(2)b) demonstrates his power over death, c) demonstrates His deity, and d) gives us confidence that we will also will live with Him as He said. We have confidence: “[because] the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set [us] free from the law of sin and of death.” ( Romans 8:2) On the other hand as the Apostle Paul said, “. . . if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is vain, your faith also is vain.” And “. . .if Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins.” (1 Corinthians 15:14,17)
The hope Christians have as a result Jesus’ Resurrection, is in His ability to make us new – body, soul and spirit. For example: we are told, "Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away ; behold, new things have come." (2 Corinthians 5:17) This indicates the resurrection power of Christ is changing us inside and out. The Apostle Paul also wrote, "Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man (physical body) is decaying, yet our inner man (soul and spirit) is being renewed day by day." (2 Corinthians 4:16) For those of us who are experiencing the changes in our desires, actions, attitudes, etc - we experience the power of Christ's resurrection daily.
By the same power, when anyone believes in (surrenders to) God and acknowledges he/she are a sinner (not perfect). God has promised to forgive each person's sins and to cleanse them from all their unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9) In other words, when we surrender to God in this way we are made alive in Christ (spiritually). Secondly, we also begin to be sanctified (cleaned up) daily (in our soul/personality), and that when we die (physically), our dead bodies will be replaced with eternal ones. Although I won't give all the references here, we are saved spiritually at salvation, our souls are being saved as we daily walk with God & allow Him to change us, and we will be saved physically at death.(3)
In conclusion, the resurrection of Christ is the most important event in Christianity. He is alive, and the grave is empty. This event alone separates Christianity from all other "religions," whose leaders have died, and whose graves are visited by their adherents. Our God is the Living God. He offers us ever lasting life.
This weekend I challenge you to consider what God has done for us. He sent His Son in human flesh (incarnation) to die for our sins, that we who receive Him might live with God. One incarnation for individuals to be made whole – not a series of personal reincarnations to “lose” our selves forever.
(1) We can look at the evidence for the resurrection at another time.
(2) ". . .but now once . . .He has been manifested to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself." (Hebrews 9:26b) (3) There are many passages that speak to this, but I am not going to list them all here.