Did Jesus deny being God?
Dear brothers and sisters,
If I am standing in front of the IBM headquarters building, and a fellow employee unknowingly asked be "Is this your building, do you own this building?"
Then I replied "This Building is NOT MY OWN, but it belongs to The ONE WHO EMPLOYEES ME"
This would clarify to the person asking that I AM NOT THE OWNER, I am just one of the workers. I do not own the building (Universe) the one I work for owns it.
Another Example is:
If I am at a gathering of people in a friend's house, and a fellow guest unknowingly asked me, "Is this your house?" I would reply "This is not my house but it is the house of the ONE WHO INVITED ME"
This would clarify to the fellow guest that again, I am NOT THE OWNER of the house.
Seemingly, Ghounem assumes that Jesus is not the owner of the building or the house, i.e. Jesus is not the Creator/Ruler of heaven and earth, but one of its guests. Let us see what the Holy Bible says:
"Then Jesus came to them and said, 'All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.'" Matthew 28:18
"All things have been committed to me by my Father. No one knows who the Son is except the Father, and no one knows who the Father is except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him." Luke 10:22
"But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. He will bring glory to me by taking from what is mine and making it known to you. All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will take from what is mine and make it known to you." John 16:13
"After Jesus said this, he looked toward heaven and prayed: 'Father, the time has come. Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you. For you granted him authority over all people that he might give eternal life to all those you have given him. Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent. I have brought you glory on earth by completing the work you gave me to do. And now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began." John 17:1-5
"All I have is yours, and all you have is mine. And glory has come to me through them." John 17:10
"In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom he made the universe. The Son is the radiance of God's glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven." Hebrews 1:1-3
Just in case Ghounem tries to water down the statements from the Lord Jesus Christ, we appeal to what he believes to be authoritative scriptures to show that the claims made by Jesus affirm that the Lord Jesus is God:
"To Him belongs the dominion of the heavens and the earth: It is He who gives life and death; and He has power over all things." S. 57:2
"To God belongeth the dominion of the heavens and the earth; And God hath power over all things." S. 3:189
"And certainly We! We it is Who give life, and cause death, and We are THE HEIRS." S. 15:23
"Lo! We, only We, inherit the earth and all who are thereon, and unto Us they are returned." S. 19:40
Continuing with the New Testament, we are also told that the Lord Jesus is the Creator and Sustainer of all things:
"For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. FOR BY HIM all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created BY HIM AND FOR HIM. He is before all things, AND IN HIM ALL THINGS HOLD TOGETHER." Colossians 1:13-17
The Lord Jesus is the creator of all things and is the One who sustains everything. Furthermore, this passage affirms that the Lord Jesus created all things for himself.
"But about the Son he says… 'In the beginning, O Lord, you laid the foundations of the earth, and the heavens are the work of your hands. They will perish, but you remain; they will all wear out like a garment. You will roll them up like a robe; like a garment they will be changed. But you remain the same, and your years will never end.’" Hebrews 1:8, 10-12
According to the author of Hebrews, the Father is addressing the Son as the eternal, immutable, sovereign Creator of heaven and earth.
"Therefore, holy brothers, who share in the heavenly calling, fix your thoughts on Jesus, the apostle and high priest whom we confess. He was faithful to the one who appointed him, just as Moses was faithful in all God's house. Jesus has been found worthy of greater honor than Moses, just as the builder of a house has greater honor than the house itself. For every house is built by someone, but God is the builder of everything. Moses was faithful as a servant in all God's house, testifying to what would be said in the future. But Christ is faithful as a son over God's house. And we are his house, if we hold on to our courage and the hope of which we boast." Hebrews 3:1-6
Jesus is worthy of more honor than Moses since Moses was just a servant in the house, whereas Jesus being God is the owner and builder of the house.
Finally, Ghounem is unable to produce one verse from the Lord Jesus where Christ denies that he is the Creator. What Ghounem tries to do is bring up verses that he feels prove his point. But as we shall see, the verses do not prove the conclusion that Ghounem seeks to demonstrate.
Did Jesus make such statements regarding his status, the words, the will and the power he used?
"Jesus answered them and said, "My doctrine is not Mine, but His who sent Me." [John 7:16]
"He who does not love Me does not keep My words; and the word which you hear is not Mine but the Father's who sent Me." [John 14:24]
"For I have not spoken on My own authority; but the Father who sent Me gave Me a command, what I should say and what I should speak." [John 12:49]
Ghounem thinks that by quoting these passages he can prove that Jesus is not God. All that Ghounem has proven is his gross misunderstanding of the doctrine of the Holy Trinity. The Trinity does not entail that the three persons function independently, every person doing whatever they please independently from the others. Had this been so, it would no longer have been one eternal Being, but three independent beings. This would entail the belief in three gods, not one Supreme God.
Rather, the Trinity entails the belief that the three persons work in perfect unity, doing all things in conjunction with the others. Hence, any statement showing Christ doing only that which is commanded of him affirms the perfect, inseparable unity of the Godhead. The three persons are not independent, but interdependent. Proof of this can be fond in the Gospel of John:
"But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak ON HIS OWN; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come." John 16:13
Neither Christ nor the Holy Spirit do anything on their own initiative. Whatever the Father does, the Son does likewise, with the Holy Spirit being in perfect harmony and agreement. Much like the Father, Jesus is able to give eternal life, raise the dead and judge all men. In order for Jesus to be able to do all the works that his Father can do, he must be God since the Father does things that only God can do. This is precisely what Trinitarians believe, that Jesus works in perfect unity with the Father and the Holy Spirit since all three are equally God in nature, having the same infinite power to accomplish all that they desire.
"Jesus said to them, "My food is to do the will of him who sent me, and to accomplish his work." [John 4:34]
"For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me." [John 6:38]
"saying, "Father, if it is Your will, take this cup away from Me; nevertheless not My will, but Yours, be done." [Luke 22:42]
Precisely the point made above, namely that Christ only does that which his Father does since it is not two independent beings who have a conflict of interest. Rather, it is two persons communicating with each other in intimate love, sharing one eternal Being. So Christ seeks not to do his will, but rather to fulfill the will of him who sent him and who is also the object of his eternal love:
"…but the world must learn that I love the Father and that I do exactly what my Father has commanded me. Come now; let us leave." John 14:31
"If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father's commands and remain in his love." John 15:10
This love is reciprocal in that the Son has also been the eternal object of the Father’s infinite love:
"I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world." John 17:23-24
And believers partake of this love through the outpouring of God’s eternal Spirit:
"I urge you, brothers, by our Lord Jesus Christ and by the love of the Spirit, to join me in my struggle by praying to God for me." Romans 15:30
"I can of Myself do nothing. As I hear, I judge; and My judgment is righteous, because I do not seek My own will but the will of the Father who sent Me." [John 5:30]
Let us read this passage with the verses that precede it to see what Jesus actually meant in 5:30:
"Jesus said to them, 'Very truly, I tell you, the Son can do nothing on his own, but only what he sees the Father doing; for whatever the Father does, THE SON DOES LIKEWISE. The Father loves the Son and shows him all that he himself is doing; and he will show him greater works than these, so that you will be astonished. Indeed, just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, SO ALSO THE SON GIVES LIFE TO WHOMEVER HE WISHES. The Father judges no one but has given all judgment to the Son, SO THAT ALL MAY HONOR THE SON JUST AS THEY HONOR THE FATHER. Anyone who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent him. I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life. I tell you the truth, a time is coming and has now come when the dead will hear THE VOICE OF THE SON OF GOD and those who hear will live. For as the Father has life in himself, so he has grant ed the Son to have life in himself. And he has given him authority to judge because he is the Son of Man. Do not be amazed at this, for a time is coming when all who are in their graves will hear HIS VOICE and come out-those who have done good will rise to live, and those who have done evil will rise to be condemned.'" John 5:19-29
To reiterate our point, Trinitarians do not believe that the three Persons function independently, but rather they work in perfect harmony and unity. Hence, any reference of Jesus doing what is commanded of him reinforces the Trinitarian understanding of God.
"I tell you the truth, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him." [John 13:16]
"You heard me say, 'I am going away and I am coming back to you.' If you loved me, you would be glad that I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I." [John 14:28]
Ghounem confuses Jesus' position with Jesus' essence and nature. A servant is not greater than his master by virtue of his position. Yet the servant is no less human than the one who is higher in authority over him. Likewise, Jesus as the son relates to the Father in submission and is not as great positionally. Yet, much like earthly sons are equal with their fathers in nature, yet not in position, the Son is also equal to the Father in essence yet inferior to him in position. This again exposes Ghounem’s fundamental ignorance on what biblical Trinitarian doctrine entails.
"Jesus said to them, "If God were your Father, you would love me, for I proceeded and came forth from God; I came not of my own accord, but he sent me." [John 8:42]
Again, Jesus works in perfect unity and harmony with the Father, doing only what the Father commands, precisely what Trinitarians believe. Furthermore, had Ghounem read this verse in context along with the rest of the Gospel of John he would have discovered that the Lord Jesus affirms his heavenly preexistence with the Father in glory:
"For the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world." John 6:33
"For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me." John 6:38
"At this the Jews began to grumble about him because he said, I am the bread that came down from heaven.’" John 6:41
"’But here is the bread that comes down from heaven, which a man may eat and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.’" John 6:50-51
"But he continued, 'You are from below; I am from above. You are of this world; I am not of this world. I told you that you would die in your sins; if you do not believe that I AM, you will indeed die in your sins.’" John 8:23-24
"’Your father Abraham rejoiced at the thought of seeing my day; he saw it and was glad.' 'You are not yet fifty years old,’ the Jews said to him, 'and you have seen Abraham!’ 'I tell you the truth," Jesus answered, 'before Abraham was born, I AM!’" John 8:56-58
"I came from the Father and entered the world; now I am leaving the world and going back to the Father." John 16:28
"And now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you BEFORE THE WORLD BEGAN." John 17:5
Interestingly, the Lord had sworn to never give his own glory to any other:
"I am the LORD; that is my name! I will not give my glory to another or my praise to idols." Isaiah 42:8
"For my own sake, for my own sake, I do this. How can I let myself be defamed? I will not yield my glory to another." Isaiah 48:11
Yet Jesus claims to have preexisted in the same glory that the Father had before the creation of the world. This affirms that both Father and Son are the one God Yahweh.
"To sit at my right hand and at my left is not mine to grant, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared by my Father" [Matthew 20:23]
Again, Ghounem confuses function with essence. Jesus could not grant a position of authority since he himself was under his Father’s authority, seeing that he was acting as God’s servant while on earth. It has nothing to do with Jesus’ essence and nature.
"But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father." [Mr 13:32]
"But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only." [Mt 24:36]
"So Jesus answered them, "My teaching is not mine, but his who sent me" [John 7:16]
Ghounem fails to realize that the Holy Bible teaches that Jesus is God who also became man. Hence, as the God-man the one person of Christ has both a divine and human consciousness. In his human consciousness, his knowledge was finite and could not retain the knowledge of his divine consciousness. The fact that Jesus is omniscient can be seen in the following passages:
"Now we can see that you know all things and that you do not even need to have anyone ask you questions. This makes us believe that you came from God.’ 'You believe at last!’ Jesus answered." John 16:30-31
"The third time he said to him, 'Simon son of John, do you love me?’ Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, 'Do you love me?’ He said, 'Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you." Jesus said, 'Feed my sheep." John 21:17
"I will strike her children dead. Then all the churches will know that I am he who searches hearts and minds, and I will repay each of you according to your deeds." Revelation 2:23
"I the LORD search the heart and examine the mind, to reward a man according to his conduct, according to what his deeds deserve." Jeremiah 17:10
These passages establish that Jesus is omniscient. Hence, Jesus had both a divine consciousness as well as a human one.
"Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven." [Mt 7:21]
Ghounem seemingly is trying to show that Jesus denied being Lord. Let us read this verse in context to see what Jesus again actually meant.
"Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of MY FATHER who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy IN YOUR NAME, and IN YOUR NAME drive out demons and perform many miracles?' Then I WILL TELL THEM plainly, 'I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’" Matthew 7:21-23
Far from denying his Lordship, Jesus affirms that he is the Lord of the Day of Judgment, the very One who will determine the eternal destiny of every individual. This point is brought out explicitly from the following passages:
"And then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see THE SON OF MAN COMING ON THE CLOUDS OF THE SKY with power and great glory. And He will send forth HIS ANGELS with A GREAT TRUMPET, and they will gather together HIS ELECT from the four winds, from one end of the sky to the other." Matthew 24:30-31
"But when the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, then He will sit on His glorious throne. And all the nations will be gathered before Him; and He will separate them from one another, as the shepherd separates the sheep from the goats; and He will put the sheep on His right and the goats on the left. Then the King will say to those on His right, 'Come, you who are blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world’... Then He will say to those on His left, 'Depart from Me, accursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels.’" Matthew 25:31-34, 41
"You call me 'Teacher’ and 'Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another's feet." John 13:13-14
Jesus also affirms that believers have the power to perform miracles and cast out demons in his name:
"John said to Him, 'Teacher, we saw someone casting out demons IN YOUR NAME, and we tried to hinder him because he was not following us.' But Jesus said, 'Do not hinder him, for there is no one who shall perform a miracle IN MY NAME, and be able soon afterward to speak evil of Me.’" Mark 9:38-39
"And the seventy returned with joy, saying, 'LORD, even the demons are subject to us IN YOUR NAME'... 'Behold I HAVE GIVEN YOU AUTHORITY to tread upon serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall injure you.’" Luke 10:17, 19
Jesus' whole point is that those who profess him as Lord must obey him as Lord:
"Why do you call me, Lord, Lord, and do not do what I say? I will show you what he is like who comes to me and hears my words and puts them into practice. He is like a man building a house, who dug down deep and laid the foundation on rock. When a flood came, the torrent struck that house but could not shake it, because it was well built. But the one who hears my words and does not put them into practice is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. The moment the torrent struck that house, it collapsed and its destruction was complete." Luke 6:46-49
"And Jesus said to him, "Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone." [Mr 10:18]
Here is our response to Badawi on the issue if whether Jesus is actually denying being good:
Badawi reads too much into the text since Jesus never said he was not good, but questioned the man why he was calling Jesus good. Christ was trying to get the man to realize that to say Jesus was good meant he was God since only God is good. If the man really believed this he should be willing to give everything up for Christ, even his riches, following him wholeheartedly as he would God. When confronted with the reality of having to give up everything for Christ, the man turned away showing that he really did not believe at all what his words were implying. (cf. Mark 10:17- 22)
Jesus elsewhere affirms that he is absolutely good. How good? Good enough to be called Shepherd, an OT epithet of Yahweh God:
"I am the GOOD SHEPHERD. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep... I am the GOOD SHEPHERD..." John 10:11, 14 (cf. Psalm 23:1, 80:1) (http://answering-islam.org/Shamoun/badawi-jesus2.htm)
In fact, Jesus affirms that he is absolutely sinless:
"He who speaks on his own does so to gain honor for himself, but he who works for the honor of the one who sent him is a man of truth; there is nothing false about him." John 7:18
"The one who sent me is with me; he has not left me alone, for I always do what pleases him." John 8:29
"Can any of you prove me guilty of sin? If I am telling the truth, why don't you believe me?" John 8:46
"And I do not seek My own glory; there is One who seeks and judges." [John 8:50]
We cannot see in what way this passage denies the deity of Christ. The Holy Bible clearly teaches that three persons of the Godhead glorify the others since they are the objects of the others’ love:
"When he was gone, Jesus said, 'Now is the Son of Man glorified and God is glorified in him. If God is glorified in him, God will glorify the Son in himself, and will glorify him at once.’" John 13:31-32
"But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. He will bring glory to me by taking from what is mine and making it known to you. All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will take from what is mine and make it known to you.'" John 16:13-15
"After Jesus said this, he looked toward heaven and prayed: 'Father, the time has come. Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you… And now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began.'" John 17:1, 5
Some Christians, (not all) claim that Jesus _implied_ that he was God, from the above verses, we see that Jesus denied being God, it now leaves the Christians who believe Jesus is God to provide just one single verse in the Bible where Jesus says "I am God" there is no such verse, the God of Abraham in the Old Testament stated "I am God" over 200 times, yet oddly Jesus never uttered those three words once in the Gospel, so we see from the many quotes above, that the House did not belong to Jesus, it belonged to the One who Sent him.
Peace and Blessings
Christians have a solid basis for claiming that Jesus is God. We have taken up Ghounem's challenge and shown how he has either misunderstood what the Trinity is and what Christians believe about Jesus, or has misquoted the scriptures in order to arrive at his conclusions.
Furthermore, Ghounem uses the tiresome argument that Jesus never said he was God so therefore he cannot be God. Yet, by the same token the Father never once says in the New Testament that he is God. It is others that say this of him. Using Ghounem's logic, this would prove that the Father is also not God.
Finally, Ghounem must assume that the God of the OT is unipersonal as opposed to being triune in nature. Hence, everytime Yahweh affirms that he alone is God, Ghounem must assume that this God is not Trinitarian. Yet, the fact is the God of the Old Testament is a Triune Being as opposed to being merely unipersonal:
"Listen to me, O Jacob, Israel, whom I have called: I am he; I am the first and I am the last. My own hand laid the foundations of the earth, and my right hand spread out the heavens; when I summon them, they all stand up together. Come together, all of you, and listen: Which of [the idols] has foretold these things? The LORD's chosen ally will carry out his purpose against Babylon; his arm will be against the Babylonians. I, even I, have spoken; yes, I have called him. I will bring him, and he will succeed in his mission. Come near me and listen to this: From the first announcement I have not spoken in secret; at the time it happens, I am there. And now the Sovereign LORD has sent me, with his Spirit." Isaiah 48:12-16
Here, Yahweh claims that another who is called Yahweh is sending him along with his Spirit. Interestingly, Jesus applies these titles, "I AM he" and "the First and the Last", to himself:
"Jesus, knowing all that was going to happen to him, went out and asked them, 'Who is it you want?' 'Jesus of Nazareth,' they replied. 'I am he,' Jesus said. (And Judas the traitor was standing there with them.) When Jesus said, 'I am he,' they drew back and fell to the ground." John 18:4-6
In light of these verses, everytime the God of the OT affirms his deity this also applies to the Father, Son and Holy Spirit since all three are the one God of the Hebrews.
Hopefully, this debate on the deity of Christ has finally come to rest. In reality, nothing that Muslims bring up has thus far been able to deny the historic biblical teaching on the person of Jesus Christ our Lord.
Responses to Mohamed Ghounem
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