What is it?  What do we mean by it?  How do we defend it?

Why is it important?

If the deity of Jesus Christ isn’t true:

  1. The Bible isn’t true.  It is so well attested to in Scripture, that if untrue, the Bible cannot be believed. (don’t forget we spoke about the Authenticity of the Bible last session).
  2. The atonement is ineffective.  We are made from dust and therefore have limited value.   You can’t possibly atone for the depth of my sin against the immutable and Holy God. Jesus Christ, being the Son of God has infinite value and alone can atone for our sin.

Show me where Jesus ever said, “I am God (or Son of God), worship me.”

Nowhere.  But that isn’t surprising.  If I came to you and said that I was God, would you believe me?  Besides, Jesus praised Peter because the Father had revealed to him that Jesus was the Son of God.  It is a spiritual truth, but one we should be prepared to defend and explain.

Groups got together and explored Bible passages from the Gospels where Jesus made these claims and what they meant.  Some excellent responses.  A small list of supporting verses can be found

What the Qur’anTeaches (many more references were given on Saturday night)

Allah has no son. – Sura 112:1-4
Unforgivable sin. – Sura 4:48
Jesus just a slave. – Sura 19:30

Claim:  At the Council of Nicea (AD 325) Jesus was declared to be the Devine

Muslims frequently say, or imply, that before AD325, Christians believed that Jesus was just a man, and that at the Council of Nicea, Christendom suddenly declared the view heretical and announced the orthodox view that Jesus was the Son of God and of the same essence as the Father.

The facts:

  • Council of Nicea 325 decided the date of Easter and settled the issue of deity of Jesus Christ.
  • Council was convened because of Arius who was causing problems amongst the churches declaring that Jesus was a creation. 1800 bishops were invited approx 300 attended.  Each bishop was allowed to bring 2 priests and 3 deacons.  More than 1800 could have been in attendace.
  • Arius argued that Jesus, the son of God was created before the world began, but that there was a time he had no existance.  He was the first of the creations of God, but just a creation.  Debate got heated and St Nicolas (aka Santa Clause) hit Arius and was exluded for a time from the council.
  • The Council eventually declared that Jesus, the Son of God was co-eternal with God and of the same substance on the basis that this was the doctrine handed down from the Apostles.

Jesus Christ is described as “God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God,” proclaiming his divinity. When all light sources were natural, the essence of light was considered to be identical, regardless of its form.   Jesus Christ is said to be “begotten, not made”, asserting his co-eternalness with God, and confirming it by stating his role in the Creation. Basically, they were saying that Jesus was God, and God’s son, not a creation of God.

The initial number of bishops supporting Arius was small. After a month of discussion, on June 19, there were only two left.  The fact that Constantine declared that any who opposed the creed would be exiled was probably the reason Arius and only two other bishops refused to change their views.  But Arius did not enjoy widespread support before the council.

What the Qur’an teaches about Jesus

Many more refernces were given on the night.

Word of God. – Sura 4:171
Spirit of God. – Sura 66:12
Creates with his breath – Sura 5:110
Judge. – Ibn Kathir Tafsir on Sura 3:45
Sinless. – Sura 3:46

All the prophets were regarded as Sinless, but only Jesus has not sins recorded.  In fact, Jesus asked his opposition who can accuse him of any wrong.

All the prophets have sinned.  Muhmammad was commanded to ask for the forgiveness of his own sin.

Sins of the prophets:

Adam (Sura 2:33-37; 7:23, 189-190; 20:119-121)
Noah (Sura 11:46-48)
Abraham (Sura 2:260; 6:75-79; 21:57-65; 26:69-82)
Moses (Sura 26:18-21; 28:15-16)
Aaron (Sura 7:150-151; 20:92-94)
Muhammad (Sura 4:105-106; 40:55; 47:19; 48:1-2; Bukhari, Vol. 8, Hadith No. 319 and 407)

Page 154 of Share the Gospel with Muslims have the full references. Contact the IMI office for more details.

5 Curly Questions: Didn’t Jesus deny his deity?

Five questions were presented to the groups who discussed possible responses.  The groups swapped members and other groups shared their curly questions and suggested answers.  The 5 questions relied on an intimate understanding of what it meant to be the Word of God.

Before we start; What do we mean by Jesus is the Word of God?

God is Holy, true, thoroughly consistent, without any variablility.  When God made the World, he merely spoke it, and it came to be.  He used His Word to create and sustain the World.  John 1 declares that “In the beginning was the Word… “; was there ever a time when God existed and His Word did not?  God’s Word is how he reveals Himself to the World.  In Islam, Muslims only know Allah because of Allah’s words revealed in the Qur’an.  It is exactly how Allah chose to reveal himself.  God can reveal Himself in anyway He chooses amd we cannot say that God could not reveal Himself in any other way.  In other words,  the Word of God is the only way we know God, His nature and Character.

Because God is thorougly consistent, with no variability, His Word is the exact representation of God’s character and nature.  If God made His words appear on a wall, wouldn’t we consider the wall Holy?  God’s Word became flesh, and apart from John 1, there are numerous prophecies that can be found supporting this view, eg., Micah 5:6, which was a well known Messianic prophecy at the time of Jesus’ birth as supported by the priests to Herod.  Our God isn’t limited to His Word being letters and sounds.  His Word became flesh and dwelt among us.  This is how He chose to reveal His nature and character.  This Word as flesh is the exact representation of the Father (Hebrews 1:3).  It means that Jesus is eternally subordinate to the Father but still co-eternal.  It also means that Jesus had glory with the Father before the Word began (John 17) and lay aside that glory to be clothed in flesh.  By understanding this simple analogy, we can readily answer the curly questions.

Ok, let’s go!

1.    God is AllKnowing… but Jesus was not. When speaking of the day of judgement, Jesus clearly gave evidence of a limitation on his knowledge when he said, “but of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father” (Matthew 24:36; Mark 13:32). But God knows all.  His  knowledge is without any limitations. That Jesus, of his own admission, did not know when the day of judgement would be, is clear proof that Jesus is not all-knowing, and that Jesus is therefore not God.

Fully understanding that Jesus is the Word of God, means that there are things that He was not aware of.  It is possible to argue that in His humanity, that He did not cling to His fully devine nature. The purpose of Jesus’ coming was to reveal the nature and character of God and path for salvation.

2.God is All-Powerful… but Jesus was not. While Jesus performed many miracles, he himself admitted that the power was not his own but was derived from God when he said, “Verily, verily I say unto you, the Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do…” (John 5:19) Again he said, “I can of mine own self do nothing: As I hear I judge, and my judgement is just because I seek not mine own will but the will of the Father
which has sent me” (John 5:30). But God is not only all-powerful, he is also the source of all power and authority. That Jesus, of his admission, could do nothing on his own is clear proof that Jesus is not all-powerful, and that therefore Jesus is not God.

Again, Jesus being the Word of God, His messanger, means that although his has the same essence as the Father, He came to do the will of the Father, not his own will.

3.God does not have a God… but Jesus did have a God.
God is the ultimate judge and refuge of all, and He does not call upon nor pray to any others. But Jesus acknowledged that there was one whom he worshipped and to whom he prayed when he said, “I ascend unto my Father and your Father, and to my God and your God” (John 20:17). He is also reported to have cried out while on the cross, “My God, my God why hast thou forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46) If Jesus were God, then couldn’t this be read, “Myself, myself why hast thou forsaken me?” Would that not be pure nonsense? When Jesus prayed the Lord’s prayer (Luke 11:2-4) was he praying to himself? When in the garden of Gethsemane he prayed, “O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from
me: Nevertheless not as I will but as thou wilt” (Matthew 26:36-39). Was Jesus praying to himself? That Jesus, of his own admission and by his own actions, acknowledged, worshipped, and prayed to another being as God is clear proof that Jesus himself is not God.

If my words became flesh and could interact with people, how would my Word view me and respond to me?  Would I not be its’ source?  Would it not ask me what I wanted expressed?  It would not say or do anything of its’ own accord.  In fact, it couldn’t because then it would cease to be my word.  In this way, God the Father is greater than the Son, the Word of God, but does not deny His essence is the same as the Father.  This shows that Jesus’ will was perfectly aligned with the Father’s will, but was constrained, being the Word of God, to exactly obey God the Father.

God is an invisible spirit… but Jesus was flesh and blood.

While thousands saw Jesus and heard his voice, Jesus himself
said that this could not be done with God when he said, “No man hath seen God at
any time” (John 1:18). “Ye have neither heard His voice at any time nor seen His
shape” (John 5:37). He also said in John 4:24: “God is a spirit and they that
worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.” That Jesus would say that
no one had seen or heard God at any time, while his followers both saw and heard
him, is clear proof that Jesus was not God.

The Word of God, pre-existed the World and matter.  In fact, it was through the Word of God that God created everything.  Thus, the Word of God, Jesus, only received flesh and blood after he took on flesh.  Jesus’ own statement that “before Abraham was, I am.” (John 8:58) and His prayer in John 17, is that God the Father will grant that His disciples share His glory that He had with the Father. Likewise, after His resurrection, although still having a body, could pass through walls, but still interact with mankind.

No one is greater than God and no one can direct Him… but Jesus
acknowledged someone greater than himself whose will was distinct from his own.

Perhaps the clearest indication we have that Jesus and God are not equal, and
therefore not one and the same, come again from the mouth of Jesus himself who
said in John 14:28, “My Father is greater than I.” When someone referred to him
as good master in Matthew 19:17, Jesus responded, “Why callest thou me good?
There is none good but one, that is God…” Furthermore, Jesus drew clear
distinctions between himself and God when he said, “I proceeded forth and came
from God, neither came I of myself but He sent me” (John 8:42). Jesus gave clear
evidence of his subordination to God, rather than his equality with God, when he
said in Luke 22:42, “not my will but thine be done” and in John 5:30, “I seek
not mine own will but the will of the father which has sent me.” That Jesus
would admit that he did not come into the world on his own initiative but was
directed to do so, that he would acknowledge another being as greater than
himself, and that he would negate his own will in deference to affirming the
will of another, give clear proof that Jesus is not the Supreme One and
therefore Jesus is not God.

This should make sense in the light of Jesus being the exact representation of God the Father.  If He represented his own view/will, then He would no longer be the exact representation of the Father, but his own representative.  This is why Jesus says that he does not bear witness of himself (John 5:30-32 cf. John 8:13-14).

19 So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing. For whatever the Fatherdoes, that the Son does likewise. 20For the Father loves the Son and shows him all that he himself is doing. And greater works than these will he show him, so that you may marvel. 21 For as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, so also the Son gives life to whom he will. 22 The Father judges no one, but has given all judgment to the Son, 23 that all may honor the Son, just as they honor the Father. Whoever does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent him.24 Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life.

God and Mary had Sexual Intercourse

This is as offensive to Christians as it is to Muslims.  It is important to emphasise that no Christian believes this to be true.

The Qur’an teaches the virgin birth of Jesus by Mary.  It is important to remember that the Qur’an taught that Allah said “Be” and it was.  Calling someone the Son of God, to Muslims, implies that Allah had a wife or consort.  But they are inconsistent.  There are sayings such as Son of Satan, but no one believes that this means that Satan had a wife.

Who was the Father of Adam?  Who breathed life into Adam?  Wasn’t it God?  Didn’t God say, “Be” and it was?  Isn’t this how God created life in Mary’s womb?

Throughout the Bible and the Islamic Sunna, there are various symbolic uses of the term Son of.  In fact there are lots of Sons of God in the Bible.
Mark 3:27; Luke 3:38; Galatians 3:26 are just a couple examples.

But Christians mean Son in a special sense.  Jesus is the Only Begotten Son.  What does this mean?  In Hebrews, the writer talks about the only son of Abraham (he had two sons).

By faith Abraham, when God tested him, offered Isaac as a sacrifice. He who had received the promises was about to sacrifice his one and only [monogenes] son, even though God had said to him, “It is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned.” Abraham reasoned that God could raise the dead, and figuratively speaking, he did receive Isaac back from death.  (Hebrews 11:18-19)

We see through this use, and others, that monogenes is a strengthened form of unique or incomparable.  Jesus is a very special Son of God.  It was He who said,

I am the way, the truth and the life.  No one gets to the Father except through me. (John  14:6)

Did someone change the words of Jesus in Allah’s Injeel?

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