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"Jesus Christ is not God"
By Jonathan Weingarten
Oooooh, I know the title of this article will cause a fluster. I know the Jehovahs Witnesses are probably scratching their heads saying what in the world is this Trinitarian saying???1 And my brothers and sisters who are born of the Spirit may have thought I went into heresy. Rest assured everyone, for what I would like to attempt to do is to kind of get inside of the heads of people and hopefully clarify the issue of the meaning of this statement as a Jehovahs Witness (JW) understands it and as a Christian understands it.
Jesus and the Father
From the many conversations I've had with JWs, a typical exchange will go as follows: The JW will point out that Jesus and the Father are two distinct Persons and since the Watchtower (WT)2 has taught the JW that God = Father only, Jesus could not be God because the JW knows they are two distinct Persons and the Father is not the Son and vice versa.
When a JW points out the distinctions between the Persons they think they have disproved the Trinity (which actually they really haven't, UNLESS the person they are talking with knows nothing concerning what they believe and why they believe it. Sadly, this is the case most of the time.) After the Christian hears the JW SAY that Jesus Christ is not God, immediately the Christian will point to a dozen or more verses that explicitly say that He is God. To the Christians amazement all of these verses bounce right off the JW as if he didn't even hear them at all. Why is this???
I believe it's because every time the Christian shows a JW Scriptures that blatantly say Jesus Christ is Jehovah the JW thinks the Christian is trying to prove Jesus is the Father, and if there is one thing the JW knows for sure it is that Jesus Christ is not God the Father and therefore that Scripture can not mean what it says.
And so the conversation goes on with the JW pointing to Scriptures that identify the distinction between the two Persons, especially ones that say Jesus is the "Son of God" and with the Christian pointing to Scriptures that say Jesus Christ is not only the Son of God, but He Himself is also God as well. And many times both persons leave each other in frustration thinking one did not get through to the other.
Here is something that is EXTREMELY IMPORTANT for the JW to understand. When a born again Christian points to Scriptures that demonstrate Jesus is God, THEY ARE NOT TRYING TO PROVE THAT JESUS IS GOD THE FATHER. LET ME REPEAT THAT.
WHEN A BORN AGAIN BIBLE BELIEVING CHRISTIAN IS DEMONSTRATING FROM SCRIPTURE THAT JESUS IS GOD, THEY ARE NOT TRYING TO PROVE THAT JESUS IS GOD THE FATHER.
JWs may be surprised to find out that born again Christians believe the Father and the Son are two separate and distinct Persons. The reason I say they may be surprised is because I have read all the WT arguments against the Trinity and these arguments are not arguments against the Trinity but against an age old heresy called modalism or monarchianism, which Trinitarians also reject.
To be clear, the teaching of modalism/ monarchianism is that the Father and the Son are one and the same Person. This is what the WT teaches the JW that the Trinity is. How do I know? I have numerous books and articles by the WT including their latest CD ROM and have studied their arguments inside and out.
Here is something EXTREMELY IMPORTANT for the born again Christian to understand. If you are trying to show a JW from the Bible that Jesus Christ is God, YOU MUST MAKE IT EXTREMELY CLEAR THAT YOU ARE NOT TRYING TO PROVE JESUS IS GOD THE FATHER, BUT THAT JESUS TRULY POSSESSES THE NATURE OF DEITY (which very simply is a synonym for God). Born again Christians believe in the Deity of Jesus Christ whereas JWs do not.
Where JWs and Christians truly part in doctrine IS NOT over the distinction of the Persons, but in the nature of Christ Himself. If we can make it past the smokescreen the WT has thrown up concerning the fact that we truly believe the Father and the Son are two distinct Persons, we can then look at the issues that truly divide us.
Motivations and Clarifications
I do believe we are all here to share our faith because we are motivated to see the salvation of each others soul and that one party would like to see the other party receive eternal life whether it be the JW for the Christian or the Christian for the JW. The JW believes the Christian is not saved because they are not associated with the "faithful and discreet slave."3 The Christian believes the JW is not saved because they have received the wrong Jesus and are not born of God.
Before I continue, there is one thing that comes to mind and why this is so important. If the WT is right and I die not having been associated with the "faithful and discreet slave" I will go into soul sleep and will sleep for eternity.
If the Christian is right and the JW dies unsaved, he will spend eternity in a place of eternal punishment or torment where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth, where the worm dies not and the fire is not quenched. Before one begins to scoff at this statement please read the entire article then answer. My goal in this article is to bring order out of confusion and clarity where there is misconception.
This one statement "Jesus Christ is not God" is both absolute truth and absolute heresy depending on how you define the word "God."
What I would like to do is to try to explain how a JW believes this statement and how the WT defines God for the JW and how a Trinitarian believes this statement and how he defines the word God as he reads it in the Word.
The JW has been taught and believes that the word God (capital G) is expressly reserved for the Father. I have found in my conversations with JWs and also from reading quite a bit of their literature that they teach God = the Father alone. Therefore when I or any of my brothers or sisters say Jesus is God, in the mind of a JW they think we are saying that Jesus is the Father when indeed we are not!
To say Jesus is God the Father is the age old heresy called "Modalism" of which more than a few of the early church fathers disputed as heresy, especially Tertullian. Modalism is the belief that Jesus and the Father are the same Person and that there is no distinction between the Persons.
One such church that does teach this heresy is the UPC church or the United Pentecostalist Church (which should not be confused with all the rest of the Pentecostalist Churches which teach orthodox Trinitarianism). So actually if a Trinitarian were in a debate with a UPC member, the JW would side with the Trinitarian in the fact that the orthodox Trinitarian believes that Jesus and the Father are two distinct Persons.
When Jesus prayed, he prayed to the Father. While Jesus walked the earth it was the Father who said, "This is My beloved Son in whom I am well pleased" (Matt 3:17). Also the Father held a greater position than the Son; hence, Jesus can rightfully say, "The Father is greater than I" (John 14:28). I would also like to point out that after He emptied Himself (Phil 2:7), He was also made lower than the angels (Heb 2:7,9).
Orthodox Trinitarians do not believe Jesus and the Father are the same Person though the WT repeatedly teaches its followers this is the case. When a JW shows a person that Jesus and the Father are not the same Person they think they have disproved the teaching of the Trinity. This is one of the single greatest deceptions of the WT. The WT teaches its adherents that we believe Jesus and the Father are the same Person.
To verify what I'm saying, all one needs to do is simply turn to just about any WT literature and examine how they represent our belief. For example, turn to page 39 of the book You Can Live Forever in Paradise on Earth (which is zealously "placed" by JWs to try to prove their doctrine) to see the kind of logic I'm talking about.4
Right under the picture of Jesus in the bottom left hand corner is the statement "Since Jesus prayed to God, asking that God's will, not his, be done, the two could not be the same person."
This is a true statement; however, it does not disprove the doctrine of the Trinity by a long shot. The WT thinks that by pointing out that they are not the same Person they have disproved the Trinity. I can't begin to believe how many individuals have fallen for this one deception right here.
Another example of this deceptive logic is when on the same page they make another statement like, "If Jesus were the Almighty God, he would not have prayed to himself, would he? In fact, following Jesus' death, the Scripture says: This Jesus God resurrected. (Acts 2:32) Thus the Almighty God (The Father) and Jesus are clearly two separate Persons."
As I have already pointed out, this deceptive logic does not disprove the Trinity; but as we shall see rather confirms it. I have previously stated that orthodox Trinitarians already believe the Father and the Son are clearly two separate Persons.
God = Deity
So we see the WT defines God as one Person only. God = Father according to the WT. If a person were to take an unbiased look at how the Bible uses the word God, Jehovah, Almighty God, or any of the titles applied to the Father, they would clearly see that these same names and titles are applied to Jesus Christ as well. Because when we read the Scriptures in an unbiased manner we find that the word God = Deity.
The Father is called God because He possesses the divine nature. When a Christian says the Father is God, He is saying the Father is truly Deity. One who possesses the divine nature. When a Christian says Jesus is God, He is saying Jesus Christ is Deity.
This statement means Jesus Christ possesses the divine nature and is of equal substance with the Father. Hence, orthodox Christians believe not only that Jesus and the Father are two distinct Persons but we also believe in the Deity of the Father and also in the Deity of Jesus Christ, the Son of the Father.
So when a JW says Jesus Christ is not God and means it in the sense that Jesus Christ is not God the Father "IDENTIFYING THE PERSON" of the Father, we stand in agreement. We agree Jesus Christ is not God the Father.
However, when a JW says Jesus Christ is not God in the sense that Jesus Christ is not Deity or truly and intrinsically does not possess the divine nature, this is heresy. Because to believe Jesus Christ is not Deity or does not possess the divine nature is to reject, ignore, or outright close your eyes to multitudes of Scriptures. I repeat MULTITUDES.
If the Bible used the word God in the limited sense the WT does they would have a case. The truth is, it does not and we are not to define God the way the WT does or any religion. We are to define the word the way God uses it in the Bible. If any open minded logically thinking person has read at least a little bit of the Bible, he would definitely know that the Scriptures emphatically call Jesus Christ God.
Now we know that Jesus and the Father are two distinct Persons. So when the Bible calls Him God, we know the New Testament is not calling Him the Father but is indeed ascribing the title of God to Jesus Christ because He does possess the divine nature.
John 1:1,2 is clearly one example of the Bible calling Jesus "God" and is totally a Trinitarian statement.
Here is a loose paraphrase insofar as my studies in the Greek, "1) In the beginning (or in the origin of time), the Word already was existingand the Word was with (face to face as an equal with) God the Father, and the Word Himself was Deity, just as the Father is Deity. 2) He was present originally with God the Father."
John makes another very emphatic statement concerning the Deity of the Son in his first epistle, "And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us an understanding, that we may know Him who is true; and we are in Him who is true, in His Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God and eternal life" (1John 5:20).
Concerning whether Jesus Christ is God (capital G) as the Bible and the Scriptures use the word there is no doubt (see, for instance: Gen 19:24; Ps 45:7; Isa 7:14; 9:6; Jer 23:5,6; Zech 2:10-3:2; 12:10; Matt 1:22,23; John 1:1; 5:18; 20:28; Acts 20:28; Rom 8:9; 9:5; Phil 2:5-9; Col 2:9; 1Tim 3:16; Titus 2:13; Heb 1:3,8,9; 2Pet 1:1; 1John 5:20).
We as Christians are not asking the JWs to believe anything contrary to Scripture; we would just try to persuade you to believe ALL the Scriptures and not just the ones that seem to agree with you. And we would like that you use the title "God" as the Scriptures do. If the apostles call Him God and He himself claimed to be so, are you saying they are wrong as well as we?
The thing that makes this so important is ones salvation and where that person will spend eternity. Your belief of this one doctrine is so vitally important to your salvation. Why do I say this??? It is not the Lordship of the Father that a person must receive in their life. There are many other religions who worship the God of heaven and only acknowledge the Lordship of the Father and reject the Lordship of the Son. When I use the word Lordship, I mean acknowledging His Deity.
The Person of the Godhead you have got to make your Lord and the God of your life is Jesus Christ the Son of God. It is only through Him that you will receive salvation. Making the Father your God will not gain you eternal life. Jews and Muslims have made the God and Father of the Lord Jesus Christ their God, yet they do not possess eternal life.
Why is this??? Because as John tells us in the fifth chapter of his first epistle:
10) He who believes in the Son of God has the witness in himself; he who does not believe God has made Him a liar, because he has not believed the testimony that God has given of His Son. 11) And this is the testimony: that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son .
20) And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us an understanding, that we may know Him who is true; and we are in Him who is true, in His Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God and eternal life. 21) Little children, keep yourselves from idols [false gods]. Amen.
In addition, Paul declares, "looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ" (Titus 2:13).
And Peter writes, "Simon Peter, a bondservant and apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who have obtained like precious faith with us by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ" (2Peter 1:1).
Have you received Him as your God and Savior? Has His Spirit renewed your heart making you a child and heir of God? If not, then you are not saved (John 1:12; Rom 8:9; 2Cor 13:5).
In light of what has been covered in this article, let us examine the pages I quoted before from the WTs Paradise book with the knowledge we now have and, of course, with a few comments from yours truly. The quotes are taken from pages 39-40 in a chapter titled, "GodWho Is He?" under the subtitle of "Is God Jesus or a Trinity?"
Paradise: Who is this wonderful God? Some persons say his name is Jesus. Others say he is a Trinity, although the word "trinity" does not appear in the Bible.
Comment: This argument holds not water for neither does the word "Theocratic."5 Just because a word is not used in the Bible does not mean the doctrine is not taught.
Paradise: According to the teaching of the Trinity, there are three Persons in one God, that is, there is "one God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit."
Comment: Amen. Three distinct Persons who are "one" (Hebrew, echod) in unity (Deut 6:4). One of the only times in the history of the WT that they have defined my belief correctly; but they quickly confuse the teaching in the mind of the reader just two sentences away. Watch!
Paradise: Many religious organizations teach this, even though they admit it is "a mystery."
Comment: After studying the doctrine, it really is not such a mystery.
Paradise: Are such views of God correct? Well, did Jesus ever say that he was God?
Comment: Here they go! Remember, how do you define the word God??? Did Jesus ever say He was God the Father??? In agreement with the WT we would say NO; but as we have seen the WT does not use the word God the way the Bible does. Now, did Jesus ever say He was God, not in the sense that He's the Father but in the way the Bible uses the word God? Emphatically Yes! If anyone would like to have an intelligent discussion on John 8:58 please oblige me, for it was He who saw Abraham in Genesis chapter 18.
Paradise: No, he never did. Rather, in the Bible he is called "God's Son." And he said: "The Father is greater than I am." (John 10:34-36; 14:28) Also, Jesus explained that there were some things that neither he nor the angels knew but that only God knew. (Mark 13:32)
Comment: You see, here is the WT pointing out the distinction between the Persons. They are not making a case against the Deity of Christ but against MODALISM/ MONARCHIANISM which rejects the distinction between the Persons.
Paradise: Further, on one occasion Jesus prayed to God, saying: "Let, not my will, but yours take place." (Luke 22:42) If Jesus were the Almighty God, he would not have prayed to himself, would he? In fact, following Jesus' death, the Scripture says: "This Jesus God resurrected." (Acts 2:32) Thus the Almighty God and Jesus are clearly two separate persons.
Comment: As we have seen, distinguishing between the Persons does not disprove anything. The WT does this again and again and again and again in all their publications. This is truly sad for those who have been duped into believing that born again Christians believe the Father and the Son are the same Person. JWs are being deceived and they're not even aware of it.
Paradise: Even after his death and resurrection and ascension to heaven, Jesus was still not equal to his Father.1 Corinthians 11:3; 15:28.
Comment: Here the WT is displaying it's true ignorance and misunderstanding. Let's take a peek at these two passages of Scripture they are referencing:
11:3: But I want you to know that the head of every man is Christ, the head of woman is man, and the head of Christ is God.
15:28: Now when all things are made subject to Him, then the Son Himself will also be subject to Him who put all things under Him, that God may be all in all.
The WT's quotation of these passages demonstrates another misconception. The WT can not understand how someone can be subject to another and yet be equal. Let's look at the illustration from Scripture. God the Father is the head of Christ just as man is the head of the woman. I am married now for 10 years. I am the head of my household.
I hold a higher position in my household because God appointed it so. I am by virtue of my position greater than my wife. The president of the United States is by virtue of his office greater in position than you or I. He is the head of this country.
While I am greater than my wife in position and I am her head I am not BETTER than her concerning our nature. Concerning our nature, power, and authority over our household WE ARE EQUAL. We are both human and my wife is equal with me in authority and power over my two children. The president while greater in position is not better than you or I. He is a human being just like the rest of us.
The WT has not grasped this basic concept and the fact that while someone can be our head whether it be the head of the house or the head of the country they at the same time can be our equal. Yes, God the Father is the head of Christ; yet Christ is the Fathers equal concerning their nature or substance, power, and authority. The Scriptures explicitly state this in John 5:18; 10:22-39; Phil 2:6; etc. Is this starting to make sense yet???
Paradise: "But isn't Jesus called a god in the Bible?" someone may ask.
Comment: NEVER IS HE CALLED A GOD IN THE BIBLE, NOT ONCE, THIS WOULD BE THE INTRODUCTION OF POLYTHEISM. The definition of Polytheism is to place your faith in more than one god.
Paradise: This is true. Yet Satan is also called a god. (2 Corinthians 4:4)
Comment: What blasphemy, to place Satan's Creator (Col 1:17) on a par with him, how insulting to Jesus.
Paradise: At John 1:1, which refers to Jesus as "the Word," some Bible translations say: "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God."
Comment: Actually, every single recognized Bible translation throughout the world. Only one or two corrupt ones state "a god" which breaks the laws of New Testament Greek grammar.6
Paradise: But notice, at verse 2 says that the Word was "in the beginning with God." And while men have seen Jesus, verse 18 says that "no man hath seen God at any time."
Comment: If they had quoted the rest of this verse it would have been made clear that John is referring to the Father. This is true. No man has seen God the Father at any time. Jesus even took it one step further when He stated "You have neither heard His voice at any time, nor seen His form" (John 5:37).
Yet throughout the Old Testament we find numerous times when God had appeared to men, spoke to men, and even ate with them (Gen 18; Exod 24:9-11; 33:11,20). The simple answer to this dilemma is that no man has seen God the Father just as John states. Who did they see??? God the Son (Isa 6:1; John 12:41).
"Then the LORD [Jehovah - on earth who had talked with Abraham] rained brimstone and fire on Sodom and Gomorrah, from the LORD [Jehovah] out of the heavens" (Gen 19:24). Two Persons called Jehovah in one verse.
Paradise: So we find that some translations of John 1 verse 1 give the correct idea of the original language when they read: "The Word was with God, and the Word was divine," or was "a god," that is, the Word was a powerful godlike one. (An American Translation) Clearly, Jesus is not Almighty God. In fact, Jesus spoke of his Father as "my God" and as "the only true God."John 20:17; 17:3.
Comment: What the WT is failing to mention is that just as the Son calls the Father God, so does the Father call Jesus God and the true God and eternal life: Heb 1:8; 1John 5:20.
If you are a JW and have read this, is what I'm saying sinking in??? Please read through this article more than once. Prayerfully read over it. If there is anything you'd like to discuss please feel free to ask. The WT has been misleading people long enough.
We who have been born of the Spirit of God invite you to receive the Spirit of Christ into your heart and become a child of God. We want you to know what it is to be in the New Covenant and have Jesus Christ as your personal Mediator and most of all to have Him as your Lord. To obey Him in every moment of your life and not the rules and regulations of a religion that consistently changes its stance on major doctrinal issues affecting peoples very lives.
I do not offer you a religion in place of the WT. What I do offer you is a personal relationship with the One who said in the first chapter of the Revelation:
8) "I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End," says the Lord, "who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty ." 11) "I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last ." 12) Then I turned to see the voice that spoke with me. And having turned I saw seven golden lampstands, 13) and in the midst of the seven lampstands One like the Son of Man, clothed with a garment down to the feet and girded about the chest with a golden band.
1 "Trinitarian" is the term generally used in WT literature to refer to those who believe in the doctrine of the Trinity.
2 The Watchtower Bible and Tract Society, the organization JWs belong to.
3 "faithful and discreet slave" is a JW term for the WT.
4 You Can Live Forever in Paradise on Earth (Brooklyn, NY: Watchtower Bible and Tract Society, 1982, 1989).
5 "Theocratic" is the term the WT uses to refer to Gods supposed rule of the WT organization.
6 "pros ton theos [with God] points to Christ's fellowship with the PERSON of the Father; theos en ton logos [the Word was God] emphasizes Christ's participation in the ESSENCE of the divine nature" (Dana and Mantey. Manual Grammar of the Greek New Testament. New York: Macmillian, 1955, p.140).
Note: All Scripture references from: The New King James Version. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1982, unless otherwise indicated.
The above article was published in Darkness to Light
and posted on this Web site in April 1998.
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