Intro to INC
The Christ of the Iglesia ni Cristo
by RS with commentary from Saleem
THE BELIEF OF the Iglesia ni Cristo that Christ is man has caused not only the consternation but even the ire of those who believe that Christ is God.
(saleem) We also believe that Christ is Man, so your statement is false.
That Christ is not God runs counter to the commonly held tenet of Catholics and Protestants and is at times taken as an affront against God, one thought to border on, if not actually is, downright blasphemy.
(saleem) The Jews answered him, "We are not stoning you for a good work but for blasphemy. You, a man, are making yourself God."
However, if the Scriptures are to be correctly consulted, one would discover that the “Christ is God” teaching stems from the wrong use of biblical passages.
But how did the teaching that Christ is God come about? Should it surprise us today that such belief exists? What did the apostles forewarn the early Christians or the members of the first-Century Church of Christ? In his second epistle to the Christians at Corinth, Apostle Paul expressed his fear thus:
“ But I fear, lest somehow, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, so your minds may be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.
“For if he who comes preaches another Jesus whom we have not preached, or if you receive a different spirit which you have not receive, or a different gospel which you have not accepted, you may well put up with it!” (II Cor. 11:3-4, New King James Version)
Apostle Paul gave a clear warning: Preachers, who would preach a different Jesus (one whom they did not preach), would come after them. Hence, it is not surprising that there are people today who preach a Jesus different from the One taught by the apostles. Why did Apostle Paul say that the Jesus whom they did not preach? Who was the Jesus whom the Apostles preached? In his first letter to Timothy, Apostles Paul wrote:
“For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus.” (I Tim 2:5, Ibid.)
Apostle Paul taught that Jesus is man in state of being. Apostle Peter likewise testified:
“Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a Man attested by God to you by miracles, wonders, and signs which God did through Him in your midst, as you yourselves also know.” (Acts 2:22, Ibid.)
The lord and the apostles were united in declaring that Christ is man – a man who is the mediator between God through miracles, wonders, and signs.
(saleem) Christ is a man. No contest. It's biblical and it's true.
What would those who preach another Jesus use in deceiving people?
From Apostle Paul’s letter to the Christians in Corinth, we learn that those who would preach another gospel which would be perverted as Apostle Paul explicitly explained:
“ I marvel that you are turning away so soon from him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel,
“which is not another; but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ!” (gal 1:6-7, NKJV)
Apostle Paul called the gospel of those who preach another Christ a different gospel – a perversion of Christ’s gospel. These preachers would still use the same Bible but would twist the contents therein which are hard to understand:
“As also in all epistles, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which those who are untaught and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures.” (II Pt. 3:16, Ibid.)
By twisting the contents of the Bible, false preachers have perverted the gospel of Christ into an essentially different gospel. Apostle Peter called the people who did this untaught and unstable. Thus, it should no longer come as a surprise that there are preachers who teach that Christ is God – a teaching totally different from what the apostles taught, These preachers would even be using biblical verses, albeit erroneously, to support their wrong belief.
(saleem) So far, you have been good in fulfilling this statement.
One of the verses used to support the belief that Christ is God is I John 5:20. Allegedly, this verse teaches that Christ is the true God as the name “Jesus Christ” precedes the statement “This is the God and eternal life.”
The verse states:
“ 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.” (Ibid.)
What must be realized is the fact that there two different entities mentioned in the verse: (1) the Son of God who came to give us understanding that we may know Him who is true, and (2) the true God whom the Son would introduce. It must also be noted that as we are in Him (God) who is true, we are also in His Son Jesus Christ; thus, the Son is different from him (God) who is true and who has a Son. The statement “ This is the true God and eternal life” refers not to the Son but to Him – the Almighty God – whom the Son introduced.
(saleem) This is not the only verse that is used as proof.
Further proof of this is recorded in John 17:1 and 3:
“Jesus spoke these words, lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said: ‘Father, the hour has come. Glorify your Son, that Your Son also may glorify You, … And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.’.” (Ibid.)
(saleem) Verse 5: and now, Father, glorify thou me in thy own presence with the glory which I had with thee before the world was made.
Christ shares the same glory with the Father before creation, before he humbled himself and became man.
in this prayer of our Lord Jesus Christ, when He said “…this is eternal life, that they may know You,” He was referring to the Father, the only true God. Christ did not point to Himself as only true God. Otherwise, He would have said “… that they may know Me, the only true God.” But Christ pointed out that He was the One sent by the Father.
‘And His name will be called…Mighty God’
Isaiah 9:6 is another verse that is erroneously used by those who believe in the deity of Christ. This verse says:
“For unto us a Child is born, Unto us a Son is given; And government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” (Ibid.)
Their belief stems from the segment of the prophecy which says, “And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”
However, we should understand that the term “Mighty God” was not mentioned as one of the names of the child but as part of the name which, in Hebrew, is read as Pele-joez-el-gibbor-Abi-ad-sa-shalom (Is. 9:6, Jewish Publication Society of America). The explanation in the footnote to this verse in the Jewish Publications Society of America states:
“That is, wonderful in Counsel is God the Mighty, the Everlasting Father, the Ruler of Peace.”
Hence, Smith-Goodspeed Translation rendered this verse thus:
“For a child is born to us, a son is given to us; And the government will be upon his shoulder; And his name will be called ‘Wonderful counselor is God almighty, Father forever, Prince of Peace’.”
If Christ were the Mighty God referred to in the verse, so many questions would be left unanswered: Is God a child? Was God ever born? Was God ever given a name? If the giver is also God, wouldn’t that make two gods? Other verses in the Bible would then be contradicted. Numbers 23:19 says, “God is not a man…Nor a son of man” (NKJV). Malachi 2:10 states, “Have we not all one Father? Has not one God created us?” (Ibid.). john 20:17 records the pronouncements of our Lord Jesus Christ thus:”…I am ascending to My Father and your Father, and to My God and your God” (Ibid.).
Where did government or authority upon the child’s shoulder (the child being referred to is Christ) come from? Was it innate in the child? Our Lord Jesus Christ Himself made this clarification:
“…All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.” (Mt. 28:18, Ibid.)
The authority that Christ has was govern to Him. He said, ”My Father has given me all things” (Mt. 11:27, Today’s English Version.)
There is no doubt that God was the source of Christ’s authority. This authority
that Christ has is, therefore, God-given.
God Not Included
Those who think that Christ is God overlooked the truth (or are simply unaware of it) that though Christ has been given all authority in heaven and on earth, and that though God has put all things under Christ’s feet, the words “all things” do not include God Himself. This was clearly emphasized by Apostle Paul:
“For the scripture says, “God put all things under his feet’. It is clear, of course, that the words ‘all things’ do not include God himself, who puts all things under Christ. But when all things have been placed under Christ’s rule, then he himself, the Son, will place himself under God, who placed all things under him; and God will rule completely over all.” (I Cor. 15:27-28, Ibid.)
Hence, Christ is different from God. He is not God.
(saleem) The Father did bestow Lordship on Christ and shared His Glory. Have you asked yourself why when in fact, he said he will not share it with anyone? If Christ were not God, then doesn't that mean that God shared his glory?
Isaiah 48:11 For My own sake, for My own sake, I will act; For how can My name be profaned? And My glory I will not give to another.
The people who are of God
While many religions believe that Christ is God, the Iglesia ni Cristo stands undaunted in the belief that Christ is man. In this way, this Church is assured that it truly belongs to God:
“By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God.” (I Jn. 4:2, NKJV)
Those who confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh are of God.
What is the significance of this? What has Christ’s coming in the flesh have to do with our belief? Who is flesh? In Genesis, this is stated:
“And the Lord said, ‘ My spirit shall not strive with man forever, for he is indeed flesh’.” (Gen. 6:3, Ibid.)
Man is flesh. That Christ has come in the flesh signifies His true nature, that is, He is man. While those who believe that Christ is man are the ones who are of God, how does the Bible introduce those who say otherwise? Are they also of God? Are they also of Christ? The apostles call them the opposite – the anti-Christ:
“For many deceivers have gone out into the world who do not confess Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an antichrist.” (ii Jn. 1:7, Ibid.)
(saleem) Christ came in the flesh. It is also our belief. He is God who came in the flesh. He is the Divine Word incarnate.
Philippians 2:5-7 Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.
Christ is God. It's biblical and it can never be disputed.