By RUBEN D. AROMIN
THE BELIEF OF THE Iglesia ni Cristo regarding the Lord Jesus Christ nature—that He is a man as He Himself taught (John 8:40)—has put us at loggerheads with those who uphold a different view—that He is also God. As we firmly uphold the biblical teaching that Christ is man and therefore not God, proponents of the Christ-is-God doctrine are also insisting in their belief because they are convinced that they also have biblical proofs to back up their claim.
However, if we are to examine closely the supposed biblical basis of their erroneous understanding of the Bible. There are verses that they have misunderstood to mean that Christ is God, as they would like to believe He is. One of these verses is Matthew 1:23 which says:
“A virgin will become pregnant and have a son, and he will be called Immanuel (which means, ‘God is with us’).” (Todays English Version)
Apostle Matthew was actually quoting here a prophecy of Prophet Isaiah (Is. 7:14) which was fulfilled in the Lord Jesus Christ. Since it was foretold that the name of the Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, would be called Immanuel, meaning “God is with us,” believers in the deity of Christ hastily jumped into the conclusion that Christ is God.
Ascribing the name Immanuel (meaning “God is with us”) to Christ does not imply that Christ Himself is God who is with us. The meaning of one’s name does not denote one’s nature or state of being. For instance, a lady may be named Rose or Daisy but this doesn’t mean that she is a literal flower. We can site so many names of biblical characters whose meanings do not in any way denote the state of being of the persons bearing them. Apostle Peter’s name means rock (Jn. 1:42) but He is not a literal stone. The Lord Jesus gave the brothers James and John the name “Boanerges” meaning the sons of thunder (Mk. 3:17); but they were not literally born to a thunder. And here is another which should make the proponents of the Christ-is-God doctrine rethink their stand: the last of the 13 sons born to King David was named Eliphelet, meaning “the God of deliverance” (Smith’s Bible Dictionary, p. 167); but this doesn’t mean that David’s son is the god of deliverance Himself.
Reconciled to God through Christ
Why is it then that Christ was named Immanuel which means, “God is with us”? This signifies that God is with us through the Lord Jesus Christ. God is in Christ and through Him, we have been reconciled to God as what Apostle Paul taught:
“Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ and has given us the ministry of reconciliation”
“that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation, Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God.” (II Cor. 5:18-20, New King James Version)
Apostle Paul explained that God who is in Christ is reconciling the world to Himself. Man needs to be reconciled to God through the Lord Jesus because man was separated from God and became His enemy on account of man’s sins and evil works:
“It is because of your sins that he doesn’t hear you. It is your sins that separate you from God when you try to worship him.” (Is. 59:2, TEV)
“At one time you were far away from God and were his enemies because of the evil things you did and thought.” (Col. 1:21, Ibid.)
As to how man can be brought near or reconciled to God through Jesus, Apostle Paul explained further:
“But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ.” (Eph. 2:13, New International Version)
Man must be redeemed by the blood of Christ to be reconciled to God. Apostle Paul testified that it is the Church of Christ which has been redeemed or purchased by the blood of Christ (Acts 20:28, Lamsa Translation). And once man is reconciled to god through redemption by Christ blood in the Church of Christ and continues to obey His teachings, man will receive the love of the Father and promise that God and Christ will dwell in him and make him their home:
“Jesus answered him, ‘Whoever loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and my Father and I will come to him and live with him’.” (Jn. 14:23, TEV)
Not only will Christ and the Father love and dwell in him; he will also be one with Christ and the Father:
“I pray that they may all be one. Father! May they be in us, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they be one, so that the world will believe that you sent me. I gave them the same glory you gave me, so that they may be one, just as you and I are one: I in them and you in me, so that they may be completely one, in order that the world may know that you sent me and that you love them as you love me” (Jn. 17:21-23, Ibid.)
To be one with Christ is to be one with the Father because the Father is in Christ. On the other hand, Christ is in those who are one with Him and with the Father. Indeed, God is with us through the Lord Jesus Christ. God’s sending of the Lord Jesus has made it possible for us to receive the many blessings which we should have been otherwise denied because of our sins. Hence, if one rejects Christ, he also rejects God:
“For whoever rejects the Son rejects also the Father; whoever acceps the Son has the Father also.” (I Jn. 2:23, Ibid.)
God is with us through Christ. Thus, anyone who is separate from Christ—one who does not belong to the Church of Christ which He redeemed with His precious blood and which reconciled with God—is without God. This is underscored by Apostle Paul in Ephesians 2:12:
“Remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world” (NIV)
Hence, the name “Immanuel” does not in any way prove the alleged deity of Christ. It simply means that God is with us through the Lord Jesus Christ.
PASUGO/January 1999/Volume 51/Number 1/ISSN 0116-1636/Pages 4-5