How is the sacrifice of Jesus sufficient for mankind if he is not God?

Dear friends,

I’m engaged with a weekly conversation with a Jehovah’s Witness, which I felt led to pursue as God gave me a heart to reach this lady. (What’s funny is that I’m praying for her to know the true Jesus as God and she’s praying for me to know Jehovah as they understand him!)

I asked her how the sacrifice of Jesus is sufficient for all mankind if he is not God. My argument was that anything less than God - which Jesus is if he’s created - could never redeem us fully back to God; only God could match God’s standards. She went away and returned the following week with this response: that it was Adam who first sinned. Adam was man and sinned. Therefore Jesus, as a man who never sinned atoned for Adam’s sin and that the payment was enough because one man’s purity atoned for the other man’s sin. I see there’s a logic in this although I don’t feel she’s answered my question fully. I don’t feel this is a satisfactory response but I’m not sure how to further approach this particular point.

I’ve researched several articles and discussions here already (see links below of resources that I’ve drawn from - these might be helpful for others here) and am aware of areas that I should spend time and energy on, and things I should avoid. I’m interested to see what suggestions people here may have in approaching this particular point.

I’d also like to say that each time I have to face this lady’s belief that there is no trinity and that Jesus is not God, I find God’s presence flood me with a certainty and peace of who Jesus is as co-heir and equal in deity. I praise God for this as I continue my discussion with this lady.

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You are to be commended @artownsend for engaging with this misguided lady - may God use you to sow, water, perhaps even to reap the harvest with her.

There is indeed an element of truth to her statement (sometimes described as the devil’s greatest weapon). But I think where she errs is not in the claim that Christ’s humanity pays a price to redeem humanity - we would agree that He took on a human nature to be a sacrifice for mankind.

Her problem is the divine element in the atonement - satisfying God’s wrath against man’s sin. And you are right that God’s wrath is infinite, and so it’s appeasement requires an infinite payment. And right there is where no finite mortal could ever adequately pay the penalty that an infinite God requires. Jesus would have to be God to do that.

It also sounds as though she may be claiming that Jesus died for only one man - Adam alone. And I think many of us would likely agree that if Adam were the only man who ever lived, Jesus would have died for him alone. But now follow this:

God’s holiness is infinite.

For even one person to violate His holiness even one time is an infinite crime demanding an infinite penalty - James 2:10 - “though a man keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point…”

So Christ would have to be infinite God in order to pay the penalty for even a single sin.

But the same infinite sacrifice that pays for one sin also pays for an unlimited number of sins committed by an unlimited number of sinners. (Side note - this is why Calvinism’s view of a limited atonement is impossible - if you limit the atonement for anybody, you immediately limit it for everybody - a limited atonement would never save anyone from even one sin.)

But back to your lady - she is right that Christ would have to be man to be a ransom for men, but she is wrong in that He would also have to be God to satisfy the infinite demands of God.

I hope this helps you - but more, I hope it helps her!

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@artownsend So thankful you are sharing the Gospel with this dear lady :slight_smile: I think the mistake she is making could be revealed by asking this question.

How could Jesus be sinless if He was not God?

Here is the argument:

  • if Jesus was not sinless, He could not pay for our sins
  • only God is sinless
  • to pay for our sins, Jesus must be God

Romans 3:22-23 - There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.

You may also enjoy this thread.

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@artownsend You may find something on this website helpful as well.

https://carm.org/jehovahs-witnesses

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Hi Alison @artownsend I don’t know that much about JW doctrine except enough to know that it is a false religion, although they identify themselves as Christian. However, I did a little research and found that they do use the Old Testament, referring to it as “the Hebrew Scripture”; the NT is referred to as “the Greek Scripture”. In writing their own bible, I wonder how they render “Elohim” in Genesis 1:1.? In Hebrew, Elohim is the plural of the singular El, or (Eloah) for God.
Then, in vs. 26, God said, “Let US make man in OUR image, in OUR likeness,…” If the JW bible uses the Hebrew, why does God refer to Himself in the plural?
Why doesn’t the Hebrew say, “In the beginning, EL created…”(Gen.1:1) And why doesn’t the Hebrew say, “Let Me make man in My image, in My likeness…”(Gen.1:26)?
Does the JW bible use the plural form of God ? If so, who do they say God in the plural form is?

I understand that JW’s baptize, but not as a sacrament. Why do they baptize, except as an outward sign of dedication to their belief? How do they baptize? Is it in obedience to Jesus’ great commission to go into the world and baptize new disciples in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit? If Jesus was just a created son, why would He dare include Himself with the deity of the Father? I also know that they say Matt.28:19 does not prove a trinitarian relationship. However, Jesus didn’t say to baptize in the names of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, but the “NAME”, singular.

The JW bible rephrases Phil. 2:6-8 to detract from Jesus’ Godly form to His earthly form. The standard Christian Bibles read:
Who, being in very nature[a] God,
did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
7 rather, he made himself nothing
by taking the very nature[b] of a servant,
being made in human likeness. 8 And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—
even death on a cross!
The Greek word for “form” in Phil 2:6 is “morphe” which means that the outward appearance is in complete harmony with the inner essence.
The Hebrew for “image” or “likeness” used in Gen. 1:26 means “similitude” or similar
So, if man was made “similar” to God, why did Jesus take the exact form of man, in Phil. 2:6-8. Clearly, He went from a divine form to a human form.
Jehovah’s Witnesses do not consider themselves a new religion, identifying themselves as Christian. Clearly, though, they have rejected the Trinity, the deity of Christ and His return to establish His kingdom in the manner He said He would–which are all accepted Christian beliefs based on the words of Christ. Therefore, they can’t identify themselves as Christian.

These are just some questions I have. Maybe they might be of use to you?

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John, Sean and Sharon have shared much to help you engage with this precious Lady. I will just add my prayers to the rest as she will be won not by might, nor power, but by His Spirit.
Mike

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Not sure if you went to the Bible with her or not. Since they have a different bible I’m not sure how successful that would be unless you are willing to go to the Greek.

So instead I would argue why was Jesus crucified if he was not claiming to be God. John 8:50 Jesus says “Before Abraham was, I am” meaning he existed long before Abraham did. When the Jewish people heard him say that they picked up stones to kill him because they believed he was blaspheming. In Mark 14:61-62 you see Jesus make the claim of his deity in front of the Sanhedrin by quoting Daniel 7:13-14.

The Greek word in this verse in Mark 14:61-62 for “Blessed One” is eulogétos and this is a word that was used only in reference to God. You see this word again in Luke 1:68, Romans 1:25, and Romans 9:5 and each time the word is used it is in reference to God.

I hope this helps :slight_smile:

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Hello Alison :slightly_smiling_face:

I haven’t heard of that response before that Jesus, as just a sinless created man according to JW, paid the price for Adam’s sin which in effect paid for the rest of humanities sin. The approach that I have taken in the past with JW is to explain that I believe that failing to see Jesus as God actually makes God not good and therefore not worthy of worship. Before God created the world, God knew that man was going to sin, which means that God knew that a substitute for our sins would have to be given.

2 Timothy 1:9: “…who saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began,”

Therefore according to JW, God would have created Jesus for the purpose to suffer and die for humanity. The problem here is, why would God create a man to die for ours or Adams sin when God had the power to do it Himself? If God has the power to rescue us, and is Himself love, why would God not sacrifice Himself for our sins? This can often give a great opportunity to explain why Christians believe God is triune. By God not giving Himself up for us because He created somebody else to do it, is not loving and therefore not good. If you had two children and you gave up one to die for the other when you as the parent had the power to save him yourself, that would not be good of you. It is why Christianity makes so much more sense on the nature and character of God, the overwhelming love He has for us, and the depths that He is willing to go to rescue us.

I would ask the question of your friend whether she believes that God was unable to save us Himself? As I say, will often open the door to speak more about why God is triune :slightly_smiling_face:.

Praying for you in your future discussions

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Thank you, everyone, for your fantastic responses so far :grinning:. I feel so encouraged and equipped to delve back into this subject with this lady again.

James, thank you for laying that out for me - that’s exactly the bit I felt was missing in her argument but couldn’t put my finger on it in the discussion. You’re right, having an element of truth but not the whole truth helped me understand her logic and in the process, confused what lines of enquiry I was working towards. From what I understand the JWs are trained in how to answer challenges like this and learn to use what they’ve been taught. I’m so interested to find out how she might respond to this side of the issue.

Brilliant, thank you! This is exactly the clear line of thought that I lost in the discussion :grinning:. And I’ve looked at CARM, it’s been useful in understanding more about the JW belief system and how to reason against it. It’s outlined some contradictions or blatant errors written in previous publications of the Watchtower, which this lady was very quick to dismiss. I didn’t it feel worth pursuing this type of argument right now. However, I’m very concerned about the grip the Watchtower have overall on their thinking. All her references come from Watchtower material. I find this very concerning.

Yes, I did attempt this passage with her, but I hadn’t realised they’ve also reworded this bit in the NWT Bible. Thank you for the points about Elohim in Genesis, I think that’s such a valid point. I’ve touched on this already in describing the trinity to her, covering points such as God is community and that as we’re made in his image, that explains the human need for community, and also that God never changes, he’s the same yesterday, today and forever and if God is love, he would have originally had no one to love. However, if he’s trinity, he’s always been able to be true to his nature of love, living in a community of love, one for each other. She didn’t really give me much response except move onto the next point :slightly_smiling_face:. I’ll look to cover the name Elohim next time.

@mgaplus4, I really appreciate your prayers. In my heart, I’ve committed to this conversation for as long as it takes. My specific prayer, other than her knowing Christ, is that she also maintains an interest in the conversation even when she starts to realise that the truth of the Bible is stronger than what she’s been taught :slightly_smiling_face:. The other thing to pray into is this: I set her challenges to go away and consider, but she also sets me challenges and articles to read from the main JW org website. I’ve dipped into it to be gracious to her, but I feel very uncomfortable doing so, and it leaves a nasty taste in my mouth when I read things in it that I see is false. I want to be able to show her I’m willing to consider her viewpoint, but I don’t want to go against what the Holy Spirit is saying to me inside.

Yes, I agree Luna :grinning:, I used this in our last conversation. I felt it was such a strong point, but the NWT translates it differently…so frustrating!!! I explained how in using the title I Am, Jesus was referencing God’s official title in Exodus. Her version says: before Abraham was, I have been. Thank you, also for your second point. I’m going to look into that.

Interesting, thank you. I see this is a point I need to develop in our conversation. It’s something I began on last time, and when I mentioned that God had a salvation plan from since the beginning of creation, she responded with surprise. I was too busy thinking of the entire discussion to delve into that point further. I see it could be an important one, thank you.

Please pray for this lady, and her husband who’s an elder in their Kingdom Hall. I know Jesus loves them so much and is longing to draw them into his truth and salvation. Thank you, everyone.

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