The Glory of Jesus
Bassam Zawadi wants to keep insisting (*) that the Lord Jesus didnt claim to have personally existed with the Father before creation and has decided to address some of the points I raised to prove otherwise (*).
He posts links that are supposed to refute the verses which I quoted to highlight the rather explicit NT witness to Jesus prehuman existence. We invite the readers to see the quality of argumentation being presented in these "rebuttals":
And then invite them to read the following articles:
By citing such "rebuttals" Zawadi makes it painfully obvious that he has no real responses to these passages that clearly expose his theology which is based on the Quran, a book which distorts the real picture of the historical Jesus.
Anyways John 17:5, which talks about God giving Jesus glory that Jesus had with him before the world began proves nothing. First of all God has given glory to people before...
Psalm 3:3But you are a shield around me, O LORD; you bestow glory on me and lift [ Or LORD , / my Glorious One, who lifts ] up my head.
You made him a little lower than the heavenly beings [ Or than God ] and crowned him with glory and honor.
In the first place, none of these texts say that the Psalmist or mankind existed with God in glory before the world was created. Zawadi is guilty of a false analogy, comparing apples and oranges.
Second, the same Scriptures teach that Jesus is the Agent through whom God created and dignified mankind:
"Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made." John 1:3
"He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For IN HIM all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created THROUGH HIM AND FOR HIM. HE IS BEFORE ALL THINGS, and IN HIM all things hold together." Colossians 1:15-17
"In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom he made the universe. The Son is the radiance of God's glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven But about the Son he says, Your throne, O God, will last for ever and ever, and righteousness will be the scepter of your kingdom. You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness; therefore God, your God, has set you above your companions by anointing you with the oil of joy. He [the Father] also says, In the beginning, O Lord [the Son], you laid the foundations of the earth, and the heavens are the work of your hands. They will perish, but you remain; they will all wear out like a garment. You will roll them up like a robe; like a garment they will be changed. But you remain the same, and your years will never end." Hebrews 1:2-3, 8-12
"Jesus has been found worthy of greater honor than Moses, just as the builder of a house has greater honor than the house itself. For every house is built by someone, but God is the builder of everything." Hebrews 3:3-4
This last passage is interesting since it is basically saying that Jesus is greater than Moses due to being the Builder or Creator in contrast to Moses status as a servant.
Shamoun argues back that God gave Jesus HIS OWN GLORY, which he can give no other. So this proves Jesus is God. However, we see that Jesus gave this glory that was given to him from God to the disciples...
I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one:
So does that make the disciples God as well?
It seems that I need to clarify the point I was making since it has led to a misunderstanding on the part of Zawadi. By saying that Yahweh will not give his glory to another I mean that God will not glorify any other entity as Deity since he alone is God. Yahweh will not praise some other as God, Creator, Sustainer Redeemer etc., when he alone is all of these. This is the precise point being made by Isaiah 42:8 and 48:11-12. Note carefully what these texts say in context:
"I am the LORD; that is my name! I will not give my glory to another or my praise to idols." Isaiah 42:8
"Listen to this, O house of Jacob, you who are called by the name of Israel and come from the line of Judah, you who take oaths in the name of the LORD and invoke the God of Israel but not in truth or righteousness- you who call yourselves citizens of the holy city and rely on the God of Israel the LORD Almighty is his name: I foretold the former things long ago, my mouth announced them and I made them known; then suddenly I acted, and they came to pass. For I knew how stubborn you were; the sinews of your neck were iron, your forehead was bronze. Therefore I told you these things long ago; before they happened I announced them to you so that you could not say, My idols did them; my wooden image and metal god ordained them. You have heard these things; look at them all. Will you not admit them? From now on I will tell you of new things, of hidden things unknown to you. They are created now, and not long ago; you have not heard of them before today. So you cannot say, Yes, I knew of them. You have neither heard nor understood; from of old your ear has not been open. Well do I know how treacherous you are; you were called a rebel from birth. For my own names sake I delay my wrath; for the sake of my praise I hold it back from you, so as not to cut you off. See, I have refined you, though not as silver; I have tested you in the furnace of affliction. For my own sake, for my own sake, I do this. How can I let myself be defamed? I will not yield my glory to another. Listen to me, O Jacob, Israel, whom I have called: I am he; I am the first and I am the last. My own hand laid the foundations of the earth, and my right hand spread out the heavens; when I summon them, they all stand up together. Come together, all of you, and listen: Which of the idols has foretold these things? The LORDs chosen ally will carry out his purpose against Babylon; his arm will be against the Babylonians." Isaiah 48:1-12
Israel was being enticed to worship the idols of the nations, specifically that of Babylon (cf. Isaiah 46:1-11) as gods alongside Yahweh. Yahweh expressly warns them against such a heinous sin (which would be the sin of idolatry) since he will not acknowledge any other being as God.
Yet by claiming to have existed with the Father in the same Divine glory even before the creation of the world Jesus is basically asserting his Deity. This glory that Christ had and which he then received again is that which belongs only to Deity since God alone existed before creation. Moreover, the NT and specifically Johns Gospel explicitly teach that Jesus is God, Creator, and Redeemer etc. If Jesus werent all of the above then he would be blaspheming for claiming that he was with the Father in the same Divine glory before the world began.
As far as Jesus granting the disciples the glory that he was to receive, let us see what Zawadi conveniently failed to quote:
"My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are IN ME and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one: I IN THEM and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me." John 17:20-23
Jesus explains the reason why the disciples could be given the glory of Christ; it is because Jesus lives in them, something which he repeats more than once:
"Jesus replied, If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and WE will come to him and make OUR home with him." John 14:23
"Remain IN ME, and I will remain IN you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain IN ME. I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains IN ME and I IN HIM, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing." John 15:4-5
"I have made you known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them AND THAT I MYSELF MAY BE IN THEM." John 17:26
By being united to Jesus by virtue of Christ indwelling them (which shows that he is omnipresent and therefore God!) the believers therefore become his spiritual body:
"Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ himself? Shall I then take the members of Christ and unite them with a prostitute? Never! Do you not know that he who unites himself with a prostitute is one with her in body? For it is said, The two will become one flesh. But he who unites himself with the Lord is one with him in spirit. Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a man commits are outside his body, but he who sins sexually sins against his own body. Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body." 1 Corinthians 6:15-20
"The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts; and though all its parts are many, they form one body. So it is with Christ. For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one bodywhether Jews or Greeks, slave or freeand we were all given the one Spirit to drink. Now the body is not made up of one part but of many." 1 Corinthians 12:12-14
"while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has combined the members of the body and has given greater honor to the parts that lacked it, so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it. Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it." 1 Corinthians 12:24-27
As Christs spiritual body all true believers therefore share in the riches and glories of their spiritual head, the Lord Jesus, such as sonship, inheritance, rulership, immortality etc.
"He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband's will, but born of God." John 1:10-13
"It is because of him that you are IN Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God -- that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption." 1 Corinthians 1:30
"because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, Abba, Father. The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God's children. Now if we are children, then we are heirsheirs of God and co-heirs WITH CHRIST, if indeed we share IN HIS SUFFERINGS in order that we may also SHARE IN HIS GLORY." Romans 8.14-17
"You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. If you belong to Christ, then you are Abrahams seed, and heirs according to the promise." Galatians 3:26-29
"But when the time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under law, to redeem those under law, that we might receive the full rights of sons. Because you are sons, God sent the Spirit OF HIS SON into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, Abba, Father. So you are no longer a slave, but a son; and since you are a son, God has made you also an heir." Galatians 4:4-7
"Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing IN CHRIST." Ephesians 1:3
"But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive WITH CHRIST even when we were dead in transgressionsit is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up WITH CHRIST and seated us WITH HIM in the heavenly realms IN CHRIST JESUS, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us IN CHRIST JESUS." Ephesians 2:4-6
"being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and joyfully giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light. For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross." Colossians 1:11-14, 18-20
"For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, and you have been given fullness IN CHRIST, who is the head over every power and authority. IN HIM you were also circumcised, in the putting off of the sinful nature, not with a circumcision done by the hands of men but with the circumcision done by Christ, having been buried WITH HIM in baptism and raised WITH HIM through your faith in the power of God, who raised him from the dead. When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive WITH CHRIST. He forgave us all our sins," Colossians 2:9-13
"Since, then, you have been raised WITH CHRIST, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden WITH CHRIST in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear WITH HIM in glory." Colossians 3:1-4
"He called you to this through our gospel, that you might SHARE in the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ." 2 Thessalonians 2:14
To put it simply, Christ has procured the believers right to partake of his own immortal glory by his perfect righteousness and atoning death for sinners, apart from which no person could ever be saved or exalted.
Hence, although the disciples sharing in Christs glory doesnt make them God this does, however, demonstrate that Jesus is God since the reason why his followers can partake of his own eternal glory is because he is able to dwell in all of them, thereby uniting them to God, and has the sovereign right to make them children of the Most High.
Zawadi then says:
As for the preexistence issue well all of us preexisted in God's knowledge. The God loved Jesus before creating him and therefore this is the glory that Jesus had with God...
Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world.
This response not only ignores basically all that I said about the issue of preexisting in Gods foreknowledge, but it also fails to address the points which I did raise to show that this is not what Jesus meant. Here I will simply add a few more points to show why Zawadis appeal to foreknowledge does very little to refute the clear teaching of the NT that Christ personally existed before creation.
First of all, this text says nothing about God loving Jesus before creating him. The verse actually says that God loved his Son before the world was created. Zawadi is therefore distorting the text by reading into it an idea or by inserting words which the passage itself doesnt use or even mention. This is therefore nothing more than eisegesis.
Second, the authors of the NT and Jesus audience did not understand that Christ was claiming to have existed only in Gods mind. Rather, they clearly grasped that Jesus was emphatically asserting that he actually and personally existed in heaven even before he became a man. We already quoted a few references above documenting where the NT writers affirmed that Jesus was used by the Father to create all things and therefore existed before all creation. Moreover, note the response of the Jews to Jesus claim to have come down from heaven:
"At this the Jews began to grumble about him because he said, I am the bread that came down from heaven. They said, Is this not Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How can he now say, "I came down from heaven"?" John 6:41-42
The astonishment of these Jews shows that they realized that Jesus wasnt merely claiming to have existed in Gods thoughts or decrees.
Furthermore, John 17:5 does in fact prove that Jesus was there with the Father before the creation of the world, which means that what Jesus was saying in John 17:24 is that the Son enjoyed personal, intimate communion with God in eternity. In fact, in my initial response I had spent some considerable time explaining the implication and meaning of the preposition pros which John used in his prologue to describe the relationship that existed between God and Jesus in his prehuman existence as the Logos/Word:
"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with (pros) God, and the Word was God. He was with (pros) God in the beginning." John 1:1-2
I mentioned that when pros is used with the accusative (a direct object) this refers to the intimate communion that exists between two entities. John was basically stating that Jesus as the Word existed with the Father in intimate fellowship even before creation. This is the very point that Jesus was making, that when Christ said that the Father loved him even before the world he meant it not in the sense that he was foreknown by God, but that he was personally there with the Father in intimate, loving fellowship.
More importantly, there was a way for Jesus to have said that he existed in Gods mind or that God had foreordained for him the glory which he was going to receive after his resurrection. Christ could have used either the verb foreknew or the noun foreknowledge, words used in the NT in reference to God choosing or decreeing certain persons and/or events:
"This man was handed over to you by God's set purpose and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men, put him to death by nailing him to the cross." Acts 2:23
"For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified." Romans 8:29-30
"God did not reject his people, whom he foreknew. Dont you know what the Scripture says in the passage about Elijahhow he appealed to God against Israel:" Romans 11:2
"who have been chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through the sanctifying work of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and sprinkling by his blood: Grace and peace be yours in abundance." 1 Peter 1:2
"For He [Christ] was foreknown before the foundation of the world, but has appeared in these last times for the sake of you." 1 Peter 1:20 NASB
This last verse is quite interesting since the context is speaking of Christs sacrifice being something already chosen or foreordained before the world.
In light of the foregoing, Christ could have prayed in the following manner if all he were saying was that God had known or chosen him before his creation:
"And now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory you had foreordained (or chosen) for me before the world began. Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you had foreordained (or chosen) for me because you loved me before the creation of the world."
"And now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory which you had chosen for me to have with you in your foreknowledge before the world began. Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory which you had chosen in your foreknowledge to give me because you loved me before the creation of the world."
Jesus clearly DID NOT choose to use these words or pray this way, but spoke quite plainly about his prehuman existence with the Father.
Finally, Zawadis interpretation implies that Jesus was speaking figuratively, and not plainly, at this point which is untenable in light of what Christ had said in the previous chapter:
"Though I have been speaking figuratively, A TIME IS COMING WHEN I WILL NO LONGER USE THIS KIND OF LANGUAGE BUT WILL TELL YOU PLAINLY ABOUT MY FATHER. In that day you will ask in my name. I am not saying that I will ask the Father on your behalf. No, the Father himself loves you because you have loved me AND HAVE BELIEVED THAT I CAME FROM GOD. I CAME FROM THE FATHER AND ENTERED THE WORLD; now I am leaving the world AND GOING BACK TO THE FATHER. Then Jesus disciples said, NOW YOU ARE SPEAKING CLEARLY AND WITHOUT FIGURES OF SPEECH. Now we can see that you know all things and that you do not even need to have anyone ask you questions. THIS MAKES US BELIEVE THAT YOU CAME FROM GOD. You believe at last! Jesus answered." John 16:25-31
Not only does Jesus say that he would be speaking plainly, he also in this very same context affirms his prehuman existence with the Father and his subsequent return to him!
What makes this intriguing is that Zawadi had raised this text in another rebuttal (*) in order to discount Jesus earlier statements regarding his Deity as being nothing more than figures of speech. Yet this very same passage says that Christ would not be speaking in this manner after this point which means that Jesus wasnt speaking in parables or using figurative language when he spoke of existing with the Father before the world began.
In light of the foregoing, why is Zawadi now seeking to impose a figurative interpretation to John 17:5 and 24 when Christ expressly said that he would be speaking plainly from that point on? The answer is rather obvious.
Zawadi concludes his rebuttal by appealing to John 17:3, a text which we have discussed more than once:
Shamoun proves no case by quoting John 17:5 to prove Jesus' deity. As a matter of fact, just read two verses before it we see that Jesus is not God...
3Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.
Here Jesus is saying that the Father is the only true God. Jesus is not God and Amen to that.
We have already demonstrated why this text doesnt undermine the statements of Christ or the NT writers that Jesus is also the true God (along with the Holy Spirit) and we will therefore simply refer to our discussion of this passage (*).
What we want to say at this point is that since Zawadi has basically given his amen to this verse, which means that he believes in its textual veracity, that Jesus actually said that there is only one true God, then he needs to remain consistent. He cant simply isolate this verse from what is said before it (as well as after):
"After Jesus said this, he looked toward heaven and prayed: Father, the time has come. Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you. For you granted him authority over all people that he might give eternal life to all those you have given him." John 17:1-2
The only true God whom Christ prayed to is the Father who sent his Son, the Lord Jesus, to give eternal life to all whom God gives to him. Since Muhammad denied both the Father and the Son this means that his god, the Allah of the Quran, cannot be the true God that Jesus referred and prayed to. And to that we say a hearty Amen and Amen!
We conclude by professing that Jesus is the eternal Son of the true God and the risen Lord of eternal glory! Amen. Come Lord Jesus, come.
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