So, I had a bit of a lively conversation with a member of a local Socinian cult here in the Philippines (lively, not because it was friendly, but because whenever he lost an argument or a point, he resorted to insults and visibly displayed how incensed and frustrated he was haha), and he kept insisting that Jesus is not God.
(Socinianism is a heresy that teaches that Jesus was a mere man and not God. This is distinct from Arianism, where though Jesus is only a created being, he does possess some divine attributes).
Throughout our conversation, we went around John 1, John 20, and a bunch of other verses that we biblical Trinitarians typically use to demonstrate that Jesus is God. As expected, he gave me screenshots and links to blogs that led to the poor attempts of this local cult to twist the Scriptures and make them show something contrary to the truth.
However, there was a certain combination of Scriptures that my lively opponent failed to invent an excuse for, and it involves these three:
This is what THE FIRST AND THE LAST, who was dead, and has come to life, says...
“Behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to render to every man according to his work. I am the Alpha and the Omega, THE FIRST AND THE LAST, the beginning and the end.”
“Thus says Yahweh, the King of Israel and his Redeemer, Yahweh of hosts: ‘I am the first, and I am the last, And there is no God besides Me.
After giving these verses, I gave my opponent a rather simple syllogism (in the form of simple Q&As; I also gave all my arguments in formal Tagalog, with all verses being in the MBBTAG version haha, because that's the type of engagement this local cult prefers):
- Who did Yahweh say He was? The First and the Last.
- According to Revelation 2:8, the First and the Last died and lived again. Who was dead, and has come to life? Jesus.
- Who did Jesus say He was? The First and the Last. The Alpha and the Omega. The beginning and the end.
> Therefore, Jesus is Yahweh. Jesus is the God of the Old Testament.
My opponent could do nothing but writhe in frustration and throw more insults at me. Unfortunately, this is what happens when their fake "ministros" give out invented interpretations and incomplete citations of Scripture. My opponent as a last resort even gave me a citation of Philippians 2, particularly the portion where God made Christ Lord, in verses 9 to 11 (this was to the effect of, "See?? what kind of God is Jesus if He needed to be made Lord??). Of course, in response to this, I showed him the beginning of that poem, particularly verses 6 to 8, where it is stated clearly that Jesus was in the FORM OF GOD and EMPTIED Himself, which explains why God had to bestow Lordship upon Christ after He did what He was sent to do.
To them, we're not really arguing only against their falsehoods. We are in effect arguing against their way of life, against the fact that these people gave their entire lives to this cult, that these people were born and raised in this cult. Any truth given that is contrary to their indoctrination is enough to trigger them, because accepting defeat in the argument means one thing:
Their entire life was a lie.
And people don't really know how to wrestle with that. They either get angry and live in denial of it, pretending to be blind to all the Scriptures that demonstrate the truth of the deity of Christ, or, for a very blessed few, they acknowledge the truth and despair for a while, thinking how their lives are going to change hereafter, given that virtually every person they know and love and care about is a member of this cult and believes lies that will lead to their damnation if not corrected.
Anyhow, this interaction demonstrates the importance of not only holding to Sola Scriptura, but also to Tota Scriptura. We do good if we believe that Scripture is the sole infallible rule of faith that we have. But we do marvelously if we believe that all of Scripture has to be received, from beginning to the end.
In all my interactions, whether it is with a Roman Catholic or an INC member or a Jehovah's Witness, before getting into topics like the Trinity or other dogmas, I make sure to give the Gospel first. Why?
Simple: you could spend hours upon hours going in circles (and even running around them in circles) with these topics, but it is the Gospel that all these people are ultimately UNPREPARED FOR in terms of argumentation and debate. They do not know how to counter the fact that salvation is by grace through faith alone, and that they aren't going to be saved by their works, or by their membership, or by their sacraments.
It is the Gospel that ultimately shuts their mouths and catches them off guard.
Let me just say this to close: I found that most of my in-person interactions with these people ended amicably when I prioritized the Gospel in our conversations rather than the doctrine of the Trinity or the deity of Christ or any other dogma.
So if you meet an INC or a Jehovah's Witness or a Roman Catholic, talk to them about the sufficiency of Christ's work. Once they accept that or come to terms with that, all other topics (e.g. Trinity, deity of Christ, Him being the only necessary Mediator, etc.) become easier to talk about.