Answering Islam - A Christian-Muslim dialog

Jesus Is indeed God Incarnate

Which Is Why He Is Able To Forgive Sins! Pt. 1

Sam Shamoun

Paul Bilal Williams happens to be another dawagandist who doesn’t even try to mask his utter hatred for the Holy Bible and Christianity. This is why he has no problem citing scholars against Christianity whose presuppositions and beliefs actually undermine Islam and prove that Muhammad was a false prophet. Lord willing, we will have more to say about his blatant inconsistency in a future rebuttal. For now, we will focus on addressing his attack on the Deity of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Williams has jumped on the bandwagon of regurgitating the same old arguments against Christ’s Divinity that have been employed by Muslim dawagandists before him.

For instance, in this particular article Williams attempts to show that Jesus’ claim to being able to forgive sins doesn’t establish his Deity. Williams makes the following assertion after quoting Matthew 9:1-8:

i) Notice the response of the pious crowds:

When the crowd saw this, they were filled with awe; and they praised God, who had given such authority to man.

Clearly the Jewish people recognised the source of this authority, namely God, not Jesus, which is why they praised the former (rather than the latter).


What is clear is Williams’ willingness to select only those portions of a given text which he erroneously thinks supports his position, while ignoring the entire context which actually refutes his gross misreading of the passage in question. 

Here is the text from Matthew so we can see what Williams conveniently missed:

“Jesus stepped into a boat, crossed over and came to his own town. Some men brought to him a paralyzed man, lying on a mat. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the man, ‘Take heart, son; your sins are forgiven.’ At this, some of the teachers of the law said to themselves, ‘This fellow is blaspheming!’ Knowing their thoughts, Jesus said, ‘Why do you entertain evil thoughts in your hearts? Which is easier: to say, “Your sins are forgiven,” or to say, “Get up and walk”? But I want you to know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.’ So he said to the paralyzed man, ‘Get up, take your mat and go home.’ Then the man got up and went home. When the crowd saw this, they were filled with awe; and they praised God, who had given such authority to man.” Matthew 9:1-8

Before we begin dismantling William’s tirade against the Deity of the Lord Jesus it is vitally important to keep in mind that Christ here exhibited the same abilities which the OT ascribes to Yahweh alone. 

In this pericope, Jesus is seen forgiving sins, healing diseases, and knowing what people were thinking within themselves. Yet according to the Hebrew Bible, not only does Yahweh heal all diseases he is also the only one who forgive sins and knows what a person is thinking in his/her heart:

“Praise the LORD, my soul, and forget not all his benefits—who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion,” Psalm 103:2-4

“then hear from heaven, your dwelling place. Forgive and act; deal with everyone according to all they do, since you know their hearts (for you alone know every human heart)… When they sin against you—for there is no one who does not sin—and you become angry with them and give them over to their enemies, who take them captive to their own lands, far away or near; and if they have a change of heart in the land where they are held captive, and repent and plead with you in the land of their captors and say, ‘We have sinned, we have done wrong, we have acted wickedly’; and if they turn back to you with all their heart and soul in the land of their enemies who took them captive, and pray to you toward the land you gave their ancestors, toward the city you have chosen and the temple I have built for your Name; then from heaven, your dwelling place, hear their prayer and their plea, and uphold their cause. And forgive your people, who have sinned against you; forgive all the offenses they have committed against you, and cause their captors to show them mercy;” 1 Kings 8:39, 46-50

Compassion and forgiveness belong to the Lord our God, though we have rebelled against Him” Daniel 9:9

Who is a God like you, who pardons sin and forgives the transgression of the remnant of his inheritance? You do not stay angry forever but delight to show mercy. You will again have compassion on us; you will tread our sins underfoot and hurl all our iniquities into the depths of the sea.” Micah 7:18-19

The Quran itself agrees that forgiving sins is an exclusively divine prerogative: 

And those who, when they do an evil thing or wrong themselves, remember Allah and implore forgiveness for their sins - Who forgiveth sins save Allah only? - and will not knowingly repeat (the wrong) they did.” S. 3:135 Pickthall

It further says that it is Allah who discloses what a person hides within himself:

To Allah belongs all that is in the heavens and all that is on the earth, and whether you disclose what is in your ownselves or conceal it, Allah will call you to account for it. Then He forgives whom He wills and punishes whom He wills. And Allah is Able to do all things. S. 2:284 Hilali-Khan

In light of the foregoing, isn’t any wonder that the scribes who knew the Law thought that Jesus was blaspheming since they knew from the Jewish Scriptures that Christ was claiming an ability that belonged to God alone? And as far as they were concerned, Jesus was nothing more than a flesh and blood Jewish man who should have known better than to claim such exclusive divine functions and abilities for himself.

However, Williams thinks that the response of the people who glorified God for giving men such authority clearly refutes the assertion that Jesus was acting as if he were God. Williams wants us to actually believe that the crowds’ assessment was correct and that God could delegate such authority to one of his human messengers without this making that agent God also. 

The real issue, then, boils down to finding out who was right. In other words, were the scribes correct in thinking that Jesus was acting as God since he was making a claim which only God could make, or were the crowds right? More importantly, how do we know?

The way to find the answer to this question is by examining the Gospel of Matthew to see whether the Evangelist intended to depict Jesus as God incarnate, or as a supernaturally empowered human messenger of God. And this is precisely what we intend to do here. 

We start off by seeing what the first chapter of Matthew has to say about Christ:

“This is how the birth of Jesus the Messiah came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit. Because Joseph her husband was faithful to the law, and yet did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly. But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, ‘Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus (Yeshua), BECAUSE HE WILL SAVE HIS PEOPLE FROM THEIR SINS.’ All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: ‘The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel’ (which means ‘GOD WITH US’).” Matthew 1:18-23 

According to the angel, Christ is to be given the name Jesus because of the work he will do in saving people from their sins. For those who may not be familiar with the Hebrew language and culture, Jesus’ Hebrew name is Yeshua which is the abbreviated form of the name Yehoshua, meaning “Yahweh is salvation.”

The angel was basically telling Joseph to call the child “Yahweh is salvation” because Christ is none other than Immanuel, or God himself who comes to do what the Hebrew Scriptures claim Yahweh shall do for his people:

“If you, LORD, kept a record of sins, Lord, who could stand? But with you there is forgiveness, so that we can, with reverence, serve you… Israel, put your hope in the LORD, for with the LORD is unfailing love and with him is full redemption. He himself will redeem Israel from all their sins.” Psalm 130:3-4, 7-8

In fact, Matthew concludes his Gospel in the same way he began it, e.g. reaffirming that Jesus himself is God who has come to dwell with us:

“Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. Then Jesus came to them and said, ‘ALL AUTHORITY in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the NAME of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I AM with you always, to the very end of the age.’” Matthew 28:16-20

Here we find Christ receiving worship, possessing complete sovereignty over the entire creation, sharing the one divine name of the Father and the Holy Spirit, and claiming to be with all his followers till the end of the age in order insure the success of their mission to make disciples of all nations!

Now the only way that Christ could be present with all believers till the end of the age is if he were omnipotent, omniscient and omnipresent. Moreover, Christ could only share in God’s name and authority over the entire creation if he himself is God.

In fact, as we shall see in the next section, Islam itself testifies that Allah does not allow anyone to share in his unique and exclusive names or rule over creation. Hence, this only provides further confirmation that Jesus did indeed claim to be God since there is no other way for him to possess God’s names or have all authority in heaven and on earth.

In order to help Williams see this fact more clearly, could he dare imagine Muhammad saying that Allah gave him all authority in the heavens and on the earth, thereby making him a partner in Allah’s sovereignty

Could Williams say, “In the name of Allah, and of Muhammad, and of the angel Gabriel”? If not then why not?

We’re not through just yet since Matthew provides a lot more evidence for Jesus being God Incarnate.

For instance, Jesus in Matthew explicitly says that he has come to lay his life down as a ransom for many in order that their sins might be forgiven:

“just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Matthew 20:28

“While they were eating, Jesus took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to his disciples, saying, ‘Take and eat; this is my body.’ Then he took a cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you. This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.’” Matthew 26:26-28

Notice that Jesus emphatically says that his vicarious death is the grounds for forgiveness and redemption. This in itself proves that Jesus thought of himself as God since the Hebrew Bible clearly teaches that no human being can offer a sufficient enough ransom to God to save someone from ever dying in order to live forever!

No one can redeem the life of another or give to God a ransom for them—the ransom for a life is costly, no payment is ever enough—so that they should live on forever and not see decay… They are like sheep and are destined to die; death will be their shepherd (but the upright will prevail over them in the morning). Their forms will decay in the grave, far from their princely mansions. But God will redeem me from the realm of the dead; he will surely take me to himself.” Psalm 49:7-15

Jesus himself claimed that only God could save anyone:

“Jesus said to him, ‘If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, FOLLOW ME.’ When the young man heard this he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions. And Jesus said to his disciples, ‘Truly, I say to you, only with difficulty will a rich person enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.’ When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished, saying, ‘Who then can be saved?’ But Jesus looked at them and said, "With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.’” Matthew 19:21-26 – cf. Mark 10:21-27; Luke 18:22-27

Hence, the only way that Jesus’ death could redeem anyone from ever dying and guarantee the forgiveness of all of a person’s sins is if he is God!

Notice how this logically works out:

A. It is impossible for any human being to redeem or save anyone since only God can save man.

B. Jesus is able to save man and wipe away all their transgressions by his vicarious sacrifice.

C. The only way Jesus could do this is if he was/is God.

Another way in which Matthew presents Christ as God is in his depiction of John the Baptist as the herald of Isaiah 40:3:

“In those days John the Baptist came, preaching in the wilderness of Judea and saying, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.’This is he who was spoken of through the prophet Isaiah: ‘A voice of one calling in the wilderness, “Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him.”’” Matthew 3:1-3

When we look at the immediate context of this prophecy we will see that the herald was sent to prepare the people for the coming of Yahweh God himself:

“Comfort, comfort my people, says your God. Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and proclaim to her that her hard service has been completed, that her sin has been paid for, that she has received from the LORD’s hand double for all her sins. A voice of one calling: ‘In the wilderness prepare the way for the LORD; make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Every valley shall be raised up, every mountain and hill made low; the rough ground shall become level, the rugged places a plain. And the glory of the LORD will be revealed, and all people will see it together. For the mouth of the LORD has spoken.’ … You who bring good news to Zion, go up on a high mountain. You who bring good news to Jerusalem, lift up your voice with a shout, lift it up, do not be afraid; say to the towns of Judah, ‘HERE IS YOUR GOD!’ SEE, THE SOVEREIGN LORD COMES with power, and he rules with a mighty arm. See, his reward is with him, and his recompense accompanies him. He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young.” Isaiah 40:1-5, 9-11

It should be noted that all the Gospels testify that the Baptist was the herald of Isaiah 40:3. They also agree that the One whom the Baptist came to pave the way for was the Lord Jesus Christ (cf. Mark 1:1-8; Luke 1: 13-17, 67-79; 3:1-17; John 1:14-15, 19-27, 29-36).

In fact, Jesus himself says that he will come as the Son of Man to repay everyone according to what they have done, the very thing Isaiah 40:10 says Yahweh will personally do when he arrives on the scene!

“For the Son of Man is going to come in HIS Father’s glory with HIS angelsand then he will reward each person according to what they have done.” Matthew 16:27

What this means is that Jesus Christ is actually Yahweh God whom Isaiah said would appear right after the herald comes to prepare for his way!

In order to assist Williams in better appreciating this point we have decided to break this down for him in the form of a logical syllogism:

A. Isaiah predicted that a forerunner would be sent to prepare for the appearance of Yahweh God who would come to judge and save.

B. Matthew and the other Gospels claim that John the Baptist was that forerunner.

C. Matthew and the rest of the Gospels also testify that the Baptist was sent to prepare for the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ.

D. Therefore, Jesus Christ is Yahweh God whom Isaiah predicted would come to save his people!

And just in case he still doesn’t get it, we will let the following Evangelical scholars put it together for him:

“These are not the only statements in Isaiah that suggest that the Messiah will be God. Later in the book, Isaiah states repeatedly that God is coming to redeem, restore, and rule over his people (Isa. 40:9-11; 43:10-13; 59:15-20)… The Synoptic Gospels quote this passage [Isa. 40:3] and apply it to John the Baptist preparing the way for the Lord Jesus (Matt. 3:3; Mark 1:3; Luke 3:4-6). The New Testament teaching that Jesus is God, then has significant precedent in Isaiah.” (Bowman & Komoszewski, Putting Jesus In His Place: The Case For The Deity Of Christ [Kregel Publications, Grand Rapids, MI 2007], Part 3: Name Above All Names: Jesus Shares The Names of God, 12. Immanuel: God with Us, pp. 137-138; bold emphasis and comments within brackets ours)


“As we mentioned at the beginning of the chapter, during Jesus’ lifetime other human beings were unlikely to refer to Jesus as ‘Lord’ in a way that would identify him as YHWH. Nevertheless, the Gospels, which their authors composed after Jesus’ resurrection, sometimes do speak of Jesus as Lord in this way.

“A familiar example comes toward the beginning of all four Gospels, each of which states that John the Baptist’s ministry of preparing the way for Jesus the Messiah was a fulfillment of Isaiah 40:3, ‘Prepare the way of the Lord’ (Matt. 3:3; Mark 1:3; Luke 3:4; cf. Luke 1:16; John 1:23). (Ibid., 13. He is Lord, pp. 159-160)


“If we compare the early chapters of Mark with Isaiah 40, we see from another perspective that Jesus’ claim to forgive sins is a claim to deity. In Isaiah, God announces that Israel’s sins have been removed and her chastisement is over (vv. 1-2). Then a voice calls for the way to be cleared for the coming of the Lord (vv. 3-5). His presence is once again going to inhabit the Promised Land, and his people are going to be restored to that land. The ‘good news’ for Jerusalem is that God is coming with might to rule (vv. 9-10). He will begin by gathering his flock and leading them (v. 11).

“Now look at the opening chapters of the Gospel of Mark. It begins with an announcement of ‘the good news’ (1:1). Mark explicitly quotes Isaiah 40:3 (1:3), which he says is fulfilled in John the Baptist, who preaches forgiveness of sins (vv. 4-6) and announces that the one coming after him is mightier than he (vv. 7-8). Then Jesus shows up, and John baptizes him (vv. 9-11). Jesus goes out into the wilderness and returns, preaching the ‘good news’ of (vv. 16-20) and starts demonstrating his ‘authority’ by casting out demons, healing the sick, and cleansing the leper (vv. 21-45). It is in this context that Jesus heals the paralyzed man and forgives his sins (2:1-12). His actions are all part of the ‘program’ of the Lord God coming to the land to rule, forgive, restore, and lead his people.

“The New Testament articulates Christ's role as Savior in many ways that make it clear that he is doing exactly what the Old Testament affirmed that God, and he alone, would do for his people…” (Ibid., Part 4: Infinitely Qualified: Jesus Shares in the Deeds That God Does, 17. The Way, the Truth, and the Life, p. 213; bold emphasis ours)

There is a lot more information for Williams to ponder over, as well shall see in the next part.