In the opening statements of his debate with Dr. James R. White, Iglesia Ni Cristo apologist Joe Ventilacion pitted 1 John 3:20, where John says that God knows all things against Matthew 24:36, a passage where Jesus says that he as the Son doesn’t know the day or hour, in order to prove that Christ cannot be God Almighty. He then made the following assertion:
“If Christ was a God on earth he should know all things.” (Who Is God? – Trinity Debate https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZnElgAnN414)
As Dr. White correctly noted, at the Incarnation the Son veiled some of his divine attributes which accounts for why he did not know the day or hour. After all, for Christ to be truly human he must possess a human mind. By nature human minds are finite, limited etc., and are therefore incapable of possessing all knowledge. This means that Jesus’ human mind could not be omniscient since it wouldn’t be truly human if it were.
Moreover, to have a human mind is to possess multiple layers of consciousness, e.g., subconsciousness, waking consciousness etc. And as we all know, a person may not recall or remember all the information that lay embedded within one’s subconsciousness. It therefore makes sense that in his waking consciousness our Lord would not know or recall all the knowledge that he possessed by virtue of being God, as well as all the information that lay hidden within his subconscious mind.
And yet since Jesus is also God it shouldn’t come as a surprise to discover that the same God-breathed Scriptures testify to his omniscience. For example, here is what the Apostle Peter said after being asked by the risen Lord if he loved him:
“He said to him the third time, ‘Simon, son of John, do you love Me?’ Peter was grieved because He said to him the third time, ‘Do you love Me?’ And he said to Him, ‘Lord, YOU KNOW ALL THINGS; You know that I love You.” Jesus said to him, ‘Tend My sheep.’” John 21:17
And lest the INC want to argue that Peter didn’t literally mean that Christ knows everything, note the following verse:
“‘These things I have spoken to you in figurative language; an hour is coming when I will no longer speak to you in figurative language, but will tell you plainly of the Father. In that day you will ask in My name, and I do not say to you that I will request of the Father on your behalf; for the Father Himself loves you, because you have loved Me and have believed that I came forth from the Father. I came forth from the Father and have come into the world; I am leaving the world again and going to the Father.’ His disciples said, ‘Lo, now You are speaking PLAINLY and are not using a figure of speech. Now we know that YOU KNOW ALL THINGS, and have no need for anyone to question You; by this we believe that You came from God.’ Jesus answered them, ‘Do you now believe?’” John 16:25-31
Here we have Jesus speaking in plain language to the disciples. As a result of speaking plainly, not figuratively, the disciples finally come to the realization that Christ does indeed know all things, and therefore doesn’t need to have anyone test his knowledge by asking him questions to see whether he can answer them. And instead of rebuking them for ascribing omniscience to him, the Lord actually chides them for taking so long to realize that he in fact does know everything!
Hence, both before and after his resurrection Jesus knew everything, which proves that he never ceased being the omniscient divine Son of God even while he was on earth.
Now compare all this with the very passage that Ventilacion cited to disprove the Deity of Christ:
“in whatever our heart condemns us; for God is greater than our heart and knows all things.” 1 John 3:20
Since we have now established that Christ on earth was omniscient this means that, per Ventilacion’s own objection, Jesus was indeed God Almighty who came into the world to become a flesh and blood human being.
There are other passages which affirm the fact of Christ knowing all things, knowing that which only God knows, during his earthly life:
“Now when He was in Jerusalem at the Passover, during the feast, many believed in His name, observing His signs which He was doing. But Jesus, on His part, was not entrusting Himself to them, for He knew all men, and because He did not need anyone to testify concerning man, for He Himself knew what was in man.” John 2:23-25
“And knowing their thoughts Jesus said to them, ‘Any kingdom divided against itself is laid waste; and any city or house divided against itself will not stand.’” Matthew 12:25
“An argument started among them as to which of them might be the greatest. But Jesus, knowing what they were thinking IN THEIR HEART, took a child and stood him by His side,” Luke 9:46-47
“Others, to test Him, were demanding of Him a sign from heaven. But He knew their thoughts and said to them, ‘Any kingdom divided against itself is laid waste; and a house divided against itself falls.’” Luke 11:16-17
“When He had come back to Capernaum several days afterward, it was heard that He was at home. And many were gathered together, so that there was no longer room, not even near the door; and He was speaking the word to them. And they came, bringing to Him a paralytic, carried by four men. Being unable to get to Him because of the crowd, they removed the roof above Him; and when they had dug an opening, they let down the pallet on which the paralytic was lying. And Jesus seeing their faith said to the paralytic, ‘Son, your sins are forgiven.’ But some of the scribes were sitting there and reasoning in their hearts, ‘Why does this man speak that way? He is blaspheming; who can forgive sins but God alone?’ IMMEDIATELY Jesus, aware IN HIS SPIRIT that they were reasoning that way WITHIN THEMSELVES, said to them, ‘Why are you reasoning about these things IN YOUR HEARTS? Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, “Your sins are forgiven”; or to say, “Get up, and pick up your pallet and walk”? But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins’—He said to the paralytic, ‘I say to you, get up, pick up your pallet and go home.’ And he got up and immediately picked up the pallet and went out in the sight of everyone, so that they were all amazed and were glorifying God, saying, ‘We have never seen anything like this.’” Mark 2:1-12 – cf. Matthew 9:1-8; Luke 5:17-26
Christ is depicted as doing and knowing that which the Hebrew Bible ascribes to Yahweh alone, namely, forgiving sins, healing diseases, and knowing the inner thoughts of the hearts of men:
“Would not God find this out? For He knows the secrets of the heart.” Psalm 44:21
“Bless the Lord, O my soul, And forget none of His benefits; Who pardons all your iniquities, Who heals all your diseases; Who redeems your life from the pit, Who crowns you with lovingkindness and compassion;” Psalm 103:2-4
“then hear in heaven Your dwelling place, and forgive and act and render to each according to all his ways, whose heart You know, for You ALONE know the hearts of all the sons of men,” 1 Kings 8:39
Therefore, Ventilacion’s very own challenge has been met since Jesus Christ did know all things even while he was on earth, despite the fact that the omniscience he possessed was veiled from his human mind and waking consciousness. As such, Jesus was truly God walking this earth as a man who, from the moment of his bodily resurrection, continues to exist as the glorious and glorified God-Man:
“For in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form,” Colossians 2:9
All Scriptural citations taken from the New American Standard Version (NASB) of the Holy Bible.