Does John 8:24 teach that Jesus is God?
The "Iglesia Ni Cristo" teaches that Jesus is not God. However, many verses such as John 8:24 seem to teach that Jesus is God. Did Jesus teach that he is God in John 8:24?
John 8:24 (ESV) - 24 I told you that you would die in your sins, for unless you believe that I am he you will die in your sins.
When we examine the verse, we see that Jesus did in fact teach that he is God.
Jesus used the divine when referring to himself.
What most English translations do not reveal is that Jesus used the divine name "YHVH", or in Greek, "ego eimi". He said, "Unless you believe that I AM, you will die in your sins." Jesus was requiring that his audience believe that he is God.
"I AM" cannot be merely a statement about Jesus' existence.
The Jews who were speaking with Jesus obviously believed that he existed or else they would not have spoken to him. Jesus was referring to something greater than his mere existence. He was using the divine name to refer to his deity.
Jesus was speaking of the Father, a distinct person.
If the INC is to insist that this should not be read as "I AM", but "I am he", who is the he? In context, Jesus had been speaking of the Father.
John 8:19 (ESV) - 9 They said to him therefore, “Where is your Father?” Jesus answered, "You know neither me nor my Father. If you knew me, you would know my Father also."
John 8:27 (ESV) - 27 They did not understand that he had been speaking to them about the Father.
However, the INC does not believe that Jesus is the Father and neither do Trinitarians. If Jesus had said "I am he", then he would be saying "I am the Father." This is not an appropriate interpretation of this passage.
Jesus taught that believing that he is God is not optional.
Finally, it is important to realize that Jesus did not just teach that he is God, but he taught that one who is presented this truth must believe that he is God! The one who does not believe in the deity of Christ will die in their sins.
Jesus taught that he was God in John 8:24 and furthermore he made it clear that belief in his deity was not optional. Any INC member who continues to reject that Jesus is the I AM, the true God of the Bible will die in their sins. They should repent of this sin while they still have breath.