Did Jesus deny that he is God in Matthew 19:17, Luke 18:19, and Mark 10:18?
The "Iglesia Ni Cristo" teaches that Jesus is not God. Sometimes, the INC points to Jesus' initial response to the rich young ruler. Is this a response a denial from Jesus himself, saying that he is not God?
Luke 18:18-19 (ESV) - 18 And a ruler asked him, "Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?" 19 And Jesus said to him, "Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone.
When we look at this passage in addition to what the Bible says about Jesus, we see that it is not a denial that he is God. Rather it is an admission that he is God.
Jesus did not deny that he is good.
The first thing to notice is that Jesus did not deny that he is good in this verse. The problem is that the INC wrongly misunderstands this rhetorical question as though Jesus was implying that he was not good. When he asked "Why do you call me good?", he was not saying "do not call me good.". He was asking a question that was designed to provoke the rich young ruler to consider with whom it was that he was speaking.
The INC has no legitimate reason to understand this as a denial of his goodness rather than a rhetorical question designed to highlight his goodness.
Jesus is good.
The absurdity of the INC's argument comes to light when we consider its logical conclusion. Does the INC really mean to deny that Jesus is good?
Of course, Jesus is good. Jesus never sinned. He always hated evil and loved righteousness (Hebrews 1:9). In Christ are hidden all the treasures of wisdom of knowledge (Colossians 2:3). This means that he is the very source of all good things.
Jesus confessed his deity to the rich young ruler.
When Jesus asked this question of the rich young ruler, he was confessing his deity. If Jesus is truly good, as he is, then Jesus was telling the rich young ruler that calling Jesus good is an implicit admission that he is God. If Jesus is good and only God is good, then Jesus must be God.
Only one who is good can procure eternal life.
Consider the context. The rich young ruler has asked Jesus how he may inherit eternal life. As he will explain, one may inherit eternal life by keeping all the commandments; that is, by being good. The rich young ruler had not done this, but who is the one who perfectly kept the commandments and procured eternal life? It is Jesus! He is the one who gives eternal life, and therefore he is the one who is truly good and therefore he must truly be God!
The INC foolishly use Jesus' initial response to the rich young ruler in order to deny the deity of Christ. They do not realize that this verse affirms Christ's deity. When the INC uses this verse to deny the deity of Christ, they also deny his goodness. It would be better for the INC to repent of their unbelief and believe what the Bible teaches about Jesus than continuing in their false teachings.