...Can someone in the current dispensation of grace deny the Deity of the Lord Jesus Christ and still become a member of the Body of Christ?
Can someone like a Mormon (someone who rejects the Deity of Christ) and who believe Jesus is a spirit brother of Lucifer be a member of the Body of Christ? I believe the Scriptures say with clarity-NO!
Second Corinthians 11:4 says, "For if someone comes to you and preaches a Jesus other than the Jesus we preached..."
The Jesus the Apostles preached was a Divine Jesus (see Col. 2:9, 2 Peter 1:1-4). There is but One Jesus that is revealed in the Scriptures and He is God. A denial of this basic truth denies you the salvation that the true Jesus offers.
Let's return to your attempted rebuttal of John 8, where Jesus clealry stated you must believe He is "I am" (God) to be saved. A denial of this will bar you from joining the Body of Christ.
My concern exist with your poor treatment of John 8 and the clear sayings of Jesus. For you even claimed: "He was not saying ”You must believe that I am God to be saved.” You say this in spite of the overwhelming evidence that proves you dead wrong! Allow me to explain (for this is paramount-for Jesus claimed in this chapter you must believe who He claimed to be (God) in order to be saved). Though being a "scholar" does not guarantee instant infallibility in judgment, it should at least provide assurance of factual understanding. Given this, the scholars seem to feel that these passages in John 8:24 clealry state that Jesus claimed to be God:
Augustine wrote: "...the whole unhappiness of the Jews was not that they had sin, but to die in sins...In these words, 'Except ye believe that I am,' Jesus meant nothing short of this, 'Except ye believe that I am God, ye shall die in your sins.' It is well for us, thank God, that He said except ye believe, and not except ye understand."
Luther, like Augustine before him, wrote in no uncertain terms:
"The Lord Christ is angry below the surface and says: "Do you want to know who I am? I am God, and that in the fullest sense. Do as you please. If you do not believe that I am He, then you are nothing, and you must die in your sin." No prophet, apostle, or evangelist may proclaim and say: "Believe in God, and also believe that I am God; otherwise you are damned." Or...
William Hendrickson put it rather bluntly:
"The "I am" here (8:58) reminds one of the "I am" in 8:24. Basically, the same thought is expressed in both passages; namely, that Jesus is God!" Or...
Leon Morris has written,
" 'I am' must have the fullest significance it can bear. It is, as we have already had occasion to notice...in the style of deity." (in a footnote on same page "ego eimi in LXX renders the Hebrew ani hu which is the way God speaks (cf. Deut. 32:39; Isa. 41:4, 43:10, 46:4, etc.). The Hebrew may carry a reference to the meaning of the divine name Yahweh (cf. Exod. 3:14). We should almost certainly understand John's use of the term to reflect that in the LXX. It is the style of deity, and it points to the eternity of God according to the strictest understanding of the continuous nature of the present eimi. He continually IS. Cf. Abbott: "taken here, along with other declarations about what Jesus IS, it seems to call upon the Pharisees to believe that the Son of man is not only the Deliverer but also one with the Father in the unity of the Godhead" (2228)." Or...
A.T. Robertson certainly did not see any linguistic problems here:
"I am (ego eimi). Undoubtedly here Jesus claims eternal existence with the absolute phrase used of God." Or...
The great expositor J. C. Ryle noted,
"Let us carefully note what a strong proof we have here of the pre-existence and divinity of our Lord Jesus Christ. He applies to Himself the very name by which God made Himself known when He undertook to redeem Israel."
In spite of this evidence Me Again claims that Jesus wasn't really claiming Deity in John 8. These Greek Scholars point to the fact that Jesus claimed God and you must believe He is God to be saved. In fact, all the translations bear this out, including:
King James, New King James, New American Standard Bible, New International Version, Philips Modern English, Revised Standard Version, Today's English Version, Jerusalem Bible, New English Bible, American Standard Version, New American Bible, etc.
As you can see the Greek Scholars, the translators, etc all see the "I am" in John 8:24, 58 (also in John 13:19, 18:5-6 which I will point out later in this post) as an absolute title for God. Jesus claimed to be God in this verse: Therefore I said to you that you will die in your sins, for unless you believe that I am, you will die in your sins." You cannot reject Him being Deity and still be a member of His Body. For His Body is made up of those who accept His Divinity. Another passage that clearly points to the reality that one must receive Him as God is John 13:19: "From now on I tell you before it comes to pass in order that when it does happen, you may believe that I am." Who is "I am" in this verse but God. A Greek transliteration points this out: hina pisteusete hotan genetai ego eimi.
Me Again, also states correctly: "We must confess with our mouth that Jesus is Lord." But who is this Lord, isn't Lord rendered God. Can someone call Jesus Lord (in its purest Biblical form) and deny Him as God? That is absurd. I remember dealing with this in my last post when I said: "Did you not know what the Apostle Paul meant 'God" by the term "Lord" in verse 13 for example where he quotes from Joel 2:32 (Whoever calls on the name of the Lord will be delivered). In Joel 2 the writer is clearly referring to God as he mentions the Lord." Better rethink this in light of what Jesus said in the Book of John. You better believe one must confess Jesus is God, a denial of this bars you from being a member of the Body.
In conclusion, in light of what the Scriptures state no one can call Him just "a god" (like the Mormons) or a great angel (like the JW's)that is not sufficient for faith. No! Jesus Himself laid down the truth and the truth is this: unless one believes Him for whom He says He is - the ego eimi - one will die in one's sins. There is no salvation in a false Christ (as Me Again would like for you to believe). If we are to be united with the Lord Jesus Christ to have everlasting life, then we must be united with the true Jesus Christ who is very God, not a false representation.