Grace and Truth
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03. BASIC DIFFERENCES BETWEEN ISLAM AND CHRISTIANITY
5 - SALVATION IN THE BIBLE AND THE KORAN
Servants of the Lord
Since Muslims contest that Christ died on the cross, they also deny that we can be saved by faith in Christ. They openly deny the salvation offered in the substitutional death of Christ for our sins. How then do they hope to be saved and escape the punishment of hell? How does this Islamic doctrine of salvation contrast with the message of the Bible?
5.01 -- SALVATION IN THE BIBLE AND THE KORAN
Servants of the Lord
You will know the Truth,
Whoever reflects prayerfully on God’s salvation enters the sanctuary of our faith and penetrates to the very heart of God.
God our Savior
In the Koran, however, Allah speaks of himself in the plural of majesty:
Had it been Our will,
اوَلَوْ شِئْنَا لآتَيْنَا كُلَّ نَفْسٍ هُدَاهَا ا
اوَلَكِنْ حَقَّ الْقَوْلُ مِنِّي لأَمْلأَنَّ جَهَنَّمَ مِنَ الْجِنَّةِ وَالنَّاسِ أَجْمَعِينَ ا
ا(سُورَةُ السَّجْدَةِ ١٣:٣٢)ا
These and other similar statements in the book of the Muslims show that Allah has neither the intention nor the motivation to offer all mankind a comprehensive redemption. There is a certain cynicism in the wording of this verse: “Had it been our will, we would have given every soul it’s guidance.” But Allah has no desire to deliver his followers. They are of no matter to him. He acts according to his momentary mood. He is a capricious divinity, by no means a father.
5.02 -- The preparations for salvation in the Old Testament
A first mention of salvation in the Torah occurs when the elderly Jacob on his death bed was impelled to announce terrible prophecies concerning his son Dan (Genesis 49:17). The old man sighed and said: “For Thy salvation I wait, o Lord” (Genesis 49:18).
He longed for a holy, blessed, sinless family life with God without curse or fear of being repeatedly expelled from the land. He waited for the descent of heaven on earth, for the deliverance of God (Matthew 6,10; 13,43; Luke 12,36; Romans 8,19; Philippians 3,20; 2 Peter 3,13; Hebrews 9,28; 10,13; 11,10).
5.03 -- The fellowship with God brings salvation
Moses was standing with his people on the shore of the Red Sea. Behind him, he saw the cloud of dust raised by the cavalry and the chariots of Pharaoh chasing after the people of Israel. Before him lay the endless expanse of water. The helpless fugitives were caught in a trap. The elderly Moses stood up and said: Do not fear! Stand by and see the salvation of the Lord which He will accomplish for you today … The Lord will fight for you while you keep silent. (Exodus 14:13-14)
After crossing the arm of the sea, which had been swept back by a strong east wind, on dry land and the drowning of the approaching pursuers, Moses recognized that the Lord not only provides victory and salvation, He Himself is salvation. He praised him with the following psalm: The Lord is my strength and song, and He has become my salvation. (Exodus 15:2)
At the beginning of their travels through the wilderness, Moses and his people understood that salvation is only to be found in the unbroken fellowship with the Lord. Without Him we can do nothing (Exodus 13:12; 15:26; 16:15; 17:1; 33:10-23; Numbers 6:24; Deuteronomy 2:7; 6:5; 7:11; 14:1).
5.04 -- Fellowship with God leads us to repentance
David’s motto as a king was the following blessing: He is a tower of deliverance to His king, and shows lovingkindness to His anointed. (2 Samuel 22:51; Psalm 18:51) He openly attested: He who offers a sacrifice of thanksgiving honors me, and to him who orders his way aright I shall show the salvation of God. (Psalm 50:23)
In spite of this, David became an adulterer and a murderer. He dropped very low and had to confess: Salvation is not merely limited to peace and prosperity within the State, instead it leads to contrition and insight into one’s own personal depravity. We can only be saved if our human nature is transformed by a new act of creation. David has taught millions of people to pray: Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me away from Thy presence, and do not take Thy Holy Spirit from me. (Psalm 51:10-11)
In Ezekiel in 36:26-27, we read the answer of the living God to the repentant prayers of many generations: Moreover, I will give you a new heart, and put a new Spirit within you, and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes and you will be careful to observe My ordinances. (Jeremiah 31:33; Ezekiel 11:19-20; Romans 1:16-17)
Without repentance, forgiveness and inner renewal there is no lasting communion with the holy and almighty God and no share in his salvation.
5.05 -- God’s promise of salvation through the Servant of the Lord
One outstanding messenger of the faith in the Old Testament was Isaiah. He comforted his people in it’s deepest humiliation during the Babylonian captivity with the wonderful word from God: I, even I, am the Lord, and there is no Savior besides Me. (Isaiah 43:11)
He impressed upon them: Turn to Me and be saved, all the ends of the earth; for I am God, and there is no other. … To Me every knee will bow, every tongue will swear allegiance. They will say of Me, ’Only in the Lord are righteousness and strength.’ (Isaiah 45:22-24; Philippians 2:5-11)
Isaiah testified to the fact that the whole world needs to return to the Lord. Without Him, there is no deliverance and no peace, neither in society nor in the life of the individual (Matthew 11:28-30; Romans 5:1-5; Ephesians 2:13-22).
The prophet also heard God’s message addressed to the coming Servant of the Lord, which was also his call to accomplish the redemption of the world: It is too small a thing that you should be My Servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and to restore the preserved ones of Israel; I will also make you a light of the nations so that my salvation may reach to the end of the earth. (Isaiah 49:6)
Isaiah recognized that communion with God was not only a privilege reserved for the Jews, but that all humanity should be included in his plan of restoration. To this very day, this passage is usually passed over in most synagogues, because it clearly testifies to the fact the Messiah is the light of the world and the Savior of all nations (John 4:42; 8:12).
This Servant of the Lord prays in the psalm which describes his passion: I shall lift up the cup of salvation, and call upon the name of the LORD. (Psalm 116:13)
He thereby expresses his readiness to suffer everything foretold in the marvelous prophecy of Isaiah 53, verses 4-12. Salvation cannot be brought about without the atoning death of the Anointed.
The resurrection and the ascension to heaven of the innocent victim was repeatedly prophesied: The LORD is my strength and song, and He has become my salvation. The sound of joyful shouting and salvation is in the tents of the righteous: The right hand of the LORD does valiantly! The right hand of the LORD is exalted! The right hand of the LORD does valiantly! (Psalm 118:14-16)
We further read in Psalm 110:1, The LORD says to my Lord:
Many details of God’s plan of salvation are traced in advance in the Old Testament.
5.06 -- Islam – a religion of self-righteousness
Muhammad has included in the Koran many excerpts of the Mishnah, the Talmud and other Jewish writings which were orally passed on to him by the Jews in Medina. The main emphasis of the Old Testament, however, escaped him. The fellowship with the holy God within a covenant relationship, which the Lord established with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and their descendants, is admittedly mentioned but not understood. Allah remains, according to the Islamic conception, the distant, majestic and terrifying God. He does not seek communion with his worshippers. He is not the standard of their lives. For this reason, the sanctification of the Muslim in practical everyday circumstances is no central issue. Allah remains the great unknown who confounds whom he will, and guides to the right path whom he pleases. (Suras al-‘Anam 6:39; al-Ra’d 13:27, Ibrahim 14:4; al-Nahl 16:93; Fatir 35:8; al-Muddaththir 74:31). He never draws near to the Muslims on a concrete level, nor does he bind himself to the followers of Muhammad. They remain slaves whose sole purpose is his worship but can never become his covenant partners.
The backbone of Islam is its law, the Shari’a. It is the fear, and not the love of Allah, which dominates the worship services and everyday lives of the Muslims (Sura Al ‘Imran 3:50; etc.). The dread of death, the grave and the Last Judgment drives them to respect its roughly 500 commandments (Sura al-Anfal 8:50). They hope, by their activities for Allah and through their so-called good works, to cover up their sins and mistakes, to overcome them or to compensate for them (Sura Hud 11:114). They do not have the feeling of being sinners in need of redemption and cannot see why a comprehensive repentance and a renewal of their minds is essential. Their primary emphasis is on obedience to Allah and Muhammad (Sura al-Hudjurat 49:14-15). A Muslim hopes, on the basis of his own achievements, in the framework of his fulfillment of the Shari’a , to be allowed to enter the Islamic Paradise (Sura al-Baqara 2:25.82). He feels no need for a Savior. He has no insight into the searing holiness of God nor does he consider himself to be wicked or lost. He is, broadly speaking, satisfied with his religion.
Fighting for the cause of Allah, a Muslim has the conviction:
“… Do not despair, Allah is with us ...” (Sura al-Tauba 9:40)
ا... لاَ تَحْزَنْ إِنَّ اللَّهَ مَعَنَا ... (سُورَةُ التَّوْبَةِ ٤٠:٩)ا
He sends invisible warriors to assist us in the Holy War until all the enemies of Islam are overcome.
“1 We have given you a glorious victory 2 so that Allah may forgive you your past and future sins, and perfect His goodness to you … 4 … Allahs’s are the legions of heaven and earth …” (Sura al-Fath 48:1-2)
ا١ إِنَّا فَتَحْنَا لَكَ فَتْحاً مُبِيناً 2 لِيَغْفِرَ لَكَ اللَّهُ مَا تَقَدَّمَ مِنْ ذَنْبِكَ وَمَا تَأَخَّرَ وَيُتِمَّ نِعْمَتَهُ عَلَيْكَ ... ٤ ... وَلِلَّهِ جُنُودُ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالأَرْضِ ... (سُورَةُ الْفَتْحِ ٤٨: ١-٤)ا
The spiritual battle against one’s own depraved self is, for the most part, unknown.
Muhammad entertained somewhat peculiar relationships with women. He married Aisha, an eight year-old girl. He then seduced Zainab, the wife of his adopted son Zaid, and received permission from Allah to marry her after her divorce (Sura al-Ahzab 33:37). He slept with his Egyptian slave Maria in the room of one of his wives called Hafza, who happened to be absent at the time. When he later swore before his angry teenage wives never to do such a thing again, he promptly received from Allah the commandment, valid for all Muslims as well, to recant his rash oath since he had granted them unlimited rights to their slave girls (Sura al-Tahrim 66:1-7).
We ought not to condemn Muhammad too readily for Jesus said: “He who is without sin among you, let him be the first to throw a stone at her” (John 8:7b). Many people sin like David, but only few repent as he did, because they do not know the God of holy love.
The fellowship of the Lord of the covenant and the knowledge of his promises in the Old Testament, preparing the way for salvation, are largely unknown in Islam.
5.07 -- The Savior accomplished his mission of salvation in this world
The Angel of the Lord commanded both Joseph and Mary to call their Son, born of the Holy Spirit, Jesus, for it was he who would save his people from their sins (Matthew 1:21; Luke 1:31). The name Jesus means: the LORD helps, saves and triumphs. The Son of Mary was born in order to save all those who accept his redemption. His salvation does not consist primarily in a political program nor in the welfare of a state, but aims at the deliverance of those who are willing to repent of their sins, known and unknown. Jesus frees those who are in bondage to the power of Satan and imminent death and delivers them from the justified wrath of God. The salvation of Jesus is a spiritual process through which he purifies and edifies his spiritual people to prepare them for his spiritual kingdom (John 18:36-37). The name of Jesus is God’s program for everyone. This name comprises a full salvation as well as the power of God for its accomplishment. This name, the most important of all, appears 975 times in the New Testament.
5.08 -- The entrance of the Savior into our world
The Angel of the Lord broke through the darkness which lay on the hills of Bethlehem and commanded the shepherds out of his glorious light: Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you Good News of a great joy which shall be for all the people; for today in the city of David has been born to you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. (Luke 2:10)
The Christmas oratorio of John Sebastian Bach is a mild echo of the jubilant exhilaration of the angels at the beginning of a new era. The promised Prince of Peace had finally come. Just as the emperor Caesar Augustus, he bore the honorary title “Savior” as the guarantee of a lasting world peace. Jesus, however, was more than Augustus! He was God incarnate! (Isaiah 9:5-6; 40:11). God became a man so that corrupt humanity could have part in his divine nature. The salvation of all mankind lay hidden in the newly born baby. After the sinless Christ had prevailed upon John the Baptist, against his will, to baptize him in murky waters of the Jordan River, the prophet recognized that the Son of Mary had not desired to be baptized because of his own sins. Instead, as a representative of all men, he had taken on himself their guilt and injustice (Matthew 3:13-17). Therefore, the heavens opened up and the Holy Spirit, in the form of a dove, flew down and settled upon Jesus as an outward sign of His gentle authority. Then God spoke and made the decisive revelation: “This is my beloved Son in whom I am well-pleased!” Instantly, John understood and attested openly: “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29-34). Without Christ’s vicarious death there would be no salvation for us all. His baptism was the point at which he took up his office as the world’s Savior.
Jesus explained to Nicodemus, a member of the Sanhedrin, sitting beside him at night, that: “As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up; that whoever believes might in him have eternal life” (John 3:13-16). Jesus, who was tempted as we are, yet never gave in to sin, was made sin instead of us, so that we, in him, might be made the righteousness which God accepts (2 Corinthians 5:21; Hebrews 4:15). In his love, he drew all our sins into himself and yet remained holy. In this respect, he was the counterpart of the serpent in order to save all who look to him.
Jesus explained the secret to his disciples: The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many. (Matthew 20:28)
5.09 -- The New Covenant in the atoning death of Jesus
During the institution of the Holy Communion Jesus explained to his disciples the aim and the content of his salvation. While they were eating, he took the bread, gave thanks, blessed it, broke it and gave it to the disciples, saying: “Take, eat, this is My body”. After the Last Supper, with the bitter herbs, he took the cup, gave thanks, passed it to them and said: “Drink from it, all of you; for this is My blood of the Covenant, which is to be shed on behalf of many for forgiveness of sins” (Matthew 26:26-28; 1 Corinthians 11:24-26). As the bread and the wine are assimilated by our body and are transformed into strength for us, so Jesus wishes to come and live in us and stay with us. Through his indwelling, the fellowship between God and man becomes reality. The prerequisite for this is our own complete purification of all sin through the blood of the Covenant sacrifice. Salvation means our communion with God on the basis of the forgiveness of our sins (Ephesians 3:14-21; 1 John 1:7; Revelation 1:5-6).
The first word that Jesus spoke on the cross was his intercession as a High Priest for all sinners: “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing!” (Luke 23:34). The Son of God, in his anguish, did not pray for the relief of his own sufferings; instead he revealed his endless love as the Savior of all transgressors. The Father has granted the request of his Son! His atoning sacrifice constituted a justification for all who believe in him.
When one of his two fellow sufferers heard Jesus praying instead of cursing, he confessed that he himself and the other criminal had deserved their fate. He appealed to the King with the crown of thorns: “Jesus, remember me when you come in your kingdom!” The Lord answered immediately: “Truly, I say to you, today you shall be with me in Paradise” (Luke 23:39-43). The criminal at his right side was perhaps the only person that Jesus was able to save before he died. His apostles had all fled. The convict on the cross, however, was not saved because of his good conduct, but only because of his faith. He became the model and symbol of all those who are saved. Salvation is a gift of the Crucified on the basis of grace for everyone who entrusts him with his sins.
5.10 -- The victory of Jesus at the cross
After six hours of torture on the cross, Jesus shouted: “It is finished!” (John 19:30). What had been completed?
Through his atoning death on the cross Jesus appeased God’s wrath upon all mankind. Ever since, we have been reconciled with the holy God.
The requirements of the Law have all been fulfilled through the vicarious death of Christ.
He suffered the punishment for the sins of all transgressors on the cursed wood of the cross.
But He was pierced through for our transgressions,
Satan had tried to tempt Jesus to every kind of sin. Jesus, however, loved his enemies, remained true to his faith in his Father, and refused to give up hope in spite of his despair. Since then, Satan has no right to accuse the believers in Christ.
Christ is victorious over God’s wrath, our sin and Satan’s power. “For by one offering, he has perfected for all time those who are sanctified.” (Hebrews 10:14)
Ever since Christ’s death on the cross, this objective reality of salvation is a sure fact for everyone. He does not need to die a second time especially for Jews and Muslims. His atoning death is valid for all, as father Boos, a catholic priest, once spoke out of an evangelical heart: “This crazy world is redeemed and doesn’t know it, - or refuses to know it!”
5.11 -- The resurrection of Christ confirms our salvation
After rising from the dead on Sunday morning and appearing to his fleeing and anxious disciples, the first thing Jesus offered them, was the peace of God: “Peace be with you!” (John 20:19) He did not force them to submit or accept terms of peace as the Islamic religion, instead he offered them the opportunity of accepting his redemption of their own free will. The resurrection of Christ is the divine seal on his finished work of salvation. Since Jesus is risen from the dead we know that:
Jesus is holy and sinless. Had he committed one single sin in word, deed or thought, death would have gained power over him. But now, Jesus is risen and has conquered death. His sinlessness, holiness and divine nature have become evident. We worship Him because of his holiness.
The resurrection of Christ also means that God has accepted his Son’s atoning sacrifice. Jesus did not fail, as the Lamb of God, as some mockers pretend, instead, he has reconciled the world with his Father. His sacrifice is eternally valid and opens up the way to God for all sinners who are willing to repent. We worship Jesus because of his complete atonement for us.
Jesus lives! He is not dead, he is a living Savior! Muhammad, on the contrary, has died and awaits the Last Judgment. Therefore all Muslims are obligated to pray for him every time they mention his name (Sura al-Ahzab 33:56). Jesus, on the other hand, represents us before the Father and intercedes for us. We worship Jesus because he lives and is our spokesman before the Father.
The defeat of all forces antagonistic to God through the Lamb brought us a comprehensive justification by grace together with the free forgiveness of all our sins. Martin Luther expressed the secret of salvation with unchallenged authority in his Shorter Catechism:
I believe that Jesus Christ ...
5.12 -- The denial of Christ’s crucifixion and his resurrection in the Koran
Allah in Islam accepts no mediator, no lamb and no helper. He alone is the Creator, the Lord and Judge of all his creatures. Many Muslims are convinced that if Allah needed an intermediary or a savior to redeem mankind, he would not be omnipotent. They believe that Allah can forgive whom he wills and when he wills. If he does not wish to pardon, then he refrains from doing so. He remains sovereign, unbound and free. Allah in Islam is no Father-God, full of love, who would be ready to sacrifice his only Son in the place of corrupt sinners (John 3:16).
The Koran also excludes the possibility of a substitute taking on himself the punishment of another, as well as all sacrifices of propitiation for the forgiveness of sins. Since divine love (agape) does not exist in Islam, spiritual substitution also remains unknown. All the sacrificial laws of the Old Testament and their fulfillment in the vicarious death of Christ are rejected by the specialists of Koranic Law and declared void and impossible.
The Koran radically denies the historical fact of the crucifixion of Christ (Sura al-Nisa’ 4:157). Therefore, there is a complete lack of understanding in Islam for the concepts of justification and reconciliation with God. The wrath of the holy God remains upon every person (Muslim or other), who does not fulfill the law (John 3:36). The teachers of the Koran intimidate all Muslims by threatening that the angel of darkness will plague them even in their graves, if their evil deeds outnumber their good works, - which is unfortunately the case for every human being.
In Islam there is no salvation by grace, free of cost, because it is a legalistic religion and urges everybody to save himself.
Muslims reject the resurrection of Christ. Twice in the Koran Muhammad states that Allah put ’Isa to sleep and took him alive to himself. According to these statements, ’Isa was never buried and, accordingly, did not come back to life. He did not overcome death. Allah took him alive to himself in order to spare him the sufferings of the cross (Suras Al ‘Imran 3:55; al-Nisa’ 4:158)!! Therefore ’Isa is not, in the eyes of Muslims, the conqueror over God’s anger, sin, Satan and death. These powers, antagonistic to God, continue to exist undefeated in Islam.
Muhammad described himself as a warner and not as a savior from the coming judgment. His law, the Shari’a , is the broad way which allegedly leads the Muslims directly to Paradise. However, the opposite is true. No one will be justified by the law (Romans 3:20; Galatians 2:16). Every system of justice condemns the offenders. The law, on which the Muslims set their hope, will condemn them (Romans 4:15; James 2:10).
The words “salvation” and “Savior” are not to be found in the Koran. In Islam, there is no such thing as Allah’s mercy towards a lost humanity, no inner tension between his judicial holiness and his saving love. Islam does not know that “God so loved the wicked world, that he sacrificed his only begotten Son, that all who believe in Him should not perish, but have eternal life” (John 3:16).
Whoever understands that all Muslims exclude themselves, through their daily prayer liturgy, from the full salvation accomplished by Christ, realizes that the constant rejection of grace and salvation, in an obstinacy transmitted over fifty three generations, leads to a collective bondage. By their stubborn refusal of the deliverance from God’s wrath, Muslims deliberately choose God’s condemnation (John 3:36).
5.13 -- The implementation of salvation in the life of the individual and the church
Jesus commanded his apostles, before his ascension to heaven, to wait for what the Father had promised and explained to them: John baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now. (Acts 1:4-5)
Jesus had, judicially speaking, accomplished the redemption of the world through his atoning death. Now he wished to work out this salvation in his followers on a spiritual level, just as the priests, after the presentation of the sacrifice in the temple, pronounced God’s blessing on the waiting assembly. After his resurrection from the death, therefore, Jesus assured his disciples: You shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be my witnesses. (Acts 1:8)
5.14 -- The outpouring of the Holy Spirit
After Jesus had taken away the sin of the world on the cross which, like a high dam, had held back the blessing of God, the Holy Spirit, at the feast of Pentecost, broke out like a wide river over the believers waiting in prayer (Acts 2:1-4). The cross remains the decisive prerequisite in obtaining the Holy Spirit, who cannot be conferred without the application of the blood of Jesus. We have not received the Spirit because of our efforts, but only through Jesus Christ. He is the true Vine, we are the branches (John 15:4-8). To Him, we owe thanks and worship.
The first fact that Peter and the Apostles witnessed to, after the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, was the resurrection and presence of the crucified Christ. Then they appealed to all listeners to repent and to confess their sins, encouraged their shocked audience to believe in the living Lord Jesus and urged all to be baptized, as the crucial step towards their Savior, so that they might receive the gift of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38).
5.15 -- The fulfillment of salvation in the life of the individual
The Spirit of the Father and the Son, who resides in believers, comes from outside and enters into them. His presence is neither a form of self-hypnosis nor is it an increase in the adrenaline level. Here God intervenes personally in the life of every person seeking the truth and lets him participate in His own nature (John 14:16,23,26). Contrary to the teaching of Muhammad, the Holy Ghost is no created spirit, but from all eternity shares the most authentic substance of God. He is “very God of very God” (John 4:24). Where the Spirit takes residence in a human being, he also brings the Lord’s power and ethical characteristics. Salvation becomes a reality in the life of believers through the receiving of the Holy Spirit. Let us thank the Father and the Son for this tremendous grace!
There are several concepts in the Gospel which describe this act of salvation, since human words alone can scarcely convey the magnitude of this miracle.
Jesus said to Nicodemus that no one can see the kingdom of God or enter it without being born anew (from above) of water and the Spirit (John 3:1 ff.).
The evangelist John also attests: Whatever is born of God, overcomes the world; and this is the victory that has overcome the world – our faith. (1 John 5:4)
Jesus testified concerning himself: The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because he anointed Me, to preach the Gospel to the poor … (Luke 4:18; cf. Isaiah 42:7)
A born-again Christian can repeat this sentence in faith. On several occasions, the Bible confirms that the followers of Christ also receive the anointing of the Spirit (John 16:13; 2Corinthians 1:21-22; Jeremiah 31:33-34; 1John 2:27).
Paul writes, that believers have been “sealed in Him” with the Holy Spirit as a protection against the coming judgment. (2 Corinthians 1:21-22; 5:5; Ephesians 1:13-14; Revelation 7:2-8).
The gift of everlasting life is another way of describing the “indwelling” of the Holy Spirit, for He himself is the Life that comes from God (John 3:16,36; 5:24; 10:28; 17:2; 20:31; Acts 13:48; Romans 7:6; 8:10,23; 1John 3:14; 5:11 f.). Who worships the Triune God for the inexpressible wonder of his gift?
5.16 -- Salvation in the church as a whole
The gift of the Spirit has not only been entrusted to individual believers but, from the beginning, it reached the community as a whole. The New Testament does not allow spiritual selfishness or solitary satisfaction. All the followers of Christ together form the temple of God, since His Spirit lives in them (1 Corinthians 3:16-17; 2 Corinthians 6:16; Ephesians 2:21). Paul also describes the church as the spiritual body of Christ (Romans 12:5-8; 1 Corinthians 12:27; Ephesians 4:4), of which Jesus is the Head and we are his members, mutually completing one another.
The Triune God, as a merciful magnet, wishes to draw us into Himself, as we walk in the Spirit (John 17:21-23). „The love of God has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who was given to us" (Romans 5:5). Therefore John pens the breathtaking testimony: God is love; and the one who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. (1 John 4:16; Ephesians 3:18-19).
The fact that the Spirit of the Father and the Son enters in us and stays with us is further confirmed, though differently expressed, by other passages in the New Testament. We should therefore learn once again to confess: “I believe in the Holy Ghost!” – and not leave the third article of faith of the Nicene Creed in the hands of sects and visionaries, but to live in the power of Christ. The presence of the Holy Spirit in mortal humans means the free gift of closest fellowship with God, which was already prepared by the Lord’s Supper. Salvation implies unity with God the Father, through Jesus Christ, his Son, in the power of the Holy Spirit. Who are we, that God should have ordained us to everlasting life?
5.17 -- How can we receive God’s Spirit?
First, we should recognize that, at Pentecost God poured out his Spirit on all flesh (Joel 3:1-5; Acts 2:16-21). This Spirit need not be poured out again especially for us. Through Christ’s blood and righteousness, we are entitled to receive him. Anyone who hears Jesus’ word: Receive the Holy Spirit! (John 20:22)
and believes in Him, has already received the Holy Spirit through his faith in Christ. The Spirit comes into us through faith, just as faith also is a fruit of the Spirit (John 1:12-13; Acts16:31; Ephesians 2:8-10; Philippians 2:12-13; a.o.). It is not essential that we feel the Spirit on this occasion. The main thing is that we believe that He has taken over control of us. “He who offers a sacrifice of thanksgiving, honors Me; and to him who orders his way aright, I shall show the salvation of God” (Psalm 50:23). Whoever gives thanks in faith for the gift of the Holy Spirit, glorifies God, and this is the means whereby God can show him the way of salvation. Jesus has explained to us on several occasions, how we can really receive the Spirit of God (Luke 11:9-12; John 6:47,63; 10:27-30; 11:40; 14:26-27; 15:4-8; cf. Acts 2:39; 9:17-19; a.o.). Dare to believe! Pray with thanksgiving and have confidence, because Jesus himself will draw you into his salvation and strengthen you in it. His love does not fail.
The Holy Spirit is not given to us in order to heighten our spiritual enjoyment, instead, He wishes to renew and sanctify our whole way of life. It is primarily with this end in view that He gives us the knowledge of the Father and the Son (Romans 8:15-16). “No one can say, “Jesus is Lord!” except by the Holy Spirit” (1Corinthians 12:3).
The Spirit is love.
The Spirit is joy.
The Spirit is peace.
The Spirit is truth.
The Spirit is patience.
The Spirit is humble and gentle.
The Spirit is holy.
Without sanctification, no one will see the Lord
5.18 -- The Holy Spirit sets us in motion
The Spirit of Jesus teaches us to pray, to worship the Father and the Son, to confess our sins, to praise and to give thanks (Matthew 6:9). He encourages us to call on God as our Father in our prayers. He witnesses to our spirit that we are the children of God (Romans 8:14-16). He motivates us to pray faithfully and without ceasing (Ephesians 6:18-20).
The Spirit gives us a deep empathy, compassion and pity for all who are dead in their sins. He prompts us to present them the Gospel in a way which they can understand. Peter himself testified before his judges in the Sanhedrin: There is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven, that has been given among men, by which we must be saved” … but the name of Jesus alone. (Acts 4:12; cf. 10:43).
The Holy Spirit is merciful, patient and overcomes our shyness. He comforts us and compels us to bear witness, just as he overcame time and again the justified misgivings of Paul, as he himself admitted: For I am not ashamed of the Gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes … (Romans 1:16)
In the mission among Jews and Muslims, the salvation of Jesus Christ is not only confirmed by a subjective feeling of happiness, but also the release from collective bondage, the deliverance from occupying spiritual forces and a joyful courage to testify with discernment to the only Savior. Jesus wants our joy to be made full (John 15:11; 16:24; 17:13). This can be our experience when we bear witness to Jesus and his full salvation. Let us proclaim the victory of Jesus Christ, for “… behold, now is the day of salvation” (2Corinthias 6:2).
5.19 -- What does the Koran say about the Holy Spirit?
In the Book of the Muslims there are 29 verses, which mention a “spirit of Allah” and the “spirit of the Holy One”. In most cases, Jibril (the angel Gabriel), is meant; he is supposed to have revealed the Torah, the Gospel and the Koran. The spirit of Allah manifests itself in the Koran at the creation of Adam, at the conception of the Virgin Mary, through the miracles of Christ and through the revelation of the Holy Book to Muhammad. In every case, the spirit of Allah is a created being, which has neither the attributes of divinity nor eternity (Suras Bani Isra’il 17:85; al-Schura 42:52; al-Qadr 97:4 a.o.). Therefore in Islam all the elements of our third article of faith are absent!
Anyone who understands the consequences of this statement has also seen through the pastoral implications of the Islamic doctrine. This desert religion allows no spiritual life and excludes the possibility that Muhammad or his imitators should be indwelt by the Holy Spirit. The knowledge of God the Father and the Son is rejected as an unforgivable blasphemy. Redemption through grace is unthinkable in Islam (Suras Fatir 35:29-30; al-Tauba 9:11). The fruit of the Spirit or free prayer, as a conversation with the Father, do not exist. Allah is the only ruler. Besides him there can be no Son and no divine Spirit. Therefore Islam is, from a spiritual standpoint, “death in the pot” (2Kings 4:40).
5.20 -- The absence of newness of life
The piety, the fanaticism and the ritual prayers of the Muslims have nothing to do with the Spirit of Jesus. They are the remains of fallen creation. The sanctification and transformation of believers into the likeness of God is considered an aberration in Islam. The race after money and booty (Suras al-Anfal 8:41,67,70; al-Fath 48:20) as well as the practice of polygamy for men are religiously condoned. Power and honor in a religious state remain the aim of their endeavors.
A firm expectancy of eternal life, such as the Holy Spirit communicates, is unknown to a Muslim. He hopes that Allah will evaluate his good works positively, so that his evil deeds will be blotted out (Sura Hud 11:114). A Spirit who comforts and promises justification on the basis of the atoning death of Jesus Christ is nowhere to be found in Islam. The spirit of the law drives out the spirit of forgiveness and love. The spirit which speaks through Muhammad is not holy but antichristian and impure.
All religions or philosophies which cannot offer an answer to the question of life after death are of no value. Jesus has revealed to us in this context:
“Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life” (John 5:24; cf 3:16,18).
Jesus added to the depth of his testimony concerning his victory over death with these comforting words: I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me shall live even if he dies, and everyone who lives and believes in Me, shall never die. Do you believe this? (John 11:25-26)
5.21 -- The sure hope of everlasting life
Concerning the indwelling of the Holy Spirit in the disciples of Christ, Paul wrote: „Christ in you, the hope of glory!“ (Colossians 1:27) The Holy Ghost is the pledge of the glory which will be revealed to those who believe in Christ (2 Corinthians 1:22; 5:5; Ephesians 1:14).
John wrote on this subject: “See how great a love the Father has bestowed upon us, that we should be called children of God; and such we are! … And it has not appeared as yet what we shall be. We know that, when He appears, we shall be like Him, because we shall see Him as He is” (1 John 3:1-2; Revelation 1:13-18).
Paul had already testified before: „For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the first-born among many brethren“ (Romans 8:29).
Christians carry in themselves a sure hope of eternal life, for the Holy Spirit in them is everlasting life (John 6:63; 17:3; Romans 6:23; 8:10; Galatians 6:8; 1 Peter 4:6; Revelation 11:11). “And everyone who has this hope fixed on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure” in the expectancy of Christ’s return in glory (Romans 13:11; 1 Peter 1:5,9; Hebrews 9:28).
5.22 -- The return of Christ and the completion of salvation
Standing before the Sanhedrin in Jerusalem, Jesus revealed to his judges that, gazing up from the kingdom of the dead, they would see him sitting at the right hand of power and returning upon the clouds of heaven (Psalm 110:1; Daniel 7:13-14; Matthew 26:64). The return of Christ is the most important event of the future. All our experiences should be understood in this light and our undertakings ought to be oriented towards this goal. Even Muslims know that Jesus will return; but they believe that he will come again to kill the Antichrist, to shatter the crosses on churches and graves, to marry and to convert humanity to Islam. What a caricature of reality! What a demonic perversion! The biblical prophecy concerning Christ’s second advent in the brightness of glory mentions decisive events in this connection. We confess, in the Nicene Creed, that he will return to “judge the quick and the dead”. At the second coming of Christ, all who have died will be raised to life again in order to appear at the Last Judgment (Romans 14:10; Acts 17:31; 2 Corinthians 5:10).
5.23 -- The Judgment Seat of Christ
Every self-critical person, looking forward to the great day described in Matthew 25:31-46 will be constrained to reflect and be deeply disturbed:
The Lord of Glory will sit on his throne, gather all nations together in his presence and divide the people from one another as the shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will praise his followers on his right hand and will address them as those who are blessed of his Father, because they have met the needs of those in distress. The just, however, did not realize what they were doing at the time and considered their help as a matter of course. But Jesus will value their service as if they had performed it for him personally. He will promise them the Kingdom of God as their eternal inheritance.
The judge will ask those standing at his left hand why they did not serve him by helping the poor. They will answer him that they had met no one in distress. Their hearts were hard, they only had themselves and their selfish aims in view. Jesus will say to them: “Depart from me, you accursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels” (Matthew 25:41).
At this point, the question arises: Had the blessed done only good and nothing wrong? And had the disciples of evil not also done good? Of course! But the followers of Jesus confessed their sins, repented and accepted his forgiveness. Therefore there was no negative remainder in their lives. Their hearts became merciful through the awareness of the love and suffering of Jesus.
As for the imitators of Satan, they evolved in the opposite direction. They did not recognize or confess their sins and refused to accept Christ’s forgiveness. They cut themselves off from the salvation prepared for them. Money, power, sex and prestige became the driving motives of their lives. So they fell gradually deeper into corruption.
We ought to ponder ahead of time the searching questions and clarifying answers of our future Judge, pray seriously about the matter and commit ourselves to intercession for all Muslims and Jews who refuse the atoning sacrifice of God’s Son. Can the love of Jesus transform us into caring people who pray, believe, sacrifice and serve, because they are compelled by His Spirit?
5.24 -- Universal transformations at the return of Jesus
While Jesus was on earth he performed innumerable miracles as signs of his omnipotence (John 21:25): he healed all the sick, drove demons out of the possessed and commanded the elements as the Lord of nature. His coming stripped destructive forces of their power over our lives. These acts of authority were a foretaste of his future reign over a new heaven and a new earth, which will be founded on his righteousness (Isaiah 65:17; 66:22; 2 Peter 3:13; Revelation 21:1,27).
After his resurrection, Jesus revealed our future mode of existence (Luke 24:36-43), when he silently glided with his spiritual body through the rocks of his sepulcher and closed doors (John 20:19). We shall have an incorruptible spiritual body without spot or wrinkle (1 Corinthians 15:42-44; 1 Peter 1:4-9). There will be no more marriage between men and women (Matthew 22:29-33; Galatians 3:28). We shall serve God and his Lamb, clothed in the holy robe of his justification (Revelation 7:15; 22:3-5). There it will become evident that: „If any man is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things are passed away; behold, new things have come.“ (2 Corinthians 5:17; Galatians 6:15)
We do not expect food and drink or earthly enjoyments in heaven. We want to return home and see our Father (Luke 15:17-24)! The fellowship with God the Father and the Son is the secret, the content and the goal of our salvation (Jeremiah 7:3; Revelation 21:3). His peace and his love will surround and protect us. There will be neither anguish nor pain, and death will no longer exist. The Father will wipe away all tears from our eyes. He will make everything new, holy and pure (Revelation 21:3-5; Leviticus 11:44; 19:5; Matthew 5:48). The Beatitudes will prove to be true (Matthew 5:3-12). We will experience what it means to be children in God’s family (Ephesians 2,19-22). The Lamb which has been slain, has redeemed us and included us into his salvation and confirmed us in it. (Revelation 7:10,17; 21:22-23). Jesus is our hope and our life (John 14:6,27; Ephesians 2:14), as the lyrical poet Krummacher says:
Nothing can I bring to thee
5.25 -- The heresy of the Koran concerning the Day of Judgment
The sixth article of faith deals with the resurrection of the dead. Muslims reckon with heralding signs. To these belong Gog and Magog, who will be held up by Alexander the Great (the Double-Horned-One (Sura al-Kahf 18:83-98)! The Antichrist (Dadjdjal) will be killed by Christ at his return together with all pigs. After ’Isa has converted the godless world to Islam, he himself will also die. His burial in the grave of Muhammad in Medina will usher in the Last Judgment (Sura al-Zukhruf 43:61)!
An angel will blow a mighty blast on the first trumpet. At this, all living creatures will die or lose consciousness. At the blare of the second trumpet, the sky will be rent asunder, the mountains will pass away and the dead will come back to life (Suras al-An’am 6:73; al-Kahf 18:99; Ta Ha 20:102; al-Mu’minun 23:101; al-Naml 27:87; Ya Sin 36:51, al-Zumar 39:68; al-Haqqa 69:13; al-Muddaththir 74:8; al-Naba’ 78:18; al-Infitar 82:1-5; al-Qari’a101:4-7). Then they will all stand in long rows and remain silent until they are questioned (Sura al-Naba’ 78:38). The Last Judgment will go on for fifty-thousand earth years (Sura al-Ma’aridj 70:4). It is mentioned 148 times in the Koran under different names. Eight angels will carry above their heads the throne of Allah, who will supervise the judgment of mankind (Suras al-Fatiha 1:2-4; al-Haqqa 69:17). Books will be opened, in which every deed is recorded. On high balances, each with two scales, their good works will be weighed against their misdeeds (Suras al-A’raf 7:8 9; al-Mu’minun 23:102-103; al-Schura 42:17). The just will receive the verdict in their right hand, the wicked in their left. As they cross the bridge over the flaming abyss, the damned will fall headlong into the sea of fire, while the blessed will tread swiftly and lightly across it into Paradise.
Any comparison between the eschatological expectations of the Koran and the promises of the Bible will discover flagrant contradictions:
The judge in the Islamic court is not Jesus, the Savior, but Allah who misleads whom he will and guides whom he will to the right path.
Muslims have no comprehensive understanding of sin. They do not know that they are corrupt and lost, just as all other humans. They hope that their faith and their good works will be sufficient to justify them before the Judgment Seat.
They are convinced that they need neither an atoning sacrifice nor a mediator. They strictly reject the Crucified One (Sura al-Nisa’ 4: 157). Their hatred of the Son of God can escalate at times to the point of blasphemy (Sura Al ‘Imran 3:61; al-Tauba 9:29). They are fighting against their Savior and Judge.
In Islam there is no spiritual renewal of all things (Revelation 21:5). Instead, Muslims reckon with a second version of the first creation, so that even their thumbprints will be identical with the former ones. Pleasure and pain will be intensified in Paradise as well as in hell. Since the Holy Spirit is absent in Islam, there can be no spiritual regeneration even in Paradise.
According to one tradition relating to Muhammad, ninety per cent of the inhabitants in Paradise will be men and 90 per cent of the occupants of Hell will be women, because they have not always been submissive to their husbands. This is the reason why Allah has created for every Muslim several heavenly maidens (up to seventy per man) and given the just a heightened sexual potency (Suras Ya Sin 36:55-58; al-Saffat 37:49; al-Rahman 55:56,74; al-Waqi’a 56:35 37; al-Naba’ 78:33 a.o.). By this time, these Koranic verses will show even those who are friends of the Muslims, that Islam is a heresy, which was exposed by Jesus, when he answered the speculations of the Sadducees: „You are mistaken, not understanding the Scriptures, or the power of God. For in the resurrection, they neither marry, nor are given in marriage, but are like the angels in heaven.“ (Matthew 22:23-33; Mark 12:18-27; Luke 20:27-38)
Allah himself will not be present in the Paradise of the Muslims. He abides high above the seventh heaven. He still remains the great, distant, unattainable God, who does not fellowship with his worshippers and offers them neither redemption nor sanctification. The Islamic mystics try to interpret some Koranic verses in such a way as to admit to the presence of Allah in Paradise, but their attempts are rejected by recognized commentators.
No Muslim finds assurance of salvation in his legalistic religion. The hope is that Allah, at the Last Judgment, will forgive sins, for he is called “the Forgiver” more than one hundred times in the Koran. Whether he will be willing to forgive and whether he will grant a complete or only a partial amnesty is a matter of conjecture. The way Jesus spoke to the paralytic: “Take courage, my son, your sins are forgiven” (Matthew 9:2; Luke 7:48) would be inconceivable in Islam, since the verdict will only be pronounced by Allah himself at the Last Judgment.
Because the Muslims give no credence to God’s Son or the Holy Spirit, they cannot recognize Allah as their Father. Furthermore, they stubbornly disbelieve the reconciliation with God through Christ and have no inkling of a life in the Spirit. In Islam, spiritual death prevails all the way to Paradise.
In the revelation of Jesus, we hear the heavenly shout of victory of the martyrs, who have come out of the great persecution of the latter days:
Salvation to our God who sits on the throne,
The witnesses who have forfeited their lives, see what they have believed. They have faith that the perfect salvation will be completed in us too and that all the promises of the New Testament will come true. Christ has been sacrificed once for all in order to take away the sins of many. At his second appearance, He will not be manifested because of sin, but for the salvation of those who are eagerly waiting for him (Hebrews 9:28).
Peter writes in this context:
You are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. (1 Peter 1:5)
Obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls. You will greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory. (1 Peter 1:8-9)
Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved complete, without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Faithful is He who calls you, and He also will bring it to pass. (1 Thessalonians 5:23-24)
5.26 -- Q U I Z
as an encouragement for his/her future services for Christ. It will be appreciated if you include the Qur'anic references in your answers.
Every participant in this quiz is allowed to use any book at his disposition and to ask any trustworthy person known to him when answering these questions. We wait for your written answers including your full address on the papers or in your e-mail. We pray for you to Jesus, the living Lord, that He will call, send, guide, strengthen, protect and be with you every day of your life!
Yours in His service,
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