Grace and Truth
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Series 9 - Comparisons Between Islam and Christianity
III. The True Face of Allah
1. An Unbiblical Spirit
Muslims claim that Muhammad was not the author of the Qur'an. Their theological experts do not accept the obvious fact that 75% of the Qur'an is composed of distorted laws and stories from the Old Testament. On the contrary, they vehemently defend their belief that Allah inspired Muhammad and revealed his words and commands to him. Every sentence in the Qur'an is supposedly the pure word of Allah, infallibly by the Almighty.
All statements in the Torah (Pentateuch) and the Injil (Gospel) are thereby rendered relative. The Muslims accept these two books as being inspired by Allah as long as there is no conflict in them with the Qur'an. All statements in the Bible that are not in agreement with the Qur'an are considered false and invalid. This pits one revelation against another revelation, and each proves the other to be false. Islam brings judgment on itself in its radical rejection of the Trinity.
We should also bear in mind that Islam is a post-Christian religion. Out of historical necessity, Muhammad had to come to terms with the Christ of the New Testament. He accepted Christ partially, yet denied some crucial factors of his life. So we find that the Qur'an bears clear witness to the virgin birth of Christ but denies that he was conceived of the Holy Spirit. Muhammad claims that the Son of Mary was created through God's Word out of nothing. Christ's validity in Islam is simply as a great prophet who did mighty wonders. He made the blind to see, healed the lepers and raised the dead. Without dying, Christ was supposedly lifted by Allah directly into heaven where he still lives today. According to the Qur'an, the living Christ is an article of Islamic doctrine. He is recognized as such both in this and the other world, from which he will come again to judge all Jews and Christians who have not accepted Islam. Muhammad described Christ as an outstanding prophet who did greater miracles and had a better character than himself! But despite all this honor, there is a radical denial of Christ's deity and a rejection of the real purpose of his coming and also of his atoning death. According to the Qur'an Jesus was not the son of God, and his crucifixion never took place.
For all Muslims the Qur'anic Christ is the dark glass through which they look at the true Christ. The Christology of Islam is a false standard that they use to measure our Savior and his salvation. However, with the recent developments in the Middle East we will have to come to grips with the Christ of the Muslims, because he will be the starting point or the conclusion of many conversations with them.
In view of the special significance of the Qur'anic Christ, we must recognize the fact that 600 years after the supernatural birth of his only Son, God would not have sent the angel Gabriel to Mecca to tell Muhammad that he, the living God, has no Son! And the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ would never contradict and deny the historical facts of the crucifixion since the purpose of his Son's birth was to die on the cross to take away the sins of the world. If Islam claims that Muhammad received real inspiration, then it was another spirit, a false spirit and not the Holy Spirit who inspired Muhammad. God does not lie.
The New Testament teaches us how we have to regard Islam. The apostle John wrote in his first letter, “Every spirit which does not acknowledge that Jesus has come in the flesh... is the spirit of the antichrist ...“ (1 John 2:18-23; 4:1-6). We must therefore confess with all humility that the spirit in Islam is the spirit of the antichrist. Muhammad had heard much about Jesus, but, in spite of all, he denied the crucified Son of God.
This brings us to our conclusion. The spirit who calls himself Allah and claims to have inspired Muhammad cannot be the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Instead he is a spirit full of lies, who took upon himself the old Arabic name of God, “Allah“, wearing it on his face like a mask and claiming to be God, although he is not God. Allah in Islam is an unclean spirit of Satan, who rules with great power in a religious disguise to this very day (John 8:30-48).
2. Islam -- A Collective Bondage
We acknowledge that Islam can summon up deep religious fervor in its followers. It is a religion of worship, of righteousness by good works, and even calls for self-sacrifice in the cause of Allah. Countless Muslims have died in holy wars during the course of history to uphold the name of Allah and carry it into all the world.
Religious zeal, however, does not save anyone. Rather the gospel teaches us, “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God's wrath remains on him“ (John 3:36). Islam rejects God's Son. Consequently, it puts itself outside of the truth. Islam is not a way that leads to God, because no one comes to the Father, except through Jesus Christ (John 14:6).
Such spiritual issues constitute a call for every Christian to serve the Lord among unbelievers, especially the Muslims. Have we become so contented with a Christianity that lives only for itself, that the spiritual destitution of 800 million Muslims fails to arouse us? If you cannot fly to an Islamic country to be a witness for Christ, you can still pray for Muslims and support other brothers and sisters who have been called of the Lord to serve among them. Maybe you can do something for foreign Muslim workers and students in your country. The fact that only a few younger or older Christians are ready to follow the call of Jesus to serve him in world missions should be an alarm signal shaking every church and congregation. Saved believers should have a desire to save others. If there is no sense of urgency for missionary service among the followers of Christ, then the question must be asked whether or not these church members have really experienced a genuine conversion and a Spirit-filled rebirth.
Christ is on the move even today, seeking to save those who are lost. Is the church abandoning him? Or are some responding with Isaiah, who, after sincere repentance and divine cleansing, said, “Here am I, send me!“ (Isaiah 6:8)?
Alongside or within the structure of mission societies and existing indigenous churches, there are today special opportunities for skilled workers, students and tourists to enter closed countries where regular missionary work has not yet been possible.
For example, a skilled Christian worker has a golden opportunity to use his skill in some of the oil-producing countries combining it with a wise personal witness. The only question is whether he will seek training and accept the call to be sent by Christ as a witness among Muslims. The skilled workers' mission represents, in our days, a challenge to every young Christian.
Whoever wishes to participate in missionary service among Muslims must be aware that the spirit of Islam officially opposes every form of Christian mission. it is forbidden to call Muslims to the crucified Son of God in almost every country where Islam is the state religion. We have to realize that Islam is not only a religion, but a culture, and sometimes a state. Anyone witnessing to Muslims in an Islamic country is regarded as committing an offense against the government and must sometimes face punishment. But we must obey God rather than man.
In our days the mission field has come to our homelands. Over 10 million Muslims live, work or study in Europe and over 2 million in North America. Who will speak with them about Christ? Who will give them wise guidance through their practical problems? Who will invite them for supper or tea? How often do we pray for the foreign workers and students? We love them only insofar as we pray for them! Those who do not understand their languages can acquire literature and cassettes from various centers to give to them.
Everyone who is ready to serve Muslims in Jesus' name will soon find that a long-time rejection of the Gospel has hardened their hearts. Muslims are conditioned and immunized from childhood against faith in the true Christ. The rejecting spirit of Islam holds them captive in a collective grip. No Muslim can come to a genuine conversion without the direct intervention of Jesus Christ.
In the world of Islam we find a mission field markedly different from those countries where the message of Christ had not been proclaimed prior to the establishment of the particular religions or cults in those countries. Therefore, it is imperative for a convert from Islam to detach himself from the spirit of Islam, together with its practices, and to fall in love with Christ. If he will not deny himself and depart from Islam willingly, he will suffer from spiritual schizophrenia that will sooner or later draw him back into Islam.
Every Christian who wants to serve among Muslims must first examine himself to discern if the Lord has called him personally to this service. Romantic enthusiasm does not motivate for long. “Our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers and the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms“ (Ephesians 6:12). Only Jesus is our protection and our strength. He alone produces lasting fruit. Every missionary among Muslims should therefore surrender and submit himself in a complete consecration to the crucified Christ, who leads dedicated people in the way and to the places He chooses. The spirit of a self-satisfied and traditional Christianity must be relinquished through obedience to the Spirit of Christ by missionaries among Muslims. They must be no longer hold on to their rights, but only accept their duties, just as the Lord said, “I did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give my life as a ransom for many“ (Matthew 20:28).
3. Growing Opposition of the Church and Persecution of Converts
As a result of the Islamic revival in our days, pressure is increasing on national Christians in Islamic countries. Here some Christian churches still exist after surviving numerous persecutions in earlier times. Today tens of thousands of Christians are emigrating from Iraq, Syria, Jordan, Israel, Egypt and other countries because they no longer see any future for themselves and their children in Islamic countries. During times of political unrest Christians have been repeatedly suspected of wanting to set up their own independent states. Consequently some have been put under pressure. For example, in Egypt in 1981 eight bishops of the Coptic church along with fifty clergymen and laymen were put in prison. In 1979 approximately the same number of believers in Iraq were imprisoned.
We cannot deny that movements exist, such as those in Lebanon, where Eastern Christians have taken up arms to defend their Christian freedom and not be degraded to second or third class citizens, as often happened in the Near East during the past 1350 years.
“We must prepare our churches to suffer,“ said a church elder of a small group in Morocco as he realized what the Muslims have in mind for indigenous Christians in the future. He himself had been a prisoner for six months for the sake of Christ.
It is not often realized that national Christians, born as Christians and belonging to a regional church which possibly dates back to the early Christian era, have legal rights to live in an Islamic state as Christians. Muhammad tolerated them to some extent as “people of the book“. But for converts who have forsaken Islam there is no mercy. Allah's law demands their death because he does not release anyone who has previously submitted to him.
Today, groups of converts or small underground churches exist in several Islamic countries. The reason for this can be found in the fact that a more liberal outlook has infiltrated Islamic minds from both East and West. In certain cases, families reluctantly tolerate the conversion of some of its members to Christianity. In very rare cases an entire family will take this step together.
But the fact remains that either an Islamic state or fanatical groups will persecute such embryonic cells of the church of Jesus Christ the moment their existence becomes known. Since Islam is gaining strength we must expect that converts will face greater danger in the future. If established churches are already feeling increasing pressure, then individual converts will be shown even less mercy. They may be offered the opportunity to return to Islam under the guidance of a sheikh. But if they do not consent, they could be executed by order of the government. This is the subject of a proposal which has been brought forward to the Egyptian parliament several times with the intention of having it made an official law. Until now many liberal Muslims have opposed this despite the requirements of the Qur'an.
The words of Jesus spoken in John 15:21-16:4 are becoming increasingly relevant today. “They will treat you this way because of my name, for they do not know the one who sent me. If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not be guilty of sin. Now, however, they have no excuse for their sin. He who hates me hates my Father as well... They will put you out of the synagogue; in fact, a time is coming when anyone who kills you will think he is offering a service to God. They will do such things because they have not known the Father or me....“ Christ did not say to Saul on the road to Damascus, “Why are you persecuting my church?“ but, “Why are you persecuting me?“ This is the consolation for all converts from Islam who believe in Jesus, that no one is alone in persecution, but Christ suffers with him and gives strength to every faithful disciple.
The spirit that rejected the Son of God and nailed him to the cross 2,000 years ago is alive in Islam today. It denies and hates the Crucified One, and opposes all who are justified through him. A good Muslim thinks he worships the true God and honors him with his whole life. Yet, through Christ we know that Allah in Islam is not God, but a demonic, misleading spirit that has placed one-sixth of mankind under its spell. Whatever may happen, Jesus Christ loves every Muslim. Our Lord, who sits on the throne, can cast out any demon by a movement of his little finger. We can have a firm hope for every Muslim who comes to Jesus on his promise: “If the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed“ (John 8:36).