By Dallas M. Roark, Ph.D.
If one reads the letter of St. John it seems that he was anticipating the arrival of someone like Mohammed. Certainly John had in mind the immediate threat of the Gnostics who were trying to merge pagan and Christian thought together. But then, this is what Muslims have done also.
Consider the words of the apostle,
"Dear friends, don't believe everyone who claims to have the Spirit of God. Test them all to find out if they really do come from God. Many false prophets have already gone out into the world, and you can know which ones come from God." (1 John 4:1-2; all quotes from Contemporary English Version)
Not only do these words warn of false prophets but Jesus himself also warned of false prophets. Jesus described them in Matthew, "Watch out for false prophets! They dress up like sheep, but inside they are wolves who have come to attack you." (Matthew 7:15) They appear to be good but are actually bent on killing you. A little later in the Sermon on the Mount he declared, "You can tell who the false prophets are by their deeds." (Mt. 7:20)
John continues with the way to sort out false teachers,
"We belong to God, and everyone who knows God will listen to us. But the people who don't know God won't listen to us. That is how we can tell the Spirit that speaks the truth from the one that tells lies." (1 John 4:6)
When I have watched debates between Muslims and Christians I see this comment being fulfilled. The facts of history, not just Christian history and teaching but secular historians, even some opposed to Christianity, tell of the crucifixion and death of Jesus, but Muslims deny it all. The resurrection of Jesus from the dead is well established in the Christian records, but it is denied because Muslims reject the crucifixion. Essentially Muslims reject the three most vital truths of the Christian message: 1) who Jesus was, 2) what he did, that he was crucified and really died for our sins, and 3) at what point in time he went to heaven, (after the resurrection,) (Muslims believe Jesus was taken to heaven before the crucifixion).
The message that the early Christians shared was this:
"God showed his love for us when he sent his only Son into the world to give us life. Real love isn't our love for God, but his love for us. God sent his Son to be the sacrifice by which our sins are forgiven." (1 John 4:9-10)
The message of the New Testament is summarized here: God loves us in spite of our sin, His Son came into the world, His Son died on the cross for our sins, and this is the great promise of God that our sins are forgiven.
Do Muslims know whether their sins are forgiven or not? Muslims do not know if they are going to hell or paradise. But the Christian knows because of the promise of Jesus himself.
Call to mind the following words,
"If we truly love others and live as Christ did in this world, we won't be worried about the day of judgment." (1 John 4:17)
Muslims do not like to talk about the day of Judgment because Allah is capricious, arbitrarily sending one to paradise and the other to hell. One can never tell whether his good deeds will be deemed enough in the eyes of Allah. Good works may not be enough to avoid hell and win paradise. The Christian Gospel declares we are never good enough by ourselves, but Gods love and grace have come in Jesus bringing reconciliation, forgiveness, and everlasting life.
"No one can defeat the world without having faith in Jesus as the Son of God." (1 John 5:5) John emphatically declares that having faith in Jesus as the Son of God is crucial to life now and everlasting life in the presence of God.
Recently a catholic bishop in the Holland has proposed that Christians pray to Allah.
There are serious problems with his proposal. First, we have been given the name of Yahweh in the Old Testament, and it is a name to be used forever.
"God said to Moses: I am the eternal God. So tell them that the LORD, whose name is "I Am," has sent you. This is my name forever, and it is the name that people must use from now on." (Ex. 3:14) If the name of God is not translated, it is seen as Yahweh (I Am) in the Hebrew language.
Second, Allah does not have an eternal son as described by John in this letter. Not only does this letter, but the Gospels and the other epistles of the New Testament speak of the Son that came into the world.
Third, there is debate about who Allah really is, and he is certainly not the God of the Old Testament.
The words of John become more emphatic concerning who Jesus is.
"If we have faith in God's Son, we have believed what God has said. But if we don't believe what God has said about his Son, it is the same as calling God a liar." (1 John 5:10)
This letter was written in the first century. It is consistent with the other letters of the New Testament. The early church leaders spoke the same message in the centuries that followed. Mohammed came along in the 6th century and said no, that is not true.
Would you rather call God a liar or Mohammed a liar? This is serious stuff. Riots have broken out because some people insulted Mohammed. What about the Muslim insult to God who sent his Son to save us? Mohammed does not give everlasting life. Only God can. People should be more concerned about insulting God than anyone else.
The implication of this can be seen in the following comments of the letter,
"God has also said that he gave us eternal life and that this life comes to us from his Son.
And so, if we have God's Son, we have this life. But if we don't have the Son, we don't have this life." (1 John 5:12)
The verses above indicate the real issue facing Muslims, do you want eternal life?
There is only one place to find it according to John. You can not have the Son if you deny that Jesus is the Son of God. You cant have everlasting life if you dont have the Son of God.
"We know that Jesus Christ the Son of God has come and has shown us the true God. And because of Jesus, we now belong to the true God who gives eternal life. Children, you must stay away from idols." (1 John 5:20-21)
The logic of these passages brings us to the conclusion that only in Jesus Christ is there a relationship with the only true God. Since Allah does not have a Son, then Allah is not the true God. Hence, the warning is appropriate, "children, you must stay away from idols" which is to avoid worshiping Allah.
The message of the Gospel of John regarding the life of Jesus is the same message he repeats in his epistle, as follows:
"The Word that gives life was from the beginning, and this is the one our message is about. Our ears have heard, our own eyes have seen, and our hands touched this Word.
The one who gives life appeared! We saw it happen, and we are witnesses to what we have seen. Now we are telling you about this eternal life that was with the Father and appeared to us.
We are telling you what we have seen and heard, so that you may share in this life with us. And we share in it with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ." (1 John 1:1-3)
The real problem of mankind is sin and alienation from God. Jesus, the Son of God, came to bring mankind who was alienated from God by sin back into fellowship with Him by taking the punishment of their sin on Himself. We can deny we have sinned, we can deny that Jesus did anything for us, we can deny the crucifixion and resurrection, but when we deny all this we reject the only remedy for our sins. Look at the wonderful truth in the following paragraph:
"Jesus told us that God is light and doesn't have any darkness in him. Now we are telling you. If we say that we share in life with God and keep on living in the dark, we are lying and are not living by the truth. But if we live in the light, as God does, we share in life with each other. And the blood of his Son Jesus washes all our sins away. If we say that we have not sinned, we are fooling ourselves, and the truth isn't in our hearts. But if we confess our sins to God, he can always be trusted to forgive us and take our sins away." (1 John 1:5-9)
The character of God is important and what we think about God will be reflected in our actions.
"If we claim to be in the light and hate someone, we are still in the dark. But if we love others, we are in the light, and we don't cause problems for them. If we hate others, we are living and walking in the dark. We don't know where we are going, because we can't see in the dark." (1 John 2:9-11)
Consider the educational program of instilling hate in the lives of young Muslim children. This turns them away from the source of life in God, who has revealed Himself as a being of Love. John could not have known about jihad, but the principle is the same.
Hate is contrary to God. To teach hate for the Jews, for "infidels", for anyone, is to condemn the young child to a life of living apart from God and living in darkness.
"I did not need to write you about the truth, since you already know it. You also know that liars do not belong to the truth. And a liar is anyone who says that Jesus isn't truly Christ. Anyone who says this is an enemy of Christ and rejects both the Father and the Son.
If we reject the Son, we reject the Father. But if we say that we accept the Son, we have the Father." (1 John 2:21-23)
Dear Muslim reader, give serious thought to these words. These words tell you that you are an enemy of God if you reject the Son. You may claim to honor Jesus, but you cannot really honor Jesus when you deny his true character. If you reject the Son you also reject the Father. In doing so, you reject everlasting life in the presence of God. Dont throw your life away.
Christ came to bring you new life now and everlasting life with God.
Articles by Dallas M. Roark
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