The Proclamation of Acts
Dealing with More of Paul Williams’ Biblical Distortions
In this “reply” to my series of rebuttals to his common and inconsistent assertions against the Christian faith, Paul Bilal Williams appeals to the testimony of Acts to prove that Jesus’ vicarious sacrifice was unnecessary:
3) A third piece of evidence is to be found in Acts 3:1,
‘One day Peter and John were going up to the temple at the time of prayer – at three in the afternoon.’
So according to Acts, the first disciples seem to have attended the Temple and to have participated in the Temple cult: the clear implication of Acts 3:1 is that the first followers of Jesus observed the traditional hours of prayer. The hour of prayer was also the hour of Sacrifice: Psalm 141: 2 and Luke 1:10 indicate that the offering of incense was seen as occasion for prayer, and the offering of incense was itself part of the morning and evening sacrificial ritual. Also Acts 21:24 tells us that the Jerusalem believers expected Paul to demonstrate his loyalty to the Temple by observing the prescribed purificatory rituals. The implication is clear: that the Jerusalem followers did not regard Jesus’ alleged death as an atoning sacrifice, let alone as the sacrifice to end all sacrifices.
As usual, there are several glaring problems with William’s eisegesis.
First, Williams’ comments suggest that Christ’s followers in Jerusalem still viewed the rituals associated with the temple as necessary and efficacious. This would also include the various sacrifices such as burnt offerings, sin offerings etc., since these were still being carried out in the temple.
Yet he must have forgotten what he had written earlier concerning Jesus’ story of the tax collector and the Pharisee:
Another example is to be found in Luke 18, the story of the tax collector and the Pharisee. The tax collector stood far off and would not lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me a sinner’. Jesus declared that this man went home justified before God. This verdict is worth repeating: Jesus declared that this man went home justified before God. Note Jesus does not mention the necessity of God dying for the man’s sins first. ‘For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.’ So this is how we are justified before God!
Here Williams wants to argue that God simply forgives people and therefore Jesus’ sacrifice (and any other sacrifice for that matter) is unnecessary for salvation. He then quotes the parable of the wicked servant to further prove his case.
Is Williams now claiming that the disciples of Christ themselves didn’t hold to Jesus’ view of salvation? Or is this simply a case of Williams contradicting himself in order to pit the NT writers against each other?
Besides contradicting himself, Williams conveniently overlooked this part of the story of the tax collector:
“Two men WENT UP INTO TEMPLE to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector.” Luke 18:10
In the parable, both the tax collector and Pharisee went to the temple to pray. Now why is that significant? Because the temple is the place where God ordained that sacrifices for atonement would be made!
“These are the statutes and the judgments which you shall carefully observe in the land which the LORD, the God of your fathers, has given you to possess as long as you live on the earth. You shall utterly destroy all the places where the nations whom you shall dispossess serve their gods, on the high mountains and on the hills and under every green tree. You shall tear down their altars and smash their sacred pillars and burn their Asherim with fire, and you shall cut down the engraved images of their gods and obliterate their name from that place. You shall not act like this toward the LORD your God. 5 But you shall seek the LORD at the place which the LORD your God will choose from all your tribes, to establish His name there for His dwelling, and there you shall come. THERE YOU SHALL BRING YOUR BURNT OFFERINGS, YOUR SACRIFICES, your tithes, the contribution of your hand, your votive offerings, your freewill offerings, and the firstborn of your herd and of your flock. There also you and your households shall eat before the LORD your God, and rejoice in all your undertakings in which the LORD your God has blessed you. You shall not do at all what we are doing here today, every man doing whatever is right in his own eyes; for you have not as yet come to the resting place and the inheritance which the LORD your God is giving you. When you cross the Jordan and live in the land which the LORD your God is giving you to inherit, and He gives you rest from all your enemies around you so that you live in security, then it shall come about that the place in which the LORD your God will choose for His name to dwell, THERE YOU SHALL BRING ALL THAT I COMMAND YOU: YOUR BURNT OFFERINGS AND YOUR SACRIFICES, your tithes and the contribution of your hand, and all your choice votive offerings which you will vow to the LORD.’” Deuteronomy 12:1-11
We are told that the place which God eventually chose was Jerusalem, which became the location for the temple that Solomon built for the worship of Yahweh:
“Then Solomon said, ‘The LORD has said that He would dwell in the thick cloud. I have built You a lofty house, And a place for Your dwelling forever.’ Then the king faced about and blessed all the assembly of Israel, while all the assembly of Israel was standing. He said, ‘Blessed be the LORD, the God of Israel, who spoke with His mouth to my father David and has fulfilled it with His hands, saying, “Since the day that I brought My people from the land of Egypt, I did not choose a city out of all the tribes of Israel in which to build a house that My name might be there, nor did I choose any man for a leader over My people Israel; but I have chosen Jerusalem that My name might be there, and I have chosen David to be over My people Israel.” Now it was in the heart of my father David to build a house for the name of the LORD, the God of Israel. But the LORD said to my father David, “Because it was in your heart to build a house for My name, you did well that it was in your heart. Nevertheless you shall not build the house, but your son who will be born to you, he shall build the house for My name.” Now the LORD has fulfilled His word which He spoke; for I have risen in the place of my father David and sit on the throne of Israel, as the LORD promised, and have built the house for the name of the LORD, the God of Israel. There I have set the ark in which is the covenant of the LORD, which He made with the sons of Israel.’” 2 Chronicles 6:1-11
“But will God indeed dwell with mankind on the earth? Behold, heaven and the highest heaven cannot contain You; how much less this house which I have built. Yet have regard to the prayer of Your servant and to his supplication, O LORD my God, to listen to the cry and to the prayer which Your servant prays before You; that Your eye may be open TOWARD THIS HOUSE day and night, TOWARD THIS PLACE OF WHICH YOU HAVE SAID THAT YOU WOULD PUT YOUR NAME THERE, to listen to the prayer which Your servant shall pray TOWARD THIS PLACE. Listen to the supplications of Your servant and of Your people Israel WHEN THEY PRAY TOWARD THIS PLACE; hear from Your dwelling place, from heaven; hear and forgive… If Your people Israel are defeated before an enemy because they have sinned against You, and they return to You and confess Your name, and pray and make supplication before You in this house, then hear from heaven and forgive the sin of Your people Israel, and bring them back to the land which You have given to them and to their fathers. When the heavens are shut up and there is no rain because they have sinned against You, AND THEY PRAY TOWARD THIS PLACE and confess Your name, and turn from their sin when You afflict them; then hear in heaven and forgive the sin of Your servants and Your people Israel, indeed, teach them the good way in which they should walk. And send rain on Your land which You have given to Your people for an inheritance. 2 Chronicles 6:18-21, 24-27
“When they sin against You (for there is no man who does not sin) and You are angry with them and deliver them to an enemy, so that they take them away captive to a land far off or near, if they take thought in the land where they are taken captive, and repent and make supplication to You in the land of their captivity, saying, ‘We have sinned, we have committed iniquity and have acted wickedly’; if they return to You with all their heart and with all their soul in the land of their captivity, where they have been taken captive, and pray TOWARD THEIR LAND their land which You have given to their fathers and the city which You have chosen, AND TOWARD THE HOUSE WHICH I HAVE BUILT FOR YOUR NAME, then hear from heaven, from Your dwelling place, their prayer and supplications, and maintain their cause and forgive Your people who have sinned against You. Now, O my God, I pray, let Your eyes be open and Your ears attentive TO THE PRAYER OFFERED IN THIS PLACE. Now therefore arise, O LORD God, to Your resting place, You and the ark of Your might; let YOUR PRIESTS, O LORD God, be clothed with salvation and let Your godly ones rejoice in what is good.” 2 Chronicles 6:36-41
We are then told that Yahweh accepted Solomon’s petition to take the temple he built to be his house where prayers and sacrifices would be offered up on a daily basis:
“Thus Solomon finished the house of the LORD and the king’s palace, and successfully completed all that he had planned on doing in the house of the LORD and in his palace. Then the LORD appeared to Solomon at night and said to him, ‘I have heard your prayer AND HAVE CHOSEN THIS PLACE FOR MYSELF AS A HOUSE OF SACRIFICE. If I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or if I command the locust to devour the land, or if I send pestilence among My people, and My people who are called by My name humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin and will heal their land. Now My eyes will be open and My ears attentive TO THE PRAYER OFFERED IN THIS PLACE. For now I have chosen and consecrated this house that My name may be there forever, and My eyes and My heart will be there perpetually.” 2 Chronicles 7:11-16
Thus, the very passages that Williams quoted end up proving that vicarious sacrifices are required in order for people’s sins to be forgiven! And since these offerings ultimately pointed to the sacrifice of the Lord Jesus:
“For the Law, since it has only a shadow of the good things to come and not the very form of things, can never, by the same sacrifices which they offer continually year by year, make perfect those who draw near. Otherwise, would they not have ceased to be offered, because the worshipers, having once been cleansed, would no longer have had consciousness of sins? But in those sacrifices there is a reminder of sins year by year. For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins… By this will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. Every priest stands daily ministering and offering time after time the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins; but He, having offered one sacrifice for sins for all time, SAT DOWN AT THE RIGHT HAND OF GOD, waiting from that time onward UNTIL HIS ENEMIES BE MADE A FOOTSTOOL FOR HIS FEET. For by one offering He has perfected for all time those who are sanctified.” Hebrews 10:1-4, 10-14
This means that, far from establishing William’s case, these texts actually confirm the centrality and necessity of the death of Christ for salvation!
This leads me to my next point. It is truly ironic that Williams quotes Acts 3:1 without bothering to inform his readers what the rest of the chapter actually says concerning salvation. Here is the entire context for all to read:
“Now Peter and John were going up to the temple at the ninth hour, the hour of prayer. And a man who had been lame from his mother’s womb was being carried along, whom they used to set down every day at the gate of the temple which is called Beautiful, in order to beg alms of those who were entering the temple. When he saw Peter and John about to go into the temple, he began asking to receive alms. But Peter, along with John, fixed his gaze on him and said, ‘Look at us!’ And he began to give them his attention, expecting to receive something from them. But Peter said, ‘I do not possess silver and gold, but what I do have I give to you: IN THE NAME OF JESUS CHRIST THE NAZARENE—walk!’ And seizing him by the right hand, he raised him up; and immediately his feet and his ankles were strengthened. With a leap he stood upright and began to walk; and he entered the temple with them, walking and leaping and praising God. And all the people saw him walking and praising God; and they were taking note of him as being the one who used to sit at the Beautiful Gate of the temple to beg alms, and they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him. While he was clinging to Peter and John, all the people ran together to them at the so-called portico of Solomon, full of amazement. But when Peter saw this, he replied to the people, ‘Men of Israel, why are you amazed at this, or why do you gaze at us, as if by our own power or piety we had made him walk? The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the God of our fathers, has glorified His Servant Jesus, the one whom you delivered and disowned in the presence of Pilate, when he had decided to release Him. But you disowned the Holy and Righteous One and asked for a murderer to be granted to you, but put to death the Author of life, the one whom God raised from the dead, a fact to which we are witnesses. And on the basis of faith IN HIS NAME, IT IS THE NAME OF JESUS which has strengthened this man whom you see and know; and the faith which comes THROUGH HIM has given him this perfect health in the presence of you all. And now, brethren, I know that you acted in ignorance, just as your rulers did also. But the things which God announced beforehand by the mouth of all the prophets, that His Christ would suffer, He has thus fulfilled… For you first, God raised up His Servant and sent Him to bless you by turning every one of you from your wicked ways.’” Acts 3:1-18, 26
Here we are told that Peter performed a miraculous healing in the name of Jesus, testified that Jesus is the Holy and Righteous One, as well as the Author of Life who was killed and whom God resurrected to life, and also proclaimed that Christ was sent to turn people away from their wickedness!
Did Williams seriously miss all this?
Did he also miss the fact that this is the same Peter who taught that Jesus is the Savior that God raised up and that salvation is found only in Christ since there is no other name besides Jesus’ which can save anyone?
“On the next day, their rulers and elders and scribes were gathered together in Jerusalem; and Annas the high priest was there, and Caiaphas and John and Alexander, and all who were of high-priestly descent. When they had placed them in the center, they began to inquire, ‘By what power, or in what name, have you done this?’ Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, ‘Rulers and elders of the people, if we are on trial today for a benefit done to a sick man, as to how this man has been made well, let it be known to all of you and to all the people of Israel, that BY THE NAME OF JESUS CHRIST THE NAZARENE, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead—by this name this man stands here before you in good health. He is the STONE WHICH WAS REJECTED by you, THE BUILDERS, but WHICH BECAME THE CHIEF CORNER stone. And 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.’” Acts 4:5-12
“But Peter and the apostles answered, ‘We must obey God rather than men. The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom you had put to death by hanging Him on a cross. He is the one whom God exalted to His right hand as a Prince and a Savior, to grant repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins. And we are witnesses of these things; and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey Him.’” Acts 5:29-32
Did he not read where Peter even taught that forgiveness of sins comes through faith in Jesus’ name and that Christ is the Lord and Judge of all?
“The word which He sent to the sons of Israel, preaching peace through Jesus Christ (HE IS LORD OF ALL)—you yourselves know the thing which took place throughout all Judea, starting from Galilee, after the baptism which John proclaimed. You know of Jesus of Nazareth, how God anointed Him with the Holy Spirit and with power, and how He went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him. We are witnesses of all the things He did both in the Land of the Jews and in Jerusalem. They also put Him to death by hanging Him on a cross. God raised Him up on the third day and granted that He become visible, not to all the people, but to witnesses who were chosen beforehand by God, that is, to us who ate and drank with Him after He arose from the dead. And He ordered us to preach to the people, and solemnly to testify that this is the One who has been appointed by God AS JUDGE OF THE LIVING AND THE DEAD. Of Him ALL THE PROPHETS bear witness that THROUGH HIS NAME everyone who believes in Him receives forgiveness of sins.” Acts 10:36, 42-43
And did he fail to see that this is the same blessed Apostle who taught that Jews and Gentiles are saved by the grace of the Lord Jesus through faith?
“After there had been much debate, Peter stood up and said to them, ‘Brethren, you know that in the early days God made a choice among you, that by my mouth the Gentiles would hear the word of the gospel and believe. And God, who knows the heart, testified to them giving them the Holy Spirit, just as He also did to us; and He made no distinction between us and them, cleansing their hearts by faith. Now therefore why do you put God to the test by placing upon the neck of the disciples a yoke which neither our fathers nor we have been able to bear? But we believe that we are saved THROUGH THE GRACE OF THE LORD JESUS, in the same way as they also are.’” Acts 15:7-11
Did Williams also forget to read what the Apostle Paul preached concerning Jesus’ blood and the attainment of justification and sanctification?
“Therefore let it be known to you, brethren, that through Him forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you, and through Him everyone who believes is justified from all things, from which you could not be justified through the Law of Moses.” Acts 13:38-39
“to open their eyes so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the dominion of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who have been sanctified BY FAITH IN ME.” Acts 26:18
“Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood.” Acts 20:28
In this last passage we find echoes of Paul’s writings, i.e. the Church which belongs to God:
“To the church of God which is at Corinth, to those who have been sanctified in Christ Jesus, saints by calling, with all who in every place call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, their Lord and ours:” 1 Corinthians 1:2
“Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and Timothy our brother, To the church of God which is at Corinth with all the saints who are throughout Achaia:” 2 Corinthians 1:1
And the blood of Jesus being the ransom price required for the acquisition of believers and their reconciliation with God:
“being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus; whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation in His blood through faith. This was to demonstrate His righteousness, because in the forbearance of God He passed over the sins previously committed;” Romans 3:24-25
“But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. And not only this, but we also exult in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation.” Romans 5:8-11
“to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved. In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace.” Ephesians 1:6-7
“Therefore remember that formerly you, the Gentiles in the flesh, who are called ‘Uncircumcision’ by the so-called ‘Circumcision,’ which is performed in the flesh by human hands—remember that you were at that time separate from Christ, excluded from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who formerly were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For He Himself is our peace, who made both groups into one and broke down the barrier of the dividing wall, by abolishing in His flesh the enmity, which is the Law of commandments contained in ordinances, so that in Himself He might make the two into one new man, thus establishing peace, and might reconcile them both in one body to God through the cross, by it having put to death the enmity.” Ephesians 2:11-16
“He is also head of the body, the church; and He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that He Himself will come to have first place in everything. For it was the Father’s good pleasure for all the fullness to dwell in Him, and through Him to reconcile all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross; through Him, I say, whether things on earth or things in heaven.” Colossians 1:18-20
Clearly, then, this passage from Acts confirms that the blood of the Lord Jesus was essential and the basis upon which God could redeem people to be his very own possession!
The following expositor explains this well:
“…The community entrusted to their care is further defined as ‘the church of God, which he bought with his own blood’. Such exalted language suggests that the Ephesian church belonged to God as his personal possession, having been bought (periepoiesato) or acquired at a great price (cf. Ex. 19:5 [laos periousios]; Is. 31:5; 43:21). Such language can be applied to the church as the whole body of Christ (cf. Eph. 1:14; Tit. 2:14; 1 Pet. 2:9), but there is great significance and rhetorical force in recognising its immediate reference to the Ephesian situation. Each congregation which is brought into existence because of the saving work of Jesus is precious to God and should be treated so by those appointed to be its leaders! The manuscript evidence is fairly evenly divided between ‘the church of God’ (ten ekklesian tou theou) and ‘the church of the Lord’ (ten ekklesian tou kyriou). The former is probably the original on the basis of being the ‘harder’ reading. This decision has implications for the translation of the following expression (hen periepoiesato dia tou haimatos tou idiou). Most EVV have ‘which he purchased with his own blood’ (KJV, ESV, TNIV). Since this introduces a notion without parallel in the NT (God shedding his own blood), it may be best to read tou idiou as a reference to Jesus Christ as God’s ‘own’ (NRSV ‘the blood of his own Son’). Although many commentators seek to avoid the implication that Christ's death is presented here as the price paid for redeeming his people, the verb peripoieomai in combination with the expression dia tou haimatos tou idiou surely means ‘acquired by means of the blood’. Paul himself writes about the blood of Christ as the means of divine redemption in Romans 3:24-25; 5:9. The specifically covenantal language employed in 20:28 (periepoiesato, ‘bought’) and 20:32; 26:18 (hegiasmenois, ‘sanctified’; cf. Dt. 33:3) reminds us of Luke's record of Jesus’ last meal with his disciples ‘wherein he grounds the “new covenant” in his own death (Luke 22:19-20)’. In Acts 20, as in Jesus’ discourse in the Upper Room, the shedding of the Messiah’s blood is the means by which the New Covenant is inaugurated and Messiah’s people are sanctified for their share with him in his eternal inheritance. This is the heart of ‘the message of his grace’ (v. 32), which is able to sustain the church in the face of persecution and false teaching. In other words, Jesus’ atoning work in Luke 22 and Acts 20 is not simply the basis for the proclamation of forgiveness but also for the forming and maintaining of the eschatological people of God.” (David G. Peterson, The Acts of the Apostles (Pillar New Testament Commentary) [William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, Grand Rapids MI: 1st edition 2009], pp. 569-570; bold emphasis ours)
So does the late renowned Biblical scholar F. F. Bruce:
“The word group peripoieomai/peripoiesis has a well-recognized significance in LXX in relation to God’s election of Israel; in the NT cf. eis apolytrosin tes peripoieseos, Eph. 1:14 (the only instance of this usage in the Pauline corpus); laos eis peripoiesin, 1 Pet. 2:9 (the same sense is expressed by laon periousion, Tit. 2:14). Paul prefers the verbs agorazo (1 Cor. 6:20; 7:23) and exagorazo (Gal. 3:13; 4:5), or the noun apolytrosis (Rom. 3:24, etc.) for God’s acquisition of his people… Redemption by the blood of Christ comes to clear expression here, but nowhere else in Luke-Acts. Here it is not a ‘turn of phrase’ introduced by the author to give the speech a Pauline stamp’ (H. Conzelmann, The Theology of St. Luke, E.T. [London, 1960], p. 201); rather, ‘this is Paul, not some other speaker; and he is not evangelizing but recalling an already evangelized community to its deepest insights. In other word, the situation, like the theology, is precisely that of a Pauline epistle, not of preliminary evangelism’ (C. F. D. Moule, ‘The Christology of Acts,’ in Studies in Luke-Acts: Essays in honor of Paul Schubert, ed. L. E. Keck and J. L. Martyn [Nashville/New York, 1966], p. 171).” (Bruce, The Acts of the Apostles: Greek Text with Introduction and Commentary [William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, Grand Rapids, MI 1990], p. 434; bold emphasis ours)
Now this places Williams in a dilemma. If he says that Paul influenced Luke at this point then he pretty much ends up refuting himself. After all, the last thing we would expect Luke to do is to present a different view of salvation, thereby contradicting Paul’s view of justification, especially when Luke depicts himself as a traveling companion of Paul who accompanied this blessed Apostle on many of his missionary journeys (cf. Acts 16:6-18; 20; 20:13-28; 21:1-18; 27:1-8, 12, 15-20, 27-29, 37; 28:1-16).
If Williams argues that we shouldn’t interpret Acts 20:28 in light of the Pauline Epistles since Acts is independent from Paul then he only helps to establish that Paul isn’t the only NT writer who proclaimed the necessity of Jesus’ vicarious death for salvation. Either way, Williams’ attempt to pit Acts against Paul or the historic Christian faith ends up failing miserably.
Paul also, in perfect agreement with Peter, testified that God has appointed Christ to judge the world in righteousness on the last day:
“Therefore having overlooked the times of ignorance, God is now declaring to men that all people everywhere should repent, because He has fixed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness through a Man whom He has appointed, having furnished proof to all men by raising Him from the dead.” Acts 17:30-31
In light of all of this, is Williams that incapable of seeing how the words of Peter and Paul prove that Jesus is more than a mere man since the things which these glorious Apostles say about Christ are the very things which the OT scriptures ascribe to Yahweh alone?
For example, the Psalms proclaim that forgiveness and redemption come by believing in and calling upon Yahweh’s name:
“For Your name’s sake, O LORD, Pardon my iniquity, for it is great.” Psalm 25:11
“Save me, O God, by Your name, And vindicate me by Your power.” Psalm 54:1
“Help us, O God of our salvation, for the glory of Your name; And deliver us and atone our sins for Your name’s sake.” Psalm 79:9
And according to the prophet Isaiah, salvation is found only in Yahweh since he alone is capable of saving people from their sins:
“‘You are My witnesses,’ declares the LORD, ‘And My servant whom I have chosen, So that you may know and believe Me And understand that I am He. Before Me there was no God formed, And there will be none after Me. I, even I, am the LORD, And there is no savior besides Me… I, even I, am the one who wipes out your transgressions for My own sake, And I will not remember your sins.’” Isaiah 43:10-11, 25
“Declare and set forth your case; Indeed, let them consult together. Who has announced this from of old? Who has long since declared it? Is it not I, the LORD? And there is no other God besides Me, A righteous God and a Savior; There is none except Me. Turn to Me and be saved, all the ends of the earth; For I am God, and there is no other… IN THE LORD all the offspring of Israel WILL BE JUSTIFIED and will glory.” Isaiah 45:21-22, 25
The Hebrew Bible even says that it is Yahweh who will come to judge the entire world in righteousness!
“But the LORD abides forever; He has established His throne for judgment, And He will judge the world in righteousness; He will execute judgment for the peoples with equity.” Psalm 9:7-8
“Before the LORD, for He is coming, For He is coming to judge the earth. He will judge the world in righteousness And the peoples in His faithfulness.” Psalm 96:13 – cf. 98:9
With the foregoing in perspective, does Williams really want us to believe that the proclamation of Jesus’ followers in Acts is actually compatible with the teachings of his false prophet?
Is he saying that the claims of the Apostles that the Lord Jesus will come to judge and determine the eternal destiny of every single individual on the day of judgment agrees with the Quran’s message that this is the day in which Allah will judge all mankind?
All the praises and thanks be to Allah, the Lord of the 'Alamin (mankind, jinns and all that exists). The Most Beneficent, the Most Merciful. The Only Owner (and the Only Ruling Judge) of the Day of Recompense (i.e. the Day of Resurrection). S. 1:1-4 Hilali-Khan
And they [who have died] are thereupon brought before God, their true Lord Supreme. Oh, verily, His ALONE is all judgment: and He is the swiftest of all reckoners! S. 6:62 Muhammad Asad
And those who disbelieve will not cease to be in doubt about it (this Qur'an) until the Hour comes suddenly upon them, or there comes to them the torment of the Day after which there will be no night (i.e. the Day of Resurrection). The sovereignty on that Day will be that of Allah (the one Who has no partners). He will judge between them. So those who believed (in the Oneness of Allah Islamic Monotheism) and did righteous good deeds will be in Gardens of delight (Paradise). S. 22:55-56 Hilali-Khan
Again, what will make you know what the Day of Recompense is? (It will be) the Day when no person shall have power (to do) anything for another, and the Decision, that Day, will be (wholly) with Allah. S. 82:18-19 Hilali-Khan
Nay, but when the earth is ground to atoms, grinding, grinding, And thy Lord shall come with angels, rank on rank, And hell is brought near that day; on that day man will remember, but how will the remembrance (then avail him)? He will say: Ah, would that I had sent before me (some provision) for my life! None punisheth as He will punish on that day! None bindeth as He then will bind. But ah! thou soul at peace! Return unto thy Lord, content in His good pleasure! Enter thou among My bondmen! Enter thou My Garden! S. 89:21-30 Pickthall
Moreover, does he think that we are that naïve to assume that the worship and devotion that Acts says the disciples gave to Christ fits in perfectly with the message of Islam?
So Williams wants us to really believe that when Stephen prayed to the Lord Jesus:
“They went on stoning Stephen as he called on the Lord and said, ‘Lord Jesus, receive my spirit!’ Then falling on his knees, he cried out with a loud voice, ‘Lord, do not hold this sin against them!’ Having said this, he fell asleep.” Acts 7:59-60 – 9:14, 21
In the same way that OT believers called upon and worshiped Yahweh:
“Into Your hand I commit my spirit; You have ransomed me, O LORD, God of truth.” Psalm 31:5
“Exalt the LORD our God And worship at His footstool; Holy is He. Moses and Aaron were among His priests, And Samuel was among those who called on His name; They called upon the LORD and He answered them. He spoke to them in the pillar of cloud; They kept His testimonies And the statute that He gave them.” Psalm 99:5-7 – cf. 116:13-14, 17-18; 145:18; Genesis 4:26; 21:33; Deuteronomy 4:7; Jeremiah 29:12; Joel 2:32
That this, somehow, does not contradict the Quran which says that Allah is not Jesus and that all prayers and petitions are to be made to Allah alone?
AND IF My servants ask thee about Me - behold, I am near; I respond to the call of him who calls, whenever he calls unto Me: let them, then, respond unto Me, and believe in Me, so that they might follow the right way. S. 2:186 Asad
But your Sustainer says: “Call unto Me, [and) I shall respond to you! Verily, they who are too proud to worship Me will enter hell, abased!” S. 40:60 Asad
And [know] that all worship is due to God [alone]: hence, do not invoke anyone side by side with God! S. 72:18 Asad
With that said, it is abundantly obvious from our examination that Acts 3:1 and 21:24 are in no way incompatible with the centrality and finality of Jesus’ vicarious death. The very same Christians who would go to the temple to worship are the very same ones who went around proclaiming that Jesus Christ is the Savior whom God sent to redeem people from their sins. Christ’s followers taught that forgiveness comes only by the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ through faith in his glorious and sovereign name. They even went so far as to worship Jesus as the risen Lord whom God appointed as the Judge who will determine the eternal fate of every human being on judgment day!
Therefore, Williams’ argument is nothing more than a classic example of the fallacy of false dilemma, as well as a non-sequitur, since it does not follow that just because Jesus’ earliest followers continued to go to the temple that this somehow means that they didn’t believe that salvation was by grace through faith in the atoning death of Christ on Calvary’s Cross.
If the Lord Jesus wills, I will also be responding to William’s blatant manhandling of Paul’s position concerning the validity of the Torah in order to show that Williams has the blessed Apostle mixed up with his false prophet since it was Muhammad, not Paul, who was a liar and a deceiver.