Islamic Allegations Against Jesus And The Atonement
There are 4 major areas of contradiction. Let us look at these, one by one. Muslims claim from the Qur'an:
- God cannot be a Trinity
- Jesus is not divine and therefore not the Son of God.
- The crucifixion of Jesus did not happen
- The atonement effected by Christ's death is unethical.
Islamic Objections to the Trinity
The Bible cautions us to recognize our human limitations.
"Can you fathom the mysteries of God? Can you probe the limits of the Almighty? They are higher than the heavens - what can you do? They are deeper than the depth of Sheol - what can you know?"
The Qur'an teaches:
"O People of the Book! Commit no excesses in your religion; nor say of Allah aught but truth. Christ Jesus the son of Mary was (no more than) an apostle of Allah, and his word, which he bestowed on Mary, and a spirit proceeding from Him: so believe in Allah and His apostles. Say not 'Trinity': desist. It will be better for you; for Allah is One Allah.
Glory be to him; (for exalted is he) above having a son. To him belong all things in the heavens and on earth. And enough is Allah as a disposer of affairs".
"They do blaspheme who say, Allah is one of three in a trinity; for there is no god except the One Allah. If they desist not from their word (of blasphemy), verily a grievous penalty will befall the blasphemers among them.
Christ the son of Mary was no more than an Apostle; many were the apostles that passed away before him. His mother was a woman of truth. They had both to eat their (daily) food".
Surah 5:76 + 78
"And behold! Allah will say, 'O Jesus the son of Mary! Didst thou say unto men 'Worship me and my mother as gods in derogation of Allah'. He will say, 'Glory to Thee! Never could I say what I had no right (to say)".
Muslims Claim that the Concept of the Trinity is an Invention of the Church
Let us clarify right from the start that the word "Trinity" is a theological term and not a biblical phrase and is implied rather than a clear doctrinal statement. Furthermore it is beyond human comprehension. We must frankly admit that all attempts by man, even by way of analogy, to understand the Trinity, are futile, simply, because we cannot fully comprehend the personality of God.
All we need to know about God is revealed, but we cannot comprehend everything about God from revelation. If that were so, God would be smaller than our minds.
In the early church the 'Church Fathers' grappled with the formulation of the biblical concept of the Trinity. In the Creeds this attempt became rather technical. They spoke of 'essence', 'persons' and such like.
Repeatedly one can hear silly statements like this: "If Jesus is God, who was running the universe when He was in the womb of Mary, in the cradle or in the grave?"
Let an analogy give the answer: I go down to the ocean with a bucket and fill it up with sea-water. What will happen to all the fish in the ocean? You may logically say: 'Why, what has that to do with the fish?' I reply: 'Fish cannot live without water - and the water is now in the bucket!'
When God was in Christ, being omnipresent, He was still everywhere else, of course.
Muslims sometimes claim: "The only reference to the Trinity in the Bible may be found in 1. John 5:7-8 (KJV):
For there are three that testify in heaven, the Father, the Word and the Holy Spirit; and these three are one, and there are three that testify on earth, the Spirit, the water and the blood.
The part of this text which is printed bold has been found not to belong to the original text. It is an interpolation and is no more recorded in the newer translations. It is likely to have been a glossary, which was then copied into the text.
It is definitely untrue, however, that this text is the only reference to the Trinity in the Bible!
The Concept of the Trinity was Progressively Revealed in the Old Testament
In the first verse of the Bible we read: "In the beginning God (Hebrew = Elohim) created the heavens and the earth". In the second verse we read: "...and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters". In verse 26 we read: "Then God (Elohim) said, 'Let us make man ...'". In chapter 3 verse 22 we read: "And the Lord God (Jahweh Elohim) said:'The man has now become like one of us'". In chapter 11 verse 7 we read that God said: "Come let us go down and confuse their language ...".
So from the very beginning we read of Elohim and Jahweh. Jahweh means "the Lord"; Elohim means "Gods"! The ending '...im' in Hebrew is the masculine plural form. The singular form for God is rendered as El or Elah or Eloah. The name El is recorded 224 times in the Old Testament; Elah is recorded 89 times; Eloah 45 times; whereas Elohim is found 2222 times. The question arising in the mind of any alert Bible reader naturally is: Why is God speaking about Himself in the overwhelming majority of cases in the plural form? Does this have something to say about the nature of God? It is important to note that there is no 'pluralis majestatis' or 'royal plural' in the Hebrew language.
Now the Jewish confession of faith, as stated in Deut. 6:4, strongly affirms the oneness, or rather the unity of God: "The Lord our God, the Lord is one". The Hebrew original actually reads: "Jahweh Eluhenu Jahweh echad". Exactly translated it means: "The Lord our Gods, the Lord is one" that is a unity. The word echad is always used when the Hebrew writers meant to refer to a unity or oneness. One example is found in Gen. 2:24: "For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one (echad) flesh". Again in Ezra 2:64 the word is used for the congregation of Israelites gathered together: "The whole (echad) company numbered 42,360". But speaking about "one" with the meaning of "single, only" the word "yachid" is employed. (see Gen.22:2; Prov. 4:3 and Judges 11:34 for examples) Are we not aware that there can be no unity without at least two components?
May we have a look at just one more passage:
"I will tell of the kindness of Jahweh ... he became their Yeshua (this is the actual name Jesus had when on earth: Yeshua ha-Mashiach; translated it means Rescuer, Saviour). In all their distress he too was distressed, and the angel of his presence saved them. In his love and mercy he redeemed them; ... yet they (the Jews) rebelled and grieved his Holy Spirit"
The Lord became Jesus to help the Jews in their distress and he saved and redeemed them. But they rebelled and grieved God's Holy Spirit.
Admittedly passages like this are little read and don't meet the eye of a superficial reader. But they are there to be found of those who seek the Truth in earnest.
The New Testament Testifies to the Triune Nature of God
When we open the New Testament we find the Triune God revealing Himself in the Baptism of Jesus.
"As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and lighting on him. And a voice from heaven said, 'This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased."
Matthew 3: 16-17
And in the last verses of Matthew, known as 'The Great Commission', Jesus instructs his disciples:
"Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit."
Matthew 28: 19
Note that Jesus is not saying "in the names" (plural), but "in the name" (singular) clearly indicating one God who has revealed Himself as the Triune One: Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
Christian belief is not in several gods, competing or fighting against each other as known from the Greek mythology, but in one God who revealed Himself in a triune nature.
This is also expressed by the Church worldwide whenever believers join together in the words of "the grace":
"May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all."
2. Corinthians 13:124
(For further reference we encourage to meditate on these Scriptures: Romans 14:17-18; 15:16.30; 1. Cor. 12:4-6; 2. Cor. 1:21-22;Titus 3:4-6; 1. Peter 1:2; Hebrews 9:14; Jude 20-21)
Christians believe in one God. This is the clear teaching of the Bible in both the Old and the New Testament:
"The Lord our God, the Lord is one"
"...one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one Testament"
Belief in the Trinity thus is the acknowledgement that our one God effected in Jesus His salvation for all mankind. The Triune God, who desires to relate to us in perfect harmony, sent His Son as the Word incarnate. And through the Holy Spirit God is guiding, revealing, convicting mankind to draw them to Himself and to accept what He offers.
Recommended Literature for Chapter 3: Trinity
God is one in the Holy Trinity, Zachariah Butrus, Good Way, 56 pp.
The Christian Witness to the Muslim, John Gilchrist, MERCSA 1988, pp. 304-321.
Trinity and Unity, Pope Shenuda III, Good Way, 13 pp.
Qur'anic Objections to the Divinity and Sonship of Jesus
"They do blaspheme who say: 'Allah is Christ the son of Mary'. But said Christ: 'O Children of Israel! Worship Allah, my Lord and your Lord'. Whoever joins other gods with Allah - Allah will forbid him the Garden, and the Fire will be his abode. There will for the wrong-doers be no one to help.
Christ the son of Mary was no more than an Apostle; many were the apostles that passed away before him".
Surah 5:72 + 75
"In blasphemy indeed are those that say that Allah is Christ the son of Mary".
"The Jews call Uzair a son of Allah, and the Christians call Christ the Son of Allah. That is a saying from their mouths; (In this) they but imitate what the Unbelievers of old used to say. Allah's curse be on them: how they are deluded away from the Truth!".
"It is not befitting to (the majesty of) Allah that He should beget a son. Glory be to Him! When He determines a matter, He only says to it: 'Be', and it is".
What Muslims should know about Jesus in the Qur'an
|"She [Mary] said: 'How shall
I have a son, seeing that no man has touched me, and I am not unchaste?'".
|"He [Gabriel] said: 'Nay, I
am only a messenger from thy Lord, (to announce) to thee the gift of a holy son'".
We note: All others in the Bible and Qur'an have sinned (against the popular belief of all Muslims)
Adam "So by deceit he brought about their fall: when they tasted of the tree, their shame became manifest. They said: 'Our Lord! We have wronged our own souls: If thou forgive us not and bestow not upon us thy mercy, we shall certainly be lost".
Moses "And he entered the city at a time when its people were not watching; and he found there two men fighting; - One of his own religion, and the other, of his foes. Now the man of his own religion appealed to him against his foe, and Moses struck him with his fist and made an end of him. He said: 'This is a word of Evil (Satan): for he is an enemy that manifestly misleads.
He prayed: 'O my Lord! I have indeed wronged my soul! Do thou then forgive me!' So (Allah) forgave him; for he is the Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful".
Abraham "And who, I hope will forgive me my faults on the Day of Judgment ...".
Jonah "He (agreed to) cast lots, and he was condemned. Then the big Fish did swallow him, and he had done acts worthy of blame. Had it not been that he (repented and) glorified Allah, he would certainly have remained inside the Fish till the Day of Resurrection".
David "And David gathered that we had tried him; he asked forgiveness of his Lord, fell down, bowing (in prostration), and turned (to Allah in repentance). So we forgave him this (lapse)".
Muhammad "Verily we have granted thee a manifest victory that Allah may forgive thee thy faults of the past and those to follow; fulfil his favour to thee; and guide thee on the Straight Way".
"Know, therefore, that there is no god but Allah, and ask forgiveness for the fault and for the men and women who believe: For Allah knows how ye move about and how ye dwell in your homes".
|He is given these titles:
||"Christ Jesus the son
of Mary was (no more than) an apostle of Allah and His Word which he
bestowed on Mary and a Spirit proceeding from him: so believe in Allah and His
apostles. Say not 'Trinity': desist: it will be better for you: for Allah is One Allah.
Glory be to him; (for exalted is he) above having a son. To him belong all things in the
heavens and on earth. And enough is Allah as a disposer of affairs".
or as M.M. Pickthall translates it:
"The Messiah, Jesus son of Mary, was only a messenger of Allah and His word which He conveyed unto Mary, and a spirit from Him. So believe in Allah and his messengers, and say not 'Three' - cease! (it is) better for you! - Allah is only One God. Far is it removed from His transcendant majesty that he should have a son. His is all that is in the heavens and all that is in the earth. And Allah is sufficient as Defender".
|He created life
|"And behold! thou makest out
of clay, as it were, the figure of a bird by my leave. And thou breathest into it and it
becometh a bird by my leave. And thou healest those born blind, and the lepers by my
leave. And behold! thou bringest forth the dead".
|He came with clear signs||"When Jesus came with
clear signs, he said: 'Now have I come to you with wisdom, and in order to make clear
to you some of the (points) on which ye dispute: Therefore fear Allah and obey me".
|He is a sign unto mankind and a mercy from God||"He said: 'So (it will be):
thy Lord saith, 'That is easy for me: and (we wish) to appoint him as a sign unto men
and a mercy from us'".
|He is a sign to all people||"And remember her who
guarded her chastity: we breathed into her of our Spirit, and we made her and her son a
sign for all peoples".
|He is illustrious in the world and the hereafter||"Behold! the angels said: 'O
Mary! Allah giveth thee glad tidings of a word from him: his name will be Christ Jesus,
the son of Mary, held in honour in this world and the hereafter and of (the company
of) those nearest to Allah".
|He is the Messiah||or as M. M. Pickthall translates:
"(And remember) when the angels said: O Mary! Lo! Allah giveth thee glad tidings of a word from Him, whose name is the Messiah, Jesus, son of Mary, illustrious in the world and the hereafter and one of those brought near (unto Allah)".
|He was raised to heaven||"Nay, Allah raised him up
unto himself, and Allah is exalted in power, wise".
|He will come back for judgment||"And (Jesus) shall be a sign
(for the coming of the hour of judgement): therefore have no doubt about the (hour), but
follow ye me, this is a straight way".
The Hadith supports this:
"Abdullah-b-Amr reported that the Messenger of Allah said: Jesus, son of Mary, will come down to the world. He will marry and there will be his issue and he will live for forty five years and then die. He will be buried with me in my grave. Then I and Jesus, son of Mary, will stand up in one grave between Abu Bakr and Omar.
Abu Hurairah reported that the Messenger of Allah said: By one in whose hand there is my life, it is certainly near that the son of Mary will bring down to you justice and administration; that he will destroy the cross, kill swines and abolish Jizya".
Al-Bukhari LX ch. 44, vs. .657, Vol IV p. 436
Each of these attributes given to Jesus in the Qur'an could be used as a stepping stone to present the uniqueness of Jesus to the Muslims (see Vol. IV).
The Bible Teaches the Divinity of Jesus
||"In the beginning was the
Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God.
The Word became flesh and lived among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only (Greek: monogenis = only born) Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth".
He was in the world, and the world was made through him...".
|"Before Abraham was, I am".
('I am' = Jahweh, is the name of God)
"But to the Son He says: 'Your throne, O God, is forever and ever".
|"Jesus answered: 'I did
tell you, but you do not believe. The miracles I do in my Father's name speak for me, but
you do not believe because you are not my sheep. My sheep listen to my voice; I know them,
and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no-one can
snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all;
no-one can snatch them out of my Father's hand. I and the Father are one'.
Again the Jews picked up stones to stone him, but Jesus said to them, 'I have shown you many great miracles from the Father. For which of these do you stone me?'.
'We are not stoning you for any of these', replied the Jews, 'but for blasphemy, because you, a mere man, claim to be God'".
Whoever saw Jesus, saw the father
|"Jesus answered: 'I am
the way and the truth and the life. No-one comes to the Father except through me. If you
really knew me, you would know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have
|"Then Jesus said to her,
'Your sins are forgiven'. The other guests began to say among themselves, 'Who is this who
even forgives sins?' Jesus said to the woman: 'Your faith has saved you; go in
|"The Son of Man will send
out his angels, and they will weed out of his kingdom everything that causes sin and all
who do evil. They will throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and
gnashing of teeth. Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their
Father. He who has ears, let him hear".
|"And when they climbed
into the boat, the wind died down. Then those who were in the boat worshipped him, saying:
'Truly you are the Son of God'".
"Jesus came and stood among them, and said: 'Peace be with you'! Then he said to Thomas, 'Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe'. Thomas answered: 'My Lord and my God!'
Jesus reveals that he shall sit at the right hand of God
Jesus holds an everlasting dominion
|"The high priest said to
him, 'I charge you under oath by the living God: Tell us if you are the Christ, the Son of
'Yes, it is as you say', Jesus replied. 'But I say to all of you: In future you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven'".
"In my vision at night I looked, and there before me was one like a son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into his presence. He was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all peoples, nations and men of every language worshipped him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed".
|"For I have not hesitated
to proclaim to you the whole will of God. Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of
which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers. Be shepherds of the church of God, which he
bought with his own blood".
|"The god of this age has
blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of
Christ, who is the image of God".
2. Corinthians 4:4
All things hold together through Him
God's fullness lived in Him
He reconciled us to God
He made peace by His cross
|"He is the image of the
invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by him all things were created: things
in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or
authorities; all things were created by him and for him. He is before all things, and in
him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the
beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the
supremacy. For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to
reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making
peace through his blood, shed on the cross".
He sustains all things
He purifies from sin
He sits at God's right hand
He is superior to angels
|"In the past God spoke to
our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last
days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through
whom he made the universe. The Son is the radiance of God's glory and the exact
representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had
provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven. So
he became as much superior to the angels as the name he has inherited is superior to
He is equal to God
|"Your attitude should be
the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality
with God something to be grasped".
|"Theirs [i.e. the people
of Israel] is the adoption as sons; theirs the divine glory, the covenants, the receiving
of the law, the temple worship and the promises. Theirs are the patriarchs, and from them
is traced the human ancestry of Christ, who is God over all, for ever praised! Amen".
|"We know also that the
Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true.
And we are in him who is true - even in his Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and
1. John 5:20
|"For the grace of God
that brings salvation has appeared to all men. It teaches us to say 'No' to ungodliness
and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present
age, while we wait for the blessed hope - the glorious appearing of our great God and
Saviour, Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to
purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good".
"... to those who through the righteousness of our God and Saviour Jesus Christ have received a faith as precious as ours".
2. Peter 1:1
His name is 'Mighty God'
|"Therefore the Lord
himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son,
and will call him Immanuel".
"For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders and he will be called Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace".
Problem Texts which Seem to Contradict the Above Verses
There are various factors that have repeatedly motivated Muslims, as well as liberals, to deny the deity of Christ. They point out from the Bible that when Christ was tempted to worship Satan, He replied:
"Away from me, Satan! For it is written: 'Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only'".
This statement is supposed to prove that Christ is not divine. We fail to see that point.
Then there is the passage in Lk.18:19, where Jesus said to the enquiring ruler:
"'Why do you call me good?' Jesus answered. 'No-one is good - except God alone'".
The obvious explanation is that Jesus was indeed perfect, and by that God.
Further we must view the situation in its context. The enquirer addressed Jesus as 'good rabbi' (teacher, sheikh). By implication Jesus said: "A rabbi is not good, but God alone is! When you call me 'good', you do agree that I am more than a teacher?"
At first sight the quoted passages seem to imply that Jesus rejects the honour and the title because they are not His. But was that really so?
The key passage to all these seemingly contradicting verses is:
"Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness".
The man Jesus had limitations:
"By myself I can do nothing; I judge only as I hear, and my judgment is just, for I seek not to please myself but him who sent me".
Christ's apparent lack of omniscience has also led critics to reach the same conclusion. They are fond of quoting:
"No-one knows about the day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father".
"For he 'has put everything under his feet'. Now when it says that 'everything' has been put under him, it is clear that this does not include God himself, who put everything under Christ. When he has done this, then the Son himself will be made subject to him who put everything under him, so that God may be all in all".
1. Corinthians 15:27-28
If these statements are seen in the wider context of Scripture, everything will take its proper place, namely that Christ, while in human form, suffered many of the limitations of man. For instance:
He could be at only one place at a time. He was subject to human emotions and also to a somewhat restricted knowledge, despite the fact that He performed miracles that are totally beyond human capacity. After all He was fully man.
The quoted passage in 1. Cor. 15:28 obviously refers to the functional aspect of Christ, not to his status.
Jesus - The Son of God
To Muslims the thought that God has a son is repulsive. Whenever they hear that Christ is the Son of God, they are led to assume that Christians believe that God had a physical relationship with Mary.
It is obvious to every Christian and should be so to every Muslim, that the term Son of God does NOT mean that God had a physical relationship with Mary which resulted in the birth of Jesus (as the Qur'an indicates). Whoever doubts this should read the following:
"In the sixth month, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin's name was Mary. The angel went to her and said, 'Greetings, you who are highly favoured! The Lord is with you'.
Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. But the angel said to her, 'Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favour with God. you will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob for ever; his kingdom will never end'.
'How will this be', Mary asked the angel, 'since I am a virgin?'.
The angel answered, 'The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. For nothing is impossible with God'.
'I am the Lord's servant', Mary answered. 'May it be to me as you have said'. Then the angel left her".
There is, in fact, a remarkable similarity to the Qur'an:
"Relate in the Book (the story of) Mary, when she withdrew from her family to a place in the East.
She placed a screen (to screen herself) from them; then we sent to her our angel, and he appeared before her as a man in all respect.
She said: 'I seek refuge from thee to (Allah) Most Gracious: (come not near) if thou dost fear Allah'.
He said: 'Nay, I am only a messenger from thy Lord, (to announce) to thee the gift of a holy son'.
She said: 'How shall I have a son, seeing that no man has touched me and I am not unchaste?'
He said: 'So (it will be): Thy Lord saith, 'That is easy for me, and (we wish) to appoint him as a sign unto men and a mercy from us'. It is a matter (so) decreed".
God Himself Called Jesus His Son
"Then a cloud appeared and enveloped them, and a voice came from a cloud: 'This is my Son, whom I love. Listen to him!'
"While he was still speaking, a bright cloud enveloped them, and a voice from the cloud said, 'This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to him!'".
Read also 2. Peter 1:16-18!
Jesus is Equally Referring to God as His Father in a Unique Sense
"Just as the Father raises the dead, even so the Son gives life to whom he is pleased to give it ...".
"The Father has entrusted all judgement to the Son ...".
"The dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live".
The Jewish people accused Jesus of just that. They said:
"He was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God".
"We are ... stoning you ... for blasphemy, because you, a mere man, claim to be God!".
What all this implies is that while Jesus had a human mother, God was his 'Father'. God took the role of a father: He initiated the pregnancy - yet not in a physical way.
JESUS WAS MAN from His mother's side.
(He was hungry, he wept, he prayed, he suffered and died)
JESUS IS GOD from His Father's side.
(He raised the dead, healed the sick, walked on the sea, stilled the storm, rose from the dead)
He is the Vital Link Between Man and God
"For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus".
1. Timothy 2:5
Muslims object strongly to Jesus being called the "begotten" Son of God. This suggests that God "begets", i.e. had a sexual contact with Mary.
This is the result of an unfortunate translation done in 1611. The original Greek text says:
the MONOGENIS Son of God = the ONLY BORN Son of God.
Muslims rightly observed that not only Jesus is called the Son of God.
But ... Angels and Spirits are Also Called 'Sons of God'
"One day the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came with them".
"On another day the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came with them to present himself before him".
"The sons of God saw that the daughters of men were beautiful, and they married any of them they chose".
And ... People are Called 'Sons of God'
"Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God".
"He predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will".
"Because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God".
Please take note:
Spirits are created. So was Adam, subsequently mankind. However, Christians are 'children' of God by adoption.
Jesus is the only born son of God. He is of the same kind as
God - not creature but Creator. (Col. 1:16; Hebr. 1:2)
He is God, not another God! He is the manifestation of Jahweh Elohim.
Every person wishing to live in time and eternity in personal touch with God, needs to be born again in order to be elevated from the creaturely state to the divine realm:
"Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desire".
2. Peter 1:4
In this God shows His sovereign grace and power. It may be a mystery. But it happens! Daily! To millions of people!
Yet Jesus remains unique. He is the One to effect what is lacking in quality in us: to get and keep a clean heart. This is the essential premise to become a child of God. And only He can do it.
Recommended Literature for Chapter 3: Jesus' Deity and Sonship
Christ in Islam and Christianity, John Gilchrist, MERCSA 1985, 40 pp.
The Christian Witness to the Muslims, John Gilchrist, MERCSA 1988, pp. 322-339.
The Great Deception, Abd Al-Masih, Light of Life 1995, 179 pp.
The Muslim Christ, Samuel M. Zwemer, The message for Muslims Trust, 1912, 198 pp.
What do you think of the Messiah?, Charles Marsh, LCA 1992, Tract
Islamic Objections to the Crucifixion
The Qur'an claims:
"...they said (in boast), 'We killed Christ Jesus the son of Mary, the Apostle of Allah'. - But they killed him not, nor crucified him, but so it was made to appear to them. And those who differ therein are full of doubt, with no (certain) knowledge, but only conjecture to follow. For of a surety they killed him not.
Nay, Allah raised him up unto himself; and Allah is exalted in Power, Wise".
A Muslim theologian once wrote:
"I have tried in a humble way to produce a sketch of Islam and the Gospels from the Muslim point of view. I hope that in dealing with the Gospels, I would not be considered fanatically argumentative, biassed or prejudiced. Instead, I hope to cull relevant non-Muslim material in support and denunciation of the Christian theories of the origin of sin, of Jesus' alleged sonship to God, the thesis of crucifixion of the Messiah, the doctrine of man's redemption through Jesus Christ and many other pressing and questionable matters.
In this humble way I requested above all things that this book would be an ambassador of goodwill and understanding between the East and the West, the forces of good and of evil. Moreover, I am more than confident that a profound religious knowledge in world scriptures and their diverse philosophies would incarnate the truest spirit of goodness in any nation, any people, or any creed".
'The Light', by al-Haj Sultan Hafiz Abdool
The 'profound religious knowledge' of the writer is expressed in these statements:
"According to the firm philosophic teachings of Islam, Jesus Christ was neither put on the cross nor did he die an accursed death on it, by hanging. Relating to the dispute of the Messiah's disappearance or death as the Christians alleged, the Holy Qur'an says (4-157) "That they said (in boast) 'We killed Jesus Christ, the son of Mary, the Apostle of God; - but they killed him not nor crucified him but so it was made to appear to them, and those who differ therein are full of doubts, with no certain knowledge, but only conjecture to follow. Of a surety, they killed him not".
"If any certainty can, with any soundness, be ascribed to the Messiah's death-story, told by the synoptic writers, Paul, Luke, Matthew and John, then evidently, it differs greatly from the philosophy which Islam has upheld for centuries and which Muslims care and cherish sacred and true, in all its length and breadth".
"The theory of vicarious atonement is very closely bounded [sic] up with the crucifixion of the Messiah; and hence if the Messiah did not perish on the cross, then he did not deliver not even a soul from sin. Muslims firmly believe that Jesus did not die, nor was he placed on the cross as a matter of fact".
We know that Muslims firmly believe that Jesus did not die nor that he was crucified. We also know what "Muslims care and cherish as sacred and true" disagrees with the Biblical accounts. But that does not make this true!
We further have problems with the writer's concept of the synoptic Gospels. These are Matthew, Mark and Luke. It is evident that the author does not know that John does not fall under this category, neither Paul, who did not write a Gospel account at all.
After his not very scholarly introduction the writer states:
"Following the study of the Bible, we come across a prophecy written in Luke, saying: 'For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a whale, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth'. In studying the Bible, we understand that Jonah went in alive and came out alive on the third day from the belly of a whale. Luke makes the above prophecy of one entering the earth alive, living in it, and coming out of it alive as Jonah on the third day. When Jesus was carried away from the cross, he was made to lie in the sepulchre, the heart of the earth and where he rested and arose on the third day. If this prophecy is true, then Jesus entered the tomb alive, lived in it, and came out of it alive as happened to Jonah, the Prophet that was afraid to preach God's message. Thus, again if the prophecy is true, the Messiah did not die".
We are astounded that all of a sudden our learned friend believes the prophecy in Luke and is leaving what "Muslims firmly believe", namely that Jesus was not "placed on the cross as a matter of fact".
The Sign of Jonah
Let us have a look at the prophecy written in Luke. Actually we can not find it there, for it is not recorded in Luke's Gospel! You find it in the one of Matthew:
"Then some of the Pharisees and teachers of the law said to him, 'Teacher, we want to see a miraculous sign from you'. He answered, 'A wicked and adulterous generation asks for a miraculous sign! But none will be given it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a huge fish, so the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth".
How was Jonah in the Belly of the Huge Fish?
Anyone acquainted with the Bible would hardly ask how Jonah - and subsequently Jesus - was in the heart of the earth. It is an established fact that Jesus was prophesied to die, that he himself prophesied it several times and that he did die! The question as put here is mischievous! It intends to make the Bible agree with the Qur'an.
Muslims often reason, that as Jonah was in the belly of the fish, so Jesus had to be in the heart of the earth. "How was Jonah", asks Ahmed Deedat, "was he dead or alive?"Probably most people will say, "alive". Consequently Jesus must have been alive in the grave.
Are we really sure about this? Let us have a look at Jonah: In the past tense - i.e. when he after his experience wrote it down - he said: "From the depth of the ..." ... fish? No! Sheol (= the abode of the dead, the underworld), also translated as grave (Jonah 2:2), he called for help.
Then he praised God by saying: "You brought my life up from the pit" (Jonah 2:6). Pit (Hebr. 'shachat') is elsewhere in the Bible translated as corruption, grave, extirpation (complete destruction), ruined or spoiled.
It is hard to imagine that this all means that Jonah was alive in the fish. It rather suggests, that he was dead, but was brought to life again by God.
How Long was Jesus in the Grave?
What then is the message Jesus meant to convey? He meant not even to foretell how long he would be in the "heart of the earth", but rather that He would be buried and rise again! Even so, the length of time is also indicated.
Muslims are likely to reply: "OK! Let us count together. Jesus was killed (as you say) on a Friday afternoon. Let us be gracious and call this one day. Then he spent the night between Friday and Saturday in the grave: one night. He was in the tomb Saturday: one day and at least part of the night to Sunday: one night. Early on Sunday he rose from the grave. That makes two days and two nights. Where is the third?
First of all we must realize that the words "days and nights" were always used with the identical number ("three days and three nights" or "forty days and forty nights" etc., and never for instance "three days and two nights" or "five days and four nights". Consequently the Hebrew idiom "yom - layelah" (= day - night) corresponds to our use of the word "a day" meaning 24 hours or part thereof. (See also Jonah 1:17; 1. Sam. 3:12; Job 2:13; Gen. 7:4; Exod. 24:18; 34:28; Deut. 9:9-10, 18, 25; 10:10; 28:66; 1. Kings 19:8 and Mt. 4:2).
A day began with the setting of the sun, i.e. about 6 p.m. Jesus was dead about 3 p.m. on Friday. This is considered a day. He was dead and "in the heart of the earth" the whole of Saturday, which would be the second day, and rose half way through he third day, i.e. at sunrise on Sunday, which constituted the third day. That he rose on the third day is confirmed in the New Testament (Lk. 24:21; 1. Cor.15:4 etc.).
In the use of the Hebrew language, a part of the day was taken for a full day.
Let us have a look again at the Gospel according to Matthew.
"'Sir', they said, 'we remember that while he was still alive that deceiver said, 'After three days I will rise again'. So give the order for the tomb to be made secure until the third day. Otherwise, his disciples may come and steal the body and tell the people that he has been raised from the dead. The last deception will be worse than the first'".
The Pharisees went to Pilate after the death of Jesus and said: "Sir, we remember that while he was still alive, that deceiver said, 'After three days I will rise again!' So give the order for the tomb to be made secure until the third day. Should they not have said: 'until after the third day'?
To substantiate the above we read in the book of "Esther" and find a passage where Esther says to Mordecai: "... hold a fast on my behalf ... for three days, night or day, I and my maids will also fast as you do ... on the third day ... Esther said: 'If it please the king, let the king ... come this day to a dinner that I have prepared for the king'" (Esther 4:16 - 5:5). They fasted three days but had dinner on the third day.
So we take it that Muslims, when arguing against the crucifixion and death of Christ, attempt to interpret the Bible to conform to the Qur'an in an effort to distort evidenced revelation backed by history.
Did Jesus Really Die on the Cross?
But let us come back to our topic: the crucifixion. The Muslim apologist continues to say:
"One synoptic writer says that when Jesus was taken down from the cross a spear was hurled into the body of the Messiah, and blood then oozed out. From the point of view of modern science, if Jesus was dead on the cross, then his blood would have coagulated. We learn from today's sciences that the blood of the animal spills out if the master organ - the heart keeps palpitating. Thus if Jesus Christ had died, blood would never have oozed from his body, as the blood of the dead congeals or clots. Thus, the body of Jesus did not die but was alive.
Then, really did Jesus die? No. The two thieves did not die, nor did Jesus, for his heart was pumping the regular flow of blood which gushed out at the trusting of the spear into the body. Modern science marks its discovery and truth on such a hidden matter to the blind Christian community. If one of the thieves had died, we would have presumably admitted Jesus' death, but neither of them had died".
Only one of the Gospel recorders made mention of a spear piercing Jesus. It was John. Let us read what he recorded:
"Now it was the day of Preparation, and the next day was to be a special Sabbath: Because the Jews did not want the bodies left on the crosses during the Sabbath, they asked Pilate to have the legs broken and the bodies taken down. The soldiers therefore came and broke the legs of the first man who had been crucified with Jesus, and then those of the other. But when they came to Jesus and found that he was already dead, they did not break his legs. Instead, one of the soldiers pierced Jesus' side with a spear, bringing a sudden flow of blood and water. The man who saw it has given testimony, and his testimony is true, and he testifies so that you also may believe. These things happened so that the Scriptures would be fulfilled, 'Not one of his bones will be broken', and, as another Scripture says, 'They will look on the one they have pierced'".
All the dishonesty of this repeatedly used argument, which aims to deceive Muslim people, becomes apparent. Trying to appear an intellectual, the writer refers to modern science. He should rather have been honest about his ignorance. John is not a synoptic writer. We read nothing in the Gospel about a spear being hurled or that blood "oozed out" or "gushed out". What did come out was "blood mingled with water, which was a sign that the blood had separated because Jesus was dead.
We also like to know in which source the writer discovered that the two "thieves" did not die!
All this is nothing but swindle and deception unworthy of a man of God. Unfortunately practically all Muslim teachers follow this trend, by that programming the minds of their ignorant followers, so that their minds consciously and unconsciously reject the Gospel - their only hope in eternity.
What was quoted is, unfortunately, not an isolated case. We find a very similar story in the Mishkat:
"The followers of Mirza Goolam Ahmed of Qadian (the Punjab) believe that Jesus Christ will not come again as he died a natural death and was buried at Srinagar in Kashmere. The Christians believe that Jesus Christ died on the Cross but he reappeared again in flesh and blood and lives in heaven. The Qur'an says that Jesus was not crucified and killed, but he was raised up to heaven. The traditions say that he will reappear again to reclaim the lost humanity from the evil path. The Qur'an says: And their saying: Surely we have killed the Messiah, Jesus son of Mary, the Apostle of Allah, and they did not kill him, nor did they crucify him, but it was made dubious to them (4-157). I will take you and raise you up to Me and clear you of those who disbelieve (3:54). These verses do not deny Jesus being nailed on the Cross, but they negative [sic] his having expired on the Cross. There was no eye witness of his death but it was only a supposition that he died as a result of nailing. Time only will prove this assertion of the Qur'an".
Mishkat IV, p.79 [Commentary]
We need some explanation here. When the commentator of the Mishkat lets the Qur'an say: "I will take you and raise you up to Me..." (Surah 3:55), he expediently camouflages the true meaning of the verse of the Qur'an.
In the first edition of Yusuf Ali's translation of the Qur'an, he translated the word "mutawaffi-ka" as 'I will cause thee to die', which is correct. In his second edition, however, he changed it to "I will take thee". M. M.Pickthall translates: "I am gathering thee". Why this obvious deception? "Tawaffi" means to die (according to the following dictionaries: J.Catafago, E.W.Lane and ibn Mukarram). Ibn Abbas, one of the most esteemed companions of Muhammad, said: "mutawaffi-ka is mumitu-ka", i.e. I will cause thee to die" (Al-Bukhari).
In Surah 5:117 the Qur'an lets Jesus say the following:
"... I was a witness over them whilst I dwelt among them, when Thou didst take me up ...".
Again the word 'mutawaffi-ka' is used.
Another passage hardens this evidence. It says of Jesus:
"So peace is on me the day I was born, the day that I die, and the day that I shall be raised up to life (again)".
Many Muslims reason that his death will happen after Jesus' return to earth to defeat al-Dajjal, the Anti-Christ. Jesus is then expected to be buried next to Muhammad in Medina.
This can hardly be accepted, for almost the same words are used in a verse just prior to the last quotation, but this time referring to John the Baptist:
"So peace on him the day he was born. The day that he dies, and the day that he will be raised up to life (again)".
Why would he have died and not Jesus of whom it is said in almost identical words? Because it contradicts the repeatedly quoted verse:
"But they killed him not, nor crucified him, but so it was made to appear to them. And those who differ therein are full of doubts. With no (certain) knowledge, but only conjecture to follow. For of a surety they killed him not".
Since one cannot admit a contradiction of this importance and magnitude, camoflage has to be applied. The peak of dishonesty is reached when the commentator of the Mishkat concludes with regards to the last quoted text, that "these verses do not deny Jesus being nailed on the cross". This can only be excelled by the statement that "there was no eye-witness of his death". We ought to wail and lament over the millions of God-beloved people who perish because their leaders are a lot of ignorant and / or dishonest people. They may be likened to the Pharisees of whom Jesus said:
"Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You shut the kingdom of heaven in men's faces. You yourselves do not enter, nor will you let those enter who are trying to".
A Biblical Reply
We have to remember again that the whole thrust of the argument against the crucifixion and death of Christ, like everything else in Islam, rests on the testimony of one person who lived almost 600 years after the events, and that this is in contrast with all the other evidences.
Christians have boundless confirmation in the Bible for the crucifixion.
Almost one third of the Gospel narrative is about the last week in the life of Jesus. His death is in total harmony with the doctrine of atonement and the practices of offering sacrifices in the Old Testament.
It is also well supported by Old Testament prophecy and by historians.
The Muslim argument would be that all this may seem to have happened (Surah 4:157), but in reality God took Jesus away and the one actually nailed to the cross has only the appearance of Jesus, but was not him. This argument is negated completely by the fact that:
- If it only 'appeared to be' Jesus, someone had to let it appear this way. This could only have been God, so God would be a deceiver of people - in this case of all Christians! The Qur'an rejects such possibilities: "Allah will not mislead a people after He hath guided them ..." (Surah 9:115).
- All that happened was foretold by the prophets, that he died "according to the Scriptures" of the Old Testament (1. Cor. 15:3-4).
- Christ predicted his death a number of times.
- Eye-witnesses (the apostles) testified to this.
- After His resurrection, Christ appeared to more than 500 Christians, who testified to the fact and to whom he showed the marks of the nails and the spear.
In addition to these proofs from Scripture we have shown earlier that historians reported it. (see p. * f.)
Recommended Literature for Chapter 3: Crucifixion
The Cross in the Gospel and the Koran, Iskander Jadeed, The Good Way, 41 pp.
The Crucifixion of Christ: A Fact, not Fiction, John Gilchrist, MERCSA, 1985, 36 pp.
Was Christ crucified?, Faris al-Qayrawani, Light of Life, 1994, 95 pp.
What indeed was the Sign of Jonah?, John Gilchrist, MERCSA, 1985, 36 pp.
Islamic Objections to the Atonement
God ordained in the Old Testament that after sins (not wilful ones!, Lev. 4:2) were committed, the offender should seek to be atoned for them in order to be reconciled with God. The way this should be done was commanded in great detail (e.g. Leviticus chapters 1-7,16 etc.). It was by means of a sacrifice. In the New Testament the place of the animal sacrifice was taken by Jesus who then suffered in the place of the offender once for all (Hebrews 9:12, 14, 26-27; 10:10).
It appears that the basic problem a Muslim is led to see in atonement is, that in the atoning act of God a substitute is to be sacrificed for the repenting sinner. This is accepted by God instead of the offender. Punishment is executed on the substitute. The real issue is not the atonement, but the death of Christ, which is vehemently denied.
Muslims reason that it would be unjust of God to punish the innocent for the offence of the guilty. The just should surely be rewarded with goodness as the unjust should be rewarded with tribulation. Jesus, the just prophet, therefore can not really suffer, but it would certainly be impossible for God to allow Him to suffer for the unjust. This is offensive to a Muslim's concept of righteousness and justice. He argues, however, against the Qur'an, for there it is mentioned that prophets of old were indeed killed (Surah 3:183).
The biblical story of Abraham's willingness to offer Isaac on the altar (Gen. 22) is somewhat reflected in the Qur'an (Surah 37:107), although the son's name is not mentioned. This led to the stipulation that it was Ishmael. This is immaterial here, however. The point, which is made by the Qur'an is: 'And we ransomed him [ the son on the altar] with a momentous sacrifice'. So, the son was ransomed by a (ram) sacrifice. This was nothing short of a biblical substitutional sacrifice.
In his book 'The Bible: Word of God or Word of Man', Mr. A. S. K. Joommal makes vicious and arbitrary remarks:
"The aim of the Jews in having Jesus crucified was to show that he was an imposter and thus prove the truth of the Word of God.
The disciples of Jesus did not know what to do or say. They were in a dilemma. An admission of his death on the cross involved a belief in his having become 'accursed of God', but a declaration that he was alive was most hazardous, for Jesus might be re-arrested and hanged again. It was at this juncture that Paul's ingenuity came into operation and he devised a clever plan to which the disciples did not object, because it seemed the only way out of the predicament under the circumstances. Paul advanced the theory that Jesus had undoubtedly been subjected to an accursed death, but since he himself was completely innocent having taken on his own shoulders the burden of the curse for the sins of men, this did not constitute infamy, but was, on the contrary, a very meritorious act. Thus the Christians now at least had something to say in reply to the Jews. This theory, however, which was originally formulated as an answer to the Jews, gradually developed into the Doctrine of Atonement as now preached by the Christian missionaries".
Mr. Joommal (as others!) loves to recite "Christian Scholars", obviously liberals, who can in no way be classified as believers, and who "theologize", or better philosophize and theorize rather than teach from the Bible. He refers to a book by a Prof. Dr. Arnold Meyer entitled 'Jesus or Paul'. From this he relates:
"The Professor proves conclusively that the divinity of Jesus and the atonement are dogmas which owe their origin to Paul. 'Jesus and his Apostles', the Professor says, 'knew nothing whatsoever of these doctrines'".
"Meander in his 'History of the Christian Religion and the Church' says, 'that the doctrine of Atonement as it is now believed by the Christian Church, was not definitely and distinctly formulated until the twelfth century'".
"We also do not find any mention of atonement being made in either the Talmud or the Torah".
These are indeed ridiculous statements. The very Bible which they claim to teach proves them liars!
The word "atonement" appears 74 times in the Old Testament, which had already been translated into other languages before the time of Christ. The word "atonement" incidentally, is found only once in the New Testament.
"We rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received our reconciliation (or atonement)".
The entire 16th chapter of the Book of Leviticus (1500 BC) is devoted to the "Day of Atonement", ("atonement" is mentioned in it 16 times).
The Conceptional Problem of Muslims
Once again we note that the Islamic view of sin is quite different to the biblical concept.
In the Bible sin is described as the principle that enslaves all mankind and compels each man to commit sin. It is man's attitude of independence, and open rebellion against God.
Whether it be a "big sin" like murder or a "small sin" like telling a lie in business or stealing something from the firm, both is evidence of a person's disregard for God and His will.
Sin presupposes the absence of God in the centre of the will and conscience of man.Thus by nature sin alienates every man from God.
The claim that the doctrine of atonement was never preached by Christ at any time is untrue. We are not quite sure whether we should blame this on the critic's ignorance or deceit. The answer is obvious:
"Just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many".
"This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins".
"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life".
"I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If a man eats of this bread, he will live for ever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world".
"I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep ... just as the Father knows me and I know the Father - and I lay down my life for the sheep ... No-one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father".
John 10:11, 15 + 18
And turning back to the Old Testament, we have the classic prophecy of Isaiah 53, where it distinctly says:
"Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed. We all like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all ... For he was cut off from the land of the living; for the transgression of my people he was stricken ... the Lord makes his life a guilt offering ... He bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors".
Isaiah 53:4-6, 8, 10 + 12
Does this Doctrine Provide a Licence to Sin?
Our Muslim writer suggests:
"This doctrine gives mankind licence for the free and unbridled commission of sins. All one has to do is to have implicit faith in Jesus having given his blood with which the past and future sins of mankind have been washed clean. This is a most comfortable, convenient and easy doctrine to follow. It does not require any hard, rigorous or practical form of worship from the believer. He must merely believe and have faith and his salvation is assured".
A. S. K. Joommal
We are grateful to the author for letting us peep into his soul. Apart from displaying a kind of envy for the 'comfortable and easy doctrine', he also lets us know that his (Islamic) worship is not an act of gratitude to God, but is 'hard and rigorous'. This reminds us of the superstition that a pill which is not bitter cannot help.
Except for the first part (licence to sin), the author of this script was right. But about the continuation in sin the Bible differs totally:
"Jesus said: 'If you love me, you will obey what I command. If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him'".
John 14:15 + 23
"Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God - which is your spiritual worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is - his good, pleasing and perfect will".
"But the cowardly the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexual immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars - their place will be in the fiery lake of burning sulphur. This is the second death".
"The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified their sinful nature with its passions and desires".
(see also Mt. 15:19; Mk. 7:20 ff.; Rom. 1:28 ff.; Eph. 4:31; Col. 3:5 ff. etc.).
A Law Cannot Justify a Sinner
No law in the world makes a man righteous. A law determines what is right and wrong, but cannot make a person right. It is simply the standard by which judgement shall be passed.
"You who are trying to be justified by law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace".
Faith Alone Leads to Justification
"Consider Abraham: 'He believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness'. Understand, then, that those who believe are children of Abraham. The Scriptures foresaw that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, and announced the gospel in advance to Abraham: 'All nations will be blessed through you'. So those who have faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith".
"Know that a man is not justified by observing the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by observing the law, because by observing the law, no-one will be justified".
It is True that Christians are Not Under the Law
Yet although Christians are not under the law, they are not lawless.
"Everyone who sins breaks the law; in fact, sin is lawlessness. No-one who is born of God, will continue to sin, because God's seed remains in him; he cannot go on sinning because he has been born of God".
1. John 3:4 + 9
"Christ is the end of the Law so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes".
How Can a Righteous and Holy God be Forgiving and Merciful?
By punishing sin, God expressed His righteousness, and by taking the punishment on Himself, He expressed His mercy and love. Apart from this there is no way that a righteous God can also be a merciful one as well! A happening from history may illustrate this point:
Shamuel was a Caucasian prince living a couple of hundred years ago. His people were at constant war with the Turks. Once he besieged a Turkish city with his army. As usual his mother was with him in his camp. One night he planned a surprise assault. But the enemy was lying in wait. The secret plans had been betrayed. The battle was lost. In anger Shamuel announced that the traitor would be punished with 100 lashes of a whip, if found out. Again in great secrecy another surprise attack was planned. With the same result. But this time the traitor was discovered! It was Shamuel's mother.
For three days and nights Shamuel withdrew to his tent. What should he do? If he were to spare his mother, all would rightly say that he was unjust. Were he to punish her, however, all would say: 'Look at Shamuel! He does not even have pity for his own mother!' At long last he appeared. His army gathered expectantly. Serenely he addressed his people: 'We lost two battles because of treason. Our men have been killed. There were no extenuating circumstances. The crime was committed, and therefore the guilty person shall be punished according to my law with 100 lashes! Righteousness and justice must be maintained!
His mother was led to the circle. She was pale and shivering with fear. The executer lifted the whip - but before the first lash came down, Shamuel cried: 'Wait! - This is my mother, I am of her flesh and blood. I shall take the punishment for her'! He went into the circle, took off his garment and commanded: 'Executioner, dare not hit more lightly than you did with your last victim. Do your duty. Hit on!' Lash after lash found its mark, until he broke down unconscious. He survived this ordeal though, against expectation.
This event, perhaps more than any other in history, fits the picture of Jesus. He was God in a body. He had and has to execute righteous judgement. But in His perfect love He took on Himself our (my own, your own) sin and suffered the cruel, but just consequences for them on the cross. But we are aware, that it was not only the physical suffering, bad though it was, but that the very pure and holy God Himself took upon Himself all the ugly filth of our sin.
Righteousness and love met at the cross of Christ.
"God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men's sins against them."
Recommended Literature for Chapter 3: Atonement
Sin and Atonement in Islam and Christianity, Iskander Jadeed, The Good Way, 69 pp.
The Christian Witness to the Muslim, John Gilchrist, MERCSA, 1988, pp. 340-349.