Volume VI, Number 46
In this issue:
To show the basic differences in Islam and Christianity, all I would need to do is post a picture of the twin towers of the Trade Center on September 11, 2001. Muslims try to convince us that this was done by a small radical fringe element, and that Islamic people worship the same God we do. They claim they only want peace with Christians. However, the Qur’an teaches Muslims that Christians are the enemy. “Fight those who believe not in God nor the last day...nor acknowledge the religion of truth...until they pay the Jizya (tribute tax) with willing submission” (Qur’an 9:29). The very name “Islam” is an Arabic word for “submission.” Muslims are prohibited from taking Christians for friends and those who do so are counted as wrongdoers (Qur’an 5:52; 9:23). Here are some key differences in Islamic beliefs and Bible teachings.
1) Muslims claim that Ishmael rather than Isaac was the son promised to Abraham and that God’s promises would flow through him. The Qur’an claims that Ishmael purified God’s house and raised its foundations (2: 126, 128); that he was one of the patriarchs (2:137; 3:85); that he was exalted with Elisha, Jonah, and Lot (6:87); and that he was a messenger and prophet (19:55). However, the Bible says that Ishmael would be “a wild donkey of a man; his hand will be against everyone and everyone’s hand against him, and he will live in hostility toward his brothers” (Gen.16:12).
2) Muslims claim to be believers in Jesus when they talk with Christians. They offer a booklet, “We Believe In Jesus.” But nothing could be further from the truth! The Qur’an declares, “Allah has not taken on a son nor is there any deity along with Him...” (23:91). The Qur’an denies that Jesus is God’s Son, the resurrection of Christ, and Muslims discount His message as lies.
3) Muslims claim there is only one person in the Godhead. The Qur’an teaches, “So believe in ALLAH and HIS Messengers, and say not, ‘they are three.’ Desist, it will be better for you. Verily, ALLAH is the only One God. Holy is HE, far above having a son” (4:172). The Qur’an teaches that one who confesses Jesus as God is an “unbeliever,” is “forbidden heaven,” and deserves “fire” and “grievous punishment.” The Bible teaches there are three persons in the Godhead: The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit (Mt. 28:19; 1 In. 5:7). Further, the Bible teaches that Jesus was, is, and forever will be, God (Mk. 2:5- 10; Rom. 9:5; Col. 2:9; 1 Tim. 3:16; Heb. 1:3).
The Muslim disposition toward those who disagree with them is ISLAMIC JIHAD. They consider all non-Muslims the enemy and give only three choices for us: 1) Convert to Islam; 2) Pay the protection tax and agree not to oppose Islam; or 3) Die.
The nation of Islam is not a far away place that is insignificant to us. It is a religious system with religious ideals that has become a great threat, not just to our way of life, but to our ability to function in peace as Christians. Over one fifth of the world is now Muslim and it is the fastest growing religion in the United States. Don’t be duped into thinking they desire peace. We need to fight back, not with violence and hatred, but with the Sword of the Spirit (Eph. 6: 10-17).
-Back To Basics (March 2003)
At the present time, the prospects for peace do not appear very promising. All of us surely hope that current tensions in the world may be eased without bloodshed. Among the troops surrounding Iraq are several members of our armed forces whom I know personally. No doubt, those reading this article are acquainted with other service personnel who may be in harm’s way in coming days. Our prayers are with them and all who are in danger at this time. Those prayers should and will continue until peace is restored and all are returned to places of safety.
Despite our wishes that peace might always reign, the Scripture tells us that war is a part of life “under the sun.” The writer of Ecclesiastes begins the third chapter with the well known words, “For every thing there is a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven” (Eccl. 3:1). Among those things appointed a time in this life, Solomon includes this as he closes the list: “A time for war, a time for peace” (Eccl. 3:8). Short of heaven, we will not know a world of total and uninterrupted peace. We eagerly await that heavenly dwelling where no more death, mourning, crying or pain exist (Rev. 21:1-4). The presence of all of these sorrows in this life should intensify our desire for and pursuit of heaven.
As with every experience in life, whether pleasant or unpleasant, there are lessons we can learn in times of war and peril such as our country now experiences. This is not intended to be an exhaustive list of lessons that should be learned at this time, but a few of those points we ought to think upon in coming days.
We Should Pray for Peace to a Purpose
The Bible instructs Christians to be concerned and prayerful about peace. Paul says, “Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence” (1 Tim. 2:1-2). The peace granted by God is to be used in our lives as an opportunity to further godliness and reverence. Thus, it is not just a personal gift, but a blessing which we are to use as responsible stewards as an opportunity to work in the Lord’s service without the distractions and impediments brought with war. So, as we pray for peace to be restored, let us determine to use the advance of peace as an opportunity to carry the gospel to opportunities opened by peace. Faithful brethren have so used the opportunities of peace brought to war torn areas after World War II and the end of the “Cold War.” Let us pray that the results of any coming conflict may bring open doors for spreading the gospel to other places where such does not exist at this time.
Show Proper Honor for Governmental Leaders
We live in a country where we have the civil rights to say many things that we have no God-granted right to say. Our freedom of speech is a highly cherished right to every citizen in the United States, this writer included. However, times of tension and conflict in our society have historically brought a use of “free speech” aimed at government officials which is right civically, but wrong biblically. The past few weeks have given ample evidence of such as various celebrities and foreign dignitaries have cursed, derided and denounced the President of this country. Media pundits and lesser governmental officials have engaged in contemptuous displays which fail to uphold the standard for proper honor taught in God’s word. The inspired apostle commanded,
“Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God. Therefore whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves” (Rom. 13:1-2).
Peter enjoined the same mandate, saying, “Honor the king” (1 Pet. 2:17). One does not manifest honor, respect and submission by cursing those in rightful places of authority. The wise man plainly instructed, “Do not curse the king, even in your thought” (Eccl. 10:20). Speech in violation of this passage has been evident, and the thoughts in violation of it have been magnified beyond measure. In the old law, Moses commanded, “You shall not revile God, nor curse a ruler of your people” (Exod. 22:28). Paul cites this same instruction in Acts 23:5 so as to note its principle as still binding in the gospel age.
Desire Right to be Upheld & Evil to be Punished
Governments were designed by God to facilitate the continuation of peace by upholding good and punishing evil. That principle holds true in government’s dealings with both individuals and other nations. The proverb writer stated the principle which undergirds this fact, saying, “Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people” (Prov. 14:34). That is why the inspired apostle stated the charge God gives to governments in the following words:
“For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to evil. Do you want to be unafraid of the authority? Do what is good, and you will have praise from the same. For he is God’s minister to you for good. But if you do evil, be afraid; for he does not bear the sword in vain; for he is God’s minister, an avenger to execute wrath on him who practices evil” (Romans 13:3-4).
God has always declared that evil is destructive and should be punished, while righteousness is productive and should be rewarded. That contrast is seen when the wise man said, “By the blessing of the upright the city is exalted, but it is overthrown by the mouth of the wicked” (Prov. 11:11). It is again affirmed by the words: “It is an abomination for kings to commit wickedness, for a throne is established by righteousness” (Prov. 16:12). When a government leaves that basis for action, it has violated the will of God and ceased to meet the purpose for which God designed it. In the legitimate meeting of its purpose, the Bible shows that God has given governments the authority to reward good and punish evil whether it be found in individuals or other nations.
This point is clear to understand, but it is sometimes blurred by those who urge that much time should be given before evil is punished and righteousness is upheld. The wise counsel which Artaxerxes wrote unto Ezra was as follows: “Whoever will not observe the law of your God and the law of the king, let judgment be executed speedily on him, whether it be death, or banishment, or confiscation of goods, or imprisonment” (Ezra 7:26).
We have seen the devastating effects of delayed punishment of unruly children who rebel against their parents’ rule. We have seen the disaster brought on our nation by the delay of judgment on evil in our judicial system. But the same thing can happen when great tolerance is practiced towards evil nations. The case of the unspeakable horrors carried out by Nazi Germany and Japan in World War II clearly demonstrate the point. Appeasement of evil may be characterized as “peace-loving,” but it does not change the fact that it really is just an excuse to tolerate evil. May God help our leaders to seek justice despite popular opposition.
Reigns in the Kingdoms of Men
As already noted, God grants the power to governments and He has the power to bring them to destruction. Daniel 4 is a great reminder that “the Most High rules in the kingdom of men, and gives it to whomever He chooses” (Dan. 4:32). We can take comfort that the power of God will assure His will is done.
Surely, every person who loves peace and good is prayerful that the evil actions which brought about this situation might soon be changed. We all hope that the “sword” is not necessary. If such is necessary, let us pray that this power God granted to the government is successful in restoring peace very soon. May God grant wisdom unto those who are in places of authority that righteousness and justice may lead their path. Let every child of God pray to that end during this time of deep turmoil in our world.
“True gentleness is strong and true strength is gentle.”
Created by Chuck Sibbing. 03/20/2003
The Spirit's Sword is a free, weekly publication
of the Mt. Baker church of Christ, Bellingham, WA