Thursday, April 14, 2016

Doctrine - Salvation according to Muhammad - Forgiveness and Salvation

This is a continuation of a multi-post article. You can read the first post here. You can also find the previous post here. This is also part of a larger series called "The Koran from a Christian perspective." You can find other posts in this series here.
Because of mankind's sins, God repeatedly sent warners and prophets to warn man of their sins. They came not to extend faith to mankind but to threaten them with the judgments of God.
"And We do not send the signs [a prophet with miracles], except to frighten [strike terror]." (Koran 17:61)
Muhammad knew only one form of being a prophet and that was to warn, threaten, and to tear down. While this was the ministry of much of the Jewish prophets, they also partook in comforting, encouraging, and building up. Consider the ministry of Jeremiah, not only did he come to warn but also to plant and to build up the people. "See, I have appointed you this day over the nations and over the kingdoms, to pluck up and to break down, to destroy and to overthrow, to build and to plant." (Jeremiah 1:10) We also know that the people were greatly helped by the prophets through their encouragement in difficult times. "Then Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel and Jeshua the son of Jozadak arose and began to rebuild the house of God which is in Jerusalem; and the prophets of God were with them supporting them." (Ezra 5:2) Similarly, we learn that the ministry of Christian prophets were to teach and to encourage. Paul encourages us that, "you can all prophesy one by one, so that all may learn and all may be exhorted." (1 Corinthians 14:31) It seems Muhammad knew only one side of God, the threatening and warning side, but he never came to know the loving, compassionate, merciful, and gracious side of God that loves us and desires the best for our lives. Muhammad's ministry was to warn people to avoid the wrath of God, not to call them back to the love of God.

Muhammad also, not only warned people of the coming wrath of God, but he himself identified with that wrath and taught that those who disobeyed him would also find the same wrath of God for themselves.
"When they are called [summoned] to God and His Messenger [Apostle] that he may judge between them" (Koran 24:47)
Muhammad claimed that he himself would, in the resurrection, be the one to judge the quick and the dead. However, the Christian scriptures have already assigned one to be the judge of the whole earth. Jesus said of Himself, "For not even the Father judges anyone, but He has given all judgment to the Son, so that all will honor the Son even as they honor the Father... For just as the Father has life in Himself, even so He gave to the Son also to have life in Himself; and He gave Him authority to execute judgment, because He is the Son of Man." (John 5:22-23, 26-27) In that day, it will not be Muhammad we stand before, but Jesus and even as Muhammad himself will stand before Him in that day.

Muhammad also claims that he is the salvation of mankind and that salvation is, and is revealed, through him.
"Blessed be He who has sent down the Salvation upon His servant, that he may be a warner to all beings" (Koran 25:1)
However, leaving aside the fact that he brought no signs or miracles to attest to what he had to say and that, while Jesus rose from the dead to prove His case, Muhammad is still dead and buried, Muhammad, by his own admission, brought us nothing new, just what we had already heard before. "Naught [nothing] is said to thee but what already was said to the Messengers [Apostles] before thee." (Koran 41:43) If Muhammad was only bring us what God had already sent down before, then how can he claim that salvation was sent down upon him? If he is to claim that salvation was sent down upon him then he must claim the same for all who came before him. However, the Christian scriptures tell us that there is one who has salvation, and that for the whole world. Peter testifies of Jesus, "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 4:12) This would emphatically exclude salvation in and/or through Muhammad.

Muhammad claims the power, along with God to forgive sins. However, he requires men to not only believe in the Koran, but also in himself.
"But those who believe and do righteous deeds [the things that are right] and believe in what is sent down to Muhammad -- and it is the truth from their Lord -- He will acquit them of their evil deeds [their sins He will cancel], and dispose their minds [hearts] aright." (Koran 47:2)
"O our people, answer [obey] God's summoner, and believe in Him, and He will forgive you some of your sins [your sins], and protect [rescue] you from a painful chastisement [afflicted punishment]." (Koran 46:30)
No other prophet before him has ever claimed the power and authority to forgive sins, save Jesus who was the Christ. When Jesus forgave the sin of a paralyzed man, the Jews rose up against Him for they knew that only God could forgive sins, yet Jesus defended Himself and proved His authority by forgiving and healing the man. "'But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins' — then He said to the paralytic, 'Get up, pick up your bed and go home.'" (Matthew 9:6) Jesus repeatedly, in His earthly ministry, forgave sins, something that the former prophets never did, not because He was a prophet but because He was the Christ, the Son of the living God.

Finally, the forgiveness that Muhammad's God offers us is not unconditional and limitless. God only forgives us for our past sins but our future sins are held in force for the day of judgment,
"God has pardoned what is past; but whoever offends again, God will take vengeance on him, God is All-mighty, Vengeful." (Koran 5:96)
It is unclear from whence God's forgiveness takes effect and from what date the "past" is counted from. How does God choose from what date He will forgive past sins and yet execute vengeance on future sin? The problem is that Muhammad only knew of the transactional forgiveness of sin, meaning, only those sins forgiven in the transaction are forgiven while all other sins remain in effect. However, Jesus came to forgive all our sins, past, present, and future. Jesus does not deal with sins in a transnational way but came to destroy sin within us. Jesus deals with the root of sin, not the symptoms of sin. John said that Jesus, "appeared in order to take away sins; and in Him there is no sin." (1 John 3:5) Not just to forgive sin, but to take away sin. Paul tells us that for those who are in Christ, Jesus had dealt a death blow to sin in their lives. "knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin; for he who has died is freed from sin." (Romans 6:6-7) The end result is that, though we may still sin after being freed from sin, there remains no judgment or condemnation for our sins after having received forgiveness and salvation in Christ. "Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death." (Romans 8:1-2) How much better than the mere forgiveness offered by Muhammad.

David Robison

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