THE WRITER OF HEBREWS GIVES US AN AMAZING PORTRAIT OF JESUS CHRIST
1 Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, 2 but in these last days, he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. 3 He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, (Hebrews 1:1-3 ESV)
There are five major religions in the world: Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, and Buddhism, with Islam being the second-largest religion and Christianity being the largest. Islam is growing rapidly throughout the world. As we are daily confronted in the news with the religion of Islam, it is vital that Christians have a basic understanding of the differences between Christianity and Islam. Christians, of course, must love Muslims, pray for them, befriend them, be gracious to them, and respect their beliefs. Although Muslims are free to worship Allah in the United States, Christians are not given the freedom to worship Jesus Christ in most Islamic countries. Our focus centers on the Person of Jesus Christ. The writer of Hebrews gives us the foundation for our faith by focusing on our Founder.
God has consistently spoken in a number of ways throughout history. However, God was silent for 400 years as a way to cure Israel of idolatry. But then, God spoke. He broke the silence through the Person of Jesus Christ. Jesus was God’s once-and-for-all Word to the world. All of the worlds belong to Jesus. He created everything that exists. Jesus is our picture of God because Jesus is God. Jesus is what God looks like, acts like, and sounds like. Jesus reveals God the Father. Jesus sustains the world, and He is moving it toward God’s plans, which no one can stop. Once Jesus had paid the price for our sin on the cross and after His resurrection, He ascended back to the Father and is now seated at His right hand, the place of supreme honor, exaltation, and authority. The writer of Hebrews said that Jesus sat down. When the priest offered sacrifices for the sins of the people, he stood up because he would have to repeat this continually. But Christ sat down as a way to say that what He did at the cross and the resurrection was the final, fatal blow to sin, death, and hell.
I. Who is Jesus?
Jesus is not three gods; He is only One God—God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. He is personal, all-powerful, everywhere at once at all times, and knows everything in the past, present, and future. You can know Him and experience Him. He is God in the flesh. Jesus is caring and compassionate. Through repentance and faith in Jesus alone for salvation, He saves you and accepts you; and you know that immediately. Jesus is involved in our lives, and He intervenes through answered prayer.
Jesus has the power to forgive sins, heal and perform miracles. He had the power to raise the dead. He had power over Satan and the demons. Jesus is the Creator and Sustainer of the world. He was sinless. Jesus taught us to forgive those who have wronged us and to love our enemies.
In Islam, God’s name is Allah. He is remote and personally unknowable. You won’t know if you have pleased Him until the judgment day to find out whether or not he accepted your prayers. You are a slave of Allah. He is not presented as a Father or a loving God. Mohammed taught that he had no power to forgive sins. There is no record of Mohammed casting out demons. The Koran denies that Mohammed gave signs (miracles, healings). Mohammed denied that Jesus was God, but that He was a prophet. He taught his followers to show favor and kindness to fellow Muslims and to punish those who don’t become believers. Jihad is declared.
Truth: God and Allah cannot be the same. Jesus and Mohammed had opposing teachings.
II. The Bible
The Bible is the inspired Word of God, our only authority for belief and behavior. God’s written Word is found between Genesis and Revelation. Jesus said that God’s Word is truth (John 17:17). Josh McDowell reminds us that the Bible was: “Written over a 1,500-year span; over 40 generations; written by over 40 authors from every walk of life; written in different places; written at different times; written on three continents—Asia, Africa, and Europe; written in three languages—Hebrew, the language of the Old Testament, Aramaic, and Greek, the language of the New Testament. Biblical authors spoke on hundreds of controversial subjects with harmony and continuity from Genesis to Revelation. The Bible has been read by more people and published in more languages than any other book (Evidence that Demands a Verdict).
Consider the Quran (Koran) as Allah’s word to man as given to the prophet Mohammed. Mohammed taught that the Koran supersedes the Bible. It corrects the “mistakes” of the Bible. The Koran was written by one man—Mohammed. It was supposedly given to him by the Angel Gabriel. It was revealed over a period of 23 years and written in Arabic.
Truth: You can’t accept both the Bible and the Koran as equally the Word of God.
Jesus died on the cross for the sin of the world. He was born of a virgin, lived a perfect life; therefore, He was qualified to be the sacrifice for our sins. He had no sin nature. His mother was Mary, but His Father was God. Jesus was God’s substitute. The cross is the center of history, the center of God’s plan to save man. This is where the presence, power, and penalty of sin were conquered. Jesus became sin for us—past, present, and future. When you come to Him in faith and repentance, God’s judgment for your sin has already been made.
According to Islam, Jesus was not crucified. He did not die on the cross for the sin of the world. Islam teaches that someone was substituted for Jesus on the cross. Jesus supposedly hid until He could meet with His disciples. There was no addressing of sin by Jesus on the cross.
Truth: Either Jesus died for the sin of the world or He didn’t.
Salvation is a free gift from God called grace. You can’t earn it or work for it. Your good outweighing your bad isn’t even considered. God gives salvation solely and only because of what Jesus did on the cross. You become a child of God. God loved us even when we were still without Him in sin.
In Islam, each person must take care of his own sins. You must earn salvation by following the Five Pillars: confession of faith, prayer, almsgiving, the fast, and a pilgrimage to Mecca at least once in his lifetime.
Truth: Either salvation is a gift from God that you could never earn or deserve, or salvation is something that is gained, worked for, earned through good works.
Christianity teaches that through prayer you can communicate with God your feelings, thoughts, needs, thanksgiving, and praise. Prayer is not a ritual of repeating words or phrases. You look up, not east. Prayer is from the heart. You seek God; you listen for God’s voice, and you get to know Him. You pray because you love Him, not because you are punished if you don’t. Prayer to God can be at any time day or night, not at a specified time each day.
In Islam prayer is a ritual comprised of saying the correct words, having your body in the right position facing east, toward Mecca. Failure to pray in the right way brings Allah’s punishment.
Truth: You either pray out of the relationship with God or pray out of fear that He will punish you.
In Christianity, Jesus elevated women to the highest place of esteem and honor. He treated women the same as He treated men. He gave them dignity and a sense of worth. A woman was never viewed as a slave or piece of property and was respected equally with men. Divorce is only allowed in the case of adultery or sexual sin, abandonment, or abuse.
Islam does not have the same respect for women as Christianity. Mohammed had 13 wives including a child bride, Aisha, who was the six-year-old daughter of one of his most loyal followers. The Koran teaches that it takes the witness of two women to equal the witness of one man suggesting women are inferior to men. He claimed the reason as the deficiency of the woman’s mind. A man could divorce his wife for many reasons and by saying three times, “I divorce you.” Mohammed described women negatively. Women are viewed in Islam as the property of men.
Jesus said, “I am the Resurrection.” He told the world that when He died He would be raised in three days. He died, was placed in a grave, and His heart started beating once again. Followers visit His grave, but there is no one there. It is unoccupied (Luke 24:1-6).
Mohammed remains in the grave, buried in Medina. Visitors come to his grave to pay their homage.
Obviously, when you compare Christianity with Islam, and Jesus with Mohammed, there is a stark difference that cannot be ignored. I think about the title of an old hymn, “Hallelujah, What A Savior!”
Wingman Nation brothers, it is important that you teach your family not only what you believe based on the Bible, but why you believe it. Show your family the difference between Christianity and Islam.