Sunday, February 27, 2011

According to the Koran, All Muslims Should Become Christians!

"We sent after them in their footsteps Jesus, son of Mary, verifying that which was before him of the Torah; and We gave him the Gospel containing guidance and light, and verifying that which was before it of the Torah, and a guidance and an admonition for the dutiful. And let the People of the Gospel judge by that which Allah has revealed in it. And whoever judges not by what Allah has revealed, those are the transgressors."
- The Koran, Sura 5, verses 46-47

We find something here in the Islamic Scriptures that I find very interesting. They teach that the Gospel, i.e., what Christians call the New Testament, was given to Jesus to provide guidance to His followers. And the final sentence clearly states that anyone who refuses to judge spiritual truth by the New Testament is a transgressor. There is no indication here of what has become a tradition among Muslims, that the Gospel has been corrupted.

They hold that Jesus was a great prophet. To my mind, that should indicate that what He said of Himself must therefore be taken as truth from God.

John 8:58, "Jesus said to them, 'Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.'" Here, Jesus claims for Himself the divine Name of God the Father, I Am, found in Exodus 3:14, i.e., the very Torah of Moses that the Koran claims was confirmed by Jesus in the Gospel.

John 10:30, "I and the Father are one." Jesus identifies Himself with God the Father, using again the words of Moses, from Deuteronomy 6:4.

John 14:7, "If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also. From now on you do know Him and have seen Him.” And 14:9, "Whoever has seen Me has seen the Father." Jesus claims that to know Him is to know the Father.

John 16:15, "All that the Father has is Mine." Here is a clear claim to divine omnipresence and omniscience, for they are logically necessary to identify all that is the Father's.

John 17:11, "Holy Father, keep them in Your name, which You have given me, that they may be one, even as We are one." In this portion of what is called His High Priestly Prayer, Jesus again claims a clear identification of Himself with His Heavenly Father.

John 20:28-29, "Thomas answered Him, 'My Lord and my God!' Jesus said to him, 'Have you believed because you have seen Me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.'" Here, in a post-resurrection meeting, the Apostle Thomas proclaims His recognition of Jesus as Lord and God! If it weren't so, shouldn't Prophet Jesus have protested against Thomas's declaration as idolatry? That is exactly the accusation that Muslims make against Christians. Apparently, Jesus is guilty of the same sin! But then the Muslim is trapped by his own logic, because a man cannot be a great prophet if he allows idolatry!

My point here is that the very beliefs of Islam, if followed consistently, must force the Muslim to become a Christian. And I will offer the Muslim one ever more-compelling reason, again in Jesus's own words, John 14:6, "
Jesus said to him, 'I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.'" Jesus declares that there is no way for access to God in heaven without His mediation. But He also gives this promise, John 6:37, "All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and whoever comes to Me I will never cast out." We have His promise to receive all who come to Him, that we may know without doubt that we have received eternal life. Is that an assurance that Islam can give you?

Sunday, February 20, 2011

"Signs and Wonders" for When? And by Whom?

I have posted before about my opinion of the "miracles" associated especially with the charismatic-pentecostal movement. My position is commonly referred to as "cessationism," i.e., the belief that the miraculous gifts of the Spirit were intended for the apostolic period only, and ceased with the passing of the Apostles. That is not to say that miracles cannot or do not still occur, but rather that they are no longer the norm.

My fellow reformed blogger Andy, himself a converted Pentecostal, has written on this issue much more competently than I can (see here and here), so I refer you to him for a detailed biblical case for cessationism. I wish here only to give some brief thoughts that arose during the sermon in church today.

The sermon was on Acts 2:42-47, and focused on the Lord's vision of the how the church should work. But, as it is wont to do, my mind was sidetracked at verse 43, the latter portion, "many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles." Who did the signs and wonders? Not the whole church, but specifically the Apostles! I was also reminded of Hebrews 2:3-4, "How shall we escape if we neglect such a great salvation? It was declared at first by the Lord, and it was attested to us by those who heard, while God also bore witness by signs and wonders and various miracles and by gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his will." Again, the miraculous gifts were given to verify the testimony of the Apostles!

I think that this explains why so much of Pentecostalism (by no means am I saying all) degenerates into a circus atmosphere and bizarre doctrine. They are focusing on the signs, instead of teaching what the signs gave testimony to!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

The Judgeship of Deborah and Male Headship

"As for My people, children are their oppressors, and women rule over them."        - Isaiah 3:12 ASV

In Judges, chapter 4, we have the story of Deborah, the only female judge of Israel. In verse 4, she is described as a prophetess and judge, so she is both the political and religious leader of Israel (though I assume there was still a high priest). Believing as I do that both of these offices are parts of God's calling for men, not women (I Timothy 2:12), I was pondering this evening what the significance is of her holding these offices.

Note further in Judges 4:7, where she has delivered God's commandment to Barak, the chief general of Israel, to go out to battle against the oppressors of Israel. His response in the next verse is telling: "If you will go with me, I will go, but if you will not go with me, I will not go." It is as if he said that he needs her to hold his hand, so he won't be afraid of the bogeyman. Deborah bluntly tells him in verse 9 that the glory for the victory will go to a woman. Even Sisera, the enemy general, turns out to be a wimp. Verse 20 reads, "And he said to her, 'Stand at the opening of the tent, and if any man comes and asks you, 'Is anyone here?' say, 'No.'" He sends a woman out to guard him as he sleeps!

I think that we have here a disparaging view of the spiritual condition of Israel. Her men had been so feminized and spiritually-castrated that there was no man for God to call into leadership (humanly-speaking; I certainly would never say that God cannot graciously raise a man above his natural ability). Do we not see that condition developing in our own country? I see more and more female preachers on TV. My home state has a female governor. Our federal secretary of state is a woman. The previous speaker of the US House was a woman. Will we soon see our own Deborah?