Muslims believe Jesus is the Messiah – Clash with John 14:6.

I received the following comment on a blog post:

Did you know that Muslims believe Jesus is the Messiah? Where does that fit into John 14:6?

 

Someone else responded to that by saying:

See you can’t speak for all Muslims. Some do believe Jesus is the Messiah, others believe he was just a prophet who died, etc. What does the word Messiah mean to Muslims?

 

I think that was a pretty good response.  Ask the guy for more clarity.  Do all Muslims believe Jesus was the Messiah?  They likely refer to him as the Christ, but do they know that Christ means Messiah, and if they do know this, what exactly does the word Messiah mean to Muslims?  Do they have Messianic expectations that are the same as the Jews?  Do they understand Jesus’ role as the Messiah in the same way as Christians?

The original commenter responded saying:

It’s part of their doctrine. Mainstream Muslims say to not believe Jesus sits even now at the right hand of God and will come again is not to be Muslim. They believe Jesus was born of the virgin Mary. Look it up. It’s in the fundamentals of Islamic doctrin

 

This reply doesn’t exactly address the meaning of Messiah and doesn’t show that Muslims believe everything Christians believe about John 14:6 and the personhood of the God-Man, Jesus Christ.  Here’s the comment I left after this string of comments:

I know that you are right that Muslims believe that Jesus was born of a virgin named Mary.

I also know that they don’t believe he died. That is clearly stated in the Qur’an. If he did not die, then the doctrine of his atoning sacrifice for the sins of mankind is not within Islam, which means that Muslims reject the prophesies of Isaiah 53. Muslims believe that each man must pay for his own sin, that they cannot stick their sins to someone else. This means Christians have quite a different understanding of who Jesus is and what he did for mankind than Muslims do.
The following page shows the verses from the Qur’an that support that Jesus was born of a virgin, did not have an earthly Father just as Adam, and did not die:http://www.islam-guide.com/ch3-10.htm.

 

Help me out, please. Where do you find that Muslims believe that Jesus is sitting at the right hand of the Father and that he is the Messiah. Also show me what Muslims believe concerning the Messiah. I know that Christians recognize that Messiah means “anointed one” and that prophets, priests, and kings were anointed in ancient Israel. Christians believe that Jesus as the Messiah fulfills all three offices in such a way that no other person possibly can because Jesus is fully God and fully man (another Doctrine that Muslims reject).

 

Any feedback or additional thoughts or answers to the questions I left in my post on this topic would be appreciated.

 

 

One Nation Under God #1

One nation under God.  Which God?  I’ve heard a lot of people make the argument that a majority of the founding fathers were deists and not Christians.  I however was taught that America was founded as a Christian nation.  Here are some quotes from some very influential founding fathers:

From John Hancock – Signer of the Declaration of Independence:

Principally and first of all, I give and recommend my soul into the hands of God that gave it; and my body I recommend to the earth… nothing doubting but at the general resurrection I shall receive the same again by the mercy and power of God.

 

The doctrine of a general resurrection would have come from a Biblical, Christian worldview for Mr. Hancock.

Patrick Henry – Governor of Virgina:

It cannot be emphasized too clearly and too often that this nation was founded, not by religionists, but by Christians; not on religion, but on the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Wow!  Partrick Henry claims that America was founded on the gospel of Jesus Christ!  That isn’t generic deism by any stretch of the imagination.  If Patrick Henry was wrong in this statement, other early prominent American leaders would have corrected him.  Do we have any such corrections?

English: Peter F. Rothermel's "Patrick He...
English: Peter F. Rothermel’s “Patrick Henry Before the Virginia House of Burgesses”, a painting of Patrick Henry’s “If this be treason, make the most of it!” speech against the Stamp Act of 1765

Benjamin Rush – Signer of the Declaration of Independence:

My only hope of salvation is the infinite, transcendent love of God manifested to the world by death of His Son upon the cross.  Nothing but His blood will wash away my sins.  I rely exclusively upon it.  Come, Lord Jesus!  Come quickly!

 

Benjamin Rush, Painting
Benjamin Rush, Painting (Photo credit: Marion Doss)

Benjamin Rush definitely wasn’t Jewish or Islamic, or simply believing that there was some unknown Creator directing the course of history from afar without any direct revelation of himself to mankind.

John Adams – Second President:

The general principles upon which the Fathers achieved independence were the general principles of Christianity… I will avow that I believed and now believe that those general principles of Christianity are as eternal and immutable as the existence and attributes of God.

 

John Hancock and John Adams:

We recognize no sovereign but God, and no King but Jesus!

 

All quotes were pulled from In God We Still Trust by Dr. Richard G. Lee.

 

Key Points of Chapter 20 of Without a Doubt Part 1

I apologize for any spacing, numbering, and alignment errors that occurred from copying from Word into WordPress for this blog post, but here is the first part of an outline of Kenneth Samples’ book, Without a Doubt:

Key Points from Chapter 7 Part 1: Historical Reliability of The Gospels

The Christian faith depends on the historical nature and accuracy of the unique claims, character, and credentials of Jesus Christ! – Page 91

Read 1 Corinthians 15:12-18. Christianity hinges on the resurrection of Christ.

Support for the Historical Reliability of the Gospels

  1. 1.       The New Testament documents are the best attested documents of antiquity in terms of total number of manuscripts. 

 

  • Check out this website: http://www.leaderu.com/orgs/probe/docs/bib-docu.html
  • 5,000 individual Greek Manuscripts
  • 8,000 copies of the Latin vulgate
  • Without these there are still thousands of manuscripts from commentaries and sermons that can be used to piece together the entire New Testament and these are from the early church fathers in the second to fifth centuries. – Page 92
  • Textual criticism exists because of the Bible.

 

  1. 2.       The interval of time between the date of the original authorship and the date of the earliest New Testament manuscript copies is extremely short.
  2. 3.       The historic statements made about Jesus by ancient non-Christian authors for the most part matches well with the Gospel record.
  • He was a provocative teacher, a wise and virtuous man from the region of Judea.
  • He reportedly performed miracles and made prophetic claims.
  • The Jewish leaders condemned him for acts of sorcery and apostasy.
  • He was crucified by Pontius Pilate at the time of the Jewish Passover, and during the reign of the Emperor Tiberius.
  • Jesus’ followers reported that he had risen from the dead.
  • The Christian faith spread to Rome were the Christians were persecuted and tried for crimes.
  • First-century Christians worshiped Jesus Christ as God and celebrated the Eucharist in their services.
  • Even though these Romans ridiculed the Christians as being morally weak, they were often times known for their courage and virtue.
  1. 4.       The authors of the four Gospels were eyewitnesses of Jesus’ life themselves, or were closely associated with the eyewitnesses. 

John 19:1-4
1 John 1:1-2
Luke 1:1-4
Galatians 1:11-12
2 Peter 1:16

  1. 5.       The Gospel writers intended to convey factual and historical information and the writings of their historical content have been confirmed to a significant degree.
  2. 6.       The apostles’ testimony becomes more credible when it is considered that they had nothing to gain from it and everything to lose. 
  • They received no monetary reward or power from their message.
  • They received only beatings, imprisonment, and death.
  • Adversaries could have exposed their message as a lie, but they couldn’t.
  • We can trust their message because they had no motif to lie or deceive.
  • If they did lie and deceive they violated everything Jesus taught about honesty and truth.

Did the Resurrection Really Happen?

Did the Resurrection Really Happen?

Non-believers are probably used to Christians who respond in aggressive offense or angry defense when the legitimacy of the truths of the Bible and the Christian faith are questioned.   Judgment and hypocrisy might be all too familiar to them also.  I bet they haven’t experienced too many Christians who have openly revealed the vital point of the Christian faith with the encouragement for an open investigation.  How would a non-believer respond to such open honesty?  Would the invitation for investigation begin?  If it doesn’t, the person probably isn’t legitimately seeking truth , but such an encounter with a Christian who says, “here’s the heart of Christianity laid bare, if it’s not true, Christianity is dead; take your best stab against it!” might just be the proper field-work to gloss over some of the many Christian offenses the person has previously endured and prepare the way for a future, fertile encounter with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

It’s important to remember that the end goal in this process isn’t just adding more adherents to the Christian religion.  The endeavor of sharing and defending the Christian faith is to spread the good news revealed in the Bible that God in the person of Jesus Christ has defeated death bringing what is the only way of salvation for mankind.  To defend Christian faith isn’t an intellectual sparring match in which the victor comes away saying, “There I proved that person wrong, even if they won’t admit it!”  This task instead is taken out of faith that the condemnation that comes from sin and the life in Jesus Christ revealed in the Scriptures is real.  Therefore sharing the Christian faith must be carried out in humility and timidity, showing love for the hearers of the Bible’s message, taking the time to patiently and kindly explain what sound evidence and reason there is to trust Jesus.  The hope isn’t for intellectual superiority, it is in prayer that through the proclaimed Gospel, Hell will lose a soul and the Kingdom of God will gain a saint.

The Vital Teaching of Christianity -that if it is not True Means Death to the Faith!

The Apostle Paul shows the jugular of the Christian faith in his first letter to the Corinthians:

1 Corinthians 15:13-19: If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. 14 And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. 15 More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that he raised Christ from the dead. But he did not raise him if in fact the dead are not raised. 16 For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either. 17 And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. 18 Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. 19 If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied.

Since Christ and his work is the center of Scripture, and the faith stands or falls on Christ’s death and resurrection, this aspect of the Christian faith should always be stressed when sharing the faith or answering the difficult questions presented against Scripture.

For example, someone recently started to ask me questions about believing everything in the Bible to be true, such as Noah building an ark to carry all the animals on earth or if someone could  really survive in the belly of a big fish for three days.  I said yes I believe these to be possible, and I said that fitting two of every kind of animal on one big boat could be explained and that it wouldn’t necessarily have to be supernatural to do so, but that none of those questions are the questions I would ask if I was going to test the truth-claims of the Christian faith.  I shared that I would always start with Jesus since he’s the center piece of the Christian faith, and that if there is good evidence that he did in fact rise from the grave, then I can trust Jesus’ claim to be divine and the acceptance of God would then make all the other questions readily explainable, since a God who can raise from death and create all things, surely could fill a boat with animals and have a fish prepared to transport a prophet.

What is the evidence for the resurrection?

There are three key strands of evidence which point to the resurrection.

  1. The Empty Tomb
  2. The Eyewitnesses of the Resurrected Jesus
  3. The Transformation of the Apostles

The first strand of evidence is the empty tomb.  Jesus was crucified and buried and on Sunday morning, the tomb was empty.  The tomb was guarded, which would have made stealing the body highly unlikely.  The apostles had no reason to steal the body and in fact the male disciples were hiding in fear of being crucified too.  If the tomb was truly not empty, the Jewish Pharisees and Sadducees, and even the Romans, would have profited from producing body of Jesus Christ, but none of these groups did this when they certainly had the power and resources to find the body.  To disprove the resurrection, all a person would need to do is produce the bones of Christ.  No one has done so, even the people living at the time of the resurrection who could have easily produced this evidence.

Additional support for the resurrection is the eyewitness accounts of the resurrected Christ.  It’s important to note that no one witnessed the resurrection, since the guards were asleep, but that plenty of people witnessed the resurrected Christ on numerous occasions, walking, talking, cooking, eating, and drinking.  At one event he appeared to over five hundred people at once.

Building onto the eyewitness accounts is the transformation of the apostles.  At the time of Jesus’ death, the disciples are seen to have scattered in fear.  Peter tried to follow of Christ, but then denied him three times before the rooster crowed.  There are signs that they misunderstood Jesus’ role as the Messiah.  They thought he came to overthrow the Romans and setup the New Jerusalem.  With his death, their dreams were crushed; they were defeated.  What would have brought these scared, defeated men to become bold witnesses in the face of persecution of a proclamation that Christ rose from the dead?  Seeing the resurrected Christ in the flesh is what made this transformation possible.  They lived with such certainty that Christ rose from the dead and that they too would one day rise from the dead, that all of the apostles except one died a martyrs death.  Tradition states that Peter went so far as to say that he was not worthy to die in the manner of his Lord and asked to be crucified upside down.

Looking at the evidence of the empty tomb, the record of eyewitness accounts, and the transformation of the apostles all point to a resurrected Christ as being a very probable scenario to fit the evidence.

Could the empty tomb be the wrong tomb?

Some might claim that the tomb wasn’t empty, that everyone was looking at the wrong tomb.  This cannot be the case.  The Gospel accounts clearly tell who buried Christ: Joseph of Aramathea, a member of the Sanhedrin, and  Nicodemus, a Pharisee.  The Sanhedrin had a membership of only seventy leaders which would have made it easy to find Joseph, especially since it is given that he is from Aramathea.  Anyone who wanted to investigate the tomb in which he was buried and the manner in which he was buried could have went to Aramathea and found Joseph.  Likewise, Nicodemus was a Pharisee, a leader in the Jewish community, and could have been found easily for questioning too.  On top of telling us who buried Jesus, one Gospel account clearly states the exact location of Christ’s burial.  The correct tomb could have easily been found if the women and the disciples had the wrong tomb.  In light of this evidence we can trust that they had the correct tomb and that it was in fact empty.

What about grave robbers?

Jesus was crucified as being the King of the Jews.  Could people have robbed his tomb expecting him to be buried with riches?  No, it’s highly unlikely. The only item of value in the tomb, the burial shroud, was left behind.  Grave robbers would have no value in possessing a dead body.  Overcoming the guards would be unlikely as well, especially with nothing of value to gain.

Could the disciples have stolen the body and thus created a hoax of the resurrection?    The disciples were not expecting the Messiah to die, even though Jesus told them multiple times that he would.  The Jews as a whole had an understanding of a warring Messiah who would overthrow Rome and set up peace on earth.  Stealing the body of Christ doesn’t fit with the understanding of the Jewish Messiah.

In addition to this, the disciples would not have preached the resurrection of Christ to their death if they were the ones that stole the body.  They would not have died for a lie.  Some people might point out that Islamic suicide bombers die for a lie, but the difference is that the lie did not originate with the suicide bombers.  In the case of the disciples, if they had created a hoax by stealing the body of Christ, they would have known that they were dying for a lie.  In fact, nothing in their lives indicated that it would be false because they were not gaining earthly fame or money; they were despised, hated, and killed.

Jesus never died!

This is called the swoon theory.  The theory states that Christ did not die on the cross.  He was fainted and appeared to be dead.  The problem with this theory is that we know that Christ was crucified, even from sources outside of the Bible.  Crucifixion at the hands of the Romans was not a survivable ordeal.  Jesus was flogged before his crucifixion, and this alone killed some people due to the loss of blood.  Christ has nails driven through his wrists and feet, more blood loss, and the nails in the wrists would have crushed the median nerve which would feel similar to having the “funny bone” nerve  crushed.  The word excruciating comes from this event, meaning from the cross.  Death by crucifixion came from suffocation.  A Roman soldier stabbed Christ in the heart before taking him off the cross.  Why?  If Romans soldiers failed in their tasks of execution, the penalty for them would have been execution.  The Romans did not fail to properly carry out executions.  Jesus was certainly dead!

Even if Christ somehow made it off the cross alive, how would he have been able to remove the stone after his afflicted wounds at the hands of the Romans and having gone without water and food in the tomb?  Even if Christ somehow was able to remove the stone and overcome the guards, what physical state would he have been in when he revealed himself to the disciples?  He still would have been on the verge of death and likely to die at any moment.  This wouldn’t be the resurrection appearance the disciples would have needed to be transformed into the courageous witnesses they became.

This view also doesn’t account for the ascension.  If Christ did survive the crucifixion, did manage to roll away the stone, what happened to him after forty days from the resurrection if he did not ascend to heaven?  Where did he eventually die?  How could such a prominent figure disappear?  Clearly, this natural explanation for the empty tomb doesn’t seem probable and doesn’t match the evidence.

They must have been tripping!

I recently had this natural explanation given to me in an apologetic discussion.  I mentioned that when people hallucinate, they don’t generally see the same hallucination.  From his previous hallucinogenic drug experiences, he agreed with this point.  He also agreed that different people in different locations over a period of time don’t see the same hallucination.  This goes against what is historically depicted by the eyewitnesses in the Gospel accounts, in which he was seen by various people, multiple times, in different locations.  He was not only seen but touched and people interacted with him in conversation and everyone from these encounters came away with accounts that weren’t contradictory.  These encounters with the resurrected Jesus don’t match the description of a hallucinogenic experience amongst people.

In addition to these details, hallucinations are derived from ideas and images which already exist in a person’s mind.  This is crucial to the matter at hand, because the disciples had no comprehension of a dying Messiah that would come back to life.  Nothing in their consciousness or their unconsciousness would have led to a hallucination of a resurrected Christ, much less amongst so many people.

Conclusion

The empty tomb, the eyewitnesses of the resurrected Jesus, and the transformation of the Gospels are best explained by the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ.  In addition to these strands of evidence for the resurrection, external sources by Jewish and Roman historians complement, instead of contradict, the Gospel accounts of Christ’s life, death, and resurrection.

 

Why would a loving God send people to Hell?

Why would an all-loving God send people to hell?

Validation:

I think it’s important to validate someone’s question before jumping right into answering it.

This is a difficult question for us to comprehend.  We can’t imagine allowing our worst enemies to suffer eternally, much less subjecting them to such inescapable torment.  I think that this question and the problem of evil are the two most common rejections of Christianity offered in our day and age.  I think they are the root of our other objections too.

Answer:

Option 1 – Hell is God’s Monument to Human Freedom Answer – It’s clear in Scripture that God does not desire for anyone to perish forever, but for everyone to come to repentance and salvation.  Again God does not desire for any of us to suffer perpetual death!  Hell is God giving individuals what they both desire and deserve, eternal separation from him.  John 3:19-20 says, “This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil.  Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed.”  The Light is Jesus Christ and men love darkness instead of light.  Those who reject Christ do not want to know God and have a relationship with him.  In hell, God is giving them the desire of their hearts, to be forever separated from his grace, riches, and provision, forever awake and dying in the darkness of eternity.

Option 2 – Hell Wasn’t Intended for Humans Answer – We must remember that God doesn’t desire for humans to suffer in hell for eternity.  Hell wasn’t intended for humans, but rather the demons.  In Matthew 25:41 Jesus states that hell was “prepared for the devil and his angels.”  But because of man’s own wickedness, we too deserve hell.  The people who are destined to hell do not want anything that is of God in this life.  What is to say that they all of a sudden will flip a switch in heaven?  Heaven is a place of perfection for it is the place that God’s glory dwells.  Nothing evil can exist in his presence.  If people don’t want to be washed clean and to be forgiven by the work of Jesus Christ, God is left without a choice but to cast them out of his presence.

Option 3 – Who Are We? Answer – Based on our human understanding of love and hate, crime and punishment, we reject the notion that a loving God could possibly punish someone for eternity for matters that we feel are trivial. This is arrogance on our part.  As God reminded Job, “Who has a claim against me that I must pay?  Everything under heaven belongs to me” (Job 41:11).  Have we not stopped to consider that God’s ways are not our ways, and that in fact his ways are greater and better than ours?  Is it not possible, that in this situation, hell is the only possible consequence for sin that a good, loving, and just God can deliver?

Option 4 – Share the Gospel Answer – Read “Back to the Gospel” within this question.

Scripture:

2 Peter 3:8-9 – “But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day.  The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.”

1 Timothy 2:1-6 – “I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone— for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all men—the testimony given in its proper time.

Isaiah 55:9 – “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”

2 Corinthians 5:21 – “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”

Back to the Gospel:

Whenever answering an objection to the Christianity, the goal should always be to turn the conversation back to the Gospel, for it is the power of salvation for all who believe.  (Romans 1:16)

The terrors of hell are real and we act as if a loving God who chooses to send people there must not exist.  We have no grounds upon which to make this accusation, because God himself has suffered the penalty of hell in the person of Jesus Christ.  What greater love is there than for God to give his only, eternally, begotten Son to die as a substitute for us, who though he was sinless bore our sin and took the penalty of our guilt upon himself?  We can’t claim that God is not loving for sentencing people to hell, when God allowed his own, innocent Son to suffer hell, so we don’t have to!  God didn’t have to send his Son to die for us, but he did, out of love for the world.