Ephesians 2:4-2:9 “But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: That in the ages to come he might show the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus. For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.”
People have long talked about the idea that "all religions are basically saying the same thing." This morning we want to examine that idea a little more closely when it comes to Christians and Muslims. Muslims mention Jesus and claim to revere him, so we ask the question, "Do Muslims believe in Jesus?"
In order to answer that question, we're going to be looking this morning at some of the key differences between Muslim and Christian belief. I realize that nine points are a lot for a sermon and, to be honest, I wanted to cut it down some, but each of these ideas is so basic and so important that we really need to try to cover them all.
Nine Fundamental Differences In Muslim and Christian Beliefs:
1. CHRISTIAN: The Bible is God's Word.
MUSLIM: The Quran is God's Word.
- We as Christians believe that the Bible - Old and New Testament - is our authoritative Word for God.
- Muslims believe that the Torah of Moses, the Psalms of David, and the Gospel of Jesus (while being on their list of holy books) have been corrupted by Christians and Jews to the point where they are not fully reliable. The Quran is God's most recent and final work - it supercedes all others.
2. CHRISTIAN: Jesus is the Son of God.
MUSLIM: Jesus is one of the prophets.
- Christian belief is plainly stated in John 10:30 - Jesus said, "I and the Father are one."
- Conversely, Muslims believe that Jesus is a prophet like Ezekiel or Daniel, but not as important a prophet as Muhammad.
- In fact, the very idea that God had a son is repugnant to Muslims. The Quran states in Surah 4:17 - "Jesus. . . was only a messenger of Allah. . . Far is it removed from His transcendent majesty that He should have a son." For Muslims, being a son is a pampered and privileged position, not a role associated with being a servant or enduring a cross.
3. CHRISTIAN: Jesus died on the cross.
MUSLIM: Jesus did not die on the cross.
- V. 5 of our passage this morning alludes ("dead in trespasses. . .alive together with Christ") to the essential Christian belief that Jesus died on the cross. In fact, that's about as essential as you can get when you're talking Christian beliefs.
- Muslims believe, however, that Jesus was condemned to die on the cross, but was not crucified. The Quran states in Surah 4:155 - "they did not slay him, neither crucified him, only a likeness of that was shown to them." Many Muslims believe that Judas was crucified in Jesus' place and that Jesus went straight to heaven. The Muslim view is that if He died, He failed.
4. CHRISTIAN: God is the source of good.
MUSLIM: Allah is the source of good and evil.
- Muslims believe that Allah is the source of good and evil and that his will is supreme. Allah is capricious - whatever he does is right simply because he did it, no matter what the ethics of it. Therefore, there is a strong sense of fatalism and predestination - Allah is absolute will and we are all just puppets.
- The Quran states in Surah 37:94 - "All other things are passive. Allah alone is active."
- One can easily see where the idea that there are no ethical boundaries within which God will remain could quickly lead down a path toward justifying the actions we saw on September 11.
5. CHRISTIAN: God is love.
MUSLIM: Love is not used to describe Allah.
- V. 4 of our passage clearly shares the love of God.
- Allah's supreme attribute is justice, not love. Actually, love is almost never used to describe Allah in the Quran.
6. CHRISTIAN: God is our Father.
MUSLIM: It is blasphemous to call Allah "Father."
- In the Lord's Prayer, Jesus invited us to pray with the affectionate title "Father."
- For Muslims, the underlying issue is that Allah is unknowable. You cannot really know him; the best you can hope for is to identify his actions.
- Allah is not affected by our actions or attitudes. Conversely, the Bible teaches that our Father created us specifically for a relationship.
7. CHRISTIAN: Humans are inherently sinful.
MUSLIM: There is no original sin.
- V. 1 of Ephesians 2 explains our situation when it comes to sin.
- Muslims believe that Adam and Eve sinned, but they repented and were restored. They believe that no permanent consequences came from their actions. Therefore, because no one is lost, there is no need for a Savior.
8. CHRISTIAN: Salvation comes by grace.
MUSLIM: Salvation comes by works.
- Verses 8-9 of our passage are about as clear as you can get on how someone is saved.
- Muslims, on the other hand, pursue heaven by following the five pillars of Islam: a. the Creed (Kalima) - "There is no God but Allah, and Muhammad is the Prophet of Allah." You state this publicly in order to become a Muslim and it is repeated regularly by believers. b. Prayer (Salat) - You must pray five times a day (upon rising, at noon, in the middle of the afternoon, after sunset, and before going to sleep) in Arabic while facing
Mecca. c. Almsgiving (Zakat) - All Muslims are to give one-fortieth of their income for the poor. d. Fasting (Ramadan) - You are to eat no food from sunup to sundown during the holy month of Ramadan. e. the Pilgrimage (Hajj) - A Muslim is expected to make a pilgrimage to Mecca at least once in their life.
- By faithfully living out the five pillars, Muslims work toward heaven.
9. CHRISTIAN: Religious violence violates Jesus' teaching.
MUSLIM: Religious violence fulfills Muhammad's teaching.
- Some Muslims teach that the sixth pillar of Islam is Jihad - Holy War against unbelievers.
- The Quran is clear on the place of religious violence: Surah 9:5 - "Fight and slay the pagans whenever ye find them." Surah 9:29 - "Fight those who believe not in God nor the Last Day."
- Chuck Colson has commented, "The truth is bin Laden and his followers did not hijack Islam; they simply took it seriously."
- I hope I've demonstrated this morning that even though many folks will say, "All religions teach the same things," that actually couldn't be further from the truth. What Muslims and Christians believe is not basically the same with one degree of separation. What Muslims and Christians believe are diametrically opposed to each other.