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Theological Musings of a Former Muslim: 9

by Melissa Chang |

Islam

Recently, we ran the testimony of a former Muslim who turned to Christ. Now in a new series, we have decided to share the theological details of his conversion, quoting both the Qur’an and the Bible. We ourselves do not claim to be experts in either, but we do feel it could be of great value for others to see the scriptural issues and conclusions that “Sam” went through during this process.

Here is his discovery of…

THE COMING OF MUHAMMAD

Holy Spirit

Yet this question perplexed my mind: What about Muhammad whose coming, according to the Qur’an Jesus had prophesied?

And when Jesus son of Mary said: O Children of Israel! Lo! I am the messenger of Allah unto you, confirming that which was (revealed) before me in the Torah, and bringing good tidings of a messenger who cometh after me, whose name is the Praised One. Yet when He hath come unto them with clear proofs, they say: This is mere magic.” (Sura al-Saff 61:6)

The Arabic for “Praised One” is ahmad, which has the same root meaning as Muhammad . Does this passage not mean that Jesus prophesied the coming of Muhammad? That is what I had been taught and believed.

I examined the Bible to see what it says about Muhammad, but I could find nothing. I asked my professors the same question and they too said that there is nothing. But when I looked into a Muslim commentary on the Qur’an, it quoted several Bible passages in support of this understanding of Sura al-Saff 61:6. The main passage quoted was:

 “And I will pray the Father, and He shall give you another counselor, to be with you forever.” (John 14:16)

The Greek Word for Counselor is Parakletos. (Greek is the original language of the New Testament.) The commentator said that the original Greek word was periklutos, which means “Praised One”. Christians, he said, substituted parakletos for periklutos to remove the reference to the prophet Muhammad.

I did not know Greek, and since it was really difficult for me to give up faith in Muhammad, I felt really troubled. Muhammad still held a great place in my heart, and I found it hard to give up the belief in him as a prophet. I asked the Greek professor about these words. He replied that the word periklutos is not the Greek text of St. John. He then explained clearly the original Biblical word, parakletos, and how the promise of Jesus (John 14:16) was fulfilled by the coming of the Holy Spirit (Acts :1-11) who lives always with God’s people as their Comforter and Guide.

I placed the problem before God and asked Him to give me clear understanding. One night, after I had prayed and gone to bed, I could not sleep. I heard a voice or felt as though I had heard a voice. It said, “Get up and read!” I thought it was only my imagination. But I heard it again and again. I got up and opened my Bible. Several times I read the passage in John 14:15-17:

 “If you love me, you will obey what I command. I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Counselor to be with you for ever – the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept Him, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him. But you know Him, for He lives with you and will be in you.”

As I read these verses many questions came into my mind. Did you read in the Qur’an or Hadith, I asked myself, that Muhammad is the Spirit of truth who is always with you, a Counselor whom the world cannot see or know, or who lives inside you? Then I realized that these words do not contain any prophecy of a coming prophet and cannot possibly be applied to any human being. Moreover, I remembered the fulfillment of that prophecy in Acts 2:1-11, during the life of the first believers in Christ. Now I understood this great truth. The Counselor whom Jesus promised is the Holy Spirit, the eternal Spirit of the Living God, not the angel Jibra`il.

 Next:  FINAL CONCLUSIONS

To see the full series click here.

Photo by JDB1961

Theological Musings of a Former Muslim: 8

by Melissa Chang |

Islam, Muslim Contextualization

Recently, we ran the testimony of a former Muslim who turned to Christ. Now in a new series, we have decided to share the theological details of his conversion, quoting both the Qur’an and the Bible. We ourselves do not claim to be experts in either, but we do feel it could be of great value for others to see the scriptural issues and conclusions that “Sam” went through during this process.

Here is his discovery of…

THE DEATH AND RESURRECTION OF JESUS

bursting

No doubt, on the basis of Sura al-Nisa, Muslims have rejected the Biblical account of Jesus’ death, resurrection and ascension:

“And because of their saying: We slew the Messiah Jesus son of Mary, Allah’s messenger – They slew him not nor crucified, but it appeared so unto them; and lo! those who disagree concerning it are in doubt thereof; they have no knowledge thereof save pursuit of a conjecture; they slew him not for certain…” (Sura al-Nisa’ 4:157-159)

Elsewhere, of course, the Qur’an refers to the death of Jesus. But Muslim expositors offer conflicting opinions on some of these relevant verses. The following are significant passages, as translated by Pickthall:

 “Peace on me the day I was born, and the day I die, and the day I shall be raised alive!” (Sura Maryam 19:33)

 “(And remember) when Allah said: O Jesus! Lo! I am gathering thee and causing thee to ascend unto Me, and am cleansing thee of those who disbelieve and am setting those who follow thee above those who disbelieve until the Day of Resurrection. Then unto Me ye will (all) return, and I am judge between you as to that wherein ye used to differ.” (Sura Al Imran 3:55)

 “I spake unto them only that which Thou commandest me, (saying) Worship Allah, my Lord and your Lord. I was a witness of them while I dwelt among them, and when Thou tookest me Thou wast the Watcher over them. Thou art Witness over all things.” (Sura al Ma’ida 5:117)

But is Pickthall’s interpretation of mutawaffika (“I am gathering thee” Sura Al Imran 3:55) and tawaffaitani (“Thou tookest me” Sura al-Ma’ida) correct? Some respectable Muslim commentaries translate this verb “to cause to die”, indicating that the death of Jesus preceded His ascension into heaven.

In any event the Biblical accounts leave no room for various interpretations about the time, place and circumstances of Jesus’ death. He was crucified, He died, and He was buried. His crucifixion took place outside the walls of Jerusalem. It happened when Pilate was governor of Judea. These are facts of history. The Bible repeatedly refers to the death of Jesus in unambiguous language. Just as clear in the Bible is the connection of the death of Jesus with His resurrection from the dead and His ascension, as well as the purpose of these three great events.

Thus these and other passages of the Qur’an became clear to me in the light of my reflection on the New Testament portrayal of Christ. Not only did all these passages reveal the special relationship which Jesus had with God; surely they indicated also God’s special purpose in sending Jesus, His Word and Servant, into this sinful world. Once more I recalled the booklet, the heart of forgiveness to all sinners through Jesus alone, through His death on the cross and His resurrection from the dead. As I read the Bible more and more, it spoke to me and cleared my doubts, one by one.

 Next:  THE COMING OF MUHAMMAD

To see the full series click here.

Photo by jurvetson

Theological Musings of a Former Muslim: 7

by Melissa Chang |

Islam, Muslim Contextualization

Recently, we ran the testimony of a former Muslim who turned to Christ. Now in a new series, we have decided to share the theological details of his conversion, quoting both the Qur’an and the Bible. We ourselves do not claim to be experts in either, but we do feel it could be of great value for others to see the scriptural issues and conclusions that “Sam” went through during this process.

Here is his discovery of…

sunburstThe Term “Son of God”

 

Through further study I also began to understand how the Biblical significance of the term “son of God” differs from the Qur’anic understanding of “son of god.” The Qur’an denies that God begets, or is begotten, in a physical sense (Lam yalid wa lam yulad). Eventually, however, I accepted that Jesus could be called “the Son of God” (as the Bible explains this term) in a spiritual sense, in the same way that He is called God’s Word. Here again I was grateful to the Qur’an for serving as a bridge to a fuller comprehension of the Biblical significance of the term “Son of God” when uniquely applied to Jesus.

 Next:  THE DEATH AND RESURRECTION OF JESUS

To see the full series click here.

Photo by pellaea

Theological Musings of a Former Muslim: 6

by Melissa Chang |

Islam, Muslim Contextualization

Recently, we ran the testimony of a former Muslim who turned to Christ. Now in a new series, we have decided to share the theological details of his conversion, quoting both the Qur’an and the Bible. We ourselves do not claim to be experts in either, but we do feel it could be of great value for others to see the scriptural issues and conclusions that “Sam” went through during this process.

 Here is his discovery of…

The Sinlessness of Jesus in the Qur’an

water droplet

One of my chief doubts concerned the sinlessness of Jesus and His authority to forgive the sins of others. It was difficult to avoid the contrast between the sinlessness of Jesus and the Qur’anic records of the sins of the other prophets. Thus the Qur’an addressing Muhammad in particular says:

 “That God may forgive thee thy former and thy latter sins, and complete His blessing upon thee, and guide thee on a straight path.” (Sura al-Fath 48:2) (cf: Sura Ghafir 40:45; Sura Muhammad 47:19)

Since no laden soul can bear another’s burden (Sura al-Fatir 35:18) then how can he or anyone of these prophets bear another’s burden?

But the Qur’an quoting the angel Jibra’il, says of Mary’s son:

 “He said, I am only a messenger of thy Lord, that I may bestow on thee a faultless son.” (Sura Maryam 19:9)

This fact is supported by a Hadith which says: “each human baby is touched by Satan’s finger at birth, save Mariam and her son.”

The Gospel also clearly indicates the purity and sinlessness of Jesus. “Can any of you prove me guilty of Sin? If I am telling the truth, why don’t you believe me?” John 8:46) The Gospel further states that He takes away our sins:

“Everyone who sins breaks the law; in fact, sin is lawlessness. But you know that He (Jesus) appeared to take away our sins. And in Him is no sin.” (1 John 3:4,5)

Was it in order to bear the burdens of others that Jesus Himself was an unburdened soul? Though the Qur’an declares Jesus as pure, it really offers no clue to the purpose of God in bestowing upon Mary a faultless son.

Further the Qur’an attributes qualities to Jesus which it attributes to no other prophets or apostles. He is described as God’s Word and a spirit from God:

 “O People of the Scripture! Do not exaggerate in your religion, nor utter aught concerning Allah save the truth. The Messiah Jesus son of Mary, was only a messenger of Allah, and His Word , which He conveyed unto Mary, and a spirit from Him . So believe in Allah and His messenger and say not ‘Three’ – Cease (it is) better for you! – Allah is only one God…” (Sura al-Nisa’ 4:171)

Thus also the angel Jibra’il addresses Mary with the following words:

“…He said: So (it will be). Thy Lord saith: It is easy for Me. And (it will be that We may make of him a revelation for mankind and a mercy from Us, and it is a thing ordained.” (Sura Maryam 19:21 cf. Sura al-Anbiya’ 21:91)

Whatever else the Qur’an has stated about Jesus, it surely has established Him as a unique person: His relation to God as God’s Word and a spirit from God; His creative activities, His healings, His raising from the dead (Sura Al Imran 3:49); His ascension into heaven and His presence in heaven today.

 Next:  THE SON OF GOD

To see the full series click here.

Photo by byrne7214

Are You Ready to get Radical?

by Melissa Chang |

Missions Books, Should I Go?

radical by david plattI was tooling around on Twitter and came across a huge buzz about a new book from a young preacher named David Platt. The first thing I came across was a short but extremely powerful video promoting the book. Instantly I was hooked and intrigued. I ended up not only ordering the book, but downloading the free first chapter and reading it in about 30 minutes. I couldn’t put it down. It was so full of intense, honest, and heart wrenching truths about following Jesus, missions, and how some of us have become just too comfortable.

Personally, I had never heard of David Platt before, so started looking online to find more about him. During my research I found videos of sermons he has delivered, and now I am even MORE intrigued. This man is speaking truth, he is speaking of missions, and he is speaking of the radical call of Jesus. He also mentions how he believe that we have placed a Christian spin on the American dream and are no longer worshiping the radical Jesus of the Gospel. He says that we have redefined the teachings of Christ to be more comfortable and less radical then Jesus really is calling us to be.

The chapter I read was excellent and thought provoking – hopefully it will be life changing. I placed my order and can’t wait for it to arrive. You can check out your copyof the book, Radicalhere.

And if you have a moment, check out these videos. You won’t regret it.

Radical promo video

David Platt discusses Radical

Excerpt of David Platt sermon at the SBC Conference 09

Have you read it yet? What did you think?

Theological Musings of a Former Muslim: 5

by Melissa Chang |

Islam, Muslim Contextualization

Recently, we ran the testimony of a former Muslim who turned to Christ. Now in a new series, we have decided to share the theological details of his conversion, quoting both the Qur’an and the Bible. We ourselves do not claim to be experts in either, but we do feel it could be of great value for others to see the scriptural issues and conclusions that “Sam” went through during this process.

 Here is his discovery of…

THE CLAIMS OF JESUS

puff Again the old tension arose in my heart as I read the Gospel in secret. On essential points it clearly differed from my own Islamic beliefs. How puzzling for a Muslim and yet how thought-provoking were the following words of Jesus!

“I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” John 14:6

“Now this is eternal life: that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom You have sent.” John 17:3

 “Yet to all who received Him, to all those who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God.” John 1:12

 “If anyone loves Me, he will obey My teaching. My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make our home with him.” John 14:23

I had no one who could explain the meaning of these verses to me. Yet I continued to ask God for guidance. He explained me through His spirit.

Next week:  THE SINLESSNESS OF JESUS IN THE QUR’AN

To see the full series click here.

Photo by aussiegall

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