Which god provides salvation for us?

Which god provides salvation for us?  Different people have different “gods” or deities.  Even those who claim to have no “god” have one – maybe they view themselves as “the deity” of their own world.  From there, we should recognize that outside of people who believe this life is “all there is” – we want something from our deity.  One of those things most of us want from our “god” is “salvation” – we want that “god” to save us from something.

life buoy to illustrate Which god provides salvation for us?

Which god provides salvation for us?

Maybe we want to be saved from trouble in this life, or from trouble in the next of a series of lives.  Many want to be saved from “Hell” (or whatever term their religion uses) and end up in “Heaven” / “Paradise” (or whatever term their religion uses).  Given the title of this site – Which God Saves – that’s what we’re going to look at here.

We should probably start with some definitions since words like God and salvation can come with some misunderstandings / preconceptions / heavy baggage.  You hopefully noticed that I’ve tended to put those words in quotes – as in “god” or “salvation”.  That’s to try to make them generic in nature.  As we move along, we’ll start to use specific names to relate to specific religions – thereby removing ambiguity.

Who or what is “God”?

Let’s start off with something from a secular dictionary –

God – noun

(in Christianity and other monotheistic religions) the creator and ruler of the universe; the supreme being.

(god) a superhuman being or spirit worshipped as having power over nature or human fortunes; a deity.
an image of a god; an idol.

(god) a greatly admired or influential person.  [1]Soanes, C., & Stevenson, A. (Eds.). (2004). Concise Oxford English dictionary (11th ed.)..

I’d like to point out that it’s the dictionary that capitalizes the entry “God”, and also shows anything other than a monotheistic God as being lower case.  That means this is a cultural norm, not something I’ve done.

BTW, they give this definition of the word monotheistic Relating to or characterized by the belief that there is only one God.  We see the importance of that definition shortly.  There are different beliefs about whether Christians (and Jews) believe in one God or multiple gods.  We’ll also see that this belief comes out of a basic misunderstanding on the part of Islam.

Monotheism – One God

Before we proceed, I need to put something in here about monotheism, so we’re all on the same page.

Monotheism. Belief that there is only one God. It is distinguished from polytheism, which posits the existence of more than one god; from henotheism, which worships one god without denying the existence of other gods; from atheism, which denies the existence of any god. The three great monotheistic religions of the world are, in their historic order, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.  [2]Elwell, W. A., & Beitzel, B. J. (1988). Monotheism. In Baker encyclopedia of the Bible (Vol. 2, p. 1484).

Note 1: If you happen to look this up, you may see an alternate term for Islam.  That term is no longer in general use and is offensive to many (all?) Muslims.  Since it’s not a word that exists within the Qur’an, I have chosen to leave it out.

Note 2:  The statement of Christianity as monotheistic, because they believe in one God, is specifically mentioned in the Qur’an as being untrue.  One such instance is from Surah #4, titled An-Nisā’ (Women) –

(171) O FOLLOWERS of the Gospel! Do not overstep the bounds [of truth] in your religious beliefs, and do not say of God anything but the truth. The Christ Jesus, son of Mary, was but God’s Apostle – [the fulfillment of] His promise which He had conveyed unto Mary – and a soul created by Him. Believe, then, in God and His apostles, and do not say, “[God is] a trinity.” Desist [from this assertion] for your own good. God is but One God; utterly remote is He, in His glory, from having a son: unto Him belongs all that is in the heavens and all that is on earth; and none is as worthy of trust as God.  [3]Asad, Muhammad. The Message of the Qur’an (Kindle Locations 2673-2679). The Book Foundation. Kindle Edition.

This is way beyond the scope of this article, and therefore will be addressed in other articles.  Having said that, I need to point out that both the Hebrew and Christian scriptures make it very clear that the God of the Bible is one God.

However, even American Christians don’t know / believe / understand that.  A recent survey showed:

A majority of Americans (70 percent) believe there is one true God in three persons—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Eighteen percent disagree. Twelve percent are not sure. This has remained consistent since researchers began asking the question in 2014.  

Given that more than 70% of Americans also claim to be Christian, that means even some Christians don’t understand the Trinity.  Of course, we can’t actually understand how it works – but it’s a basic teaching of Christianity.  Therefore, to believe something other than the concept of the Trinity indicates a foundational understanding that’s just not right.  For a much deeper look at this, please see my write-up on the current American view of the character of God in Messed Up American Theology: Who Is God?

The word Trinity itself is interesting.  Check this out:

Trinity. “The word trinity is derived from Latin and Greek terms meaning three in one, or the one which is three, and the three which are one.… The word is not found in the Scriptures. Technical terms are, however, absolutely necessary in all sciences. In this case they have been made particularly essential because of the subtle perversions of the simple, untechnical Biblical statements by infidels and heretics. The term, as above defined, admirably expresses the central fact of the great doctrine of the one essence eternally subsisting as three Persons, all the elements of which are explicitly taught in the Scriptures” (A. A. Hodge, Outlines of Theology).  [4]Cairns, A. (2002). In Dictionary of Theological Terms (pp. 494–495). Belfast; Greenville, SC: Ambassador Emerald International.

So we see two things.  First, the word Trinity comes from people.  God described Himself, and we – people – attached the word Trinity to that description.  What may be getting lost is the essential concept that God says He is three-in-one.  Some people grab hold of the three – and lose the one.  And yet, it’s the one that means the God of the Bible is One God.  For a great deal more on that line of thought, please see Is Islam right about Christians believing in three “gods”? Monotheism vs. Polytheism.

I believe that the ultimate authority for any religion should be its own holy books / scripture – not a claim by another religion.  After that, it’s up to each of us to determine which one we believe is correct – as a matter of faith.  We can and should first look at how a religion describes itself.  Then we can see whether or not that set of beliefs appears to be realistic.

Given that though, it’s interesting that from the start, Islam continuously compares and contrasts itself with Judaism and Christianity.  As such, it requires a Jew or Christian to abandon their own beliefs in order to accommodate Islamic teaching.  In fact, that’s been a basic problem for Islam from its very beginning.

Continuing with the word God, and moving to a Bible Dictionary, we see –

GOD The supreme being and Creator of the universe. Known by the personal name Yahweh.

This is, of course, from Jewish Scripture and is part of what’s known as the Old Testament in Christian Scripture.  Yahweh is one of more than 60 names by which God is known is the Old and New Testaments.  As with the persons of the Trinity, this is no indication that the God of the Bible is actually 60+ different Gods.

The New Testament sees God as Father, the Son Jesus Christ, and Holy Spirit.

Even here, many of those 60+ names referenced above are in the New Testament.  An interesting prophecy in the Old Testament Book of Isaiah actually shows that the Messiah will be known by several names.

Isa 9:6 For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given,
and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

It’s important to note that this prophecy of the birth of Jesus says that He will be called, among other names, Everlasting Father and Wonderful Counselor.  Those two names are also how we know God the Father and the Holy Spirit, respectively.  Yet another indication that the Trinity really is one God.

Introduction
Virtually all civilizations participate in recognizing and seeking to please or placate one or more divine beings. Israel acknowledged the existence of several gods, though they proclaimed Yahweh as the only God they should worship. The life, cross, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus transformed the way believers in Jesus spoke of God. Christians applied language normally reserved for Yahweh to Jesus the Son and to the Holy Spirit.  [5]Butler, T. C. (2016). God. In J. D. Barry, D. Bomar, D. R. Brown, R. Klippenstein, D. Mangum, C. Sinclair Wolcott, … W. Widder (Eds.), The Lexham Bible Dictionary. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

Actually, it’s not just the Israelites who acknowledged the existence of other gods.  You may recognize this:

The Ten Commandments

20:1-17 pp — Dt 5:6-21

Ex 20:1 And God spoke all these words:

Ex 20:2 “I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.

Ex 20:3 “You shall have no other gods before me.

Ex 20:4 “You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. 5 You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, 6 but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments.

Ex 20:7 “You shall not misuse the name of the LORD your God, for the LORD will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name.

You shall have no other gods before me clearly tells the Israelites where His place is among the many “gods”.

The thought continues with You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below.

Whether these other gods and idols are real or man-made is up for question.  It just doesn’t say.  There’s also the case of Satan, who wants to be greater than God, but of course, cannot be.  Not to mention the fact that ever since the fall, people also wanted to be like God.  Along those lines, here are just two examples of how those verses are viewed.

20:3. The phrase before me has been the subject of no small debate. Some suggest it means “in addition to Me,” as the preposition is used this way in Genesis 31:50 and Deuteronomy 19:9. Others take before to indicate “in preference to Me.” The preposition is translated “in hostility toward” in Genesis 16:12. Thus the first commandment teaches that no deity, real or imagined, is to rival the one true God, who is the only One who matters. It demands an exclusive covenant relationship with Yahweh (cf. Ps. 81:9, 10).

Notice – real or imagined.  That includes gods that people of other nations worship.

20:4. The prohibition of any graven image forbids, among other things, the making of any likeness of what is in the heavens above. Obviously this would include images of Yahweh. Archaeologists have observed that a figure of Yahweh has yet to be found in debris of an Israelite town. This would also seem to substantiate the antiquity of the second commandment, since such images of other gods are frequently found at later periods.  [6]King James Version study Bible. (1997). (electronic ed., Ex 20:3–4). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

the making of any likeness of what is in the heavens above includes even the golden calf that Aaron made while these very commands were being given to Moses by God.

Ultimately, we see that the God of the Bible places Himself above anything and everyone else.  As the Creator of everything, that’s where He belongs.

 

We also need to look at Islam, whose name for God is Allah –

Allah /ˈalə, əlˈlɑː/

Noun –  the name of God among Muslims (and Arab Christians).
—ORIGIN from Arabic ʾallāh, contraction of al-’ilāh ‘the god’.  [7]Soanes, C., & Stevenson, A. (Eds.). (2004). Concise Oxford English dictionary (11th ed.).

We’ve already looked at some of the issues between Allah of Islam and the God of Jewish and Christian Scriptures.  All three claim to be descended from Abraham.  But even that claim from Islam is based on ignoring several events in the Old Testament.  One is that Isaac was born of Abraham and Sarah – while Ishmael was born of Abram (before God changed his name) and Hagar.  Another is that God made His covenant promise for Isaac, not Ishmael.  For a more detailed look at the claims of Abraham as the father of these three religions, please see What religion was Abraham?.

So, we see a variety of names for these three monotheistic religions, with a crossover of names to varying degrees.  In the interest of keeping things concise, we will use the following designations, in historic order –

  1. Judaism – Yahweh (which is one of several names used)

  2. Christianity – God

  3. Islam – Allah (although some English translations of the Qur’an use “God”, presumably to make it easier for us, both Arabic and many English translations use Allah)

Salvation

Now that we’ve looked at Jewish, Christian and Muslim religions and their corresponding Deity, let’s move on to Salvation.

salvation word cloudAs we saw at the top. being saved can mean many things.  The word cloud to the right has many synonyms for salvation and save.  Even more words could apply.  However, since this is about God and being saved, we’re going to limit this discussion to some sort of salvation that allows us to go from this present life to a pleasant experience in the next life – an eternal life, not another instance of life here on earth (reincarnation), as some believe is the case.

I exclude all of the others with a simple statement.  Regardless of which of the three religions we’ve looked at you consider, all look to their God as the way to salvation.  That is, with the exception of some Jewish sects that don’t believe in resurrection.  Any other god that one might worship does not even try to promise such a salvation.

Therefore, we’ll once again look at the same three religions – Judaism, Christianity and Islam.

 From a Biblical point of view, looking at both the Old and New Testaments, we see –

Salvation. One of the central messages of the Bible. Scripture reveals God but it also reveals his plan for the human race, that of salvation. In that sense, salvation is the theme of both the OT and NT. Because of the progressive nature of revelation man sees different aspects of God’s plan, but the kernel truth of salvation is present throughout the writings of the Bible. God is a God of salvation desiring that all humankind repent and be saved (Ez 18:32; 1 Tm 2:3, 4).  [8]Elwell, W. A., & Beitzel, B. J. (1988). Salvation. In Baker encyclopedia of the Bible (Vol. 2, p. 1884). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House.

As such, we expect to see a more complete view of salvation in the New Testament – since by then, more had been revealed to us by Yahweh / God.  Let’s see if that plays out.

Salvation – Old Testament

In the OT. The concept of salvation is represented by various terms and situations in both Testaments. Among several Hebrew words which mean “deliver” or “save,” the Hebrew verb yāsha‘ and derivatives are most frequently translated by English versions as “save” or “salvation.” Frequency in the English Bible depends upon the version considered. For example, in the OT “salvation” is found in the NIV 80 times, RSV 90 times, NASB 111 times, and KJV 119 times. Salvation is not used as a technical term in the OT and is predicated of both individuals and God. Leaders like Samson (Jgs 13:5) or David (2 Sm 8:6) are used of the Lord to bring deliverance to God’s people.

Israel’s concept of salvation was rooted in the historical experience of the exodus. This momentous occasion was an opportunity to witness “the salvation of the Lord” (Ex 14:13) firsthand. Poets (Ps 106:8) and prophets (Is 43:3; Hos 13:4) later reiterated God’s salvation when recalling the exodus experience. Israel’s understanding of salvation was worked out in historical instances like Sennacherib’s attack on Jerusalem in 701 BC, when the Lord declared that he would save the city for his name’s sake (2 Kgs 19:34; cf. 18:30, 35). Israel’s opportunity to see God’s salvation through various leaders and situations corroborated this understanding of God as the God of salvation.

Israel understood salvation to be God’s work—they saw his deliverance, cried unto the Lord for help, trusted him for it, and praised him in response. The song of salvation in Isaiah 12:2, taken from the exodus experience (Ex 15:2) and echoed in the psalms (Ps 118:14), is a beautiful example of that expression: “The Lord, the Lord, is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation” (NIV).  [9]Elwell, W. A., & Beitzel, B. J. (1988). Salvation. In Baker encyclopedia of the Bible (Vol. 2, p. 1884). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House.

Of course, this comes from a Christian point of view.  I include it, so we can see the difference spoken of in the first excerpt from this source.  In order to validate what was said, let’s also look it the word salvation from a Jewish point of view.

The great catastrophe in Israel’s history was the Exile. The prophetic doctrine concerning the remnant and the restoration readily transformed expressions for “victory” and “help” into technical terms. “Salvation” now connoted the survival (= victory) of the remnant, the return of the “saved” from exile; and God, in this new sense of the preserver of the remnant and the restorer of the new Israel, was recognized and proclaimed as the “savior” (Isa. xliii. 11; xlv. 15, 21; Zech. viii. 7). The prediction of Hosea (xiii. 4) was illustrated in the events that had come to pass, as was the assurance given by another prophet (Jer. xxx. 10, 11). In the happenings of the day Israel had learned that the Holy of Israel was the savior (Isa. xliii. 3, xlix. 26, lx. 16). Babylon had none to save her (ib. xlvii. 15).

In the Psalms “salvation,” by a similar train of thought, expresses the triumph of the “poor” and of the “meek” (Ps. xii. 6). God is the “rock of salvation”; contrary to fickle man, He will not deceive (ib. lxii. 3, 7, Hebr.). By God’s salvation the poor are lifted up (ib. lxix. 30). This salvation will be proclaimed from day to day (ib. xcvi. 2; comp. xcviii. 2). God is a stronghold of salvation for His anointed (ib. xxviii. 8). Under the scepter of the “anointed king” or Messiah this salvation (restoration), with all it implies of happiness, joy, security, splendor of Israel, and universal peace, would be realized. With God’s judgment (which also is God’s victory [], for a trial is always a combat) God’s salvation approaches; and finally salvation is established in Zion for Israel, God’s splendor (Isa. xlvi. 13). In this sense, then, the Messiah is a savior; his kingdom, one of salvation.  [10]JewishEncyclopdia.com

We see here at least some of the reasons why not all Jewish people believe in a resurrection.  BTW, if you aren’t aware of it, here’s an exchange between Jesus and the Sadducees.

Mt 22:23 That same day the Sadducees, who say there is no resurrection, came to him with a question. 24 “Teacher,” they said, “Moses told us that if a man dies without having children, his brother must marry the widow and have children for him. 25 Now there were seven brothers among us. The first one married and died, and since he had no children, he left his wife to his brother. 26 The same thing happened to the second and third brother, right on down to the seventh. 27 Finally, the woman died. 28 Now then, at the resurrection, whose wife will she be of the seven, since all of them were married to her?”

Mt 22:29 Jesus replied, “You are in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God. 30 At the resurrection people will neither marry nor be given in marriage; they will be like the angels in heaven. 31 But about the resurrection of the dead—have you not read what God said to you, 32 ‘I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? He is not the God of the dead but of the living.”

That was Jesus correcting the improper belief that salvation was about this life only – and that there was no “next-life”.  Unfortunately, until a Jewish person accepts Jesus as the Messiah, they won’t accept His teaching about resurrection either.  It’s not that the Old Testament didn’t have prophecies of resurrection.  It does, for example the Valley of Dry Bones in Ezekiel 37.  However, those prophecies weren’t recognized by all of the Jewish people, so different sects of Judaism had different beliefs.

Salvation – New Testament

In the Gospels “salvation” is clearly connected with the OT concept of salvation and applied to the coming of Christ in Zechariah’s prophecy (Lk 1:69, 71; cf. Ps 106:10; 132:17) and Simeon’s hymn of praise (Lk 2:30). While sōtēria does not occur frequently in the Gospels, the concept of salvation is implied in Jesus’ statement about entrance into the kingdom of God (Mt 19:24–26) and his miracles of healing (Lk 17:19; 18:42).  [11]Elwell, W. A., & Beitzel, B. J. (1988). Salvation. In Baker encyclopedia of the Bible (Vol. 2, p. 1885). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House.

While what the author says about that one word, sōtēria, not occurring very often is true, it also seems misleading.  Here’s why I say that.  The root word from which salvation comes is sozo.  Here’s what it means:

4982 ἐκσῴζω, σῴζω [sozo /sode·zo/] v. From a primary sos (contraction for obsolete saoz, “safe”); TDNT 7:965; TDNTA 1132; GK 1751 and 5392; 110 occurrences; AV translates as “save” 93 times, “make whole” nine times, “heal” three times, “be whole” twice, and translated miscellaneously three times. 1 to save, keep safe and sound, to rescue from danger or destruction. 1A one (from injury or peril). 1A1 to save a suffering one (from perishing), i.e. one suffering from disease, to make well, heal, restore to health. 1B1 to preserve one who is in danger of destruction, to save or rescue. 1B to save in the technical biblical sense. 1B1 negatively. 1B1A to deliver from the penalties of the Messianic judgment. 1B1B to save from the evils which obstruct the reception of the Messianic deliverance.  [12]Strong, J. (1995). Enhanced Strong’s Lexicon. Woodside Bible Fellowship.

Notice the differences between the 1A and 1B meanings.  1A is about the current life.  It’s about being physically healed.  But look how many times the word gets translated as “save”.  That’s the 1B definition.  And if we pay attention to the context of New Testament scenarios where this word is used, regardless of how it’s translated, we see something most interesting.  The problem, of course, is that unless we take the time to look up the Greek words, we won’t know when sōtēria, or a word that comes from it, is actually used.  More on the importance of that follows shortly.

Anyway, If “healing” related to salvation sounds familiar to you, it’s for good reason.

A Blind Beggar Receives His Sight

18:35-43 pp — Mt 20:29-34; Mk 10:46-52

Lk 18:35 As Jesus approached Jericho, a blind man was sitting by the roadside begging. 36 When he heard the crowd going by, he asked what was happening. 37 They told him, “Jesus of Nazareth is passing by.”

Lk 18:38 He called out, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”

Lk 18:39 Those who led the way rebuked him and told him to be quiet, but he shouted all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!”

This blind beggar knew enough about Jesus to realize something that others around him may not have thought about.  Twice, he called out to Jesus as the Son of David.  Here’s just one example from prophecy where Jesus, the Messiah, was said to be from the house of David.  Jewish tradition would then make Jesus a son of David.  So we see that this blind beggar knew Jesus was Messiah.

Lk 18:40 Jesus stopped and ordered the man to be brought to him. When he came near, Jesus asked him, 41 “What do you want me to do for you?”
“Lord, I want to see,” he replied.

The beggar says he wants to see.  We need to remember though, Jesus spoke of those who have ears to hear and eyes to see.  He didn’t mean physically hear and see.  Jesus was talking about hearing and seeing spiritual truths, like the fact that He was the Son of God.  Or, in terms of Messianic prophecy, the Son of David.  Whether or not that’s the case here will be revealed by Jesus’ response to the man’s request.

Lk 18:42 Jesus said to him, “Receive your sight; your faith has healed you.” 43 Immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus, praising God. When all the people saw it, they also praised God.

There are four things to pay special attention here for this topic.

        • Receive your sight.  That could be physical or spiritual.  We see the answer in the next point.  Worth noting here though is that Jesus used the same word in Receive your sight as the blind man did in I want to see.  And yes – I mean to say that both English phrases are actually translated from a single Greek word.

308 ἀναβλέπω [anablepo /an·ab·lep·o/] v. From 303 and 991; GK 329; 26 occurrences; AV translates as “receive sight” 15 times, “look up” nine times, “look” once, and “see” once. 1 to look up. 2 to recover (lost) sight.  [13]Strong, J. (1995). Enhanced Strong’s Lexicon. Woodside Bible Fellowship.

Was the man talking about physical sight – or something lost because of the fall?  Or maybe both?  As I said, the answer is next.

        • your faith has healed you.  After repeating back the man’s request, saying it was granted, Jesus tells the man that his faith has healed him.  But what exactly did “healed” mean in this instance?  It’s the sozo kind of healing.  You know – the root word for sōtēria – salvation.

Why?  How does a request for restoration of lost sight come out as salvation?  Well, part of it is because of what we looked at earlier.  The blind man knew Jesus was the Messiah.  He knew that Jesus could both heal and provide salvation, because that’s what Jewish prophecy said.  While the Jewish leader failed to see that, this man knew.

        • The other part comes from something Jesus already knew, being omniscient, that we find out in verse 43.  Immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus, praising God.  Now, after the healing, we get confirmation of something Jesus already knew.  The blind man knew that Jesus was the Son of God – as we noticed already when he called Jesus the Son of David.  Also take note of the fact that this man praised God for what Jesus did.

        • While not directly on topic, I want to point out one more thing.  When all the people saw it, they also praised God.  By making his request so obvious to the people around him, and by noticeably praising God, this blind man accomplished something Jesus spoke about earlier in His ministry.

The Parable of the Sower

8:4-15 pp — Mt 13:2-23; Mk 4:1-20

Lk 8:1 After this, Jesus traveled about from one town and village to another, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom of God. The Twelve were with him, 2 and also some women who had been cured of evil spirits and diseases: Mary (called Magdalene) from whom seven demons had come out; 3 Joanna the wife of Cuza, the manager of Herod’s household; Susanna; and many others. These women were helping to support them out of their own means.

Lk 8:4 While a large crowd was gathering and people were coming to Jesus from town after town, he told this parable: 5 “A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path; it was trampled on, and the birds of the air ate it up. 6 Some fell on rock, and when it came up, the plants withered because they had no moisture. 7 Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up with it and choked the plants. 8 Still other seed fell on good soil. It came up and yielded a crop, a hundred times more than was sown.”
When he said this, he called out, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”

Lk 8:9 His disciples asked him what this parable meant. 10 He said, “The knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of God has been given to you, but to others I speak in parables, so that,
“ ‘though seeing, they may not see;
though hearing, they may not understand.’

Lk 8:11 “This is the meaning of the parable: The seed is the word of God. 12 Those along the path are the ones who hear, and then the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts, so that they may not believe and be saved. 13 Those on the rock are the ones who receive the word with joy when they hear it, but they have no root. They believe for a while, but in the time of testing they fall away. 14 The seed that fell among thorns stands for those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by life’s worries, riches and pleasures, and they do not mature. 15 But the seed on good soil stands for those with a noble and good heart, who hear the word, retain it, and by persevering produce a crop.”

Do you see it?  The blind man planted a seed.  In fact, a whole bunch of seeds.  When all the people saw it, they also praised God.  We don’t know how many people, but given the description of the scene, it wasn’t a small number.  Now, often-times when the Bible says “all” it actually means a lot – but not necessarily all.  We do the same thing when we describe things today.  It’s not unusual.

The point is, this man planted a lot of seeds.  The message to us then is this: when God does something for us, silence isn’t a good response.  Yes, God did whatever that thing was for us.  But remember, we should always give credit and praise to God.

Salvation – New Testament – take 2

Now, let’s contrast the passage on the blind beggar with the passage below.  It seems irrelevant / unrelated.  Until we realize the Greek words underlying the English translation.

Ten Healed of Leprosy

Lk 17:11 Now on his way to Jerusalem, Jesus traveled along the border between Samaria and Galilee. 12 As he was going into a village, ten men who had leprosy met him. They stood at a distance 13 and called out in a loud voice, “Jesus, Master, have pity on us!”

Lk 17:14 When he saw them, he said, “Go, show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went, they were cleansed.

Lk 17:15 One of them, when he saw he was healed, came back, praising God in a loud voice. 16 He threw himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him—and he was a Samaritan.

Lk 17:17 Jesus asked, “Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine? 18 Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?” 19 Then he said to him, “Rise and go; your faith has made you well.”

Once again, let’s look at some key words.

Cleansed – sounds like healed, doesn’t it?  But it’s not!

2511 καθαρίζω, καθερίζω [katharizo /kath·ar·id·zo/] v. From 2513; TDNT 3:413; TDNTA 381; GK 2751 and 2760; 30 occurrences; AV translates as “cleanse” 16 times, “make clean” five times, “be clean” three times, “purge” three times, and “purify” three times. 1 to make clean, cleanse. 1A from physical stains and dirt. 1A1 utensils, food. 1A2 a leper, to cleanse by curing. 1A3 to remove by cleansing. 1B in a moral sense. 1B1 to free from defilement of sin and from faults. 1B2 to purify from wickedness. 1B3 to free from guilt of sin, to purify. 1B4 to consecrate by cleansing or purifying. 1B5 to consecrate, dedicate. 2 to pronounce clean in a levitical sense.  [14]Strong, J. (1995). Enhanced Strong’s Lexicon. Woodside Bible Fellowship.

The word in that last passage with the same Greek word underlying it is, believe it or not, “made“.  Is that unreal or what?  No wonder we can’t make some of these connections.  Who would ever think something like healed could be the root word for salvation?  And even if we knew that, who wouldn’t think cleansed was related to healed?  And then it’s even harder to think that made is the same as healed and means salvation for the person whose faith made them well.  And, BTW, there’s no Greek word corresponding to the English word “well“.

Confused?  Let’s take a different approach.  We get a truer picture from Young’s Literal Translation, but it’s not exactly easy to read:

Lk 17:11 And it came to pass, in his going on to Jerusalem, that he passed through the midst of Samaria and Galilee, 12 and he entering into a certain village, there met him ten leprous men, who stood afar off, 13 and they lifted up the voice, saying, ‘Jesus, master, deal kindly with us;’

Lk 17:14 and having seen them, he said to them, ‘Having gone on, shew yourselves to the priests;’ and it came to pass, in their going, they were cleansed,

Lk 17:15 and one of them having seen that he was healed did turn back, with a loud voice glorifying God, 16 and he fell upon his face at his feet, giving thanks to him, and he was a Samaritan.

Lk 17:17 And Jesus answering said, ‘Were not the ten cleansed, and the nine—where? 18 There were not found who did turn back to give glory to God, except this alien;’ 19 and he said to him, ‘Having risen, be going on, thy faith hath saved thee.’  [15]Young, R. (1997). Young’s Literal Translation (Lk 17:11–19). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

Did that help?  Or is it still as clear as mud?

Let’s try combining them.   Take my word for it – it’s worth the time and effort.

1. What did these ten men ask for?  “Jesus, Master, have pity on us!” in the NIV.  ‘Jesus, master, deal kindly with us;’ in Young’s Literal.   Have pity – and deal kindly.  But how does that relate to Son of David – and I want to see – from the blind beggar?

First of all, they called out to Jesus by name, and with a word translated as “master”.  Please note, the interpreters capitalized Master because they knew it was directed at Jesus.  However, there’s so such designation as “Master” to differentiate it from “master” in the original Greek.  Here’s the underlying word.

1988 ἐπιστάτης [epistates /ep·is·tat·ace/] n m. From 1909 and a presumed derivative of 2476; TDNT 2:622; TDNTA 248; GK 2181; Seven occurrences; AV translates as “Master” seven times. 1 any sort of superintendent or overseer.  [16]Strong, J. (1995). Enhanced Strong’s Lexicon. Woodside Bible Fellowship.

That’s a far cry from calling out to Messiah – Son of David.

And then there’s the have pity / deal kindly request.  The Greek word here is:

1653 ἐλεέω, ἐλεάω [eleeo /el·eh·eh·o/] v. From 1656; TDNT 2:477; TDNTA 222; GK 1796 and 1790; 31 occurrences; AV translates as “have mercy on” 14 times, “obtain mercy” eight times, “show mercy” twice, “have compassion” once, “have compassion on” once, “have pity on” once, “have mercy” once, “have mercy upon” once, and “receive mercy” once. 1 to have mercy on. 2 to help one afflicted or seeking aid. 3 to help the afflicted, to bring help to the wretched. 4 to experience mercy. Additional Information: For synonyms see entry 3628, oikturmos.See entry 5842 for comparison of synonyms.  [17]Strong, J. (1995). Enhanced Strong’s Lexicon. Woodside Bible Fellowship.

Remember, the blind beggar asked to be able to see – to recover something they lost.  It could have been either physical sight or salvation.  We learned it was salvation, and he actually got both physical sight and salvation, because of his faith.

But in this case, it’s not salvation.  It’s about pity.  Really, it’s about physical healing only.  Nothing to do with salvation.  Like a number of other instances, these guys were there for the show.  The excitement of the crowd.  Maybe some free food.  And / or the miracles – in this case, physical healing.

2.  What did these ten men receive?  Go, show yourselves to the priests.  They were healed.  But remember how the blind beggar starting praising God, without any prompting?  In this case, it appears Jesus knew that wasn’t going to happen with these guys.  So he tells them to show themselves to the priests.  Yes, that was part of the Jewish procedure for someone who had an infectious skin disease such as leprosy:

Lev 13:1 The LORD said to Moses and Aaron, 2 “When anyone has a swelling or a rash or a bright spot on his skin that may become an infectious skin disease, he must be brought to Aaron the priest or to one of his sons who is a priest. 3 The priest is to examine the sore on his skin, and if the hair in the sore has turned white and the sore appears to be more than skin deep, it is an infectious skin disease. When the priest examines him, he shall pronounce him ceremonially unclean. 4 If the spot on his skin is white but does not appear to be more than skin deep and the hair in it has not turned white, the priest is to put the infected person in isolation for seven days. 5 On the seventh day the priest is to examine him, and if he sees that the sore is unchanged and has not spread in the skin, he is to keep him in isolation another seven days. 6 On the seventh day the priest is to examine him again, and if the sore has faded and has not spread in the skin, the priest shall pronounce him clean; it is only a rash. The man must wash his clothes, and he will be clean. 7 But if the rash does spread in his skin after he has shown himself to the priest to be pronounced clean, he must appear before the priest again. 8 The priest is to examine him, and if the rash has spread in the skin, he shall pronounce him unclean; it is an infectious disease.

However, and this is important, it’s also a chance to give glory to God.  Not only that, but to give God the glory face to face with the Jewish leaders who opposed Jesus.  It’s not surprising that Jesus would have to prompt this action – giving God the glory – given that the men only asked for physical healing and didn’t seem to recognize or accept Jesus as Messiah – the source of salvation.

3.  Only 1 out of 10 give the glory to God.  one of them having seen that he was healed did turn back, with a loud voice glorifying God, 16 and he fell upon his face at his feet, giving thanks to him, and he was a Samaritan.  Not only that, but it was a Samaritan.  Someone who was half Jewish (at most) by blood.  The Jews and Samaritans hated each other, with a passion.  Although none of the ten seemed to recognize Jesus as Messiah – one did after being healed.  Ten percent.  That’s not a high number.  Not by any stretch of the imagination.  And even that one had to be prompted to even go through the Jewish procedure for being declared clean.  And that one – at best half-Jewish.

4.  Was anyone saved?  faith has made you wellthy faith hath saved thee.  The first is NIV – the second Young’s.  This is where it gets even more difficult to tell what happened with a lot of English translations.

faith has made you well – that sounds like the kind of thing some people say today about healing requiring lots of faith.  You know – someone wasn’t healed by God because their faith wasn’t strong enough.  The problem is this.  That’s not even close to what Jesus actually said!  Anyone who takes that away from this passage isn’t getting the real translation.  They don’t recognize what really transpired.

thy faith hath saved thee – this is a good translation of what Jesus actually said.  It was about faith and salvation – not faith and being cured.  Remember in verse 14, we read: it came to pass, in their going, they were cleansed.  All ten of them were healed.  Faith had nothing to do with the healing.  One more time – even the nine who didn’t believe Jesus was Messiah were healed.

But we don’t get that message with the NIV, which is the best selling translation in the world.  I think that’s very unfortunate.

Only the one man, the Samaritan, praised God.  And only that one man was told by Jesus, thy faith hath saved thee.  And the best selling Bible translation in the world tells us Jesus said, faith has made you well.  In English – those two phrases tell of two very different results.  The first is salvation.  The second is physical healing.

What it doesn’t tell us is that “has made you well” and “thy faith has saved thee” come from two – yes two – Greek words.  One of them is where we read “you” or “thy / thee”.

The other word is sozo.  Remember that word?  It’s the root word from which we get salvation!  It’s not about physical health.  It’s about spiritual salvation.  It’s the same word Jesus spoke to the blind beggar when He said, Receive your sight; your faith has healed you.

your faith has healed you was about spiritual salvation.
your faith has made you well was also about salvation.
And yet, we read both of them in English as being about physical health.  And then we think stronger faith is needed to heal the body.  In fact though, faith is needed to save our souls.  For salvation.

Hopefully by this time, we have a much better picture of God and salvation.  That salvation from God is about the next life.  It’s about eternity with Him.  And that faith is also about the next life.  It’s faith in God that saves us.

To be sure, we see an advancement in what salvation means – from the time of the Hebrew people to when Jesus walked the earth.  However, having said that, the clues are present in the Old Testament to let everyone know what was to come.  They were in Genesis chapter 3.  They were also in Job, which many consider to actually be the oldest book in the Bible.  If you’d like to check it out, there’s an excellent book on this by Mike Mason, titled The Gospel According To Job.

Salvation – Islam

Next, let’s move on to Islam.

Islam teaches us that salvation is attainable through the worship of God alone.  A person must believe in God and follow His commandments.  This is the same message taught by all the Prophets including Moses and Jesus.  There is only One worthy of worship.  One God, alone without partners, sons, or daughters.  Salvation and thus eternal happiness can be achieved by sincere worship.

In addition to this Islam teaches us that human beings are born without sin and are naturally inclined to worship God alone (without any intermediaries). 

This is contrary to both Judaism and Christianity.  Islam claims to believe in many of the same people that are in the Old and New Testaments.  That includes Jesus.  Although, Islam teaches that Jesus was just a prophet – not the Son of God.  That statement about people are naturally inclined to worship God alone flies in the face of teachings from both Judaism and Christianity.  And is contrary to what Jesus said.  It’s important to note that while Islam teaches that Jesus isn’t the Son of God – He is the second greatest prophet, according to them, after Muhammad.  How does that are naturally inclined to worship God alone work out with what Jesus said below?

Mt 13:10 The disciples came to him and asked, “Why do you speak to the people in parables?

Mt 13:11 He replied, “The knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of heaven has been given to you, but not to them. 12 Whoever has will be given more, and he will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him. 13 This is why I speak to them in parables:
“Though seeing, they do not see;
though hearing, they do not hear or understand.

Mt 13:14 In them is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah:
“ ‘You will be ever hearing but never understanding;
you will be ever seeing but never perceiving.

Mt 13:15 For this people’s heart has become calloused;
they hardly hear with their ears,
and they have closed their eyes.
Otherwise they might see with their eyes,
hear with their ears,
understand with their hearts
and turn, and I would heal them.’ 16 But blessed are your eyes because they see, and your ears because they hear. 17 For I tell you the truth, many prophets and righteous men longed to see what you see but did not see it, and to hear what you hear but did not hear it.”

That’s the teaching from both the Old and New Testaments.  But not from the Qur’an.

To retain this state of sinlessness humankind must only follow God’s commandments and strive to live a righteous life.  If one falls into sin, all that is required is sincere repentance followed by seeking God’s forgiveness.  When a person sins he or she pushes themselves away from the mercy of God, however sincere repentance brings a person back to God.  

This is an over-simplification.  It’s also not in the spirit of what the Qur’an says.  Ten times, the Qur’an says – God lets go astray… .  Here’s an explanation that goes along with this concept:

1837 Or: “God lets go astray whomever He wills, and guides whomever He wills.” All Qur’anic references to God’s “letting man go astray” must be understood against the background of 2:26-27 – “none does He cause to go astray save the iniquitous, who break their bond with God” (regarding which latter expression, see sūrah 2, note 19): that is to say, man’s “going astray” is a consequence of his own attitudes and inclinations and not a result of an arbitrary “predestination” in the popular sense of this word (cf. sūrah 2, note 7). In his commentary on the above verse, Zamakhsharī stresses this aspect of free choice on the part of man and points out that “God does not cause anyone to go astray except one who, as He knows, will never attain to faith; and He does not guide anyone aright except one who, as He knows, will attain to faith. Hence, the [expression] ‘causing to go astray’ denotes [God’s] leaving [one] alone (takhliyah) and depriving [him] of all favour, whereas [the expression] ‘guidance’ denotes [His] grant of fulfilment (tawfīq) and favour…. Thus, He does not forsake anyone except those who deserve to be forsaken, and does not bestow His favour upon anyone except those who deserve to be favoured.” Commenting on the identical phrase occurring in 16:93, Zamakhsharī states: “[God] forsakes him who, as He knows, will [consciously] choose to deny the truth and will persevere in this [denial]; and…He bestows His favour upon him who, as He knows, will choose faith: which means that He makes the issue dependent on [man’s] free choice (al-ikhtiyār), and thus on his deserving either [God’s] favour or the withdrawal of [His] aid…and does not make it dependent on compulsion [i.e., predestination], which would rule out [man’s] deserving anything of the above.”  [18]Asad, Muhammad. The Message of the Qur’an. The Book Foundation. Kindle Edition.

If you didn’t catch it, notice – Allah does not forsake anyone except those who deserve to be forsakenall that is required is sincere repentance followed by seeking God’s forgiveness doesn’t line up with that explanation that Allah will, in fact, forsake those who deserve to be forsaken.  One of those statements must not be entirely true. 

If Allah does forsake some, even if deserved, then they cannot merely repent.  They are forsaken and any return to Allah is therefore not possible.

Either that or Allah doesn’t really forsake anyone.

Given all the times the Qur’an talks about those who were led astray, it’s the former that must be true.  Allah does forsake some – and a return to him isn’t possible.  The truth of that conclusion is also in the Qur’an in Sura 39.

(23) God bestows from on high the best of all teachings in the shape of a divine writ fully consistent within itself, repeating each statement [of the truth] in manifold forms – [a divine writ] whereat shiver the skins of all who of their Sustainer stand in awe: [but] in the end their skins and their hearts do soften at the remembrance of [the grace of] God…. Such is God’s guidance: He guides therewith him that wills [to be guided] – whereas he whom God lets go astray can never find any guide.

(24) Could, then, one who shall have nothing but his [bare] face to protect him from the awful suffering [that will befall him] on Resurrection Day [be likened to the God-conscious]? [On that Day,] the evildoers will be told: “Taste [now] what you have earned [in life]!”  [19]Asad, Muhammad. The Message of the Qur’an. The Book Foundation. Kindle Edition.

Some deserve to be forsaken by Allah.  And after they’re forsaken – left to go astray – they will never find a guide to return to Allah.  Again – for some, it’s not a simple repentance and a return to Allah.  There is no return to Allah after being forsaken by him.

Contrast that with Jesus.

The Parable of the Lost Sheep

18:12-14 pp — Lk 15:4-7

Mt 18:10 “See that you do not look down on one of these little ones. For I tell you that their angels in heaven always see the face of my Father in heaven.

 “What do you think? If a man owns a hundred sheep, and one of them wanders away, will he not leave the ninety-nine on the hills and go to look for the one that wandered off? 13 And if he finds it, I tell you the truth, he is happier about that one sheep than about the ninety-nine that did not wander off. 14 In the same way your Father in heaven is not willing that any of these little ones should be lost.”

Maybe you noticed there’s no verse 11 in the NIV translation above.  They chose to exclude it because it’s in some manuscripts, but not all,  The missing verse, from the New King James Version is:

Mt 18:11 “For the Son of Man has come to save what was lost.”

In any case, with or without verse 11, Jesus says He came to save the lost.  The ones who have gone astray.  That’s in direct opposition to the Qur’an, which says Allah will not guide the forsaken ones.  Nor will Allah allow any guide for them to return to him.  Allah will not help the lost.

But Jesus will.  And Jesus commanded His followers, Christians, to do the same.

Salvation is a powerful word that the dictionary defines as the act of preservation or deliverance from destruction, difficulty, or evil.  Theologically it is spiritual rescue from sin and its consequences.  More specifically, in Christianity it is associated with redemption and the atonement of Jesus.  Salvation in Islam is a very different concept.  While it does offer deliverance from the fires of hell, it also rejects some of the basic principles of Christianity and states clearly that salvation is attained only through submission to the most merciful, God.  [20]IslamReligion.com

Actually, it’s more than that.  In Christianity, those who believe in Jesus are forgiven of all their sins.  (Please see Are we supposed to Believe God, Believe in God or Follow God? for a detailed explanation of why simply “believe” isn’t quite right either.  It’s actually believe in Jesus enough to change, or transform, our lives.

We can see an example of that in the Qur’an, Surah 14 Ibrāhīm (Abraham)

(19) ART THOU NOT aware that God has created the heavens and the earth in accordance with [an inner] truth?  He can, if He so wills, do away with you and bring forth a new mankind [in your stead]:  (20) nor is this difficult for God.

Well, that’s not exactly good news.  Not for anyone.  In fact, not for everyone.  Kind of the opposite of what God said after the flood in Genesis.

Ge 9:8 Then God said to Noah and to his sons with him: 9 “I now establish my covenant with you and with your descendants after you 10 and with every living creature that was with you—the birds, the livestock and all the wild animals, all those that came out of the ark with you—every living creature on earth. 11 I establish my covenant with you: Never again will all life be cut off by the waters of a flood; never again will there be a flood to destroy the earth.”

Ge 9:12 And God said, “This is the sign of the covenant I am making between me and you and every living creature with you, a covenant for all generations to come: 13 I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and the earth. 14 Whenever I bring clouds over the earth and the rainbow appears in the clouds, 15 I will remember my covenant between me and you and all living creatures of every kind. Never again will the waters become a flood to destroy all life. 16 Whenever the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and all living creatures of every kind on the earth.”

Ge 9:17 So God said to Noah, “This is the sign of the covenant I have established between me and all life on the earth.”

This is but one instance of a huge problem in Islam.  Muslims are told to read portions of the Jewish and Christian scripture.  That includes Genesis.  Obviously, the passage above is part of Genesis.  So it begs a question.  Is (14:19) from the Qur’an an empty threat – or is the passage in Genesis not true?  That kind of situation comes up so often that one has to question the reason why Muslims are even told to read things like Genesis.

The truth is, of course, they have to.  The Qur’an itself does not tell the complete history of what God did in the time of the Hebrew people or in Jesus’ time.  The Qur’an only comments on, and sometimes disagrees with) the Jewish and Christian scriptures.  Therefore, reading scripture from Jewish and Christian religions is absolutely essential for a Muslim.  But that begs another question.  Even though the Qur’an says Jesus was only a prophet and not the Son of God – as the second greatest prophet, wouldn’t Jesus correct all the things that were allegedly wrong from Jewish Scripture?  He did none of that during His time on earth.  And so we have yet another credibility problem with Islam.

Ultimately, we have yet another instance where there is the possibility of no way to salvation for some Muslim people – the ones who were forsaken by Allah.  Not at all what Jesus taught.

(21) And all [mankind] will appear before God [on the Day of Judgment]; and then the weak will say unto those who had gloried in their arrogance: “Behold, we were but your followers: can you, then, relieve us of something of God’s chastisement?” [And the others] will answer: “If God would but show us the way [to salvation], we would indeed guide you [towards it]. It is [now] all one, as far as we are concerned, whether we grieve impatiently or endure [our lot] with patience: there is no escape for us!”

Again – some people with no possibility of salvation – because Allah never showed them the way.  They were forsaken by Allah.

(22) And when everything will have been decided, Satan will say: “Behold, God promised you something that was bound to come true! I, too, held out [all manner of] promises to you – but I deceived you. Yet I had no power at all over you: I but called you – and you responded unto me. Hence, blame not me, but blame yourselves.  It is not for me to respond to your cries, nor for you to respond to mine:  for, behold, I have [always] refused to admit that there was any truth in your erstwhile belief that I had a share in God’s divinity.” Verily, for all evildoers there is grievous suffering in store.

Here, Satan claims he has no power over people.  Again, this is not what is taught in Jewish and Christian scripture, as we see in the excerpt below.

According to Scripture, Satan was a particularly powerful and high-ranking angel who led one third of the angelic host to rebel against God (Eph 2:2; Rev 12:1–12). Satan is a Hebrew word that means “adversary” (שָׂטָן). Scripture also refers to Satan as “the devil” (Matt 4:1, 5; Lk 4:2, 3; Eph 6:11), “the serpent” (Gen 3:1; 2 Cor 11:3; Rev 20:2), “the great dragon” (Rev 12:9; cf Rev 20:2), “the prince of the power of the air” (Eph 2:2), “the god of this age” (2 Cor 4:4), “the evil one” (Matt 13:19, 38; Jn 17:15; Eph 6:16), “the prince of demons” (Matt 9:34; 12:24; Mk 3:22; Lk 11:15), “the accuser” (Rev 12:10), and “the tempter” (Matt 4:3; 1 Thess 3:5). Like the other angels and demons, Satan is an invisible being who is highly intelligent and very powerful.

Satan was responsible for tempting Eve in the garden and leading humanity’s first parents into sin. Though Genesis never explicitly identifies the serpent as Satan, later Scripture identifies the “ancient serpent” as “Satan” (Rev 12:9; 20:2). Since his initial rebellion, Satan has continued to work against God’s righteous and saving purposes in the world. He actively opposes the propagation of the gospel by blinding unbelievers to its truth (2 Cor 4:4), persecuting the church (2 Cor 12:7; 1 Thess 2:17–18; Rev 2:10), and promoting false doctrine (Jn 8:44; cf 1 Tim 4:1). Satan actively seeks to incite Christians to fall into sin and is constantly attempting to ensnare them in unrighteousness (2 Cor 11:3). Satan is also an accuser, calling the faith of Christians into question before God and accusing them of sin (Job 1:9–11; Rev 12:10).

As a created being, Satan, though powerful, is not equal with God. Instead, like the other demons, he is wholly subject to God’s sovereign will (Job 1:6–12; 2:1–10). John Wesley is representative of much of the Christian tradition when he says, “It seems strange that God should give Satan such a permission as this. But he did it for his own glory, for the honor of Job, for the explanation of providence, and the encouragement of his afflicted people in all ages” (Explanatory Notes upon the Old Testament, 2:1521).

Upon his return, Christ will completely defeat Satan and the demons and cast them into the lake of fire (Matt 8:29; 25:41; Rev 20:10).  [21]Emadi, S. (2018). Satan. In M. Ward, J. Parks, B. Ellis, & T. Hains (Eds.), Lexham Survey of Theology. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

Clearly, Jewish and Hebrew scriptures talk about the power of Satan.  And of the help people need from God to escape Satan’s power.

So if Islam teaches that Satan has no power, why is Allah needed?  Even as a guide?  If Satan has no power, there should be no need for even a guide, since he can’t force people to do anything – and Islam maintains that people are generally inclined to worship Allah.

But maybe the weirdest thing in the whole segment from the Qur’an is: I have [always] refused to admit that there was any truth in your erstwhile belief that I had a share in God’s divinity.  Really?  Just because Satan refuses to admit something, that doesn’t mean it’s true.  And since when can we trust anything Satan says?

The Children of the Devil

Jn 8:42 Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God and now am here. I have not come on my own; but he sent me. 43 Why is my language not clear to you? Because you are unable to hear what I say. 44 You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desire. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies. 45 Yet because I tell the truth, you do not believe me! 46 Can any of you prove me guilty of sin? If I am telling the truth, why don’t you believe me? 47 He who belongs to God hears what God says. The reason you do not hear is that you do not belong to God.”

Satan – the father of lies.  What value are any of the words from him, other than to lead us astray?

Later is Sura 14, the Qur’an also says:

(76) Those who have attained to faith fight in the cause of God, whereas those who are bent on denying the truth fight in the cause of the powers of evil. Fight, then, against those friends of Satan: verily, Satan’s guile is weak indeed!  [22]Asad, Muhammad. The Message of the Qur’an. The Book Foundation. Kindle Edition.

This is also very much in opposition to what’s in the Bible.  It’s worth remembering that after the first vision, Muhammad thought it came from a Jinn – an evil spirit.  It was his first wife who convinced him it was from the archangel Gabriel.  It’s hard to imagine that God or Gabriel would give such a different message about Satan powers from what the God of the Bible said.  Think about that.  Why does the Qur’an say Satan is weak, while the Bible warns against Satan’s power and says we cannot resist it on our own?  Something basic is very wrong here.

(23) But those who shall have attained to faith and done righteous deeds will be brought into gardens through which running waters flow, therein to abide by their Sustainer’s leave, and will be welcomed with the greeting, “Peace!”  [23]Asad, Muhammad. The Message of the Qur’an (Kindle Locations 6416-6437). The Book Foundation. Kindle Edition.

Notice – there’s nothing of faith here.  Nothing of belief.  It’s all about deeds – what Christians call “works”.  Once again, this is the opposite message from the Bible.

Faith and Deeds

Jas 2:14 What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him? 15 Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. 16 If one of you says to him, “Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? 17 In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.

Jas 2:18 But someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.”
Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do. 19 You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder.

Jas 2:20 You foolish man, do you want evidence that faith without deeds is useless? 21 Was not our ancestor Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? 22 You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did. 23 And the scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,” and he was called God’s friend. 24 You see that a person is justified by what he does and not by faith alone.

Jas 2:25 In the same way, was not even Rahab the prostitute considered righteous for what she did when she gave lodging to the spies and sent them off in a different direction? 26 As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead.

Yes, what we do is important.  Doing something is important,  That’s the message explained in greater detail in Are we supposed to Believe God, Believe in God or Follow God?  It’s the combination of faith in God and the things we do because of that faith.

However, the difference between Islam and Christianity comes after that.  In Islam, even after faith in Allah and deeds done because of that faith, there’s a balance taken between the person’s good and bad deeds.  In Christianity, there is no balancing of good and bad deeds.  Earlier, we looked at Muslims who are forsaken.  Question – if a Muslim attains the appropriate level of faith and then dies shortly after that, how can he ever reach the point where the good deeds can outweigh the bad?  There’s not enough time.  That’s not a problem in Christianity.  All sins are forgiven – there is no balancing of deeds upon death.  Please see Who were the other two men on the crosses? for more on that thought.

Since Islam does not believe in “Original Sin”, whereby everyone is affected by what Adam and Eve did in the Garden of Eden, each person is believed to be responsible for their own salvation.  Because of what’s laid out in the Qur’an quote above, it’s a totally different viewpoint on salvation.  While the words may be the same, in English translations, the concepts and the outcomes are very different.

Conclusion – Yahweh, God, Allah and Salvation

After reading this, you may have more questions than answers.  Actually, I hope you do.  For one thing – that should bring you back here – to get some answers.

After all, this wasn’t meant to answer questions so much as to bring about the realization that there are questions that need to be asked – and questions should lead to a desire for answers.

If any of this sounds interesting to you, please subscribe or follow using the box towards the top right of the page – or at the bottom on most mobile devices.

 


life preserver Image by cattu from Pixabay

 

Footnotes

Footnotes
1Soanes, C., & Stevenson, A. (Eds.). (2004). Concise Oxford English dictionary (11th ed.)..
2Elwell, W. A., & Beitzel, B. J. (1988). Monotheism. In Baker encyclopedia of the Bible (Vol. 2, p. 1484).
3Asad, Muhammad. The Message of the Qur’an (Kindle Locations 2673-2679). The Book Foundation. Kindle Edition.
4Cairns, A. (2002). In Dictionary of Theological Terms (pp. 494–495). Belfast; Greenville, SC: Ambassador Emerald International.
5Butler, T. C. (2016). God. In J. D. Barry, D. Bomar, D. R. Brown, R. Klippenstein, D. Mangum, C. Sinclair Wolcott, … W. Widder (Eds.), The Lexham Bible Dictionary. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.
6King James Version study Bible. (1997). (electronic ed., Ex 20:3–4). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.
7Soanes, C., & Stevenson, A. (Eds.). (2004). Concise Oxford English dictionary (11th ed.).
8, 9Elwell, W. A., & Beitzel, B. J. (1988). Salvation. In Baker encyclopedia of the Bible (Vol. 2, p. 1884). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House.
10JewishEncyclopdia.com
11Elwell, W. A., & Beitzel, B. J. (1988). Salvation. In Baker encyclopedia of the Bible (Vol. 2, p. 1885). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House.
12, 13, 14, 16, 17Strong, J. (1995). Enhanced Strong’s Lexicon. Woodside Bible Fellowship.
15Young, R. (1997). Young’s Literal Translation (Lk 17:11–19). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.
18, 19, 22Asad, Muhammad. The Message of the Qur’an. The Book Foundation. Kindle Edition.
20IslamReligion.com
21Emadi, S. (2018). Satan. In M. Ward, J. Parks, B. Ellis, & T. Hains (Eds.), Lexham Survey of Theology. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.
23Asad, Muhammad. The Message of the Qur’an (Kindle Locations 6416-6437). The Book Foundation. Kindle Edition.

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