Let me make it clear that I am a lover of Muslims. I passionately love Muslims I pray for Muslims. I have Muslims, I would consider as friends. I am a total muslimphile; that means I am a lover of Muslims. So as Eid is celebrated in the UK today I would want to declare that.
However, I have to acknowledge and declare that I am also an Islamophobe. I was pondering upon this in respect of the slogan on the man’s T-shirt next to Jordan Peterson here. I am, dare I say, a hater of Islam. And I am a hater of Islam because I am a lover of Muslims. I love Muslims so much that I don’t want them to follow a false religious system.
I would go further and say that any real Christian must be an Islamphobe. To be otherwise is a complete contradiction and denial of our faith. This is because the faith of God revealed in Christ is a faith about how we can reach God through Jesus Christ and Him alone. He, Himself, said to Thomas “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me (John 14:6).
If we say that Islam or Mohammed is an acceptable way to God then we are declaring Jesus Christ to be a liar and should reject Him as a fraud. If, as is the case, Jesus Christ is true and the only way to God we should long that all Muslims, and all other followers of any religion, come to faith in Jesus Christ and be a follower of Him.
This Jesus is the one who died on the cross and rose again to bring salvation to all who believe. We believe that there is salvation in no other. We passionately want all, including Muslims, to come to faith in this Lord. We want them to turn from their false gods like the Thessalonian Christians did. It is said of them that they turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come (1 Thess. 1:9b-10).
I love Muslims so much that I want them to turn from their religion and escape the wrath to come. I want them to become followers of Jesus Christ the Lord who died to cleanse and lives to save them.
So I heard on Monday June 4th on Radio 5 Live Ben Wallace MP Minister of State for Security at the Home Office speaking. He said that Islam is a religion of peace. Interesting is it not how an MP can be an expert on religious matters? He may be an expert, but there was no justification for this assertion. Of course Nicky Cambpell, the interviewer, did not challenge it. And we are all left persuaded that Islam really is a religion of peace.
So what are we to make of this?
- There are vast numbers of Muslims who would protest vociferously about Mr Wallace’s assertion. They would be convinced about Jihad and that their religion is a religion of violence
- The name of the religion itself, “submission”, gives strong hints in a direction far away from peaceableness.
- And of course there are all the statements in the Koran which indicate that it is far from a religion of peace. Here is a small sample
- “Let those fight in the way of Allah who sell the life of this world for the other. Whoso fighteth in the way of Allah, be he slain or be he victorious, on him We shall bestow a vast reward.” (4:74)
- “And when you (Muslims) travel in the land, there is no sin on you if you shorten your Salat (prayer) if you fear that the disbelievers may attack you, verily, the disbelievers are ever unto you open enemies.” (4:101)
- “O you who believe! fight those of the unbelievers who are near to you and let them find in you hardness.” (9:123)
- “And when We wish to destroy a town, We send Our commandment to the people of it who lead easy lives, but they transgress therein; thus the word proves true against it, so We destroy it with utter destruction.” (17:16)
- How easily people become experts in religious matters. As I heard someone say in another context “everyone becomes a fool when they speak outside their sphere of expertise” (to paraphrase Prof. John Lennox).
- There is a conspiracy of silence on these matters in the chattering classes. So for example, if someone said on a BBC news programme that Islam is a religion of violence, they would immediately be challenged. But not so if it is said that Islam is a religion of peace
- To portray Islam as a religion of peace is obviously understandable given the laudable desire of politicians to cultivate multicultural harmony. However, whilst doing this, I suggest, there is the danger that Islam gets a free-pass and Sharia law insidiously gains ground. Short-term gain for long-term loss, I fear.
In all this I trust I am left longing for the salvation of many from Islam. The bottom-line is not whether Islam is a religion of peace or of violence. The key issue is that it is a religion of spiritual death. In the end it has no Saviour and no hope. Oh that many Muslims would find life in Christ
When speaking to people about our faith and seeking to make them think about their situation before God, what are we to say? There is always the danger, when interacting with religious people, of getting involved in a religious melee as we wrestle about ideas and experiences.
One thing I often tend to do particularly, when speaking to a Muslim for the first time, is to focus on the issue of assurance. I ask them about on what basis they hope to get to heaven. Pretty much always they will say that it has to do with their works. I then tell them of the contrast with the true message of sins forgiven in Jesus Christ. The message of the Muslim, as with all other religions, is a miserable message which has no assurance of eternal blessing. It is essentially a message about doing your best and see if your good works outweigh your bad works on the day of judgement. The message of full and free forgiveness in Christ is so different.
One of the impacts of this is that I am refreshed in knowing how wonderful the Gospel is. I am always left wondering why someone would choose the pitiful gunge of false religion which always depends on our efforts. How can anyone prefer that to the wonderful news of a full and free salvation in and through Jesus Christ our Lord?!
(These are the adapted notes of a talk given by my wife, May Lin, on May 20th at a Ladies Event at Baitul Whaid Mosque in Hanworth under the title “Fasting the Way to Spiritual Elevation”)
Thank you for inviting me to speak. Thank you for your welcome. First I would like to define the term “spiritual elevation” and speak about how we can obtain this spiritual elevation from the Bible’s point of view. Then I would speak of how fasting relates to it.
Just like the elevator in a shopping complex that takes one up from the ground floor to the upper floor, spiritual elevation is how one would reach the position to be in relationship with God to know Him personally.
- First we have to know who God is and His character. God is the One who created you and me, the Holy and Just One. The One who holds the universe in His hands – the all powerful One. This God is a holy God that cannot tolerate any sin or wrongdoing.
- Mankind is sinful. We are born with a sinful nature. Those of us who are mothers can testify to that. No mother teaches her children to do wrong or to disobey. From the earliest age of a child, mothers will know that children are inclined to be selfish and do wrong. The word ‘no’ comes before ‘yes’. We all have a selfish nature, wanting things to be done our own way, in our own time and at our own convenience. Even my very best work is polluted by pride. The Bible says in Romans 3:23, ‘all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God’. God who is holy and just in His character must punish Sin. My sin stops me from having a relationship with God. Yet, the God of the Bible is a merciful and loving God. The Bible says in Romans 5:8: ‘But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: while we were still sinners, Christ died for us’
- Jesus Christ the unique one, who had a miraculous birth was born of a virgin. He was holy, blameless, undefiled – One who is sinless. The Bible says in Luke 19:10, ‘For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost’. The Bible also teaches that a sinless sacrifice was essential for the salvation of men, women, boys and girls. Jesus Christ, my Saviour, went to the cross and there He died, not because of anything He did wrong, but because of my sins and yours. God’s anger was poured out upon Him. This punishment which is rightly ours because of our sins, there at the cross Jesus Christ bore. He is the mediator (the go-between) between God and man.
- How can I be spiritually elevated? How can I have this relationship with a Holy God? I must come confessing my sin, repenting, turning away from my wrongdoings. I must believe that Jesus Christ’s blood shed for me is sufficient for God to accept me. There is forgiveness of my sin through putting my faith in Jesus Christ. The Bible says in Ephesians 2:8-9 ‘For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast.
Nothing that I do can earn my way to heaven. Jesus Christ my Saviour has done it all. I owe everything to Him. The Bible also says in 1 Peter 3:18 ‘For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God.’ So in Jesus Christ we can receive this spiritual elevation knowing God personally. The God of the Bible is not a distant God. We can seek and find Him. See Matt 6:33. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.
What about fasting then? How does fasting relate with this spiritual elevation? What Is Fasting?
Fasting specifically is the withdrawal from food for a period of time. It can also more generally refer to withdrawing from other things for a period of time. Fasting helps me to enjoy this spiritual elevation. It is one of the ways I can be devoted to God. The Christian life is about being close to God. Fasting helps me to achieve this and is often associated with prayer.
In my fasting. I am declaring that God is more important than food. It is also to tell God that I am relying on Him and looking to Him as the guide of my life.
Fasting does not bring me into a relationship with God. There is nothing I can do to achieve spiritual elevation. The Lord Jesus Christ had died to have my sins forgiven. When my sins are forgiven, I can be spiritually elevated. He’s my Saviour who has done so much for me. Fasting helps me to enjoy this relationship with God.
A frequent statement that is made is that “I don’t know how anyone could become a suicide-bomber” or words to that effect. People cannot understand the mentality that would allow someone to blow themselves up, and cause deaths, injury and trauma on a vast scale.
To which I sometimes reply that ever since in 1999 we were assaulted by a double-glazing salesman I have understood how you can get a suicide-bomber. I don’t want this to sound trite, but techniques were used that evening against May Lin and myself which were nothing less than an assault upon us mentally and emotionally. Holding out against the assault was exhausting. This convinced me how techniques can be used to manipulate the mind. The perfecting of such techniques can, no doubt, manipulate someone’s psyche so that suicide-bombing seems “normal”.
When such techniques are mixed in with enticing rewards then the cocktail is incendiary. So the suicide-bomber is promised that 72 libidinous virgins are waiting for him in heaven. And whats’s not to like about that for a young man wanting to indulge the flesh.
Which leads us into a further contribution to the cocktail that is the connection with a so-called God figure through religion. Hence the cry when these heinous acts are committed often includes the name “Allah”. When you are told you are on the side of the ultimate authority figure you are encouraged into thsi madness.
Then there is the honour, Of course, in their communities these people are not called suicide-bombers, but martyrs on jihad and there is the promise of honour which no doubt flows to the family as well. As the Ayatollah Khomeini put it, “The purest joy in Islam is to kill and be killed for Allah.”
This all leaves me pondering that as Christian preachers we should be ever so careful about how we teach and engage with people. We teach the truth. winsomely and engagingly, but we should be relaying upon the Holy Spirit to do the changing. We should emulate Paul who said: we have renounced secret and shameful ways; we do not use deception, nor do we distort the word of God. On the contrary, by setting forth the truth plainly we commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God (2 Cor. 4:2). We should not be using manipulative techniques. We should faithfully preach the Word and look to God to do the work. When such happens there will be life and blessing
- External: The Pharisees and Scribes would not have allowed themselves to be buffeted by the crowd for fear of ceremonial contamination. Their focus was upon the washing of hands in order to get ceremonial cleansing. They honoured God with their lips, but their heart was far from God.
- Commandments of men: It was the tradition of the elders that determined their conduct. The doctrines of men were taught as the commandments of God. For the sake of their tradition they made the Word of God void
- Me for me: It was all about me for me. So they avoided the commandment to honour their father and mother by some religious sleight of hand. They devised this scheme to devote money to God, “corbanize” it, so they did not even have to help their closest relative.
- Internal: It is the matter of the heart which is the heart of the matter. Not what comes into the body causes the problems, but what comes out of our beings. The focus is upon having a heart close to God and in tune with God.
- Commandments of God: The commandments of God are the delight of the believer and obeying them is his goal and delight.
- Me for you: The Lord Jesus moved through His ministry blessing others. We see this when as many as touched Him were made well.
(For the detail behind these musings please see Matthew 14:34-15:10)
Yesterday I quoted from the book “A Wind in the House of Islam” by David Garrison which can be purchased here. It is quite an amazing book telling of God’s Work in the Islamic communities of the World. It is a “too good to be true” kind of book, but I have come across no reason to doubt the veracity of what David Garrison is declaring.
And what is he declaring? He is setting forth how over the last twenty years or so there has been an unprecedented work amongst Muslims. That means God has worked to bring significant numbers to a knowledge of forgiveness of sins in Jesus Christ.
Some of it is a little bit outside my theological comfort zone. And I might have been left a bit unconvinced as regards the genuineness of spiritual transformation in some cases. But overall it is a thrilling description and analysis of what has been and is happening.
If you are a Christian who wants to know of the great work of God then here is a book for you. Be encouraged to pray, to witness, to support, to participate and to expect. God is drawing many to Himself out of Islam. This is His glorious work. This book will spur you to be involved.