Monday, January 25, 2016

Muslims Die For Christians Too!

With all of the fear regarding Islam and the violence of Muslim extremists I wanted to share this story and express two concerns.  One is simply to honor this man's heroic effort to love his fellow man and stand up against the evil that is prevelant in terrorism.  The other is to address concerns I have regarding certain persepctives on what determines our eternal destiny.  There is no greater issue to be clear about than this. 

According to an article from the BBC Kenyan Muslim named Salah Farah died January 19, 2016. He was injured in a terrorist attack on a bus in December. The terrorist group al-Shabab has connections with al-Qaeda and was responsible for this attack.

According to a BBC article written in April 2015,  Kenyan forces entered Somalia in October 2011 in order to confront militants who were coming into Kenya and kidnapping people.  This move provoked al-Shabab and they have been responsible for attacks in Kenya which have killed Muslims and Christians alike every since.  

There have been times when the group would separate Christians and Muslims and they would kill the Christians. The worst example of violence so far by al-Shabab which includes this practice of targeted killing happened in April in an attack on Garissa College in north-eastern Kenya.  At least 147 people were killed in that attack. The previous year a bus was attacked near Mandera by al-Shabab militants and 28 non-Muslims traveling to Nairobi for the Christmas holidays were killed. Because of some of these attacks, the north-eastern part of Kenya has lost some 2,000 teachers and health care professionals

So, when this terrorist group decided to attack a bus in Mandera, Kenya the Muslims on board decided they had had enough.  When instructed to separate, they decided they would shield the Christians instead.  They are tired of watching other people die because of religious differences. Two people died and now this Muslim teacher Salah Farah died in surgery for a bullet wound sustained in the attack. Farah like many, believed that "people should live peacefully together" recognizing their brotherhood as both Kenyan's and fellow human beings.  I completely agree.

Where Am I Going With This?

When Open Doors, a non-profit that focuses on supporting persecuted Christians shared the BBC article about this Muslim man's death on Facebook it got my attention. What a heroic, yet tragic sacrifice. What got my attention even more were the comments that followed the post.  

As far as I know, Open Doors is a solid Christian organization with a healthy biblical understanding of what it means to be a Christian.  They have been supporting the persecuted church for many years.  Some of the commentators on this post however, professed Christianity but clearly had a poor grasp on what provides eternal security to the damned soul. 

Comments such as:
"I am so sorry..I am a Christian and I am amazed at his love for his fellow man.. I pray that he is in the arms of God and with Jesus.. as the scripture says to love your neighbor as yourself and God bless him, he heart goes out to all of his family.  May they be greatly blessed."
"No greater love has he than him who gives up his life for another(NT).  The sacrifice this young man was ready to make was not in vain.  He may have died in another situation but his deeds have, under Christian understanding brought him straight to God....." 
then there was this sweet persons well meaning prayer:
"Heavenly Father please allow this man to be with you.  Le this death, martyr him and let his good deed be testimony to your love and mercy. He died protecting your children.  In Jesus name I pray.  Amen"

Let me be clear, I do not disagree with the sentiment that appreciates this man's willingness to sacrifice his life for his fellow man.  It is very noble and complimentary to what some claim is a doctrine of the Quran which says, "He who takes a life kills the world, he who saves a life saves the world."  I only say "claim" because I have not read it myself.

The trouble is there are so many people, many of whom profess Christ or lend much credence to the teachings of the bible, who do not understand what scripture teaches about what is required for salvation.  As a result, they are misrepresenting the gospel and potentially misleading many regarding the truth.

There has been much discussion and debate of late about whether Muslims and Christians worship the same God. There are still those today in "Christian" sects who will suggest that God's mercy is so wide that maybe people who have loved "God" but not believed in Jesus will still go to heaven.  As if somehow, faith in God without a biblical concept of Jesus is enough.  

I do not intend to do a complete discussion on that now, but I do want to make it clear that Muslims who follow their faith do not go to heaven, no matter how many noble things they do.  Neither does anyone else who has not placed their faith in Jesus in this life.  No amount of sacrificial heroism or brotherly love will get anyone into heaven.  If anyone believes that something you do will gain you enough favor with God to get you entrance into heaven, you are in BIG trouble.  No amount of church going, tradition practicing, or prayer saying in any direction will put you in right standing before Holy God.  I say this out of love because I don't want anyone not to go to heaven.  Unfortunately, there are many for whom this will be the case.

How Then Can Anyone Be Saved?

In Matthew 19:25-26, after hearing Jesus make a statement about the difficulty of a rich person to get into heaven the question was asked, "Who then can be saved?". Jesus said, "With man this is impossible, but with God, all things are possible."   

In John 14:5-6 Thomas asked Jesus, "Lord, we do not know where you are going.  Who can know the way?"  Jesus replied, "I am the way, the truth, and the life.  Know man comes to the Father except through me."  

In John 3:3 Jesus instructs Nicodemus, "Truly, truly I say to you, unless a man is born again, he cannot see the Kingdom of God."  

Many think of Christianity as narrow minded and want to speak of Jesus as if he was the master of this all-inclusive faith.  Clearly, he thought there were some very specific requirements that were not so easy to master in order to enter heaven.

That's the beauty of Christianity.  You can never satisfy the requirements which God commands of you.  That is why Jesus came to do it for us.  All we ever need do is repent and believe the gospel.(Mark 1)

In John 1:12-13, John while speaking of Jesus states, "But to all who did receive Him, who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God.  Who were born not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God."

What About Love of Brother?

1John 2:9-10 says, "Whoever says he is in the light and hates his brother is still in darkness. Whoever loves his brother abides in the light, and in him there is no cause for stumbling."  He was loving his brother, was he not?  Isn't that good enough?

Sometimes I wish it were, then I realize that such a thought calls into question the very wisdom and justice of God and I realize I must repent of such thoughts. 

The trouble here is that any seemingly "righteous" act that is performed with any God in mind other than the God of the bible is worthless.  This is because it not done with the glory of the one and only God of the bible as the motivating factor.(Romans 3:9-20)  

No matter how desperately I may want to see someone come to faith or wish that someone had a chance after death to believe, I must trust my God.  He is far wiser in his infinite wisdom than I could ever be in my finite, sin-stained mind.

Deuteronomy 32:4 tells us, "The Rock, his work is perfect, for all his ways are justice.  A God of faithfulness and without iniquity, just and upright is he"

Pslam 145 is a wonderful Psalm declaring the goodness of God.  Verse 17 specifically tells us, "The Lord is righteous in all his ways and kind in all his works."

Let's consider why "love of brother" which this Muslim man clearly demonstrated is not enough to save him.

Jesus Christ, Son of God

There are a couple of distinct differences betwee Islam and Christianity.  One is thier understanding of who God is. Without going into great depth it should be enough to state that Muslims believe in a monolithic God vs. a trinitarian God.  That is to say, they believe that the God of Abraham is one, i.e. God the Father is the only diety.  By contrast, Christianity believes that God the Father, God the Son(Jesus), and God the Holy Spirit are all One God in three distinct persons.  Here is a very brief article relating some of the distinct differences between Islam and Christianity as it relates to Christ as found in the Quran.  

You cannot believe that Jesus was just a man, a prophet or messenger of Allah created by Allah, certainly not God's son(Islam), a great teacher also not the incarnate Son(Jews), the angel Michael incarnate(Jehovah's Witness) or the spirit brother of Satan(Mormons)!   
If you do not believe in the second person of the Trinitarian Christian God, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the virgin Mary, was fully God and fully man, was crucified, buried, and resurrected on the third day and ascended to the right hand of the Father, You Are Not a Christian.
Works vs. Faith

Picture - Dome with Muslim star and crescent. Fotosearch - Search Stock Photos, Images, Print Photographs, and Photo Clip Art

The other issue here which is more pertinent to my concern at this point could apply to anyone however, it absolutely applies to the difference between Islam and Christianity. You see Allah is not known as a forgiving God.  Muslims have to hope that Allah will forgive them and allow them into heaven based on enough of their good works canceling out their bad works.  There is no redemption of sins provided of which Allah is the source.  

This,in contrast with Christianity, which believes that the penalty for our sins has been paid for by God himself.  This is known as atonement.  The blood shed on the cross by God's Son, Jesus, paid the price for the sins of everyone who puts their faith in Him.  Through His death and shed blood he "atoned" for our sins.  Because there is no such belief in Islam there is only hope for forgiveness based on Allah's assessment of the balance between their good and bad deeds, thoughts, etc.

In Ephesians 2:8-10 the Apostle Paul explains that "by grace we have been saved through faith, and this is not our own doing; it is the gift of God, not of works, so that no one may boast."  It is a beautiful truth which many lost souls need to hear.  

There is nothing we can do to earn salvation.  It is all of grace. In fact in Romans 5:8 we are told that, "God demonstrates His love for us in this, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us."  He did not wait for us to get good enough before dying for us.  In fact, he requires nothing of us until we place our trust in Him.  His requirement of obedience comes after he makes His goodness and grace clear to us, not before.


This is another distinct difference between Islam and Christianity.  Allah is not known as a relational God who loves people not based on their worth but on His, the triune God of the bible is.  It is a beautiful story to tell. Metaphorically speaking, all other religions function with a God who is up on a mountain and everyone is trying to get to him, usually in some meritorious form or fashion.  This is not true of Christianity.

The beauty of the gospel is that we are all dead in the grave.  We already have one foot in hell.  This God of grace loves us enough to come down and replace our stony hearts with a living one.  He breaths life into us when we could not even understand that we needed it, much less do anything about it.  No other religion can say that.

What's more, this God of the bible adopts us into His family(Romans 8:15).  When we place our faith in Christ, as John 1:12-13 says, we become children of God.  We do NOTHING to earn it, we can do NOTHING to loose it.

Know His Story, Tell His Story

If you consider yourself a Christian I beg of you, PLEASE have a proper understanding of the gospel. If someone has died who clearly was not a Christian, please don't speak as if there is some chance they could ever be in heaven.  If they are still alive and do not profess Christ, don't give them false hope about eternity.  Keep the story of redemption clear.  Don't hide the truth or make it fuzzy because you think that it is more loving to do so or you don't want to offend.  We do no one any favors when we do that.

Watering down the gospel sets no one free.  The gospel is supposed to be offensive to those who do not know Christ however, when the Spirit of God opens their eyes it is the most freeing good news in the world.(1 Corinthians 1:18)  

Trust the word of God to do what it promises to do. Hebrews 4:12 tells us, "the word of God is living and active, sharper than any double-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart." Isaiah 55:10-11 tells us that we can count on God's word to do what God intends it to do.

The Good News

Well. I've been talking about it for the last two sections of this post.  However, I want to make clear that God is good and wants to see many, many Muslims come to saving faith in Christ.  Why, because they are no different than any other rebellious sinner in need of a Savior.  I need Him, you need Him, we all need Him.  I am not writing this because I take for granted the heroic efforts of Mr. Salah Farah.  I also do not relish or celebrate the idea that if he remained a Muslim until his death that he is will spend the rest of his eternity in eternal, conscious torment, separated from the love of God.

What I do celebrate is that this man's efforts were valiant and that God used them to save many Christians from probable death in this life and God will be glorified for that.  I also celebrate the fact that perhaps his death could be an opportunity for many other Muslims to come to saving faith in Christ if we as Christians do not steal that opportunity by making less of the situation than what the reality is.  

Perhaps, some who think themselves Christians will even realize that they are not actually Christians but will hear the truth and come to true faith in Christ.  

I pray for the peace, comfort, and salvation of Mr. Farah's family.  I pray for the people of Kenya, Muslim and Christian alike.  Persecution is one thing but no one should have to deal with terrorism. However, I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God unto salvation for all who believe.  To the Jew first and then to the Greek(Romans 1:16).  

I cannot apologize for it's power or it's offense.  I pray you will not either.  Be compassionate.  Let your heart break for the lost.  Pray without ceasing and always be prepared to defend the legitimacy of your faith.  But please don't ever change the message.  That is the most unloving thing you can do for someone who does not know the truth.

May it be so in Jesus name.


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