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Faith and Disobedience

October 16, 2017 Leave a comment

It is interesting to read in the Koran similar teachings which one can find in the Bible, but expressed in a new way. I recently came across this verse in the Koran and I immediately remembered similar words in the Catholic Epistle of St. James.

Is he who is a believer like unto him who is an evil-liver? They are not alike. (Koran 32:18, Pickthall)

The Arabic word translated “an evil-liver” is translated as “defiantly disobedient” by Sahih International. Using that translation in this verse, it would read:

Is he who is a believer like unto him who is defiantly disobedient? They are not alike.

St. James said:

For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also. (James 2:26, NKJV)

Genuine faith is accompanied by good works. A true believer, therefore, is not one who practices evil. The Koran says that someone who defiantly disobeys God is not like some who believes in God. Anyone who defiantly disobeys God should not think that he will have any share in the good things God has promised those who inherit eternal life.

I went through the Koran to see how the word, “fāsiqun,” is used in other places in the Koran. Here are some things that I discovered about the defiantly disobedient. The defiantly disobedient reject God’s revelations, not just the Koran, but also the Bible.

Say, “Whoever is an enemy to Gabriel – it is [none but] he who has brought the Qur’an down upon your heart, [O Muhammad], by permission of Allah, confirming that which was before it and as guidance and good tidings for the believers.” Whoever is an enemy to Allah and His angels and His messengers and Gabriel and Michael — then indeed, Allah is an enemy to the disbelievers. And We have certainly revealed to you verses [which are] clear proofs, and no one would deny them except the defiantly disobedient. (Koran 2:97-99, Sahih International)

The word translated “verses” in the previous passage could be translated “revelations.” This passage is talking about the Koran. The defiantly disobedient reject the Koran. Muhammad received no new revelations (Koran 41:43) and was not an innovator among the messengers of God (Koran 46:9). Therefore, I have no problems accepting the Koran. I only have problems with interpretations of the Koran which contradict the teachings of the Bible. The Koran confirms the Bible. (Koran 5:48) It does not contradict it. It is not possible to truly accept the Koran without accepting the Bible. (Koran 4:136,150-152; 29:46)

The defiantly disobedient do not judge by what God has revealed in the Gospel.

And let the People of the Gospel judge by what Allah has revealed therein. And whoever does not judge by what Allah has revealed – then it is those who are the defiantly disobedient. (Koran 5:47, Sahih International)

So, someone who rejects the four Gospels in the Bible is “defiantly disobedient.” In the Sixth Surah, it teaches that those who reject God’s revelations in both the Bible and the Koran are “defiantly disobedient.”

We send not the messengers save as bearers of good news and warners. Whoso believeth and doeth right, there shall no fear come upon them neither shall they grieve. But as for those who deny Our revelations, torment will afflict them for that they used to disobey. (Koran 6:48,49, Pickthall)

Sahih International translated Koran 6:49 as:

But those who deny Our verses – the punishment will touch them for their defiant disobedience. (Koran 6:49, Sahih International)

The word, “messengers,” is plural indicating that those messengers who brought us God’s revelations in the Bible are included, and not just Muhammad.

Hypocrites are among the defiantly disobedient.

The hypocrites, both men and women, proceed one from another. They enjoin the wrong, and they forbid the right, and they withhold their hands (from spending for the cause of Allah). They forget Allah, so He hath forgotten them. Lo! the hypocrites, they are the transgressors. (Koran 9:67, Pickthall)

The word translated “transgressors” in this verse is usually translated “defiantly disobedient” by Sahih International.

Those who falsely accuse honorable women of having committed fornication or adultery in public are defiantly disobedient.

And those who accuse honourable women but bring not four witnesses, scourge them (with) eighty stripes and never (afterward) accept their testimony — they indeed are evil-doers — save those who afterward repent and make amends. (For such) lo! Allah is Forgiving, Merciful. (Koran 24:4,5, Pickthall)

The Arabic word translated “evil-doers” in this passage is translated “defiantly disobedient” by Sahih International. Liars are “defiantly disobedient” (Koran 5:107,108; 9:95,96) The testimony of the defiantly disobedient must be verified.

O you who have believed, if there comes to you a disobedient one with information, investigate, lest you harm a people out of ignorance and become, over what you have done, regretful. (Koran 49:6, Sahih International)

The defiantly disobedient unwillingly give to charity and are lazy in prayer.

Say, “Spend willingly or unwillingly; never will it be accepted from you. Indeed, you have been a defiantly disobedient people.” And what prevents their expenditures from being accepted from them but that they have disbelieved in Allah and in His Messenger and that they come not to prayer except while they are lazy and that they do not spend except while they are unwilling. So let not their wealth or their children impress you. Allah only intends to punish them through them in worldly life and that their souls should depart [at death] while they are disbelievers. (Koran 9:53-55, Sahih International)

The defiantly disobedient do not think about God as they go through their lives. They forget Him.

O you who have believed, fear Allah. And let every soul look to what it has put forth for tomorrow – and fear Allah. Indeed, Allah is Acquainted with what you do. And be not like those who forgot Allah , so He made them forget themselves. Those are the defiantly disobedient. (Koran 59:18,19, Sahih International)

The Koran teaches:

Say, “Come, I will recite what your Lord has prohibited to you. [He commands] that you not associate anything with Him, and to parents, good treatment, and do not kill your children out of poverty; We will provide for you and them. And do not approach immoralities — what is apparent of them and what is concealed. And do not kill the soul which Allah has forbidden [to be killed] except by [legal] right. This has He instructed you that you may use reason.” (Koran 6:151, Sahih International)

Idolaters, people who mistreat their parents, people who kill their children (for example, by abortion), people who “approach immoralities” (fornication, adultery, and other sexual sins), and people who kill innocent people (for example, terrorists) are rejecting this revelation in the Koran and are, therefore, defiantly disobedient. (Notice that the doctrine of the Trinity is implied the words: “We will provide for you and them.”)

The final destination of the defiantly disobedient is Gehenna.

But as for those who defiantly disobeyed, their refuge is the Fire. Every time they wish to emerge from it, they will be returned to it while it is said to them, “Taste the punishment of the Fire which you used to deny.” And we will surely let them taste the nearer punishment short of the greater punishment that perhaps they will repent. (Koran 32:20,21, Sahih International)

And the Day those who disbelieved are exposed to the Fire [it will be said], “You exhausted your pleasures during your worldly life and enjoyed them, so this Day you will be awarded the punishment of [extreme] humiliation because you were arrogant upon the earth without right and because you were defiantly disobedient.” (Koran 46:20, Sahih International)

So, those who profess faith should accept God’s revelations in the Bible and the Koran and obey those revelations. Faith without works is dead. The believer and the defiantly disobedient are not alike.

 

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Who are the Hypocrites?

September 4, 2017 Leave a comment

In the Koran and also in the Bible, there is mention made of hypocrites. In this blog post, I intend to look at some of those passages and talk about the characteristics of a hypocrite.

No professing believer should want to practice hypocrisy. The eternal consequences can be devastating. In the Gospel according to St. Matthew, Jesus said:

“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the Kingdom of Heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’” (Matthew 7:21-23, NKJV)

Praying to Jesus, prophesying in His name, casting out demons in His name, and performing miracles in His name do not guarantee one a place in the Kingdom of Heaven. Doing the will of God does insure one a place there. The Lord will accuse those who are damned of practicing lawlessness. Sin is lawlessness. (I John 3:4) Those who practice sin (that is, break God’s commandments) are practicing lawlessness and should not think that their prayers and other activities done in Jesus’ name will secure them a place in God’s kingdom at the end of this present age.

St. Paul said that love is the fulfillment of the Law. Those who love others instinctively keep the commandments.

Owe no one anything except to love one another, for he who loves another has fulfilled the law. For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not bear false witness,” “You shall not covet,” and if there is any other commandment, are all summed up in this saying, namely, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no harm to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law. (Romans 13:8-10, NKJV)

Someone who harbors hatred in his heart toward another person or group of persons is a murderer.

Whoever hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him. (I John 3:15, NKJV)

St. Paul said that people who practice certain sins will not inherit the Kingdom of God.

Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. (Galatians 5:19-21, NKJV)

Murder is one of those sins. Hatred is a form of murder. It  is murder in one’s heart. So, anyone who harbors hatred in his heart does not have eternal life abiding in him and he will not inherit the Kingdom of God.

If a man truly loves another man’s wife as himself, he will not commit adultery with her. If he truly loves an unmarried woman, he, likewise, will not commit fornication with her. By practicing adultery and fornication, he bars both himself and the women with he does such acts from the Kingdom of God. St. Paul warns us not to be deceived.

Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God. (I Corinthians 6:9,10, NKJV)

People who are practicing fornication and adultery and thinking that they will inherit the Kingdom of God are deceived. They separate themselves from God, by not loving God. If they truly loved God, they would abstain from fornication and adultery. So, the adulterers and fornicators who think that they love each other really do not. No one can truly love another person unless he first loves God above all else. Those who practice the other sins mentioned in I Corinthians 6:9,10 and Galatians 5:19-21 should not think that they will inherit the Kingdom of God either.

In the Koran, it says:

Whoso doeth right it is for his soul, and whoso doeth wrong it is against it. And thy Lord is not at all a tyrant to His slaves. (Koran 41:46, Pickthall)

People who do wrong, wrong their own souls. However, it is possible to have miraculous gifts, give away all of one’s goods to feed the poor, die as a “martyr,” and still lose one’s soul.

Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing. (I Corinthians 13:1-3, NKJV)

The absence of love is hate. Those who hate others are murderers. Murderers do not have eternal life abiding in them and they will never inherit the Kingdom of God. One might still wonder whether those who feed the poor have love. Maybe they do, but it is still possible to do all of that and not have love. That is what St. Paul was teaching in the passage quoted from I Corinthians 13.  In the Koran, it says:

And feed with food the needy wretch, the orphan and the prisoner, for love of Him. (Koran 76:8, Pickthall)

Those who do these acts of kindness out of love for God are the ones who profit spiritually and have a reward from God in the afterlife. Love for God produces love for others.

If someone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen? (I John 4:20, NKJV)

Love for others produces charitable deeds.

But whoever has this world’s goods, and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him? (I John 3:17, NKJV)

Likewise, it is possible to profess faith in God and not possess faith in God. In the Catholic Epistle of James, it says:

What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him? If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, and one of you says to them, “Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,” but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit? Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. (James 2:14-17, NKJV)

The Koran says:

Thus is the Word of thy Lord justified concerning those who do wrong: that they believe not. (Koran 10:33, Pickthall)

People who practice unrighteousness are not true believers. Jesus said that there will be unbelievers mixed among the believers until the end of this present age.

Another parable He put forth to them, saying: “The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field; but while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat and went his way. But when the grain had sprouted and produced a crop, then the tares also appeared. So the servants of the owner came and said to him, ‘Sir, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have tares?’ He said to them, ‘An enemy has done this.’ The servants said to him, ‘Do you want us then to go and gather them up?’ But he said, ‘No, lest while you gather up the tares you also uproot the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest, and at the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, “First gather together the tares and bind them in bundles to burn them, but gather the wheat into my barn.”’” (Matthew 13:24-30, NKJV)

I remember someone telling me about people who would party and fornicate on Saturday night and then get up Sunday morning and go to church. I also remember attending an event for single Christians. Someone there was telling me about all of the women there at that event. He said that he had fornicated with some of them in the back seat of his car. I was immediately turned off when I heard that. Tares among the wheat. The tares are the hypocrites. In the Koran, it says:

Verily Allah knoweth those who believe, and verily He knoweth the hypocrites. (Koran 29:11, Pickthall)

Hypocrites are people who say they believe in God, but in reality they do not. The kind of lives they live demonstrate their unbelief. “Faith without works is dead.” (James 2:26)

When the hypocrites come unto thee (O Muhammad), they say: We bear witness that thou art indeed Allah’s messenger. And Allah knoweth that thou art indeed His messenger, and Allah beareth witness that the hypocrites indeed are speaking falsely. (Koran 63:1, Pickthall)

There will be hypocrites mixed in with the believers until the end of this present age. God knows who they are.

Hypocrites tell people to obey God’s commandments, but they do not obey them. Their walk does not match their talk.

Then Jesus spoke to the multitudes and to His disciples, saying: “The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat. Therefore whatever they tell you to observe, that observe and do, but do not do according to their works; for they say, and do not do… “But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you shut up the kingdom of heaven against men; for you neither go in yourselves, nor do you allow those who are entering to go in.” (Matthew 23:1-3,13, NKJV)

Hypocrites might also tell people that it is all right to break God’s commandments. I have met many people over the years who think that the words, “saved by grace through faith,” in Ephesians 2:8 have granted Christians a license to sin. It is true that we are saved by God’s mercy, but no one has been given by God a license to sin. In the Koran, it says:

O Prophet! Keep thy duty to Allah and obey not the disbelievers and the hypocrites. Lo! Allah is Knower, Wise. (Koran 33:1, Pickthall)

If one is keeping one’s duty to God, then one is obeying God. Apparently, the disbelievers and the hypocrites in this verse wanted Muhammad to disobey God. That is why it says “obey not the disbelievers and the hypocrites.”

Hypocrites strive to win converts and then teach the converts to travel the path to hell.

Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you travel land and sea to win one proselyte, and when he is won, you make him twice as much a son of hell as yourselves. (Matthew 23:15, NKJV)

Allah promiseth the hypocrites, both men and women, and the disbelievers fire of hell for their abode. It will suffice them. Allah curseth them, and theirs is lasting torment. (Koran 9:68, Pickthall)

Hypocrites do good deeds in order to be seen by men. They love the praise of men more than the praise of God.

Lo! the hypocrites seek to beguile Allah, but it is He Who beguileth them. When they stand up to worship they perform it languidly and to be seen of men, and are mindful of Allah but little. (Koran 4:142, Pickthall)

But all their works they do to be seen by men. They make their phylacteries broad and enlarge the borders of their garments… Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you devour widows’ houses, and for a pretense make long prayers. Therefore you will receive greater condemnation. (Matthew 23:5,14, NKJV)

So, hypocrites are people who profess to believe in God, but in reality they do not. They do not possess love for God and others. They do not have genuine faith which is manifested in good deeds. If they do good deeds, they do not do them out of love for God and one’s fellow man. They do them in order to be seen by men and receive praise from others. Hypocrites lead others to hell by teaching them to practice their ungodly lifestyle. Hypocrites profess to believe in God, but encourage others to disobey God.

An Atheist Who Believes in God

July 9, 2017 Leave a comment

I have watched a video this afternoon which has inspired me to write this blog post. Frank Schaeffer tells about his spiritual journey and his new belief in a paradox. He believes that God does not exist and God does exist. He talks about the “certainty addicts” who seem to think they have all of the answers. He is still a member of a Greek Orthodox Church in Massachusetts. I can see some of the traces of the Orthodox way of thinking in some of his reasoning. However, although I can agree with him on some points, I cannot fully agree with him on everything.

Here is the video. It lasts about an hour.

As far as certainty is concerned, I think that Jesus taught that it is possible to be certain of some things. He taught that we can know the truth.

Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. (John 8:31,32, NKJV)

Even the Koran teaches that one can be certain of the truth. It says:

There is no compulsion in religion. Certainly, right has become clearly distinct from wrong. Whoever rejects the devil and believes in God has firmly taken hold of a strong handle that never breaks. God is All-hearing and knowing. (Koran 2:256, Muhammad Sarwar)

The prophecies about Christ in the Old Testament and their fulfillment in the New Testament demonstrate that the Bible is the Word of God. The mathematical miracles in the Koran demonstrate that it is a work of Divine Providence and therefore a revelation from God.

However, both the Bible and the Koran teach that we cannot know everything. God is incomprehensible. We can never know everything that there is to know about God.

Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out! “For who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has become His counselor?” “Or who has first given to Him And it shall be repaid to him?” (Romans 11:33-35, NKJV)

Allah! There is no God save Him, the Alive, the Eternal. Neither slumber nor sleep overtaketh Him. Unto Him belongeth whatsoever is in the heavens and whatsoever is in the earth. Who is he that intercedeth with Him save by His leave? He knoweth that which is in front of them and that which is behind them, while they encompass nothing of His knowledge save what He will. His throne includeth the heavens and the earth, and He is never weary of preserving them. He is the Sublime, the Tremendous. (Koran 2:255, Pickthall)

We cannot analyze God in the same way that we can analyze the parts of a frog after dissecting it. We always encounter a mystery whenever we encounter God. God is far bigger than we are.

There are two types of theology: apophatic theology and cataphatic theology. When we use apophatic theology, we define God in terms of what He is not. When we use cataphatic theology, we define God in terms of who He is.

Nature itself teaches us that there is a God. We should not doubt His existence.

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. (Romans 1:18-21, NKJV)

The created world in which we live points to a Creator — an Intelligence behind it all. The Contemporary Islamic Music artist, Maher Zain, has expressed this truth regarding the existence of God well in his song, “Open Your Eyes.”

God is in all places at all times. He is everywhere we are.

To God belong the East and the West; whithersoever you turn, there is the Face of God; God is All-embracing, All-knowing. (Koran 2:115, Arberry)

It is He that created the heavens and the earth in six days then seated Himself upon the Throne. He knows what penetrates into the earth, and what comes forth from it, — what comes down from heaven, and what goes up unto it. He is with you wherever you are; and God sees the things you do. (Koran 57:4, Arberry)

Hast thou not seen that Allah knoweth all that is in the heavens and all that is in the earth? There is no secret conference of three but He is their fourth, nor of five but He is their sixth, nor of less than that or more but He is with them wheresoever they may be; and afterward, on the Day of Resurrection, He will inform them of what they did. Lo! Allah is Knower of all things. (Koran 58:7, Pickthall)

We indeed created man; and We know what his soul whispers within him, and We are nearer to him than the jugular vein. (Koran 50:16, Arberry)

God “fills all in all.” (Ephesians 1:23)

Faith is necessary in order to draw near to God in prayer. If one wants to know God, he must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who diligently seek Him.

But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. (Hebrews 11:6, NKJV)

Genuine faith is faith without doubt. It is faith that manifests itself in good deeds.

The believers are only the ones who have believed in Allah and His Messenger and then doubt not but strive with their properties and their lives in the cause of Allah. It is those who are the truthful. (Koran 49:15, Sahih International)

Then He said to Thomas, “Reach your finger here, and look at My hands; and reach your hand here, and put it into My side. Do not be unbelieving, but believing. (John 20:27, NKJV)

For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also. (James 2:26, NKJV)

Those who do not strive to keep God’s commandments do not genuinely know Him.

Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments. He who says, “I know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. (I John 2:3,4, NKJV)

Not through science, not through philosophy, but through prayer prayed in faith do we discover God. The words of this song by the Contemporary Christian Music artist, Pat Terry, illustrate this point quite well.

Both the Koran and the Bible teach that there will be a final judgment. God will judge everyone at the end of this age.

O ye who believe! Come, all of you, into submission (unto Him); and follow not the footsteps of the devil. Lo! he is an open enemy for you. And if ye slide back after the clear proofs have come unto you, then know that Allah is Mighty, Wise. Wait they for naught else than that Allah should come unto them in the shadows of the clouds with the angels? Then the case would be already judged. All cases go back to Allah (for judgment). (Koran 2:208-210, Pickthall)

Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And He will send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other. (Matthew 24:29-31, NKJV)

When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory. All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats. And He will set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left. (Matthew 25:31-33, NKJV)

Behold, He is coming with clouds, and every eye will see Him, even they who pierced Him. And all the tribes of the earth will mourn because of Him. Even so, Amen. (Revelation 1:7, NKJV)

Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent, because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead. (Acts 17:30,31, NKJV)

There can be no paradox that states that God exists and He does not exist. Both Christianity and Islam are revealed religions. Both teach that there is a God who created everything. Both teach that God is omnipresent. Both teach that genuine faith lacks doubt. Truth can be known. There are certainties. We cannot know everything, but we can be certain of some things. The existence of God is a certainty. The knowledge of God is possible. We discover God through prayer prayed in faith that He is there listening to our words. Maybe someday Frank Schaeffer will rethink his theology or the lack thereof. God is his judge. We should not judge him, but we should reject his error.

 

God Forgives: An Exegesis of Koran 3:129-136

Now, I want to do an exegesis on another passage from the Koran — Surah 3:129-136. This passage contains some good moral teaching plus promises of eternal bliss for those who believe in God and obey Him. It also contains some words that have been used by Christian apologists to prove the deity of Jesus Christ.

Some words about Orthodox Christian doctrine for my Muslim readers need to be said first. We Orthodox Christians are not Bitheists, nor are we Tritheists. We worship one God who exists in three distinct hypostases. These  hypostases (subsistences) are often called Persons. All three Persons of the Deity share the same essence (that is, substance). If one were to divide the Divine Essence into infinitesimal particles, each particle would belong to all three Persons. We believe that the Father has neither a beginning, nor an origin. We believe that the Word (also called the Son) has an origin, but no beginning. We believe that the Holy Spirit has an origin, but no beginning. The procession of the Son from the Father is called “being begotten.” This does not mean that the Father had sexual relations with a female goddess or creature. There is only one God. Therefore, no female goddess exists. The Divine Essence does not possess genitals. Therefore, there was no sexual procreation involved in the origination of the Son. The terms “being begotten” and “begotten” are theological terms used in the Bible. No one should interpret them literally. The procession of the Holy Spirit is called “proceeding.” We believe that the Word of God became incarnate in the body of the Virgin Mary. Jesus, who is the incarnate Word of God, possesses both a divine nature and a human nature. The two natures of Jesus are joined together without separation, division, mixture, or change. The divine nature of Jesus was not converted into a human nature. The human nature of Jesus was not converted into a divine nature. The two natures are joined together by diffusion. The divine nature permeates the human nature of Jesus. The divine nature is omnipresent. The human nature is limited in space and time. Whenever we pray to the Son, we are praying to the same God that the Father and the Holy Spirit are. Whenever we pray to the Holy Spirit, we are praying to the same God that the Father and the Son are. All three Persons are one and the same God, but different hypostases of that God. So, whenever we say that Jesus is God, we are not saying that He is a different God from the Father. He is a different hypostasis of that God.

Now for the exegesis of the the text. The first verse in this passage is verse 129.

To Allah belongeth all that is in the heavens and on earth. He forgiveth whom He pleaseth and punisheth whom He pleaseth; but Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful. (Koran 3:129, Yusuf Ali)

The Koran contains so many teachings which are very similar to those found in the Bible. The first sentence in this verse teaches what is taught in the Psalms. “To Allah belongeth all that is in the heavens and the earth.” Look at these four verses from the Psalms.

The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof; the world, and all that dwell in it. (Psalm 23:1, LXX; Psalm 24:1, Hebrew)

If I should be hungry, I will not tell thee: for the world is Mine, and the fullness of it. (Psalm 49:12, LXX; Psalm 50:12, Hebrew)

The heavens are Thine, and the earth is Thine: Thou hast founded the world, and the fullness of it.  (Psalm 88:11, LXX; Psalm 89:11, Hebrew)

The heaven of heavens belongs to the Lord: but He has given the earth to the sons of men.  (Psalm 113:24, LXX; Psalm 115:16, Hebrew)

The Koran and the Bible both teach that God owns everything. I remember the words of a song by Pat Terry in the 1970s: “Everything thing I own will still belong to Him.” Even though “He has given the earth to the sons of men” (Psalm 113:24, LXX; Psalm 115:6, Hebrew), He still owns it because He owns “all that dwell in it.” (Psalm 23:1, LXX; Psalm 24:1, Hebrew)

Now I want to talk about how Jesus inherits the universe that He created. As God, He already owns it. As Man, born under the covenants, He inherits it. In Galatians, it says:

Now to Abraham and his Seed were the promises made. He does not say, “And to seeds,” as of many, but as of one, “And to your Seed,” who is Christ. (Galatians 3:16, NKJV)

St. Paul, who wrote this epistle to the Galatians, used the Septuagint version of the Old Testament. He quoted from it frequently in his epistles. Here are some verses from the Septuagint version of Genesis.

And the Lord appeared to Abram, and said to him, I will give this land to thy seed. And Abram built an altar there to the Lord who appeared to him. (Genesis 12:7, LXX)

And God said to Abram after Lot was separated from him, Look up with thine eyes, and behold from the place where thou now art northward and southward, and eastward and seaward; for all the land which thou seest, I will give it to thee and to thy seed for ever. (Genesis 13:14,15, LXX)

The Lord the God of heaven, and the God of the earth, who took me out of my father’s house, and out of the land whence I sprang, who spoke to me, and who swore to me, saying, I will give this land to thee and to thy seed, He shall send His angel before thee, and thou shalt take a wife to my son from thence. (Genesis 24:7, LXX)

Notice that the word, “seed,” is singular thus referring to only one Person, the Messiah or the Christ. In Romans, we learn that God promised the entire universe to Abraham and his Seed.

For the promise that he would be the heir of the world (Greek, kosmos, universe) was not to Abraham or to his seed through the law, but through the righteousness of faith. (Romans 4:13, NKJV)

Before His death and resurrection, Jesus said:

All things that the Father has are Mine. (John 16:15, NKJV)

After His death and resurrection, He said:

All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. (Matthew 28:18, NKJV)

In Hebrews, it says:

God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds ( Greek, aionas, ages). (Hebrew 1:1,2, NKJV)

As God, Jesus already owned the universe. (John 16:15) As Man, He inherited the entire universe after He arose from the dead. (Matthew 28:18; Hebrews 1:1,2)

God created not only the universe, but also time itself. (Hebrews 1:2) God the Father owns time, just like He owns the universe. Jesus owns time, too. (John 16:15)

In Romans, it says:

The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs — heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together. (Romans 8:16,17, NKJV)

Those who do the will of God and keep His commandments are His children. As children of God, they are also heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ.

In the 19th Surah of the Koran, it says:

It is We Who will inherit the earth, and all beings thereon: to Us will they all be returned. (Koran 19:40, Yusuf Ali)

The Divine Essence permeates the human nature of Jesus. Each infinitesimal particle of the Divine Essence belongs to all three hypostases of the Deity. Therefore, God (the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit) says, “It is We Who will inherit the earth, and all beings thereon.” God already owns everything, but through the Son who became incarnate the other two hypostases inherit what They already own.

The existence of only one God who is a plural number of Persons can be seen in this passage from the 21st Surah.

Lo! this, your religion, is one religion, and I am your Lord, so worship Me. And they have broken their religion (into fragments) among them, (yet) all are returning unto Us. (Koran 21:92,93, Pickthall)

God uses the singular first person pronoun, Me, in reference to Himself in 21:92 and the first person plural pronoun, Us, in reference to Himself in 21:93. The first person singular pronoun indicates that there is only one God. The first person plural pronoun indicates that He exists in three Persons: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

“He forgiveth whom He pleaseth and punisheth whom He pleaseth.”

These words are also taught in the Bible. Look at these two passages.

But our God has done in heaven and on earth, whatsoever He has pleased. ( Psalm 113:11, LXX; Psalm 115:3, Hebrew)

What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? Certainly not! For He says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whomever I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whomever I will have compassion.” So then it is not of him who wills, nor of him who runs, but of God who shows mercy. For the Scripture says to the Pharaoh, “For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I may show My power in you, and that My name may be declared in all the earth.” Therefore He has mercy on whom He wills, and whom He wills He hardens. (Romans 9:14-18, NKJV)

“But Allah is Oft-forgiving, Most Merciful.”

Elsewhere in the Koran, it says:

For Thou art the Most Merciful of those who show mercy. (Koran 7:151, Yusuf Ali)

and:

Grant Thou forgiveness and mercy for Thou art the Best of those who show mercy. (Koran 23:118, Yusuf Ali)

The Koran often emphasizes that God is merciful toward His creatures.

The Bible, likewise, teaches that God is merciful. According to the Bible, God is “rich in mercy.” (Ephesians 2:4) The Holy Prophet Micah said that God delights in mercy.

Who is a God like Thee, cancelling iniquities, and passing over the sins of the remnant of His inheritance? and He has not kept His anger for a testimony, for He delights in mercy. He will return and have mercy upon us; He will sink our iniquities, and they shall be cast into the depth of the sea, even all our sins. (Micah 7:18,19, LXX)

The Koran teaches that God forgives all sins.

Say: “O my Servants who have transgressed against their souls! Despair not of the Mercy of Allah: for Allah forgives all sins: for He is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.” (Koran 39:53, Yusuf Ali)

The angels intercede before God for believers who have sinned.

Those [angels] who carry the Throne and those around it exalt [Allah] with praise of their Lord and believe in Him and ask forgiveness for those who have believed, [saying], “Our Lord, You have encompassed all things in mercy and knowledge, so forgive those who have repented and followed Your way and protect them from the punishment of Hellfire. (Koran 40:7, Sahih International)

It is the practice of us Orthodox Christians to ask for the prayers of their guardian angels. So, this notion about angels praying for people is not strange to us.

Faith in God is necessary for one to be forgiven by God. Both the Koran and the Bible teach this.

Indeed, we have believed in our Lord that He may forgive us our sins and what you compelled us [to do] of magic. And Allah is better and more enduring. (Koran 20:73, Sahih International)

O our people! respond to Allah’s summoner and believe in Him. He will forgive you some of your sins and guard you from a painful doom. (Koran 46:31, Pickthall)

To Him all the prophets witness that, through His name, whoever believes in Him will receive remission of sins. (Acts 10:43, NKJV)

The Koran tells us to believe in Muhammad and not just in him, but in all of the messengers of God.

O you who have believed, fear Allah and believe in His Messenger; He will [then] give you a double portion of His mercy and make for you a light by which you will walk and forgive you; and Allah is Forgiving and Merciful. (Koran 57:28, Sahih International)

So believe in Allah and His messengers. If ye believe and ward off (evil), yours will be a vast reward. (Koran 3:179, Pickthall)

The Koran, like the Bible, teaches that repentance is also necessary in order for one to be forgiven by God.

O ye who believe! Turn unto Allah in sincere repentance! It may be that your Lord will remit from you your evil deeds and bring you into Gardens underneath which rivers flow, on the day when Allah will not abase the Prophet and those who believe with him. Their light will run before them and on their right hands; they will say: Our Lord! Perfect our light for us, and forgive us! Lo! Thou art Able to do all things. (Koran 66:8, Pickthall)

Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord. (Acts 3:19, NKJV)

People who refuse to repent and defiantly disobey God do not receive forgiveness from God. Both the Koran and the Bible teach this.

It is all the same for them whether you ask forgiveness for them or do not ask forgiveness for them; never will Allah forgive them. Indeed, Allah does not guide the defiantly disobedient people. (Koran 63:6, Sahih International)

But unless you repent you will all likewise perish. (Luke 13:3, NKJV)

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness. (Romans 1:18, NKJV)

But in accordance with your hardness and your impenitent heart you are treasuring up for yourself wrath in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God, who “will render to each one according to his deeds”: eternal life to those who by patient continuance in doing good seek for glory, honor, and immortality; but to those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness — indignation and wrath, tribulation and anguish, on every soul of man who does evil, of the Jew first and also of the Greek; but glory, honor, and peace to everyone who works what is good, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For there is no partiality with God. (Romans 2:5-11, NKJV)

The next verse is verse 130.

O ye who believe! Devour not usury, doubled and multiplied; but fear Allah; that ye may (really) prosper. (Koran 3:130, Yusuf Ali)

“O ye who believe! Devour not usury, doubled and multiplied.”

Usury is loaning money at interest. Banks and credit card companies make money doing this. Historically, however, Christians regarded usury as a grave sin. It was not until the advent of Calvinist theology in the 16th century that Christians began loaning money at interest. The Roman Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church were opposed to the practice of usury in ancient times.

There are prohibitions against usury in the Bible. In the Torah, the ancient Israelites were forbidden to loan money to a fellow Israelite at interest, but they were allowed to loan money to those who were not Israelites at interest.

And if thou shouldest lend money to thy poor brother who is by thee, thou shalt not be hard upon him. Thou shalt not exact usury of him. (Exodus 22:25, LXX)

Thou shalt not lend to thy brother on usury of silver, or usury of meat, or usury of any thing which thou mayest lend out. Thou mayest lend on usury to a stranger, but to thy brother thou shalt not lend on usury; that the Lord thy God may bless thee in all thy works upon the land, into which thou art entering to inherit it. (Deuteronomy 23:19,20, LXX)

In the later books of the Bible, people were forbidden to loan money at interest to anyone, whether he be an Israelite or a foreigner.

O Lord, who shall sojourn in Thy tabernacle? And who shall dwell in Thy holy mountain?… He has not lent his money on usury, and has not received bribes against the innocent. He that does these things shall never be moved. (Psalm 14:1,5, LXX; Psalm 15:1,5, Hebrew)

He that increases his wealth by usuries and unjust gains, gathers it for him that pities the poor. (Proverbs 30:8, LXX; Proverbs 28:8, Hebrew)

Woe is me, my mother, that you have borne me, a man of strife and a man of contention to the whole earth! I have neither lent for interest, nor have men lent to me for interest. Every one of them curses me. (Jeremiah 15:10, NKJV)

But the man who shall be just, who executes judgment and righteousness, who shall not eat upon the mountains, and shall not at all lift up his eyes to the devices of the house of Israel, and shall not defile his neighbor’s wife, and shall not draw nigh to her that is removed, and shall not oppress any man, but shall return the pledge of the debtor, and shall be guilty of no plunder, shall give his bread to the hungry, and clothe the naked; and shall not lend his money upon usury, and shall not receive usurious increase, and shall turn back his hand from injustice, shall execute righteous judgement between a man and his neighbor, and has walked in My commandments and kept Mine ordinances, to do them; he is righteous, he shall surely live, saith the Lord. And if he beget a mischievous son, shedding blood and committing sins, who has not walked in the way of his righteous father, but has even eaten upon the mountains, and has defiled his neighbor’s wife, and has oppressed the poor and needy, and has committed robbery, and not restored a pledge, and has set his eyes upon idols, has wrought iniquities, has lent upon usury, and taken usurious increase; he shall by no means live: he has wrought all these iniquities; he shall surely die; his blood shall be upon him. And if he beget a son, and the son see all his father’s sins which he has wrought, and fear, and not do according to them, and if he has not eaten on the mountains, and has not set his eyes on the devices of the house of Israel, and has not defiled his neighbor’s wife, and has not oppressed a man, and has not retained the pledge, nor committed robbery, has given his bread to the hungry, and has clothed the naked, and has turned back his hand from unrighteousness, has not received interest or usurious increase, has wrought righteousness, and walked in mine ordinances; he shall not die for the iniquities of his father, he shall surely live. (Ezekiel 18:5-17, LXX)

Behold, the princes of the house of Israel have conspired in thee each one with his kindred, that they might shed blood. In thee they have reviled father and mother; and in thee they have behaved unjustly toward the stranger: they have oppressed the orphan and widow. And they have set at nought My holy things, and in thee they have profaned My sabbaths. There are robbers in thee, to shed blood in thee; and in thee they have eaten upon the mountains: they have wrought ungodliness in the midst of thee. In thee they have uncovered the father’s shame; and in thee they have humbled her that was set apart for uncleanness. They have dealt unlawfully each one with his neighbor’s wife; and each one in ungodliness has defiled his daughter-in-law: and in thee they have humbled each one his sister, the daughter of his father. In thee they have received gifts to shed blood; they have received in thee interest and usurious increase; and by oppression thou hast brought thy wickedness to the full, and hast forgotten Me, saith the Lord. And if I shall smite My hand at thine iniquities which thou hast accomplished, which thou hast wrought, and at thy blood that has been shed in the midst of thee, shall thy heart endure? Shall thine hands be strong in the days which I bring upon thee? I the Lord have spoken, and will do it. (Ezekiel 22:6-14, LXX)

But love your enemies, do good, and lend, hoping for nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High. For He is kind to the unthankful and evil. (Luke 6:35, NKJV)

The Church Fathers were opposed to usury. Here are some citations from two of them: St. Gregory the Theologian and St. John Chrysostom.

That the Fathers have been too gentle toward the idolatry of covetous persons, in condemning to penance only robbery, digging of graves, and sacrilege, whereas usury and oppression, though under colour of contract, are forbidden by Scripture. That highwaymen returning to the Church, be treated as murderers. They that pilfer, and then confess their sin to the priest, are only obliged to amendment, and to be liberal to the poor; and if they have nothing, to labour and give their earnings. (Canon VI, St. Gregory the Theologian, vol. 14, p. 611, Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Second Series)

Lend there, where thy return cannot be death, but life instead of death. For this usury is the harbinger of a kingdom, that, of hell; the one coming of covetousness, the other of self-denial; the one of cruelty, the other of humanity.  (Homily V on the Gospel according to St. Matthew, by St. John Chrysostom, vol. 10, p. 35, Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, First Series)

The canons of St. Gregory the Theologian were accepted by the Quinisext Council in its Second Canon in 692 A.D. The Quinisext Council is an extension of the Fifth and Sixth Ecumenical Councils. Therefore, it is ecumenical and the Canons of St. Gregory, which were accepted by it, are binding on the whole Church.

Usury

“But fear Allah; that ye may really prosper.”

Those who fear God will truly prosper. The Bible teaches the same thing. He who fears God, begins to be wise.

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and all that act accordingly have a good understanding; his praise endures for ever and ever. (Psalm 110:10, LXX; Psalm 111:10, Hebrew)

The man who gets wisdom obtains long life (that is, immortality), wealth, and glory.

Blessed is the man who has found wisdom, and the mortal who knows prudence. For it is better to traffic for her, than for treasures of gold and silver. And she is more valuable than precious stones: no evil thing shall resist her: she is well known to all that approach her, and no precious thing is equal to her in value. For length of existence and years of life are in her right hand; and in her left hand are wealth and glory: out of her mouth proceeds righteousness, and she carries law and mercy upon her tongue. Her ways are good ways, and all her paths are peaceful. She is a tree of life to all that lay hold upon her; and she is a secure help to all that stay themselves on her, as on the Lord. (Proverbs 3:13-18, LXX)

In the 22nd chapter of Proverbs it says:

The fear of the Lord is the offspring of wisdom, and wealth, and glory, and life. (Proverbs 22:4, LXX)

The offspring of wisdom means the beginning of wisdom as in Psalm 110:10 of the Septuagint. The fear of the Lord is also wealth, and glory, and life (that is, immortality). Departing from evil is a characteristic of a wise man.

Be not wise in thine own conceit; but fear God, and depart from all evil. (Proverbs 3:7, LXX)

A wise man fears, and departs from evil; but the fool trusts in himself, and joins himself with the transgressor. (Proverbs 14:16, LXX)

It is by fearing God that one departs from evil.

The fear of the Lord hates unrighteousness, and insolence, and pride, and the ways of wicked men; and I hate the perverse ways of bad men. (Proverbs 8:13, LXX)

But by the fear of the Lord every one departs from evil. (Proverbs 15:27, LXX; 16:6, Hebrew)

So, one who is willing to flirt with evil does not really fear God. Usury is evil. The way to depart from the practice of usury is to fear God. The thought of losing Paradise and inhabiting Hell should be enough to deter one from lending money at interest.

The next verse in this passage is verse 131.

Fear the Fire, which is repaired for those who reject Faith: (Koran 3:131, Yusuf Ali)

The Arabic word translated “repaired” by Yusuf Ali is usually translated “prepared” by most translators.

And fear the Fire, which has been prepared for the disbelievers. (Koran 3:131, Sahih International)

Faith without works is dead. (James 2:17,26) Those who refuse to do righteous deeds and avoid sin do not have genuine faith. They should not think that their dead faith will save them. The Bible speaks of the Fire which we all should fear.

The sinners in Sion have departed; trembling shall seize the ungodly. Who will tell you that a fire is kindled? Who will tell you of the eternal place? (Isaiah 33:14, LXX)

And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. (Matthew 10:28, NKJV)

And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire. (Revelation 22:15, NKJV)

But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death. (Revelation 21:8, NKJV)

Blessed are those who do His commandments, that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter through the gates into the city. But outside are dogs and sorcerers and sexually immoral and murderers and idolaters, and whoever loves and practices a lie. (Revelation 22:14,15, NKJV)

We need to remember that the Fire of Hell could also be our final abode if we refuse to demonstrate our faith in the practice of good deeds and the avoidance of evil deeds.

The next verse in this passage is verse 132.

And obey Allah and the Messenger; that ye may obtain mercy. (Koran 3:132, Yusuf Ali)

“And obey Allah and the Messenger.”

We are supposed to obey God and the Messenger. The Messenger is Muhammad. Muhammad did not receive any new revelations from God. In the 41st Surah, it says:

Nothing is said to you, [O Muhammad], except what was already said to the messengers before you. Indeed, your Lord is a possessor of forgiveness and a possessor of painful penalty. (Koran 41:43, Sahih International)

He was not an innovation among the Messengers of God. In the 46th Surah, it says:

Say: “I am not an innovation among the Messengers, and I know not what shall be done with me or with you. I only follow what is revealed to me; I am only a clear warner.” (Koran 46:9, Arberry)

In the Koran, it says that we should obey the Messengers of God.

And We did not send any messenger except to be obeyed by permission of Allah. (Koran 4:64, Sahih International)

Muhammad and the first generation Muslims obeyed the Messengers of God that preceded Muhammad.

The messenger believeth in that which hath been revealed unto him from his Lord and (so do) believers. Each one believeth in Allah and His angels and His Scriptures and His messengers –- We make no distinction between any of His messengers – and they say: We hear, and we obey. (Grant us) Thy forgiveness, our Lord. Unto Thee is the journeying. (Koran 2:285, Pickthall)

The Koran says that Muhammad is a good example to follow.

Verily in the Messenger of Allah ye have a good example for him who looketh unto Allah and the Last Day, and remembereth Allah much. (Koran 33:21, Pickthall)

If Muhammad believed in the messengers of God which preceded him and obeyed them, then we should do the same.

The first generation Muslims were the best community raised up for mankind.

Ye are the best community that hath been raised up for mankind. Ye enjoin right conduct and forbid indecency; and ye believe in Allah. (Koran 3:110, Pickthall)

If the first generation Muslims believed in the messengers of God which preceded Muhammad and obeyed them, then we should do the same.

Jesus is a Messenger of Allah. He told people to obey Him.

And (I come) confirming that which was before Me of the Torah, and to make lawful some of that which was forbidden unto you. I come unto you with a sign from your Lord, so keep your duty to Allah and obey Me. (Koran 3:50, Pickthall)

When Jesus came with clear proofs (of Allah’s Sovereignty), He said: I have come unto you with wisdom, and to make plain some of that concerning which ye differ. So keep your duty to Allah, and obey Me. (Koran 43:63, Pickthall)

He claimed that He spoke the words of God.

For I have not spoken on My own authority; but the Father who sent Me gave Me a command, what I should say and what I should speak. And I know that His command is everlasting life. Therefore, whatever I speak, just as the Father has told Me, so I speak. (John 12:49,50, NKJV)

Jesus answered and said to him, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him. He who does not love Me does not keep My words; and the word which you hear is not Mine but the Father’s who sent Me. (John 14:23,24, NKJV)

“That ye may obtain mercy.”

Jesus said:

Therefore be merciful, just as your Father also is merciful. (Luke 6:36, NKJV)

He also said:

Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy. (Mattthew 5:7, NKJV)

St. James, who was either one of Jesus’ cousins or His stepbrother, was a disciple of Jesus. Jesus said that if we reject the message delivered to us by one of His disciples, then we reject Jesus. If we reject Jesus, then we also reject Allah the Father who sent Jesus. If we hear Jesus’ disciples, we hear Jesus. If we receive their teaching, we receive the teaching of Jesus which is the teaching of Allah.

He who hears you hears Me, he who rejects you rejects Me, and he who rejects Me rejects Him who sent Me. (Luke 10:16, NKJV)

He who receives you receives Me, and he who receives Me receives Him who sent Me. (Matthew 10:40, NKJV)

The Koran gives a stern warning to those who disbelieve Jesus and His disciples.

And [remember] when I inspired to the disciples, “Believe in Me and in My messenger Jesus.” They said, “We have believed, so bear witness that indeed we are Muslims [in submission to Allah].” [And remember] when the disciples said, “O Jesus, Son of Mary, can your Lord send down to us a table [spread with food] from the heaven? [Jesus] said, “Fear Allah , if you should be believers.” They said, “We wish to eat from it and let our hearts be reassured and know that you have been truthful to us and be among its witnesses.” Said Jesus, the Son of Mary, “O Allah , our Lord, send down to us a table [spread with food] from the heaven to be for us a festival for the first of us and the last of us and a sign from You. And provide for us, and You are the best of providers.” Allah said, “Indeed, I will send it down to you, but whoever disbelieves afterwards from among you — then indeed will I punish him with a punishment by which I have not punished anyone among the worlds. (Koran 5:111-115, Sahih International)

St. James wrote:

So speak and so do as those who will be judged by the law of liberty. For judgment is without mercy to the one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment. (James 2:12,13, NKJV)

Those who are merciful to others will receive mercy from God. Those who are not merciful to others will receive no mercy from God.

I have seen on TV the lack of mercy that is being shown to innocent civilians in the Syrian Civil War. Syrian soldiers have used chemical weapons on unarmed civilians killing babies, children, and women as well as civilian men. Russian planes have bombed hospitals. There is a total lack of mercy being exhibited by these militaries. PISSI (the Pseudo-Islamic State of Syria and Iraq) has beheaded people and used innocent civilians as human shields. There is no mercy being displayed by this Pseudo-Islamic extremist organization. People who behave like this should not expect to receive mercy from God.

In the Old Testament, the Holy Prophets Solomon and Daniel said:

By alms and by faithful dealings sins are purged away. (Proverbs 15:27, LXX)

Therefore, O king, let my counsel please thee, and atone for thy sins by alms, and thine iniquities by compassion on the poor: it may be God will be long-suffering to thy trespasses. (Daniel 5:24, LXX; Daniel 4:27, Hebrew)

Giving alms to the poor is one way to show mercy. These acts of charity toward the poor are in stark contrast to the lender who lends money at interest. The Koran says:

If ye lend unto Allah a goodly loan, He will double it for you and will forgive you, for Allah is Responsive, Clement. (Koran 64:17, Pickthall)

The Bible agrees with the Koran. It says:

He that has pity on the poor lends to the Lord; and he will recompense to him according to his gift. (Proverbs 19:17, LXX)

Those who give to the poor lend to the Lord. That is what these verses from the Koran and the Bible teach.

The Holy Prophets Hosea and Micah taught us that God desires that we be merciful to others. God wants us to “love mercy.”

For I desire mercy and not sacrifice, and the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings. (Hosea 6:6, NKJV)

Has it not been told thee, O man, what is good? Or what does the Lord require of thee, but to do justice, and love mercy, and be ready to walk with the Lord thy God? (Micah 6:8, LXX)

Another way that we obtain mercy from God is through repentance and prayer.

Let the ungodly leave his ways, and the transgressor his counsels: and let him return to the Lord, and he shall find mercy; for He shall abundantly pardon your sins. (Isaiah 55:7, LXX)

Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need. (Hebrews 4:16, NKJV)

So, there are four things that we need to be doing in order to obtain mercy from God: being merciful to others, giving to the poor, repenting of our sins, and praying to God. The Koran says that we should obey Jesus and the other messengers of Allah. Therefore, we need to do those things that the messengers of Allah told us to do in the passages I just cited from the Bible.

The next verse in this passage is verse 133.

Be quick in the race for forgiveness from your Lord, and for a Garden whose width is that (of the whole) of the heavens and of the earth, prepared for the righteous,- (Koran 3:133, Yusuf Ali)

“Be quick in the race for forgiveness from your Lord.”

The Arabic verb translated “be quick in the race” is sāriʿū. It is a form 3 verb. Form three verbs indicate that someone else is present during the action of the verb or the action of the verb is reciprocal. In this verse, someone else is present during the action of the verb. This verb means “to hasten.” So, one is supposed to hasten while someone else is present. Pickthall translated the verb, “vie one with another.” I like Yusuf Ali’s translation. It is reminiscent of some passages in the New Testament which likens the Christian life to that of one running a race.

Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. (Hebrews 12:1,2, NKJV)

Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it. And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown. Therefore I run thus: not with uncertainty. Thus I fight: not as one who beats the air. But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified. (I Corinthians 9:24-27, NKJV)

One obtains forgiveness from God through prayer, repentance, and forgiving others. (Isaiah 55:7; Sirach 28:2; Matthew 6:14,15; 18:35; Mark 11:25,26; Luke 6:37; Acts 3:19; I John 1:9; Koran 3:89; 4:16,146; 16:119; 24:5,22) All of the righteous men and women who have died are watching us as we continue on in this race. That is what the words, “surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses,” mean in Hebrews 12:1.

“And a Garden whose width is that (of the whole) of the heavens and of the earth, prepared for the righteous.”

This Garden might be a heavenly Paradise — one that is not of this world. Jesus told the repentant thief who was crucified next to Him.

Today you will be with Me in Paradise. (Luke 23:43, NKJV)

In the Book of Ezekiel, it says:

And the Word of the Lord came to me, saying, Son of man, take up a lamentation for the Prince of Tyre, and say to him, Thus saith the Lord God; Thou art a seal of resemblance, and crown of beauty. Thou wast in the delight of the Paradise of God; thou hast bound upon thee every precious stone, the sardius, and topaz, and emerald, and carbuncle, and sapphire, and jasper, and silver, and gold, and ligure, and agate, and amethyst, and chrysolite, and beryl, and onyx: and thou hast filled thy treasures and thy stores in thee with gold. From the day that thou wast created thou wast with the cherub: I set thee on the holy mount of God; thou wast in the midst of the stones of fire. Thou wast faultless in thy days, from the day that thou wast created, until iniquity was found in thee. (Ezekiel 28:11-15, LXX)

The Prince of Tyre is Satan. Satan once inhabited this heavenly Paradise. He sinned against God and lost his right to remain in Paradise. This heavenly Paradise is where the souls of the righteous go after they die.

The next verse in this passage is verse 134.

Those who spend (freely), whether in prosperity, or in adversity; who restrain anger, and pardon (all) men; — for Allah loves those who do good;- (Koran 3:134, Yusuf Ali)

“Those who spend (freely), whether in prosperity, or in adversity.”

Instead of saying “give,” the Koran frequently says “spend.” Whenever one gives to the poor and those in need, one is purchasing treasure in heaven. That is what Jesus told the rich, young ruler. So, then one is spending as if he were shopping when he gives.

Jesus said to him, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.” (Matthew 19:21, NKJV)

Jesus promised us that we would receive back more than we give.

Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you. (Luke 6:38, NKJV)

The Koran tells us to whom we are supposed to “spend.”

They ask thee, (O Muhammad), what they shall spend. Say: that which ye spend for good (must go) to parents and near kindred and orphans and the needy and the wayfarer. And whatsoever good ye do, lo! Allah is Aware of it. (Koran 2:215, Pickthall)

It also tells us how much we are supposed to “spend.”

They ask thee how much they are to spend; Say: “What is beyond your needs.” Thus doth Allah Make clear to you His Signs: In order that ye may consider. (Koran 2:219, Yusuf Ali)

In the Gospels, there is the example of the poor widow who gave all that she had.

Now Jesus sat opposite the treasury and saw how the people put money into the treasury. And many who were rich put in much. Then one poor widow came and threw in two mites, which make a quadrans. So He called His disciples to Himself and said to them, “Assuredly, I say to you that this poor widow has put in more than all those who have given to the treasury; for they all put in out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty put in all that she had, her whole livelihood.” (Mark 12:41-44, NKJV)

St. Paul told us to give in proportion to how much we have prospered.

Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I have given orders to the churches of Galatia, so you must do also: on the first day of the week let each one of you lay something aside, storing up as he may prosper, that there be no collections when I come. (I Corinthian 16:1,2, NKJV)

Maybe we cannot give our entire livelihood like the poor widow did, but we all should give what is beyond our needs in proportion to how much we have prospered. The Pharisees gave ten percent of what they have earned. (Matthew 23:23; Luke 18:12) We should give more.

For I say to you, that unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 5:20, NKJV)

St. Paul also said not to give out of compulsion. We should give willingly.

But this I say: He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver. (II Corithians 9:6,7, NKJV)

The Koran also teaches us that we should “spend” or give what we have earned. We should not  give to others something that we ourselves dislike or find disgusting.

O ye who believe! Spend of the good things which ye have earned, and of that which We bring forth from the earth for you, and seek not the bad (with intent) to spend thereof (in charity) when ye would not take it for yourselves save with disdain; and know that Allah is Absolute, Owner of Praise. (Koran 2:267, Pickthall)

Jesus told us to do our charitable deeds in secret and not in order to be seen by men.

Take heed that you do not do your charitable deeds before men, to be seen by them. Otherwise you have no reward from your Father in heaven. Therefore, when you do a charitable deed, do not sound a trumpet before you as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory from men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. But when you do a charitable deed, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, that your charitable deed may be in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will Himself reward you openly. (Matthew 6:1-4, NKJV)

We should give in prosperity or in adversity.

“Who restrain anger.”

The Bible has some teachings about anger.

“Be angry, and do not sin:” do not let the sun go down on your wrath, nor give place to the devil. (Ephesians 4:26,27, NKJV)

But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment. And whoever says to his brother, ‘Raca!’ shall be in danger of the council. But whoever says, ‘You fool!’ shall be in danger of hell fire. (Matthew 5:22, NKJV)

The Bible, like the Koran, says that we should restrain anger. There is legitimate anger. There is also illegitimate anger. Becoming angry because someone killed children and innocent civilians with chemical weapons is legitimate anger. Becoming angry with someone because he did not help commit a crime is illegitimate anger. Hatred, outbursts of wrath, and dissensions are some of the works of the flesh which if practiced, will bar one from inheriting the kingdom of God. (Galatians 5:19-21)

“And pardon all men.”

Once in the Old  Testament, four times in the Gospels, and twice in the Koran, the principal that God forgives those who forgive others is taught. That is a total of seven times.

Forgive thy neighbour the hurt that he hath done unto thee, so shall thy sins also be forgiven when thou prayest. (Sirach 28:2, KJV)

For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses. (Matthew 6:14,15, NKJV)

“Therefore the kingdom of heaven is like a certain king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. And when he had begun to settle accounts, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents. But as he was not able to pay, his master commanded that he be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and that payment be made. The servant therefore fell down before him, saying, ‘Master, have patience with me, and I will pay you all.’ Then the master of that servant was moved with compassion, released him, and forgave him the debt. “But that servant went out and found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii; and he laid hands on him and took him by the throat, saying, ‘Pay me what you owe!’ So his fellow servant fell down at his feet[d] and begged him, saying, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you all.’ And he would not, but went and threw him into prison till he should pay the debt. So when his fellow servants saw what had been done, they were very grieved, and came and told their master all that had been done. Then his master, after he had called him, said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you begged me. Should you not also have had compassion on your fellow servant, just as I had pity on you?’ And his master was angry, and delivered him to the torturers until he should pay all that was due to him. So My heavenly Father also will do to you if each of you, from his heart, does not forgive his brother his trespasses. (Matthew 18:23-35, NKJV)

And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him, that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses. But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father in heaven forgive your trespasses. (Mark 11:25,26, NKJV)

Judge not, and you shall not be judged. Condemn not, and you shall not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. (Luke 6:37, NKJV)

Let not those among you who are endued with grace and amplitude of means resolve by oath against helping their kinsmen, those in want, and those who have left their homes in Allah’s cause: let them forgive and overlook, do you not wish that Allah should forgive you? For Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful. (Koran 24:22, Yusuf Ali)

O believers, among your wives and children there is an enemy to you; so beware of them. But if you pardon, and overlook, and if you forgive, surely God is All-forgiving, All-compassionate. (Koran 64:14, Arberry)

Since this teaching is taught seven times in the Scriptures of the Christians and Muslims, it must be a very important doctrine. We also have the examples of Jesus on the Cross and St. Stephen the Protomartyr. (Luke 23:34; Acts 7:59,60) Both asked God to forgive their enemies before they died.

The Koran has much to say about forgiving others.

Kind speech and forgiveness are better than charity followed by injury. And Allah is Free of need and Forbearing. (Koran 2:263, Sahih International)

Now whatever ye have been given is but a passing comfort for the life of the world, and that which Allah hath is better and more lasting for those who believe and put their trust in their Lord, and those who shun the worst of sins and indecencies and, when they are wroth, forgive, and those who answer the call of their Lord and establish worship, and whose affairs are a matter of counsel, and who spend of what We have bestowed on them, and those who, when great wrong is done to them, defend themselves [help themselves]. (Koran 42:36-39, Pickthall)

The recompense for an injury is an injury equal thereto (in degree): but if a person forgives and makes reconciliation, his reward is due from Allah: for (Allah) loveth not those who do wrong. (Koran 42:40, Yusuf Ali)

But surely he who bears patiently and is forgiving — surely that is true constancy. (Koran 42:43, Arberry)

Tell those who believe to forgive those who hope not for the days of Allah; in order that He may requite folk what they used to earn. (Koran 45:14, Pickthall)

“For Allah loves those who do good.”

Of course, God loves everyone. However, He does not love everyone in the same way. In Greek, there are four different words for love. Eros is sexual love. Agape is unconditional love. Philos is friendship love. Storge is natural affection for one’s relatives. Arabic, like English, does not have different words for the different kinds of love. It has only one word for love. When the Koran says, “Allah loves those who do good,” it is talking about friendship love (philos). God is a friend to those who do good.

In the Bible, Jesus said:

He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him. (John 14:21, NKJV)

Jesus answered and said to him, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him.” (John 14:23, NKJV)

People who obey God, love God. Those who love God become aware of God’s love for them. So, those who do good are aware that God loves them.

Jesus also said:

You are My friends if you do whatever I command you. (John 15:14, NKJV)

St. James said:

Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered Isaac his son on the altar? Do you see that faith was working together with his works, and by works faith was made perfect? And the Scripture was fulfilled which says, “Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.” And he was called the friend of God. (James 2:21-23, NKJV)

He also said:

Adulterers and adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. (James 4:4, NKJV)

When we obey God, we become friends of God. So, God loves those who do good as His friends. We should understand those words from the Koran in this way. Allah loves those who do good as His friends and they become aware of Allah’s love for them while doing good.

Now, let us look at verse 135.

And those who, having done something to be ashamed of, or wronged their own souls, earnestly bring Allah to mind, and ask for forgiveness for their sins, — and who can forgive sins except Allah? — and are never obstinate in persisting knowingly in (the wrong) they have done. (Koran 3:135, Yusuf Ali)

“And those who, having done something to be ashamed of, or wronged their own souls.”

Whenever we sin we wrong our own souls. The wages of sin is death, that is, the Second Death spoken of in the Book of Revelation. (Romans 6:23; Revelation 21:8)

“Earnestly bring Allah to mind, and ask for forgiveness for their sins.”

Those who repent become aware that God sees their sins and ask God to forgive them.

“And are never obstinate in persisting knowingly in the wrong they have done.”

Pickthall translated this part of this verse: “And will not knowingly repeat (the wrong) they did.”

Jesus told this parable in order to illustrate what true repentance consists of.

“But what do you think? A man had two sons, and he came to the first and said, ‘Son, go, work today in my vineyard.’ He answered and said, ‘I will not,’ but afterward he regretted it and went. Then he came to the second and said likewise. And he answered and said, ‘I go, sir,’ but he did not go. Which of the two did the will of his father?” They said to Him, “The first.” Jesus said to them, “Assuredly, I say to you that tax collectors and harlots enter the kingdom of God before you. For John came to you in the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him; but tax collectors and harlots believed him; and when you saw it, you did not afterward relent and believe him.” (Matthew 21:28-32, NKJV)

The one who does the will of God after repenting is the true repenter. The one who says he repents but persists in doing the same deeds over again did not genuinely repent. Repentance brings about a change in behavior.

St. John the Baptist said:

Therefore bear fruits worthy of repentance. (Matthew 3:8, NKJV)

The fruits worthy of repentance are a change in behavior resulting in one doing good and abstaining from evil.

“And who can forgive sins except Allah?”

Here is proof from the Koran that Jesus is Allah. The Koran says:

Let the people of the Gospel judge by that which Allah hath revealed therein. (Koran 5:47, Pickthall)

So, I have read in the Koran that only God (Allah) can forgive sins. Now, in the Gospel according to St. Mark, there is this account of Jesus performing a miracle.

Then they came to Him, bringing a paralytic who was carried by four men. And when they could not come near Him because of the crowd, they uncovered the roof where He was. So when they had broken through, they let down the bed on which the paralytic was lying. When Jesus saw their faith, He said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven you.” And some of the scribes were sitting there and reasoning in their hearts, “Why does this Man speak blasphemies like this? Who can forgive sins but God alone?” But immediately, when Jesus perceived in His spirit that they reasoned thus within themselves, He said to them, “Why do you reason about these things in your hearts? Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven you,’ or to say, ‘Arise, take up your bed and walk’? But that you may know that the Son of Man has power on earth to forgive sins” — He said to the paralytic, “I say to you, arise, take up your bed, and go to your house.” Immediately he arose, took up the bed, and went out in the presence of them all, so that all were amazed and glorified God, saying, “We never saw anything like this!” (Mark 12:3-12, NKJV)

The Jewish scribes were thinking in their hearts that Jesus was speaking blasphemies when He told the paralytic that His sins were forgiven. Only God can forgive sins. Jesus said that He had power (that is, authority) on earth to forgive sins. He told the man to take up His bed and walk. The man did that. He was healed because his sins were forgiven. If Jesus can forgive sins and only God can do that, then Jesus is God (Allah).

Now, for the last verse in this passage, verse 136.

For such the reward is forgiveness from their Lord, and Gardens with rivers flowing underneath, —  an eternal dwelling: How excellent a recompense for those who work (and strive)! (Koran 3:136, Yusuf Ali)

“For such the reward is forgiveness from their Lord.”

This means that on the Day of Judgment those who have given to the needy and the poor, restrained their anger, and forgiven others will be acquitted.

Remember the words of Jesus in the Gospels.

“Then the King will say to those on His right hand, ‘Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in;  I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.’ Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink? When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You? Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.’” (Matthew 25:34-40, NKJV)

People who help others are the kind of people who will inherit the Kingdom of God. So, the Koran confirms the Gospel. (See Koran 3:3,4.) It teaches the same thing, but in different words. However, one must also restrain his anger and forgive others who have wronged him.

In the Bible, it says:

In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace. (Ephesians 1:7, NKJV)

In whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins. (Colossians 1:14, NKJV)

Jesus is our sacrifice for sins. We have redemption through His blood.

“And Gardens with rivers flowing underneath, —  an eternal dwelling.”

The Bible teaches that there will be a New Heaven and a New Earth. We will not have a different Heaven and Earth than we have already. We will have this one which has been renewed. “The Earth abides forever.” (Ecclesiastes 1:4) “The meek shall inherit the Earth.” (Psalm 37:11; Matthew 5:5) So, the inheritance of the righteous is this Earth after it has been renewed.

In Isaiah, there are prophecies about the Earth becoming a Paradise.

Then shall there be rain to the seed of thy land; and the bread of the fruit of thy land shall be plenteous and rich: and thy cattle shall feed in that day in a fertile and spacious place. Your bulls and your oxen that till the ground, shall eat chaff mixed with winnowed barley. And there shall be upon every lofty mountain and upon every high hill, water running in that day, when many shall perish, and when the towers shall fall. And the light of the moon shall be as the light of the sun, and the light of the sun shall be sevenfold in the day when the Lord shall heal the breach of his people, and shall heal the pain of thy wound. (Isaiah 30:23-26, LXX)

Behold the city of Sion, our refuge: thine eyes shall behold Jerusalem, a rich city, tabernacles which shall not be shaken, neither shall the pins of her tabernacle be moved for ever, neither shall her cords be at all broken: for the name of the Lord is great to you: ye shall have a place, even rivers and wide and spacious channels: thou shalt not go this way, neither a vessel with oars go thereby. For my God is great: the Lord our judge shall not pass me by: the Lord is our prince, the Lord is our king; the Lord, He shall save us. (Isaiah 33:20-22, LXX)

Be glad, thou thirsty desert: let the wilderness exult, and flower as the lily. And the desert places of Jordan shall blossom and rejoice; the glory of Libanus has been given to it, and the honour of Carmel; and My people shall see the glory of the Lord, and the majesty of God. (Isaiah 35:1,2, LXX)

Then shall the lame man leap as an hart, and the tongue of the stammerers shall speak plainly; for water has burst forth in the desert, and a channel of water in a thirsty land. And the dry land shall become pools, and a fountain of water shall be poured into the thirsty land; there shall there be a joy of birds, ready habitations and marshes. (Isaiah 35:6,7, LXX)

But I will open rivers on the mountains, and fountains in the midst of plains: I will make the desert pools of water, and a thirsty land watercourses. I will plant in the dry land the cedar and box, the myrtle and cypress, and white poplar: that they may see, and know, and perceive, and understand together, that the hand of the Lord has wrought these works, and the Holy One of Israel has displayed them. (Isaiah 41:18-20, LXX)

Remember ye not the former things, and consider not the ancient things. Behold, I will do new things, which shall presently spring forth, and ye shall know them: and I will make a way in the wilderness, and rivers in the dry land. The beasts of the field shall bless Me, the owls and young ostriches; for I have given water in the wilderness, and rivers in the dry land, to give drink to My chosen race, My people whom I have preserved to tell forth My praises. (Isaiah 43:18-21, LXX)

And now I will comfort thee, O Sion: and I have comforted all her desert places; and I will make her desert places as a garden, and her western places as the garden of the Lord; they shall find in her gladness and exultation, thanksgiving and the voice of praise. (Isaiah 51:3, LXX)

God will turn the desert places of this world into fertile plains and forests. There will be more rivers running through the arid regions of this planet.

“How excellent a recompense for those who work (and strive)!”

Yes, the afterlife will be a most blessed existence for those who inherit the Kingdom of God. These words from St. Paul’s Epistle to the Romans conclude my exegesis of this passage from the Koran.

But in accordance with your hardness and your impenitent heart you are treasuring up for yourself wrath in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God, who “will render to each one according to his deeds”: eternal life to those who by patient continuance in doing good seek for glory, honor, and immortality; but to those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness — indignation and wrath, tribulation and anguish, on every soul of man who does evil, of the Jew first and also of the Greek; but glory, honor, and peace to everyone who works what is good, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For there is no partiality with God. (Romans 2:5-11, NKJV)

Salvation is a paradox. It is a gift. We cannot earn it, but we must still work for it.

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The True Faith

May 28, 2012 Leave a comment

In the world, there must be a true religion among all of the various competing ones. I do not think that God reveals different conflicting truths to different peoples. There must be one true faith among several false ones.

Christianity claims to be the true religion. Islam and Judaism do, too. Hinduism claims to be an umbrella for all religions. Buddhism is a religion without a god. So, all monotheistic and polytheistic religions are false religions to a Buddhist. Christianity, Islam, and Judaism teach that the dead will one day be resurrected. Hindus and Buddhists teach reincarnation.

Stained glass at St John the Baptist's Anglica...

Stained glass at St John the Baptist’s Anglican Church http://www.stjohnsashfield.org.au, Ashfield, New South Wales. Illustrates Jesus’ description of himself “I am the Good Shepherd” (from the Gospel of John, chapter 10, verse 11). This version of the image shows the detail of his face. The memorial window is also captioned: “To the Glory of God and in Loving Memory of William Wright. Died 6th November, 1932. Aged 70 Yrs.” (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Jesus was exclusive when speaking about salvation (St. Matt. 10:32,33,37-39; 11:27; St. John 3:5; 5:40; 6:51-57; 14:6), but He was inclusive when extending an invitation to be saved (St. Matt. 11:28-30; St. Luke 14:16-24). He did not teach universalism. He did not teach that all religions are essentially true. He claimed to be the Truth (St. John 14:6) and be the One who reveals the truth (St. John 18:37).

The religion He spoke of had reference to Himself. He equated Himself with God and even claimed to be God. (St. John 5:18,23; 8:56-58; 10:30-33) He claimed to be God among us. (St. John 10:30,38; 12:44,45; 14:9) He claimed to be the Light of the world (St. John 8:12; 12:46), the Door into the sheepfold (St. John 10:7-9), the One by whom everyone must come to the Father (St. John 14:6). He claimed to be the One who will call the dead out of the graves on the last day (St. John 5:26-29; 6:40,44,54; 11:23-26). He claimed to be the One who will judge the world in righteousness. (St. Matt. 13:37-43; 25:31-46; St. John 5:22,27)

In his Epistle to the Ephesians, St. Paul said that there is one faith, not several.  (Eph. 4:5)

To think that all religions are essentially true is to say that God’s revelation to man is contradictory.

Christians are Trinitarian. They believe that there is only one God, but He is three distinct Persons: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Each Person of the Godhead, according to Christian doctrine, is God in His entirety, but is distinct from the other Two Persons of the Godhead. All Three Persons share the same essence, or substance. Christians believe that the Second Person of the Godhead assumed human flesh and blood from His Virgin Mother, created a human soul for Himself at the moment of conception, and lived among men after being born in Bethlehem. The name of this God-Man is Jesus Christ of Nazareth.

The Hindus say that God is formless and includes all forms. They have many gods that they believe are different forms of the same God. They are non-Trinitarian, but monotheistic.

The Jews are likewise non-Trinitarian but monotheistic. They do not believe that Jesus is God in the flesh.

The Muslims reject the Trinitarian doctrines of Christians. They, like the Jews, worship a Unitarian god and not the Trinitarian One of the Christians. Muslims say that Mohammed is a prophet. Jews and Christians say he is not.

The Buddhists worship Buddha who is, according to them, some Supersaint who has achieved enlightenment. They are atheists. They say that there is no God.

Of all the world’s religions, many must be wrong and only one is right. Just as the grass is green and not purple, the sun is hot and not cold, so either truth is true or it ceases to be truth at all.