The devil is quite crafty in his opposition to the Gospel. Of course his opposition in our lives is evidence. But his schemes in history are especially telling. In history one of the greatest pieces of evidence for this is the rise of Islam. In our politically correct society it makes many angry to hear religious language that oozes exclusivism. Never mind that such anger assumes an exclusive posture, namely that it is wrong to believe in exclusive truth, which is self defeating. But let’s set that aside. I only have one goal here: To point out the evil craftiness of Satan through the illustration of such in the religion of Islam. To point this out we need to discuss the bare minimum for Christianity.
Good hearted Christians disagree on where to draw the line on the bare minimum that must be believed in order to be truly Christian; but only beyond a certain point. Biblically speaking no one is a Christian who doesn’t believe these three things:
(1) Jesus Christ is the eternal Son of God.
(2) Jesus Christ died a substitutionary death on the cross for sinners.
(3) Jesus Christ rose from the dead three days later.
To see this from the Bible consider the following:
1st John 2:22 reads, “Who is the liar but he who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is the anti-Christ…”
Here the apostle John tells us that the person who denies that Jesus is “the Christ” is anti-Christ; meaning they are not influenced by the Spirit of God but rather the spirit of anti-Christ. But what John writes here begs the question: How does John define “the Christ?” This is vital to establishing a right Christology because there are many different versions of Jesus Christ worshipped and/or believed in the world.
So how does John define “the Christ?” In his theological contribution to the New Testament I see John setting forth three crucial facts as necessary to our definition of what Scripture means when it refers to Jesus as “the Christ.”
(1) The incarnation of Christ.
1st John 4:1-3 reads, “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world. By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you heard was coming and now is in the world already.”
The person who denies that Christ was incarnated is abiding by a different spirit, the spirit of anti-Christ, not the Spirit of God. That is explicit here. But what is implicit in the fact of the incarnation could be missed. And that is this: John is insisting that Jesus Christ existed prior to his incarnation. This is seen in John’s language of “Jesus Christ has come in the flesh.” A person who merely begins to be does not “come in human flesh”; they begin to be in human flesh. This leads to the next thing John insists on in his definition of “the Christ.”
(2) The eternality of Christ.
In John 1:3 the apostle writes, “All things were made through him (the Word), and without him was not anything made that was made.” If you jump down to verse fourteen of the Gospel of John, chapter one, it becomes obvious that John is referring to Jesus Christ with this language of “the Word.”
So in John 1:3 he is telling us that ‘all things were made through Christ, and without Christ nothing was made that was made.’ That means that Jesus Christ cannot be part of the ‘created’ category of beings in the New Testament. Why? Because Jesus Christ created all things and without him there was not one thing created. But that wouldn’t be true if Christ was a created being. If he was a created being then there would be at least one thing he didn’t create — namely himself.
In order for John to write what he writes about Christ in John 1:3 Jesus Christ must be eternal. He never had a beginning.
(3) The substitutionary death of Jesus Christ for sinners.
The texts within John’s contribution to the New Testament where we see this are many. I will only list two from the letter of 1st John.
1st John 2:1-2, “My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.”
1st John 3:5, “You know that he appeared in order to take away sins, and in him there is no sin.”
Conclusion: When I read 1st John 2:22 where John writes, “Who is the liar but he who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is the anti-Christ”, my mind automatically sets up those biblical parameters as the only right way to define “the Christ” as John intended it. Anyone who says they believe in Jesus Christ but they disagree with any one part part of this statement: Jesus Christ is the eternal Son of God who died for the sins of the world — is not a Christian. But we mustn’t stop there because the New Testament goes one step further.
(4) The resurrection of Jesus Christ.
The beloved apostle Paul also includes the resurrection of Jesus Christ as another crucial element needed in order to delineate the bare minimum that must be believed in order to be saved.
Romans 10:9-10 reads, “if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.”
What good does it do anyone to believe in Jesus if He didn’t rise from the dead? None. He would just be another unfortunate religious leader that was killed, swallowed up by death. But if He rose from the dead that means He has power over death; and only the Creator of life can have power over death.
Thus, saving faith in Jesus Christ does not exist where there is no belief in His resurrection. The person who says they believe in Jesus, but does not believe He rose from the dead is not saying, “I believe Jesus can save me.” Rather they are saying, “I believe in Jesus like I believe in Abraham Lincoln, or George Washington, of Martin Luther King Jr., or any other historical figure.
What is the Point?
Now, by now you might be asking yourself, “What does all of this have to do with Islam?” The answer is simple yet tragic; it it this: The very things we must believe in order to be saved are vehemently denied by Islam.
Islam believes the Christian doctrine that Jesus Christ was and is the eternal Son of God is blasphemous.
Islam believes that Jesus was a great prophet but that is all. He was not God the eternal Son in human flesh. In fact to believe that is to condemn yourself to hell in Islam.
Islam believes that Jesus didn’t die on the cross nor rise from the dead. But rather Allah made it seem as if Jesus died on the cross but it was someone else, perhaps Judas. Thus Jesus couldn’t rise from the dead because He never died to begin with. Most Muslims believe Allah took Jesus to heaven rather than let Him die in such a humiliating manner.
With all of that in mind I fail to see how any Bible believing Christian could believe that the spiritual source behind Islam is anyone by the devil, Satan, that old serpent, who comes to kill, steal, and destroy. In fact the apostle Paul tells us that “he disguises himself at times as an angel of light” (2 Cor. 11:14).
Satan has masterfully created a religion that has core doctrines which prevent people from believing the Gospel in order to be saved. He has created a religion that traps people in darkness; a darkness so dark that some think they are doing the will of God as the kill others in the name of Allah.
How can that not break our hearts if we are Christians?