I am trying to share the Gospel message to a Muslim, and I need help in responding to his email.

Here is his response:  [Editor’s note: Because there are so many questions here, the answers are interspersed among the different questions.  The questions are in italics.  J. O.]

God created human being, showed them the right path through the teaching of prophets like Moses, Jesus, and Mohammad. God also gave human beings free will to chose between the right and the wrong.   Now if you choose the right path, you will get the reward. If you choose any other path, you will be punished.  

I understand that this is what the Qu’ran teaches but it is not what either the Old Testament or the New Testament teaches.  In Christianity, what you are describing is called works-salvation.  In other words, you are proposing that by our own good works we can earn the right to eternal life–to heaven.  The Bible teaches and the prophets Abraham and Moses agree, that our own effort–our choosing of the right path–is not sufficient for us to be forgiven of our sins.  Good deeds do not cancel out sins. Death is required to atone for sins, as is taught in Leviticus through the blood sacrifice system and by many other Old Testament passages.  I understand that the Qu’ran teaches forgiveness based on our own works and effort, for example, Sura 11:114 which says surely good deads take away evil deeds, as well as Sura 40:9, 39:61 and 7:49 which teach that charity atones for sins and Sura 2:271, 277).  However, Abraham (Genesis 15:6), Moses (who gave the Law at Sinai which showed the need for sacrifice and death to atone for sins) and Jesus (John 14:6) all taught that salvation is gained by the grace of God through faith in him.  There is no indication, either in Judaism or in Christianity that we can earn righteousness by our own good deeds.  This grace is obtained through the substitutionary death of Jesus.  Here Islam has a different teaching from Judaism and Christainity and I believe that what Moses, Abraham and Jesus spoke, as recorded by those who actually knew them is the truth.

As you point out, Islam teaches salvation by our own effort, but I disagree that this teaching comes from the God of Abraham, Moses and Jesus, as recorded by the Jews who were children of Abraham and Moses.  This teaching does not come from the God of Abraham

You or any one else cannot die to pay for my sins – this is the real nonsense, if you believe in it.   If Jesus died for your sins and you are already saved, what reason do you have to do any good-another nonsense.  

You can call this nonsense if you like, but Jesus fulfilled all the prophecies of the Old Testament, he was raised from the dead, he walked on water and he raised Lazarus from the dead and it is what he taught, as recorded by the apostles who actually knew him.  To call what Jesus, the prophet of God and Messiah taught “nonsense” is not wise and it is not a godly thing to do.  As a follower of Jesus I have many motivations to do good, because Jesus gave his life for me. This is plenty of motivation to do what God asks me to do.  I do what is right because God loves me.  The response of love to God because he loved us is plenty of motivation to do what is right.   Doing what is right to earn salvation, as taught in the Qu’ran, would also be a motivation, I suppose, but it is not what Jesus, Moses or Abraham taught.

 Per your belief, I can commit any sin or any crime, I do not have to worry at all because Jesus already paid the price!!    If God could not spare his own “son”, then he will spare just you and I even if we did even deeds – this is another nonsense.

This is definitely not what the New Testament or the Old Testament teaches.  Mischaracterizing the teaching of the Bible is not an honest thing to do.  The fact is that if we willfully rebel against God then we can lose our salvation, as is taught in Hebrews 10:26-31.  Cheap grace is not taught in the Bible and, to be honest, I do not appreciate you mischaracterizing the Bible teaching in this way.  Jesus paid the price, but we must give up everything (Luke 14:25-33) repent of our sins (Acts 2:38) and continue living in faith to him to be saved.

Bible says “the Earth is flat” – another nonsense.  

This is simply not true.  Whoever told you that the Bible says the earth is flat was either ignorant of the Bible or simply not being honest with you.  Please do not spread this false information.

 Bible says “the moon has its own light” – another nonsense    

Again, you should treat the Bible with the same respect you would ask a Christian to treat the Qu’ran, which means that you should read and understand it rather than simply read false accusations from Islamic web sites.  This bogus accusation is taken from Isaiah 31:26.  I invite you to get any Bible translation you want and simply read this verse.  It does not say this. Period.  Plain and simple.  The translation I am reading has this:  “In that day, the moon will be as bright as the sun and the sun will be seven times brighter.”  This is quite simply a dishonest claim that you found at an Islamic web site.  This verse does not say that “the moon has its own light.  Please do not spread this false statement.  Besides, as any Bible scholar will tell you, Isaiah 31:26 is highly symbolic “apocalyptic language”  Please do not mischaracterize the Bible.  This is not honest and it is not fair.

Where is the original Bible?    Why so many versions of Bible?

We do not have the original manuscript of the Bible, just like we do not have the original manuscript of the Qu’ran.  Obviously, this is the case.  What we do have is literally thousands of ancient manuscripts of the New Testament, some of them within less than one hundred years of the original.  This is similar to the evidence we have for the Qu’ran.  Unfortunately, in about 680 the caliph Uthman had all other versions of the Qu’ran destroyed so that we do not know all the different version of the Qu’ran.  The oldest manuscripts we have of the Qu’ran are, like the New Testament, from less than 100 years after the original.  The Birmingham Manuscript is parts of suras 18 and 20 and comes from a period within 50 years of the writing of the Qu’ran. The Sana’a manuscript was found in Sana’a in Yemen.  This manuscript comes from the late seventh century.  It shows that there were many variations in the early Qu’rans, including extra suras and suras which were not included.  However, because of the decision to destroy all divergent texts of the Qu’ran by Uthman, most of the variations in the text has been lost. This means that we have less evidence and less confidence of the reliability of the Qu’ran than the New Testament.  Unfortunately, most Muslims are unwilling to even investigate the evidence for the different textual variations in the ancient Qu’ran, which makes our ability to know the original difficult.   The massive evidence from thousands of manuscripts of the New Testament is sufficient to make the reliability of the Greek New Testament greater than that of literally any book from the ancient world.

I am not sure of what versions you are talking about.  Are you talking about translations?  We have dozes of translations of the New Testament because there are many hundreds of Bible scholars who have studied the original text and we have many translations, which makes those of us who do not know ancient Greek have excellent access to the original meaning.  No one speaks the Greek of the first century today, just like no one speaks the Arabic of the seventh century today.  Whether we study the Qu’ran or the New Testament, we need scholars to help us to understand the original language.

Muslims all declare that “The Bible is corrupt.”  The problem with this is that they do not have significant evidence to back up this unfounded claim.  The Qu’ran teaches that Jesus did not die on a cross.  Will a Muslim seriously entertain the possibility that the New Testament is so corrupt that even the story of him dying on the cross is a corruption?  Are we serious here?  Even the Jew Josephus agrees and even the Roman historian agrees that Jesus was indeed killed on a cross.  Repeating endlessly that the Bible is corrupt, when this defies the data and when it cannot account for the Qu’ran teaching that Jesus did not die on a cross certainly will not convince any historian or honest and unbiased person that Jesus was not killed on a cross.

Which version is correct and which one is the changed?

Like I already said, with the literally thousands of manuscripts of the Greek New Testament we have from the first few centuries, the evidence for the reliability of the Greek text is overwhelming.  Not only that, but we have thousands of quotes from the New Testament from the first three centuries, all of which supports the reliability of the New Testament.  If someone wanted to corrupt the Bible, they would have had to corrupt thousands of copies of the New Testament books and also corrupt all the quotes of the New Testament.  This claim is not credible.   Unless you have a specific “change” you want to mention, I cannot respond to the question, but the fact that we have so many translations into English makes our confidence that what we read in our native language is reliable very strong.  The idea that the Bible was changed is not supported by the evidence.  People really should stop making these charges, as they do not hold up to the evidence. Were there very minor mistakes made in copying the texts?  Sure.  This also happened with the Qu’ran, or course, as is proved by the Sana’a manuscript, but, as with the New Testament, there is no evidence that either the Qu’ran or the New Testament were significantly corrupted by these minor slips of the pen and other mistakes by those who copied the originals.  With both, there were also many who had memorized the entire text as well, making the likelihood of a significant error miniscule.

Where in Bible, Jesus himself claimed to be God or Son of God?

In John 12:57-59, in John 10:25-33 and several other places.

Why Adam is not Son of God?

I really do not know what this question is about, so I cannot answer this.  Jesus claimed to be the unique Son of God, as did his apostles who he taught.

Revised versions of Bible?!! – By whom?? Why?

Not sure what this question is about.  What revisions is he referring to?  I would need a specific claim.  Because of the work of God to protect his scriptures and because of the faithfulness of the early church, and because of the hundreds and even thousands of manuscripts and the quotes of the early church fathers, we can say with absolute certainty that we have access to a virtually perfect Greek New Testament in its entirety.  If your friend has evidence which defeats this information, he should come forward with it.  Otherwise he ought to stop making this bogus claim about the Words of God.

People like you try to play tricks with themselves and stay ignorant.  
Quran can properly be understood if you know the Arabic language, Hadith, and Tafseer.

True, but this can be said of those who study the Bible.   The difference is that only a fraction of Muslims know Arabic and even the Arabic they do know is VERY different from the obscure dialect of Arabic spoken by Muhammad in the seventh century AD.  For this reason, for anyone to understand the Qu’ran today, they must rely on scholars of the ancient language.  This is virtually the exact situation for Christians and the New Testament.  The difference is that we have many very good translation in our own language.  Of course, Muslims also have access to translations of the Qu’ran into modern languages, but, as far as I know, there is no version of the Qu’ran in modern Arabic, which makes the understanding of the text difficult for Muslims.  For this reason, ironically, speakers of Arabic probably have less access to understanding the original of the Qu’ran than English-speakers, for example, because English-speakers have translations into a modern language and speakers of Arabic do not.

The beauty is that that we have only one Quran without a single change (proof enough that Quran is word of God).

This claim is not supported by the evidence.  There is plenty of evidence of minor changes in the Qu’ran, but Muslims igonre such evidence.  The reason Uthman destroyed alternative version of the Qu’ran is because alternative versions existed.  Pretending that this is not the case is a bad way to deal with the evidence.  I believe that the Qu’ran we have today is relatively accurate, as is the Greek New Testament, but pretending that there were no changes before Uthman destroyed nearly all the competing versions is to ignore the simple truth.  When Muslims unwisely attack the reliability of the New Testament and ignore the evidence for similar “problems” with the Qu’ran, they are not being honest with the evidence.

And another miracle: Millions of Muslims have memorized the Quren word by word – ages 6 to 80 plus!!

Good.  They should.  Millions of Christians have memorized whole sections of the Bible as well.  I have memorized hundreds of verses of the Bible myself.  This is a good idea.   Because the Bible is approximately five times longer than the Qu’ran, very few memorize the whole thing, but this does nothing to make memorizing the Qu’ran a miracle and it also does not make the Qu’ran any more accurate than the Bible.

Yes God is merciful and at the same time he is just. If you believe that you can do all kinds of sins and crimes but as long as you are a Christian, you are saved because God was cruel enough to kill his own son for your sins!! (what a sickening concept), then you will be held responsible for your false beliefs and deeds on the day of judgement. 

This is a gross mischaracterization of what the Bible teaches and this person is being dishonest and irresponsible to claim that this is what the Bible teaches.  Please ask your friend to treat the Bible as he would want us to treat the Qu’ran, which is to not be dishonest about what it teaches, but to read it for himself.   We are forgiven of our sins by the grace of God (thank-you God).  Otherwise we would be responsible before God for our sins.  The Muslim teaching that good deeds cancel out sin is simply not true.   The Muslim has a right to believe this, I suppose, but it is not true. If I commit a murder, but do a lot of good deeds, I am still a murder.    Good deeds do not make sins go away. Works salvation is not true.   Islam teaches salvation by good deeds canceling bad deeds.  This is simply not correct, although I understand this is what Islam teaches.

Besides, God did not kill his son.  He allowed him to be killed by sinful men, but he did so in order that the penalty we owed to God would be paid.  I understand that this is not taught in the Qu’ran, but it is true, nevertheless.  The truth of this is demonstrated by the life of Jesus–by his miracles, his perfect, sinless life, by the testimony of the prophets and by God raising him from the dead.  Your Muslim friend may not accept this teaching, but it is nevertheless true.

God in Islam is kind and merciful if and only you ask for His forgiveness with intention, feel sorry for your bad deeds and sins, try your best to follow and stay of the right path, and accept responsibility for your future acts and deeds. If you still somehow commit a sin, ask again for forgiveness and you will probably be forgiven again. I said “probably” because it always depend on your true intentions. The same is true for me. 

This points out one weakness in Islam. In the end, no Muslim knows for sure that they are forgiven, unless they die in war for Allah.  I do not see this as an advantage, to tell you the truth.  However, I will agree with your friend that the Bible and the Qu’ran teach differently on this topic.  In Christianity we have assurance of our salvation, as we can see in 1 John 1:5-7 which tells us that if we walk in the light–if we continue to live by faith–then we have fellowship with God and the forgiveness of all our sins.  There is no such assurance in Islam.  Based on our works, we come in and out of favor with God in Islam.  This is not an improvement, in my opinion.

Another thing which bothers is what reason the Christians have to do any good – if they truly believe that Jesus died for their sins and they have already been saved.

This is not a hard question.  We do good because God love us.  We do not do good to earn heaven, as no one can earn heaven.  We do good because God has loved us and given his Son for us.  This is motivation enough.   Look around the world.  If you go to India, a Hindu country, who does most of the benevolent works?  Christians.  If you go to a Buddhist country, who does most of the benevolent work?  Christians.   Where did science come from?  Christians.  Where did the abolition of slavery come from?  Christians.   Where did the idea of human rights come from?   Christians.   Your Muslim friend may feel he is being logical here, but the fact is that the love of God, as expressed in the Bible and most specifically in the life of Jesus Christ has motivated more doing of good than anything else in human history, and this will include good deeds motivated by the teaching of Muhammed (although I will agree that the teaching of the Qu’ran has also motivated many good deeds!)

How many students will work very hard if they are told that that will get an A regardless what they do in the exam? We can not simply ignore the human nature, and think that they will do good simply because they feel like doing it – they do not care if they get any appreciation or reward. Yes we can develop false hopes to have false peace. True peace only comes from the Truth.

Again, I will let the facts of history speak for themselves.  No one can ignore or refute the claims that more “good” has been done in the name of Jesus of Nazareth than any other reason in history.  Therefore, this argument is a realy weak one.   Love is the greatest motivation and Christianity is all about the love of God for us, as demonstrated by the sacrificial life of Jesus of Nazareth.

John Oakes

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