Christianity and Islam Part 9 – Eternal Life

Subject: Christianity and Islam Part 9 – Eternal Life
Galatians 1:4 “Jesus gave His life for our sins, just as God had planned, in order to rescue us from this evil world in which we live.”
Two days after Elton Simpson and Nadir Soofi were killed, a local cleric in Pakistan lead a gathering of over 150 people to offer prayers for them. Using loudspeakers, he called people to come out of their homes and pay respects to “The two martyrs who proved their love and loyalty to Islam. They are the real heroes of Islam, and we must be proud on their courage.”
Just to rewind here for a moment: these two American-born, self-described ‘warriors for Allah’ were shot down by Texas law enforcement as they opened fire on innocent bystanders at a Texas art exhibit. So how can American citizens be drawn into active participation in Islamic terrorism from 8,000 miles away?
John Horgan, a psychologist and professor at the University of Massachusetts Center for Terrorism and Security Studies, says “ISIS has been particularly successful in recruiting its members through social media. They have become so adept at social media that they are reaching out to disaffected individuals on a global scale.” Through social media, ISIS is now launching terrorist attacks on US soil with US citizens.
But what can attract an American to join radical Islam? In Erin Banco’s article “Why Do People Join ISIS? The Psychology of a Terrorist”, John Horgan provides part of the answer: “As far as foreign fighters are concerned, they are driven to join ISIS by the need to belong to something special… to find something meaningful for their life… to seek redemption… joining ISIS means promoting the creation of an Islamic caliphate and ridding it of infidels.” It is this combination of seeking meaning through obeying Allah’s call to jihad and death to His enemies that has attracted some Americans in hopes of gaining eternal life.
In ‘Unveiling Islam’, Professors Ergun and Emir Caner explain that one of the two central tenets of eternal life for a Muslim is Allah’s command to hate His enemies: “The Muslim is called to hate enemies of Islam in order to achieve more hope of Paradise… the Muslim must passionately hate those who stand against the expansion of Allah’s cause: ‘O you who have believed, do not take My enemies and your enemies as friends, offering them your love while they have disbelieved in what came to you of the truth, having driven out the Prophet and yourselves only because you believe in Allah, your Lord. If you have come out for jihad in My cause and seeking means to My approval, take them not as friends.’ (surah 60:1).”
The Bible gives a completely different view on what is necessary to have eternal life. Our verse this week is one of many in which the Bible teaches that Jesus accomplished by Himself all that is required for anyone to gain eternal life, by His willing sacrificial death on the cross to pay for all of mankind’s sins. The only requirement God places on any person is to respond to His free offer of eternal life through Jesus Christ by trusting in His achievement on the cross and surrendering to Christ as their personal Savior and Lord.
This leads us to the second tenet of eternal life in Islam. Muslims reject the sacrifice of Jesus Christ as sufficient to pay for their sins because Islam teaches that even if Jesus did die on the cross it is not possible for him to bear our sins for us. The Quran teaches that a Muslim hopes to earn eternal life through obedience to Islamic law, which includes jihad against the infidels.
Professors Ergun and Emir Caner explain this requirement of obedience to the duties of Islamic law to gain Allah’s approval and authority: “Islam is a religion built upon a foundation of salvation by personal righteousness that requires the follower to love Allah before Allah will love the follower. Allah must be enticed to love the individual by some demonstration of his or her faithfulness toward Him. In return for showing this love, however, Muslims expect something in return. Their obedience earns prosperity (eternal life): ‘Allah has promised those who have believed among you and done righteous deeds that He will surely grant them succession upon the earth just as He granted it to those before them….” (surah 24:55).”
Therefore, when you put these two central tenets together, any follower of Allah who fears they have failed to follow Islamic law so that his or her works may have tipped the scales toward their eternal damnation can join in holy war (jihad) against the infidels as their only true hope for eternal life. The words of the Bible stand in direct opposition to Islam: “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9).

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