October 27, 2007: Sakshi: An Apologetics Network in India had a dialog with the Islamic Academy of Comparative Religions (IACR) on the topic ‘The Concept of Sin and Salvation in Christianity and Islam’ at Rukumeni Rivera, Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh. Sakshi was represented by Mr. Jerry Thomas and IACR was represented by Mr. Asifuddin Muhammad. Initially both the speakers presented their case followed by two rounds of rebuttals. The dialog concluded with a lively question and answer session. Following is the note of the first presentation by Jerry Thomas. The dialog happened to be very fruitful and the veracity of Christian doctrine was clearly demonstrated while refuting the counterfeit gospel.
Let me begin my presentation with a small story. There were two brothers in a small city. Both of them were murderers, thieves, and gamblers though one was slightly better than the other. Suddenly one day, the better one died. The other brother went to the local parish and requested the pastor to conduct the funeral but call his brother as a saint. He even promised a handsome amount for it. Pastor conducted for the funeral and said: This man who is lying in the coffin is a murder, rapist and thief but compared to his brother, he is a saint.
Like every other story or parable, this story is also intended to show some truths and not all things corresponding to each other. Often, when we compare ourselves with each other, some of us are saints. Today our topic is not about a comparison of people with their generations or with those who are on earth. Our topic is the Sin as defined by 1 John 3:4 as the transgression of the law and its solution.
How Serious Is Sin
In the Bible, the uncompromisingly Holy Jehovah views sin with utmost seriousness. Apostle Peter in his second epistle chapter 2 verses 4-7 teaches us that Jehovah did not spare angels when they sinned, Jehovah did not spare an entire generation when they sinned, and when the appointed time came, Jehovah did not spare a city when they sinned. The same truth is expressed in the epistle of Jude verses 12&13. And in punishing for the sin, Jehovah does not show any exceptions-whether the person was His first creation Adam, or a great Prophet Moses whom Jehovah spoke directly, or King David, a man according to His own heart (Genesis 3: 13-24, Numbers 20:12, 2nd Samuel 12:10-11).
Often in the Qur’an too, Allah views sin with seriousness. As I understand from our students of Arabic, a few of them who are here today, out of the 15 or so words used for the sin, one of the words is Al Dhanb. We notice that often Dhanb is viewed with seriousness.
In Surah 5:49 Dhanb is viewed as a crime (a criminal offence).
In Surah 6:6 Allah destroys an entire generation for their Dhanb.
In Surah 14: 10 Dhanb is viewed as idolatry.
In Surah 26: 14 the word Dhanb is viewed as murder.
Similarly one can see other references of Dhanb in Surah 5:18, Surah 7:100, Surah 8: 52, Surah 8:54, Surah 9:102, Surah 12: 29, Surah 12:9728:78, 40:11, 46: 31, 67:11, 91: 14 etc.
I hope brother Asif will agree with me. If not, I would like to ask him a few questions.
Question 1) is Dhanb always viewed with this seriousness?
Question 2) If Dhanb is viewed as a criminal offence to certain people and a mere lapse to some other people- how does it fit with the impartial nature of God?
How prevalent is this sin?
Let us see what the Bible says.
Jehovah revealed to Noah, a just man in his GENERATION (Genesis 6:9): The imagination of man’s heart is evil from his youth (Genesis 8:21) referring to mankind. This was after the flood.
Prophet Moses, inspired by Jehovah said: “You have set our iniquities before you, our secret sins in the light of your countenance. For all our days have passed away in your wrath and we finish our years like a sigh (Psalms 90: 8. 9).
King David wrote: “The LORD looks down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there are any who understand, who seek God. They have all turned aside, they have together become corrupt. There is none who does good. No, not one (Psalms 14: 2, 3).
When Prophet Isaiah, who was prophesying against the sins of the Israelites (Isaiah 1-4), saw the God’s glory, he cried out: “Woe is me, for I am undone! Because I am man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of people with unclean lips FOR MY EYES HAVE SEEN THE KING, THE LORD OF HOSTS” (Isaiah 6: 5).
Prophet Isaiah said: “ But we are all like an unclean thing, and all our righteousness are like filthy rags, we all fade as a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind have taken us away” (Isaiah 64:6). Prophet Isaiah did not say we cannot do any righteous acts but they are like filthy rags and we are taken away from our communion with the LORD.
When a ruler came to Jesus and addressed him as good teacher, Jesus asked him “Why do you call Me good? No one is good but one, that is God.” (Luke 18:19). It is interesting to note in this passage that Jesus reminds him about the five commandments of the Ten Commandments related to human beings but not the first four related to God and coveting neighbor’s property. When the ruler said he is keeping those commandments related to human beings, Jesus said “sell your property and follow me as though following Jesus is equal to fulfilling the commandments related to God and distributing the property to not coveting neighbor’s property. (Good Shepherd John 10:14). The point relevant for today’s discussion is this. Jesus said: No one is good but one, that is God.
Understanding what the prophets wrote, and what our LORD GOD Jesus clearly taught, Apostle Paul summarized it by the inspiration of Holy Spirit: All are under sin (Romans 3:9).
Quran also agrees with this:
Surah 16: 61: “If Allah were to punish men for their wrongdoing, He would not leave, on the (earth) a single leaving creature.”
Surah 35: 45: “If Allah were to punish men according to what they deserve, He would not leave on the back of the earth a single living creature.”
Surah 12: 53 expresses a similar concept which according to the majority of the commentators (Yusuf Ali, footnote 1712) is said by Joseph: “Nor do I absolve my own self (of blame): the (human) soul is certainly prone to evil.”
Now one can ask what about the prophets mentioned in the Bible and the Quran. Who am I to speak to about prophets?
Quran says c
ites the following prophets asking forgiveness for their sins or committing sins.
Prophets Adam: Surah 7:19-22, 2:30-35, 20:115-130.
Prophet Noah: Surah 71:28,
Prophet Abraham: Surah 26:82, 6: 76-78 (S B V 4: Book 55, Number 578)
Prophet Moses: Surah 28: 16
Prophet David: Surah 38:24 (The History of Al- Tabari, Volume 3, pg 144-146)
Prophet Solomon: Surah 38:24
Prophet Jonah: Surah 37: 139-147, 21: 87
And like every other prophet, Prophet Mohammed sins is also mentioned in: Surah 47: 19, 48: 1-2, 40: 55. The word that is used is Dhanab.
Prophet Mohammed asking for forgiveness is even confirmed by Shaih Bukhari: Volume 8, Number 319.
Let me take one of the example to see how serious is these sins. Patriarch/Prophet Abraham’s alleged sin as recorded in the Quran is Shirk.
In Surah 7: 76 “When the night covered him over, he saw a star; he said” “This is my Lord” But when it set He said: I love not those that set”. Looking at star and saying This is my lord is nothing but shirk, the unforgivable sin according to the Quran.
However, in contrast to all these prophets, Jesus Christ in the Gospel of John, chapter 8 verse 46 challenges the world: “Which of you convicts Me of sin?”
Surah 19:19 agrees with this and describe Jesus, the one who is born through virgin as a Holy Son. As I understand from Arabic students, the word holy son is not used for any other human being in the Quran. Let me summarize. All prophets have sinned except Jesus Christ, Prophet, Priest, King, and Lord God.
Conclusion until now is this:
1. Sin is a serious affair
2. All human beings including prophets except God-man Jesus are sinners
3. Our Good works, righteousness cannot save us.
I hope brother Asif will agree with me. If he disagrees, I have the following questions to him:
Question 3: How does Bro. Asif explain Surah 16: 61, Surah 35: 45?
Question 4: How does Bro. Asif explain the number of Surah that cited where prophets themselves asked for their forgiveness? IT IS INTERESTING TO NOTE THAT JESUS NEVER HAD TO ASK FOR FORGIVENESS FOR SINS EITHER IN QURAN OR IN THE BIBLE.
Question 5: How does he explain the word Dhanb used in Surah 47: 19, 48: 1-2, 40: 55?
But why it is so?
The Holy Bible gives us the answer.
In Romans 5:12, we read: “Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and this death spread to all men because all sinned.” All are sinners because of our sinful nature (original sin) that we have inherited from Adam, our forefathers, just as we inherit their physical resemblance and actions (actual sin).
But how did Adam became sinful?
After Adam and Eve were created, did not God say that the creation was VERY GOOD (Genesis 1:31)? Yes, Adam and Eve were created in the Image of Elohim, Jehovah Himself. In fact, Adam seems to have an amazing intelligence too. He could name and remember the names of all animals and birds and could remember it too (Genesis 2:20). But Adam used his freedom to disobey God.
One can never say that Adam had forgetfulness not only because of Adam’s amazing memory but also Iblis; Satan repeated the commandment of Allah before Adam disobeyed (Surah 7:20). Every other verse should be interpreted with this background.
I hope that Bro. Asif will agree with me that Adam, a prophet according to Quran have disobeyed the Allah (Surah 20:121). If Bro. Asif disagrees with me, I have a question for you:
Question 6: How can we ever say Adam, who had such an amazing memory (Surah 2:30) and to whom Satan repeated the commandment (just before Adam’s sin) (Surah 7:20) had forgotten the commandment?
Agreed, Adam and Eve disobeyed God. But why should my nature be sinful because of that?
Does not Deuteronomy 24: 16 say: “Fathers shall not be put to death for their children, nor shall children be put to death for their fathers; a person shall be put to death for his own sin”. There are other passages like Ezekiel 18:20 which say the same. However, there are many aspects to Deuteronomy 24: 16.
I will explain one of those aspects which is particularly relevant for today’s topic. Though Detuteronomy 24: 16 is a general principle, there are other cases where other principles are applied.
The Representative Principle.
We read Leviticus 4:1-3 the representative role of the priest- if it is the anointed priest who sins, THUS BRINGING GUILT UPON THE PEOPLE, then let him offer for the sin which he has committed a young bull without blemish to the LORD for a sin offering.’ Because priest is the representative of people before the God. If he sins, the people also bears the guilt.
Quran also mentions a similar principle as in Deuteronomy 24: 16. Surah 6: 164 says: No bearer of burdens can bear the burden of another. Other verses are Surah 17:15, 35:18, and 39:7.
However, the Quran itself says that in some cases one can bear the burden of the other.
Surah 16: 25 say: Let them bear on the Day of Judgment, their own burdens in full and also of the burdens of those without knowledge whom they misled.
We can also see this in Surah 29: 13. In these passages of Quran, they are bearing the sins of others because they were the leaders. If leaders can bore the burdens of the followers, then followers will have the consequences of leaders’ folly too.
I hope Bro. Asif will agree with me. If he does not, I have the following question to him:
Question 7: How can there be a consistency between Surah 6: 164 and Surah 16:25?
What Was the Role of Adam? Was Adam the Representative of Mankind?
Adam, as the father of all human beings was their natural Patriarch. Or in other words, he is the Head of humanity, now the fallen one. If you read Romans 5: 12-21 and I Corinthians 15: 20-22, you will see this concept expressed.
Does the Quran agree with this? Of course.
In Surah 2: 30, Adam is said to be a vicegerent on the earth. In his commentary, Yusuf Ali says: I have translated the word Khalifah as Vicegerent it being Allah’s plan to make Adam (as representing mankind) His vicegerent on earth. REPRESENTING MANKIND!!! Yusuf Ali is absolutely correct as Surah 7: 14, 16-18 uses Adam and mankind as synonyms.
Moreover, in Surah2: 36, when Allah speaks to Adam, it is the plural you rather than the dual you that is used implying that it was for the entire mankind. Same is confirmed by Mohammed (S B V8: Book 77, No 611).
Apostle Paul, through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit precisely wrote: In Adam all die (1 Corinthians 15: 22).
I hope my brother Asif will agree with me on this. If he disagrees, I have two questions for him:
Question 8: Why, both Satan and Allah, when they speak about Adam, speak as though Adam and mankind as synonyms?
Question 9: Why in Surah 2:36, the plural you and not the dual you is used?
What is the punishment?
Since I have established that we all share Adam’s sin, what is the punishment?Jehovah has been very clear in the punishment too. To Adam, LORD God commanded: of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; but the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die” (Genesis 2:17).
Apostle Paul says: For the wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23).
Quran also agrees with it. Allah when He throws out Adam out of the garden due to Adam’s sin says this: He said In Surah 7: 25; Therein shall ye live, and therein shall ye Die, but from it shall ye be taken out (at last).
And according to Surah 72:23- For those who disobey Allah and his messenger, hell shall be the punishment.
Adam disbeyed his God. Adam MUST DIE. ADAM MUST GO TO HELL.
I hope Bro. Asif will agree with me. If Bro. Asif does not agree with me, then I have a question for him:
Question 10: Why am I not in the Garden of Eden and why should I die? I should have born and been in the Garden of Eden.
Question 11: Why is ADAM not in the hell according to Surah 72:23?
If death is the punishment for the sin, how can I reconcile with the Holy God without meeting His justice? You cannot.
You will have to pay the price of death. If death is the punishment, then you will have to pay with your life.
Jehovah through Prophet Moses in Leviticus 17:11 says: “For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you upon the altar to make atonement for your souls. For it is the blood that makes atonement for the soul.” Jehovah taught Moses through reasons and symbols which is clearly seen in the Day of Atonement. It is on the Day of Atonement, when the High Priest of Israel enters the Holiest of the Holy place once in year (Leviticus 16: 34). High Priest entering the presence of the Most Holy was the complete picture of our salvation- forgiveness of sins and fellowship with God. On that day, on the Day of Atonement, BLOOD SCARIFICE is absolutely necessary.
There are other times when blood is EXEMPTED because you CANNOT AFFORD to have animals or birds for sacrifice (lamb, kid, turtles or pigeons). You can see those references in Leviticus 5:11 and 12 but not on the day of atonement- when the High Priest enters to the MOST Holy place (Leviticus 16 and 17). Sacrifice of blood is a necessity. There is no exception. Because on that day, the full picture of our salvation is clearly shown- forgiveness of sin and fellowship with the presence of God.
Though Quran rejects the ransom of gold and silver for salvation (Surah 3:91, 10:54, 13: 18) agreeing with the Bible (1 Peter 1: 18-20), Quran accepts the blood sacrifice for atonement again agreeing with the Bible.
In Surah 2: 67-73, Moses says to Israelites to sacrifice a heifer. Yusuf Ali in his commentary says that this story is based on Numbers 19: 1-10 which was for the purification of sin (see footnote 80 in Yusuf Ali’s commentary).
I hope Brother Asif will agree with me on this. If not, I have question for him:
Question 12: Please explain to us, why the heifer sacrifice, based on Numbers 19: 1-10 which was for the purification of sin is commanded In Surah 2: 67-73.
Apart from the principle of life, there is another principle that is shown in these sacrifices.
The subsititutionary principle:
If God clearly established the principle of blood- the life, then through Patriarch/Prophet Abraham’s son sacrifice God established another principle- substitution.
In Genesis 22, we learn that Abraham was asked to sacrifice his only promised son. When Abraham showed his readiness to obey it, God substituted it with a ram (Genesis 22: 13).
Abraham’s son’s story is repeated in a different way in Surah 37: 99-111. We read “And we ransomed him with a momentous sacrifice”. If ransom and sacrifices were not accepted, why did it read “we ransomed him with a momentous sacrifice”? That to a substitutionary sacrifice.
I hope brother Asif will agree with me. If brother Asif does not agree, then I have a question for him:
Question 13: Why couldn’t God simply stop the sacrifice of Abraham’s son? Why should there be a substitution, why should there be a ransom, why should there be momentous sacrifice? Notice, the Quran does not speak about what the sacrifice was?
In another great redemption in the history, redemption of Israelites from the land of Egyptians, God again taught people about blood sacrifice and substitution. God commanded the Israelites to sprinkle the blood of lamb on the door post (Exodus 12). Why again the blood? Why could not it have been a white cloth or any other symbol? Because if the judgment has to be passed away, there has to be a blood sacrifice. Again through the same incident, God taught them about substitution.
Numbers 3: 11-13 we read: Then the LORD spoke to Moses, saying: Now behold, I Myself have taken the Levites from among the children of Israel INSTEAD of every firstborn who opens the womb among the children of Israel. Therefore the Levites shall be mine, because all the firstborn are mine. On the day that I struck all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, I sanctified to Myself all the firstborn in Israel both man and beast. They shall be mine, I am the Lord”. The principle of substitution is clearly shown here.
Substitution principle is not only accepted by the Quran, it is even confirmed by Hadiths.
In Shaih Bukhari: Volume 8, No 689 Prophet Mohammed allows a son to perform a vow instead of his dead mother.
Similarly in Shaih Bukhari: Volume 3, No 77: Prophet Mohammed allows another woman to perform Hajj instead of her mother.
I hope Bro. Asif will agree with me. If he disagrees, I have a question for him:
Question 14: Why is Substitution principle accepted in Vow and Hajj and not in others?
Now the question is who should or who can be our substitution?Can we have animals as our sacrifice? No- those were just shadows of to a real sacrifice. The Old Testament and New Testament believers themselves understood that these sacrifices are just shadow (Hebrews 9:9-14).
King David by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit wrote: Sacrifice and offering you did not desire; my ears you have opened
burnt offering and sin offering you did not require. Then I said: Behold I come: in the scroll of the book it is written of me. I delight to do Your will, o my God and your law is within my heart.” (Psalms 40:6). Who is this one who is ready to have his ears opened like the slave in Numbers 21: 5, 6 who gives his life? Here this person is giving His life as burnt offering.
Who is this one?
I give you three principles:
1. He should be representative of us (we can he should be in the similitude of Adam)
2. He should be written in the scrolls.
3. He should be sinless to be an atonement for us Who can be the representative of us? I suggest one name from the scrolls.
In Ezekiel 18: 4 Lord God says: “Behold all souls are Mine; The soul of the father as well as the soul of the son is mine. The soul who sins shall die”.God can be our representative. But is it not scandalous?
Let the scrolls speak:
Prophet Isaiah wrote: For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government will be upon His shoulder and his name will be called wonderful, counselor, MIGHTY GOD, EVERLASTING FATHER, Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6).
Prophet Isaiah again wrote: But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon Him and by His stripes we are healed (Isaiah 53:5).
Prophet Zechariah wrote: And I will pour on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem the Spirit of grace and supplication; then they will look on Me (Jehovah is the speaker) whom they pierced”. (Zechariah 12: 10).John 19:30-38, Rev 1:7-8
We have seen that the blood sacrifice is necessary, sacrifice has to be a Human, and the Human should be like Adam in being created sinless and being our representative. However, all souls belong to God. And we also read God will be born and bruised just as Adam and Eve were promised, just as Isaiah prophesied and will be pierced just as Zechariah prophesied.
Who is this one who is written in the scrolls?Without leaving us into speculation and arguments, God through His prophet John the Baptist told to us very clearly that it is Jesus Christ. We read in John 1: 29-34: The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. This is He of whom I said: “After me comes a Man who is preferred before me for He was before me”. (Luke 1: 17, Matthew 17: 4-12, )
Jesus himself said: “Take eat; this is My body. Then he took the cup, and gave thanks and gave it to them saying, “Drink from it, all of you. For this is My BLOOD of the new covenant which is shed for many for the remission of sins” (Matthew 26: 26-28).
Jesus is the second Adam. He was born of a virgin and lived a sinless holy life and died for our sins.
Surah 3:59: In fact Quran also speaks about Jesus as the similitude of Adam.
There is no other name under the heaven or on the earth, other than the name of Jesus whom the uncompromising Holy and all loving God have made for mankind for their salvation (Acts 4: 12).
“ For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”(John 3: 16)Apostle Paul speaks about Jesus, the second Adam, and says : If you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead you will be saved. Romans 10:9.
I hope finally my brother Asif will agree with me. If he disagrees, then he I have a question for him.
Question 15: If Brother Asif disagrees with this, I challenge him tonight to present any other name in which there is certainty of salvation?
There is no certainty of salvation in any other name other the Jesus in which there is salvation.