Summary: Examining the differences between Islam and Christianity in the light of scriptures of the Bible.
(Quotations from articles and information at www.answering-islam.org was used for much of the content of this sermon.)
What is Islam?-- Submission. What do Muslims ("one who submits to God") believe? How is our Christian faith different?
Christianity and Islam share much common ground. Both trace their roots to Abraham. Both believe in prophecy, God’s messengers (apostles), revelation, scripture, the resurrection of dead. One difference is how scripture is read (Leviticus as an example)— literally or spiritually?
I. Two biggest stumbling blocks to Muslims:
1. Trinity- "3 Gods" are totally inconceivable
Jn.14:11, "Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me;"
Jn 16:7, "But I tell you the truth: It is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Counselor will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you."
Christians see the Sonship of Jesus not as a blasphemy but as a testimony to the divine love. God humbled himself to the point of becoming a part of his creation through the Incarnation of his Son Jesus Christ! By becoming part of the created order, by taking on a full and a complete human nature, God sanctified humanity "from within," so to speak.
Both Islam and Christianity say that God is totally other and beyond human comprehension, completely beyond the ability of humans to grasp, yet Christians add something completely different: that God sanctified the world by humbling himself to become part of it, by loving us so much that he was willing "to come down from his throne" to became part of this mess which we call the world. In this bold -- and wonderful -- assertion, Christianity stands apart from both Judaism and Islam, which stress the total otherness and transcendence of God to the point where it is incomprehensible to them that He could become part of the created order. We Christians must never loose sight of the fact that even though we are Trinitarian, we affirm that there is only "one God".
The Orthodox Christians in the Middle East always say in Arabic: "In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, ONE GOD!"
2. Jesus, the Son of God- Muslims consider this statement to be blasphemous!
Jn.14:8-11, "Philip said, "Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us." Jesus answered: "Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ’Show us the Father’? Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you are not just my own. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work. Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me;"
II. Other differences are:
1. Messiah- Islam sees Jesus as a prophet.
A Middle Eastern Christian convert from Islam: "I woke up one morning and was suddenly struck by the meaning of a verse written by the prophet Isaiah in his ninth chapter. I had read this verse several weeks prior to that morning, but I had never understood its meaning-- Isa.7:14, "Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel." Isaiah continues in 9:2-7, "but in the future he will honor Galilee of the Gentiles, by the way of the sea, along the Jordan– The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned. You have enlarged the nation and increased their joy; . . . For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever." I could not believe it! The fact that the Messiah was not going to be just a prophet, but Mighty God himself, was therefore a truth that had been prophesied seven hundred years before Christ in the Old Testament, and not something that had been made up by Christians many years or centuries after Christ! It was God’s own promise that he will come in flesh (Immanuel = God with us) and will establish a kingdom that will last forever."