The following was authored by the late Christian theologian and apologist Dr. Labib Mikhail. I post it here for the benefit of the readers.
There are two things that demand a divine redemption: First, the Holiness of God. Second, the sin of man. It is a fact that all human beings are sinners.
The apostle Paul says, “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). That means that all human beings are measured by God’s standards and are all found wanting.
This is the Bible’s declaration about man.
As I mentioned before, the Quran declares in Surat Al-Asr 103:2:
Lo! Man is in a state of loss.
Again the Quran declares in Surat Joseph 12:53:
I do not claim to be innocent myself: One’s soul is prone to evil.
Man is totally depraved. He is in a state of loss. His soul is prone to evil; therefore he is helpless and cannot save himself.
Look around and see the violence, the wickedness, the deception, the killing, the perversion of the homosexuals.
All these things demonstrate that human beings are sinful by nature.
How could any man obtain the forgiveness of a Holy God?
Good deeds cannot annul ill deeds, or pay for man’s sin against a just and Holy God for sin is an offense against a Holy God.
You cannot offer good deeds to obtain God’s mercy and forgiveness. In fact, this would be an insult to the Holy God.
The prophet Isaiah says concerning good deeds:
But we are all like an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6 – NKJ).
How can we possibly think that we can exchange filthy rags for God’s forgiveness, if we really believe in a Holy and Just God?
The Quran declares that there is no human means to redeem a individual if he or she rejects faith.
Those who reject faith, neither their possessions nor their progeny will avail them aught against Allah: they are themselves but fuel for the fire (Surat Al-Imran 3:10 – King Fahd Holy Quran).
Job asked this important question:
… but how can a man be righteous before God? (Job 9:2).
God is a just and holy God.
God is a merciful and loving God.
Because He is just, He must punish the sinner according to His word: “The soul who sins shall die” (Ezekiel 18:20).
Because He is merciful and loving, He must provide a way to reconcile His justice with His mercy and forgive the sins of the one who will come to Him. That way was the shed blood of Jesus Christ on the cross.
God was not taken by surprise when Adam and Eve sinned. He knew they would sin. We read in the book of Acts, “Known to God from eternity are all His works” (Acts 15:18 NKJ). God knew from the beginning that Adam and Eve would sin; therefore, before He created them, He provided the way for their redemption
The apostle Peter says:
Knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver and gold, from your aimless conduct, but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot, he indeed was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifested in these last times for you (I Peter 1:18-20 – NKJ).
The death of Jesus Christ on the cross was foreordained before the foundation of the world.
The apostle Peter declared to the Jews who were gathered on the day of Pentecost:
Ye men of Israel, hear these words; Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did by him in the midst of you, as ye yourselves also know:
Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain: Whom God hath raised up, having loosed the pains of death: because it was not possible that he should be holden of it (Acts 2:22-24).
By the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, Jesus came to be crucified.
Counsel demands a Triune God. In eternity the Triune God knew that man would fall into sin, that he needed to be redeemed to reconcile God’s justice with God’s mercy and demonstrate God’s love to man. Jesus offered to redeem man. Jesus is called in the Gospel of John, the “Word.” At the same time He is the creator of man.
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God… All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made (John 1:1,3).
In the Quran Jesus is called the Word of God:
Behold the angels said: “O Mary! Allah giveth thee glad tidings of a Word from Him: His name will be Christ Jesus, the Son of Mary, held in honour in this world and the hereafter and of [the company of] these nearest Allah
(Surat Al-Imran 3:45).
Jesus is a Word from God. The Word of God is not created.
When the Quran says, “The similitude of Jesus before Allah is as that of Adam, He created him from dust, then said to him, ‘Be’ and he was” (Surat Al-Imran 3:59), it contradicts itself, because Adam was not created by the word “Be,” but by the breath of Allah.
Behold, thy Lord said to the angels: “I am about to create man from clay: when I have fashioned him and breathed into him of My Spirit, fall ye down in prostration unto him” (Surat Sad 38:70,71).
Likewise, Jesus was not conceived by the word “Be,” but by the Spirit of God.
And Mary [mother of Jesus] the daughter of Imran, who guarded her virginity (literal translation); and We breathed into [her body] of our spirit; and she testified to the truth of the words of her Lord and of his revelations, and was one of the devout [servants] (Surat Al-Tahrim 66:12).
The Quran gives a clear permission to the Muslim to believe in God’s son, if he or she is convinced by clear evidence that God has a son.
The Quran says:
Say: “[Muhammad] if the Most Gracious Had a son, I would be the first to worship”
(Surat Al-Zukhruf 43:81).
The Most Gracious had a Son, His Son is the creator of all things. The creator of mankind became the Redeemer of mankind, to open the door of mercy for mankind.
The Quran declared the same truth about Jesus Christ:
We will grant Him as a sign for mankind and a mercy from Us, and it is a thing ordained
(Surat Maryam 19:21).
Jesus Christ was a sign for mankind by His birth from the Virgin Mary without a man. But He was a mercy from God by His death in the place of sinners on the cross.
If He did not die on the cross to save sinners, then what mercy was it in Him for mankind?
I am aware that the Quran says concerning Muhammad:
We sent thee not, but as a mercy for all creatures (Surat Al-Anbiya 21:107 – King Fahd Holy Quran).
But my question is, what mercy was in Muhammad for all creatures while he did not redeem them?
Was Muhammad merciful when he commanded the Muslims to fight, torture and kill the Jews and the Christians, and anyone who opposed him.
These are the words of the Quran:
Fight those who believe not in Allah nor the Last Day, nor hold that forbidden which hath been forbidden by Allah and His Messenger [Muhammad], nor acknowledge the religion of truth [Islam] from among the people of the Book [Jews and Christians] until they pay the jizya (poll tax levied from those who did not accept Islam) with willing submission and feel themselves subdued (Surat Al-Tauba 9:29 – King Fahd Holy Quran).
The punishment of those who wage war against Allah and His Messenger [Muhammad] and strive with might and main for mischief through the land is execution, or crucifixion, or cutting off hands and feet from opposite sides (that means cutting the right hand and the left foot) or exile from the land (Surat Al-Maidah 5:33 – King Fahd Holy Quran).
The word “mercy” according to Webster’s Dictionary means: “A refraining from punishing offenders… kindness in excess of what may be expected… the power to forgive.”
All these meanings cannot be applied to Muhammad but can be applied only to what God did through the death of His Son Jesus Christ. The apostle Paul says,
But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ (by grace ye are saved) (Ephesians 2:4,5).
In the cross of Jesus Christ God demonstrated His love, His wisdom, and His justice.
A young man from Morocco said to me, “God would not let one of His chosen prophets be killed, let alone if that prophet, as you Christians claim, is His Son.”
My answer was that the Quran mentioned that the Jews killed many of the chosen prophets of God.
I will mention some of these Quranic verses:
- Why then have ye slain the prophets of Allah in times gone by, if ye did indeed believe? (Surat Al-Baqarah 2:91 – King Fahd Holy Quran).
- Certainly record their word and [their act] of slaying the prophets in defiance of right (Surat Al-Imran 3:181 – King Fahd Holy Quran).
- [They have incurred divine displeasure] in that they broke their covenant; that they rejected the signs of Allah; that they slew the messengers in defiance of right (Surat Al-Nisa 4:155).
- We gave Moses the Book and followed him up with a succession of messengers; We gave Jesus the son of Mary clear [signs] and strengthened him with the holy spirit. Is it that whenever there comes to you a messenger with what ye yourselves desire not, ye are puffed up with pride? Some you called impostors, and others ye slay (Surat Al-Baqarah 2:87 – King Fahd Holy Quran)
There are other verses in the Quran which mention the killing of good and chosen prophets.
But in the case of Jesus Christ we have to be reminded that He came to die. His death was the focal point of His mission.
When Jesus came to the coasts of Caesarea Philippi He asked His disciples,
Whom say ye that I am? And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. And Jesus answered and said unto him, blessed art thou, Simon Bar-jona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven… From that time forth began Jesus to show unto his disciples, how that he must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day (Matthew 16:15-17, 21).
After the confession of Peter, declaring that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God, Jesus revealed to His disciples that He would be killed but He would be raised again.
In the cross of Jesus Christ God demonstrated three things:
1. HIS LOVE
We see the power of God in creation. But the only way to see the love of God beyond any shadow of doubt is to see it in the cross of Jesus Christ.
The apostle Paul says,
But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8 – NKJ).
Again we read in the Gospel of John:
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life (John 3:16).
The apostle John says:
In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God has sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us, and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins (I John 4:9,10).
Here I should say that there is a great difference between mercy and love. The Quran declares that God is merciful. The Bible declares that God is love (I John 4:16).
Mr. Abd-Al-Masih in his book, Who is Allah in Islam? wrote:
Islam acknowledges Allah to be the merciful one. Perhaps you may ask, “Is not this name, which occurs in the Quran more than any other name, equivalent to love? Are not mercy and love the same?” Perhaps an illustration can help to clarify the comparison between these two words. If a groom would say to his bride, “I have mercy on you and will marry you,” what would her reaction be? She would run away from him! But if he says, “I love you, this is why I will marry you,” then the relationship will be as it should be.
I repeat, God demonstrated His love toward us in the sacrifice of Jesus Christ.
Alas, the Muslim cannot confess that God is Love, because that name is not mentioned in the Quran.
2. HIS WISDOM
The wisdom of God is far above the wisdom of man:
For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts (Isaiah 55:8,9).
O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out! (Romans 11:33).
The apostle Paul says:
For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe. For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom: but we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumbling block, and unto the Greeks foolishness; but unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God (I Corinthians 1:21-24).
God planned in His great wisdom a way to reconcile His love and mercy with His justice and righteousness.
In the cross of Jesus Christ,
Mercy and truth have met together; righteousness and peace have kissed each other (Psalm 85:10 – NKJ).
3. HIS JUSTICE AND RIGHTEOUSNESS
Christianity does not proclaim a God who is a despotic dictator who forgives whom He wills and punishes whom He wills, without any basis of justice, but a God who is a righteous and a just God, and who is at the same time the justifier.
The only logical solution for the problem of sin is the death of the perfect Savior, Jesus Christ, this is why Paul wrote to the Corinthians:
And I, brethren, when I came to you, did not come with excellence of speech or of wisdom declaring to you the testimony of God. For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified (I Corinthians 2:1,2).
Paul knew that the crucified Christ is the central theme of Christianity, and that without the cross there is no Christianity, and no salvation.
When the Quran declared that Jesus Christ was not crucified, saying, “… they killed him not, nor crucified him” (Surat Al-Nisaa 4:157), it meant that the prophecies concerning Christ’s crucifixion in the Old Testament, the four Gospels, the letters of the apostles and the book of the Revelation are all false. In other words that the whole Bible from Genesis to Revelation is not God’s infallible word, and who would believe that conclusion but a fool?
The apostle Paul summed up the central theme of Christianity in Romans 3:23-26. He says:
For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God, being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus;… to declare, I say, his righteousness… that He might be just and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.
A FINAL WORD
To conclude this chapter, I should say that there are certain things that God cannot do.
God cannot lie, because He is Truth.
God cannot sin, because He is Holy.
God cannot forgive without atonement, because He is Just.
The Psalmist says:
Righteousness and justice are the foundation of His throne (Psalm 97:1 – NKJ)
The declaration of war spoken by God to Satan after the fall of man is recorded in Genesis:
And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel (Genesis 3:15 – NKJ).
The only seed of the woman is Jesus Christ, because He was born of a woman without a man. He was born without sin. The Quran declares that Jesus was born pure and faultless.
The angel Gabriel said to Mary:
I am only a messenger of thy Lord, that I may bestow on thee a faultless son (Surat Maryam 19:19 – M. M. Pickthall Translation)
Satan bruised Jesus’ heel when He was nailed to the cross. Jesus thwarted the plan of Satan and will bruise his head when He comes back and cast him into the lake of fire (Revelation 20:10).
It was said that God created Jesus of a woman without a man to complete the creative cycle.
For He created Adam from the dust. Then He created Eve from Adam to show his power.
Then He creates human beings from man and woman together.
Then to complete the cycle He created Jesus from a woman without a man.
This is a great error.
Because God created Eve from Adam to make her equal to him, we read in the book of Genesis:
And the LORD God said, it is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him (Genesis 2:18)
And when God brought Eve to Adam, Adam said:
This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man (Genesis 2:23).
But Jesus was born of a virgin without a man, not to complete the cycle of creation, but that He should be born without sin.
This is what we read in Hebrews 10:5:
Wherefore when he cometh into the world, he saith, sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not, but a body hast thou prepared me.
Jesus was born by a miracle that He would not inherit the sin of Adam. The apostle John says:
And ye know that he was manifested to take away our sins; and in him is no sin (I John 3:5).
The sinless Savior died for the sinful man.
We have to remember an important fact, which is that the principle of redemption is predominant in all the history of mankind.
The Quran mentioned redemption explicitly when God called Abraham from heaven and commanded him not to slay his son. Abraham lifted up his eyes and saw a ram caught in a thicket by his horns, Abraham took the ram and offered it up for a burnt offering in the stead of his son. The Quran mentioned this event in the words:
“Then we ransomed him with a momentous [great] sacrifice” (Surat Al-Safat 37:107).
That was said concerning Abraham’s son. But we have to realize that God is the one who ransomed Abraham’s son. The great sacrifice was prepared by Him. Redemption was His plan, not Abraham’s.
Here I should emphasize that redemption is by blood. The ram was slain to redeem Abraham’s son.
God commanded the children of Israel to offer four kinds of bloody offerings. The burnt offering. The peace offering. The sin offering. The trespass offering. All these offerings were a symbol of the final and complete offering of Jesus Christ on the cross.
For by one offering He has perfected forever those who are being sanctified (Hebrews 10:14 – NKJ).
It is the blood that makes atonement for the soul.
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 (Leviticus 17:11 – NKJ).
And according to the law almost all things are purged with blood, and without shedding of blood there is no remission (Hebrews 9:22 – NKJ).
Now let me ask you a question concerning the ram which Abraham offered:
Do you think that the cheap ram which Abraham offered as ransom for his son was a great sacrifice, or was it a symbol of the real great sacrifice, Jesus Christ, who gave His life a ransom for many?
Most certainly that ram was a symbol of Jesus Christ. This is why Jesus Said:
Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day: and he saw it and was glad (John 8:56).
John the Baptist pointed to Jesus and said:
Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world (John 1:29).
That means that Jesus Christ took away the penalty of the sin of the world by His death. This refers to the sin which we inherited from Adam.
Moreover, Christ bore the sins of every individual who will believe in Him, for these sins were known to Him before that individual was born, for with God all things are present.
The apostle Peter says:
Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed (I Peter 2:24).
God knows the end from the beginning. Before you were born, He knew you and all what you will do:
Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed and in your book they all were written, the days fashioned for me, when as yet there were none of them (Psalm 139:16 – NKJ).
By the foreknowledge of God, Jesus bore our sins in His body.
The Quran declares three days in the life of Jesus Christ.
The day of His birth.
The day of His death.
The day of His resurrection.
The Quran quotes Jesus as saying:
Peace on me the day I was born, and the day I die, and the day I shall be raised alive (Surat Maryam 19:33).
It is clear that these are successive days..
The day of Jesus’ birth.
This is the day when He was born in Bethlehem; that is the day when He took the form of a servant, and became a man. Here I should say that it is impossible for the finite to be infinite, but it is quite possible for the infinite to become finite and remain infinite. The king can wear a soldier’s uniform and remain a king. Incarnation does not belittle Jesus Christ, for all the bodily functions are God’s design, and are pure as long as they are used in the manner which is in accord with that design.
The day of Jesus’ death.
This is the day when He was crucified on the cross for the sins of mankind; that is the day He died. Any other explanation will be in error.
The day of Jesus’ resurrection.
This is the day when He was raised from the dead by His own power. He said to the Jews, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up… He was speaking of the temple of his body (John 2:19-21), and by the power of the Father (Acts 2:24), and by the power of the Holy Spirit (Romans 1:4).
This is the day of His resurrection. Again, we see the Triune God in that glorious day.
By His triumphant resurrection Jesus Christ was declared to be the everlasting Son of God. The apostle Paul says concerning this fact:
Christ our Lord, which was made of the seed of David according to the flesh; and declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead (Romans 1:3,4).
The death of Jesus on the cross of Calvary was a necessity to demonstrate God’s love, God’s wisdom, and God’s justice and righteousness, and that is to glorify the holiness of God and redeem mankind.
These are three successive days. The day of birth, the day of death, the day of resurrection. That is the only logical interpretation.
I have to conclude with these words: If Jesus Christ demonstrated by His death on the cross the love, the wisdom and the justice of God, if He said on the cross, “It is finished” (John 19:30), that means that the plan of God for the redemption of man was accomplished. It means that no one will come after Jesus Christ, it means that Jesus Christ is God’s Last Messenger.