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Is Jesus God or sent by God? (part 2 of 2)

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Description: The second of a two-part article discussing the true role of Jesus.  Part 2: Discusses the message of Jesus, belief of the early Christians and Islam's view of Jesus. 

  • By onereason.org
  • Published on 05 Nov 2012
  • Last modified on 26 Apr 2013
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4.      The Message of Jesus

The Prophets of the Old Testament such as Abraham, Noah and Jonah never preached that God is part of a Trinity, and did not believe in Jesus as their saviour.  Their message was simple: there is one God and He alone deserves your worship.  It doesn’t make sense that God sent Prophets for thousands of years with the same essential message, and then all of a sudden he says he is in a Trinity and that you must believe in Jesus to be saved.

The truth is that Jesus preached the same message that the Prophets in the Old Testament preached.  There is a passage in the Bible which really emphasizes his core message.  A man came to Jesus and asked “Which is the first commandment of all?”Jesus answered, “The first of all the commandments is Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one.’’[Mark 12:28-29].  So the greatest commandment, the most important belief according to Jesus is that God is one.  If Jesus was God he would have said ‘I am God, worship me’, but he didn’t.  He merely repeated a verse from the Old Testament confirming that God is One.

Some people claim that Jesus came to die for the sins of the world.  But consider the following statement of Jesus: This is eternal life: to know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you sent.  I have glorified you on earth by finishing the work you gave me to do.[John 17:3-4].  Jesus said this before he was caught and taken to be crucified.  It is clear from this verse that Jesus did not come to die for the sins of the world, as he finished the work God gave him before he was taken to be crucified.

Also Jesus said “salvation is of the Jews” [John 4:22].  So according to this we don’t need to believe in the Trinity or that Jesus died for our sins to attain salvation since the Jews don’t have these beliefs.

5.      The Early Christians

Historically there were many sects in early Christianity who had a range of beliefs regarding Jesus[1].  Some believed Jesus was God, others believed Jesus was not God but partly divine, and yet others believed he was a human being and nothing more.  Trinitarian Christianity which is the belief that God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit are one in three persons became the dominant sect of Christianity, once it was formalized as the state religion of the Roman Empire in the 4th Century.  Christians who denied Jesus being God were persecuted by the Roman Authorities[2].  From this point onwards the Trinitarian belief became widespread amongst Christians.  There were various movements in early Christianity which denied the Trinity, among the more well known of them is Adoptionism and Arianism.

Dr Jerald Dirks who is an expert on early Christianity had this to say on the subject: Early Christianity was quite conflicted about the issue of the nature of Jesus.  The various Adoptionist positions within early Christianity were numerous and at times dominate.  One can even speculate that Arian and Nestorian Christianity might well be an extremely sizable source within Christianity today, if it were not for the fact that these two branches of Christianity, which were located primarily in the middle east and in North Africa were so similar to the Islamic teaching regarding the nature of Jesus that they quite naturally were absorbed into Islam at the beginning of the seventh century.”[3]

Since there were so many sects in early Christianity, each with different beliefs about Jesus and with their own versions of the Bible, which one can we say was following the true teachings of Jesus?

It doesn’t make sense that God sends countless Prophets like Noah, Abraham and Moses to tell people to believe in one God, and then suddenly sends a radically different message of the Trinity which contradicts his previous Prophets teachings.  It is clear that the sect of Christianity who believed Jesus to be a human Prophet and nothing more, were following the true teachings of Jesus.  This is because their concept of God is the same as that which was taught by the Prophets in the Old Testament.

Jesus in Islam

The Islamic belief about Jesus demystifies for us who the real Jesus was.  Jesus in Islam was an extraordinary individual, chosen by God as a Prophet and sent to the Jewish people.  He never preached that he himself was God or the actual son of God.  He was miraculously born without a father, and he performed many amazing miracles such as healing the blind and the lepers and raising the dead – all by God’s permission.  Muslims believe that Jesus will return before the day of Judgement to bring justice and peace to the world.  This Islamic belief about Jesus is similar to the belief of some of the early Christians.  In the Quran, God addresses the Christians about Jesus in the following way:

O People of the Book, do not commit excesses in your religion, and do not say anything about God except the truth: the Messiah, Jesus, son of Mary, was nothing more than a messenger of God, His word, directed to Mary and a spirit from Him.  So believe in God and His Messengers and do not speak of a ‘Trinity’– stop [this], that is better for you– God is only one God, He is far above having a son, everything in the heavens and earth belongs to Him and He is the best one to trust.  [4:171]

Islam is not just another religion.  It is the same message preached by Moses, Jesus and Abraham.  Islam literally means ‘submission to God’ and it teaches us to have a direct relationship with God.  It reminds us that since God created us, no one should be worshipped except God alone.  It also teaches that God is nothing like a human being or like anything that we can imagine.  The concept of God is summarized in the Quran as:

“Say, He is God, the One.  God, the Absolute.  He does not give birth, nor was He born, and there is nothing like Him.” (Quran 112:1-4)[4]

Becoming a Muslim is not turning your back to Jesus.  Rather it’s going back to the original teachings of Jesus and obeying him. 



Footnotes:

[1] John Evans, History of All Christian Sects and Denominations, ISBN: 0559228791

[2] C.N. Kolitsas, The Life and Times of Constantine the Great, ISBN: 1419660411

[3] Excerpt from ‘Islamic Trajectories in Early Christianity’ by Dr Jerald Dirks

[4] God is not male or female, the word ‘Him’ when used for God does not refer to gender.

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