This Sonday some of us are going to Bethlehem to worship with Arab brothers and sisters in the joy of our God. Next weekend our congregation (actually the Lord Yeshua’s congregation) will be host to over 40 teenagers from that same area. Today happens to be the shortest day of the year, when the light of day in the darkest of seasons is at its briefest in this part of the globe. A little light can dispel even more darkness; how much more the sun the blackness of night; how much more even does the Light which is the Word of God, and who is Himself the Lord Jesus Christ, dispel the darkness of lies!
Recently, at this very time of year when Jesus Christ is remembered by nearly the entire world, there has been an exposure of some rather remarkable indications of a falling away from the truth which has been entrusted to those who say they know God – or rather that they are known by God: a book by the well-known preacher and Israel supporter, John Hagee, with the strange view that Yeshua did not come to be Israel’s Messiah and therefore was not rejected as Messiah by them!; we’ve already had those even within the Messianic community deny the deity of Yeshua, or that Jews do not necessarily have to believe in Jesus in order to be saved. The Archbishop of Canterbury, the supposed spiritual leader of the Anglican Church, went on record just this week on a BBC radio interview that downplayed the importance of believing that Jesus, the Son of God, was born of a virgin. Besides undermining the veracity of the written word as given us in the Scriptures, it also, of course, raises the question: who then was the father of Jesus. If not God, then there is another Jesus the right reverend (or, maybe, wrong reverend, or simply not reverent) archbishop must be referring to!
I don’t know how many of you have seen the recent documents put out by Muslim leaders from around the Islamic world, and the response by Christian leaders. The Muslim letter is called, “A Common Word Between Us and You” (http://www.acommonword.com ), and the Christian response is titled, “Loving God and Neighbor Together” (http://www.yale.edu/faith/abou-commonword.htm).
The resolution of conflict in areas of mutual social welfare is not and can not be treated as being of the same kind alongside with “theologically based” peace. Our relationship and fellowship through the blood of Yeshua and our common salvation in Him are essential factors as a basis for other areas of reconciliation amongst believers. The Holy Spirit is speaking plainly when the Scripture says that between unbelievers and believers (with respect to the true God) there can be no genuine reconciliation between nations or peoples! (2Cor 6:14-18).
To seek to be at peace, as far as possible, with all persons is one thing, but quite another to do this in such a way which compromises in any way the confession of who the one true God is. To the Muslims, the name Allah is not the same one God as YHVH God, who has revealed Himself especially to and through the Jews – even if Arab Christians use that term with their own tacit understanding of it. So those who are blessed as peacemakers or pursuers of peace in being called “sons of God” will be those who pursue and make peace based on YHVH GOD’S covenantal truth regarding peace. As it is written, even the demons know that there is one God . . . and tremble. When Muslims hear and say “Allah” they are not referring to YHVH God, the Father God who revealed himself through His Son, Yeshua the Messiah, who is one with the Father. (Ps 83:16-18 Eng) The Jews, Christians, and Muslims do not all share the faith of Abraham, for they do not all believe in the God of Abraham! (Dec 31: Check this current extremely relevant story for an Islamic view on the use of the name ‘Allah. Is Allah a personal name?: http://www.christianpost.com/article/20071228/30662_Malaysia_Christians_Challenge_Ban_on_’Allah’.htm )
By the way, YHVH/Yehovah/Yahweh does not mean ‘God’ or ‘LORD’, but is the Name by which He will be known forever, the Everlasting God, the One who was, and is, and is to come – and who came to us in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ, whose name alone is given under Heaven for salvation unto eternal life. YHVH is the Most High God — God of gods, and Lord of lords (Ps 136:1-3) — over the god of the Muslims, the Hindus, the humanists, even of the atheists! There is no God like YHVH our God, and no other is to be compared with Him.
The document, “Loving God and Neighbor Together: A Christian Response to ‘A Common Word Between Us and You’ “, which in fact was a Muslim initiative to “define peace and hope in this world only, presents a position, with its language of accommodation, that gives the implicit impression that the God of the Bible is the same as that of the Koran. Concurrently it then implies that Jesus Christ is no different, higher, or greater than Mohammed, and that reconciliation between the two faith communities is essential for world peace.
The following quote is taken from the “Christian Response”:
“What is common between us lies not in something marginal nor in something merely important to each. It lies, rather, in something absolutely central to both: love of God and love of neighbor. Surprisingly for many Christians, your letter considers the dual command of love to be the foundational principle not just of the Christian faith, but of Islam, as well. That so much common ground exists – common ground in some of the fundamentals of faith – gives hope that undeniable differences and even the very real external pressures that bear down upon us can not overshadow the common ground upon which we stand together. That this common ground consists in love of God and of neighbor gives hope that deep cooperation between us can be a hallmark of the relations between our two communities.”
Neither Judaism nor Islam accepts that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of the Living God. Yet it is precisely upon this confession that He builds His church, of which we profess to be. Islam teaches that their God is not a father, and therefore, he has no need of a son, which expressly refers to Jesus, but also includes Israel as first-born son amongst the nations by YHVH’s own declaration. The Muslim nations’ hope lies in being reconciled to THIS God and to HIS Word, which is no different than that to Israel and the Jews, or to any other people. Peace in this world is of HIM and not of ourselves, however well-meaning.
In the Christian response to the Muslim leaders , the one true God is blurred and too much is left to each person and side to define for themselves what the different terms refer to. This, of course, will never succeed to accomplish anything genuine, and is clearly the wiles of the devil who is seeking to deceive even the elect, if he can.
The Lord Jesus says that we are the light of the world, and that our light is to shine so before men that they may see our good works done in His Name and glorify our Father in Heaven. To the Muslim, this makes no sense, since they do not believe in the same Lord and Savior as we do; nor is our Father in Heaven theirs. We are called to be stewards of the mysteries of the Kingdomof God and of the uniqueness of our God, of His Son, and of the faith once delivered unto the saints.
Some say that speaking of Yeshua’s life and teaching is understood to include also that He died and rose again. By whom? The Muslims do not believe that He died, and therefore He did not rise again. The Jews believe that He died, and no more than that. As believers our salt will become more tasteless and less effective if we allow ourselves to be brought down to the lowest common denominator in the pursuit to find ‘common ground’, which will be found to be nothing but sinking sand!
The “Christian Response” to the Muslim appeal promotes neither inner nor political peace, not now nor for eternity. Yes, we all would like to see even temporary relief from all the suffering and injustices we face in the world, just as from headaches and other illnesses. But our actual calling is to bring those in darkness into the Light where there is true and lasting hope, not for this age only (which is in any case subjected to futility), but especially for the world to come.
At the very time and season that many believers around the world are celebrating the birth of Him who is the true Light who came into the world, His enemy is at work to bring in confusion, and using those called by the name of the Lord and of His Christ to either show themselves to be hypocrites who don’t really believe what they have written, or else afraid through unbelief in the love of the truth. “By this we know love, because [Yeshua] laid down His life for us.”
We live in sobering times, and are to contend earnestly for the faith once delivered unto the saints. The time is come for judgment to begin at the house of God; and if with us first, what will be the end of those who do not obey the gospel of God?! May God our Father have mercy on all His children.