Jesus, God, and the Qur’an, on the Christian Scriptures by Pastor Rudolph Boshoff

5 Minute read:

In my recent discussion with Dr. Sayyed on the question, ‘Is the Bible God’s Word’ my central claim was that ultimately we can only answer that question once we have endeavored to look at the claims of Jesus as a true Prophet. My very central claim against Dr. Sayyed’s presentation, in fact, was threefold and I will briefly outline my argument in this article.

First, we need to ask the question concerning what Jesus claimed concerning the Christian Scriptures. If He was a true Prophet that spoke authoritatively from God, we can be assured that what He said concerning the Christian Scriptures was in fact so? 

Second, what was God’s claim in the Old Testament concerning the Christian Scriptures? For the sake of the article I will not contend the Divinity of Jesus Christ but simply speak of His Prophetic claims and intentions concerning the Bible.  

Third, what was the Quran’s claim concerning the Christian Scriptures. The central question of cause is if the “Bible contains a legitimate right to be called a divine book”, my answer is obviously in the affirmative because this is exactly what Prophet Jesus, God, and the author of the Quran claim.

  1. Our Lord’s claims concerning the central theme of the Judeo/Christian Scriptures:

Our Lord Jesus mentions that He was the ultimate expectation of that which was expected in the Old Testament proclamation. After His resurrection, He speaks to some of His despondent Disciples, and He clearly states the intention of the Old Testament Prophets concerning Him (Luke 24):

25 He said to them, “How foolish you are, and how slow to believe all that the prophets have spoken! 26 Did not the Messiah have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?” 27 And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.

44 He said to them, “This is what I told you while I was still with you: Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms.”

Jesus claims unambiguously that He is the central message of the whole sweep of the Old Testament. When Christ speaks to the religious Jews, he claims as Messiah that His presence should be central to the fulfilled expectation of the Old Testament Scriptures in John’s Gospel account (5:39).

“You study the Scriptures diligently because you think that in them you have eternal life. These are the very Scriptures that testify about me, yet you refuse to come to me to have life.”

In Matthew’s account (5:17) Jesus makes it clear. 

“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly I tell you until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished.”

In actual fact, even the earliest Disciples believed that the Spirit of Christ animated the Prophets of the Old Testament to prophecy concerning Him. Peter (1Pet.1:10-12) writes:

“Concerning this salvation, the prophets, who spoke of the grace that was to come to you, searched intently and with the greatest care, trying to find out the time and circumstances to which the Spirit of Christ in them was pointing when he predicted the sufferings of the Messiah and the glories that would follow.  It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves but you, when they spoke of the things that have now been told you by those who have preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven. Even angels long to look into these things.”[1]

The Lord Jesus Christ is unambiguous about the very fact that He was the very central theme of all of the Judeo-Christian Scriptures! Eric Sauer in his book ‘From eternity to eternity’[2] writes:

“From faith in Christ, we reach full faith in His Word also. In Christ, the centre of God’s revelation, we have also the centre of a view of the Bible which is according to God. Moreover, this alone is consistent with faith. For Christ Himself is the “Logos,” the original form of the word, the personal, living “word,” the true and faithful Witness (Joh.1:1; Rev.1:5), the mouth of the eternal truth, yea, the truth itself (Joh.14:6). And it was His Spirit, the Spirit of Christ, Who inspired the prophets (1Pe.1:11), and the “testimony of Jesus” is the “spirit of prophecy” (Rev.19:10).[3]

 

Our Lord Jesus gives clear and emphatic descriptions that He fulfilled all the Scriptures suggested about Him. Matthew (26:24, 54) accounts Christ saying:

“The Son of Man will go just as it is written about him.”

“But how then would the Scriptures be fulfilled that say it must happen in this way?”

The Evangelists in fact never slacked in an opportunity to show how the episodes in the life of Jesus Christ, in fact, affirmed exactly what was predetermined and Prophesied about Him. Matthew, for instance, gives numerous examples of Christ’s miraculous birth (Matt.1:22-23, Isa.7:14), His healing of the sick (Matt.8:16-17, Isa.53:4), Him being rejected (Matt.21:42, Psa.118:22), being David’s Lord (Matt.22:43-44, Psa.110:1), being betrayed by Judas (Matt.26:24, Psa.41:9), His crucifixion (Matt.27:35, Psa.22:16), His resurrection (Matt.28:17, Psa.16:8-9), and the Gospel being preached to all nations (Matt.28:19, Isa.49:6).

So what did Jesus say ABOUT the Scriptures both Old and New Testament? In Mark’s Gospel account Jesus affirms that the Words that He has spoken will be preserved (13:31).

Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.

Jesus also claimed that the Old Testament Scriptures (Matt. 5:17) cannot disappear and will be preserved.

 “not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished.

Jesus, in fact, claims that the very words that He has spoken have a Divine origin when He states:

“For I did not speak from Myself, but the Father Himself, having sent Me, gave Me a commandment, what I should say and what I should speak.(John 12:49).

 “Whoever does not love Me does not keep My words. The word that you hear is not My own, but it is from the Father who sent Me.” (John 14:24).


“But I do exactly what the Father has commanded Me, so that the world may know that I love the Father. Get up! Let us go on from here.” (John 14:31).

“For I have given them the words You gave Me, and they have received them. They knew with certainty that I came from You, and they believed that You sent Me.(John 17:8). 

 Jesus here clearly gives a dynamic testimony of both the authority and the divine inspiration of His own words. Jesus clearly gives credence to the Old Testament Scriptures as well when he places the text of Scripture on the same authority as His own words. When tempted by the devil, Jesus makes it clear that He holds to the Old Testament promise as authoritative and infallible taking His arguments from the book of Deuteronomy (Matt.4:4, 7, 10; Deut.8:3, 6:13, 16). He also referred authoritively to the writings of David (Matt.12:3), and Moses (Matt.19:4, Gen.1:27), etc. Jesus emphatically emphasizes His own authority when He shows He fulfilled the passage of the Prophet Isaiah (Luk.4:16-21) and even His sermon on the mount was based on the law confirming and completing it (Matt.5:17). Even on the Cross, it is recorded how He prayed and showed the fulfilment of the Messianic Psalms (Ps.22:1, Matt.27:46) and how He was aware of His fulfilling all that was written about Him (Ps.69:21, Joh.19:28). Another prolific point Jesus makes is the fact that the Scriptures are sufficient in leading men to Salvation. Jesus mentions:

 It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.” (John 6:63).

This then leads even His closest Disciples to affirm the very fact that they cannot forsake Him because the Words that he has spoken is sufficient for their salvation. John writes:

Then Simon Peter answered him, Lord, to whom shall we go? Thou hast the words of eternal life. And we believe and are sure that thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God. (John 6:68-69).

Jesus clearly demonstrates that what He has spoken is of cardinal importance in the adherents perceiving the will of God concerning eternal salvation. To merit therefore that the Words of Jesus was somewhat lost or obscured is to claim that Jesus could not assuredly give an authoritative command that the words He spoke were in fact from God. In fact, Jesus mentions even that people err because they are not familiar with the Scriptures or the power of God (Mark.12:24, 27, Luke 24:25). The veracity of the text foundationally rests on our perspective surrounding Jesus Christ. Even if he is solely found to be only a Prophet, His words directed from God merits that it was authoritative and sufficient. I agree with well know scholar H.C.G. Moule when he wrote:

“He [our Lord Jesus Christ] absolutely trusted the Bible; and though there are in it things inexplicable and intricate that have puzzled me so much, I am going, not in a blind sense, but reverently, to trust the Book because of Him.”[4]

Christopher Wordsworth affirms that:

“The New Testament canonizes the Old; the incarnate Word sets His seal on the written Word. The Incarnate Word is God; therefore, the inspiration of the Old Testament is authenticated by God Himself”.[5]   

The Westminster Confession of Faith rightfully affirms that the very preservation of the Word of God is dependent on the very person of God.

“The authority of the Holy Scripture, for which it ought to be believed, and obeyed, dependeth not upon the testimony of any man, or church; but wholly upon God (who is truth itself) the author thereof: and therefore it is to be received, because it is the Word of God.”[6]

We can clearly see that Jesus even mention that His very Disciples will receive guidance and instruction from the Holy Spirit which Our Lord will send ‘In His name’ to them that will aid them in remembering what exactly He has said. John (14:26) writes:

“the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.”

Any claim therefore that the central teaching of Jesus Christ was lost is a claim that the Holy Spirit was deficient in His Divine task and Our Lord not credible in His promise.

  1. What was God’s claim in the Old Testament concerning the Christian Scriptures?

We have already seen that Jesus clearly gives absolute credence to the Old Testament in the previous section. But God affirms in the Old Testament that His word is authoritative and sure. David writes:

The law of the Lord is perfect, refreshing the soul. The statutes of the Lord are trustworthy, making wise the simple. The precepts of the Lord are right, giving joy to the heart. The commands of the Lord are radiant, giving light to the eyes.  The fear of the Lord is pure, enduring forever. The decrees of the Lord are firm, and all of them are righteous. They are more precious than gold than much pure gold; they are sweeter than honey than honey from the honeycomb. By them your servant is warned; in keeping them there is a great reward. (Psalm. 19:7-11).

The Prophet Isaiah (40:8) shows again that every decree from God is preserved when he says;

 “The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God endures forever.”

King David announced in his Psalms (119:89):

Your word, Lord, is eternal;  it stands firm in the heavens.”     

I am pretty sure that Muslim claims at this point will be, sure, Isaiah speaks of what He has written and David about what He has written, but not the other books! Even hyper-skeptics can at least agree that the claim is made by the Old Testament Prophets that they are speaking authoritatively for God. In actual fact, this was such an audacious claim that if one was found to speak for God without actually doing so, he would be killed for being a false Prophet (Deut.18:20). Roger Nicole shows that the New Testament sentiment was ultimate that the Old Testament Scriptures was authoritative and equally preserved. For the New Testament authors he claims:

“In their formulas of quotation the New Testament writers give expression to their conviction as to the eternal contemporaneity of Scripture. This is manifest in particular in the many (41) instances where the introductory verb is in the present: “He says,” and not “he said.” This is reinforced by the use of the pronouns “we,” “you,” in connection with ancient sayings: “That which was spoken unto you by God” (Matt. 22:31); “The Holy Spirit also beareth witness to us” (Heb. 2:5; cf. also Matt. 15:7; Mark 7:6; 12:19; Acts 4:11; 13:47; Heb. 12:5)”.[7]

  1. What was the Quran’s claim concerning the Christian Scriptures?

In my recent debate, I in actual fact contend that the Quran speaks very positively about the Judeo-Christian Scriptures. [8] My claim was the following. First, the Quran claims that those who followed Jesus would be kept superior until the day of resurrection:

“O Jesus, indeed I will take you and raise you to Myself and purify you from those who disbelieve and make those who follow you [in submission to Allah alone] superior to those who disbelieve until the Day of Resurrection. Then to Me is your return, and I will judge between you concerning that in which you used to differ.” (S. Ali Imran 3 (55).

“O you, who have believed, be supporters of Allah, as when Jesus, the son of Mary, said to the disciples, “Who are my supporters for Allah?” The disciples said, “We are supporters of Allah.” And a faction of the Children of Israel believed and a faction disbelieved. So We supported those who believed against their enemy, and they became dominant” (S.As-Saf 61 (14).

So the message that was originally preached would be made superior up until the day of resurrection, and Jesus’ original Disciples would remain uppermost. The Quran clearly refers Christians also back to the Torah and even confirms that:

“Surely, we sent down the Torah containing guidance and light” (S.Al-Mai’da 5 (43, 44).

“And in their [the prophets’] footsteps we sent Jesus the son of Mary, confirming the Torah that had come before him: we sent him the gospel; therein was guidance and light. And confirmation of the Torah that had come before him: a guidance and an admonition to those who fear Allah” (S.Al-Mai’da 5 (46).

In fact, Sura Al-Mai’da 5 (48) demands that Christians judge the Quran by the Bible and refer to it in matters of truth concerning all they believe.

”To thee (People of the Book) We sent the scripture in truth, confirming the scripture that came before it, and guarding it in safety: so judge between them by what Allah hath revealed, and follow not their vain desires, diverging from the truth that hath come to thee….”

In actual fact, the Christian can claim emphatically from this revealed Sura that the Quran then had to be corrupted and not the Bible because the Quran clearly notes that the Christian Scriptures is preserved and Christians should draw on them for sense in all matter of judgment and belief.[8] Like the earlier mentioned Christian verses from both God and Jesus (Isa.40:8, Psa.119:89, Mark.13:31) there is two Surahs that testify to the reality that Allah’s words cannot be corrupted.

“Say: “Shall I seek for judge other than God? – when He it is Who hath sent unto you the Book, explained in detail.” They know full well, to whom We have given the Book, that it hath been sent down from thy Lord in truth. Never be then of those who doubt. The word of thy Lord doth find its fulfillment in truth and in justice: None can change His words: for He is the one who heareth and knoweth all.” (S. Al-An ‘am 6 (114-115).

“And recite (and teach) what has been revealed to thee of the Book of thy Lord: none can change His Words, and none wilt thou find as a refuge other than Him.” (S.Al-Khaf 18 (27).

Some Muslims lament that these Surahs merely speaks of the preservation of Allah’s decrees, judgements, and decisions and not the Scriptures to which the alternative then would be that man can, therefore, alter Allah’s words but not His judgements? This argument always amazes me because Christians have a higher regard for the potency of God preserving His revelation than Muslims. I don’t think this explanation helps and just seems to muddle their position even more. S.18.27 is another great example of what I am trying to say, First, Muslims are instructed to ”recite that which has been revealed” [actual words] and then the assurance is given that: ‘‘none can alter His [Allah’s] words”.

This directly speaks of the actual words the pagan Makkans demanded to be changed replacing it with one more to their liking yet Muhammad clearly denounce His right to change what Allah has revealed. He also mentioned that it can only be altered by Allah’s initiative [actual words, not just His decree (16.101)]. As for Ibn Kathir, when looking at the interpretation that ”none can change His [Allah’s] words”. he says: “no one can alter them, distort them or misinterpret them. (Tafsir Ibn Kathir)[9]. Again this is EXACTLY what the Judeo-Christian Scriptures claim and where the Christian places his stake!

So we can conclusively say that Allah promise he will protect the first messengers of Jesus and preserve their message and make them uppermost. Then he clearly shows that the Judeo-Christian revelation is filled with guidance and light. Then he even confirms that Christians should draw from their own Bible and confirm that which is true. Allah also mentions that no one can change or alter His words, and like Jesus, David, and Isaiah shows that Allah watches over His words so no one can even dare to make this claim. In effect, that is why I claimed that Dr Sayyed’s presentation simply demands that Jesus was not truthful and God in both the Quran and the Bible is wrong. Again, this is just not logical and should be ignored!

In Conclusion:

I have set out to show quite clearly that Christians vest the authority for the Bible foundationally on the Person of Jesus Christ and the promise of God in both the Old and New Testaments. I have also shown that the Quran speaks very highly of the Judeo-Christian Scriptures and show they are faithful and adequate to determine what is true. In this article, therefore, I would like to uphold the perspective of God, Jesus, and His Prophets and affirm I agree wholeheartedly with the Quranic claim for the Judeo-Christian Scriptures.

Selah,

Pastor Rudolph Boshoff.

Sources:  

[1] John the Beloved confirms that ‘the testimony of Jesus is the Spirit of Prophecy ’ (Revelation.19:10).

[2] Pg.134.

[3] http://www.despatch.cth.com.au/Books_V/Eternity-Eternity-Sauer.pdf

[4] The meaning of Inspiration, Frank E. Gaebelein, Pg.25

[5] On the Inspiration of Holy Scripture, Pg. 51.

[6] The Confession of Faith, Chapter 1, Pg.4.

[7] Roger Nicole, “The New Testament Use of the Old Testament,” in ed., Carl F. H. Henry, Revelation and the Bible (Grand Rapids, 1958), Pg.140.

[8] https://www.muslimhope.com/QuranSaysAboutTheBible.htm

[9] (Abridged) (Surat Al-Isra’, verse 39 To the end of Surat Al-Mu’minun), abridged by a group of scholars under the supervision of Shaykh Safiur-Rahman Al-Mubarakpuri, [Darussalam Publishers & Distributors, Riyadh, Houston, New York, Lahore; First Edition, July 2000], Volume 6, p. 142).

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*
*
Website