Why did we choose to accept or reject Christianity?

by Matt Slick

On August 29, 2015, I debated Shadid Lewis, a Muslim, on the topic, "Why did we choose to accept or reject Christianity?"  Following are my notes from the opening statement.  I did not necessarily use all of the information here.

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The title of our debate now is “Why did we choose to accept or reject Christianity?”  As a Christian theologian, and in particular, one who holds to reformed theology, I chose to follow Christ because he first chose me. The Bible tells us in 2 Thessalonians 2:13 that God chooses us for salvation. In Philippians 1:29 we are told that God grants that we believe. Jesus said in John 6:28-29 that it is the work of God the Father that we believe. 

I am a Christian not because of my wisdom, not because of my ability to recognize that I needed God, or my rationality, and not because of some good quality in me. Rather, I’m a Christian because of God’s divine grace that he, in his infinite mercy, shed upon me so that I might be enabled to believe in him, be forgiven of my sins, and granted eternal life.

Therefore, I give all the glory and honor and praise to God who, in his mercy, granted that I come to Christ (John 6:65).

My reasons need not to be based on my preferences and my criteria.  That is subjective. Instead, I focus on God.  So, let me speak from the perspective of why I would chose Christianity.

  1. My testimony of conversion.
    1. I love God because he first loved me, (1 John 4:19).
    2. Many Muslims in the Middle East are experiencing visions of Jesus.  I believe this is possible.
    3. When I was 17….
    4. So, I chose to become a Christian because of God’s infinite mercy, his divine grace, and his granting that I believe.  He changed me and enabled me to trust in him, because in my sinfulness I was not wise enough, smart enough, or good enough to come to him.
  2. The second reason we should choose to accept Christianity is because it is only in Christianity that a person can be forgiven of his sins.
    1. Since we are debating Christianity and Islam I’ll forego all other religious perspectives.
    2. In Islam, forgiveness of sins is by works and the arbitrary will of Allah
      1. Surah 66:8-9, "O ye who believe! Turn unto Allah in sincere repentance! It may be that your Lord will remit from you your evil deeds and bring you into Gardens underneath which rivers flow, on the day when Allah will not abase the Prophet and those who believe with him. Their light will run before them and on their right hands; they will say: Our Lord! Perfect our light for us, and forgive us! Lo! Thou art Able to do all things.”
      2. Surah 23:101-103, "Then when the Trumpet is blown, there will be no more relationships between them that Day, nor will one ask after another! 102 Then those whose balance (of good deeds) is heavy, they will attain salvation: 103 But those whose balance is light, will be those who have lost their souls, in Hell will they abide.”
      3. Surah 5:9, "To those who believe and do deeds of righteousness hath Allah promised forgiveness and a great reward.”
    3. But, this means salvation is based on what they do?  Works, doing good, not doing bad, and hopefully, en shallah, they might be forgiven.  Where is the hope in that?
      1. Are they doing enough good?  Will any Muslim say he is?
    4. When salvation depends in part on our own goodness then that is arrogance.
    5. In Islam forgiveness is only guaranteed when you die trying to shed the blood of another, jihad.
    6. In Christianity forgiveness is guaranteed when you die to yourself by trusting in Christ who shed his own blood for us.
      1. It is by grace, not by works
        1. Rom. 3:38, Rom. 4:1-5
  3. The third reason we should choose to accept Christianity is because it is only in the Christian Scriptures that we see the handiwork of God revealed through prophecy.
    1. Jesus born of a virgin
      1. Isaiah 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."
    2. Born in Bethlehem,  
      1. Micah 5:2 "But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times."
    3. That he would be God who was pierced
      1. Zech. 12:10, "And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and supplication. They will look on me, the one they have pierced, and they will mourn for him as one mourns for an only child, and grieve bitterly for him as one mourns for an only son."
    4. We see the crucifixion prophesied in Psalm 22, 1000 years BC, and 400 years before crucifixion was invented.
      1. Psalm 22:1, Psalm 22:11-18, "For the director of music. To the tune of "The Doe of the Morning." A psalm of David. My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? . . . Do not be far from me, for trouble is near and there is no one to help. Many bulls surround me; strong bulls of Bashan. Dogs have surrounded me; a band of evil men has encircled me, they have pierced my hands and my feet. I can count all my bones; people stare and gloat over me. They divide my garments among them and cast lots for my clothing."
    5. And many more….
  4. The fourth reason we should choose to accept Christianity is because only the Christian Scriptures do we see the true holiness of God who does not lower his holiness to the level of sinful man.
    1. In Christianity, God does not accept our sin stained repentance.  He is too holy for that.
      1. 1 Pet. 1:16, “Be holy for I am holy.”
    2. In Islam, Allah accepts the sinner’s sincere efforts, efforts that can never be absolutely pure.
    3. In Christianity, holiness is God’s perfection, purity, wonder, awesome greatness.  He cannot sin, cannot lie, cannot deceive people, and cannot require anything less than his own holy perfection.  “Be holy for I am holy.”
    4. Yes, we are obligated to repent of our sins, (John 17:30) and yes we ought to be sincere.  God disdains hypocrisy.
    5. But, in Islam, Allah accepts the sin-stained efforts of the Muslim.
    6. Why?  Because that is all that is left when you don’t have God doing what you cannot do.
      1. The God of Islam is not as holy as the God of the Bible.
      2. The God of scripture cannot accept the sincere repentance of a person for the forgiveness of sins because that would be showing favoritism, which is wrong (James 2:2-4).
  5. The fifth reason we should choose to accept Christianity is because it is only through the Christian Scriptures that we see the true righteousness of God
    1. Sin is breaking the law of God, (1 John 3:4).
    2. Laws have punishments.
    3. If God ignores his own law, then he is unrighteous.
    4. Analogy of the unrighteous judge
      1. If there is a man who was a murderer and he is sentenced to death according to the law, but the judge ignores the law and sets the man free, is that judge righteous?
    5. When a person sins against Allah, is it not proper for Allah to judge that person according to his own righteous law?  Yes. Is ignoring the Law right?  No, it is not.
    6. But, in Islam, Allah ignores his own law when he forgives a person.  He does not carry out the requirement of the Law by punishing the sinner.  Instead, he dismisses his own law.  He ignores it.  How can Allah be true if he requires holiness and righteousness but ignores his own holiness and righteousness when he forgives a Muslim and ignores the righteousness of his own law?
    7. How is Allah just if he dismisses his own righteous law?
    8. How does Allah satisfy the righteous requirement of the Law
    9. In Christianity, God does not ignore his own law.  He fulfills it.
      1. He became one of us, under the Law.
      2. He never sinned, 1 Pet. 2:22
      3. He bore our sins
      4. Sins are legal debts that are transferrable.
      5. Our legal sin debt was transferred to Christ where he died on the cross, fulfilling the requirements of the law.
      6. So, in Christianity the law is satisfied by God and not ignored. Therefore, the God of Christianity is righteous.
 
 

About The Author

Matt Slick is the President and Founder of the Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry.