What is the plan of salvation in Islam?
By: John Ankerberg Show
Ankerberg: Okay. Next take me to what you fellows believed you had to do to get to heaven. What was the plan of salvation in Islam?
Emir: Well, here are, you know chapter 2 of the Qur’an, which we would recite and memorize, that “Allah loves not the transgressor, but Allah loves those who do righteous deeds.” And so Allah was always judge. He was always to be feared. He was always to be recognized as a person, a God of wrath. And we just hopefully prayed, as the prayer of Islam says, that he is “often merciful.” But even then, I could be the best person in the world; my scales could tip so strongly on the good side, yet Allah is also one who makes the decision at his own pleasure and not based on my works alone. And thus it says, “Allah leads astray whomever he pleases.” And in fact, the Hadith makes this clear, in probably the most savage of all notions. Book 32, Number 6435 deals with this, where it’s dealing with the young lady who has just lost an infant. She goes to Muhammad, she says “At least the bird” referring to her child, “is flying in paradise” and Muhammad responds to her and says, “Some birds are created for paradise; some birds are created for hell.” And there we see a heart of Allah. Not merely transcendent, but arbitrarily, sovereignly, it is the same thing acts according to his purpose, not merely you being good.
Ankerberg: Okay, when you guys were growing up, you were thinking of these scales every day and you were trying to balance your good deeds versus your bad deeds. And you were always worried, okay, as anyone would be. And the fact is, for those that are Muslims that are listening right now, what is grace? Because if you don’t know what it is, it’s not just another plan of how you can work to get to heaven. We are talking about something completely different. What is it?
Ergun: I have the joy of telling the Muslim, that not only does God love you, but YOU were created for a personal relationship with HIM. That every person on the planet, regardless of your background, your culture, your color; every person was created with this hole, this gaping hole inside of you, that can only be filled by God.
Secondly, grace fills that hole where works tries to fill it with everything else: success, goodness, niceness. You know the Bible tells us that “your righteousness is as filthy rags.” [Isa. 64:6] And the hard thing for us to understand is, we think of our unrighteousness as filthy – that makes sense; our sin as filthy – that makes sense. But what the Scripture is actually saying is, my best day in the flesh, my best acts, my most well-intentioned motives are as filthy rags. So, even the good things that I do if I do them in the flesh are not sufficient to balance out any scales.
So grace is God seeing this gaping hole between me and Him; knowing that there is not a single human being that could fill this. It had to be a spotless Lamb that would not die for its own sins. Well, since nobody on the planet has ever been spotless, the incarnation of God – Jesus didn’t come to the earth to be God. He was God before He left – the incarnation of God in the flesh was for the purpose of being the Spotless Lamb, which was why John the Baptist, who cried out for repentance, John the Baptist said, the Agnes Dei, the Lamb of God. [John 1:29, 36] This one statement portrays His purpose and His future: that He was going to be crucified. Grace was the blood that was shed, grace was the forgiveness that was offered. And grace means that I cannot clean myself up. I cannot make myself nice enough. I cannot repent enough to earn salvation. All I have to do is throw myself on the mercy of the court. And He will forgive.
Ankerberg: Yes! You’ve got a chapter in one of your books that talks about grace. And for Islam, your salvation is that you do good works, and after you do them, you can hope that God will give you mercy, okay? But you’ve got to do those good works. If you don’t do the good works forget even applying, okay?
You can be a total sinner over here in Christianity, looking at Christianity, and the fact is, you come to Christ and you realize He is going to forgive all that you have done, and all you will do. You’re not making any promises in the sense that I’m going to, at the front end, get in because I make these promises or do good works. And you are not going to stay in because you do good works. Front end and back end are covered by Jesus Christ. It is totally grace. Talk to that.
Emir: And the Muslim will say, “Well, it seems like you are cheapening God’s grace. Somehow someone who is on death row can accept Christ and he is going to heaven? How can you explain that?” And there is no cheapening, because it was the very blood of God shed for them. They don’t understand that atonement means all sins must be accounted for, not some sins. That is, you cannot have sins atone for other sin. You can’t have good works atone for other sins; you must atone for everything that is wrong with something that is righteous. And a good work is filthy because it is in comparison to God Himself and the standard can’t be kept. Grace is something that is undeserved and a Muslim knows graciousness; a Muslim never does understand grace.