Table of Contents
Father, do not get angry if
I blame you a little.
Father, you are to blame, yes you are.
Father, you have taught me to love the dust,
How shall I live my life,
In spite of difficulties?
How does my youth pull me up towards the skies?
All my life long I brought myself to account,
Till I became fed up with counting!
And my poor conscience died of torment.
Father, my heart still blames you.
Why, why haven't you taught me how to live
When a man is born nowadays he finds that "the life of
wolves" is the norm with no way of escaping it, where all
have parted company with everything that is clean and decent.
People have regressed into the time of slavery, putting their
children on display in the slave-market, not out of ambition for a
luxuriant life in a palace, but just to be able to survive!
If we take a man from such a time and world as ours, I do not
suppose he will be much concerned whether the book he has between
his hands is worthy of respect or disrespect. Such a man wouldn't
really care whether his religion is a good thing that profits him
or an unjust thing that does him wrong! All he wants from life is
a job that consumes his strength and an income that fills his
thoughts; and his sole concern is to multiply it, subtract it and
divide it! The cares of the masses are enough to keep them
thinking that searching in religious matters is a luxury available
to only the well-to-do, or those who have lost hope of a life of
These cares are the narrow gate which my Lord Jesus meant when
he said, "Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and
broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who
go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way
that leads to life, and there are few who find it" (Matthew
The greatest crime committed against humanity is forcing man to
engage himself daily in a struggle for the necessities of life. He
ends up being absorbed by that struggle, his life being consumed,
going round and round like a windmill, or like an ox at a Persian
This dilemma had me baffled, until the Bible gave me the answer:
"Whatever is born of God overcomes the world!" (1 John
5:1-5). I took a step towards God, but He took a leap towards me;
I searched for Him, and He chose me. I gave Him a part of my life,
and He granted me everlasting salvation. The Bible taught me that
"Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice" (John
18:37). I can say that serenity was the fruit of four years of
continual searching and studying. Now I have the assurance that
springs from that truth, for which I searched long and hard, and
found on the pages of the Book. For this reason I have believed in
Perhaps some will think this shift in attitude and belief is too
great or too difficult, while others may pinpoint the problems it
entails. For how could Jesus Christ, the son of Mary, become for
me Jesus, the incarnate God?! And how could the Messenger of God
and his Word be the Son of the living God for me?!
How can the Prophet of the Children of Israel become the
Redeemer of the first and the last?! Coming to know the Christ of
the Qur'an, however, makes these questions not only superfluous
but also quite meaningless. Faith in Christ as the Qur'an
represents him, is the logical introduction to faith in Christ as
the Gospels portray him.
In the first part of this book I presented the motives for a
Gospel-based faith, and showed how the Qur'an led me to believe in
the doctrines of the Bible. On the following pages I will stop at
some passages from the Bible, which we will study. I will also
endeavour to present to you what I learned from them.
This study is not going to be an academic one, for my purpose is
not to carry out theological research, stopping at every passage,
scrutinising it, and deriving all sorts of hidden and deep
meanings out of it. My purpose is rather to make an inward study
that speaks and talks, one that goes beyond what lies outside and
touches upon the existing suffering.
The ultimate purpose for studying the passages for themselves is
to turn them into a scientific museum or a gallery of arts, which,
however great and magnificent it may be, will be just a visiting
place for those who seek knowledge, or those who are after some
fun. But when you live these passages, they become part of your
very being. And one's own being and a mere place to visit are
We live these teachings so that here and now we might fulfil the
potential for true life within us. This vibrant being we seek to
be comprises an artistic side, an intellectual side and a
This way of life is not mere philosophy, but is full of struggle
and dialogue. It is the struggle of a living idea, not of a cold,
impersonal intellect and unresponsive words.
It is according to these scales that we will be held to account.
Table of Contents
I said to the one talking to me, "The attractive elements
in Christianity are numerous and multifarious. They are good
enough to convince any who seeks the truth. The doctrine of the
Resurrection is enough for such a one. Love is one of
Christianity's sublime principles, and eternal salvation is one of
the fruits reaped by those who adopt it as their way of life."
I shall not gloss over the obstacles that stood in the way that
led to my belief in it, and I do not even say they were a small
thing. But I tell you the truth, the difficulty of these obstacles
does not arise from the impossibility of proving the veracity of
the resurrection but rather from the teachings with which we have
been indoctrinated since birth. These teachings created in us a
kind of sentiment that automatically rejects the divinity of our
Saviour Jesus Christ! The doctrine of resurrection is therefore
difficult and complicated if it is discussed with those who have
been thus indoctrinated. But it is quite straightforward,
manageable, convincing, clear, cogent and fully believable once
you read it in its Book.
The simplest rule of argument and dialogue is to hear what your
opponent says, not to stop your ears and listen only to your
voice. The voice of the Bible was powerful when it discussed the
question of the resurrection, for the One who inspired it
expounded it in such a way to satisfy the intellect and pierce the
Mark says in the beginning of his Gospel, "Now after John
was put in prison, Jesus came to Galilee, preaching the gospel of
the kingdom of God, and saying, The time is fulfilled, and
the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent and believe in the gospel.'"
This announcement captured the essential meaning of Christ's
message, namely the imminence of the kingdom of God. Together with
God's kingdom and dominion over the world, the Jews of old
expected peace to prevail among individuals, the nations and the
peoples. They anticipated that justice would dominate people's
relationships, and that protection and support would be the lot of
the poor. From the beginning of time man longed for peace,
justice, a better life and salvation. Yet they could not attain
these things, and believed in the existence of adverse powers that
kept them from doing so. The Bible calls these powers "demons"
From the Biblical point of view, God alone is master over life
and history of man. He alone is capable of crushing all adverse
evil powers that oppress man, and He alone is able to grant him
salvation, liberty and true life. This is the meaning of the
kingdom of God, with which Christ started His evangelistic
The Gospel according to Matthew relates the following about
Then one was brought to Him who was demon-possessed,
blind and mute; and He healed him, so that the blind man both
spoke and saw. And all the multitudes were amazed and said, Could
this be the Son of David?' But when the Pharisees heard it they
said, This fellow does not cast out demons except by
Beelzebub, the ruler of the demons.' But Jesus knew their
thoughts, and said to them, Every kingdom divided against
itself is brought to desolation, and every city or house divided
against itself will not stand. And if Satan casts out Satan, he
is divided against himself. How then will his kingdom stand? And
if I cast out demons by Beelzebub, by whom do your sons cast
them out? Therefore they shall be your judges. But if I cast out
demons by the Spirit of God, surely the kingdom of God has come
upon you'" (Matthew 12:22-29).
Christ reveals himself as being sent from God to represent him
and act as deputy on his behalf for the realisation of his
kingdom. The people he chooses will become the people of God, and
whosoever accepts to follow Christ and to join the people of God
will obtain reconciliation, forgiveness, peace, salvation and
liberty that God has in store for all those who submit to His
All the works of Jesus, whether healing the sick, forgiving
sinners or casting out demons, are called "signs" by the
Gospel. By this it means tokens that indicate that the kingdom has
come into effect. These signs denote that God is near to men, all
men, through his love, especially to the poor, the forlorn and the
sinful. This is the meaning of Jesus' answer to the disciples of
John the Baptist, whom he had sent to ask Him, "Are You the
Coming One, or do we look for another?" Jesus answered and
said to them, "Go and tell John the things which you hear and
see: the blind receive their sight and the lame walk; the lepers
are cleansed and the dead are raised up and the poor have the
gospel preached to them. And blessed is he who is not offended
because of Me" (Matthew 11:3-6).
The kingdom of God was manifested in the works of Christ. This
can be clearly seen, especially in the attitude he took towards
the precepts of the Law and towards sinners. The precepts and the
commandments stated in the Law of Moses are the precepts and the
commandments of God. No one can fulfil them but God alone. But we
see Jesus fulfilling the law of the Sabbath, declaring he was "Lord
of the Sabbath" (Mark 2:28), and see him fulfilling the laws
of fasting and all the ceremonies regarding the washing of the
hands, cups, and pitchers (Mark 7:1-13). We see him especially
forgiving sins, knowing that no one forgives sins but God alone!
Jesus does works on earth that come from God, showing that his
work is God's own work, and that his will is the same as God's
will. He says to the sick man, "Son, your sins are forgiven
you" (Mark 2:4), and says to the sinful woman, "Your
sins are forgiven" (Luke 7:48).
Through this revelation the hearer realises that God is
forgiving sins in the person of Jesus. Jesus appears in his
teachings, as well as in his works, as God's representative. He
says, "He who sees Me sees Him who sent Me" (John 12:9)
and "He who has seen Me has seen the Father" (John
14:9). Jesus is greater than the prophets and scribes of the Jews,
for the prophets revealed the word of God, while Christ is the
word incarnate. The doctors of the Law and the scribes confined
their teaching to the interpretation of the Law of Moses, while
Jesus brings the people to the fulfilment of the Law. As he
himself said, "Do not think I came to destroy the Law or the
Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfil" (Matthew
5:17). Whenever the prophets spoke, they started their utterances
with the expression "Thus says the Lord" (Isaiah 1:24).
But we find no trace of this expression in the utterances of
Jesus; He spoke with His own authority. "You have heard that
it was said to those of old... But I say to you..." (Matthew
5:21). "It was said to those of old" was a familiar
expression that referred to God. And who can add anything to the
words of God, or dare perfect his words, except for God himself?
Yet we hear Jesus add, "But I say to you." This proves
that Jesus realised his words were not the words of mere man, but
the words of God himself. It tells us that he brought the words of
God, which had been given under the Old Testament, to perfection.
And now are we not entitled to ask, "If Christ preached that
the kingdom of God had come in His person and words, who do you
think He is?"
The title of a prophet is not sufficient to express his message,
therefore the Gospel says about him, "Indeed one greater than
Jonah is here" (Matthew 12:41) and "one greater than
Solomon is here" (Matthew 12:42). The early apostles saw in
him "the Messiah," "the Son of Man," "the
Lord," "the Son of God" and "the Word of God."
The Gospel according to Mark relates that when Jesus asked his
disciples, "Who do you think I am?" Peter answered him, "You
are the Christ" (Mark 8:27-30). The Gospel according to John
relates also that Andrew the apostle, after he had come to know
Jesus, met his brother Simon and said to him, "We have found
the Messiah" (which is translated as "the Christ")
(John 1:41). Then Philip ran across Nathanael, and said to him, "We
have found Him of whom Moses in the law, and also the prophets,
wrote Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph" (John
1:43-46). Who is then this Christ of whom Moses and the prophets
wrote, and whom the Jews awaited?
"Christ" was an Old Testament title given to a
prophet, a priest or a king. The Jews anointed such persons with
pure oil as an indication that they had been dedicated to the
service of God and his people. Moses, for example, anointed Aaron
and his sons to be priests (Leviticus 8:30), and Samuel anointed
David king over Israel (1 Samuel 16:13). The unction of oil is
also a symbol of imparting the Holy Spirit. There is a clear
reference to this in the Bible. "Then Samuel took the horn of
oil and anointed him (David) in the midst of his brothers; and the
Spirit of the Lord came upon David from that day forward" (1
Samuel 16:13). God promised David, through Nathan the prophet,
that He would raise up from his seed a king, and that He would "establish
the throne of his kingdom for ever" (2 Samuel 7:13). Through
the ages the Jews lived in anticipation of the fulfilment of this
prophecy of the coming of a king from the seed of David, who would
be "anointed" like the rest of the kings of Israel. Yet
the kingdom of this king would not come to an end. Their hope
became more urgent after the destruction of their kingdom and the
exile to Babylon. Henceforth, the prophets started to describe the
features of this Christ who would come at the end times, full of
the Holy Spirit, being both a prophet and a king, and establishing
the kingdom of Israel forever. The apostles saw that all the Old
Testament prophecies regarding Christ had been completely
fulfilled in the person of Jesus.
Christ came full of the Holy Spirit, but not as a political
king, as the Jews expected. His kingdom was not of this world
(John 18:33-38). Therefore he disappeared when the Jews wanted to
make him king over them (John 6:15).
This is the profound meaning of the experiences that the writers
of the Gospels say Christ went through at the beginning of his
public ministry (Matthew 4:1-11; Mark 1:12,13; Luke 4:1-13). These
experiences did not occur to Jesus only once, but they represented
a struggle or conflict that he had to undergo throughout his
public life, opposing the Jews' idea of the awaited Christ. The
Jews expected a Christ who would stun the people with supernatural
wonders, such as turning stones into bread, casting himself down
from the pinnacle of the temple without being hurt, and thus
enslave himself to the demonic powers in order to possess the
kingdoms of the earth and the glory thereof. Jesus, on the other
hand, came as a suffering Christ, full of the Holy Spirit,
bringing life to the hungry through the word of God; a suffering
Christ who offered himself on the cross as a redemptive sacrifice,
so that the kingdom of God might be realised in people's hearts.
That is why when Christ forewarned the disciples of his
suffering and death, Peter took him aside and began to rebuke
Jesus, saying, "Far be it from You Lord; this shall not
happen to You" (Matthew 20:16). But he said to Peter, "Get
behind Me, Satan! For you are not mindful of the things of God,
but the things of men" (Mark 8:32-33). Men's thoughts about
the awaited Christ are satanic thoughts in God's eyes, because
they see the way to glory in temporal authority and material
kingship. But the way to glory, according to the divine logic, is
the way of love, sacrifice, and giving unto death. As he said to
the two disciples he met on the road to a village called Emmaus,
who had lost all hope after the death of Christ, "O foolish
ones, and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have
spoken! Ought not the Christ to have suffered all these things and
to enter into His glory?" (Luke 24:25-26).
As for the title "The Son of Man," it is the oldest
one given to Christ in the New Testament. It goes back to the
seventh chapter of the prophecy of Daniel: "I was watching in
the night visions, and behold, One like the Son of Man, coming
with the clouds of heaven! He came to the Ancient of Days, and
they brought Him near before Him. Then to Him was given dominion
and glory and a kingdom."
The careful reader of the Bible will inevitably notice that the
title of "the Son of Man" is always contained in the
framework of discourse on the end times and the Judgement: "Also
I say to you, whoever confesses me before men, him the Son of Man
also will confess before the angels of God. But he who denies me
before men will be denied before the angels of God" (Luke
The authority of the Son of Man is, however, not restricted to
the Day of Judgement at the end of the age; the kingdom of God has
begun with the coming of Christ "the Son of Man has
power on earth" (Mark 2:10). It is this same Son of Man who "has
come to seek and to save that which was lost" (Luke 19:10).
He also declared Himself to be "Lord of the Sabbath"
(Mark 2:28). Despite all that, the authority of the Son of Man on
earth is not an authority for the sake of superiority, but for the
service of others. Our Lord said, "Foxes have hole and birds
of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his
head" (Luke 9:58).
Christ's other oft-used title was "the Lord". The New
Testament uses this title in many places in reference to Jesus. It
is a translation of the Greek word kyrios, which means "lord".
But the Greek New Testament uses the Greek word for "master"
in some places, and the word kyrios in others. In order to
understand the usage of this word we have to go back to the Old
Testament, where the word was originally used. The Jews of old
refrained from saying the personal name of God Yahweh, out
of reverence. So whenever they read the Torah, they would say "Adonai"
instead, which means in Hebrew "the Lord". Hence the
word the Lord came to be equivalent to God's personal name
Yahweh. So when the Jewry of Alexandria translated the
books of the Old Testament from Hebrew into Greek that
translation of the Bible is known as the Septuagint they
translated the word Yahweh as the word Kyrios,
which means "the Lord".
Hence we conclude that the apostles, when they confessed Jesus
as Lord, gave him a title that was exclusively divine. Therefore
the words Lord and God are interchangeable in the
Bible, and are used side by side.
This title with its apparent divine significance
was given by the apostles to Jesus after the mystery of His person
was unfolded before them. They then realised that the cross was
the end of the everything for him, because the One who was
crucified rose again from the dead, appeared to them, and
entrusted them with the charge of calling all nations to believe
by the power of that authority which has been given to him.
The mystery of Christ's person, as it seen through the New
Testament, is epitomised in his relationship with God the Father.
Christ is a man who is related to God through the heart of his
message and the depth of his being. There is no difference between
the person of Christ, the Word of God, and his message and being.
His message is his being, and his being is his message. No one
else could say the same, not even the prophets. Every man has his
own being, and later he receives from God a message that is
independent of his being. But with Jesus the message and the being
are identical. His message is to reveal the will of God, manifest
his love, and establish his kingdom.
God then has given a final revelation of himself to the world in
the person of his Son Jesus, who is the visible image of his
invisible hypostasis (substance) and eternal Word. He is the
fullest and truest expression of God's nature. This is what we
learn of our exalted Saviour from the Bible.
Table of Contents
Talking about anxiety, Dale Carnegie wrote in his book How
to Stop Worrying and Start Living, "You do not get
stomach ulcers from what you eat. You get ulcers from what is
eating you." There is no doubt about the truth of the
statement, "If anxiety afflicts you, you lose the pleasures
of life, even if they come seeking you." But what can a man
do if anxiety and worrying in his life are imposed on him by his
Surely those who have been told that "haply" or "perchance"
God will forgive and atone for their sins are cast into anxiety,
worry and bewilderment by their own belief. With every passing
evening and morning, they do not know with which party they will
be with those who will be forgiven and delivered, or those
who are lost because their repentance will be rejected?!
Miserable is the man who lies down to sleep unsure of the
eternal future of his life. Miserable is he who leaves the
presence of God without receiving salvation. And blessed is he
whose soul is assured, and whose spirit rests in a peace that is
built on God's assurance of his deliverance!
The brightest side of Christianity is the assurance of those who
believe in it for their salvation, which is through the blood of
our Saviour who has covered our sins and has forgiven us our
trespasses. Under the wings of this salvation doctrine, we find
that God demonstrated his affection towards man when he created
Adam from the dust of the earth. He further demonstrated this
affection when He talked with them through His prophets. And
finally, when the fullness of time had come, he showed his
affection for them in the person of His Son Jesus, who came to
save man in His person, life, death and resurrection.
Some preachers, when speaking of redemption and salvation,
confine them to Christ's death. Yet this is a very narrow view,
for with the appearance of Christ, the Son of God in the flesh,
the creation of the new man became possible, a new man free of
imperfection, crookedness, transgression and sin. Through the
incarnation of the Word, human nature obtained salvation, and
became united with the person of the Son of the holy God, thereby
becoming "renewed" and "deified" (2 Peter
There was found in Jesus Christ perfect and genuine human
nature. The salvation of man is, above all, a salvation of being.
This salvation of being is brought to fulfilment through unity
with the personal being of Christ, so that it becomes "a new
creation" (1 Corinthians 5:17) being united with God in
substance. For in the same way as we were separated from God
through Adam, we are united with him through Jesus Christ.
The salvation of humanity was not achieved by the incarnation of
the Word only, but through the works of the Lord Jesus as well.
Luke relates that Jesus entered a synagogue on the Sabbath day and
stood up to read: "The book of the prophet Isaiah was handed
to Him. And when He unrolled the scroll, He came to the place
where it was written: The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, be
cause he has anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor. He has
sent me to heal the broken-hearted, to preach deliverance to the
captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty
those who are oppressed, to preach the acceptable year of the
Lord.' Then He rolled the scroll and gave it back to the attendant
and sat down. The eyes of all who were in the synagogue were fixed
on Him. And He began to say to them, Today is this Scripture
fulfilled in your hearing.' All of them bore witness to Him and
marvelled at the words of grace which proceeded out of His mouth"
The Jews celebrated the year of Jubilee every 50 years, during
which they had to leave the land fallow, set the captive free, and
give the slaves their freedom. That year was a year of grace to
the Lord. And by the coming of Christ this year of grace, which
recurred after every seven sabbatical years, became an unending
year on account of Christ, who is the grace of God poured out upon
all flesh, especially the poor, the heavy-laden and the sinners.
When man is under the control of his self, lusts and proclivities,
he is living under worry, bondage and fear. This causes him to
fall into sin and become a slave to it. He is, consequently, in
need of someone to save him from his sin, and rescue him from the
dangers of society, which despises him, looks down on him and
enslaves him. He is in need of someone to rescue him from the
fetters of society and the dangers of nature; such as diseases,
disasters and ultimately death.
Christ came to save man, to rescue him and free him from the
grip of all these dangers. He came to forgive sins and reveal to
sinners that God's love is greater than their sins. He came to
show, with his words and deeds, that sinners, strangers and the
poor are nearer to God's heart than the Pharisees, the oppressing
rulers and the rich. Thus he emphasised that God's love extends to
all people without distinction. He also came to heal the sick,
raise up the invalids and bring the dead back to life, revealing
that the love of God is more powerful than the dangers of disease
Love alone saves man on all levels: his soul, his relationship
with others, and his relation with life and existence. Christ has
shown to us in his life and his works the depth of that love,
which is not the same as the love of a man to another, but the
love of God himself poured out on all human kind, giving life to
their souls and saving them from their bondage (Romans 5:5). If
Christ's works have accomplished salvation for man, all the more
his death is the culmination of his salvation work.
The Jewish nation was awaiting a Messiah king, who would save
them from their bondage, set them free from the control of the
Romans, and restore the kingdom of David. This king would
establish a worldly kingdom like all other kingdoms, which would
be built on power and political supremacy. That is why they
refused to acknowledge Jesus as the awaited Messiah. Jesus has
fulfilled the desire of the bygone generations and the prophecies
of the prophets by coming to save man and release the nation. But
he would not do that by resorting to ways befouled by
transgressions, for transgressions cannot be taken away by another
transgression. A grudge cannot be taken away by a grudge, sin
cannot be taken away by sin, and killing cannot be annulled by
killing. Love alone can remove grudges, and forgiveness alone can
blot out transgression. To die for the killer is the only way to
Envy was able to hang Christ on the cross, but it stood helpless
before the forgiveness that Jesus granted those who nailed Him to
the cross: "Father, forgive them for they do not know what
they do" (Luke 23:34).
Christ charged His disciples that love for their enemies should
be their distinctive characteristic, because it is the distinctive
characteristic of the heavenly Father, "Love your enemies,
bless those who curse you, and do good to those who hate you, and
pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you
may be the sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun
rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the just and on
the unjust" (Luke 5:44-45). This love is not based on the
erection of barriers and the destruction of others on account of
being enemies or immoral or godless or atheist idolaters, but on
the removal of all the barriers that separate man from his
fellow-man, and man from God. Christ achieved it in his life when
he forgave the sinners, and achieved it to the full in his death
when he forgave his killers!
I have read some explanations on the death of our Redeemer and
Saviour that represent it as a work that Christ did to appease the
wrath of God, or as a ransom that Christ paid for man to free him
from the bondage of Satan. But I believe that the wrath of God
upon sinners and their bondage to Satan are moral images that aim
at manifesting the true dimension and the deep contradiction
between sin and God. The animal sacrifices that the Children of
Israel offered to God expressed man's realisation of the distance
that sin creates between him and God, and his conviction that
death only can atone for sin, since sin is an uttermost offence
God himself took the initiative. It is he who took the first
step in his mercy to justify the sinner and give life to the dead.
The New Testament does not say that man reconciled himself to God,
but "God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself"
(1 Corinthians 5:19). The New Testament expresses this idea with
various examples and illustrations: God, the Good Shepherd, goes
out himself seeking the lost sheep till He finds it (Luke
15:1-10), God "so loved the world that gave His only begotten
Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have
everlasting life" (John 3:16).
Jesus' offering of himself initiated a new covenant. The old one
was initiated by Moses between God and his people through the
blood of animals: "And Moses took the blood and sprinkled it
on the people, and said, Behold, the blood of the covenant
which the Lord has made with you according to all these words'"
(Exodus 24:8). Jesus, however initiated a covenant with those who
believe in him by his blood.
The old covenant was based on the Law of God, which he gave to
Moses, but the new covenant is based on the grace of Christ, "For
the Law was given through Moses, by grace and truth came through
Jesus Christ" (John 1:17). Christ's grace and love made him
pour his blood upon his beloved ones. The old covenant, which was
made with Moses, included the people of God which was the Jewish
nation - the physical seed of Abraham. As for the new covenant, it
is God's covenant through Christ with God's people from every
tribe and nation. "As many as received Him, to them He gave
the right to become the children of God, even to those who believe
in His name" (John 1:12).
To sum up, the Bible takes us into the time of the new covenant,
giving us this sure guarantee salvation, without which man lives
in anxiety that ends in destruction.
Table of Contents
Psalm 82 says, "I said, You are gods.'" Here we
should stop a while to consider the statement given by Abul Alaa
al-Maarri: "Don't limit my words. I, like others, speak in
It is by way of metaphor that people apply the designation of a
part to the whole. On this basis we understand that the divine
aspect of man is the most sublime part in him and is in fact his
hidden essence. On account of it men are addressed as "gods"
so as to remind them of the lordly status they are supposed to be
elevated to, and that this, not their evanescent mortality, is
their eternal reality. For he has made them in the image of His
In my opinion, if the writer of this psalm were to use today's
language, he would more readily use the word "lordly" or
"divine" than to use the word "gods". This is
correct at least according to the use of metaphor in speech.
Let us say then that men are required to rise to the sublimity
of their origin and discover their reality that they are
divine and "the children of the Most High God" by the
eternal spirit, not by the transient, corruptible, perishing body.
The one who is truly divine is to resemble God, inasmuch as the
true son takes after his father. The children of God should,
therefore, be perfect as God is perfect.
This is the Bible's doctrine and commandment, which
distinguishes it and sets it apart. For the beloved John cries out
in his first epistle, prompted by his usual enthusiasm and zeal
which earned him the title "the son of thunder," "Whoever
has been born of God does not sin, for His seed remains in him;
and he cannot sin, because he has been born of God. In the
children of God and the children of the devil are manifest:
Whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God" (1
It is no wonder, for Christ himself said in the Sermon on the
Mount, "You shall be perfect as your Father in heaven is
perfect" (Matthew 5:48)! Since God is love, as the Bible
teaches us, love should be the nature of God's true children, for
all without exception. Yes, all who want to be of God should so
love. This is the teaching of the Bible. Doesn't the second
commandment of the Law say, "You shall love your neighbour as
yourself" (Matthew 22:39)? But Christ said, moreover, in the
Sermon on the Mount, "You have heard that it was said, You
shall love your neighbour and hate your enemy.' But I say to you,
love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who
hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute
you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes
His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the
just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what
reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same?'"
(Matthew 5:34:47). "For if you love those who love you, what
credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them.
And if you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is
that to you? For even sinners do the same.... But love your
enemies, do good, and lend, hoping for nothing in return; and your
reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Highest. For He
is kind to the unthankful and evil. Therefore be merciful, just as
your Father also is merciful" (Luke 6:32-36).
God is the Lord of all and provider for all without exception.
All people are your brothers in God, both enemy and friend. "Whoever
does not practise righteousness is not of God, nor is he who does
not love his brother" (1 John 3:9,10).
The passages of the first epistle of John flow after this
integrated, well-ordered manner as a river of gold, speaking of
the conclusive love, by which people truly become God's children.
For he is love.
If we take a look at the Ten Commandments of the Law we will
find the commandments regarding God, honouring parents, and love
for the neighbours the only positive ones, while all the rest of
the commandments are a list of don'ts: "You shall not murder.
You shall not commit adultery. You shall not steal" (Exodus
With the message of Christian love the basis altered. The Law of
Moses became inadequate; a much greater thing than the obedience
to the Law was now required. It is your whole soul that is
required of you, the Bible teaches, not certain works, ceremonies,
or avoiding unclean things only. For without love all other
virtues are meaningless!
Thus the apostle Paul was careful in chapter thirteen of his
first epistle to the Corinthians to draw the attention of the
Christian believers to love, so that those who got that spiritual
and mental glimpse should be aware of it. He says, "Earnestly
desire the best gifts. And yet I show you a more excellent way.
Though I speak with the tongues of men and angels, but have not
love, I have become as sounding brass or a clanging cymbal."
Moreover, Paul goes on to say that prophecy itself and perfect
faith are nothing without love! "And though I have the gift
of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and
though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but
have not love, I am nothing."
If you were to ask the apostle Paul about the love of which he
speaks and discusses at length, he would not be able to define
this simple, self-evident thing. He defines it by love itself! It
is enough to pronounce the word "light" to someone
endowed with eyesight and he will know what you are taking about,
for he has a direct experience of light. But if you say "light"
to somebody and he asks you what it is, you immediately know,
without any further enquiry, that he is blind. Then you will
resort to explanation, and perhaps he will understand a little of
what you are talking about. This is what the apostle Paul did in
his awesome explanation: "Love suffers long and is kind; love
does not envy; love does parade itself; it is not puffed up; does
not behave rudely, does not seek it own, is not provoked, thinks
no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth;
bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures
all things. Love never fails" (1 Corinthians 13).
This is a description of the attributes not of the substance, by
describing the fruits, the results, and not the very essence.
Talking to believers who have been enlightened by the Spirit of
God, the apostle Paul does not hesitate to say to them, "And
now abide faith, hope, love (and everything else is perishing)."
He adds in complete decisiveness, "But the greatest of these
is love. Pursue love, and desire spiritual gifts." This
attitude is worth pausing over. Those who have not been "granted"
the grace of love, namely those who do not have love for their new
nature in Christ, are just like those who don't have "musical
ears". They may see that they should learn music, so they
spend all their days and nights practising. But try as they might,
the result of their playing will never be art; for art is a divine
gift, an inborn tendency and a true feeling.
The best thing those without this love can do is holy war. But
they are in error if they consider this as able to lead them
anywhere without the original guide. And the farthest thing they
can reach is to create a false value and artificial righteousness,
which have the appearance and form of true righteousness, but not
its essence and spirit! We know that the letter kills, but the
spirit gives life, as the Bible teaches (2 Corinthians 3:6). So
they at best turn in the orbit of the law, namely the outward
works of righteousness, and endeavour to carry out the law - any
law that determines for them good works to obey and bad ones to
shun in the form of do's and don'ts. We therefore find that the
apostle Paul does not hesitate to find fault with the Law, which
is nothing but a code of commands and interdictions. He says it is
"the ministry of death, written and engraved on stones"
(2 Corinthians 3:7)! With this outward appearance, mentality and
acts that are out of fear not love, people may understand the
teaching about righteousness in a superficial, literal manner. The
Lord Jesus said to the rich young man, "One thing you lack:
Go your way, sell whatever you have and give to the poor."
But the young man considered the advice hard, which made Christ
say, "How hard it for those who trust in riches to enter the
kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of
a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God"
So what do they do with their literal understanding of such a
commandment as this? The best they can do is to distribute their
money among the poor, thinking that this act is righteousness in
itself. But apostle Paul cries out warning these, to their
disappointment, "And though I bestow all my goods to feed the
poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love,
it profits me nothing" (1 Corinthians 13:3)! Does this mean
that the act itself is nothing? Yes!
The fruit is without value unless it is genuine fruit. It should
be the result of a natural growing process from a seed in the
heart that germinates and produces a stem, leaves, blossoms and
finally fruits. The incentive is the foundation, and there is no
building without foundation. Good fruit is produced by a living
tree that can steadily yield such fruit.
The act produced by the soul draws its worth from the fact that
it is an expression of an inner meaning and a noble nature, not
just an isolated act expressing nothing but itself. Only by this
are things put in their rightful place. For it is man himself that
should be evaluated as worthy, not an impersonal action cut off
from its motives. What a great difference there is between an
impersonal action that is not done out of genuine motives and
overflowing emotions, and an action that the soul calls for and
finds its fulfilment and rest in it! Every value we attach to an
act without heavenly incentive is a mere "phonic phenomenon,"
useless and to no avail. And if it is intentional, it is hypocrisy
and dissimulation. This is what the Bible presents and teaches.
There is another kind of false righteousness or dead virtue that
does not spring from the willingness of a loving soul, which is
that sort of virtue one could call "the payment virtue".
It is practised out of a desire for reward and fear of punishment.
But the doer is merely a slave when he does a good deed seeking
something other than to please God. He is spurred on by greed and
driven back by apprehension, living in fear of punishment or of
missing grace. Therefore the Bible says, when it talks about the
Law, that it is "the ministry of death, written and engraved
on stones." But as for grace, it says, "There is no fear
in love; but perfect love casts out fear because fear involves
torment. But he who has fear is not perfect in love" (1 John
4:18). This should not be amazing, because fear is characteristic
of slaves, while love is characteristic of children.
The Bible's teaching about love and charity is neither easy nor
convenient to those who want it; but it is rather the fruit of
hard work, sweating and spiritual toil. Love begins, as I said
before, as a seed in the ground, then it grows little by little
until the good fruit appears. When I read through the Bible,
believing in what it said, I found this profound teaching too
heavy to bear and too difficult to put into practice. How can I
love those who are my enemies, pray for those who hate me, and
release forgiveness for those who persecute me? These are things
quite beyond me. To tell the truth, I was in a difficult
It was a strange paradox. After I received Christ as Saviour of
my life, I talked with some of my previous teachers who had taken
it upon themselves to instruct me in my previous religion. I spoke
to them with unlimited hatred bearing a grudge against them,
because I felt inside me that they had been leading me astray and
had been about to throw me into the ring of fire and to shut me
away from the light of heaven. I tried to demolish their
foundation and destroy their buildings, imagining to myself that
I, in doing so, was guiding them to the truth I had heard. But I
was, in fact, avenging myself on them and punishing them. And on a
night of true spiritual change of direction in my life, I returned
home after a discussion with one of my previous teachers, which
lasted long hours. I took the Bible and started to read. And the
Lord spoke to me through the apostle Paul one time, and the
beloved John another time, through the pages of the Bible. I
found nothing but reproach, censure and condemnation for my
attitude. Every word in the Bible said to me, "No! This is
not Christianity. You are wrong. You need to "walk in the
newness of life" (Romans 6:4). Then I wondered, "Haven't
I already been regenerated? I have believed in the divinity of
Christ and his Sonship to God and his resurrection. I also expect
earnestly his second coming. I practise the Christian virtues as
far as I know. Isn't Christianity or any other religion made up of
these two: faith and works?" Then Christ answered me, "Yes,
you were regenerated when you opened your heart to me and became a
new creation. But you need to be renewed every day so that you can
be in the image of my love to you. You also need to express my
love to all, as I have loved you." After that he taught me
through the apostle Paul in the chapter of love: "And though
I have faith, so that I could remove the mountains, but have not
love, it profits me nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to
feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have
not love, it profits me nothing" (1 Corinthians 13:2,3). When
I finished reading, I felt the need for that kind of life which my
Lord prescribed for me in his Book. But I felt heavy and detached.
I went to him in prayer. I asked him for help and deliverance. I
asked him to help me and assist me in reaching the life of
perfection which he described in his Book. On that night I gave my
whole life to my Lord, so that he could do whatever he wanted with
it. I gave him the authority over my life, and found that Christ
lived in me and through me that Christian life that I found so
difficult that only gods or the sons of gods could live it. Hence
I realised that the whole thing is not dependant on what I do, but
on what my Master does, because he gives the power and we are the
instruments through which His power flows. At this point, Paul's
experience came true for me: "I have been crucified with
Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and
the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son
of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me" (Galatians
I learned that the renewal of life does not mean the
introduction of good works and nice intentions amongst a number of
bad habits and low morals. This mixing cannot result in a
creditable future and good behaviour. It does not indicate
perfection or acceptance, for hardened hearts may drip some good,
and stingy fingers may be moved to give. But this is not called
conversion. Conversion is rather a life renewed after it has been
worn out, and is a definitive change that transforms the
characteristics of the soul, just as dead and barren ground is
transformed when rain showers it from heaven.
© Copyright by Light of Life ·
Villach · Austria