All Prophet, No Christ: A Fly in the Ointment of a Postmodern Islamic Perspective

I never cease to be amazed by the evangelical opportunities at Starbucks.  It doesn’t really matter where the Starbucks is, or really, whether it is a Starbucks – it only has to be a coffee house, and there the nations reside. 

Today, I spent some time speaking to a man self-named, Akman.  This is the name that he gave himself after converting from what he calls Christianity (by which he means Roman Catholicism – no true biblical Christianity) to Islam.  Akman defined his name for me – one who worships God more than anybody else – he apparently hasn’t seen the ironic self-righteousness of the name.  And while I am admittedly no scholar on Islam, by God’s grace I do know something of the Gospel of God in Jesus Christ.  To this Gospel I returned again and again.

As the conversation continued, one thing became increasingly clear about his thought – which may or may not be characteristic of traditional Islam (he was somewhat of a mixture between Islam and postmodernism): Moses was a prophet, Jesus was a prophet, Mohammed was a prophet (of course, while Moses was a prophet, and Jesus was at least a prophet, Mohammed carries no characteristic of a prophet, least of all that the prophet resigned to, “Thus says the Lord”).  He was quite accepting of all the “prophets”.  One problem: despite the many prophets, there was no Christ!

Here, at least, there is great divergence between Islam and biblical Christianity.  The apostle Peter records the goal of the biblical prophets: “10 Concerning this salvation, the prophets who prophesied about the grace that was to be yours searched and inquired carefully, 11 inquiring what person or time the Spirit of Christ in them was indicating when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the subsequent glories. 12 It was revealed to them that they were serving not themselves but you, in the things that have now been announced to you through those who preached the good news to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven, things into which angels long to look” (1 Peter 1:10-12).

With regard to salvation, the prophets of old were moved by the Spirit of Christ to search diligently into who the Christ was to be, and when the Christ was to be manifest to the world.  And the Spirit of Christ revealed to them that, indeed, the Christ would come, would live a sinless life, would be crucified, would be raised, would be ascended (this is the “good news”), and would be thus preached to the nations.

This is Jesus Christ.  While He is certainly a prophet, He is much more.  In Luke 9, Jesus asks His disciples, “Who do the crowds say that I am?”  Their answer indicates much of the same problem as Akman was displaying.  The crowds saw Jesus as only a prophet, saying – “John the Baptist. But others say, Elijah, and others, that one of the prophets of old has risen.”  John was a biblical prophet, Elijah also!  The Lord then turns the question upon them: “But who do you say that I am?”  And Peter as spokesmen for the rest replied: “The Christ of God” (Luke 9:18-20).  Jesus is the Christ of God!

As the Christ, He transcends the biblical prophets (infinitely more false prophets), as much as He is the Word (John 1) that the prophets proclaimed.  And therefore, Jesus – and no other – is able not only to speak the Word of God, but being the Word of God made flesh, He is able to reveal God to sinners – and seeing Him in Christ, we thus see our inherent sinfulness and the need to be saved from sin and the wrath of God, a salvation God has made possible in His Christ by giving Him over to death for our sin, and by raising Him from the dead so that we may be made right with God – through faith alone in Christ Jesus alone!  God does not impute the righteousness of a mere prophet – for what is that before God?  No, when God makes the sinner alive, and gives him repentance and faith in Jesus, God gives the sinner the righteousness of Christ, that is, God’s own righteousness, even as He gave the believer’s sin to Jesus on the cross of His passion to be forever atoned for.  This is what the Christ of God can do, and has done. 

No Christ, no salvation; only self-righteousness.  Let us rejoice in the biblical witness that our Lord Jesus is not only the Prophet (that is, the Word), but also Priest, and King – He is the Christ, and calls all men everywhere – even Akman (an Allah worshipper) to repent, to embrace His salvation, and thereby, to be reconciled to the one, true and living God of the Bible – Father, Son, and Spirit.  Let us read the prophets of the Bible, but let us – even as they did – look to the Christ who has been made manifest to us in the Gospel of God, the Lord Jesus Christ!  And let us pray for our unbelieving family, friends, and coffee house acquaintenances, for flesh and blood cannot reveal Jesus as the Christ, but only the Father who is in heaven, Matthew 16:13-20.

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