Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
January 11, 1962
NUMBER 35, PAGE 1,12

The Religion Of Islam --- (No. 3)

Robert H. Farish, Lufkin, Texas

Jesus Is The Son Of God

Jesus was "declared to be the Son of God by the resurrection from the dead." (Rom 1:4) The fact of the deity of Jesus, which Mohammed denied, is dependent for verification upon the proof of the fact of his resurrection. In other words, when it is proven that "Christ hath been raised from the dead," his deity will be established. The resurrection of Jesus is the climactic miracle by which his claims are endorsed by God. This miracle admitted, and all the miracles performed by Christ and his apostles in attestation to the divine authority back of their teaching must be granted.

The fifteenth chapter of 1 Corinthians provides a fine study in evidence. The evidence given by the apostle in proof that "Christ hath been raised" is evidence selected and presented by guidance of the Holy Spirit. It cannot be improved upon.

The gospel which Paul preached to the Corinthians is the subject of the 15th chapter of 1 Corinthians, but the resurrection of Christ is the element of the good news to which the apostle gives most attention in the chapter. In the third and fourth verses, he lists bask facts of the gospel as: 1. The death of Christ for our sins; 2. His burial; 3. His resurrection. The remainder of the chapter is devoted to the proof of the third proposition and a discussion of its significance.

The significance of the resurrection of Christ is seen in the consequences if Christ hath not been raised. The order in which the writer lists the consequences will be followed here. The first consequence which he mentions is that the preaching of the gospel by himself and the other witnesses was vain. (v. 14) The gospel was the burden of the preaching. The gospel or good news, in its entirety, is dependent upon the fact that Christ hath been raised. Hence, "if Christ hath not been raised," the preaching of that gospel is entirely vain. No worthy reason can be assigned for preaching such a message. Such preaching is useless.

The faith which comes by hearing the gospel preached would likewise be empty or vain. (v. 14) The faith based upon that preaching was the belief that "Jesus is the Christ the Son of God." (John 20:31) But if Jesus hath not been raised, he is not the Son of God, hence, faith is vain.

All of the witnesses are false witnesses, "if Christ hath not been raised," because they "witnessed of God that he raised up Christ." (v. 15) The resurrection of Christ was preached by all the witnesses for the apostle stated, "whether then it be I or they so we preach." (v. 11)

The condition of Christians with reference to sin is no different from the people of the world "if Christ hath not been raised." This the writer points out by saying, "Ye are yet in your sins." (v. 17) If Christ hath not been raised, he is not the Son of God and his blood which he claimed to shed for remission of sins, is no more efficacious than the blood of the thieves which was shed at the same time.

"If Christ hath not been raised," that hope which we entertain of "an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven...." (1 Pet. 1:4) is a delusion. "If we have hoped in Christ in this life only we are of all men most miserable." (v. 18, 19) Death is the final victor, retaining all its fearful sting, "if Christ hath not been raised."

Christ Hath Been Raised

"But now hath Christ been raised from the dead, the first fruit of them that are asleep." (v. 20) This is the proposition which the apostle affirms and proves. As has been mentioned his presentation of the case is by the guidance of the Holy Spirit. His case is concisely presented and his proposition conclusively established. Any effort exerted in grasping the arguments of the apostle will be richly rewarded with stronger faith and brighter hope.

The Witnesses

In proof of the third proposition of the gospel, "that he hath been raised on the third day," the apostle first introduces the witnesses to the fact. He claimed that following the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus, "that he appeared to Cephas; then to the twelve; then he appeared to above five hundred brethren at once, of whom the greater part remain until now, but some are fallen asleep; then he appeared to James; then to all the apostles; and last of all, as to the child untimely borne, he appeared to me also." (1 Cor. 15:5-8)

The act of citing these witnesses is strong evidence of the integrity of the writer of the Corinthian letter. This claim, of a large number of witnesses to a fact which the writer is undertaking to prove and about which he is giving his testimony as a witness, made at a time when the other witnesses could be consulted, can be accounted for on no basis other than that the writer was completely confident that their testimony would agree with and corroborate his testimony. The resurrection of Jesus had occurred only about twenty-four years before this claim, of a large number of witnesses to that fact, was put on record. This claim of a large number of living eye-witnesses to the fact is evidence that the document containing the claim was written soon enough after the event, to come within an average life span. If this were not the case, the evidence of its falseness would be apparent to all who read the testimony.

"It should be observed that in proving the resurrection Paul cites eye-witnesses (1) who were living; (2) who were many of them commonly known by name; (3) who were too familiar with the form, face, voice, manner, life, etc. of Jesus to be deceived by a pretender, if any could have found motive for practicing such deception." (The Standard Bible Commentary, by J. W. McGarvey and Philip Y. Pendleton)

The contrast between the New Testament's response to the need of witnesses to establish the truth of a matter of fact and the Koran's response is startling and revealing! The New Testament boldly cites witnesses but the Koran brazenly represents God as instructing Mohammed to say, "God is a sufficient witness between me and you: he knoweth whatever is in heaven and earth!" (Al Koran chap. 29) It is significant that Mohammed selected as his witness one whose testimony could not be obtained except through his revelation which he had given to man. He asserts in the Koran that the Koran is a revelation given by God to man. His proof that it is God's revelation is his assertion in it that it is God's revelation and being God's revelation, it is true for God is a sufficient witness! He travels in a circle of assertions.

Another argument for the integrity of the writer of 1 Corinthians 15 is found in verse 9. "For I am the lest of the apostles, that am not meet to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God." Is the objection raised, that Paul could have falsely claimed that he was at one time an enemy of that cause which has the resurrection of Christ as a fundamental doctrine upon which it rests? Again, attention must be focused on the fact that he recorded that he was a persecutor, at a time when the truth of the matter could be checked. His present testimony is the testimony of one who had formerly been bitterly opposed to the idea that Jesus had been declared to be the Son of God by the resurrection from the dead. The fact of Paul's former enmity is recorded in a number of places in the New Testament (Acts 26:4-11; Gal. 1:11-16; Phil. 3:4-8; 1 Tim. 1:12, 13) This fact could be tested and proven false if Paul were acting in the role of a deceiver when he claimed to have formerly been an enemy.

Nov the fact that he had so vigorously opposed the gospel and held out against it so long, strongly supports his statement that "he appeared to me also." Such a miracle would have been necessary to convert him from a persecutor to a proclaimer and defender. When it is further considered, that he gave up friends and influential associates, position and all the things which he by reason of his conversion would have to give up, it is unthinkable that he was a dishonest witness.

Another argument which Paul advances in proof of the fact that Christ appeared to him, after his resurrection is developed in verses 30-33. "Why do we also stand in jeopardy every hour?" is the way the apostle challenges the skeptics. The fact of the jeopardy to which the witnesses exposed themselves by their testimony of the resurrection of Jesus is simply asserted here for the truthfulness of assertion could have been tested by the readers. Was there any doubt about his claim that "after the manner of men I fought with the beast at Ephesus?" The matter could have been resolved by sending a messenger or messengers on a trip of about two hundred miles across the Aegean Sea to the city of Ephesus, to make inquires. Or simpler still, inquires could have been made of travelers from Ephesus. The fact of the sacrifice, and suffering even to death of the witnesses on account and solely on account of their testimony is too well attested to be seriously questioned. What profit in all of that suffering if the testimony of the witnesses was false?

No worthy explanation has been given for the actions of these witnesses if they were false witnesses. We can prove that they testified (1) that God raised Christ from the dead; (2) that they brought sacrifice, suffering and death upon themselves by this testimony; (3) that there is every reason to think that they were aware of the dangers to which they would be exposed by their testimony, before they spoke out.

The course of intelligence is to believe with all the heart that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God. When one believes this he must class Mohammed as one of the "many false prophets gone out into the world." And not only so but the "spirits" (doctrines) of so-called modernism are tried and proved as coming from false prophets by the proof of the fact that Jesus is the Son of God.