Regarding Religion — Force Or Choice? — Marvin L. Weir (part 1)

If you follow the news, you have most likely heard about the “Christian pastor” who Iran says they will kill because he left Islam and converted to Christianity. The Bible is specific in describing who is a Christian (one who obeys the gospel) and who meets the qualifications to be a pastor (bishop or elder, 1 Timothy 3; Titus 1). In this article, however, we will use the term “Christian” as the religious world views it — one who professes to believe God and Christ. All the quotes that follow come from an article written by Lisa Daffri on February 22, 2012 for Fox News. “A trial court in Iran has issued its final verdict, ordering a Christian pastor to be put to death for leaving Islam and converting to Christianity… Youcef Nadarkhani, a 34-year old father of two… was arrested over two years ago on charges of apostasy.” This arrest and trial is a case in point where the Bible and the Koran (or Qur’an) are absolute opposites. One cannot be devoted to the Koran and devoted to the Bible! One cannot be a loyal follower of God and a loyal follower of Mohammed (or Muhammad). God in His Word consistently teaches that a person has a choice (either right or wrong) of whom to worship and serve. The Koran teaches that there is no choice — it is Mohammed and Islam or death to the one who decides to worship contrary to Islam. Let us note two verses from God’s Word that teaches Jehovah never forces one to worship or serve in a particular way. Joshua declared, “And if it seem evil unto you to serve Jehovah, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve Jehovah” (Joshua 24:15). Later, Elijah, God’s mouthpiece, said to the people, “How long go ye limping between the two sides? if Jehovah be God, follow him; but if Baal, then follow him. And the people answered him not a word” (1 Kings 18:21). It is true that under the Law of Moses God’s people (Israel) were sometimes killed because of apostasy or defiance to Jehovah’s Word. God had, however, made a promise to Abraham (Genesis 12:1-3) that must be kept, and the lineage through which the Messiah would come needed to remain pure. The coming of the Christ (Galatians 4:4) fulfilled prophecies and promises of old, and created one new man in Christ Jesus (Ephesians 2:14-18). All people now live in the New Testament age and are amenable to the gospel (Galatians 1:6-9) — not Old Testament Law. Paul made it clear all must obey and live by the gospel to be saved. He said, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek” (Romans 1:16).

(To be continued)


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