A Muslim Cleric’s Tears of Joy upon Hearing of a Christian’s Death Sentence

You may already be familiar with Asia Bibi.  She was jailed in June 2009 and sentenced to death in November 2010.  In response to Muslim women who were taunting her for being a Christian Bibi said, “Our Christ sacrificed his life on the cross for our sins.  What has your prophet done for you?  Our Christ is alive.  Your prophet is dead.  Our Christ is the true prophet of God and yours is not true” (Voice of the Martyrs [February 2011], 8).  Charges were brought against her under Pakistan’s oppressive blasphemy law.  Her situation has received national and international attention; even the Pope has chimed in

What has received less attention is the cold response of the town cleric, Qari Muhammad Salim, who initially reported her to police. Upon hearing the news of Bibi’s death sentence, Salim called her death sentence one of the happiest moments of his life.  He told CNN, “Tears of joy poured from my eyes.” 

The perception of unbelievers in Islam under Mohammed’s teaching and the view of unbelievers in Christianity under Christ’s teaching are as different as night and day as evidenced in the followers.  Salim cried tears of joy for the death sentence of an “infidel”, who he wishes to squelch by force.  The Apostle Paul weeps over those who are perishing, longing for their conversion through faith in Christ (cf. Acts 20:31; Romans 10:1).


Otsego Festival Question Series: Is There Truly An Afterlife?

The Bible is absolutely clear on the answer to this question.  However, before I tell you how the Bible answers this question, I want to provide the following observations:

  • Ancient Egyptians believed there was an afterlife.  Excavations reveal that Pharaohs were buried with mind-boggling wealth, supplies, food, slaves, and even children to take with them to the next life (think King Tut).  Ancient Egyptian papyri also depict the journey to the afterlife.
  • Two prominent cults, Mormonism and Jehovah’s Witnesses, teach that there is an afterlife.
  • Islam teaches about heaven in Sura 55:54-60 and Sura 56:15-25.  It is interesting to note that the Quran fashions heaven from the view-point of a desert-dwelling male.
  • Hinduism affirms a “revolving door” approach called reincarnation.  It is always upward, not downward.  The ultimate state is Nirvana which means one has been absorbed into the great unconsciousness of the universe.  It takes multiple times of living well and dying well to achieve Nirvana.  Hindu scholars say it can take up to 600,000 times.
  • Buddhism came out of Hinduism.  Nirvana is achieved by enlightenment.  This can be achieved as a human (as opposed to a non-human reincarnation)
  • Greek philosophers expected a life beyond this one.  In Plato’s Phaedo, the author recounts the final days of Socrates, including the death scene when he drinks the hemlock and dies.  Just before Socrates drinks the hemlock he declares, “ . . . yet I may and must pray to the gods to prosper my journey from this to that other world . . .”

I offer these observations to prove a single point: historically, people of all colors and cultures have believed that there is an afterlife.  In recent decades the phenomenon of so-called “near-death experiences” has heightened our interest in what happens after we die.    

Now to return to the core of your question, the Bible answers your question unequivocally: Yes, there is truly an afterlife.  Let me give you a sampling of Bible verses that teach this:

  • In what many Biblical scholars understand to be the earliest book of the Bible written, Job confidently exclaims, “For I know that my Redeemer lives, and at the last he will stand upon the earth. [26] And after my skin has been thus destroyed, yet in my flesh I shall see God, [27] whom I shall see for myself, and my eyes shall behold, and not another. My heart faints within me” (Job 19:25-27)!
  • Ecclesiastes 12:7 states, “and the dust returns to the earth as it was, and the spirit returns to God who gave it.”
  • In the Gospel of Luke 16:19-31 there is an account of a rich man and a poor man named Lazarus.  After they die they find themselves in the next life, Lazarus in Paradise and the rich man in hell.  
  • Hebrews 9:27 says, “And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment.”
  • 1 Timothy 4:8 teaches, “for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.”

So very clearly the Bible teaches that there is truly an afterlife.  We must make one more important observation about the afterlife.  The Bible makes it plain that there are only two destinies after this life: heaven and hell, both are real and eternal.    

  • Daniel 12:2 “And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.”
  • Matthew 25:46 “And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

Jesus spoke about final destinies this way, “Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. [14] For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few” (Matthew 7:13-14).  How do we enter the way that leads to life?  Through Jesus Christ.  John 14:6 says, “Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.’”  

In conclusion, historically, the existence of an afterlife has been universally embraced.  The Bible is crystal clear that there is truly an afterlife.   Finally, the Bible teaches that there are only two destinies after this life: heaven and hell, both are real and eternal.  The only way to heaven is through Jesus Christ.  If you want to know more about going to heaven I invite you to watch this video: “Bad News/Good News.”  The most important thing any person can do is to prepare for the life to come.

The First Martyrs of the Turkish Church

What is Islam about?  This question is not simply to discover the pillars of doctrine for Islam, though undoubtedly the recent brutal actions of five young Muslim men in Turkey were grounded in Muslim doctrine, particularly to protect the name of Allah.   

Undoubtedly, the main issue is Islam’s response to “infidels.”  How are they to be dealt with according to Islam?  They are to be killed, removed from the face of the earth.  As a pastor, I need to have a certain level of understanding about this religion.  What I desire to know is why the killing of Christians in Muslim countries is not by a minority but is a part of mainstream Islam.  See this story for example.

On April 18, 2007, three Christians were brutally killed.  Their crime: being Christians.  Here is an excerpt of the story: 

Tilmann Geske lived 10 of his 46 years in Turkey, a member of the country’s small Christian community. He and two Turkish Christians were killed last week, their hands and feet bound and their throats slit, at a Christian publishing house that distributes Bibles. Five young men were detained and charged with murder; they allegedly said they killed to protect Islam (you can read the article here). [Editorial note: for reasons unknown to me, the article is no longer avaliable at the URL provided.]

What I have uncovered in my research is that they not only killed them, they brutally tortured them for three hours before finally ending their lives by slighting their throats.  Some of this was captured on their cell phone according to this source.   This simply boggles my mind.  These heinous actions in the name of Allah?  One of the greatest ironies is that Muslims flock to America to distribute their literature, build Mosques, and proselytize others when their relatives in their homelands are killing Christians who are doing the same things in their lands.  They bask in the freedoms they deny others.  Yet this receives no press and Islam is seen as a peaceful religion.  Actions speak so much more loudly than words.  Muslims, your actions have spoken so loudly that I can’t hear what you say about Islam being a peaceful religion.  It is my hope that the truth about Islam is exposed to a greater degree to show 1) that Christianity and Islam could not be further apart in their response to those who are not of the same faith and 2) that Islam is, by nature, a militant and oppressive religion.   

Praise God for these three Christian martyrs who died for their faith.  May God us this for His glory in the Turkish Church in the 21st century as He did in Asia Minor in the 1st century.  May we, Christians who live in a free land, use our liberty to its fullest for the sake of Jesus Christ and the gospel.  Christians, pray for your brothers and sisters in Christ in Muslim lands (Hebrews 13:3).  As a Turkish pastor said after the death of these three Christians: “Don’t pray against persecution, pray for perseverance,” urges Pastor Fikret Bocek.  Tertullian said, “the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church” (cf. Acts 8:4).  Grant this we pray for the Turkish church, Our Father.    

The Wrong Name

The recent hanging of Saddam Hussein as a news story has seen its zenith come and go. As predicted there has been outrage and eulogizing from Saddam loyalists to smiles and elation from those who despised and experienced the brutality which characterized his dictatorship. One sentiment that is scarcely seen is sadness. You just don’t find many pictures of bitter weeping and mourning his death, though there are a few. To put it bluntly, many people hated him. There is one account throughout the whole event that caught my interest. It has been reported that just before the floor dropped out of the gallows he was reciting the “‘Shahada,’ a Muslim prayer that says there is no god but God and Muhammad is his messenger, according to an unabridged copy of the same tape, apparently shot with a camera phone and posted on a Web site. Saddam made it to midway through his second recitation of the verse. His last word was Muhammad” (“Saddam Hussein’s Brutal Reign Ends in the Gallows“).  He died with the wrong name on his lips as he entered eternity. He now knows salvation is not in Allah and Muhammad but in the true and only God, Yahweh, and His Son Jesus Christ.I felt in my heart an odd sort of compassion for the former dictator of Iraq. A compassion that he did not know the One before whom he would stand in judgment in a few breaths. This was a very pointed reminder that anyone who dies without Christ will spend an eternity in hell, whether they were a vile dictator or a morally upright person. Though many people hated him, God loved him enough to send His Son to die for his sins – and yours, and mine (John 3:16). It was a grim yet necessary reminder that we need to view our neighbors, our friends, perhaps our family, the cashier in the grocery store, the waitress at a restaurant, the co-worker who sits next to us, the vendors with whom we do business as sinners who are perishing unless they appropriate the person and work of Christ by faith for their sins. This is the good news of the gospel. Those who do not hear or receive it will also die with the wrong name on their lips.

We take heart in the gospel for it remains “the power of God unto salvation” (Romans 1:16). However, how does the gospel go forth? God has chosen us to be His mouthpiece (Romans 10:14). The word of God will go forth and accomplish its purpose in each heart as God chooses. Augustine said “The locked up heart cannot keep you out. No matter how hard and stiff a man’s heart may be, it cannot resist the touch of your hand. You unlock it whenever you wish, whether for mercy or for justice” (Augustine, Confessions, 5:1). What greater confidence can we have in the gospel than the fact that God goes before it? Duty is ours to share the gospel (2 Corinthians 5:20), conversion belongs to God by justifying the sinner (Romans 3:26).

Why then has the evangelical church become so determined to add garnish to the gospel (as if it needs it)? How about living a life that becomes the gospel (Philippians 1:27) so that the power of the gospel is evident in our lives. The witness of a life truly changed by the gospel is far more powerful than a power team who throws, lifts, jerks, and squats thousands of pounds to “wow” people into listening to the gospel. The Thessalonians admonish us that the responsibility to spread the gospel rests upon all Christians not just the “professionals” (1 Thessalonians 1:7-8). Let us be reminded the simplicity of the gospel trumps Madison Avenue-the pure, simple, beautiful, powerful gospel can change lives in the 21st century just as it did in the 1st century. Acts 4:12 “And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”