The path to paradise Christ or Muhammad?

Alan Clifford Alan Clifford is the minister at Norwich Reformed Church
01 January, 2007 5 min read

The two-part TV programme The Path to 9/11 (BBC 2,
10-11 September 2006) demonstrated clearly enough that the
motivation of the Muslim terrorists was purely religious.

Contrary to the claims of multiculturalists, therefore, the problem of Islamic terrorism is rooted in the fundamental fallacies of Islam itself. Until these fallacies are seen for what they are, many will continue to deny the realities underlying Islamic fundamentalism.

I explained this in November’s ET, and argued that the only positive alternative to the crises we currently face lies in an alternative ideology – the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Fundamental question

A five-page document found among the terrorists’ belongings – besides giving instructions about clothing, knives, wills, IDs and passports – gave the suicide bombers the following prayer to strengthen their resolve.

‘I pray to you Allah to forgive me from all my sins, to allow me to glorify you in every possible way … Oh Allah, open all doors for me. Oh Allah, who answers prayers and answers those who ask you, I am asking you for your help’.

At the heart of both Islam and Christianity lies a fundamental question – how may a sinner be reconciled to God and obtain his favour? Martyrdom is one answer offered by the Muslim faith and embraced by the 9/11 terrorists.

In distinct contrast, Christianity specifically teaches that martyrdom has no power to redeem the soul. The apostle Paul writes, ‘though I give my body to be burned but have not love, it profits me nothing’ (1 Corinthians 13:3).

Salvation from sin is not found in anything we do and which (however mistakenly) we think will please God – not even martyrdom. It is found only in the work of Jesus Christ upon the cross, where he made atonement for our sins. There is only one path to paradise, and it is Christ not Muhammad.

Muhammad not the Messiah

And how do we know that Muhammad is not the ultimate prophet? Because Muhammad never performed the amazing deeds prophesied of the Messiah. Isaiah described the person and sacrificial sufferings of the one who would be ‘prophet, priest and king’ – ‘Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call his name Immanuel’ (Isaiah 7:14).

Again; ‘For unto us a child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder. And his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace’ (Isaiah 9:6).

And yet again; ‘Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon him, and by his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned, every one, to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all’ (Isaiah 53:4-6).

These prophecies (and many others like them) make no sense in relation to Muhammad. But they were historically fulfilled with awesome precision by Jesus of Nazareth.


The terrorists’ document stated correctly enough that we are burdened by our sins and need God’s approval in order to avoid hell. But martyrdom is not the way to win that approval – especially if it is fuelled by hatred so intense that it contemplates mass murder!

The fact is that we all need a mediator. Because we are hell-deserving sinners, we dare not appear before God in the ‘filthy garments’ of our own goodness. We need ‘righteous apparel’ – and an advocate to plead our cause (Zechariah 3:1-5).
Our Lord Jesus Christ is that advocate. He alone can provide us with a sufficient righteousness – his own! He is the mediator we need, as Paul reminds us: ‘For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus’ (1 Timothy 2:5).

Thus the message of the gospel is clear: ‘For God so loved the world that he gave his only-begotten Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have everlasting life’ (John 3:16).

For the sake of Christ – who ‘suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God’ (1 Peter 3:18) – God grants acceptance to penitent and trusting sinners by freely pardoning their sins. The righteousness of Christ’s sacrifice is imputed to us (it is put to our account) just as our guilt was imputed to him (2 Corinthians 5:19-21).

Receiving not achieving

Only by honouring the Son do we honour the Father (John 5:23). So rejecting Christ amounts to a rejection of God. There is no other gospel, whatever the multi-faith liberals and other deceivers may claim. We cannot save ourselves. Salvation is about ‘receiving’ not ‘achieving’.

Thank God! Salvation is available to anyone who repents of sin and turns to Christ: ‘If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness’ (1 John 1:9).

Paul enlarges on the subject: ‘For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast’ (Ephesians 2:8-9).

Jesus said, ‘Come to me, all you who labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest’ (Matthew 11:28). If you trust in Christ, he will not only forgive you; he will begin to change you by his Spirit. You will live a life of good works – which is the fruit of the root of saving faith (see Ephesians 2:10).

Mercy not murder

Having received mercy from God, those who believe in Jesus will desire to be kind and merciful to others. What a contrast to those who commit or incite to murder in the belief that they are furthering the cause of God!

If you are a follower of Jesus Christ, your religious life will not be driven by hate and resentment. You will not seek to propagate the Christian faith by violence, cruelty, bitterness and death (Matthew 5:43-5; Romans 13:10; Colossians 3:12-14).
You will not shame Christ and disfigure the gospel as did the medieval Crusaders or sectarian paramilitary thugs in Northern Ireland. Such people demonstrate by their works that they know nothing of the gospel.

Rather, as a sinner greatly forgiven, you will breathe love and forgiveness towards those who wrong you. Like Stephen, you will pray, ‘Lord, do not charge them with this sin’ (Acts 7:60).

The path to paradise

So what is the path to paradise? The New Testament tells us. The penitent criminal crucified alongside Jesus said to him, ‘Lord, remember me when you come into your kingdom’. And the reply? ‘Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with me in paradise’ (Luke 23:42-43).

This is the truth we all need to hear. This is the way to the true paradise of God which, unlike the fleshly paradise of Islam, is a realm and state of perfect holiness and happiness.

Reader, believe the pure truth of God. Trust in our Lord Jesus Christ! Depend on his once-for-all sacrifice for sin. Live a life of faith, love and holiness. Love God and your fellow human beings. When the time comes, a place in paradise awaits you.
Tragically, this cannot be said of Mohamed Atta and his fellow 9/11 terrorists – or anyone else who rejects Christ. But those who live and die believing in Jesus are delivered from their sins, freed from their bodily chains, and delivered into the glorious liberty of the children of God.

Alan Clifford is the minister at Norwich Reformed Church
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