Wednesday, April 03, 2019

Same God

It is common to hear people say that Moslems and Christians worship the same God. Others say that they are praying to the same God. However, the issue is not as simple as it sounds. We need to get some principles clear before we can answer it.

  • There is only one God. There is not an array of different gods that worshippers can choose between. We cannot choose to worship a different God. If we refuse to worship the true God, we are worshipping a god that does not exist.

  • The devil is a spiritual being, but he is not a god. He is just a fallen angel, so he is not worthy of worship. Some people in the world worship the devil, but they are relatively rare, because he is not very attractive. Those who do worship the devil are not worshipping a god, because he is imposter.

    The devil quite likes to be honoured, but he hates God and loves to control people even more. He is happy if people do not worship him, provided he can control them and stop them serving God.

  • There is acceptable worship and unacceptable worship. God decides what worship is acceptable. We cannot tell him what is acceptable, because we would be denying that he is God. We cannot decide to worship in our own way. Cain and Abel both intended to worship God, but Abel’s offering was accepted by God, whereas Cain’s was not (Gen 4:4). The same applies to worship. Acceptable worship is worship that satisfies and blesses him. The Bible gives some guidelines about acceptable worship.

    God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth. (John 4:24).
    Without faith, it is impossible to please God (Heb 11:6).
    No one comes to the Father except through me (John 14:6).

  • Worship has two sides. At our end, worship is thoughts, words and actions that honour God. When humans sing hymns and make declarations of praise to God, they are offering worship.

    The other side of worship takes place in heaven. Our offerings of worship arrive in his presence in the spiritual realms and bless him. They are carried there by the Holy Spirit and his angels. If our worship does not comply with his standards, they are unable to carry it there. The worship remains on earth and is wasted.

    “Offering worship to God” and “God being blessed by our worship” are two different things. The former takes place on earth the latter takes place in heaven.

  • Trying to worship is a good thing, but good intentions do not make it acceptable to God. Trying hard to worship does not stop it from being wasted.

  • Every person’s heart is created with an innate desire to worship God exists. That desire is marred by the fall, but it remains. In some people, it manifests in the creation of idols. In others, it manifests in an offering of worship to God, albeit worship that is wasted.

  • Many people who attempt to worship God are deceived by the devil. Some may be controlled by him, but most are not worshipping him. They mostly intend to worship God. They are not intending to worship the devil. For example, when Paul and Silas were in Philippi, they met a woman with a spirit of divination who called them “servants of the Most High God”. This statement was true and it honoured God. The evil spirit knew that this statement was true, but it was not trying to worship God. It was trying to stir up trouble. The slave girl probably believed what she said, or she would not have spoken it. She was offering worship to God, even though she was controlled by an evil spirit. However, because her declaration was not inspired by the Holy Spirit, her worship was fell to the ground wasted. However, her heart attitude may have made it easier for Paul and Silas to drive out the evil spirit.

Back to the original question. When Moslems worship Allah, what are they doing? When they pray to Allah what is happening?
  • If they are trying to worship God, because they have an innate awareness of him (Rom 1:20), they are trying to worship the one true God They are not worshipping a different god, because there is no other god to worship.

  • Some may be deceived by the devil. Some may be controlled by him, but most are not worshipping the devil. Their intention is to worship God, not to worship the devil.

  • When they bow down, they are worshipping God as they know him. The problem is that there understanding of God is very limited, and often wrong. They believe there is only one God, and they believe that he created the world. They also believe that he is sovereign over the world, but there is a whole lot of other important things that they have wrong. The common declaration that “God is Great” is true, but it is not the total truth about God. So when Moslems bow down and offer worship, they are trying to worship the true God, but their understanding of who they are worshipping is limited. Therefore, they are not worshipping in truth.

  • Moslems do not have faith in Jesus, so their offering of worship cannot get to God through him. They do not acknowledge the Holy Spirit is divine, so they cannot worship in the Spirit.

Most Moslems are trying to worship God, but it goes nowhere. Their efforts are wasted because they do not know the truth about God, they do not have faith in Jesus, and they are not led by the Spirit. To deny God is sad. To believe there is a God and try to worship, but fail, is really a dreadful waste.

The same applies to most Jewish worship. Adherents of Judaism do not acknowledge Jesus and have resisted the Spirit, so that cannot worship in spirit and truth. That did not matter in Old Testament times, because Jesus had not been revealed and the Holy Spirit had not been sent. Their worship was acceptable then. The life, death and resurrection of Jesus have changed the nature of acceptable worship. Abel’s offering of worship is no longer acceptable. Most Jewish worship is now wasted, because the Holy Spirit cannot carry it to heaven to bless the Father.

Christians should not be too smug, because they can waste their worship in the same way. Some Christian worship is wasted, because it is unacceptable. Before I knew Jesus, I believed in God, but I had decided what God could and could not do. I worshipped my conception of who I believed God was. I had constructed an intellectual idol and was worshipping it. For me, a large step in getting to know Jesus was repenting of creating an idol to worship. That meant agreeing that God could be who he is, not what I wanted him to be. Prior to repenting of this sin, I was offering worship, but my worship was wasted, because I was not worshipping in spirit and truth.

Having said all this, understanding who people are trying to worship does not really matter that much. A far more important question is who people are submitting to. Are they being influenced by the Holy Spirit or is it some other spirit?

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