Saturday, June 3, 2017

Excerpt from "The Prescience: A Young Adult Christian Fantasy, Seventh Dimension Series, Book 5"

Since the Jewish festival of Shavuot and the Christian religious day of Pentecost is upon us, I decided to share this excerpt from Seventh Dimension - The Prescience, that takes place on Pentecost in the first century. The question I asked myself before I wrote The Prescience was, what would happen if a Muslim convert from Hinduism heard Peter at Pentecost? What would be his reaction? 

God continues to encourage me with the editing as I finish my chemo treatments. I pray that this excerpt  will help you to think about how you would witness to a Muslim. The excerpt includes common questions that Muslims have about Christianity.  


The Berean Study Bible admonishes us:

So we aspire to please Him, whether we are here in this body or away from it. 10For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive his due for the things done in the body, whether good or bad. 11Therefore, since we know what it means to fear the Lord, we try to persuade men. What we are is clear to God, and I hope it is clear to your conscience as well.


EXCERPT FROM THE PRESCIENCE

“Is that REALLY why you don’t want to go back?” Daniel asked.
“Yes. It’s the truth. Without the implant, the scientists can’t track me. I’ve had the dream three times. I asked Allah to take away the dream, but he hasn’t. Why not? Now I want to find out about Jesus.”
“Is Tariq a scientist?” Daniel asked.
Nidal shook his head. “He told me the scientists are using a powerful weapon to open star gates. They are opening portals between our world and another dimension. The tunnel was so cold I thought we would die of exposure before we arrived.”
Daniel leaned forward and enunciated, “We’re in a spiritual dimension. In one sense, you’re right. The scientists are opening portals to another dimension—but it’s a spiritual dimension.”
“And we’re back in time,” Tariq added.
Daniel nodded. “God said he’s the alpha and the omega, the beginning and the end. We are locked in time—but God is outside of time. Time is an illusion until God’s appointed times. Did Tariq tell you anything else about the scientists?”
“He said the scientists worshipped Shiva, the Hindu god of destruction. He said the scientists want to deconstruct the universe and recreate the big bang. The facility is based on the Swiss-French border. I asked him why these scrolls were so important to the scientists. Tariq said they wanted to erase history and rewrite it. They didn’t want any historical record of Jesus.”
The temple mount around us had become crowded and noisy, making it increasingly difficult to talk. I whispered to Daniel, “Why don’t we take a walk to an area where there are fewer people.”
Daniel motioned to Nidal. “Let’s take a tour of the temple.” He pointed to the pristine structure. “The Romans destroyed the temple in 70 A.D. Some Jews want to rebuild it. Of course, the Dome of the Rock makes that impossible right now.”
The gold between the temple stones glistened in the noonday sun. Hundreds stood in line to make their fruit and grain offerings. Merchants had set up stands for visitors and travelers. The temple wasn’t just the center of worship. It was also the center for trade and business.
Nidal wiped his parched lips. “I heard the disciple speaking Nepali. I haven’t heard that language since I’ve been here.”
“You mean Peter?” Daniel asked.
“Yes,” Nidal replied. “Tell me more about Jesus.”
“Why don’t you ask me a question, and I’ll see if I can answer it.”
Nidal rubbed the back of his neck. “Islam tells us that Jesus didn’t die on the cross.”
Daniel focused his eyes on Nidal’s. “Do you know that no one in history, out of the thousands who were crucified by the Romans, survived the crucifixion?”
“What do you mean?” Nidal asked.
“There isn’t a single recorded case of anyone ever being crucified by the Romans who came down off the cross alive. Every person who was crucified by the Romans died. Don’t you think that if one person, especially someone as controversial as Jesus, had managed to survive, it would have been widely known and reported? Plus, think of all the eyewitnesses who saw Yeshua die. And the scriptures tell us that the Roman guard speared him in the side just to make sure he was dead.”
Nidal reflected on Daniel’s words, but remained quiet.
“Crucifixion is torture,” Daniel said, “and if by some chance Yeshua did manage to survive the crucifixion, do you think he could have made a full recovery based on the crude medical methods of the first century?”
“But how can you be sure?” Nidal asked.
“The only historians to doubt the authenticity of Jesus’s death on the cross are Muslims,” Daniel pointed out. “There is actually very little dispute that Jesus died on the cross among most historians.”
“I wish I had a computer,” Nidal lamented. “I’d search it on Google, but I have a counterargument.”
“What’s that?” Daniel asked.
“Some people claim the disciples took down Jesus’s body and replaced it with the body of Judas.”
Daniel shook his head. “That would be impossible. Judas had already died when Jesus was crucified. The betrayer’s entails spilled out on the ground. That’s why the Jews had to sell the land. His blood had defiled it. Besides, guards were present at the crucifixion of Jesus the entire time. They are the ones who removed Jesus’s body. They would have declared Jesus dead before they delivered the body of Jesus to Nicodemus and the women.
“Believe me,” Daniel continued, “There is no way the Roman soldiers would have removed Jesus from the cross alive, and then retrieved the body of Judas that had been ripped wide open when he hung himself, and nailed Judas to the cross in place of Jesus. That totally contradicts the historical record.”
“I see what you are saying,” Nidal said, “but somehow the Muslim Imams make it sound so probable, so certain, that he didn’t die, but after hearing what Peter said, I’m not sure what to believe.”
 Daniel nodded. “People can sound very convincing, but when you examine the historical record, when you look at the scriptures, when you find so many different sources that say the same thing, you have to examine more closely the authenticity of what they say. Did you know that all of the disciples were martyred except for one?”
 Nidal’s eyes brightened with this question. “Muslims also die for their belief in Islam. So what makes Christians different?”
Daniel mulled over Nidal’s words. “That’s true, someone can be sincere and die for what they believe, but even Muslims wouldn’t die for a lie. They are only willing to die for something they believe is true. If the disciples knew that Yeshua didn’t die on the cross, do you think they would have been willing to die? They were willing to die because they knew Yeshua died on the cross.
“Yeshua had also predicted his death. When he died, the disciples remembered what Jesus had said. He said he would rise again in three days.”
Nidal took a deep breath. “The Bible has been corrupted because there are so many translations. You can believe the Quran because it’s written only in the original Arabic.”
“The Bible is made up of many books,” Daniel said. “The translation of the Torah, Prophets, Psalms and Gospels into different languages allows people to read God’s word in their own language. The Bible was written by many different prophets over fifteen hundred years. The Quran gives you only what Muhammad wrote. The Bible gives you not just one prophet’s message, but all the prophets. Can you read the Quran in Arabic?” Daniel asked.
“I can read it, but I don’t know what I’m reading,” Nidal admitted.
“What good is it to read the Quran in Arabic if you don’t understand what it is you’re reading?”
Nidal countered Daniel, “You know the Quran is the true word of Allah because it’s not been changed since Muhammad dictated it from Gabriel.”
“How can you be sure if you can’t understand what you’re reading?”
Nidal shrugged. “I don’t know.”
Daniel stroked his chin. “Actually, I don’t think that’s true about the Quran. It’s my understanding that many early copies of the Quran were deemed illegal when a Muslim scholar three hundred years after Muhammad’s death designated only seven different readings legal. Portions of the earlier texts were changed or omitted. That’s not what you will hear from Muslim scholars, but if you read the historical record, that’s what you will discover.”
Nidal’s eyes bulged, as if he didn’t believe Daniel’s statement.
“As far as the Bible, it gives many warnings about not changing anything in the scriptures. In the Book of Revelation the disciple John wrote, ‘If anyone adds to these things, God will add to him the plagues that are written in this book.’ Moses wrote the same thing in Torah. ‘You shall not add to the word which I command you, nor take from it, that you may keep the commandments of the Lord.’
“Two centuries later, Solomon wrote in the Psalms, ‘Every word of God is pure. Do not add to his words, lest he rebuke you, and you be found a liar.’”
“The books of the Bible were written by many people with great care. Doesn’t the Quran attest to the authenticity of the scriptures that existed even before Muhammad wrote the Quran?”
“Yes,” Nidal admitted, “in Quran 5:43.”
“I can give you God’s word in your own language and you can read it for yourself and understand. There are no contradictions in the Bible. The greatest story ever told runs through God’s Word from the Old Testament to the New Testament—God’s plan of salvation found in Jesus Christ. In the Old Testament, it is revealed through hundreds of prophecies. Many were fulfilled in Jesus’s first coming.”
Nidal remained skeptical. “I can’t believe God would allow his son to die on the cross. How could a holy God allow such an evil travesty?”
“That’s a good point,” Daniel said. “Remember, Jesus and God is one. Yes, he’s God’s son, but he’s also God. God sent one of the persons of the trinity, Jesus, into the world to die for our sins. He fulfilled the Jewish law perfectly, as required in the Old Testament.
“God rescued us, just as we rescued Shira. We risked our lives to save her, adopting her as our daughter. Would a loving father not do everything in his power to save his child? Would he ever abandon his child on the streets? Would he, for example, sue her in a court of law? Or if she got cancer, wouldn’t he make sure she got the best medical care possible, even at great cost to him?”
“Of course,” Nidal said. “No loving father would abandon his child, or sue her, or not provide for her best medical care if she would die without it.”
Daniel pressed the point one step further. “If human fathers, who are imperfect, will do that for their children, will not God, who loves perfectly, sacrifice himself on the cross for his children—for you and me, whom he adopted? Would he not give up everything, to the point of death on the cross?”
Nidal swallowed hard, obviously overcome with emotion.
“Grace is not free,” Daniel said, “and God sent Yeshua to die for us. God can’t ignore or excuse sin. God is so holy that no one can see him face to face. Only through Jesus can we see God. Our heavenly father deserves our utmost respect and honor, but he doesn’t demand our worship. We worship him because he first loved us, and he showed us his love by sending Jesus, his only son, to die in our place on the cross as an atoning sacrifice.”
Nidal turned away, overcome with emotion. “I’ve always had this longing for more. Hinduism left me empty. I thought Islam would fulfill me. I wanted to be acceptable to God. That’s why I did the Haj, to earn Allah’s favor.”
“You can’t do anything to earn God’s favor,” Daniel said.
Nidal’s eyes narrowed. “Then what can you do if you can’t do anything?”
“Jesus has already done it for you, when he died on the cross.”
Nidal still wasn’t convinced. “Christians believe in many gods like the Hindus. They say Jesus is God and also God’s son. One of the things that attracted me to Allah is that he’s one God. I wanted to worship one God, not many gods as I did as a Hindu. I’m still struggling with understanding this trinity thing.”
Daniel tried to clarify. “Christians and Jews worship only one God.”
“How can that be when Christians say Jesus is God?”
Jesus is the Messiah, the second person of the Trinity. There is God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. He is three in one.”
“I don’t understand,” Nidal said.
“Look at it like this,” Daniel said. “We’re human. We’re male and Shale is female. There is a plurality in male and female, but we’re still human. That’s how it is with God. He is three persons in the trinity, and there is a plurality in the trinity just like there is a plurality with humans.
“Even in the Old Testament, in Genesis, when it says God created the heavens and the earth, the Hebrew word used is Elohim, which is a grammatically plural noun for deity in the Old Testament. What we’ve just witnessed here is the third person of the trinity, the Holy Spirit, coming upon the disciples. When the thousands here at the temple heard Peter’s sermon in their own language, they accepted Jesus as their savior.”
Nidal’s eyes narrowed as he saw Peter in the distance. Dozens of people were still gathered around him and the disciples. “How can I receive the Holy Spirit like Peter did?”
“By believing Jesus died for your sins.”
Nidal shook his head violently. “As I said before, I can’t accept that God would allow his son to die on a cross. God deserves our worship. Besides, Allah isn’t a father and he doesn’t have a son, but he’s God.”
I whispered to Daniel, “Focus on the works of Jesus. Remember, he said, ‘If you don’t believe in me, believe in the works I do.’”
Daniel nodded. “That might be helpful.”
He turned back to Nidal. “One time Jesus said, ‘Even if you don’t believe in me, believe in the works I do, as the father is in me and I’m in the father.’ Do you know what kind of works Jesus did?”
Nidal nodded. “The Quran says Jesus was a great prophet, that he performed miracles, healed the sick, and was a man of peace. As good as Jesus was, however, Muhammad was a superior prophet.”
“Did Muhammad perform miracles?”
Nidal shook his head. “No.”
“Did Muhammad ever raise anyone from the dead?”
“No, he never did, or at least it’s not recorded in the Quran.”
“Does the Quran mention anything about Allah forgiving you so you can go to heaven?”
Nidal stared crestfallen at his feet. “The Quran doesn’t talk about forgiveness—or love. You have no assurance about making it to heaven. You try to live a good life that will please Allah. Sadly, I think I’ve failed, and there is nothing I can do about it.”
“Do you know Jesus’ message when he came to Israel the first time?” Daniel asked.
“No, I don’t think so. The Quran doesn’t talk about Jesus like that.”
Jesus said, “For God so loved the world he gave his only begotten son, that whosoever believes in him should not perish, but have eternal life.”
“Christians can be sure they will go to heaven?” Nidal asked.
“Yes, one hundred percent sure.”
“It’s hard for me to imagine anyone could be a hundred percent sure of going to heaven.”
“It isn’t if you’re a Christian,” Daniel assured him. “God loves you unconditionally.”
“If only I could believe that,” Nidal said, “And understand forgiveness. If only…”

**********

The Prescience will be available hopefully by the end of the summer. 
Your thoughts on this excerpt would be much appreciated!

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