The Pharisee and Tax Collector
9 And he spake this parable unto certain which trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others: 10 Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican. 11 The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. 12 I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess. 13 And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner. 14 I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.
Some islamic apologists make much of this scripture to prove that man is forgiven by God’s mercy alone in response to our repentance. But then they go on to insist, somewhat paradoxically, that their own works must be added to the ingredients of the paradise cake that they want to bake by quoting such scriptures as these:
|… Then I gave them My statutes and explained My ordinances to them–the person who
does them will live by them. … The one who carries them out will live by them! …
//biblehub.com/ezekiel/20-11.htm – 16k
|… Keep my decrees and laws, for the person who obeys them will live by them. …
//biblehub.com/leviticus/18-5.htm – 16k
The question is do these scriptures mean eternal life when they say that man will live by being obedient to these laws?
There is no question that if any man can keep all the laws of God continually from the beginning of his life to the end he must go to heaven. He cannot go to hell. He is sinless. So in that sense these scriptures are true. But if we have a partial obedience and forgiveness for the sins that we have committed is that enough to enable us to go to paradise as a reward for our works? Islam answers with a resounding yes here. In this case our partial obedience plus forgiveness through God’s mercy would be enough to make us righteous enough to earn the reward of paradise. Salvation, in the islamic model is a synergy between mans works and God’s mercy. Is this the case in Christianity? It is clearly not the case but that is a topic for another post. Right now let Jesus reply to those who claim that they can use their own works in any way, shape or form, to earn them a place in paradise. He clearly refutes this idea:
Jesus Blesses the Children
15 And they brought unto him also infants, that he would touch them: but when his disciples saw it, they rebuked them. 16 But Jesus called them unto him, and said, Suffer little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God. 17 Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child shall in no wise enter therein.
Little children do not have any power or strength to perform work to earn the things that they need in life such as food, clothing and shelter. They must receive these things as a gift. Just so is it with our salvation. We have no power or strength to do any works that would earn any merit that would place God in debt to us to reward us with paradise. We are like these children Jesus invited and welcomed in to his loving arms. We can do nothing which is meritorious to earn our salvation, to justify us before God. We conclude that salvation is:
- Sola Fide, by faith alone.
- Sola Scriptura, by Scripture alone.
- Solus Christus, through Christ alone.
- Sola Gratia, by grace alone.
- Soli Deo Gloria, glory to God alone.