Answering Islam - A Christian-Muslim dialog

Was Jesus’ Sacrificial Death

Necessary for the Forgiveness of Sins? Pt. 1

Sam Shamoun

This is a reply to a Muslim dawagandist by the name of Paul Bilal Williams who is another taqiyyist that selectively quotes scholars and perverts the Holy Bible in his crusade against biblical Christianity. In his jihad against the truth of the Christian revelation, Williams even goes so far as to use the Holy Bible to prove that Jesus’ death wasn’t necessary for the forgiveness of sins! Here is what he wrote in one of his blog articles: 

‘Jesus forgave the man his sins consisting of his debt to God. This is the divine prerogative.’

As Sami once wrote: ‘Christians often use such verses to try and prove that Jesus is God, yet the biggest irony out of all this is that such verses debunk the very core of Christianity! Think of it, Jesus is forgiving sin BEFORE he has sacrificed himself for the sins of the world! This means that people could be forgiven of their sins without any sacrifice on the cross! Christians say there must be blood for the forgiveness of sins, Jesus had to die for us, it was the only way to be saved and to get rid of the sin etc etc, well obviously this doesn’t seem to be the case now does it, because we see Jesus easily forgiving people of their sins without anyone having to die or any blood being shed!’

So this proves that the sacrifice of the cross wasn’t needed, the blood isn’t needed, and nobody has to die.

Also be sure to visit the following article which addressed the argument of how Jesus is supposedly God because he forgave sins: (Williams, Jesus is God because he forgave sins, November 26, 2011 at 12:30 pm)

Seeing just how giddy Williams was over Zaatari’s objection we have decided to respond to it here. 

The Death of Christ is the Basis for Forgiveness of Sins

In the first place, the very same Gospels, which these dawagandists pervert in order make them say something contrary to the intended meaning of the inspired authors, are the very same writings which go out of their way to affirm that Jesus’ vicarious death is both necessary and foundational for salvation.

For instance, the Gospels record the Lord Jesus as pointing to the atoning nature of his death. The Lord spoke of laying down his life as a ransom so that others may live: 

“even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Matthew 20:28 – cf. Mark 10:45

“… I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” John 10:10b-11 

Christ also spoke of his blood that would be shed for the forgiveness of sins:

“Now as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and after blessing it broke it and gave it to the disciples, and said, ‘Take, eat; this is my body.’ And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, saying, ‘Drink of it, all of you, for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.’” Matthew 26:26-28 – cf. Mark 14:22-24

Christ even went so far as to refer to offering his own flesh and blood for the life of the world: 

“‘Very truly I tell you, the one who believes has eternal life.  I am the bread of life. Your ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness, yet they died. But here is the bread that comes down from heaven, which anyone may eat and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats this bread will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.’ Then the Jews began to argue sharply among themselves, ‘How can this man give us his flesh to eat?’ Jesus said to them, ‘Very truly I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day. For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in them. Just as the living Father sent me and I live because of the Father, so the one who feeds on me will live because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven. Your ancestors ate manna and died, but whoever feeds on this bread will live forever.’” John 6:47-58

The earliest Christians proclaimed this same exact message:

“Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers. Be shepherds of the church of God, which he bought with his own blood.” Acts 20:28 

“Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, who gave himself for our sins to rescue us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father,” Galatians 1:3-4

“I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” Galatians 2:20

“But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship.” Galatians 4:4-5

“to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace.” Ephesians 1:6-7

“Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” Ephesians 5:1-2

“For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins… For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross. Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation.” Colossians 1:13-14, 19-22

“Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst.’ 1 Timothy 1:15

“For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all men. This has now been witnessed to at the proper time.” 1 Timothy 2:5-6

“while we wait for the blessed hope—the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.” Titus 2:13-14

so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him.” Hebrews 9:28

“But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin… My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have an advocate with the Father—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.” 1 John 1:7, 2:1-2

“This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins… And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world.” 1 John 4:9-10, 14

“… To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood, and has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve his God and Father—to him be glory and power for ever and ever! Amen.” Revelation 1:5-6

“And when he had taken it, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb. Each one had a harp and they were holding golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of God’s people. And they sang a new song, saying: ‘You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because you were slain, and with your blood you purchased for God persons from every tribe and language and people and nation. You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God, and they will reign on the earth.’” Revelation 5:8-10

After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. And they cried out in a loud voice: ‘Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, AND TO THE LAMB.’ All the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures. They fell down on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, saying: ‘Amen! Praise and glory and wisdom and thanks and honor and power and strength be to our God for ever and ever. Amen!’ Then one of the elders asked me, ‘These in white robes—who are they, and where did they come from?’ I answered, ‘Sir, you know.’ And he said, ‘These are they who have come out of the great tribulation; they have washed their robes and made them white IN THE BLOOD OF THE LAMB.’” Revelation 7:9-14

Since Williams is quite fascinated with the writings of the prominent NT scholar James D. G. Dunn, here are a few quotes from one of his writings concerning what Christ’s earliest followers actually believed and proclaimed:  

“Whatever we can or should say about Jesus and his mission there can be little or no question that what the FIRST CHRISTIANS believed had happened to Jesus after his death transformed their appreciation of him completely. FOR THEY WERE CONVINCED THAT GOD HAD RAISED HIM FROM THE DEAD. This is the core affirmation of Christian faith, and it can be traced back FIRMLY TO THE EARLIEST DAYS OF THE MOVEMENT THAT STEMMED FROM JESUS, and in particular to the visionary experiences that the FIRST CHRISTIANS had of Jesus as risen from the dead and exalted to heaven. Such belief was already a confession by the time Paul was himself converted, WHICH WAS PROBABLY LESS THAN TWO YEARS AFTER JESUS’ CRUCIFIXION (1 Cor. 15.3-7). And Paul was probably converted to beliefs that he had persecuted, BELIEFS ALREADY WELL ESTABLISHED AMONG THE FIRST MEMBERS OF THE SECT OF THE NAZARENES. THEIRS WAS AN ASTONISHING BELIEF IN ITSELF. Many Jews believed that there would be a resurrection at the end of time and before the day of last judgment; that is, a general resurrection of the dead. But the thought of one person being resurrected (not simply revived to his previous life) WAS UNHEARD OF. SOMETHING OF MIND-BLOWING SIGNIFICANCE HAD HAPPENED, AND JESUS WAS AT THE CENTRE.

“More to the immediate point, these EARLIEST BELIEVERS were also convinced that Jesus had been taken or exalted to heaven. What had happened to Jesus was not simply a translation like that of Enoch or Elijah, nor simply a vindication such as Wisdom 5 assures the righteous they could anticipate. What then? We can safely assume that the first disciples would have searched the Scriptures to help explain and make sense of what had happened to Jesus. A key verse that shed much light for them and that evidently informed and shaped THE EARLIEST CHRISTIAN reflection on the subject was Psalm 110.1

“This verse runs like a gold thread through much of the New Testament, and is so interwoven into the language of the New Testament writers that it evidently was a primary starting point or stimulus for the strong strand of New Testament christology summed up in the confession, ‘Jesus is Lord’. The title (‘lord’) in itself did not necessarily signify any more than the status of a (human) master to his servant or slave; but in the context of the times, use of the title for Jesus in a cultic setting affirmed that he was being ranked alongside the gods of other cults (Asclepius, Isis, etc.), or alongside the Emperor in some degree of competition with the divine claims made for Caesar. And in the context given to the title 'Lord' (kyrios) by Psalm 110.1, its reference to Christ immediately indicates that in EARLIEST CHRISTIAN FAITH Jesus was now to be reckoned in terms similar to those used for heavenly beings of earlier Jewish reflection, or, more precisely, to be reckoned AS SHARING THE ONE GOD’S RULE. With this title Jesus is seen to be more on the side of God reaching out to humankind, than of humankind coming to God. (Dunn, Did the First Christians Worship Jesus?, 4. The Lord Jesus Christ, pp. 101-103; bold and capital emphasis ours)


“In a passage of great importance, Paul recalls that the gospel faith that he inherited affirmed ‘that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures’ (1 Cor. 15.3). He received this confession presumably immediately after his conversion, WHICH WAS PROBABLY WITHIN TWO YEARS OF JESUS’ CRUCIFIXION. SO THIS WAS ONE OF THE EARLIEST CHRISTIAN STATEMENTS OF FAITH. That Jesus’ death was being thus regarded in terms of a sin offering, or as the equivalent of the scapegoat on the Day of Atonement, is confirmed by other Pauline passages. From this it can be inferred that (many or most of) THE FIRST CHRISTIANS REGARDED JESUS’ DEATH AS SACRIFICAL, A SACRIFICE THAT REMOVED, EXPIATED, CLEANSED FROM SIN. The inference can be extended: to refer to Jesus’ death as a sacrifice for sin was to imply that no other sacrifices for sin were thereafter necessary for those who believed in Jesus…” (Ibid., 2. The practice of worship, p. 55; bold and capital emphasis ours)


“The affirmation of Jesus’ lordship is one which we trace back at least to THE EARLIEST DAYS of Christian reflection on Christ’s resurrection. One of the scriptures which quickly became luminous FOR THE FIRST BELIEVERS was evidently Ps. 110.1: ‘The LORD said to my Lord, “Sit at my right until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet.”’ THE FIRST CHRISTIANS now knew who ‘my Lord’ was who was addressed by the Lord God. It could only be Messiah Jesus. He was now ‘God’s vice-regent.’ The text was clearly in mind in several Pauline passages…” (Dunn, The Theology of Paul The Apostle [William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, Grand Rapids MI/Cambridge U.K., Paperback Edition 2006], Chapter 4. The Gospel of Jesus Christ, 10 The Risen Lord, p. 246; bold and capital emphasis ours)

Notice Dunn’s assertion that the evidence conclusively shows that the very first disciples of Jesus believed that Christ died sacrificially on the cross to expiate sin and that God had raised him back to life. Dunn further claims that Jesus’ earliest followers were convinced that after his resurrection Christ ascended to God in order to share in God’s unique sovereign rule over all creation as Lord of all! 

Now this places both Williams and Zaatari in a predicament. The Quran denies Jesus’ vicarious death and also claims that Jesus’ followers were all Muslims (cf. Q. 3:52; 4:157-158; 5:111). If this were true then there shouldn’t be any evidence that the disciples of Christ went around proclaiming that Jesus died a substitutionary death and that he was subsequently raised to immortal life to share in God’s sovereignty over all creation. Yet, according to scholars like Dunn, this is precisely what they taught and affirmed! 

Thus, the statements made by one of William’s favorite scholars prove that the Quran is mistaken concerning the beliefs of the very first followers of Jesus. Therefore, since the Quran is in error this means that Muhammad stands condemned as a false prophet who sought to pervert the message proclaimed by the historical Jesus and his earliest followers.   

What makes these quotations from Dunn even more fascinating is that they all come from a book which Williams himself praises and encourages Muslims to read since he actually thinks that it somehow supports Islamic dawah (propagation)! 

Now watch as Williams throws this scholar under the bus by quoting other liberal sources to undermine Dunn’s claims, despite the fact that it is Williams who hails Dunn and his book!

However, Williams is going to be faced with a problem if he does try to take this route since he claimed elsewhere to be a sincere seeker after truth:

November 15, 2011 at 6:42 pm 

I’m a sincere seeker after the truth and Michael short changed the audience. He agreed to participate in the Q&A but didn’t live up to his commitments on the day. He should honour his promises dont you think? (Review of the debate: a personal view)

In light of this assertion, he has no choice but to accept the position of Dunn and come to the conclusion that Muhammad was a deceiver for claiming that Jesus’ followers were Muslims.

The problems for Williams are far from over, as we shall see in the next section.