Q. Something is laying heavy on my heart and was wondering if you could give me an answer. I have always felt Christians had one up on Muslims because I always thought Christ taught that it is up to you join Him or not, whereas Muslims have to join and stay a Muslim under coercion and threat of death. Deuteronomy 13:10- tells a different story. If God never changes why did he threaten death to those who refused to follow Him? Sounds like the koran. How can I tell a Muslim my God would not force you to believe in Him when He did it here?
A. Deuteronomy 13 is not about forcing someone to worship God on pain of death. It’s about the penalty for introducing false gods to people who had already pledged themselves to the one true God and trying to lure them into idolatry. God had a national covenant with Israel that depended upon them keeping His laws, one of which was to worship Him and Him only. Anyone who introduced the worship of a false god into the mix was putting the entire nation at risk. The penalty for doing so was physical death.
Today, accepting Jesus as our Savior is a choice we make, but rejecting Him does bring death. John 3:16-18 explains both the salvation that comes from belief, which is eternal life, and the condemnation that comes from refusing to believe, which is spiritual death. Again, the issue is not forcing someone to accept Jesus as their Savior on pain of death. The issue is that anyone who doesn’t choose to accept Him is already condemned to death because of their sins.