When “the Greatest” Met the Greatest: The Passing of Muhammad Ali

Muhammad Ali (aka Cassius Clay) passed away a couple of days ago, as all people eventually do.

He claimed to be the “greatest” boxer of all time, or least during his era, when he was boxing.  That is probably true, as very few actually ever beat him in the ring.

Aside from being a great boxer, though, he was more likely known for his many sound bites, most of which were for show, if not simply annoyance.  He was the consummate “trash talker.”

Of course, there was the usual plethora of media coverage involving his passing.  One has to wonder, sometimes, if whether all of the hype is not simply a reflection of the journalist coming to grips with his own impending demise.

My immediate thought when Ali passed was where he is now.  You see, Ali did not pass from this world as a Christian.

Early on in his life, he switched allegiance from his Baptist upbringing to those of the Nation of Islam.

The Nation of Islam has historically been one of the most virile, anti-Semitic, and racist forms of Islam ever to pollute the American religious landscape.

If you have ever heard or read the hate-filled rhetoric of Louis Farrakhan, then you know exactly what I mean.

Later, Ali would divert his membership away from Nation of Islam ideology and subscribe to a more traditional Sunni Islam, and then finally embraced Sufism, which is the more mystical form of Islam.

What makes his transition to Islam significant is the fact that it espouses the complete denial of who the person of Jesus Christ is.

There is no savior, in other words, in Islam, which makes the individual solely responsible for bearing his own sins, upon death, in the presence of God.

The Bible makes it perfectly clear that when a person dies, he goes into the presence of God for judgment (Heb. 9:27).

Those who have died in Christ already have been forgiven of all their sins, so their judgment amounts to a declaration, “Well done, good and faithful servant.  You were faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master” (Mt. 25:21).

To those who die outside of Christ, they receive the wages of unpaid sin, which is death (Rom. 6:23) or eternal separation from God.

The unrepentant are exiled, in hell, suffering the torment of agonizing flame (Mt. 3:12; 25:41; Lk. 16:24), abject loneliness (Lk. 16:26), and the consumption by maggots (Mk. 9:48), until the day they are resurrected and stand before Jesus one last time at the Great White Throne Judgment (Rev. 20:11-15).

How or what kind of maggots are actually consuming the spiritually deceased is not explained.  Needless to say, it is not the partying kind that so many who mock God and hell’s reality are going to enjoy.

Checking the record one last time, where their names are not found written in the Lamb’s Book of Life, the lost are then cast into the Lake of Fire, where they pay the ultimate debt for their sin against a Holy God, forever and ever and ever without any possibility of reprieve.

Muhammad Ali left the earth on June 3, 2016 as “The Greatest” boxer, perhaps of all time.

But, he immediately stood before the greatest savior, redeemer, and judge of all-time, Jesus Christ, guilty as charged.

Because of his denial of the person of Jesus Christ—as the Savior, the Son of God, and God incarnate—as Islamic teaching commanded him to do, Muhammad Ali, was then cast into hell, where there is no longer any boasting, bragging, or trash talking.

He now resides along Islam’s founder, Muhammad, where possibly they might be able to hear one another’s screams amid all the commotion of other unrepentant sinners, who are no longer in denial, but are unable to do anything about their lost conditions.

There is only misery.

Let his death serve as a reminder of the Apostle Paul’s words, when he wrote, “Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves!  Or do you not recognize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you—unless indeed you fail the test?” (2 Cor. 13:5).

Eternity is too long to be wrong.

About the Author

President, Christian Apologetics Project PhD Candidate, Northwest University (2018) MA Apologetics w/ Honors, BIOLA University (2005) ThM, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary (2003) MDiv, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary (2000) BA Pastoral Ministry & Bible, Baptist Bible College (1992)

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