Islam Unveiled (Part 5)

Reaching Muslims with the Gospel is not that complicated really. Suggestions vary regarding Muslim outreach. It has been pointed out that finding common ground with the Muslim is important: something akin to what Paul did in the book of Acts where he spoke of a personal God/Creator to the Athenians, who agreed that someone other than themselves had to be responsible for creation, in an attempt to interest them in the gospel (Acts 17:16-34). With this in view, Christianity and Islam do recognize figures such as Jesus and Moses albeit not necessarily in the same way. Some have sought to enlighten the Muslim’s mind to the real meaning of these Biblical figures by defining their respective roles in redemptive history. Others say we should minimize the use of the Koran when witnessing to a Muslim so not to undermine the authority of Scripture. That to pay too much attention on anything other than the Scriptures only lessens the gospel’s effectiveness. So which of these should we follow, or should we seek middle ground, or be looking elsewhere?

Let me begin by giving an illustration that may be helpful. There are times when removing an embedded screw from a piece of wood or metal is next to impossible. At least it seems that way and would be if it were not for a highly prized tool termed an “easy out.” This small drill and bit set is about the only means available to deal with intractable screws whose heads have been stripped away over time and use. The human heart can be like that — completely unwilling and unyielding to reason — where no amount of finely tuned logic or polished apologetic will ever succeed to extract the deep-seated unbelief that is lodged in the heart. Someone said that the unwilling mind will never accept truth. But thankfully that is not quite true. Not when the Holy Spirit can take the Gospel and convert even the most resilient sinner. The Christian must be confident in the power of the gospel. For it alone can bore its way into our inexorable hearts to remove our sinful ways and lead us to trust Christ for salvation. The Christian can be fully assured that the gospel can transform lives.

Being confidant in the gospel also means to be prepared to explain salvation to others. It is lamentable how many cannot articulate more about the gospel besides “all you have to do is trust in Christ and He will take your sins away.” True enough, but so much more can be said. In today`s world, many religious systems including Islam hold to different views than our own and need to receive instruction regarding the doctrine of the cross. Being prepared to explain the gospel requires a broad knowledge about salvation, enough to enable others to recognize their spiritual needs. A friend of mine, a former Muslim, came to faith in Christ as a result of hearing about the true nature of Christ’s person and mission. After seeing and hearing the salvation message as it was lived and taught by a missionary, he was led to see the differences between Mohammed and Jesus. He had many questions. Each time an answer was provided from the Scriptures until finally a clear picture had formed in my friend’s mind about Christ. In looking back it was the constant teaching and living out of the Christian faith that influenced him the most.

At this point I’m having a debate whether courage or compassion should come next. Actually the Christian cannot do without either. Being ready to give the gospel in this ever increasing hostile world is not easy. Standing up for the gospel and proclaiming its truths remains unpopular today as it was in Jesus time. Christ routinely confronted sinners about their lost state and warned them to repent of their sins and follow Him. There is a kind of cowardice that tells the truth only when it is safe to do so. Professing only those parts of the gospel that do not offend dishonors Christ. Or to be steady in your church attendance yet to flinch at giving the gospel because “you wish to leave it to those more capable” is running from what you need to do the most. In 1 Peter 1:22 we are told that all Believers are expected to embrace the cross. Courage is an expression of personal faith, a deep trust in God. To take up the cross and do His Will takes courage. Being in a personal relationship with Jesus places a premium on doing what is right and we are to obey and love Him in spite of the difficulties we must face as a consequence of our beliefs. In a sequence of events, Jesus traveled to Samaria and spoke to a woman, Samaritans were shunned by Jews, to tell her about her need for salvation. Next he arrived at Jerusalem and found himself under fire by the Pharisees. His life was defined by mounting threats and attacks but no amount of opposition regardless of the outcome, was going to dislodge Him from his quest to seek the lost even though eventually his mission would end in His own death on Calvary. I am not sure how many of us are honest enough to admit it but the lack of output in personal evangelism is too often veiled with all sorts of excuses for not witnessing which is little more than a camouflage to hide our fears.

Perhaps one might think that a particular methodology is still needed. While many approaches to evangelize Muslims are worth looking into, and that any one of them may be useful given the right occasion, it should not be seen as the primary thing, Rather it is compulsory that the gospel be given. After all, nothing promising can come of it if the gospel is ignored. The apologist can argue his case well but if the gospel is left out then it is of no lasting importance to the unbeliever. We must employ the gospel message always, not shy away from its finer points, and do so with great confidence for it is the power of God unto salvation.

In two weeks time: compassion and evangelism.

Islam Unveiled (Part 4)

Why we have confidence in the Bible

On Canada Day while handing out gospel tracts to throngs of happy celebrants, a middle-aged Muslim was handed some gospel literature. A brief discussion about Jesus ensued. He spoke about his love for Christ as a wonderful prophet. After a brief exchange an invite was given to attend our Sunday Service where Jesus would be worshipped as the one and only Savior.

It is doubtful how anyone can read the Bible through and not learn for themselves that the central theme of this book is about Jesus, whose purpose is to bring us to life with God (John 5:39). Jesus was more than a prophet. He is the sole Savior and only hope for mankind. What this means is that the promise of salvation through the Old Testament Law and Prophets had ultimately found its fulfillment in Jesus Christ who according to God’s plan justified us through His death on the cross then resurrected the third day from death to ascend forty days later to heaven. He will return to gather His church and judge the world in the last day (see Luke 24:27; Luke 24:44; John 1:45; John 5:46; Acts 10:43). Jesus Christ is the central figure to God’s plan of redemption that forms the seamless unity throughout the sixty-six books of the Bible. Thus no other book could compare to the Bible’s absolute uniqueness and unerring unity. It stands alone among all other religious books. There is no other way to describe it than to speak of it as supernatural both in origin and preservation. From Genesis to Revelation from creation to consummation you discover the same theme throughout — Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners!

Men who claim inspiration for their own religious books often fail to admit their own blind bias. For instance, the Quran does not invite close scrutiny of its contents as does the Scriptures. Any talk about corruption in the Bible remains unsubstantiated with no clear proof from its most avid critics. In many respects the Bible throws down the gauntlet to find anything but truth lining its pages. Many who have taken up such an enterprise have learned for themselves the infallibility of the Holy Scriptures.

In addition to the cohesiveness and truthfulness of the sacred text, the Institute of Creation Research states that “The Bible has proven to be more historically and archaeologically accurate than any other ancient book. It has been subjected to the minutest scientific textual analysis possible to humanity and has been proven to be authentic in every way.” Everything from archeology to astronomy to linguistics to comparative literature to manuscript evidence to historical analysis of Biblical events and the Bible consistently comes up on top in every department!

Prophetic accuracy of future events deserves special mentioning. These predictions have been fulfilled with impeccable precision. No other book can possibly lay claim to 2000 prophecies which have found fulfillment. The Bible’s 100% success rate is clear evidence to the reliability of the Bible. Countless predictions hundreds and even thousands of years prior to their fulfillment are given to show the trustworthiness of Scripture. Here are only a few: Micah the prophet identifies the birth place of Jesus in 700 BC (Micah 5:2). Zechariah declares that Christ would be betrayed for the price of a slave in 500 BC (Zech.11:12,13). Jeremiah accurately foretold the building of a certain quarter in Jerusalem 2600 years prior to its construction in 1948! (Jer. 31:38-40) So why then so much skepticism in the face of overwhelming proof? You do not have to look very far outside of your own self to find out where the fault lies. As long as humans remain in their rebellious state against God and are unwilling to receive His invitation to come to the truth man will continue to oppose Him and everything that reminds him about God. The only way out of this endless cycle of denial is to admit to our own helplessness and confess our failures and sins to Christ before forgiveness and restoration can be granted. The Scriptures teach that If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free (John 8:31, 32).

In two weeks: Reaching Muslims with the Gospel.