Ramadan 23: Getting to the Gospel (part 1)
“And Jesus came and said to them, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.'” (Matthew 28:18–20)
Building friendships with Muslims is vastly important. Loving our neighbors deeply and sacrificially is what Christ has called us to do (Matthew 22:34-40). But loving Muslims completely (and anyone else) requires that we honestly share the deepest roots of our identity in Christ. As Christians, we are children of the living God — our Heavenly Father has written our story and given us new life in Him. Loving others requires that share the Good News that Jesus Christ came to earth to pay their sin debt and reconcile them to Himself. He is the One who has given us the power and example to love others.
May we be so in love with Jesus that His joy and glory are constantly on our lips. May our hearts break for the lost and always be ready to invite them into the family of God by repentance and faith in Jesus.
Here are eight simple things to remember as you’re loving Muslims with the Gospel:
1 – Start with prayer.
“Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving. At the same time, pray also for us, that God may open to us a door for the word, to declare the mystery of Christ, on account of which I am in prison—that I may make it clear, which is how I ought to speak.” (Colossians 4:2–4)
Paul was one of the most effective missionaries in history. Yet he asked the Colossian church to pray fervently for two things: (1) that God would open the door, and (2) that he would be able to speak the message with clarity. Prayer changes things. It is vital that we engage Muslims (or anyone) first by seeking wisdom and power from the Holy Spirit.
Without the Holy Spirit guiding our hearts, we will not have the love and compassion needed to faithfully communicate the message of the Gospel. If God’s power is not infusing our words, then we are merely transferring information. This is not biblical evangelism. We have no power to save anyone ourselves. Never initiate Gospel conversations without bathing yourself in prayer. We are merely sinful vessels that the King of Kings has chosen to use for His glory. Humbly take joy in that and plead for the Spirit of God to move in the hearts of the lost!
“When we pray for Muslims, not only does God work on their hearts; He works on our hearts. We begin to see Muslims the way God sees them—with compassion and love. One of the best things we can do is to ask Muslims how we can pray for them.” – Afshin Ziafat (Islam & North America)
- The Holy Spirit conforms our heart to Christ.
- The Holy Spirit gives us boldness.
- The Holy Spirit guides our conversation.
- The Holy Spirit convicts souls.
“Only God knows the heart of the person to whom we are speaking, and he can direct our conversation if we are quick to listen to Him.” – Karen Pearce
2 – Love the Bible.
This seems obvious, but loving God’s Word means more than reading a few verses on your phone app each day. Don’t rely on your pastor, favorite podcast, or devotional to spoon-feed you the Scriptures. If this is your approach to God’s inspired Word, then your short-circuiting God’s designed plan for you to know Him personally. God’s Word is infinitely true and effective for salvation, sanctification, and proclamation. In John 1:1–5, Jesus is referred to as “the Word.” It is impossible to underestimate the importance of communing with God through His Word. The Bible is a gift from God — don’t ignore it! Read large portions so you can understand the grand narrative of Scripture, and then dig into specific areas to which the Holy Spirit draws you. Continue learning how to better understand God’s Word. He will honor that (Psalm 37:4).
- The Bible is God’s Word.
- The Bible is infallible and inerrant.
- The Bible is effective for teaching the message of salvation.
Read the Bible in public, and speak of your love and reverence for His Word in front of Muslims you know. Muslims revere the Qur’an. A lackadaisical approach to the Bible reveals our lack of love and respect for the God of the Word. In an authentic way, show the importance of God’s Word by sharing the ways it affects your daily life.
Study the Bible with your Muslim friends. Invite them to read through the Gospel of Mark with you, and discuss any questions that come up. Allow God to speak through His Word, and you will give them the gift of confidence in the Bible. Don’t just quote verses you’ve memorized. Open the pages and show the great value you place on Scripture.
3 – Focus on Jesus.
“And I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom. For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling, and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.” (1 Corinthians 2:1–5)
Just like Paul, we’ve got to proclaim “Jesus Christ and Him crucified.” Share the Gospel through the stories and teachings of Jesus, especially the Gospel of Mark. Discussions of God and spiritual things are great, but the crux of the Gospel comes down to understanding who Jesus is. He is the only way of salvation (John 14:6). As we discussed previously, Jesus Himself claimed to be God in no uncertain terms. And, all of Scripture either points forward (or backward) to His advent and Resurrection, and to His second coming.
Muslims must hear the message of salvation “by grace through faith” in Ephesians 2:1-10 in order to be able to repent and trust in the Jesus of the Bible. Thankfully as Kambiz Saghaey points out in his teaching session, Engaging Our Muslims Friends with the Gospel (video below), we can get to spiritual things right away. They already have great respect for Jesus, so there is no barrier that stops us from digging right into who Jesus is and what He taught. Muslims expect us to be upfront about our belief in Jesus — it would be devious not to!
Jesus is the promised Messiah, Immanuel — “God with us” (Isaiah 7:14, 8:8; Matthew 1:23). He is the “image of God,” God made flesh (2 Corinthians 4:4; Colossians 1:15). He is the Creator and Sustainer of all things (Colossians 1).
“In the Muslim view, conversion is an essentially human-achieved status and paradise cannot be guaranteed. There is no assurance of Allah’s forgiveness or of entering paradise. In the Christian view, conversion and salvation are God’s work from first to last. Because Jesus is our perfect sacrifice and our perfect righteousness, because He vicariously satisfies all that God requires of humanity, because through faith we are spiritually united to Christ, all those who trust in Jesus may be assured of God’s forgiveness and of the gift of eternal life.” – Thabiti Anabwile (The Gospel for Muslims)
4 – Love the Trinity.
Love the Trinitarian nature of God. Be confident in Christ as the Son of God, and be ready to explain the different roles (and unity) of the Trinity. The Qur’an’s teaching on the Trinity is a huge stumbling block for Muslims — be ready to clearly and faithfully share what the Bible teaches. They are taught that Christians believe in three different gods and this flies in the face of the shahada, their profession of faith: “There is no God but God…” (only one God).
The beauty of the Trinity is beyond our complete comprehension because God is above us. But the Bible speaks of the trinitarian nature of God throughout, and we must be confident in trusting it. Without the Trinity, there is no sacrificial atonement through Christ and we would be dead in our sins (Romans 1:1-5, 5:1-11, 6:1-11). Without the Trinity, there would be no Holy Spirit that dwells in the heart of man. Without the Trinity, there is no Gospel. The Trinity is good news!
Satan has crafted a lie just believable enough that it hooks the hearts of mankind and subtly moves Jesus into the background (2 Corinthians 4:4). Removing God the Son out of the Trinity definitively changes the very identity of who He is. Allah is not the God of Christianity, and we need to be able to lovingly and confidently show the difference.
Lord Jesus, I recognize that you are holy and righteous. My salvation has been accomplished only through your atonement and sacrificed on the Cross of Calvary. Thank you for loving me and making me your own. Thank you for sending your Spirit to live inside my heart to guide and convict me for the sake of growing in godliness.
Give me a deep love for the lost. Show me your compassion and love for Muslims who are trapped in the lies of Satan, and change my heart to follow yours. Prepare conversations with Muslims for me and give me the boldness to speak of your glory. By your Spirit, and the truth of your Word, draw the hearts of Muslims to salvation.
Go & Do:
“And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” (2 Corinthians 4:3-6)
- Read the Parable of the Sower in Mark 4:1-20.
- Think of friends and neighbors you’ve shared the Gospel with, and pray for them as the Lord brings them to mind.
- Have you started any relationships with Muslims yet? If so, then make sure that you’ve discussed religion and faith with them. Ask what they believe about God, and then ask to share what Jesus taught. Your relationships are going to hit a wall if you never bring up Jesus. You don’t have to be a Bible scholar to share the message of Jesus, you just have to love Him, trust the Bible, and love Muslims more than your comfort.
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Do You Listen Enough When You Evangelize – Karen Pearce (IMB)
3 Ways to Explain the Incarnation to Muslim Peoples – Greg Handley (IMB)
Any 3: Anyone, Anywhere, Any Time (book) – Mike Shipman
The Gospel for Muslims (book) – Thabiti Anyabwile