How to Witness to Muslims, Part II, The Solution
Dr. Paul Dean is a pastor, cultural commentator, and author. He serves as a Regional Mentor with the International Association of Biblical Counselors, speaks at several conferences throughout the year, and provides training for ministers and churches on a regular basis. Paul resides in the Upstate of South Carolina with his wife and three children.
- 2005 Oct 19
Many Americans now live in fear of Muslims and many more would seek to discriminate against them or even harm them. Of course, Christians do not feel the same way, at least, they shouldn't. The heart of the Christian is to see all people saved. Yesterday, we commenced this article concerning how to witness to Muslims. We simply laid out the theological/methodological problem in so doing. Today we offer the simple but profound solution.
By way of brief review, when Muslims hear Jn. 3:16, they do not understand the words and concepts the same way that we do. For example, when we speak of eternal life, they can only hope that they will enter into a paradise of sensual delight. They must be deemed worthy by Allah, who often changes his mind. At the same time, they would not believe our Bible as they say it is utterly corrupted and that the Quran is the only holy book that is perfect and preserved.
Interestingly, in reality, Muslims, in the Quran, their perfect and preserved holy book, are admonished to believe the Old Testament and the gospels. In fact, they are told to go to those sources for clarification on the Quran. As far as the Bible being corrupted, they have a real problem here as well. Mohammed lived and the Quran came to be around 600 A.D. We would ask the Muslim, "If the Bible was corrupted before Mohammed and the Quran, then why did he and why does it say that Muslims should go to the Bible for guidance and light? If the Bible was corrupted after Mohammed and the Quran, then why don't we check the manuscripts behind the Bible which we have and were written before Mohammed was born?" But sadly, their hearts are darkened.
Of course, all hearts are darkened apart from Christ. So, what do we do? We preach the gospel and trust in the power of God to save sinners with darkened hearts. But, when we preach the gospel to Muslims, we don't need to start at Jn. 3:16. Bramsen points out that the confusion and darkness surrounding the Muslim's heart is nothing new. The two men on the road to Emmaus were confused in much the same way. “"Like the Muslims, their theology did not include a crucified Messiah." The question is simply this, "How did Jesus clear up their confusion?" We are given the answer in Lk. 24:25-27: "Then He said to them, 'O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken! Ought not the Christ to have suffered these things and to enter into His glory?' And beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself."
Bramsen points out three dynamics here. First, Jesus' teaching was chronological. He dealt with the stories in the Old Testament that pointed to Him (as they all do). Luke says, "Beginning at Moses and all the Prophets..." Jesus began in Genesis and continued to walk them through the Old Testament.
Second, Jesus' teaching was progressive. He dealt with foundational concepts and built upon them. "He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things..." No doubt beginning with God's killing of the animal to cover the nakedness of Adam and Eve, Jesus told them about the necessity of the cross.
Third, Jesus' teaching was focused. He spoke of God's provision of salvation through His blood. Luke says, "...concerning Himself." Jesus connected the things in the Old Testament with Himself that they might understand that He was indeed the fulfillment of that which the prophets had spoken and that the cross was God's plan from the beginning to redeem a lost world to Himself.
Note too the response of the men on the road to Emmaus. "Then their eyes were opened and they knew Him; and He vanished from their sight. And they said to one another, 'Did not our heart burn within us while He talked with us on the road, and while He opened the Scriptures to us?' So they rose up that very hour and returned to Jerusalem...(Lk. 24:31-33)."
In witnessing to Muslims, we need not begin with Jn. 3:16. We must begin in Genesis and walk through the Old Testament. Muslims are commanded to believe the Torah and the Prophets, that is, the Old Testament. In proceeding through the Old Testament, we must preach the gospel from the Old Testament demonstrating how the types and shadows point to the purpose of the Lord Jesus Christ and the reality of the cross. We must help them make the connection from the sacrifice in the garden to the cross; from Noah's Ark to the cross; from Abraham's ram to the cross; from Joseph the deliverer to the cross; from the sacrificial system to the cross; from the Exodus event to the cross; from Psalm 22 to the cross; from Isaiah 53 to the cross; and so forth. Oh how we ought to pray that the hearts of Muslims would burn within them as we open the Scriptures to them. As Bramsen notes, "Like these two disciples now on the road to Jerusalem, Muslims need the Gospel explained 'beginning at Moses and all the prophets.'"
In this hour when we as Americans find ourselves in the midst of war, let Christians understand the real war we fight. Let us fight with spiritual weapons and not physical weapons (2 Cor. 10:4). Let us clearly present God's story and message beginning at Moses and all the prophets. Let us rely on the Lord to open their hearts as we pray and teach, and let us demonstrate God's love and grace as we do so. May we not be guilty of hatred and revenge, but rather, may we be committed to peace: the peace of God in the Lord Jesus Christ. May we be committed to the peace that comes only in knowing Him: a peace that comes through the gospel.
[Scroll Down for Part One]