Sharing the Gospel with a Muslim
Islam is one of the largest religions in the world yet one of the least understood by many Christians. In fact, a couple of years ago, I only knew a few details about Muslims, but in general, I used to avoid them and viewed them as hostile radicals. It wasn’t until a dear brother in Christ invited me to take a course on how to share the gospel with your Muslim neighbor, that I began to see them as they really are.
My favorite part of this course was that we not only gained knowledge and information, but every afternoon we went out into the city to meet people of the Muslim faith. We went from the mosque to their businesses, and even had the opportunity to go into their homes. I was surprised when I realized that viewing them as generally hostile people was found to be false.
In fact, they were very kind and hospitable—and the more I learned about them, there was this burden in my heart for them to know the Lord. I was amazed at how dedicated Muslims are to their religion. It made me sad that they are trying to please God when their religious traditions and practices are so far from the truth. Muslims are working tirelessly trying to earn their salvation through their own works.
It is important to know some information on Islam so that you will be able to testify to Muslims if you have the opportunity. While you have probably heard about them or see one in your local community, it is important to recall that not all of them are terrorists as media portrays them, in fact the majority of them are just trying to follow the teaching of their holy book the Quran; but before we dive into more specific details, let’s see some important words that you need to understand.
First, a Muslim is a person who practices Islam. Islam is a religion like Judaism or Buddhism. Not all the Muslims come from the Middle East, in fact the most populated Muslim country in the world is Indonesia. We also need to know that not all Arabs or people from the Middle East are Muslims, they can be Christian or other religions as well. There are two types of Isalm: the Sunnis and Shiites. Depending on those two groups, there are different beliefs in how they understand the Quran and practice Islam. In Arabic, “Allah” means God. They believe there is only one God, as we believe, but have many beliefs that differ from us when we talk about God.
Muhammad is the prophet for the Muslims. He lived 600 years after Christ and he was from the Arab peninsula. Muhammad was influenced by the teachings of Christianity and Judaism and founded the religion of Islam. He said that the angel Gabriel appeared to him in a cave and revealed the Quran, which is their holy book. This is only a glimpse of the major aspects of Islam, because there is much to cover, but for now we can work with what we know.
Why Testify to the Muslims?
If this is a question you have, I encourage you to take a look at these three points on why it is important to testify to Muslims. One of the main concerns that believers may have is that it can be challenging to speak to or share the gospel with Muslims, but in reality they are just like any other people, blinded by the lies of Satan. We believers should have a burden for every person who is trying to seek God but using the wrong approach to do so.
The Bible Encourages Us to Share the Gospel
One key verse when we look at the subject of sharing the gospel, is Matthew 28:19, but we always look at it in the broad sense. Let’s take a look at this verse from another perspective.
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.
I’m sure you have read this passage before, but it is interesting to see the word Nations in the Greek. In Greek, nations is translated from ἔθνος (Ethnos), which can also mean people group or as some scholars translate it properly, “people joined by practicing similar customs or common culture.” And if we look at this translation, many Muslims are just that: they are the largest people group in the world, joined by culture and religion. So, there is a clear command from the Bible to preach to them! It is also important to acknowledge that not all of the church is trying to reach the Muslims.
One of the challenges we may face is that we think that Muslims only live in the Middle East, in Africa or Asia, but let me tell you, there are Muslims all over the world. According to Pew Forum, in 2017 there were an estimated 3.45 million Muslims in the United States and 1.8 billion around the world. Now we have an advantage, Muslims from all over the world are here. They study with us, they are living in our communities, they go to the same school, they are exposed to the same culture, and there is no language barrier. It is the perfect opportunity to reach them.
Jesus Loves the Muslims and He Died for Them
When you meet a Muslim, you must remember one key verse that we all as Christians learned very early in our faith.
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.
Yes, we must remember that Jesus loves them, that he died for them, and that we can be a tool of God for sharing the wonderful news of the gospel. This wonderful news is a promise for them, and we as Christians should use the power of the Holy Spirit who dwells in us to share the gospel with them, now we do not need to travel to the Middle East. They are here and we can use that as an opportunity for the glory of God.
You May Be the First Person Ever to Share the Gospel with Them
Even though they may live in America or in a western country, Islam is a very closed religion. For a Muslim (those who really practice the teaching of the Quran) there’s no difference between culture and religion. For them being Muslim is everything. Islam is a religion of rules and there’s no place for the grace of God. For them God is an impersonal God way beyond our reach and He needs to be worshiped and served, and if you follow the teachings of the Quran maybe, just maybe, God will choose to let you into paradise. There is no assurance of salvation for a Muslim. There is no personal relationship with God.
And this is why when you share the gospel with them you may be the first person ever to explain that salvation is a gift from God and that God loves them. Even if they do not become believers you are sharing something new to them, something that Islam does not offer. This can be an awesome opportunity, and I am sure that the joy it will bring to you is priceless.
Like John Piper says,
If you live gladly to make others glad in God, your life will be hard, your risks will be high, and your joy will be full.
I would like to remind you that sharing the gospel with a Muslim is not an easy task. One of the reasons for this is the problem that if a Muslim becomes a believer he needs to turn his back to his family, culture, and sometimes even his country. Even though all this is nothing compared to the riches found in our Lord Jesus Christ, it is one of the biggest barriers a Muslim faces when they come to Christ.
Key points that a Muslim Must Understand
Even before you come to the point to ask them if they would like to become a believer, your Muslim friend must understand several important points, For time’s sake, I am going to list only two that are for, in my understanding, most important.
Why do Christians Believe that Jesus Is the Son of God?
For a Muslim, saying that Jesus is the Son of God literally means God is his physical father, not the way we understand it. It is imperative that we explain the virgin birth of Jesus; maybe you can show them Luke’s account of Christ’s birth:
And the angel answered her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born[e] will be called holy—the Son of God.
Make sure to remind them that the reason Jesus is called Son of God is because he comes from God. Another example or illustration you can use is that in Arabic the phrase “son of” is used to show a place of origin, for example people from Lebanon are called “son of Lebanon.” In Egypt it is very common to hear “son of the Nile.” We can use these examples to show a Muslim that Jesus is the Son of God because He came from God.
Did Jesus Really Die on the Cross?
For a Muslim, Jesus did not die on the cross. They refuse to believe that a merciful God would kill a Prophet. For them, God disguised Judas Iscariot as Jesus and Judas was the one who died on the cross, not Jesus. They believe Jesus was hidden and then he went to heaven. There is a simple quranic verse we can use to prove that Jesus really died. Surah 19:33 is Jesus speaking and according to the quran he talks about his death, “And peace is on me the day I was born and the day I will die and the day I am raised alive.”
We can use this verse and ask them about what they think about that. After that you can read with them Isaiah 53 and ask them who they think the verse is talking about. You can show them how this passage points to Jesus and tell them the story of Abraham and Isaac in Genesis 22. Explain to them that Jesus was the Lamb. Read to them this passage from John:
The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!
This verse also talks about the Lamb of God. Explain to them why the death of Jesus on the cross is so important; you can use illustrations such as a judge and a jury and how Jesus is our only solution when we are judged by a just God.
God Can Use You to Share the Good News to the Muslims.
I encourage you to keep researching on this subject to be able to be fully prepare to share the gospel to a Muslim. We only covered the basics, but even though you do not know everything about Islam, you are capable by the Holy Spirit to share to any Muslim. Take into consideration that we do not want to argue with them like Paul encourage us in 1 Peter:
But in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect.
-1 Peter 3:15
As we share the gospel with them let us not forget that the word of God is powerful to change every heart and that Jesus loves every Muslim. We can share that love by our example, love, and by showing them the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.