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April 16, 2021 12:01 am
We have been entrusted with a great calling to take the gospel of Christ to the people of this world, Muslims included. Today, James Anderson provides ten points of practical advice for engaging in evangelism with our Muslim neighbors.
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Today on Renewing Your Mind. Muslims, especially those raised in a non-Western culture are typically more used to thinking in terms of cleanness and uncleanness on the versus shame rather than guilt versus innocence.
What we would consider legal categories because of those basic differences. We share the gospel with Muslims is slightly different than our evangelistic approach with others this week on renewing your blood we've been concentrating on Islam. What is what it teaches and today how to share our faith with his followers. Our teacher is Dr. James Anderson. There are many amazing things in this world, but I think that one of the most amazing things is a seed, nothing we've invented can rival it just a tiny little thing unimpressive to look at if you planted in the right conditions.
It has everything that it needs to become a fruit tree or flowering bush or a vegetable plant, which then produces more seeds and on and on it goes, but seeds won't grow and just any conditions they need to be planted in the right soil. They need to be watered. They need warmth. We don't make seeds grow, but we can do things to help them grow well evangelism is a little like that were given the seed of the gospel were told to. So it liberally.
We don't make the seed grow.
We can't change people's hearts, but we can do many things to remove obstacles and to encourage the conditions for planting and growth. As Paul said to the Corinthians. I planted a Polish watered. But God gave the growth of what I want to do in this final lecture is to give you some gardening tips some practical advice on planting and watering some practical advice on sharing the gospel with Muslims before I get started I want to confess that I am not an expert in this area, so most of what I'm going to share with you, leans heavily on what I've learned from others. Those that I consider to be fathers in the faith. So I just want to let you know this isn't all for me by any means. Okay, let's walk through these pieces of advice number one treat each Muslim you encounter as an individual treat each Muslim that you encounter as an individual treat each one as a unique individual rather than a clone of what you consider to be the ideal Muslim. Of course, the fact that they identify as a Muslim gives you a good initial idea whether coming from but as we've seen this a great deal of diversity within the Muslim world.
Just think, for example, if you were to sit on a plane and you meet someone next to you who claims to be a Christian. All that tells you something for sure but it doesn't tell you a great deal even within particular Muslim groups each person has their own individual life history and experiences and so really the point here is that the first step in evangelism is to listen to listen to what the person has to say to tell their story.
So strive to know the person as an individual before you try to apply what you know about Islam and Muslims in general is check number two take time to develop friendships with Muslims and to build a foundation of trust. Take time to develop friendships and to build a foundation of trust. This is a general principle for evangelism. Of course, but it is particularly applicable in the case of Muslims who can sometimes be wary about forming relationships, friendships with people outside their immediate community. In addition, Muslims who live in the West are very aware of the stereotypes that get placed on Muslims by people like us and so it takes extra effort to overcome the initial barrier of suspicion along the same lines, we must beware of making our relationships with Muslims or indeed with anyone contingent on their conversion to Christ, as though we are only befriending them in order to see them become Christians and if they don't become Christians and the friendship was going to come to an end, we should be careful to avoid even the appearance of this even if we don't intend that we can we can inadvertently get the impression we need to be wary of that as we think about building relationships, building friendships, remember to that hospitality is a very important means of doing that. And of course very biblical means as well because of you going to offer hospitality to Muslims.
Then you go to be careful about what you, sir, has to be hello all food. Of course, you need to reassure them about that may be a vegetarian meal would be the safest option. But when we think about hospitality that means not only giving hospitality but also willing to receive hospitality as well. Many Muslims considering the greater on to give hospitality and so if you get the opportunity jump tip number three take time to correct misunderstandings about Christianity. The gospel in the Bible. Take time to correct those misunderstandings.
We've seen that among Muslims today. Many of the obstacles to accepting the gospel are based on misunderstandings quite often very basic ones about Christianity. What what Christians actually believe about what the Bible actually says I we've considered the doctrine of the Trinity. It doesn't polytheism it doesn't commit the sin of sheer. We thought about misconceptions about the divine son ship of Jesus that it isn't a biological son ship. Recall that many Muslims think Christians believe the guard procreated with Mary is of course not what we believe the idea that manuscript variations in the New Testament are really corruptions of Scripture, we need to correct their views about what these variations actually are and then the relationship between grace, faith and works. Many Muslims think that because we say was saved by grace through faith. That means we can live any way we want and they look at some Christians, and that is to get that impression. So we need to correct some misunderstandings about the role of works in the Christian life. Obedience the next piece of advice is closely connected to the previous to this is number four don't feel that you need to present the entire gospel all in one sitting. The gospel message.
Of course, can be summarized in a few sentences, but in order for someone who lacks any Christian background to understand the gospel message. It needs to be unpacked and that takes time and effort in patients so don't feel that you have to unpack the entire gospel in just one conversation over just one cup of coffee.
In fact, trying to do that may actually be counterproductive is just too much to take in from Muslim who is coming with such a very different set of categories and assumptions, not to mention serious misperceptions about Christianity. Now the obvious exception here would be those occasions when you you don't think you'll get a second bite of the apple. You got one chance to share the gospel will not case, go for it. But if you know that you go to be with someone for a while. Take time it's okay.
Number five, tip number five. Take time to discuss the holiness of God so as to communicate the seriousness of sin take time to talk about the holiness of God to communicate the seriousness of sin. Muslims generally have a a low view of sin, compared with the biblical view in theory for Islam any sin against the law is worthy of punishment, perhaps even hell fire for a time, but in practice sin is often explained away excused, as due to ignorance or weakness or external temptation since the tonic temptation. What Muslims need as much as anything is to understand the sheer holiness of God and the infinite offense of every sin is an act of cosmic rebellion is several years ago I attended a Christian conference had the opportunity to go out for lunch with some old friends of mine. We went some distance from the conference center and we decided to get a taxi back to the conference center. Well, as we were in the taxi.
One of us who were sitting up front struck up a conversation with a taxi driver turned out to be a Muslim. I think he was from Egypt in the backseat. Some of us were thinking well what what can we leave with him that would have the gospel message to our shame. None of us had a copy of one of the Gospels or a gospel tract, but one of us turned out had a bag full of free books from the conference women's conferences gives away free books and had a bagful and so we were going through this back to St. which which of these books can we give away biblical theology and the life of the church know that's not really going to work well at the bottom of the bag. What do we find a copy of Dr. Sproles the holiness of God and we we gave it to that taxi driver we left it with them and I didn't realize back then just how appropriate that would be tip number six talk about how Jesus deals with our defilement and shame as well as all guilt and sin talk about how Jesus deals will allow defilement and shame as well as all guilt and sin. Muslims, especially those raised in a non-Western culture are typically more used to thinking in terms of cleanness and uncleanness honor versus shame rather than guilt versus innocence. What we would consider legal categories is what one missionary to Muslims.
Bruce Thomas has observed from his interactions with Muslims over many years.
He says this. Perhaps the greatest need felt by Muslim people is not for assurance of salvation from sin but for deliverance from the tyranny of being in a near constant state of defilement, of course, that doesn't mean that we don't talk about assurance of salvation and forgiveness of sins I Jesus paying the penalty of the law on all the half and so forth. Of course we want to talk about those things but it also makes sense to find a point of contact with Muslims that connects with their concerns and anxieties about how they relate to God and the spiritual state before God, and those are genuine concerns which the gospel actually addresses. Indeed, there are a number of biblical passages which can be very fruitful to discuss with a Muslim. For example, the story of Jesus healing a woman suffering from bleeding which is in three of the Gospels.
Remember the woman's problem.
She had this constant bleeding for many years. We think of it as a medical problem, but the house was a religious problem. She was in a constant state of uncleanness. Jesus healed her from that Luke chapter 17 Jesus cleanses 10 lepers. Again, this wasn't just a medical issue. It was a religious issue for them. They were outcasts.
Mark chapter 7 Jesus responds to the criticism of the Pharisees about hand washing his disciples were washing their hands and Jesus points out that defilement comes from inside rather than from outside and in the process.
Jesus declares all foods clean. So this is a passage that speaks directly to Muslim concerns about ritual purification and dietary restrictions. Acts chapter 10 peters vision of the unclean foods again go declaring these things clean. Note also the relevance of what is called the purity code in Leviticus and Numbers, you know these these two Old Testament books seem very strange to Western Christians, but the concern with purity with cleanness is entirely understandable to many Muslims. Tip number seven aim to direct conversations toward Jesus focus on his true identity and mission seems like an obvious point doesn't but it's easy to get diverted in practice to matters of cultural differences, ethics or politics or second-rate points of disagreement, the heart of the issue between Christianity and Islam. Is this who was Jesus and what did he come to do.
Who was Jesus and what did he come to do that is what we want to talk about tip number eight quotes from the Bible frequently and confidently and treat your copy of the Bible with respect know some Christians have been hesitant to quote from the Bible when dealing with unbelievers, including Muslims because they think well if these non-Christians don't accept the Bible as an authority and in the case of Muslims.
Perhaps they think well the most and believes the Bible is untrustworthy and corrupted so they'll just dismiss it out of hand, so I work. I will quote from the Bible. I think that that is a big mistake.
You really should have your Bible open when talking with them was for two basic reasons. First, because the word of God, carries its own power and authority. The Bible is powerful and authoritative, regardless of whether the person you're speaking to. Believes that it is the word of God the Holy Spirit can and does work to bring about a direct conviction.
Hearing the word of God, but the second reason this is important is because it will show Muslims that you trust the Bible, no less, than they trust. The court in connection with this is a good idea to treat your copy of the Bible with respect to just think about how Muslims treat their Koran's with respect what we want to give the same kind of impression not because we think that the Bible is a sacred in the way they believe the Koran is but just showing respect for the word of God that this point about using Scripture leads naturally to the next piece of advice in this is number nine number nine. One of the best things that you can do is to encourage a Muslim to read one of the gospel of the best things you can do's and courage and wisdom to read one of the Gospels.
Ironically, you can actually enlist the Koran on your side, because there are verses in the Quran that affirm the Christian book and say that it was sent down to give light and guidance and so a Muslim who claims to take the Koran seriously ought to be very interested to read the gospel. The NGO which of the four Gospels would be the best choice for Luke's gospel may be the best choice to begin with, followed by John's Gospel. It's interesting that of the Quran refers to Jesus as the word of God word from God so you know John's gospel chapter 1 the word of God.
Matthew's gospel may be seen as the two Jewish which could be problematic for some Muslims depending on their cultural background. Many people think Mark's gospel would be the best choice because it's so short and accessible but is probably not the best first choice because in the very first verse of Mark's gospel. He refers to Jesus as the son of God that immediately puts the Muslim on the defensive soap probably looks gospel best first choice, but is certainly good idea to always carry with you a copy of one of the Gospels that you can share number 10 to number 10. Be patient and persistent in prayer the patient and persistent in prayer gospel outreach to Muslims requires tremendous patients. There are all kinds of obstacles and challenges. It takes a lot of time and patience to make progress, and it can be discouraging. I'll be honest, it can be discouraging for that very reason.
It requires us to soak our efforts in prayer the points that I've given you here, are meant to be practical tips for evangelizing Muslims and there's really nothing more practical than prayer, calling upon God for help and mercy.
It was striking to me how often patients and prayer are connected in Scripture you notice there's a we are to pray for patients but prayer itself requires patience. Consider some of these biblical texts. Luke 18 verse one. Jesus told his disciples a parable to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart.
Don't give up keep praying.
First Thessalonians 517 pray without ceasing. Keep on keep on praying. Colossians 4 versus two through six and as I read these. Just think about how relevant these verses are to bring the gospel to Muslims: rights continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful and it with thanksgiving at the same time.
Pray also for us, that God may open to us a door for the word to declare that the mystery of Christ, on account of which I'm imprisoned, that I may make it clear which is how I ought to speak. Walking wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time. Let your speech always be gracious.
Season with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person. We must not forget that evangelism is spiritual warfare we are involved in a real spiritual battle with everything at stake. Remember what Paul says at the end of that famous passage in Ephesians chapter 6 where he writes about the armor of God, putting on the armor of God for the spiritual battle. He said he closes with these words that we should pray at all times in the spirit with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, and also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel will I'm very thankful for the opportunity to give these talks.
And I'm thankful that you've taken the time to listen to them and to grow in your understanding of Islam and the Muslim people around the world and indeed on our own doorsteps. If you've listened to these lectures and digested the material then you now know more about Islam than the majority of Christians in the West year you may be in the top 10%. Knowing about Islam. In this way. The question then is, what will you do with that knowledge. What will you do with that knowledge, all of us have been called to be ambassadors for Christ, we have a great calling to take God's gospel message. The good news of Jesus Christ to the lost people of this world, including Muslims.
Let's not be Jonas. You remember the story of Jonah and the Ninevites. Jonah had a problem with the Ninevites but he had a greater problem with God.
He thought that the Ninevites were not only too wicked to deserve to be saved, but too wicked to be saved. How could such hardened hearts repent and turn to the one true God but God surprised you got shocked Jonah with the extent of his power over the extent of his mercy, God wanted the Ninevites to repent and be saved and he brought it about. We have the same God as Jonah, God of power and the God of mercy. He once Muslims to be saved and he has the power to save them and indeed more Muslims are coming to Christ in our day than ever before in history. God is working out his plan of salvation in the Muslim world today we ready to join him not work. All we ready and eager instruments his hands say of our Lord Jesus Christ. Well I hope that's an encouragement to you, no matter who we share the gospel with God's word is powerful and effective use word does not return board that means we can be confident as we proclaim the gospel to our Muslim friends and neighbors listening to Renewing Your Mind, and a portion of the series by Dr. James Anderson titled exploring Islam in 10 messages. He surveys the central tenets history and practices of Islam and will be glad to send you the two DVD set. Would you contact us today with a donation of nearly about to look at her ministries.
These videos would be a great 12 week study for your Sunday school class or small group meeting in your home to request exploring Islam when you go to Renewing Your Mind.org or when you call us at 800-435-4343 where thankful for your generous support of regular ministries. Right now we're producing and distributing resources that are reaching the Muslim world, both in Arabic and Farsi, and in fact we recently heard from a pastor was told this firsthand of the impact that it's happening. So thank you I hope you make plans to join us next week as we dive into apologetics. The art and science of effectively explaining the Christian faith joins beginning Monday for doctors, groceries, defending your faith