Islam And The Gospel
The Islamic Curtain separating Muslim countries from the rest of the world is every bit as impenetrable as the Iron Curtain ever was, but who hears a word of it in the media? In Saudi Arabia, for example, which Americans died to protect, there is a total blackout on anything Christian; one cannot carry a Bible on the street or have a Bible study in the privacy of one's own home. Even in our embassy, over which the American flag flies, Christian church services are banned. It is officially the death penalty in Saudi Arabia and some other Muslim countries (and enforced unofficially elsewhere) for a Muslim to convert to any other religion.
Only Muslims can be citizens of Saudi Arabia. Even in Arab countries where shari'a (Islamic law) is not enforced by the government, Islam's influence prevents freedom of speech, of the press, of religion and of conscience. In PLO territories, Christian Arabs, who once had freedom under Israel, now suffer persecution, imprisonment and death for their faith. Yet neither the UN nor our own government protest such oppression behind the Islamic curtain.
Muslims build mosques and worship freely in the West, but in their own countries they deny such freedoms to others. Instead of reporting this hypocrisy, the world media cover it up. One Mideast author writes, Islam is...more antagonistic to the Christian faith than Communism ever was....In Communist China today, Christianity still thrives. But confession of Christ by a national in an Islamic country is regarded as high treason. ...[N]ot even an official Church that a Communist government could allow is permitted...in an Islamic country. (G.J.O. Moshay, Who Is This Allah? Dorchester, 1994, p. 111)
Islam spread rapidly under Muhammad and his successors through jihad ("holy war"). Muhammad himself planned 65 campaigns and personally led 27 involving naked aggression and treachery. This incredible "evangelism" made "converts" by the millions at the point of a sword. At its peak, Islam had conquered all of North Africa and almost took over Europe.
Islam continues its conquest worldwide. Today's invaders are millions of immigrants who make converts to Islam through misrepresentation. One sees on TV well-coifed and fashionably dressed women who claim to be converts to Islam and testify to its joys and peace-loving ways. Yet in a Muslim country they would have to be veiled with only their eyes showing, would have to wear plain black full-length robes, could not drive a car, could be one of four wives habitually mistreated by their husband, to be divorced by his mere denunciation, virtual slaves under shari'a. Oddly enough, Hillary Clinton, National Organization of Women (NOW), and other outspoken champions of women's rights are silent about Islam's notorious abuse of women.
Islam's earnest goal, set forth in the Koran (references given herein are from three versions) and hadith (Islamic written tradition), remains the same: to bring all mankind into submission (that's what "Islam" means) and to kill or enslave all "infidels"(i.e., unbelievers in Allah and Muhammad his prophet--Surah 2:190-92;4:76;5:33;9:5,29,41;47:4, etc.). Islam (in obedience to the Koran and Muhammad's example) is the driving force behind most terrorism today. Muhammad declared, "The last hour will not come before the Muslims fight the Jews and the Muslims kill them."
Westerners naively accept Allah, who inspired Muhammad, as the God of the Bible. Yet Allah has no son, and rejects the Trinity (4:171), is unknowable, and was the pagan idol/god of Muhammad's tribe before he was born. Allah tells Muslims, "Take not the Jews and Christians for friends...slay the idolaters [infidels] wherever ye find them. ...Fight against those who...believe not in Allah nor the Last Day" (5:51;9:5,29,41). But the triune God of the Bible wants men to know Him (Jer 9:24), a knowledge essential to salvation (Jn 17:3). Jews are His "chosen people" (Ex 6:7; Lv 20:26; 1 Chr 16:13; Ps 105:6, etc.) and Christians are His dearly loved children (Rom 8:16,21; Gal 3:26; Eph 1:5;5:1, etc.).
Instead of conversion by force, Christ said that His disciples did not fight because His kingdom was not of this world (Jn 18:36). Indeed, He told His disciples, "Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you and persecute you" (Mt 5:44).
Christ gave His life to save sinners, and His followers must be willing to lay down their lives to bring this good news to the world. Biblical salvation is a free gift paid for by the death of Christ, who said, "go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature" (Mk 16:15). That command includes today's one billion Muslims. They present a tremendous (and inescapable) challenge to every Christian. How can we bring the gospel to those who may be killed for believing it, or who may kill us for offering it to them? To die fighting infidels is the only sure way for a Muslim to gain Paradise. Yet Christ also died for Muslims, and His love compels us.
Attempts to evangelize Muslims have had little success. Lately, a new and seemingly more fruitful approach is being adopted: using Muslim scriptures to present Christ. In this regard, several former Muslims have written some helpful material (which we offer this month).
The hadith attests to the virgin birth, sinless life and miracles of Christ, who is called "the Word of Allah." Some portions of the Koran, too, speak highly of Christ: that He was born of Mary as a virgin (Surah 3:45-47; 21:91, etc.); He is the highest example (43:57); and He alone is called "Isa," which means Savior (3:45). Whereas Muhammad was unable to perform miracles (17:90-96; 29:50-52, etc.), Christ did so (2:252-53;3:49); and unlike others such as Moses who did miracles at God's command, Jesus did miracles on His own initiative (26:63, etc.), even raising the dead (3:49;5:110;36:78-79, etc.). Further, the Koran declares that Muhammad was a sinner (9:43;40:55;47:19; 48:2;294:1-3, etc.), but Jesus was sinless (19:17-19).
In spite of the honor and reverence accorded Jesus, however, the Jesus of Islam is not the Jesus of the Bible but "another Jesus" (2 Cor 11:4)--so be careful.
While the Koran in its early passages honors at least parts of the Bible as "the Book" and both Jews and Christians as "the people of the Book," it often contradicts the Bible: It denies that Jesus is God (3:59,62;4:171) and that He died on the cross (4:157-58; 5:116-20) for our sins. Early tradition held that at Christ's request a look-alike disciple rescued Him from the cross by dying in His place. Other passages, however, seem to declare that Christ did indeed die (3:33,55;5:117;19:33), and many Islamic scholars take that view today. The Koran denies that one person could die for another (17:13-15; 35:18). Actually, it says that no "soul laden [i.e., sinner] bears the load [sin] of another." Since Jesus was without sin, He would have to be an exception.
For the sinner to be righteously forgiven, God himself had to pay the penalty demanded by His justice; but that concept is foreign to Islam. The Koran breeds uncertainty: "Forgiveness is only incumbent on Allah toward those who do evil in ignorance [and] then turn quickly [in repentance] to Allah....Lo! Allah oneth...all save [except] that to whom he will not...." (4:17,106,110,116). Neither "ignorance" nor "quickly" are defined nor why Allah forgives some and not others. Nor does repentance guarantee forgiveness.
Ayatollah Khomeini declared, "Even if Salman Rushdie (author of The Satanic Verses) repents and becomes the most pious man of all time, it is incumbent upon every Muslim to employ everything he has, his life and his wealth, to send him to hell." In contrast, the Bible offers forgiveness to all. Christ even died to redeem those who hated Him, and asked His Father to forgive those who crucified Him (Lk 23:34).
In real life, Allah's forgiveness never comes in time to prevent a hand, foot or ear from being cut off as the penalty for stealing. Hundreds of Iraqis mutilated by this inhumane Islamic decree flee to camps bordering that country. Yet kidnaping requires no such mutilation because a person is not considered to be property. Fornication requires no such mutilation, while petty thievery does.
The Antichrist (Dajjal) is a major topic of the hadith, which warns of his coming. He is called the "false Christ" who will deceive many near the end of time. The hadith teaches that Jesus will return at the end to destroy the Dajjal. Belief in "the Last Day" is an essential part of the Muslim's faith (2:62).
Of course, seeking to win Muslims by quoting the Koran and hadith could imply that these Islamic writings are inspired of God. Even M.N. Anderson, who has done such excellent work, fell into that trap in Proud to be a Muslim at p. 6: "Although it was Gabriel [equated in Islam with the Spirit of Allah] that conveyed the Qur'an to him [Muhammad], he was referred to the people of the Book for assurance, when in doubt concerning the Qur'an." Unfortunately, it sounds as though the Koran was inspired of God, and that the people of the Book (Jews and Christians) would confirm its teachings from the Bible. That implication would confirm Muslims in their error.
The Koran's contradictions of the Bible are excused by claiming that the Bible was corrupted. But the Koran was sent to stand "as a guardian" over the Bible (5:48); therefore, if the Bible was corrupted, the Koran failed. The Muslim's Holy Book itself admits that much of its text is ambiguous (3:7); Muslims are even to ask "the People of the Book [Bible]" for enlightenment (21:7)!
The Koran also contradicts itself: Allah created everything "in the twinkling of an eye" (54:49,50), "in two Days" (41:9,12), "in four Days" (41:10), "in six Days" (7:54, 10:4;32:4), "a Day," equaling "a thousand years" (32:5) and also "fifty thousand years" (70:4); Jesus is not the Son of God (4:171), yet He is (19:17-21), etc.
There are scientific errors in the Koran. Even Arabian legends are recounted as actual happenings. The Koran contains much superstition and occultism, especially its references to jinn (genies).
In quoting the Koran and hadith we must avoid the impression that we are endorsing these writings. Consider Paul's discussion with the philosophers on Mars Hill: "...as certain also of your own poets have said" (Acts 17:28). Paul was not suggesting that these writers were inspired of God--and he went beyond them to present the gospel. Likewise, we must be careful to go beyond what the Koran and hadith say about Jesus to present the true gospel; otherwise there is no basis for salvation.
For a Muslim to become a true Christian he must renounce Islam's false god, Allah, and its false gospel of salvation by works. Unfortunately, the gospel is being compromised to make it appealing to Muslims. (In the West it's being made appealing to everyone.) Many "converts" have never understood the gospel and thus have not believed that which is "the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth" (Rom 1:16). The gospel is definitely not in the Koran. Yet Muslims are supposedly being saved by heeding it. The author of Building Bridges: Christianity and Islam (NavPress, 1997) gives the testimony of a Muslim "converted" to Christianity in Pakistan (p. 27): "As I was listening to the Qur'an read on the radio day after day, I heard that Christ was highly honored...and near-stationed to God. I said to myself, 'If I wanted someone to intercede for me to God, who would be better than someone like Christ...?' And so I prayed, 'Lord Isa [Jesus], please come to my help. I want to de vote myself to God through you. Since you are highly honored and sitting near Him, you can do it.'" The author then comments, "After that, he felt like a changed man, much happier than before...."
This is a delusion similar to that of those who say, "Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name?...and in thy name done many wonderful works?", to whom the Lord responds, "I never knew you: depart from me..." (Mt 7:21-23). Asking Islam's Isa to intercede for oneself will not save. One must believe the gospel to be saved: "[H]ow that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; and that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures" (1 Cor 15:1-4); "That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life" (Jn 3:15). That gospel is not in the Koran, and there is nothing in this "convert's" testimony to indicate that he knew or believed it.
The same author declares that "60 percent of Muslims who are approached with the methods explained in this book put their trust in Christ...." Yet Christ and His apostles experienced no such percentage of converts. Jesus said that few would be saved (Mt 7:13-14). The author enthusiastically refers to Muslims converted to Christ "while remaining [for years] in the fold of their Islamic community...without becoming detestable to their own communities" (p.10). But Jesus warned His disciples, "And ye shall be hated of all men for my name's sake..." (Mt 10:22; Jn 15:20). All men, except Muslims?
We want to be wise, and not to needlessly offend in our presentation of the gospel (1 Cor 10:32), whether to Muslims or anyone else to whom the Lord gives us the grace to present the "unsearchable riches of Christ" (Eph 3:8). But there is an unavoidable offense because of Christ (Mt 26:31; Rom 9:33; 1 Pt 2:8) and the Cross (Gal 5:11). We must be careful that we actually present the gospel which one must believe to be saved. It will only damn souls if in our zeal to get the world to accept the gospel we preach another gospel acceptable to the world.
"They received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so." (Acts 17:11)