How To Share The Gospel With Muslims
“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)
Christ has called us to love our neighbors deeply, and sacrificially (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.
Jesus 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:
Prepare Yourself To Love Like Jesus
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.
Kambiz Saghaey: Engaging Our Muslim Friends with the Gospel from North American Mission Board on Vimeo.
Share The Gospel Story With Boldness & Love
5. Win souls, not arguments.
“To them God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ. For this I toil, struggling with all his energy that he powerfully works within me.” (Colossians 1:27–29)
Sharing the Gospel with anyone is hard work, but not because we’re trying to win an argument. Our toil is against our fleshly pride seeking to be right or protect our image in front of others. Our hard work is done in surrendering to the Holy Spirit, and praying that the message of Jesus will find receptive hearts. Paul wrote: “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:12). This is never truer than when we engaging Muslims with the Gospel. We are fighting for their souls out of love, not struggling against them in conversation.
“Typically, if we’re thinking about winning or losing debates with our Muslim neighbors, we’ve lost sight of what really matters. We’re not engaged in a contest where points can be scored and win-loss records tallied, with the victor earning bragging rights.”Thabiti Anyabwile
As Thabiti Anyabwile points out, avoid “Bible ping-pong” that can become a battle of wits to see who is the most prepared. Any Muslim who has learned under an imam will feel like they have all sorts of support to argue. Inaccurate facts about the Bible attack the identity of Jesus — don’t get wrapped up in feeling like you have to defend the authority of Scripture. Stand firmly on the Bible as God’s Word and remember that it is the most historically accurate work of religion. Be confident and gracious in Christ.
6. Define repentance and faith.
Muslims must grasp the weight and gravity of Ephesians 2:1-10 in order for them to see the glory of Christ crucified. In their current worldview, God dying sounds too shameful to even consider. Allah is said to be too holy to ever come down to earth and interact with mankind — but they are missing the beautiful love and holiness of Jesus! There are some commonalities in our religious language, but make sure that you’re defining terms according to how the Bible uses them. Use Christian terms because they will have meaning for a Muslim and it will differentiate Christianity from Islam. We can’t tip-toe around the gravity of sin against our Holy God and the identity of Jesus.
“God didn’t just forgive us, He paid for our sin!”Kambiz Saghaey
Repentance: Make sure to explain the cost and gravity of the sin nature passed down from Adam (original sin). Our sinfulness goes deeper than the bad decisions we’ve made. We were born sinful, cursed by our part in the original sin of Genesis 3 (David explains Psalm 51). Sin brought permanent shame to the human race, but Jesus entered this world and took on the shame in our place — overcoming it!
“Repentance, like faith, is an intellectual understanding (that sin is wrong), an emotional approval of the teachings of Scripture regarding sin (a sorrow for sin and hatred of it), and a personal decision to turn from it (a renouncing of sin and a decision of the will to forsake it and lead a life of obedience to Christ instead).”Wayne Grudem
Faith: First, faith is enabled by the Holy Spirit, as the Holy Spirit convicts us of our sin and need to be reconciled with God. This is necessary for salvation. The Bible teaches time and again that salvation is by grace alone, through faith alone (Ephesians 2:1-10). This is not a faith that we simply “muster up” from within ourselves, but it is a gift from God. Second, faith always produces good works but is not a result of works. Forgiveness and faith and not an excuse to live sinfully, because the Christian is now identified by new life in Jesus (Romans 6:1-11).
“Genuine repentance and faith require turning from the old life of sin lived apart from God and turning to God through faith in His Son. A person is saved by God’s grace alone through faith alone apart from any works of righteousness. In our evangelism we must make these truths clear because Muslims use the same words with very different meanings. One way to clarify the Christian understanding of conversion is to use uniquely Christian language, such as “born again,” “rebirth,” and “new creation.”Thabiti Anyabwile (The Gospel for Muslims)
7. Remember the cost of conversion.
Following Christ costs us everything. Grace in salvation is priceless, a higher price than we could ever pay. Paul wrote in Philippians 2:12-13, we are to work out our salvation “with fear and trembling,” but that “it is God who works in you.”
Paul wrote to the church in Ephesus, reminding them of the call to “put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness” (Ephesians 4:22–24).
“Our Muslim friends’ religious identity and behavior, their interest and occupations, as well as their personal relationships and search for personal meaning are under constant scrutiny by fellow Muslims.”Mike Edens
You won’t have to remind Muslims of the persecution they will face. Great shame will come on their entire family as a result of their decision to follow Christ. They will have read what the Qur’an says about converting to Christianity. Converting to Christianity will ostracize them from every current relationship they have. In the worldview of eastern Muslim peoples, he or she is not only rejecting Allah or Islam. They reject their father and mother, brothers and sisters, and childhood friends.
Muslims will immediately understand Jesus’ words in Luke 9:23-62 more deeply than most of us in the western world ever will. Don’t expect them to immediately repent and turn to Jesus on the spot, but plan to invest much time in deep conversations about Jesus — and love them well.
8. Jesus is worthy.
Never forget that Jesus is worthy of all glory and honor. He is worthy of our worship, and the worship of those lost in the lies of Islam. He is worthy of our complete devotion, and faith to uphold our trust. Just as God was faithful in Scripture, He will never leave us or forsake us (Joshua 1:5). Our obedience to the Great Commission, when led and enabled by the Holy Spirit, exemplifies our deepest worship of Jesus Christ.
Nearly two thousand years ago, Paul and the other apostles founded the first-century churches on the truth of who Jesus was. They were persecuted physically, financially, and emotionally. They were arrested, beaten, marginalized, burned, crucified, and murdered. Tertullian accurately wrote in 197 A.D.: “The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church.”
“For the Christian, divine boldness comes from communion with and the filling of God the Holy Spirit. That’s how the apostle Paul—a man gripped with the fear of death—could speak so boldly in the face of persecution and resistance. That’s how he could be stoned, left for dead, and still drag his broken body back into the very place of his persecution to continue preaching the gospel of our Lord on the next day (Acts 14: 19–20).”Thabiti Anyabwile
As western Christians, we cannot begin to understand the physical, financial, and relational cost for a Muslim to begin following Jesus. But, we can abide in Jesus with them and remember together that Jesus is worthy of all. He is worthy of our lives because, as the Bible tells us, that is the only way to come to Jesus. By God’s grace, may we humbly renounce our comfort and identity, and take on our new life in Christ with a life of worship to His glory.
Kambiz Saghaey: A Story of Faith from North American Mission Board on Vimeo.
Jesus, you are eternally worthy of our worship and the worship of all of your creation. My salvation has been accomplished only through your atonement and sacrifice 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.
Forgive me if I’ve ever turned evangelism into a task or intellectual argument, and grow in me a holy passion to see Muslims come to faith in Jesus. Enable me to live out repentance and faith in my own life, and help me to boldly proclaim the truth of your Gospel as a gift by grace, through faith. May I never shy away from pointing to your glory. May I never claim any part of the credit for my own salvation or growth in you!
Give me compassion, wisdom, and a deep love for the lost as I share what the Bible teaches of the worship and discipleship you require of us. 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. Help me to be faithful as I walk out my daily life, and help me to bring new believers along with me as you continually make me new each day. Show me how to humbly lead others as we follow you together. 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 today, 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.
The book of Acts is full of fantastic sermons from Paul, Peter, and others.
Read 2-3 of them this week, and take note of their boldness and clarity in communicating the Gospel. The Apostles were mere men, but the Holy Spirit guided them to faithfully proclaim the Gospel in all sorts of situations and to all types of audiences. We can learn much from the Apostles’ fervency, boldness, perseverance, contextualization, and proclamation.
Here are some examples:
- Peter’s sermon at Pentecost (Acts 2)
- Peter in Solomon’s Portico (Acts 3-4)
- Stephen’s speech and stoning (Acts 7)
- Philip and the Ethiopian eunuch (Acts 8)
- Paul’s address to the Areopagus (Acts 17)
How To Reach Muslims During Ramadan
- Do You Listen Enough When You Evangelize – Karen Pearce (IMB)
- Evangelizing Muslims: An Interview with Thabiti Anyabwile – Trevin Wax
- 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
- Acts video playlist – The Bible Project
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