How to Witness to a Muslim

It’s not hard, in America, to share the Gospel with Muslims. Just walk onto any secular college campus and you’re likely to find quite a number of polite Muslim students interested in discussing spiritual issues. You can’t do this in Saudi Arabia or Pakistan or Iran; rather, you could try it once or twice, perhaps, but you would lose your liberty or worse. But here we enjoy a vast international mission field.

In contrast with older folks, college students are often willing to engage in a discussion of worldviews, whether they are Christians or atheists or Muslims or none-of-the-aboves. So why not try? Here’s a short summary of a typical encounter I’ve experienced with Muslim students:

Approaching a student sitting on a bench under a shady tree . . .
Doc: “Good morning! Here’s a free gift.” I hand him a tract. “It’s about the big issues: where we came from, where we’re going, what life is all about. Do you ever think about the really big stuff?”
Student: “Sure. Who doesn’t?”
Doc: “So here’s the ‘big question’ . . . If today is the last day of your life on Earth, and you die, where will you be after that?”
Student: “I’m not sure.”
Doc: “The usual choices are Heaven, Hell, non-existence, Ascended Master . . .”
Student: “I’m a Muslim, so yes, I hope to be in Paradise.”
Doc: “I’m a Christian, so we both believe we’re accountable to God and we both believe that God will judge us by the laws of Moses – you know, the Ten Commandments.”
Student: “Of course.”
Doc: “Like, ‘Thou shalt not kill.’ Have you ever murdered anyone?”
Student: “No, of course not!”
Doc: “Here’s what Jesus said about 2,000 years ago. I know you believe that Jesus was a prophet sent from God. I believe that He is much more than that, namely God Himself who became a man. He said that if you get angry with someone, or call him a fool, you’ve committed murder in your heart. God judges who we are on the inside, not just whether we act it out. Ever get angry?”
Student: “Yes, many times.”
Doc: “God won’t let that sin into Heaven. Murderers, even if only in the heart, are condemned to Hell. Jesus said that if you look at a woman with lust – sexual desire and she’s not your own wife – you’ve committed adultery in your heart. Pornography counts, too. Ever look with lust?”
Student: “(grunt)”
Doc: “You don’t have to tell me. God knows your every thought, word, and act. Jesus also said that liars will be cast into Hell. Ever tell a lie?”
Student: “Everyone has.”
Doc: “I’ve just hit you with 3 of the 10 commandments. You’re like me, busted, 3 for 3. If we went through all 10 commandments it would be 10 for 10, and not just once each, but thousands of times. Do you know how many sins it takes to wind up in Hell?”
Student: “Just one?”
Doc: “Right. God is holy and righteous and won’t let sin into His presence. The Bible says, ‘Whosoever shall keep the whole law and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all.’ Have you noticed the world is in trouble? Whose fault?”
Student: “Ours.”
Doc: “Not just ‘ours’ in general, but you and me in particular. Nobody wants God telling him what to do and we all care about ourselves more than anyone else. If we get what we deserve, it’s not a perfect God in a perfect Paradise. You and I deserve Hell. But God loves you and wants to save you.”

From here it’s a simple Gospel presentation, explaining the cross, the Resurrection, and the necessity of repentance and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. (As I’ve detailed in other essays on this site, and in my free e-book on evangelism.)

The outline above is virtually identical for anyone religious, including Roman Catholics, Mormons, and Jehovah’s Witnesses. Although the simple responses by the Student above reflect the attitude of someone who is not too zealous or argumentative or self-righteous about his faith. Yet I’ve noticed that a good fraction of Muslims (and others trapped in works-based religions), when you catch them alone, 1-2-1, are willing to reveal their uncertainties regarding the religion of their youth.

Modern evangelicalism despises what they call “confrontational evangelism.” As a matter of actual policy in many evangelical churches, those few church members who actually do share some Gospel truth with the lost on rare occasions, are to do it in the context of relationships built up over time. Bah! Of course we should be doing that. So go ahead. Count up all the relationships you’ve got. If you’ve got any love for those lost friends and acquaintances and any sense of urgency, then make some time very soon to insure that they know how to be saved, how to become a child of God, and how to escape damnation in Hell. Guess what? You’ll be done in about two weeks. If you’re a real social animal, I’ll give you four weeks.

So what are you going to do with the rest of your life? Hey, how about walking up to someone that you would never be able to develop a ‘relationship’ with, and simply offer him a tract and share the Gospel in just a few minutes?

Not all Muslims are so easy to talk with. Some, like some atheists, some Roman Catholics, etc., will engage but may be a bit feisty in challenging you. Great. That’s just an opportunity to help someone over his stumbling blocks. As Peter did at Pentecost and as Paul did on Mars Hill. Their arguments were different, because the Jerusalem Jews suffered barriers of belief different from the Athenian pagans.

Nevertheless, the preaching of the Gospel, modeled in the New Testament, is primarily a 1-way communication of Truth. Sure, we see examples of dialogue as preambles to a Gospel presentation, as with the Samaritan woman at the well and when Nicodemus sought a private conference with the Lord. But the objective of the preacher in every preamble is to open the door for a direct presentation of Truth. In this area also evangelicals, unfortunately, are trained to get very clever in apologetic dialogue, asking brilliant questions that challenge faulty logic, etc. But at some point the evangelist must have something direct to say. The Biblical pattern is not, “Well you might consider an alternative point of view,” but rather, “Wake up and face reality!”

Josh McDowell

Hey, I love apologetics! I have shelves of books! I love it for the opportunities to help someone see through the dark clouds of misunderstanding that prevent the lost from seeing the simple obvious Truth of the Gospel. But never lose sight of the need to confront the lost with his sins, his certain coming judgment, and His need to repent and trust the Savior. Deliver the truth as if it is self-evidently TRUE!

Back to apologetics . . . I just finished reading Understanding Islam & Christianity: Beliefs That Separate Us & How to Talk About Them, by Josh McDowell and Jim Walker. It’s a solid resource. I won’t take time here to discuss the book’s strengths and weaknesses; I’d rather focus on one quite useful chapter, entitled “The Quran Confirms the Christian Scriptures,” which addresses a class of objections typically offered by Muslims of the more feisty variety.

Here’s the issue: Muslims generally believe that our Bible has been corrupted, motivating them to discount the Gospel truth we want to share with them. They believe that the Quran is the ‘pure’ word of God and that the Quran rejects the Bible. However, Muhammad and the early Muslims believed and taught that the Bible is the word of God, a teaching repeatedly confirmed in the Quran.

The 19th century Christian scholar, Sir William Muir, wrote a book that identified 131 Quranic verses that affirm the Bible’s integrity. Muir summarizes:

”The Old and New Testaments are everywhere in the Quran referred to as extant and in common use; Jews and Christians are exhorted to follow the precepts of their respective Scriptures; and from first to last both portions of the Bible are spoken of in terms of reverence and homage consistent only with a sincere belief in their genuineness and authenticity.”

Sir William Muir

Just one example to illustrate:

3:3 He hath revealed unto thee (Muhammad) the Scripture with truth, confirming that which was (revealed) before it, even as He revealed the Torah and the Gospel.

There are no stipulations that run counter to the trend. For example, no caveats like, “I confirm only that which agrees with the Quran.” Again and again, the Quran confirms the Scriptures of the Christians and the Jews.

Now, historical and manuscript evidence is clear that the Old and New Testaments available in the Arabian peninsula around 600 A.D. were just those that form the basis of the Masoretic Hebrew and Received Greek Texts from which the King James Bible is translated. Namely, the Bible was NOT corrupted after the time of Muhammad. It also could not have been corrupted before Muhammad’s time . . . in a rational Islamic worldview . . . because Muhammad in the Quran, the Hadith, and other writings, continually affirms the truth of what we call our Bible.

So what’s going on? Let’s look at Sura 9:30 . . . The Jews say Ezra is the son of God, while the Christians say the Messiah is the son of God. Such are their assertions, by which they imitate the infidels of old. God confound them! How perverse they are!

Muhammad thought that Jews and Christians were making up false claims and repeating them – “their assertions.” Muhammad rejected doctrines like the deity of Christ and His death on the cross because he thought the Christians were inventing them, not realizing that the Bible is crystal on these truths. He apparently had great respect for the Jewish and Christian Scriptures, but did not know them! He must have heard many stories and much discussion from his early interactions with Christians and Jews, but he never understood Biblical doctrine or its basis in Scripture.

When encountering such objections from Muslims, a concise answer might look like, “But Muhammad – in the Quran and in the Hadith – always affirmed and respected the Biblical Scriptures. There are over 100 suras in the Quran that prove this, with nothing to contradict. You see, Muhammad thought the Christians of his time were making up stories about Jesus being the Son of God and dying on a cross. He didn’t realize that these facts are in the Scriptures. He never taught that the Bible was corrupted. I can provide you references if you’re interested. You ought to make sure, after all, that if you claim that God’s word is corrupted, that you’re on solid ground. Muhammad would have been angry that you attack the Bible!”

Do such objections come up often? With the feisty Muslim, it’s quite common. The more you learn, the more you can help someone. And you don’t need encyclopedic knowledge, but rather just a factoid or two on any topic that comes up regularly, and a willingness to search out a reference for someone who wants to take the next step.

Usually, such objections are not the prime cause for the unbelief. (It’s a love for sin!) But a chink in his foundation may grow over time. Be a co-laborer with the Holy Spirit. Preach the Gospel with all the compassion, fervor, and knowledge that you can bring, and trust the Holy Spirit to do the convicting work in the heart.

And give someone a tract this week – someone you don’t have a relationship with!


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