Witnessing to Muslims
All Christians will have a desire to share the gospel of Christ with people they meet. As we rub shoulders with others in this world we discover that they have their own faiths and world-views. As such it is helpful to understand what they might think or believe in order to witness for the Saviour.
Most believers find witnessing to others something of a difficult experience. We wonder how our words will be received and what others will think of us. Despite these fears, we also know that our own salvation and Christ’s love to us constrain us. How can we not speak about the things that we have believed? The child of God goes forward then by the grace of God and in the knowledge that ‘faith cometh by hearing’.
But what about when it comes to witnessing to a Muslim? After all we know that all people are the same regardless of whether they have religion or not. All have sinned and all must be told. Of course, this conclusion is true because it is biblical. However, it is also biblical to adopt a discerning mind. We should remember that the Lord Jesus Himself approached different people in different ways, albeit with the same saving message.
Islam is much more than a religion. It is a culture, a legal system and a political organism rolled into one. Many of you will come into contact with a Muslim. Some will be broader and more liberal in their thinking. Others will take a conservative, stricter stance. Therefore, it can be a daunting and intimidating prospect knowing what and what not to say. Here are some helpful pointers:
1. Adopt a cautious but compassionate attitude
A couple of years ago there was a well-documented case of a professional in the National Health Service (NHS) who was suspended because of complaints made against her by a newly qualified Muslim worker. The NHS worker had given the other lady a Christian book and had prayed for her. The Muslim worker had agreed to both of these actions so the complaint that followed came as a great shock. The believer must be alert to such risks, not only from Muslims, but from anyone we study or work with. The natural heart is hostile against God and a backlash at times should not come as a total surprise. Christians should never neglect their work or study by setting out to ‘witness’ when they should be working. A good worker or a good student will speak volumes.
If occasion does arise and we find ourselves in conversation with a Muslim then we must heed the instruction of Christ, ‘ be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves’ (Matthew 10:16). Jesus used the serpent in this instance to illustrate the need to be alert and wise to danger. By referring to the dove He emphasised the need for the believer to be one who does not provoke others by negative or unattractive personal traits. The only offence should be that of the cross of Christ.
Compassion is also vital. Tragically, many professing Christians engage in witnessing purely to win an argument and not to win a soul. What profit is there if we are able to confound a man’s thinking and yet never speak about his need of the Saviour?
2. Prepare yourself before witnessing
There must be spiritual preparation before God first of all. After all, to engage someone about his soul and the claims of Christ is no small thing. That sense of gravity is heightened when it comes to witnessing with someone who has a strong conviction about what he believes. Pray to God for the tongue of the learned so that you know how to speak a word to him that is weary.
Then you must do something else which is often overlooked – know more fully the Gospel of Christ. It is grieving when Christians struggle in their witnessing, not because of nervousness but because they do not know what to say. The Apostle Paul was not ashamed because he knew whom believed (Romans 1:16-17; 2 Timothy 1:12). If all we know is some vague concept of God’s love, and if our message is going to be along the lines of ‘trust in Jesus’, we are going to find ourselves struggling when questions are asked of us. We must know and cherish the key issues of the Gospel: Who is Christ? What did He do? How do we receive the salvation He has accomplished? Believer, get to know the great doctrines of the Word of God! It is after all your sword for the battle.
Finally, it is worth taking time to gather a basic understanding of what Islam teaches. There are helpful resources on this matter. Muslims do use similar terminology to us. They speak of sin, salvation, heaven, hell, one God, law and punishment. However, it is their concept and explanation of these things which must be considered. For example, Islam teaches that a person is born sinless. There is no acceptance of original sin. On this basis a person does not have a sinful nature and therefore does not need to be regenerated. It is possible for such a person to contribute towards his own salvation by works. The Quran teaches personal salvation on the basis of good works outweighing bad in conjunction with faith. How different is the Gospel of Christ which declares that without the new birth no one will enter or see the Kingdom of God!
3. Engage the Muslim in a specific area of conversation
Endeavour to keep the conversation around the forgiveness of sin and the assurance of salvation. Muslims believe one must be sorry for sin and repent of it but there is no thought of a payment or ransom for sin. This means Islam is void of a Saviour. It cannot and will not speak of one who saves to the uttermost. The inconsistency here is that when it comes to dealings among men, Muslims will agree that one who breaks the law must suffer the consequences – the penalty of the law must be met. If that same person simply said he was sorry it would not be enough. But this is not carried through to the law of God. A person can be sorry and God will arbitrarily forgive, without any satisfaction being made to the law which has been violated.
The Gospel of Christ stands head and shoulders above Islam and all other religions. It declares that by the life, death and resurrection of Christ, God remains just in His nature when he justifies the believing sinner in Christ (Romans 3:24-26). The result of this is assurance and peace with God which no Muslim can profess.
Rev Patrick Baker.