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Conversation with Muslims about Christ -- Booklet 1
THE GREAT COMMISSION OF JESUS OUR LORD
Why should Christians share their faith with Muslims? A look at the great commission of Jesus to his disciples in Matthew 28:19-20 gives you insight into why and how this ministry should be done. Christ's great commission is here contrasted with Muhammads commendemts to his followers to spread Islam.
The Great Commission of Jesus our Lord and the Reply of Islam
"When they saw Him, they worshiped Him; but some doubted. And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, 'All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.' Amen."
After the One who was crucified and resurrected had completed the reconciliation of the world with God, He wanted to offer His salvation to everyone everywhere through His disciples. Having atoned for all of mankind's sins, the victor over death and hell called His worshippers and His followers who still doubted, and authorised them to proclaim His salvation to all nations. All His disciples fled in the hour of temptation. None of them was worthy of being appointed a servant of the living Christ. Only His call made them eligible to be messengers of His grace.
All power in heaven and on earth
Christ revealed to His followers that His Father in heaven had given Him all power and authority over angels and mankind, over galaxies and atoms (Revelation 5:1-14).
How could the Almighty risk the transfer of all His power to His Son? Did He not fear a riot, a rebellion from Him? The Father knew His Son well. He was meek and humble in heart. He did not make himself great. He sacrificed Himself for unworthy sinners. He always honoured His Father just as the Holy Spirit always glorifies the Son. Our God is a humble God. For this reason the Father could transfer all power in heaven and on earth to His Son.
A different spirit controls Islam. The Qur’an tells us that there cannot be two gods because one would undoubtedly rise above the other (Sura al-Mu'minun 23:91). During the Ottoman Empire after the death of a Sultan all his sons, except the most talented and strongest one, were killed to prevent fights over the succession of the throne. The spirit of rebellion is dominant in Islam since one of the 99 most beautiful names of Allah is "the proud one, the arrogant one" (Sura al-Hashr 59:23).
With Jesus it is the contrary. He did not use His authority to build an earthly empire with taxes and armies. Instead He healed all the sick who approached him, He expelled demons from the possessed, He raised the dead, He forgave sins and poured the Holy Spirit on His waiting and praying followers. He began to build a spiritual kingdom and concentrated His power on the renewal of His disciples. His name "Jesus" is and remains His purpose: "He will save his people from their sins." (Matthew 1:21)
When Jesus had received all authority from the Almighty He commanded His disciples to stand up and get moving. Trusting in His unlimited strength they should give up hiding and try out new paths. Jesus teaches us to walk and to hurry! He wants us to stop being absorbed with our own selves. He wants to free us from the great "I" and to direct us to the "you". He sends us to our fellows. He does not want us to serve only around our own groups and communities, since the Good Shepherd leaves the 99 righteous ones and seeks the one lost sheep until he finds it (Luke 15:4-7).
The guidance of the spirit
Whoever wants to obey the command of Jesus needs spiritual guidance. Perhaps you say: "To whom shall I go? I have no contacts!" The Lord answers: "Ask, and it will be given to you!" (Matthew 7,7; Luke 11,9-13; Mark 11,24). We have the privilege of asking Him for contacts with Muslim seekers whose hearts and minds are prepared by the Holy Spirit.
Whoever finds such a seeking person should not talk insistently to him without finding out what he thinks and feels, and how he suffers. Even then we should not offer ready-made solutions but ask Jesus in our heart what He wants to say to this person. We can ask for the right words at the right time for the right person; however, when Jesus tells us what to say, we should then tell it to him and leave the responsibility to Jesus about how His words through us will work in the seeker.
Examine yourself! Do you hear a call within you to speak with your neighbour, your colleague, your wife, your children or any other person about Jesus? Investigate with Jesus about His will and His command to you. Don’t hesitate to be obedient. And if you feel inhibited or cowardly, then ask Him for His love and strength that you may overcome these inhibitions in yourself! There are more people waiting for your spirit-guided testimony than you guess! However, your initial prayers are often more important than your witness.
What do we have to offer?
Whoever wants his friends to listen, should offer them what they are subconsciously seeking. A good teacher knows more than his students and can do what they are not able to do, but they long to know and want to do as he does. They do not expect him to start a firework of great words but want to see whether their teacher has authority and spiritual substance and if he is living according to his teaching. Then they will listen to him and gather around him.
Christians can offer something to those outside their faith that these do not have. Christians know that God is their Father, Jesus their Saviour and the Holy Spirit their Comforter. He justifies us out of grace. He granted us His own Spirit as a gift. He creates peace in us and everlasting joy. He poured His sacrificial love into us (Romans 5:5) and has given us meaning for our life. He revealed His lasting truth to His followers (John 14:6) and gave them hope for the future. He touched us with His eternal power. We should forget our inferiority complexes and prayerfully witness to what our risen Lord has done for us. We have to offer to the world something that it is searching for. The followers of Christ have received eternal life from the Lamb of God. Share it with your neighbor!
The command of Jesus has created a continuous mission movement in the past 2000 years. His messengers first evangelised in the Mediterranean area and Persia. Then salvation moved to Europe and Central Asia, even into China. With the discovery of America and the sea-passage to India the risen Lord opened all countries on earth for His witnesses. Today the children of Abraham, the Jews and Muslims, are facing the decision for or against Jesus. Even the communist states, like the shattered USSR and China, are being penetrated by the gospel. We should however recognize that until now only one third of mankind calls itself Christian. The majority of our world population does not know their Saviour. There is still much to be done! We cannot sit down and rest. Every single disciple of Christ is called to contribute his part for world missions!
The great commission in Islam
Christianity is not the only dynamic religion in the world. The Qur’an twice commands:
Over 100 verses in the Qur’an incite Muslims to participate in the Holy War. You can read: "Truely, Allah bought the souls and the possessions of the believers, so that they will gain paradise. They fight for the cause of Allah, so they kill and will be killed." (Sura al-Tawba 9:111).
Unfortunately, Christians also started religious wars and gun-boat colonization. These criminal acts, however, contradict the command of Jesus Christ who told Peter: "Put your sword into its place because whoever takes the sword will be taken by the sword." (Matthew 26:52)
Islam spread in two great waves: the first attack lasted for one hundred years and conquered the Near East, Northern Africa, Spain, Persia and parts of Central Asia.
The second wave came with the Mongols and their invasions. Many descendants of Genghis Khan accepted Islam as a religious justification for their conquests. They subdued Central Asia and came to reign over China, North India, Mesopotamia and Russia. The Ottoman Turks, their relatives, conquered Constantinople in 1453 and besieged Vienna twice in vain. The problems and tensions in the Balkans and the Near East are unsolved claims resulting from the fragmented rubble of more than 400 years of Ottoman rule.
The third wave of Islamic expansion started in 1973 with rising oil prices and has been moving through all continents. Never before have so many Muslims been living in the countries of the Reformation as today! How much longer will Christians want to sleep and dream of a multicultural society?
Some Muslims insist that Islam is a tolerant, peace-loving religion. Dozens of verses in the Qur’an call for mutual respect and competition in good works (Sura al-Baqara 2:256; al-Ma'ida 5:47; al-Ankabut 29:46 etc.). Indeed, these verses can be found in the Qur’an, but they originated in the times when Muhammad and his followers were still a minority. These calls for tolerance have since then been legally abrogated by various commands of Allah in the Qur'an that call Muslims to armed battle in order to subjugate all enemies (Sura al-Baqara 2:191; al-Tawba 9:4,28 etc.). In view of the Shari'a the original verses about tolerance are outdated and no longer valid. Nevertheless, these abrogated verses are being used and highlighted by Muslims who live in a minority situation outside of the Muslim World. Muhammad stated several times: War is deception! Islamic world mission is not built on truth but on cunning. Allah himself is the most cunning of all (Sura Al Imran 3:54; al-Anfal 8:30)!
The command for baptism into the Holy Trinity
Jesus did not teach a vague or empty concept of God. He did not reveal an incomprehensible, great and remote Allah! The Son of God revealed the name of His Father 187 times in the four gospels and granted us His Holy Spirit, who is the True God. Jesus also confessed: "I and the Father are one (- not two)!" (John 10:30; 17:21-22) He commanded His disciples to baptize all those who believe in the message of the gospel, not into the names of three different gods, but in the one name of God, who is the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. The three are a perfect unity, like Jesus said: "The Father is in me; and I am in the Father." (John 14:10-11)
According to different commentators of the Qur’an, Muhammad surprisingly mentions the baptism of the Christians and calls it "their colouring" (al-sibghat). He understood that the Christians were different from the other people in the Arabian Peninsula. They did not steal, they were not arrogant, they each had only one wife, they were gentle and even loved their enemies (Sura Al Imran 3:55,199; al-Ma'ida 5:66,82; al-An'am 6:90; Yunis 10:94; al-Nahl 16:34; al-Hadid 57:27; al-Saff 61:14 etc.). He attributed these qualities to the spiritual renewal in their baptism, to the influence of the gospel and to their strong covenant with God (Sura al-Ma'ida 5:110; Maryam 19:88; al-Ahzab 33:7).
Nevertheless, Muhammad embarked on a raging polemic against the deity of Christ and the deity of the Holy Spirit. His two-fold negative confession of faith reads: "There is no god except Allah!" The command of Jesus to baptise in the name of God the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit therefore sounds like blasphemy in Muslims' ears. Since in Islam there is no Holy Spirit as in the gospel, there also can be no knowledge of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit in Muslims (1 Corinthians 12:3; Romans 8:15-16).
Baptism gives protection and security
Paul writes: "The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all." (2 Corinthians 13:13) Baptism gives us personal contact with God and a deep security in the Holy Trinity. We are incorporated into the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit through our baptism. God himself is our shield. He who abides in love, abides in God and God in him. We should put on the whole armour of God and become strong "in" the Lord, then the evil one can find no power in us (1 John 4:16; Ephesians 6:10-17 etc.).
The mystics in Islam are not satisfied with the abstract concept of Allah in their religion and shudder at the destructive twofold-predestination in Islam (to paradise or to hell). They try to reach the distant, mighty and unreachable Allah by meditation. They try to penetrate into him or to influence him in order to become incarnated by him. They often fall under the power of unclean spirits through magical practices. Allah in Islam is far away and inconceivable, therefore all forms of occultism can infect Muslims easily. There is no salvation in Islam. There is only a call to unconditional submission under the arbitrary rule of Allah, who seduces whomever he wants and guides whomever he wants (Sura al-An'am 6:39; al-Ra'd 13:27; Ibrahim 14:4; al-Nahl 16:93; al-Fatir 35:8; al-Muddathir 74:31). Allah does not enter into a covenant with his Muslims. He considers them his slaves. He is not a Father, nor a Saviour, nor a Comforter. He crushes each one who does not subject himself to his will (Sura al-Ra'd 13:16; al-Zumar 39:4; al-Hujurat 49:14 etc.). The one who does, however, is circumcised as a sign of his slave-like relationship of Allah. Circumcision in Islam is a substitute for Christian baptism.
Baptism - connection to the power line of God
The apostles of Jesus Christ were baptised by John the Baptist in the river Jordan. They publicly confessed their sins and their unworthiness to stand before God. But Jesus assured them that they would be baptised by the power of the Holy Spirit, that they would no longer remain weak, fearful and incapable, but would receive the powerful guidance of God (Acts 1:4-8; John 1:33-34).
In the Semitic languages the word for God is "El", which implies power and strength. Elohim is a plural form and can be translated as "powerful Gods". The word "Allah" in Islam, however, is a singular form and means: He is the power! This Arabic name in its true sense cannot designate a triune God. It can only mean a singular.
Jesus testified that all power in heaven and on earth was given to Him. He also revealed that the Holy Spirit is the power of God. Our God is the three-fold-power! Whoever is baptised in His name and accepts this privilege remains connected to the power line of God. He will pass from his death in sin to spiritual life and will awaken others who are dead in sin and iniquity to be revived by the gospel. Paul testified openly to this mystery: "I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ because it is the power of God, saving all those who believe in him." (Romans 1:16)
Peter exhorted the shocked Jews: "Repent! Each one of you may be baptised on the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. Through this you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit!" (Acts 2:38)
Whoever has received the power of God through baptism by faith no longer serves in his own strength but in the strength of the Lord and will receive added power, as often as he asks for it. (Isaiah 40:29-31)
Obeying the Commands of Christ
In Arab countries the expression "keeping the word of God" means learning it by heart. Not a few Muslims know their Qur’an by heart, completely or in part. Occasionally they ask us why we do not love our God because we do not guard his word! Learning the revelation by heart is for them proof of one's love for God. What Christian knows one gospel or the Sermon on the Mount by heart? With some difficulty some remember Psalm 23 or 103, the beatitudes or 1 Corinthians 13. Christians "think" much, but "know" little! Muslims often "know" much but "it does not think in them"! In our often over-rationalistic culture we should repent and not only listen to God’s word but also preserve it (Luke 11:28). Whoever fills his subconscious with key verses of the Bible, will gain great strength for his soul.
Preserving alone, however, is not enough. Jesus clearly says: "If you love me, keep my commandments." (John 14:15) Which are the commandments of Christ? We were guided to think about grace, justification, forgiveness, blessing and about Jesus Himself. Only a few people study His law. Whoever reads the four gospels carefully can find about 500 direct or indirect commandments of Christ. Some of them have become common knowledge of Christians: "Love your enemies! Bless those who curse you and do good things to those who hurt and persecute you." (Matthew 5:44-47) "Forgive as God forgave you." (Matthew 6:12,14-15) "Do not judge, so you may not be judged!" (Matthew 7:1-5)
Conversion to Christ is indispensable for every person. However, a change of our way of life is also imperative if we want to follow Christ. Without sanctification no one will see the Lord (Matthew 5:8; 1 Thessalonians 4:3; 1 John 3:1-3).
Who would dare teach another person to follow the commandments of Jesus and not first follow them himself? The summons of Jesus to teach and to keep His word in our daily life is a call to the teachers, preachers and messengers to first repent. The Lord does not want to hear empty words from us, but wants to see that we do what we say. Otherwise, we nullify our words by our deeds!
Do all that I have commanded you!
Jesus said: "Teach them to do all that I have commanded you." This small word "all" can cause us to feel like being condemned. Who of us knows all that Jesus asked us to do, by heart? Who has all His commands before him at all times? Who teaches them to his own children, the youth groups and the church? And who fulfills the law of Christ in word, deed and thought with precision? No one will be righteous in all that. We all fail in the application of this word of Jesus. Even the best saint can only lower his face and stammer: "Lord, do not judge me!" More so, if we meditate on the summary of all commandments of Jesus we will feel very mean. He says: "Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly father is perfect." (Matthew 5:48) "There is no one who does good, not even one!" (Psalm 14:2-4; Romans 3:19-23; 7:3-8:4 etc.)
We as servants of Christ live continually from His justifying grace and need the daily purification through His blood. Whoever reads 1 John 1:7-2:6 prayerfully can find a comforting explanation to this command of the Lord.
What is the goal of the Law of Christ?
Jesus wants to lift us up to the level of His Father. It is His goal that the basic promise of the creator becomes fulfilled in our lives: "God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them." (Genesis 1:27) Jesus alone could say: "Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father." (John 4:19) He wants to transform His disciples into His own image.
Under the Old Covenant God commanded: "Be holy because I am holy!" (Leviticus 11:44; 19:2) He is the sole standard and the spiritual goal of all who have been called by Him.
Under the New Covenant Jesus commands: "Love one another as I have loved you!" (John 13:14-15) He makes His own love the standard for us. Jesus Himself is our law. Paul writes we should clothe ourselves with Jesus, the new creation. We should be completely covered by Him. We have the privilege of being "in Christ". About 175 times you can find this unique phrase in the New Testament. Paul grasped this secret: "If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has gone, the new has come!" (2 Corinthians 5:17-21)
The Law of Muhammad
The words of Jesus: "Teach them to keep all that I have commanded you" could with some adjustement also be read in the Qur’an! However, there is a great difference between the law of Christ and the law of Muhammad. It is true that about 500 verses in the Qur’an were chosen by the leaders of the four Islamic schools of law as the backbone for their Shari'a. But these contain verses that make our hair stand on end:
"And concerning those (wives) of whom you are afraid that they become rebellious: preach to them, leave them alone in their beds, and beat them." (Sura al-Nisa 4:34)
"(Allah commanded Muhammad:) Take from their possessions donations; with that you will cleanse them and purify them." (Sura al-Ma'ida 5:6; al-Tawba 9:103; al-A'la 87:14 etc.)
"(Concerning) the male and the female thief: cut off their two hands as a punishment." (Sura al-Ma'ida 5:38).
Whoever compares the law of Christ and the law of Muhammad will recognize that a different spirit dwells in these two laws. In the law of Muhammad there is no love, no reconciliation with God, no selfless sacrifice for others and no holiness of God as a standard for all.
In the end, Muhammad himself is the content of his law. His life (Sunna) was taken as the second source for the final formation of the Islamic law. Each Muslim should live as Muhammad lived. Otherwise he is not a good Muslim. Muhammad took part in 29 raids and conquests and married twelve or more wives.
The secret goal of the law of Muhammad and of Jesus
The goal of the Law of Islam, the Shari'a, is the well-being of the Islamic society (Umma), which should be established as a religious state, governed by Islam. Islam is not a religion that separates faith and politics. It can only function fully if it is based on the law of Shari'a. The Shari'a on the other hand can only be enforced in an Islamic state. The goal of Islam remains a religious state. Every other form of Islam is regarded to be only an embryonic development.
Christ proclaimed: "My kingdom is not of this world!" (John 18:36-37) His church, with those he called out from the nations, forms His spiritual kingdom in their environment. The fellowship of His disciples is the beginning of His eternal kingdom (John 13:34-35). They are challenged to be the salt of the earth and the light of the world. The law of Jesus does not aim to establish a Christian religious state but to transform His followers to obey His commandments and to influence their society and state.
I am with you!
If a messenger of Jesus Christ breaks down in himself and recognises his impotence and inadequacy and confesses it, then Jesus tells him: "Open your eyes! Look! I am here! I live! I exist! I won’t leave you alone! I love you! I help you! I will uphold you till the old age!"
It is said that Jesus once showed one of His followers in a dream two trails of footprints in wet sand explaining: "Look I have accompanied you faithfully for a long time." When the second trail of footprints disappeared over a dangerous cliff, the dreamer reproachfully asked: "Why have you left me alone in the greatest need?" Then the Lord answered him: "I carried you until the way improved." The love of Christ is greater than we think. He assured His messenger: "No one can snatch them out of my hand!" (John 10:28) The existence of the almighty Jesus and His omnipresence should encourage us to a steadfast faith and continuing service in His presence.
To the very end of the world
Today thousands of foreign missionaries and even more national Christians in many countries serve the Lord Jesus Christ with faithfulness, even in areas ruled by anti-Christian spirits. Churches have been burnt down and active Christians have been slandered, threatened and persecuted. Some have fled or were tortured. Many live in the underground. Fear repeatedly intends to paralyse them.
But Jesus assures us: "What hits you, hit Me first!" The pain in a limb first goes to the brain, before the body feels it. Christ as the head of the church first feels the suffering of His messengers, before they themselves realize it (Acts 9:4-5). None of us is alone. The Lamb of God goes with us on the path of suffering until the end. Today there is more suffering and more glorification of Jesus than we know.
To the very last day!
In your baptism Jesus has given you a binding promise to be with you in every minute of your life, as long as you stay with Him and serve Him. Even in utmost danger and in the hour of death He will be close to you. He assures you: "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies, and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?" (John 11:25-26) Jesus wants to carry you until old age and stay with you, even when you depart from this world (Psalms 23:4-6).
Is Allah with his Muslims?
In the Qur’an it is written that when Muhammad had to flee from Mecca to Medina, he took cover in a cave and told Abu Bakr: "Truly, Allah is with us!" The persecuted Muslims felt much better afterwards (Sura al-Tawba 9:40).
Unfortunately, this Allah, who had comforted Muhammad, is not the true God because Allah says 17 times in the Qur’an that he had no son and that Christ never died on the cross (Sura al-Nisa 4:157). The Father of Jesus Christ is not with the Muslims. They deny the atoning death of Jesus and claim that an unknown spirit, called Jibril (Gabriel) would be the Holy Spirit. The spirit that drives the Muslims shakles them in an antichristian hatred. We believe that apart from the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit there is no other God.
The fourfold "All" in the Great Commission
The living Jesus assures his disciples that ALL power in heaven and on earth is given to him. Therefore, they should go and make disciples of ALL nations baptizing them into the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. They should teach baptized believers to keep ALL his commandments; he promised his messengers that he would be with them ALL days to the end of the age.
Jesus encourages you to trust in his fourfold ALL and to execute His commands. He will help you to keep His commandments, and will not leave any of His servants on their own. And in the end, you will see Him.
Q U I Z
If you have studied this booklet carfully, you can easily answer the following questions. Whoever answers 90 percent of all questions in the eight booklets of this series correctly, can obtain a certificate from our center on
as an encouragement for his/her future services for Christ.
1. What does Jesus offer the world after his death and resurrection?
Yours in His service,
Abd al-Masih and his brothers
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