People claim to hunger for the truth, but they seldom like the taste when it is served up. It has been rightly said, “The only truth you know is the truth you want to know.” Mark Spence reminds us that each person must decide for himself what to do with Jesus who said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.”
February 21, 2019
Someone asked me the following question: “Is it wise to have open-air preaching in an Islamic country like Malaysia? The constitutional law in Malaysia is basically Islamic. The country appears to be democratic but deep down it is rooted in Islamic core values.”
This is my response:
The answer to this must be your decision, but I will give you my thoughts to help you to shape yours.
“Some think that it’s their job to dismantle Islam and to say that Muhammad was a false prophet. I don’t believe that is wise if we truly want to reach Muslims with the gospel.”
First, I would find an appropriate place to preach, and then make inquiries about the legalities of speaking in the open air. Perhaps a permit is required, and having one will keep you on the right side of the law.
Secondly, Paul “crafted” his message for his hearers at Athens, and I have crafted a gospel for Muslims. Some think that it’s their job to dismantle Islam and to say that Muhammad was a false prophet. I don’t believe that is wise if we truly want to reach Muslims with the gospel. If we are trying to feed the dying, we should try to avoid poking them in the eye.
Muslims have a “works-righteousness” religion. They believe that salvation comes from performing religious works to merit everlasting life. The hope is that God will overlook their sins because their religious works will outweigh them in the scales of God’s Justice. And that will hopefully mean Heaven rather than Hell.
The reason they have this hope is that they don’t understand the nature of God. Therefore, our job is to show them His holiness in contrast to their sin. And we do this by preaching the spiritual nature of the moral Law, as Jesus did to those who were self-righteous.
“Tell Muslims that their Creator provided a Savior for all mankind—for Hindus, Buddhists, Muslims, atheists, churchgoers, and agnostics.”
Understanding the Law strips sinners of false hope. It shows them that they are lawbreakers and that God (as a judge) sees their religious works as an attempt to bribe Him. And the Bible tells us that He will not be bribed—that the sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination to God (see Proverbs 15:8).
How then can they be justified in the sight of a holy God if their sacrifice is inadequate?
And so enters the light of the glorious gospel, and it’s important how you present it. Tell Muslims that their Creator provided a Savior for all mankind—for Hindus, Buddhists, Muslims, atheists, churchgoers, and agnostics. The gospel is universal, and if biblically proclaimed to a Muslim is the greatest news he could ever hope to hear. He can cease from his labors and simply trust in the mercy of God, because of the cross. Jesus came to suffer and defeat death by rising again, and those who would be saved need only to repent and trust alone in Him.
There is no need to argue about the exclusivity of the Savior. Your message has already said that. The Law shut out every human effort to be saved, and God provided only one Savior.
“Muslims need only hear the gospel. In God’s timing, He will reveal other biblical truths.”
Nor do you need to try to convince them that God had a Son, or that Jesus is God in human form. This is because it’s not your job to do so. When Jesus asked Peter who He was, Peter said that He was the Christ, the Son of the living God. Jesus then said, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in Heaven” (Matthew 16:16,17). At this point, Muslims need only hear the gospel. In God’s timing, He will reveal other biblical truths.
And so your commission is to only preach the simple gospel, because it’s the power of God to salvation (see Romans 1:16). And your preaching should be mingled with evident love, gentleness, and patience, praying that God in His mercy will bring life to your words.