Alan's monthly letter for September 2008
Which of these statements is taught in the Qur’an?
- Jesus’ birth was announced by angels.
- Jesus was born of a virgin.
- Jesus lived a sinless life.
- Jesus performed miracles and had the power to raise the dead back to life.
- After His life on earth, Jesus ascended into heaven to be with God.
- Jesus is the promised Messiah that will return at the end of the age and defeat the anti-Christ.
The answer? All of them.
What’s more interesting is the Qur’an does not attribute any of these characteristics or roles to Mohammed, Islam’s most prominent prophet. His birth was ordinary, he wasn’t sinless, he didn’t perform miracles, he died a natural death, and he has no role in end times.
So when sharing the truth of Jesus with Muslims, I teach Christians to start with the Qur’an. Though it doesn’t reveal the full identity of Jesus, it says enough to get them thinking.
Like Christians, Muslims want to get to heaven. So, given the choice of following Jesus or Mohammed, who is more qualified to get them there? According to the Qur’an, it must be Jesus. Not only did Jesus escape death, but He has the power to raise people back to life. And unlike Mohammed, Jesus is still alive in heaven with God.
Using the Qur’an is strategic for other reasons. Muslims can’t argue with it. If you point them to the New Testament, they’ll reject its description of Jesus because they believe men corrupted the Gospel record. But in their mind, the Qur’an is the word of God. So using it immediately lowers defenses. You leverage your argument by using their source of authority to make your point.
Plus, using the Qur’an builds common ground, shows respect for their authority, demonstrates knowledge of their holy book, and is evidence you are willing to traffic on their “turf.” These are the qualities of an effective ambassador for Christ that will help you win a hearing with Muslims.
Eventually, though, you’ll want to move from the Qur’an to the Gospels to get the full identity of Jesus. You can use a “bridge” verse to make the transition. When talking about Jesus’ power to raise the dead in the Qur'an (surah 3:49), for example, you can bridge to the story of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead (John 11:1-43).
This is a powerful move. Although Muslims believe the Gospels are corrupted, they affirm they were a true revelation from God, on par with the Qur’an, originally given by Jesus. So the Gospels are true insofar as they correlate with the Qur’an. By bridging to the story of Lazarus, you move Muslims closer to the full identity of Jesus and build the credibility of the Gospels.
For 1.5 billion Muslims in this world, this is a tragic case of mistaken identity. Jesus is not merely a man with a message, but our God in the flesh and the redeemer of our souls. Any other Jesus is a counterfeit Jesus.
Your faithfulness enables me to train believers how to share the true identity of Jesus in a persuasive and gracious way every month. Thank you for making that happen. Your partnership is essential to this work and I’m grateful to serve with you.
For the real Jesus,