Other Worldviews

Make Jesus Central to Your Conversations with Muslims

Author Alan Shlemon Published on 11/01/2015

Islam is growing fast. One out of every five people on the planet is a Muslim. That makes them one of the largest unreached people groups. Sadly, 38,000 Muslims die every day and enter eternity without Christ. We need to hone our skills so we’re more effective at sharing the truth with them.

The opportunity to tell Muslims about the Gospel is huge. You no longer have to cross the ocean to reach them. It’s possible that all you have to do is cross the street. Muslims live in most cities across our country, and many of them are eager to discuss spiritual topics.

We need to think carefully, though, about the content of our message and the manner of our speech. Knowing that every Christian is an ambassador of Jesus, Paul gives us some guidelines. He writes,

“Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone” (Col. 4:5–6).

If we don’t heed Paul’s guidelines, we can short-circuit our efforts to communicate the truth to Muslims. That’s why I don’t recommend bringing up jihad, denigrating Mohammed, or discussing the Arab-Israeli conflict. These topics simply raise defenses and make the Muslim less receptive to more important issues. Instead, when talking to Muslims, make Jesus central to your conversation. Here are three reasons why.

Reason #1: Jesus is a prophet in Islam. That means Muslims must believe in Him. To be clear, Muslims hold a very different Christology. They don’t believe He’s the Son of God, a divine being, or part of the Trinity. They also deny His crucifixion, resurrection, and atoning work.

Nevertheless, they revere Jesus as a prophet because the Qur’an speaks very highly of Him. It teaches that Jesus’ birth was announced by angels (Surah 3:44–45), that He was born of the Virgin Mary (Surah 19:20), and that He lived a sinless life (Surah 19:19). It also says Jesus was able to perform miracles and raise the dead (Surah 3:49). Jesus will even be a sign of the end times (Surah 43:61). These are just some of the admirable characteristics attributed to Him.

You can feel comfortable bringing up Jesus in your conversation because Muslims hold Christ in high esteem. Therefore, bring Him up and tell them about the Gospel, which is the message He wants you to share with Muslims and, indeed, everyone.

Reason #2: Jesus’ Gospel is considered a true revelation. Muslims believe Allah has given divine scripture to various prophets. Since Jesus is one of their prophets, they believe Allah gave Him the Gospel. Unfortunately, Muslims also believe this Gospel revelation became corrupted over time. This is not only the most common objection you’ll hear from Muslims, but it’s also the most serious. That’s because the Gospel accounts (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John) give the true identity of Christ and describe the only means of salvation. Without this message, the Muslim remains lost.

In my book, The Ambassador’s Guide to Islam, I teach how to deal with this objection. In a nutshell, I demonstrate that the Qur’an teaches two things that undermine the Muslim charge of corruption. First, the Qur’an teaches that no one can change or corrupt the words of God (Surah 6:34, 6:115, 10:64, 18:27, etc.). Second, the Qur’an teaches the Gospel is an example of the word of God (Surah 3:3, 2:136, 4:136, 29:46, etc.). Therefore, it follows that the Gospel is the unchanged/uncorrupted word of God. Since the Qur’an is the highest authority in Islam, Muslims must accept what it teaches.

Once your Muslim friend accepts the Gospel is not corrupted, then you can tell them the true identity of Christ and plan of salvation found in Him.

Reason #3: Jesus can guarantee salvation. I always ask Muslims if they are 100% sure they are going to Heaven. I’ve never had a Muslim tell me “yes.” That’s because Islam operates on a meritorious based system of salvation. Two angels record all your good and bad deeds you commit in life. These deeds are weighed at the final judgment. If your good deeds outweigh your bad deeds, then you go to Heaven. If your bad deeds outweigh your good deeds, then you go to Hell. Since Muslims can’t know their “account status,” they can’t know—with certainty—their ultimate fate.

But Jesus can. According to the Gospel, people who put their trust in Christ have all of their bad deeds atoned for—paid completely—by the work of Christ on the cross. That’s a message Christians can tell Muslims: Jesus can guarantee their salvation. That’s good news!

The great thing about making Jesus the focus of your conversation is that you already know Him and His message. You don’t need to take a course on Islam. You’re already prepared to talk to Muslims. Sure, you can always learn more about Islam in the future, but for now the Gospel is what Muslims need to hear.