What Jesus Would Say to a Muslim John 14:6-14:6

1. I’d like you to picture hundreds of Muslims bowing to the ground in prayer. What kinds of feelings well up within you? Now imagine an image of some angry followers of Islam. How does that affect your emotions? Do you feel afraid or do you get angry yourself?

*** In a recent Christianity Editorial (October 2010) called, “Mosques in Middle America,” the editors write this: “Debate over the so-called Ground Zero mosque has stirred an excess of angst over the Muslim presence in America.” Is there reason to be angry and afraid?

* Muslim cleric Anjem Choudary, appearing on an ABC News town hall meeting, said this: “We do believe as Muslims the East and the West will be governed by Sharia. Indeed, we believe that one day the flag of Islam will fly over the White House.”

* According to the Washington Post, the attempted Times Square bomber, who just received life in prison, told the judge: “We are only Muslims…but if you call us terrorists, we are proud terrorists, and we will keep on terrorizing you…the defeat of the U.S. is imminent.”

* And the group behind the failed Christmas Day bombing has released the second installment of its new magazine, “Inspire,” featuring a man from North Carolina who says he is “proud to be a traitor to America.” Samir Khan, now believed to be in Yemen, says: “We pledge to wage jihad for the rest of our lives until either we implant Islam all over the world or meet our Lord as bearers of Islam.”

* The United States issued an extraordinary global travel warning to Americans Friday about the threat of an al-Qaida attack and closed down 21 embassies and consulates across the Muslim world for the weekend.

The alert was the first of its kind since an announcement preceding the tenth anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. This one comes with the scars still fresh from last year’s deadly Sept. 11 attack on a U.S. diplomatic post in Benghazi, Libya, and with the Obama administration and Congress determined to prevent any similar breach of an American Embassy or consulate.

“There is a significant threat stream and we’re reacting to it,” said Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. He told ABC News in an interview to be aired Sunday that the threat was “more specific” than previous ones and the “intent is to attack Western, not just U.S. interests.”

The State Department warning urged American travelers to take extra precautions overseas, citing potential dangers involved with public transportation systems and other prime sites for tourists and noting that previous terrorist attacks have centered on subway and rail networks as well as airplanes and boats. It suggested travelers sign up for State Department alerts and register with U.S. consulates in the countries they visit.

The statement said that al-Qaida or its allies might target either U.S. government or private American interests. The alert expires on Aug. 31.

2. What should be our response to the fastest growing religion in the world? Did you know that there are over 1.2 billion Muslims across the globe today, making up over 20% of the world population? In America, there are approximately 5 million Muslims, meaning there are twice as many Muslims than Episcopalians in our country. In 2001, there were 19 mosques in TN. alone, and there are over 1,400 in the U.S. today. Islam is a missionary religion, meaning that they are committed to spread their faith and way of life all around the world. This came home to me in a chilling way when I was listening to a Muslim podcast in which the speaker referred to those who are not practicing Islam as the “not-yet Muslims.”

3. While I’m certainly no expert on Islam, I have studied it in Bible College and seminary and these past couple weeks have read a number of books, listened to many different podcasts, some by Muslims themselves, and I’ve read large sections of the Quran for myself. I’ve also contacted four different people who live and minister among Muslims and will share some of their insights a bit later. My aim is to take a missional, not a militant approach.

4. Parents and grandparents, this is really important for us to learn because our children and grandchildren are growing up in a totally tolerant and accepting atmosphere, with no regard for what is true and what is false. In fact, we could say that our culture is tolerant of everything except for the exclusive truth claims of Christianity. Our children must hear biblical truth from home. It’s a much more diverse and politically correct world than what most of us were raised in. One example of this nationally took place on a newscast I watched earlier this month. When reporting about Christianity, a well-known commentator referred to “The Bible” with disdain in his voice and on his face. And then, in the very next sentence, with obvious reverence and a nod to political correctness, he referred to “The Holy Quran.”

5. While two-thirds of Protestant pastors believe Islam is a dangerous religion according to Lifeway Research, my purpose today is not to spread fear but to grow our faith by equipping us so that we can connect people to Christ (this is part of our mission statement). We also want to help Christ-followers see the truthfulness of Christianity and to establish each of us in our faith more deeply and more securely.

6. I should say that it seems a bit presumptuous for me to know exactly what Jesus would say to these different groups of people. My aim is to not guess what He would say but to rely on and relay what Jesus has said specifically in the gospels and in the rest of the Bible, because the Living Word has revealed Himself in the written Word.

7. My outline in these messages will be simple. I will first give a synopsis of each of these worldviews so that we will know what they believe. Then we’ll allow the Word to speak so that we’ll be equipped to know how to behave in order to reach them with the life-changing message of the gospel. My aim is not to be politically correct, but biblically correct.

I. Core Beliefs of Islam

Islam, which means “surrender or submission,” began about 600 years after Christ was born. Adherents to Islam are called Muslims. The key figure in this faith is Muhammad, who Muslims believe to be the final prophet. As a merchant living in Arabia he purportedly had a number of visions over a period of 23 years. These visions became the Quran, which is the holy book of the Muslims. There are six core beliefs of Islam that are held by Muslims from all nationalities (much of this information comes from “Breaking the Islam Code” by J.D. Greear).

A. The basics of Islam:
(1) Allah is unique, all powerful and all merciful to all Muslims (those who surrender to His will)
a. There is but one Allah –
(2) There are good angels and evil spirits
(3) There are many sacred or “Revealed Books” but the four greatest are the Law of Moses , the Psalms, the Gospel of Jesus and the Quran of Muhammad.
(4) There were many prophets – including Moses and Jesus, but Muhammad was the last.
(5) Islam teaches both a resurrection and what we would refer to as hell
The basic Muslim practices are
(1) The “witness” “there is no God but Allah, and Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah”
(2) Ritual prayers (six times a day)
(3) The paying of alms (offerings)
(4) The fast of Ramadan
(5) At least one pilgrimage to Mecca in one’s lifetime.
(6) And Jihad – (individual efforts to serve Allah or engage in war against the enemies of Islam)
Islam is the fastest growing religion in the world today (there’s over 1.2 billion Muslims in the world) In fact over 100 million Muslims live in India alone where they co-exist with the majority Hindu population..
Islam is the second largest religion in Europe and has challenged Judaism as the second largest religion in America.
There are Muslim missionaries around the world and tens of millions of dollars are spent every year supporting missionaries and building mosques around the world.
A Muslim leader has been asked in the past to inaugurate a session of the US Senate praying in the name of Allah.
There are also different types or groups within Islam.
Sunni Muslims – consider themselves the orthodox Muslims
Shiite Muslims define their basic teachings differently than the orthodox
Sufi Muslims gather themselves in brotherhoods and emphasis more matters of emotion and the heart.
The Nation of Islam in America is actually a mixture of Islam/Judaism/Christianity as well as the occult and racial teachings.

B. Allah.

This is an Arabic term meaning, “the deity.” In the midst of rampant polytheism in Muhammad’s day, the message of Islam is that there is only one God. The unforgivable sin in Islam is shirk, which is to worship Jesus as God. The “Allah” of Islam is in direct contrast to the God of the Bible. Let me be clear that they are not identical. Those who say they are the same have to sidestep many Scriptures, including 1 John 2:23: “No one who denies the Son has the Father; whoever acknowledges the Son has the Father also.”

C. The prophets.

Muslims believe that there are 25 primary prophets, beginning with Adam as number one and Jesus as number 24. Muhammad is number 25 and the final prophet. This is important to understand because while Muslims honor Jesus, because Muhammad came after him, what Muhammad says trumps Jesus.

D. Angels and Demons.

Muslims engage in a whole series of rituals designed to avoid the curses of demons and invite the blessings of angels.

E. Holy Books.

While Muslims give credence to sections of the Bible (the Torah, the writings of David, and the gospels), they believe that they have been corrupted and that the Quran has corrected them. Technically speaking, since they believe the Quran was given by the angel Gabriel in Arabic, translations into other languages are not authoritative. Interestingly, they believe that the Arabic words of the Quran have supernatural power whether the hearer understands them or not. Just as they believe that Muhammad is more important than Jesus, so too, they believe that since the Quran came after the Bible, it is the final revelation.

That sounds good but is in direct violation of Rev 22:18: “I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: If anyone adds anything to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book.” Gal 1:8 adds: “But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned!”

The Quran is divided into 114 chapters, known as “suras.” It’s not arranged in any chronological or narrative order, which makes it very confusing to read. The only thing I was able to observe is that the beginning chapters are excruciatingly long, while the final chapters are extremely brief. It’s filled with rules and warnings and laws, with no narratives or plot. I found it to be a downer to read and couldn’t wait to pick up my Bible again! Another book that is followed is called the Hadith, which is a collection of the sayings and examples of Muhammad himself, which has become the standard for how Muslims should live. If you listen carefully, you’ll hear Muslims quote both the Quran and the Hadith as authoritative for their lives.

F. The final judgment.

Images of paradise, especially for men, are very prominent. Muslims also believe in hell. Even with all their devotion, a Muslim can never be sure of where he or she will spend eternity because one’s ultimate destiny is subject solely to the capricious will of Allah. According to surah 3:157, the only way to know for sure that you will spend eternity in paradise is to die in jihad.

G. Predestination.

Muslims believe that Allah has decreed everything that will happen and testify to this with a frequent phrase, inshallah, which means, “If God wills.”

H. The 5 Pillars of Islam

Along with established beliefs, a Muslim is also governed by expected behavior, known as the five pillars of Islam.

1. The Confession. Muslims continuously recite a simple statement that is also quite comprehensive in scope. It goes like this: “There is no God but Allah, and Muhammad is the messenger of Allah.” To become a Muslim, you must simply repeat this confession three times.

2. The Prayers. Practicing Muslims face Mecca five times a day for prayer. These prayers are very important as a way of earning merit. If they can pray in a mosque, that’s even better because these prayers are worth 25 times as much as prayers said at home or out in the market.

3. Fasting During Ramadan. This is the name of the ninth month on the Islamic calendar and Muslims are not allowed to touch food or water from sunup to sundown.

4. The Giving of Alms. Muslims are expected to give 2.5% of their overall estate to the poor each year.

5. The Pilgrimage to Mecca. Every Muslim is expected to take a pilgrimage to their holy city once in his life, with many saving all their lives in order to have this experience. A trip to Mecca counts the same as 50,000 prayers in a mosque.

II. What Jesus Has Said

1. There is so much that Jesus would say to a Muslim that I’ve decided to focus primarily on what is recorded in the Gospel of John. This gospel reveals its purpose right near the end in John 20:31: “But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.”

2. To make it easier to follow along, let’s start in the beginning and just work our way through a number of passages. I’m not going to make any comments and won’t take many breaths because I want us to hear what Jesus said about Himself and how what He has said should mess with a Muslim. Incidentally, Jesus is mentioned 25 times in the Quran and Muslims give special recognition to the Gospels.

John 1:1-5: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it.”

John 1:10-14: “He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God – children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God. The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.”

John 3:3: “In reply Jesus declared, “I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.”

John 3:16-18: “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.”

John 3:36: “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on him.”

John 5:18: “For this reason the Jews tried all the harder to kill him; not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God.”

John 5:24: “I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life.”

John 5:43: “I have come in my Father’s name, and you do not accept me; but if someone else comes in his own name, you will accept him.”

John 5:46: “If you believed Moses, you would believe me, for he wrote about me.”

John 6:29: “Jesus answered, ‘The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.’”

John 6:40: “For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.”

John 8:19: “You do not know me or my Father,” Jesus replied. “If you knew me, you would know my Father also.”

John 8:58: “I tell you the truth,” Jesus answered, “before Abraham was born, I am!”

John 10:30: “I and the Father are one.”

John 11:25: “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 14:6: “Jesus answered, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.’”

John 17:3: “Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.”

What would Jesus say to a Muslim: “If Jesus were to talk to these people, he would explain that they could never pay enough or do enough good to receive a pardoning for their sin. Only his blood could set them free, and only a perfect substitute could remove their guilt and punishment …I think that Jesus would remind them that there really will be a day of judgment, and that they need to get ready. He would also tell them that He loves them and wants to have a relationship with them every day on this earth as well as for eternity.”

A. Law of Non-Contradiction

*** In a podcast debate between a Christian and a Graduate from Bradley University who is a Muslim. This Muslim, who has his PhD in Religious Studies, admitted that Islam and Christianity are mutually exclusive. And yet, many Christians want to believe that it doesn’t really matter what you believe. But friends, the law of non-contradiction says that two contradictory propositions cannot both be true.

*** This was backed up by an article I read from Douglas Groothius of Denver Seminary in which he said: “Neither Christianity nor Islam can logically endorse the other religion’s distinctive claims and practices without denying its own.”

B. How then can we reach a Muslim with the gospel?

1. Your number one resource is the Bible. I was listening to another podcast this past week in the car that featured an expert in evangelism to Muslims. It was very helpful. At the end of the interview, he was asked for a list of resources. I got my pen out and searched for some paper to write down what he was going to say (I had to steer with my knees so this wasn’t easy). As I was poised with my pen, he said something that took me back a bit. I thought he was going to list some books or websites or other podcasts. Here’s what he said: “The number one resource is the Bible. It’s imperative for Christians to get grounded in the Bible and in theology.”

We must read it and study it and know it and then encourage followers of Islam to read it for themselves. When Muslims read the Bible, they become intrigued and are especially attracted to Jesus. I love what Martin Luther once said, “The Bible when attacked should be treated like a lion in its cage. Rather than attempting to defend it, unleash it!” Since Muslims believe Jesus to be a prophet, one idea is to point out that prophets have to tell the truth. You could then go back to the list of verses from the Gospel of John to show what Jesus said about Himself and the way to salvation. Some other ideas from the Old Testament is to use the idea of the scapegoat, the bull offering and the cities of refuge as jumping off places to talk about Jesus.

By the way, when handling your Bible, be sure to use a copy that you have not written in for that would be offensive to a follower of Islam. Also be sure to not let it drop below your waist, and if you stack it with other books, make sure you put it on the top. To fail to do those things is a sign of disrespect in their eyes (www.godwardthoughts.com).

2. Make sure that you love Muslims. Do you have any hatred in your heart toward Muslims? In my research for this message, I listened to a Muslim message called, “Dealing With Extreme Christian Evangelicals.” He argued that the great source of anger toward Islam is coming from evangelicals as they spew out “lava of hatred.” Friends, followers of Islam are made in the image of God and Muslims matter to Him. It’s time for us to converse and not quarrel, to treat them with respect not contempt. Check out 1 Peter 3:15: “But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.”

*** A Missionary reported: “People are not convinced by knowledge, debate, or hostile action (like the pastor in Florida who wanted to burn holy books). Instead it is godly living and love that makes a personal impact. When I was a child, we lived in such an area. SIM had a hospital there. A religious leader came for treatment. As he was waiting, he saw one of my parents’ colleagues who was also waiting, give his chair to a poor family with a sick child. The leader was amazed that such an educated person would do something like this and continued to watch how my parents’ colleagues responded to different situations. As a patient he sometimes deliberately made things difficult for the doctor and nurses, yet they continued to be gracious. During the daily chapel services he would stop his ears so that he wouldn’t hear. One day a persistent fly would not leave. As he tried to shoo it away, he heard a verse of Scripture quoted. As he closed his ears again, that verse continued in his thoughts. With time and much thought he decided to follow the way of the Bible. Years later he was one of the strongest evangelists in the region.”

*** One hundred years ago, the missionary Samuel Zwemer was known as the Apostle to Islam. His whole approach could be summarized with this phrase: “A ministry of friendship.” He once said that you can say anything to a Muslim provided you say it in love and with a smile. *** Apparently the sun and the wind were having an argument. “You have no power,” said the wind, “you are just stuck up there in the sky, bound by the forces of gravity, impotent and immobile.” Just then a man with a coat walked past. The sun said to the wind, “If you are so strong and mobile, see if you can blow the coat off the man’s back.” The wind blew furiously, but the man just pulled the coat all the more tightly around himself. “Stand back,” said the sun, “and let me see what I can do.” The sun poured out its warm rays upon the man who soon became uncomfortable and duly removed his coat.

If we desire to see Muslims remove their opposition to the Gospel and shed their beliefs and start following Christ, we too will only succeed when they feel the warm rays of Christian love and compassion rather than the cold winds of arrogance and point-seeking confrontation.

3. Tell Muslims about Jesus. Brothers and sisters, we don’t have to make Jesus more palatable to people. In fact, 1 Cor 1:18 says that the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing. Jesus is truth and can stand up to thorough investigation. Our job is to tell others about Him. By the way, the exclusive truth claims of Jesus do not mean that we should demonstrate an arrogant spirit. Ravi Zacharias captures this well when he writes: “Without the undergirding of love, the possessor of any conviction becomes obnoxious, and the dogma believed becomes repulsive to the one who disagrees with it” (“Deliver Us From Evil,” p. 83).

*** Roy Oksnevad, director of the Institute of Muslim Studies at Wheaton College said this in an interview in Christianity Today (3/1/2000): “One former Muslim has said Islam had the rules and discipline she wanted in her life, but lacked the power to live the life the rules stipulated: ‘As a system of personal discipline, Islam has few equals. As a means of earning God’s favor, it’s a spiritual treadmill.’”

*** One idea is to reference Luke 8:40-48 where Jesus heals a bleeding woman. To the Muslim, cleanliness is the path to touching God but Jesus showed that touching Him is the path to cleanliness. When the unholy touches the holy, the unholy does not defile the holy; the holy purifies the unholy.

*** For Muslims, Allah is a force but not a friend. He’s far away, unpredictable, and impossible to please. There is no statement in the Quran that says “Allah is love.” It does say that “Allah loves” two times but his love is conditioned on whether an individual keeps his laws and standards. One author points out that to the Muslim, Allah is the distant one, the cold judge and the hater of infidels. Most feel disconnected from their deity, they know they need purification, they live with a sense of shame that they’re not doing enough and they seek an intercessor. We could say it like this: Islam is the ultimate religion of works-righteousness while Christianity is all about gift-righteousness. In Islam, people obey and hope to be accepted. In Christianity, I am accepted, therefore I obey. But remember this, you and I cannot argue a Muslim into the kingdom because, according to J.D. Greear, “The roots of Muslim beliefs are not found in their minds, but in their hearts.”

*** Philip Roberts of Midwestern Baptist Seminary developed a plan for witnessing to Muslims that rests on three realizations:

* Muslims rarely hear a truthful presentation of the gospel

* Few Christians understand Islam

* Evangelistic efforts should be defined in terms of relationships, not transactions

4. Live your life for Jesus. Because Jesus is the way, the truth and the life, those of us who know Him should have our lives shaped by Him. Are you living for Him right now? Do you need to come back if you’ve been drifting?

*** Many Muslims say the number one thing that keeps them from Christ is the lifestyle of Christians. One Christian who lives among Muslims said this: “They are contemptuous of Christians because they think they are worldly…” J.D. Greear says that according to Muslims, “Christians are morally loose and do not show respect for God.”

Some in the media talk about the need for Christians to apologize to Muslims. I’m not quite sure what they’re referring to but if we’re going to apologize, the real apology we should make is that we have not been living according to the standards of Scripture. I don’t know what you think about the Ground Zero mosque controversy but the true “Ground Zero” for Christians is that we be grounded and growing in our faith.

III. Momentum Among Muslims

*** One Christian scholar has identified three primary misunderstandings related to Muslims.

* They’re all terrorists. They make up only a very small percentage.

* They’re all theologians. Most do not follow the 5 Pillars and many follow “Folk Islam”

* They’re unreachable. Many exciting things are happening in this regard.

*** One friend who lives in a country where the dominant religion is Islam sent me an email recently in which he said this: “Well as far as trying to reach a Muslim…it’s hard, but not impossible. One of the best things going for us is that a devout Muslim wants to have a relationship with God.”

*** Another friend, who lives in another part of the world, gives six reasons why a Muslim is more open than is commonly believed.

* He privately doubts his own standing with God because no one can fulfill all of Islam’s requirements.

* He lives in fear because Islam offers no assurance of salvation.

* Although he prays a lot, he doesn’t have any personal relationship with God and doesn’t expect God to meet his needs.

* His faith is fragile because it has never been challenged or tested.

* He doesn’t really understand his own religion and therefore has a hard time explaining it and defending it.

* He is very open to spiritual conversations.

Far too many of us think a Muslim can never come to Christ. But, it’s happening all around the world, and I believe it will speed up as the return of Christ nears. Matt 24:14 says: “And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.” Some believe the greatest harvest in history is already starting to happen.

*** Here’s a report I read just this past Thursday from the Christian Post: “Iran may be ‘closed land politically,’ one ministry leader told the Lausanne Congress, but it is also ‘the most open nation to the Gospel in the entire world. Betrayed by the government, disillusioned with the religion, depressed by the prospects of the future, Iranians when they come to know the Lord Jesus Christ are completely transformed.’”

According to those I’ve talked to, it seems like God is using four ways to point people to the only Way.

*** How It’s Happening

1. Dreams, visions and miraculous interventions. In Acts 2:17 Peter is preaching and quotes from the Book of Joel: “In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams.” We know that God used dreams with Abraham and Joseph in the Old Testament and Joseph and Peter in the New Testament. A survey of over 600 ex-Muslims reports that over 25% had dreams or visions that played a vital role in their conversion. Among African Muslims, over 40% report that they came to Christ through “visions, dreams, angelic appearances or hearing God’s voice.” We get a bit uncomfortable with this in the west but for the Muslim, they give great credence to dreams (to learn more, see morethandreams.org).

“One in my mentoring group…came from the country with the largest number of adherents. She grew up in a family very devoted to their faith. Her father died when she was young. As a university student when she received news that her mother had become a follower of “Issa”[Jesus] she was very angry and refused to go home in order not to associate with an infidel. She sought to be more devoted in practicing her faith. One night she had a dream. A very kind-looking man told her, “I am the way, truth, and the life.” She awoke and wondered what that dream could have meant. Sometime later she received a New Testament. While reading the Gospel of John she came across the same passage. Then she knew whom she had seen in the dream. At that point she decided to become a Christ follower.”

2. The Back to Jerusalem Movement. Chinese house churches are planning to send at least 100,000 evangelists from China through many predominately Muslim nations all the way back to Jerusalem.

3. The explosion of technology. The world is indeed flat, isn’t it? Using radio, satellite television, DVDs, CDs, thumb drives, the Internet and smart phones, the gospel is racing around the world.

4. Faithful messengers. Did you know that only 6% of the western Christian missionary force is working with Muslims? We need to do what we can to change this, and we are.

*** I came across a study of 650 believers from a Muslim background. This study involved people from 40 different countries and 58 different ethnic groups. Do you know what the number one reason was that they listed for why they had come to faith in Jesus? It was because of the lifestyle of Christ-followers.

*** Related to this, one person who has a heart for Muslim missions has said, “It’s not strange for a Muslim to hear the gospel more than fifty times before it starts to make sense for him.” I love how one paraphrase captures the meaning of 1 Thess. 1:8: “The word has gotten around. Your lives are echoing the Master’s Word, not only in the provinces but all over the place. The news of your faith in God is out. We don’t even have to say anything anymore — you’re the message!”

*** Can you imagine what it’s going to be like when men and women from all over the world will be bowing before the Messiah on the throne in heaven? Close your eyes as I read from Rev. 5:6-14: “Then I saw a Lamb, looking as if it had been slain, standing in the center of the throne, encircled by the four living creatures and the elders. He had seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth. He came and took the scroll from the right hand of him who sat on the throne. And when he had taken it, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb. Each one had a harp and they were holding golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. And they sang a new song: ‘You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because you were slain, and with your blood you purchased men for God from every tribe and language and people and nation. You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God, and they will reign on the earth.’ Then I looked and heard the voice of many angels, numbering thousands upon thousands, and ten thousand times ten thousand. They encircled the throne and the living creatures and the elders. In a loud voice they sang: ‘Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise!’ Then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all that is in them, singing: ‘To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be praise and honor and glory and power, forever and ever!’ The four living creatures said, ‘Amen,’ and the elders fell down and worshiped.”

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