169 - CHANGE EXAMPLE 1: APPLICATION of these findings in ministry
Our suggestions on how to use these discoveries between the Bible and the Koran will focus on the last three elements discussed above.
In your discussions with Muslim missionaries, who try to win you over to Islam, you could answer like this: “I appreciate your devotion to Islam and the Koran. Since you know the Koran well, you may be able to answer a problem I have with your honorable book. The Koran reveals that Allah commanded Adam not to draw near a certain tree. What is the name of this tree? What was so special about it that it was forbidden to even approach it? Allah never disclosed its nature in the Koran. The Koran only says that Satan called it the ‘tree of eternity and of a kingdom that does not decay’. Why did Allah only call it ‘the tree’? Did he not know its nature, or did he not want Adam to know its nature? But why then did the Koran allow Satan to disclose its nature? Did Satan say the truth about the tree, or was he lying, when he said it is a tree connected to eternity and power? This is a puzzle for me. Please help me understand the Koran in this point, then we can move on to other issues.”
In helping Muslim seekers come to faith in the Gospel of Jesus Christ it is important to point out one crucial element, which the Koran omitted from the Biblical verses about Adam. You could argue like this: “Maybe you read that Adam was forbidden by God to approach a certain tree in the Jannah Garden. In the Koran Adam is warned that he would be ‘among the wrongdoers’ (Suras 2:35e and 7:19e) if he approached this forbidden tree. Here the Bible differs from the Koran. In the Bible God warned Adam not to eat from the forbidden tree, because ‘in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die’ (Genesis 2:17b). This is why the Bible teaches that ‘the wages of sin is death’ (Romans 6:23a). No matter how small your sin is, it will surely bring death, both on earth and in eternity. Your and my sins are not just mistakes that can be corrected by good deeds. No, when I sin, I am totally lost. I can never save myself from Hell. Therefore, my salvation must come from outside. Christ carried your sin and my sin. He died for your and my sins and therefore we no longer have to die if we believe in his death on the cross for our sins, but we receive eternal life. I invite you to believe in Christ, because he said: ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment but has passed from death to life’ (John 5:24).”
In your follow-up among new believers from a Muslim background it is important to highlight that the Bible speaks of two trees in the Garden of Eden. The one was in the middle of that garden and is called “the tree of life” and the other is called “the tree of the knowledge of good and evil” (Genesis 2:9b). The first one gives eternal life and the other one revealed Adam's rebellion against God and therefore brought death to him. As descendants of Adam we share this burden of Adam that he ate from the forbidden tree. It proved that he did not want to listen to God alone. This is why we die like Adam. Adam could have eaten from the allowed tree of life in the middle of the Garden of Eden. But he did not do that. We give thanks to God because today we have a new “tree of life”. Our tree of life is a person and his name is Jesus Christ. He said about himself: “I am the way, and the truth, and the life.” (John 14:6) Since you and I have accepted Christ, you and I have this eternal life that is in Jesus Christ, our “tree of life”. Christ also said: “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst” (John 6:35). Let us come to Christ every day to eat of his bread of life, to drink of his living water, so that he will remain our tree of life forever!
In discipling committed followers of Christ from a Muslim background it is important to highlight that Adam was not put into the Garden of Eden just to enjoy it. No, this was not all, because God also gave him work to do there. His task was “to work it and keep it” (Genesis 2:15b). This is wonderful, because if he had lived in the Garden of Eden just for the sake of enjoyment, things would have become boring for him after some time. But God's job description for Adam in the Garden of Eden secured that he would never get bored there. There would always be challenges to deal with and rewards to reap from working the garden. In the same way today as we follow Christ, we surely have the privilege to enjoy the eternal life that God gave us. However, in addition he gave us a task to “go and make disciples of all nations” (Matthew 28:19a). This is why life in the kingdom of God, whose co-workers we are, never gets boring. “Follow Jesus and your life will become fascinating!”
When preaching and teaching about these passages in the Bible and the Koran it is important to highlight the different teachings of the Bible and the Koran regarding death. According to the Koran Allah does not only give life but also death (e.g. Sura 57:2). In the Bible, however, our God only gives life. We die not because God kills us, but because our sin separates us from him, our source of life. Through faith in Jesus Christ we get reconnected to God as our source of life, who becomes our Father in heaven and we receive life eternal from him, thus making us children of our heavenly Father. This is not possible in Islam, because according to the Koran Allah does not only give life, but also death and therefore he can never become our father. Therefore, it is our highest priority to go to Muslims and testify to them Jesus Christ as our source of eternal life, who overcomes the death that our sin caused. The God of Christ said: “To the thirsty I will give from the fountain of the water of life freely!” (Revelation 21:6b)
In warning Christians with little exposure to Islam from opening up to Islam or of mixing up Islam and Christianity in some kind of Chrislam it is important to highlight this antithesis between the Bible the and Koran: Allah in the Koran kills everybody, while the God of the Bible is the pure source of life. He allowed his son to be killed for our sins and he raised him from the dead for our justification in order to overcome our death and secure eternal life for us. If you open up to Islam, you will open up to a God, who kills you, and you will lose the gift of God, which is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord and Savior.