To be a Christian is countercultural. It is not that we try to be different but rather the wisdom of this world runs contrary to God. It is written, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD.” (Isaiah 55:8) For those who professes the name of Christ, it is our privilege to seek understanding from the only vantage point that matters. God’s. To that end, I’d like to share a few thoughts that have become clear as I seek God for His perspective on Islam in America.
It is all for the sake of the elect. God has one thing on His mind: the Church. When Paul wrote to Timothy from prison he said, “Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect.” (2 Timothy 2:10) All throughout the epistles, Paul makes clear that the reason he suffers hardship, imprisonments, beatings, etc is that there are others, appointed from the beginning of time, predestined from the foundation of the world, who still need to hear the gospel. Hebrews 12:2, tells us that Jesus endured the agony of the cross “for the joy set before him”. What was that joy? It was fellowship with us, the elect! Matthew Henry explains, “Christ underwent so much disgrace, and such sufferings; namely, for the sake of having a spiritual seed, a numerous offspring with him in heaven, who are his joy, and crown of rejoicing; for the sake of the salvation of all the elect, on which his heart was set…” Jesus suffered and we will suffer. Why? So that others might obtain salvation.
God is sovereign. If you are a Christian and you do not believe that God is sovereign then you do not believe in the God of the Bible. Proverbs 16:4 says, “The LORD has made everything for its purpose, even the wicked for the day of trouble.” Evil schemes and wicked practices are but tools to bring about His purposes. David Wells, in his book, “The Courage to Be Protestant” explains this ever so eloquently. “The mystery of iniquity is at work in the world during this interim time, and it is not always clear how its malignant work is being checked, overridden, or woven into the glorious purposes of God. We need to remember, though, that while Judas betrayed Christ, and woe to him for doing so, it was God’s plan that Christ was thus betrayed. Evil by its very nature opposes the purposes of God, but God, in his sovereignty, can make even this evil serve his purposes.” Of Pharaoh, the Word of the Lord declares, “But I have raised you upfor this very purpose, that I might show you my power and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.” (Exodus 9:16) John Piper also describes the sovereignty of God over evil. “The evil Satan causes is only by the permission of God…It would be unbiblical and irrelevant to attribute to Satan (or sinful man) the power to frustrate the designs of God.” (Bethlehem Baptist Church, page 36).
The Gospel is the power of God. Romans 1:16 says, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.” What is the power of God? The gospel. What is the gospel? R. C. Sproul explains in his article, “The good news of the Gospel is that Jesus lived a life of perfect righteousness, of perfect obedience to God, not for His own well being but for His people. He has done for me what I couldn’t possibly do for myself. But not only has He lived that life of perfect obedience, He offered Himself as a perfect sacrifice to satisfy the justice and the righteousness of God.” The gospel of Jesus Christ is the power and wisdom of God. The gospel has “divine power to demolish strongholds.” It demolishes arguments and pretensions that sets itself up against the knowledge of God. (2 Corinthians 10:4-5). The gospel consumes like fire. It is “like a hammer that breaks a rock in pieces.” (Jeremiah 23:29) Of course, to those who are perishing, the gospel is “foolishness” but to those “who are being saved it is the power of God.” (1 Corinthians 1:18)
In view of all of the above, I must ask, could we Christians be missing the very hand of God when we view Islam in America through natural eyes only? Rather than fret, why not preach? That is, after all, what the apostle Paul did. Paul, as he explains in 2 Corinthians 11:26, “on frequent journeys, in danger from rivers, danger from robbers, danger from my own people, danger from Gentiles, danger in the city, danger in the wilderness, danger at sea, danger from false brothers” wouldn’t shut up! He saw every interruption and uncomfortable providence in life as a divine appointment to preach the gospel.
Could it be that beneath all the noise and clamour, the mighty hand of God is at work on behalf of the elect? Will I be the one to presume upon God that from among the Muslim people, He will not find any of the elect? Will you? Will I be the one to tell Him that the gospel, which is His power (not mine) is not strong enough to save the Muslim? Will you tell Him? God forbid it!
Thabiti Anyabwile, author of “The Gospel for Muslims: An Encouragement to Share Christ with Confidence” submits that, “Increasingly, God seems pleased to bring the Muslim world right to our doorsteps. The work of cross-cultural evangelism and missions has never been more accessible. With some confidence and reliance on God and His gospel, we may yet be the generation that sees history’s greatest revival among Muslim peoples.” (p. 15). This is Thabiti’s prayer and I, for one, join him.
Truly, I believe a tremendous opportunity is at hand. So long as those who are in darkness freely walk among us, let it not be said that those who know Jesus, “The true light that gives light to every man”, (John 1:9) did not give witness.
NOTE: I considered turning on the “moderate comments” feature for this post. In my desire to believe the best, I have decided against that. However, I urge you, if you are a Christian, consider carefully how your comment will bring glory to God. If you are not a Christian, please make every effort to make sure that your comment is in good taste. Anyone is welcome to disagree with what I have written however if you are incapable of expressing that in a spirit of civility and respect your comment will be deleted.