Earlier today I wrote a letter in response to a man who worships with our church and who also presents himself as a Muslim. The gentlemen is kind and caring; he is always smiling when I see him. He writes of our distinct faiths (Christianity and Islam) but he also mentions we worship the same God. I have dealt with the mistaken notion that Christians, Muslims, and Jews all worship the same God here, but wanted to share with my friend about the distinctive nature of God’s grace.
It’s not often that a pastor has the privilege of writing people of other faiths. In an age of so-called tolerance, few of us possess the civility to talk about the differences in what we believe. Too much of the time we talk past one another and shout over one another on TV talk shows. This is unfortunate and hurts the free expression of our faith. I thought I would share the contents of the letter with you.
Please note: the names presented in letter below have been changed.
Thank you for your kind letter. I am so pleased that you are worshipping with us at North Richland Hills Baptist Church. We are, as you mentioned in your letter, devoted to making sure God’s Word prevails and our desire is to love others as we endeavor to connect all people with the grace of Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. I want you to feel at home in our church and I am so happy to hear of how you have felt welcomed by our church. My prayer is that we show you every kindness. My hope is that you find our church family welcoming, friendly, and warm for years to come.
You mentioned in your letter that, “The belief in Jesus is fundamental to embrace Islam.” We as a congregation are eager for everyone to come to know Jesus Christ personally and experience God’s free gift of salvation that is available only through faith in his Son, Jesus Christ (Ephesians 2:8-9). Since even our best moral efforts cannot make us acceptable to the one true and perfect God, we strive to share the message that all people are far worse than they have imagined but they are also far more loved than they can comprehend. Allow me to explain this last sentence.
You mentioned the distinct faiths of Islam and Christianity. One thing that I am praying you to experience while you are with us is God’s grace. The Bible speaks of the “riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 2:7). Grace is an unusual thing and it is a “big deal” for Christians. God’s grace causes believers in Christ to be humble people because they have not earned God’s favor but have received God’s mercy as a gift. God’s grace is a gift as God Himself gives it to people. Grace is where God treats people with goodness and mercy when they deserve only punishment. Instead of receiving what we deserve, God shows His kindness toward sinners. When we have received His kindness through Christ, how can we be anything other than humble toward others?
The Bible clearly states, “For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin” (Romans 3:20). And this a fundamental difference between Islam and Christianity. Because of Christ’s death on the cross for my sins, Christians can be absolutely certain they are forgiven. Allow me to say that again: because of Christ’s death on the cross for my sins, Christians can be absolutely certain they are forgiven. A Christian’s certainty of God’s acceptance is not because they are righteous or because they are good. Instead, our certainty rests solely in the death and resurrection of Jesus alone.
There are numerous laws in the Qur’an as there are in the Bible. The law in the Bible acts much like a mirror. The law shows us our sins like a mirror shows us what we truly are. Again, the law acts like a mirror so we see our sinfulness. Once we see our sin, we know we need a Savior.
Again, it is my prayer that you experience the grace of God for His grace is reserved only for those who trust in Jesus Christ’s death and resurrection as the payment for their sin (John 14:6; Acts 4:12). Because Jesus was both God and man, His sinless life and death stands in the place of sinners who place their faith in Him. Only God can grant forgiveness of sins and Jesus had the right to forgive us (John 1:12). Again, I want you to experience the grace of God. I want you to experience the sweet life where you know the God of heaven loves you and accepts you based on the death of His Son. I want you to experience the grace of God so you will be free to love others from the love you have experienced in Christ.
Thank you for taking time to read my letter. You are kind and thoughtful and we are so glad you are with us. I would like to sit down with you and enjoy a cup of coffee with you in the days to come. This would give us more time to talk. Please know I will be praying for you.
May Christ richly bless you,
North Richland Hills Baptist Church