Foundations of sharing

As said before, there are many ways to share the gospel in a relevant way.  We all understand there is no value in sharing the Good News in a way the listener cannot understand, so a clear and accurate presentation is of the highest value.  With this in mind, we find the following method to be simple to share and easily understood by the listener.  It can be shared in a few minutes or over a multi week study, which we call a Holy Book Study.  We’ll show you both.

Throughout the Gospels and Acts we often find the gospel, as well as other teaching, being presented in terms the listeners already understand.  Paul and Apollos shared the gospel with Jews “from the scriptures” (Acts 17:2; 18:28) which at the time was the Old Testament.  However, when Paul shared with the Greeks, who knew nothing about Jewish beliefs, he used the alter to the unknown god and some poetry written about one of their gods as a bridge to describe the gospel in a way they can understand (Acts 17:23-29).

As we look at the OT, it seems many Christians understand it as a collection of stories about Israel’s history, which it is, but miss the grand narrative of how the events prepare us for the Messiah.  Early Christians saw this and continually quoted OT passages to reveal how it was always God’s plan for Jesus to be crucified and raised to life.  Peter said Jesus “is the one all the prophets testify about” in Acts 10:23, and in Luke 24:27 Jesus revealed foreshadows of his life from the OT to the men who he encountered on the road to Emmaus.  Without the understanding these events as the back-story of Jesus we are left with some very unusual occurrences.  Why would God ask Abraham to go and sacrifice his promised son?  Why would God have Jonah in the belly of a fish for three days?  Read in the correct way, these stories take on vast new meaning for our Muslim friends and perhaps for us as well.

In fact, most Christians are thoroughly surprised to find so many familiar names and stories in the Qur’an.  As we look deeper into these stories there are some differences, but the core of the story largely remains the same.  For example, according to the Qur’an, when Mary gave birth to Jesus she is described as being under a tree (Mary 19:23).  It is all too easy for Christians to try to correct the record on this point, but it is far more compelling to our Muslim friends to agree where we can and talk about what it means that Jesus is the only person born of a virgin, which the same passage also records.  Therefore, our focus will not be on the details but on the big picture, and we will ask “what is God telling us through this story?”

With this in mind, it is often best to start sharing about Jesus by giving the listener the back-story.  Think of these stories as telling the story of Jesus but without even saying his name.  Told in order, the stories will often reshape how our friends view God and answer questions they have about Jesus like “why did he have to die?”  In my opinion, much Muslim outreach has been frustrated because no back-story has been given.  As said in the helpful hints section, beginning with Jesus as the Son of God or as the second member of the Trinity is often incredibly confusing to the listener.  The OT is a long book, so as a minimum it’s worth a quick review.

The stories we will share are Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, David, Jonah, John the Baptist and Jesus.  Although some are easier than others, each story can be simply told in a minute or two.  Like layers of a pyramid, each main point serves as a foundation for the next and narrows the focus until we can see Jesus as the pinnacle.  Muslims will know these stories but sometimes don’t even know the order.  Putting these pieces in the right order let’s our friend see the big picture of Gods plan to redeem the lost world.  Like the men on the road to Emmaus, our friends can suddenly see the thing they have been longing for the most standing right in front of them!

Each of the following sections will have a simple retelling of the story and then a simple description of the spiritual meaning.  It is not written for anyone to memorize, but just to give an example of how to explain each point.  If you memorize it, it will probably sound like you memorized it, which will probably sound funny to your friend.  Instead, just try to learn from it and retell it in your own way.  Give it your best shot and remember that ultimately we are relying on the Spirit, not on replicating what I’ve written.  You may be surprised how powerfully the Lord can move through you!

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