Should Christians Fear Islam?
Should Christians Fear Islam?
From Gabriel via FB 11/01/2022- Greetings, Tolotra (or Gabriel) and I have one question: Islam is the fastest-growing religion and is estimated to be the number 1 in a few years. Should I be afraid?
According to “Rabbi” Wikipedia….
- Number of Christians worldwide: 2.382 billion
- Number of Muslims worldwide: 1.907 billion
That means there are almost half a billion (500 million) more Christians in the world than Muslims, but the gap is closing.
- These numbers don’t reflect the number of true believers many of these are nominal, “in name only” Christians or Muslims. I don’t believe there are actually 2.4 billion born-again believers on earth, no matter which Christian tradition they come from.
- I would think there are many more nominal or “in name only” Muslims than Christians, because fear and the threat of punishment is often used in Islam to keep people in the fold (this happens among Christians also but is much less common).
- The biggest advantage for Muslims is demographics – they tend to have much more children than Christians.
Again, according to “Rabbi” Wikipedia, Islam is the fastest growing religion, but because of their birth rates. Worldwide, Muslims have on average 3.1 children per woman, and Christians on average 2.7 children per woman. This explains the growth of Islam, not conversions to Islam. It is said that number of conversions to Islam is not greater than the number of those who leave Islam.
- The fastest growing religion by conversion is Christianity, especially Pentecostal Christianity.
A Few Things to Keep in Mind:
- We shouldn’t seek to persecute Muslims, to outlaw Islam, or to restrict it by force – under the simple principles of the Golden Rule (Matthew 7:12) and loving our enemy (Matthew 5:43-46).
- When Muslims break the law – with murders, honor killings, mutilation of young women – they should be punished by the civil authorities (not the church), according to Romans 13:1-5. The same would be true for Christians who broke the law in the same ways.
- Spiritually speaking, a big problem for Islam is the way that Muslim radicals keep murdering Christians. We hear a lot about this in parts of Africa, sometimes Asia, sometimes the Middle East. In doing so, they persecute Jesus Himself and invite the judgment of God upon them.
- The church, the community of Christians – is not like a delicate greenhouse flower that needs all the right conditions to grow. The church of Jesus Christ is like a stubborn weed that can’t be killed no matter how hard you try.
Therefore, whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.
You have heard that it was said, “You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.” But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same?
What Should We Do?
- We should pray just as Jesus told us to pray in Luke 10:2:
The harvest truly is great, but the laborers are few; therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest.
- There is much evangelism to do among the people of the Muslim world. God is moving and many are coming to faith, but the work remaining is massive.
- We should encourage and bless Christian believers who are among Muslim majority populations – especially those who face persecution.
- We think our work of translating the Enduring Word Bible commentary into Arabic and Farsi is important.
So, Gabriel (Tolotra) – don’t be afraid. Trust and obey the Lord, and we will see His victory won. We’ve read the last chapter of the book and we know that Jesus wins.
I know that Jesus felt sad sometimes, but was that just part of His human nature? Does God the Father feel sad sometimes too?
You’re talking about human emotions being assigned to God. The fancy word for this is anthropomorphism, where we assign human emotions to things that are not strictly human. For example, we often do this with pets. We look at a pet and say, “Oh, they’re sad. They’re happy.” As far as we can tell, that’s what they are, but we really don’t know exactly what’s going on in their mind. So, we assign emotions to them. It’s a valid thing to do. We’re not crazy for doing that.
The Bible does much the same thing in talking about God. The Bible talks about God’s gladness, God’s joy, God’s rejoicing, God’s sorrow, God’s anger. As far as we can understand them, those are accurate descriptions. I don’t know if we can ever truly understand all of who God is and all that He displays in His person and His emotions. But as much as we can understand it, those terms are communicated to us.
We read that God takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked. We read about the Holy Spirit being grieved. So yes, you could say that sorrow is an emotion that can be assigned to God. We just need to understand that we’re doing the best to explain the divine in terms of the human. Now, there’s no other way we can explain it. We’re not God; we’re not divine. It’s valid for us to do the best we can; we just always need to keep in mind that we’re trying to explain the divine in terms of the human, and there’s always going to be something that falls short with that. But yes, the Bible does describe God as experiencing emotions, and it’s okay for us to understand it in those same terms.
Why does Jesus get upset with the others in the passage of the demon-possessed boy (Matthew 17:17)?
Matthew 17:17 – Then Jesus answered and said, “O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I bear with you? Bring him here to Me.”
Notice the words, “O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you?” Jesus had expected His disciples to be further along. Now, we’re not saying that Jesus didn’t know the condition of His disciples. Their inability to deal with this the demons possessing this boy was a manifestation of it. This should have been an opportunity for them to demonstrate that they were further along in their discipleship and their faith. There was something unbelieving in the disciples that explained their inability to deal with this. That’s the best way that I could explain it there.
There was a sense of frustration by Jesus with His disciples because they had reason to be further along in their discipleship. We see some of this reflected in the Letter to the Hebrews, where the writer basically says, “You should be further along in your faith than you are at this point.” And friends, this is just true. There should be a general progress in our Christian life. We’re not talking about Christian perfectionism. And we’re not saying that the course of a Christian’s progress is like some unbroken line of glory.
But in general, you should have greater maturity in your relationship with God now than you had five years ago. I’m not saying that it’s that it’s like this rocket ship to glory with never any halts or pauses or regresses. I’m just saying that there should be a general progress in our Christian life. If the things which cause you great fear and anxiety and unbelief today, are exactly the same as they were five years, if there’s been no growth in grace, then that should be a little bit of an alarm signal for you. You shouldn’t feel condemned. But you should just simply say, “Lord, I want to grow in my relationship with You.”
I think Jesus was expressing His legitimate frustration that there had not been enough of that displayed in the life and the faith of the disciples. I once heard somebody describe a person who had been a Christian for twenty years but honestly was not very mature in the Christian life. To that person he said, “You haven’t been a believer for twenty years; you’ve been a believer for two years, 10 times over.” In other words, they only had the maturity that you might expect of a believer after two years, despite having been a believer for twenty years. They were stuck in that place.
I understand how this general idea of Christian growth can be abused. It can be abused to teach an idea of Christian perfectionism. It can be abused to condemn people. It can be abused to act as if there’s a spiritual elite in God’s family. I understand the potential abuses. But I do also believe that the Bible teaches that, in general, there should be a sense of progression in our Christian life.
What is your understanding of the fruit of the tree of good and evil? What was the fruit?
I can give you a biblical answer. Are you ready for this? We don’t know.
In popular conception, the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil was an apple. But the Bible nowhere says that. People just think that. They’ve painted pictures of Eve with her hair tastefully draped, holding an apple, or eating an apple. Listen, the Bible nowhere says that. I’ve heard that some traditions have taught that it was an orange. I don’t know, maybe so. If it was an orange, I bet it was one of those easy peeling oranges. But we just don’t know. So, you’re free to pick whatever fruit you want.
I do find it significant that at the very beginning, humanity was tested concerning food and eating. And when Jesus was tempted in the wilderness, the first temptation that came to Him, according to Luke’s account, was the temptation to turn stones into bread. The temptation was to satisfy Jesus’ hunger while He was obeying God His father by fasting. Jesus was tested in regard to food, and so were Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. Jesus truly is the second Adam, who won the victory where Adam failed. But we’re just not told what the specific fruit was in the Garden of Eden. So we don’t know.
What are some strategies for combating spiritual warfare?
What are some strategies for combating spiritual warfare? It seems like the more I witness about the Lord to my family, the more physical issues I have. Now battling COVID.
I’m sorry to hear that you are battling COVID right now. And Lord, right now in the name of Jesus, we pray for our Christian friend, and we ask that You would heal them and bring them strength to their body, in Jesus’ name. I hope that God answers that prayer.
First, here’s the link to my audio series on Spiritual Warfare.
Let me just give you a basic principle. I think that effectiveness in spiritual warfare begins with surrender and submission to God. We find this in James where he says, “Resist the devil and he will flee from you.” But before he says that, he says, “Submit to God. Resist the devil…”
Make a conscious surrender to God. See if the Holy Spirit is speaking to you about any issue in your life and surrender it to God. 1 Peter 5 also talks about resisting the devil, who goes about as a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour. But right before that, Peter talks about our surrender and our submission to God.
So, submit to God, then resist the devil. Stand against him. Stand against his lies. Stand against his deception. Stand against his persistence. Stand against whatever violence that he may do in this world. Stand against Satan and his lies and his works. And continue to stand. Persistence is a great benefit in spiritual warfare. We can say, “God helping me, I won’t give up. God strengthening me, I will not give up. I will receive the Lord’s strength and I will continue to battle.”
This is something that I have observed, and we know this to be biblically true. Obviously, Satan is not God. He’s not a rival of God. He’s not God’s equal. He’s not God’s opposite. Satan is a finite being, and every demonic spirit that is in allegiance to Satan, every principality and power used as Satan’s tools, they are finite beings with limited resources. Therefore, when it is clear to Satan and his allies the demonic spirits that they cannot win, they will redeploy their resources somewhere else.
Oftentimes, an important part of our spiritual warfare is simply standing strong by God’s help. We can never do this on our own strength. But God helping us, we can stand strong and persistent. A pastor once said, “Sometimes we get too hung up on terminology, where the most important thing is determine-ology; in other words, being determined.” And that is a huge asset.
So, surrender to God, draw on the Lord’s strength, resist the devil, and be in it for the long haul. Once that’s clear to Satan and his agents, they will lessen their attack and redeploy their resources elsewhere.
Will you consider doing an audio commentary of Proverbs?
Yes. You can read my text commentary on Proverbs at enduringword.com or at Blue Letter Bible, (blb.org). My Proverbs commentary also available in print. Much of my commentary is available in print, but not yet all; we’re working on that slowly. But as far as audio or video teaching on Proverbs, I don’t have it yet. To be honest, it’s probably going to be a while until I get to it.
I would like to do it. I would love to have audio or video teaching on every verse of the Bible. But it’s a very busy season for me. I don’t have as much time as I would wish to be able to sit down in my recording studio and teach verse by verse through books of the Bible. I’d like to start with the book of Genesis, but it’s a matter of being able to find the time to do that.
Can you explain Ecclesiastes 5:2 about how we should communicate with God?
Please explain Ecclesiastes 5:2 with regard to how we should communicate with God. I hope I haven’t been rambling like a crazy person, but I love to invoke the name of the Lord often.
Ecclesiastes 5:2 – Do not be rash with your mouth, and let not your heart utter anything hastily before God. For God is in heaven, and you on earth; therefore let your words be few.
Here’s my commentary on Ecclesiastes 5. Ecclesiastes 5:2 is speaking in the context of making oaths before God. This verse especially warns us regarding making hasty oaths before God. This was more of a common practice among the Jews in biblical times. It’s still a practice among people of many various religious. But Christians can do this too, saying, “Lord, I promise” or “Lord, I vow.” The writer of Ecclesiastes, speaking by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, says, “Whoa, take it easy with that. Don’t make promises before God that you can’t or won’t fulfill.”
That’s a very important principle, because God will hold you to your promises. If you’ve made unwise or unfulfillable promises before God, repent before Him about it. Confess the sin. It’s a sin; you need to confess it before Him and make it right with Him. It’s not a light thing to make promises before God and to not fulfill for them.
Now, your question seems to be about communicating with God, especially concerning the phrase, “let your words be few” in Ecclesiastes 5:2. We should not think that the length of our prayers impresses God. Sometimes we think that it impresses God if we pray a long time. Sometimes we think that it impresses God if our prayers are eloquent, like if they’re prayed in King James English or religious speak in your traditional language. But no, it’s not the length of our prayers that impresses God. It’s not the eloquence of our prayers that impresses God. You could say that it’s really the weight of our prayers that impresses God. It’s the heart, the faith that is behind them, and the trust in God Himself and His promises.
So, it’s not wrong to pray for a long time. It’s better than a lot of other things that you could be doing. But don’t think that God is impressed by the length of your prayers. God is impressed not by the length or the eloquence, but you could say, so to speak by the weight of our prayers, and our true trust in Him.
When and why did the children of Israel switch from wearing ropes to putting dust on their heads during times of mourning?
I’m not sure what you mean by wearing ropes. Here are some traditional customs of Jewish mourning. They would rip or tear their clothes. Clothes were a very valuable commodity in the ancient world, and it was something you would only do under great distress. So, they would tear their clothes.
They would wear sackcloth. Maybe you’re associating the rope with sackcloth, I don’t know. But sackcloth is a rough garment, kind of like a burlap bag. It’s unpleasant; it makes you uncomfortable. It’s itchy and not pleasant to wear. It’s a way to afflict yourself.
They would also put either dust or ashes upon their head, to communicate that they don’t really care about their appearance. The whole thing communicated, “I don’t care about my comfort; I don’t care about my looks; I don’t care about those things. I’m so consumed with grief that those other things that would normally concern me, don’t concern me.”
Now, there are still Jewish people, especially among the Orthodox, who carry out some of these practices today. But largely, many Jewish people today would say that these are customs that express mourning from an ancient time, whereas we have different customs today. Sometimes people today will wear black as an expression of mourning. Sometimes they wear black ribbons, or they’ll have a wake or do other things.
The reason some Jewish people don’t do those things today, is because they believe that they customs of mourning of the ancient times aren’t necessarily reflected in modern times. But there are at least some Jewish people, especially among the Orthodox, who do carry out the same kind of customs today.
Can you explain the seeming contradiction in Peter’s words and actions between Acts 15 and Galatians 2?
Peter said not to put a yoke upon the Gentiles that we can’t bear (Acts 15:10). Why does Paul accuse Peter of hypocrisy in Galatians 2?
Acts 15:10 – “Now therefore, why do you test God by putting a yoke on the neck of the disciples which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear?”
In Galatians 2, there was a confrontation between Paul the Apostle and Peter the Apostle. Basically, Peter knew better. Peter knew that Gentile people do not need to become Jewish before they can become Christians. This was a big debate in the early church. It was something that had to be figured out and God revealed through the apostles how to figure this out.
Basically, one did not have to go through Moses in order to become a Christian. A Gentile could go straight to Jesus. They don’t have to go to Moses first and then to Jesus; they could go straight to Jesus. Now, Peter knew this; he knew better.
But when Peter visited Antioch, he was under social pressure from some Christians with a Jewish background, who were somewhat legalistic in their approach to the Christian life. They had not actually agreed with the principle that Gentiles don’t need to become Jews before they become Christians, and that they have full standing in the body of Christ as believers without becoming Jews.
Under social pressure from them, Peter went back on what he knew was true. Now look, it’s easy for us to point the finger at Peter, and to condemn him. But haven’t many of us done similar things? Haven’t many of us done or said things that we knew were not right, but we did it because of social pressure that was upon us? That’s what Peter did. And Paul confronted him about that.
So, you’re pointing out that there was an inconsistency in Peter. The Peter of Acts 15 doesn’t seem to be the same Peter that Paul rebuked in Galatians 2. You’re absolutely right. And that’s what Paul was calling him on. Paul was rebuking him over his lack of consistency.
Is there any remembrance of the lost when we get to Heaven?
The Bible does not specifically tell us. There are some hints that would suggest, No. For example, the book of Revelation says that old things are passed away, and that God makes all things new in the new heavens and the new earth. Is that an indication? Maybe. But there’s no verse that specifically tells us whether or not God’s people in heaven, in their resurrected glory, have any recognition or remembrance of the lost. So, we just can’t say.
Here’s a general principle we need to continually remember. We should not be dogmatic and certain where the Bible is silent. Now, I think it’s okay for us to speculate from time to time and to just say, “Well, the Bible doesn’t exactly say this. But I think it could be this way based on this and that.” And that’s fine, as long as we understand that we’re speculating.
So, I can’t give you a firm answer either way because the Bible doesn’t specifically speak about it. If anything, there are a few hints that we would not remember the lost. But we can’t say for certain, at least not to my knowledge. If there’s a verse somewhere or a passage in the Bible that I’m forgetting, I invite anybody to help us out with that, but I’m not aware of the Bible addressing that.
What does it mean that Jesus Christ brought grace and truth in John 1:17?
John 1:17 – For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.
This is a wonderful thing. It means that Jesus came and showed the love, grace, and power of God in a way that was beyond anything shown in the Old Testament in the Hebrew Scriptures, through the Law of Moses. Listen, the Law of Moses is good. The Law of Moses is important. The Law of Moses has much to teach us, but it can never make us right with God. We can never become right with God by our obedience to the law. We become right with God by receiving the righteousness which Abraham received by faith, which David received by faith, and which all God’s people under the New Covenant received by faith. That is the basis the standing for our relationship with God: not what we do, but what God has done for us in Jesus Christ. That is revelation of grace and truth.
An important step in God’s unfolding plan of the ages was to reveal the Law through Moses. But there was a greater revelation of grace and truth through Jesus Christ. Now, I say that word carefully, a greater revelation of grace and truth.
We should not act or think as if there was no grace or that there was no mercy in the Law of Moses. No, there was the love and grace and mercy of God expressed in the Law of Moses. But there had to be a greater, perfected expression of it in the person and work of Jesus Christ. I hope that’s helpful for you. It’s a wonderful thing to think about.
Is your commentary is being translated into Urdu?
Yes, it is. We have a limited work in Urdu. I don’t see it on our website, but we have translators working on translating the commentary into Urdu. I hope we will be able to post that someday on our website. These commentary translation works take a long time, but I know that we’ve made a start in Urdu. We would love to strengthen Urdu-speaking believers in Pakistan and other places, and to help those who are seeking information about the Bible as well. So yes, we do have ongoing translation projects in Urdu, we just haven’t had enough to post on it. Once we get the commentary on four or five books of the Bible translated, then we put it up on the website. Your prayers are appreciated as we continue to translate the Bible commentary into many languages.
What are David Guzik’s Top 3 New Testament commentators or just all-time favorites?
One of my favorite Bible commentators is Leon Morris. His commentary on the Gospel of John is magnificent. F.F. Bruce is another favorite. I like some of the old guys, like Adam Clark and John Trapp. G. Campbell Morgan is not quite as old. These guys are of a great benefit to me. I really appreciate William Newell’s work on Romans and Hebrews.
- Marvin Pate is a commentator I’m just getting to know. So far, I have only read one of his works going through the Gospel of Luke, but I was really impressed with it. I found this one to be very good.
John Stott is a commentator that I really enjoy.
So those are just some that come off the top of my head. I always like to read whatever I can from Spurgeon, and usually take a look at what he preached through any particular passage. Many of Charles Spurgeon’s sermons are brilliant expositions of the text; other times it’s just sort of a launching point, but I love reading whatever I can from Spurgeon.
Now, I do want to say that I’m probably not in complete agreement with any particular Bible commentator. So, it doesn’t do any good for somebody to say, “Well, F.F. Bruce says this and you disagree with it; what’s up with that?” Well, I’ll just say that I don’t completely agree with any particular Bible commentator. I don’t expect anybody to 100% agree with my Bible commentary.
We don’t read Bible commentaries to tell us everything we should believe. We read Bible commentaries to help us understand the Bible better. And no commentary is perfect, just like no teacher is perfect. The commentary is just teaching in a written form.
I heard a pastor teach that in Romans 7:19-25, Paul was referring to himself before he was a believer. Is that true?
Romans 7:19-22 – For the good that I will to do, I do not do; but the evil I will not to do, that I practice. Now if I do what I will not to do, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me. I find then a law, that evil is present with me, the one who wills to do good. For I delight in the law of God according to the inward man.
You’re putting your finger on something that is an interesting point of contention. In Romans 7, Paul writes this marvelous section about the agony of his wanting to obey God but not being able to. Bible commentators have long questioned whether Paul was writing this about his struggles as a believer, or about his struggles as someone who had not yet trusted in Jesus Christ.
I believe that he’s writing about these struggles from the perspective of a believer. He speaks about a love for the law of God and a love for the will of God, which I think are normally only present in a believer. In Romans 7, I find it how many times Paul refers to himself. I think Paul wrote this in an over-the-top and exaggerated way to make it clear that his focus is on self, not upon Jesus.
In Romans 7, he never finds victory until he takes the focus off himself and puts it upon Jesus. And that’s true for every believer. When our focus is upon ourselves, we will often be frustrated in our struggle against sin. But when our focus is upon Jesus Christ, we will find victory.
So, I believe that the struggle in Romans 7 has to do with a self-focused believer, not someone before they come to Christ. I’ll be honest, concerning the arguments that this was Paul as an unbeliever or before he became a believer, I find those arguments to be unpersuasive. I would disagree. Look, it’s not a big point; it’s just something to talk about. But I believe that believers can have what you might call a “Romans 7 struggle,” as long as their focus is on self and not on Jesus.
Should we be literally washing people’s feet (John 13)?
When Jesus in John 13 says, “I’ve given you an example to follow; do as I’ve done to you,” after washing the disciples feet, is that literally for us to do? Or is it more a symbol of humility for us?
I think the example there was not literally so much about washing somebody’s feet, but of humble service towards one another. In that culture, and in plenty of cultures in the world today, dirty feet were a big problem. People wore sandals; there weren’t always roads; people were always walking in the dirt and the muck and such outside. Dirty feet were a hygiene problem at home. It was customary to wash people’s feet every time they came within your home.
For us, carrying that out would really be something symbolic. It would kind of be like cleaning somebody’s toilet, finding a way to humbly serve other people. So, I think it’s fine if Christians want to have foot-washing ceremonies; that’s fine. But really, it is just kind of a ceremony. For people in the world of the first century, it wasn’t just a ceremony; it was a common daily practice.
I don’t think the two things are analogous for us to do today. If we were to do it today, in most churches it would be sort of a ceremonial thing, not necessarily carrying out the practice of humbly serving one another. But Jesus is very concerned that we do humbly serve one another.
Are my Catholic family members saved? They do believe in Jesus as their Lord and Savior, but they also do all the ritual stuff in the Catholic Church like pray the rosary and confess to a priest.
I can’t say from a distance whether or not your family is saved. I certainly believe that it is definitely possible for Roman Catholics to be genuinely born again and have a true faith. The official teaching of the Roman Catholic Church is wrong in many areas. It can lead someone away from a trust in Jesus and they might trust in the church more than Jesus. That’s wrong and that’s dangerous. But we all know that there are many Roman Catholics who do have a genuine trust in Jesus. They really do rely on Him despite some of the official teachings of the Roman Catholic Church. And I would say that this is true of other church traditions as well.
We are not saved, nor are we damned, by our membership in a particular group. Nobody’s going to be able to wave a membership card to the Roman Catholic Church and say, “Jesus, I’m saved because I’m a member of the Roman Catholic Church.” Nor can they do so by being a member of an Orthodox Church, or a member of a Protestant church, or to speak from my own church tradition, which is from the Protestant tradition, a member of a Calvary Chapel. None of those are your salvation.
We are not saved or damned by belonging or not belonging to a particular group. We’re saved by our individual relationship of trust and faith in Jesus Christ, by looking away from sin and self, and putting our focus upon Jesus. That’s how I would answer that. If that’s what your family is doing, then praise the Lord. I’ll be very honest here. I don’t mean to offend my Roman Catholic brothers and sisters, but I think it would be beneficial for their spiritual growth to no longer be in the Roman Catholic Church. But I would not question their salvation if they have a true sincere faith in Jesus. Not in themselves, not in their church, not in their priests, but their faith is truly in Jesus, and what He did to save them, not what they could do to save themselves.