Sharing the Gospel with Friends of Other Faiths

For Christians who are testifying to friends that have not yet accepted the grace of God, I suggest that you keep these issues in mind:
· Our job is not to convince anyone that Christianity is true. Only the Spirit does that.
· Our job is not to win a debate. It is to help people overcome barriers to faith, which are often based on misinformation about the Bible.
· We are only to encourage a person to consider the possibility of the truth of Christ so that they can open their hearts and minds to accepting the influence of the Spirit.
· We may only be one of the first of several positive contacts that a person has with Christianity over a long period of time that eventually leads to his/her accepting the influence of the Spirit. (Don't be discouraged by rejection at this point.)
· The best thing that you can do to positively influence someone is to be a living example of Christianity in your testimony (word) and your love towards others (deed).

Sharing the Gospel with Jewish Friends

Clarify that Christianity is not anti-Judaism, but rather the fulfillment of Judaism. It is built upon the foundation of Judaism. Furthermore, Jews who accept Jesus as the Messiah do not reject or leave Judaism. Jewish Christians still consider themselves Jews, and many still celebrate the traditional Jewish holidays and traditions. Furthermore, many Christian Jews worship in Messianic synagogues.

Point out that the life of Jesus of Nazareth is documented in non-Christian history, including Roman and post-Biblical Jewish history (Josephus & the Talmud). And Jesus fulfilled dozens of Biblical (Old Testament) prophecies regarding the coming of the Messiah. A striking prophecy is given in Daniel 9:24-27. There Daniel was told explicitly that the Messiah would come 69 "Sabbaths" (that is, 69 sabbatical years - a total of 483 years) after the decree was given to rebuild Jerusalem, which at that time lay in ruins after Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, had destroyed it. Such a decree was given later by the Persian emperor. Although the exact date of the decree is somewhat uncertain, the termination date of the prophecy must have been some time in A.D. the first century. In fact, it must have been before the destruction of the city and the temple by the Romans in A.D. 70, because the prophecy said quite explicitly, "After [the 483 years] shall Messiah be cut off, but not for himself- and the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary" (Daniel 9:26). Not only must the Messiah come before this destruction, but He must also be "cut off," rejected, and killed, before the destruction of the Jerusalem temple. It is obvious that no one but Jesus could have fulfilled these prophecies. The prophecies preclude any still future Messiah, except that the return of the Messiah will find its fulfillment in the second coming of Christ.

Sharing the Gospel with Muslim Friends

Ask how one can be sure that Mohammed was correct and the Bible is wrong since Mohammed declares the Bible to be incorrect. He taught for example that Abraham was tested with the assignment to sacrifice Ishmael instead of Isaac as taught by the Bible. He also taught that Jesus was simply a great prophet whereas the Bible states that Jesus is the promised Messiah of the Old Testament. The Bible has a 2000-year track record of being found to be without error, with even hundreds of years of acceptance at the time of Mohammed. (See Evidence for the Bible.) There are thousands of ancient Biblical manuscripts from all around the Mediterranean, some dating to within a hundred years of the original writings, that are in very close correlation with each other. The Bible has been in continuous use by large numbers of followers since its original writing. It is correlated with independent secular history where available and contains prophecies that have been fulfilled. So, what is the basis of believing in one isolated man against the whole Bible which had been written by many prophets over a period of more than a thousand years?

(Note - The prophets of the Bible taught that true prophets build upon the teachings of previous prophets; they do not contradict them. [Deut 13:1-3; 2 Cor 11:4] The teachings of all of the prophets of the Old Testament and New Testament are compatible with the teachings of the Biblical prophets that precede them. If the subject of Trinity comes up, remember that although Jesus is fully deity, we believe in one God the Father, one Lord Jesus, and one Holy Spirit. [1 Cor 8:6; Matt 28:19] This is fully compatible with the prophetic teachings of the Old Testament. (See Trinity)

Ask what Islam brings to the world that wasn't already here with Judaism. In other words, what is missing from Judaism that is part of Islam other than additional rituals and additional restrictions on individual activity? What fundamental new and unique truth is provided by Islam that makes Mohammed the principal Prophet and Islam the principal religion?

Most of the world's religions recognize that no human being is perfect. In other words, there has been at least some evil in the thoughts and activities of everyone. Both Judaism and Christianity teach that no unclean person can live eternally with God, yet everyone is unclean, at least to some degree. Judaism declares that a Messiah will come to save people from their imperfections. Christianity declares that that Messiah has come and is Jesus. Ask what is the atonement for human shortcomings without a Savior. In other words, how do people become perfectly pure in Islam?

Sharing the Gospel with Buddhist Friends

Recognize the shared values between Buddhism and Christianity: honesty, morality, and recognition that mortal life is temporal. To grow attached to possessions and other pleasures of mortal life is a manifestation of one's ignorance of reality. (Ecc 1:2, 14, 17; 2:11)

Be prepared to discuss the differences between Buddha (a great philosopher named Siddhartha Gautama who believed that he discovered the means for overcoming suffering) and Christ (whom witnesses declared to have overcome sin and death through eternal life). Buddha taught that existence is an endless series of reincarnations into mortal lives of suffering that could only be broken by achieving nirvana.

Ask the Buddhist to explain nirvana. Be prepared to explain the difference between heaven (eternal life with God) and nirvana (release from suffering by total annihilation from all existence and release from the otherwise endless cycle of reincarnation).

2004 William C. Hamer