Brett a listener who lives in Warner Robins, GA writes in to ask: “Pastor John, do Christians and Muslims worship the same deity?”
I was on a panel a few years ago at the Evangelical Theological Society with a Muslim and another believer and we each gave presentations and that was a very eye opening experience, because the way most people pose this question is almost a defeater. If you get into a conversation where they want you to start listing the attributes of Yahweh, or the attributes of your Christian God and they list the attributes of their God you wind up with things like sovereignty, wisdom, eternal, infinite, just. And they say, “Look, it is the same.” And the case is closed.
That is not a very biblical way to go about it. After my presentation, the Muslim stood up after me he said, “Well, I didn’t know you were going to be so christological.” He almost had nothing to say. And I said, “Sir, the best way to tell if you and I are worshipping God is to ask Jesus what the test is for the true worship of God.” And Jesus said, “If you reject me, if you reject me as the crucified one [and Muslims do reject him as crucified], if you reject me as the risen one [and they do reject him as the risen one], if you reject me as the one who atones for sins through the shedding of my blood [and they do reject him for that], then you reject the Jesus of the New Testament.
They have their own Jesus, but the Jesus that is presented as the gospel in the New Testament they explicitly and admittedly reject. And Jesus says, “You don’t know God if you reject me.” So John 8:19 they said to him, “Where is your Father?” And Jesus said, “You know neither me nor my Father. If you knew me, you would know my Father also. If you knew me you would know my Father also.” But they don’t know him and, therefore, they don’t know the Father.
Now he is talking to the Pharisees of all people. I mean, if that is true of the Pharisees who claim to know the Father of the Old Testament, then how much more true of Muslims? Only he said, “You don’t love God,” because he said, “If you don’t have the love of the Father within you. I have come in my Father’s name and you do not receive me.” So he is come in the Father’s name. They don’t receive him. Therefore he says, “You don’t have the love of God within you.”
Well, he says in John 8:42, “If God were your Father you would love me, for I came from God and I am here. So you don’t have him as your Father.”
Or in 1 John 2:23. “No one who denies the Son has the Father. Whoever confesses the Son has the Father also.”
So they don’t have the Father.
Or John 6:45. “Everyone who has heard and learned from God comes to me.”
But they don't come to him and, therefore, they haven’t heard and learned from the Father. So you have got all these passages where Jesus and 1 John say that the proof of whether anybody has a relationship with God is truly worshipping God is whether or not they truly embrace Jesus. So if you just list it out, they don’t know God, they don’t love God, they don’t honor God, they don’t have God as their Father. They don’t have him at all.
Those are all texts where Jesus said, “If you don’t have me, you don’t know God. If you don’t have me, you don’t love God. If you don’t have me, you don’t honor God. If you don’t have me, God is not your Father.” So I don’t care how many attributes line up between your god and my God. Jesus says you can’t be worshipping the Father if you are rejecting him. And that is the approach I think we should take with all Muslims. We should befriend all of the Muslims in our lives and we tell them about the unsearchable riches of Christ and especially go to the gospel where the glory of God is revealed in the death and the resurrection of Christ.