What Islam Teaches About: Jesus’ Return, Armageddon, Jerusalem and the Jews – Program 3

By: Dr. Ergun Caner, Dr. Emir Caner; ©1995
What is it like for someone who comes to Christ in an Islamic country? How can a Christian effectively witness to a Muslim neighbor?

The Consequences of Following Christ

Introduction

Every 24 hours, 68,000 people in the world become Muslims, and begin to follow the teachings of Muhammad and learn about Islam’s surprising view of end time events. Islam teaches that Jesus will someday return to Earth to prove to the world that He is a true Muslim, that He will fight in the last great war of Armageddon, the battle for Jerusalem, and bring about the final Islamic defeat of all Christians and Jews? These beliefs greatly affect all aspects of Muslim life today.

Dr. Emir Caner: And so it is the ultimate jihad, it’s the ultimate picture of what will happen at the end of time, that Jesus defends Muhammad’s character. Jesus defends the Qur’an. Jesus defends everything it is to be Muslim. And Jesus defends that He is merely human, as chapter 5 of the Qur’an says, and is no more; and that those who say so, whether it’s Christians who say that He is the Son of God, or those who have corrupted it as Jews have done by eating swine or by corrupting the text, these people of the book are finally put in their place.
Today on the John Ankerberg Show, my guests are two former Muslims who turned away from Allah and placed their faith in Jesus Christ.
Emir: We worshiped a false god, which was given to us by a false prophet, which gave a false hope, through a false word, until one day we were introduced to a true and living God, who was triune, and the son sacrificed His life for our sins, and the Holy Spirit, He indwelt us.
These men went on to get their Ph.D.’s and now Dr. Ergun Caner is President of Liberty Theological Seminary at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia, and Dr. Emir Caner is Dean of the College at Southwestern on the campus of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. They are best-selling authors of Unveiling Islam and More Than a Prophet and are writing the first major commentary on every verse in the Qur’an from an evangelical Christian perspective.
Dr. Ergun Caner: This is for the Muslim, this war that is taking place now, eschatological. This is a prophecy for them, but they believe as they fight they are fulfilling the final days when Islam will take over and the world will be Islamic. And when the world becomes Islamic, Allah comes for judgment.
Join us for this special edition of the John Ankerberg Show.

Ankerberg: Welcome, we are talking with two former Muslims that put their faith in Jesus Christ. They left Islam, their family disowned them. They went on in their education to get their Ph.D.s. They are professors in seminaries, and they are best-selling authors.
And today I want them to tell the stories of what is happening in Muslim countries around the world, where people are actually coming to Jesus Christ in the midst of terrible circumstances.
Now, if you have been with us for the programs that we have done in the last few weeks of time, you might have gotten the idea that this is so tough for Muslim people to come to be Christians because they can lose their family, their mother, their father, their husband, their wife, their children. They can be killed themselves for coming out of Islam, becoming Christians, in those countries. Then how in the world does anybody become a Christian? And what I want you to hear today are the stories of people that are doing just that, okay, because it is the truth. Start us off.
Emir: Well the persecution, of course, is determined on the country, from severe to absolutely harsh – exterminating. In Sudan, it’s genocide; in Morocco it’s imprisonment; in Turkey, it’s ostracism; in Syria and in Jordan, it’s imprisonment, as well as execution. Perhaps there is no greater display of the punishment than in Saudi Arabia. I just had a friend who in August went to Saudi Arabia to try to find a Muslim background believer, someone who is now a Christian. And he had been imprisoned for becoming a Christian, nothing more. In Saudi Arabia, you cannot have a Bible: it’s illegal. You cannot have a Church; of course you cannot have faith in Christ. They say they are 100% Islamic.
Well, one man had changed his religion to be Christian. He had been saved and he was in prison. So this man came in and wanted to speak to this man and pray for the release of this man. Instead he was imprisoned and they are both to be executed, he for treason, the other man for conversion.
As he was there, the man was to be executed the next morning, he was to be taken to Riyadh. He was taken out of the prison and this Saudi new believer in Christ, in front of his wife and three-year-old daughter was beheaded, for nothing more than becoming a Christian.
But what is amazing is the incredible courage of this man. Before he was beheaded he looked, and the last thing he saw as he looked into his wife’s eyes, and he said “Into Thy hands I commit my spirit.” In front of his three-year-old daughter and in front of his wife he is beheaded.
The man to whom I was speaking that was imprisoned with him and was supposed to be executed, was thankfully exiled out of the country very secretly and is back in where he lives in Europe.
This happens every day. To Americans it’s uncommon; to former Muslims it’s common. And Ergun and I will tell you, we lost our father, we were disowned. But in comparison to the cross there is no sacrifice, and in comparison to what other Muslims who are now Christians have experienced.
We are guarded under the freedom of America. And that freedom has been given to us because of the shed blood of men and women who keep us free here.
Ankerberg: Is that the Qur’an that your dad gave you?
Ergun: Yes.
Ankerberg: Tell that story, and then talk about the good news with other members of the family.
Ergun: For seventeen years I would write my father, usually five times a year. Father’s day, Christmas and Easter, his birthday, and then one random time. Most of the time the letters would come back unopened. As Erdem, Emir and myself became believers, we would be cut out of pictures. We would be not even mentioned. We have two sisters that I never got to see, never got to see born, never got to see raised.
In 1999 I was happily married with a four-month-old son. In August my phone rang and it was Emir and he said, “Father is dying.” Well, we didn’t know if he would see us. We flew in, all three of us, and it was sort of like the story of, you know, Henry IV outside of the Canossa Castle with the Pope, you know; standing in the cold, standing in the snow naked, wondering if we are going to be allowed in. We didn’t know. We had no idea if we would be allowed in.
He lets us in. There are men around the bed from the mosque; he dies as a devout Muslim. We get to share with him. I get to place my son in his arms, which in our culture is a very big thing of rights of passage.
What strikes me is that before he dies he gives each one of us a Qur’an, and he says, “I ask that you read this.” We made a promise to him then. Now, I was a pastor; and Emir was a professor already; Erdem was a normal Christian. Now, seven years later all three of us have preached sermons. I am dean at a seminary, he is dean at a seminary as well. We have fulfilled this by reading through the Qur’an, as Christians now and reading through it and seeing how to reach a Muslim for the Gospel, seeing the mindset of the Muslim.
Our father died in the shadow of, in the shade of, two churches. Our hope is that for 1.6 billion Muslims on the planet, that we can find a way to present the Gospel to them; that we can show them and prepare other Christians to show them that grace is unmitigated, unearned, unmerited, but promised for every single living soul. So that is why we are writing the commentary.
Ankerberg: Talk about other family members that did come to know the Lord.
Emir: We had our middle brother who, the same week I accepted Christ, he accepted Christ. We were baptized together that Sunday. We had mom who had been Sunni Muslim because of father, who came to faith in Jesus Christ, was baptized in 1991. We had grandma, who came to faith in Christ while we were both pastoring together in North Carolina in 1995.
Two of our sisters, one lives in Turkey and is still Muslim, one lives in Ohio, still Muslim. We continue to pray. And we are basically unable to reach them because we have little or no connection with them. But Christians live right beside them. It is their call. The precious word from the book of Revelation, “They overcame by the blood of the Lamb,” [Rev. 12:11] and the word of their testimony is still so true.
The person who led us to Christ was not a person who was inundated with the doctrines of Islam and knew apologetics and polemics. He was someone who was in love with Jesus, knew exactly who Jesus is, knew Jesus died for our sins and was willing to go to any length to reach us for the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
And that is what it takes. Apologetics is supplemental. Our faith is essential. Know and learn everything you can and realize it’s about a one-on-one encounter, that the Lord is using you as an instrument of His hand.
Ankerberg: Now, your wives, I think wrote a book about women in Islam. Some of those stories were captivating. What was one that struck you?
Ergun: The book is called Voices Behind the Veil. And what we tried to do was, like Emir’s book, The Costly Call, we wanted to find Muslims who converted from all brands of Islam. We found a Shiite woman who had been chased by dogs after she converted. We don’t take dogs as pets in our culture, dogs are wild. We had women that have to go through an underground railroad once they get saved. They must leave because, you know, when a women signs nikah, the marriage contract, she promises that if the child is not raised Muslim it goes to the father. In Judaism you are after your mother’s faith, in Islam it’s after your father’s faith.
We have story after story of converts who would pray for their husbands even after being beaten by their husbands, would still witness to their faith in Christ. And the husband would be embarrassed by her testimony, that he had married a woman who became a Christian, and so he wouldn’t share anything, you know, he wouldn’t tell anyone and she would stay with him. You know, he is embarrassed to put her away or be divorced. And then after 10-15 years they led them to Jesus.
To us that is unfathomable. In our western civilization, you know, I can sit before you, Dr. Ankerberg, and say that Emir and I were mentored, literarily, by you. Through your books we learned apologetics, and through the writings of men such as yourself and Gary Habermas and Norm Geisler. And so we sat at your feet.
But we were amazed at the faith and devotion of those that don’t just give an answer in a minute, or in a debate, or in an exchange like our world is. These are people who for years lived with humiliation and silence and suffering and still yet coming back. It helps us with Romans 9, where Paul says, “I wish I could be damned so that my countryman could be saved.” [Rom. 9:3] We know that is not possible, but we can just taste what that feels like.
Ankerberg: Alright, you are talking about some of your relatives that are right here in America. And we are going to take a break. When we come back we are going to talk about Christians that are living next to them, or around them, and there are Christians that are listening to this broadcast that are living next to Muslims or working with Muslims. We want to talk about the opportunities here in the United States, and then we want to talk about the opportunities overseas. What can Christians do? Okay? We will talk about that when we come right back.

Ankerberg: We are talking with two former Muslims that have come to know Christ. And we are talking about how they would advise us as Christians to reach out to the Muslims here in our own country. And then we are going to talk about how we can reach out to those overseas. It is difficult, but the fact is, it can be done. Talk about, first of all, the opportunities. We are in a time when we can reach Muslims here in America. Tell them the reasons why.
Ergun: I would go even further than what you said. I think that, not only it’s difficult but can be done, it is being done. I believe that there has never been a time that the church has been more effective than it is being at this moment.
Three out of four Muslims, according to the statistics, three out of four Muslims in America are cultural Muslims. That is, they were born into it, they may practice the high holy days, being Ramadan or Bara’a, but they are not devout. That means that the Muslim that you run into, or the Muslim that you work next to, the Muslim that is your doctor or your dentist, more than likely he is Muslim and proud of it. But it is more of a cultural thing than it is his faith.
On the international scene, the opportunity is amazing. This show reaches 184 countries. You are reaching into countries that we are forbidden. Our books are in many languages now and we constantly are gearing up for another overseas tour, and we find out more countries that we can’t go to. But you are in there. The thing is, a Muslim hears silence from the Christian world and they think either we don’t have answers or we don’t have the courage.
We need somebody to stand up and say, “Christianity is reasonable, logical, biblical, rational, it has no fear from the question of man.” And so to my way of thinking, there has never been a greater chance, and there has never been a greater grouping of leaders, of elders, who will lead us into this new generation to answer the skepticism and questions. But to be really honest, the hunger that the Muslim has, he may be skeptical, but he’s hungry for a relationship.
Emir: And Ergun speaks to this. The key word for today is courage. When we go across the world and we run into missionaries, we run into some missionaries that are so courageous about the Gospel, they are willing to share no matter what the cost. But unfortunately, we also run into missionaries who are not willing to pay the cost.
They hide behind platforms, they are secretive, they will come up to someone and they will introduce themselves as a Muslim using the post-modern concept that Muslim just merely means a follower of God. They deceive these Muslims to say they follow Allah, which of course, the Muslim hears the Allah of the Qur’an. This is nothing less than blasphemous. They are taught they can be an insider movement, never leave the mosque. These missionaries, I would rather them not be on the field than what they are doing on the field.
The good news is, the Muslim background believers, the ones that are being led to Christ because of a Bible put in their hand, whatever the method that is courageously given, truly given; they have no fear. And there are many missionaries that don’t use the superfluous model, that is using the true model that’s standing beside them.
So what I think is going to happen in years to come is we are going to lose some missionaries, and a growing number of missionaries, because the Gospel is costly. And the Gospel, though, is worth every drop of blood we would have to give.
Ergun: We are seeing a revival. It’s not on the news. It’s not something people talk about openly. But in countries that cannot be named, we are seeing house churches that are becoming so large that they become movements. In Baghdad there is one man whose meetings, of all times he picks a Wednesday night, he has 1000 people coming. Because you are told somebody will pray for you. And they don’t know to whom they are praying. And how is it that you are naming a prayer when in Islam all you do is repeat the first chapter, the first surah, of the Qur’an over and over?
It is wonderful because God took a tragedy, “What man meant for evil, God used for good.” [Gen. 50:20] The tragedy of 9/11, the tragedy of the subsequent wars, the tragedy of the loss of life, the soldiers that died for our freedom. God put theology on those planes. For the first time in our history, you know, every generation has a moment in time by which they measure time. For example, the Kennedy assassination. Well, my generation now has its own Kennedy assassination, its own tragedy. But for the first time in our generation, they are discussing theology on the front of the newspapers; it’s an issue. Now they don’t know how to talk about it; they reinterpret words; some of them are just idiots and others are just high. But at least they are talking about it.
Ankerberg: Emir, you were talking about a Palestinian Arab that actually became a Christian. Tell us about that.
Emir: That really exemplifies the doctrine of reconciliation. Here is a young man born and raised in the West Bank of Israel. His name is Musso, we document him in The Costly Call, the first volume. And here he is raised, and he goes within the arbitrary violence sometimes that happens within Israel; you can’t stop because of the bloodshed that is being given. His brother is at a checkpoint and he is shot to death and his brothers bloody shirt is hung in the living room of his home never to be taken down to remind him and his entire family that you hate the Jews and you will always hate the Jews.
Then he comes to faith in Christ through the witness of someone in Israel. And God breaks him, literally breaks him, to the point where he is now basically a missionary in the southernmost city of Eilat, a tourist city, a beautiful one at that. And he goes to an exclusively Jewish background Christian church. He is the only one of a Muslim background in that entire fellowship. And he is reminded, and he said, “What I recognized is that God gave the Gospel to the Jew first.”
What in the world could change someone’s mind who is so rooted in violence? Sympathetically you can see where his heart was, but the Gospel of Jesus Christ, which reconciles not only man to God, but can reconcile man to man as you do so. And he shares Jesus Christ every day with Jewish people for whom Jesus died.
Ankerberg: Guys, just the information you’ve given us in this series of programs is fantastic. And there may be some Christians that say, “I love my Muslim neighbors, and I just want to know what I should do, what I should not do, because I am going to take a stab at this. I am going to go after one of these people and I am going to love them to Christ, but what should I know?”
Ergun: I would say in the short answer, the easiest thing is to ask questions. We live in an era I call, “trans-modernity.” Everyone wants to talk about themselves. The reason reality television is so popular is that everybody thinks they could do that. Everybody wants their fifteen minutes. I use that. People love to talk about themselves, I ask them, I ask the Muslim, “What’s your faith base? What holidays do you celebrate? Why do you have the mark of latchme on your forehead?” or whatever.
And the next thing you know they begin asking more and more questions themselves. In Islam, it’s an act of hospitality to respond in kind. And the next thing they know, they ask you. And it opens up an opportunity like this. It gets past assumption; it gets past caricature; it gets past rumor and speculation.
Secondly, is opening your home to those that don’t look like you. My wife happens to be southern; Emir’s wife is from the Czech Republic. We are both considered mixed marriages. And this world, for us, is outside of our comfort zone. I had to learn my wife’s culture and she had to learn mine. But you know what? The greatest lessons came from this. I’ve grown more deeply in love with her.
I say the same thing if you go to a church where everyone looks the same, that is the most boring church. I invite friends over that I want to learn about their culture, regardless of race or background. You have our people over, they have you over, and the next thing you know you have build a bridge into their life. They may not like what you believe in, but they will turn to you in time of crisis.
Emir: I think to add to that, the one word we say over and over again is persistence. Never give up. Jesus Christ still died for them, still loves them, still wants a relationship with them. Never give up. And we are reminded that the form of evangelism must be confrontational, whether it is the Socratic method of questioning, which is actually a rabbinic Old Testament model. Confrontation without compassion is arrogance. Compassion without confrontation is chaos. If you balance the two you have the prophet Elijah, who confronts in 1 Kings 18:20-36. But by the time he confronts his compassion, he says, “Hear, O Israel, return to the Lord your God.” And that is exactly what we are calling them to: repentance and reconciliation with a God who loves them and died for them, and the One who desires an intimate relation with them. And for that you can’t give up, because relationships do not end.
Ankerberg: One last question and that is, you married these beautiful women.
Ergun: Yes.
Ankerberg: Alright, what do they say about all these threats on your life? What do they say about, you guys debate, you speak, you travel into countries that just are unbelievable, okay? What’s the deal that you have with your wives?
Emir: We, Ergun would say the same thing with Jill, our families come first. If our wives are in danger, we want to take care of them whatever it takes. With that said, our wives are the most understanding people in the world. My wife was raised under communism. She knew persecution; she saw her father persecuted, her grandfather persecuted and so on. So she just says, “I will stand with you no matter what the cost.” And it just comes down to one line: We thank God that we have wives who not only understand our ministry, but are an integral part of our ministry.
Ergun: I call Jill my “cave.” I feel like David some days, being chased by Saul’s armies. And the one place David could come, the one place of security, was his cave. And I don’t see it as a place of him hiding and cowering in fear. I see it, as I read the text, as a place of his security. For me, my wife is the strongest Christian I know, and the strongest servant of God. And she is. And many times I come beat down, and we’ve been threatened in six different languages, and we’ve had to move, and eight different phone numbers. I don’t care. They can threaten all they want, they can’t take away the only thing that matters, which is my eternal security in Christ. But they understand, because they married into this, that we hunger to see our people saved. And when we come home beat down they are there to lift us up and walk with us.
Ankerberg: I appreciate you guys so much. I love your courage. I love the fact that you are putting it on the line all the time. I love the fact that your wives will let you go out and do this. And I really look forward to this commentary on every verse in the Qur’an from a Christian point of view. We look forward to that, and when you get it out we are going to have you back, and we are going to talk about that, Lord willing. Thanks for being with us.

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