How can I explain the Gospel to a Muslim family member? He is only willing to read the Qur'an.
The Qur’an is a book believed by Muslims to be the word of God given to the Prophet Mohammed, which retells in very brief form the story of the prophets from the Torah. Interestingly, the Qur'an includes 104 mentions of the Person and work of Jesus, though Muslims do not believe Jesus was the Messiah. To be clear, the Qur'an is not inspired by God, though Muslims believe it to be so. In truth, the enemy has used this book to confuse and enslave millions of people.
Nevertheless, the Lord is more powerful than Satan, so He has hidden within parts of this false book the truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Therefore, Christians can use these selective passages of the Qur'an to introduce a Muslim to the truth of salvation through Jesus without risking offending the Muslim or inciting a confrontation.
Muslims are generally open to religious conversations centered on their religious text, which gives us opportunities to share the Gospel provided we know how to use the Qur'an properly. We can explain to a Muslim from the Qur'an that there is a loving God who continues to intervene in the lives of mankind to save them by a sacrifice of His perfect Son, Jesus though they fail, sin, and reject Him.
Here's how a Christian can show the story of Jesus to a Muslim using the Qur'an (we've included the associated biblical references also):
The Beginning of the Problem:
From Genesis 3:1-21, we know Adam, the first prophet, was created from the ground in Paradise when God (Allah in Arabic) breathed life into him. Adam walked with God in the garden until he disobeyed by eating the forbidden fruit. This caused several things to happen: his children began killing one another, God kicked him out of the garden and out of His presence, and bloodshed and death entered into the creation. In response to Adam sinning, God killed an animal (performed a sacrifice, a qurban ) and covered their sin and shame with the skins. (See the full biblical story here: Genesis 22.)
Secondly, we can find a similar teaching in the Qur’an:
(Surah 7:19-22) O, Adam! dwell thou and thy wife in the Garden, and enjoy (its good things) as ye wish: but approach not this tree, or ye run into harm and transgression. Then began Satan to whisper suggestions to them, bringing openly before their minds all their shame that was hidden from them (before): he said: "Your Lord only forbade you this tree, lest ye should become angels or such beings as live forever. And he swore to them both, that he was their sincere adviser. So by deceit, he brought about their fall: when they tasted of the tree, their shame became manifest to them, and they began to sew together the leaves of the garden over their bodies. And their Lord called unto them: "Did I not forbid you that tree, and tell you that Satan was an avowed enemy unto you?"
While the Qur'an is not an inspired text of God, to a Muslim it carries the authority of God, and therefore it is a compelling testimony. What we can teach a Muslim from this passage is that when man sins, his first response is always to try to fix his condition on his own. This is what we often refer to as “good works.” It is mankind’s repeated attempt to become holy enough to be accepted by God. In the story of Adam, he tries to hide his shame with fig leaves. This is biblical truth hidden in plain sight in the Qur'an.
Furthermore, the Qur’an and the Bible both state that God is the only one who can solve man’s problem of sin. God must supply the remedy:
Surah 7:26 O children of Adam! We (God) have indeed sent down to you clothing to cover your shame, and (clothing) for beauty and clothing that guards (against evil), that is the best. This is of the communications of Allah that they may be mindful.
This is the basic truth of scripture we can teach a Muslim, that only God can provide the way of salvation. We can see it repeated in other places…
The Story of Abraham
Abraham is asked by God to sacrifice his son. He takes his son up the mountain and is ready to kill him, but God stops him and instead points to the ram caught in the bushes. This illustrates a key truth that God can provide a substitute to die in place of someone else. (See the biblical story here, Genesis 22.)
The Qur’an teaches a similar lesson...
Sarah 37: 102-107 And when he reached with him [the age of] exertion, he said, "O my son, indeed I have seen in a dream that I [must] sacrifice you, so see what you think." He said, "O my father, do as you are commanded. You will find me, if Allah wills, of the steadfast.” And when they had both submitted and he put him down upon his forehead, We called to him, "O Abraham, Indeed, this was the clear trial. And We (God) ransomed him with a great sacrifice,
Once again, the Muslim may be convinced of biblical truth from seeing it within their own book.
Once we understand how God deals with sin, it now makes sense why God had to send Jesus to the earth to be offered as a sacrifice (qurban). We needed a perfect sacrifice to die in our place. The blood of bulls and goats cannot remove sin. They are only temporary fixes. Neither can our good deeds (prayers, alms, confessions, charity) remove our sins.
The Book of Romans confirms that this was the reason Jesus came to the earth.
In other words, He died in our place. He was offered as sacrifice or qurban.
The Qur’an actually says something very similar…
Surah 3:55 And when Allah said: O Isa (Arabic for Jesus), I am going to terminate (mutawafeeka, “cause to die”) the period of your stay and cause you to ascend unto Me and purify you of those who disbelieve and make those who follow you above those who disbelieve to the day of resurrection; then to Me shall be your return, so l will decide between you concerning that in which you differed.
So the central biblical truth we share with Muslims which opens the door to all further truth is that we cannot earn favor with God. He has to fix our sin problem for us just as He did for Adam and Abraham. Once a Muslim understands this, he or she may accept Christ's provision for us which cleanses us of our sins. It causes us to be what the Gospels call born again.
Once again, the Qur'an is not a work of God nor does it represent the truth of God. For the most part, it is a collection of lies used by the enemy to keep millions of people in bondage to sin. Nevertheless, the Lord has hidden with this false book the Gospel of Jesus Christ, which believers can use to introduce a Muslim to the truth without risking offense or confrontation.