“Well then, has God failed to fulfil his promise to Israel? No, for not all who are born into the nation of Israel are truly members of God’s people! Being descendants of Abraham doesn’t make them truly Abraham’s children. For the Scriptures say, “Isaac is the son through whom your descendants will be counted,” though Abraham had other children, too.”
Romans 9:6-7 NLT
A Muslim man I once worked with said to me one day that we were really spiritual brothers because we both worshiped the same God. But these verses in Romans 9 are clear about the distinction between Abraham’s children. The Jewish nation was descended from Isaac alone. Although Ishmael was Abraham’s son, he was not part of God’s promises. We Christians also claim to be “children of God”, but most of us aren’t descended from Isaac either. Does that mean Muslims and Christians are outside of God’s favour? No it doesn’t, because the Gospel message in the Bible is clear, that everyone has the opportunity to become members of God’s family. This is true for both the Jews and non-Jews. Remember the verse, “For God so loved the world …”? No-one is excluded from God’s grace. We are all part of the “world”. Everyone is able to kneel before the cross at Calvary in repentance for their sins, and receive forgiveness and mercy. We read in John 1:12, “But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God”. Jesus primarily came to bring His message of the Kingdom of God to His own people, the Jews. In Matthew 15:24 we read, “Then Jesus said to the woman, “I was sent only to help God’s lost sheep—the people of Israel””. However, in John 10:16 Jesus seemed to imply that He was the Shepherd of other peoples as well. We read in John 10:16, “I have other sheep, too, that are not in this sheepfold. I must bring them also. They will listen to my voice, and there will be one flock with one shepherd”. In 1 John 2:2 we read, “He himself is the sacrifice that atones for our sins—and not only our sins but the sins of all the world”.
By the way, referring back to my Muslim work colleague, his claim that we both worship the same God isn’t valid. The differences between the. two faiths is most stark with the Christian belief in the Trinity, God the Father, His Son Jesus, and the Holy Spirit. The Muslim God, Allah, is a single being, and any talk of the Trinity is blasphemy to them. They consider that Jesus was a prophet, but not God.
But that is not to say that a Muslim cannot find Jesus. God Himself said through Paul in his letter to Timothy that everyone has the opportunity to be saved. We read in 1 Timothy 2:3-6, “This is good and pleases God our Saviour, who wants everyone to be saved and to understand the truth. For, There is one God and one Mediator who can reconcile God and humanity—the man Christ Jesus. He gave his life to purchase freedom for everyone. This is the message God gave to the world at just the right time”.
So, sadly for my Muslim colleague, we are not spiritual brothers at all. But we pilgrims must never build a wall, keeping us separated from society around us. We are of course not of the world, but the lost and hopeless people we are in contact with, our friends and neighbours, need to hear about the love and grace of God. Unless they hear it from us, they may never hear it at all.
Dear Father. You gave us an important job to do in this lost and dying world. Please embolden us to share Your message of Good News with anyone You lead us to. In Jesus’ name, Amen.