I was teaching teens at Maranatha Bible Camp in Maxwell Nebraska, but the woman with the head scarf was not a teenager. "Dave, I want you to know how much it has encouraged me to hear what you are sharing about Isa. I've recently received His gift of life. Can't get over the fact that God's forgiveness is free in Christ."
I could see the joy in her eyes, but there was also a question. "My husband is not so happy. He's a devout Moslem and since we've moved to the U.S., he's been willing to at least discuss questions about Jesus. If he would come out to camp, would you have time to talk with him?"
A couple of days later, he did come and we talked. After bantering back and forth about our beliefs, he got right at the heart of a major difference. "I work hard to please Allah. Five times a day I bow as he as instructed and pray the prayers he requires. I'm scrupulous in giving, especially to those in need. I keep Ramadan, and I'm planning to journey to Mecca for the Haj. When I die, Allah will decide. But what I don't buy is that someone at the end, after living an evil life, can have a change of heart and God will welcome them into heaven. This is unjust."
My Moslem friend got right to the core of the difference between Islam and Jesus' message of grace. Remember yesterday's Devo about the thief who believed? Only God knows the heart and whether or not there is true repentance. But Jesus did say to the thief, "Today, you will be with me in Paradise."
This is the story that this Moslem husband brought up, and he wasn't ready to accept that Jesus was right to welcome this criminal into glory. What do you think? Here's the passage again. Take some time thinking about this event on the cross and decide for yourself whether Jesus teaches that we can get an entrance ticket into heaven by human effort.
"Now one of those hanging, one of the criminals, was reviling Jesus. 'If you are the Messiah, save yourself and us!' But the other one rebuked him, 'Don't you fear God. We're both facing the same judgment? And we're getting what we deserve. We're paying the consequences for what we did. This one, on the other hand, has done nothing wrong.'
Then he said to Jesus, 'Remember me when you come into your kingdom.' Jesus answered, 'Count on it. Today you will be with me in Paradise.'" Luke 23:39-44
LORD, my Moslem friend wasn't willing at the time to receive Jesus' gift. I pray that You will keep speaking upon his heart and move him to join his wife in resting his eternal salvation not on his performance but on Jesus' death and resurrection.
– Dave Wyrtzen writes a daily devo called Truth Encounter. He served as their pastor at Midlothian Bible Church for 40 years and is now focusing on serving the greater body of Christ. You can check out “Dave’s Devo” for yourself at www.truthencoutner.com and at out Truth Encounter Face Book page or on Twitter.