In Acts 17:22–31 the apostle Paul built on areas of "common ground" as he prepared his listeners for the good news of the gospel. Even though he was addressing Gentiles whose beliefs were erroneous, he didn't rebuke them for having a doctrine of devils— "The things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to devils, and not to God" (1 Corinthians 10:20). Neither did he present the great truth that Jesus of Nazareth was Almighty God manifest in human form. This may have initially offended his hearers and closed the door to the particular knowledge he wanted to convey. Instead, he built on what they already knew. He first established that there is a Creator who made all things. He then exposed their sin of transgression of the First and Second of the Ten Commandments. Then he preached future punishment for sin.
There are three main areas of common ground upon which Christians may stand with Muslims. First, that there is one God—the Creator of all things. The second area is the fact that Jesus of Nazareth was a prophet of God. The Bible makes this clear: "And He shall send Jesus Christ,…For Moses truly said to the fathers, A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up to you of your brethren, like to me; him shall you hear in all things whatsoever he shall say to you" (Acts 3:20–22). The Qur'an (Koran) says: "Behold! The angel said ‘O Mary! Allah giveth you Glad Tidings of a word from Him. His name will be (Christ Jesus) the son of Mary, held in honor in this world and the hereafter and of (the company of) those nearest to Allah'" (Surah 3:45). In Surah 19:19, the angel said to Mary, "I am only a messenger of thy Lord to announce to you a gift of a holy son." Surah 3:55 says, "Allah said: ‘O Jesus! I will take you and raise you to Myself." It is because of these and other references to Jesus in the Qur'an that a Muslim will not object when you establish that Jesus was a prophet from God.
This brings us to the third area of common ground. Muslims also respect Moses as a prophet of God. Therefore, there should be little contention when Christians speak of God (as Creator), Jesus the prophet, and the Law of the prophet Moses. Most Muslims do have some knowledge of their sinfulness, but few see sin in its true light. It is therefore essential to take them through the spiritual nature of the Ten Commandments. While it is true that the Law of Moses begins with, "I am the Lord your God, you shall have no other gods before Me," it may be unwise to tell a Muslim, at that point, that Allah is a false god. Such talk may close the door before you are able to speak to his conscience. It is wise rather to present the Law in a similar order in which Jesus gave it in Luke 18:20. He addressed the man's sins of the flesh. He spoke directly to sins that have to do with his fellow man.
Therefore, ask your hearer if he has ever told a lie. When (if) he admits that he has, ask him what that makes him. Don't call him a liar. Instead, gently press him to tell you what someone is called who has lied. Try to get him to say that he is a "liar." Then ask him if he has ever stolen something, even if it's small. If he has, ask what that makes him (a thief). Then quote from the Prophet Jesus: "Whosoever looks on a woman to lust after her has committed adultery with her already in his heart" (Matthew 5:27). Ask if he has ever looked at a woman with lust. If he is reasonable, he will admit that he has sinned in that area. Then gently tell him that, by his own admission, he is a "lying, thieving adulterer-at-heart." Say, "If God judges you by the Law of Moses on Judgment Day, will you be innocent or guilty?"
At this point, he will more than likely say that he will be innocent, because he confesses his sins to God. However, the Qur'an says: "Every soul that has sinned, if it possessed all that is on earth, would fain give it in ransom" (Surah 10:54). In other words, if he possessed the whole world and offered it to God as a sacrifice for his sins, it wouldn't be enough to provide atonement for his sins. Imagine that a criminal is facing a 50,000 fine. He is penniless, so he sincerely tells the judge that he is sorry for a crime and vows never to do it again. The judge won't let him go on the basis of his sorrow, or his vow never to commit the crime again. Of course, he should be sorry for what he has done, and of course, he shouldn't break the law again. The judge will, however, let him go if someone else pays the fine for him.
Now tell him that Moses gave instructions to Israel to shed the blood of a spotless lamb to provide a temporary atonement for their sin; and that Jesus was the Lamb that God provided to make atonement for the sins of the world. Through faith in Jesus, he can have atonement with God. All his sin can be washed away—once and for all. God can grant him the gift of everlasting life through faith in Jesus Christ on the basis of His death and resurrection.
The uniqueness of Jesus of Nazareth was that He claimed He had power on earth to forgive sins (Matthew 9:2–6). No other prophet of any of the great religions made this claim. Only Jesus can provide peace with God. This is why He said, "I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man comes to the Father, but by me" (John 14:6).
God commands sinners to repent and trust in Jesus as Lord and Savior, or they will perish. To try to justify himself, your listener may say something like, "The Bible has changed. It has been altered. There are many different versions, but the Koran has never changed." Explain to him that there are many different versions, printed in different languages and in modern English, to help people understand the Bible, but the content of the Scriptures remains the same. The Dead Sea Scrolls prove that God has preserved the Scriptures.
Tell him that the 100% accurate prophecies of Matthew 24, Luke 21, and 2 Timothy 3 prove that this is the Book of the Creator. Your task is to present the truth of the gospel. It is God who makes it come alive (1 Corinthians 3:6,7). It is God who brings conviction of sin (John 16:7,8). It is God who reveals who Jesus is (Matthew 16:16,17). All God requires is your faithful presentation of the truth (Matthew 25:21).