During the Strange Fire conference, folks were asked to fill out some note cards with questions they wanted us to answer concerning spiritual gifts, charismatics, and other Strange Fiery stuff. We received a ton of questions; I think something like 150 cards with good, thoughtful questions inquiring into various subjects regarding charismatics.
Todd Friel committed us publicly to answering every one, and I am a part of the team slowly responding to them. An official place on the GTY website should pop up soon.
Anyhow, with the group of questions I received, at least 10 or so were asking about the phenomena of Muslims allegedly seeing visions of Jesus, or perhaps having a dream about Him that ultimately brings that Muslim to faith in Christ and the Christian faith.
I have heard them all, too, so I welcomed the questions as a way to do a little research and provide a meaningful response, so thought I would post my raw, unedited and brief answer here for folks to consider.
Some of the more frequently asked questions we received at the Strange Fire conference came from folks wondering about what we thought of the stories concerning Muslims who allegedly see a vision or have a dream about Jesus who personally directs the individual to salvation. Those stories are often shared with emotion and excitement on both charismatic and non-charismatic Christian media. They allegedly demonstrate that God is actively at work among Muslims in Islamic countries that are otherwise shut to the evangelistic ministries of Christian missionaries.
Though it should be recognized that God can communicate the Gospel message in any fashion He so chooses, the NT teaching on evangelism involves God proclaiming the Gospel of salvation to the lost world by the means of human preaching, see for example Matthew 28:19-20, Romans 1:16, 10:13-15, and 1 Corinthians 1:21. The Gospel message comes by the preacher who preaches biblical and theological content as contained in Scripture. The recipients hear that message and then respond to it by either rejecting the message or believing in it with a supernaturally produced faith.
If Muslims are having dreams about Jesus who then in turn directs them to salvation, such an activity would seem to have God contradicting what He has clearly ordained in Scripture as the only legitimate means of Gospel evangelism for the Church age.
Usually it is argued that because Islam is so violently hostile to Christianity and virtually no missionary efforts can ever happen in those Islamic countries, that the only alternative is Jesus appearing in dreams to individual Muslims who then seek salvation in Christ. But if we trust that God is the one who is sovereign over all nations (Acts 17:26) and is the author and finisher of salvation, then why can He not open up those Islamic nations for missionary endeavors? Such a view, however, suggests that God’s absolute sovereignty in the salvation of men and the divine means of evangelism He has ordained through human evangelists is now limited by Muslims and hostile Islamic governments. Certainly no one wants to believe God had to change His means of the Gospel being heralded throughout the world in order to accommodate hostile Muslims.
Though we want to rejoice with those unbelieving sinners who come to faith in Christ, if such is truly happening, at the same time we want to be faithful to what we have revealed to us in Scripture as to the means God has ordained for His evangelistic purposes. Visions and dreams of Jesus (or “Isa” to Muslims) is something outside of those efforts and we would rather fall on the side of extreme caution in accepting such stories as unquestionable and true.
A former pastor at Grace has written a two part series on this very subject that goes into a bit more detail than we can offer here and I would recommend checking them out for further study,
And then I found one extra article at the same site where I found those other two. I thought the author provided a clear perspective of the phenomena. Don’t You Believe It.