<a href="https://biblicalmissiology.org/author/ghoussney/" target="_self">Georges Houssney</a>

Georges Houssney

Georges Houssney was raised in the predominantly Muslim city of Tripoli, Lebanon. He came to faith in Jesus Christ as a teenager. Soon God grew a deep love for Muslims in his heart, and he began to sense God's call for full-time service among them. Well-known for his work supervising the translation and publication of the Bible into clear modern Arabic, Georges and his family moved from the Middle East to the United States in 1982 to minister to international students. Georges is passionate about reaching internationals here and abroad with the great news of salvation. He writes and lectures internationally about ministry to Muslims, and he strives to awaken a new generation who will proclaim the gospel boldly. Georges is founder and director of Horizons International and does Muslim evangelism training through his training Engaging Islam.

13 Comments

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    James

    I think it is clear the Paul (and all the other early disciples) considered themselves as Jewish. Obviously, since they were followers of the Jewish Messiah (Anointed/Christos). But Paul does say (Philippians 3), that what he used to consider as something to boast of, he now considered as worthless, leaving only Messiah to trust in. As a follower of Jesus, who kept the whole law (the only One to ever actually keep it perfectly), he obviously also kept the law, but he no longer trusted in his ability to keep the law as the way to be saved.

    And he vigorously fought against those who insisted that the believers from the nations needed to keep the law in order to be saved. If even the Jewish believers are not saved by keeping the law, how can they insist that non-Jewish believers need the law in order to be saved? (Gal.2:14)

    Malicious men then twisted these words of Paul, claiming that he taught the Jews to stop keeping the law of God. And it was in order to show that these claims were false that he agreed with the plan of the Jerusalem elders.

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    “His conversion changed his primary identity from being a Jew to a Christian (Christianos).”

    > Nonsense. The name had not been invented yet when he was on the way to Damascus

    “Every one of his twelve epistles begins with this affirmation “Paul… an apostle of Christ Jesus.” He further declares: “For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.” (I Corinthians 2:2) And “I am not ashamed of the gospel…” (Romans 1:16) And “…I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ….”

    > Plenty of Muslims that follow Christ would say the same…and so your point is????

    “We do not find Paul hiding his identity or pretending to be someone he is not. We do not see him assuming the identity of his audience in such a way as to confuse them.”

    > Ah… we agree! However, I am interested in how you interpret Acts 21 where Paul takes part in religious activities he no longer believes in the power of. Also in taking part in these he appears to be claiming insider status…

    “22 What shall we do? They will certainly hear that you have come, 23 so do what we tell you. There are four men with us who have made a vow. 24 Take these men, join in their purification rites and pay their expenses, so that they can have their heads shaved. Then everybody will know there is no truth in these reports about you, but that you yourself are living in obedience to the law.”

    > What do you think Georges? To be honest these verses puzzle me. What is happening here?

    -James

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    “The reason for this is that they would avoid persecution and become more effective in reaching out to their own families. The sad thing about this strategy is that the phrase “follower of Jesus” has lost its original New Testament meaning. The gospels record to us what Jesus meant when he called the disciples to follow him.”

    The same old repeated accusations many IM people deny to be true. Who is right? Does Georges know IM better than IMers? Perhaps he should read:
    http://www.missionfrontiers.org/pdf/2010/04/24-30.pdf Instead of relying on anecodal accusations. Is reads:

    “13. Some have said that Jesus movements within Islam exist so that Muslims can avoid persecution and suff ering for their faith in Christ. Is this true?

    By far the most common reason Jesus-following Muslims give for staying inside their original
    religious community is their burden and desire to see their loved ones experience the good news in Jesus. Their hope is that Jesus movements among Muslims would be like the earliest Jesus movement described in Acts 2:46-47. “

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    Troy says: “However, my question is, if this passage (according to your analysis, unless I have missed/misinterpreted something) refers to ministry to fellow, “weaker” believers, then why does Paul say in your selected passage that he does all this to “SAVE some”? Why does he say he “becomes like a Jew” that he might “WIN Jews”? If these people are already “saved” and “won” over to Christ, why does he here express his desire to “save” them?”

    The weak & the strong clearly apply essentially to social position in Corinth.,(see the example of the misuse of the Lord’s supper in Chap. 11.) As you read Chap. 8 & the beginning of 9, it is clear that Paul is defending his servanthood as a role model for the Church.
    In 9:19 however, Paul expands his argument of being a servant to all to include the non-believers. He says he is also a servant to the Jews, to those inside the law, to those outside the law, to the weak, and to “all men, that I might by all means save some.” (KJV)
    In 10:1, we see that he is addressing “brethren.” So while the passages are intended for the Church, Paul states in 9:22 that he is in fact a servant to all in hopes of winning all. But to extrapolate this to mean Paul wants people to stay in their birth religion or even in their cultural patterns if they are unbiblical is not defensible by any standard of exegesis.
    This one deviation from the main point of the passage does not alter the thrust of the passage which is teaching for the Church in Corinth.

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    Georges, you said in your conclusion: “Those of the circumcision group are legalists. They did not want the new Greek believers to eat meat sacrificed to idols because that would be against the law of God.”

    Please be more subtle. Paul was of the circumcision group but was not a legalist (Paul kept the Law). The difference between Paul and the legalist is that Paul kept the Law out of love while the legalist kept the Law in order to be saved.

    Then you said, “The other faction in the church were grace oriented. They believed that in Christ we are free from legalism.”

    Again, please be more subtle. The other faction believed that we are free from legalism but not from the Law. We must keep the Law.

    I hope I am being clear. Many times you’ve said that we are free from the Law. This is not true. We are free from LEGALISTIC observance of the Law but not from the Law itself.

    Thus we are NOT FREE to eat food sacrificed to idols, commit adultery, steal, lie, murder, etc.

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    Pierre,

    Thank you! That does indeed help. Perhaps it was too easy for me to not consider the fact that stumbling blocks can cause UNbelievers to stumble as well as believers. People can stumble even before they come to Christ. Thank you also for the verses you isolated.

    I asked because in the three-chapter context, yes, he is talking about stumbling blocks for the most part with other younger believers, but in the immediate context he seems to be, as you pointed out, talking about evangelism. Thank you for the perspective and insight :)

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    Georges,

    Thank you for your input, however perhaps I could have worded my question better :) …

    In your last three articles you have discussed how this passage in I Corinthians 9 refers to ministry/discipleship to other BELIEVERS, how to not make them stumble in abusing your freedom in Christ. You connected this with us abusing such freedom in Muslim lands that can lead new Muslim converts to stumble by seeing using our freedom in irresponsible ways, all conclusions I agree with.

    However, my question is, if this passage (according to your analysis, unless I have missed/misinterpreted something) refers to ministry to fellow, “weaker” believers, then why does Paul say in your selected passage that he does all this to “SAVE some”? Why does he say he “becomes like a Jew” that he might “WIN Jews”? If these people are already “saved” and “won” over to Christ, why does he here express his desire to “save” them?

    Hope that makes sense. Thank you again :)

  8. Pierre Houssney

    Hi Troy,

    I’ll give a try at your question:

    “If this passage refers only to ministry to people who are ALREADY saved, why is he trying to “save” some? How do you “win” people who are already “won” over?”

    I see this passage as being about both the saved and the not-yet-saved. Yes, chapter 8 (the meat part) is an example of someone who is a young believer, with a “weak” conscience. But, this example can also shed light on how to relate with not-yet-believers too, because we can learn that we shouldn’t give them the impression that we are participating in idol worship.
    In chapter 9 Paul moves on from that illustration to others that contribute to his main point, including one about his rights as an apostle, and by verse 19 (the passage you refer to) he is talking about preaching the gospel, although again, his point can be useful for both evangelism and discipleship.

    As I see it, Paul demonstrates the principle by speaking of 3 relationships throughout 1 Cor 8-9:
    1. Mature believer and weak believer
    2. Paul and the mature believers
    3. Paul and the non-believers

    Then in Chap 10 he warned them against idolatry using the history of Israel as an example, then contrasted communion and idolatrous feasts (saying that they are mutually exclusive), and concludes by emphasizing freedom balanced by the stumbling block principle, to be applied to both believers and non-believers. Notice that in his conclusion he specifically mentions 1. Jews, 2. Greeks, and 3. the church of God:

    31So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. 32Do not cause anyone to stumble, whether Jews, Greeks or the church of God– 33even as I try to please everybody in every way. For I am not seeking my own good but the good of many, so that they may be saved.”

    Does that help?

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    Troy S.
    Thank you for the kind words and also for the sincere question. I am not worried about people challenging me on biblical grounds.
    Paul was concerned about the salvation of the lost.
    “I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were cursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers, those of my own race,
    the people of Israel.” And “my heart’s desire and prayer to God for the Israelites is that they may be saved.” Romans 9:2-4; 10:1
    This passion and agony for the lost is behind his willingness to do anything so that by all means some will be saved.
    The “some” echos what Jesus said that “”For many are invited, but few are chosen.”
    (Matthew 22:14) He knew well that all his preaching was not going to save ALL. He was satisfied by saving “some.” If I have have not answered you adequately please let me know. God bless.

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    Thanks to ALL and EACH of you who have made this blog interactive and alive.

    The interaction has been great. Beside some silly words here and angry words there, the discussions have been healthy and helpful. For long the two camps have not heard each other. I invite everyone to express your opinions about the issues not the people who share their ideas. We must be civil and remain passionate. I know some in the other camp who are sincere and love the Lord. They are often driven by compassion. We on the other hand can look heartless and that all we do is judge and hunt for heresy. It ain’t so. I want this blog to be about something rather than against something. We want to be about biblicalmissiology not about wrong missiology. So let us interact with the passage from the scripture. Honestly I saw a few do that and the rest are stuck on arguments. What did I write in the last four articles that have helped you? What insights have you gained? What have I missed? Where have I been wrong? Most of the comments have been about my conclusions and opinion as how to apply the meaning of the text practically. Please write and point out from the text where I have been wrong.

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    Thank you Georges. If only every Christian took as much care, logic, and context to learn from Scripture. It’s amazing how different the “church” would look and act. Thank you for pushing us toward Christ and the truth as He has revealed it in His Word.

    I do, though, have one question concerning this passage, which I ask not to try to push any point of view, but simply because I do not know …

    What then does Paul mean when he says “that I might save some”? Or when he uses the term “win”? If this passage refers only to ministry to people who are ALREADY saved, why is he trying to “save” some? How do you “win” people who are already “won” over?

    Appreciate anyone’s input :) God bless.

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    Great series of articles. The main problem with much of the Insider movement is its lack of sound biblical interpretation. These verses and also others like the Jerusalem Council in Acts 15.

    A huge point in this is that you can’t use the Jewish issue of some people clinging to the law and circumcision as the equivalent of a Muslim remaining within Islam and following Jesus (or a Buddhist, a Hindu or whatever. There is a continuity between Israel and Jesus. Jesus came out of Israel and was part of God’s history to Israel. Paul is dealing with the issue of Jewish ethnicity and the Gentiles serving God through faith in Christ. The law in Paul is not legalism in general, but the law of Moses. Therefore a Jew coming to Christ faces different issues than someone from another religion.They of course must repent and put faith in Christ alone, but they can see Christ as the fulfillment of what God has done in Israel.

    However, there are some that say that Muslims can come to Christ and them use the Quran as their OT (I even heard Brian McLaren say that a native American could use their native religion as an old testament. This sees continuity between Islam and Jesus. Islam , unlike Israel which came before Christ and leads into Him, came after Jesus and preached a Jesus of another nature( i.e. “God does not beget nor is he begotten). Therefore we can’t say that Islam naturally leads one to Christ. When we get to Buddhism it is even more ludicrous given that it is atheistic.

    Thanks, George for showing that Paul never meant what some people are saying about being a “Greek to the greeks” or a “muslim to the muslims.” What he said must be taken into context. I also thought of Acts 19: 23-41. Paul rejects the idol worship of the Ephesians. He didn’t say to them that they could see Artemis as a bridge to Christ.

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    Thank you, Georges, for this series of articles. In August of last year a local church, Christ the Rock Community Church in Menasha, Wisconsin, hosted a Jesus in the Qur’an conference. The instruction had as its premise the conflation of the Kingdom of God and Islam. From this came a Missiology C5 in nature that the rest of my comment describes.

    “We ourselves are Jews by birth and not Gentile sinners; yet we know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified. But if, in our endeavor to be justified in Christ, we too were found to be sinners, is Christ then a servant of sin? Certainly not! For if I rebuild what I tore down, I prove myself to be a transgressor” (Galatians 2.15-18).

    Here Paul says that it is through the works of the law and its inability to make us justified before God that the ultimacy of faith in Jesus Christ is understood. Note what he says proves him to be a “transgressor,” the rebuilding of what he has torn down. Transgressor (παραβάτης) is a term with a background that conveys the imagery of battle: “warrior” or “foot soldier,” infantry beside the charioteer (Bauer 612). Within the immediate context, Paul is implying that to rebuild the religion he left is to, in effect, turn against Christ and the gospel. The presenters at the conference are transgressors of a type; they intentionally build Islam in the lives of Muslims: “God made you Muslim. Why were you born in a Muslim family?” That is what a leader in this heretical movement told a sixteen year old boy when the boy complained to the leader that some Christians had said he should leave Islam. The leader went on to say, “You know what, we have enough Christians in our church. We don’t need you, but your family does.” This man was rebuilding, discouraging repentance, and ultimately fighting against Christ. The dialogue went on to say that the boy went home and declared to his father, “I’m a good Muslim.” But the effect of true allegiance to Christ was prophesied by Jesus:

    “For from now on in one house there will be five divided, three against two and two against three. They will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother…” (Luke 12.52, f.).

    Think of the crisis of faith with its implications as recorded by the Apostle Mark:

    “And calling the crowd to him with his disciples, he said to them, ‘If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it….For whoever is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him will the Son of Man also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels'” (8.34, ff.).

    The cross, the symbol of the ultimate form of Roman capital punishment that was inherently unclean to the Jew, was scandalously offensive when associated with the Messiah. Yet this was the crisis that Jesus imposed on the minds of his hearers. Think of it: that which to the Jews was anathema was the symbol of their only hope! Not only did Jesus not minimize the symbolic impact of the cross, he maximized it by using it to show the Jews just how objectionable, problematic, and radical the life of his follower would be. Compare and contrast that which was presented in this IM conference: disregard for conversion, allegiance to Islam and indifference to the gospel, and the prioritization of temporal relationships over that of the radically allegiant relationship called for by the Son of God.

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