I have seen a lot of debate over this question. Do the Muslims worship the same God we do? Ultimately, I think it is a pointless question that misses the real issue.
In one sense, the answer is no. The god revealed in the Quran is different in many ways from the holy and loving God of Israel revealed in the pages of the Bible.
In another sense, one could argue that that these two faiths have Abrahamic roots, both are monotheistic and share some elements in common.
As I look carefully at the Scriptures, I do not find the question significant. Before you drive a stake in the ground and gather some wood for a bonfire, let me explain.
In the Scriptures, the key issue is not just which God you worship, but how you worship that God. If Israel wanted to worship, they not only had to worship the one true and living God, but they had to come to him in precisely the way the law demanded. One had to go to the tabernacle, bring a burnt offering and find a priest to intercede. Anyone who tried to worship God any old way he pleased was dealt with harshly.
I recently taught the story of Jereboam (from 1 Kings 13) , the first king of Israel after the split from Judah and Rehoboam. He was chosen by God to be king and anointed for the task. If he obeyed and honored God, his line would be established as David’s had been in Judah. But Jereboam had a problem. The temple was in Judah, and he was afraid that if his people went back to worship in Jerusalem, their loyalties would eventually return to Judah’s king. Lacking the faith to trust and obey God, he devised a scheme on his own.
It was so simple. His people would continue to worship and serve Yahweh, the God of Israel, but they would do it their own way, a way different from that which God prescribed in the Law. He constructed altars at Dan and Bethel and told his people to worship Yahweh there. Surely God would be satisfied if they worshiped him, regardless of how they did it, right?
Jereboam was punished and each of the kings of Israel was judged as culpable for continuing in the sin of Jereboam. God can only be worshiped, only be approached, in the way he determines. No man can simply come to God as he pleases.
This became even more clear in the New Testament. When Jesus or the Apostles confronted the Jews, the issue was never whether they worshiped the one true God. The Jews had a knowledge of God that came to them through Abraham and Moses and Samuel and David and Elijah and Elisha. Paul affirmed that. But that knowledge did not save. The problem with the Jews was not that they worshiped the wrong God, it was that they worshiped the right God in the wrong way.
Jesus made a radical claim to his disciples. “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” Jesus was not calling on the Jews to worship a new or different God, he was calling on them to approach the same God they had always known through him, and through him alone. The works of their law would not be enough. Their religious deeds would not be enough. Anyone who would come to God must come through Jesus Christ.
Peter stood before the religious leaders of Israel and made the same radical claim, in Acts 4:12. “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” He looked the religious leaders of Israel in the eye and told them that their religion was not enough. Yes, they worshiped the one true God, but they were coming to him in the wrong way and there was no hope in that.
Worshiping the wrong god leads to eternal damnation. But trying to approach the right God in the wrong way is just as damning. God can only be approached through the finished work of Jesus Christ accomplished at the Cross. When a person repents of sin and places their faith in Jesus Christ, they are forgiven, given eternal life in Christ and sealed forever by God’s Holy Spirit. That is the only way to God.
- If you think that your baptism (as a baby, youth or adult) will gain you access to God’s glory, your hope is false. Faith in Jesus Christ is the only way.
- If you think that your good deeds will gain you God’s favor, you are destined for disappointment. Only Jesus Christ ever gained God’s favor by fulfilling all righteousness and it is only through him that we become righteous.
- If you think that by being religious, attending church, taking communion, or performing other religious tasks, you can purchase a spot on Glory, you are wrong. Our righteousness is as filthy rags and only the goodness of Christ suffices to save.
Our sincerity, our human goodness, our religious deeds, or our charitable acts are not enough. We have sinned, fallen short of God’s glory and can only come to God through Christ.
So, back to the Muslim question. Is Allah the same God as we worship? It is irrelevant.
The question reveals a false premise. If Islam worships the right God, it must be a valid, saving faith, right? No, the Scripture could hardly be more clear. Worshiping the right God in the wrong way is just as damning as worshiping a false god. The God of the Bible can only be approached in the way God demands – through Christ.
As the Jews attempted to come to God by the works of the law, the Muslims attempt to reach God through their religion and they will utterly fail. Islam is a false religion not simply because they worship a false God, but because they attempt to reach the favor of God in the wrong way. Mohammed is not adequate. Islam is not adequate. Only through Christ can one come to God.
So, whether Muslims worship the same God as Jews and Christians is not the question that matters. Are they seeking to approach the holy God of Heaven through the finished work of Christ? They are not. And since Jesus is the only way, their way fails utterly and eternally.