Robert Jeffress' Church Says 'The Lord Hasn't Given Us a Spirit of Fear' in Response to ISIS Arson Threat

Jan 30, 2017 12:48 PM EST

First Baptist Church in Dallas, Texas, led by Pastor Robert Jeffress, has said it will not be deterred by threats of arson carried out by the Islamic State terror group.

According to NBC 5, the terrorist group referred to the church as "a popular Crusader gathering place waiting to be burned down" in a recent edition of its propaganda magazine, The Rumiyah.

In encouraging its followers to burn down the 12,000-member church, the group states, "Arson attacks should in no way be belittled. They cause great economic destruction and emotional havoc and can be repeated very easily."

However, in a statement, the church said it is taking the threat seriously, but there is no sign of any imminent danger.

"The Bible tells us the Lord has not given us a spirit of fear. If we surrender to fear, ISIS wins. We will continue doing what the lord has called us to do...," it said.

Jeffress, a well-known radio and TV host who campaigned for President Donald Trump, has in the past openly criticized Islam and its followers. In 2015, he made headlines for a service he led in the wake of the Paris terrorist attacks in 2015, in which he attacked Islam as a "false religion" "inspired by Satan himself."

However, in a 2016 interview with The Gospel Herald, he said his message to Muslims isn't one of hate, but one of compassion and love.

"Today it is thought to be intolerant and hateful to tell Muslims and Hindus and Buddhists that their religions will lead them to hell and only Christ will lead them to heaven," he said. "But this is not a message of hate, it's a message of hope...We think we're being gracious and kind when we're opening it up to people that there may be another way to Heaven than through Jesus Christ. But in reality, if every other way is a dead-end road that leads to hell, it is very selfish for us not to share the only way to heaven. If we really hated Muslims and Buddhists and Hindus, we'd keep our mouths shut and never talk to them about Jesus. It's a sign of love to share with them the only way to safety."

He added, "God left us here to share with other people the only way to Heaven, and we are on a search and rescue mission as Christians -- I think a lot of Christians have forgotten that. I believe Scripture is important, but you can't just quote Bible verses at people. You need a reasonable arguments like Paul used, you need vivid illustrations...You need to be able to package this message in an appealing way to people."