Having an unexpected morning free I went into Sheffield to share the Gospel with anyone I could. It was a nice morning and refreshing to start the day with witnessing to our Lord's great works.
With only a few people around at first I began by handing out tracts to everyone I could. After a short period of this I noticed a familiar face coming down Fargate towards me. It was a young man that I have witnessed to multiple times both in Fargate and the Peace Gardens. He is normally with his friends but today was on his own. We discussed regular things of life for a little and then I swung to the question that really matters. Have you considered Jesus and accepted him as your Lord and saviour?
No was the short answer, but there are many excuses and distractions that were a part of that response. Without his friends distracting him now I was able to speak at length with him about what a rejection of Jesus' loving work to save sinners means. Very quickly this young man assented that hell was reasonable and just and that he did deserve hell for rejecting God. So I asked what would stop him trusting in Jesus. When it really boiled down to it the only thing that stopped him from being a Christian was the response of his friends.
I walked him through the many responses they could have from lynching him to rejection to ridicule to nothing at all. In all these I endeavoured to show this young man that what he would lose is far less than what He would give. Even if he was to die for his faith as a Christian, even then the promise that God would let us share in Jesus' triumph over death means he would win. I urged him not only to consider this but also the fact that what he was afraid of losing was short lived and what he would gain as a Christian was eternal. After talking through these things he said really there was nothing of substance to keep him from becoming a Christian but was still undecided. I suggested he think on it for a short while and come back and pray with me if he wanted to repent and turn to Jesus. He did not return but I know that God's word does not return void and I hope and pray that God will use today's conversation to save this young man.
I stood to preach next under the trees of Fargate, I began intending to speak to the love of God and the hate of man. But I was interrupted by Danny and his girlfriend who heckled as they walked past, so I engaged them asking Danny if he was a good person. We went through the good person test and while on some points Danny said that he'd never committed certain sins by the end of the test he like me came out condemned by the law. The worst sin (and the least acknowledged by most people) is rejection of God's right to rule our lives and affections. Gloriously Danny saw this and I believe understood that this was hell deserving and justly so. I rejoiced in my heart to be able to tell this young man the great news that Jesus died to save him from his plight if only he will trust in him.
As a side thought after hearing the gospel he commented that wont heaven be somewhat boring? I am always surprised how many people have bought into the lie that life with God is flat and boring and that heaven will stretch this out eternally. It is a lie, the truth is that salvation and Christian life is a glorious thing filled with satisfaction in this life and the life to come. On a simple level the Christian enjoys all the good things of this life increasingly as they grow, because God redeems our hearts and minds and we can rejoice in pleasures untainted by sin! On the greater level we go through difficulty to prepare us for the glory of the coming life, loosening our grip on this world. I gave Danny a tract as he left and urged him to repent and trust in Jesus.
I preached for a period after this on God's love towards us and the rejection of mankind of that love. I showed that the sins of people are symptoms of our rejection of who God is (reflected in His law). I urged people to repent and turn to the only saviour in the world who can be trusted, Jesus Christ the risen Lord. There were some people who stopped to listen and the occasional muttered heckle as people passed but no-one interacting with me. I was happy to see that some of the regulars from the phone shop came out for their cigarette break and listened a while. Closing with a call to repent and trust in God's love shown fully and finally in Jesus Christ I stepped down.
There were a couple of Mormon's in Fargate this morning and as one had been listening for a short period during the preaching I approached them. I got into a conversation with one of the younger men and we discussed who Jesus was for a short period until the other elder who had been with me during the preaching cam over. The conversation then continued between the two of us and the younger man just listened. We spoke of the common points between Christianity and Mormonism and the contrasts. This spun off a discussion of the trustworthiness of Joseph Smith in light of the book of Abraham which has been shown to be deceitfully translated (if you could use the word). If one of his works was a work of fiction and deceit then how can the other books of "holy writ" that he received then be trustworthy?
Likewise we discussed the contrast between works and faith and their place in a believers life. The Mormon faith asserts that we are saved by faith but also by works and that if our works are not sufficient then we could still lose our salvation. This is in direct contradiction of Eph 2: and Gal 2: and the numerous other passages of the bible that assert that we are saved by faith and grace and not works. The bible also teaches that we will do good works, but that these will be a direct consequence of our salvation, not that our works save us. It is the work and worth of Jesus alone that saves us. The whole conversation was very congenial but we did not come to any agreement, this is often the way but I pray that God would work in them to change their minds to see the truth.
What a great day! Praise God!