The beautiful weather of summer is upon us in Hobart now and as the wind and rain of spring lessen there are many more days of sunshine. This is wonderful for gospel proclamation because more people are taking their time or relaxing in the mall and are willing to listen or talk. This time of year there is also a greater awareness of Christian things with Christmas decorations everywhere and carol services and nativity plays all over the city.
I set up the table quickly and after a short pause got up to preach. I spoke from the beginning of Matthew’s gospel, about the humble and scandalous situation that Jesus was born into. He was not born into a palace to a queen and adored by all the populace. No, the king of the universe was assumed to be the illegitimate son of a poor girl from a no-where town in the middle of a tiny war torn country. Things were so bad that Mary’s husband to be had even assumed she’d been unfaithful to him too. Well, you all know the story of how God sent His angel to reassure Joseph and tell him to marry Mary… I used this story to point to two big gospel facts that come from this and many other passages.
Firstly Jesus cares for us and didn't and never will stay aloof and distant from our problems. He is able to sympathize with our trials and temptations, because He’s been tested and tempted in every way even though He never sinned. He is willing to come into our lives and walk with us through life, just as He did with the first believers. And lastly, Jesus doesn’t care who you are, if you’re a success or a failure, rich or poor, respected or hated, it does not matter. He comes to offer all people salvation through Him.
And this was my second point, Jesus came to save His people from their sin. Jesus came with a mission, He came to buy back sinners from the judgment of God. From even before His birth Jesus was marked out to suffer and die in the place of people who did not love Him. Even before the making of the world the triune God picked out unworthy sinners to save from there much deserved judgment. He planned this! What a great love Jesus shows to us who are saved!
But who can be saved? All who humble themselves and trust in Him. Not the ones that are good enough, not the ones in the right church, not the ones with the right job, not the ones with the x factor. No! It depends on Him and not us, nothing we can do will make us right with God, we need to cast all that thinking aside and flee to Jesus for rescue. We must love Jesus and hate with holy passion anything that gets between us and Him.
I urged this message on the people of Hobart again and again. I hope and pray that God will use His gospel to soften the sinful and hard hearts of Hobart. Please pray with me in this, we need God to move in Hobart to save these people. They are marching day by day into the pit of hell, we should be on our knees weeping that even one precious soul would be lost to hell. How much more should we pray and weep when thousands go to their deaths happy in their unbelief and comfortable in their sin! Pray that God will shake them awake through the gospel and bring them to life and faith through Jesus.
I also pray for you my brothers and sisters, that God would give you a Holy discontent. That you would be driven to speak to people around you. That you would be a gospel gossiper and that Jesus’ great love would flow from your lips regularly and shine in your deeds always. May God’s Spirit fill us all and drive us to lovingly reach out to those in darkness around us!
The storm cleared just in time for the start of our outreach on Saturday night in Brisbane city. We were lighter on numbers, particularly at the start and so we prayed that God would bring in more labourers and he did - by the end we had at least 10 of us there.
Someone on the team preached with the sketchboard on the topic of guilty and innocent, contrasting how we are sinful and how Jesus is not, and yet it was the innocent that died for the guilty. There were some people listening as this was happening, in particular a few young men who said that they were Jehovah's Witnesses. They had just come back from one of their annual conventions earlier in the day.
These men said that only 144,000 people will go to Heaven. So we asked them, "What about the great crowd, the multitude clothed in white robes from all languages and tribes and nations which are also described in Revelation 7?" They said that this group wouldn't be going to heaven. We asked, "But how come it says that this group is also 'standing before the throne and before the Lamb', the very place where it says the 144,000 will be?"
They responded by saying that that is not what the Watchtower says. So we challenged them to check the Bible for themselves and not just blindly follow an organisation, which funnily enough, these young men admitted has been wrong in the past. We talked about the trinity, about salvation by grace through faith alone, the bodily resurrection of Jesus and about the existence of hell. One of the young men was more open than the rest, and he was busily noting down the Bible verses we were looking at to check them out later.
Please pray for them, and also everyone else who was witnessed to throughout the night. To God be the glory!
On Friday night we had an outreach at the Gold Coast and it was great to see many people happy to talk with us about eternal things. There were still a lot of Schoolies around, celebrating their end of schooling.
In the second photo you'll notice a conversation is being had with a group of guys who chatted with us for quite a while. As they were leaving, one young man in the group said that he wanted to stay around and keep talking with us. And so he did, even though his friends all left. He was under great conviction of sin and was very open to hearing the news of Jesus' death and resurrection for our forgiveness.
Afterwards, we preached with the sketchboard and God saw fit to draw in people to listen to the message. During this, there were quite a few questions that people asked the preacher as well, such as "Why is there suffering?", and "How can Jesus pay for the sins of a really bad person?", and "What about homosexuality?" This drew in more and more of a crowd to listen to what was being said, with the preacher answering their questions and tying it in with the gospel.
To God be the glory that His word is going out!
The thermometer was showing 38'C as we arrived in Woodridge for our final outreach in this community for 2016. The air was still, and people seemed to be moving a bit slower than usual. Even though it was oppressively hot, the heat actually opened up doors for gospel conversations as people wanted to stand in the shade.
When I arrived at the outreach it was good to see Alan and Ryan already engaged in conversations with people. The gospel was spreading and people seemed to be quite open and interested.
My first conversation was a middle-aged man named Tim, who wanted to talk as religion was destroying his family. Recently, his partner had been attending Bible studies with the Jehovah Witnesses, as a result she had been converted and also their children had embraced the heretical teachings of the JWs.
Tim, even though he was not a Christian had enough smarts to know that something wasn't right, so in his words he went out to get a "Lutheran Bible to prove them wrong." Through reading the "Lutheran Bible" he was able to find that the teachings of the Watchtower didn't align with Scripture, but the more he pointed this out, the more the JWs tried to separate his family from him. We chatted for sometime about the cultic nature of the Jehovah Witnesses and also the gospel. When he left he asked if he could have my contact number so that he could talk further. I happily gave him my details and I pray he gets in touch to talk again.
By this time Ryan had finished a conversation he had been having with a man named Tama. It turns out that four years ago members of the team spoke to Tama, and he wanted to chat again. After he finished talking to Ryan, he decided to speak to me. I reinforced the gospel message, and then encouraged him to attend a local church. He gave me his details and asked if a church could contact him. We have already handed his details over to a church in his area, and know they'll follow him up.
The conversations kept flowing today. At some points it was a case of going from one conversation to another. Straight away after talking to Tama, I got talking to a black African man named Arthur. It turns out that Arthur goes to church but thought to be saved he had to keep the Ten Commandments. We examined the Law, and he soon saw that he had failed in keeping the Commandments, this then opened up into a wonderful conversation about the gospel and how Christ loves sinners. At the end of the discussion Arthur said, "I am going to trust in Christ today. I finally understand." Please pray that the Lord would save Arthur.
As I was talking to Arthur I noticed a man standing nearby eavesdropping. When I finished my conversation with Arthur I walked over to him and began to chat. This man is Romanian and had grown up in the church; his brother is also a Pastor. He readily acknowledged that what we were sharing was the truth, and that Jesus is the only way to be saved. He even went on to explain the gospel very clearly, but then he said, "I'm not trusting in Jesus." I asked him, "You know it is all true; you know that Jesus is who He says He is, so why aren't you trusting in Him?" The man hung his head and said, "I don't know. I need to." I shared the gospel with him again, and he shook my hand saying that he would give the matter some more thought. Please pray that the Lord would rescue him.
By this stage I was feeling on a bit of a high; we'd had several wonderful conversations without any opposition, but then entered a young black African Seventh-Day Adventist. She was fired up and full of her own self-righteousness. She boldly told us that to be saved someone had to keep the whole law and trust in Jesus. I pointed out that this is works righteousness, and that according to the Scripture a person cannot be saved that way.
She strongly disagreed, so I opened my Bible and asked if I could read God's Word to her. She agreed, but said it had to be NIV only (this is the first time I have met an NIV-onlyist!). I found an NIV on my phone, and read to her from Galatians 3:10-11; after I had read the passage I asked, "Are you relying upon the Law to be saved?" She said she was. I then asked, "Do you keep the Law perfectly?" She claimed she did, so we began to look at the Ten Commandments. It soon became clear that she had and was breaking many of God's Laws. When she admitted this I read the passage to her again, and stressed that she was under a curse. I then went onto read Galatians 3:13 and explained how Christ became a curse for us.
She didn't like the idea of Jesus saving and us having nothing to do with it, so once again she argued that if we don't keep the Law perfectly then we would be damned. I asked, "If you lie to me now, then walk out and get hit by a car and die, would you go to Heaven?" She said, "No, as I hadn't repented of that sin." This is the trouble of works righteousness; you can never have assurance of salvation, and you live in constant fear that you could accidentally sin and be lost forever.
I explained the gospel to her from 2 Corinthians 5:21, and stressed that we are perfectly righteous because of Jesus, but she wouldn't have any of it. I then took her to Ephesians 2:8-9 and Titus 3:5, and asked her according to these passages what role works played in our salvation. She read the verses and said, "None, salvation is all of God." I thought, "Finally! She's got it." But then she turned around and once again started to spew the dribble of works based salvation that the SDA had taught her.
Once again we went back over the gospel, but I noticed that the more I stressed the salvation is all of grace the ore aggressive she became. No one likes to hear the truth that we cannot save ourselves, but that is what the Bible says. The message of the gospel offends our pride, but we must realise this truth. Eventually, I broke away from the conversation, and that is when she really lost it. She began to yell and me, blaspheme God's name, and swear.
A friend of hers then came up and said she was going to spit on me and my Bible, and the SDA just started screaming, "GIVE ME YOUR BIBLE AND DON'T JUDGE!" At that moment I imagined this must have been how the Pharisees responded to Jesus; the self-righteous hate the gospel. Please pray that the Lord would humble this lady and bring her to salvation that is all of grace.
The seed was sown today and the Lord will bless the sharing of His Word. Please pray for all those with whom we spoke.
Today the team consisted of Jacob, Rob, Chuck, Wesley and myself. I was very thankful for the turn out. We preached and handed out Christmas tracts. Christ was glorified. SDG
Rob chatting to a young man on the high street.
Andrew preaching a Christmas Gospel message from Luke chapter 2
Wesley chatting with a lady about the Gospel
We praise the Lord for the amazing week-long outreach at Schoolies on the Gold Coast last week. Thousands of year twelve graduates received a gospel tract or had a conversation about Christ with us.
God sustained our voices, kept us healthy and kept us relying on Him for strength. It was great seeing so many labourers with us on the team this year, and also seeing so many of them step out of their comfort zones and start conversations with people about eternal matters.
All glory to God that He uses unworthy servants such as us to make known such a wonderful message of reconciliation!
Before we started our outreach last night in Brisbane city, we prayed that God would prepare people's hearts and bring in people to hear the gospel. And praise be to God, He answered that prayer numerous times throughout the night.
Usually we need to approach people to get a gospel conversation started, but last night, it was different. For not long after we arrived, two young men came up to us, as we were setting up the free Bibles table, and asked us, "Will you go to Heaven when you die?" We responded and then asked them the same question and they said they thought they were going to Hell, because of their sin. This provided a great opportunity to explain the news of the cross to them!
Not long later, a man from Vietnam came up to two of us on the team and asked for a gospel tract. We were able to explain the whole message to him and he was very receptive, saying at the end, "I want to trust in Jesus for my forgiveness today." We gave him a New Testament and also details for a local church.
As we were rejoicing about that last conversation, a young man approached and asked us what we are sharing. These conversations were all apart from all the other conversations that the rest of the team were having at the same time!
Later on in the night, our regular atheist heckler, Wayne, arrived and God used him to draw in a crowd as he discussed with the preacher in the open air on a variety of subjects. He has been heckling us in the city for over 8 years now and we are praying that God will save him soon.
To God be the glory!
During our Friday night outreach at the Gold Coast, we noticed that there were already some Schoolies who had arrived, and so we had the opportunity to talk to a bunch of them about Christ.
They are some of the most open people to talk to, because they have nothing to do down there, they're at a crossroads in their life, and they don't have their parents around - so they have to think about the issues for themselves.
We had two people on the team who preached with the sketchboard and God drew in a crowd to listen to the message. During this, the rest of the team were handing out gospel tracts and getting into conversations, including with a young lady named Melissa.
After hearing the bad news that we have sinned against God and deserve punishment, and also the good news that Jesus died for our sins if we repent and believe, you could tell she was clearly pondering the message. She said, "I am going to have to seriously think about this tonight."
God's word never returns void! To God be all the glory!
It was a fruitful day of evangelism today in Sunnybank with gospel tracts going out and some great gospel conversations had. There were four of us on the team, which meant we were able to cover both sides of the road.
One person we spoke to was named Shika. He said he was a Hindu and thought God would let him into heaven based on his goodness. So we named a few commandments and he admitted to breaking them, just as we all have. He said that he had been taught that doing more good deeds than bad would solve the problem though.
We said, "Imagine if an earthly judge did that. 'Murderer I am going to let you walk free without any punishment because you've done more good things in life compared to how many murders you've done.'"
At this point, it began to click for him. So we went on to explain how if God is just, he cannot compromise justice by ignoring our sin. So instead we need someone perfect who can take our punishment for us. For if that person pays the penalty for our sin, that satisfies God's justice so that God can show us mercy and let us into Heaven. And that perfect person is Jesus.
This Hindu man then said, "I get it now. I have always been wondering how God's justice can be satisfied." He came to realise that he needed a substitute and that Hinduism doesn't provide one.
We went on to explain that he can't just add Jesus on to his existing religion, but that he needs to leave Hinduism and trust in Christ. He was seriously going to consider this and he was happy to take a Bible.
To God be the glory!
We had a great outreach at the Gold Coast Friday night last week. It was wonderful to see that all the gospels of John on our English free Bibles table ran out by the end of the night.
We also had an Arabic free Bibles table set up, and so people visiting from the Middle East were able to get a copy of the Bible in their own language.
One stand out conversation we had was with two men who approached the Arabic Bible table near the end of the night - one was from Saudi Arabia and the other from the USA. Martin was the second man's name.
He said he was an atheist until a few months ago when he became a Muslim. I asked what the reason was for changing his beliefs. He said he was worried about death and about what happens after, and he had some Muslim friends who told him what they think happens after death.
He asked us the question, "There are so many religions in the world, how can we know which one is right?" So we explained how there are only two kinds of religions in the world - one kind that says you need to earn your way to Heaven by doing more good deeds than bad, and this encompasses every religion besides Christianity. The other kind of religion, which is only Christianity, says the only way to Heaven is by having a perfect person who can take our punishment for us on our behalf.
We asked, "If a judge in a courtroom accepted a bribe and let the criminal go free on that basis, that would be corruption, right?" He agreed. "In the same way, if God just ignores our sin because of something we offer him (like a good deed), that would be him accepting a bribe and therefore would be corrupt." He said that makes sense, and that only that latter kind of religion would work.
He had never read the Bible before and so he was more than happy to take a New Testament. He had heard from his Muslim friends that the Bible has been corrupted, and so we addressed his concerns by explaining that we still manuscript copies of the Bible in the original languages today from thousands of years ago, and we can compare our Bible today to the ones from then and it says the same thing.
Please pray for Martin as he considers repenting and trusting in Jesus for his forgiveness.
To God be the glory!