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Friday, 30 November, 2012
On Friday evening the team met at Cafe Nero for a time of Bible study before we headed over to Leicester Square. Including myself, we were six in number. If was a very profitable time of study in the cafe as we considered the confidence we have in God’s Word. Proverbs 1:7 says: “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge.” This means that in order to know anything, it must start with God. We can demonstrate this by reasoning in the following manner:
If I were to ask you for a knowledge claim you must appeal to something: to one of your senses, or to your reasoning, etc. But then I could say to you, "How do you know that is valid?" and you no doubt would say, "Because of this or because of that.” But then I could say, "And how do you know that is valid...?" and so on and so on. What this means is that you hit an infinite regress, because there is no stopping point unless you know everything. So unless you know everything, or have revelation from someone who does know everything, you can't know anything. It all starts with God. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge.
A little later we arrived in the Square and I got ready to preach. There was a man sat on the bench behind me, and I recognised him as someone who had heckled me in the past. On that particular occasion he had been very vulgar and rude. Still, we had prayed that the Lord would use us as He so willed, so I got up to preach as planned.
As soon as I did the chap behind me came forward and began to heckle me, and he came at me hard. His speech was venomous and full of hate, not to mention vulgar and rude, and so I asked him to refrain from using such foul language because of the ladies who were present.
His reply was to call me a misogynist pig.
A misogynist is defined as a man who hates women. It's a word that has been levelled at Christians more and more frequently in recent times. It's basis is built on the notion that women are treated as unequal and inferior to men, in the Bible, because there are certain roles that men are called on to perform, and these roles are not permitted by God for women. A typical example would be that of women pastors.
A rebuttal is quite simple here. God has designated different roles for men and women, for a specific reason. These commands come from God and therefore must be followed. But God is not arbitrary and so these are not random commands. Men and women are wired differently, for the very purpose of performing their unique roles to the glory of God.
However, I would like to address the charge that I am a misogynist, simply because I said: "Sir, please refrain from using that language, there are women present." I believe he took issue with this because somehow it implies that women do not curse and swear, and so they shouldn't be given preferential treatment. That of course is not what I was saying. I was simply appealing to the gentleman's civility. I was also trying to expose his lack of respect for the audience, particularly the women, who generally speaking are not as vulgar as men when it comes to speech (although I do recognise the tide is shifting, and has been shifting for some time now).
Still, it must be noted that what I said on Friday night was in no way misogynistic. If anything, I was esteeming women above men. So his assessment of me was wrong, and for many reasons. I must admit though, it was quite difficult to counter his aggressive rhetoric, but having had the time to think it through, I will certainly be better prepared for next time.
I did not continue to preach open-air for too long, simply because our heckler had made that to be quite untenable. There were some young people in the crowd who had argued in my favour, to allow me to speak, etc, and so we got talking. I thanked them for their support and asked them where they stood spiritually. They said that they believed in God. However, as the conversation progressed, it became apparent that they believed the way to God could be found through any religion, it was not exclusive to Jesus Christ. Ultimately, this meant that they were unbelievers. They said that they believed in God, but clearly they did not believe in the God of the Bible, but rather in their own interpretation of God. I reasoned with them from the Scriptures and did my best to bring the truth to them, but they stood firm on what they believed. They left with a number of gospel tracts, and we can only pray that the Lord would open their eyes to the truth.
Shortly after I got speaking with a young man who seemed quite open. I discovered later that he is a Muslim. Even so, it was quite remarkable how open he was. I explained to him why I believed in God and why the Christian God is the one true God. He did not object to the notion that knowledge and reasoning must start with God. However, when I shared more directly on the gospel, he started to object. In particular, he took issue with the doctrine of original sin. He did not accept that man is born with a sinful nature. I argued that this was abundantly clear and so could not be refuted. We do not teach our children how to lie or steal, in fact we teach them not to lie and not to steal. If we did not, they would simply do what their nature compelled them to do. I explained that the Bible tells us that unless there is an objective authority above us, One who teaches and directs us in the way we should live, to know right from wrong, we will all simply do what is right in our eyes (cf. Judges 17:6). I took this even further and asked him the following:
What is it that holds us back from doing those things we know we shouldn’t? Well, it will either be our love for what is good, pure and honourable (with God being the very standard of what is good, as well as the one who instills within us the desire and ability to be good) or, it will be the threat of consequence.
If it's the latter (the threat of consequence), ask yourself this question: what does that tell us of the human heart? How shallow must the human heart be when the only thing stopping us from doing wrong is this knowledge we have that we will suffer for it?
This resonated with him somewhat, which was encouraging. We spoke at length on a few other topics, most importantly, why the God of the Bible is the one true God, and Allah is not. I illustrated this for him by addressing the subject of justice and mercy. The Bible and the Qur’an say that God, in His nature, is both just and merciful. Yet, one cannot be both just and merciful at the same time. Allow me to explain:
If you show mercy towards a person, towards someone who deserves justice, then you haven’t acted in a just way, and if you show justice towards a person who deserves justice, then you have not expressed mercy towards the person. The point of course is that you cannot be both just and merciful at the same time, because you are either merciful at the expense of justice, or you are just at the expense of mercy.
Looking now to Jesus, we learn from the Bible why He purposed to die for the world on a Roman cross. Jesus gave Himself up to be punished on our behalf. He bore the punishment for the sins we have committed so that we can go free. He never died on a cross because He had sinned, He died on a cross because He became the sin bearer. In so doing He is acting justly towards sin. Justice is being satisfied. At the same time He is acting mercifully towards those who have committed the sin.
The unthinkable has happened: Justice and mercy are satisfied at the same time.
It is to be understood in this way: God pours out His wrath against sin ~ justice is fulfilled. And by fulfilling His justice in this way, mercy is extended towards the one deserving the punishment. Forgiveness is not offered at the expense of God’s justice towards sin. Forgiveness is offered because God so graciously chooses to substitute Himself in our place.
“He [God] made Him [Jesus] who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” ~ 2 Corinthians 5:21
The above reveals a God who satisfies fully His justice and His mercy in a logically consistent way. Yes, He does the unthinkable in substituting Himself in our place, but what He does is not illogical. God shows Himself to be consistent with His nature. He is just and merciful. And even though this “seemingly” is an irreconcilable problem, God solves it in a logical and rational way.
Moreover, because God shows Himself to be the perfect precondition for logic, this accounts also for Him being the perfect precondition for moral absolutes and the uniformity of nature, since God is indeed rational and logically consistent. Scripture reveals a God who is perfectly consistent in and of Himself.
This explains why every other theistic religion in the world is beset with the problem of a “god” who does not satisfy fully his justice and his mercy. Only in Christianity is there a mediator.
Acts 4:12 ~ “And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”
1 Timothy 2:5 ~ “For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.”
Only in a Mediator is there complete satisfaction for God with regard to His justice and His mercy. And only the Christian God offers to this world a Mediator, who stands in our place, taking upon Himself the judgment of God, so that we can receive mercy. Justice and mercy: two amazing attributes of God that reflect who He is, which come together beautifully on the cross of Jesus Christ.
As I shared this with my Muslim friend I could tell he understood the argument. Still, there was resistance on his part. This is to be expected, as the subject of justice and mercy attacks one of the very pillars of his belief system. If he acknowledges the necessity of a mediator, so that God can be both just and merciful towards us, he ultimately gives up his belief system. We parted on good company and he took an in-depth gospel tract to read. Do pray for him.
As we all started to wind down for the evening, I noticed that our angry and foul-mouthed heckler was engaged in a conversation with Roman. I wandered over and he began to boast how he had been able to have a much better conversation with Roman, one-to-one, in contrast to the conversation he’d had with me during the open-air. I explained that the answer to that was simple: “Sir, you used my platform (the ladder) to be your own platform, with the intent purpose to derail the message I sought to proclaim. Your agenda was to shut me down my being rude, vulgar, condescending and unreasonable.” To this he simply smirked disparagingly. Do pray that the Lord would soften his heart and open his eyes to the truth. Pray the Lord would save such a sinner as this, for we are all unworthy of His bountiful grace.
It was a tough evening for sure, but a blessed one all the same.
Soli Deo Gloria!
Saturday, 25 August, 2012
It was a beautiful sunny day as I made my way into Civic. There was a gentle breeze, but nothing overly concerning, however, there was a chill in the air. It was around 12:30pm when I arrived in Garema Place, and I was soon met by Ben and two other people who were out witnessing. Our plan for the day had been to preach to the lunch time crowds, however, we found that members from the Australian Communist Party and Socialist Alliance had taken over our normal preaching spot with the intention of holding an anti-government rally.
Knowing full well that we couldn’t compete with the crowd we decided to instead infiltrate the crowd with the Gospel. At the side of the rally I set up our new Scripture sign so that all those who were at the rally or walking past would be able to read God’s Word, and from that point I was able to hand out some of our “Stop” tracts. Since the crowd was calling for the government to “STOP” these tracts went down like a treat.
During the rally I was approached by a black man, he stopped and asked me to explain my Scripture sign. I informed him that this was a verse from God’s Word, and it told us why we need the Saviour. He said that he was a Christian from South Sudan and he’d never heard of John 3:16 before. I asked Rtuk to explain his background and as he did I found the reason he’d never heard God’s Word before. It turns out that Rtuk was not a Christian, but rather a strict Roman Catholic who did everything that his priest told him. I was able to share the message of salvation with Rtuk and he took a tract that shows the errors of the Papist religion.
By now the rally was beginning to finish up, so I made my way to our normal preaching spot and set up the Scripture sign right in the middle of the dispersing crowd. It was during this time that I noticed Ben was looked in a good discussion with a lady from the rally.
When the Communists had finished packing up, I opened my Bible and began to preach. Since I am apart of the Challenge 66 program, I decided to preach the Gospel from the book of Exodus. I looked at the judgement of God upon the Egyptians, and then the Passover Lamb. From there I was able to relate that to today, and how because of our sin we deserve judgement, but Jesus Christ is the Lamb of God which takes away the sin of the world.
After I finished preaching Ben stood and began to preach. He related the Biblical account of John 6, and preached on how we must partake of Christ. As he preached a few people stopped to listen, but overall Garema Place was quiet.
Once Ben finished preaching we began to read out the Scripture. While we were doing this other members of the team showed up and they began to walk around handing out tracts and engaging people in one to one conversations.
I finished off the day by reading Romans 5, and then preaching a message about how to have peace with God.
Overall the day was good, a few people got to hear the Gospel and receive tracts. Please keep them in prayer.
You can listen to an audio of my open-air below:
Wednesday, 22 August, 2012
It’d been a few weeks since I was last out on the streets witnessing. With all that had been going on in my last job I just found my time was severely limited. However, today that all changed, I once again was able to head into the city centre of Canberra to proclaim the Gospel.
I arrived in the city at just after 9am and met up with Ben. We had a short time of prayer and fellowship before heading off to begin telling people about Jesus. The morning was fine, and the sun was putting out some warmth, so we went and stood near the bus stop and began to hand out tracts to those who were making their way to work.
Since people were scarce during this time Ben and I split up so that we could cover more ground and witness to more people. As I stood by the bus stop handing out tracts I noticed this one lady watching me. When she saw that I had noticed her she cam over asking what I was handing out. When I informed her it was a Gospel tract she said, “Oh! You’re a Christian, I’m a Christian also.” Sadly, I have found that in the nine years I’ve been involved in evangelism that someone claiming to be a Christian can sometimes mean very little, so I asked this lady (her name is Rosemary) how she became a Christian. She smiled and said, “Became a Christian? I’ve always been one, I was born a Christian.”
Rosemary like many other Australians believed herself to be saved because she was born into a “Christian” nation. Yet, as we look at the Scripture we see that our national and cultural heritage does nothing to merit salvation. In Philippians 3:4-8, the Apostle Paul states that if there was any merit in his heritage or works then he’d have been saved. But then he goes on to say that he had forsake trusting in those things in order to gain Christ. Salvation is not by heritage, tribe or nation. You cannot be born a Christian, that is why Jesus says in John 3:7, “Ye must be born again.”
I tried to explain to Rosemary that her salvation is not based on who she is, or what she has done, but that salvation is dependent upon God. From there she began to talk about how she was a good person, and that must mean something. Once again I had to point out that her good works are as filthy rages (Isaiah 64:6) and that only the work of Jesus can save sinners. After hearing the Gospel Rosemary left, taking a tract saying she’d think more about what I said. Please remember to pray for her.
After Rosemary left I continued to hand out the “Stop” tracts to those who were crossing the road from the bus station. As I offered one Asian man a tract, he stopped, and said, “Is this religious?” I replied by stating that it was about the Lord Jesus Christ and what He has done for sinners. This man stood there reading the tract, and then said, “I’m a Buddhist, I don’t believe this.” From there the conversation was off and running. It turns out that this man is named Wai, and he is from mainland China. Until last year Wai had been the product of atheistic communism, he believed that all religion was evil, but then he met some Buddhists who lived moral lives. He concluded that they must be right, since the Buddhists were “good people”, with that logic he converted to Buddhism, and moved to Australia.
Wai told me that he was a good person at heart, and that one day he’d come back as something better in this life. So I asked him, “When you die, who will judge your deeds to determine what you come back as?” Wai looked at me blankly, and said, “I don’t know.” From there I was able to tell Him of the only true God, and how that God had given us a moral law. We walked through the commandments and Wai began to see that he wasn’t a good person, and that God would be forced to judge him.
When Wai realised the depth of his depravity, I told him the good news, that God had done the only thing possible to forgive sinners, and that was to die as their substitute. It turns out that Wai had never heard the message of Jesus, he’d never heard the Gospel. So on the streets of Canberra at around 10am in the morning Wai got to hear the good news concerning Jesus for the very first time.
Our conversation finished with Wai wanting to learn more, so I gave him a tract, and a Gospel of John. Please pray that God would save Wai.
Around this time Ben had returned from handing out tracts and talking to people. He’d had a few good conversations, including one with a former trainee Roman Catholic priest, who is now into new-age atheism.
After sharing what we’d both encountered so far that morning we headed back into the centre of Garema Place, and there we began to declare the Scriptures aloud. People by this stage of the morning we starting to do their shopping and enjoy the sunshine, so we thought it was a good time to read God’s Word.
Ben began by reading out Psalm 103. As he read a few people stopped to listen, and then moved on. When he finished reading I stood up and began to read out John 3. As I was reading I noticed again that a few people stopped to listen to the Scripture.
During my reading a man named Tim walked by, stopped, listened, and then went to Ben to ask more questions. Ben was able to share with him the good news about Jesus.
God was blessing the reading of His Word! After Ben finished witnessing to Tim we thought it’d be good to read a larger chunk of Scripture, so we decided to read all of 1 John.
Ben began by reading 1 John 1, and then he handed it over to me for me to finish the book. As we read we noticed that people were stopping and listening. Some were even sitting down to listen, others were standing drinking their coffee while listening to God’s Word be read. There were a wide variety of people listening, from men in suits to teenagers in street clothes. Different nationalities and cultures were present also, all listening to God’s Word.
Some stayed for a chapter or two, others stayed for the whole thing. God was blessing the reading of His Scripture.
Now from a pragmatic position we’d done everything wrong. We are constantly told in evangelism that we shouldn’t open air preach, and if we do, then we shouldn’t use our Bible as that may turn people off, but if we do use our Bible make sure it’s anything but the Authorised Version (KJV).
Well, we broke all those pragmatic rules. We open-air preached, we used Bibles and we read from the Authorised Version. Yet, as we did so you could hear people saying “Oh, he’s reading from the Bible.” The language of the Authorised Version seemed to be helping us, as when people heard the “Ye”, “Thou” etc, they knew it was the Scripture, and not some other book.
After reading seven chapters of the Bible we decided to start open-air preaching. Ben went first and he did a wonderful job in lifting the Saviour high, and laying the sinner low. While he was preaching two workmen walked path laughing and mocking the Gospel. Ben on seeing this addressed them and pointing out Christ died for sinners (including mockers), they fell silent as they walked away.
Around 11:30am, it was my turn to preach. It’d been awhile since I have open-air preached so I sent out a tweet requesting prayer from my brothers and sisters in Christ. As I thought about what to preach I thought I should address the question of “If there is a God, why doesn’t He do something about evil?” This question is very common to those who would seek to reject Christianity.
I began preaching by stating the question, and then I went on to read Genesis 6:5-8, pointing out that God does deal with evil, but the problem is, we are the evil ones. A good size crowd gathered as I preached, and there were no hecklers. You can listen to the audio of my open-air below.
After I finished preaching I was approached by young lady who had been listening to the whole message. Her name was Oonah (Irish background). She disagreed with what I said, and found the concept of surrendering and being a slave to God as repulsive. I explained to her that I was happily a slave to my master the Lord Jesus, and then pointed out that she was a slave also, a slave to sin.
The moment we started to deal with the absolutes of morality Oonah showed her postmodern mindset. Nothing became right, and nothing became wrong. All morality and truth was subjective. All I could do was keep replying “This is what God says.” Ultimately the reason she disagreed with the Gospel is because she loves her sin, and she doesn’t want to submit to the Lordship of Jesus Christ. That is the only reason she’d reject Jesus.
After a few minutes of talking to her she said she had to leave, however, she did take a Gospel of John and the book by John Blanchard, “Ultimate Questions”. Please pray for Oonah, may God reveal that He is a kind master, and that He is absolute truth.
Audio of the Open-Air:
Friday, 17 August, 2012
After long discussions with the council and deliberations by them we have been banned from witnessing in the Elizabeth Street Mall on threat of arrest if we persist. As I wrote previously we are looking for advice currently on options for challenging this ruling and what the implications for a court challenge are. Please be in prayer for us and all Christians in Hobart as the government here is becoming increasingly belligerent in its opposition to public expressions of Christianity.
This Friday I obtained a permit for witnessing in Franklin Square, a small park bracketed by the two major roads through town. It was a rainy day and quite cold so I was expecting to have little success with conversations but I hoped that I would be able to hand out some tracts to the people in the bus station. With many faithful Christians appealing to God I was also hoping that God would act to exceed what I thought would naturally tend to happen.
On arriving I decided rapidly that preaching would be out of the question for the day, the only audience I would have is the local seagulls and pigeons. As they have no need for a saviour I went to the bus station and handed out tracts and tried to speak to my fellow dying men and women of Hobart. For the following two hours I had a constant stream of people who took tracts and one or two short conversations with people in the bus station. A couple of Christians from my church stopped to say hello and encourage me in the work, this is always a great lift to my spirits.
At the end of the time I bumped into two friends who also identified themselves as Christians. We had an encouraging talk and I urged the young man in particular to consider carefully the particulars of our faith and make sure that he was walking faithfully with the Lord.
There were encouragements today but I am hopeful form more people to hear the gospel and for there to be an opportunity to speak to more people and possibly gather a crowd to preach the gospel to them. God willing we will be able to build this area into a Speakers Corner that people come to to hear the preaching much like in London.
Friday, 11 May, 2012
It was a wet and windy Friday afternoon as Adam, Andrew, Paul and I gathered to share the eternal gospel with the lost of Hobart in the Elizabeth street mall. I was expecting that there would be opposition today from the Hobart City Council just as there had for the previous six months. I was not disappointed on that count and even the Hobart police force became involved in attempting to prevent us preaching the good news.
Previously we have been harassed by the council who informed us that we need a permit to preach and hand out tracts in the mall and we were breaking the by laws. I investigated this thoroughly and the only relevant law that could be construed this way was one forbidding political meetings in the mall. There are several laws relating to religious activity in car parks around the city, but as the mall does not count as a car park I disregarded these laws. In spite of this the council persists in pointing to their conditions of use document which explicitly forbids preaching, one to one witnessing and tracting in the mall, the conditions of use document then points back to the by laws as a basis for the restrictions. This circular reasoning is used regularly to restrict freedom of religion in Hobart.
We began the day with handing out tracts and talking with people in various places in the mall. I always rejoice to see tracts in the hands of people and often seeing them reading or showing them to friends.
I found a convenient place to preach from behind a wind break which thankfully also acted as a sounding board and allowed me to project my voice down the mall. I began to preach using the recent budget and other financial concerns globally. From this regular concern for most people I turned to what God’s word says on the matter, in particular the comments in Mt 6 on money and the other common modern preoccupation - worry. The Bible is plain on this count, greed is only another form of idolatry and worry is distrust of God at best and practical atheism at worst. We are commanded to worship God only and when we refuse to do this we become guilty. Judgement/Gospel/Appeal
Adam preached for first time – death and certainty of judgement and need of the gospel.
Council officers approached Adam when preaching – need a permit. Referred to me, tried discussion but not interested, they called the police. Left saying we were God-botherers
Police arrived after Adam finished and we were talking and handing out tracts. Told complaint had been made and we were breaking the bylaws. Also told were breaking the public disorder laws by preaching/making noise/offending people. Discussed laws and police became very antsy and upset with this and I was told to become a police officer if I wanted to know the law so much.
Clarification sought at the Police station, inspector informed us that the same things apply
Council by laws should be upheld
We were breaching public order laws – contradictory
We were not being discriminated against as it applied to all “not just you”
We are seeking legal information and political approaches to resolve this matter quickly
Saturday, 4 August, 2012
Operation 513 Olympic Outreach Video Blog - (Day 6)
Friday, 3 August, 2012
Operation 513 Olympic Outreach Video Blog - (Day 5)
Thursday, 2 August, 2012
Operation 513 Olympic Outreach Video Blog - (Day 4)
Wednesday, 1 August, 2012
Operation 513 Olympic Outreach Video Blog - (Day 3)
Tuesday, 31 July, 2012
Operation 513 Olympic Outreach Video Blog - (Day 2)
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