At the scheduled time of 9pm the Skypecast started and pretty much instantaneously the room filled up with people and there were many folks who wanted to have their say.
So the first heckler we had was a Muslim lady from Egypt. I asked her why she is a Muslim, and she responded, "because my parents are." She couldn't give any objective reasons why someone would become a Muslim. So I then asked about what happens after she dies, she said there is a judgment. And good people go to Heaven, and bad people go to Hell. I then showed that if God lets someone into Heaven because of their good works, he is then not a just judge. Yet that is how the god of Islam operates, yet the Qu'ran says that Allah is just, exposing a fundamental internal contradiction proving Allah's non-existence. The lady admitted that it was a contradiction. So I posed the question to her, "Why would you believe in something that you know is false?" I then explained to her how she can have her sins forgiven while God's justice is upheld and yet He still shows his love, and that was by the death of Jesus Christ.
Andrew Hsu then discussed with another Muslim person and when asked why he thinks Islam is true, he said because his parents said so. The man then tried to say the Qu'ran has never changed but the Bible has. When Andrew asked for what evidence he has for that claim, the man was speechless.
Andrew then had a discussion with a skeptic named Peter, who we have spoken to in the past. He tried making the claim, "why do Christians believe in the trinity when it's not in the gospels?" Andrew informed the fellow that it is in-fact throughout it and he gave various scripture references.
I then had a chat with another Muslim heckler who said that she would actually answer my questions about Islam unlike the other Muslims who we spoke to earlier. So I then brought up the fundamental flaw regarding Allah's contradictory justice, which then lead straight into the true gospel. She couldn't answer that contradiction.
Josh Williamson then dealt with a Catholic man who said he is going to Heaven because he just went to confession. Josh showed him in the Bible where it says we are saved by grace through faith alone and contrasted that to what the Catholic Catechism of 1993 states that it is by yours works that you get to Heaven.
After this, I had a chat with a Sikh fellow. During the conversation I pointed out three internal contradictions within Sikhism:
1. Sikhism believes we are all part of God. That means God could not fully exist before the creation of the universe.
2. Sikhism believes all religions are true. Except because of the vastly different claims made within the various religions and the law of non-contradiction, they all cannot be true.
3. The Sikh god judges based on a person's good works and bad works, making him unjust.
The fellow could only respond by saying, well this is what I believe. So I pointed out, the task of the individual is examine the various religions and find out which one is true. They all cannot be true, and you shouldn't just believe in a religion because your parents do.
Andrew Caswell then finished up the Skypecast with an in-depth law and gospel message calling everyone to repentance and faith.
Overall, it was a great night with a constant flow of hecklers wanting to speak, and a total of 280 people listened in.
We will have another Skypecast at the same time next week - Sunday 9pm - 12am GMT+10. If you would like to advertise the upcoming Operation 513 Skypecasts on your webpage/blog/myspace, please visit the Skypecast page and that will give you the instructions on how you can do so.
To God be the glory!
This week has been a hard week, as happens to most people in this ministry from time to time; we have been discouraged and low. We've been disheartened by the hardness of people's hearts and seemingly pointless arguments with the cult members and those of other faiths. These things, though difficult, do not change the command to go and preach the gospel. Nor do they remove our great comfort, the work and person of Jesus Christ.
I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation.
But take heart; I have overcome the world. (John 16:33)
In town we prayed and then found a place to preach from in Fargate, while I preached Anna handed out tracts and spoke with people. As I was proclaiming the gospel some young men came up to heckle, I engaged Jack and we went through the good person test. Jack freely admitted being guilty of sin (as I am), but at the same time thought that there would be no consequence for his crimes. When asked why Jack responded that there is no reason to believe the bible and he doesn't believe in God. I was beginning to speak to Jack about the reliability of God's word and the importance of trusting in Jesus' work to save us, but was interrupted by Chris.
Jack's friend Chris is rather a hard hearted atheist who believes that there is no evidence for the existence of God. This disbelief is nothing to do with the lack of evidence and more to do with Chris' heart. I spoke with him at length about the evidences we have all around us, the design and purpose of the world, the historical/archaeological backing of the bible, the prophecies that confirm the bible and many other evidences. In the end his position would not bend and I told him that the reason for his unbelief was not lack of evidence but rather that he would not believe: There are none so blind as those who will not see!
Chris also seemed to think that we were preaching obedience to the law as the way to heaven (which he was right to say is contradictory). I told him that the only way to heaven is in Jesus Christ, through repentant faith in Him. As he and his mates left I challenged them to consider the gamble they are taking; if they are right and there is nothing after death - they lose nothing by rejecting Christ. On the other hand if they are wrong but continue in their rebellion - they will lose everything and face the unending wrath of God almighty in hell.
During the preaching Anna was handing out tracts and talking with those who gathered. At the very beginning she spoke with John, he was very open and could see his guilt and need, Anna gladly shared the gospel with him. After this encouraging conversation she spoke to Tom, a searcher who has been attending a catholic church in an effort to learn the truth. Anna warned him of the false righteousness taught by the catholic church which is based in works and the false doctrine of men. Tom was very interested in learning more and Anna encouraged him to look primarily to the bible and to use it to test everything. Tom took a bible and contact details for one of the sound bible teaching local churches.
We rejoiced to have seen the gospel go out and some receiving the word gladly. With a song in our hearts and thankfulness to Jesus our Lord and God we headed for home.
Sunday, 20 April 2008
Every part of me did not want to preach today. I freely admit that I was scared at the prospect of being arrested. But I also knew that we had to be faithful in preaching the gospel. Ryan and I were the only team members today, so we knew it was going to be some hard work.
Things got more interesting when we arrived to find that a big international surfing contest was underway right where we preach. At first I wanted to use that as an excuse for not preaching, since the noise would drown us out. But then God showed us His Sovereignty over all things!
A police sergeant walked past I thought I recognised him, so I said "G'day Sarge" he turned looked at me and said "You're Josh, right?" This was a shock, since a police officer knows my name. It was then that I recognised him, he was the police officer that arrested me last year on the Gold Coast for preaching. My first thought was "That's it! We aren't going to be allowed to witness." But the Sergeant was friendly, so I decided to ask him if we could preach. To my surprise he said "Go for it!" What a shock, the police that want to stop the Gospel gave us permission to preach it! To God be the Glory!
So we did just that, we began to preach. I was the first preacher up, and I began by speaking about the soldiers that died to give us the freedom we have in this land. It didn't take long before some hecklers opened up. First it was a bunch of British men, they were vile, and hated the gospel. Yet I loved to speak to them. Even though they were hard to preach to, I love dealing with those from the United Kingdom. We went back and forth on a few topics, and crowd began to grow rather big.
After dealing with them for a time, a ‘false convert' came up and began to heckle. I have dealt with this guy many times. So I opened up on him for not being a true Christian but rather one who lives in sin. This caused a few atheists to open fire, so I began to dialogue with them. They kept claiming that the Bible was full of errors and contradictions, so I handed them my Bible and asked them to find one. For the next twenty minutes the searched my Bible, then they pulled out a book by Christopher Hitchens, and searched it in the hope that they may find something to use against the Bible.
During this time I continued to preach and engage hecklers. The vileness of the crowd was sickening. While you come to expect it you never get used to it. A bunch of children were the worse. They were all around 7 or 8 and the language they were using would make you go into shock. They were cursing out God, and saying how they hated Jesus.
The crowd seemed to love them, so I used them as a launch pad into showing the depravity of man. They served as a perfect example on how we are sinners from childhood to adulthood.
By now my atheist hecklers had given up on the contradiction argument, and began to ask about homosexuality. The crowd caught there question, and people began to ask about it. So I answered it from the Bible, and provided the Scriptures that show it was wrong. I also stressed that God would judge the heterosexual as well for sinning, so they shouldn't think they are being picked on.
One young woman came up with a mouth full of curses, and then threw water over me. This started some in the crowd to throw stuff at me. One heckler threw a full bottle of water at my head, I was able to deflect it before it hit. Others just kept throwing random stuff, but if you ignore it they eventually stop.
I preached for about an hour, then stood down. Many in the crowd took tracts after the open air. But by far the coolest thing was this young woman approached me and said "Are you Josh?" I replied that I was, it turned out that her and I went to school together over ten years ago, and I haven't seen her since. It was an honour to be able to share the gospel with her!
Ryan then began to preach, and he got a few hecklers coming in who wanted to debate theology, and atheism. Ryan went to the apologetic realm and showed the existence of God. A few in the crowd loved this sort of discussion, and they wanted more. So Ryan kept on preaching the Gospel. After 45 minutes of back and forth he wrapped up, and we were able to hand out over 300 tracts in minutes to those leaving the surf competition.
Praise God for All He has Done!
Soli Deo Gloria!
On Friday evening myself and Philip met up with Antonio at Tooting Broadway to once more proclaim the gospel. We arrived just after 7pm. I had in mind to do a short open-air preach simply because my voice has been feeling a little strained of late. We opened in prayer and set about handing out tracts and speaking to people one-to-one. The first person I approached resulted in immense joy for all of us. A young girl was walking my way so I approached her with a tract in my hand. Being as friendly as I could and smiling broadly I asked her if she'd ever seen a comic before with the words "Are you a good person?" on the front of it. She smiled back and said no, she had not.
Forty minutes later we were still talking. I shared the whole counsel of God with her. We spoke of sin, righteousness, judgment and the amazing grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. As I was reasoning with her I could tell that the message was starting to have an impact. I asked if she'd ever heard anything like this before and she said no. I then asked if what I had shared with her made sense and she said, "It does now that you have explained it to me."
Finally I asked her, "Would you like to surrender your life to Christ?" She responded with a yes and so I explained to her that she needed to turn in prayer to God and surrender her life. I must stress that upon hearing from her that she wanted to surrender her life to Christ I went over the message with her one more time.
I wanted to make sure that she had weighed up the cost and that she knew what it was she was about to do. So often we hurry a person into the kingdom, not realising that they haven't considered the cost, the result of which ends in them making a superficial commitment to the Lord. We cannot know for sure but we owe to the person to trust them. The genuineness of their commitment will be tested and ultimately it is only the person and the Lord who truly know whether or not they have completely surrendered their life.
I did not lead her in "the sinners prayer," I simply guided her as to what she should pray and then allowed her to pray privately by herself. It was wonderful to see her turn to the Lord. Before she left I gave her my contact details and invited her to my church. She said that she would not be able to make it that Sunday but would be able to make it the following Sunday. Please pray for her and that she would be able to make it to church.
About 8:10pm we hopped on the tube and headed up to Leicester Square. Antonio said his goodbyes before we left. After arriving at about 8:40pm we entered the Square and headed to our usual spot. Carl was running a bit late so we decided to wait for him. My brother James joined us also and arrived within 10 minutes of our arrival. I decided to try a different part of the Square just to see what sort of response we would get.
As we moved over the area we noticed that there were some Christians who were singing songs and praying. They had obviously come out to do some evangelism of their own. An idea quickly came to me and so I went over to talk to them. I told them what it is we do and that very shortly I would be preaching open-air. I then asked if they would mind being a "rent a crowd" for me, which meant I started preaching with an already formed crowd. They agreed, which was a real blessing. At this point Carl had still not arrived but we knew he was on his way so I stood up to preach. Within minutes my "rent a crowd" had grown to about 30 people.
It was great! Many people got to hear the gospel. I was being heckled from all angles at one point but that was fine because I was able to answer their objections, which is awesome because it educated the crowd concerning the truth. Over the years I have read many books and educated myself with the help of some awesome resources (LivingWaters, Answers in Genesis, Way of the Master, etc.)
As I continued to preach two young men became more and more animated in their objections, saying that Christianity is just another religion that cannot be proven and that evolution holds all the answers. It was not difficult to counter what they were saying; the only difficulty was that they expressed themselves in a rather domineering way, coming up really close to where I was standing. You have to learn to handle these situations in a rather forthright fashion, insisting that they stand back and give you room.
Eventually I came down and continued to dialogue with my two main hecklers. Their names were Paul and Kelsey. It was quite evident that they had both been indoctrinated from the world system. They kept making assertions as if they were factual and so I had to keep pointing out to them that what they were saying is not true, and I did this but pointing them to the facts. I took them to the book of Job, for instance, to show them that dinosaurs are mentioned in the Bible (Job 40:15-24). Although they were both quite resilient in their views, they had a friend (I believe his name was Fabien, but don't quote me on that!) who was more open and willing to listen.
There were times when he asked both Paul and Kelsey to keep quiet so that he could hear what I had to say. When I spoke with him on a one-to-one basis I could tell that although he was open there was still a fair amount of worldly knowledge built into him that caused him to conclude by saying, "We could sit here forever and a day discussing this and never come a conclusion as to who is right and who is wrong." I had with me a little booklet written by Ken Ham (Answer in Genesis) that is entitled "Is there really a God?" and so I gave it to him as we parted company. We can use the law to bring conviction of sin but we still reason with a person's mind as well.
Before we left Leicester Square Carl stood up to preach. He did not preach for long but did a fine job in pleading with the people earnestly that they should repent and turn to Jesus in faith. It was now getting late and so we said goodbye to the Christian friends we had made and headed for the train. The gospel had been preached, many conversations had transpired and many tracts had been passed out. Praise God!
Saturday morning rolled around and it was time to once more head to Tooting Broadway tube station to preach the gospel. The weather was quite miserable and so there were not many people out and about. Phil was of course with me and we were joined by Antonio and Andrew, both of which are from my church. We arrived at 11:30 and spent our time speaking to the people who were there and of course handing out tracts.
I preached open-air but did not get many people stopping to listen. Even so the Word was preached and for that I rejoice. We'd had a wonderful week of ministry.
Soli Deo Gloria!
Saturday, 19 April 2008
A cool breeze was blowing as I headed into the Queen Street Mall, while I was excited about witnessing, I was also distracted. The reason for the distraction was because at Sunday lunch time I would be leading the Gold Coast team, which a week earlier had been arrested and detained. So I was preoccupied with the notion of facing possible arrest.
Something I learnt during this whole situation is that often times we can not trust in God to be Sovereign over the situation. While we may profess that He is in total control, often times our actions are at odds with our theology. It was during my drive into the city that I pondered these thoughts, and the one scripture that kept coming back to my mind was Ephesians 1:11 "In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will." God works ALL things out according to His will, and as I grasped that truth, I became at peace with all that was going on.
After our normal time of prayer and Bible reading we had a bit of fellowship then headed up to the mall to begin our preaching for the night. It looked like we had a small team this week, so we prayed that God would raise up labourers, and of course He is always faithful, he brought in guys that hadn't been on the street for some time to work alongside us.
Ralph was the first preacher up, this was his fourth open air, and he is showing amazing growth as a preacher. In the time that he has been preaching his confidence has grown, and also he is starting to develop skills in regards to handling hecklers.
It was a quiet night in the mall, yet Ralph managed to get a heckler who wanted to stand really close to him as he preached. This is a standard thing on the street, as often times the enemy wishes to shut down the open air, so he brings a heckler along to make the preacher talk quietly. Ralph handled this guy well, and did a decent job in getting the gospel out.
While Ralph was preaching, those on the Bible table and standing behind the preacher were constantly ducking for cover, as some bats had decided to take up residence in the tree above us. The problem was these bats would sit above us and then let some ‘gifts' fall on us.
It was around this time that Kristine spotted a man sitting behind the preacher listening. This man was the man she had sat next to on the bus trip into the city, so she grabbed some tracts and headed over to speak to him. I covered the Bible table for a bit and even had the privilege of giving to Arabs a copy of the New Testament in their own language.
By now Ryan was up preaching, and a man was sitting next to the preacher listening and heckling. As Ryan preached I was called over by Kristine to assist her in witnessing.
The man she was witnessing to was a self righteous humanist, who was only looking for an argument. He kept saying "What if a person kept all of God's Laws, yet didn't believe, would they go to Heaven". Of course in his mind he was that ‘good person', as we went through the Laws of God it soon became clear that he was not good, nor had he kept all the law. Yet in his own mind he was convinced that he had. It is always saddening to see how sin blinds many people. It blinds them to the point where they think they are sinless in the sight of a Holy God.
While I was discussing the gospel with my humanist friend, Ryan's heckler began to scream, and Ryan just calmly responded to all his questions. The man finally got so mad that he walked away yelling. This was interesting as it shows what happens when ones pride gets damaged by the Gospel of Christ.
I turned once again to the humanist, and began to expound on sin, and how it is repulsive to God. But he just hardened his heart, and decided to leave still believing that he is not a sinner.
By now our regular heckler "The Dawkins Man" was back, now he was heckling Ryan over the existence of God. Ryan dismantled his argument piece by piece, and then proved to the few listening that God does exist. But as usual "The Dawkins Man" just ignored the arguments and kept saying "Christians can't prove it!" even though anyone listening just saw the proof of God.
Ryan tagged me in and I opened up on "The Dawkins Man" showing him the reason he refuses to accept the evidence is because he is a slave to sin, and loves his sin. He didn't argue but admitted that he had sinned. This drew in other people who wanted to speak, but since I was about to beaten by the clock I only dealt with one of them. That was a young lady who had many questions about Christianity, and why we were doing what we do. I stressed to her that I love her, and I will do this because I care for her. This softened her up to the Gospel, and she willingly took a gospel tract. While I was talking to her a drunk man got up in my face. He was showing all the body signs of wanting to fight, so I prepared myself to defend. But a drunk aboriginal man decided to come to my aid and began to fight with the man. He landed a few good punches on this man, and eventually they both walked off.
After I got down a lot of the team was engaged in one to one, as I began to pack up an old aboriginal man came up and stated that the spirits wanted to kill us. It turned out that he is an aboriginal spirit man, and his job is to summon the spirits to do his bidding. Many Christians get frightened when a ‘spirit man' curses them, but my rest is in the Sovereignty of God. And I know that God will not allow something to happen, unless He wills it!
As he began to speak in a demonic tongue, I began to quote the Scripture to him, and pointed out that the spirits in him are subject to the One who defeated them at the cross. The man shot back that Jesus Christ had no power, but the Scripture was finding its mark, as the man began to look uncomfortable and left.
Praise God for His faithfulness and Sovereignty!
Lord Jesus please be gracious to us, and cause us to know you,
lest we forget our Gracious maker,
who became flesh and died for the crimes of His people.
Redcliffe Pier, is a windy place, which the locals use as a place of leisurely afternoon walks, and quieting thier hearts before the working week dawns upon them.
Today we discovered a New Age teacher, had arrived at Redcliffe with a stall, and was giving away DVD's of his teachings. Apparently he has been on Briz31, and I really wanted to interview him, but unfortunately.. he was packing up when I arrived with Chris Robson.
I grabbed a DVD though (free gift from him), and Chris Robson gave his helper and the man, a gospel tract, "Are you a good person?".
On this fellow's quote, he claims, he helps people by not just talk "but a way to go inside and savor the peace that is within."
I think he never noticed, that the world is full of people who love putting thier heads in the sand, and ignoring thier own evil, and others evil, and instead, begin meditating upon self or nothing.. becoming useless in a world that God created for His own glory, under His rule and word.
Besides the bible claims, and its empirically provable, that our hearts are desperately wicked, and deceitfull above all things. We think that meditating upon the peace within, will fix the problems within and without? uh.. Do we really believe we are good people, and that it's only our behavior that let's us down? Oh God have mercy on humanities blindness.
Anyway, enough of my ranting.
Here is a few reports from the team members on Sunday:
Dan Kent reported that as handing tracts out he was told he was wasting tree's.. yet as she tried to push it back into his pocked, she dropped the tract and blew away.. oops. Dan was able to share with her breifly, tell her to repent, yet her friend said he was rude, and didn't like the gospel tract. Well.. people get offended when the law of God enters, it's remarkably truthful about our state.. and shows us how vile a creature we really are. Dan also did some Open Air training and debate training with me, and he is beginning to be able to discover holes in peoples arguments and show the fault, and then proceeding throught the Ten Commandments. Keep at it mate, I like it :)
Chris Addison, shared a gospel tract with someone who professed to be a christian.. but the christian gave the gospel tract back. Another guy took a tract and then threw it to the wind. A little later a professing Christian from New Zealand chatted with Chris, and was challenged regarding his testimony. Fortunately Chris by God's grace was able to reveal the fellow had no knowledge of any past conviction of sin, and so preached the righteous judgment of God to him. May God save his soul.
Chris Rixon, was by God's grace unable to speak much due to a damaged vocal cord, but while handing out some tracts, was able to maintain a witness by paper. Glory be to God. Chris also discovered some gospel tracts in the bins.. at least some people know how to be good citizens :) Pity though that they thought so little of God's word.. I think there is much hard ground to be broken up in Redcliffe!
Glen Dibben did some Open Air training, and debated with me in the arena of athiesm and evolution, and was able to skillfully turn the arguments on me more than once. It took a bit of work to defend the evolution position, but he wore me down eventually and turned the conversation to the law and the gospel. Great work my friend!
Chris Rixon and I, were able to sit in the chamber in the middle of the pier, and use the natural amplification to carry on a conversation regarding the law of God, the cross, and Christ's resurrection. We also debated the why religions were true or false, and more than a few people stayed to listen to our loud conversation. Please pray for creative ways of reaching this small little town!
S D G my friends, it is a pleasure serving the King Jesus,
A little servant of the most High God,
At the usual time of 9pm the Skypecast kicked off without any technical difficulties. Almost immediately we had a gentlemen named Peter who wanted to have a chat with us. So we brought him up to the talking area and he said that he doesn't believe in God. So I explained why it is the rational viewpoint to believe in God using logical arguments, and showed why if he continues to say there is no God in light of the evidence to the contrary, he denies God's existence on the basis of faith alone. I then showed him why there needs to be judgment after we die, and asked him if he would go to Heaven or Hell. After going through the law with him, he realised he was deserving of Hell. So then I preached the good news of the gospel to him and called him to repent and trust Christ as his Saviour.
However, he made the statement, "I will never believe that." By that statement that showed that it's not an intellectual problem he has in believing it, but rather a problem with his will. I explained that if someone does not become a Christian, it is usually because of one of these three reasons:
1) Because they love their sin and want to stay in it.
2) Because they have pride and do not want to bow the knee to Jesus Christ
3) Because they think they have done too many sins that Jesus can't pay for it (this is a rare case)
The conversation ended soon after because we had another person who wanted to speak and had been waiting for 20 minutes already before he could do so. However Peter stayed and listened to the entire Skypecast right to the end. Please pray that God will change Peter's heart so that he will flee from his love of sin and trust Christ.
The next person who wanted to speak was Rambit. Rambit was an atheist, so firstly I proved the existence of God to him. Because he had no leg to stand on there, he tried bringing up numerous other objections to the Christian faith, such as original sin and he even said that adultery was okay. He said he didn't mind if someone pervs upon his wife or even commits adultery with her. That clearly shows that he truly does not love his wife. In fact, Rambit said pornography is alright as well because the ladies willingly put up their photos up on the Internet. He said that child pornography was wrong, however Josh pointed out that he has a double standard, because what about those children who willingly put up their photo onto the Internet? Rambit saw his fleeting moral standards but decided to go onto a tangent without letting Josh speak. So we had to move him down into the listening area so Josh could respond to his comments. It is sad to see someone who has suppressed that conscience so much that they even try to justify their sin.
After that conversation was over, Tanika wanted to join in and make a quick comment regarding the conversation that just occurred. She was a UN worker in Bangkok that works with women who have been trapped in the sex trade business. She made the profound point that women do not willingly involve themselves in the pornography business, but rather the majority of them are forced.
I thanked Tanika for her insightful comments and then asked her about what beliefs she had. She said she was raised a Hindu but married a Catholic. She studied the various religions at a Catholic college and even taught there for a number of years. However, she now deems herself a non-religious spiritualist. She didn't know what happens after she dies but knew that there is a God. So I showed her that there must be a judgment after we die, which then lead onto the law, and the gospel.
Ralph Patrick then did the closing gospel message, but his microphone stopped working half way through. So I finished the gospel presentation calling everyone that was listening to repent and believe.
We will have another Skypecast at the same time next week - Sunday 9pm - 12am GMT+10. If you would like to advertise the upcoming Operation 513 Skypecasts on your webpage/blog/myspace, please visit the Skypecast page and that will give you the instructions on how you can do so.
To God be the glory!
Friday this week was bright and clear for most of the day, a pleasant change to be sure! It is still cold but less than before, praise God it has stopped raining some days! Jim and I went into town to preach the gospel to the shoppers and business people of Sheffield.
We set up to preach in the middle of Fargate and I preached on the wisdom of the world, which is foolishness in the long term because it leads to destruction. As I was preaching "Bobby" with a mate stopped to talk. Immediately he took offence that I was shouting at him as he said, I explained that I was preaching and no I would not get down to talk with him but he could stay if he wished. He did stay and I asked if he was a good person, saying yes he was I tested his profession against the ten commands of God. He justified himself numerous times and asked if I had broken God's law (yes to all of them in word, deed, or thought), before I had finished Bobby walked off with his friend. Pray that the message would sink into his heart and mind, and that today's interaction would not be just a bit of a laugh for him.
I preached for a while longer, urging any who could hear me to turn from sin and trust in Jesus as their Lord and saviour. A highly tattooed man stopped to yell at me and I had the privilege of explaining that I was not condemning people in town. Rather it is out of knowledge of my own sinfulness and need that I warned others like me. This seemed to calm him down and I then preached the gospel to him and the local council officer nearby. Praise God! What opportunities He gives us!
After the preaching was finished a Muslim man who has spoken to me before stopped to speak with me again. I asked him about abrogation of the will of his god Allah. I have been thinking a lot lately about the Muslim theology of abrogation (a later revelation cancels out an earlier one). This theology has serious implications for the Muslim belief in the all-good, all-powerful and all-knowing nature of their god. To put it succinctly, Allah cannot be all these things and yet abrogate his will. Is Allah lying to people one time and telling the truth others? Or is he not powerful enough to maintain the truth of his revelations? Or again is he ignorant of the future events when he reveals two contradictory "truths"? This is a serious problem for those who will entrust their eternal soul to this god; will he change his mind and cast you into hell after a period in paradise?
Among other things we also discussed the "miracle" of the Qu'ran as given to Muhammad and produced as a sign of his prophethood. The prophet Muhammad claimed to be in the line of the Biblical prophets and the Son of God Jesus Christ (a so called Islamic prophet).
Thinking on this after our discussion of the Qu'ran I could not help but be struck by the contrast that so many others have seen between the prophets and Jesus Christ and Muhammad the man from Mecca. The prophets, the apostles and Jesus displayed many public miracles that where irrefutably supernatural, compared with a single book produced by Muhammad. The prophets, Jesus and His apostles all were in complete agreement with each other (pointing to a single source - God), Muhammad claimed his writing superseded and abrogated the word of God previously given. The prophets, the disciples and in an absolute sense in Jesus, all lived lives of self-sacrificing service to both man and God. Muhammad according to the Ahadith set himself up as a prophet king, ruling in prestige and luxury, owning massive tracts of land, and mercilessly killing any who would stand in his way (an old man and a girl on two recorded occasions (where?)). The difference between Muhammad and the Biblical prophets is striking; the difference between Muhammad and Jesus Christ is astronomical! Has God changed? Is He unable to support His prophets? Is He powerless to produce signs now? Does He no longer care for the moral standing of those who stand for Him? NO and No again! God has not changed, the explanation is in the self styled prophet from Mecca, this man was not a Biblical prophet; his life and writings prove this beyond a shadow of a doubt.
We pray that the Muslims of Sheffield would have their eyes opened by the Spirit of truth and would look to the final revelation of God in the Son of God (Heb 1). The true Muslim is in submission to the True God, don't buy the contradictions and inconsistencies. Seek the truth, it is found in Jesus Christ.
Saturday was an interesting afternoon, Anna was unwell but came to support me and pray. This support is invaluable, how can I do anything if God will not act? No minister can do anything of use. Christian readers please pray for Anna and I as we work in Sheffield, appeal to God that He will graciously use our work and save people. Tracting through the centre of town many people would take tracts but none would stop to talk. After running out of tracts, I then walked up to the Peace Gardens aiming to talk with some of the young people that we've met before and then preach. I stopped to speak with a group of four young people and then started a conversation that lasted the afternoon and into the evening.
The group consisted of a guy with a heavy interest in philosophy but no actual opinion of his own; a young lady with a history of church involvement; and two other guys who varied between surly and mocking and listening. The discussion was focused around giving an apologetic for the Christian faith and worldview and refuting the various objections they raised. During this time one of the young men seemed convicted and they all heard the gospel in full. The whole discussion was nicely summarised by the interaction: "I don't know why you are preaching, you are not going to change anyone" and I responded, "yes I cant change anyone but that's not my job, God must change your heart, and I will be praying that He will!"
The young lady collared me as we were about to head home, she wanted to talk to me about the church experience she had in London. This church was lead by a pastor whose main concern seemed to be raising funds and not seeking and feeding the sheep of God's flock. The hypocrisy of this man and those in the church like him had driven her from the church and caused her to renounce the Christian faith as hypocritical. This is a travesty! I urged her to look at the bible and test ALL preachers by that standard and showed her that the love of money has no place in those who are following Jesus. We pray that she will look at the bible and get into a bible teaching church.
Ministers, I plead with you not to abandon your high calling to represent the King of Kings. Don't play with the muddy toys of wealth and prestige when your sovereign has given you the privilege of being His ambassadors! Love the Word and teach the Word, love the Lord Jesus and live out your devotion to Him. In fear and trembling serve at your given post for you do not know when your master will return. We need ministers that are Holy and devoted to God alone! The world is full to the brim with evil and darkness, don't compromise, sacrifice and stand firm for the sake of those you seek to lead under God. Be strong, faithful and courageous, God is with you who can stand against you?
Before I write about our weekend of ministry that has just finished let me point you to something else first. Last weekend I travelled up to Carlisle with my brother James and Carl to join with other Christians for a day of outreach. We travelled up Friday evening and stayed over in Sheffield with our good friends David and Anna Gee. Early Saturday morning we drove up to Carlisle. While I haven't had the chance to write about the day Dave Gee has done a great job in unfolding the events of the day for us. Click on this link to read his report.
Friday evening saw us head up to Leicester Square in order to preach the gospel to the great multitude of people who are out "to have a good time." Unfortunately we did not get the opportunity to first go to Tooting Broadway, as I had some errands to set about doing that afternoon. Myself and Phil arrived at Leicester Square at about 8:45pm. My brother James was due to meet us there and he arrived just after 9pm. After opening in prayer I stood up to preach. I started by talking about why we are here on planet earth. The people who are at Leicester Square on a Friday night are out to have a good time and rarely will they ask themselves the question, "Why am I here?" So I started by prompting the question to those passing by, "What is our purpose for being here?" I answered with a solid reformed response: "We are here to glorify God and enjoy Him forever." This allowed me to then talk about why we are to glorify God and why we are to enjoy Him forever. At this point a sizeable crowd had formed and I could see that some people were listening intently to what I was saying. After I finished preaching we continued to engage people in one-to-one conversations. By the end of the evening we had handed out over 100 tracts. We could not stay late as both myself and Philip needed to be up early the next morning to go to a men's breakfast at my church. We left about 10:30pm.
Saturday morning came round and I was joined by Antonio and Lyudmila at Tooting Broadway. Philip had to help at the coffee shop at our church so it was just the three of us. I arrived at 11:30am but Antonio and Lyudmila were late in arriving so I went about handing out tracts. After they arrived I stood up to preach the gospel. Not many people stopped to listen but I noticed in particular someone who seemed quite interested. His name was Zeeshan and he told me that he is Muslim. We had a good chat and he mentioned that he would like to talk some more so I gave him my details. I have noticed that it is rare that someone will get back in contact even though they say they will, which is disappointing. Still, we must trust God that they will remember what they heard. Interestingly Zeeshan gave me his mobile number and so I will be contacting him soon to see if he would like to talk some more. This is something that I am going to try to do more often.
Lyudmila and Antonio are learning a lot and it is great to see them out each week. This Saturday I will begin a course called The Way of the Master Basic Training Course and will be leading them through it for the next 8 weeks. I am really excited about this and looking forward to seeing them grow during these next coming weeks.
Soli Deo Gloria!
Saturday, 12 April, 2008
Why is it every time I think "quiet night" things always goes nuts! I was expecting a small team tonight. But God's grace brought a fifteen person team out on the street to witness. We spent some time in prayer, and Bible reading. Then we had a time of fellowship.
At 9pm we made our way into the Queen Street Mall, at about 9:15pm Ralph began to preach. It is good watching Ralph preach, he is doing a good job, and with some time he will turn into a good open air preacher. For someone who has only preached three times, he is sounding like one who is an old professional at the open air preaching game.
He went for about 15 minutes, and then he tagged me in to deal with a heckler who was an Australian living in Saudi Arabia. He was asking questions in regards to Christianity compared with Islam. I did my best to answer his questions, then swung into the gospel. He was very open to hearing the gospel, and he thanked me for presenting the truth to him.
This then created another wave of hecklers. It was good to see one of the hecklers we had from a few weeks back in the crowd. He is one of the friendliest evolutionary hecklers we have ever had, and it is really good to talk to him. But sadly, the hecklers we had tonight, weren't really the friendly ones.
One man screaming about atheism came up next to me with a bag of fries from a fast food place, and proceeded to put the fries in his mouth and then spit them at me. When I didn't respond to him doing this, he got the bag of fries and poured them all over the soap box and the ground. I ignored his antics, as I was dealing with a heckler who wanted to debate on "Can we know what is after death."
I was able to go through the Christian message with this young man, and he seemed convicted as I explained to him that he would have to give an account to God for all his sin. It was then that the pseudo-intellectuals opened fire, these guys had been standing in the crowd for sometime, one of them asked the question "If Christianity is true, then why does it copy older pagan religions? Christianity is just paganism repacked!" I asked him to explain what pagan religion Christianity allegedly copied. The man stopped and thought for a moment, then with a big grin he said "They copied the Egyptian religions!"
That argument was interesting, so I asked him "Are the Egyptian religions polytheistic or monotheistic?" His reply was "polytheistic", then the question was asked, what was Christianity, his reply was "monotheistic". I then pointed out that the central doctrine of God, is not copied from Egypt, so why does he think it was? He made the case from an account of Osiris being the same as Jesus. This argument lacks any support, for if one examines the Osiris myth, you soon see it has nothing in common with the message of Jesus. We went through the argument, and the man conceded that Christianity is not a copy of any pagan religion.
By now a man wearing what I though to be a dress started heckling me. He started off by telling me that it is not a dress but rather a really long jacket. We debated back and forth on the issue on how we can trust the New Testament. The interesting thing was this man was presenting so many arguments that showed a distinct lack of understanding of the Christian message. But he kept on stating that he had a solid knowledge of Christianity.
For an hour and half, we debated back and for on apologetics and the gospel. The man did not realise the his arguments were being smacked all around the field. It was rather amusing when the atheists in the crowd started to turn on him, and explaining to him that he had no idea on what Christianity teaches. Then Mr. Dawkins Man entered into a debate. We had him a few weeks ago, he would ask a question then run away before you could answer. Again this was his ploy, and once again the atheists turned on him.
By now it was nearing midnight, and I had been up for 150 minutes, so once again we entered into the Gospel, and explained to many people listening the truth of the message of Jesus Christ. A lot of those in the crowd took tracts, and many one to ones took place after the open air.
Praise God, for the Gospel and His faithfulness!
Soli Deo Gloria!