Tonight was Riverfire, the busiest night of the year in Brisbane city. Riverfire is basically half an hour of fireworks and a few planes flying over. We knew that people would be arriving in the city very early in the afternoon to get the best viewing spots, so we decided to start the outreach at 3pm. Warren and I got there at that time and started handing out tracts. There was already such a large amount of flow-through of traffic of people crossing the Brisbane River via the Victoria Bridge, that within an hour we had handed out at least a thousand tracts.
As the afternoon went on, they closed off the Victoria Bridge for cars, so that more pedestrians could cross the river. By this time, 5 or so other people had arrived to hand out tracts as well with me. And thankfully, they brought a box load of tracts to hand out, for there were by this time stacks of people about.
By the time 7:00pm rolled around, the fireworks started and Victoria Bridge was lined with people. We used this opportunity to have a bite to eat, and then we returned to our where we were once the fireworks ended. Once 7:30pm came, thousands of people were pouring across the Victoria Bridge to the city. So we all spread out, making sure we got a tract in the hands of most people going past us. We continued doing this till about 8:30pm, at which point we actually ran out of tracts. We had handed out over 10,000 tracts in just a few hours. But the outreach was not over yet, we still had over 3 hours to go.
After restocking with more tracts, we set-up the free Bibles table in our usual location in Queen St Mall at 9pm. I then got up to preach and almost immediately there were hecklers. I went through the 'Good person test' with a number of the hecklers in order to show them that they too don't actually deserve Heaven, but instead deserve God's wrath in Hell. This lead onto the good news of Christ and His wonderful plan of salvation by dying on the cross to satisfy God's wrath in our place.
Andrew also had a preach and large crowds gathered as he preached of the great news of the gospel. Alex, our regular agnostic heckler, also returned and dialogued with Andrew for quite a while. Photos below:
To God be the glory for another great outreach!
After meeting at 7:30pm for prayer and Bible reading, we set up the free Bibles table at 9pm and prepared for a night of outreach. First up for the night we had Jeremy and Andre who took turns preaching. They both faithfully preached about the reality of the judgment to come, our sin, and the fact that one can be saved through the death of Jesus if they repent and trust alone in the Jesus' death for their salvation. There were a number of people that stopped to listen, and a few passes by that shouted out some comments, but there were not any loud vocal hecklers for an decent period of time.
I then got up to preach, and a guy named Lachie objected by saying there is no proof for God. So I reasoned with him, showing him that we know that things do not arise without a cause, he agreed with this point. I then moved onto my next premise, that we know the universe had a beginning. He agreed with this point also. "So therefore, the universe must have a cause for its beginning", I argued. It seemed to 'click' in his mind and so he said that he was now no longer an atheist. I then went through the commandments of God to see if he was a good person. He, like the rest of us, wasn't either. So I informed him that the punishment for sin is eternal torment in Hell. It's a bad place. But then I shared the great news of the cross and what someone must do to be saved. He said that he would definitely think this through, and count the cost of following Jesus. Please keep him in prayer.
After I got down from preaching, the two football matches that were on in the city seemed to have finished and so the Mall seemed to get quite a bit busier. Andrew got up to preach and a decent sized crowd gathered.
Many various people were witnessed to and lots of gospel tracts went out. To God be the glory!
We started off with a smaller team tonight, consisting of only about 5 of us initially. But thankfully, more people arrived later in the night. After setting up the free Bibles table, Andre got up to preach. He faithfully preached about the reality of death, the judgment, our sin, the wonderful news of the cross, and what someone must do to be saved. There wasn't any hecklers that stuck around for any significant period of time during his preaching, but the message of the gospel went out and whenever that happens, it is always a success.
After this, I got up to preach. There were a few hecklers, mostly asking questions about the existence of God, and how we know the Bible is true. However, the hecklers didn't stay discussing with me for that long. I could tell that it definitely was quieter in the Mall this evening.
Straight after I got down from preaching, Jeremy got up and preached a quick gospel message, calling all those listening to repent and trust in the gospel.
To finish off the night, Andrew got up to preach. Fifteen minutes into his message, Alex (our regular non-theist friend) came in and started heckling Andrew. Alex seemed to have resorted to his old argument - the one where he argues that he thinks the sum of the mass of the universe equals zero, therefore the universe does not actually exist. He uses this to explain away the need for a cause of the universe, for he realises that a cause of the universe must exist if the universe exists and has a beginning. Please keep Alex in prayer, that God will open his eyes to the truth.
To God be the glory!
After hearing some great teaching during the past two days, at a conference with Phil Johnson and James White on the Atonement, I was ready to hit the streets and start witnessing. On the team tonight we had close to 30 people, as there were a number of people from out of state who had come to Brisbane for the conference.
I got up to preach first and started talking about the reality that death comes to everyone - both rich and poor, young and old - and so because of that, where one spends eternity is of utmost importance. But not long after beginning, a number of Muslim guys stopped to listen. I then started a dialogue with them in the open air to see whether they thought they were going to Heaven. They said they didn't know, as they said it's dependent on whether they've done enough good works. So I went through some of the Ten Commandments with them and showed them that they aren't good people in the sight of God. I then shared the news of the cross with them; that they can be forgiven of all their sins by repenting and trusting in the death of Jesus alone for their salvation.
The gentlemen responded by saying that Jesus didn't actually die, but rather Allah only made it appear to everyone living at the time that he died. The guys didn't seem to mind that if this was true, Allah would necessarily have to be a deceiver. So I pointed out to them the logical conclusions for believing that Allah is deceiver, and that is that they cannot know that the Qur'an or anything that Allah has revealed was not given simply in order to deceive them. At this they didn't know how to respond, but instead tried changing the topic of conversation.
After discussing a number of things with them, I quoted a verse in the Qur'an that mentions that there should be no compulsion in religion (2:256). They agreed that these verses are true. But then I asked them, "Is somebody free to leave the Islamic faith?" They responded, "No, if a person leaves Islam, they deserve to die." How is Islam then a religion of peace? So I used that to show another inconsistency within the Islamic faith, that on the surface level Islam may look peaceful and open, but there is actually no freedom, for a person will be put to death if they leave Islam.
To further support my case, I pulled out my Qur'an and went to the 9th Surah and the 29th verse and read it out, saying, "Fight those who believe not in God nor the Last Day, nor hold that forbidden which hath been forbidden by God and His Apostle, nor acknowledge the religion of Truth, (even if they are) of the People of the Book, until they pay the Jizya with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued." (9:29, Yusuf Ali translation)
The Muslims guys tried to say that that verse simply refers to self-defense. I responded by saying that no where in the verse itself or in the context would allow anyone to reasonably make that case. I then read out verse 5 of the same Surah, which says: "But when the forbidden months are past, then fight and slay the Pagans wherever ye find them, and seize them, beleaguer them, and lie in wait for them in every stratagem (of war); but if they repent, and establish regular prayers and practise regular charity, then open the way for them: for God is Oft-forgiving, Most Merciful."(9:5. Yusuf Ali translation)
I made the point that to "lie in wait" in order to slay the Pagan is definitely not self-defense. But if a person "repents, and establishes regular prayers and practises regular charity" Muslims are commanded to spare them. That basically means, slay the unbeliever and even lie in wait for them, unless they become a Muslim. By that, it is clear that there is definitely compulsion in religion, commanded by the Qur'an. The Muslims guys agreed that the 9th Surah was one of the last revealed to Muhammad and therefore, one of the most important. However, they couldn't disagree with what the Qur'an clearly teaches.
At one stage of the discussion, the Muslims tried to argue that Islam is true because it is the religion that is currently growing the fastest. I responded by saying, "That may be true, but that is simply because of the high birth rate of Muslim families compared to non-Muslim families, and also the fact that people are forced to remain to be a Muslim. But more importantly, the more popular a belief is does not make it any more true. Almost everyone thought the world was flat a couple hundred years ago, but just because that was a popular belief did not make it any more true."
The discussion in the open air with Muslims lasted for about an hour and a half, and they had the gospel presented to them numerous times. During the discussion, a rather large crowd had gathered to listen in on our discussion.
About half way into our outreach, Alex (our regular non-theist heckler) had arrived and brought in about 10 of his 'athiest' buddies to heckle and discuss with us. So after the Muslim fellows left, Alex and I had a bit of a debate on the existence of God in the open air, and then the topic diverged onto Evolution.
David Gee, the former leader of the Sheffield evangelism team, was on the team this evening and had been discussing with Alex over the past year or so via the Apologetics Blog, specifically focussing on the topic of Evolution. So I tagged David Gee in, and he got up on the soap box and discussed with Alex and a number of the other Atheists on this topic. He made sure the gospel was preached as well.
Many one2one conversations were had all throughout the night by everyone on the team, and many gospel tracts went out as well. Praise God, and please keep in prayer all who heard the gospel tonight.
Once again the winter coolness had kept the people away from the city. But, this still did not deter the gospel preaching. Tonight we had close to 25 people come out on team, so everywhere you went someone was sharing the gospel of Christ.
I didn’t preach tonight, however, I did manage to get a good conversation. While I was standing in the middle of the mall having a yarn to Rick Barnard I head “JOSH!” I turned to see a smartly dressed young man and his girlfriend. I looked at his face and something began to jog in my memory. I had met this man before, and I had spoken to him. The man looked at me and said, “You don’t remember? It’s me Gabriel, I went to college with you!” Then it clicked, I had spent my first semester at Bible college with him, but he had left mid-semester and became an apostate.
I was glad to see him again, since I hadn’t a chance to speak to him in the past two years. We caught up on what was happening, he introduced me to his girlfriend and I told him about how I am getting married. But, after the small talk had finished we turned to discussing the things of God. I wanted to know why he had rejected the Bible and why he was now a professing agnostic.
He spoke about how the Bible and science clash, but when pressed he couldn’t really elaborate how that was so. Then he went internal, and spoke about theology and how because of theology he couldn’t hold the Bible to be true. One of the issues he struggled with is the fact that God is good, yet will send people to hell. This objection is very common so I explained to him about the nature of man and also the nature of God. How goodness is shown in punishing evil. He then jumped to another theology, “Why did God create Adam and Eve if He knew they would fall?” Now in standard evangelical squishiness the standard answer would be “Because God wants relationship with you.” I reject such a notion outright. The gospel and redemption is not about you, it is about God. I explained to Gabriel about how God gets the glory because of the fall, since man is dead in sin God will get the glory for judging that man or by saving the man. Everything revolves around the glory of God.
Gabriel said he had never heard such things before, and he seemed intrigued. We then spoke about saving faith, and since I am an unashamed Calvinist (a nick name for the Doctrines of Grace), I explained that salvation is all a work of God and how God must elect someone for them to come to faith.
He seemed shocked, he arguments against Christianity was against the modern day theology (or lack thereof), but when confronted with a high view of God, and the God who is Sovereign over all things, Gabriel seemed to be at a loss.
While I am aware Gabriel may well read this, I am saying nothing in this blog, that I haven’t already said to him. One thing I appreciate about Gabriel is that you can be blunt to him, yet he won’t get offended. So Gabriel if you are reading this, even though your sins have separated you from God, God Himself, has provided Christ to die for sinners and to rise again, so if you would humble yourself and cry out to God for mercy, He will come and forgive all your sins. Please mate, I beg of you, “Look to Jesus Christ and be saved!”
For the others reading this, please take a moment now to pray for Gabriel, pray that God would show mercy to him and grant him repentance and faith.
My heart was broken after speaking to Gabriel. Firstly, because I had seen one walk away from the faith. Secondly, because of the dodgy theology that pervades our church today we have many people who now discount Christianity.
My prayer is that God would bring a resurgence of Biblical theology. While, many will disagree with me, I think the safest way to have strong churches devoid of liberalism is to return to the five points of Calvinism. Let us preach and teach these five great truths of salvation.
Soli Deo Gloria!
The show is in town! Each year the Ekka comes to Brisbane and the whole city gets caught up in the excitement of the show. Since tonight was the opening of the Ekka we expected the crowds in the city to be larger than the normal winter crowds. This proved to be true. Even though there was a strong, cold westerly wind blowing the people still came out, and this made for a lively time of ministry.
Ryan was out of action tonight, since he had been preaching on the Gold Coast and as a result had killed his voice. This left us with only 2 or 3 preachers for the night. So while Ryan was off handing out tracts and conducting one to ones, I began to preach.
Not long into the presentation a few hecklers stopped and a small crowd began to form. The questions flew thick and fast. They ranged from Islam to Atheism, from Evolution to Textual Criticism. Tonight reinforced my opinion that for some strange reason every drunk is a theologian.
I did my best to answer the crowds objections and then swing it back to the Gospel. I believe it is vital to take the time to answer the questions from the crowds and not avoid them. As this goes to show the crowd that we as Christians do actually care for their concerns. In fact the Bible tells us we must give an answer to those who ask:
“but in your hearts regard Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you;” (1 Peter 3:15).
One of the stand out hecklers for the night was the son of Wayne our (non-heckler) heckler. Even though he is just a teenager he has some great questions. And, unlike his farther he seems to be prepared to listen to the answers and even admit if he got it wrong. While this young man professes to be an atheist at this stage, we pray that God would grant him faith in Christ, so that he may have all his sins forgiven.
The heckling went of for about an hour, but one of the main points that kept coming back up was the doctrine of Original sin. I explained it from the Scripture and then demonstrated how we all have a sin nature, but even though we may love sinning now, Christ has come to set us free.
After I finished preaching Jeremy got up and had a bash. I have nicknamed Jezza my “big hitter” cause he just stands and delivers the gospel straight and hard. He rarely engages hecklers but just proclaims the everlasting gospel.
The night finished well. Many tracts were handed out and many one to ones conducted. Praise God for such a good night.
A cool breeze drifted down the Queen Street Mall as we prepared for the nights outreach. Already the team had spent time in prayer and bible reading, but now was making sure everything was ready to go for the night. As I set up the Bible table a young lady approached and asked if she could have a Bible. One of the team members got her one, but before she left they had asked if she knew what the main message of the Bible is. This in turn led to a fairly lengthy discussion about the gospel.
The mall was fairly empty, I put it down to the fact that it is cold. While we may live in Australia there are times when the temperature drops and most Aussies stay at home or in the pubs.
Since there was not much movement, we decided to hand out tracts and just one to one for a time. There were some great conversations. I got to speak to one man who had claimed to be a Christian, yet when we examined that claim we found out that he was just a church goer. At the end of our conversation the man turned to me and said, “You know, I have never heard that message in my entire life!” Such a shame that a person can attend a church, yet still have no concept of the Gospel. While to a certain degree it is the fault of the person attending the church, for they should be reading their Bibles and studying the Word, however, a level of blame must fall on the ministers of those churches. If you are a minister, preacher or leader in the church, then I plead with you - Be faithful in preaching the Word. For you as a leader must give an account for the souls of those to whom you minister (Hebrews 13:17).
After spending a time in one to one, I decided it would be a good time to get up and preach. My topic was about the tragic deaths of a family in Sydney. I spoke about how in one instant a whole family was murdered, yet a daughter was away on a school trip. During the funeral the girl said, “I don’t know why this happened, or where you have gone.” I used that comment as a jump off point. Many people have no assurance of where they are going when they die, yet the Scriptures tell us plainly that we can no for sure that we have eternal life.
The Bible says: “Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life. I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God that you may know that you have eternal life.” (1 John 5:12-13).
Dear reader, perhaps you aren’t assured that if you died tonight you would go to heaven. The Bible gives the promise to you that if you have Jesus Christ, then you have eternal life. But, how do I get Jesus? First, you must realize you have sinned against God by doing a variety of things like lying, stealing, lusting, getting drunk, failing to give God the glory etc. And, for those sins God must give you judgement, and that place of judgement is hell for eternity.
But, God is love and because God loves His people so much, He sent Jesus Christ to come to the earth, to die upon the cross for the sins of His elect, and then three days later He arose again to life. Because Jesus died in the place of sinners and rose again, He can offer you eternal life and the forgiveness of sins. Right now you need to repent (turn from sins) and trust that Jesus died and rose again for you. Beg God for mercy, if you cry out to Him, He will come and grant you repentance and faith. Would you do that today?
The above message in a nutshell is the central message of the Bible, and it is the message that we preach to all those who would stop and listen. Even though tonight was slow, we did have a great time of ministry.
We rejoice in the fact that the gospel got preached and that God got all the glory. Please be praying for those who do not know the Gospel.
It had been a big week and an even bigger weekend. On the Sunday I was due to preach a teaching message in the morning and an evangelistic sermon in the evening. But before any of that we had the honour of making Christ known in the streets of Brisbane. We were expecting an interesting night tonight, as we had been tipped off that the Brisbane atheists were coming in for a bit of heckling. So we prepared for that and even looked forward to the gathering storm.
I was the first preacher up for the night, as I preached some professing Christians took offence that I mentioned the words “sin” “judgment” and “wrath”, they moved on shortly afterwards and didn’t hang around the preaching. Not long into the preaching a young man began to heckle. He seemed fairly open and even though he was an atheist he was prepared to talk about issues. His arguments were very basic and I was able to do some apologetics on him and also present the gospel to him.
While I was dealing with this atheist, another one came along. This guy was King Irrational, his arguments consisted of stating that there was no mention of Jesus in any writings until 170 years after Christ died. This of course is absurd from an historical perspective. But the man wouldn’t listen, whenever I answered one of his objections he would jump to another. This commotion attracted in the Brisbane atheist group, they came in and the heckling began. The arguments were as varied as the people in the group, we had everything from textual criticism, evolution, death and suffering and alleged contradictions in the Bible. I did my best to answer all their questions and present the gospel to them.
After the open air I was able to talk to Wayne our friendly “non-heckler” heckler, he was talking about the children of Israel being lost in the desert for 40 years, and then somehow we got onto dinosaurs. I enjoy talking to Wayne as he is very decent and he will let you answer the questions he puts forward. I would ask that all our readers please at this time pray that God would grant Wayne repentance and faith in Christ.
Ryan preached later in the night and once again the atheists entered into the fray. This time they were more aggressive. During the confrontation the police stopped to observe to see what was happening, then after they left an onlooker made a ‘flame-thrower’ and put a blast of flame in the air. I stepped in then and ordered the man to put down the weapon or the police would be called. The man complied and joke about how he was only mucking around.
It was a fairly interesting night, albeit a night where the atheists came in and showed that in reality their faith is just that… faith.
Another slow night, as once again Brisbane shivered under below average temperatures. I had already decided that I would not be preaching tonight, due to the fact that I would be preaching at an evangelistic service the next morning at Rosalie Baptist Church, so it was with that in mind that we set up the preaching roster for the night.
First preacher up for the night was Andrew Hsu, he spoke as normal on the gospel, and he even got a few hecklers. He dealt with the hecklers with the best of his ability even though those hecklers were far from rational. While all that was going on I was able to get into a conversation with a Sikh who had never heard of Christianity. I had the privilege of explaining to this man the gospel message. He was stunned to hear about this One and only God who loved the world and sent His son to save His elect from their sins. The man was amazed that God would have that much compassion on a people who do not deserve God’s kindness. The man soon had to go, but before he left he took a Gospel of John and a gospel CD. Please pray that God would save this man out of an idolatrous religion and bring him into the truth.
The rest of the night was spent with Ryan preaching and also with members of the team reading out the first five chapters of Romans. Even though it was quiet God was still at work in this city.
It was a strange feeling being back in Brisbane after spending a week on the beach front of Surfers Paradise. The city just seemed dirty and as Ryan later commented, you could “taste” the air of Brisbane. But, it is always good to head back into the CBD. As we set up for the night it was no surprise that the city was not very busy. This is due to the extra cold winter we have been having of late.
Due to the quiet nature of the night we spent much time in one to one and tract work. It is always easy to get conversations in Brisbane, and of late we have had an increased number of Arabic speakers. This is good, since we are able to minister to them in their own language, they way in which we accomplish this is by carrying Arabic tracts and Bibles.
It was also good to have the Malyon College team come out and join us tonight, even though it was quiet the team of students seemed to enjoy the night. The highlight for me was having a mate of mine get up and preach open air for the first time. He did a wonderful job expounding on the gospel and also calling men and women to repentance. All I can say is great job Adam, may God be glorified in your future preaching.
I also preached tonight, and as I was preaching a couple of young ladies approached and asked me about lesbianism. This topic is always a sensitive one, so I dealt with it gently. I explained to them that it was a sin and that God would judge them for their sinful behaviour, I also stressed to them that Jesus Christ is the friend of sinners. One of the girls seemed really interested, and she took a gospel of John and a CD at the end of the message.
The night was great, so encouraging to see people come to the realization of Jesus Christ being their only hope. It is our prayer that many would flee to Christ and be saved.