To begin the night off, I got into a conversation with two gentlemen - one a Hindu and the other a Sikh. Firstly, I brought them through some of the 10 Commandments to show them that they aren't good people in the sight of God, in order that I could tell them of the great news of Christ's death on the cross and what that means. I explained the atonement, that Jesus' perfect life and His death on the cross can satisfy God's wrath on our behalf, and so God can declare us righteous in His sight. The guys seemed to like the idea and agreed with it. But so often with people who hold to religions that are popular in the East, they simply add Jesus onto their existing religion. So I explained that Jesus said that He is the only way to Heaven, meaning that every other religion is wrong. They were shocked at this thought, for although they say they believe in Jesus too, it is always that they don't believe in the real Jesus whose life and sayings are recorded in the Bible. They thanked me for the conversations and said they would read the Bible and think about this important matter.
The first preacher up was Blake, he faithfully proclaimed the message of the gospel and some people stopped to listen.
This evening, Wayne (the friendly atheist debater) and his son were in again, ready to do some heckling to support their viewpoint. And so when Andrew got up to preach Wayne and Andrew had a long debate in the open-air over "What is true, Christianity or Atheism?" During this time, a pretty large crowd of people had gathered, and various people asked Andrew all sorts of questions.
Wayne's son didn't have a chance to ask any of the questions during that time that he had been thinking up, so when I preached, he asked away. He asked questions like: 'How can God create a world knowing that people would sin?'. We also had a big discussion on evolution and he was wondering how there are different skin colours. So I explained about genes and also natural selection, how things more suited to their environment will survive and reproduce, and so things adapt to their surroundings. Christians believe in natural selection, just not evolution (animals changing from one kind to another).
To God be the glory for another great night!
At 7:30pm we met in King George Square for prayer, Bible reading and fellowship. Once the clock struck 9, we walked to Queen St Mall, and started setting up the 'Free Bibles' table. I got up to preach first, and a number of people heckled as I preached the message of reconciliation with God by the death of Jesus, which every person must believe in and repent to be saved. None of the hecklers stayed for a long period of time, however. But other people did stop to listen to the message being preached.
After I got down from the preaching spot, I offered a tract to a man that was walking past eating a burger. Upon hearing that there was a Christian message inside, the man got outraged. He started spitting on me and so I pulled back, hoping that the guy would just move along. Then he started yelling at a whole group of us. A newer team member then went forward and started preaching about the atonement of Jesus. The angry man did not like hearing about Jesus and started spitting on him as well. At this point, Andrew stood on the soap box and tried to engage the man in some sort of discussion. The man wasn't at all keen, and instead was just hurling abuse at Andrew. A few moments later, the angry drunk man decided to throw the burger he was eating in the face of the first person who started preaching at close range. At this point, we called the police and arrived pretty quickly and arrested the man.
But while this was all happening, a massive crowd had gathered and Andrew was able to preach the message of the gospel to them all. Week after week, whatever the devil tries to do to stop the preaching simply results in more people hearing the gospel.
To close the night off, Blake stood on the soap box and faithfully preached the gospel. Just after this, Andrew and I had a conversation with some guys who had been studying philosophy and their studies unfortunately had lead to some of them denying that we can know anything of history. We tried reasoning with them, and made sure we shared the gospel wit them. Please pray that God will convert them.
To God be the glory!
The city was very busy this evening and so I expected that it might be an interesting night. After praying and reading the Bible, we made our way to Queen St Mall at 9pm to begin our evening of witnessing. After the Bible table was set up, Andrew got up to preach. Wayne (one of the friendly atheist debaters) was in again this weekend and started discussing with Andrew in the open air trying to prove his worldview.
A group of people stopped to listen to the discussion taking place. This brought with it more hecklers and a crowd of about 50 people quickly gathered. Most of the hecklers were arguing an atheistic worldview, and so Andrew presented a number of reasons about why the Christian worldview is the true one. He then went on to explain the dire predicament that mankind is in because of their sin, that we don't naturally deserve Heaven, instead we deserve God's punishment in Hell. This then lead onto the proclamation of the news of the cross; Jesus died to pay the punishment for all the sins of those who would repent and trust in Jesus' death alone for their salvation.
At one point, a group of 'Christians' came and started heckling Andrew, saying that people don't need to hear about sin or the atonement. They just said people only need to know that God loves them. Andrew tried reasoning with them from the Scriptures, but they were not interested. They were trying to talk to the non-Christians who were heckling to tell them that they are not sinners. At this point, Andrew called them out and rebuked them. Thankfully, soon after, they left.
There was also a point at which one young girl (possibly drunk) got outraged when Andrew was going through the 10 Commandments with her when she recognised she was a sinner, that she went up to him and rubbed the soft-serve ice-cream that she was eating all over his face. It seems the devil will try anything to stop the Christian gospel getting out, however all that did was simply attract a larger crowd.
After Andrew had been preaching for about an hour and a half with constant large crowds, his voice was beginning to strain, so he tagged me in to preach and I started dealing with the hecklers that were still very vocal. After addressing many of the people's questions and proclaiming the gospel many times, I finished up preaching.
Here are some photos from the night:
To God be the glory!
As I was drawing near to the city, I noticed that there was again lots of dust in the air, similar to what we had just days earlier that was reported on the news. I knew that this would keep a number of people away from the city and so I expected a quiet night. But we had actually rather large team tonight with a few new team members. One of the new members was a guy called Paul Ross. He had written a book on the case against scepticism, and so I knew that he would be great value on the apologetical side of things.
After having a brief witnessing encounter with some people who were at the spot we normally meet at, we prayed, read a bit from the Bible and had great fellowship. At 9pm we made our way to Queen Street Mall and starting set-up the 'Free Bibles' table. The dust was very thick, but it was a little better in Queen Street Mall, but it did certainty make things a bit quieter in the mall.
Blake, Jeremy and I all took turns preaching, however because of the dust, there were no real hecklers and only a small number of people stopped to listen to the message that was being preached.
However, Alex (our regular agnostic heckler friend - although he claims to be an atheist) was in again. He had a rather long conversation with Paul Ross and had to concede a number of points. Alex admitted that he doesn't know for sure that God does not exist, even though he is the leader of the Brisbane Atheist group, and 'atheist' by definition is one who says there is no God. Paul said the conversation was beneficial and he hopes to continue to discuss with him further at a later stage. Please keep Alex in prayer. It's been over two years since we first met him and he has been coming into the city just to heckle us for nearly every week for that entire duration, so he knows the gospel but clearly hates it. Please pray that God will soften his heart and he might come to the knowledge of the truth.
Throughout the night, our larger-than-normal team was faithfully handing out gospel tracts to all those that were passing by and through the tracts, many one2one encounters started. Please pray that God may grow the seeds of the gospel that were planted in people's hearts tonight (1 Cor 3:7).
The only photos we have of tonight were taken right at the end of the night, as Peter Webber, our normal photographer, has been away for the past few weeks. Here they are:
To God be the glory!
PS: If you live nearby or are in the Brisbane area for a week, you are more than welcome to be part of this outreach. We meet in King George Square at 7:30pm for prayer, Bible reading and fellowship. Then we head to Queen Street Mall at 9pm and evangelise there till midnight.
When I arrived at the city at 7:30pm, Warren was already at the meeting place. He then handed me two pamphlets that he had been given by some people standing outside of City Hall. I then had a brief read of the tracts and noticed on them that it said, "One must be baptised by full-immersion in order to be saved." So I went up to them and had a conversation with them about this erroneous doctrine of salvation by works. I asked them what Biblical support they have for requiring a person to be baptised to be saved. They tried pointing to Mark 16:16, where it says "Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved." So I pointed out to them that verses 9-16 are most likely not in the original manuscript of Mark as they are not in the earliest manuscript copies we have today. And secondly, the second part of that verse would indicate baptism is not a requirement: "but whoever does not believe will be condemned."
They then tried pointing to Peter's exhortation on the Day of Pentecost where he said, "Repent and be baptised for the forgiveness of sins" (Acts 2:38). I reminded them that any doctrine that we believe in shouldn't just be based off a single verse. They agreed with this, and so I asked them what other support do you have to support your idea that one must be baptised to be saved? They didn't have any. So I laid a case from the Bible where it talks time and time again about salvation being only by God's grace through faith and not of works. So even from the outset, since the rest of Scripture disagrees with Acts 2:38, the surface level interpretation of that verse must be incorrect. But if you look at the Greek, you'll find that that verse does not actually indicate salvation by water baptism (this is due to the shift from second person plural when mentioning repentance, to third person singular when mentioning baptism, back to second person plural again when mentioning the forgiveness of sins. Thus indicating that this verse is not saying that baptism is what makes a person have their sins forgiven).
At this point, one of the gentlemen that I was talking to conceded, "Well I don't believe someone needs to be baptised to be saved." But the other person rebutted what he was saying, by saying that it is still required.
They then went on to mention that speaking in tongues is also a requirement for salvation. For they said, that is the fool-proof way we can know someone has the Holy Spirit. So I asked, "Is it not easy to fake tongues? In fact, I know many atheists who have spoke in tongues, but clearly they do not have the Holy Spirit." I then turned to 1 Corinthians 12:30 where it says: "Do all speak with tongues?" - implying the answer no, the Greek makes this abundantly clear (question starts with: μὴ "no").
After talking with them for about an hour and a half, they finally resorted to saying, "I agree our beliefs are not Scriptural, but they are based on our experience and you can have this experience too..." The 'church' holding the rallies was 'The Revival Centre International', it's clearly a cult. So if you ever run into any one from that 'church', witness to them, they need the gospel.
At 9pm we started setting up the Bible table at our usual location in Queen Street Mall. Then Andrew and myself took turns having a preach, and a number of people listened and asked questions.
Reece Freeman also had a turn preaching. He had never done preaching in the open air before and was hesitant to do it at first, but he managed to muster up the courage to do it. He did very well, speaking of the reality of death, the coming judgment, our sin and the news of the cross. He pleaded with people to repent and trust in Christ's death alone for their salvation.
Many one2one conversations were also had this evening by all the members of the team. Often those that don't preach in the open-air don't get a mention in the report, but we have a number of faithful men and women who attend each week to witness to people one-on-one and hand out tracts. In fact, this evening, a father came with his son, Steven, to witness. His son is only twelve years old, and yet was very enthusiastic to hand out tracts throughout the night. He would make sure everyone walking up and down the mall got their hands on the tracts he was handing out. In fact, even by the end of the night when everyone was leaving, he wished he could stay to keep on doing it. Praise God for keenness of this young boy and the faithfulness of all the team members. Thank you each one of you for being part of the team.
To God be the glory for another great outreach!
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!