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?