July 9th was a drizzly day, but in the centre of High Wycombe the damp air was pierced through with the sound of the message of Jesus Christ and Him crucified, as Pastors John Sherwood and Peter Simpson preached the gospel, aided by church member, Mrs Jenefer Campbell.
Pastor Sherwood had a conversation with a Polish lady who said that she rejected Christianity because of the high profile child abuse which had taken place with certain churches. She said that she still believed in God, but that she rejected the Church and the Bible. An attempt was made to explain to her that large institutions called churches go hopelessly astray precisely because they reject the Bible, which is God’s word and our only authority. May this lady come to realise that she does not have to embrace s human arrangement called ‘the Church’, but rather she must believe the word of God and the Saviour who is set forth in that word.
Mrs Campbell had a conversation with a man who appeared to be making a genuine enquiry about what she believed. She spoke to him about the Lord Jesus Christ who was crucified and risen again for sinners. The gentleman took a tract entitled ‘A Message of Life’, which includes the words : “Since all are sinners, all deserve to die; all deserve eternal separation from God and judgement upon their sin. The Lord Jesus Christ, however, died as the sinner’s Substitute; He carried the penalty which belongs to each one of us”.
A young man asked Pastor Simpson about ‘all the shouting in the street’ which was going on. The minister explained that it was preaching, not shouting, and he asked the man if He believed in Jesus Christ. he said, No. He was again asked, Do you believe he existed, and he replied, No. He was then told that Christ was an historical figure and whose existence is documented, but he replied that whoever lived in the past, it does not matter. All that matters is the present. We only have this life. Stop being miserable. Pastor Simpson responded that he was not miserable (how the world confuses seriousness with being miserable), and that it is a fact that people all have immortal souls. So there is in fact far more to human existence than just this life. It was sadly very hard, however, to get the man to focus seriously on his soul and eternity – the concepts were just so alien to him.
This is what we are up against today as witnessing Christians. As Ken Ham of Answers in Genesis has argued, we are ministering today to an Acts 17 culture, not an Acts 2 culture – the latter had a strong grounding in the Scriptures, which was a major factor in the 3000 Jews being converted on the Day of Pentecost, as recorded in Acts 2. In contrast, however, an Acts 17 culture is thoroughly pagan and does not even begin to think in terms of a Creator God or of man possessing a soul. In other words, today we must start from the assumption of no groundwork having been done in our hearers’ hearts, and of very little prior knowledge of Christian concepts such as the soul and life after death.
May those who heard the gospel in High Wycombe be brought to a realisation that there is far more to life than just the enjoyment of the present moment, and that history matters, and that the most important figure in all human history is the Lord Jesus Christ, the unique Saviour of sinners and Judge of all flesh.