The necessity of heartfelt repentance from sin and trust in Christ alone for salvation was heralded forth in Slough High Street on Tuesday July 28th, as Pastors John Sherwood and Peter Simpson, and Mr Graham Parkhouse were preaching.
Pastor Sherwood spoke at one point on Judas’s bogus repentance in Matthew 27:3, whereby he was not broken in his heart as an unworthy sinner before the holy Lord, but merely remorseful over the consequences of his actions – the death of an innocent man. God is looking for true Spirit-wrought repentance which seeks out Christ for mercy – Judas did not do that. One of the Scripture texts on display was, “God now commandeth all men everywhere to repent” (Acts 17:30).
Some of Pastor Peter Simpson’s preaching focused upon Jeremiah 17:9, “The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked; who can know it?” One listener took issue with the pastor for referring to the sinful heart of ‘man’, implying that this was excluding women. It was explained to him that in the Bible (and indeed in common English usage until recent decades) the word ‘man’ is used generically to refer to all humans, male and female. Interestingly, even though Eve was the first human to commit sin, the responsibility for the fall of the human race is traced to the man, Adam : “in Adam all die” (1 Corinthians 15:22).
The same man, who obviously did not appreciate the preaching, also asked Pastor Simpson if Jesus had a beard. The pastor replied that he did not know, intimating that the Lord’s physical appearance was of no relevance to His unique status. At this the man laughed and walked off, thinking that he had gained an important point to undermine the preacher’s message. He did not say that he was a Muslim, but he may well have been, in that there are strands of Islamic teaching which put great emphasis on the necessity of men having beards, and therefore even more so, ‘holy men’.
Pastor Sherwood. emphasising the uniqueness of salvation in Christ, pointed out during the preaching that Mohammed had no certainty of his salvation. We know that this is the case from one of the most trusted ‘Hadith’ (or collected sayings of Mohammed) recognised as authoritative by Muslims, namely Sahih al Bukhari, Volume 4, Book 51, No.16. Here Mohammed is reported as saying concerning his own eternal destiny, “I know not what shall be done with me”. Surah 46:9 of the Quran also states the same.
It is indeed the case today that none of our Muslim friends today know for sure that they will reach heaven. How we long that they might experience the joy and assurance of believing in Christ. What a contrast to the Muslim position are the words of the apostle John to those who believe in the Lord Jesus, “These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life” (1 John 5:13).
Two passing Muslims took strong exception to the preacher’s comments, with one of them shouting out very loudly, as the preaching was taking place, ‘Allahu Akbar’.
A lady came up to Pastor Simpson as he was handing out leaflets (at arm’s length so as to maintain social distancing), and said, Where is your mask? Her approach was not exactly a polite way of addressing a complete stranger. The minister explained that mask-wearing is only mandatory inside of shops. She then fearfully backed off to suggest that the unmasked pastor, in speaking to her, was posing a serious threat to her health, although it was she who had first approached him.
This little incident illustrates the fear which has been generated in the hearts of many about the coronavirus – and one says this out of sympathy, not condemnation. Yes of course as Christians we support sensible precautions against the pandemic, but what care must also be taken not to encourage excessive and unreasonable fear.
This is why the preaching of the gospel is so important at a time like this (it is of course always important), to draw many to faith in Him who during His earthly ministry showed that He has power over all disease, and also to bring to people the comfort of the doctrine of God’s providence, namely, that nothing can happen to us, except that which God decrees. The non-believer does not have this comfort, and so can become tempted to embrace excessive fear (and one repeats that as Christians we of course support reasonable precautions).
In this context one of the posters on display during the witness read : ‘CORONAVIRUS is a call to the nation to pray to the God who can remove it, if the people humble themselves and come to Christ’. Again in this connection, one of the texts on which Pastor Simpson preached was from Jeremiah 5, “Let us now fear the LORD our God, that giveth rain, both the former and the latter, in his season : he reserveth unto us the appointed weeks of the harvest. Your iniquities have turned away these things, and your sins have withholden good things from you” (Jeremiah 5:24–25).
Just as the Lord can withhold harvest blessings from a rebellious nation, so the grave economic difficulties which are coming in the wake of the pandemic are God speaking to the nation to seek His face, humble themselves before Him and repent of their sins. The coronavirus is a clear demonstration that the Lord is not blessing this country. Therefore people need to wake up and listen to God’s voice.
May many who heard in Slough be moved by the Holy Spirit to do just that.