Mr Graham Parkhouse and Pastors John Sherwood and Peter Simpson were preaching the gospel in Slough High Street on 8th September, with Mrs Eve Hammond in valuable support handing out tracts.
One of the posters on display 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’. One man walking by said dismissively, Why should we believe in the God who brought the coronavirus on us? Pastor Simpson responded, ‘Because He is speaking to the nation through the pandemic, requiring that it seeks Him in a spirit of deep humility’.
The passer-by sadly considered the notion of God controlling the advent of all disease to be utterly fanciful, but the Lord declares in Leviticus 26:16 concerning the coming of widespread sickness in Israel, “I also will do this unto you : I will even appoint over you terror, consumption, and the burning ague, that shall consume the eyes, and cause sorrow of heart”. Whilst the pandemic is not a judgement upon individuals, it is most definitely a chastising affliction upon the nation.
As always, there were strong Islamic challenges to the deity of our Lord Jesus Christ. One passing Muslim said to Pastor Simpson that Muslims also believe that Jesus is returning to this earth. He will do so in order to fight the Antichrist. The Muslim was trying to emphasise the common ground between Islam and Christianity, but Pastor Simpson politely responded that the Isalmic failure to recognise Christ as the Son of God, fully divine as well as fully man, prevented their being any common ground between the two faiths. The Muslim responded that Jesus was a messenger just like Moses, but He was most definitely not God.
The Penn minister explained that the Lord Jesus forgave sin, which only God can do, and He also received worship. He also challenged the Muslim as to whether he knew if he was going to heaven. He did not know, but only hoped so. Pastor Simpson then said, ‘So you can be a faithful Muslim all your life and still not be saved? Christians in contrast know that they have eternal life, not because they rely on their own good works, but because Christ has given them salvation as a gift of God’s grace’.
Another Muslim, who was from Egypt, came up to the pastor again in order to convince him that Jesus was not God. Yes, Jesus’s conception was miraculous, he asserted, but He was just a man. Pastor Simpson countered by quoting John 8:58, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am” (John 8:58), and explained that Jesus is the eternal Son of God, who not only existed before Abraham, but who existed in eternity before the foundation of the world. The man sadly appeared completely unmoved by this argument.
A man from Poland thought that English Christianity was generally invalid because it originated with the the immoral desire of Henry VIII to obtain a divorce from Catherine of Aragon. This of course is a common Roman Catholic interpretation of the English Reformation, but represents a travesty of historical reality.
Pastor Simpson, in what was a friendly conversation, explained that Henry VIII in fact died as a faithful Catholic, upholding the teachings of that Church. Indeed, some six years after his marriage to Anne Boleyn, in 1539 he passed the Six Articles Act which constituted a harsh re-assertion of Roman Catholic orthodoxy, including the imposition of the death penalty upon those who rejected transubstantiation. The important doctrinal changes in the English Church bringing it more into line with Scripture had nothing to do with Henry VIII, but came during the next reign, that of Edward VI.
Pastor Simpson, in order to expalin that the Roman Catholic Church is not the guardian of all truth, also pointed out that Pope Francis believed that Muslims and Christians worship the same God. Indeed, in a joint statement with the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, Ahmed el-Tayeb, made in February 2019, the Pope stated that “the plurality and diversity of religions … are willed by God in His wisdom” (1). Allah, however, cannot be the God of the Bible, for the Quran teaches that Allah can have no Son.
The Polish gentleman also said that, after living in Britain for some 14 years, he is planning to return to Poland, because there are no longer any moral standards maintained in public life in this country, as there are still in Poland. In this he is surely correct, for, despite the grave doctrinal errors of Roman Catholicism, it is a plain fact that Eastern European countries with a strong RC ethos tend to be far more socially conservative, especially in moral matters, than the UK, which has capitulated almost totally to the doctrines of cultural Marxism, and has given itself over to a wholesale liberal and secularist rejection of Biblical morality, which of course at root is a rejection of God Himself.
In this rejection lies the absolute urgency of taking the gospel of Christ into the high streets and other public places of our land, so that the nation might be called to repentance and to return to the wonderful Bible-believing heritage which it has so foolishly cast off.