Pastors John Sherwood and Peter Simpson were preaching the gospel in Uxbridge town centre on October 30th, assisted in tract distribution and conversational witnessing by Mrs Patricia Newman and Mrs Eve Hammond.
As Pastor Simpson was preaching against the national shame of abortion, a passing woman made a vulgar gesture at him. He responded that the gesture meant that she had lost the argument, because she was resorting to abuse rather than offering sound principles to support abortion. She then told the minister that because he was white and male, he had no right to speak on the subject of abortion. He replied that race had absolutely nothing to do with this issue, it being a wicked practice which crossed ethnic boundaries.
One man who said that he was very sympathetic to the Christian message related to Pastor Simpson how on an occasion in the past, when laid low by many personal difficulties, he had had a wonderful experience of knowing God’s peace come all over him. He went on to argue that God is not a personal Being, but a force and presence which permeates the whole world. He also disputed that the Lord Jesus Christ was the only means by which the sinner may come to know God. The minister suggested to the gentleman that his beliefs were more akin to New Age philosophy than to the Biblical revelation.
Pastor Simpson also entered into discussion with a Muslim man who was courteous, but who could not grasp the uniqueness of Christ as the Son of God, arguing that God does not need partners. The Penn minister responded that the Trinity represents differing personal manifestations of the God who is One, but Three, and cited the example of the sun comprising gas, light and heat, which are distinctly separate entities, yet which, as far as the composition of the sun is concerned, cannot be divided from one another. This is not a perfect analogy, but hopefully it is an aid to understanding something of the deep mystery of the Trinity.
The preacher asked the Muslim if he had a Saviour. He replied that Allah was his Saviour. Was he going to heaven?, asked Mr. Simpson. He is trying to be a good person, came the reply. No man of course can ever do enough to earn a place in heaven, and no good work can cancel out a single sin. How we need to pray that Muslims might come to experience the enormity of personal sin and the corruption in the human heart, so that they then see their need to flee to Christ, rather than rest upon their confidence that Allah will always forgive them in the end, and upon the fact that in any case they are doing their best and fulfilling their Islamic duties such as praying five times a day.
Mrs Newman also had a long and constructive conversation with a young Muslim man. He said that he wanted to understand what Christians believe. He asked concerning the death of Christ on the Cross (which Muslims deny), Can God die? Mrs Newman explained that the Bible does indeed teach that God is immortal, but that it was God’s plan that Jesus would take on flesh in order to be our representative, and to pay the price for our sins, which is death.
It was also explained to the Muslim that Jesus Christ is God, because He is called ’the First and the Last’, the title that belongs to God alone (Isaiah 44:6). Furthermore, the Lord Jesus forgave sins, and received worship. The gentleman thanked the witnessing sister, and said that he will look further into the matter.
Pastor Simpson and Mrs Newman engaged in a conversation with a young lady who took great exception to Pastor Simpson “shouting out in the street” that all religion which bypasses the Lord Jesus Christ as the Son of God is false. She argued that such a declaration was divisive and disrespectful, seeing that we live in a multicultural society.
Pastor Simpson replied that to tell someone of another faith that truth is only to be found in Christ, and that they are therefore in grave error is an act of love towards one’s neighbour. He also pointed out that everything that has been good and beneficial about British society can be traced to the influence of Biblical Christianity, not least the founding of schools, hospitals and universities, and the establishment of our parliamentary democracy, along with our freedoms to have such a discussion right now on the street.
The young woman also argued that Scripture cannot be relied upon, because, for example, it tells slaves to obey their masters (Colossians 3:22). Pastor Simpson responded that the bonded labour servitude of Biblical times was not remotely comparable to the wickedness of the Atlantic slave trade of the 18th century, the end of which trade was brought about by Bible-believing Christians, not by atheists.
Furthermore, the Penn minister explained, the Bible also placed obligations on masters to treat their slaves well : “Ye masters, do the same things unto them (your slaves), forbearing threatening: knowing that your Master also is in heaven; neither is there respect of persons with him” (Ephesians 6:9).
The Bible plainly condemns the historic trans-Atlantic type of slave trade. Indeed, in Exodus 21:16 the kidnapping of men in order to sell them as slaves is punishable by death. Slave-traders are described as guilty under God’s law in 1 Timothy 1:10, where they are referred to as ‘menstealers’. These two verses prove that slavery in Biblical times is not synonymous with the American slavery which took place many centuries later.
Indeed, the bonded labour system of the Biblical era, whilst far from being perfect, was one of the ways in which societies dealt with the reality of poverty, and so was a kind of social security system. In fact, such bonded labourer status was often voluntarily entered into. It involved an inevitable loss of freedom, but it did not automatically imply mistreatment.
The young woman talking to Pastor Simpson also took issue with the Bible’s teaching on homosexuality, and argued that morality evolves, thus leaving the Bible behind in our modern day. The minister counselled her that God’s moral law is eternal and absolute, and cannot be adapted or modified to suit the spirit of any age which imagines itself to be more progressive than those who have gone before.
Pastor Sherwood had a useful conversation with a Muslim, who photographed John 14 as the preacher was explaining its teachings to him about the unique of Christ and which chapter includes the Lord’s words : “He that hath seen me hath seen the Father” (v9). The Muslim also took away a free copy of the New Testament and Psalms.
Prayer is now being offered up that all who heard the word of God in Uxbridge may come to realise that truth can only be found in Jesus Christ, and that He is the only Saviour of sinners, to whom all must flee.