Pastors John Sherwood and Peter Simpson were preaching Jesus Christ and Him crucified in central London at Marble Arch on Thursday 29th April.
There were plenty of people around, but not as many as there would have been pre-March 2020. How vital it is that full normal life is soon restored to our capital city. People need to interact with one another. God has made us as social beings. Young people starting out on their careers need to learn how to handle relationships with colleagues and to learn essential social skills. So many London businesses depend upon it being a vibrant place of work.
Gathering in towns and cities to trade and do business is God’s pattern for normal human existence, as Proverbs 1:20-21, for example, makes clear. Scripture knows nothing of a ‘new normal’ where crowded places are a thing of the past. Also. crowded places are fertile venues for gospel preaching. Will we ever see again 3,000 converted on one day under the ministry of one preacher? The Lord’s power has not changed, but how the Devil must be pleased when a nation is made up of people always keeping away from one another. What a supreme way of stifling gospel proclamation.
One of the posters put on display by the preachers read, ‘WHAT HAPPENS WHEN A NATION ABANDONS THE BIBLE? : Abortion, the LGBT agenda in schools, marriage redefined, family breakdown, drug-taking, lawlessness, knife crime, murders’. A Christian lady came up to Pastor Simpson and suggested that the witness was too ‘hardline’, especially in displaying such a poster. There is no need to mention specific sins, she claimed, and in any case, the Bible says very little about homosexuality, meaning that there is no need to make any reference to it at all in the witness.
Pastor Simpson responded by citing some of the passages where God’s word specifically focuses upon this sin, and the grave seriousness of it (the poster on display, of course, refers to many sins). The lady stated that the way in which the pastors were preaching would actually deter people from considering the Christian faith, especially the young. The whole approach was simply unpalatable to people, she claimed. One to one conversations were far more preferable than preaching.
Pastor Simpson replied that conversations frequently ensued from the preaching, but truth must also be proclaimed, not merely diffidently discussed. Furthermore, he said, the world always finds gospel preaching unpalatable (see, for example, 1 Corinthians 2:14), and that if attempts are made to dress up the message to make it acceptable to the great mass of non-believers, the result will always be an utter corruption of the truth. The gospel cannot be marketed so as to please those who are happy in their unbelief. The lady sadly thought that the Penn minister had a closed mind, and she went on her way convinced that what the pastors were doing was completely ineffective. Comments such as these are sadly not uncommon, but the pastors will persevere in the foolishness of authoritative preaching as being God’s appointed method.
Pastor Sherwood had a conversation with a Chinese non-believer who was walking by. He explained to him that China’s ancient script afforded much evidence of the truth of the Bible. Having kept its same essential form over some 4,500 years, the script shows us how the ancient peoples of China thought about God. The truths of Genesis had a major influence on how the script actually constructed its pictorial letters and words.
Pastor Sherwood explained to the gentleman how, for example, the Chinese word for ‘boat’ is made up of three pictorial characters meaning ‘craft’, ‘eight’ and ‘persons’. So the word for any kind of boat in the Chinese language in fact refers directly to the Ark in Noah’s day in which eight persons were saved from destruction. So the Chinese people thousands of years ago must have known about the Flood. Similarly, the Chinese word for ‘naked’ is made up of two characters meaning ‘body’ and ‘fruit’. Why should ‘fruit’ have any bearing on the word ‘naked’. This can only be because the ancient Chinese people were familiar with the Genesis account of Adam and Eve’s rebellion in the Garden of Eden.
The north London minister also pointed out to the gentleman how the Chinese word for ‘righteousness’ comprises two pictorial characters meaning ‘lamb’ and ‘me’. So righteousness, or a saved state, was naturally associated by the ancient Chinese with the sacrifice of lamb for an individual sinner. Anticipating Christ’s death, they knew that sins could only be forgiven by means of the shed blood of a sacrificial lamb.
May the Lord open the heart of this man to the testimony to the Bible’s truth in the very way that his own language is constructed. Indeed, may all who heard the gospel in central London be brought to realise that the Bible contains the sum of all truth. May they flee to the Lord Jesus Christ for salvation, whilst there is time.