UXBRIDGE WITNESS : Debate with convert to Islam – Does much repeated religious duty wash away sin and bring you into Good’s presence?

Pastors Peter Simpson and John Sherwood were holding forth the word of life in the centre of Uxbridge on November 26th. Sadly, there was the need to preach in competition with loud amplified music from a nearby market stall. Nevertheless, the word was proclaimed and many could hear.

An elderly man passing by was much encouraged, as the gospel was explained to him. He  already had some kind of awareness of Christian things, but he seemed to really appreciate a clear explanation of the fundamental tenets of Biblical truth and the way of salvation. 

One young man with whom Pastor Simpson entered into conversation, when asked if he were a sinful person, claimed to be without sin. The minister tried to take him through various of the 10 Commandments in an endeavour to convince him that he had indeed broken God’s laws, as indeed all people have. He exhibited, however, no concern about personal wrongdoing before the holy God. May the Lord be pleased to open his eyes to the reality of his sin and of his sinful heart. 

Pastor Simpson also had a discussion with an English young man who was a convert to Islam. The minister asked him on what basis he thought that his sins would be forgiven, so that he would go to heaven. The Muslim replied that he prayed five times a day in Arabic. Pastor Simpson asked him why it was necessary to repeat prayers throughout the day and to repeat prayers every single day. The standard response to such a question is that the prayers offered five times a day are praise rather than bringing petitions to God. However, Pastor Simpson tried to encourage the young Muslim to see prayer as that which is dynamic, constantly new and constantly changing according to our differing situations each day, even though of course it is right that one continually gives praise to God. The Lord desires us to speak to Him from our hearts, using our own words, words which give expression to what our hearts are feeling. 

The preacher also tried to explain that it is important not to view prayer as a good work which earns merit in God‘s sight. He again tried to challenge the young Muslim – in what was courteous conversation – about his personal standing before the God. Until someone has dealt with the problem of sin, through repentance and through a trust in the shed blood of Christ, God simply will not hear his prayers. Isaiah 59:2 makes it clear that sin creates a barrier, so that God cannot hear prayer, until the problem of sin is first dealt with :

“Your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear(Isaiah 59:2).

May the Lord cause this Muslim to realise that religious duties, no matter how sincerely performed, cannot merit acceptance with God, but that it is only through the mediation of the Lord Jesus Christ that sinners can be brought into fellowship with the holy God who is of purer eyes than to behold evil and cannot look on iniquity (Habakkuk 1:13).

Prayer is being offered up that much fruit might result through the public proclamation of Christ’s truth in Uxbridge upon this day.