The centre of Uxbridge resounded to the gospel preaching of Pastors John Sherwood and Peter Simpson on March 18th. Being a fine spring day, there were many people walking past the location of the witness, and a free Bible was handed out to an enquirer within a few minutes of the witness beginning.
One woman walking past one of the lady helpers, Mrs Pilkington, sadly told her that the preaching and leafleting in the town centre was spoiling what would otherwise have been a nice day! How tragic to hear such a dismissive response to the privilege of hearing the wonderful message of Jesus Christ and Him crucified.
Another of the helpers, Mr Adam Newman, had a conversation with a lady who expressed dislike of the preaching, because she thought that it was all “judgement” rather than focusing on God’s “love”. This is a charge which is not infrequently levelled against the preachers, but in order for non-believers to realise their need of the love and mercy of God through faith in Christ they must first be made aware of the seriousness of sin and the wrath of God upon it. Mr Newman spoke of the trustworthiness of the Scriptures as being the only source of revealed truth. The lady sadly disputed this. May the Lord open her eyes to see that “all scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable” (2 Timothy 3:16).
Pastor Simpson entered into discussion with a young man of Hindu background, but who had a real interest in the Christian faith. He asked the minister what he thought of other religions. It was explained to him that Christianity represents unique, absolute and exclusive truth. Hinduism and Christianity were incompatible, for example, because of the Hindu doctrine of reincarnation.
The Penn minister explained that no one can come back to this earth in a different life form, as reincarnation teaches. Man only has this life in which to make his peace with God and to determine the issue of an eternity in either heaven or hell. Man is infinitely higher than the beasts in that he possesses an immortal spirit, whereas the spirit of the beast terminates its existence at death. So there is no way that a human being with an immortal spirit could have his unique status altered, even at death, to become the temporary spirit of a mere animal.
The esteemed Bible commentator Matthew Henry states in this connection, “The spirit of the sons of men at death is ascending; it goes upwards to the Father of spirits, who made it, to the world of spirits to which it is allied … it goes upwards to be judged and determined to an unchangeable state. It is certain that the spirit of the beast goes downwards to the earth; it dies with the body; it perishes and is gone at death … This great difference there is between the spirits of men and beasts; and a good reason it is why men should set their affections on things above” .
The Biblical teaching on homosexuality appeared to be something of a stumbling block to the young man’s consideration of Christianity. He argued that two men engaging in a homosexual relationship are not hurting anybody else. The minister responded that they are hurting themselves, and are hurting others by the example which they set. The Christian desires to help such people and to point them to the infinitely better path of obedience to God’s wise ways. Our Maker knows what is best for us.
Pastor Simpson endeavoured to make the young man think about his own personal condition before God. Could he say that he was a good person? Could he say that he had perfectly kept God’s commandments? The minister explained to him that, for example, to have sexual relations with one’s girlfriend outside of marriage is sinful in the sight of God and constitutes what the Bible calls the sin of fornication.
The young man found this statement very difficult to accept, especially with relation to his own personal experience. What is wrong with two people expressing their love for one another in such a way?, he argued. The preacher responded that to do so outside of the context of the lifelong commitment of marriage is plainly against what God requires of us. To engage in sexual activity knowing that the relationship might terminate at some point down the line means that the activity takes on the character of sinful lust.
Mrs Newman also helped to witness to this young Hindu. We are thankful that he is considering seriously the claims of Christian faith. The conversation with him was constructive, although there were various areas of strong disagreement. May the Lord be pleased to cause him to see his need of fleeing to Christ for mercy and salvation.
Pastor Simpson also entered into conversation with a group of teenagers, and the discussion again inevitably moved to LGBT matters, since so many young people seem to think that a positive attitude to the LGBT agenda represents the defining mark of all truth. It was explained to the young people that the Bible unequivocally refers to homosexuality as sinful. One teenage boy countered that understanding what what the Bible says is simply a matter of interpretation, which varies from individual to individual. Pastor Simpson responded that there can be no breadth of interpretation which could ever make ambiguous the plain meaning of, for example, Leviticus 18:22, which states, “Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind : it is abomination”. There is simply no possible interpretation of these words which can allow them to mean the opposite of what is their plain intended sense.
Pastor Sherwood also joined in the discussion with the teenagers. They were encouraged to think about the issues of heaven and hell and whether or not they are good people. They were told that no one is by nature good, but that all have sinful and corrupted hearts. One of the teenage girls asked Pastor Simpson if it was wrong for girls to wear revealing forms of clothing. The minister responded that to do so was definitely sinful, both in and of itself, but also in its causing others of the opposite sex to be tempted into sexual lust.
Whilst the minister would not have chosen at this stage to make a personal comment about the dress of any individual with whom he was speaking, he was actually asked if it was wrong for one of the young girls present to wear such a short skirt as she then had on. The pastor replied that it most definitely was. The young girl in question argued that it is what she wanted to do and was simply a case of her being herself, but it was explained to her in gentle response that we cannot trust to our feelings or to being ourselves, because all by nature, without Christ, have sinful hearts, which simply cannot be trusted, because they have an inevitable inclination towards that which is sinful.
Prayer is being offered up that many who heard the preaching and Biblical testimony in Uxbridge upon this day might realise the sinfulness of their hearts and might come to the Lord Jesus Christ, the unique Saviour, He who alone can give them new hearts, as they repent of sin and trust in Him.