SLOUGH : Pastor told that  preaching on sin and judgement is far too negative, and will put people off the Christian faith 

Pastor John Sherwood and Peter Simpson were proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus Christ crucified for sinners in Slough High Street on March 29th.

A man walking by was asked, “Do you know that you need to be saved?” He replied to Pastor Simpson, I am a Catholic. He was politely asked if he had experienced conviction of sin, and had trusted in Christ for mercy,  but he sadly then denied that he was a sinner at all. May the Lord cause him to realise that “all have sinned and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).

Pastor Sherwood spoke at some length to a Muslim about the the world being created by Him who is the Word of God and the eternal Son of God. God communicates with men through His Word, namely through his Son, the living Word, the Lord Jesus Christ. However, the Person of Christ as being God manifest in the flesh is sadly always a stumbling block to Muslims. May the Lord open their eyes to see that the Lord Jesus is so much more than just a mere prophet.

There was also discussion on the basic differences between Christianity and Islam, particularly focusing on the need for atonement by the shedding of blood which can only be accomplished through the death of Christ. The issue of the non-existence of purgatory or an interim state between the death of the body and eternity was also spoken about – Muslims believe that it is in fact possible to spend some time in hell, but then to come out of it.  Prayer is being offered up that the Lord would speak to this particular Muslim’s heart about the truths of God’s Word.

A copy of John Blanchard’s ‘Ultimate Questions’ written in Farsi was given away to another passer-by.

Following the witness Pastor Simpson received an email from a Christian who has often listened to the preaching. The email stated that the preachers’ message has an opposite effect to what they are trying to accomplish. It discourages people and the writer state that he has heard people say they they are glad on the occasions when the preachers are not there as they normally are. 

The email further stated that the preaching in Slough focuses too much upon sin and its consequences and not enough upon verses such as Romans 8:1, which speaks of there being no condemnation in Christ.

This type of complaint is sadly often received. Pastor Simpson has replied to this email in the following way: 

“Regarding your comments about our preaching being too negative, may I courteously and respectfully pass on the following thoughts. 

Romans 8:1 and 1 Corinthians 12:2 , which you quoted, refer specifically to those who are already believers in Christ. The wonderful promises of blessing contained in God’s word do not apply to all people, but only to those who have acknowledged their sin, who have repented of it, and who have humbled themselves before the Lord, seeking His mercy.

What is the substance of our Lord’s message? We are told in Mark’s Gospel, “Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God and saying, The time is fulfilled and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye and believe the gospel (Mark 1:14-15), and in Luke 13:3 our Lord says, “Except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish” (Luke 13:3). This is the Lord threatening the unrepentant with judgement. In Revelation 2:16 He says, “Repent; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth”. So we learn that the need for repentance because of coming judgement was a central part of what our Lord taught. 

We see from Matthew 1:1-12 that John the Baptist focused on the need for repentance (verse 2) and the on “the wrath to come” (verse 7)

In Acts 2, when Peter was preaching on the day of Pentecost and when 3,000 were converted, Peter did not speak about the love of God, but he pointed his hearers to the particular sins of that generation. So we read in Acts 2:23 that Peter tells the people, referring to our Lord’s death, “Him … ye have taken and by wicked hands have crucified and slain”. In other words, he was confronting them with their sin.

In Acts 17:30-31 Paul tells the Athenians, “God  … now commandeth all men everywhere to repent, because he hath appointed a day in the which he will judge the world in righteousness (Acts 17: 30–31). So Paul focuses on the need for repentance and on coming judgement. It is only when someone has turned from sin and trusted in Christ that he can then rejoice in the words of Romans 8:1, but not before. So out of love for our unbelieving neighbour we speak about the seriousness of sin.  

I totally agree with you that it is very important to speak about the love and mercy of God, but this love and mercy only has any meaning in the context of people first acknowledging that they are in danger because of their sin. Our Lord Himself says in John 3, “He that believeth not is condemned already because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten son of God” (John 3:18). So there we see the Lord Jesus openly speaking about condemnation. In Matthew 23:33 He says to the scribes and Pharisees, “Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell?”

Please be assured that we preach the gospel out of love for all people, longing that they might experience the glory of salvation, but it is only possible for them to realise their need of the Saviour, if they are first also told that they are in danger and that they are sinners who actually need saving. To tell someone who is quite happy to carry on in their sin and unbelief that God loves him would not, I believe, be a reflection of what the Lord and the apostles themselves did”.

May many in Slough who were warned of the dangers of God’s wrath upon sin upon this day realise their need to flee with the most urgency into the loving arms of the Saviour, our Lord Jesus Christ.