The gospel of Jesus Christ crucified for sinners was being proclaimed in the centre of Slough on February 28th by Pastors John Sherwood and Peter Simpson and Mr Graham Parkhouse (Epsom), who were helped by Mrs Lesley Pilkington.
Pastor Simpson entered into conversation with a Muslim schoolboy who thought that the preaching was offensive to Muslims because it was asserting that the Lord Jesus Christ is the only way, the final Prophet to the world, and that all other prophets of other religions who deny Christ’s unique Person and status must therefore by definition be false.
The minister responded by explaining how practically on every occasion that he had his colleagues in the Christian ministry go and preach in the public places Muslims come up to them and say, Jesus is not God’s Son, but is only a prophet. The preacher pointed out that Christians find this statement to be highly offensive and indeed blasphemous, yet they respect the freedom of Muslims to say it as part of legitimate religious debate. Therefore, Muslims for their part must respect the freedom of Christians to challenge the most cherished tenets of the Islamic religion, or else there is no level playing field. The schoolboy thankfully appreciated and accepted the logic of this statement.
In a conversation with another Muslim Pastor Simpson challenged the Islamic notion that a person’s good works can compensate for sins committed and that Allah will always be merciful. The preacher said that if Allah is holy and just, then he must punish sin. He cannot just overlook it in the light of any subsequent good works.
To illustrate this truth Pastor Simpson used the analogy of a man robbing a bank, who is then captured and appears in court. During the trial the robber cannot argue, ‘I gave some of the proceeds of the theft to charity; therefore, I am exonerated from the crime, because the nature of the judge presiding over the court is to be merciful and my good work compensates the wrong done. The reality of course is that a just judge has to punish the crime according to the laws of the land and has no authority to set aside these laws in individual cases.
The same reality exists concerning the administration of God’s holy laws. Our righteous and all-holy God can never just overlook sin. In Christianity, the divine justice upon sin must always be satisfied (not overlooked) before forgiveness can be granted. The satisfaction of justice is accomplished in the death of the Lord Jesus Christ, who is ‘the propitiation’ : “He is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world”.
May the Lord open the hearts of Muslims to realise that their own goodness cannot make up for a single sin committed or avert the rightly deserved wrath of God. Only the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ can satisfy the justice of God and open up the way for the undeserving sinner to be brought into God’s holy presence.