Pastors Peter Simpson, and John Sherwood were preaching the gospel in Slough High Street on June 27, with Mrs Lesley Pilkington helping in the witness.
Two Muslim schoolboys come up to Pastor Sherwood and told that the Bible has been altered and is inconsistent with itself. They claimed that Romans 10:13 (“For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved”) conflicts with Luke 12:10 which is about there being an unpardonable sin. There is of course no inconsistency between these two verses, because one who is persistently rejecting the work of the Sprit on his heart and who is ascribing it to the work of Satan instead, would never call on the name of the Lord for mercy.
A Muslim man approached Pastors Sherwood and Simpson rejecting the whole notion of the substitutionary death of Christ for sinners. He argued that no one can suffer for someone else’s sin, and referred to the teaching in Ezekiel which states, “The son shall not bear the iniquity of the father, neither shall the father bear the iniquity of the son” (Ezekiel 18:20). What that verse is teaching, however, applies to the specific context of a family. Each individual whether he be a father or a son is personally answerable to God for his own sin.
To say that, however, is not a denial of substitutionary atonement, which is the principle being illustrated behind all of the Old Testament animal sacrifices whereby the blood of a beast was shed in place of the sinning Israelite, who symbolically transferred his guilt to the beast by laying his hands upon it. The continual offering up of animal blood before the altar in the Old Testament prophetically foreshadows the death of the Lord Jesus Christ on the Cross. All men are too sinful to ever be able to atone, or provide satisfaction, for their own sins, and so they need One who is without sin to be their Representative before the holy God. If any mere man were to suffer for his own sin, he would have to suffer in hell for all eternity.
Pastor Simpson had a long conversation with a young Muslim man who denied the deity of the Lord Jesus Christ, but who asserted that Mohammed, like all the prophets, was without sin. The minister responded that no one is without sin, and that the only way to obtain forgiveness of sin is through the death of the Lord Jesus Christ. Pastor Simpson referred to the fact that Mohammed had 11 wives, and that this in itself was sinful and in breach of the seventh commandment. The young man denied that Mohammed’s marital arrangements were sinful, and went on to justify an ordinary Muslim having four wives today, if he is able to afford to do so.
Pastor Simpson also courteously raised with the young Muslim the issue of a lack of freedom in majority-Muslim contexts around the world for Christians to publicly proclaim the gospel message, whereas Muslims in Britain are free to propagate Islam. Sadly, he would not acknowledge this inconsistency, but insisted that in Muslim lands non-Muslims were under an obligation before the State to submit to Islam for their own good.
Pastor Simpson also tried to raise with the Muslim the matter of the use of military means in the historic expansion of Islam. (One could cite as a primary example of this the capture of Christian Constantinople by Islamic forces in 1453). He responded by saying that force is only employed where Islam is resisted.
Pastor Simpson further endeavoured to impress upon the Muslim on a personal level the seriousness of sin. How can he sure that he is going to heaven? The young Muslim spoke about his being a faithful Muslim and praying to Allah five times every day. The minister responded by asking why so much repetition of the same words is needed in the daily prayers, and explained how the Lord Jesus actually advised against this : “But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions” (Matthew 6:7). No one can rely on his own goodness, nor on his religious duties, to obtain forgiveness of sins and salvation.
The preacher went on to enquire why the young man was not more concerned about his personal sinfulness. He emphasised the inevitability of all people suffering God’s eternal wrath, unless there is a resort to Christ to mercy, but pleased to open his eyes and that of many other Muslims (and others) who heard the gospel in Slough upon this day.