Pastor Peter Simpson was proclaiming Jesus Christ and Him crucified in the centre of Slough on May 14th. He took as one of his key texts, “Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived” (1 Corinthians 6:9). Who are the unrighteous? All people without exception. Furthermore, and he said this particularly with Muslims in mind, no one can atone for their sins by their own efforts, by faithfully performing religious duties such as fasting or going on a pilgrimage, or by trying to compensate for sins by endeavouring to go good works. 

A man walking by stopped and asked Pastor Simpson about the poster on display of Revelation 17:14, which reads “Jesus Christ is Lord of lords and King of kings”. He said that Christians are always claiming this to be the case, but they have no evidence to support it. The minister responded that the word of God declares it and therefore it must be true. The man, however, rejected the Bible’s authority as being the mere construction of men. 

Pastor Simpson also argued that there is ample evidence for the truth of the words. For example, 500 people saw the Lord Jesus risen from the dead on a single day (1 Corinthians 15:6). Most of these continued to be alive when Paul wrote his first epistle to the Corinthians. Furthermore, the Bible includes eye-witness of accounts of Jesus’s life and of His mighty miracles. This is all hard evidence which men ignore at their peril. 

The preacher also referred to the internal evidence in his own heart, which formerly being wretched and corrupted has been miraculously transformed by the risen Christ in such a way that it now loves God and all holiness of life. 

Pastor Simpson caught another young man’s eye as he was going past and so asked him, in line with what he was preaching about, a vital question. The brief exchange went like this : 

Minister : Are you going to heaven?

Passer-by : Definitely.

Minister : On what basis? Your own goodness?

Passer-by : Yes

Minister : But you are not good enough; you are a sinner.

Passer-by : How do you know?

Minister : Because the Bible says no one is good. No one is good by nature and all need a new nature. 

Sadly, the man did not stop to pursue this vital fact. 

At another point during the witness Pastor Simpson entered into a long conversation with two Muslim schoolgirls, who were willing to discuss the differences between Islam and Christianity in a polite and thoughtful manner. So this was really encouraging. The preacher tried to impress upon them that they are not sure whether they are going to heaven or not. Yes, they assert that Allah will be merciful to them, but they have no objective upon which Allah to make this claim. If Allah is a just God, asked the pastor, does he not have to punish our sin? Muslims hope that he will be merciful, but in order to be merciful Allah most definitely has to overlook our sins, the divine justice against which will have never been satisfied, if He just chooses to be merciful. In Christianity, by contrast, God can objectively forgive sin without in any way ignoring His justice, because He has made the penalty for the sins of the whole world to be satisfied in the Person of His Son and His death upon the Cross. 

The preacher also mentioned to the two Muslim girls how good it was that we had the freedom in this country to discuss these issues in the high street : they for example have the freedom to deny in a public place the fundamental tenets of Christianity, such as jesus being the Son of God. This freedom is in itself a direct fruit of the influence of Biblical Christianity, which asserts that the truth of God must be proclaimed, so that it is received into the heart, but that it cannot be enforced by the sword or by the diktats of the State. The Minister then said that if this discussion were taking place in a majority Muslim context in other parts of the world, there would sadly be no such corresponding liberty to contradict in public the cherished doctrines of Islam. Rather, the debating Christian would most likely be immediately accused of blasphemy. So there is no level playing field. The Muslim girls denied that this was the case.  

Pastor Simpson pointed out as an example the situation in Pakistan, where in 2010 a Christian Pakistani woman called Aasia Bibi was sentenced to death for blasphemy after a debate with a neighbour about her being unclean, because she was a Christian. In the midst of the debate she allegedly criticised Islam’s prophet, Mohammed, which led to the blasphemy charge against her. She was only released on appeal some 8 years later. Two government ministers were actually assassinated for expressing sympathy and support for her, and her husband and children had to live in hiding, such was the hostility towards her within Pakistani society. 

The two schoolgirls argued that in Pakistan in 2024 Christians need have no fear of any such situation ever happening again. However, the Open Doors organisation, which monitors anti-Christian persecution around the world, has a watch list of the chief offending nations, and Pakistan ranks 7th in this list. To support this ranking the organisation refers to “the devastating attack on the Christian community in Jaranwala in August 2023 … (this) was a sobering reminder of the hostile environment facing many believers in Pakistan. The attack on more than 20 churches and almost 100 homes was in response to allegations that two believers had desecrated the Quran”. Open Doors also states that Pakistan’s blasphemy laws are usually aimed at Christians rather than any other minority groups. Furthermore, of the top 10 persecuting nations in the list, 9 out of the 10 are in fact Islamic countries . 

Let us hope that these intelligent schoolgirls will come to understand that the spirit of tolerance here in Britain is actually a fruit of the preaching of the gospel and the permeation of Biblical thinking in society over a long period of time. “Modern tolerance was birthed in Protestant reflection on … history through the work of John Locke and Roger Williams, among others … Tolerance is a specifically Christian idea. At its basis is the belief that the truth will come out … Of course, the Bible calls us to do far more than merely tolerate our neighbours. We are called to love them … It is (therefore) important to understand that true tolerance is a deeply Christian idea, derived from principles in God’s Word” .

May these Muslim teenagers above all else come to realise, along with others who heard the gospel in Slough on this day, that the only means of finding God’s mercy for sinners, and of reaching heaven, is through faith in the crucified Saviour of sinners, the Lord Jesus Christ.