Pastors Peter Simpson and John Sherwood were proclaiming Jesus Christ and Him crucified in the centre of Uxbridge, West London, on June 21st.  

At one stage an elderly lady who was physically bowed down because of her age walked by overtly wagging her head and gesticulating with her hands as if to say, No, no, no, to the offer of a leaflet, the plain implication being that there was nothing that she could possibly be less interested in than this public proclamation of the Christian message. One could not but feel as if one were the object of some considerable contempt by means of this gesture, although nothing was actually said. How sad it was to see one who may very soon have to face her Maker, being so hardened and convinced in her unbelief.

As Pastor Sherwood was preaching, a middle-aged man approached Pastor Simpson, and asked some intelligent questions, but all based upon a rejection of the Biblical revelation as having no valid authority. The man argued that the Bible could not be trusted, because there are no original manuscripts available, and because those which we do have often differ from one another. 

The Almighty God is course well able to preserve His own word, and so Pastor Simpson explained how the original manuscripts and copies of them would have worn out and have been continually replaced, quite simply because they were in constant use by the early Christians. This means that there are no longer any original manuscripts existing and also that the oldest manuscripts which do exist are not necessarily the most reliable. These have survived precisely because they were not widely used. The great majority of available manuscripts available to us today (some 5,800) however, are in agreement with one another. 

The man also claimed that the Bible was a product of the churches’ mind, not of what God had Himself spoken, and so there is no reason why anyone should  believe what the Bible says, being only what men have produced. An atheist wearing a Black Sabbath (a rock band) baseball cap was listening into this conversation (he has often challenged the witnessing Christians on previous occasions). The demonic associations of this and similar heavy metal bands has been well documented. One of the band’s songs, for example, “is about a man overcome by demonic powers and on his way to hell. In fact, the front of the album by the same title has a man being terrorised by demons while lying in bed with ‘666’ emblazoned on his headboard” . The atheist stated that there is simply no evidence for the truth of Christianity, to which Pastor Simpson responded as an example of powerful available evidence was the fact that 500 people saw the risen Christ on one day (1 Corinthians 15:6).

The atheist then claimed that all the gospel accounts written by the four evangelists were contradictory. He was told in response to this that there was no contradiction, but simply four people looking at the same events from different angles and so including different details. The atheist also raised similar arguments about Bible manuscripts as referred to by the man cited above. 

As Pastor Simpson was preaching, an elderly gentleman approached him and asked,  “Who are you talking to?” The minister replied, “Everyone”. The man responded, “But there is no one is listening”, to which the minister said, “Oh yes there is, but many do not like to be seen to be listening” (but even those who refuse to listen still desperately need the gospel taken to them, and God’s word commands us to go and tell all such, as we see in Ezekiel 2:5, 2:7, and 3:11. Also, the man approaching the preacher must himself have heard something to prompt him to come forward in the first place)! The gist of the conversation then proceeded along the following lines : 

Man : So, what have you got to say?

Pastor : Jesus Christ is the Saviour of sinners and we are all sinners. Do you acknowledge that you are a sinner?

Man : No, I haven’t done anything wrong really.

Pastor : But the Bible says we have all sinned. You have broken God’s commandment, surely? We all come into this world with a sinful nature. That is the nature of man. When you look at the world, you cannot possibly say that everyone is good, can you? Why is there war? Why is there crime? 

Man : Do you know what Mark 11, chapter 11, verse 24 says? “Therefore I say unto you, What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them”. I know what this verse means, but I bet you don’t.

Pastor : Why do you say that?

Man : Because not many people do. Tell me what it simply says then.

Pastor : It means that if you are a true Christian, born again, you ask for things in accordance with God’s will. And if you ask in accordance with God’s will, He will, of course, grant those things. But if you are not a true born-again Christian and just ask for what you want, when you are in need, then of course you cannot assume that God will hear your prayers at all.

Man : I will tell you what that verse really means. When you think positively, and you say, I can get there on time, and I will get this job finished on time, you invoke the laws of positive expectation, and will always get good results.

Pastor : To believe in the power of positive thinking does not make one a true Christian. God alone is sovereign in His universe. The power of positive thinking psychology makes man the determining factor in all outcomes of personal circumstances. Do you, Sir, believe what the Bible says.

Man : Yes.

Pastor : Well it teaches that we are all sinners. What is going to happen when you die? 

Do you know? 

Man : I have got no idea.

Pastor :  It is heaven or hell.

Man : No, I think we all go to heaven.

Pastor : Jesus did not teach that. He spoke of the place where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth. 

Man : I believe that when we die, the last vision you have in your mind is where you are going. 

Pastor : That is not what Jesus said. If you reject what the Lord Jesus said, you do not believe in God. Are you saying you are wiser than the Bible?

Man : Yes.

Pastor : Very courteously, is that not rather arrogant? 

Man : Well that is how God has made me. 

Pastor : You have a fallen nature, but it is your responsibility to rectify that situation. When God made man, He made him perfectly innocent, but then Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden chose to rebel against their Maker, and thereafter everyone who has descended from them coming into this world has a heart naturally inclined to sin.

There was also much more said in this conversation, and at one point the man did admit to serious immorality when he was younger, a situation which no amount of positive thinking can deal with. He sadly, however, was not concerned about this, and did not appear to realise the seriousness of the offence before the holy God. It is only the blood of Jesus Christ, God’s Son, which cleanses us from all sin (1 John 1:7). The Minister and the elderly gentleman thankfully parted on good terms. 

May he be brought under deep conviction of sin and cry out to the Lord Jesus in repentance and faith, “Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me” (Psalm 51:10). Indeed, may many others who heard the gospel proclaimed in Uxbridge upon this day likewise be brought to an end of all self-reliance and an end of thoughts of their own goodness, and may they rather flee to the only Saviour of sinners, the Lord Jesus Christ.