After a very busy couple of weeks in April things have quieted down a fair amount this week. Snow falling on the mountain and a chilling wind tends to keep people walking when they are in the mall. Despite this cold there was a number of appointments God arranged for today.
The first of these was with a group of friendly young Mormon men who have been witnessing in Hobart lately. We chatted briefly only today as they were doing outreach in speaker’s corner, it was good to continue building rapport with them. They have stopped to listen to me preach a few times and we have talked for quite some time. We have had good conversations about the similarities and differences between Christianity and Mormonism.
One conversation was about the role of good works in Christian and Mormon lives. The Mormon doctrine regarding good works is that it is essential for salvation as opposed to Christian doctrine which teaches the worth of good works but that they are only an evidence of salvation. As Ephesians chapter 2 states, we are saved by faith and not by works so that no-one can boast. This is a major difference between these two faiths and very clearly underlines the difference between the Bible and what Joseph Smith taught in the Mormon Scriptures. We talked for quite some time on this issue and I encouraged them to consider what God has said in scripture about the role of good works. I hope that we will have a chance to talk about these things again.
I spent some time handing out tracts with Tim and Penny and a moderate number went out. I am always pleased to see people take tracts because you never know where they’ll end up. I’ve met people who say to me that they have one of the tracts I hand out that a friend had floating around their house and they read and kept. I’ve heard people talk about Million Dollar Question tracts that they have pinned to their wall. And I know of at least one cleaner who heard the gospel through a discarded tract that caught their eye one day at work. You never know how God will use them.
Karl and I preached through the week. I am delighted to see my brother becoming more bold in his proclamation of God's glorious word and its always good to see him show up the emptiness of the world's wisdom (he studied philosophy whilst at university). On Tuesday I preached on Genesis 1-3 and then the 1st Psalm, I tried to keep to the passage and apply this to lives of the people of Hobart. It never ceases to amaze me, just how relevant even the smallest section of scripture is to life in any age. The realities of brokenness and sin alongside the beauty and nobility of our world is explained by God’s word with a clarity that is not found anywhere else.
Likewise, there is insight into our personal lives, why there is such beauty and such ugliness in the soul of mankind. While both passages do not explicitly mention the saviour they both point forward to Him with eager longing. My preaching urges people to look to Jesus in faith and trust in Him only. This is the only solution to the brokenness of our souls. The only answer to our accusing consciences. This is the only hope for sinful people living in a sin scarred world. Only salvation through Him, only cleansing by Him, only a good relationship with God through Him.
After preaching this week there were a good number of conversations. Firstly was a young lady who was very interested in the literature we had on same sex marriage on the Bible table. At first she avoided conversation but then asked "Will God send me to hell because I'm gay?". She was quite tentative and shy in her approach and so I spoke with her gently for some time about the holiness of God and how all of us fall short of His glory, not just homosexual people. I also shared the great love Jesus has for her and all people regardless of their sins. She listened to the gospel message and then walked away thoughtful. I pray that God would soften her heart and bring her to faith in Jesus.
Karl also had a fantastic conversation with a Muslim, Mr A. who was very eager for further conversation and promised to come back next week to talk more. There was much discussion of who Jesus is and why He came and what he taught. I hope that we can reach out to him again in the near future.
Just as we were packing up on Friday a group of young ladies and a guy stopped and again engaged with our same sex marriage material. In marked contrast to the young lady previous they were very aggressively anti-Christian in their stance and arguments. Numerous times through the discussion I noted that there was no reasons for their thoughts given, only slogans that could easily have been lifted straight from the newspapers or internet. We discussed why Christians disagree with same sex marriage and say homosexuality is a sin. Karl and I both tried to show the balance of love and judgment that God's word responds to these issues. Tragically they left spouting yet another slogan, "You should try to be more open to love..." . May God work in their hearts to show the bankruptcy of the homosexual life and the great love God has shown through Jesus. May they turn to Him from this broken lifestyle.
God continues to work through my work here in Hobart. Praise His name for that.