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 by the name of Ali 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.
Thank you to everyone who prayed for yesterday's outreach in Woodridge. We had 6 people on the team.
The man in the red in the photo is named Tristan. He initially didn't care about eternal matters, but as the conversation went on, he opened up a lot more. He thought Christianity was about doing religious activities in order to find forgiveness, and so it was a big eye opener when he heard that forgiveness is a free gift that Jesus offers because of His sacrifice on the cross. Please pray for him.
Please also pray for Nora who right from the start of the conversation thought she was going to Hell. She listened intently as she heard of the message of the cross, and she is now going to count the cost of whether she is prepared to repent and trust in Christ.
"So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth." (1 Cor. 3:7)
To God be the glory!
Yesterday a small team of us made our way to Brisbane city to share the gospel with the lost. Being a public holiday, we found people were not in a rush to get anywhere, so some extensive gospel conversations were able to be had.
We chatted with a lad named Tang from Vietnam who is studying here for the next 4 years. He said he has no religious background at all, in fact he said he doesn't know anything about what religions believe.
After being shown that just as a building has a builder, so must the universe have had a creator, he agreed that made perfect sense. So we went on to talking about our sin and how we have offended God based on how we have lived and so therefore need a substitute to pay our penalty for us - Jesus.
He wanted to know what is the difference between Christianity and other religions, and so we said, "Every other religion will tell you that to get to heaven, it is based on how many good deeds you do compared to the bad deeds you do."
He thought about that for a moment said, "But that doesn't deal with the past. Doing good wouldn't undo their history." I replied, "Exactly right. That is why Christianity stands out and is the only one that is true - for Jesus' death on the cross satisfies God's justice for all our bad deeds so that God can show us mercy and let us into heaven, if we trust only in Him."
Please pray for Tang. He was happy to take a gospel of John to start reading and we referred him to a good church in the area.
To God be all the glory!
Amazing! God brought along 25 of us on the team for last night's outreach in Brisbane city. A common comment made by numerous people on the team was "People tonight are so open".
One team member said, "I didn't feel like coming in tonight but I'm glad I did, I got to chat to 6 different people who were really receptive."
Please pray for all those that heard the gospel or had a gospel tract given to them, including a man named Jack. Three days earlier he had someone give him a Bible on the street, and having no Christian background he started reading it and in 3 days he was already up to Isaiah.
He didn't understand the gospel and so we got to share about sin, the coming judgement and how Jesus died to pay for our sins and rose from the dead. With a few analogies, he began to grasp the idea of someone paying our fine for us, saying "That makes sense".
To God be the glory!
Today we got to hand out over 4,000 gospel tracts in Brisbane to those who came out to see the Anzac Day March. God raised up a team of about 10 of us.
As people remembered the great sacrifices that people have made for our country, we were able to bring people's attention also to the ultimate sacrifice that Jesus made to bring us freedom from our biggest enemy, our sin and its effects.
To God be the glory!
We are always praying for labourers to join us in the Great Commission, for outreach times and locations visit: www.operation513.com/street-evangelism-teams
What awaits those who die unrepentant? A.A. Hodge had this chilling thought on hell: the sinner experiences an ever-increasing depravity of soul and self-accusing remorse! Thankfully we serve a gracious God who has provided the only Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ, who is able to save completely all those who come to God through Him. Please pray for:
Our 2 lady coworkers in the gospel talked with Georgia and Jordan who seemed to understand the gospel and said that they had 'got into the wheelbarrow' as per the Blondin story, or more orthodoxly expressed as 'they had trusted Jesus to save them from their sins. Later, they walked around the point where Ryan started talking with them. When he asked them to explain "what one had to do to get to heaven", they said, "Trust in God'. He found it useful to take them through the law and gospel again. Pray the sinfulness of sin is unveiled to them.
Abel and friend Ethan heard the good news. Ethan had some casual objections that he stated. He is in no rush to deal with Jesus. They had the fact of eternal life or death emphasized to them. They also need to read God's Word and see how a holy God cannot allow any imperfections in His home. Now is the time to repent. Today is the day of salvation.
Other conversations challenged the inconsistencies of various people having false world views. Pray God stirs them up to seek the Truth.
Praise God. His glorious truth is once again gone forth - the power of God for salvation to those who believe. We acknowledge that we can do nothing but our duty and that by His gracious enabling and always through the Mediator, Jesus Christ. Maranatha!
"Lest we forget" - as we thank God for the blood-bought freedom we continue to enjoy now, we need to think often of the ultimate redemption, as members of "... the church of God which obtained with His own blood.", Acts 20:28.
How precious is this! David who is illiterate was taken through the gospel twice until he grasped the message. Then Ryan gave him a gospel of John as David said he would have it read to him. Please, pray.
A few samples of what some careless types 'believe':
- a man who claimed he did not believe in anything, but then admitted he believed his parents existed. He later retracted this statement and blamed God for all the world's troubles. How inconsistent!
- a young couple: he did not care and she had a 'higher power' she followed and had ideas like the gospel accounts were written by His disciples about 300 years after Jesus death. Perhaps a seed was planted before the guy lost his cool and the conversation had to be terminated so that Ryan could walk...
...around to the other side of the bus seats where he met a man he had witnessed to, together with his girlfriend, a few months ago. She has started reading the Bible but he needed to hear the gospel again. He concluded that he was not ready for Jesus yet; he had more sinning to do. He was challenged.
- a young man Kyle who had studied Buddhism since 14 years old but who felt an urgency to attend church last weekend, and did. He has since read Genesis. Good long conversation going through law ( he admitted he was a liar, same as everyone else, and I added the first 3 commandments to his list of sins as he had ignored God for years) and gospel which he is now going to check out from the Bible alone. He knows the need for his all-in commitment to the Lord. Please pray that as he continues to seek God ( because of Jn. 6:37) he will pray for the Holy spirit to teach him the truth!
- three young guys who heard God's good news in spite of their avowed love for drugs.
There is always more and let us be thankful that for each one who is eventually a recipient of God's gift of eternal life through "...repentance from dead works...", Heb. 6:1, and trusting the Lord Jesus Christ alone; this is "...to the praise of His glory," Eph. 1:14
Praise the Lord that last night in Brisbane city there were plenty of gospel conversations had by the team! The team consisted of over 15 of us.
We found most people said that they'd be going to Heaven because of being a good person. Even a chat with a professing Christian named Joel from Holland, he too thought his goodness would save him. So we took Joel through the Good Person test and he flunked it just as badly as the rest of us but was still sure that he was good enough to get into Heaven.
Soon after that a couple named David and Danika went through the "Intelligence Test" flip chart. Their minds fooled them as the were tricked by each of the trick questions. And again moments later when they professed to be good people.
Although pride is the biggest barrier preventing humanity from surrendering to Jesus Christ, each of these individuals had a different problem. Joel was sure he was already on his way to Heaven, David and Danika were angry at the hypocrisy shown to them by some Christians and a couple named Phil and Andrea had decided that the solution to their problems was really somewhere deep inside them.
Please pray that they (and the plenty others) will heed the warning presented to them, that they will each turn from their lives of sin and to the only one who can save them from the wrath to come!
Please also keep the team in prayer, that we may remain humble in our service to God and continually being reminded ourselves of our own desperate need for God's grace in our lives!
It was a wet, windy, and cold (by Queensland standard) start to the outreach. Yet, despite the weather we gathered at the pier in Redcliffe to share the gospel. It was particularly encouraging today to bump into several Christians who had been impacted by our open-air work, and who prayed for us.
We set the Bible table up and began to hand out tracts and try to get into conversations. At the start things were slow, but soon people began to listen.
One conversation I had was with an elderly man named George. George has a Czech and Jewish background, but was very confused about who God is, and how to be saved. He started by telling me that he has been to Heaven twice, and that everyone will go there one day. Our conversation centred around the goodness and justice of God, with George openly admitting that God should punish bad people, but at the same time affirming if we punish ourselves then God will let us go.
In reply to this, I said, "George, is there someone you really love?" He replied that there were people in his life that he loved very much; I then stated, "George, imagine someone comes along and murders your loved ones. The murderer later feels bad about what he has done, so each night he beats himself with a stick. One day the murderer is caught, but the Magistrate lets him go because the murderer had been punishing himself..." Before I could go any further George interrupted by declaring, "That is wrong and unjust! The judge must punish him!"
This provided a perfect way to explain how God because He is good must punish wrong doing and that there is a penalty for our sin; George agreed saying that what I said was logical. He also conceded that means that not everyone is going to Heaven. From this point I was able to explain how God is both the just and the justifier of those who have faith in Christ (Romans 3:26).
George listened, and stated it made sense. But, he said he didn't know if he could believe the Bible as what the Scriptures says today isn't what they said in the originals. I countered this argument with a brief apologetic on how we got the Bible, and he seemed rather interested. At the end of our conversation he took a couple of booklets from our table and thanked us for the conversation.
Another highlight of the day came from a bus driver who was driving by in his bus. He saw our free Bible and Literature table, so he pulled over and ran down to get a Bible. I'm not sure if he had any passengers onboard, but this man was keen to get a copy of the Word of God!
Overall it was a wonderful day of ministry in Redcliffe. The Lord is at work. Please pray for us.
We had another great afternoon of evangelism at Sunnybank yesterday. The Lord brought along 3 of us on the team which meant we were able to cover both sides of the road.
We praise God that about 500 gospel tracts went out and we got to speak with a variety of people, including Thomas. He is from Cambodia and has never heard anything about Christianity. He was very receptive and afterwards was happy to take a gospel of John.
Also spoke with a man named Colin. His mother attends a Catholic church and he says he goes along sometimes. He said he's been slowly drifting away from God. We talked about sin, the coming Judgement, and how forgiveness is only available through faith in Christ alone. He came to grasp the gospel, and he admitted that he has never actually been a Christian before, since he now realised he never has believed the gospel before.
He was encouraged to make sure he counts the cost of coming to faith in Christ, for Jesus doesn't want half-hearted followers. But at the same time, he was encouraged not to delay, since none of us know how long we have left on this earth. He has a Bible and said he is going to start reading it. He was also encouraged to find a good Bible believing church in the area he lives.
To God alone be the glory!