On the street, 25th October 2014

DSCI0459People often accuse those who preach with boldness of preaching “hate” and “intolerance”.  Even those that consider themselves to be Christians criticise preachers of being judgemental citing Christ’s words in Matthew 7:1

Judge not, that ye be not judged.

One of the key elements of the Gospel is the fact that Jesus came into the world in order to call sinners to repentance, to save men’s souls from the judgement to come.  A sinner can only come to repentance if they know that they are, in fact, a sinner.  Too many shy away from this fact and are reluctant to speak out with boldness on the issue of sin because they fear what people’s reaction might be.

If we read the Book of Acts we see that those who preached did not hold back anything.  Paul preached and warned of the judgement:

And after certain days, when Felix came with his wife Drusilla, which was a Jewess, he sent for Paul, and heard him concerning the faith in Christ.  And as he reasoned of righteousness, temperance, and judgment to come, Felix trembled, and answered, Go thy way for this time; when I have a convenient season, I will call for thee. (Acts 24:24-25)

When we preach we are not giving our opinion.  We are not standing in judgement but rather we are declaring God’s judgement concerning the heart of man and what the heart motivates them to do.  Most people walk by and are dismissive however some take offence, as was the case with one gentleman today.  He became incensed that Miguel was preaching God’s word concerning sexual relations outside of what God considers to be marriage.  Paul is very clear on the issue of what God considers to be illicit with regards to sexual practice.

In today’s society people reject God’s instructions concerning these things because they derive much pleasure from sex.  Sex (when practised in its proper context) is a legitimate practice however, outside of its proper context, it is considered to be sinful by God who has declared this to be Fornication and Adultery.  To declare the judgement of God concerning these things angers people, just as declaring the judgement of God angered the people in New Testament times which led to Stephen’s martyrdom and all of Paul’s sufferings (and ultimately his own death).

People do not like having their sins exposed.  People, generally, like to compare themselves with themselves.  “I know that I am not perfect, but at least I’m not like so-and-so!”  As the scriptures state:

For we dare not make ourselves of the number, or compare ourselves with some that commend themselves: but they measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise. (2 Corinthians 10:12)

The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. (Luke 18:11)

We must point out to people that God does not compare us to others, He does not judge us using our standards of “right and wrong” and in His sight we are all found wanting.  It is God who declares what is sin and it is God who declares men to be sinners.

Today we were joined by our Dutch brother, Jeanot, to help with the distribution of leaflets.

King Street

While Miguel was preaching a man approached him to ask if we could move to King Street to defend the Jewish traders at Kedem from possible attack by the Anti-Israel protesters. We will always stand against anti Semitism and defend Jews who are being targeted by their enemies.  Quite a number of people gathered and a small contingent of police in order to maintain law and order.  Fortunately the protesters did not come down to King Street.

A young Orthodox Jew came up to Miguel declaring that he could disprove that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, from the scriptures.  At first Miguel stated that he really did not want to get into a discussion with him on these things at that moment in time.  Others there heard this, but the young man insisted.  Miguel asked Jeanot to fetch John in order to support him.  The difficulty they both faced with him was his pride.  He seemed to obviously revel in challenging Christians by citing the scriptures in Hebrew (knowing that the average Christian has no understanding of Hebrew).  He raised objections declaring that the Bible we use is mistranslated and giving what he declared to be the true meaning of the Hebrew.  Not being educated in Old Testament Hebrew it is difficult to discuss matters from such a perspective.  This, of course, adds to his position of pride because we are without expertise in this area.

It is interesting that when we are engaging with someone in conversation, or in a discussion, about the things of God how that others seem to think that they can but in to the conversation and add their opinion.  In any other circumstance this would not happen.  People understand that this is inappropriate and wouldn’t dream of interrupting.  Yet they have the idea that it is OK to interrupt in such conversations when they are about God.

John tried, on several occasions, attempted to bring the point that he was a transgressor of the Law and was going to lead the conversation into the subject of Atonement and Redemption, however each time, as more “Christians” joined in the conversation (each wanting to challenge this Jew) John and Miguel were unable to continue to witness.  Of course this only served to play into his game of “Challenge the Christian” and did nothing to serve the interests of Christ and the Gospel.

It is difficult at the best of times to deal with people that are trusting in what they see as “superior knowledge” without having half a dozen other people interrupting each with their own agenda and their own arguments.  It simply turns into a game of theological Ping-Pong, it does not help the Jew either.

One thing that we can take away from this incident is that it confirms what Paul wrote:

For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in. (Romans 11:25)

The great Apostle himself was once a man just like this one, one who stood up to what he perceived to be those who were following the teachings of a renegade Jew called Jesus of Nazareth and a threat to the Jewish religion.  This young man’s hatred for Jesus and the Apostles was very evident, as for us we were merely ignorant dupes to be pitied.  But, as the Apostle also wrote:

As concerning the gospel, they are enemies for your sakes: but as touching the election, they are beloved for the fathers’ sakes.
(Romans 11:28) adding in the following verse:

For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance.

God does not repent over His gifts and callings.  He still loves the Jews and He still honours the covenants and blessings that He made with their fathers Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.  In these days many hold hatred towards the Jews in their hearts, in fact they may not even be aware of this.  The only antidote to this is the Gospel which,  as the scripture declares is

to the Jew first  (Romans 1:16)

The Gospel is primarily for the Jews.  It was to them that Christ came (Matthew 2:6), it was FOR them that Christ came (Matthew 15:24) and it will be to them that He will return when He establishes the Kingdom of God on this Earth (Matthew 23:39).

This young pious Jew is in bondage to Rabbinical teachings.  Amélia wanted to show him a verse from the Bible which she has as an App on her phone.  He wouldn’t look stating that it was forbidden to use a mobile phone on the Sabbath.  He had even walked the many miles from his home to King Street so as not to break the Sabbath by travelling on public transport.  Yet he was there to support a Jewish business that trades on the Sabbath!  This is the hypocrisy of the Pharisees who placed the “Oral Torah” above the “Written Torah” and by so doing transgressed the very Law that their traditions were supposed to help them keep.  It was this that Christ spoke out against, and it was this for which He was denounced.  Yet even a pious Pharisee like Saul of Tarsus could be saved and become; not just an Apostle of Christ but also the author of most of the New Testament scriptures!

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