Saturday, July 28, 2007yes... this is the Friday Night Notes...
I arrived at Pastor Tim's place at my usual time, said hello to Pastor Tim's wife, and made my way downstairs to pick up some Bible tracts. We usually pray for awhile before going downtown for our night of street preaching, so I was a bit surprised when I noticed that I was all alone downstairs. A few moments later, Pastor Tim's wife came down the stairs to let me know that her husband was ill, and that he wouldn't be able to go preaching with me.
The man is having a real hard time with his lungs. That's what was ailing him tonight, it's what has been ailing him since last winter. Whatever the problem is, it's not going away. This, of course, means that he'll have to slow down and take care of himself more. Willingly, or unwillingly (knowing the stubborn old man, it will be unwillingly). I really felt for the good preacher tonight. I know, without question, that he really wanted to be in the market with me tonight. I know he wanted to proclaim the Gospel of Life to one and all, as he has faithfully done for decades now. I know for a certainty that the last place he wanted to be tonight was in bed sick again.
To all of you, dear readers, who have been following my weekly escapades on the streets of the market, please understand: I am what I am today by the grace of God, and pastor Tim. I'm not the original street preaching soldier. He is. I wasn't even in diapers and the man was knocking on every door of his city with the Gospel of Jesus. How many pastors do you know who have, faithfully, gone out into the highways and byways to proclaim the Gospel, and that, for over 25 years? In my city, he's the only one I know of. He surpasses me (by far) and almost every other Christian I know in several aspects of the Christian experience. Pastor Tim is the best shepherd I have ever had the pleasure of being under.
He is my pastor. He is my best friend. He is my hero.
That's why it really pinches me to see him down and out like this. Please, brothers and sisters, remember pastor Tim in your prayers. Our city needs him (even if it doesn't recognize it), and our fellowship needs him at his best, sharing and proclaiming the Truths of Scripture. I can cover for him on a street corner, or behind a pulpit, but I assure you, I'm a poor substitute. He's the real deal... I just try to keep up.
So, knowing that there was a man lying in bed, wanting to be out preaching the Gospel but couldn't, I went out with much determination. The Lord gave me ability and opportunity to evangelize tonight, two things He didn't give pastor Tim. I wasn't going to treat these graces as common things. Not tonight. I preached my heart out, gave out Bible literature, and walked by every pub/bar/restaurant in the marketplace with my Gospel sign for over three hours.
I had several one-on-one conversations. The first was with a young man who was training to become of Romanist priest. It was quite the conversation. I knew he was a Romanist from the moment he walked up to me: he was wearing a gold crucifix and some "mary" idol around his neck. I explained to him that after having read the Bible, I couldn't be a Romanist any more; the two contradicted one another. He obviously disagreed with that statement, and offered me the usual platitudes that only Romanism had the "sacred traditions" of the apostles, and that these were critically important. I tried my best to show him that 2 Timothy 3:16-17 didn't leave much room for anything else than the Scriptures when it comes to doctrine and practice.
It became quite clear in our conversation that while the young man had already spent two years in a Romanist seminary, he was quite illiterate as far as the Scriptures were concerned. He had all sorts of Romanist arguments, object lessons and so forth, but he never brought up a verse from Scripture and he seemed quite impressed by my ability to quote directly from the Bible. We talked about every possible point of doctrine and how what he believed just didn't jive with the Bible. It proved to be just too much for him.
"You're blowing my mind!" he said, clearly agitated.
I tried to get him to focus on John 3:3; the necessity of the Second Birth. It was clear that the young man had no idea what the term meant. He, like most Romanists, confused it with baptism. I showed him from Ephesians 2 that we are all born spiritually dead, though we have been born physically alive. The Second Birth then is when one becomes spiritually alive in Christ at conversion.
My efforts were in vain. The young man just foolishly jumped from one topic to another, trying to confuse the issues; he, on more than one occasion even tried to sow doubt as to the trustworthiness of Scripture with statements like:
"Well, you know, there are so many manuscripts out there, how do we know what parts of the Bible are true... and besides, who wrote the Bible (I answered: God)... sure, God, but St-Paul wrote it...."
He didn't come right out and deny the inspiration of Scripture, but that's where he wanted to go, that was clear. I told him he wasn't a Christian because he wasn't a man of the Scriptures. He answered and told me that I was "missing out" by neglecting the "sacred traditions" of Romanism. To that, I pointed him right back to 2 Timothy 3:16-17:
"All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: that the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works."
"If God says, in the Bible, that the man of God is PERFECT, as in COMPLETE, by the Scriptures, what exactly am I missing?"
The young man had no answer. I could tell that I was blowing his mind and upsetting him greatly whenever I brought up a passage of Scripture. I don't think he was at all prepared to meet a saint of God. I pray that the Lord will draw this young man to his Word, even tonight. That though upset, he would, as I did, judge Romanism by the only standard that matters: the Holy Bible.
Finally, on my way back home tonight, I walked by a dance club with my Gospel sign and met a young man called Mike. He ran out of the dance club to see me and said:
"Yeah man, I totally believe that!"
"If you believe this, my friend, what in the world are you doing in that box?" I inquired.
"Oh... yeah... I guess I shouldn't be in there... should I..." he responded, clearly ashamed.
"My friend, the place you just walked out of is an evil place. There is nothing there for a child of God. If you are a child of God, you should hate everything about that house of sin."
"You're right," he said. "I just followed my friends here 'cause I didn't want them to think I was an &%$*@!."
"Let them think that," I responded. "The Lord doesn't care what your friends think, he wants you to be holy."
"Okay," he quickly responded, "but is it okay if I just stay with them for tonight. I'll never do this again, but just for tonight, I'll go along with my friends."
"The Lord wants you out of there now, Mike," I said. "Not later, not in a few hours... now! You know how many souls like you I have met over the years. Souls who are penitent one Friday night, and then, totally sinned-hardened just a few Fridays later?"
I think I really shook some sense into Mike, though I doubt he ended up leaving the club on the spot. I was once a foolish Christian in a bar. Perhaps Mike was one too. Then again, perhaps he's just a deceived sinner. Time will tell. I hope and pray that tonight will be the last Friday night I will see Mike in a bar. I hope and pray the next time I will see Mike, it will be in church.
As I said goodnight to Mike, I turned towards Pastor Tim's house, only to see him standing a few feet from me.
"You were late coming back, so I just wanted to make sure you were still alive," he said jokingly, as we walked back to his place.
And that's the notes for tonight. Again, dear saints, remember Pastor Tim in your prayers; for healing and strength. Pray for me, as I will be preaching the Lord's Day evening service. Also, pray for the young Romanist I dealt with, his name is Justin; and don't forget about Mike.
Dear readers, have a safe weekend... and a blessed Lord's Day.
Labels: Friday evangelism