Reflections on the Gideons South West Scripture Focus
Created by Jon Taylor - Tuesday 20 Jun 2017
Jon Taylor
Reflections on the Gideons South West Scripture Focus
On Saturday we split into three teams to give out scriptures and engage in evangelistic conversation in Wimborne, Bournemouth and Christchurch Quay. My team was based at Christchurch Quay. It was a mixed experience since it was initially hard going though half an hour or so in, constructive conversations began to develop and handing our scriptures became easier.
Breaking through apathy
I was immediately struck by the general state of apathy surrounding Christchurch Quay. Fair enough it was a fine summer’s afternoon and leisure time is at a premium; nevertheless it was a different experience entirely to that of Bournemouth Square which is a superb setting for evangelism. This is partly due to the mixture of people groups represented, meaning you can reach people groups from the respective continents. Giving out scriptures or witnessing abroad is often markedly different to that in England. Ironically there was a reluctance to recognize the need for God’s word, though a general blindness to the reality of being spiritually impoverished was all too evident.
So I prayed and persisted a little more… Some who refused Bibles on the grounds that they already had a Bible or had a Gideon’s Bible, I responded by enquiring as to whether they read them or what they thought of them in an effort to make them think and generate meaningful discussion. After all, the Bible is the most widely read book in the world and absolutely unique since it is inspired by God.
Some said that they went to church or were Anglicans, so I asked them if they wanted to give a Bible to their friends. I am sure that would have helped some to consider whether they were concerned about evangelism and why they went to church in the first place. With others I asked them if they had assurance of salvation which in many though obviously not all cases, is a pretty effective barometer of whether someone is trusting in the Lord or themselves to be saved.
Some were indifferent, but we shouldn’t be! The Middle Ages was a dark period of history that stretched for a whole Millennium! How easily we forget the amount of blood shed and the sufferings endured even in this country around the time of the Reformation to make the Bible accessible in our language! How many folk would be so overjoyed in less economically privileged nations worldwide, to have their own copy of God’s word?                                                                                           
Breaking through excuses
As is to be expected, some wanted to know more. We forget so easily that our current generation have by and large an exceptionally poor grounding in the scriptures from school since the religious curriculum has changed so much so quickly. By and large, our Judeo-Christian heritage is being undermined by teaching on all faiths and misrepresented and liberal views on Christianity are taught in our education system meaning we have to start with the absolute basics. Now more than ever, Christians need to take the gospel to the people outside the church walls and explain what we mean by the gospel.
Some thought they were beyond redemption whilst others thought they would be fine since they were basically good, though the Bible teaches that only God is good (Matt. 19:17). For those who think they are beyond salvaging it is necessary to explain grace-God’s Redeeming Act at Christ’s Expense. Though we didn’t deserve it, through His blood shed on the cross, the price of our debt of sin has been paid, though we must believe and trust in Him and look to Him since we can contribute nothing to our salvation through our own efforts or works but simply rely and trust in the Lord as Saviour and repent and ask Him for forgiveness.
For those who think they are basically okay by virtue of being nice, good or reasonable from a human estimation, the law needs to be activated as a mirror to expose sin. The Ten Commandments show us clearly where we have transgressed God’s laws and stand guilty before the righteous judge. He who has broken one commandment is guilty of all (James 2:10). Furthermore we are not sinners simply because we sin, but fundamentally because we have inherited sinful nature from Adam (Rom. 5:12-13).
Bringing Hope
The Gideons name is usually well received and that helps in terms of credibility and to open up discussion. Many can remember being presented testaments from school or having read and been encouraged by them in hotel rooms, hospitals, care homes or serving in the armed forces.
There are those who have received Gideon Bibles and have read them years later when they finally recognised their need and have been converted. There are others who believe but have stagnated in their walk with the Lord and it has been a timely reminder to use the Bible not only as their moral compass, but as a means to draw closer to God and to learn how to please, serve and obey Him.
It is strange that so many people in this country are so reluctant to state what they believe, possibly for fear of embarrassment or lack of conviction, or even lack of thought on spiritual matters. Why are we so embarrassed or reluctant to talk about the most important aspect of our lives? Why are we ashamed when we would want to share with others readily, although we can spend hours discussing anything else much of which equates to small talk or frivolous dialogue? This should not be so! We must remember that faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God. We would do well to consider Paul’s words and put them into practice.
16 ‘For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ,[a] for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek. 17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “The just shall live by faith (Romans 1:16-17).’
Tuesday 20 Jun 2017