The best word to describe today is joy - joy in the fellowship of the Gospel. We did not do as much preaching today as we had the honor and blessing to visit two different churches: Metropolitan Tabernacle and GraceLife London. I don’t believe I’ve attended two different churches in the same day before, and to experience that with these two churches was an incredible blessing. Today was slower paced than our first two days (and welcomed!), yet through our rest on the Lord’s Day we also had several opportunities to share the Gospel. Here are the highlights of the day for me:
Metropolitan Tabernacle was founded in 1650 and is commonly known as “Spurgeon’s Tabernacle”. The “Prince of Preachers”, Charles Spurgeon, served the Body there from
1854 to 1892. John Gill also shepherded this church for 51 years from 1720-1771, about the time the Tabernacle strongly supported the ministry of George Whitefield. Needless to say, the church has a rich history of godly men used by God glorify Himself and bring revival to the hearts of His people. Dr. Peter Masters now serves the church and has been for the last 42 years (read more about the history here).
My first observation of this morning’s service was the high reverence the people expressed for the Lord’s worship. It was by no means a stiff or cold atmosphere, but rather a holy expression of the fear of the Lord as His people came together to worship our Holy God. From the hymns sung to the prayer offered by Dr. Masters (which on one occasion he offered praises and petitioned cries to God for roughly 20 minutes – listen to Tony explain it below, what a joy to witness and be a part in this communion with the Savior!), it was a careful act of worship before the Lord, but not without joy. Dr. Masters preached from 1 Timothy 1:18 with precision and much application to the church today, and it was very encouraging to us as we are here charged by God for the Great Commission. It’s also an excellent message to examine ourselves as to the stewardship of our faith and obedience to the charges given by God to each Christian. I invite you to share in our experience by listening to the mp3 of this morning’s message: Spiritual Vigor.
The most amazing thing happened after the service. A brother named Darren sat beside me while the rest of the team sat in the pew behind me. Darren introduced himself and asked about us, so we shared with him we were visiting from the U.S. to preach the Gospel in London during the Olympics. Darren then recognized Tony through his work with Living Waters, and was very excited to have met us. We spoke for several minutes about our mission here, then Darren said that as Dr. Masters was preaching, he was convicted and prayed that God would enable him to preach the Gospel on the streets. So he couldn’t believe we had sat among him and the Lord had immediately answered his prayer! And we couldn’t believe it either! The Lord greatly encouraged us all with this as this has been one of our prayers that we would be able to serve the Body of Christ here in London. Darren said he plans to join us this week and we are so looking forward to it.
The people at the Tabernacle were so warm and hospitable to us. From first walking through the doors to our departure, we were embraced by this family. Our short time of fellowship with them was very sweet. On top of this, a dear brother named Yuin (spelling?) blessed me with a few books and pamphlets I was planning to purchase. But before this, we had the honor to visit with Dr. Masters in his office after the service. He was so gracious toward us and spent about 10 minutes with us. He shared some fascinating insights into the life of Spurgeon and other historical figures of the church. The Spurgeon painting behind us in the photo is actually the original painting of his last portrait before he died, and right behind us is Spurgeon’s pulpit. There’s also a funny story about John Gill I’ll share in the photo below.
We left the Tabernacle around 1pm and arrived to our ministry location in Westminister at about 2:45pm. Greg preached for about 10 minutes before he was asked to preach
without amplification by one of the governing authorities. We kindly obliged and he finished with his natural voice. Bobby and I then took turns reading through 1st John, which resulted in two amazing conversations. While I was reading through chapter 2, a young girl came up to listen right below me. Bobby gave her a New Testament and she sat to our right and began reading it to her mom. Then her father showed up and a discussion ensued between Bobby and the family. It turns out this was a Muslim family and Bobby was able to go through tons of Scripture showing the deity of Jesus Christ, and they were listening! In fact, the parents permitted the daughter to keep the New Testament so she could read it…amazing!
As Bobby was conversing with that family, I had the privilege to speak with Damon, who had sat under our reading of the text for nearly the entire time. I asked him what he thought of the reading of God’s Word when I finished and he said it was amazing to hear it. Damon, from Poland, was one of the most humble people I’ve spoken with here. He believes in God and believes what we read was true, but did not have a foundation as to Who God is and what is necessary for him to receive eternal life. It turns out Damon is homosexual, but this wasn’t even necessary to address. I simply spoke of the attributes of God and the reality of Damon’s sins against Him. He understood his plight and after I said, “but, there is Good News”, he said, “YES, what is the Good News!?” It was akin to “what must I do to be saved?!”
I’ve never met someone who was so responsive to the intricacies of the Gospel. Whether I was speaking about the propitiation and substitutionary atonement of Christ, Damon reacted with amazement with what Christ had done for people just like him. He seemed to very clearly understand the price that was paid on Calvary and God’s calling him to repentance and faith. Time was up for us to leave, but I left Damon with whether he would continue to love his sin and forsake his own soul or receive the free gift of Christ that his sins would be washed away through repentant faith in Jesus. This was a rhetorical question for him, and we parted ways with Damon being thankful for our conversation.
GraceLife London, a church plant part of the Grace Advance program, is a primary reason why I made the trip to London. In coming to preach the Gospel, we desired to
connect with local churches so to come alongside them in the Great Commission, as opposed to being here under no guidance doing our “own thing”. Over the last few months and through my pastor’s direction, I connected with Pastor Tom Drion. Tom and co-pastor Ross Orgill are fellow graduates with my pastor from The Master’s Seminary. He has been so helpful in planning our trip and the church has shown us such warm hospitality. These saints prayed for us on Friday though we were not able to make it to the church, and they allowed us to share our mission with the Body during fellowship after the service. Two brothers of the church led the Body in prayer for us that we would be a blessing to London in the building of God’s Kingdom. The love and warmth from these saints was so sweet and encouraging and I am so grateful the Lord has allowed me to meet these brothers and sisters and join in the fellowship of the Gospel together. Not only did they express great love for us, but it is apparent the love they have for each other. The Lord has truly blessed this Body in their commitment to one another. We hope to labor beside a few of them over the next couple of weeks and hope to serve and encourage them in the Great Commission.
Well, there’s a few more things I wish I could share with you, but it’s very late and I’m already long into this post. The fellowship continues to be incredible and we’re only a few days in. Several more saints joined us from Jacksonville today so I’m looking forward to tomorrow as we travel to Hyde Park’s Speaker’s Corner to open God’s Word to the nations there. Please continue to pray that God would be glorified through our service here, that the Body of Christ would be encouraged, and many would have ears to hear Gospel of Grace!
p.s. don’t miss Tony’s perspective below as well as photos from the day!