Summary: God uses people and problems to accomplish His purposes.
The Unstoppable Church
Rev. Brian Bill
February 1-2, 2020
Video: Spread of Christianity
As I watched that video my mind immediately went to the words of Jesus found in Matthew 16:18. Using the word “church” for the first time, Jesus made this unchanging, unwavering and glorious promise: “I will build my church, and the gates of Hell shall not prevail against it.” Jesus will do the building and He calls the church “my church.” This is not your church or my church; it is the church of Jesus Christ and He alone is the One building it.
I’m reminded of the lyrics to “A Mighty Fortress is our God.”
For still our ancient foe doth seek to work us woe;
His craft and pow'r are great, and, armed with cruel hate…
The Prince of Darkness grim, we tremble not for him;
His rage we can endure, for lo, his doom is sure,
One little word shall fell him.
Last weekend we shared some stats and stories about the persecuted church and established it’s always better to obey God. Today we’re celebrating the unstoppable church as we discover how God uses people and problems to accomplish His purposes.
Check out these stats (I’m grateful for the extensive research help from EBC member Aaron Langworthy):
• Christianity is growing faster than the population rate and followers of Jesus outnumber every other faith.
• The center of Christianity has moved to the global south with exploding growth rates in Asia and Africa. The Christian community in Latin America and Africa accounts for one billion people!
• One out of four Christians in the world is an African, and Pew Research estimates this will grow to 40% by 2030. By 2060, six of the countries with the top ten largest Christian populations will be in Africa. The size of the Christian population in Nigeria alone – already the largest on the continent – is projected to double in 40 years.
• 19 of the top 20 countries where the church is growing the fastest are in Asia and Africa.
• We continue to hear reports of explosive church growth in Iran and other Middle Eastern countries. Operation World reports that due to prayer, increased Bible distribution, disillusionment with Islam, use of media, along with persecution, the church in Iran is the “fastest growing in the world.”
• There are an estimated 100 million followers of Christ in China. Some church growth experts estimate there are more Christians in China than in the United States. I’ve also heard there are more Christians than members of the Communist party in China. One of our Go Team partners is Keep Believing Ministries, led by Ray Pritchard. KBM has a strong presence in China through a Mandarin language website hosting Ray’s sermons and Anchor for the Soul.
Speaking of China, I read a very moving letter this week from a pastor in Wuhan, China. As you may know, this city of 11 million is ground zero for the coronavirus. For the sake of time, I’ll only be able to quote a small portion. If you’d like to read the entire letter, and I encourage you to do so, there are paper copies on top of the Resource Kiosk, and it will also be posted on the Sermon Extras tab on the Edgewood app and website.
Brothers and sisters, peace be upon you:
During these past days the Wuhan pneumonia [virus] has been at the center of my thoughts and life. [I am] always watching the latest news, and always thinking about how our family and the church should face this.
As for family, I have gathered masks and foodstuffs and have ventured out of doors as little as possible. When venturing out in public I have worn a mask, but as for the rest, I have placed it in the Lord’s hands.
As for the church, the safety of the congregation, a faithful witness, the possibility that members could contract the illness, have all become a great area of struggle. It is readily apparent that we are facing a test of our faith.
The situation is so critical, yet [we are] trusting in the Lord’s promises, that his thoughts toward us are of peace, and not evil (Jeremiah. 29:11), and that he allows for a time of testing, not to destroy us, but to establish us…
Therefore, Christians are not only to suffer with the people of this city, but we have a responsibility to pray for those in this city who are fearful, and to bring to them the peace of Christ…
Wuhan’s pestilence cannot separate us from the love of Christ; this love is in our Lord Jesus Christ…We have a part in his sufferings, and we have a part in his glory, all of Christ’s is ours, and our all is Christ’s. Therefore, Christ is with us as we face the pestilence in this city…If we die in the pestilence, it is an opportunity to witness to Christ, and even more to enter into his glory…