Summary: The greatest challenge facing America is the cities and the vast number who are lost and have never heard a biblical prsentation of the Gospel.
WE MUST CAPTURE OUR CITIES FOR CHRIST
By Jerry Falwell
The greatest challenge facing America is the cities, their masses, their crime, their homeless, their inequity, their politics, their corruption, their illegal aliens, their dwindling tax base, their crumbling streets, viaducts and sewer systems -- but the greatest problem is the vast number who are lost and have never heard a biblical presentation of the gospel. And another problem of the cities, their churches are usually high steeple morgues or some store front sect who may or may not preach the gospel.
When I talk about the cities in this message, I mean the broader areas including the inner city ghetto of Newark, N.J., the gold-coast high rise apartments of Chicago, the row houses of Baltimore and the ethnic area such as China town of Los Angeles, Korea town, and all the others. Today my challenge is the broader metropolitan area - people - as far as the eye can see.
Our example is Jesus who didn’t hide in the rural area or gravitate to just the small towns. He went to the cities, including Jerusalem.
I. THE BIBLICAL MANDATE OF THE CITIES
“And Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every sickness and every disease among the people.” (Matthew 9:35)
“Now it came to pass, when Jesus finished commanding His twelve disciples, that He departed from there to teach and to preach in their cities.” (Matthew 11:1)
After the cross, Jesus gave the Great Commission to “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature” (Mark 16:15). Note the reasons:
1. Because God loves all. . .
2. Because Jesus did all. . .
3. Therefore the Great Commission includes all. . .
When Jesus explained the geographical priority of the Great Commission, it began with the world-class city, i.e., Jerusalem. Since Jesus began with Jerusalem, you must begin with Jerusalem, i.e. your Jerusalem, which is the place or area where God has placed you.
Your Jerusalem may be a town of 30,000 or a town and county of 50,000. Your Jerusalem may be a part of a great city, such as Highland Park area or the Westside area, or all of Long Island, New York.
“But ye shall receive power after that the Holy Ghost has come upon you and ye shall be my witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and the uttermost parts of the earth” ( Acts 1:8).
Note how the early church went to the cities:
1. When persecution came, Philip went “everywhere preaching the Word. Then Philip went down to the city of Samaria and preached Christ to them” (Acts 8:4,5).
2. The early church went to the third largest city in the Roman world - Antioch, a city much like Chicago, and they began a cross-cultural church. “Now those who were scattered after the persecution that arose over Stephen traveled as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus, and Antioch, preaching the word to no one but the Jews only. But some of them were men from Cyprus and Cyrene, who, when they had come to Antioch, spoke to Greeks, preaching the Lord Jesus. And the hand of the Lord was with them, and a great number believed and turned to the Lord. Then news of these things came to the ears of the church in Jerusalem, and they sent out Barnabas to go as far as Antioch. When he came and had seen the grace of God, he was glad, and encouraged them all that with purpose of heart they should continue with the Lord. For he was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and of faith. And a great many people were added to the Lord. Then Barnabas departed for Tarsus to seek Saul. And when he had found him, he brought him to Antioch. So it was that for a whole year they assembled with the church and taught a great many people. And the disciples were first called Christians in Antioch” (Acts 11:19-26).
3. Paul and his helpers went to major metropolitan cities to plant churches, Philippi, Thessalonica, Athens, Corinth, and Ephesus.
4. Call it “trickle down evangelism,” or “the rock making waves from the middle of the pond” but evangelism in the New Testament aimed at the largest number of people in the largest cities and flowed out to out-lying towns and rural areas. Ephesus was a major city where Paul planted a great church. Note the results of this great church in a great city, how they influenced all the surrounding small towns. “And this continued for two years, so that all who dwelt in Asia heard the word of the Lord Jesus, both Jews and Greeks” Acts 19:10).
5. The aim of Paul was Rome - the center of civilization. It was the largest city in the known world. From Rome the gospel could spread to the world. When Paul wrote to the Philippians the gospel had already influenced the palace guards and from them to the world. “In the palace and in all other places” (Phil. 1:13).