Wednesday, February 08, 2006

WorldWide Revival? What would it take?

We were talking in class just recently about the overwhelming odds that Christians faced in the early (first century) church.

Peter Wagner suggests that in the best of estimates Christians were outnumbered, after they had grown significantly, by a 1 to 30,000 ratio! And yet...

To the church at Rome Paul could write within thirty years of Pentecost: “First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for you all, that your faith is proclaimed throughout the whole world” (Rom. 1:8)

And again, in the Colossians letter from prison: “The gospel…is come unto you; even as it is also in all the world bearing fruit and increasing, as it doth in you also, since the day ye heard and knew the grace of God in truth” (Col. 1:5b, 6)

Justin Martyr (100?-165?) “There is not a single race of human beings, barbarians, Greeks, or whatever name you please to call them, nomands or vagrants or herdsmen living in tents, where prayers in the name of Jesus the crucified are not offered up. Through all the members of the body is the soul spread; so are Christians throughout the cities of the world.”

Tertullian (160-230) We are but of yesterday. Yet we have filled all the places you frequent – cities, lodging houses, villages, townships, markets, the camp itself, the tribes, town councils, the palace, the senate, and the forum. All we have left you is your temples….Behold, every corner of the universe has experienced the gospel, ad the whole ends and bounds of the world are occupied with the gospel.

Lactantius (contemporary of Paul): “Nero noticed that not only at Rome but everywhere a large multitude were daily falling away from idolatry and coming over to the new religion.” (above take from Harnack, The Mission and Expansion of Christianity in the First Three Centuries)

I am reminded, contemplating such data, of C.S. Lewis' thought on the power of the pure in heart.
"How little people know who think that holiness is dull. When one meets the real is irresistible. If even ten percent of the world's population had it, would not the whole world be converted and happy before a year's end?" (Letters to an American Lady)


At 2:28 PM, Blogger Tommy Alderman said...

The apparent contradiction between the history of the rapid expansion of the Gospel, and the lopsided ratio of unbelievers-to-Christians is easily reconciled.

The Revelation tells us that there will be believers in Heaven from every people group, every language, every nation, every corner of the globe. But that does not mean that everyone in the world will be there.

There will be a minority from each of those groups - most likely a tiny minority.

Christ said the gate was straight and the way was narrow, "and few there be that find it."

So, too, He likened believers to salt. Thinking of all the properties of salt (flavor, preservative, thirst-inducing, irritant, etc.), there are none that I know of that require there to be more salt than whatever it is the salt is acting upon. The salt is always in the minority, though its influence is, or should be, pervasive. We are also called to be "light." Again, a few candles provide an immense amount of light, especially when the darkness is very heavy.

There will never be a worldwide revival in the sense that vast amounts of people - representing majorities among people groups - come to know Him - unless you count His millenial reign, of course.

However, we should work as if such a revival depended upon our obedience to proclaim the gospel message, because He does not delight in the death of the wicked, neither is He slack regarding His promises - but is longsuffering and prone to mercy - wanting all men everywhere to come to repentance.

A.W. Pink said, "It is true that there are not a few who are praying for a world-wide Revival, but it appears to the writer that it would be more timely, and more scriptural, for prayer to be made to the Lord of the harvest, that He would raise up and thrust forth laborers who would fearlessly and faithfully preach those truths which are calculated to bring about a revival."

We are not called to pray for revival. We are commanded to preach the Gospel to every creature.

At 3:18 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Matt, your piece called "Truth Isn't Enough ... You Must Weep" is so true. I believe far too many Christians try to convince people to accept Christ. It isn't our duty to convince them. We are called to use the law in assisting the Holy Spirit to bring the sinner to knowledge of his or her own sinful nature and the need for salvation thru Christ. A couple of fellows named Ray Comfort and Kirk Cameron are becoming well known for being proponents of what they call the biblical method of evangelism. This is done by circumventing the intellect [using the law - 10 Commandments] and addressing the conscience.

This seems to be a really effective way to preach the gospel. If you or anyone else is interested in this method of evangelism I encourage you all to look at or


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