Focal Passage: Luke 24:44-49
I get the privilege to serve as a professor of western civilization and apologetics at Fruitland Baptist Bible College. One of the more fascinating observations in history is the rise of Christianity.
Christian and secular historians alike concede that by the time Constantine issued the Edict of Milan in A.D. 313, granting freedom to Christians in the Roman Empire, there could have been as many as 9 million Christians empire-wide. That would be 15 percent of the empire’s population!
These numbers are even more amazing when we consider that during these early years Christianity was not granted freedom of religion and under many emperors suffered direct persecution. How could Christianity, a small religious offshoot of Judaism (a religion that had never spread evangelistically), possibly advance under such dire conditions?
Observing early Christianity reveals that these believers shared the victory they had received through Jesus Christ. Michael Green in his book Evangelism in the Early Church describes the vibrant witness of early believers: “Whenever one looks in the literature of these two centuries it is the same story. Doctrinal imprecision, even imbalance, abounds; heresy is common; antinomianism is an ever-present danger; but there is no denying the zeal and the sense of discovery which marked the witness of the early church in both their public and their private testimony, in both their written and their spoken word. It was this utter assurance of the Christians that they were right about God and Christ and salvation which in the end succeeded in convincing the pagan world that it was in error.”
Vibrant Christianity includes sharing the gospel as many believers are doing across the world. For example, see the explosive church growth in China.
Here in the United States we must return to the pattern of the early church. We must preach and teach the gospel as the exclusive means to forgiveness and redemption. We must share the victory we’ve received through Jesus Christ.