Worldwide Spread of Gospel

And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.” (Matthew 24:14)

Despite the widespread apostasy, despite the increasing spread of evil, and despite the downward spiral of love as it grows colder and colder, the end will not come until the Gospel is spread worldwide. This probably seemed like a dauntless task when Jesus commissioned the twelve. Yet within a generation, the Gospel had spread as far as Caesar’s household with the imprisonment of Paul in Rome. By the third century, Constantine had made it the state religion of the Roman Empire.

In the first century, the Roman networks of roads, the Roman peace (pax Romana) and a universal language (Greek) facilitated an explosive growth in Christianity. Since the beginning of the twentieth century, with the advent of radio, television, satellites and social media, new “roads” have been “paved” for an accelerated spread of the Gospel. That being said, one might wonder how we are doing with the worldwide spread of the Gospel in the 21st century.

A recent study of more than 200 countries estimates that there are roughly 2.18 billion Christians of all ages around the world. This is nearly one third of the estimated 2010 global population of 7 billion. Christianity has become so geographically widespread that no single continent or region can indisputably claim to be the center of global Christianity. As recently as a century ago, this was not the case. In 1910, about two-thirds of the world’s Christians lived in Europe, where the bulk of Christians had been for a millennium (the Center for the Study of Global Christianity). Today, only about a quarter of all Christians live in Europe (26%). A plurality (more than a third) is now in the Americas (37%). About one in every four Christians lives in sub-Saharan Africa (24%), and about one-in-eight is found in Asia and the Pacific (13%).

The number of Christians around the world has nearly quadrupled in the last 100 years, from about 600 million in 1910 to more than 2 billion in 2010. But the world’s overall population has also risen rapidly, from an estimated 1.8 billion in 1910 to nearly 7 billion in 2010. As a result, Christians make up about the same portion of the world’s population today (32%) as they did a century ago (35%).

This apparent stability masks a monumental shift. Although Europe and the Americas still are home to a majority of the world’s Christians (63%), that percentage is much lower than it was in 1910 (93%). The proportion of Europeans (from 95% to 76%) and Americans (from 96% to 86%) identifying as Christian also dropped. Over the same time, Christianity grew enormously in sub-Saharan Africa (from 9% to 63%) and the Asia-Pacific region (from 3% to 7%). Unlike a century ago, Christianity is increasingly spreading worldwide. (1)

Then again, is Christianity truly global? Is it a measure of true faith?

Global – According to the Joshua project, there are 16,709 people groups in the world, of which 7,037 (42%) are unreached. That accounts for nearly three billion souls in a world of over seven billion. (2) A people group is considered unreached when there is no indigenous community of believing Christians able to engage in church planting, and where the percentage of evangelical Christians is less than 2 percent. (3)

Faith – While 80% of Americans say they are Christian, only 45% of Americans say they have a personal commitment to Jesus Christ, having confessed their sins and accepted Christ as Savior (The Barna Group). Barna’s study finds that 36-percent of Americans are what he calls notional or nominal Christians. They describe themselves as Christians but do not meet Jesus’ “born again” definition as set forth in the Gospel of John. (4) The reader should note that the terms evangelical Christian and born-again Christian are not always synonymous. There are clearly those within the evangelical community that are not born again, just like there are many within so-called non-evangelical fellowships who are born again.

These statistics imply that there is a long way to go. But they do not necessarily mean that the end is still a long way off. The verse does not necessarily say that the Gospel of God’s grace must be spread to every nation before Jesus can return for His Church (the Rapture) or before the beginning of the Tribulation. It may be the Lord’s return at the end of the age that is in view here. (5) As we have already learned, a vast number of souls will be added to the Kingdom during the Great Tribulation and before the Parousia.

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  1. http://www.pewforum.org/2011/12/19/global-christianity-exec/
  2. http://joshuaproject.net/global_statistics
  3. http://www.peoplegroups.org/
  4. http://wordunplugged.com/forty-five-percent-born-again/
  5. Wiersbe, W. W. (1996). The Bible exposition commentary (Vol. 1, p. 87). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

Step Forward

Step Forward

1 Kings 18:36Elijah stepped forward and prayed, “O Lord, God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel, let it be known today that you are God in Israel and that I am your servant and have done all these things at your command.” (NIV 1978)

My Musing – We need to be more like Elijah. Eager to step forward and proclaim that God is Lord of all and proud that we are His servants.

My Advice – Do not be reluctant to let others know that you are a Christian. It is nothing to be apologetic about or ashamed of. God is Lord of all, be proud that you believe in Him and that you are a follower of His son Jesus Christ.

The First Black Friday

TG Amusing

Psalm 100:4, 5Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name.  For the LORD is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations. (NIV 1984)

My Musing – The above comic stands in stark contrast to this passage from Psalms, as the shoppers “enter the mall gates with Thanksgiving” seeking a good deal on Black Friday.  A long time ago there was another kind of Black Friday, which culminated in the greatest deal ever offered to mankind.  This deal allows anyone who accepts it, the greatest bargain ever conceived – eternal life at no cost to us.

My Advice – Take the deal.  There will be no buyer’s remorse.

 

Involve Yourself In Evangelism

Step 11 – Involve Yourself In Evangelism
“You will be My witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria,
and to the ends of the earth.” (Acts 1:8)

A: Discovering the Truth

Witness 1

B. Exploring the Truth

Apart from the rule of law itself, attorneys have two primary tools at their disposal when presenting their case before a judge of jury. The first tool is the personal testimony of a witness that is offered in support of the case being presented. The second tool is physical evidence that corroborates the case that has been presented. In a court proceeding there is also an adversary, an opposing attorney who will attempt to impugn the integrity and veracity of the witnesses and contradict or call into question the credibility of the evidence.

When it comes to faith in Christ, the Gospel is the case that is being presented. Continue reading “Involve Yourself In Evangelism”

Consider The Consequences

Consider The Consequences

A couple weeks ago, the Sunday amusing was entitled “Consider The Possibilities.” Seriously considering the possibilities inevitably leads to a decision as to which of the possibilities one believes and chooses to follow.  But what if one chooses wrong?

Amusing 20171022

For this, one must consider the consequences if they are wrong.

The Shepherd – “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his throne in heavenly glory. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.” 

The Sheep – “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world.’ ” 

The Goats – “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.’ “

 The Consequences – “Then they [the goats] will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous [the sheep] to eternal life.”

(Excerpts from Matthew 25:31–46, NIV 1984).

These are the words of Jesus.  The same Jesus who said, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6, NIV 1984)

The sheep come to the Father through Jesus.  The goats do not. If the sheep are wrong about God and Jesus, it matters little.  There is no hell, or hereafter.  From dust we came and to dust we return, along with the goats.  On the other hand, if the goats are wrong, it matters much.  Death is not the end, but eternal punishment for the goats, but eternal life for the sheep.   If Jesus is right about being the only way to the Father He is also right about the consequences.

In the words of Snoopy, “has it ever occurred to you that you might be wrong?”  You want to be right about this one.

 

 

 

 

Consider The Possibilities

Consider The Possibilities

“If you don’t know where you’re going, you might end up some place else.” (Yogi Berra)

This is one of the many amusing quotes from Yogi Berra, who played Major League Baseball for 19 years with the New York Yankees. During his career, Yogi played on 10 World Series Championship teams, ending up as a MLB Hall of Famer. Despite some awe-inspiring stats, and being considered one of the best catchers in baseball history, he may be just as well known his for his less than polished use of English and his nonsensical quotes.  Yet behind the comical quotes, often lies some wisdom, intentional or otherwise.

This quote reminds me Continue reading “Consider The Possibilities”

Courtesy & Respect

Courtesy & Respect

Leviticus 24:22“You are to have the same law for the alien and the native born.” (NIV 1978)

My Musing – Just because we are saved, we should not look down on those who are not. Sometimes we may be driving the unsaved further away from the kingdom by the way we treat them. This should not be.

My Advice – Treat all people with the same respect and courtesy that you would a fellow Christian. Our lives need to be something that non-believers find attractive rather than offensive.