29 Jan Suffering for The Sake of The Gospel
I must admit that l am not giving thoughts like most of us may express, l am also one of us . I am also responsible for what l have expressed. So please bear with me. Practically we have to consider what we should be doing in this situation.
Even before the church came into being, a few hours before dying on the cross Jesus said, ‘ You are not of the world so the world hates you.
They persecuted me, they will also persecute you—-‘ (John 15:18-21)
Then Jesus paid ransom on the cross for our sins. He prepared the way for salvation on the cross for those who believe Him as their personal Saviour (Rom 10:9). He died and rose again from the dead on the third day. He appeared to the disciples for forty days to make it clear to them that being physically with them or being invisible to them amounts to the same because He was going to abide in their redeemed hearts making their bodies the temple for Him through the power of the Holy Spirit. On the mount of Galilee he gave the disciples the great commandment. (Matthew 28 :18- 20). It indicates the following things
1. All believers should be involved in this work
2. They all must go into the field They must expand their field They must tell them the gospel and teach them about discipleship Make them part of the body of Christ through baptism Teach them all that Christ has taught- Doctrines and deep Bible teaching Make them disciples, to continue the chain.
When Jesus ascended to heaven from the mount of Olives, he told the disciples to wait in Jerusalem until they are filled with the power of the Holy Spirit. This great event took place on the day of the Pentecost. During Peter’s first speech, 3000 people repented and were saved. These people who were in attendance for the celebration of the Pentecost were from all over the world. They went back to their native places, witnessed, preached the gospel and started house churches. They were lay-people. They did not even have New Testament with them as the writing was not completed yet, nor did they have church buildings or any other institutions. They did not wait to build any. They just went on witnessing personally as they continued with their treads and worshipped in house churches.
These disciples spread the gospel in Jerusalem, Samaria & Judea. There too the newcomers to the church were many. When persecution struck, the disciples & many laymen in the Church dispersed with the gospel.
The gospel reached throughout the world within 3 to 4 decades. This speed of church growth continued for about 200 years. The church leaders and common believers were busy in witnessing, learning, teaching and making disciples. They were not afraid of death or persecution or becoming martyrs. Idol worship had reduced all over.
By the eighth century the church growth started to slow down. Witnessing was limited to a small group of people. Many Christians became lethargic & self-satisfied with their own spiritual life. Even then, every century provides enough proof that wherever persecution stepped up, the whole church was involved in the spread of the gospel and the church grew. In other places there was only biological growth. No mission work; no church planting; no evangelists. Instead there was social work, raising up of institutions, buildings, fund raising, court cases, splits, surface level teaching, entertainment and protests for rights. Today’s church should follow the first church. Work out the great commission in the house, in the neighborhood, in the workplace orally and by being a living witness. Everyone’s aim should be to become a disciple. This chain should continue from generation to generation. God will do wonders if we all become serious about the great commission. Actually let’s all get ready With a zeal for gospel work. So far we have no vision as the first church had and we are not suffering for the gospel of Christ like they did because we are failing at preaching and living it first.The parachurch organizations have made a great contribution to this ministry of evangelism in the last 5 to 6 decades. Through them God has trained so many dedicated servants of God & did great work. He has raised some churches who have been faithfully doing this ministry. For all such organizations we must be grateful to God. But, many more believers are yet to be a part of it.
Some parachurch organizations have a question where to establish their new believers. Their efforts will bring much fruit. Going back to the strategy of the first church is the best for all of us. This is the plan and the strategy that Jesus has set before the church. The first church followed it. We must also follow it.
Vinay Subhash Urtekar Is self-employed and part of Pune EGF (South Zone) Maharashtra.