Let me ask this question: Near you, is the gospel growing?
It would seem that the Colossians were being led astray by people using a gospel which was Jesus plus or perhaps anything but Jesus. Certainly Christ is not central and Paul addresses this by reminding them that they are part of a world movement where the gospel is expanding. He says, “we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love you have for all God’s people— the faith and love that spring from the hope stored up for you in heaven and about which you have already heard in the true message of the gospel that has come to you. In the same way, the gospel is bearing fruit and growing throughout the whole world” Colossians 1 v 4-6
Throughout the whole world!
“All over the world the Spirit is moving” so we sang when I was a child. It was true in The Apostle’s day reaching India maybe Spain and then the next generation into Europe and the UK growing fast and bearing fruit. It is still true today. There are more than 1050 church planting movements which have been reported in the world this year. The top 10 countries with the largest Christian populations include Brazil, Russia, India and China. Iraq is the fastest growing Evangelical population at 19.6% (ten years ago). There are 1,392 Christian groups in the 10/40 Window. The largest being the Yoruba of Nigeria (34,362,000). The Jesus Film has been shown in 11,421 people groups in the world to a total of 7,136,000,000!
There is still so much more to be done but we can rejoice that throughout the world the gospel is growing. Is it growing near you?
John Knox 1514 – 1572: When his wife pleaded with him to get some sleep, he answered, “How can I sleep when my land is not saved?” He would often pray all night in agonizing tones, “Lord, give me Scotland or I die!” God shook Scotland. God gave him Scotland.
John Wesley 1703-1791 said these words: “Let us all be of one business. We live only for this, to save our own souls and the souls of those who hear us.” God used John Wesley to bring revival and transform thousands.
George Whitfield 1714-1770: He prayed, “O Lord, give me souls or take my soul.” It is said his face shone like the face of Moses when he sobbed that prayer.
William Booth 1829-1912: The King of England asked Booth what the ruling force of his life was. Booth replied, “Sir, some men’s passion is for gold, other men’s passion is for fame, but my passion is for souls. On to Calvary! On to death for the world! Let us not refuse the smiters! No halting! No rest! On suffering, sorrowing, weeping, dying for God and men, till the hosts of hell fly from this last defence and we march on over a burning world into everlasting glory!”
G Campbell Morgan 1863-1945 Nothing is more needed among preachers today than that we should have the courage to shake ourselves free from the thousand and one trivialities in which we are asked to waste our time and strength, and resolutely return to the apostolic ideal which made necessary the office of the pastorate.
John Stott 1921 – 2011 “Mission” is an activity of God arising out of the very nature of God. The living God of the Bible is a sending God, which is what “mission” means. He sent the prophets to Israel. He sent his Son into the world. His Son sent out the apostles, and the seventy, and the church. He also sent the Spirit to the church and sends him into our hearts today.
Billy Graham 1918-2018 “”The message I preach hasn’t changed. Circumstances have changed. Problems have changed, but deep inside man has not changed, and the gospel hasn’t changed.”
In this pandemic a lot of what we held dear has been stripped back. Our buildings have been empty but the Church continues. The corporate singing has been stopped but the Church continues. The ‘drugs’ of ministry that fuel the feel-good experience of Pastors have not been available: there are not many Amens and Hallelujahs returning to the preacher from the lens of a camera! What remains? It is what is central to the church. Nothing else should ever take its place. The good that comes out of this bad pandemic is that the Church gets stripped back and re-aligned and all that matters are those who do not yet know Jesus. The Church politics and arguments pre-pandemic have been shown to be worthless compared to the gospel going to the whole world. May they never return. Mission remains.
The promises of the world are eclipsed by the promises of God offered to people who will simply listen. May the gospel work continue today, near you and me.