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My name is Basie Martins. I trust that you are all well and I want to thank you again for listening to this program. For those of you who do not know, we are starting with a new series today, titled “Conquering the Nations”. This series of teachings are aimed at helping the church, the body of Christ, how to live in the kingdom of God. How to experience life, how to address all the many challenges of this life, in particular, the challenges that governments and political organizations throw at us. This series is aiming at activating and mobilizing the church to act and behave as God wants us to in this regard, so that the church can overcome its enemies and prosper, and so that countries are governed by just and holy political leaders.
The church is supposed to achieve this by following the strategies that God gave the early church. Unfortunately, most Christians do not know what those strategies were. They do not know how the early Christians infiltrated corrupt governments to change the way they act, behave, and govern. You have heard correctly, the church is supposed to infiltrate governments. This is exactly what the early church did. They defeated anti-Christian governments from the inside. The church should be able to affect, influence, steer, and support governments.
This series does help all believers to understand the strategies that the early church followed. It does activate and mobilize the church to stand together as one closely knit unit, able and ready to ensure that the church becomes the foundation on which governments are built. It is all about what each of us should know and needs to do to achieve this. The series will be very practical and that is why it is part of the Global Activation and Mobilization Network Street-ministries and Tent-ministries. It is an integral part of the great commission.
I am sure many people might wonder how on earth can this be part of the great commission? Well, it will be explained in detail. It spells out the divine strategies of God in this regard. When the mighty Roman Empire launched a potentially deadly attack on the church, to destroy the church, God used the strategies that will be discussed in this series, to overcome the Roman Empire. By following these strategies, the early church succeeded in shaking off and ultimately overthrow the Roman Empire. The domination, the oppression, and the serious threat the Roman Empire posed to the church were successfully countered by the church following God’s strategies. Now, this was amazing. At that time, who would have ever thought that the church would not only stand her ground against the mighty Roman Empire but ultimately defeat this dangerous enemy?
Today, the church is facing similar enemies right across the world. In some countries, where the church is dominated and oppressed like the church was in Biblical times, our brothers and sisters in these countries should be exhorted. But most importantly, they should be taught how to carry out and follow the strategies that are discussed in this series. We do not have to face the mighty Roman Empire that the early church did, but, some governments today are oppressing the church almost as much as this evil kingdom did. It is just as hard for the body of Christ in many parts of the world as it was in those days. The body of Christ is oppressed in almost every country or nation right across the world. The whole world is against Christianity and they seek to destroy the church completely. The evil empires and kingdoms of this world want to eradicate the church from the face of the earth. They want to get rid of us and they will do anything and everything they can to succeed in their endeavors.
Nobody can deny the fact that there is a fierce onslaught on the church right now. The church is experiencing difficult times and the church is struggling. The body of Christ is struggling because we have forgotten how to fight against this world. We are not following the strategies that God gave the early church. We are not doing what we are supposed to do.
Why not? Because we allowed the world to infiltrate the church and destroy the church from the inside. We compromised too many times in the past. We allowed the world to act in a way that we should not have allowed them to do. We failed to infiltrate the world and defeat the world from the inside like the early church defeated the Roman Empire. They destroyed that evil empire. It does not exist anymore. The Roman Empire bowed before the church before it was finally destroyed. It literally happened!
The most important thing about all this is that yes, it is political. The church does stand directly against evil governments. Evil governments are very suspicious of the church. They fear the church. They know that the church can topple governments. The church is supposed to topple evil governments and replace them with just and holy and Godly governments. Not only is this a strategy that God gave the early church, this actually happened in the past. As I said, the biggest and most powerful kingdom in the history of the world was defeated by the church, using the strategies that I am discussing in this series. Let me tell you about it.
Let us read Daniel 2:28-45
28 But there is a God in heaven that revealeth secrets, and maketh known to the king Nebuchadnezzar what shall be in the latter days. Thy dream, and the visions of thy head upon thy bed, are these;
29. As for thee, O king, thy thoughts came into thy mind upon thy bed, what should come to pass hereafter: and he that revealeth secrets maketh known to thee what shall come to pass.
30. But as for me, this secret is not revealed to me for any wisdom that I have more than any living, but for their sakes that shall make known the interpretation to the king, and that thou mightest know the thoughts of thy heart.
31. Thou, O king, sawest, and behold a great image. This great image, whose brightness was excellent, stood before thee; and the form thereof was terrible.
32. This image’s head was of fine gold, his breast and his arms of silver, his belly and his thighs of brass,
33. His legs of iron, his feet part of iron and part of clay.
34. Thou sawest till that a stone was cut out without hands, which smote the image upon his feet that were of iron and clay, and brake them to pieces.
35. Then was the iron, the clay, the brass, the silver, and the gold, broken to pieces together, and became like the chaff of the summer threshingfloors; and the wind carried them away, that no place was found for them: and the stone that smote the image became a great mountain, and filled the whole earth.
36. This is the dream; and we will tell the interpretation thereof before the king.
37. Thou, O king, art a king of kings: for the God of heaven hath given thee a kingdom, power, and strength, and glory.
38. And wheresoever the children of men dwell, the beasts of the field and the fowls of the heaven hath he given into thine hand, and hath made thee ruler over them all. Thou art this head of gold.
39. And after thee shall arise another kingdom inferior to thee, and another third kingdom of brass, which shall bear rule over all the earth.
40. And the fourth kingdom shall be strong as iron: forasmuch as iron breaketh in pieces and subdueth all things: and as iron that breaketh all these, shall it break in pieces and bruise.
41. And whereas thou sawest the feet and toes, part of potters’ clay, and part of iron, the kingdom shall be divided; but there shall be in it of the strength of the iron, forasmuch as thou sawest the iron mixed with miry clay.
42. And as the toes of the feet were part of iron, and part of clay, so the kingdom shall be partly strong, and partly broken.
43. And whereas thou sawest iron mixed with miry clay, they shall mingle themselves with the seed of men: but they shall not cleave one to another, even as iron is not mixed with clay.
44. And in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever.
45. Forasmuch as thou sawest that the stone was cut out of the mountain without hands, and that it brake in pieces the iron, the brass, the clay, the silver, and the gold; the great God hath made known to the king what shall come to pass hereafter: and the dream is certain, and the interpretation thereof sure.
This dream that Nebuchadnezzar had was a revelation of what was going to happen with the kingdoms of this world. It clearly reveals the fact that the church will be a big threat to the governments and kingdoms of the world. It prophesied that the church will destroy kingdoms and governments. The four major empires that preceded the kingdom of God, the church, were the target of Christ. They were the target because Christ was sent by God to judge the nations. Starting with the kingdom of Nebuchadnezzar, the Assyrian Empire, who was the head of Gold, according to verse 38. Daniel told Nebuchadnezzar, Thou art this head of gold. The Assyrian Empire was then followed by the Median Empire (the Medes and Persians), followed by the Greek Empire, who was the third empire and then followed by the Roman Empire. Each time a new Empire rose from the earth, it defeated the previous empire.
Now Israel was at that stage, during the reign of the Roman Empire, entering the last days of their physical existence and status as the nation of God. John the Baptist already announced that the Christ, the Messiah was already among them and that He came to judge the nations, including the Jews. The ax was already against the roots of the tree. He did not come to bring peace but division. The dream of Nebuchadnezzar already revealed to us that the kingdom of God will destroy the kingdoms of this world and that it will grow bigger and bigger until it filled the earth.
So John the Baptist warned everybody to repent because the judgments of God were upon them. The judgment of God was against the nation of Israel but also the other nations of the earth.
And even now the ax is laid to the root of the trees. Therefore every tree which does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.
And Jesus said, For judgment I am come into this world, that they which see not might see; and that they which see might be made blind.
The judgment of Jesus started with the house of God. He judged the nation of Israel first. He went to the evil Jewish government of the time, the pharisees, and this is what He told them:
Matthew 23: 1-39
1. Then spake Jesus to the multitude, and to his disciples,
2. Saying, The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat:
3. All therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do; but do not ye after their works: for they say, and do not.
4. For they bind heavy burdens and grievous to be borne, and lay them on men’s shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers.
5. But all their works they do for to be seen of men: they make broad their phylacteries, and enlarge the borders of their garments,
6. And love the uppermost rooms at feasts, and the chief seats in the synagogues,
7. And greetings in the markets, and to be called of men, Rabbi, Rabbi.
8. But be not ye called Rabbi: for one is your Master, even Christ; and all ye are brethren.
9. And call no man your father upon the earth: for one is your Father, which is in heaven.
10. Neither be ye called masters: for one is your Master, even Christ.
11. But he that is greatest among you shall be your servant.
12. And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted.
13. But woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye shut up the kingdom of heaven against men: for ye neither go in yourselves, neither suffer ye them that are entering to go in.
By the way, this verse reveals the fact that the Jewish government was standing directly in the way of Christianity. The Jewish government of the time, under Roman rule, vigorously persecuted the Christians. They also influenced the Roman Empire to do the same. But let us carry on…
14. Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye devour widows’ houses, and for a pretence make long prayer: therefore ye shall receive the greater damnation.
15. Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye compass sea and land to make one proselyte, and when he is made, ye make him twofold more the child of hell than yourselves.
16. Woe unto you, ye blind guides, which say, Whosoever shall swear by the temple, it is nothing; but whosoever shall swear by the gold of the temple, he is a debtor!
17. Ye fools and blind: for whether is greater, the gold, or the temple that sanctifieth the gold?
18. And, Whosoever shall swear by the altar, it is nothing; but whosoever sweareth by the gift that is upon it, he is guilty.
19. Ye fools and blind: for whether is greater, the gift, or the altar that sanctifieth the gift?
20. Whoso therefore shall swear by the altar, sweareth by it, and by all things thereon.
21. And whoso shall swear by the temple, sweareth by it, and by him that dwelleth therein.
22. And he that shall swear by heaven, sweareth by the throne of God, and by him that sitteth thereon.
23. Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone.
24. Ye blind guides, which strain at a gnat, and swallow a camel.
25. Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye make clean the outside of the cup and of the platter, but within they are full of extortion and excess.
26. Thou blind Pharisee, cleanse first that which is within the cup and platter, that the outside of them may be clean also.
27. Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men’s bones, and of all uncleanness.
28. Even so ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity.
29. Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! because ye build the tombs of the prophets, and garnish the sepulchres of the righteous,
30. And say, If we had been in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partakers with them in the blood of the prophets.
31. Wherefore ye be witnesses unto yourselves, that ye are the children of them which killed the prophets.
32. Fill ye up then the measure of your fathers.
33. Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell?
34. Wherefore, behold, I send unto you prophets, and wise men, and scribes: and some of them ye shall kill and crucify; and some of them shall ye scourge in your synagogues, and persecute them from city to city:
35. That upon you may come all the righteous blood shed upon the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel unto the blood of Zacharias son of Barachias, whom ye slew between the temple and the altar.
36. Verily I say unto you, All these things shall come upon this generation.
37. O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!
38. Behold, your house is left unto you desolate.
This Scripture, confirms that the judgment of God on the house of Israel was imminent. In just a few years, the nation of Israel will lose everything they had. Verse 39…
39. For I say unto you, Ye shall not see me henceforth, till ye shall say, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord.
So in Matthew 23, we see Jesus Christ challenging the government of his time head-on. He called them out. Many times before this incident He called them out and urged them to repent. They did not and with this incident, He gave them his last warning and He notified them of the coming judgment. In verse 36 He said that all the punishment that all previous evil generations deserve will come upon that generation. So the judgment was imminent. He warned of the judgment that will befall Jerusalem, the Jews, and all the pharisees. The judgment did come. In 70 AD and during the period thereafter until 135AD all these men were all destroyed and Jerusalem was destroy. Even the temple was destroyed.
The Jewish nation lost everything. They lost their belongings. They lost their families and children. They even lost their faith. They lost the ability to practice their faith and even today, they never had the privilege to practice their faith as they did in the past. They cannot perform any of their religious rituals because of the temple of the dome which was purposely built to prevent them from building a new temple for God. So this prevents the Jews from practicing their faith and it allows Christianity, the only true religion, to be practiced all over the world. Christianity indeed did replace Judaism.
So between 70AD and 135AD, the Jews were systematically destroyed or expelled from Jerusalem. In 135AD Jerusalem became the city of Aelia Capitolina and not a single Jew was allowed to even visit Jerusalem for thousands of years. 135AD was the year that Israel ceased to exist, for two thousand years.
So Peter was right when he said that they were living in the last days:
14. But Peter, standing up with the eleven, lifted up his voice, and said unto them, Ye men of Judaea, and all ye that dwell at Jerusalem, be this known unto you, and hearken to my words:
15. For these are not drunken, as ye suppose, seeing it is but the third hour of the day.
16. But this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel;
17. And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams
Peter undeniably connected the promise of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit with the incident that occurred that day. He recognized the fact that they were living in the last days, referring to the last days of the nation of Israel. These were indeed the last days of the nation of Israel and Peter knew that they were living in the last days, as indicated by verse 17. It was almost as if he knew that God will destroy Jerusalem and expel all Jews from Israel and Jerusalem for two thousand years. He spoke as if he knew that Israel will cease to exist as a nation for two thousand years.
This is what the kingdom of Christ did to the nation of Israel. Jesus came to set up his kingdom in the days of the kings of the Roman Empire, and Israel was destroyed first. At that stage, the nations or kingdoms symbolized by the image that Nebuchadnezzar saw, were still ruling the world of the Roman Empire. Remember, when a kingdom is taken over by another kingdom, such a kingdom does not cease to exist. It is just taken up or absorbed by the next kingdom. When the Median Empire conquered the Assyrian Empire, the Assyrians became part of the Median Empire. And so both these empires became part of the Greek Empire.
The Roman Empire conquered all these kingdoms and they all became part of the Roman Empire. The peoples of all these kingdoms paid taxes to the Roman Empire and they also had to give their sons to be utilized as soldiers in the Roman army. They also enjoyed a lot of privileges and benefits for being part of this mighty Empire. This was indeed a mighty empire. It was huge and it ruled the world for almost two thousand years before its fall. The United States of America is just 244 years old and it does not have the power and abilities that the Roman Empire had at that time. This just emphasizes the fact that the Roman Empire cannot be compared to any empire, even today. Even the USA is like a midge flying around the head of an elephant when compared to the Roman Empire. The influence the Roman Empire had on the world will probably not be repeated by any other empire ever. Everything around us is in some way a result of the practices of the Roman Empire and the world is still influenced by things that have its origin in the Roman empire.
So this empire was a huge challenge for the church. Because of this empire, the kingdom of God was birthed in perilous times. Jesus came to set up his kingdom when this mighty kingdom ruled the earth. Yet, Daniel declared that the kingdom of God will destroy these kingdoms in Daniel 2:45
Forasmuch as thou sawest that the stone was cut out of the mountain without hands, and that it brake in pieces the iron, the brass, the clay, the silver, and the gold; the great God hath made known to the king what shall come to pass hereafter: and the dream is certain, and the interpretation thereof sure.
This is awesome. This is powerful. But exactly how did the church destroy this empire? And how did the early Christians experience this battle? Believe me, it was a very tough battle. The important thing that you will notice, is that this battle was a major clash between two kingdoms. The one kingdom, the Roman Empire attempted to destroy the other. It was very clear that the Roman Empire wanted to destroy Christianity. There was a major push or strategy to get rid of Christianity. On the other hand, Christianity did not attempt to destroy the Roman Empire. Instead, it infiltrated the Roman Empire and it changed if from the inside. This was difficult and even devastating for the Christians, and although it appeared that they would be destroyed, quite the opposite happened. Let us look at what happened during this battle and what strategies the Christians followed to conquer the Roman Empire.
I really do need to bring your attention briefly to the challenges that the early church faced in New Testament times. This will tell us exactly how we need to address the challenges that we face today. The early Church was birthed in difficult times and they had to endure devastating circumstances and harsh resistance from the governments of the world that they lived in. After Christ’s ascension, He gave them the Holy Spirit who led and assisted the early Church through these treacherous waters.
They faced devastating persecutions and difficulties from many enemies all over the Roman Empire in those days. The church was seen as a real threat, a real irritation, and a real enemy to people and governments and of course, to the Emperor of the Roman Empire.
Exactly who were the enemies of the church and what exactly were they up against?
The local government of the Jews, as one of the provinces of the Roman Empire, the pagan religions of the Roman Empire, and of course the government of the Roman Empire itself were all big obstacles and hindrances to the body of Christ.
At first, the Jews attempted to stop Christianity in its tracks by denying them to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ at all. When this approach was not successful, the Jews increased their pressure on Christians. They started to vigorously persecute them in all sorts of ways. They even started killing Christians with the consent of the government of the Roman Empire.
The Roman Empire eventually increased its involvement by vigorously persecuting Christians themselves. Thousands of Christians were killed and robbed of their possessions for many years. The atrocities against Christians were unprecedented in many ways.
Despite all this, the Christians faithfully kept fulfilling the great commission as Christ instructed. Daily, they were found on the streets, in the market places and in houses, risking their own lives by preaching the gospel of Christ.
Taking into consideration the immense resistance that the early Christians had to face, it was an absolute miracle that they overcame all those obstacles. The true Church eventually conquered all their enemies in those days.
Jesus Christ and the Apostles warned them that they will have it difficult and that they will pay a price for their faith in Christ. They were told that their enemies will be defeated. Through the apostles and the Holy Spirit and prophecies, the early church knew that they will conquer their enemies. If they stayed pure in their faith, they would eventually reap the benefits of everlasting life in Christ but they would also defeat their enemies. They knew this and they believed this. These promises did prove to be true. The Church did conquer all her enemies. The church outlasted its enemies. Of course, they knew that new enemies would sure stand up against them but they believed God and they believed Daniel. They knew that the stone would get bigger and bigger until it filled the earth.
Exactly how did the Church conquer her enemies?
And they overcame their enemies by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death.
This is how we always have victory over all our enemies! The early church was obedient to God and His word only. They testified of Christ. They declared the word of God and they did not love their lives. They fearlessly kept on preaching the truth. They were not ashamed of Jesus Christ and they boldly declared their faith in him. They kept on living out their faith according to the will and the word of God even if it meant losing their lives doing so.
Another strategy that they used was the fact that they fearlessly and boldly called out the sins and atrocities and unjust actions of people and leaders and the Roman government. They were not silent. We know that John the Baptist paid with his life for calling out Herod Antipas who married his brother’s wife. They did not fear calling out people in high places who ignored God, his word, and his will or who rejected the gospel of Christ. They called them out. They stood on street corners and they shouted out to people to repent. They named the sins and they challenged those who committed these sins.
Just look at how Peter addressed the leaders and the government in Acts 3:14-20, as described by Charles Pope:
14. But ye denied the Holy One and the Just, and desired a murderer to be granted unto you;
15. And killed the Prince of life, whom God hath raised from the dead; whereof we are witnesses.
16. And his name through faith in his name hath made this man strong, whom ye see and know: yea, the faith which is by him hath given him this perfect soundness in the presence of you all.
17. And now, brethren, I wot that through ignorance ye did it, as did also your rulers.
18. But those things, which God before had shewed by the mouth of all his prophets, that Christ should suffer, he hath so fulfilled.
19. Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord;
20. And he shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you.
Apparently, Peter never got the memo that we preachers are not supposed to mention unpleasant things like sin, and we certainly should not accuse our listeners of having sinned. Aren’t we supposed to be gentle to people? Aren’t we supposed not to offend people? Aren’t we supposed to speak only in abstractions and generalities? Imagine this, Peter called them killers, co-conspirators in handing over God to be crucified: “You killed the author of life”! He shouted.
The unwritten rule among many people today, especially those of the older generation, is that we should never—under any circumstances—offend anyone. We should not say anything controversial or that risks upsetting anyone. We should not mention, sin, Hell, judgment, or Purgatory. We should not let them realize that we do not agree with them. We shouldn’t preach on moral topics like abortion, fornication, contraception, divorce, racism, or homosexuality. For that matter, we should never even let the words “mortal sin” escape our lips!
Yet here is Peter saying, “You killed the author of life.” The logic is that if we talk in this way, we’ll offend people, and they’ll stop coming. They will be offended and they will not listen to us. Never mind that our churches have largely emptied in the aftermath of the widespread application of this policy. No indeed, it must be all honey and no vinegar, ever.
It is interesting that Simon Peter, though clear and bold in his preaching about sin, did not seem to cause the alienation feared by many modern priests. In his sermon of Acts 2, we read not of alienation but of mass conversion:
When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call.” With many other words he warned them; and he pleaded with them, he warned them and he pleaded with them, he warned them and he pleaded with them, “Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.” Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day (Acts 2:37-41).
This response isn’t what some of the fearful, dovish, “do-no-harm-ever” preachers and liturgists of today would predict! Peter’s nets were nearly breaking with thousands of converts even after telling them they had crucified Jesus, warning them, and calling them to repentance and baptism in no uncertain terms.
After Peter’s even sterner words of Acts 3 telling them, “You killed the Author of life,” the numbers grew even more: But many who heard the message believed; so the number of men who believed grew to about five thousand (Acts 4:4).
Somewhere along the line, preachers lost their edge. The gospel, the good news of salvation, doesn’t make a lot of sense without reference to sin. To say that we are saved implies that there is something from which we need to be saved. Without a vigorous understanding of sin and the ultimate destination of Hell from which we have been saved, the gospel starts to seem optional, just a nice story—not really all that crucial or urgent. The reality is that the good news is highlighted by, and makes sense only, in the light of the bad news. Only if I know that “I’ve got it bad and that ain’t good” does the news of a cure seem to be wonderful, even fabulous.
We live in dainty times; many people are thin-skinned and easily offended. However, I have found that speaking clearly about sin, the need for repentance and the glory of mercy is experienced by most people as refreshing. To be compelling, good preaching needs to have an edge. Abstractions, generalities, and greeting-card sentiments don’t work. Chatty sermons, silly jokes, and soft tones don’t excite interest. Our empty churches say that loud and clear.
Some will inevitably take offense to such preaching, but that is ever the case. A good preacher, one who is worth his salt, must be willing to give up his life, or at the very least to enduring harsh criticism. Timid preachers are only a little better than useless. They are, as Gregory the Great said, “dumb dogs that cannot bark.”
Thank God that Peter never got the memo! As his fruitful example shows, vigorous biblical preaching includes an edgy quality; it addresses sin, setting it forth plainly but in a way that highlights the glory of grace and mercy. The bottom line is that “You killed the author of life.” Collectively we’ve done it in a thousand ways. However, know that Jesus Christ loves you and has mercy on you in abundance; you can lay hold of this if you repent and run to Him for healing and mercy. This song says, “Sinner, please don’t let this harvest pass and die and lose your soul at last.”
This is one of the strategies that the early church followed. They preached sin and they called people out. They were bold and they were fearless. They led many to Christ. The church grew at an unprecedented rate. They infiltrated the enemy and they started to change the enemy from the inside. This is the reason why this strategy is part of the great commission. We defeat the enemy by making the enemy part of us. The secret is the speed at which they did it. They did not sit warming the pews in a church building, listening to a sermon. No, they were found in the streets, daily, boldly preaching the gospel of Christ, daily calling out people because of the sins that they were committing. They feared nothing. They were bold and they named the sins of the people. They added to the kingdom daily. They were advancing the kingdom of God rapidly. All over the Roman Empire. At every street corner, in every house, in every neighborhood, in every marketplace, everywhere people gathered, these men and women were challenging the citizens of the Roman Empire with the gospel of Christ.
Although they never physically defended themselves against their enemies, in the end, they conquered all their enemies.
Like Christ who was led like a lamb to be slaughtered, so did the Church deal with the governments of the world. They kept on being obedient to God and they left the judgment of those who did all those injustices to them to God. They did not start a “Jewish or Christian Murder” campaign. They did not start a “Christian Lives Matter” campaign. Not even after of thousands of Christians were oppressed and murdered
Hebrew 11: 35-38
35. Women received their dead raised to life again: and others were tortured, not accepting deliverance; that they might obtain a better resurrection:
36. And others had trial of cruel mockings and scourgings, yea, moreover of bonds and imprisonment:
37. They were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword: they wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins; being destitute, afflicted, tormented;
38. (Of whom the world was not worthy:) they wandered in deserts, and in mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth.
The early Christians had a tough time, yet they were happy and full of joy. They did not give up on life and they did not allow anything to hinder their efforts to preach the gospel of Christ and to set the captive free.
2 Corinthians 4:9
8. We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair;
9. Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed;
10. Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body.
11. For we which live are alway delivered unto death for Jesus’ sake, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh.
During those days, every good thing that we see today was started by Christians. During Biblical times, governments did not care about their citizens. Everybody was busy with his own affairs, everybody was selfishly seeking power, pleasures, and financial wealth. Everybody was serving the many gods that were part of the very popular pagan religions of the time. When someone became terminally ill, they were frowned upon, rejected, and pushed out of the cities where such people were left on their own to die. The gods must have gotten angry with such a person and they probably are punishing him or her they believed. Subsequently, everybody abandoned such people. The general practice in those days was to leave many people to die without food and medical assistance.
The church changed all this. They risked their lives by caring for such people. They gave them shelter, food, and clothes and they made their lives as comfortable as possible. They extended hands of friendship and love to such people. Social welfare organizations, support groups, and medical care institutions, hospitals, and many other supportive institutions all have their origins in the Roman Empire where Christians started it all. Eventually, governments got involved but initially, social welfare, development, and support initiatives all started with the Christians in the Roman Empire.
The Christians had a great impact on the citizens of the Roman Empire. They changed people. People saw what they were doing. They saw the love and goodness of God in their hearts. Many people did repent and the church grew rapidly. Even the family of government officials became part of Christianity. Even government officials themselves became Christians. This changed everything. When Emperors persistently prosecuted Christians, the family members of government officials, who were in danger of getting killed themselves, pleaded with their husbands to try to change the situation. Persecution had to stop. More and more pressure eventually caused officials in the Roman Empire, and even the Emperors, to stop this cruel practice. The church was eventually legalized all across the Roman Empire. To the detriment of Paganism, the church became a state religion. Christianity was, at last, safe and sound, in the Roman Empire.
To personify the fact that the church conquered the mighty Roman Empire, Roman Emperor Henry IV trekked across the Alps in 1077 to beg for Pope Gregory VII’s forgiveness. Only after three days of kneeling in the snow did the medieval ruler finally convince the Pontiff to welcome him back into the Catholic Church. Henry IV had been excommunicated for usurping the Pope’s authority and appointing his own bishops. The dramatic “mea culpa” was a turning point in the centuries-long struggle between religious and royal leaders during the Middle Ages, and the image of Henry IV bowing before his spiritual rival is one that artists and writers later immortalized in paint and prose.
Anyway, over many years, one after the other, the true Church conquered their enemies. At first, paganism fell as a direct result of Christianity being officially decreed as the official religion of the Roman Empire. Things drastically changed all over the Roman Empire from that moment.
The church outlasted the government of the Western Roman Empire (Rome) when it fell during the invasion of the ten Northern tribes. What a sight that must have been! Nobody thought that the mighty Rome would ever fall. Unfortunately, the Orthodox-Roman Catholic Church became an enemy of the true church. She became like the Empire she was busy conquering. However, the true church of Christ conquered the Roman Catholic church during the time of the reformers. They witnessed how the kings of the world turned their backs on the Roman Catholic church. They saw how the rulers of both the Western Empire (now under new government) and the Eastern Empire withdrew their support from the Roman Catholic church. They saw how these rulers took the status, power, and influence away from the pope and the Roman Catholic church.
Eventually, they also outlasted the Eastern Roman Empire during the invasion of the Mohammedans. During this invasion in particular a decision was made not to touch any Christians while the rest of the citizens of the Eastern Roman Empire were slaughtered and defeated.
Of course, all these governments caused serious casualties within the ranks of the Christian Church. Of course, they made life very difficult for them but in the end, the Church was victorious.
Although the early Christians suffered a lot, they made the world a better place for their families and their children. They did not lose their faith and they stayed faithful to God and faithful to the truth. They ignored the laws and the decrees of all these governments when it was not in line with the will of God and the word of God. They just refused to act and live contrary to the will of God and the word of God by obeying wicked man-made laws and decrees.
In every country, right across the world, we need the whole church, every Christian, every Christian denomination, every house church, to follow the two strategies that we discussed in today’s session. Why do I say all denominations and all Christians? Because we have a daunting task on our hands. We need all our brothers and sisters to work together if we want to make a difference. This world wants to destroy us. We need to go out into the streets and to the market places and to the houses and residences of every person in every town and every city and every country so that we can reach the lost for Christ. It is all about numbers. The church needs to be represented on every street corner. The more people we have actively involved in preaching the gospel of Christ, reaching the lost, the more success we will have infiltrating the kingdoms of this world. We need to change the kingdoms of this world from the inside. Do you understand why the fulfillment of the great commission is so critical in this regard?
However, the second strategy in today’s session is just as important. We need to fearlessly preach the truth. We need to call out the sinners. It does not matter if such a sinner is a king, or a mayor or a doctor, or a bus driver. We need to address the sins in their lives. We need to say it as it is. We need to call out corrupt government officials. We need to call out the politicians. We do need to offend the people. If we don’t turn back to the ways and the strategies of the early church, we will not be successful.
This is all for today. See you next time.