Saturday, November 19, 2011

Who knew Church History could be so convicting?

Hello dear friends,

                It seems like it’s been a long time since I last posted, but it’s been a whirlwind the past couple of weeks! Now, we’ve hit Thanksgiving break and, before you know it, it will be Christmas and the end of our first semester here at the Institute. It’s crazy how time has flown! It feels like we’ve been here awhile, but it makes me sad to think that we will be leaving so soon.

                This week in class, Chad Hampsch, who, by the way, is an incredible teacher, taught on Church History. Despite the busyness of life this week as we worked on our Bible Overview Projects (that is another blog altogether!), this week of class was probably one of my favorites! I don’t know if it was the way that Chad presented the material, the fact that I enjoy history, or the change that has occurred in my heart even over the past couple of months so that Church History is actually relevant and important in my life as a believer now. One of the first classes that I took in undergrad at Baylor was Christian Heritage. I remember studying Church History during that class, but I honestly couldn’t tell you a thing that I learned from it. This week, however, was incredible!

                One thing that stuck out to me this week was how quickly the Gospel spread and how many lives were changed early on in Church History, only a few hundred years after Christ’s death. After Pentecost, as Acts tells us, Jews from all over the world could now hear the Gospel in their own language! An amazing amount of Jews began to convert to Christianity. By 300 AD, there were 300,000 of these Christians living in Rome alone! After Stephen’s stoning in Acts 8, the Church moved its center from Jerusalem to Antioch. From there, the Gospel begins to spread West, first to Rome. Paul even attempts to go to Asia at one point, but it prevented. So, instead of the Gospel spreading in both directions, it began in the Middle East and started going west. Be the 4th and 5th century, the Gospel began to penetrate into England, Scotland, Ireland, North Africa, and Egypt. In the 1400s, the Gospel came to North America through Spanish missionaries and eventually the Pilgrims, Puritans, and others that came to settle in the New World. 

                Today, there are revivals beginning in the Church in Korea, China, and Russia. The Gospel is coming full circle! I had never thought before how, since the beginning of time, the Gospel literally has been taking the world by storm! Even in the Old Testament, everything pointed towards Christ; in the Gospels our God came to this Earth to tell the world about Him. After Christ’s ascension, the Church is established and begins its feverish spread throughout the world! Now, we are seeing the Gospel come full circle. It started in Israel, to Rome, Europe, and North Africa, to the Americas, now to Asia, and it’s on its way back to the Middle East! Even though so many Jewish people do not believe that the Messiah has come, His story is coming to them now and the Gospel is heading their way! 

                The Gospel spread quickly early on, but that fire seems to have died down in many parts of the world, especially in America. So, the question that we have to ask ourselves is why did the Gospel spread so quickly in the early Church? For one thing, the apostles and early believers were passionate about the Gospel! They couldn’t stop telling people about it! They had seen Jesus first hand, or had heard stories from those who had, and they were convinced of its transformational power! The Gospel literally changed their lives forever. Unlike other religions and cultures of that day, Christianity brought equality to mankind. In a world of strict government, death, and hurting people, the Church brought answers. They took over the responsibility to help those in need. They took on a lot of the things that we expect our government to do today. The early believers truly cared about the people in their cities and communities. Beyond living well, they died well. Never before had people willingly died for something that they believed in. The early believers set a precedent that we are called to follow as believers today. They were passionate about the Gospel, passionate about loving others, and passionate about their beliefs, even to the point of death. What conviction and inspiration! Live in the Spirit and the heart of our Church fathers today!