PMT-2016-032 by David Stoddard in Tabletalk
[Below is the first part of an excellent article titled “Christ Will Build His Church” that appeared in the April, 2016 Tabletalk devotional guide. I hope you will click the link and keep reading. – Ken Gentry]
Christ Will Build His Church
Europe is the new “dark continent.” Africa now sends more missionaries to Europe than Europe sends to Africa. The health reports of the European church aren’t terribly encouraging. Churches are closing and are being converted into mosques, museums, bars, and book depositories. In most European countries, less than 5 percent of the population attend any church. In France, there are more practicing Muslims than baptized Catholics. In England, more than 70 percent have no intention of stepping into a church—ever. In Berlin, the city where we live, 95 percent of church plants fail.
The Glory of Christ (book by R. C. Sproul)
From the angels’ revelation of Jesus’ glory to the shepherds outside Bethlehem,
to Jesus’ life-changing revelation of His glory to Paul on the Damascus road, Sproul guides us to a deeper understanding of Christ’s glory.
For more study materials: www.KennethGentry.com
Recently, I was asked two questions at a missions conference in the United States. First, what does it mean that Europe is post-Christian? Second, what hope does the church have in such an environment? The second question disturbed me. What hope does the church have? The question reflects an attitude of resignation in regard to what God is doing in Europe. I sometimes see this attitude on home ministry assignment. “Why should we support missionaries to Europe?” we are asked. “It’s expensive. We can get a better bang for our buck elsewhere. Besides, they already had their chance. God isn’t working there anymore.”
The Power of the Gospel
We miss the power of the gospel when we place problems before promises. In Matthew 16:18, Jesus promises Peter, “On this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” Christ is building His church. Every other religion in the world proclaims a message of acceptance, inclusion, and hope based on human works and striving. But Christianity is radically different. Eternal acceptance into a relationship with the Creator and the expansion of His kingdom are both based on Jesus’ works. That’s why Martin Luther wrote:
Did we in our own strength confide, our striving would be losing;
were not the right Man on our side, the Man of God’s own choosing:
Dost ask who that may be? Christ Jesus, it is He;
Lord Sabaoth, His name, from age to age the same,
And He must win the battle.
Just a few verses later, Peter forgets the promise of the gospel and sees only problems. Jesus declares that the battle will be won through His death. “You can’t die. That doesn’t make sense. It doesn’t fit our plan,” a befuddled Peter thinks. He forgets the promise that victory comes through the death of Christ on the cross, not in spite of it. Christ’s death is not only the foundation of the church, it is also the means to expand it. Christ is building His church in Europe. Salvation comes through suffering and sacrifice. It was true of Jesus and will be true of His church.
Problems as Platforms
We miss the opportunities for gospel proclamation when we fail to see problems as platforms for ministry.
Greatness of the Great Commission (by Ken Gentry)
An insightful analysis of the full implications of the great commission. Impacts postmillennialism as well as the whole Christian worldview.
See more study materials at: www.KennethGentry.com
In Acts 16, Paul and Silas are unjustly thrown into a Roman jail. They are flogged, beaten, and humiliated. At midnight, Paul and Silas begin to sing. The skeptical onlookers don’t have categories for what they are witnessing. The Spirit comes and turns the Philippian jail into a spectacle of His power. Doors fly open, chains drop loose, a violent earthquake shakes the ground, and the jailer and his family come to faith. An arena of darkness and persecution becomes a platform for the proclamation of the gospel.
Europe is definitely hostile and post-Christian. But that’s not all….
To continue reading, click: http://www.ligonier.org/learn/articles/christ-will-build-his-church/
Click on the following images for more information on these studies: