Monday, March 24, 2014

The Growth of the Kingdom

Most common theme of Jesus' parables = Kingdom of God!!

Definition:   Kingdom of God = the Sphere of His Rule
(which on one hand = ultimately ALL!!  However, on the other hand, in this day and time = He has chosen to be that which voluntarily submits to Him)

According to the Baptist Faith and Message:  His Kingdom includes:
   #1.  His general sovereignty over the Universe
   #2.  His particular Kingship over men who willfully acknowledge Him as King - we can by our choice stand outside His Kingdom.

So we have:
    #1.  The future Kingdom - absolute, universal, visible - 'every knee will bow, every tongue confess"
   #2.  the present Kingdom - partial, and partly visible

Now:  Two Parables about the Kingdom  - Matt. 13:31-33 - Mustard Seed and Yeast
1.  - Kingdom growth
2.  - Kingdom Permeation (influence)

Point:  "from insignificant beginnings the Kingdom will grow and permeate and influence and transform --- people, society, cultures, and the world."

QUESTION #1:  Has this proven to be true??
We cannot measure Kingdom growth, but we can measure church growth throughout the world.

Example:  Chart #1 - Christianity in the Roman Empire - which was absolutely, violently opposed to Christian faith and Christian growth.

YEAR              % of Christians in Roman Empire's population

100                   0.0126% = 1/100 of 1%
150                   0.07%  =  7/100 of 1%
200                   0.36%  = roughly 1/3 of 1%
250                   1.9%  = almost 2%
300                  10.5% =  10 1/2%
350                   56%

Example:  Chart #2 - Christianity in the World population

YEAR          Number of Non-Christians to each Christian

100               360 to 1 - when John wrote Revelation
1000             222 to 1
1500             59 to 1
1900             27 to 1
2000              2 to 1 - 1/3 of people on earth claim Christianity as their religion and in Kingdom.  Can't
                      determine that.  But must be greatly influence by Christianity to make that claim.

Are 70,000 additional Christians everyday worldwide

More Muslims have come to Christ since 1980 than in the previous 1000 years.

There has been phenomenal growth and influence by the Christian Church

Question #2 - Will this trend continue?? - can't be answered
two views:  1)  Optimistic view - "expect it to continue"
                  2)  Pessimistic view - "expect it to get worse"

Unfortunately, the most prevalent view usually is determined by current events!!
Example #1.  Early church and Revelation = pessimistic view - convinced by circumstances and book of Revelation that things were going to get worse and worse.
                     Later church and Constantine = optimistic view - Edict of Milan in 313 - Christianity legalized
and then Edict of Thessalonica - made Christianity official religion of all Rome

Example #2:  USA and post-Revolutionary War = optimistic view
                     USA and post WWII = pessimistic view - among evangelical Christians

What We Know:

#1.  Christianity has experienced solid, steady growth in spite of opposition
#2.  many places have seen the influence of Christianity wane and decline dramatically!!  Example:  Europe today, Turkey, Northern Africa, etc.
#3.  we can find multiple Scriptures to support either view (optimistic or pessimistic)
#4.   Nobody really knows which way it's going to go!!!  Don't care how big TV ministry or radio ministry is.  Very foolish to be dogmatic if not made perfectly clear from Scripture.
 #5.  Bottom Line - we are called to Kingdom promotion regardless of the outlook/outcome!!  Makes no difference in regards to your call, your commitment, etc.

On one hand, we cannot convert a soul, grow the Kingdom.   It is God's Kingdom and only He can do it.
HOWEVER, we are called and given authority to assist in Kingdom growth (building)
planters, waterers, gardeners, nurtureres, and harvesters - John 4:35-38   1 Cor. 3:5-9

How to do that???  How to "grow" Kingdom?

#1.  Own the King - can't build the Kingdom if He is not your King and recognize Him in that capacity.

#2.  Represent the King - 2 Cor. 5:18-20
This means:  A)  Kingdom living - how you vote, handle money, treat spouse, raise kids, run business, spend free time, etc.
                   B)  Kingdom Knowledge    which is Scripture!!!   2 Tim. 3:16-17
Cannot represent Him properly if you don't know His will as revealed in His book.  When yr. outside the guidelines found there, you misrepresent Christ, the church, the Kingdom.  If you claim to be Christian, people will look at you because you represent HIM.

#3.  Teach, disciple - Matt. 28:18-20
Examples:  Sunday School, AWANA, Bible Time, Day Camp, your own kids, grandkids - etc!!!  It is not the church's responsibility to teach and disciple your kids - it is YOURS!!

#4.  Preach - example - Matt. 3:1-2  - Objection:  "I can't preach!"  Answer:  When passionate about something, ie.  politics, ball team, you can 'wax eloquent' (preach) about it!

#5.  Support His Work

#6.  Support His Workers - w/money, encouragement, prayer

#7.  Support His Church - (almost synonymous with Kingdom - Matt. 16:18)

But, these thing seem so small/ ordinary!!  They are, but everyone can do these things.
Remember - parable of mustard seed, and yeast (leaven).
 Point:  out of seemingly insignificant beginnings GOD will establish His Kingdom!!!

To this you are called:  Decide - Commit - Focus - DO!!

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