Monday, November 30, 2015

Growth of the Church/Expansion of the Faith

Continuation of the story in John

Luke 1:1-4 - similar account written by Luke - not an eyewitness but knew many of the eyewitnesses.  This account not just hearsay.
Theophilis - "loved by God" - probably non-Jew and was a seeker after the one true God.
Acts 1:1-7 - Luke's sequel to his book.
Deut. 29:29
Acts 1:8 - "martus" - testifiers.  Where we get the word martyr - took on current meaning because eventually as people continued to testify about Christ, many were persecuted and put to death for it.
Acts 1:9-14 - Jesus' brothers - became believers after the resurrection

At Acts 1:1 - how many people were Christians??  (some estimates = 20?,  some as high as 120?)
So, let's go with 60.
Estimated 60 million people in the Roman Empire at this time.
So, 1 of 1,000,000 would be Christian.

By AD312 -(Constantine, Roman emperor, converted and endorsed Christianity.)
estimated 5% of the empire were Christians (3 million)
So.... 1 of 20 would be Christian (in the Roman empire, not in the world)

By the end of the 4th. Century, was estimated that there were 30 million Christians in the empire.  So... 1 of 2 people would be Christian - again in the empire, not in the world.


Some factors:

These 60 (+ their converts, followers) had -

#1.  FAITH - in Christ and the words of Christ - confidence (contemporary word)   Heb. 11:1 -  hope = clear, confident expectation.  everybody lives by faith in something!

#2.  FELLOWSHIP - called "church" - local and universal.  Church = called out gathering of people.  Had nothing to do with religion at this time.  Spreading the gospel not a "lone ranger" thing.  Need team support.

#3.  A MISSION - a GREAT Commission - Matt. 28:18-20,  Acts 1:8
Wherever they went.  Carried it all over.

#4.  A MESSAGE - "the Gospel" - on a mission with a clear message

#5.  the PRESENCE of the RISEN CHRIST - (Holy Spirit)
Matt. 28:20 - ..."and surely I am with you..."
Question:  what's changed?  - Answer:  this stuff HASN'T changed. 

Note:  Acts 1:1 - "began"     Acts. 28:31 - "without hindrance" - Paul was under house arrest, continually preaching, teaching, etc.  Believers had great freedom to share the gospel and witness about Christ.
THIS freedom to witness was about to change.  ie:  new Roman emperor - Nero, Rome burns AD 64 - he blames it on Christians, and enormous persecution breaks out.

BUT.. will ti stop the movement?  Momentum?  impetus?   mission?  NO.  Suddenly they didn't have the freedom, but kept right on doing what they were doing anyway.

Example:  today roughly 1 out of 3 persons in the world claim to be Christian.

Matt. 16:18

Questions:  Are you in?  Are you on board?  You can be a part of the movement.

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