Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Thoughts on Mission and the Advancing Flame!!

I wrote a post called "Forgotten Restorationism?" on the 4th October sharing my feelings and thoughts on how the promises of a glorious end-time church thrill me and excite me like nothing else. And I made a statement;

"If you don't truly believe in restoration then you can't properly truly passionate about the Great Commission".

My point was this - how can we truly go out and evangelise with confidence and passion if we believe that hell is going to be populated more than heaven? How can we walk out into the world and share the gospel with the lost if we believe that "great is the darkness that covers the earth" and that is it? How can we go and take a gospel accompanied by signs, wonders and miracles if we are simply waiting for Jesus Christ to return and end this present world?

I was interested therefore to read an email from John Piper's "Desiring God" ministries that sketched out something of the challenge before us.

1. At the beginning of the 20th century, about 71% of professing Christians in the world lived in Europe. By the end of the 20th century that number had shrunk to 28%. 43% of the Christians now live in Latin America and Africa.

2. In 1900 Africa had 10 million Christians which was about 10% of the population. By 2000 the number of Christians was 360 million - about half the population of the continent. This is probably the largest shift in religious affiliation that has ever occured.

3. There are 17 million baptized members of the Anglican church in Nigeria compared to 2.8 million in the USA.

4. This past Sunday more Anglicans attended church in each of Kenya, South Africa, Tanzania and Uganda than did Anglicans in Great Britain and Canada and Episcopalians in the USA combined.

5. The number of practicing Christians in China is approaching the number in the USA.

6. Last Sunday more Christians believers attended church in China than in the whole of so-called "Christian" Europe.

7. Kenya has more people in Christian churches on Sunday than Canada.

And this final point particularly affected me - because it is my homeland.

8. This past week in Great Britain at least fifteen thousand Christian foreign missionaries were hard at work evangelising the locals. Most of these missionairies are from Africa and Asia.

Lydia asked an important question in my last post regarding the tangible Presence of the Holy Spirit. She spoke about that which is "in us". And that is right and true - we were indeed "baptised by one Spirit into one body". But Dr Martyn Ll0yd-Jones answered some critics who claimed "we have it all" at conversion. He said;

"Got it all?! Got it all?! Well if you have it "all" then where, in the Name of God is "it"?".

Church history will stand as testament that we will begin to advance mission in an accelerated fashion when the Presence of God - the Holy Spirit - falls upon His church in tangible power and glory. That is why Africa and Asia and the so-called "3rd world" is now directing the missions of the world. That is why Europe and the USA no longer have ANY cause to be arrogant in our theological expertise and knowledge.

Revival isn't a choice - a subject - an interest. The very life of the Western church depends on it!


jul said...

We've been so busy reviving the law in the church but now there is a true revival happening. As the pure gospel of grace is restored back to us we are seeing more and more amazing things, and this is just the tip of the iceberg!

It's funny you mention missionaries being sent to our 'christian' nations...I grew up with my Dad predicting that very thing. Though we exported a lot of legalism, I hope God sends preachers of the new covenant back to us!

As far as the question of what we have vs. what we need regarding the tangible presence of God, I think in a way you and Lydia are both right. We have in the person of Jesus everything we could possible want or need, but sometimes it's a question of learning exactly who he is and all the we have in him. There is a growing and learning by the Holy Spirit to live in all the grace that we've been given...a never-ending adventure since there is no end to his grace! It kind of goes back to the question of 'hunger', which I go back and forth on a little... I think the closest thing to it I've experienced in the world is in marriage. There have been times that even when I'm with my husband I feel as though I want more of him, can't get enough of him I just love him and getting to know him so much. A kind of greediness I guess that is hunger and satisfaction at the same time. It's something like that with God. He is never depriving us of himself, but there is always more of him to discover and enjoy!

Hope that makes sense! Keep making us think Dan, you're good at it.

janelle said...

Wow. That is a really great Lloyd-Jones quote. I love it!!!