If the devil…would stand by…and let the gospel be preached, he would suffer less harm.
Christianity began in Jerusalem and the surrounding lands that Israel occupied. Though you may counter with the scripture in Acts that says “believers were first called Christians at Antioch” (Acts 11:26), without a doubt Christianity has its roots at Jerusalem. Why is this significant? Because it is from that point that Christianity spread.
We recognize the leaders of the early church who were also its first missionaries. People such as the original disciples and Paul walk the pages of our Bibles, but there were others, much less famous, who did just as much to spread the gospel. Who were these people and what led them to spread the gospel to the uttermost parts of the earth?
Of course, they had a command from Christ which is why they spread the gospel wherever they went, but why did they leave their homes? Why did they literally go to the ends of the earth? Were they missionaries sent by a home church? As I have mentioned that was the case in some instances, but that was not the force that spread the gospel to the greatest extent. What was it then?
Rome outlawed Christians, Jews sought their deaths because they seemed to blaspheme and hold their primary teacher up as deity, and others had their own gods and had no need of another one. Christianity spread because it was criminalized, feared and marginalized.
Which brings me to another question: Does the gospel fail when it is challenged? The answer: On the contrary, it thrives.
Martin Luther, the 95 theses hammering father of the reformation, once said,
“If the devil were wise enough and would stand by in silence and let the gospel be preached, he would suffer less harm. For when there is no battle for the gospel it rusts and it finds no cause and no occasion to show its vigor and power. Therefore, nothing better can befall the gospel than that the world should fight it with force and cunning.”
Nothing can better befall the gospel that that the world should fight against it with force and cunning.
One last point that may or may not have a basis in reality, but I believe it does.
American Christians have seen the rust and the loss of vigor and power Luther speaks about. A missionary to the Middle East recently told me it is more difficult to witness successfully in the United States than it is in Iraq where she currently works. Wow! I believe she is absolutely right and the reason is a few sentences back. The word has little power in the US because we as Christians have had it too easy.
Do you think that God will allow this state to continue? Will God just give up on Americans (or any other members of the human race) and just allow His gospel to wither and die? He never has before. Why would he start now?
It is more likely that an unprecedented time of persecution is coming to the Church in America. It is more likely we will all face persecution so the gospel can gain strength. So the gospel can become again in America the powerful tool it always has been.
We know that Martin Luther is right about the power of the gospel. The only question is from whence will the battle come? I think the forces of Satan have already started firing the opening salvos.