We read in the New Testament how the early church multiplied and spread throughout the known world in the Roman empire. This happened despite opposition from Jews and Greeks alike. This persecution was severe at times with Christians being hauled off to prison and even put to death. Yet, despite all of this, the church grew. How did this happen? What were they doing?
First, they went out with the message of the gospel just as Jesus had commanded. They had the sure knowledge that He had overcome sin, was resurrected from the dead and offered everlasting life in His kingdom. They believed it, they lived it, and they proclaimed it. They went on the offense into a dying world with this glorious message of hope.
Secondly, they were able to defend their beliefs against any attacks on their truthfulness or credibility. They were convinced that their faith and the gospel were grounded in the truth and reality of Jesus Christ’s resurrection. They knew what they believed, why they believed it and were able to give explanation to all those who would ask about this hope they had.
So we see that the church was both out there on the offense with the gospel, and also it was able to defend its faith with reasoned arguments based on truth and reality. Both were needed to convince a skeptical, unbelieving world.
But scripture does not indicate that this was done through large organized campaign-like events. Christians were so energized and zealous about their faith that they just wanted to tell about it! “Therefore, those who had been scattered went about preaching the word.” (Acts 8:4).
Today, young people are leaving the church, congregations are closing their doors, and some are “just hanging on.” What’s to be done? Perhaps we should listen to the voice of our Savior and Lord who said to take the gospel into all the world.
Should we be on the offense or the defense? YES!!