Thursday, March 24, 2011
The Church Marches On
And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it. —Matthew 16:18
Our numbers have never been greater in the church today. So-called megachurches dot our landscape across the United States and around the world. What an amazing thing when you stop and consider the fact that our faith had such humble beginnings.
When Jesus Christ was born in Bethlehem due to the decree of Caesar Augustus that everyone should be taxed, who would have thought that little baby would grow into a man who would change the world—and world history—from that point forward? During His ministry, I don’t think the Romans paid a lot of attention to Jesus Christ or to His claims. They tolerated Judaism and would allow it to exist as long as the Jews conformed to Roman law.
In their minds, Jesus got into trouble with His own religious leaders. Pontius Pilate tried to keep his distance. But ultimately he sent Christ to be crucified, thinking that was the end of the matter. Then the message started circulating that Jesus had risen from the dead, so the Romans tried to suppress it.
Secular historians agree there were 10 great persecutions, 10 major attempts to wipe out Christianity from the face of the earth, starting with the wicked Caesar Nero and up to Diocletian. Believers were fed alive to wild animals, torn apart, tortured, and burned at the stake. The Romans thought they were so successful that Diocletian struck a commemorative coin that read, “The Christian religion is destroyed, and the worship of the Roman gods is restored.” Famous last words.
Where is Rome today? It is a nice tourist destination. Where is Caesar today? Nowhere to be found (although we do have the Caesar salad). They didn’t stop Christianity, because the church marches on. And Jesus said the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.
P.S. – All month long in April, your Daily Devotions will have a new look as we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ. We’re calling it the Road to the Resurrection, specially designed to deepen your Easter experience and draw you closer to the risen Lord.
Copyright © 2011 by Harvest Ministries. All rights reserved.
Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
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Have you ever doubted the Bible? Have you ever had questions about how the Bible came into being? Have you wondered about the historical reliability of the Bible? Listen. Don't feel bad about that. Let us help you. Here is a great resource that will bolster your faith and help you to defend your beliefs. This book is called Seven Reasons Why You Can Trust the Bible. It is written by Greg's friend, Dr. Erwin Lutzer, who is the pastor of the famed Moody Memorial Church in Chicago, Illinois.