As I look around, I think it’s fair to say we lack gospel confidence in this country. For what it’s worth, I want you to know that yesterday, more people came to faith in Jesus than any other day in the history of humanity. The kingdom of God is advancing!
So, last month I’m preaching in the bush in Burundi to about 3000 people, and we’re very clear in the appeal, only come forward if it’s your first time to choose to follow Jesus… and that night, 224 people responded. That’s one outreach in the middle of nowhere. I pray for the Palau Association. They were in Uruguay this week, and they have seen several thousand people come to Jesus at multiple outreaches. Folks, Kingdom fruit is exploding across the world!
It happens that in this country, we’re seemingly on the back foot. But we don’t need to be. I am not – and I hope neither are you – ashamed of the gospel!
This sermon was preached at Living Rock church near Leicester a while back as part of their sermon series on the first Epistle to the Corinthians. My passage was 1 Corinthians 2:1-5, and I spoke about ‘the Fragility of the Messenger but the Power of the Message’.
Watch or take a listen here:
A few quotes/anecdotes:
Tony Lambert observed the extraordinary growth of the church in China through seasons of intense persecution, and came to the following conclusion: “The reason for the growth of the church in China and for the outbreak of genuine spiritual revival in many areas is inextricably linked to the whole theology of the cross… the stark message of the Chinese church is that God used suffering and the preaching of a crucified Christ to pour out revival and build his church. Are we in the West still willing to hear? The Chinese church has walked the way of the cross. The lives and deaths of the martyrs of the 1950s and 1960s have borne rich fruit.”
If you’re a good preacher, be careful, or particularly talented in whatever field, you don’t want to get in the way of the gospel, you want to be a servant of the gospel. A good preacher can obscure Jesus by their preaching, either in the presentation or the message. Like the little girl who used to attend a church with a big preacher with an even bigger personality. One Sunday, when a smaller man was guest speaking she could finally see the stained-glass window of Jesus behind the pulpit said, “Where’s the man who usually stands there so we can’t see Jesus?”
Moody’s encounter with the Holy Spirit in New York transformed his ministry. After one service, two old ladies called Mrs Sarah Cooke and Mrs Hawkhurst approached him and told him, “You are good, but you haven’t got it… we have been praying for you… you need power!” Moody, an already well-respected minister, was surprised. “I need power?” asked Moody. “Why, I thought I had power!” The ladies poured out their hearts that he might receive the anointing of the Holy Ghost and soon there grew a great hunger in his soul. “I felt I did not want to live any longer if I had not this power for service.” There began a period of six months’ pleading with God for more. Then God visited him as he walked down Wall Street in New York; he was never the same again. Although his sermons and doctrine had not changed, his effectiveness in winning thousands to Christ was evidence of this new power.” The same sermons that previously might see 5 now saw 50 come to the Lord, endued with power…
This man was born in a gypsy tent, of humble origins, and yet ended up being invited to the White House by two presidents. Rodney ‘Gypsy’ Smith came into the world in 1860 in Epping Forest, just outside London. Forty five times he crossed the Atlantic to preach the gospel to millions of people on both sides. His passion was almost unparalleled, and there was great fruit in what he did. What was his secret? Private prayer. His praying was even more powerful than his preaching. A delegation once came to him to enquire how they might experience personal and mass revival as he had. They wanted to be used the way Gypsy was. Without hesitating, he said: “Go home. Lock yourself in your room. Kneel down in the middle of the floor, and with a piece of chalk draw a circle round yourself. There, on your knees, pray fervently and brokenly that God would start a revival within that chalk circle.”
One young Zimbabwean man wrote the following before he was martyred: “I’m part of the fellowship of the unashamed. I have the Holy Spirit’s power. The die has been cast. I’ve stepped over the line. The decision has been made – I’m a disciple of his. I won’t look back, let up, slow down, back away, or be still… I will not flinch in the face of sacrifice, hesitate in the presence of the enemy, pander at the pool of popularity, or meander in the maze of mediocrity… I am a disciple of Jesus. I must go till he comes, give till I drop, preach till all know, and work till he stops me. And, when he comes for his own, he will have no problem recognizing me… my banner will be clear!”