In Sunday’s sermon from Isaiah 42:1-13 we found out one of the things we can expect to happen now that King Jesus has come and started the kingdom of God is he will work through his Church to bring light to peoples from all over the world so they will know and worship the true God. We discovered that since this is true, as we pray for and share the gospel with people, some (if not many) of them will respond positively. This brings us great hope as we teach the gospel to our children, grandchildren, family, friends, neighbors, and co-workers.
There were a number of encouraging truths I did not have time during the sermon to address that I want to in this post.
First, I hope you are picking up from our series through Isaiah 40-55 that the Bible and history are centered on Jesus Christ. This should not only motivate us to be Christ-centered in life, but also to read the Old Testament very differently from what we have previously. Jesus is the main character in the Bible’s story line. It all prepares for, points to, looks back to, or explains him.
Next, in the Greek translation of Isaiah the word for “praise” in 42:12 is the same word translated “excellencies” in 1 Peter 2:9. Since most of the New Testament authors give evidence of reliance upon this Greek translation, it is highly probable this passage in Isaiah stands behind Peter’s statement about one of the key purposes of the Church. Isaiah suggests in 42:12 that people in the future time of the kingdom will “declare his praise.” The apostle picks up on this in his epistle and affirms this is part of the reason God has saved us—that we might “proclaim the excellencies of him who called [us] out of darkness into his marvelous light.” We should note also the presence of “light” (see also Isaiah 42:6) is another indicator Peter had this passage from Isaiah in mind and sees it being fulfilled in this New Testament Church age. There are pieces of evidence all through these chapters that Isaiah looks forward to the time that spans the start of the kingdom (the first coming of Jesus Christ) to the fulfillment of the kingdom (his second coming).
In the sermon we also saw that God prophesied through Isaiah that he would certainly take the gospel to the ends of the earth and would save people from all the nations. I briefly mentioned this has been happening—especially over the past several generations. Here are some examples from a recent article titled “Church Planting Movements,” by David Garrison:
· “In East Asia, a missionary reported: ‘I launched my three-year plan in November, 2000. My vision was to see 200 new churches started among my people group over the next three years. But four months later, we had already reached that goal. After only six months, we had already seen 360 churches planted and more than 10,000 new believers baptized!’”
· Chinese Christians in Qing’an County of Heilongjiang Province planted 236 new churches in a single month. In 2002, one church planting movement in China brought about 15,000 new churches and baptized 160,000 new believers in a single year.”
· During the decade of the 1990’s, Christians in a Latin American country overcame relentless government persecution to grow from 235 churches to more than 4,000 churches with more than 30,000 converts awaiting baptism.”
· “After centuries of hostility to Christianity, many Central Asian Muslims are now embracing the gospel. In Kazakhstan, the past decade has seen more than 13,000 Kazakhs come to faith, worshiping in more than 300 new Kazakh churches.”
· “Missionaries in Africa reported: ‘It took us 30 years to plan four churches in this country. We’ve started 65 new churches in the last nine months.’”
· “In the heart of India, in the state Madhya Pradesh, one church planting movement produced 4,000 new churches in less than seven years. Elsewhere in India, the Kui people of Orissa started nearly 1,000 new churches during the 1990s. In 1999, they baptized more than 8,000 new believers. By 2001 they were starting a new church every 24 hours.”
· “In Outer Mongolia, a church planting movement saw more than 10,000 new followers. Another movement in Inner Mongolia counted more than 50,000 new believers—all during the decade of the 1990s.”
· And, about a culture that is much more like our own, we read the following: “A pastor in Western Europe wrote: ‘Last year my wife and I started 15 new house churches. As we left for a six-month stateside assignment, we wondered what we’d find when we returned. It’s wild! We can verify at least 30 churches now, but I believe that it could be two or even three times that many.’”
We should not only be motivated to share the gospel with others because they are lost and because we want to spread a passion for the supremacy of Jesus Christ in all things among all peoples, but also by the reality that the mission will see at least some progress and success. How do we know? Because God promised it would!
Be encouraged, the Savior will work through you to bring his light to others around you. Don’t miss being part of this great work he is doing!