Early Church Heroes
The Rapid Spread of Christianity
If you or I were to plan salvation and how to reach the world, we would have chosen a major city and person of great importance. But the Lord God, chose a town called Bethlehem and a group of uneducated men. They were nobodies and did not have great connections or anything in the natural that would justify to us their choosing. Yet, the Lord took this twelve and multiplied them. They would take the Good News of the victory of Jesus to the known world. All but one would suffer martyrdom. These fearful men on the day of the Last Supper, would after receiving the Holy Spirit become sold out, fully committed voices that dedicated and consecrated their lives to the cause of reaching everyone with the message. They heard the royal command and simply obeyed no matter the cost.
Men have tried throughout history to accomplish great things and fail. Yet, these nobodies did it. How? The Lord would choose the foolish things of the world to confound the wise and demonstrate His power. They did not preach in persuasive words but in power. They truly turned the world upside down. They did not have the tools we have today. Transportation was slow and communication not easy. But they did it. The abandoned the normal life and consecrated themselves to the vision and command of heaven. They were totally committed. We see the same on so many of the early church heroes. Tertullian, who was a lawyer, after his conversion, became committed to defending the Gospel.
“In whom other than in Christ, who has already come, do all nations believe? For in Him have believed the most diverse peoples: Parthians, Medes, Elamites; those who inhabit Mesopotamia, Armenia, Phrygia, Cappadocia; the dwellers in Pontius, Asia, and Pamphylia; those occupying Egypt, and inhabiting the region of Africa beyond Cyrene, Romans and natives, even Jews dwelling in Jerusalem, and other nations; nay, the different tribes of Getulians, and many territories of the Moors, all parts of Spain, the different peoples of Gaul, and parts of Britain not reached by the Romans but subjected to Christ…In all these the name of Christ, who has already come, reigns.”
Think about this! Within approximately 150 years after Christ’s resurrection the known world is filled with Christians. The early church as William Cathcarat declares would speak out to this generation and state… “This is what we and our fathers have done; what have you and your predecessors, with far superior resources, accomplished in the same space of time?”
Further proof of Christians even in Britain early in the second century is given by Origen (185-254) and Eusebius. Eusebius writing about the uneducated apostles stated “how then did they come to advance through the whole world?…that some should have penetrated to the ends of the earth, and the country of the Indians; and other should have crossed the oceans to those islands called British; such things I will not believe to be according to man, through man only.”
Tertullian further wrote…
“Though we are strangers of no long standing, yet we have filled all places of your dominion, cities islands, corporations, councils, armies, tribes, the senate, the palace, the courts of judicature. If Christians had a mind to revenge themselves, their numbers are abundant, for they have a party, not in this or that province only, but in all quarters of the world. Nay, if they were to combine and forsake the Roman Empire, how vast would be the loss! The world would be amazed at the solitude which would ensue.”
When the Holy Spirit came on the day of Pentecost He came ready for action. He came in great power, convicting men of sin and declaring the mercy of the Lord God. Listen to this…
“Now when they heard this (the message of Peter), they were pierced to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, ‘Brethren, what shall we do?” Peter said to them, ‘Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off, as many as the Lord will call to Himself.”
Acts 2: 37-39
I want to go back to the Last Supper quickly and state something Jesus prayed…
“I do not ask on behalf of these alone, but those also who believe in Me through their word…”
John 17: 20
Watch carefully what Jesus prayed and the tense He used. He stepped out of time and prayed for us. The apostles had not preached one word and not one person had received Jesus as Lord. Yet, He speaks present tense of us. You see He is not restricted by time. The enemy, the devil, is bound by time. The devil has a limited time but Jesus operates out of time. That is so amazing. Jesus has a plan which was resolved before the foundations of this earth.