The mystery known always to God, but revealed to mortals only at his behest, has been revealed through Christ. That mystery is: Jesus Christ has come and all of God’s enemies will be destroyed Revelation 10:7, I Corinthians 15:24-28.
In previous blogs, then, God’s Hidden Cause became God’s Personalized Cause.
This blog considers Christianity as God’s Evangelistic Cause, based on the book of Acts. Repeating what he had earlier said to the Eleven disciples in Matthew 28:18-20, Jesus ordered the Eleven Disciples-Apostles to be his witnesses in “Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” Acts 1:8.
Acts 2-5 record successful apostolic efforts in two of the four areas needing evangelism. Satisfaction supervened, as is often the case after any great numerical-growth period. Apostolic leadership inadvertently brought it. Who wouldn’t want to belong to an apostolic-led church with thousands of members having daily needs met, welcoming new members daily by baptisms, worshipping daily in ample temple courts with thousands of fellow Christians?
Success stalled outreach and localized what God wanted universalized. God responded with an administrative change that became the catalyst turning Christianity from a local church of thousands in Jerusalem into mostly local-home churches across the Roman Empire.
The alteration began in Acts 6 with the selection of seven deacons to serve daily needs of Grecian Jewish widows. One of them, the redoubtable Stephen, proved such a powerful presence in preaching and miracles that vested Jewish interests had him arrested. Which proved counter-productive for their cause since his charismatic preaching posed a threat they couldn’t correct and wouldn’t tolerate.
His death led to the persecution Saul of Tarsus initiated, which led to Philip’s preaching in the third area and to the initial outreach into Africa. As Acts 11:19 records, it also led to the diffusion of Grecian Christians from Jerusalem into the wider Roman world. Which led to God’s eventual choice of Saul of Tarsus and Barnabas to ignite evangelism OVER ALL the Roman world. Which led to approximately 10% of the pole in the Empire being Christian in the final 65 years of the century. End Part V