Ain't No Stopping Us Now
In these days of increasing secularism and decreasing Christian influence, especially in the West, it is good to remind ourselves that Christ’s church throughout history has repeatedly outlived her pallbearers. Christianity across the centuries has found itself in the crosshairs of political powers, humanist writers, and false religious movements whose desire was to see the death of faith in Christ. Predictions of the Church’s demise and the gospel’s irrelevancy are nothing new. Yet these threats were answered memorably in the words of Theodore Beza to King Henry of Navarre. He said, “Sire, it belongs to the Church of God, in the Name of Whom I speak, to receive blows, and not to give them, but it will please your Majesty to remember that the Church is an anvil which has worn out many a hammer.”
I love that last sentence about the Church being an anvil, which has worn out many a hammer, for it reminds us of the indestructible nature of the church and the unstoppable force that the gospel is. Under the headship of the living Christ, the church is deathless. Hades (the realm of the dead) cannot overcome her (Matt. 16:18). What God started in Jesus Christ, nothing and no one can stop. In the book of Acts we see that in little over thirty years, a small company of disciples shipwrecked on God, and stranded on omnipotence exploded upon the world stage and rapidly progressed from a small sect to a universal church. The gospel spread in one generation from Jerusalem to Rome, even penetrating Caesar’s palace (Acts 28:16-31; Phil. 1:12-14). And this was done in the face of religious hatred, political harassment, and physical hardship. This band of spiritual subversives turned the world on its head (Acts 17:6).
In carrying this thought of the indestructible nature of the gospel and church forward, we need to urgently notice how Luke finishes his written record of the expansion of early Christianity. Luke pictures Paul under house arrest in Rome awaiting his trial, but while he waits he preaches the kingdom of God and teaches the gospel of Christ with confidence, no one forbidding him (Acts 28:30-31). What is of interest is the fact that the Greek text of the book of Acts ends with the adverb “unhindered.” Luke signs off his record of the early Church going into the world with the thought “unstoppable.” Luke wants God’s people to know that while God’s servants may be arrested and imprisoned the word of God is not bound (2 Tim. 2:9). The gospel and the Church that preaches it are unstoppable forces in the world (Acts 6:7; 12:24; 13:49).
Surely an unstoppable gospel and an indestructible church give hope to our praying, strength to our serving, power to our preaching, and boldness to our witnessing. We may grow weary in the work, like George Whitfield, but never of the work. Christian work is irreplaceable, irresistible, and irreversible. Let us therefore steadfastly abound in the work of the Lord knowing that it is not feeble, foolish, or futile (1 Cor. 15:58). If you are feeling the blows of a culture out to hammer Christians, remember the church is an anvil that has worn out many a hammer (Acts 5:38-39). There ain’t no stopping us now!
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