I've was watching a news show about wildfires around the country. According to the report, in just two weeks over 1,700 fires have burned nearly and over 300 of the fires are still uncontained. The most dangerous fires are being contained, but the firefighters fear that might change. As they try to control the fires with bulldozers, controlled backfires and aerial drops of water and fire-retardant chemicals, they are wary of the weather. Temperatures may soon reach well over 100 degrees, with winds that could cause the fires to spread.
Just like a wildfire, the church in the first century spread everywhere. On the Day of Pentecost, the Lord added 3,000 people to the church in Jerusalem (see Acts 2:41), and it spread outward from there, despite all attempts to contain it. A young Pharisee, Saul of Tarsus, was especially zealous in his persecution of the church, and he actively hunted down believers. But it was already uncontrollable by the time he met Jesus Christ on the road to Damascus. It was everywhere. The more the persecution, the greater the spread.
I liken it to trying to put out a fire with your foot. I don't know if you've ever tried that--but don't. If you try to stamp it out, your foot creates enough of a draft to take those little embers and shoot them out and start fires everywhere. And so it's like the devil was trying to stomp the church out with his foot, and all these "on-fire" Christians were going everywhere spreading the gospel.
When Peter gave Jesus the profession of his faith, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God," Jesus told him, "...on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it." (see Matthew 16:16, 18). Jesus predicted that the church would stand up against any assault.
The church in Jerusalem was just doing the basics (see Acts 2:42-47), but the Holy Spirit was there, empowering it to spread. The church today can be just the same.
Over the years, many non-believing people have predicted demise of the church. More than a few political leaders tried to stamp it out. They not only failed, but they caused it to spread. There will always be opposition from those who don't want it to spread. But if we remain close to Jesus Christ we will be fruitful (see John 15). Even the gates of hell won't be able to stop the church.
Love God – Love People