2000 YEARS OF CHRISTIAN INCREASE

(Investigator 12, 1990 May)


Describing Christian outreach in the 19th century K S Latourette wrote:
 

Never before had Christianity or any other religion had so many individuals giving full time to the propagation of their faith. Never had so many hundreds of thousands contributed voluntarily of their means to assist the spread of Christianity or any other religion. (A History of Christianity, Volume 2)


Jesus Christ gave a number of verbal illustrations (parables) in which he foretold the growth of the Church. For example:
 

The kingdom of heaven is like a grain of mustard seed which a man took and sowed in his field; it is the smallest of all seeds, but when it has grown it is the greatest of shrubs and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and make nests in its branches. (Matthew 13:31-32)


Jesus also said: "And the gospel must first be preached in all nations." (Mark 13:10) And "you shall be my witnesses in Jerusalem ... and to the end of the earth." (Acts 1:8) The "end of the earth" must surely include us in Australia and the Pacific Islands.
 

TWO THOUSAND YEARS OF CHRISTIAN GROWTH
(Most of the figures in this chart are estimates)

DATE NUMBER OF CHRISTIANS
WORLD POPULATION (Millions)
CHRISTIAN %
OF WORLD
POPULATION
c.35AD 5,000
260
0.002%
100 50,000
300
0.02
300 1,500,000
250
0.6
400 8,000,000
250
3.2
700 30,000,000
300
10
1000 45,000,000
350
13
1500 70,000,000
450
15.5
1800 160,000,000
900
18
1900 350,000,000
1,650
21
1950 550,000,000
2,450
22.4
1975 940,000,000
4,000
23.5
1990 1,250,000,000
5,200
24
2000 1,500,000,000
6,000
25

Galatians chapter 4 shows that non-Jewish believers would outnumber Jewish believers. This was originally written in about 50 A.D. when Christians numbered perhaps 10,000 and Jews perhaps 4,000,000. It took about 350 years for Christian believers to catch up.

Isaiah (54:17) predicted:

No weapon that is fashioned against you shall prosper.


This originally applied to the Jews – how their identity as a people and nation would survive.

Galatians chapter 4 – when discussing the increase of non-Jewish believers in God – quoted from Isaiah 54 (actually from verse 1). This suggests that the entire 54th chapter of Isaiah, including "no weapon against you shall prosper", has a fulfilment in Christianity in addition to its original application to Judaism.

The "weapons" against Christianity have included organized large scale martyrdom, inquisitions, Bible burnings, invasions of "barbarians" from Asia, avalanches of new cults, Atheistic Communism, etc. The last-mentioned – Communism – currently seems to be disintegrating, a "weapon" that did not "prosper".

Perhaps the greatest "weapon" is the internal problems, the "Christian" fakes.

Jesus compared it to a wheat field sown with weeds. (Matthew 13:24-30) The Apostle Paul stated: "from among your own selves will arise men speaking perverse things to draw away the disciples after them." (Acts 20:30) My chart of "CHRISTIAN GROWTH" makes no distinction between the genuine and the fakes between the wheat and the weeds.

Eventually the "weeds" will be removed (Matthew 13:40-50), and "All the ends of the earth shall remember and turn to the Lord." (Psalm 22:26) Evidently greater growth lies ahead.

(A)



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