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April 2024 Message From Pastor Mike: “The More Things Change…”

Two-thousand years is a long time. It’s hard to fathom how dramatically human culture has changed since Jesus called the first disciples to start the church. Many believers at that time thought Jesus would return in their lifetimes and bring the church age to an end just as it was getting started. And yet, here we are, 2,000 years later, and the church is still seeking to fulfill the mission Jesus gave us to carry His love and message to the ends of the earth.

As I have preached through Acts this spring, I have been struck by the many cultural changes that have taken place since that first generation of believers. In some ways, it feels like a completely different world than the one Peter, Stephen and Paul knew. At the same time, I find encouragement in considering those things that remain the same.

One of the most obvious changes through the centuries of church history is the widespread expansion of God’s Kingdom. The first generation of believers carried the Gospel from Jerusalem out across the Roman Empire, reaching perhaps as far as Spain. That was a great accomplishment under the power and protection of the Holy Spirit, but now, the message of Christ has gone everywhere. We take it for granted that there are Christians and established churches in virtually every nation on earth. Missionary work is still needed to reach each new generation, but the geographic spread of the Gospel has been tremendous.

Another change we can’t ignore is the technological revolution, especially in recent decades. When Paul set out to travel from Jerusalem to Rome, it was dangerous journey by sea and land that took six months or more. He endured a shipwreck and had to be rescued from a small island. Now of course, people routinely fly across the country or around the world, covering thousands of miles in a few hours. Missionaries can bring the Gospel to remote parts of the world with relative ease, and we can communicate instantly with people in faraway lands by voice, text or video.

American churches enjoy the historically unique blessing of cultural acceptance along with freedom of assembly and speech. The early church faced constant and often brutal persecution. They were opposed by other religious groups and by government authority. Most of Jesus’ first disciples died as martyrs. By contrast, we enjoy legal protection and cultural support. It’s easy (maybe too easy) to be a Christian in America.

While many things have changed in 2,000 years, what matters most to our faith has remained the same. First and foremost, the good news of Jesus has not and will not change. God still loves people everywhere and invites them to find forgiveness and new life in Christ. Jesus is still the only Savior through whom people can find eternal hope and peace, and that means the message of the church does not need to change. We continue to preach the Gospel and call all people everywhere to repentance and faith in Jesus. We proclaim our Lord’s death and celebrate His resurrection. We rejoice in God’s grace that saves us, and we long for the glories of heaven when this life ends.

In the same way, the power of the Holy Spirit has not changed. The book of Acts chronicles mighty things those first believers were able to accomplish after the Spirit took up residence in their hearts. By the Spirit’s power, they performed miracles, confronted demonic forces, cared for hurting people, and most im-portantly, helped countless people find new life in Christ. Now, we have the same power at work in our lives and our ministry. The Spirit dwells in our hearts and moves in our church to enable our service in Jesus’ name. May God continue to bless and protect His church, until Jesus returns.

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