(Editor’s note: This is part two of an article examining and rebuking the wrongly motivated bitterness many especially young black males have toward Christianity.)
Christianity A Faith For All Nations
Surely, the God who shepherded events from before creation until the perfect moment He brought His only begotten Son Jesus Christ, into the world, foreknew the spread of the message about Him among the nations would subject it to the forces of cultural adaptation in the process. These forces would be relentlessly driven by the most embittered creature in all of creation, even Satan, that fallen angel and cruel enemy the Gospel message triumphantly declares the Lord Jesus defeated upon His cross (Colossians 2:6-15).
The opposition of Satan to the Gospel began with Christ and continued with His apostles. Besides intimidation (verbal and physical) and blinding the eyes of prospective converts, the devil’s most consistent tools of opposition were the message corrupting adaptations of religion and false teachings! The evidence for this, of course, is in the Bible’s New Testament which is Christian history for over half of the first century A.D. Indeed, the apostle Paul therein had to say to the Galatian Christians twice for emphasis, “But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed,” (Galatians 1:8-9, NKJV). This same Paul by the Spirit also foretells how effective Satan’s use of cultural religion and false teachings would be beyond his time (I Timothy 4:1-5; II Timothy 4:1-4).
Nevertheless, in spite of Satan’s opposition and every other kind of risk, the Lord Jesus, after His glorious resurrection from the dead, gave His commission to His disciples:
Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations
baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the
Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe
all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am
with you always, even to the end of the age.
Matthew 28:19-20, NKJV
All of the apostles and every genuine Christian from the first century until now have taken the “Great Commission” of the Lord Jesus seriously.
In obedience and the power of the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:8), they have sought to proclaim the Gospel to every human being in every nation on earth. Those persons who have believed the message and become disciples, have joyfully declared God’s praises from within their races, tribes, languages, national and cultural settings. The Lord’s “Great Commission” clearly desires and expects such results (Revelation 5:9-10; 7:9-10; 21:22-26).
While the unique cultural response of disciples from the nations was and is truly sought by the Lord, He has steadfastly resisted the corruption of the Gospel message by their cultures down to this present day. He has raised up men of conviction and passion in every season of need since the apostles to preserve and at times, recover the historic message and faith. By these men He has sent a mighty Reformation, “Great Awakenings” and revivals. These were miracles of the Lord’s intervention to see to it that corruption of His Gospel and Word did not hinder His intent to “make disciples of all the nations.”
The Miracle Of Slave Converts To The Faith
American history records the fact that initially, colonial slave owners were concerned about allowing their slaves to hear the Gospel. They were afraid its message might morally undercut the institution of slavery. However, laws were written in such a way as to insure that a slave becoming a Christian didn’t invalidate his status as a slave.2 Thereafter, many slave owners baptized and gave Christian instruction to their slaves.
Though the Gospel was presented, tenets of the faith such as “submission” were used corruptly to prop up the slave system. This, and the rigid formalism of the “high” churches of the period produced few genuine slave converts to the faith. Beginning in the early 18th century, however, the “Great Awakenings” ushered in a fresh fire and life from God to the churches and attracted the attention of large numbers of slaves by the Revolutionary War. They were drawn to the freedom and emotion expressed especially by the preachers of the emerging Methodist and Baptist churches.3
Whatever their motives, the decision of most slave owners to give their slaves the gospel was the providence of God at work to fulfill His purposes to save! As a result, we have a wonder for the ages. For who has ever heard of an oppressor giving to those he oppresses, the means to their freedom? Yet, God Almighty brought this miracle about as most American slave owners did give the liberating Gospel of Jesus Christ to their slaves.
To Be Concluded Next Issue