Not Because You Do Not See It
Last week I shared with you some daunting statistics such as the population of the world, which is approximately 7.4 billion people, and of that amount about 32.5% represents Christianity, and of that amount 50 % represents Roman Catholics. The balance stands for Islam 21.5%, Hinduism 14%, Buddhism 6% and Non-Religious 16%. How do we reach these people with the gospel of Christ? Just thinking about these massive masses of people is enough to discourage us, but again I go to the word of God, in particular the Parable of the Leaven. It helps me to understand how the kingdom of God will mushroom. Accordingly, I make three points drawn from the parable.
You Don't See It
Through the parable of the leaven Jesus makes the point that just because one does not see the leaven does not mean that nothing is happening. Likewise the same could be said of His church or kingdom. Is it any wonder that the Apostle Paul says, “We walk by faith and not by sight” (2 Cor. 5:7, NKJV). Sight can be good, but it can be misleading or delusional. So let’s consider the genesis of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. Going back to 1844 that was a time of great disappointment. Many individuals had sold land and disposed of material possessions in anticipation of the imminent return of Christ, but it did not happen. As a result, some gave up on Christ; and others returned to their former churches. Nonetheless, a core or small group decided to hang in there, as they felt that there was something sincere and genuine about their experience. Later they would find out that they had the right date but the wrong event. Therefore, from that small beginning, the Seventh-day Adventist Church got started.
So from 1844 I fast-forward to 1863, and according to the GC Statistics, the church had only 3,500 members. By 1899 there were 64,003 members, and by 1955 – 1,006,218 (our first million)! Now today, some approximately 61 years later, we are nearing 19 million. Looking back then you could not see it, but like yeast when mixed with dough, it started its work.
You Will See It
Today, you can see a difference compared to when many of us became members. According to the leaven, which the woman took and hid in the dough, the Bible implies that the dough would eventually rise. One does not have to guess as to the growth and development of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in the Bahamas, Cayman and The Turks and Caicos Islands.
Consider that in 1950 there was just one field in the Bahamas –The Bahamas Mission with 19 churches, 718 members and a total of 40 baptisms for that year. Cayman Mission had 4 churches with a membership of 182 and 4 baptisms for that year. The Turks and Caicos Mission was known as Salt Cay Mission. It had a small membership of 44 with 2 churches and had 11 baptisms that year. That was a significant growth in membership. Today, there are two fields in the Bahamas with a book membership of nearly 24,000 members and 60 churches. As for Cayman the membership has exceeded 5,000 and there are 16 churches; and in the Turks and Caicos the membership is approaching 3,000 with 9 churches. This ought not be surprising, for didn't Jesus say, “And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all peoples to Myself” (John 12:32 NKJV).
So like a baby that has been birthed, the church or God’s kingdom is advancing but certainly not to the extent that many of us had hoped. Ellen White contends, “If we would humble ourselves before God, and be kind and courteous and tenderhearted and pitiful, there would be one hundred conversions to the truth where now there is only one” (9T 189.4).
You Will Experience It
The other aspect of growth is personal. This is what takes place within the individual. In commenting on this aspect of growth, Ellen White explains, “As the leaven, when mingled with the meal, works from within outward, so it is by the renewing of the heart that the grace of God works to transform the life” (COL 97.1).
This is heightened by the admonition to Nicodemus by Jesus seen in John 3:3: Jesus answered and said to him, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”
With this kind of conversion taking place, there is bound to be an inward and outward change being manifested as a result. Ellen White got it right when she wrote, “The natural inclinations are softened and subdued. New thoughts, new feelings, new motives, are implanted. A new standard of character is set up—the life of Christ. The mind is changed; the faculties are roused to action in new lines. Man is not endowed with new faculties, but the faculties he has are sanctified. The conscience is awakened. We are endowed with traits of character that enable us to do service for God” (COL 98.3).
My dear brethren the world desires to see these changes. This to me is the most positive change of growth. Someone has said, “I would rather see a sermon than hear one.” Can you imagine a church with this kind of growth? If you would keep in tune to the “Lord Transform Me” initiative to be launched officially in ATCU May 25th, you will see what the Lord will do.