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Can We Reach Our Cities for Christ?
The Early Church was able to saturate entire cities with the Gospel because they knew how to employ prayer for the lost.

Since the vast majority of the world's population are city dwellers, we must learn to reach entire cities for Christ in order to fulfill the Great Commission in our generation. But, how biblical is the concept of reaching cities for Christ?

The Great Commission, as stated in Acts 1:8, begins with a city: Jerusalem. Jesus made it very clear that Jerusalem had to be reached before the disciples were to move on, and Jerusalem was no ordinary city. In fact, it was the most difficult city imaginable. Throughout history we have romanticized Acts 1:8, and we imagine the disciples rejoicing at Jesus' words. However, it's likely they had the opposite effect on these men. Jesus' command must have sounded something like this to them:  Once I am gone and you are on your own, wait until an unknown substitute teacher called the Holy Spirit comes, and when He does, go into Jerusalem, the city that rejected and killed Me, and make sure you reach it for Me.

What a challenge!

Impossible as it may seem to us today... Acts 5:28 clearly indicates that within a few weeks, Jerusalem, the most forbidding of cities, was reached for Christ:  “...you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching...” In rapid succession, other cities followed. So much so that in Acts 19:10 we read,  “All who lived in Asia heard the word of the Lord, both Jews and Gentiles.” When Paul said in Romans 15:19, “...so from Jerusalem and all the way around to Illyricum (present day Bosnia and Serbia), I have fully proclaimed the Gospel,” he meant that he had saturated the entire area to the point that he later wrote in Romans 15:23 “Now there is no more place for me to work in these regions...”

How did the Early Church do it? It lacked religious freedom, social status, political muscle, financial resources, access to seminaries, church buildings, radio, television, even Bibles. Without any of the powerful resources available to us, they did a much better job than we have done. How did they do it?

Allow me to suggest that the Early Church was able to saturate entire cities with the Gospel because they knew how to employ prayer for the lost. The church in Jerusalem was a praying church that went from house to house (see Acts 2:42). The church in Antioch was a praying church to which the Holy Spirit gave specific instructions.
 
The Early Church was a united Church. They shared “...all things in common" (Acts 2:44). Their unity translated into spiritual authority which empowered their prayers, with the result that the spiritual climate of their cities became ripe for evangelism.

The final question remains: Can it be done today?

It not only can, it should and must be done. God is for your city. His heart's desire is clear. He wants all to come to repentance – that none should perish!

MIssionFest Toronto will be held from March 6 to 8, 2008, at the Toronto Congress Centre, 650 Dixon Road.  For more information, visit the MissionFest website:  www.missionfest.org.

Ed Silvoso is the founder and President of Harvest Evangelism: www.harvestevan.org.

Originally published in MissionFest Toronto Magazine, 2008.

 

 
 
 
 

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