As of today, I have been able to recap nine different men and woman who have made an impact in our world. They have been Martin Luther, John G. Paton, George Whitefield, Corrie Ten Boom, J. C. Ryle, John Bunyan, Hudson Taylor, Amy Carmichael, and George Muller. I have enjoyed the process of reading and learning more about Christians who have loved Jesus more than anyone or anything and who were willing to risk it all for him. I have enjoyed the challenge of trying to do it weekly in the process. I have grown in appreciation for those who are disciplined in writing consistently. Is there something to learn from church history? Yes, and I would like to share a few thoughts on what I learned so far.
First, God’s word was central to their lives (1 Timothy 3:16)
Each world changer not only valued God’s Word but believed the Bible as inspired by God. The Bible says, “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work (1 Timothy 3:16 ESV).
They read God’s Word and lived by God’s Word. The decisions they made, the sacrifices they made, the lives they lived were governed by Scripture. They faced insurmountable odds yet they knew they could run to God by looking to his word as solid ground (Matthew 7:24-27).
Second, they loved Jesus more than anyone or anything (Luke 14)
Each world changer resolved in their lives that Jesus is worth it all. As missionary and martyr Jim Elliot said, “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose.” There is a cost in following Jesus, there is a cost of laying down our life for him but it is worth it. All nine world changers knew that they were greatly loved by Christ as he willingly laid down his life. As they have been greatly loved, they could love others greatly.
“He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose.”-Jim Elliot
In Luke 14, there is a part in Jesus ministry where he loses popularity. A large crowd is following him and he turns to the crowd and says not what you would expect someone who is getting a large following. Instead of accumulating the masses, Jesus thins the crowd out with these words.
“If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple. For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it? Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish.’ Or what king, going out to encounter another king in war, will not sit down first and deliberate whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand? And if not, while the other is yet a great way off, he sends a delegation and asks for terms of peace. So therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple (Luke 14:26-35 ESV).”
To be a disciple Jesus must be there one and only. Jesus is in a whole other league. He is King of kings and Lord of lords. We see the world changers response in following Jesus was that they didn’t throw in the towel when it got hard or when they faced opposition, no they grew in their faith and were stronger. What a good reminder for us to have our eyes on Jesus who is the author and finisher of our faith no matter how hard it gets (Hebrews 12:1-2).
They faced many trials and tribulations (John 16:33)
Each world changer faced many trials. Those trials were the death of a loved one, physical harm or sickness, being away from home and family, facing times of hunger or only having a few resources at hand but they were reminded of God’s faithfulness. Their lives stand as a testimony to God’s faithfulness which we can look to and remind ourselves just as God was faithful to them, he is faithful to us. Jesus warns us that in this life we will face tribulation but encourages us by saying, “But take for I have overcome the world (John 16:33)!
I am so thankful that Jesus is our conquering King. The battle has already been won, we go forward not for victory but from his victory on the cross over sin and death. Jesus is alive and defeated death and we have the same hope as our trust is in him. I am encouraged by the words of Paul that Jesus is our victor.
Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? …in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 8:34-35; 37-39 ESV).
I started doing the world changers as a result of a sermon series as my senior pastor was going through Hebrews 11 and the series was called, World Changers. As we have a cloud of witnesses that have gone before us in Scripture, we also have a cloud of witness that have gone before us in church history.
I see a generation neglected of the blessing of learning from the lives of those who have gone before them. I view this as an opportunity to spark an interest for the believer to learn from and be blessed by the life of another believer who was used by God in mighty ways. I am thankful for the these nine world changers and the many more that Lord willing we can look at.