Worm Christianity

Notes Outline
DESPISED BY MEN, BUT PRECIOUS TO GOD
AN “ARMY OF WORMS”
TRUSTING THE COMMANDER

DESPISED BY MEN, BUT PRECIOUS TO GOD

    1. Worm Christianity
      1. Weak, broken, struggling, leaning, vital to healthy soil, underground, working in hiddenness, often despised and trampled, undervalued, target of birds
    2. A weak and despised Messiah (eventual vindication and deliverance)

But I am a worm and not a man, scorned by men and despised by the people. All who see me mock me; they hurl insults, shaking their heads: “He trusts in the Lord; let the Lord rescue him. Let him deliver him, since he delights in him.” (cf. Mt. 27:39-43)…You who fear the Lord, praise him! All you descendants of Jacob, honor him! Revere him, all you descendants of Israel! For he has not despised or disdained the suffering of the afflicted one; he has not hidden his face from him but has listened to his cry for help. (Ps. 22:6-8, 23-24, NIV)

    1. A weak and despised people (eventual vindication and deliverance)

Do not be afraid, O worm Jacob (“a lowly worm, O Jacob” [NLT]; “despised insignificant Jacob” [NET]; “weak as a worm” [NCV]; “small and weak as you are” [TEV]), O little Israel, for I myself will help you,” declares the Lord, your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel. “See, I will make you into a threshing sledge, new and sharp, with many teeth. You will thresh the mountains and crush them, and reduce the hills to chaff. You will winnow them, the wind will pick them up, and a gale will blow them away. But you will rejoice in the Lord and glory in the Holy One of Israel. (Is. 41:14-16, NIV)

Then he said to them all: “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it. What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit his very self? If anyone is ashamed of me and my words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when he comes in his glory and in the glory of the Father and of the holy angels. (Lk. 9:23-26, NIV) 

  • since indeed God considers it just to repay with affliction those who afflict you, and to grant relief to you who are afflicted as well as to us, when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with his mighty angels in flaming fire…(2 Th. 1:6-8, ESV)
    1. The glory of Smyrna and Philadelphia in Jesus’ eyes

I know your afflictions and your poverty—yet you are rich! (Rev. 2:9, NIV)

I know that you have little strength, yet you have kept my word (“obeyed my word” [NET, NLT]; “obeyed my teaching” [BHT, NCV]; “followed my teaching” [TEV]; cf v. 10—“my word about patient endurance” [ESV]; “my teaching about enduring patiently” [BHT]) and have not denied my name (“have been faithful to me” [TEV]; “have not disowned my name” [BHT]). (Rev. 3:8, NIV)

  • So then, anyone who hears these words of mine and obeys them is like a wise man who built his house on rock. (Mt. 7:24, TEV)

AN “ARMY OF WORMS”

    1. Story from Africa
      1. Dream – “Look to the example of the Chinese church”; persecution increasing, picture of worms
    2. “We are an army of little ants, worms and termites”

“The Back to Jerusalem mission and the fulfillment of the Great Commission face powerful adversaries. Islam holds more than a billion souls in captivity and blindness. Buddhism and Hinduism have been established for more than two thousand years. The devil feels safe in these strongholds that have largely gone unchallenged throughout Christian history. When faith-filled believers start taking flames of fire from God’s altar into these dark regions, and those fires start spreading to others and the light increases, Satan will be furious … Satan will not surrender without a fierce fight! But when the devil fights against God’s children he is fighting against God himself, and our Lord’s weakness is much stronger than the devil’s strength. Nevertheless, we expect that much blood will be spilled. One of the most powerful ways we can overcome the spiritual giants of Islam, Buddhism and Hinduism is by witnessing with our own blood and laying down our lives. For each Christian that the devil tries to kill, the light of the gospel will shine a little brighter and his hold on the people will loosen little by little. It will not be an army of elephants that marches into nations like Saudi Arabia … Sometimes it seems as if a lot of mission effort consists of “elephant” plans – huge and grandiose strategies for overwhelming the devil’s strongholds and making him surrender his captives. But it is easy for border guards to detect an elephant entering the country! It makes a lot of noise and is impossible to hide. Elephants are easy to catch because they move slowly and are so visible. This seems to be how much mission work is conducted today. Instead of an army of elephants, we believe God wants to send an army of insects and crawling creatures to cause the collapse of the house of Buddha, the house of Hinduism and the house of Mohammed. The Chinese church is not strong in human terms. We don’t have a lot of money or any grandiose plans. But we are an army of little ants, worms and termites who know how to work underground, because that is how we have learned to work in China for decades … While an elephant cannot advance into sensitive areas, little worms and ants can go anywhere. They can go into temples, mosques and even into king’s palaces … Termites are very hard to detect. They do their destructive work inside the walls of homes and underneath the floorboards. Usually, the owner of the house has no clue that his magnificent structure is being eaten away until it is too late and it collapses in a heap! The termite can do what even an elephant is unable to do.”

    1. Good fruit from good soil
      1. Chinese church video clip
    2. 2008 Contend Conference – “A can of worms”

TRUSTING THE COMMANDER

    1. God’s strength in our weakness

Yet he has said to me: “My grace is strong enough for you. Indeed, my power: It is in times of weakness that it is displayed in full strength (Or that it displays itself in full strength, or that it accomplishes its work, or that it is made fully operative/present; lit that it is made complete, or that it is made perfect). It is with the greatest of delight, therefore, that I will sing of my weaknesses, rather than praying for them to be taken away, so that the Messiah’s power can be a shelter over me (“reside in me” [NET]; “rest on me” [ISV, NIV]; “work through me” [NLT]). That is why I gladly accept weaknesses, insults, hardships, and persecutions and pressures on behalf of the Messiah. When I am weak, you see, then I am strong. (2 Cor. 12:9-10, BHT)

    1. Bracing ourselves
      1. Financial weakness; must trust God to provide; learning to be content
      2. Bracing for persecution; seeing it not as a defeat, but as an honor to suffer on the Lord’s behalf (Ac. 5:41); “cancel culture” is nothing new; shrinking numbers, but purer
      3. Entrusting our loved ones to the Lord
      4. Obeying Sermon on the Mount; praying for our enemies and persecutors; trusting God for food and clothing and shelter; letting the Holy Spirit mortify inward corruptions (lust, anger, lack of integrity, fear of man/praise of man, greed, worry, etc.); asking, seeking, knocking; loving others as ourselves; showing mercy refraining from condemning others; narrow gate/road; discerning false teachers/prophets; the Lord’s prayer
      5. May need to go underground, at least in some parts of the U.S.; don’t know when or how; if so, then COVID has been a gift insofar as it has forced us out of our comfort zones
      6. Steady diet of teaching focused on the cross and Second Coming; taking time to go deep in the Scriptures while we can; recovering our pilgrim/sojourner/exile identity
      7. Ready to lay down our lives to help the Jewish people and other followers of Jesus (Mt. 25); must work together
      8. Ready to share the gospel boldly; peoples’ hearts often softened and opened to the gospel through shakings; some going out, others coming in
      9. The book of Daniel
        1. His example: his lifestyle out in the midst of ungodly, beastly empires; his understanding (literature, dreams and visions, God’s plan, the Anti-Christ, etc.); his faithfulness and loyalty to God through opposition and persecution; his eyes set on God’s kingdom and the fulfillment of the promises
        2. Crucial themes for our day: God’s sovereignty over Israel, over the nations, over the times, over boastful kings and especially over the little horn (Anti-Christ), over our own lives and destinies as believers, etc.; refusing to comply with the idolatrous demands of powerful rulers