But Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”
Christianity is a religion of impossibilities! Consider the following impossibilities. God did the impossible when He –
◊ created the universe from nothing (Gen. 1:1; Psalm 33:6; Jn. 1:3);
◊ created life from none-life (Gen. 2:7; Job 33:4; Jn. 1:4);
◊ enabled an elderly barren woman to conceive and bear a son (Gen. 18:14; 21:1-2);
◊ revealed the future in verifiable and specific detail through His prophets (Jer. 25:13; 29:19; Amos 3:7; Acts 3:18);
◊ sent His eternal Son into the world by being born of a young virgin girl (Isa. 7:14; Mtt. 1:23; Lk. 1:23; Rev. 12:5);
◊ empowered the Christ to perform miracles of healing (Mtt. 4:23), resurrections (Mtt. 9:25; 11:5), food-provision (Mtt. 15:36);
◊ raised the Christ from the dead (Mtt. 28:7; 1Cor. 15:4);
◊ translated (ascended) the resurrected Christ back into the dimension of eternity (“Heaven”) (Jn. 20:17; Acts 1:9)
◊ sent the Holy Spirit into the earth to spiritually regenerate, gift, and empower those who surrender/ed to the Christ (Acts 1:8; 2:4; Eph. 5:18; 1Cor. 12:7);
◊ enabled the apostles of Christ to perform miracles similar to the Christ (Acts 6:3; 19:11);
◊ despite virulent and brutal attempts to destroy both the Church and the Scriptures, He has miraculously preserved both (Acts 6:7; Psalm 119:89).
He said to them, “Because of your little faith. For truly, I say to you, if you have faith like a grain of mustard seed,
you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move, and nothing will be impossible for you.”
FOR THOSE WHO DARE TO DREAM
What was once thought of as impossible by one generation has frequently become common-place to the next generation because someone dared to dream and ask, “Why not?” In the mid-1990s, a young Bill Gates wrote a book entitled, The Road Ahead at a time when powerful computers filled entire rooms and personal computers were a novelty used for playing Space Invaders by those who didn’t have a book to read. In his book, Gates predicted that computing would soon be able to be done on a small hand-held device that could easily fit into your pocket and would be connected wirelessly to an invisible storage-“cloud” enabling users to access and retrieve enormous amounts of information instantly. He predicted that these hand-held computers would be integrated into mobile phones and would also enable identification (even national passports) and financial transactions to buy things without the need to carry credit-cards or cash. “Impossible!” Computer experts of the day scoffed at his brash and daring predictions. While Gates leveraged the resources of Microsoft to try and make it happen, and eventually developed a disappointing prototype, he was never able to achieve what he had forecasted in his book –
but that didn’t mean it was “impossible”! While Gates himself failed to fulfil his vision of what would later become known as a ‘smart phone’, another brash young computer engineer (Steve Jobs) took Gates’ vision and began to dream of a totally different way to merge the internet, a mobile phone, a music-player (“iPod”) and a computer, and thus, in 2007, the iPhone was introduced to the world — and what was once thought impossible has now become common-place.
‘THE PASSING OF THE IMPOSSIBLE’ BY F.W. BOREHAM
In 1914 F.W. Boreham marvelled at what was once thought impossible was now considered common-place. In writing in his weekly Hobart Mercury column (and later published by Epworth Press in a collection of essays called, Mountains In The Mist) he declared to his secular readers the position that Christians held about what constitutes the impossible –
Of course we know, being the Christians that we are, that there is no such thing as an impossibility in the world or out of it. An impossibility is an impossibility. Impossibilities belong to the realm of mythology. They inhabit the same weird world as the brownies and the elves, the fairies and the ghouls. As serious and scientific and practical and believing men, we must frankly confess to ourselves that the very notion of an impossibility is, on the face of it, a ludicrous absurdity.
F.W. Boreham, The Passing of The Impossible, ‘Mountains In The Mist’, 1914, p. 38
When we consider the pace of change over the past one hundred years, it becomes apparent that what was considered impossible soon became common-place to the next generation. This applies not just to innovations such as the recent emergence of the iPhone, but also to previously ‘impossible’ human achievements including – the scaling of Mount Everest by Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay, breaking the four-minute mile by Roger Bannister, sending a manned spacecraft to the moon where Neil Armstrong and Buz Aldrin were able walk on the lunar surface, and while in 1910 the Men’s 50m freestyle world record was 86 seconds – in 2009, Brazilian, Caesar Cielo swam it in 20.91 seconds! And after Bjorn Borg had won 6 Roland Garros crowns (1974-1981), everyone thought it would be impossible for anyone to match that record, but last year (2020), Rafael Nadal won his 13th Roland Garros crown making him GOAT of clay court tennis after completing what most thought could never be done!
It is assumed by many that modern Australia was first settled by the irreligious riff-raff of Britain’s over-crowded prisons. This is often the explanation given for how unChristian and unChurched Australians are why it would be impossible for Christianity to gain any traction in Australia. Added to this is the perception that the early Christian missionaries oppressed Aboriginal Australians who have then largely rejected Christianity. But consider the following challenges to these perceptions. In 1959, a young evangelist from the backwaters of North Carolina came to Australia to preach the gospel. When he arrived in Sydney, ten thousand people came out to hear him!
But it was when he came to Melbourne that something truly impossible happened! One hundred and thirty thousand people came to hear Billy Graham preach at the MCG!
If Australians consider themselves irreligious, Tasmanians are a whole other level of irreligious. Take a tour of the Port Arthur historical site and you’ll gain an understanding why. But when Billy Graham came in York Park in April 1959, impossible as it was thought to be,17,000 people filled the stadium to hear the evangelist and, per-capita, more people than anywhere else in the world made a first-time commitment to Christ!
“But that was then!” I hear you say? Consider then, that from this point churches around Australia began to experience extraordinary growth. A young returning missionary and his wife to Australia, Andrew and Lorraine Evans, took on a small church in Klemzig, Adelaide. Pastor Evans dared to believe that impossible is impossible and began praying for his church to grow extraordinarily. The church changed its name to Paradise Community Church (and is now called Influencers Church) and grew to be one of the first churches have a regular attendance of 2,000 people! But it kept growing and had a regular attendance of 6,000 before it established extra campuses around Adelaide to accommodate its growth. Meanwhile, around the same time, a young evangelist and his family moved to the pastorate of a church in Richmond, Victoria. This modest sized church of 150 attenders quickly grew to be a church of over 2,000 under the leadership of Pastor Phil Hills and planted around 200 churches around the perimeter of Melbourne! Today, “Richmond Temple” as it was known and today is known as Neuma Church has over 6,000 weekly attendees! Meanwhile, in Sydney, a young Brian Houston, planted a church in the Hills district of suburban Sydney and today that Sydney church has — what many people had always considered to be impossible — over 25,000 regular weekly attendees! In fact, I could mention churches in nearly each Australian capital city that now have attendances of over 10,000 people per week! Christianity impossible in Australia? Think again. And time prevents me from documenting the many revivals and outpourings of the Holy Spirit on the Aboriginal communities of Australia resulting in an incredibly vibrant Christian Church among our First Nations peoples!
Now, there is one text among the great sayings of Jesus that I confess I never understood until very lately: ‘Verily, I say unto you, if ye have faith as a grain of mustard-seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove ; and nothing shall be impossible unto you.’ Now, I was so incredulous about the possibility of removing mountains that I had to see it done before I really and truly believed. I am writing in Tasmania. And here in Tasmania we have a mountain — Mount Lyell. And gradually a strange faith stole into the hearts of men. They believed that underneath Mount Lyell there was an abundance of copper. They suspected it. They investigated it. They believed it ! And when they really believed it, they actually said unto the mountain, ‘Remove hence into yonder place!’ They believed; they moved the mountain; and nothing was impossible to them. The men who drove the spectral impossibilities from the shadows of our civilization were great believers, all of them. Columbus did not believe in the new world because he discovered it; he discovered it because he first of all believed it…[And] The history of missions is one continuous story of the invasion of the impossible.
F.W. Boreham, The Passing of The Impossible, ‘Mountains In The Mist’, 1914, p. 44-45
THE GOD OF THE IMPOSSIBLE!
What often looks impossible today in the realms of technology, travel, power generation, medicine, and even church, often becomes common-place tomorrow. But it takes those who are prepared to dream and dare — despite their critics. I’m looking for people who are prepared to dream and dare with me. Our city of Launceston has many fine churches but it is yet to see what the God of the Impossible can do with a church that is prepared to dream and dare. When I read the closing book of the Bible I am captivated by the ‘dream’ of God to see people redeemed from every tribe, nation, and tongue that will eventually comprise a number so vast that no-one could possibly count them! (Rev. 7:9). This is God’s grand dare for the Church and I’m in on the dare! Perhaps we too could dream of a church made up of people from an many nations, tribes, and languages as possible! Perhaps we could dare to dream of a church so significant that hundreds come each Sunday just to find out for themselves what God is doing! And when the day comes — and the day will come — that such a church exists in our city of Launceston, Tasmania, we will remember that there many who said “It couldn’t be done!”
Let me know what you think below in the comment section and feel free to share this someone who might benefit from this Pastor’s Desk.