Publication: One-to-One, Summer 2006
Churches rejoice in additions; God rejoices in multiplication. While churches to seek to add members, the non-Christian world–especially the Islamic world–is multiplying. How are they doing this? Families are having children–lots of children. The West meanwhile has de-emphasized family, having children, and is focused on population control.
Simultaneously, Western nations are importing workers and the children of other nations in order to sustain their economic growth and the retirement of an aging population. While some multiply, add The Church likewise adds or merely maintains, but has forsaken God’s plan to multiply. We settle for mere additions. How has this happened? It happened because we shifted the personal responsibility to be fruitful from ourselves, individually, to the church institutionally.
THE ORIGINAL COMMAND
In the beginning God created male and female and said, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth” (see Genesis 1:22). There are two very significant points to note: God began with family and His intent was to fill the earth through multiplication. It did not take long. When one considers the duration of life back in those days and the number of children that families typically had, the result is obvious. The Scriptures refer to the fact that the number of people multiplied rapidly. The fact that they lapsed into sin does not obscure the reality that they were filling the earth.
When mankind fell into sin and wickedness, God started over, but again He started with a family. Noah ‘s family built the Ark, was saved through the flood, and continued the mission to fill the earth through multiplication. For a second time the method worked. Ham, Shem, and Japheth became the patriarchs of nations.
When the time came to introduce the Holy Seed into the human situation, God again ordained a father and his family–Abraham and Sarah. The Lord supernaturally gave them a son and the guarantee that through their seed He would bless all nations. He would, through a family, fill the whole earth.
It is vital that we take note that the promise to bless all nations was given to a family because family would be the means. The Lord never entrusted His plan to an institution or an organization, but always He trusted a family. Long before Israel became a nation, it was and still is a family.
Throughout history, humanity has sought to ignore family tribe and race, but it continues to re-emerge. Does this mean that to recognize racial difference is racism? No. While we are all equal before God and should be before one another, the recognition of family, tribe, and race is a natural thing and need not be a bad thing. However, there is a family that supersedes natural family, and it is the ultimate instrument of God’s worldwide, external purpose.
THE NEW FAMILY
Jesus was born into a natural family and natural race, but He came to create a new family and new race. Hebrews 2:10 says that He came to bring many sons to glory. Included among those sons were people from every race and tribe.
Mark 3:31-35 records an occasion when Jesus’ mother and brothers came to “rescue” Him from the overwhelming crowd that came to Him for ministry. When He was told that they were outside looking for Him, He said, “Who is my mother, brother and sister? He that does the will of my Father!” In that moment He translated natural family principles into spiritual family. Anyone could become part of His immediate family by relating to the Father and His will.
What is it that creates family? It is fatherhood (see Ephesians 3:14). Every time we say “Our Father, Thy will be done,” and do so from the heart, we are acknowledging that we are one family through Jesus Christ. His Father is our Father; we are His brothers and sisters-His family. It was to His family that He entrusted His will and purpose.
His will covers how we relate to Him, to the Father, to the Holy Spirit, and to one another. It is not institutional membership: it is family relationship. His will also covers our relationship to His purpose in the earth. It remains, as in the beginning, “Be fruitful, multiply and fill the earth.” It will bless all people groups. The new family is designed to bless all families. That is our mission.
What prevents us from our mission to multiply? There are several issues that we must overcome: one is our family divisions. The Scriptures are clear-division prevents blessings and the flow of blessings to others.
Our divisions are caused by sin, self-seeking, pride, unforgiveness, and viewing the Kingdom through sectarian senses. Seeing the Kingdom as a family rather than an organization will help us to have a different perspective. We do not need to attack organizations or try to destroy them; we simply must see each other as brothers and sisters.
Another hindrance is placing the responsibility to bear fruit on “the group” rather than accepting it personally. “Let someone else have the children,” is the attitude. Or, “let the Church bear fruit.” But all of us as brothers and sisters are called individually to be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth (see John 15:16).
Division and deflecting the mission are two major hindrances to the purpose of God. Another issue is our blindness to the multiplication of the non-Christian world. Ignoring the Word of God and call of the Spirit has blinded us to reality. While we struggle to get a few “additions” in our churches, the secularists are making converts and the Muslims are multiplying. Christian Europe is drowning in Islamic immigrants who are multiplying. I am not attacking Muslims here; I am simply pointing out that they “get it” while most Western Christians do not.
As I write this, millions of Christian parents are sending their sons and daughters off to institutions dedicated to a secular if not atheistic world-view. And those unsuspecting students are being mentored by the millions. Meanwhile their parents fail to understand their own mission.
The apostle Paul refers to Timothy as his “true son.” Then in 2 Timothy 2:2, he tells him to teach faithful men who will teach others also. True sons teach others to be true sons and daughters . True sons are not merely converts, they are faithful. Jesus and the apostles were true sons and they produced true sons. They set out to fill the earth (see Matthew 28:18-20). I applaud those who plant churches with an outward focus. However, I urge that we go beyond planting churches, to planting sons and daughters. Replicating our structure is insufficient. We must replicate family–sons and daughters.
Passing on sound doctrine and historic creeds is important, but if we do not become fruitful, doctrine will become irrelevant.
GRACE IS PERSONAL
We have received grace from God through Jesus Christ. We did not get that grace as a group; we received it personally. Grace is free, but it places a demand upon us personally. “Unto whom much is given, much is required” (see Luke 12:48). Each one of us will answer personally for the grace of God. We will not stand before Him as Catholics, Baptists, or some other group.
Grace contained is grace lost.
Grace is not a reservoir; it is a river. “Praise God from who all blessings flow.” Blessings must flow. We were not chosen to simply be blessed. We were blessed so that we can bless others. The future belongs to those who will bless others with the Good News of God’s amazing grace.
I have written about the responsibility to have children, but I want to focus on privilege. It is more than a duty; it is a great opportunity to see our life in another person. To see our children’s children is the promise of God. To see them prosper and be fruitful and to be in good health is life’s crowning joy.
Our family is blessed. Our children are serving the Lord and are in His family. So are our grandchildren. Five of our grandchildren were adopted into our family and have been received into God’s family. Three of them are Latin and two others have a Jamaican background.
We see no difference in any of them. The same grace flows through them all.
We may not all have natural children, but we can all have spiritual sons and daughters. Through them, we can be fruitful and multiply. Carolyn and I are so blessed to have spiritual sons and daughters in many nations who are also having sons and daughters. Whatever we may achieve personally pales in comparison to what these descendants will achieve.
I urge you to review the original purposes of God and His means to achieve it. Be part of a spiritual family and bring to our Lord by bringing God’s grace to future generations.
Scripture Reference: Genesis 1:22; Hebrews 2:10; Mark 3:31-35; Ephesians 3:14; John 15:16; 2 Timothy 2:2; Matthew 28:18-20; Luke 12:48;