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The Case of Multiplication, or How All of Asia Heard The Gospel

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One of the very first commands from God to man recorded in the Bible is to multiply. Upon creating Adam and Eve, God instructed them to multiply and fill the earth. The idea, it seems, was to multiply the earth with humans and spread the glory of God by exercising stewardship over creation. It was a great plan -- until you-know-who ate the you-know-what. Everything spiraled out of control then. Six chapters later, God tells Noah that He is going to destroy the earth with a flood due to the great wickedness on the planet. After doing so, did you ever notice that he tells Noah the same thing he told Adam. “Be fruitful and multiply” (Gen. 9:7). Again, the idea seems to rid the earth of evil so the righteous can spread God’s glory among the earth, as the waters cover the sea” (Habakkuk 2:14). Yet, once again, the world grows wicked so God approaches a man named Abraham and tells him something. Know what he told him? Yep. You guessed it. “Abraham, I want you to multiply across the earth.” This time, though, God does not ask Abraham to do it alone, but actually promises him that he will see that it happens (Genesis 12). The rest of the Old Testament can literally be viewed as the story of God’s people failing to multiply across the earth.

Then comes Jesus. Jesus begins preaching the Gospel of the Kingdom and creates this huge movement that eventually results in at least 10,000 following him into the desert (John 6). You know what Jesus does then? He turns them away. He makes them uncomfortable, angry perhaps, and remains only with those who are left. In fact, when Jesus died, he only had around 120 disciples. If a pastor took a congregation from 10,000 to 120 in less than a year, you can bet money he would be fired. Yet that is exactly what Jesus did and He is the Son of God.

Jesus, though, understood something that we often fail to consider. Multiplication is greater than addition. 3 times 3 is 9 and 3 + 3 is 6. 9 is always greater than 6, even in today’s culture.

Multiplication in Discipleship

Making disciples is supposed to be a multiplying movement, not an “addition” movement (that would actually be impossible, I suppose). Typically, though, disciple is not done nor viewed as such. Discipleship is usually carried out in what I call reciprocating discipleship, where Christians meet with Christians to “grow in the word.” Making disciples, however, is leading nonbelievers to Christ and teaching them to do the same thing. Disciples start to multiply.

Consider the following example. Let’s say I lead 20 people to Christ every year. These are legitimate converts that have been saved through grace. I lead them to Christ, baptize them, and bring them to church. What pastor would not want a member to do that?

But, let’s say that you lead only five people to Christ each year. They also get baptized and come to church, but you also meet with them often, you pray for and with them, you help them learn what it means to follow Jesus, and you teach them to share the Gospel -- you make a disciple. Consider five years of this in the chart below.

Year

Me: # of converts (total thus far)

You: # of disciples (total thus far)

One

20 (20)

5 (5)

Two

20 (40)

5 (25)

Three

20 (60)

5 (150)

Four

20 (80)

5 (750)

Five

20 (100)

5 (3,750)

 

Five Year Total: 100

Five Year Total: 3,750


Just a note, 3,750 is not even right, because the assumption would be that each year, disciples are making five more disciples and not just stopping, so that is a low number.

That is amazing, though isn’t it? Imagine if we, today’s Church, actually practiced that. However, let me be clear. I don’t think you should do this because it is practical. You should do this because this has been God’s plan from the very beginning -- Adam, Noah, Abraham, Jesus... We should do this because this IS God’s way of doing things. Maybe that is why it is practical? Maybe it works because God ordained it so.

One last thought:

In Acts 19:8-10, we see Paul stayed in Ephesus for two years, and while he was there, all the residents of Asia heard the Gospel. ALL. Every single one of them. Historians estimate that there were between 8 and 15 million people in Asia during that time. Now remember, this was not the Bible Belt. This was pagan country. NO ONE had heard of Jesus Christ yet and within two years everyone heard the Gospel. Paul stayed in Ephesus during that time so we know he did not personally share with them. So how exactly did 8 million+ hear the Gospel in only two years?

Exactly.

Multiplication.

 

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About Author

Ricky Bailey
Ricky Bailey

Ricky is a High School Teacher and College Minister in Knoxville, TN who has devoted his life to making and sending disciples throughout the world until there is no place left that has not heard the Gospel. Ricky is the founder of Theolit.com, and in his spare time, enjoys long boarding, woodworking, reading, or watching The Office with Stephanie, the woman he somehow convinced to marry him.

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