I think about growth a lot. Some will no doubt attribute that to my occupation. No doubt about it, my training and my work do influence the things I think about. But I don’t believe that thinking about growth is an occupational hazard. Nor do I think that NOT thinking about growth is normal for brethren who did not choose this occupation. I believe that wanting growth is second nature to all servants of Christ because we know that growth is what He wants.
We know that God desires it and that He revealed that desire to ancient Israel hundreds of years before the church began. Through His faithful prophet Isaiah, God declared, “Now it will come about that in the last days the mountain of the house of the Lord will be established as the chief of the mountains, and will be raised above the hills; and all the nations will stream to it. And many peoples will come and say, ‘Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; that He may teach us concerning His ways and that we may walk in His paths.’ For the law will go forth from Zion and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. And He will judge between the nations, and will render decisions for many peoples; and they will hammer their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not lift up sword against nation, and never again will they learn war” (Isa. 2:2-4).
In the “last days,” the church will be the people of God. The beginning will be in Jerusalem. The nations will stream to it. We see that fulfilled with the establishment of the church on the day of Pentecost at Jerusalem where “devout men from every nation under heaven” (Acts 2:5) were gathered.
In the “last days,” people will come to be taught concerning the ways of God with a desire to walk according to His teaching. This will happen because in the “last days” men who know the truth will go forth, beginning in Jerusalem, taking with them the teachings of Christ. Not only did God predict this through the 8th-century B.C. prophet Isaiah, but it was emphatically given by way of command from Christ to His apostles just days before He ascended into heaven.
Now He said to them, “These are My words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things which are written about Me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.” Then He opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, and He said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ would suffer and rise again from the dead the third day, and that repentance for forgiveness of sins would be proclaimed in His name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem.” (Lk. 24:44-47). And a second time, Luke tells us that Jesus intended the message to be taken to the world (Acts 1:8) and then records the beginning of the church’s advance across the globe (Acts 8:1).
I see growth in the descriptive words and phrases in the New Testament. “There were added about three thousand souls” (Acts 2:41) “and the Lord was adding to their number” (2:47). “And all the more believers in the Lord, multitudes of men and women, were constantly added to their number” (5:14). “While the disciples were increasing in number” (6:1) … “The word of God kept on spreading; and the number of the disciples continued to increase greatly” (6:7). “Those who had been scattered went about preaching the word” (8:4).
I read of God’s desire for growth and the salvation of sinners: “This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Tim. 2:3-4); and “The Lord is not slow about His promise, … but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance” (2 Pt. 3:9).
There are plenty of good reasons for any Christian to desire growth. Let’s pray, plan, and work toward growth in 2017.
Keep studying. DC Brown ©2017