Saturday, November 20, 2010

Multiplication

What is God looking for in our lives when He says go and make disciples of all nations? What is He looking for when He says to possess the land? In many cases, we limit God and limit what we do, based on an incorrect perception of Him. We need to know and truly understand what God has commanded and empowered us to do, and be assured that He has promised to do it through us.

I want to show you from God's Word what He says about multiplication.

God commands us to multiply
· The living creatures: God blessed them, saying, "Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas, and let birds multiply on the earth." (Gen 1:22)
· "Bring out with you every living thing of all flesh that is with you, birds and animals and every creeping thing that creeps on the earth, that they may breed abundantly on the earth, and be fruitful and multiply on the earth." (Gen 8:17)
· Mankind: God blessed them; and God said to them, "Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over every living thing that moves on the earth." (Gen 1:28)
· Noah and his sons: And God blessed Noah and his sons and said to them, "Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth. (Gen 9:1)
· "As for you, be fruitful and multiply; Populate the earth abundantly and multiply in it." (Gen 9:7)
· Jacob: God also said to him, "I am God Almighty; Be fruitful and multiply; A nation and a company of nations shall come from you, And kings shall come forth from you. (Gen 35:11)
· Israel during exile in Babylon: 'Take wives and become the fathers of sons and daughters, and take wives for your sons and give your daughters to husbands, that they may bear sons and daughters; and multiply there and do not decrease. (Jer 29:6)
  
God's child can use the power of multiplication inappropriately to feed carnal desires
· King Solomon multiplied horses: "Moreover, he shall not multiply horses for himself, nor shall he cause the people to return to Egypt to multiply horses, since the LORD has said to you, 'You shall never again return that way.' (Deu 17:16)
· King Solomon multiplied wives: "He shall not multiply wives for himself, or else his heart will turn away; nor shall he greatly increase silver and gold for himself. (Deu 17:17)
· Israelites multiplied their idols: "You built yourself a high place at the top of every street and made your beauty abominable, and you spread your legs to every passer-by to multiply your harlotry. (Eze 16:25)

God promises to multiply us
· Abram’s descendants: Moreover, the angel of the LORD said to her, "I will greatly multiply your descendants so that they will be too many to count." (Gen 16:10
· Abram: "I will establish My covenant between Me and you, And I will multiply you exceedingly." (Gen 17:2)
· Abram’s descendants: "As for Ishmael, I have heard you; behold, I will bless him, and will make him fruitful and will multiply him exceedingly. He shall become the father of twelve princes, and I will make him a great nation. (Gen 17:20)
· Abram’s descendants: indeed I will greatly bless you, and I will greatly multiply your seed as the stars of the heavens and as the sand which is on the seashore; and your seed shall possess the gate of their enemies. (Gen 22:17)
· Abram’s descendants: "I will multiply your descendants as the stars of heaven, and will give your descendants all these lands; and by your descendants all the nations of the earth shall be blessed; (Gen 26:4)
· Abraham: saying, "I WILL SURELY BLESS YOU AND I WILL SURELY MULTIPLY YOU." (Heb 6:14)
· Abraham, Isaac, and Israel:"Remember Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, Your servants to whom You swore by Yourself, and said to them, 'I will multiply your descendants as the stars of the heavens, and all this land of which I have spoken I will give to your descendants, and they shall inherit it forever.'" (Exo 32:13)
· Isaac’s descendants: The LORD appeared to him the same night and said, "I am the God of your father Abraham; Do not fear, for I am with you. I will bless you, and multiply your descendants, For the sake of My servant Abraham." (Gen 26:24)
· Israel: 'So I will turn toward you and make you fruitful and multiply you, and I will confirm My covenant with you. (Lev 26:9)
· Israel: "O Israel, you should listen and be careful to do it, that it may be well with you and that you may multiply greatly, just as the LORD, the God of your fathers, has promised you, in a land flowing with milk and honey. (Deu 6:3)
· Israel: "He will love you and bless you and multiply you; He will also bless the fruit of your womb and the fruit of your ground, your grain and your new wine and your oil, the increase of your herd and the young of your flock, in the land which He swore to your forefathers to give you. (Deu 7:13)
· Israel: "I will make a covenant of peace with them; it will be an everlasting covenant with them. And I will place them and multiply them, and will set My sanctuary in their midst forever. (Eze 37:26)
· Israel: 'I will multiply men on you, all the house of Israel, all of it; and the cities will be inhabited and the waste places will be rebuilt. (Eze 36:10)
· Israel: "Then I Myself will gather the remnant of My flock out of all the countries where I have driven them and bring them back to their pasture, and they will be fruitful and multiply. (Jer 23:3)
· Israel during exile in Babylon: 'From them will proceed thanksgiving And the voice of those who celebrate; And I will multiply them and they will not be diminished; I will also honor them and they will not be insignificant. (Jer 30:19)
· David’s descendants: 'As the host of heaven cannot be counted and the sand of the sea cannot be measured, so I will multiply the descendants of David My servant and the Levites who minister to Me.'" (Jer 33:22)
 
God will multiply his obedient children
· "All the commandments that I am commanding you today you shall be careful to do, that you may live and multiply, and go in and possess the land which the LORD swore to give to your forefathers. (Deu 8:1)
· "The LORD your God will bring you into the land which your fathers possessed, and you shall possess it; and He will prosper you and multiply you more than your fathers. (Deu 30:5)
· in that I command you today to love the LORD your God, to walk in His ways and to keep His commandments and His statutes and His judgments, that you may live and multiply, and that the LORD your God may bless you in the land where you are entering to possess it. (Deu 30:16)
· Also He blesses them and they multiply greatly, And He does not let their cattle decrease. (Psa 107:38)
 
God multiplies all that the obedient have
· Herds, flocks, silver, gold, all you have: and when your herds and your flocks multiply, and your silver and gold multiply, and all that you have multiplies, (Deu 8:13)
· Man and animals: 'I will multiply on you man and beast; and they will increase and be fruitful; and I will cause you to be inhabited as you were formerly and will treat you better than at the first. Thus you will know that I am the LORD. (Eze 36:11)
· Grain: "Moreover, I will save you from all your uncleanness; and I will call for the grain and multiply it, and I will not bring a famine on you. (Eze 36:29)
· Fruit of the tree and produce of the field: "I will multiply the fruit of the tree and the produce of the field, so that you will not receive again the disgrace of famine among the nations. (Eze 36:30)
· God multiplies the seed we sow, in order that we will have more to sow again: Now He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness; (2Co 9:10)
 
Isaac prayed for Jacob to multiply
"May God Almighty bless you and make you fruitful and multiply you, that you may become a company of peoples. (Gen 28:3)
 
The enemy worries about us multiplying
When Pharaoh considered all the Jews living in Egypt and how they had grown in number, he said, "Come, let us deal wisely with them, or else they will multiply and in the event of war, they will also join themselves to those who hate us, and fight against us and depart from the land." (Exo 1:10). I think the devil worries the same way when he sees the disciples of Christ multiplying.
 
God multiplies signs and wonders
"But I will harden Pharaoh's heart that I may multiply My signs and My wonders in the land of Egypt. (Exo 7:3) 

God multiplies grace and peace 
Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord; (2Pe 1:2) 

God multiplies mercy, peace, and love
May mercy and peace and love be multiplied to you. (Jud 1:2) 

When God multiplies us, it makes us glad
You shall multiply the nation, You shall increase their gladness; They will be glad in Your presence As with the gladness of harvest, As men rejoice when they divide the spoil. (Isa 9:3)
 
In the first century, we see the church growing and multiplying
· So then, those who had received his word were baptized; and that day there were added about three thousand souls. (Act 2:41)
· But many of those who had heard the message believed; and the number of the men came to be about five thousand. (Act 4:4)
· And the word of God increased; and the number of the disciples multiplied in Jerusalem exceedingly; and a great company of the priests were obedient to the faith. (Act 6:7)
· So the church throughout all Judaea and Galilee and Samaria had peace, being edified; and, walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, was multiplied. (Act 9:31)
· But the word of the Lord continued to grow and to be multiplied. (Act 12:24)
· The word “multiplied” in the New Testament comes from the Greek word plethuno, which means to abound or multiply. Plethuno comes from the Greek word plethos, which means “fullness”, that is, a large number, throng, populace: - bundle, company, multitude. In the Greek translation of the Old Testament (the Septuagint), this same Greek word is used for “multiply.”
 
God multiplied the widow’s oil through the Word of the Lord that the prophet spoke
· Elijah: "Arise, go to Zarephath, which belongs to Sidon, and stay there; behold, I have commanded a widow there to provide for you." So he arose and went to Zarephath, and when he came to the gate of the city, behold, a widow was there gathering sticks; and he called to her and said, "Please get me a little water in a jar, that I may drink." As she was going to get it, he called to her and said, "Please bring me a piece of bread in your hand." But she said, "As the LORD your God lives, I have no bread, only a handful of flour in the bowl and a little oil in the jar; and behold, I am gathering a few sticks that I may go in and prepare for me and my son, that we may eat it and die." Then Elijah said to her, "Do not fear; go, do as you have said, but make me a little bread cake from it first and bring it out to me, and afterward you may make one for yourself and for your son. "For thus says the LORD God of Israel, 'The bowl of flour shall not be exhausted, nor shall the jar of oil be empty, until the day that the LORD sends rain on the face of the earth.'" So she went and did according to the word of Elijah, and she and he and her household ate for many days. The bowl of flour was not exhausted nor did the jar of oil become empty, according to the word of the LORD which He spoke through Elijah. (1Ki 17:9-16)
· Elisha: Elisha said to her, "What shall I do for you? Tell me, what do you have in the house?" And she said, "Your maidservant has nothing in the house except a jar of oil." Then he said, "Go, borrow vessels at large for yourself from all your neighbors, even empty vessels; do not get a few. "And you shall go in and shut the door behind you and your sons, and pour out into all these vessels, and you shall set aside what is full." So she went from him and shut the door behind her and her sons; they were bringing the vessels to her and she poured. When the vessels were full, she said to her son, "Bring me another vessel." And he said to her, "There is not one vessel more." And the oil stopped. Then she came and told the man of God. And he said, "Go, sell the oil and pay your debt, and you and your sons can live on the rest." (2Ki 4:2-7)
 
Jesus multiplied the fish and loaves
·
5 loaves fed over 5,000 people: They *said to Him, "We have here only five loaves and two fish." And He said, "Bring them here to Me." Ordering the people to sit down on the grass, He took the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up toward heaven, He blessed the food, and breaking the loaves He gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds, and they all ate and were satisfied. They picked up what was left over of the broken pieces, twelve full baskets. There were about five thousand men who ate, besides women and children. (Mat 14:17-21)
· 7 loaves fed over 4,000 people: The disciples *said to Him, "Where would we get so many loaves in this desolate place to satisfy such a large crowd?" And Jesus *said to them, "How many loaves do you have?" And they said, "Seven, and a few small fish." And He directed the people to sit down on the ground; and He took the seven loaves and the fish; and giving thanks, He broke them and started giving them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the people. And they all ate and were satisfied, and they picked up what was left over of the broken pieces, seven large baskets full. And those who ate were four thousand men, besides women and children. (Mat 15:33-38)
· But Jesus, aware of this, said, "You men of little faith, why do you discuss among yourselves that you have no bread? "Do you not yet understand or remember the five loaves of the five thousand, and how many baskets full you picked up? "Or the seven loaves of the four thousand, and how many large baskets full you picked up? (Mat 16:8-10)
 
Jesus said that a seed must fall into the earth and die before it can multiply
"Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. (Joh 12:24)
We will reap the fruit of what we have sown in due time, if we wait: Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary. (Gal 6:9)
 
Jesus said believers would do greater works than He did
· "Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do, he will do also; and greater works than these he will do; because I go to the Father. (Joh 14:12)
· The word “greater” comes from the Greek word megas, where we get such words as mega-earthquake, referring to a very large one. 
 
Those who hear the word and accept it multiply, bearing fruit, 3000%, 6000%, and 10000% what was sown
"The sower sows the word. These are the ones who are beside the road where the word is sown; and when they hear, immediately Satan comes and takes away the word, which has been sown in them. In a similar way these are the ones on whom seed was sown on the rocky places, who, when they hear the word, immediately receive it with joy; and they have no firm root in themselves, but are only temporary; then, when affliction or persecution arises because of the word, immediately they fall away. And others are the ones on whom seed was sown among the thorns; these are the ones who have heard the word, but the worries of the world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the desires for other things enter in and choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful. And those are the ones on whom seed was sown on the good soil; and they hear the word and accept it and bear fruit, thirty, sixty, and a hundredfold." (Mar 4:14-20)
 
The amount of fruit we bear will be in proportion to how much seed we have sown
Now this I say, he who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. (2Co 9:6)


Putting it All Together
I believe the enemy worries about us multiplying, because it is a threat to him. One thing the enemy can try to do is get God's people to use the power of multiplication inappropriately to feed carnal desires for things like horses, wives and idols. But God warns us about this.

From God's Word we learn that God commands us to multiply. Amazingly, we are not left to try and fulfill His command in our own strength. Instead He promises to multiply us. So it is He who does it through us. When God multiplies us, it makes us glad.

God multiplies all that the obedient have: Man and animals, herds and flocks, silver, gold, fruit of the trees and produce of the field the seed you sow, your money, and all you have.

Everywhere we look, we find God is multiplying. Jesus multiplied the fish and loaves when the disciples gave him what little they had. He broke it, and distributed it. God multiplied a widow’s oil according to His word spoken by a prophet more than once. He multiplies signs and wonders, grace, peace, mercy and love. This is a wonderful aspect about God that defies our human reason.

Jesus said that a grain of wheat must fall into the ground and die beneath the clods of dirt before it can multiply. So if you want to experience this in your life, you first need to die to yourself. Otherwise, you will simply remain alone. But if you die to yourself and live for Christ, you will bear much fruit for the Lord.
Jesus said we would do the works He did and even greater works. He explained that this would only be possible because He would die and go to the Father. He was like the seed that falls into the ground and dies beneath the clods of dirt, then comes up again green, fresh, and flourishing with great increase. His life would bear much fruit after His death, burial, and resurrection.

Jesus taught that those who hear the word and accept it multiply, bearing fruit, 3000%, 6000%, and 10000% what was sown. That should help to increase your faith!

How should we live our lives differently, knowing what we now know about multiplication?

· This should change our perspective, fill us with faith, and move us to action.
· It should change our expectation of God and of ourselves.
· It should change the way we talk and the way we live.

Part II - Multiplication Illustrations

Attribution notice: Most Scripture quotations taken from the NASB.

Author's note: If you enjoyed this post, you may also like Part Two of this article, called Multiplication Illustrations. I also recommend Life Transformation Groups, and the other posts available through the Home Page of this blog.  If you would like to become a disciple who multiplies disciples, please prayerfully consider enrolling in Doulos Training School, our international, distance education ministry. You may also access my complete blog directory at "Writing for the Master."

Do You Want to Know Him?
If you want to know Jesus personally, you can. It all begins when you repent and believe in Jesus.  Do you know what God's Word, the Bible says?

“Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.’” (Mar 1:14b-15).  He preached that we must repent and believe.

Please see my explanation of this in my post called "Do You Want to Know Jesus?"
_________________________________________________

Len Lacroix is the founder of Doulos Missions International.  He was based in Eastern Europe for four years, making disciples, as well as helping leaders to be more effective at making disciples who multiply, developing leaders who multiply, with the ultimate goal of planting churches that multiply. His ministry is now based in the United States with the same goal of helping fulfill the Great Commission. www.dmiworld.org.

Fullness

I was talking to my friend, Owen, recently and he said that people sometimes ask him, "Do you see the glass as half empty or half full?" His response is, "I don't see it half empty or half full! I see it filled all the way up to the top and overflowing, everywhere I look! Maybe that's not normal, but that's how I see it."

The reason he can say that is not because he is simply an optimistic person, but because of his faith in Jesus Christ and his understanding of fullness in Him. I think that if we could catch a glimpse of the fullness God intends for our lives, we would have a brand new perspective and a renewed faith.

Let's begin with a brief Greek word study.

Greek Word Study
In a related post on the topic of multiplication, I noted that the word “multiplied” in the New Testament comes from the Greek word "plethuno", which means "to abound or multiply." That word "plethuno" has its roots in the Greek word "plethos", which means “fullness”, that is, a large number, throng, populace, bundle, company, or multitude. This is not only used in the New Testament, but even in the Old Testament. There is a Greek translation of the Old Testament called the Septuagint. In the Septuagint, this same Greek word plethuno is used for “multiply.”

This present study looks at the word "fullness" in the New Testament. It is the word "pleroma". "Pleroma" means "repletion" or "completion." In other words, it can refer subjectively to that which fills (as contents, supplement, copiousness, or multitude). In this sense, it refers to that which is put into something in order to fill it up. It can also refer to the piece that filled up, fulfilling, full, or fullness. On the other hand, it can also refer objectively to that which is filled (as container, performance, or period).

"Pleroma" comes from "pleroo". "Pleroo" means "to make replete," that is, (literally) to cram (a net), level up (a hollow), or (figuratively) to furnish (or imbue, diffuse, influence), satisfy, execute (an office), finish (a period or task), verify (or coincide with a prediction), etc., accomplish, (be) complete, end, expire, fill (up), fulfil, (be, make) full (come), fully preach, perfect, supply.

So when we read about "fullness", we should understand it is something that has been crammed, like a vessel leveled off at the top, filled up to the brim, and made full.

Here are the instances in the New Testament where the Greek word "pleroma" appears. The English word for pleroma in each verse is bolded below:

A patch sewn used to repair a tear in a garment is considered fullness (pleroma)

"But no one puts a patch of unshrunk cloth on an old garment; for the patch pulls away from the garment, and a worse tear results. (Mat 9:16)

The baskets used to collect left overs after Jesus multiplied the fish and loaves were full (pleroma)
"and they picked up twelve full baskets of the broken pieces, and also of the fish." (Mar 6:43)

"When I broke the seven for the four thousand, how many large baskets full of broken pieces did you pick up?" And they *said to Him, "Seven." (Mar 8:20)

When the Israelites come to faith in Christ, they are considered fulfilled or completed (pleroma)
"This is set in contrast to their transgression and failure: Now if their transgression is riches for the world and their failure is riches for the Gentiles, how much more will their fulfillment be!" (Rom 11:12)

When all the Gentiles who are going to be saved have been saved, then that people group will be considered complete or full (pleroma)
"For I do not want you, brethren, to be uninformed of this mystery--so that you will not be wise in your own estimation--that a partial hardening has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in." (Rom 11:25)

The relationship between love and the law is that love is the fulfillment or completion (pleroma) of the law:
"Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law." (Rom 13:10)

Paul intended to visit the Romans with the fullness (pleroma) of Christ’s blessing
"I know that when I come to you, I will come in the fullness of the blessing of Christ." (Rom 15:29)

All that the earth is full of (pleroma) belongs to the Lord
"For the earth is the Lord's, and the fullness thereof." (1Co 10:26)

When the time comes for certain events in God’s plans to be carried out, the time for those events is considered to be full (pleroma)
"But when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law." (Gal 4:4)

"with a view to an administration suitable to the fullness of the times, that is, the summing up of all things in Christ, things in the heavens and things on the earth." (Eph 1:10)

God Himself has a completeness or fullness (pleroma)
"and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God." (Eph 3:19)

All of God’s fullness resides in His Son Jesus Christ, and God is pleased to have it that way
"For it was the Father's good pleasure for all the fullness to dwell in Him." (Col 1:19)

God’s fullness (pleroma) and all that He is dwells in Christ in bodily form
"For in Him all the fullness (Gr., pleroma) of Deity dwells in bodily form, and in Him you have been made complete (Gr., pleroo), and He is the head over all rule and authority." (Col 2:9-10)

It is from the fullness (pleroma) of Jesus that we have all received
"For of His fullness we have all received, and grace upon grace." (Joh 1:16)

The church, the Body of Christ, is the fullness (pleroma) of Jesus Christ
"And He put all things in subjection under His feet, and gave Him as head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all." (Eph 1:22-23)

Christ has a fullness or completeness (pleroma). Attaining this fullness in our level of maturity is the end state of the body of Christ
"And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ; until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ." (Eph 4:11-13)

Putting it All Together
It's clear from God's Word that a patch sewn into a garment to repair a tear is considered fullness. Just as a patch fills up an entire hole in a garment, this is what it means when there is fullness. The entire need is met, the entire empty place filled up.

The baskets used to collect leftovers after Jesus multiplied the fish and loaves were full. So not only did he fill up and complete the crowd’s need for nourishment, but even the baskets containing the leftovers were brimming full.

When the Israelites come to faith in Christ, they are considered fulfilled or completed. When all the Gentiles who are going to be saved have been saved, then that people group will be considered complete or full.

The relationship between love and the law is that love is the fulfillment or completion of the law.

Paul intended to visit the Romans with the fullness of Christ’s blessing. When the time comes for certain events in God’s plans to be carried out, the time for those events is considered to be full.

God Himself has a completeness or fullness. All of God’s fullness resides in His Son Jesus Christ, and God is pleased to have it that way. It is from the fullness of Jesus that we have all received grace upon grace, because it continues to overflow from Him and fill us.

The church, the Body of Christ, is the fullness of Jesus Christ. God’s intention is that we will all one day attain to the measure of the stature that belongs to the fullness of Christ.

Christ has a fullness or completeness. Attaining this fullness in our level of maturity is the end state of the body of Christ.

The word for “multiplied” in the Bible is the English translation of the Greek word plethuno, which comes from the word pleroma that we have researched in this word study.

Since this word for “fullness” is a root for the word meaning “multiply”, we can better understand what God is doing when He multiplies. He causes everything to abound and increase exponentially until every hole, every need, every ditch, every deficiency, and every area lacking is completely filled up. When He does this, we end up with a large number, a throng, a populace, a bundle, a company, or a multitude.

I hope this study has helped to open up your understanding of fullness. Hopefully you are able to begin seeing the glass completely full to the brim now, instead of just half full. It's only possible through the eyes of faith when you know Christ.

If you already know Jesus Christ personally, but are not experiencing His fullness in your life, then let me encourage you today. Why not take a moment right now to cry out to Him from your emptiness and ask Him to bring about His fullness in your life. Then read the related post in this blog on Multiplication and watch the Lord increase your faith in Him to do that in your life.

Attribution notice: Most Scripture quotations taken from the NASB.

Author's note: You are invited to visit the Home page of this blog, and also access my complete blog directory at "Writing for the Master." 

Do You Want to Know Him?
If you want to know Jesus personally, you can. It all begins when you repent and believe in Jesus.  Do you know what God's Word, the Bible says?

“Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.’” (Mar 1:14b-15).  He preached that we must repent and believe.

Please see my explanation of this in my post called "Do You Want to Know Jesus?"
_________________________________________________

Len Lacroix is the founder of Doulos Missions International.  He was based in Eastern Europe for four years, making disciples, as well as helping leaders to be more effective at making disciples who multiply, developing leaders who multiply, with the ultimate goal of planting churches that multiply. His ministry is now based in the United States with the same goal of helping fulfill the Great Commission. www.dmiworld.org.