God’s Increase Acts 6: 7 CLICK TITLE FOR AUDIO
In Acts 6:7, “the word of God increased, the number of the disciples multiplied greatly; and a great company of the priests were obedient to the faith.” My questions are these. Is God still expecting his word to increase? Is God still expecting the number of the disciples to increase? Are religious people, like these priests, still supposed to be getting saved today?
When I was in Ukraine, I saw how well Bro. Demopoulos and the church in Kiev are situated to preach the gospel to men and women in Russian speaking countries. They use neighborhood evangelism to reach their neighbors and nearby villages. They use public ministry to reach the multitudes in Kiev. They use internet technology to reach Russian speaking people world wide. And they train men who can preach and teach in Ukraine and other countries.
It certainly seems that God is not through increasing or we would be “out of here.” I believe that God is still expecting his word to increase, even in our church. So, the question then is this. How will God’s word and disciples increase in our church? I believe the scriptures have the answers. God’s increase is:
By continued prayer and ministry of the word – Acts 6:4 – the apostles were careful to not let secondary needs of the ministry sidetrack them from accomplishing the primary needs. Even in a small ministry like ours, there are many administrative responsibilities. If we are not careful, these responsibilities can become primary and prayer and the ministry of the word can become secondary. We must continue to pray. But then we must also continue to minister the word. The word and the disciples don’t increase through prayer alone. Nor do they increase through the ministry of the word alone. It takes both. Because the apostles kept praying and ministering the word, the word increased and the disciples multiplied. Are you praying?
By seed sown on good ground – Mk 4:8 – seed sown on good ground (an honest and good heart) springs up and increases. You want to sow seed wherever you can, recognizing that much of it is going to fall on ground where it won’t ultimately bear fruit. Nevertheless, some of it is going to fall on good ground. And when you find good ground, you definitely want to concentrate your sowing there, because good ground is productive ground.
When you read 1 Cor 3:6-7, you understand that Paul planted and Apollos watered, but it was God who gave the increase. Paul and Apollos were nothing. The one who is something is “God that giveth the increase.” God is interested in an increase. According to 2 Cor 9:10, when you faithfully sow the seed, God multiplies your seed sown. And the best place for you to sow the seed is with those you know (family, friends, co-workers, neighbors, etc.). Are you sowing seed? If not, God won’t give the increase. Are you sowing seed?
By a church where every joint supplies the body – Eph 4:11-16 – through “the work of the ministry,” the body of Christ is going to eventually reach “the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ.” This happens when the whole body is “fitly joined together” and when “every joint supplieth” the needs of the body. A local church, following this pattern grows like a child grows as “every part” of the child’s body works together to grow into the stature of “a perfect man.” I believe God is still interested in the “increase of the body.”
Undoubtedly, faithful attendance to preaching and teaching and discipleship are the greatest ways to strengthen every joint and every part. Through these, saints are perfected and the body is edified. Furthermore, according to Col 2:19, “all the body by joints and bands having nourishment ministered, and knit together, increaseth with the increase of God.” That is, the stronger you become through the word of God, the more capable you are to strengthen others and do your part in the ministry of the church as it increases. But keep in mind, as John the Baptist said in Jn 3:30, “He must increase, but I must decrease.” That is, as you become stronger you must also become humbler or your increase will magnify you rather than Christ.
One other key element to the perfect growth of the body is obedience to the command of Jesus Christ that we love one another as he loved us [Jn 13:34-35]. He said by this means all men would know that we are his disciples. In 1 Thes 3:12 Paul said, “the Lord make you to increase and abound in love one toward another, and toward all men.” Do you see how our increase in love toward each other is accompanied by an increase in our love toward all men. It takes this kind of love to reach others.
By churches established in the faith – Acts 16:5 – as the churches were “established in the faith,” they “increased in number daily.” A daily increase would be tough in a church today. However, If there were more churches, there would certainly be more increase. This was the very core of Paul’s ministry. In 2 Cor 10:15, he said to the Corinthians, “when your faith is increased, that we shall be enlarged by you according to our rule abundantly.” This is precisely what we do when we support missionaries planting churches in other places around the world. As our faith increases, our support of missions should increase. What part are you doing to increase the church’s support of missions?
But there is another aspect of this increase. Our church may very well be used by the Lord to plant other churches in our area. Through adding saints to our church, through growing people in our church, the Lord could easily use our church to birth another church. Children eventually grow and reproduce. I believe it is very possible that the Lord could start a Spanish church here and perhaps another local church in a city nearby.
Conclusion: God’s increase is certainly “given” by God but we must pray and minister the word, sow seed on good ground, each supply the needs of the body, and help churches to be established in the faith. What part will the Lord have you to do?