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11 Multiplying Your Efforts


In 1945 a group of eminent scientists convened in a strange location, the desert of New Mexico, to test the results of many months of research. The success of their test could be of inestimable significance. It could be the key to rapidly terminating along and costly war. The first testing of an atomic bomb was about to occur.

Atomic energy, whether in the form of nuclear warheads or plants producing valuable energy, has greatly shaped the progress of civilization since the dark days of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

The principle underlying the mechanism of an atomic bomb is simple. Fast-moving neutrons are used to cause fission to occur within the bomb. As a neutron strikes the nucleus of a radioactive substance such as uranium, it causes it to split, forming two new, different nuclei, and in so doing to release three more neutrons. Each of these three neutrons now may strike a new nucleus and repeat the process. As each nucleus splits, energy is released. A chain reaction occurs, and the energy released takes the form of an explosion.

There is explosive power in multiplication, power that the disciple can see unleashed with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

 

THE PRINCIPLE OF MULTIPLICATION

Multiplication is one of the foundational laws of the universe. Sheep, cattle, wildlife, trees, flowers, or bacteria—every growing thing operates on a principle of multiplication. Multiplication is God’s way of doing things.

In Genesis, 1:28 we read, “And God blessed them and God said to them, ‘Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moves upon the earth.’ “

In this verse we find the first commandment that God ever gave to man, a commandment to multiply. This is about the only commandment that God has given us that we have ever been able to keep. Man has certainly multiplied on the face of the earth.

Numerically, it works out as simply as this: If parents have two children they maintain the status quo; there is no net growth in the population. When parents have three or more children, then the population begins to multiply. The more children, the faster the multiplication process.

There  is a certain cost involved in multiplication. Every parent knows that reproduction is costly. The more children you have , the more it costs to raise them. There are more interpersonal relationships to cope within the family unit. There are more decisions to be made, greater chance for disease to strike a member of the family. There is a greater chance for heartache or disappointment in one form or another. Certainly more children take more time.

For a salmon, the cost of multiplication is death. A salmon swims upstream, lays its eggs in the sand, and then dies.

Grain also dies to reproduce. Jesus said, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains by itself alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit” (John 12:24, NASB).

Even in the development of the atomic bomb, a cost was involved. In addition to the tremendous cost in terms of money and other resources, there was the “cost” to the atom itself. It had to be split and broken in order to produce its effect.

The cost involved in multiplication can also be seen in the fact that it is initially slower than the process of addition. This is particularly important as we apply it to fulfilling the Great Commission. Let’s say for example that a gifted evangelist is able to lead 1,000 people to Christ everyday. Each year he will have reached 365,000 people, a phenomenal ministry indeed.

Let’s compare him with a disciple who leads not 1,000 people a day to Christ, but only one person a year. At the end of one year, the disciple has one convert; the evangelist, 365,000. But suppose the disciple has not only led another person to Christ, but has also discipled him. He has prayed with him, taught him how to feed himself  from the Word of God, gotten him into fellowship with like minded believers, and shown him how to present the Gospel to other people. At the end of that first year, this new convert is able to lead another man to Christ and follow him up as he himself has been followed up.

At the start of the second year, the disciple has doubled his ministry—the one has become two. During the second year, each man goes out and leads not 1,000 people per day to Christ, but one person per year. At the end of the second year, we have four people. You can see how slow our process is. But note to that we do not have only converts, but disciples who are able to reproduce themselves. At this rate of doubling every year, the disciple, leading one man per year to Christ, will overtake the evangelist numerically early in the 24th year. From then on, the disciple and his multiplying ministry will be propagating faster than the combined ministry of dozens of gifted evangelists.

This is not to say that there is no need for the ministry of an evangelist, but that an evangelist by himself can never complete the task of reaching a lost and dying world.

It’s like the dad who offered his two sons the choice of either taking one dollar a week for 52 weeks or one cent the first week, and the amount doubled every week for 52 weeks. One son took the dollar. The other son said, “Well, Dad, I will try the penny to see what will happen.” We all know who wins: the son who takes the one penny and has it doubled each week. The degree to which he wins is absolutely astounding. By the end of the year, the son who began with the penny will have enough money to live comfortably the rest of his life.

God wants the same principles that are at work in the physical realm to be applied in the spiritual realm. The reason the church of Jesus Christ finds it so difficult to stay on top of the Great Commission is that the population of the world is multiplying while the church is merely adding. Addition can never keep pace with multiplication.

Some time ago there was a display at the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago. It featured a checkerboard with 1 grain of wheat on the first square, 2 on the second, 4 on the third, then, 8, 16, 32, 64, 128, etc. Somewhere down the board, there were so many grains of wheat on the square that some were spilling over into neighboring squares—so here the demonstration stopped. Above the checkerboard display was a question: “At this rate of doubling every square, how much grain would you have on the checkerboard by the time you reached the 64th square? “

To find the answer to this riddle, you punched a button on the console in front of you, and the answer flashed on a little screen above the board. “Enough to cover the entire subcontinent of India 50 feet deep.”

Multiplication may be costly and, in the initial stages, much slower than addition, but in long run, it is the most effective way of accomplishing Christ’s Great Commission . . . and the only way.

 

QUALITY IS THE KEY TO MULTIPLICATION

The key to success in the multiplying process is training the disciple in depth. Each time on person fails to “reproduce spiritually,” you cut your results in half.

One of Adolf Hitler’s objectives was the destruction of the Jewish race, but as determined as his endeavor was, he failed. The multiplication process had gone on for too long by the time he appeared on the scene. If, on the other hand, he could have been with Abraham on Mount Moriah, and taken that knife and plunged it into Isaac, he would have destroyed the entire Jewish race with one blow.

Today, nuclear reaction is used for producing energy. The nuclear reaction is controlled by introducing a series of graphite rods into the reaction chamber. This slows down the multiplication process, preventing an explosion. As the church of Jesus Christ seeks to “explode” through multiplication, Satan is constantly trying to insert his “rods” to slow us down. One way Satan does this is indicated by Jesus Christ: “And the cares of this world, and deceitfulness of riches, and the lusts of other things entering in choke the Word, and it becomes unfruitful” (Mark 4:19).

Note what the Apostle Paul says to Timothy, his son in the faith: “And the things which you heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, these entrust to faithful men, who will be able to teach others also” (2 Tim. 2:2, NASB). Four generations are clearly seen in Paul, Timothy, faithful men, and others also. Multiplication is assured only when there is proper training of faithful people who can carry the training process into succeeding generations.

It is easy to see that the training process needed to ensure multiplication I slow and costly. It takes a tremendous amount of time. And whenever you endeavor to insert a shortcut, you jeopardize the whole process. That is why the ministry of multiplying disciples has never been popular. Everybody likes the results it produces, but few are willing to pay the price to obtain the results.

A friend of mine and I were talking about a discipling 50 men right now.” At that point I realized that he and I were talking about two entirely different things, for it is impossible to train 50 people at th same time. Disciples cannot be mass-produced.

While on earth, our Lord Jesus Christ was God in the form of man. He was endowed with every spiritual gift; He did not have any of our weaknesses or failings, nor did He have the heavy responsibilities of being married or running a business; His time was devoted completely to the ministry. And yet, with all of these advantages, He felt that He could effectively train only 12; and even out of those 12, to really major in 3. If 12 was the number our Lord decided on, I doubt if we, with all our limitations, can plan to effectively disciple 50 at one time.

In Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians, he explains why he has embarked on a certain course of action by saying, “Furthermore, when I came to Troas to preach Christ’s Gospel, and a door was opened to me of the Lord, I had no rest in my spirit, because I found not Titus my brother; but taking my leave of them, I went from thence into Macedonia” (2 Cor. 2:12-13).

When Paul came to Troas, not only did the Lord provide an opportunity to preach the Gospel, but also people who were ready to listen. But Paul had a problem—he did not know the whereabouts of his co-laborer Titus. Because of this, he turned down the opportunity to reach the whole city of Troas and left in search of his brother Titus.

We would tend to think he made the wrong decision because he was allowing sentiment to rule his judgment. But perhaps finding Titus was more important than preaching to the whole city of Troas just then. Why? Because if Paul reached Titus and trained him, he would double the effectiveness of his ministry, and together they could turn around and reach two such cities as Troas instead of just one.

The importance of the individual in the process of multiplication can also be seen in Acts 8. Philip (believed to be one of the deacons chosen earlier, Acts 6) went to the city of Samaria and preached the Gospel. “And the people with one accord gave heed to those things which Philip spoke, hearing and seeing the miracles which he did” (v. 6). The ministry was so successful that some of the leaders from Jerusalem came up to witness it and give it their blessing. Right in the middle of this great evangelistic effort, the Spirit of God called Philip and sent him down to the Gaza desert to talk to one man—an Ethiopian eunuch (vv. 26-27). If Philip could multiply his ministry through the eunuch, then possibly this Ethiopian could become the key to reaching all of Ethiopia.

The discipling ministry lacks the glamour and excitement of the platform or large-meeting type of ministry. But we can hardly overemphasize the importance of investing in the right kind of person, one of vision and discipline, totally committed to Jesus Christ, willing to pay any price to have the will of God fulfilled in his life. Sticking with a person and helping him to overcome the obstacles involved in becoming a disciple is a long and arduous task.

So often I have heard the excuse, “I just don’t have the gift to do this kind of ministry.” Or, “God just hasn’t called me to this kind of ministry.” The Great Commission given to us in Matthew 28:19-20 says, “Go therefore and teach all nations.” I takes a disciple maker to make disciples. Historically, the church has believed that the Great Commission was not given to select a few people, but to all believers. If this is true, then all believers can be disciple-makers. Or, to put it another way, being involved in disciple-making transcends gifts and calling, all men and women should be disciple-makers.

Everyone has the gifts necessary to be a disciple-maker. You may be a teacher, or a housewife, or an engineer, but regardless of your vocation, you are also to be a disciple-maker. If you are not a disciple-maker, then I would suggest that you do the same thing that Timothy did with Paul, or that Peter, James, and John did with the Lord Jesus. Make yourself available to a disciple-maker who can help you to become a disciple-maker. Latch on to him. Learn from him the “how to” involved in developing those qualities needed to spiritually reproduce yourself in the lives of others.

Every Christian should ask himself two questions: “Who is my Paul? Who is the person I am learning from; who is helping me to become a multiplying disciple-maker?” and secondly, “Where is my Timothy? Where is the person I am turn helping to become a multiplying disciple-maker?”

 

BIBLICAL ILLUSTRATIONS OF MULTIPLICATION

Twelve sons were born to the Patriarch Jacob. The Bible tells us that they multiplied and filled the land of Egypt. “And the Children of Israel were fruitful, and increased abundantly, and multiplied, and waxed exceeding mighty; and the land was filled with them” (Ex. 1:7). Jesus, likewise, chose 12 men to become His “spiritual children”. He invested three years of His life in them and told them to become fruitful, to multiply, and to spread the Gospel to every creature. You and I are Christians today because 12 men caught Jesus’ vision and did as He commanded. Spiritual reproduction works!

Paul’s desire on his second missionary journey was to preach the Gospel throughout Asia. Acts 16:6-11 tells us that the Holy Spirit checked his attempt and finally boxed him into the city of Troas. There Paul received the vision to go to Macedonia and preached the Gospel. So, being forbidden by the Holy Spirit to preach the Gospel in Asia, Paul and his team left and went to what is now Europe.

Now notice what happens on Paul’s third missionary journey, as recorded in Acts 19. Paul is back in Asia once again, this time in the city of Ephesus. Verse 8-10 say: “And he went into the synagogue, and spoke boldly for the space of three months, disputing and persuading the things concerning the kingdom of God. But when divers were hardened, and believe not, but spoke evil of that way before the multitude, he departed from them, and separated the disciples, disputing daily in the school of one Tyrannus. And this continued by the space of two years; so that all they which dwelt in Asia heard the word of the Lord Jesus, both Jews and Greeks”.

Here is a beautiful illustration of spiritual multiplication. Because of Paul’s discipling ministry in the school of Tyrannus, everyone in the province of Asia heard the Word of the Lord Jesus. And just to make the point clear, Luke adds, “both Jews and Greeks”.

Multiplying disciples in the New Testament vision and method for getting the job done. We have not taken time in this chapter to do an exhaustive study on the principle of multiplication from the scriptures, but this might be a topical study you would like to do on your own. You will certainly find it rewarding.

Discipleship is not the ministry of anyone particular organization or church. It is God’s ministry. It has been on His heart from the beginning of time. Just as He set up the physical propagation of the human race on a multiplying basis, He has likewise set up the spiritual propagation of the human race on multiplying basis. But, because of the spiritual battle involved, many would-be disciples disqualify themselves. God’s cry to the Prophet Ezekiel is His cry today: “And I sought for a man among them, that should make up the hedge, and stand in the gap before Me for the land that I should not destroy it; bit I found none” (Ezek. 22:30). Have you heard His cry? Will you be that person? Will you be God’s disciple-maker?