Multiplication or Division? :: By Nathele Graham
Deep down, most Christians want more people to come to a saving faith in Christ. Whether we think of a relative or a friend, our desire is that someone we love does not end up in Hell for eternity. Were you baptized as an infant? You didn’t make your own choice, nor did you repent from your sins. Let’s be clear: there is no purgatory. The individual choice has to be made before we leave this earth. No matter how sweet Aunt Clara is or how kind and reliable Uncle Bill is, without faith in Jesus before death, they won’t go to a better place. Neither will you. Another truth to understand is that everyone lives forever…some to eternal life, while others join Satan and his minions in the Lake of Fire that burns forever.
Forever is a long time to live with poor decisions. The Apostle Paul understood this. After he met Jesus, his life was spent sharing the Gospel. The only way anybody can accept Christ is for someone to share the truth with them. “How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher?” (Romans 10:14).
Today, I see a lot of people who think that bribery is the way to spread the Gospel. Missionary work today is not what it once was. There are groups who think the way to spread the Gospel is to do repair work on homes (provided the person has insurance) or to give Christmas gifts to children who have no idea who Christ is. Brothers and sisters, the Biblical way to bring someone to understand who Christ is and why they need salvation is to share the Gospel. I attended a church for many years that has forgotten who Christ is, and it is under the leadership of a very seeker-friendly pastor who seldom preaches from the word of God. Pew-sitters will multiply, but true believers will be divided.
God’s word must be understood from Genesis through Revelation. Each concept and each verse is important and must be applied to each person in the congregation. “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: that the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works” (2 Timothy 3:16-17).
It might be a feather in the cap of a preacher to have a full congregation to speak to every Sunday, but if those people aren’t hearing God’s truth, it profits nothing… except a stuffed collection plate. I hear so many people yearning for revival, and so do I. The problem is that it seems people want revival without Christ. This is a sign that we are in the end of days. Too many people have turned away from God’s truth found in Scripture and cling to the man-made ideas of “church doctrine.”
When the rules and regulations of the denomination you attend conflict with God’s word, obey God. There is much division among denominations, and that doesn’t honor God. Today, outright sin is accepted by many Christians, but if the Bible is seen as authority, the sinner would be shown God’s love, but the sin would be rejected.
After Moses died, Joshua was the strong leader of the Israelites. The first thing he did was to lead the people back to God. He re-established the celebration of Passover and brought the people back to a covenant relationship with God. This meant all the men had to be circumcised. Yes, it hurt, but unless they were right with God, they couldn’t expect God to bless them. Giving up a sin may hurt, but we can’t honor God if we pick and choose what rules we will follow.
Years passed, and Solomon desired to build a temple to honor God. Solomon’s father, King David, wanted to build it, but God didn’t allow him the privilege, so the honor fell to Solomon. God was pleased with what Solomon had built. Then God told him, “If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways: then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land” (2 Chronicles 7:14). Today we just want God to bless us because we want Him to. We take no responsibility for our actions as we dabble in sin and accept false teachers into the pulpits. God wants Christians to multiply, but we must follow His ways, or we will be divided.
Time passed, and the people forgot to honor God. Israel divided into two kingdoms, and the Northern Kingdom was destroyed because of the evil leadership and pagan worship which they embraced. The Southern Kingdom fared much better, for a while. They didn’t fully follow God’s Law like they were supposed to. It’s never wise to pick and choose which part of God’s word you want to obey, or twist Scripture to condone your sin. The beautiful temple which Solomon built was destroyed, and the people were taken captive to Babylon.
Years later, the time had come for the temple to be rebuilt, but there was much turmoil. Read Ezra and Nehemiah to understand what all went on, but once the temple was rebuilt, it was time for revival. “And all the people gathered themselves together as one man into the street that was before the water gate; and they spake unto Ezra the scribe to bring the book of the law of Moses, which the LORD had commanded to Israel” (Nehemiah 8:1).
The first thing that must be done in order to bring revival and be in a right relationship with God is to understand God’s word. “And Ezra the scribe stood upon a pulpit of wood, which they had made for the purpose; and beside him stood Mattithia, and Shema, and Anaiah, and Urijah, and Hilkiah, and Maaseiah, on his right hand; and on his left hand, Pedaiah, and Mishael, and Malchiah, and Hashum, and Hashbadana, and Zechariah, and Meshullam” (Nehemiah 8:4).
Revival cannot happen unless God is honored. “And Ezra blessed the LORD, the great God. And all the people answered, Amen, Amen, with lifting up their hands: and they bowed their heads, and worshipped the LORD with their faces to the ground” (Nehemiah 8:6).
Does your pastor honor God’s word? Does he preach a sermon centered upon Scripture, or is it centered upon books written by men? I’ve listened to too many sermons that are centered around a purpose-driven idea, or quotes by atheists and rock stars. These sermons aren’t designed to edify anybody or confront sin but to assure that everyone is happy. Never mind that the word of God is compromised. The congregation may multiply, but those who come to faith and honor God are few. In fact, such sermons actually deny Christ. “But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 10:33). It’s very serious to deny Christ in order to tickle ears.
Jesus was born at a time when there was much turmoil and tension in the world. The Jewish people were allowed to practice their faith, but the Romans ruled over them. Jesus came to fulfill the Law, not to demolish it. God’s morality still applies to us today. When Jesus walked in Jerusalem, it was a serious offense to follow Christ. The temple was the center of Jewish life, but anyone accused of following Christ was expelled from the temple and the protection it offered. If you followed Christ, your family would disown you. Jesus wasn’t unaware of this problem but was more concerned with saving souls than with multiplying followers who would be persuaded to follow each new craze.
“Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law, and a man’s foes shall be they of his own household. He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me” (Matthew 10:34-38).
That’s not very seeker-friendly, but it is the truth. Will it cause division? Yes, but it will also bring salvation. If you only want to please people, you may have many followers and be a megachurch, but unless you follow Christ, you gain nothing. Christ brings division between those who follow Him and those who follow the world.
One of the most non-seeker-friendly sermons ever preached was spoken by Simon Peter. The disciples, now Apostles, were gathered together. They must have been unsure of what to do after Jesus had died, and their hopes had been dampened. They didn’t know that they would be the ones to bring revival into the world. “And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place” (Acts 2:1). They were of “one accord” in “one place.”
There was no division in them. They were all together, with the exception of Judas who had turned against Jesus and ultimately committed suicide. Judas would have always caused division. Peter was there. Peter had denied Christ three times but repented and was restored by Jesus. He would be used in a big way. The Apostles weren’t divided; they knew what Jesus had taught them and didn’t deviate from His truth. That’s when the fire of the Holy Spirit came upon them, and they were never the same. Peter turned his boldness towards spreading the Gospel. “They were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance” (Acts 2:4).
People who heard thought they were drunk. Peter had been told by Jesus to feed the sheep, and feed them he did. He used Jewish Scripture found in Joel 2:28-32 to explain that prophecy was being fulfilled that day; prophecy is a very important study. Peter’s main focus of this Holy Spirit-inspired sermon was Jesus. Peter convicted the crowd of their sins, but he also spoke of the miracles and sacrificial love of Jesus. “Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain: whom God hath raised up, having loosed the pains of death: because it was not possible that he should be holden of it” (Acts 2:23-24).
Many of these same people who were listening to Peter had been in the crowd at Jesus’ trial. They were shouting, “Crucify Him!” Peter didn’t sugarcoat their sin. Did these people get in a snit and stomp away? No, they didn’t. “Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do?” (Acts 2:37). They were to repent and be baptized. They couldn’t remain in their sin; they had to turn away from it. The baptism was an outward sign of an inward change. “Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls” (Acts 2:41). Christians were multiplying, not dividing.
Today, we have many divisions among the various denominations, and many of the doctrines aren’t found in Scripture. Some denominations say that musical instruments cannot be played in worship services, and others believe you have to speak in tongues. Jesus said to “Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me” (John 5:39.
When the Apostle Paul took the Gospel to the people of Berea, he found that “These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so” (Acts 17:11). If your pastor doesn’t teach from Scripture, he is in error. That shouldn’t stop you from studying God’s word. Brothers and sisters, be like the Bereans.
Paul also encouraged the young pastor Timothy to study Scripture. Remember, the Scriptures were Old Testament writings, so don’t neglect any of Scripture. “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15). You need to study to be sure you’re being taught properly.
My husband first came to know Christ in a church that had many false teachings. I encouraged Ron to compare what was being taught from the pulpit to what God said in Scripture. Ron was very discerning and soon came to realize how wrong that church was. Ron never lost his love for God’s word and did his best to live for Christ.
If your pastor is trying to multiply pew-sitters by preaching seeker-friendly or New Age heresy rather than rightly dividing God’s word of truth, then you need to rebuke him or find a Christ-centered, Bible-believing congregation to worship God.
God bless you all,
Recommended prophecy sites:
All original scripture is “theopneustos,” God-breathed.
If you’d like to be on my mailing list to receive the commentaries, just drop me an email and let me know.