Step 6: Multiplication in Discipleship

God's command to man is "be fruitful and multiply" (Gen. 1:28). It is an essential quality of our life. This comes down to His desire that His followers multiply and bear much fruit (John 15:1-8). In His last words on earth the Lord Jesus commanded that His disciples go forth to all the earth preaching His word. Thus He reinforced His Great Commission in Matt. 28:19 to go forth and "make disciples." That is what He did on earth (Luke 6:13-16, 10:1). That is what His disciples did afterwards (Acts 2:41, 6:7). That is what we should do.

Every living thing has the capacity for reproduction in the physical sense, and also in the spiritual sense, we are in the well-known phase, "born to reproduce." Physical reproduction is first recorded in Gen 1:28. Spiritual reproduction on "good soil" comes out of one who "understands the word" and "bears fruit" 30 to 100 fold (Matt. 13:23).

The purpose of God is for us to be fruitful and multiply (John 15:1-8). He desires "much fruit" (vs. 8). He prunes His branches (believer-disciples) (vs. 2) that they may "bear more fruit." It is the outcome of abiding in Christ (vs. 5) coupled with a commitment to fulfill this calling. When we do not do this we "dry-up," and others do not see our testimony (vs. 6). Fruit bearing glorifies God because it demonstrates that we truly are disciples of "The True Vine," who did this (vs. 8). Otherwise, He "takes away" such branches in terms of effective testimony (vs. 1). Making disciples is the expressed will of God (Matt. 28:19). This is more than seeking "decisions for Christ." The best use of a disciple's time is to expend it on multiplying other disciples. If we did this with only one person in a year, that year would be successful.

In Acts 1:15 The Lord Jesus commissioned this goal in His closing words on earth. The first believer took this to heart and on the Jewish feast of Pentecost (Acts 2:41), their ranks multiplied by thousands. This kept going to Acts 6:7 when "the numbers of disciples multiplied." It all began when the Lord called the Twelve (Luke 6:13-16) to multiply this number with 70 more (Luke 10:1). The hindrance to further harvesting was that there were not enough workers (Matt. 9:37-38). It is still true. We should be seeking to be spiritual parents (I Thess. 2:7-12).

What must we do to be a "spiritual reproducer"? We must make the time and give the priority to do it and accept it as a divine calling.

    1. We must set the pace from the beginning by daily sharing our faith with the unsaved (witness). This is true whether or not we have the gift of evangelism.

    2. We must be active in helping committed believers grow into mature workers. This means active disciple making.

    3. We must maintain a growing spiritual life, "walking in the spirit" in order to have the power of God to effectively carry on this ministry. This will include "Christ likeness" gradually increasing.

    4. We must pray that God will enable us to help raise up "spiritual reproducers" who will become workers in a needy harvest field (II Tim. 2:2; Matt. 9:37-38).

    5. We must use every available means and ministry to train them in groups, individually and especially "on-the-job" demonstrations.

    6. We must regularly evaluate and monitor their progress. Are they making sufficient progress?

    7. We must help them overcome hindrances, temptations, discouragement, and excessive job demands. In dealing with them ask yourself, will they be "finishers"?

         a. Be dominated by grace (II Tim 2:1).

         b. Be dedicated to His plan (vs. 2).

         c. Be disciplined for His pleasure (vs. 3-4).

A. Personal Devotional time: This requires a daily time of study and meditation on a short portion of God's Word (God speaking to us). It also includes prayer (we speak to God) which includes worship (or praise), thanksgiving, confession, intercession (for others), and petition (requests for our own needs). We seek provision, guidance, deliverance, encouragement, and perseverance from the Lord. He stated this in the context of taking a lowly place. Servanthood is a lowly calling, not a lofty one. If we wish to be great, then we must serve. So taught the Savior. Then He exemplified this by saying, "The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve" (Mark 10:45 NASB). Even He took the towel, and knelt to do the lowly work that the disciples had overlooked or avoided. Like the lowly slave, He did what represented the will of God. He made Himself the object lesson. The servant is not above His Lord. If the Master had done this for them, then they were called upon to do this for others while taking the servant's place.

B. Personal Evangelism: This requires the regular practice of witnessing to those we think may not be truly born again within our own circle of family, friends, and other contacts. There should be a concentration of time and effort on at least two or three of the most promising or responsive. It may include written letters and gospel literature (Acts 1:8, Acts 8:4). To be a soul winner is wise (Prov. 11:30).

C. Fruit In Ministry: Based upon John 15:1-5, this means there is an outgrowth of our labors for Christ. All believers are called to do this. It particularly includes souls that are won to the Lord. It also involves believers who are growing and becoming "true disciples of mine" (John 8:31). Add also ministries that are blessed by God, whether with children or adults, conversion of prison inmates, those with drug or alcohol addiction problems, homeless people (rescue missions), radio and television outreach, medical, humanitarian, educational, and handicapped persons (e.g., the deaf). Jesus said, "You will know them by their fruit" (Mat. 7:20). He desires for those deeds to steadily multiply up to a hundredfold (Matt 13:8).

D. Growth in Character: This means that the growing believer, being empowered by the indwelling Spirit, will exhibit an ever-increasing degree of "the fruit of the Spirit." These are (as examples) love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness (dependability) gentleness, and self-control (Gal 5:22-23). A believer is called one of the imitators of Christ (Eph. 5:1). It is essential to maintain a pure thought life, resisting every lustful and unworthy thought and temptation, bring every thought into obedience to Christ.

E. Doing What Our Master Commands: It is ever the mark of the volunteer follower and pupil that He obeys and emulates His teacher. From the perspective of His manhood, that was Jesus' path, walking under the direction of the Father as the Son of Man. "I do always those things that please Him" (John 8:29). There was no disobedience in Him, not ever. He was obedient unto death (Philippians 2:8). "He learned obedience by the things which He suffered," is the amazing tribute of Hebrews 5:8. That is, He learned the experience of this discipline, He never had to learn to obey because of any trait of disobedience. This disobedient person cannot be a disciple. That would be alien to the concept. The disciple learns to please God and not self. Thus even "Christ pleased not Himself" (Romans 15:3). The disciple is interested in receiving and relaying the message of God rather than his own words. "He whom God hath sent, speaketh the words of God" (John 3:34). "The words that I speak unto you, I speak not of myself" (John 14:10). The deeds of the disciple are those which are commissioned by the Master. He is never called to do his own will. Thus our Lord says, "I have finished the work which thou gavest Me to do" (John 17:4). "The works which the Father hath given Me to finish, the same works that I do bear witness of Me, that the Father hath sent Me" (John 5:36). The mark of the disciple is total obedience. That was the characteristic of the Lord Jesus.

F. Loving the Lord Fully: It is John who gives us one of the supreme marks of the Christian. "Beloved, let us love one another; for love is of God, and everyone that loveth is born of God and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love" (I John 4:7-8). All disciples are called upon to love. We are called to love the Lord (Matthew 22:37, Mark 12:30, Luke 10:27), to love neighbors (Matthew 22:39), to love our fellow believers (I John 3:14), and to love even our enemies (Matthew 5:44, Luke 6:27). The very personification of love is the Lord Jesus Christ. He was perfectly righteous, just holy, and faithful in every utterance or deed, yet He unfailingly expressed love. Millions of little ones have sung, "Jesus loves the little children of the world." For did He not overrule the disciples and call the children unto Himself saying, "Of such is the Kingdom of God" (Mark 10:14)? But the list is endless. He loved the rich young ruler who went away sadly from His summons (Mark 10:21). He expressed love to the outcasts. He loved even His enemies and persecutors and prayed for them from the cross (Luke 23:24). But He loved the Father supremely and taught the disciples to pray, "Give us this day our daily bread" (Matthew 6:11). For in whatever was needed, He looked to God the Father. He depended upon Him for bread to feed the multitudes (Matthew 14:19), for tax money with which to pay His and Peter's taxes (Matthew 17:27), for a colt with which to ride into Jerusalem (Matthew 21:2). It is never recorded that He publicized a personal need, yet neither He nor the disciples ever lacked. He never showed anxiety about personal needs and taught His disciples to refrain from worrying about tomorrow (Matthew 6:25-34). His ministry appointments were by Divine arrangement, without advance communication (John 4:4-7). His future was Divinely planned, and He rested securely in that plan, living His life one day at a time.