“And Jesus came and said to them, All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always to the end of the age.” – Matthew 28:18-20
God’s Kingdom is growing and spreading. We have been commissioned to join Him in His work. Let’s focus on a key foundational issue as we begin to consider what it means to be a believer who is committed to God’s mission. Namely that God HAS, IS, and WILL grow His Kingdom. His mission is the redemption of His people and the restoration of all of His creation.
Let us consider this parable of Jesus: “The kingdom of heaven is like a grain of mustard seed that a man took and sowed in his field. It is the smallest of all seeds, but when it has grown it is larger than all the garden plants and becomes a tree so that the birds of the air come and make nests in its branches.” He told them another parable. “The kingdom of heaven is like leaven that a woman took and hid in three measures of flour, till it was all leavened.” – Matthew 13:31-33
It’s Growing Larger. The growth of God’s Kingdom may seem small or insignificant at times, but the final results of its growth is exponential.
It’s Spreading Wider. Jesus’ comparison of God’s Kingdom to leaven emphasizes that not only is God’s Kingdom growing, but it’s also spreading. Think about it. Christianity, at the time of Jesus’ death, begins in an insignificant part of the world, with what most people estimate to be around 150 people. It’s now spread around the world.
Jesus has assured us (Matthew `4:18) that He WILL build His church and despite Satan’s best attempts, he cannot stop the growing and spreading of God’s Kingdom. What a powerful promise we see here.
God graciously uses us to accomplish kingdom growth. God’s method of growing His Kingdom is to use those whom He has redeemed to accomplish its growth. There are two important aspects to remember as we think on this truth that affect the church’s effectiveness in joining God in the work of redemption:
The American church, by and large, has commitment issues that hinder our participation in joining God’s work in Kingdom growth.
Our participation in seeking to grow God’s Kingdom is not optional.
Scripture clearly demonstrates God’s expectation and our responsibility to be involved with growing God’s Kingdom. Paul says this in the book of Romans. “How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!” – Romans 10:14-15
Paul’s argument is clear. How can a person ask Christ to forgive them of their sin if they’ve never heard of Him or the grace of God found in His death, burial, and resurrection? We often make the unbiblical assumption that somehow, God magically saves people apart from their hearing the gospel and their personal request for forgiveness and personal faith in Jesus. This is an infringement of Roman Catholic theology concerning purgatory. To be honest, it is universalism, repackaged into something that sounds a little more Baptist. However, if we hold to this, we are essentially saying God has two ways to save people. One is through grace and forgiveness (Eph. 2:8-9; John 3:16), the other is on the goodness of people’s intentions or their lives. This is a works-based theology, like every other religion in the world. It simply isn’t true. There is one way to obtain forgiveness of sin and be declared just in God’s sight. (John 14:6; Rom. 3:21-ff).
Listen to one of the disciples Peter’s sermons, “And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” – Acts 4:12
Now, we know that God is the one who saves, but he graciously uses us in the process. We speak the gospel and God uses us along with the Holy Spirit to accomplish the redemption of unsaved people. Just after Paul wrote that salvation is a gracious gift of God that occurs only by faith, he added, “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” – Ephesians 2:10
Don’t miss the significance of what Paul is saying. He’s saying that if you are saved then:
There is purpose in your salvation outside of yourself. You are saved “for good works”.
God has work for you to do. It’s “prepared beforehand”. That means you have a crucial role in God’s Kingdom. Your contributions to God’s mission are significant.
Your contributions are also expected. Paul says, “that we should walk in them.”
It’s important for us to realize that salvation doesn’t begin and end with us. It begins with God and ends with God. He initiates and completes our salvation and all glory goes back to Him.
Life isn’t all about us. There are greater things to consider in our lives than our own self-fulfillment or personal happiness. There’s something bigger than accomplishing our own personal ambitions or agenda.
Jesus said, “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you.” – John 15:16