Domingo, 20 de Agosto de 2017
   
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Digit Growth

The thought that numerical growth is evidence of God’s favor has been dominant among the evangelical community for quite a few decades now. So much so, that the number criteria is been basis for measuring the quality of a pastor’s ministry or even the so-called approval of a church by God. For this reason, when we point to absurd doctrinal deviations, to worldliness, to lack of real devotion and scandals, so common on these hiperchurches, the “spiritualoid sanctimonious” will soon appear saying that “If this minister and his church are as bad as you say, why has God blessed them so much? Have you noticed how crowded their services are?”

It is evident some of these people lack spiritual wisdom to approve what is excellent (Philippians 1.9-10). They also lack biblical knowledge that states men would seek masters “after their own lusts” over the last days (2 Timothy 4.3). The latter verse, I must mention, makes it clear why there are innumerous followers for those who preach the old and rotten doctrine of financial success.

What is more, something else is lacking for those who associate numerical growth to God’s blessing. Pardon my frankness, but in my view they also lack perception and reasoning. No Einstein’s brain is needed for one to notice that most movements - absolutely contrary to faith - grow numerically in a frightening pace. The obviousness is such that I am afraid to cite examples and look like I am wasting time. Still, I will name a few…

Behold the Nazi growth in the first half of the 20th century. Virtually all of Germany embraced this “ideology”, which expanded beyond its “motherland” and found support in many countries. By the way, although some people are naïve to think it is dead, Nazism remains active and will grow further especially now that Hitler’s book Mein Kampf (My Struggle) has reached public domain. Does it possibly prove that God approves Nazism? Now take a look at Islam. Everyone knows it is a threat to religious freedom or any kind of freedom at all. What a foolish thing to think that only “Radical Islam” and its terrorist acts are a hazard to Western society! Muslims broadly see women as objects, they are pro death penalty to homosexuals, and they approve ten year-old girls to marry men about forty… In spite of it all, this religion increases in number. In fact, statistics show it is the fastest growing religion in the world! Is such growth derived from God’s blessing? Oh, please!

At last, take into account the LGBT movement. Bible clearly abjures homosexuality and it is contrary to the idea that homosexuals “are born that way”. According to the Scriptures, the very person who practices homosexuality is responsible for that and shall give account to God about it. What is more, plain natural sense repels homosexual practice and its “philosophy”. Indeed, all we see in a “Gay Parade” is an insult to decorum and decency. Vulgar mockery addressed to Christian faith, unseemly acts in public at daylight, exhibition of mutilated bodies, modified by shocking and artificial protuberances… you see it all in such parades. Although surveys show that the number of attendants to “Gay Parade” sharply dropped, the number of people in favor of LGBT movement increases everyday. Even kids stand up for homosexuality nowadays! Is this proof of God’s approval? Not, of course!

A great reality derived from Scripture is that numerical growth is no indicative of much. Actually, as seen above, mere number increase of parties or even churches may have wrong causes that may attract a huge number of bad men. For this reason, it is imperative that churches’ growth is associated with other elements to be considered healthy and also the result of gracious action of God. What elements are these? The answer is in Acts 9.31,So the church throughout all Judaea and Galilee and Samaria had peace, being edified; and, walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, was multiplied”.

Note that the healthy growth of the early church was a blessing from God. It was associated with the holy and righteous life of Christians who walked in fear of Him.  And they were edified while living this way. Well, it is clear that life under fear of the Lord moves away from scandals, immorality, dirty language, dishonesty, lies, fraud and hypocrisy. The text teaches that primitive church used to have a wonderful testimony. The Holy Ghost encouraged them (the word “comfort” can also mean encouragement), it gave them bravery, direction, wisdom and willingness to serve. As a result, the church “was multiplied”.

Behold the desirable growth in number, resulting from God’s approval. Therefore, we must highlight that if a church grows and its members do not walk or are edified in fear for the Lord, something is really wrong about it, that’s for sure. Maybe it is offering bad things, thus bringing over bad people. Maybe its proclaiming ideas and carrying out plans that meet unbelievers’ mean demands. Maybe its leaders proclaim doctrines totally in line with the desire of the wicked, or perhaps it is using mere marketing strategies whose techniques are far from building a truly biblical church. Remember: close to the carcass of false teaching and human artifice the vultures gather, jumping in joy around carrion.

Thus, let us be careful. Let us assess things with more detail and intelligence. Let us also plea the Lord to increase his church’s rows. But may such increase do not happen at all costs. That the holy lamb of truth and purity does not become a sacrifice is the altar of numerical increase. That the crowded service lounges reflects a church walking in fear of the Lord rather than people who foster worldly shows. If this is not the case, let us just remain a “little flock”, as Jesus said. Trying to adjust life to his will so that healthy and true growth comes in due course.

Pr. Marcos Granconato

Strength and faith

Soli Deo Gloria

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