Bob Nieuwendorp was the church planting director for the NCD from 1999 to 2008. For the past 4 months Bob has been struggling with cancer. Since going back into the pastorate in 2008, multiplying disciples and churches has grown. I would like to share with you Bob’s summarization of God’s command to multiply.
“When God created the universe, world, and all living creatures He issued a command to Adam and Eve in Genesis 1:28, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it. And rule over the birds of the sky, and over every living thing that moves on the face of the earth.” (Underline mine) In Gen. 1:22 He had previously verbalized His intention for the sea creatures, monsters, as well as the birds to multiply. Thus, Gen. 1:28 is the first command that God gave to our first parents.
By chapter 3 a huge obstacle confronts the living God – the fall into sin. Adam and Eve went into hiding, fearing death and the person of God. This gave cause for God to raise the first question in Scripture in Gen. 3:9, “Adam, where are you?” As Adam lays blame on his wife and Eve blames Satan, God delivered His grand and glorious plan and promise for the recovery and redemption of lost mankind, whoever and however many would be born to inhabit the earth throughout the duration of time. Walter Kaiser, Jr. has done good and adequate work in developing the whole concept of “Promise Theology” from Genesis 3:15. The promised redeemer, the “He” of Gen. 3:15, we now know to be Jesus Christ of Nazareth who was born of a virgin, lived a sinless life, died on a cross to pay the penalty for the sins of the world, rose from the dead, ascended into heaven, and will return at the end of the age of grace. Kaiser’s works, i.e. the books he has written on this subject, superbly flesh this out showing the completeness of the continuous plan/promise of God to redeem for Himself a people who will be able to enter His presence and enjoy His person and fellowship forever.
What is important to see is the continuity of God’s plan. Before the fall, God issued His first command, “Be fruitful and multiply….” We must ask, “Did God just desire a massive number of human beings to tend the planet for Him?” There had to be more to the meaning of the command than that! If not, God did an absurd act by destroying nearly all of mankind with a flood, recorded in Genesis 7. He had to have meant to “multiply” after His “image”. That is, man is a fleshly being possessing a potentially holy and loving spiritual nature, capable of fellowship and spiritual intimacy with God. The fall into sin brought about immediate spiritual death, and if not corrected, will bring eternal spiritual death. Therefore, the Promised Redeemer and His redemptive work became a necessity for the redemption of man.
The command to multiply must be connected to the promised redeemer who came and commissioned/ commanded the Church to make disciples. Making disciples is God’s intended means to multiply a redeemed people into a vast multitude that no man can number as pictured in Revelation.”
What do we need to do to be churches and pastors who are effectively multiplying through disciple-making? Are we making multiplying disciples the intentional mindset of our churches?
To follow Bob’s journey with cancer, go to www.caringbridge.org/visit/pastorbobn