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Be a Multiplier

2 Timothy 2:1-2

1 Thou therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.

2 And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also.

Introduction

There are more than a billion lost people in the world today. How many people is a billion? It is impossible for most of us to even comprehend a number like that. There haven’t even been a billion minutes in the world since Jesus was born. Let’s put it this way to help us grasp the greatness of that number. If we were to line up all of the lost people in the world in one long line, it would encircle the globe 30 times, and that line would grow 20 miles longer every day. If we then drove past all of those people at a rate of 50 miles an hour for 10 hours each day, seven days a week, it would take us four years and 40 days to get to the place where we began, but by then the line would be 30,000 miles longer.

Or look at it another way. If we picture two cars on an expressway in New York, both headed toward Los Angeles, one at the rate of 10 miles per hour and another at 100 miles per hour, the 100-miles-per-hour car represents the expansion of the human race, and the 10-miles-per-hour car represents the expansion of Christianity.

Or let me put it yet another way. Stop the clock at noon, let time come to a standstill, lock all the cemeteries, and close all the obstetric sections of hospitals. No one else is born or dies until the Southern Baptist Convention wins those living. At the rate we are baptizing people, it would take us about 320 years to win the lost in America alone and over 4,000 years for us to win the rest of the world.

All of this together reminds me that if we are going to win our world to Jesus Christ, we’ve got to think in terms of multiplication, not just addition. Business as usual will not get the job done. We are falling further behind all the time.

The potential for multiplication, however, is staggering. If all of us reach just one new person for Christ in six months and then each of those people would reach another person, and those people would reach another person, in 32 years we could reach the entire population of the world for Christ. So the possibilities of multiplication are staggering.

The principle of multiplication is one clearly set out by both teaching and example in the scriptures. Paul spoke of it when he wrote, “Thou therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men who shall be able to teach others also” (2 Timothy 2:1-2).

Four generations are mentioned in these verses. First Paul is won to Christ. Then he wins and disciples Timothy. Now Timothy is encouraged to multiply his ministry by training other faithful men who in turn will teach others also. This kind of multiplication involves both reception and transmission. To receive the word of God from another is a privilege. To transmit it to other people is a responsibility.

If we take seriously this admonition from the Lord, then we must all assume a personal responsibility for the spiritual growth of other Christians. We must attempt to enter into an apprentice relationship with some younger Christians and pass on to them the things we have learned about the Lord and about discipleship. Our churches must not emphasize just building an institution. We must place the emphasis upon people. It’s people that count. We must not place the emphasis just upon groups but also upon individuals. Every individual is important. There are some people who will teach a Sunday school class that has 20 people in it, but they will not take a class that has two or three in it. There are some preachers that will take a church if it has a thousand in Sunday school, but they won’t take a church if it has one hundred in Sunday school.

We must emphasize quality, not just quantity. Quantity is important. We are to always be reaching out after new people and to be concerned about numerical growth. But the issue is not just numbers. It is also spiritual growth. It is possible to have a church full of empty people.

Every disciple then needs to be a multiplier. That is one of the tests of our own discipleship. The real test of a leader’s effectiveness is not how many people follow him but how many leaders he is producing. The real test of a Sunday school teacher’s effectiveness is not how many pupils he or she has in class, but how many teachers come out of that class. The real test of how effective you are as a Sunday school member is not how often you attend class but how many other people you get to attend the class. There are some people who have perfect attendance awards in Sunday school for 20 or 30 years but have never reached out to bring another under the influence of God’s word. They are like sponges who continue to soak in but never give out. We must all stop thinking addition and start thinking multiplication. Everyone must do that. That is the name of the game.

We must all assume personal responsibility for someone else’s spiritual growth. The writer of the book of Hebrews reproved those Christians because at that stage in their Christian life, they should have been teachers. However, they still needed someone to teach them. While they should have been on a meat and potato diet, they still needed to drink babies’ milk. To remain a spiritual infant instead of growing to spiritual maturity is a disgrace. Every Christian ought to be moving toward enough knowledge and maturity to be able to teach others—if not in a classroom setting, at least on a one-to-one basis.

Take the analogy of a child again. When a child is born, someone else must feed him or he will die. In time, the child grows to be able to feed himself. It’s awfully messy at first. The child often misses his mouth and gets food all over the high chair and the floor. However, in time the child that once had to be fed by others can feed himself. Then in time the child grows to be able to feed another. We are to make the same kind of progress in our spiritual lives. When we are new Christians, someone else must feed us. In time we can feed ourselves. Then we eventually should be able to feed others.

What does it take to be a multiplier? What must we do to develop an apprentice relationship with another Christian? What must I do to be a discipler of other Christians?

1. To disciple, you must develop relationships.

The first thing necessary to being a multiplier is to develop a close personal relationship with another person. Discipleship demands relationship. The apostle Paul addresses Timothy as “my son.” This is a term of endearment and suggests the close personal relationship that Paul had with Timothy. Timothy had been converted on Paul’s first missionary journey. On his second journey, Paul saw the potential in Timothy and enlisted him as his assistant. In the years that followed, Timothy accompanied Paul on his missionary journeys and became one of his most dependable helpers. In those years there developed such a close relationship between Paul and Timothy that Paul often spoke of him as his own son.

Timothy was not the only person with whom Paul had such a relationship. He had the unusual ability to enter into such meaningful relationships and therefore was able to disciple many people. In fact Paul often used paternal terms to describe his relationship with other believers. He calls himself a nursing mother to the church at Thessalonica (1 Thessalonians 2:7). He speaks of himself as a spiritual father to the Corinthians (1 Corinthians 4:15-16). And he speaks of being in labor pains until Christ is formed in the believers of Galatia (Galatians 4:19). It was out of these close personal relationships that Paul did his discipling and his multiplying.

While discipleship demands relationship, relationship demands time. There is no way to disciple another or to multiply yourself without spending time with the person you are trying to disciple. Paul himself was discipled by Barnabas. When the church at Jerusalem sent Barnabas to Antioch to supervise the work there, Barnabas immediately went to Tarsus to enlist Paul as his assistant (Acts 11:22-28). For a whole year Barnabas discipled Paul while they worked together. Barnabas may not have taught Paul much doctrine, but he taught him a lot about loving people, getting along with people, and encouraging people. Barnabas literally poured his life into the apostle Paul. The end result was that Paul became the outstanding Christian leader of his day.

If you become a discipler, some of your disciples may go far beyond you. If so, thank the Lord and move on to someone else. Paul would never have been the leader he was if Barnabas had not taken him under his wing for that year of specialized training.

This was also Jesus’ method for reaching the world. He practiced sharing with other people in close relationships. Jesus’ ministry had both a public and a private aspect to it. In his public ministry Jesus preached, taught, and performed miracles. But Jesus also had a private ministry. His private ministry was building disciples. Jesus called his 12 disciples that they “might be with him” (Mark 3:14). For three years Jesus shared his life and ministry with these men. He spent three years as their schoolteacher, and school was never out. He was always teaching not only by what he said but by who he was and by what he did. All of this took time but that time is a necessary part of discipleship. “But,” you say, “I don’t have time to spend with somebody else like that.” You have the same amount of time that Jesus had. You have the same amount of time that Albert Einstein had. You have the same amount of time that the president of the United States has.

You have the same amount of time as anybody else. It is a matter of priorities and of vision. We must understand that discipleship means relationship, relationship means time, and time means love. Jesus’ goal was to do a lasting quality work in the lives of 12 men on earth. If there had been a better way to do it, Jesus would have done it. We can’t improve on his plan, and he did it without radio, television, newspaper, printing press, or the automobile.

Have you ever wondered why Jesus died at the age of 33 instead of the age of 22? Wasn’t his blood just as good at the age of 20 as it was at the age of 30? Yes! But he came not only to die and be our Savior; he came also to train a group of men. In the Jewish society a man could not be a rabbi until he was at least 30 years of age. Before then the people would not listen to what he had to say. People wouldn’t follow him. So Jesus had to wait until he was old enough to be a teacher in order to train men. Otherwise we wouldn’t be here today.

If you had been the Son of God and when you came to the age of 30 you were ready to begin your public ministry, what would you have done? Most of us would probably have rented a tent from Saul of Tarsus, hired a sign painter and painted the sign in three languages saying, “The Messiah has come. Revival services nightly!” But how did Jesus spend his first days? He spent them putting together a band of disciples who would follow him and learn from him. That’s what we must do also.

It is imperative, however, that you find the right kind of men. If you are going to spend your private time with someone, you had best pick a winner. Paul urged Timothy to find faithful men. What kind of person should you look for? I would suggest that you look for a H.O.T. man. The “H” stands for hungry. Find someone who wants to learn. Jesus said, “Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled” (Matthew 5:6) A hungry man is a teachable man. He will have a humble attitude and be receptive to truth. Your attitude more than your aptitude will ultimately determine your altitude in life.

The “O” stands for obedience. Find a person who will take and fulfill assignments from you, as well as obey the teachings of our Lord. People who will not work, who are selfish, or who do not want to change cannot be discipled. Don’t waste your time on them. Don’t let people like that drain, dominate, and discourage you. Give your time to someone who will amount to something. Give your best time to those who are really serious and dedicated to becoming disciples.

The “T” stands for trustworthy. Find a man who is faithful—one you can depend on. Some people are too caught up in their business and will not pay the price of discipleship. A good example of teachableness is Peter and the disciples fishing all night long. Jesus told them to let down their nets on the other side of the boat and they would catch a net full of fish. Remember now that here is Jesus, the carpenter, telling Simon, the fisherman, how to fish. That’s like an Eskimo telling an African how to cope with the heat wave. But Peter was teachable. He obeyed the Lord and God blessed him.

Don’t try to disciple some old carnal Christian who doesn’t want to be discipled. It is easier to give birth to a new baby than it is to resurrect the dead. Get a new Christian. New Christians are hungry and obedient and trustworthy. They will come to church on Wednesday night. They will read their Bibles. They will pray. They will go visiting. Get one of them and carry them on in the Christian life.

“Where,” you ask, “can I find the kind of man that I need to disciple?” The best place to find one is to win one to Jesus Christ. That’s what Paul did with Timothy. But you might also adopt somebody else’s baby. That’s what Barnabas did. Other people had a part in winning Paul to Christ, but they did not disciple him. Barnabas took him under his wing and carried him to Christian maturity. It all begins, however, by developing a close personal relationship with another person.

2. To disciple, you must create growth.

The second thing necessary to being a multiplier is to encourage your person to grow in his own relationship to the Lord. Paul was giving Timothy encouragement in this passage of scripture when he tells him to be strong in the grace of Jesus Christ (2 Timothy 2:1). Timothy’s strength must come from the Lord, so he must stay close to him to be strong.

Where do we find grace? Where is it dispensed? Where is the getting place? The book of Hebrews tells us to come before the throne of grace that we may “find grace” (Hebrews 4:15-16). We know there is a throne of grace available to us. We approach it through prayer. Paul encourages Timothy to keep coming to God in prayer so that he will find grace to sustain him in life.

What happens when we run low on grace? We lose our temper. We become critical. We become negative and discouraged. We lose our spiritual strength. We become selfish and hard to get along with. But when we have grace, we have help for our times of need. The word help that is found in this passage in Hebrews is the same word that is used to describe the girding of the ship the apostle Paul was on as he traveled to Rome. The ship was caught in a storm and was about to be broken up by the waves, so the sailors girded it with chains to keep it from breaking to pieces. As the chains held the ship together in the storm, so the grace of God holds us together in the storms of life. Inward strength for life is a loving gift from God. We must stay close to him to have strength for victorious living.

3. To disciple, you must teach what to teach.

The third thing necessary to being a discipler is to teach your person what they need to teach to someone else. Paul said, “The things which thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also” (2 Timothy 2:2). Paul had taught Timothy what Timothy was to teach other people. Timothy was not to invent a new message, develop a new program, or search for new truth. He was to teach others “the same” that he had been taught.

What did Paul teach Timothy? No doubt he taught him the whole of Christian truth. But he also must have taught him the four things that are essential to growing to Christian manhood. He must have taught him what any parent must teach a child—how to eat right, how to talk, how to walk, and how to give.

The first thing a Christian needs to know is how to eat right. You must eat or die. If a person quits eating, he either dies or he is placed in the hospital and fed intravenously. It’s eat or die. There are no other options. What food is to the body, so the word of God is to the soul (1 Peter 2:2). Job said, “I have esteemed the words of his mouth more than my necessary food” (Job 23:12). The Bible is a spiritual supermarket and we need to eat right.

Second, a child must learn to talk. We need to learn to talk to God in prayer. Tell God that you love him. Express your needs to him. Thank him for his blessings.

Third, a child must learn how to walk. Eat, talk, and walk. Walking for the Christian is obedience (John 14:21).

Finally, babies need to be taught to give. Babies are born basically selfish. They think of “me” and “mine” and “what I want” or “what I desire” and nothing else. As they must learn to give, we must learn to give spiritually. Every discipler needs to teach his disciple how to study the Bible, how to pray, how to obey the Lord, and how to give. These are essentials for a balanced Christian life and thus a part of what every disciple ought to be taught.</p/>

In order to teach these things it will be necessary for you to meet with your disciple often and give him assignments of things you want him to read and scriptures you want him to memorize. You may need to keep a record of these assignments so that you can remember them and discuss them later on. You will need to check up on your disciple’s progress. Ask questions about what he has been studying and what he has been learning.

If he does not do his lesson, then he needs to be exhorted and encouraged. You cannot be afraid of the person you are discipling if you have no relationship with him. If he isn’t studying and learning, then you are wasting your time and it is best to move on to somebody else. Show him how to do the things that need to be done. Tell him why they are important. Help him to get started and to keep going. If he has problems, then discuss those problems with him. However, do not spend all of your time dealing with problems. If you aren’t careful, you may find him crying on your shoulder all of the time.

Let him share his problems with you and then get moving on in the word of God and with the work of God. This will help to solve more of his problems than anything else you can do. As you teach him, show him a life that is worth copying. And, of course, always be praying for him.

Many times Paul said, “Be ye followers of me.” And he also said, “Our gospel came not in word only, but also in power, and in the holy Ghost, and in much assurance; as you know what manner of men we were among you for your sake” (1 Thessalonians 1:5). Be the person you want your disciple to be. Let him hear it from you and see it in you, and it will make a difference in his life. All of this is one in the context of evangelism. If all you are doing with your disciple is covering scriptures and having a nice word of prayer, then you’ll have good fellowship, but you won’t have any fruit. There won’t be anyone reached for Christ. The ultimate goal of all that we do is to win other people to Christ so that they can be disciples to win other people to Christ. You will never have any spiritual grandchildren unless you make a disciple who in turn wins someone else to Christ.

It takes a disciple to build a disciple. But discipleship is not complete until your disciple has reached out in evangelism. The church must grow or it will die. The church is not to be a spiritual country club that caters to the elite who happen to walk through the door. The church is not to be a spiritual information booth where people come to learn and go home without being bothered by it. The church is to be both an obstetrician and a pediatrician. It is to help people to be born again and then to grow to maturity. This is why being a multiplier is so important. If Paul did not work with Timothy, or if Timothy did not work with somebody else, that would have been the end of the line. There is no progress beyond that. Christianity stops there. Christianity is just one generation from extinction.

Let us sit idly by and not reach out to evangelize in discipleship, and Christianity comes to a full stop. Paul’s admonition to Timothy was that he “commit” the things he had learned to others so that they may teach them also. The word commit is a banking term. It means “to make a deposit” or “to entrust for safekeeping.” There are three committals in 2 Timothy (2 Timothy 1:12,14; 2:2). In the first instance Paul speaks of having committed his salvation to the Lord. In the second instance he speaks of the Lord committing his word to us. In the final instance he speaks of our committing what we have learned to faithful men that they may teach others.

Which of these three committals represents you? The first one makes you a Christian. The second one makes you a witness. The third one makes you a multiplier. The first committal is a committal of salvation. The second committal is a committal of indoctrination. The third committal is a committal of multiplication.

Christians, witnesses, multipliers. That’s what we are all to be.

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Today's Devotional

Major on the Basics

Knute Rockne was one of the greatest football coaches ever. In his 13 years at Notre Dame, his teams won 105 games, lost 12, and tied 5. He never had a secret practice. In fact, he sometimes put up a sign for visitors that said, “Secret practice. Come and bring your notebooks.”

On one occasion when an Army scout missed a train connection and didn’t get to the Notre Dame game he was to cover, Rockne obligingly sent him the plays he planned to use against the West Point men. He explained his actions by saying, “It isn’t the play that wins; it’s the execution.”

All great coaches agree: champions are made by majoring on the fundamentals – blocking and tackling. They execute well. Teams seldom win by trick plays or gimmicks.  

The same is true of life. Tricks and gimmicks will seldom get you to the top in any endeavor and can never keep you there. Major on the basics in all of life – work hard, honor God, be honest, kind and helpful to others, and go to church regularly.

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