“God blessed them; and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” Genesis 1:28
The law of “first mention” in bible interpretation informs us the first time a word, idea or doctrine is mentioned is the simplest and most understandable reference from which others are built. In this scripture we have the first recorded words of the Creator spoken to His Creation: “be fruitful, multiply and fill the earth.” This is not a suggestion, a request or permission. It is a command to reproduce. These words frame everything else mankind has done or will ever do. From two persons to nearly 8 billion, mankind has done a decent job reproducing biologically.
The Creator can expect compliance to this command because He has already prepared every living organism to reproduce “after its kind.” Both the seed (or egg) and the desire to reproduce are intrinsically part of being human. If this process isn’t happening we know something is wrong. Maybe some debilitating health issue or willful non-compliance. To be barren is not natural. In the Bible barrenness was considered a curse – a shameful, undesirable state. When God intervened, woman reproduced. Posterity was preserved. It is a blessing for a man and woman to participate with God in the creative act of reproducing another human in His image.
Compare these first words from God to man with Jesus final words to His followers – “Go and make disciples throughout the whole earth.” It sounds a whole like “be fruitful, multiply and fill the earth.” Jesus commanded His disciples to reproduce disciples until the world was filled with disciples. If we apply the Genesis principle (“after their kind”) we can surmise only disciples can reproduce disciples. Jesus commissioned His followers (and by extension each of us) to do exactly what He had done in three years with them. By precept and example they knew exactly what He expected – the disciple was to be as His Master.
One of the lessons we should have learned in the last two years is how an epidemic can turn into a global pandemic in a short amount of time. This happens because the virus is reproduced rapidly and transferred from person-to-person involuntarily through contact. Can you imagine if Christ’s church willfully and strategically went about spreading the Gospel and making disciples? This would result in dynamic disciple making movements throughout the world. We see this happening today in places like China, Iran, India where multiplication of Jesus followers is real. This rapid reproduction is transpiring in places where opposition exists and persecution is fierce. But no opposing force is a match for radical obedience to Jesus last words. In fact, the proof we are His disciples is demonstrated in our obedience. It is expected we all reproduce in His Kingdom.
Over years of ministry travel I have experienced the sad reality of visiting many churches that are no longer reproducing. Never mind multiplication or even addition; subtraction in churches is prevalent. This is an unnatural and unhealthy state. Thankfully it does not need to be determinant of our future. We can recover our fertility and virility. We can become pregnant again with a vision to be fruitful and increase when the Holy Spirit moves in us and through us. The good news is this is happening in many places around the world today where exponential spiritual reproduction is happening outside of church buildings and away from formal services.
A Disciple Making Movement (DMM) accompanied by rapid reproduction is characteristic of God’s people set free. They are not inhibited by religious traditions of church leadership, burdensome church structures and systems, prohibitive guidelines and codes for service, etc. Give people a vision to reproduce early and often in their journey of faith and they will do it with pleasure. True believers are most zealous to share their faith when they first come into it. That’s how it worked for me. I broadcast my testimony of what Jesus did for me amongst all my ungodly friends. Some thought I had lost my mind, but others followed me into faith. It was only when I started learning techniques and methods for making converts that I became reticent. Before that it came naturally.
Imagine if a large percent of women and men in society were infertile. We would be concerned about posterity because we wouldn’t have one. It takes a Replacement Rate of 2.1 children per family to sustain a culture. Today, cultures that have survived generations are dying because people are not procreating as much. Yet, I have no such concerns related to God’s Kingdom. It will continue to thrive as long as His people – Christians – reproduce. And we are confident from the scriptures that God’s Kingdom will continue to increase with no end.