All Posts Tagged: Tertullian

The Vineyard – A Multiplication Illustration

 

DO YOU THINK THEY REMEMBERED?

When Jesus got out of the boat, he saw a large crowd of people.
He felt sorry for them, and he healed the ones who were sick.
Late that afternoon, the disciples came to Jesus and said, “No one lives in this place. 
And it is already late. Send the people away
so they can go to the towns and buy food for themselves.”
J
esus said, “The people don’t need to go away. You give them some food to eat.”
The followers answered, “But we have only five loaves of bread and two fish.”
Jesus said, “Bring the bread and the fish to me.”
Then he told the people to sit down on the grass.
He took the five loaves of bread and the two fish.
He looked into the sky and thanked God for the food.
Then he broke the bread into pieces, which he gave to the followers,
and they gave the food to the people.

Everyone ate until they were full. (5000) When they finished eating,
the followers filled twelve baskets with the pieces of food that were not eaten.
Matthew 14:13-20

 

This is a rather amusing story about multiplication in the Master’s business! Arriving on the shore of Lake of Gennesaret, Jesus was met by a large crowd. It was a desolate place and the shades of evening were falling. Concerned about their own welfare, the Twelve urged Jesus to “send the people away … to buy food for themselves.” Here’s the punch line“! You give them something to eat! You’ll only get the impact of Jesus’ statement if you imagine yourself as one of the Twelve. Wouldn’t you be thinking, “Yeah right! Give me a break!

Five loaves and two fish” – that’s the supply, so they thought! Having received the meager resources, Jesus gave thanks to the Father, the Owner of the business, and then, gave the broken pieces to the disciples for distribution to over 5000 persons. Note the detail! They all ate “until they were full.”

But, here’s the “Rest of the Story“!” “When the crowd finished eating, the disciples filled twelve baskets with the pieces of food that were not eaten.” Do you get it? Twelve baskets of food leftover … for whom?

No doubt, as always, Jesus had deep compassion for the crowd. Nevertheless, this happening was a setup in equipping the disciples for multiplication in Father’s business! If you doubt this, note the following words! “You did not choose me. I chose you. And I gave you this work: to go and produce fruit—fruit that will last. THEN the Father will give you ANYTHING you ask for in my name.” (John 15:16)

Absolutely NOT! Jesus is NOT speaking of the “name it and claim it” gospel! Note the context! The Father will provide anything that has to do with producing fruit. Apart from that purpose all bets are off, 20,000 seat auditoriums to the contrary! By the way, there’s only one place in the world that’s experiencing such multiplication, as well as signs and wonders (Acts) like that of which Jesus spoke: AFRICA!  I’ve been in contact with Jackton Pastor, a pastor, in Africa. Here’s what he recently wrote: “48 people received Jesus in our Kisumu airport branch.”

What I’m attempting to establish as FACT is, according to Jesus, that which produces glory for the Father is MULTIPLICATION.  Many, I know, will assert this to be shallow and superficial. They will resort to what by now is an old argument that the Gospel is more than numbers. Any fool will understand that from the story above! Note, Jesus had deep compassion for the crowd for which the Twelve didn’t have … yet. But, they and the early church would have. “At no other time in the history of Christianity did love so characterize the entire church as it did in the first three centuries. And Roman society took note. Tertullian reported that the Romans would exclaim, “See how they love one another!” (History of the Early Church) At the same time the church conquered the Roman Empire! Go figure!

So, please spare me the patently absurd argument that “numbers” are just a modern invention. Return to church history, you sophisticated theologian! That which you so smugly espouse will not hold up to the muster of history.

Nor, is it able to hold a light to the current happenings in Africa and other third world countries. Let’s face it. For all of our theological sophistication we’ve lost the fire of that which Jesus spoke in John 15.

 

To quote the great philosopher, Forrest Gump, “that’s all I’ve got to say about that!”

Manifestation of life—the church: a service center

God is building a dwelling place. He used the apostles … for the foundation. Now He’s using you, fitting you in brick by brick, stone by stone,  with Christ Jesus as the cornerstone that holds all the parts together. (Ephesians 2:20-22)

With the arrival of Jesus, Father started to build a new home called church.  Jesus is the Cornerstone—“The cornerstone of an ancient building served as an alignment stone for all subsequent construction” (Dr. Dan Hayden, A Plumb Line For Truth). The alignment of the twelve apostles to Jesus formed the foundation. All persons, subsequently connected to Jesus, are “living stones that God is building into his spiritual house” (1 Peter 2:4-5).

Jesus demonstrated the contour of the foundation a few hours before His death: “He got up from the supper table, set aside His robe, and put on an apron. Then He poured water into a basin and began to wash the feet of the disciples, drying them with His apron. Then He said, ‘You address Me as ‘Teacher’ and ‘Master,’ and rightly so. So if I, the Master and Teacher, washed your feet, you must now wash each other’s feet. I’ve laid down a PATTERN for you. What I’ve done, you do.” “The MODEL for the disciples in their following of Jesus is that of the man who serves at table: ‘But I am among you as one who serves’ (Luke 22:27)” (Hans Kung, The Church).

Jesus, therefore, intended the church to be a service center of sorts. Here are some of its services:

I was hungry and you fed Me,
I was thirsty and you gave Me a drink,
I was homeless and you gave Me a room,
I was shivering and you gave Me clothes,
I was sick and you stopped to visit,
I was in prison and you came to Me.’
Whenever you did one of these things to someone overlooked or ignored, 
that was Me—you did it to Me. (Matthew 25:35-36)

Today I filled out a customer survey (hopefully I’ll win the $2500 sweepstakes!). The purpose of the survey was obvious: to determine the level of customer satisfaction with services rendered. From history we know the church scored high in services rendered. As defined above it conquered the Roman Empire in two centuries without investing in any bricks and mortar. Tertullian, a third century author, observed: “The Christians’ deeds of love were so noble that the pagan world confessed in astonishment, ‘See how they love one another.’”