May the Lord make your love increase and overflow for each other and for everyone else, just as ours does for you. (1 Thessalonians 3:12 NIV)
I have of late felt more deeply and strongly than ever before the force of very familiar words – Knowledge puffeth up, but love buildeth up (1 Cor. 8:1), and other words such as maketh the increase of the body unto the building up of itself in love (Eph. 4:16).
In this stage of spiritual development there are continual discoveries of the old man which makes that old self more and more repulsive, and there is also the presentation of the Lord Jesus again and again in which the soul finds increasing delight.
Surely there is only one answer:- On the one hand, a ministry which has as its substance or object the rooting and grounding, the establishing, the building up of believers, and the real increase of the measure of Christ.
An increasing number of the Lord's people are seeking to enjoy the power of the Lord Jesus' life by accepting the fact of their union in His death as expressed by Paul, That I may know Him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, becoming conformed unto His death' (Phil. 3:10).
The divine method of reaching the will is by graciously increasing man's knowledge and by stimulating his desires, while on the divine side of this method there remains not the shadow of possible failure.
The truth is that Christ shall be All, and that we decrease that He may increase; that He should be the primary Personality, and that the impact and registration of any life and any service should not be: What a good man he was!
You may not need to be emancipated from anything like Judaism or legalism, but the principle is this, that for all increase, progress, enlargement, growth, and maturity, it is essential that there should be in the heart a continuous unveiling of Jesus Christ, and you and I will never get to the end of that unveiling.
It is the most blessed and most wonderful thing to be able to recognize that there is a growing revelation of Jesus Christ within; you see more and more of what He means from God’s standpoint, and as that is so, there comes this increase of the Lord Jesus... the fruit of the Spirit – love.
An increase of the revelation of Jesus Christ in the heart is an increase of the love of the Lord Jesus, the fruit of the Spirit.
but what of the time when you have been adrift in a sea of discontent and discomfort? What of those years the locusts have eaten and the pain that has ensued..? Has that first flush of fervour faded as you trudged the walk of life’s weary wilderness? Do you still have that vision with the passing of time and the increase of age..? This is not only a present day syndrome..but reflective of the history of mankind.
Paul builds up his case by showing that the Law’s perfection caused sins to increase. Men’s inability to keep the Law demonstrated the amazing grace of our justification, and showed that where sin increased – the grace of God abounded all the more. Finally the building blocks of Paul’s reasoning led him to ask the intriguing question: What shall we say then?
Gift of Salvation
Having demonstrated God’s amazing gift of salvation by grace through trusting Christ, Paul paraphrases a question he knows must be lingering in the minds of his listeners, “Shall we keep on sinning so that God’s grace may abound more and more?” Imagine that – shall we revel in sin so that the grace of God can increase even more!
The church is being used to reproduce – to bear fruit and to yield up its increase.
Individually and corporately the church is an organism that is to grow and multiply, but like every living thing, reproduction is sacrificial. Unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains by itself. But if it dies, it produces a large crop and a lot of grain. God’s law of increase is first, sacrifice – God’s law of life is first, death.
An unsown kernel of corn will not propagate nor will it have any increase.
We have all read how the faithful servant is charged to feed God’s people. We have all noticed how often we are warned of false doctrines in these last days. We have witnessed God’s prophesized, unstoppable march towards false doctrine, yet in these days of increasing apostasy, few voices are pointing to Jesus.
It is often the message of a man they flock to hear, and not the word of the Lord. It is a twisting of the word to suit a pet teaching that is increasing in these last days.
Christ, the appointed heir has been promised the greatest inheritance. Ask of Me, and I shall give thee the heathen for Thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for Thy possession Psalm 2:8 (and we have been chosen in Him – to be joint-heirs with Christ….) Though angels currently rule this dying world, Christ will one day take the helm and He will rule with a rod of iron, Psalm 2:9 and His kingdom shall have no end, Luke 1:33 and of the increase of His government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it..
It is true they are all of the same species: they are Christians, they are children of God, they are all sharing the same Life, but oh, they are not there as one organism in one place growing with the increase of God, passing through corporate convulsions of death and resurrection and making spiritual increase in that way....
Man was the capstone of God’s creation formed as His a special representative ruler, Man was the pinnacle of all God formed – and he was to fellowship with his Father. Be fruitful and increase in number, they were instructed.
He takes us through some exercise, through some experience, takes us by some way which means our spiritual expansion, an increase of spirituality so we occupy the larger place spontaneously because of our growth I will not drive them out from before thee in one year; lest the land become desolate, and the beast of the field multiply against thee.
Grace of God
God in His grace has given us a little part in planting and watering the seed, but it is the Spirit of the Lord that draws all men unto Himself: so then neither he who plants is anything, nor he who waters, but it is God who gives the increase. 1Cor.3:7.
The point is that the Lord was making for spiritual increase, but an obstacle encountered was this unpreparedness to leave room for the sovereignty of the Spirit.
Very often such damaging dagger-thrusts are only because of a failure to give the Lord room and right to take some of His children by a way that is new, unusual, or very strange.... and so we see that for all enlargement and increase we must leave room for God to do new things, strange things, things that we cannot understand for the moment.
A man’s heart and soul may be perfected through suffering – or suffering may make that same man’s soul bitter and rebellious. For through suffering we come to an end of self – to the extremity of me – or, through that same suffering selfishness may increase as “I” takes control – and God, not the old sin nature is blamed for the problems and pain that engulf us.
Provoke yourself by recollection, and your affection for God will increase tenfold; your imagination will not be starved any longer, but will be quick and enthusiastic, and your hope will be inexpressibly bright.
Christ’s life starts to be formed in us, and in the measure that the Lord Jesus starts to increase, so the old me must decrease.
Austin Sparks made this profound observation: Everything which demands that we accept a fresh measure of the meaning of His death, means that as we accept it, there will be a larger measure of Him in risen life – so that the meaning and value of Christ risen, as an inward life, is a reproduction of Him in us – and there is no other way. The increase of the number of the Lord’s own, is not by joining something to the outside, it is by coming to the cross and dying – that is the only way.
From that point onwards He must increase and I must decrease, for we are identified with His death and with His life.
We may have to let go the particular occasion of our trouble, and first recognize, and then embrace with our heart, the fact that in the affliction there resides the immense eternal potentiality of an increase of the image of God’s Son, which is to be the one and the only character and nature of the eternal kingdom.
Weapons of War
This battle rages day and night; year by year with increasing in intensity each day. The constant charge; sustained sortie and barrage of bombardment is unabated – and we must be prepared with all God’s weapons of warfare.
So may this be a word of interpretation as to why the Lord is dealing with us as He has and does – on the one hand, overcoming the evil thing, breaking, emptying, grinding to powder, until there is nothing of us left in the matter of self-sufficiency; on the other hand, giving Himself, increasing Himself.
He also warns of an increase of false teachers and an inflow of demonic doctrines. Paul does not want believers to be deceived by false teachings or spiritual powers – for God has given us the truth in his epistles and desires that we remain firm in the faith.
Having been taught who we are in Christ, believers are called to walk worthy, our life is to be a light shining is a dark world – a world where evil is increasing. But it is not always easy to practice the truths that we have learned from scripture.
He giveth more grace when the burdens grow greater,He sendeth more strength when the labours increase;To added afflictions He addeth His mercies –To multiplied trials He multiplies peace.
But there is always a cost of bringing forth of life – and the price for life is death. The way to increase is to decrease – reproduction is sacrificial – life means death, and the Lord Himself summarised that guiding principle in John’s gospel..
Law of Life
Unless life propagates more life it remains barren – and a sterile soul has little purpose. The law of increase is sacrifice – the law of living is dying – the law of life is death. Jesus said I am come that they might have life, and have it more abundantly.
It means that I must decrease and He must increase – until I am nothing and He is everything.
We should hold fast to the fact that the trial is to mean enrichment for the Lord's people, and an increase of equipment and qualification for stewardship.... Ask the Lord to release you into your stewardship within your measure.
It is just in so far as you and I bring our lives at this time of the day back to God’s fullness in Christ that we are going to know this progressive development and increase of Life - so far and no more.
Christ’s Early Life
But God is not mocked by man nor angel and the holy Child was born and for 12 years He grew and become strong, increasing in wisdom; and the grace of God was on Him. And so at the tender age of twelve the Son of God and Son of Man crossed a boundary from childhood to youth – and we receive a tiny, brief glimpse of this perfect person.
Spiritual increase is not by knowing all these things, the way of growth is not by faith's power externally manifested, but more by inward endurance.
Do you want to know the way of the increase of God?
The measure of our spiritual life is no greater than our heart; the knowledge that is in the head is not the measure of spirituality, the way for your release, emancipation, increase, abundance is the way of the heart.
The way out is by increase of love; and we shall remain locked up until we are there.... True spirituality is the measure of love of God shed abroad in the heart, all that spirituality rests upon and has, their rise out of love.
But this does not increase the grace of God – for His grace is infinite to start with. It cannot add to the glory of His Name – for His Name is already infinitely glorious. All that is connected with this mortal life has gross and distressing limitations. The limits and boundaries that are forced on the human creature are frustrating. Limitations that flood in from without and limitations that well up from within.
With an increase of knowledge and apprehension of the truth, there is a constant sense that we are not practically up to what we have received; and hence the measure of our strength is not the enjoyment of a truth, but the extent to which we maintain what we believe in spite of every obstacle.
His grace towards those that were poor and despised was exemplary and His loving involvement with the debased of society became a reason for some increasing hostility. He was gentle as a dove, and wise as a serpent – yet always spoke the truth in love.
The Cross has to deal with all that to make things safe for God, and to keep us moving in the way of increasing knowledge of the Lord, which, as we have said, lies behind all our value to the Lord, all our usefulness, all our service.
This should also be a time when we examine our own relationship with Jesus. We can scarcely exhort others to be spiritual ready if we are ill-prepared ourselves. We can hardly encourage others towards preparedness if we have become careless. We cannot draw alongside others aright, unless we are in fellowship with the Lord – and the urgency increases as we see the day of His return approaching.
There is to be a huge increase in satanic activity in the heavenly realms. The enemy knows he has only a short time to achieve his nefarious deeds. The enemy as a roaring lion prowls the earth, seeking whom he may devour.
Scripture indicates that the saints of God will become abnormally weary. The Word shows that many believers will be unable to face the increasing pressures.
Beware – Consider
Beware of false doctrine – wolves that come to you in sheep’s clothing. Recognise the increase of the doctrines of demons prevalent in the church today. Magnify the Lord with me and let us exult His name together. Consider humility.
All in All
When John the Baptizer ‘saw’ the Lamb of God he immediately cried: He must increase and I must decrease, John 3:30. John knew that He is everything and we are nothing, (except in the Beloved).
He Must Increase
How important that we cry out with John, “He must increase and I must decrease“. How vital that we call out daily with Paul, “Lord, what would You have me to do?” How crucial that we echo Christ’s profound words of love – ” Thy will not mine be done.” Luke 22:42
You cannot intercede if you do not believe in the reality of the Redemption; you will turn intercession into futile sympathy with human beings which will only increase their submissive content to being out of touch with God.
Sacrifice for Sin
Though acknowledged by the Lord Jesus as the greatest of all men born of women. John was the one who testified that he must decrease – but Christ must increase. John was not the Light, but he witnessed about the true and only Light of God. John did not bring Grace, but he was to testify of the One Who was full of Grace. John could not forgive sins, but pointed to the Messiah, the only Sacrifice for sin.
Today the enemy continues his assault on the church with increasing intensity, but the saints of old bear witness of God’s never failing faithfulness to His children. Remember, when Job contemplated the greatness and faithfulness of God he cried: though He slay me, yet will I trust in Him.
May the Lord cause you to increase in your faith and abound in your love for one another, and for all people, was Paul’s heartfelt prayer for them all, just as we also do for you.Paul continued in prayers and loving intercessions for the saints at Thessalonica – beseeching God the Father Himself and Jesus our Lord to direct and govern their ways – and may the Lord cause you to increase and abound in love for one another, he wrote, and for all people – just as we also do for you.May we be like Paul, and remember to lift up our fellow Christian brothers and sisters, in continuous and loving prayer and heartfelt intercessions – that their hearts would be also established in the Lord and blameless before Him..
There are so many dangers today of which we need to be aware – not only of yielding to temptation and falling into sin but being able to identify and avoid the influences of false teachers and apostates that are infiltrating the Church today, where an increasing number of false doctrine and teachers are flooding Christendom with another gospel.
We are not to be saved through Christ alone and then live our lives in our own strength or by participating in an increasing array of rituals, rites, festivals, feasts, seasons, ceremonies and laws - but by grace alone through faith alone in Christ ALONE.
and in some cases are concealed within the physical, created realm - but we are reminded that we will find out truth, grow in grace and increase in wisdom as we search for Him with all our heart and soul and mind and strength - for it is the glory of God to conceal a matter, but the glory of kings is to search out a matter.
As a result, we find that... the word of God kept on spreading; and the number of the disciples continued to increase greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many priests were also becoming obedient to the faith.
An increasing number of Jews, including a large number of priests were coming to faith, through the power of the Spirit, as the truth of Scriptures was unfolded.
Let us increase our effort to tell the good news of the gospel of Christ to as many as we can, before the great and terrible day of the Lord – for the Word of God through the revelation of Jesus Christ will not fail, and all who believe will not be condemned BUT those who do not believe, will be eternally condemned – because they have not believed on the name of the only begotten Son of God.
They were to be responsible for the well-being of their Christians friends, supporting one another in their lack, rejoicing in their increase and making sure that those endowed with the gift of pastor-teacher, were similarly provided for – through individual, voluntary but cheerful offerings.
But the apostle Peter also makes it clear that our spiritual growth and our progress in the Christian life must be a continuous maturing in grace and an ever-increasing knowledge and understanding of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
This must be the pinnacle of God's grace, that we increase in our knowing HIM.
Realising his increasing amount of false teachings that were already infiltrating the early Church during the times of Paul, helps us understand the serious nature of the many strange creeds and teachings that taint the true gospel message today.
This letter is written to Christians, who have the same precious faith as Peter, and this verse is exposing the danger of false teachers and the devastation they can cause to those that are ignorant of God's word. Paul is warning his readers of the increasing numbers of apostate teachers who distort the Person and work of Christ, and encouraging them to have a closer walk with God and an ever deepening understanding of their faith.
The nefarious plans of the enemy, have all too often been employed to overthrow or undermine powerful political, military, economic and religious machines.Paul identified the ‘divide-and-conquer’ method within the church of his days and recognised that vain arguments about things unrelated to sound, church doctrine were causing increasing unrest within the body of Christ.Much within Paul’s writings addresses the issues of ‘divide-and-conquer’ and in his letter to Titus he once again addressed it with a warning to..
This caused foolish controversies about genealogies, and disputes about the Mosaic Law to develop – which were unprofitable and worthless, because the consequence was ‘divide-and-conquer’.Today we see an increasing propensity towards this evil strategy, not only in the world of governmental economics; society politics and religious platforms – but also within the very body of Christ, which should remain pure in heart and united in the Spirit.Sadly, inter-denominational feuds, doctrinal differences and a willingness to compromise the truth of the gospel, is causing the Church to become fractured and weakened.
Paul knew that the inevitable outcome is an increasing disassociation from the Lord, a distancing of oneself from Christian brethren and even a quenching of the Holy Spirit in their lives - all of which inhibit spiritual development and result in a back-slidden life.
to test and increase our faith in Him, and to appraise and develop our trust in His Word - and we are told in the Scriptures to greatly rejoice in the Lord - even though for a time we may have to suffer much grief and all kinds of difficulties.
They are designed to test our faith; develop our faith; hone our faith and increase our faith in our Father in heaven.
Gold that is purified is tested in the fire to remove all its impurities, blemishes and imperfections and in like manner the faith of a Christian needs to be pure, unblemished and perfect - and the trials of life are designed to purify our hearts; increase our dependence upon the Lord Jesus; deepen our love for our Saviour; enrich our spiritual lives; strengthen our hope in His many precious promises and increase our faith in the Word of God - for the faith of His children is of much more value to our Father-in-heaven than gold or silver.
Some 2000 years later we continue to be indebted to this short, punchy letter, which exhorts us to be spiritually discerning and increasingly vigilant, in these final days of ever-increasing apostasy, within Christendom today.
And so, in these last days of the Christian dispensation, we ourselves are witnesses to the increasing apostasy and degeneration of true spirituality in the body of Christ, as the days become darker, men grow more evil, false teachers proliferate, doctrines of demons saturate the Church as the time for Christ's return draws ever closer.
Their object in infiltrating the church of God was to pervert the grace of our God into an excuse for immorality and greed, fame and fortune - the consequence of which was to disown the Lord Jesus Christ Himself, as their sovereign Saviour and eternal Lord. This underground satanic, movement that started to infiltrate the early church has morphed into an unknown number of disparate cults and demonic teachings, which continue to flood into the churches of today, in increasing numbers.
In his desire to warn believers of the increasing numbers of false teachers and heresies that were bombarding the church of his day, Jude wrote an epistle of encouragement and advice – but he begins with a beautiful greeting – a prayer that has travelled down the centuries, to the body of Christ, and an entreaty to God that mercy and peace and love be multiplied to all those who in Christ Jesus our Lord.
The urgent cries of the faithful remnant of Israel reflects the increasing urgency that is seen in the book of Revelation, as the weary tribulation saints cry out to the Lord - how long.... how long O sovereign Lord, holy and true.
The Apostle is laying out the basic principles of fellowship, within the Body of Christ, during times of increasing deception in the wider world, where the love of many has grown cold, and Christians are instructed to act as lights in a world, darkened by a web of deceit and duplicity.
When we consider the many ways that John bore witness of Christ, we understand why he was compelled to write, He must increase, but I must decrease.
He must increase, but I must decrease is a consequential statement that John made after Nicodemus had been given the gospel - that God loved the world so much that He gave His only begotten Son to be the sacrifice for sin, and whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life, but he who does not believe is judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.
but John knew the truth and he testified, He must increase, but I must decrease.
John's disciples may not have wanted to accept this truth, but he insisted, Jesus must increase in importance and influence, while I must decrease.
We too face increasing pressures in our own days and age and at times we too may be tempted to consider that the task of living by faith and trusting the Lord is overwhelming in the midst of a crocked and perverse generation… nevertheless this Word from the Lord is as true for us today as it was so many centuries ago – that God Who started a good work in us will complete it in the day of Christ Jesus… 'not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,' says the LORD.
Similarly the vain pursuits of this world and the deceptive pleasures of the life we once ‘enjoyed’, will perish in our memories with the ever-increasing march of time as we discover them to be passing vanities.
There is an increasing urgency to spread abroad the gospel of salvation to ALL who are dead in their sins, so that they may turn to the Lord and be saved - for the Lord has spoken. Turn to Me and be saved, all the ends of the earth, for I am God, and there is no other.
The increase of His government will continue forever and there will be no end to His perfect peace, which passes all understanding – and His is the peace that is poured into the hearts of all that have trusted in the only begotten Son of God.
Israel had been waiting for 400 silent years – but slowly and secretly the plans and purposes of God were unfolding and just as the bright sunshine of a glorious day begins with a tiny pin-point of light, whose tendrilled rays gradually increase into a burst of silver sunrise, on the eastern horizon - before bursting into the sky to shine its light and warmth on the cold, dark dying earth – so also is the wonderful truth of God’s salvation for human-kind.
The qualities and qualifications of church elders, or bishops, were clearly laid out, and the exemplary character that was necessary for this role, was to ensure that the teaching of the gospel of grace would not be compromised, by the increasing numbers of false teachers, Judaizes and demonic doctrines..
that were pouring into the body of Christ, with increasing intensity.
The Lord took his problems and pain so as to increase David’s dependence and faith on Him – He used them to forward His eternal plans and purposes for the redemption of all mankind.
God is no respecter of persons and He is equally willing and able to use our own difficulties, dangers, deprivation and disappointments to draw us closer to Himself and increase our love and trust in our heavenly Saviour.
The warning to this church is increasingly relevant in today's society, where a desire for deep, mystical spirituality, combined with the ungodly spirit of control is increasing in every area of our current culture, and in many churches, as men crave satanically inspirited understanding..
As Peter nears the end of his earthly life, there seems to be an increasing urgency to warn the body of Christ of the mounting danger of false teachers, whom the apostle identified as rebellions, mercenary, animalistic and deceitful men, who are persistent sinners.
As the apostle Peter draws his final letter to a close, we should all take note of the increasing urgency of his message and remain watchful for the any-day return of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ.
John the Baptist demonstrated humility of heart when he cried out, He must increase and I must decrease, and in like manner we should all be ready and willing to carry out this conditional directive from James..
Sadly today, there are an increasing number of false teachers who abuse this passage, in order to feather their own nest, by manipulating the minds of their congregations - suggesting that if they drop money into the preacher's offering box, God is obliged to increase their own financial situation.
And it is vitally important for us to be equally diligent in the study of Scripture today, because the word of God has been twisted, watered down and abused by an increasing number of cults and unscriptural movements
Let us never forget that all we are and all we have is ours by Christ alone. The more we come to know JESUS and the blessings that flow to us from HIM, the more we will desire to share these blessings with others, until we can pray: I must decrease so that He may increase.
As John was advancing in years, one of his main concerns for the Church was the increasing numbers of false teachers and demonic doctrines that were not only infiltrating the local churches, but also being accepted, embraced and believed by many gullible Christians.
Christ's instruction, to give us this day our daily bread, has its roots in developing dependent faith, in the child of God, and the prayer requests that we make to the Lord, are designed to increase that faith..
It is also interesting that he addressed them as 'aliens', which implies that they were Jewish believers, rather than Gentile Christians, who had probably fled their homeland because of increasing persecution.
The more we make use of the gifts and talents, abilities and works (which GOD has prepared for us to do - works carried out in our new man-in-Christ and not by our old sin nature)– the more they will increase and enlarge, and the more they will overflow in abundance.
His greeting to these believers and his fervent prayer for their spiritual development, godly discernment and increasing depth of love for one another, seems contradictory to the chains that confined him - but Paul rejoices for this great opportunity to share the gospel of Christ, with condemned sinners.
How important that we grow in grace and increase in wisdom, understanding and a knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
Today there are also an increasing number of self-appointed prophets and apostles who dish out their own brand of extra-biblical revelation in preference to standing on the plain teaching of Scripture and there are an increasing number of diverse cults, creeds and false teachers that distort the character of God, dethrone the Person Christ and dismiss His Work on the cross as irrelevant or unimportant.
Having prayed very specifically that the Thessalonian believers would increase in faith; abound in love and live blamelessly before the Lord, Paul urged each one towards practical sanctification and godly living - for this is the will of God, he writes, even your sanctification - that is, that you abstain from sexual immorality.
However, as they began to widen their evangelism... to include those in Samaria and beyond, they were comforted of the Holy Spirit - and enjoyed a period of stability and calm, as the gospel was taught throughout Judea and Galilee and Samaria - So the church throughout all Judea and Galilee and Samaria enjoyed peace, being built up; and going on in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, the Church continued to increase.
by all who would believe on His name, John gives increasing insight into the incarnation of Christ: for in the beginning was the Word, and the Word as with God and the Word was God..... and the Word became flesh and dwelt amongst us.
We can seek to battle-through in our own strength, wondering if God really cares, as the pressure increases until we finally give-up - or we can remember that God is in control and rejoice in the Lord and consider it pure joy - recognizing it as one of the various trials which God will use to fine-tune our faith, increase our dependence upon Him, develop our Christian character and bring us closer to spiritual maturity.
As our hearts cleave closely to Him and our minds are flooded with His beauty so His Spirit abides within each one of us, teaching and training, leading and guiding, helping and comforting with an increasing intimacy, as we grow in His grace and in a knowledge of our precious Saviour.
There are an increasing number of people who delight to give extra-biblical ‘revelation’ from God, which is of serious concern, and there are many cults that have taken away the basic foundational truths of our Christian faith and superimposed a false gospel which is designed to deceive and destroy.
Sadly, the increase in feministic egalitarianism, and blurring between the gender lines, has distorted the beautiful harmony of scripture and the God-ordained, complimentary roles of men and women within the home and wider church family.
and in these days when false doctrines are multiplying and heresy is increasing it is good to heed the warnings in the little book of Jude so that we who are called and sanctified by our heavenly Father are not infected by their influence or sucked into the licentious behaviours that they promote.
Despite their obvious growth in the faith, Paul knew that all Christians, however mature they may be, must press on to the next level of faith, and so he encouraged them by writing: I pray that God the Father Himself and Jesus Christ our Lord would direct our way to visit you… and may the Lord cause you to increase and abound in love for one another, and for all people, just as we also do for you, so that He may establish your hearts without blame in holiness before our God our Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all His saints.
Paul was about to disclose to Timothy that as the end of the church age drew ever closer, less and less people would remain firmly founded on the sound truth of an uncompromised doctrine, while an increasing number would be enticed away from gospel truth – chasing after teachers, who teach a false, but sugar-coated ‘gospel’
In the power of the Spirit they would be able to withstand the increasing attacks of the enemy and to stand fast in this evil age, and so Paul encouraged them – and us, to walk in spirit and truth, be sober in all things, to endure hardship, to do the work of an evangelist and to fulfil our particular ministry.
Today we live in an increasingly disturbing environment - a topsy-turvy world where right is called wrong and evil is considered to be good, and the people of God are calling out to the Lord with increasing concern and in deepening distress. We wonder how long the Lord can allow the evils of this world system and the disgusting acts of fallen man to continue.
But the gracious qualities of virtue and strength, excellence, dignity and honour that are displayed in the life of a believer, are simply the fruit of the Spirit being shown forth in the woman or man who is humbly submitted to the leading and guidance of the Holy Spirit and is prepared to say He must increase and I must decrease.
And this verse gives a little of the limited information we have about Christ's early life, for we read The Child continued to grow and become strong, increasing in wisdom... and the grace of God was upon Him.
as in the time of Paul there were an increasing number of legalistic Jews who continued to argue that Gentiles were outside of God's grace and could not receive His forgiveness without becoming a proselyte..
As with all the apostles, the dear desire of James is to see all believers in Christ maturing in their faith; growing in grace; trusting God unwaveringly and developing an ever-increasing faith in His gracious provision and sufficient grace.
We will most likely have to face increasing hardship in this sin-soaked world, and sometimes it is those very difficulties that God is using to conform us, day by day, into the likeness of His Son, Who had no-where to lay His head but spent His entire earthly life having utter trust in His Father.
Worry is a fruitless exercise and too often has a detrimental effect on home-life and health, for anxious throughts cannot achieve anything and are likely to increase fretfulness, spawn fear and cause illnesses.
And today there is an increasing reliance on visions and dreams which too often replace the clear teaching of Scripture and renders the Bible as an outdated dinosaur in today's post-modern Christianity.
Having been rooted in Christ at salvation, believers should be continuously growing in the faith, in order to became increasingly stable in doctrinal knowledge and our understanding of the gospel - which will manifest itself in an ever increasing mental attitude of thanksgiving and grateful praise.
Perhaps this man was an exile in Babylon or Persia, but whoever he was, his distress started to be replaced by an increasing confident trust, that God would hear his prayer and that He would arise and have mercy on him; his nation and the city of Zion.
The dispensatio of the grace of God is reaching its fullness and we must not allow ourselves to drift into some form of narcotic slumber or get sucked into the increasing deception that is flooding both the corridors of government and many church congregations.
Satan is the great accuser of the saints of God who has pursued the people of God down through the centuries with an intense hatred... and the coming tribulation is a time when the devil's vicious attacks on God's servants will increase in intensity against both Jews and Christians.
Resist the devil, and he will flee from you, and although we will not face this terrible time of tribulation, this verse is as relevant for saints today who are facing increasing persecution from all sectors of society.
He prayed that we wold increase in understanding and knowledge and be granted greater illumination and spiritual revelation of our Father in heaven and His anointed Son - Jesus Christ, Who died for our sins and rose again the third day, to give us His abundant life, according to the riches of His grace.
And not only in the book of Judges, but throughout Israel's entire history, we see how the people, who were left in the land, became an ongoing and increasing thorn in Israel's flesh - indeed, we see this today, as the surrounding nations continue to ensnare them and remain a thorn in their flesh.
Today there is an increasing disconnect between children and their parents, and scripture indicates that one of the main reasons is that God has been eliminated from the family... and a worldly mindset of selfishness and disrespect has replaced a biblical perspective.
The increasing resistance of the Jewish leaders, who constantly called for more and more evidence of His claimed Messiah-ship were about to hear the clear evidence of Christ right to the throne of Israel, I and the Father are One.
Paul prophesised of moral decay, societal degeneration and an increasing advance towards every form of ungodliness - such that the influence of evil and wickedness would be seen to permeate every area of society..
He must increase and John must decrease - and John was called as God's witness to humanity, and so he proclaimed of Christ Jesus our Lord: I myself have seen, and have testified that this is the Son of God.
'After me comes a Man who has a higher rank than I', was John's testimony of Jesus, for He existed before me and I am not sufficiently worthy to untie His shoe laces. 'He must increase and I must decrease', were words that were not only spoken by this 'voice' in the wilderness, but were carried out in his life as John testified that Jesus is the Son of God - the Lamb, Who was revealed to the world at the proper time - Who came to live a perfect life; die a sacrificial death; provide forgiveness of sin and give assurance of the eternal life, to ALL who believe in Him.
He even gave a list of things to look out for, which would identify this approaching apostasy - such as deception through false teachers, an increase in false prophets, twisted Christian doctrine and unbiblical legalistic teachings..
to teach and train the younger generation, in the things of God, so that they may increase in knowledge and wisdom in their daily lives, and grow in the fear and nurture of the Lord themselves - so that they are also prepared to pass on godly graces and the benefits of virtuous living, to their own children and their children's children.
He knew that our Father is a God Who hears and answers the prayer of His children, and so Paul encouraged the Philippian believers to intercede on his behalf - knowing that God would hear and answer their prayer, and that his deliverance from prison, would increase their faith; give great encouragement to the body of Christ and cause the gracious spirit of Christ to be formed in them.
And let us strive to build each other up in our most holy faith, with an ever-increasing knowledge of the holy - until we all come to the unity of the faith, and a knowledge of the Son of God - until we are all perfected, to a measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.
The letter Paul penned to Timothy strongly indicated that within the professing church there were an increasing number of problems, with some departing from the faith and others who had become unfaithful and careless in their work and witness - not only to Paul but in their ministry and towards the Lord Jesus Himself.
When our heart is trusting Him in all things and Christ is in the centre of our lives we will find that anxiety has no place in our thinking and faith in His Word will increase, despite life’s circumstances, until we come to know Him as our all-sufficient provider as well as our all-sufficient saviour.
Paul’s whole heart was that he, himself would decrease to nothing, while the Lord Jesus must increase in every part of his life until he could say, it is not I that live, but Christ that lives in me… and so Paul could say with utter confidence that he had not lived his life by the fleshly wisdom of the world, but by means of the gift of grace that he received from the Lord.
As the history of both northern and southern kingdoms is traced through time, we recognised there are five cycles of discipline that were imposed on both kingdoms with increasing severity, until both were removed from their promised land and enslaved in a foreign place, by their cruel captors.
When we look at the ever-mounting circumstances and troublous times that are overwhelming our lives or watch in horror as the world situation continues to spiral downwards with increasing rapidity - too often we consider in our hearts that things are out of control or that this is too mighty a task for God to manage or that He is too impotent to intervene or perhaps too distant to even notice that we are hurting, and those we love, have all but been swamped with fear and discouragement.
But this is not the truth of scripture nor it is the character of our gracious God and once again His Word reminds us what to do in troublous times when our world is spiralling downwards with increasing rapidity – we are to trust in the Lord, reverence His name, walk in the truth and consider what great and wonderful things He has done for you.
Although much of the Church has fallen into gross apostasy let us seek to use our own spiritual gifts as instructed by Paul - to develop unity in the faith; to increase in a knowledge of the Son of God and to bring all believers into spiritual maturity.
caused the Pharisees and leaders of the Jews to express increasing hostility towards Him and an even greater determination to discredit His name, by whatever means they could - no matter how destructive or untrue.
We are to be unmoved by the increasing numbers of extra-biblical revelations, and other religious agendas, and we must remain steadfast and unaffected by those that spiritualise the Bible... by reading into the text what they want it to say - in order to promote their false teachings, instead of reading what the text clearly teaches.
There are many times in history when the people of God could have asked this very question: why do the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing? It is certainly a question that many of us have asked over the years as we see an increasing hatred of God, a growing contempt for Jesus Christ..