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 and 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 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.
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, showing that where sin increased, the grace of God abounded all the more.
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 prophesied, 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.
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.... 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.
As we learn to die daily to all that is of self we begin to bear in our body His death in us. As we sacrificially yield all we are to the cross, 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 Son, which is to be the one and the only character and nature of the eternal kingdom.
So may this be a word ofinterpretation as to why the Lord is dealing with us as He hasand does on the one hand, overcoming this evil thing, breaking,emptying, grinding to powder, until there is nothing of us leftin the matter of self-sufficiency; on the other hand, givingHimself, 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.
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.
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 fullness in the Cross that we are going to know this progressive development and increase of Life - so far and no more.
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 the spirituals rest upon and have 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 Baptiser ‘saw’ the Lamb of God he immediately cried: He must increase and I must decrease.
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
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.
They expected the Messiah to be a great warrior Who would overthrow their Roman oppressors, endorse their legalistic religiosity, and participate in their unscriptural traditions and because He did not fit in with their short-sighted perception of a Saviour, they became concerned about His increasing popularity.
One person that Paul named in certain epistles, is Timothy.Paul knew that the Thessalonian believers had been undergoing some severe persecution and was anxious for their well-being… and so he entrusted Timothy, his faithful fellow-worker, to travel to Thessalonica to find out how the believers there were getting along, to establish them in the faith, and give them spiritual support and godly encouragement.Paul rejoiced when Timothy returned with the joyful tidings that they were being established in the faith and well-grounded in the Word, despite the many difficulties and distresses they were facing: 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.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 and that they would walk in holiness before our God and Father, encouraging one another as they look for the any-day appearance of our great God and Saviour, Jesus Christ.
Paul's life and ministry as God's chosen apostle to the Gentiles was drawing to its close, and yet when Paul wrote his letters to both Timothy and Titus, he recognised the increasing problem of false teachers and heretical dogma.
The Bible, from beginning to end, points to Jesus, and this power-packed little book which details the terrible apostasy that is going to overtake the Church in the last days, similarly points to the Lord Jesus as the one and only person who can keep any of us from stumbling so that we may be presented to Him as a pure, chase virgin at His return.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 doctrines and teachers are flooding Christendom with another gospel.
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.
However, all those who rejected God’s offer of salvation before the Cross and throughout the Church-age, as well as during the 7-year Tribulation, will be confined in hell for a further 1000 years and must partake in the SECOND resurrection – the terrible resurrection of all unbelievers at the Great White Throne of the living God – which must result in eternal separation from God.Let us increase our efforts 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.
Today we are witnessing an unprecedented increase of evil and wickedness in the world, and just as evil increased during the days of Noah, we are also seeing clear evidence of increased perversions, degeneracy, ungodliness, and corruption.
And we are to do the same.They were to be responsible for the well-being of their Christian 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.As believers, we have all been blessed with every spiritual blessing from above and are instructed by the Word of God and through Church elders and Christian ministers, to share our blessings, both material and spiritual, with others so that they in turn are enabled to rejoice in the Lord for His provision and go further afield themselves, to bless others who cross their path.Sowing and reaping blessings in this way, is a biblical principle that benefits both the giver and the one that receives – as well as honouring the Lord our God from Whom all blessings flow.
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.
We are also to grow in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. This must be the pinnacle of God's grace, that we increase in our knowing HIM.
Realising the 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.
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 day and recognised that vain arguments about things unrelated to sound 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 addresses it with a warning to avoid foolish controversies, genealogies, strife, and disputes about the Law, for they are unprofitable and worthless.At first, the early Church was only comprised of saved Jews.
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, politics, social 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 backslidden life.
Trials are a criterion that God uses to test and increase our faith in Him, and to appraise and develop our trust in His Word.
They are designed to test our faith, develop our faith, hone our faith, and increase our faith in our Father in heaven.
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.
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, and doctrines of demons saturate the Church as the time for Christ's return draws ever closer.
And so, as David's exuberant praise for the Lord climbs into an ever-increasing crescendo of worship and exaltation, his heart is suddenly moved into a hushed prayer of submissive surrender and deep devotion, as he recognises his own human limitations in contrast to the magnificent glory of God and cries out to the Lord, Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be always acceptable in Your sight, O Lord, my Rock, and my Redeemer.
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.
No words of greater encouragement could have been given to Christ's disciples as they encountered increasing hostility from the Scribes, Pharisees, and Jewish leaders - blind leaders of the blind who refused the truth so that they could embrace the lie.
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.
All that He had created was very good, yet only 10 generations after Adam sinned, we discover the shocking, moral decline of the human race, for every intent of the thoughts of man's heart was only evil continually and God was grieved in His heart.This shocking and disturbing indictment against the human race in the antediluvian age, and the exponential increase of wickedness in the heart of men, demanded humanity's total termination.The giants, or 'nephilim' named in the previous verses, were the unnatural offspring of fallen angels and human women – a race that was totally contrary to God's order – man was to reproduce after his own KIND.
The urgent cries of the faithful remnant of Israel reflect 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.
In a confused world where love has grown cold and consideration for others has morphed into cruel aggression, there is an increasing need for us to apply 'The Golden Rule' in our own lives... but it can only be manifested in the life of a believer through the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit.
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.The 'one' in this verse is a believer, and John states that the one who hates his brother is in the darkness and walks in the darkness.
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.
Had John not been loyal to the revelation he received, he could have enticed his followers to hold him in higher esteem than the Lord Jesus, 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'.
Wherever we are, whatever our role in the Body of Christ, and however vast or insignificant our ministry for our Lord may be - when Jesus is central in every area of life we are bound to say, He must increase, but I must decrease.
Perhaps we should rejoice that God will use sinners, such as you and me, to bless others and to increase our own spiritual temperature, and perhaps we should recognise that God is in control of this fallen world system and use this story to develop our personal trust in God and maintain a growing faith in His Word.
We too face increasing pressures in our own day 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.
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.
Lusting after money and the intense desire to gain more money and increase worldly wealth, is what is being spoken about here.Similarly, the love of money is not the single source of evil, as is so often implied in the secular song, mentioned above – but that the love of money is one of many ungodly ways that entices us into various sins and wickedness.Indeed, the context of this verse must also be considered, for Paul is contrasting the tranquil attitude of godly contentment and gratitude with a greedy craving for wealth, an insatiable hankering after riches, or the materialist mind-set which is embodied in a fallen world.One of the qualities that Paul lists in a church elder or overseer, earlier in the book, is that he is gentle, peaceable, and free from the love of money, for when godliness springs from a contented heart it is a great asset in a child of God.We should never forget that we came into this world with nothing... and when we die, we will take nothing from it.
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.
And as the attack on biblical Christianity increases in its furious ferocity, in its ever increasing circle of influence, they also at times are tempted to wonder, as did Paul, if their efforts are futile.
But He sometimes allows the storms to batter our lives, for He wants us to trust Him in all situations and to cast all our cares upon Him so that as we increase in faith, we depend on Him more and more - trusting in His never-failing faithfulness.
Just as the bright sunshine of a glorious day begins with a tiny pin-point of light whose tendrilled rays gradually increase into a flash 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.
And since we have been born from above and have tasted of the goodness of God, we are entreated by Peter to live our lives in submission to Him so that we may grow in grace and increase in spiritual wisdom and knowledge.
The Lord took his problems and pain so as to increase David's dependence and faith on Him.
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... which is drawn from a wrong cistern.
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, if we humble ourselves in the presence of the Lord, He will lift us up and exalt us.
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.
As the world thunders towards God's inevitable judgement of this God-hating, Christ-rejecting, sinful world, there are an increasing number of false teachers trafficking a twisted gospel and peddling a false Christ to undiscerning people.
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.
The instruction Christ was giving us in this request was about developing dependent faith in the child of God, and the prayer requests that we make to the Lord are designed to increase that faith and to enlarge in us a loving trust in our Heavenly Father and a trusting love for our gracious Lord.
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, 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.
Indeed, there is an increasing fascination today with angels, aliens, heavenly forces, and divine messengers which can become an all-consuming obsession: Worship God alone, we are instructed – not angels, saints, Mary, or any other created being.
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.
Having outlined the person of Christ, the incarnate Word of God Who would be rejected by His own people but accepted by all who would believe on His name, John gives increasing insight into the incarnation of Christ: In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was 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, we can rejoice in the Lord and consider it pure joy, recognising 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.
John the Baptist told us that Jesus must increase and we must decrease, and Paul was reinforcing this principle to the believers at Corinth when he insisted that no one speaking by the Spirit of God will denigrate the Lord Jesus.
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.
May our own, personal love for the Lord grow and develop and increase, with every passing day, but may we also take to heart ALL that is written within the Word of God, trust all that He has told us, and live our lives by faith in His Word and not by the circumstances that surround us.
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, fewer and fewer 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.
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.
When we come to the Lord in prayer or praise, we must decrease and He must increase, for there is one Lord, one faith, one baptism into the Body of Christ, and there is one Head, Who is to guard and guide us individually and corporately.
Worry is a fruitless exercise and too often has a detrimental effect on home-life and health, for anxious thoughts 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 dispensation 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.
While faith and hope will certainly continue throughout the eternal ages, for our faith and hope will always be in our heavenly Father, it is love that will increase and multiply when we see Jesus face to face - for we see Him as He is and we shall be like Him.
But in this present world, we are taking our first steps on the pathway of love - a journey of love that will only increase through time and into eternity, as we bathe in His presence and gaze into His lovely face.
It will increase, and then it will grow even more - not only in this present age but in the eternal ages to come.
The eternal love of God that has been poured into our hearts will continue to increase and multiply - for the love of God is eternal.
There seems to be an increasing number of Christians in this Church dispensation who find part of the gospel of Christ unpalatable... refusing to use words like 'sin' and 'hell', 'repentance' and 'sacrifice' - for fear of offending anyone.
He prayed that we would 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.
Wonderful though “abiding in Him” is to the believer, it is only half of the equation, for as we rest and abide and remain in Him, so He abides in us.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 ever-increasing intimacy, as we grow in His grace and in a knowledge of our precious Saviour.Let us seek to rest in His love and abide in Him, moment by moment and day by day, for He will take each burden and all the pain of life and provide for each of us, the wisdom and strength we need to face the future, until abiding in Him and He in us becomes as natural as breathing.
He is also a picture of the last antichrist - the prophesied ruler about whom Jesus warned in Matthew 24 when He told of a sudden increase in false prophets, satanic deception, and a shocking moral decline, together with an increase in earthquakes, pestilences, famines, and war.
While John was outwardly successful, this humble servant of the Lord, continued to point his followers to Christ, proclaiming, He must increase, but I must decrease.
The face of the nation had to turn in a different direction and the Holy Spirit caused increasing numbers to go after Jesus, causing John to remind his concerned followers, by saying, I am not the Christ, but I have been sent before Him.
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 would become an ongoing and increasing thorn in Israel's flesh - indeed, we see this today that 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..
John was called as God's witness to humanity and he knew that Jesus must increase and he must decrease, and so he proclaimed of Christ Jesus our Lord: I myself have seen, and have testified that this is the Son of God.
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..
There is a great and important responsibility for those that are advancing in years, 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.
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, that this is too mighty a task for God to manage, 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.
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.
He made many other Messianic claims which caused the Pharisees and leaders of the Jews to express increasing hostility towards Him and increased their 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..