Some pastors today falsely or ignorantly concentrate solely on numbers and growing their church numerically so they can build bigger buildings and pay larger salaries. Many even fall into the trap of the enemy by using Scripture out of context to make their case ‘biblical’ sounding. They use verses from Acts 2:41 that tells how 3,000 were added to the church in one day. They will say in Acts 4:4 the Bible reports 5,000 more were saved. These will be misused to ‘justify’ that focusing on numbers is OK.
Isaiah 40:3,4 – “The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the LORD, make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low: and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough places plain:”
Isaiah prophesied of a forerunner for the Messiah, his job was to prepare the way of the Lord. His task was to make a straight highway for our God. When I read the above passage, it reminds me of preparing a road for paving. The dirt has to be graded, the hills leveled out, and the valleys filled in. Then the road has to be packed down and scraped and leveled…smoothing all of the rough places. So who was this forerunner and how did he do all of this paving?
After the Lord saved me in the fall of 2000, the first piece of Scripture that ever really stuck with me was 2nd Timothy 2:3-4. Here Paul penned the following words, “You therefore must endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. No one engaged in warfare entangles himself with the affairs of this life, that he may please him who enlisted him as a soldier.” (New King James)
When I first read that, I must confess that it made me a little fearful. I wondered…‘what was I going to have to suffer?’ I was hoping for the ‘life more abundantly’ and ‘joy’ and ‘peace’ parts of salvation that I had heard so much of. But the Lord spoke to my spirit clearly…“You therefore must endure hardship…”
In my walk with the Lord, I have personally and corporately (as a Body of Christ) seen prayers both miraculously answered and prayers that seemed to go unanswered. Once while seeking the Lord on this topic, I came across a very interesting account in the Gospel of John. The story was recounting the sickness, death and resurrection of Lazarus.