“Growing the Church God’s Way”


Hear the word of the Lord, O ye nations, and declare it in the isles afar off, and say, He that scattered Israel will gather him, and keep him, as a shepherd doth his flock.”                                                          (Jeremiah 31:10)


      Recently I was invited to attend a conference for “Reformed Pastors and Church Workers.” The theme of the conference is to be “Growing the Church God’s Way.” The emphasis of all the planned lectures and activities is “growth” and “success.” Sadly, even those who call themselves “Reformed” and “Calvinistic” are, for the most part, completely obsessed with numbers, numeric growth, and success in the eyes of men. — In the Word of God that is never the case; and it is never the case with faithful men.


      When I read that invitation, I immediately thought to myself, “The only thing we do in this matter of growing the church is to get out of the way and watch God work.” Indeed, that is exactly what the Lord God tells us to do. — “Fear ye not, stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord” (Exodus 14:13) — “The battle is not yours, but God’s…Ye shall not need to fight in this battle: set yourselves, stand ye still, and see the salvation of the Lord” (2 Chronicles 20:15, 17).


      There is a people in this world called “the elect” and “the ransomed of the Lord.” These people are such a vast multitude that no man can number them; but they are a specific number. They are called “the elect” because they were chosen of God unto eternal life in Christ before the world began. These elect ones are called “the ransomed of the Lord” because they were redeemed by the precious blood of Christ and ransomed from the curse of the law by the sacrifice of God’s dear Son.


      The Lord God assures us repeatedly in his Word that these chosen ones, “the ransomed of the Lord,” shall, at God’s own appointed time of love, return to him (Jeremiah 24:6-7; 30:10; 31:8; 46:27; Hosea 14:7). They were chosen, blessed, and accepted in Christ before the world began. They were scattered over all the earth by the hand of God through the sin and fall of our father, Adam. They were scattered among the nations that they might be gathered to God’s everlasting praise. These scattered sheep were gathered out of the world by the sin-atoning blood of the Great Shepherd when he laid down his life for them at Calvary, and carried with him into Glory in his resurrection from the dead. In the disposition of his wise and good providence, the Lord God is gathering his elect out of the world by the power of his grace in the blessed experience of that grace given to us in Christ Jesus before the world began.


      What is our involvement in all this great work? — Nothing! This is God’s work alone. We preach the gospel to poor, needy sinners, lost, ruined, and dead in trespasses and in sins; and get out of the way. No tricks, no gimmicks, no altar calls are used; no psychological manipulation is employed to get people to make a profession of faith and join the church; being assured of God that “He that scattered Israel will gather him, and keep him, as a shepherd doth his flock.


      God grows his church, not man. He still adds to the church every day such as should be saved. All who swell the church rolls, as the result of human devices, are just wood, hay, and stubble, and will soon be burned.







Don Fortner



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