Of Christ, VIA, The Church
Elder Oscar B.
Pastor - Sovereign
Grace Baptist Church
Texarkana , Texas
must increase ..." John 3:30
The words of the text are the words of John the Baptist, and were occasioned
by the complaining of his disciples. John's disciples were grieved because
the multitudes were being drawn to Christ, and as a result their own company
was diminishing. We read their complaint, ". . .He that was with thee beyond
Jordan, to whom thou barest witness, behold, the same baptizeth, and all
men come to him," (John 3:26). John gave no validity to his
disciples complaint, but owns his subordination to Christ, and takes great
satisfaction in the advancement and success of Christ's cause in the world.
John answers his disciples with the words of our text, "He must increase,
but I must decrease." John counted it honor enough to be "the friend
of the Bridegroom," and to be the Divine instrument in making ready a bride
In the verse preceding our text John expresses his joy over the success
of the match which he had been sent of God into the world to promote, "He
that hath the bride is the bridegroom: but the friend of the
bridegroom, which standeth and heareth him, rejoiceth greatly because of
the bridegroom's voice: this my joy therefore is fulfilled," (Vs.
Our text, "He must
increase," is a prophecy paralleling the prophetic words of Matthew
16:18 where Christ says, "I will build My church. . .," which words
are rightly interpreted, "I will edify, improve, and enlarge My church."
This prophecy had not been long uttered when we see its early fruition,
"The Lord added to the church daily the saved. (Greek Acts 2:47).
This "adding" to the church took place on the day of Pentecost. So
it is, the church must have been already in existence, otherwise, how could
they have been "added" to it on that day?
No man living or dead, has ever had an invisible bride or wife. Therefore,
the "bride" John refers to as being with Christ the "bridegroom" was visible,
and has continued to be visible every day since the espousal was made in
2. Christ is eternal, infinitely perfect, immutable and cannot experience
more or less.
Viewing our text "He must increase," in light of the second axiom, what
does the term "increase" mean?
First, let us consider the text negatively. It is not to be understood
to mean an increase of Christ's essential glory, for this is impossible.
Christ is God manifest in the flesh, and in Him is neither variableness
or shadow of turning. "I am the Lord, I change not. . ." (Mal. 3:6),
(Viz. Heb. 13:8). Neither does the text mean that the "increase"
of Christ's church is to be constant or the same in every century.
History proves that this is not the meaning of the text, for the New Testament
church has, on many an occasion, experienced diminution. Under persecution
of the Roman emperors and Roman popes the Bride of Christ was greatly diminished,
but never eradicated. Although more scarce at one time than at another,
the church has always, since its institution, been visibly on the earth.
Christ did not say the church was irreducible, but that it was eradicable
(Mt. 16:18). Great defections for sure, but always the visible,
effectual Bride on the earth throughout the age.
It does not mean that Christ's church would grow in external splendour,
earthly power, or material wealth. No, Christ told the church it
would be persecuted, (John 15:20). And when the church Christ
instituted during the days of His incarnation on earth was about thirty
years old it was referred to as, ". the poor saints which are at
Jerusalem." (Rom. 15:26).
Now, let us consider the text positively. The "Increase of Christ"
is inseparably connected to the church. "He that hath the bride is
the bridegroom. ... He must increase."
1. Positively, "increase is realized by the transmission and spreading
of gospel light through the world. Christ gave the commission to
evangelize the world to His church prior to Pentecost (Mt. 28: 18-20).
And He said to this same church at a later time, and in a different place
prior to Pentecost, .Ye shall be witness unto Me both in Jerusalem,
and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth,"
Two facts are apparent to the honest Bible student regarding the commission.
First, Christ gave the commission to evangelize the world to His church
exclusively. Christ in giving the commission spoke to the immediate
church, and of the church prospect. God gave the Law to Israel
exclusively. No other nation was so favored by God. Only Israel
had true ordinances, and only with Israel did the Shekinah glory
dwell. During the dispensation of the law others than Israelites
were saved. But those saved were beholden to Israel for the truth
whereby they came to know the true God. Israel was God's evangelistic
institution, and in Israel only was His name great and in Zion alone was
the seat of His glory, (Psa. 76:1-2). The New Testament church
is the true anti-type of Old Testament Israel. Paul says to the local
visible church at Corinth, "Now all these things happened unto them for
ensamples (Gr. Tupoi, meaning "types"): and they are written for
our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come," (I Cor. 10:11).
As in ancient times when God restricted His institutional glory to Israel,
and gave only to Israel the Law and true ordinances, He has in this age
elected the New Testament church wherein to make His name great and with
the church alone does His institutional glory dwell. Eph. 3:21
"Unto Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world
without end. A-men." I Tim. 3:15 ". . .The church of
the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth." I would be remiss,
if not dishonest not to say I believe the Sovereign Grace New Testament
Missionary Baptist churches are the only true churches of Christ.
Before anyone cries, "Bigot!" let them do some research and some private
investigation and they will find to their surprise a number of other denominations
making the same claim for themselves. And all other denominations
which are not so absolute in this contention, yet, hold that their particular
group is more perfect in degree than all others.
Secondly, seeing that Christ gave The Commission to the churches which
are today connotated Sovereign Grace Missionary Baptists, and to them alone,
we are forced to conclude that all others are not merely counterfeits,
but unbiased analysis reveals them to be the antithesis of the true churches.
However, we do not agree with those Baptists which teach all the saved
on the earth during the present age are Baptists. While no one can
be a Baptist without being saved, being saved makes no one a Baptist.
Regeneration AND Scriptural baptism make one a Baptist, and there is much
more implied in the term "Scriptural baptism" than what the majority which
designate themselves Baptists are aware of.
We restate, the "increase" which John says Christ shall realize, is realized
in part by the propagation of the gospel by His church. "And the
word of God increased. . ." (Acts 6:7).
The text, "He must increase," obviously clearly states that there
will be an increase of the number of Christ's subjects and followers.
Or, in other words, all that the Father gave to the Son in the covenant
of redemption will come to Him, own their subjection to Him, and
manifest their election and make it sure. Now, what is it that will
bring about this glorious increase to Christ? It is an irrefutable
fact that Christ baptized the church as an institution in the Holy Spirit
on the day of Pentecost and that by virtue of this baptism the church was
energized and authorized to break the hitherto Judean boundaries with
the gospel of Christ, (Mt. 28:18, Lk. 24:49, Acts 1:8).
It has already been affirmed that the Lord's churches are apostolic in
doctrine and character, and are today Baptist in name. And to these
churches alone was the gospel commission given. Now, to answer the
question, what is it that will bring about the adding of Christ's subjects
to Him? It will be the preaching of the gospel by the church under
the ministration of the Spirit. God is sovereign, and can work with
means, or independent of means, but in infinite wisdom it pleased the Lord
to design the gospel as a means of calling out His elect. When the Lord
through the Holy Spirit gives testimony to the preaching of His word, then
the gospel becomes the Spirit's sword with which He pierces the conscience
of the elect, granting them repentance and faith, and causes them in astonishment
and trembling to cry out, "Lord what wilt Thou have me to do?" (Acts
Man is shut up to the Holy Spirit for every revelation of the gospel.
Therefore, every revelation of the gospel is supernatural. It is
as easy for the Holy Spirit to use the gospel in His quickening of the
elect, as it is for Him to use it in sanctifying the elect after they are
saved. We will not resort to vain reasoning and circumscribe
the power of the Holy Spirit by setting up chronological barriers before
Him. Man, in order to arrive at the number five, must start
with the number one and go through two, three and four. The same
is true with the days of the week. To reach Sunday, man must go through
the other six days of the week. Not so, with God. With God
there is only the eternal NOW.
Therefore, hearing the preached word, repenting and believing all are simultaneously
realized by the subject of elective grace and are eternal and inseparable
blessings, never to be revoked. Man's reasoning is limited, and stops
short of comprehending fully the natural birth (Eccl.. 11:5), and
he knows infinitely less about the spiritual birth. But we do know
God uses His word in producing the new birth "Of His own will
begat he us with the word of truth," (James 1:18) See
also I Pet. 1:23 where it says, "Born again. . . by the word," Vs.
25 of the same chapter declares that word to be the preached gospel.
So the preacher of the gospel would not be looked upon by some as co-author
with God in regeneration, Paul said, "I have planted, Apollos watered,
but God gave the increase," (I Cor. 3:6). Thus, by means of
gospel proclamation by the church the "increase" John the Baptist
refers to in our text is realized by Christ. He that at the beginning
illumined this earth with solar light by saying, "Let there be light,"
is in the intense spiritual darkness of this hour saying, through
the medium of the gospel, "Let there be life."
OF THE NEW TESTAMENT
Positively, "He must increase." This increase is, in part, realized
by the Lord furnishing the church with "able ministers of the New
Testament," (II Cor. 3:6), The Lord being absolutely sovereign,
and the commission to the church, age-long and world-wide, it naturally
follows that the' Lord would supply His church with every necessary means
to achieve the ends assigned the church.
Eph. 4:11-12 "And He gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some,
evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; for the perfecting of the
saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ."
God will raise up, call (Gal. 1:15), and qualify men for the work.
They will be men willing to suffer the reproaches of Christ, and will be
humbled by the fact God has made them positionally eminent instruments
in the church, whereby His glory is displayed to the world. In witness
to the word of God they will be, "burning and shining lights," and their
courage and zeal is of such nature they are willing to become physical
torches, "burning and shining" at the enemy's stake. They prefer the good
of the church over every other interest and joy, and are sound and
steadfast in doctrine. They heed the word of their Head, and are "no more
children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind and doctrine.
. ." (Eph. 1:14). They will "increase in the knowledge of
God," and will not be switching from doctrine to doctrine. We are
living in an era when doctrinal stations are switched back and forth as
often as a drunk man changes sides of the street in his effort to
Many claiming to be Baptists have touched all the doctrinal bases in their
switching. They have changed in their doctrinal view from Arminianism
to Sovereign Grace Missionary Baptist, then to Progressive Primitive, then
on to Hyper-Hardshell, and then back again to Arminianism. "Growing
in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. . .",
does not necessarily demand a switching of doctrines. The primary
meaning is; to perfect the doctrine which the Holy Spirit has germinally
planted, thereby "Making straight paths for your feet," (II Pet. 3:18,
12:13). Many, without due regard for begetting prejudices, and
under the influence of a schismatic spirit, have run unsent into many hurtful
errors. But those upon whom the Lord hath laid the responsibility
of the spiritual health of the church, the same being animated by a desire
to glorify God in the church will wait patiently upon the Lord for enlightenment,
and make sure that their doctrinal "faith should not stand in the wisdom
of men, but in the power of God, " (I Cor. 2:5). Those able
ministers whom the Lord gives to the churches are cheerfully content to
spend and be spent for their charges, for they know it is through the church
that Christ is increased.
(The Sovereign Grace Advocate
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