I was shocked. I had just asked the Bible institute class which is better, to win one, two, or ten people to Christ. The students were emphatic that one is just as good as ten!
I said, “If you, your wife, your children, your mother, brothers, and sisters
were all trapped in a burning building, and a fireman rescued one of your children; are you saying that rescuing only one is just as good as rescuing all of you?!!”
Of course rescuing two is better than rescuing one! Rescuing ten is ten
times as good as rescuing one! Suppose your boat sank many miles from land. You and your friends are all exhausted in the high waves. Finally a rescue party arrives.
Would you be happy if they were content to save just one (of the others)?
But the lake of fire is infinitely more dreadful than burning to death or drowning! Jesus called it everlasting fire and everlasting punishment (Matthew
25:41,46)! How wicked to not care if many are saved! It is crucial that the church understand the importance of numbers!
God speaks often of numbers in the Bible. In fact, the fourth book of the
Bible is called Numbers! Large sections of Numbers, I Chronicles, Ezra,
Nehemiah, and other Bible books go to great lengths telling how many came out of Egypt, how many sided with King David, how many came back to the Holy Land, and so on.
Then when the disciples obeyed Jesus after toiling all night and catching
nothing, they caught a multitude, too many to draw in, specifically 153 great fishes.
The Holy Spirit makes a point to tell us that at Pentecost about 3000 were added to the church and that the Lord added to the church daily. Then “many... believed, and the number of the men was about 5000” (Acts 4:4). Later, “believers were the more added to the Lord, multitudes both of men and women” (Acts 5:14).
In Acts 6:7, “the number of the disciples multiplied in Jerusalem greatly; and a great company of the priests were obedient to the faith.” Also in Acts 9:31 they were multiplied, and then in Acts 11:21 a great number believed. Then, through Barnabas many people were added to the Lord (11:24). The word of God continued to grow and multiply (12:24), and still later they “increased in number daily” (16:5).
So numbers are important. But is it right for us count them? Didn’t David
bring judgment on Israel when he numbered them? Yes. Seventy thousand men died!
Does Scripture give any clue as to why? Yes.
And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, When thou takest the sum of
the children of Israel after their number, then shall they give every man
a ransom for his soul unto the Lord, when thou numberest them; that
there be no plague among them, when thou numberest them (Exodus
Only the ransomed were to be numbered, so there would be no plague. This
warning reminds me that it is not the number on the church roll that is important.
It is not the number attending church that is important. It is the number ransomed by Christ that is important! The number actually saved is dreadfully important!
They were commanded to number the people, over and over. Every time a
number of people is given in the Bible, they were numbered! How important are numbers? Well, if the number is one, and that one is myself, then one is infinitely important—whether I spend eternity in pleasure and fullness of joy in heaven, or eternity in hell fire. So every one is infinitely important. God commanded, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” I must want each one to be saved just as I would want to be saved from everlasting fire!
Missionary statesman Robertson McQuilkin said, “Don’t talk about mere
numbers. No immortal soul is mere!”
Numbers are important! An orange tree that bears 300 oranges is 300 times
as good as a tree that bears only one! Jesus said, “Herein is My Father glorified that ye bear much fruit, so shall ye be My disciples” (John 15:8).
So numbers are important to God. Jesus is worthy enough to bring many
sons to glory (Hebrews 2:10), “that He might be the firstborn among many
brethren” (Romans 8:29). Understanding the importance of numbers, of each
immortal soul, will spur the church to obedience and greater growth.
Reflect & Apply
1. Is winning two to Christ better than winning one?
3. Are you glad you are not condemned to the Lake of fire?
4. Are you seeking to love your neighbor as yourself?