|LIFE IN JESUS-MINISTRIES
|BORN TO REPRODUCE
I AM REVEALED
Oct 13 2013
ONE OF THE MOST INFLUENTIAL THINGS I have ever read is a little booklet called “Born to Reproduce” by Dawson
Trotman. As a college student, I walked into a Christian bookstore, and a man I hardly knew stopped me, handed me
what looked like a leaflet, and said, “You need to read this.” I did, and it changed my life.
In a matter of only a few pages, Trotman builds the case that “every person who is born into God’s family is to multiply.”
Yet he maintains that most Christians are not multiplying. He laments, “In every Christian audience, I am sure there are
men and women who have been Christians for five, ten or twenty years but who do not know of one person who is living
for Jesus Christ today because of them.” (Dawson Trotman, “Born to Reproduce,” 5, 12. Retrieved from Discipleship
Library, http://www.discipleshiplibrary.com/pdfs/AA094.pdf.) This is a problem, Trotman says, and it’s the reason the
gospel has not yet spread to the nations today.
In contrast, “the Gospel spread to the known world during the first century without radio, television, or the printing press,
because [the early church] produced [Christians] who were reproducing.” Trotman uses the illustration of how parents
naturally reproduce children in the context of marriage to assert that “every one of [God’s] children ought to be a
reproducer.” (Ibid. 14, 10.)
That illustration became all the more clear to me in the years to come. I’ve written with great delight about my family’s
adoption journey, but that journey was born in dark and difficult days. For years my wife and I tried to have children
biologically. Finally convinced that this would never happen, we began the process of adopting Caleb. Then, about two
weeks after we returned from Kazakhstan, I came home from a meeting late one night and found Heather still awake.
That was unusual.
She looked at me and slowly said two shocking words: “I’m pregnant.”
I was stunned. After years and years of trying, we didn’t think this could happen, and we certainly hadn’t planned on it.
Apparently, what happens in Kazakhstan doesn’t stay in Kazakhstan. (Did I just write that?)
Nine months later, Heather woke me up in the middle of the night. She said, “It’s probably a false alarm, but I think we
should go to the hospital.”
On that cold December night, we arrived at the hospital, and they told us they didn’t have enough room for us. Kind of
appropriate for the season, I thought – getting ready to have a baby at Christmastime and being told there’s no room.
All right…maybe we’ll just go outside and look for a stable with a manger.
So the hospital staff put us in a closet and hooked Heather up to all kinds of machines. A couple of hours later they
were able to move us into a regular room. As we settled into the hospital, my excitement was tempered with tension.
Simply put, I’m not a big fan of hospitals. The sight of blood doesn’t sit well with me. Heather knows this, so I wasn’t
surprised a little later when I overheard her talking with our nurse.
The nurse first said to Heather, “The doctor who is going to be delivering your baby lets husbands help deliver, if they’d
Heather laughed. “My husband would never do that.”
Wounded in my pride, I realized this was my chance to show my wife what I was made of. Before I knew what I was
saying, I blurted out, “I’d love to help deliver the baby.”
Heather looked back at me with a sudden smile on her face.
“Yes…of course,” I stammered. “Who wouldn’t want to deliver a baby?”
The nurse immediately went into action, making preparations for the delivery as Heather sat back in her bed, still
smiling. Meanwhile, I was sweating. What was I thinking? I can’t stand the sight of blood – I already feel sick just
standing in this room – and I just volunteered to deliver a baby?
I needed a plan, so I decided I was going to look at this as if it were a mission trip. When you go overseas, you do things
you don’t normally do. You eat things you don’t normally eat and drink things you don’t normally drink. When you’re in
Rome, you do what the Romans do, I thought to myself. So when you’re in the hospital, you do what doctors do.
Besides, I have a doctorate, I reasoned. Granted, it’s from a seminary, but what difference does that really make? In
the end, aren’t all doctors pretty much the same?
I paced until the real doctor came in. It was time. As I put on a gown and some gloves, the doctor pulled me aside and
told me how this was going to work. He used a bunch of medical jargon that I didn’t understand and then asked me, “Do
Without hesitation, I responded, “Yes, sir.”
The reality? I was scared out of my mind and sick to my stomach.
I’ll spare you the details, but after a few minutes, he gave me the cue. He told me to reach down and put my left hand
under my right hand. I felt like Peyton Manning. Flanked by two nurses, I stood waiting for the ball to be snapped.
All of a sudden, a tiny head popped out – and time stood still. I pulled out Joshua, a child we had prayed for over many
years, and I placed him in my precious wife’s lap while Caleb, our first son, waited in the room outside. Clearly, we
couldn’t have written this script. Only God, in his creative mercy and sovereign wisdom, could have designed this story –
a story whose plot has since thickened. Years after Joshua was born, Heather and I adopted our daughter, Mara Ruth,
from China. Three months later, you’ll never guess what happened. To our surprise, Heather was pregnant again.
Looking back on years of infertility, Heather and I remember the hurts and heartaches of longing to have children yet
finding those longings go unfulfilled with every passing month. We constantly felt the frustration that comes with realizing
there was something physically wrong that prevented this blessing.
The Lord used this lesson to teach me, though, and today I am convinced that a similar thing can be said of the
Christian life. By God’s design, he has wired his children for spiritual reproduction. He has woven into the fabric of
every single Christian’s DNA a desire and ability to reproduce. More than any married couple longs to see a baby
naturally born, every Christian longs to see sinners supernaturally saved. All who know the love of Christ yearn to
multiply the life of Christ. God has formed, fashioned, and even filled Christians with his own Spirit for this very purpose.
I think, then, it’s reasonable to conclude that something is spiritually wrong at the core of a Christian if his or her
relationship with Christ is not resulting in reproduction. Maybe more plainly put, wherever you find a Christian who is not
leading men and women to Christ, something is not right.
To be a disciple of Jesus is to make disciples of Jesus. As I hope we’ve seen, this has been true ever since the first
century when Jesus invited four men to follow him. His words have echoed throughout this book: “Follow me, and I will
make you fishers of men.” (Matthew 4:19). More important than searching for fish all over the sea, these men would
spread the gospel all over the world. They would give their lives not simply to being disciples of Jesus, but sacrificially to
making disciples of Jesus. And God’s design for twenty-first-century disciples is exactly the same. Jesus calls every one
of his disciples to make disciples who make disciples until the gospel penetrates every group of people in the world.
But something is wrong. Very wrong. Somewhere along the way, we have lost sight of what it means to be a disciple,
and we have laid aside Jesus’ command to make disciples. We have tragically minimized what it means to be his
follower, and we have virtually ignored the biblical expectation that we fish for men. The result is a rampant spectator
mentality that skews discipleship across the church, stifles the spread of the gospel around the world, and ultimately
sears the heart of what it means for each of us to be a Christian.
A PERSONAL DISCIPLE-MAKING PLAN
This book represents an admittedly feeble attempt to address a malady in contemporary Christianity. While multitudes
of men and women often loosely and many times falsely claim to be Christians, I have sought to explore what it actually
means to follow Jesus. Becoming a Christian involves responding to the gracious invitation of God in Christ, and being a
Christian involves leaving behind superficial religion for supernatural regeneration. As we follow Christ, he transforms
our minds, our desires, our wills, our relationships, and our ultimate reason for living. Every disciple of Jesus exists to
make disciples of Jesus, here and among every people group on the planet. There are no spectators. We are all born
So are you reproducing? To quote Dawson Trotman, “Men, where is your man? Women, where is your woman? Where
is the one whom you led to Christ and who is now going on with Him?...How many persons do you know by name today
who were won to Christ by you and are now living for Him?” (Trotman, “Born to Reproduce,” 13, 10).
My purpose in asking these questions is not to make you feel guilty if you cannot answer them (or proud if you can). My
purpose in asking these questions is to spur you on to consider how the life of Christ in you might be multiplied through
you in the world.
Maybe a more important first question, though, is this: Do you desire to reproduce? Deep down inside, do you long to
see people come to know Christ through your life? If the answer to that question is not an unhesitating, unapologetic
yes, then I encourage you to search your heart. Is Christ in you? Do you believe his Word – his Word that claims that
Christ alone is able to save sinners, that God alone is worthy of worship, and that all who do not receive God’s grace in
Christ will spend eternity in hell? Are you experiencing his affections – delight in knowing him and desire to proclaim him
to the people around you? Ultimately, are you abandoned to his will for you to be his witness in the world?
If these things are not a reality in your life, then no matter what decision you made however many years ago and no
matter what church you attended last week, you may not actually be a Christian, for these features are the fruit of
followers of Christ. If you don’t desire to reproduce and if you don’t long to see people come to know Christ through
your life, then I encourage you, in the words of II Corinthians 13:5, to “examine [yourself] to see whether you are in the
faith.” Is Christ in you? And if he is not – if your heart, mind, and will have not been transformed by the forgiveness of
your sins and the filling of his Spirit – then I urge you to die to sin and yourself today and come to life in Christ.
On the other hand, if you do desire to reproduce as a disciple of Jesus, and if you do long to see people come to know
Christ through your life, then I invite you to take some intentional steps toward that end. Every year, I fill out what I call a
“personal disciple-making plan.” Basically, it’s my effort in God’s grace to set out how I want to wholeheartedly follow
Christ and fish for men in the coming year. Each of the pastors in our church writes out a similar plan, and every new
member of our church goes through the same process. My prayer is that every follower of Christ in the church I have
the privilege of pastoring would have an intentional plan for following Jesus and fishing for men.
Consequently, as this book comes to a close, I want to invite you to walk through a similar process of writing out a
specific plan for how you are going to follow Jesus and fish for men. If the end result of reading this book is only a
slightly clearer understanding of what it means to be a disciple, then these pages will have been for the most part
wasted. But if the end result of reading this book is a significantly greater understanding of what it means for you to be a
disciple that inevitably leads you to make disciples here and around the world, then these pages will have proven, I pray,
So for every follower of Christ, I invite you to consider the following six straightforward questions. Pages have been
provided for you to write out your plan here in the book, but feel free to record your commitment in whatever way works
best for you. I have tried to keep the primary questions simple, yet I have also provided additional questions that might
help you flesh out what it means to follow Jesus in each of these ways. I don’t presume that these questions are
exhaustive, but I do believe they are essential. And my hope and prayer is that they will serve you as you consider what
it means to follow Christ.
1. HOW WILL I FILL MY MIND WITH TRUTH?
To follow Jesus is to believe Jesus, and in order to believe Jesus, we must listen to Jesus. The life of the disciple is the
life of a learner. We constantly attune our ears to the words of our Master. As he teaches us through his Word, he
transforms us in the world.
As disciples of Jesus, then, you and I must be intentional about filling our minds with his truth. In the words of Paul,
“Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if
anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things.” (Philippians 4:8). In the process of setting our minds on
godly things, we guard our minds from worldly thinking. And the more we hear and know Christ through his Word, the
more we will enjoy and honor Christ in the world.
So take time to consider how you will intentionally fill your mind with his truth. Specifically, ask the following questions:
As you consider a plan for reading, memorizing, and learning God’s Word, don’t forget that disciples do these things not
for information, but for transformation. As believers in Jesus, we are followers of Jesus, which means that we not only
hear the truth of Christ; we apply the truth of Christ. Our goal as disciples is never just to believe God’s Word; our goal
is to obey God’s Word. So as you plan to fill your mind with truth, purpose to follow the one who is Truth.
2. HOW WILL I FUEL MY AFFECTIONS FOR GOD?
Even as I encourage you to ask and answer these questions, I am mindful of the dangerous tendency for discipline in
the disciple’s life to become mechanical and monotonous. Our aim is not simply to know God; our aim is to love God,
and the more we read his Word, the more we delight in his glory.
Our aim in other spiritual disciplines is similar. As we worship, pray, fast, and give, we fuel affection for God. So I want
to encourage you to intentionally plan according to questions like these:
Following Jesus involves not only intellectual trust in him, but also emotional desire for him. We have seen that it is
impossible to separate true faith in Christ from profound feelings for Christ. So as disciples of Jesus, we intentionally
worship, pray, fast, and give in order to fuel affection for God.
3. HOW WILL I SHARE GOD’S LOVE AS A WITNESS IN THE WORLD?
God’s will in the world and for our lives is to spread his gospel, grace, and glory to all peoples. Instead of asking what
God’s will is for our lives, every disciple of Jesus asks, “How can my life align with his will for me to be his witness in the
world? This general question leads us to more specific questions.
As you identify the who, think through the how, and plan the when, don’t forget the why. All of this can seem fabricated
and fake until you remember what’s at stake. Every person that God has graciously put around you is a sinner eternally
in need of a Savior. You were once that person, yet someone intentionally sought you out to share the gospel with you.
Now this is the purpose for which God has graciously saved you. So with the Word of God in your mouth and the Spirit
of God in your heart, end your quest to find God’s will by deciding today to follow it.
4. HOW WILL I SHOW GOD’S LOVE AS A MEMBER OF A CHURCH
The Bible flies in the face of American individualism and church consumerism, prompting every follower of Christ to ask
the question, Am I an active accountable member of a local church? This question is not, Is my name on a church roll
somewhere? or Do I attend church somewhere? The question is, Am I committed to a local church where I am sharing
life with other followers of Christ in mutual accountability under biblical leadership for the glory of God? If not, the first
question we need to ask is:
To follow Christ is to love his church. It is biblically, spiritually, and practically impossible to be a disciple of Christ (much
less make disciples of Christ) apart from total devotion to a family of Christians. So how will your life be spent showing
God’s love as a member of a church?
5. HOW WILL I SPREAD GOD’S GLORY AMONG ALL PEOPLES?
The eternal purpose of God is to save people through Christ. The clear commission of Christ for every single disciple is
to make disciples not just generally, but of all nations – every ethne in the world. So regardless of where you live, how is
your life going to impact every nation, tribe, tongue, and people in the world? This is not a question for extraordinary
missionaries; this is a question for ordinary disciples. Consider the following ways you can play a part in the spread of
God’s glory to the ends of the earth.
In the church I pastor, we continually refer to what we call the “blank check.” As followers of Christ, we have given him a
“blank check” with our lives, meaning that we are his to spend for the spread of the gospel in the world. Our time is his,
our money is his, our families are his, and our future is his. No strings attached. We want to go wherever he leads, give
whatever he requires, and obey whatever he commands. Every time we sense God leading us as a church toward
another unreached people group, we ask everyone in the church to put the “blank check” back on the table and ask
God if he wants them to go.
So does God have a “blank check” with your life? Have you laid everything on the table and asked him, How do you
want me (or my family) to give to the nations? Have you asked him, How do you want me (or my family to go to the
nations? Do you want us to move overseas for the spread of your fame? In prayer, as you put these questions before
God, I am confident that he will answer clearly. As we’ve seen, he wants his will to be accomplished through us more
than we do. And as we follow him, he will lead us to the people, places, and positions where we can most effectively
make disciples of all nations for the glory of his name.
6. HOW WILL I MAKE DISCIPLE MAKERS AMONG A FEW PEOPLE?
Asking the above questions about the nations can feel overwhelming. Can we realistically be a part of the spread of the
gospel to every people group on the planet? The answer to that question, though, is surprisingly simple.
Think about it. Of all the men and women who have ever lived on the earth, Jesus was the most passionate about the
spread of God’s glory to all peoples. And what did he do? He spent his life investing in a few people. His strategy for
reaching all peoples was clear: make disciple makers among a few people.
As we’ve seen, God will lead us to live in all kinds of different places in the world. Yet regardless of where we live, the
task we have is the same. Whether you’re a pastor who leads a church or a mother who works at home, and whether
you’re in the mountains of northern Afghanistan or the plains of Midwestern America, God has commanded every
disciple to make disciples. No Christian is excused from this command, and no Christian would want to escape this
command. So every one of us looks around and asks, How will I make disciple makers among a few people? This
question naturally breaks down into others:
Francis Chan and I have developed material called “Multiply” for the purpose of practically helping disciples to make
disciple makers. This material is available for free online at www.multiplymovement.com. Regardless of whether you use
this material, another resource, or simply God’s Word, the goal is the same: decide to spend your life making disciple
makers among a few people.
THE KING’S CALL
This was Jesus’ strategy for bringing the Good News of God’s grace and glory to all the world. Two thousand years ago,
he wandered the streets and byways of Israel. He was initiating a revolution, but his revolution didn’t revolve around the
masses or multitudes.
It revolved around a few men. Those few disciples would learn to think like him, love like him, teach like him, live like him,
and serve like him. As he transformed followers, they became fishers, and you and I have the gospel today because
they were faithful in making disciple makers.
So let us be faithful to do the same. We are followers of Jesus. We have died to ourselves, and we now live in Christ.
He has saved us from our sins and has satisfied our souls. He has transformed our minds with his truth, fulfilled our
desires with his joy, and conformed our ways to his will. He has joined us together in bodies of believers called local
churches for the accomplishment of one all-consuming commission: the declaration of his gospel and the display of his
glory to all the peoples of the world.
This task involves all of us. No child of God is intended by God to be sidelined as a spectator in the great commission.
Every child of God has been invited by God to be on the front lines of the supreme mission in all of history. Every
disciple of Jesus has been called, loved, created, and saved to make disciples of Jesus who make disciples of Jesus who
make disciples of Jesus until the grace of God is enjoyed and the glory of God is exalted among every people group on
the planet. And on that day, every disciple of Jesus – every follower of Christ and fisher of men – will see the Savior’s
face and behold the Father’s splendor in a scene of indescribable beauty and everlasting bliss that will never, ever fade
This is a call worth dying for.
This is a King worth living for.
FOLLOW ME: A CALL TO DIE. A CALL TO LIVE., by David Platt, Copyright 2013, Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.