Math is basic in school, and we use it one way or another, all our lives. Sometimes we think in terms of how the math benefits us. Nothing wrong with that.
God’s math is certainly this way. It is all built around the BEST for US.
Even God’s highest level of math is all about ADDING what God requires, SUBTRACTING what displeases Him, so that He can give us MORE and MORE benefits by MULTIPLYING!
Even at the earliest surface level, Basic Math 101 GOD’s way is helping us. And when it gets to the secondary level and beyond, it goes to the EXPONENTIAL level, beyond anything we can ask or imagine!
That is why we say it is Math: God’s Way. Because it is based on God’s plan. Our part to ADD, then God MULTIPLIES.
But back to basics. How does God’s way compare with man’s? Paul wrote:
1 Corinthians 3:18–19 18Let no one deceive himself. If anyone among you seems to be wise in this age, let him become a fool that he may become wise. 19For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written, “He catches the wise in their own craftiness”;
Why can God “catch” them?
1 Corinthians 1:25 25Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.
Paul is not talking about mathematics, but what is true of one area of man’s knowledge will be true in another. Our high level mathematics probably looks much like preschooler math looks to us. So limited, so basic.
But we are looking for the principles. God’s math is built on the same fundamentals.
When we launch into learning the basics of God’s math, we find our first challenge is to learn how to ADD and SUBTRACT. Then, if and when we master these, we may get introduced to the higher processes that tell us how to MULTIPLY and DIVIDE.
What are the basic lessons we must master with ADD and SUBTRACT? A whole lot more than we got in third grade! First, this from Jesus. It was an answer to the disciples’ question.
Luke 17:5 5And the apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith.”
What was Jesus’ reply to their question?
Luke 17:6 6So the Lord said, “If you have faith as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be pulled up by the roots and be planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you.
How could they ADD to their faith? It wasn’t simple ADDITION, but Jesus let them know that adding faith would be adding power, power, power against sin.
He gave a similar answer to the disciples in Matthew 17:20. A certain man had brought his son to the disciples. The man pleaded with the disciples to heal his son.
Matthew 17:15 15“Lord, have mercy on my son, for he is an epileptic and suffers severely; for he often falls into the fire and often into the water.
Matthew 17:16 16So I brought him to Your disciples, but they could not cure him.”
Jesus healed the son. Then…
When the disciples had opportunity they asked Jesus why they could not heal the epileptic. Jesus took the opportunity to teach a lesson. What was Jesus’ reply?
Matthew 17:20 20So Jesus said to them, “Because of your unbelief; for assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith as a mustard seed [may be very small but has great potential to GROW], you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you.
The problem was the disciples’ unbelief—not the unbelief of the man or his son who was being healed. The disciples needed to ADD—add faith.
What about the rest of Jesus’ answer? What did Jesus mean by saying what we could move mountains if we ADD faith?
Matthew 17:20 20So Jesus said, … “Assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you.
What would we be able to do? Faith moves mountains. Here is a thought from a sermon by our founder:
“We think we have trials; they look like mountains to us. Why do they look so big? Let us read Matthew 17:20, “And Jesus said unto them, Because of your unbelief: for verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain [this trial], Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you.”
“We are the ones that make [the trials] into mountains; we build the mountains ourselves. If we had this grain of faith, we could remove them all.”
It takes great faith to remove great mountains of trial. The faith and the mountain of trial must be in proportion to each other.
Adding faith removes the mountains that doubt builds.
Another time Jesus had a math lesson for His disciples that included both ADD and SUBTRACT.
Luke 9:24 24For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it.
Whatever we are unwilling to SUBTRACT in this world will hold us back from the ADDING we need to do and will make us LOSE the eternal blessings.
This is why Jesus’ math and man’s math do not line up. With Jesus we SAVE [ADD] life to lose it; and lose [SUBTRACT] if we try to save it.Again in Luke 14, when he spoke of counting the cost before starting He said:
Luke 14:33 33So likewise, whoever of you does not forsake all that he has cannot be My disciple.
SUBTRACT, SUBTRACT, SUBTRACT. Even to the point of forsaking “all that he has.”
But there is so much MORE to ADD than to SUBTRACT. Let’s ask the apostle Peter.
2 Peter 1:5–7 5But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, 6to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, 7to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love.
Let’s look at what we have here to ADD. Notice also we must ADD diligently. It is a long lesson.
What is the starting point? It is FAITH.
Before we can make any progress in this math 101 class, we must have FAITH as our foundation: faith in God, faith in His Word, faith in His plan for our salvation and what we must DO.
Then “giving ALL diligence,” start ADDING:
5But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, ADD to your faith ADD virtue, to virtue ADD knowledge, 6to knowledge ADD self-control, to self-control ADD perseverance, to perseverance ADD godliness, 7to godliness ADD brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness ADD love.
By the time we have mastered all these lessons in ADDITION, it should be pretty much “second nature” to go on ADDING the rest of the Christian virtues.
There is lots of SUBTRACTING to do also. What do we do with things like pride?
Proverbs 16:18 18Pride goes before destruction, And a haughty spirit before a fall.
Jesus had plenty to teach us about SUBTRACTING also in Math 101 God’s way. He Himself had to learn it. Peter raised the question:
Mark 10:28–30 28Then Peter began to say to Him, “See, we have left all and followed You.” 29So Jesus answered and said, “Assuredly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or lands, for My sake and the gospel’s, 30who shall not receive a hundredfold now in this time—houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions—and in the age to come, eternal life.
There is the SUBTRACT part of the lesson. Then comes the beginning of the ADDITION:
30who shall not receive a hundredfold now in this time—houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions—and in the age to come, eternal life.
Just compare the net amount of SUBTRACTING we have to do with how much real value GOD will be adding. First God ADDS:
30…a hundredfold now in this time—houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions—
A small possibility of temporary SUBTRACTING, then…
… in the age to come, eternal life.
We have suddenly gone from our small SUBTRACTING and ADDING to God’s scale. How does it compare with our measurement system?
Ephesians 3:20 20Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us,
Here is a scale we do not even attempt to learn. To convert from simple addition and subtraction to a scale such as this, what do we have to do? MULTIPLY!
Say you are doing some basic math and you need to ADD the number “54” one hundred times, you don’t ADD it 54 times, you MULTIPLY it!
54 x 100 = 5400
We ADD, and God MULTIPLIES!
We ADD the virtues He requires to see in us, and God MULTIPLIES to us the blessings.
What did God promise Abraham when he came through the test of being asked to give up his beloved son? The Lord said to him, that
Genesis 22:17–18 17blessing I will bless you, and multiplying I will multiply your descendants as the stars of the heaven and as the sand which is on the seashore; and your descendants shall possess the gate of their enemies. 18In your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed, because you have obeyed My voice.”
Abraham did his part by obeying—and a difficult test it was. But look at the magnitude of God’s promise:
17blessing I will bless you, and multiplying I will multiply your descendants as the stars of the heaven and as the sand which is on the seashore…
Even as a figure of speech, it is all true: a countless number of descendants. It will be true when
Isaiah 11:9 9They shall not hurt nor destroy in all My holy mountain, For the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord As the waters cover the sea.
Numerous times God confirmed His promise of MULTILYING Abraham’s descendants.
Do we realize that ALL the people who inherit the kingdom—both rulers and populace—will be the MULTIPLIED children of Abraham? Both Isaac’s FEW and Ishmael’s MANY will belong to the family that will FILL the earth with God’s glory. As the Lord said it to Moses:
Numbers 14:21 21but truly, as I live, all the earth shall be filled with the glory of the Lord—
And who is His glory? It is His people. Again quoting Isaiah:
Isaiah 46:13 13I bring My righteousness near, it shall not be far off; My salvation shall not linger. And I will place salvation in Zion, For Israel My glory.
It comes also from the prophetic allegory in Genesis 1, when the first six days are complete and the time is right for the arrival of the beginning of the seventh day and God says:
Genesis 1:28 28…“Be fruitful and MULTIPLY; fill the earth and subdue it”
It will be MULTIPLIED blessings to these people, again and again. Isaiah says it beautifully:
Isaiah 61:6–9 6But you [Isaac seed] shall be named the priests of the Lord, They shall call you the servants of our God. … Everlasting joy shall be theirs. 8“For I, the Lord, love justice; … I will direct their work in truth, And will make with them an everlasting covenant. 9Their descendants shall be known among the Gentiles, And their offspring among the people. All who see them shall acknowledge them, That they are the posterity whom the Lord has blessed.”
Jeremiah adds his prophecy of the MULTIPLIED blessings to be poured out on the people who submit to His new and righteous rule. They will be both MULTIPLIED and GLORIFIED:
Jeremiah 30:19 19Then out of them shall proceed thanksgiving And the voice of those who make merry; I will multiply them, and they shall not diminish; I will also glorify them, and they shall not be small.
What an incentive now to master the BASIC Math 101, then we can go on to see God MULTIPLYING, and learn how we can be part of that MULTIPLYING work that will FILL the earth with His glory!
It is all in the continuing higher math already planned for the ones who complete the Math 101—God’s Way, and who are they?
Isaiah 66:2 2For all those things My hand has made, And all those things exist,” Says the Lord. “But on this one will I look: On him who is poor and of a contrite spirit, And who trembles at My word.
Basic Math 101
Suppose someone told a student that in this certain math class, the teacher did all the work for them. All they had to do was attend his class. This sounds unbelievably foolish. But many believe that Christ does all the adding of virtues and subtracting of sins for them.
With serious study of God’s Word, we discover WE have to do the subtracting and adding OURSELVES.
At first, it doesn’t seem so difficult to subtract some sin; but as we study the textbook (Scripture), our sins seem to add up fast. No sooner than we subtract one, it seems we discover two more. And what we thought were minor sins are critical. But we don’t give up as we add knowledge to faith and then the wonderful virtues of self-control, perseverance, godliness, brotherly kindness, and love. As we grow in these virtues, our faith also grows until we have subtracted even the appearance of evil (1 Thess. 5:22) and added perfection of character (Matt. 5:48).
The children of Israel were taught a very important math lesson: “So be careful to obey all the commands I give you. You must not add anything to them or subtract anything from them….because you will be doing what is good and pleasing to the Lord your God.”
If we do the math right, the Lord will do the multiplying far beyond anything we can imagination!