Wanted: Laborers For God
Pastor David L. Brown, Ph.D.
Sermon Delivered 8/31/03
Luke 10:1-3 "After these things the Lord appointed other seventy also, and sent them two and two before his face into every city and place, whither he himself would come. 2 Therefore said he unto them, The harvest truly is great, but the labourers are few: pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he would send forth labourers into his harvest. 3 Go your ways: behold, I send you forth as lambs among wolves."
"The harvest truly is great…" (v.2a)
People need the Lord! Wouldn’t you agree? Our Lord said, "For the Son of man is come to save that which was lost." Matthew 18:11 The Apostle John wrote, "And we have seen and do testify that the Father sent the Son to be the Saviour of the world." 1 John 4:14.
All men and women are sinners, already condemned, unless they repent of their sins and receive Jesus Christ as their Savior. That’s the reason Jesus "sent them two and two before his face into every city and place." (v.1)
We read in verse 2a, "The harvest truly is great…" Focus on the word great for a moment. It is the translation of the Greek word poluv - polus (pol-oos; 4183) that means great in number. The parallel passage in Matthew 9:37 translates the same Greek word plenteous.
The point of this verse is that the fields are filled and ready to be harvested. The context of the passage is seen in Matthew 9, the parallel passage. Christ is talking about the lost people who needed to believe on Him. Verse 37 says, "when he saw the multitudes, he was moved with compassion on them,
because they fainted, and were scattered abroad, as sheep having no shepherd." The verse speaks for itself.
Christ said in John 4:35, concerning the potential harvest of souls, the fields were "white already to harvest." This phrase means the fruit was fully ripe and needs to be picked! But, is that true today? The answer is YES! There were about 150 million people in the world at the time of Christ. Today there is almost double that number in the United States alone and over 6 billion people in the world.
Let’s consider the United States for a minute. George Barna heads the Barna Research Group, LTD. (www.barna.org). His organization found that 33% of Americans are unchurched and 20% who are members of a church believe that living a good life will gain them a place in Heaven. When you consider just those two statistics that shows that at least 53% of our nations population is lost! If you were to throw in the atheists, agnostics, skeptics, new agers, occultists, and those who have made false professions of faith, the percentage is more like 75 to 80% of Americans are unsaved. Is their any doubt in your mind that "the harvest truly is great?" There are lost, Hell-bound sinners in need of the Savior all around us. Who is going to reach them? The fields are "white already to harvest." There are people all around who need Jesus. Many are ripe for the picking. But, there is a problem. Let’s look at…
"The labourers are few…" (v.2b)
The same problem that Christ faced in His day, we face today! There are very few laborers who are willing to work in the Father’s field. I will admit that reaping the soul harvest is challenging work and very few are willing to roll up their sleeves, as it were, and get in the field and start working. But remember, the Apostle Paul reminded the Corinthian believers "For we are labourers together with God…" 1 Corinthians 3:9 Christian friends, the crop won’t pick itself! I have zucchini squash in my little garden along the fence. I have a few tomato plants there as well. But, I have yet to find that they have picked themselves. It’s not going to happen. I have to go out into the garden and pick them myself and if I do not, they will rot on the vine. The same is true about bringing men and women to Christ. We have to go into the field of the world to reap the harvest.
Brother and sisters in Christ, we need more laborers here at First Baptist Church! We need Christians who will roll up their sleeves and head into the harvest field. And, if you don’t know how to win souls or disciple your converts, join us on Monday evenings for the Training Evangelist Lay Leaders class.
Remember our Lord’s challenge, "…Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men." Matthew 4:19. I think one of the men in the preaching class that said in reference to this verse – If you’re not fishing, you are not following! We are all supposed to be fishing. We are all to be laboring in God’s harvest field.
We have looked at the potential of the harvest; it is great. We have looked at the problem of the harvest; the laborers are few. Now we come to…
"…pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he would send forth labourers into his harvest." (v.2c)
To be sure, we are to plant the Gospel seed and we are to water it with the Word of God, but it is God who gives the increase (1 Corinthians 3:6). Since it is God who gives the increase, the verse says we are to pray! The power of the harvest is prayer, praying to "the Lord of the Harvest" who is God. It is God, who through the Holy Spirit, bring about the miracle of the New Birth (Titus 3:5). That is why we must pray over the harvest.
But is prayer effective? I have video set on Revival by Dr. Ken Connolly in my office. One of those tapes deals with the revival that took place in New York City in 1857. The nation was in bad shape. Vast multitudes of people were out of work. Many banks had failed, railroads were in bankruptcy, factories closed and thousands of small businesses were forced to close their doors. It was in these bleak days that Jeremiah Lanphier invited men to a noon prayer meeting to be held on Wednesdays. On the flyer he handed out was printed,
"This meeting is intended to give merchants, mechanics, clerks, strangers, and businessmen generally an opportunity to stop and call upon God amid the perplexities incident to their respective avocations. It will continue for one hour; but it is also designed for those who may find it inconvenient to remain more than five or ten minutes, as well as for those who can spare the whole hour."
At the first prayer meeting six people showed up to pray. The next week forty people came. At this meeting it was decided to meet daily at noon. Within six months ten thousand men were gathering at noon to pray. The result? Revival broke out in New York and spread. Within two years a million people were saved and added to American churches. One writer says before it was over 1 out of every 5 people in America had come to a saving knowledge of Christ. How did it all get started? People prayed and the Lord of the Harvest responded.
Studying for this message has been a good prompter for me. I need to pray more for souls to be saved and soul winners and I would urge you to follow the same pattern. My last point is…
"Go your ways: behold, I send you forth as lambs among wolves." (v.3)
Gill says, Our Lord compares the laborers (soul winners) "he is sending out to ‘sheep’, because they were meek and humble in their spirits, harmless, and inoffensive, in their lives and conversations." The desire of the Lord’s sheep is to do the shepherd’s bidding. But, there are the wolves. Their desire is to attack the sheep, and scatter them, keeping them from their appointed task. Wolves want to strike fear into the hearts of the sheep. The wolves want the sheep to run and hide. The wolves want the sheep to withdraw from Christian service. Tragically, fear of the wolves prompt many Christians in our day to withdraw from serving the Lord.
With that thought in mind, I want to close with the story of Nicolo Paganini was born in Genoa, Italy, Oct 27, 1782. He was one of six children born to Teresa and Antonio Paganini. He was an Italian violinist and a composer, considered by many as the greatest of all time. Paganini died on May 27, 1840 and in his will he left his violin to the city of Genoa on the condition that it must never again be played upon. While it is true that the wood in a violin will wear slightly when it is handled and used, it is also true that when left alone it will crack and degenerate. That is what happened to Paganini’s violin. The once lovely toned instrument became worm-eaten and useless.
Christian friends, this story serves as a reminder that a life that withdraws from Christian service to the Lord degenerates and becomes useless. God wants laborers. God wants you!