A Manual For Discipleship

 

Disciples – Know His Harvest Mission Strategy

In Matthew 1-4 we saw the introduction of Jesus life and ministry and His call to people to follow Him as disciples. The gospel of Matthew is a Manual for Discipleship. In Matthew 5-7 Jesus gave His greatest teaching, The Sermon on the Mount, which is foundational to being a disciple. In Matthew 5-7 we received Jesus teaching as though we were in a classroom. In Matthew 8 and following we see the practical implementation of His classroom teaching in everyday life. Matthew 8 revealed to us the willingness and ability of Jesus to work in and through us. In Matthew 9 we were challenged to be willing to be used by Jesus and were introduced to the disciple’s call to labor in the plentiful harvest fields of the lost. Remember the words of Jesus at the close of chapter 9:

 

 

  • Matthew 9:37-38 – “Then He said to His disciples, “The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few.38 “Therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest.”  [1]

These last two verses introduce us to the material in chapter ten in a very important way. Indeed our awareness of the need according to God’s will is brought to our attention in prayer. Prayer is of utmost importance to the disciple who is interested in discerning the will of God for their lives.

In Prayer He Prepares Us To Go

It should not be overlooked that at the end of Matthew 9 Jesus instructs the disciples to pray to “Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest,” and then in Matthew 10, Jesus sends out the disciples. Jesus tells them to pray, and then He tells them to go. Jesus pointed out to them a need, He tells the disciples to pray about it, and then He tells the disciples to go and meet that need. How did God reveal His will to these disciples? In prayer, God reveals His will in prayer. Jesus told the disciples to pray about the need for laborers and then He tells them to go. Very often if Jesus moves you to pray about something, it indicates He is calling you to meet that need in some way.  In this sense we see that prayer changes things, it changes us. Prayer does not change God, it changes us, and it brings us into alignment with the revealed will of God.  Praying prepares us to “go.” Prayer changes things, it changes me! It is in prayer that the Spirit of God gets a hold of us and leads us. Therefore, if you are going to pray, get ready to work, because God is going to use you!

 

Working In The Harvest Mission Field

 

When we think of missions we probably think of Mexico, India, China, Russia, Europe, Africa or some other distant land. But we don’t need to go to foreign lands to find ministry. Remember in our introductory words opening up our study in Matthew how we examined the Great Commission and saw how it includes “everywhere.” I quote from the opening words:

 

Jesus said, “Go therefore” (Matthew 28:18a). But where does Jesus expect us to go? Are we all called to the foreign mission field?  It’s important to note that this command to “Go” from Jesus is not only for those who go into the foreign mission field. (there are indeed some who are called to the foreign mission field.) If that were the case many could simply dismiss this command as not pertaining to them. A study of the word “Go” reveals that it is translated from the Greek term POREUOMAI (Strong’s #4198).  The grammatical form of this Greek term is important to a proper interpretation here. Grammatically POREUOMAI is an Aorist/Passive Deponent/ Participle. The aorist tense in the Greek language means a word, “is characterized by its emphasis on punctiliar action; that is, the concept of the verb is considered without regard for past, present, or future time.” [2] Passive deponent means the term refers to a, “subject as being the recipient of the action.” [3] And lastly, a Greek participle, “corresponds for the most part to the English participle, reflecting “-ing” or “-ed” being suffixed to the basic verb form.  The participle can be used either like a verb or a noun, as in English, and thus is often termed a “verbal noun.”[4] With this in mind, we therefore need to see “Go” as implying the idea of, “to be going on one’s way,” or “to proceed from one place to another.” Jon Courson in his Tree of Life Commentary – Matthew  states:

 

“The Great Commission then takes on a much broader perspective than what we usually think of as ‘missionary mentality.’ We’re to be sharing and teaching wherever we’re going, whatever we’re doing.” [5] (Emphasis added.)

 

I repeat this because going into the mission field the wrong way can be counterproductive if not done properly. In his Tree of Life Commentary on Matthew, Jon Courson writes the following:

 

Personally I think it is a mistake when people today feel as though they should go to the mission field to find their ministry. K.P. Yohanen in India, doing one of the most effective works that I  know of today, said one of the greatest problems he has in India is Americans coming over for tow and three weeks at a time. He says months and months of work are undone by well-meaning church people playing missionary for a week or two.

 

“As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Ghost said, ‘Separate me Barnabus and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them.” – Acts 13:2

           

Only two out of the whole group in the early church were raised up and sent out at that time with a specific definite message. The Holy Spirit, working through the Body, sent out only two: Barnabus and Paul. The Lord singled them out, raised them up and equipped them to do the work.

 

K.P. went on to say that one of the problems is that indigenous ministers in other countries are so hospitable and so gracious, they will spend time shuttling visitors around, making them feel welcome, but often feeling slowed down and hindered in wheat they could be doing. And K.P., who is from India himself, is asking the Body of Christ to exercise a new sensitivity in this issue – to be aware of what the Lord is doing through the people in a given locality, rather than bursting in saying, ‘Here we are! Aren’t you excited?!’ We mean well, but we need to realize that the Lord’s way is to enlist specifically, exactingly, particularly.

 

We need to be disciples, ‘mathetes,’ before we attempt to be apostles. We need to learn what it means to cross the street and be a witness before we cross the ocean to be a witness. We need to learn what it means to be faithful in the little things before we sail off for the big things.” (Emphasis added.)  [6]

 

In Matthew 10, Jesus takes those who have been moved by God in prayer and are willing to be used by Him and gives them a final strategy briefing on what to expect as they go out into the harvest fields. When we answer the call to labor in the Lord’s harvest fields, what can we expect, what should we do, how shall we do it? What is the Harvest Mission Strategy of Jesus for His disciples? That is what is focused upon in this chapter.

 

Harvest Mission Strategy #1 – Go In The Power of Jesus

 

Matthew 10:1 – “And when He had called His twelve disciples to Him, He gave them power over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all kinds of sickness and all kinds of disease.”  [7]

Jesus gathered to Himself an inner core of twelve disciples to be sent out on their first mission. They would go out as His representatives. Jesus didn’t send the twelve disciples out in their own strength; He sent them out in His power. The word “power” here is translated form the Greek term EXOUSIA  (Strong’s #1849) which occurs 103 times in the New Testament and means, “power 69x, authority 29x, right 2x, liberty 1x, jurisdiction 1x, strength 1x.”  [8] Jesus was sending these disciples out with authority derived from Him. Therefore, what they did would testify to Who Jesus was, the promised Messiah. Their mission was to bear witness to Jesus in the works that they did and the words that they said.

When the disciple goes out to minister in the harvest fields of the lost, they do not go out in the authority of themselves. There is little authority in your own name. Yes, you may be a person of integrity and have a measured amount of influence, but when push comes to shove and you are in a conversation with an unbeliever and you are presenting the gospel or some other Biblical truth, when you speak in your own name, you become vulnerable to the response, “Well, that’s only your opinion” Opinions aren’t worth very much because there are as many of them as there are people. But when you speak in the authority of Jesus, when you point out what He has said, what God’s word says, then there is authority to back up what you say.

As disciples saved by God’s grace through faith alone in Christ alone, we have authority in Jesus. Jesus rose from the dead validating all that He said and did as well as all that was said about him by the prophets and eyewitnesses of the gospels. Read what the apostle Paul was inspired to write to Titus:

  • Titus 2:11-15 –“For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men,12 teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age,13 looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ,14 who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works.15 Speak these things, exhort, and rebuke with all authority. Let no one despise you.”  [9]

By reason of our submission to Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, the disciple goes forth in the authority of Jesus. Jesus has all authority and when we go forth preaching and teaching His word in His name, we go with His authority. That is what the writer of Hebrews (very possibly it was Paul) was inspired to write in the following verse:

  • Hebrews 4:12 – “For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.”  [10]

“The word of God is living and powerful,” because it has been God-breathed or inspired by God (2 Timothy 3:16-17).  God promises that His word will not return void, it will accomplish whatever task it is meant to accomplish (Isaiah 55:10-11). Just read Psalm 119 to see the many powerful uses of God’s word in people’s lives. The word of God is effective because the Spirit takes it and works on the unbeliever’s heart with it. This has explosive results.

Later in the New Testament we see the explosive nature of Christ’s authority as administered by the Spirit’s application of God’s word. In the book of Acts Jesus speaks of the empowerment of the Spirit. This empowerment involves bringing to mind God’s word to the disciple:

  • John 14:26 - “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you.” [11]

In the book of Acts we have a repeated mention of the use of God’s word in the ministry of the earlier disciples (Acts 4:31; 6:2,7; 8:14; 11:1; 12:24; 13:5,7,44,46; 17:13; 18:11). Over and over again we see the early disciples using God’s word to minister to the lost such as at Pentecost and between Philip and the Ethiopian Eunuch (Acts 2 and 8). When the Spirit comes to empower, He does so with the word of God!

The Baptism of the Holy Spirit

This explosive combination of the Spirit and the word of God is referred to in the experience of The Baptism of the Holy Spirit. This is an empowerment to witness provided by the Holy Spirit as expressed in the book of Acts by Luke who was inspired to write:

  • Acts 1:8 - “But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”  [12]

In this verse the word “power” is translated from the Greek term DUNAMIS (Strong’s #1411) which occurs approximately 120 times in the New Testament and means, “strength, power, ability.” [13] We get the English word “dynamite” from this Greek term. When the Spirit comes “upon” the disciple to empower him or her, it is an enabling of the disciple to serve the Lord boldly, effectively and with confidence. This is a work in the life of the believer, which is subsequent to conversion. [14] Without this empowerment by Jesus through the Spirit, the disciple will be ineffective and frustrated in ministry because the disciple without the baptism of the Spirit (Acts 2) is working in his or her own inadequate strength. Disciple, you need the empowering of the Spirit to serve the Lord!

What Is The Baptism of the Holy Spirit?

What is the Baptism of the Holy Spirit? Is it simply an experience that causes a person to act funny? Is it simply an experience for the individual to take by faith for his or her own amusement? Does it cause you to wiggle on the ground or laugh hysterically and uncontrollably? That is what you might think by some of the things seen in various segments of the church today. But the baptism of the Holy Spirit should not be reduced to an amusing entertainment. The baptism of the Holy Spirit is a baptism of God’s love.

The fruit of the Spirit, (that by which the Spirit’s work in a believer can best be evidenced) is predominantly love. As we saw in an earlier study, when Paul speaks of the “fruit” of the Spirit in Galatians 5 the term “fruit” is in the singular and therefore the best interpretation of Paul’s list of characteristic fruit is that it is primarily “love” (which is mentioned first in the list) followed by aspects of that love (Galatians 5:22-23). Therefore, I believe that the experience upon the believer of the baptism of the Holy Spirit is a saturation with God’s love. It is as though the believer is empowered to serve by God pouring out His love upon the believer in such a way that the believer cannot contain it. Paul wrote of this when he said:

  • 2 Corinthians 5:14-15 – “For the love of Christ compels us, because we judge thus: that if One died for all, then all died;15 and He died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again.”  [15]

My children love a certain kind of candy that is gum on the outside but inside contains a juicy part that when you bite down on it, it explodes with taste in your mouth. They also like another kind of gum that when you eat it, it tingles with taste in your mouth. Both bring a smile to your face as you get that jolt of joyous sweetness. That is what the baptism of the Spirit is like; the Spirit comes into your life at conversion and it is really good, but then, you bite down on the meat of spiritual things and God explodes in you a spirit of love that cannot be contained. That love that He pours out on you compels you to reach out to the lost. That love is stronger than any fear of being embarrassed or of what people might say to your witness. That love will push you to the end of your self and beyond; it will crucify self for the sake of the lost, just like Jesus did. That love will compel you; it will make you bold for the Lord and a powerful witness for Him. That is the baptism of the Holy Spirit and we all need it before we attempt to serve God in any capacity.

Power to Fight in the Unseen Spiritual War

We should also note here that Jesus gave the disciples power, “over unclean spirits, to cast them out.” This refers to the unseen spiritual battle, which we spoke of in detail in chapter eight. Pastor Chuck Smith makes the following comment here:

      “Christ gave to His disciples the power. As a disciple of Christ, He gives unto us power. There are forces of darkness in this world, powers of evil, and they are opposed to the child of God. Our real battle is a spiritual battle, “We wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against these principalities and powers, these spirit entities.” In our self, we are no match for them. I cringe when I hear people challenging Satan. I want nothing to do with him. But “Greater is He that is in me and in you, than he that is in the world.” We don’t need to fear the prince of darkness”, Martin Luther wrote, “We tremble not at him, one little word will fell him.” So through Jesus Christ we have victory, we have power over the forces of evil and darkness. We don’t have to submit to those attacks of the enemy, you have victory through Jesus. [He] Gave them power against these unclean spirits, you have that same power against the unclean spirits. He gave the power to heal all manner of sickness and disease.” [16]

 

Disciple, if you have heard and are heeding Christ’s call to labor in the harvest fields of the lost, don’t go in your own authority, go in His and be empowered by Him, be baptized with the Holy Spirit.

 

Harvest Mission Strategy #2 – Go Obediently

Matthew 10:2-7 – “Now the names of the twelve apostles are these: first, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother; James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother;3 Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James the son of Alphaeus, and Lebbaeus, whose surname was Thaddaeus;4 Simon the Canaanite, and Judas Iscariot, who also betrayed Him. 5 These twelve Jesus sent out and commanded them, saying: “Do not go into the way of the Gentiles, and do not enter a city of the Samaritans.6 “But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.7 “And as you go, preach, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’”  [17]

Notice, Jesus sent the disciples with specific instructions to START WHERE THEY WERE. Jesus didn’t send them to foreign lands here; He sent them to the immediate surrounding people, specifically the Jews. The disciples had marching orders and it required obedience to carry them out. In the same way, we need to start where we are now. Before you consider going to distant lands, go to your unsaved family, to your neighbor or co-worker or friend, minister to the lost where you are before you go elsewhere.

Jesus gave the twelve specific instructions and if they were to complete their mission they would need to be obedient to Jesus word. Jesus instructed the disciples to focus on bringing their message of the kingdom first to Israel. If Israel had accepted Jesus as her Messiah, she would have received her long awaited kingdom. But we know that that did not happen. Instead, Israel rejected Jesus as her Messiah and chose to plot His death.

Obedience is not a popular word in our day and age, but for the disciple it is mandatory. Jesus said:

  • John 14:21 - “He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him.”  [18] (See also Luke 11:28; John 15:9-10; 1 John 2:5).

We are in a war and in a war it is of utmost importance that the soldiers follow the orders of their Commander, in the disciple’s case that is Jesus Christ. God’s word is our manual for the mission God has called us to. Paul was inspired to write:

  • 2 Timothy 3:16-17 – “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness,17 that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.”  [19]

We have quoted these verses frequently in our study thus far, but they need to be repeated so as to ingrain them in the heart and mind of the disciple.

It is important to note here that obedience as in all aspects of the Christian’s life, is not something we do in our own strength but is aided by the Spirit. Peter states this in his first epistle where he is inspired to write:

  • 1 Peter 1:22 – “Since you have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit in sincere love of the brethren, love one another fervently with a pure heart,”  [20]

We are to rely upon the Spirit to help us in obeying God’s word. Disciple, obey God’s word; in the Spirit!

Harvest Mission Strategy #3 – Go Selflessly

Matthew 10:8 - “Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out demons. Freely you have received, freely give.”  [21]

You may be thinking, “God can’t use me, who am I? What have I to be used by Him?” But such a thought could not be further from the truth. Yes we are to preach, teach and be used to heal the wounds in others caused by sin, but God will take whatever is in your hand now and use it to that end. We are to serve according to God’s enabling; where God elects us to serve He enables us to serve; and conversely, where God has enabled us to serve, is very likely where He has elected us to serve.

 

Look at the people in the Bible, Moses had a shepherd’s staff in his hand when God called him and God used it to deliver Israel from the oppression of Pharaoh (Exodus 4 –12). David had a slingshot in his hand, God used it to slay the giant Goliath (1 Samuel 17). The prophets of the Old Testament and the apostles and disciples of the New had only a pen in their hand, and God used it to give humankind the revelation of Himself. A young boy in the gospels had only a few loaves of bread and a couple of fish; Jesus used them to feed thousands (Matthew 14; Mark 6; Luke 9). What’s in your hand disciple? What skill, interest, ability, resource, has God given to you? Whatever it is, God is willing to use it in His plans. Pray that God reveal His plan for you. Whatever God has given you, (talent, ability, knowledge, resources, spiritual gifting, enablement) you have received freely and should be willing to freely use it to reach the lost with the gospel of Christ. What has God given you disciple? Whatever it is, use it for Him in the mission fields of the lost.

 

Don’t Extort Others to Enrich Yourself

Implied in these words is the further truth that disciples were not to use their authority to enrich themselves. In Luke’s gospel Luke comments that the religious Pharisees loved money and were greedy for gain:

  • Luke 16:14 – “Now the Pharisees, who were lovers of money, also heard all these things, and they derided Him.”  [22]

Such greediness is an identifying characteristic of false prophets and false teachers. We see this in both Testaments of the Bible. Below are a sampling of verses that point to the selfish and greedy nature of false teachers and prophets. Through Isaiah God spoke of false teachers by saying:

  • Isaiah 56:10-11 – “His watchmen are blind, They are all ignorant; They are all dumb dogs, They cannot bark; Sleeping, lying down, loving to slumber.11 Yes, they are greedy dogs Which never have enough. And they are shepherds Who cannot understand; They all look to their own way, Every one for his own gain, From his own territory.”  [23]

In the New Testament we see greediness as a characteristic of the false teachers:

  • 2 Timothy 3:1-5 – “But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come:2 For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy,3 unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good,4 traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God,5 having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away!”  [24]
  • 2 Peter 2:1-3,15-16 – “But there were also false prophets among the people, even as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Lord who bought them, and bring on themselves swift destruction.2 And many will follow their destructive ways, because of whom the way of truth will be blasphemed.3 By covetousness they will exploit you with deceptive words; for a long time their judgment has not been idle, and their destruction does not slumber. . . . 15 They have forsaken the right way and gone astray, following the way of Balaam the son of Beor, who loved the wages of unrighteousness;16 but he was rebuked for his iniquity: a dumb donkey speaking with a man’s voice restrained the madness of the prophet.”  [25]

The disciple is not to be motivated by any desire for personal gain or personal enrichment in ministry. The ministry is not a vocation chosen to get rich; it is a calling from God to serve in humbly. A good way to gauge one’s motives in ministry is to constantly ask, is what I am doing self-serving or self-crucifying? Jesus speaks of this later in this chapter (Matthew 10:38-39). Paul said as much when he was inspired to write to the Galatians:

  • Galatians 2:20 - “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.” [26]

What we have been freely given by God, (e.g. salvation, sanctification, resources, spiritual gifts and talents) we are to freely share with others for the sake of their salvation. The disciple should be willing to minister freely, with no covetous desire to get rich in the process.

Harvest Mission Strategy #4 – Know That Where God Guides, God Provides

Matthew 10:9-10 - “Provide neither gold nor silver nor copper in your money belts,10 “nor bag for your journey, nor two tunics, nor sandals, nor staffs; for a worker is worthy of his food.”  [27]

We don’t need to take a lot of stuff with us when we go out to be disciples. As stated above, we need to simply make available to God that with which He has equipped us. But there is a further important point to be made here. In all that the disciple does in the harvest field of the lost, he or she is to do so depending upon the Lord in all things.

Depend on God

While the disciple is not to seek to enrich him or herself through ministry, they are to depend upon God to provide for their practical material needs. There is a responsibility for the people of God to support the minister of God’s practical needs. Jesus said, “a worker is worthy of his food.”

This is true for those disciples who continue in their full time jobs and careers. The disciple puts God and His mission to the lost first, and is willing to sacrifice advancement and worldly perks if it hinders the work of God. The disciple’s life should be a simple life as it relates to the world. The disciple’s life should be stream lined regarding the things of this world. Paul wrote to Timothy about this when he said:

  • 2 Timothy 2:4-5 – “No one engaged in warfare entangles himself with the affairs of this life, that he may please him who enlisted him as a soldier.5 And also if anyone competes in athletics, he is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules.”  [28]

The apostle John also referred to this when he wrote:

  • 1 John 2:15-17 – “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.16 For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world.17 And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever.”  [29]

God will always provide what the disciple needs; the disciple always needs to watch that they do not get entangled in the wants of the world.

Full Time Ministry

In the early church a time arose when it was necessary for certain ministers to devote themselves entirely to the work of ministry and prayer. This is found in Acts 6 where it states:

  • Acts 6:1-4 – “Now in those days, when the number of the disciples was multiplying, there arose a complaint against the Hebrews by the Hellenists, because their widows were neglected in the daily distribution.2 Then the twelve summoned the multitude of the disciples and said, “It is not desirable that we should leave the word of God and serve tables.3 “Therefore, brethren, seek out from among you seven men of good reputation, full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business;4 “but we will give ourselves continually to prayer and to the ministry of the word.  [30]

When the “number of disciples” multiplies, a minister (Pastor-Teacher) may need to be employed full-time in ministry. Therefore, there are times when a person is called to be a pastor-teacher and depend entirely on God’s provision to support them and their family through the flock of God. This dependence upon God for provisions is therefore exemplified in the lives of those called to full time ministry. The apostle Paul carries through with this principle when he is inspired to write pastor Timothy:

  • 1 Timothy 5:17-18 – “Let the elders who rule well be counted worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in the word and doctrine.18 For the Scripture says, “You shall not muzzle an ox while it treads out the grain,” and, “The laborer is worthy of his wages.”  [31]

·         2 Timothy 2:6 – “The hard-working farmer must be first to partake of the crops.”  [32]

Paul also discusses this when he writes to the Corinthians. Paul was apparently accused of improprieties and criticized by some at this church even though he chose to minister to them freely. As he defends himself he explains that it is the Biblical teaching that those who minister the gospel are to be supported by those to whom God is ministering through that minister. Paul writes:

  • 1 Corinthians 9:4-18 – “Do we have no right to eat and drink?5 Do we have no right to take along a believing wife, as do also the other apostles, the brothers of the Lord, and Cephas?6 Or is it only Barnabas and I who have no right to refrain from working?7 Who ever goes to war at his own expense? Who plants a vineyard and does not eat of its fruit? Or who tends a flock and does not drink of the milk of the flock?8 Do I say these things as a mere man? Or does not the law say the same also?9 For it is written in the law of Moses, “You shall not muzzle an ox while it treads out the grain.” Is it oxen God is concerned about?10 Or does He say it altogether for our sakes? For our sakes, no doubt, this is written, that he who plows should plow in hope, and he who threshes in hope should be partaker of his hope.11 If we have sown spiritual things for you, is it a great thing if we reap your material things?12 If others are partakers of this right over you, are we not even more? Nevertheless we have not used this right, but endure all things lest we hinder the gospel of Christ.13 Do you not know that those who minister the holy things eat of the things of the temple, and those who serve at the altar partake of the offerings of the altar?14 Even so the Lord has commanded that those who preach the gospel should live from the gospel.15 But I have used none of these things, nor have I written these things that it should be done so to me; for it would be better for me to die than that anyone should make my boasting void.16 For if I preach the gospel, I have nothing to boast of, for necessity is laid upon me; yes, woe is me if I do not preach the gospel!17 For if I do this willingly, I have a reward; but if against my will, I have been entrusted with a stewardship.18 What is my reward then? That when I preach the gospel, I may present the gospel of Christ without charge, that I may not abuse my authority in the gospel.”  [33]

Paul speaks strongly here and refers to the Biblical mandate of supporting God’s ministers even as a “right” (9:4,5,6,12). Paul lays down the teaching that states, “Even so the Lord has commanded that those who preach the gospel should live from the gospel” (9:14). This is the normal procedure for the church.

In some circumstances a minister can choose to set aside this “right.” Paul refrained from receiving support from the Corinthian church as a testimony to them of his integrity, that he was not in ministry for the almighty dollar. Paul did this to show his sincerity, honesty, and that he was above reproach. Unfortunately the Corinthians Paul’s intent had to be spelled out to the Corinthians in this letter for them to understand. Apparently they did not appreciate Paul’s sacrifice. Paul saw his sacrifice as multiplying his heavenly reward. He also was willing to sacrifice his rights to support for the sake of the gospel. While the principle of the Bible is that a pastor is to be supported by the flock God has called him to, the pastor should be willing to serve without compensation if God so directs. If this were not the case then only the wealthy would have pastors. If this were not the case how would the gospel get out to the poor and needy? Yes, the pastor is to be supported by the flock of God, but there are occasions where the pastor must be willing to give up this right.

Frequently today pastors called by God to plant churches serve as bi-vocational pastors, they work a secular job while serving as pastors in the early stages of the church to which they are called. God gives such people the grace and ability to serve in ministry ably while supporting themselves. God provides for them through these secular jobs. But this does not mean the pastor should not be freed up financially to address the growing needs of the body as it grows. The norm is that the body of believers to which the pastor ministers support their pastor financially so that he can devote his full focus on prayer and ministry of the word of God (see Acts 6).

Whether by the support of the congregation or by an outside job, the minister needs to understand that both ways are a means that God provides where He guides. A pastor should not “choose” his congregation based on income. No, the disciple relies on God and understands where God guides, God provides.

Harvest Mission Strategy #5 – Focus on the Receptive

Matthew 10:11-15 - “Now whatever city or town you enter, inquire who in it is worthy, and stay there till you go out.12 “And when you go into a household, greet it.13 “If the household is worthy, let your peace come upon it. But if it is not worthy, let your peace return to you.14 “And whoever will not receive you nor hear your words, when you depart from that house or city, shake off the dust from your feet.15 “Assuredly, I say to you, it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgment than for that city!”  [34]

The disciples were instructed by Jesus to “inquire” or “search out” (EXETAZO Strong’s #1833) those who were “worthy” or people who were receptive to the disciples and their message. They were instructed to focus on “the lost sheep of the house of Israel” (10:6). Then they were instructed to focus on the receptive in that group. Here is an important principle for the harvester to take note of. When working in the harvest fields and witnessing to the lost, focus on those who will listen and who are open to God’s word, rather than spending time trying to force or argue someone into the kingdom.

The Futility of Arguments

If someone can be argued into believing in Jesus, chances are they can be argued out of believing in Jesus as well. It is possible to convince someone intellectually without convincing them in their heart. Remember what we saw in Matthew 8, demons believe intellectually in Jesus, but their heart is hardly surrendered to Jesus. Arguing is not effective in bringing someone to salvation because it’s focus is primarily on the head rather than on the heart. Salvation is a work of God done in one’s heart more than one’s head. Read what Paul wrote in this regard:

  • Romans 10:10 – “For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.”  [35]

God does not save a person by totally bypassing their head; He often goes through the head to reach the heart. But if a person’s decision only involves the head, it is incomplete, God wants our heart, it is with the heart that one is saved. This is why Paul later writes:

  • 2 Timothy 2:24-26 – “And a servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient,25 in humility correcting those who are in opposition, if God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth,26 and that they may come to their senses and escape the snare of the devil, having been taken captive by him to do his will.”  [36]

Paul is inspired to instruct us that we “must not quarrel,” meaning that we literally must not “fight, strive, wrangle” (Strong’s 3164 MACHOMAI).  We must not be drawn into a confrontation or war of words where we depend on our flesh rather than the Spirit of God. We must not be quarrelsome in interacting with unbelievers. Rather, we should be gentle, patient and able to teach or explain God’s word. The target according to Paul in these above verses is “repentance.” Repentance is a change of heart that involves the mind. But the heart is our primary target because the heart is God’s primary target (Deuteronomy 6:5; Joel 2:12). The devil blinds a person’s mind to God’s word, and the disciple may address logical and rational discussions with the unbeliever in their witness to them. But the aim is the heart, all conversations should end up at the heart of the issue, “Will you give your heart to Jesus?”

Redeeming the Time

The time spent trying to convince a closed person to believe often proves fruitless and robs others who are open of opportunity to respond to the gospel. Paul was inspired to put it this way when he wrote:

  • Ephesians 5:15-17 – “See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise,16 redeeming the time, because the days are evil.17 Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is.”  [37]

In out consideration of Matthew 9 we stated that the will of God was that “none perish” (2 Peter 3:9). We live in the end times. Jesus return is at hand. We need to work in the harvest fields with a sense of urgency for the lost. If in the work we come across those who are closed and unreceptive to the gospel, then there comes a time when we need to move on so that others can have opportunity to be saved. That is what Jesus is saying and that is what Paul is saying in these verses. We need to be efficient in our harvesting. If a plant is not ripe for the picking, then we need to move on to the next one. God will give everyone ample opportunity to receive the gospel and we need to trust in Him and follow His Spirit in such matters. We cannot force anyone to receive Jesus. Not even God is willing to do that!

Thus far we have examined the first five of the twelve Harvest Mission Strategies found in Matthew 10. Let’s review:

God prepares us in prayer for the mission.

  • Harvest Mission Strategy #1 – Go In The Power of Jesus (10:1)

·         Harvest Mission Strategy #2 – Go Obediently (10:2-7)

  • Harvest Mission Strategy #3 – Go Selflessly (10:8)

·         Harvest Mission Strategy #4 – Know That Where God Guides, God Provides (10:9-10)

  • Harvest Mission Strategy #5 – Focus on the Receptive (10:11-15)

 

How can we know the truly receptive lost souls from those who are closed to the gospel in a way that we should move on? That is where we turn now.

Harvest Mission Strategy #6 – Be Wary and Be Wise

Matthew 10:16 - “Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves. Therefore be wise as serpents and harmless as doves.”  [38]

Opposition often leads to opportunity to share the gospel. We need God’s wisdom to discern how He wants to use us in various situations. That wisdom comes from God.

In all our talk of being a soldier in God’s army we must never lose sight of the fact that we are never to be militant to the point of resorting to earthly fleshly means to accomplish our mission (2 Corinthians 10:4). Instead, Jesus instructed the disciples to be wary that they were being sent out amongst those who would stalk them, prey upon them and destroy them if they could, like sheep amongst wolves. Jesus didn’t tell the disciple to be attack sheep! Rather Jesus told His disciples to be wise. Be like a serpent in the sense that a serpent is quiet and can be right under your feet while get their work done. The disciple is not to take on the deceptive nature of the serpent the devil (Genesis 3). But the disciple is to rely on wisdom to deal with confrontations and those who oppose.

In Proverbs it states:

  • Proverbs 11:30 – “The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life, And he who wins souls is wise.”  [39]

What is wisdom? Wisdom is the ability to solve problems. There is a worldly wisdom that goes about solving problems in a worldly ungodly way. But there is a wisdom from God that is totally different than that. The apostle James writes of this when he is inspired to say:

  • James 3:13-18 – “Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show by good conduct that his works are done in the meekness of wisdom.14 But if you have bitter envy and self-seeking in your hearts, do not boast and lie against the truth.15 This wisdom does not descend from above, but is earthly, sensual, demonic.16 For where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing are there.17 But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy.18 Now the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.”  [40]

The peace that results from godly wisdom is the peace that comes through faith in Christ (Romans 5:1).

The disciple needs wisdom to figure out how to approach the lost in a way that will be effective. We need to understand that wisdom to win souls comes from God, as Paul was inspired to write in his prayer to the Ephesians:

  • Ephesians 1:17 – “that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him,”  [41]

Paul spoke of the need for wisdom in the life of the believer when he was inspired to write:

  • Colossians 4:5-6 – “Walk in wisdom toward those who are outside, redeeming the time.6 Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each one.”  [42]

The disciple working in the harvest needs to depend on the Spirit and God’s wisdom to handle each and every circumstance.

Harvest Mission Strategy #7 – Don’t Worry, Speak in the Spirit

Matthew 10:17-20 - “But beware of men, for they will deliver you up to councils and scourge you in their synagogues.18 “You will be brought before governors and kings for My sake, as a testimony to them and to the Gentiles.19 But when they deliver you up, do not worry about how or what you should speak. For it will be given to you in that hour what you should speak;20 “for it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father who speaks in you.”  [43]

Jesus warned that people would not always welcome the disciple and their gospel message. IN fact Jesus warned of opposition. How do we prepare for such situations? Isn’t this the reason why so many people fear witnessing? “Oh my,” we think, “what happens if they say this, or ask me that, what will I say, what will I do?” But the remedy for such reasoning is to take the counsel of Jesus to heart. Jesus says, “But when they deliver you up, do not worry about how or what you should speak.”  Don’t worry; why shouldn’t we worry? Who likes to be embarrassed or confronted by authorities, confronted by anyone? Won’t we be like a deer caught in the headlights? The fear of being in front of people without an answer or without words to speak is one of the greatest fears. But look what Jesus says, “For it will be given to you in that hour what you should speak; for it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father who speaks in you.” We need not fear the predicaments and potential opposition that lay ahead for Jesus says we are not the ones who will speak at these times, “but the Spirit of your Father who speaks in you.” It is the Spirit who will bring the right scriptures to mind for you to say; He will give you the words and the right way to say them.

Biblical Inspiration – An Example of the Spirit Speaking Through People

The Bible is an example of the Spirit speaking to the world through people. There are examples of this throughout the Bible. In David’s last words to his son Solomon and the people of Israel he refers to the God-inspired nature of his words and writings when he says:

  • 2 Samuel 23:2 - “The Spirit of the Lord spoke by me, And His word was on my tongue.”  [44]

Jesus confirms the inspired nature of David’s writings later in Matthew (Matthew 22:43; also Mark 12:36).  The book of acts confirms the inspired nature of David’s writings also (Acts 4:24-26). Peter refers to the inspired nature of Scripture as well (2 Peter 1:20-21).

In the opening verses of the book of Jeremiah God calls young Jeremiah to warn Judah of God’s impending judgment upon them. Being young, Jeremiah was understandably a bit hesitant. But listen to what God tells him:

  • Jeremiah 1:6-9 – “Then said I: “Ah, Lord God! Behold, I cannot speak, for I am a youth.”7 But the Lord said to me: “Do not say, ‘I am a youth,’ For you shall go to all to whom I send you, And whatever I command you, you shall speak.8 Do not be afraid of their faces, For I am with you to deliver you,” says the Lord.9 Then the Lord put forth His hand and touched my mouth, and the Lord said to me: “Behold, I have put My words in your mouth.”  [45]

God said He put His words in the mouth of Jeremiah. This can also be said of all those in the Bible as all of God’s word is God-breathed or inspired (2 Timothy 3:16-17). While God has closed the canon of Scripture, He still speaks through His disciples as evidenced in the verses we see in Matthew 10.

The Spirit Speaking Through You

Sharing the gospel with the lost is an act of faith. Speaking to the lost about salvation may be easy for some (e.g. those with the spiritual gift of evangelism), but for many the thought of it strikes fear in their hearts. If you are one of those who cringe or are inclined to shrink back in fear from sharing your faith with others, let me let you in on a little secret, you are not the first. In fact there are a number of instances where great people, mightily used of the Lord in the Bible, actually began in fear, but continued in faith.

The Example of Moses

Moses is an example of being fearful of speaking on behalf of the Lord only to conquer his fears through faith in God. Moses started out in his own strength and ended up in exile after having murdered an Egyptian (Exodus 2). He is continuing his life in the fields as a shepherd when God gets his attention with a burning bush that burns without being consumed (Exodus 3). God brings Moses onto the holy ground of His presence and commissions Moses to go to Egypt to free God’s people from Egyptian bondage. How did Moses respond to this? Was he excited or courageous? No, not at all; read the interaction between Moses and God:

  • Exodus 4:10-17 – “Then Moses said to the Lord,O my Lord, I am not eloquent, neither before nor since You have spoken to Your servant; but I am slow of speech and slow of tongue.”11 So the Lord said to him, “Who has made man’s mouth? Or who makes the mute, the deaf, the seeing, or the blind? Have not I, the Lord?12 “Now therefore, go, and I will be with your mouth and teach you what you shall say.”13 But he said, “O my Lord, please send by the hand of whomever else You may send.”14 So the anger of the Lord was kindled against Moses, and He said: “Is not Aaron the Levite your brother? I know that he can speak well. And look, he is also coming out to meet you. When he sees you, he will be glad in his heart.15 “Now you shall speak to him and put the words in his mouth. And I will be with your mouth and with his mouth, and I will teach you what you shall do.16 “So he shall be your spokesman to the people. And he himself shall be as a mouth for you, and you shall be to him as God.17 “And you shall take this rod in your hand, with which you shall do the signs.”  [46] (See also Exodus 6:30)

Moses had been trained in the best schools of the day (Acts 7:21-22). Despite this, Moses was hesitant and tried to back out a bit from God’s call on him. God’s response is pertinent for our study, “Who has made man’s mouth? . . . Now therefore, go, and I will be with your mouth and teach you what you shall say.” God has made our mouths and promised to give Moses the words to say. Moses still resisted and so Aaron was appointed to accompany Moses.

But this was not the end of it. God was patient with Moses even though God was also angry and disappointed with him (Exodus 4:14). Later in the account of the Exodus and confrontation with Pharaoh, it is Moses who seems to take over the speaking. Moses began in fear, but continued in faith. Pharaoh was an intimidating figure. The Egyptians believed him to be a god incarnate. He ruled the strongest empire of the day and answered to no one but himself, (or so he thought!). But look at the manner in which Moses steps forward and speaks to Pharaoh:

  • Exodus 8:25-31 – “Then Pharaoh called for Moses and Aaron, and said, “Go, sacrifice to your God in the land.”26 And Moses said, “It is not right to do so, for we would be sacrificing the abomination of the Egyptians to the Lord our God. If we sacrifice the abomination of the Egyptians before their eyes, then will they not stone us?27 “We will go three days’ journey into the wilderness and sacrifice to the Lord our God as He will command us.”28 And Pharaoh said, “I will let you go, that you may sacrifice to the Lord your God in the wilderness; only you shall not go very far away. Intercede for me.”29 Then Moses said, “Indeed I am going out from you, and I will entreat the Lord, that the swarms of flies may depart tomorrow from Pharaoh, from his servants, and from his people. But let Pharaoh not deal deceitfully anymore in not letting the people go to sacrifice to the Lord.”30 So Moses went out from Pharaoh and entreated the Lord.31 And the Lord did according to the word of Moses; He removed the swarms of flies from Pharaoh, from his servants, and from his people. Not one remained.”  [47]
  • Exodus 10:24-26 – “Then Pharaoh called to Moses and said, “Go, serve the Lord; only let your flocks and your herds be kept back. Let your little ones also go with you.”25 But Moses said, “You must also give us sacrifices and burnt offerings, that we may sacrifice to the Lord our God.26 “Our livestock also shall go with us; not a hoof shall be left behind. For we must take some of them to serve the Lord our God, and even we do not know with what we must serve the Lord until we arrive there.”  [48]

How Did Moses Do It?

How did Moses overcome his fears of speaking? By faith! Moses is included in the great Hall of Faith of the Bible found in Hebrews 11 and read what it says about him:

  • Hebrews 11:23-29 – “By faith Moses, when he was born, was hidden three months by his parents, because they saw he was a beautiful child; and they were not afraid of the king’s command.24 By faith Moses, when he became of age, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter,25 choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin,26 esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt; for he looked to the reward.27 By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king; for he endured as seeing Him who is invisible.28 By faith he kept the Passover and the sprinkling of blood, lest he who destroyed the firstborn should touch them.29 By faith they passed through the Red Sea as by dry land, whereas the Egyptians, attempting to do so, were drowned.”  [49]

By faith, Moses overcame his fears of speaking. By faith he, “esteem[ed] the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt; for he looked to the reward” (v26). Doesn’t that touch on our problem; we are afraid of losing something when we speak out for the Lord. We are afraid of losing peer acceptance and with the peer acceptance, peace and prosperity. By faith in God, we must overcome this fear!

Faith From God

Now this faith is not something we have to muster up in ourselves. Faith is God’s work in us as the Scripture says:

  • John 6:29 – “Jesus answered and said to them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He sent.”  [50]
  • Ephesians 2:8-9 – “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God,9 not of works, lest anyone should boast.”  [51]
  • Philippians 2:13 – “for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.”  [52]

God is the one who works this faith in you.

That First Step of Faith

God will give you the faith you need to share your faith. But you must step out in faith, you need to apply the faith God gives. When the people of God  led by Joshua, (another fearful sort – see Joshua 1), were led into the Promised Land, they did so by faith. The Jordan did not part until the priests stepped into the water (Joshua 3). Read what the account states:

  • Joshua 3:13-16 - “And it shall come to pass, as soon as the soles of the feet of the priests who bear the ark of the Lord, the Lord of all the earth, shall rest in the waters of the Jordan, that the waters of the Jordan shall be cut off, the waters that come down from upstream, and they shall stand as a heap.” 14 So it was, when the people set out from their camp to cross over the Jordan, with the priests bearing the ark of the covenant before the people,15 and as those who bore the ark came to the Jordan, and the feet of the priests who bore the ark dipped in the edge of the water (for the Jordan overflows all its banks during the whole time of harvest),16 that the waters which came down from upstream stood still, and rose in a heap very far away at Adam, the city that is beside Zaretan. So the waters that went down into the Sea of the Arabah, the Salt Sea, failed, and were cut off; and the people crossed over opposite Jericho.”  [53]

You’ve got to take that step of faith and trust God to deliver.

Faith and Love Working Together – An Unbeatable Combination

We saw earlier that the Spirit empowers the disciple to serve and that that empowerment is best understood to be an overflowing of God’s love for the lost experienced in the disciple (Acts 1:8; Romans 5:5; 2 Corinthians 5:14-15). But notice this, the faith of God working in the love of God is an unbeatable combination! Paul was inspired to write of this saying:

  • Galatians 5:5-6 – “For we through the Spirit eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness by faith.6 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but faith working through love.”  [54]

“Faith working through love” is what it’s all about. When God’s love has a hold of you and His faith is working in you, you become a mighty sharing soldier of the Lord ready and able to go through walls or any other obstacle for the Lord.

The Spirit’s Work In You

Understand that this is all a work of the Spirit in you. Paul says in Galatians 5:5, “”For we through he Spirit . . .” This reiterates what Jesus said in Matthew 10, “for it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father who speaks in you.”(10:20). There are other verses which make this point and some of them are:

  • Luke 12:12 - “For the Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour what you ought to say.”   [55]
  • John 14:26 -  “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you.”  [56]
  • John 15:26 - “But when the Helper comes, whom I shall send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify of Me.”  [57]

After Pentecost, the disciples spoke in the Spirit’s empowerment as shown in the verses below:

  • Acts 4:8-12 – “Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, “Rulers of the people and elders of Israel:9 “If we this day are judged for a good deed done to a helpless man, by what means he has been made well,10 “let it be known to you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead, by Him this man stands here before you whole.11 “This is the ‘stone which was rejected by you builders, which has become the chief cornerstone.’12 “Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”  [58]
  • Acts 6:8-10 – “And Stephen, full of faith and power, did great wonders and signs among the people.9 Then there arose some from what is called the Synagogue of the Freedmen (Cyrenians, Alexandrians, and those from Cilicia and Asia), disputing with Stephen.10 And they were not able to resist the wisdom and the Spirit by which he spoke.”  [59]
  • Acts 13:9-10 – “Then Saul, who also is called Paul, filled with the Holy Spirit, looked intently at him10 and said, “O full of all deceit and all fraud, you son of the devil, you enemy of all righteousness, will you not cease perverting the straight ways of the Lord?”  [60]

Speaking in the Spirit’s enablement is the norm for those working in the harvest field of the lost. Read some other verses which testify to this:

  • 1 Corinthians 2:4-5 – “And my speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power,5 that your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.”  [61]
  • 1 Thessalonians 2:13 – “For this reason we also thank God without ceasing, because when you received the word of God which you heard from us, you welcomed it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which also effectively works in you who believe.”  [62]
  • 2 Timothy 4:17 – “But the Lord stood with me and strengthened me, so that the message might be preached fully through me, and that all the Gentiles might hear. And I was delivered out of the mouth of the lion.”  [63]

We needn’t worry when in conversation with unbelievers, or when we are confronted or persecuted concerning our faith and God’s word, we need only trust in the Spirit to speak through us. Isn’t that a relief to you? It is to me. Haven’t you ever been witnessing to somebody and after your done you reflect a moment and say to yourself, “Wow, I didn’t know that was in me!” Well, that was the Spirit speaking in you and guiding you along the conversation. What a blessing! That should excite you to go out and witness, share your faith, just to see what the Spirit will say through you the next time you witness.

Harvest Mission Strategy #8 – Be Conformed To His Likeness

Matthew 10:21-26 - “Now brother will deliver up brother to death, and a father his child; and children will rise up against parents and cause them to be put to death.22 “And you will be hated by all for My name’s sake. But he who endures to the end will be saved.23 “When they persecute you in this city, flee to another. For assuredly, I say to you, you will not have gone through the cities of Israel before the Son of Man comes.24 “A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master.25 It is enough for a disciple that he be like his teacher, and a servant like his master. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebub, how much more will they call those of his household!26 “Therefore do not fear them. For there is nothing covered that will not be revealed, and hidden that will not be known.”  [64]

All of the apostles died at the hands of their persecutors, just like Jesus, except for John. God miraculously preserved John even though he was placed in a cauldron of burning hot oil. When Emperor Domitian saw that he couldn’t kill John, he banished the apostle to the Isle of Patmos. But God even turned that out for good as it was on Patmos where God gave John the vision of the book of Revelation.

Jesus warned that the disciples would inevitably face persecution and hate just like He would (10:21-22a). Jesus instructed the disciples to be wise in their response to persecution. No disciple should ever compromise God’s word or his or her testimony. No disciple should ever recant his or her faith in Christ. Jesus does instruct the disciples to “flee” this persecution if possible (10:23). In the context of the gospels Jesus said that He would be following after the disciples into those areas where persecution erupted. But then and now and for all time Jesus said that, “But he who endures to the end will be saved.”  (10:22).  What does this last statement mean?

The Persevering Nature of the Genuinely Saved

This last statement by Jesus, “But he who endures to the end will be saved” should not be interpreted as though the work of endurance and perseverance would obtain salvation. Rather, this phrase by Jesus indicates the nature of the disciple who is genuinely saved. The truly, genuinely saved persevere in their faith by nature of their saved relationship with Jesus. Salvation carries with it a persevering nature.

In the gospel of John perseverance is described as abiding:  

  • John 15:4-8 - Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me.5 “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.6 “If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned.7 “If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you.8 “By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples.”  [65]

Notice that this abiding perseverance is not something done in one’s own strength but is clearly the product of God’s work in the believer. John uses the phrases, “unless it abides in the vine,” “he who abides in Me, and I in him.” These phrases show it is Christ in you that works perseverance in one’s faith.

Paul also links perseverance as a part of the nature of the genuinely saved. He speaks of perseverance as part of growing up in the Lord. He is inspired to write:

  • Ephesians 4:14-15 – “that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting,15 but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ”  [66]

Paul speaks of perseverance as “Christ in you the hope of glory” :

  • Colossians 1:27 – “To them God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles: which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.”  [67]

He says there is a reward for those who persevere:

  • Galatians 6:9 – “And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.”  [68]

Paul in his own life exemplified the persevering nature of a genuinely saved person with the words:

  • 2 Timothy 1:12 – “For this reason I also suffer these things; nevertheless I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that Day.”  [69]

If a person genuinely knows “whom [they ] have believed,” and are, “persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that Day,” then there will be no shrinking back, no departing from the faith, no falling away. The genuinely saved person perseveres in their relationship with God through faith in Christ.

 “It Is Enough . . .”

Jesus said, “It is enough for a disciple that he be like his teacher, and a servant like his master” (10:25). The word, “enough” (Strong’s #713 – Greek – ARKETOS) is also translated, “sufficient, enough.” [70] This term denotes a satisfaction or contentment. It refers to the contentment a man has when he is satisfied with his life regardless of material possessions. What satisfies you? What brings you contentment? For a disciple contentment and satisfaction comes from being conformed to the likeness of Jesus even in times of persecution.

To Be Like Your Teacher

In all of the opposition, Jesus tells the disciples that they are being given an opportunity to be like Him, their Teacher, the Supreme Disciple-Maker, to experience what He experienced and to be molded into His likeness. They persecuted Jesus and said He did what he did in the power of the devil (9:34); they would do the same to the disciples of Jesus.

In the Old Testament we see the seeds of God’s plan to mold into His likeness. In the creation account we read:

  • Genesis 1:26-27 – “Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”27 So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.”  [71]

Humankind created in God’s image, has been God’s plan from the start. This of course does not mean we will ever become “God,” as is taught by the New Age Movement. It means God desires for us to be holy, loving, people according to His revealed will in His word. It means He desires for us to have eternal life with Him. The Psalmist picked up on God’s plan when he was inspired to write:

  • Psalm 17:15 – “As for me, I will see Your face in righteousness; I shall be satisfied when I awake in Your likeness.”  [72]

Paul wrote of this in the New Testament when he was inspired to say:

  • Philippians 3:20-21 – “For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ,21 who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body, according to the working by which He is able even to subdue all things to Himself.” [73]

When Jesus returns for His church at the Rapture, He will transform us, as John was inspired to write:

1 John 3:2-3 – “Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.3 And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.”  [74]

To Be Like Him Now

The conformity of the disciple to the likeness of Jesus is not simply a future event. We will be completely conformed as a finished product upon the future return of Jesus at the Rapture for His church (1 John 3:2-3); but God is working on us right now to conform us to the likeness of His Son. We will not be complete until we are taken to be with Jesus, but the transformation is a process that beings now.

God’s Top Priority

Conforming believers to the likeness of His Son is God’s top priority. This is God’s purpose for us. Paul was inspired to state this when he wrote:

  • Romans 8:29 – “For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren.”  [75]

God’s top priority for us is not that we find security in the things of this world like homes, relationships, jobs, etc., it is that we become like Jesus. In fact, everything in this world is expendable and fuel toward this end, being conformed to the likeness of Jesus.

In the immediate context in which Paul is inspired to write verse 29 of Romans 8, he precedes this verse by saying:

  • Romans 8:28 – “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” [76]

The reason that God through Paul can say that “all things work together for good,” is because God uses all things to conform us to the likeness of Jesus. Think about that; whatever God allows to enter our lives (e.g.– trials, hardship, disappointment, persecution, discipleship, fellowship) whether viewed as good or bad, all things are used by Him to conform us to the likeness of Jesus. This is the point that Jesus was making to His disciples. He wanted them to know that when they encountered the inevitable abuse and persecution to the message with which He was sending them, that they could rest secure in the fact that God is totally efficient, He would even use these negatives to build their character into Christ-likeness.

The False Gospel of Good Fortune

This flies in the face of the gospel of good fortune often presented today. Today we often here, “come to Jesus and He will heal your marriage, pay your debts, and make your life comfortable and cozy.” Today people are coaxed and enticed to come to Jesus for what they will get in terms of the things of this world. Don’t get me wrong, when a person comes to Jesus their life definitely will straighten out because of God’s work in them, however, life may become difficult as well, and likely will. In Matthew 10 Jesus speaks of the division in the family that accepting Him often brings (see below 10:34-39). Jesus was rejected by people in this world and it is likely the one who accepts Him will be rejected by unbelievers too. Jesus was betrayed, persecuted, and beaten; the disciple may very well experience the same things. All these things are part of the transforming process of being conformed to the likeness of Jesus. Any presentation of the gospel that fails to rely this part of the message is manipulative and misleading and teetering on the edge of being a false gospel entirely.

In the letter of Paul to the Galatians he speaks of a false presentation of the gospel pronouncing an anathema against it (Galatians 1:6-10). Paul shows his gospel is not from men or dependent upon how men react to him, it is not man-centered (Galatians 2). Those who oppose the true gospel are described by Paul as seeking to, “boast in your flesh,” or seek notoriety and reward in this life rather than seeking to glorify God and be conformed to the likeness of Jesus (Galatians 6:11-15). Paul says he is “crucified with Christ” he is persevering in the process of being conformed to the likeness of Jesus, even in persecution and hardship in this life (Galatians 2:20; 6:14).

Are there blessings and rewards in our walk with Jesus? Yes, indeed there are, great blessings, peace and abundant life. But that abundant life consists of being conformed to the life of the Master Jesus. Material gain and the things in this life are not the goal of God’s work in you, indeed, everything in this life is expendable for the sake of God’s greater goal of conforming you to the likeness of Jesus. This puts the things of this world in a much different light. What is “enough” for you? Are you seeking satisfaction in the things of this world? There is no lasting or eternal satisfaction in the things of this world whether material or relational. Lasting, enduring satisfaction, eternal satisfaction comes in being conformed to the likeness of Jesus. Disciple, be satisfied that this is what God is doing in you.

The Conforming Process

This conformity to the likeness of Jesus is started in this life and is an ongoing process. This is evidenced in the fact that God’s word calls us to “follow in His steps,” and, “walk just as He walked.” Both these passages speak of an ongoing process in this life. We see this in the following passages:

  • 1 Peter 2:21-25 – “For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps:22 “Who committed no sin, Nor was deceit found in His mouth”;23 who, when He was reviled, did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but committed Himself to Him who judges righteously;24 who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness—by whose stripes you were healed.25 For you were like sheep going astray, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.”  [77]
  • 1 John 2:6 – “He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked.”  [78]

In all the disciple encounters in the harvest fields of souls, they should prayerfully seek the Spirit’s leading in conforming their response to what Jesus would do in that very situation. This is part of the process of being conformed to the likeness of Jesus. In some instances there will be Biblical examples of what Jesus did; in others there will be no precedents to follow and the Spirit will have to direct according to the nature of Jesus. Disciple, don’t cry, complain, or carry on when you hit obstacles and even persecutions, in all that you do, seek to be conformed to the likeness of Jesus in that situation. Paul stated this all-consuming passion when he was inspired to write:

  • Philippians 3:7-11 – “But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ.8 Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ9 and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith;10 that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death,11 if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.”  [79]

Paul was willing to give up everything to be like Jesus. Being conformed to the likeness of Jesus, even in sufferings, was what satisfied Paul. He would settle for nothing less. What satisfied you disciple? What are you settling for? What is your master passion, your reason for living? Disciple, be like your teacher in all things, be like Jesus.

Working In The Harvest and The Harvest Working In You

Here is another reason for the importance of working in the harvest field. It is not only that the lost are perishing; it is that we are never so close to being like Jesus as when we are working in the harvest field of the lost. There is an inherent benefit for the worker working in the harvest fields of the lost. That benefit is that by working in the harvest fields of the lost, the worker is actually following in the steps of Jesus and all the experiences one has throughout such work are used by God to bring us into a greater conformity to His Son Jesus. If you want to be like Jesus, get into the harvest field and you will be putting yourself on God’s operating table. Work in the harvest, and the harvest will work in you.

Harvest Mission Strategy #9 – Fear Rightly

Matthew 10:27-31 - “Whatever I tell you in the dark, speak in the light; and what you hear in the ear, preach on the housetops.28 And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.29 “Are not two sparrows sold for a copper coin? And not one of them falls to the ground apart from your Father’s will.30 “But the very hairs of your head are all numbered.31 “Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.” [80]

In these verses Jesus is instructing His disciples to proclaim the gospel fearlessly. They are to, “speak in the light; and . . . preach on the housetops” (10:27). In other words, the disciples are to preach openly, boldly, fearlessly, what Jesus had taught them privately.   But there was a potential hindrance to their ministry and mission, and Jesus now addresses this potential hindrance.

The Fear of Man

Jesus said, ““And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul.” (10:28a).  Jesus tells His disciples not to fear people because the harm they inflict is only temporary.   

The Bible tells us that the fear of people is ensnaring:

Proverbs 29:25 – “The fear of man brings a snare, But whoever trusts in the Lord shall be safe.”  [81]

What does that mean? It means that when we fear people, it hinders our availability and usability to God and therefore, ensnares or hinders us from seeing God’s plan fulfilled in and through us. When you fear what people will say about you, or what they will do to you, and you become more concerned about this than what God’s will is in the situation or circumstance, you become paralyzed and God’s plan in and through you is hindered.

Fear Is The Enemy of Faith

Fear is the enemy of faith. The antidote to fear is faith. Fear is overcome by faith, that is why the second part of Proverbs 29:25 says, “But whoever trusts in the LORD shall be safe.” When we allow fear to overcome us our decisions become based on perceived limitations, which are reactions to our fears, rather the limitlessness of God in faith. The result is a quenching of God’s work in and through us. That the fear of people curtails and often stifles sharing about Jesus and testifying to His work is seen in a number of instances.

The fear of people quenches discussion about Jesus. John is inspired to write in the following passages:

  • John 7:10-13 – “But when His brothers had gone up, then He also went up to the feast, not openly, but as it were in secret.11 Then the Jews sought Him at the feast, and said, “Where is He?”12 And there was much complaining among the people concerning Him. Some said, “He is good”; others said, “No, on the contrary, He deceives the people.”13 However, no one spoke openly of Him for fear of the Jews.”  [82]

The fear of religious people curtails speaking the truth about Jesus. In John’s gospel Jesus healed a man who had been blind from birth (John 9:1-12). That Jesus had healed this man was undeniable. The healed man was brought to the Pharisees for inspection and when his parents were asked to verify that this man was indeed their son and had been blind from birth, they had been given a great opportunity to bear witness of Jesus. But what did the parents do? Read on:

  • John 9:13-23 – “They brought him who formerly was blind to the Pharisees.14 Now it was a Sabbath when Jesus made the clay and opened his eyes.15 Then the Pharisees also asked him again how he had received his sight. He said to them, “He put clay on my eyes, and I washed, and I see.”16 Therefore some of the Pharisees said, “This Man is not from God, because He does not keep the Sabbath.” Others said, “How can a man who is a sinner do such signs?” And there was a division among them.17 They said to the blind man again, “What do you say about Him because He opened your eyes?” He said, “He is a prophet.”18 But the Jews did not believe concerning him, that he had been blind and received his sight, until they called the parents of him who had received his sight.19 And they asked them, saying, “Is this your son, who you say was born blind? How then does he now see?”20 His parents answered them and said, “We know that this is our son, and that he was born blind;21 “but by what means he now sees we do not know, or who opened his eyes we do not know. He is of age; ask him. He will speak for himself.”22 His parents said these things because they feared the Jews, for the Jews had agreed already that if anyone confessed that He was Christ, he would be put out of the synagogue.23 Therefore his parents said, “He is of age; ask him.”  [83]

These parents surrendered this great opportunity to tell the truth about Jesus because they feared religious people. Their fear caused them to shrink back from an undeniable miracle of God. Fear caused them to deny the truth, to deny reality, with their silence. That is what fear does to faith, it quenches it.

Fear of people even hinders religious leaders. We see this later in John’s gospel when it states:

  • John 12:42-43 – “Nevertheless even among the rulers many believed in Him, but because of the Pharisees they did not confess Him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue;43 for they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God.”  [84]

Even ministers can be swayed by the opinions of their peers (see Galatians 2:11-21).

Fear of people leads to denial of Jesus and bitter regret. This is clearly seen in the life of Peter who we see denied Jesus three times for fear of what people would think or do to him:

  • Matthew 26:69-75 – “Now Peter sat outside in the courtyard. And a servant girl came to him, saying, “You also were with Jesus of Galilee.”70 But he denied it before them all, saying, “I do not know what you are saying.”71 And when he had gone out to the gateway, another girl saw him and said to those who were there, “This fellow also was with Jesus of Nazareth.”72 But again he denied with an oath, “I do not know the Man!”73 And a little later those who stood by came up and said to Peter, “Surely you also are one of them, for your speech betrays you.”74 Then he began to curse and swear, saying, “I do not know the Man!” Immediately a rooster crowed.75 And Peter remembered the word of Jesus who had said to him, “Before the rooster crows, you will deny Me three times.” So he went out and wept bitterly.”  [85]

Fear indicates a lack or even absence of faith. Fear is the opposite of faith. Fear fights against faith. Fear is the enemy of faith.

The Fear of God  - Godless Fear

Jesus goes on to say, “But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” (10:28b). This in reality is the fear the godless has for God. Godless fear is concerned with what God will do to the sinner. God holds the eternal destiny of each person in His hands and those who have yet to receive salvation through faith alone in His Son Jesus Christ alone, have reason to fear Him. With these words Jesus is pointing out that fear of people is limited to the material-temporal world in scope. God on the other hand, holds eternal destiny in His control. Furthermore, while the disciple should not fear “hell,” (because they are saved from it in Christ) the unbeliever should. What is “Hell”? And how can people escape it?

HELL

The cover topic for the January 31st, 2000 issue of  US News & World Report was “Hell.” On page 47 of the issue the article states:

"And while polls showed that the majority of Americans professed to
believe in hell's existence, almost no one thought he would go there."

People believe there is a hell, but few think they are going there and if they do think they are going there, they have no clue as to what hell is like. I have heard some say, “Yeah, I’m probably going to hell, but I’ll have company. Me and my buddies will be drinking beers and partying for eternity.” Friends, that is not what hell will be like. Before we look at what “hell” is, let’s mention what it is not.

What Isn’t Hell? - Hell is Not Purgatory

In  300 A.D., nearly two centuries after the canon of scripture (the 66 books of the Old and New Testaments) was closed, the church began a tradition of praying for the dead. Three centuries after this, in 600 A.D., the Church started the tradition of “purgatory,” the belief that nearly all people after they die go to a place where their sins are expiated in fire. The Roman Catholic Church didn’t adopt this tradition as doctrine until 1439 A.D., at the Council of Florence. The doctrine of Purgatory teaches that while most if not all people (except for those given sainthood by the Roman Catholic Church) go to purgatory, nearly all who go there eventually get out and go to heaven. Purgatory therefore, is a kind of second chance.

An examination of history reveals that it is likely that purgatory was instituted by the Church as a means to collect money for building projects and other purposes. The church offered “indulgences,” the paying of money by the living, to indulge in sin and to expedite the time in purgatory of the dead. The parishioner would pay the priest to pray down the dead loved ones time in purgatory. At one point a monk named John Tetzel was sent to raise money for a building project by way of collecting indulgences. Tetzel’s technique involved frightening peasants with sermons on the flames of hell and then saying:

“When your money rattles in my chest, your sins are forgiven. Pay for the sins of loved ones who are dead, and they will escape from purgatory to heaven.”   [86]

Purgatory takes away from the sufficiency of Christ’s atonement and lays part of the burden for sin on  people and thereby puts the burden of guilt on people. Purgatory adds to what Christ has completed on the cross.

There is no scriptural or Biblical basis for this manmade tradition that is held to this day. There are no second chances after a person dies, a person must be saved from their sin now , in this life, if they are to have eternal life with Christ in the next. The apostle Paul warned in the Bible of such traditions and pointed to the sufficiency of Jesus cross work by saying:

  • Colossians 2:8-10,13-15 – “Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ.9 For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily;10 and you are complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power. . . . 13 And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses,14 having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.15 Having disarmed principalities and powers, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it.”  [87]

Hell is not purgatory, there are no second chances after one dies. Hebrews it states:

  • Hebrews 9:27 – “And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment,”  [88]

There is no scriptural support for the false doctrine of purgatory. Now is the day of salvation (2 Corinthians 6:2). Don’t waste your life thinking that you can make up for it later in purgatory, it just won’t and can’t happen.

What is “hell”?

What is “hell”? The word translated hell in Matthew 28 is GEHENNA (Strong’s #1076). Strong’ Enhanced Concordance states:

“Hell is the place of the future punishment called “Gehenna” or “Gehenna of fire”. This was originally the valley of Hinnom, south of Jerusalem, where the filth and dead animals of the city were cast out and burned; a fit symbol of the wicked and their future destruction.” [89]

When you think of hell therefore, you need to think of  the following:

Hell is a place of outer darkness and regret. Earlier in the gospel of Matthew Jesus taught:

  • Matthew 8:12 -  “But the sons of the kingdom will be cast out into outer darkness. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” [90] (See also Matthew 22:13)

When Jesus used these words He was referring to the religious Jews who believed they had a free ticket to heaven because they saw themselves as, “sons of the kingdom.” But unless one accepts Jesus as Lord and Savior, their eternal destination is this “outer darkness.” If you’ve ever been in a fire, you know that one of the most frightening features of it is darkness. Smoke is black, dark and suffocating. Hell is a place of smoke; it’s no place you would want to spend eternity. It is a place of lostness, aloneness, a place of perpetual and eternal suspension in the freefall of a black hole like existence. In Jude it states:

  • Jude 12-13 – “These are spots in your love feasts, while they feast with you without fear, serving only themselves. They are clouds without water, carried about by the winds; late autumn trees without fruit, twice dead, pulled up by the roots;13 raging waves of the sea, foaming up their own shame; wandering stars for whom is reserved the blackness of darkness forever.  [91]

Hell is a place of fiery punishment prepared for the devil and his angels. Jesus teaches later in Matthew:

  • Matthew 25:41,46 -  “Then He will also say to those on the left hand, ‘Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels: . . . 46 “And these will go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”  [92] (See Revelation 19:20)

Hell was never meant to contain people, it was made by God for the devil and his rebellious demonic angels. But when people reject God, they resultantly side with Satan, and they too will be cast into hell. God doesn’t want any person to wind up in hell (2 Peter 3:9). If you find yourself in hell after death, it will be because you chose to go there by not choosing to accept Jesus as your Lord and Savior.

Read what God’s word says about who will go to hell:

  • Matthew 10:14-15 - “And whoever will not receive you nor hear your words, when you depart from that house or city, shake off the dust from your feet.15 “Assuredly, I say to you, it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgment than for that city!”  [93]
  • Romans 2:4-12 – “Or do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance?5 But in accordance with your hardness and your impenitent heart you are treasuring up for yourself wrath in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God,6 who “will render to each one according to his deeds”:7 eternal life to those who by patient continuance in doing good seek for glory, honor, and immortality;8 but to those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness—indignation and wrath,9 tribulation and anguish, on every soul of man who does evil, of the Jew first and also of the Greek;10 but glory, honor, and peace to everyone who works what is good, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.11 For there is no partiality with God.12 For as many as have sinned without law will also perish without law, and as many as have sinned in the law will be judged by the law”  [94]
  • 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 – “Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites,10 nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God.11 And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God.” [95]
  • Revelation 21:8 - “But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.”  [96]

If you havn’t yet accepted Jesus Christ as your Savior from sin, your eternal destiny is hell. But that can all change, you can accept Jesus as your Savior from sin, be forgiven for your sin, and receive eternal life with God. Quite a contrast in eternal destinies and certainly a great gift of God’s grace that shouldn’t be passed up.

Hell is a place of wasted destroyed lives out of the presence of God. In Paul’s letter to the Thessalonians he is inspired to write:

  • 2 Thessalonians 1:3-12 – “We are bound to thank God always for you, brethren, as it is fitting, because your faith grows exceedingly, and the love of every one of you all abounds toward each other,4 so that we ourselves boast of you among the churches of God for your patience and faith in all your persecutions and tribulations that you endure,5 which is manifest evidence of the righteous judgment of God, that you may be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you also suffer;6 since it is a righteous thing with God to repay with tribulation those who trouble you,7 and to give you who are troubled rest with us when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with His mighty angels,8 in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.9 These shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power,10 when He comes, in that Day, to be glorified in His saints and to be admired among all those who believe, because our testimony among you was believed.11 Therefore we also pray always for you that our God would count you worthy of this calling, and fulfill all the good pleasure of His goodness and the work of faith with power,12 that the name of our Lord Jesus Christ may be glorified in you, and you in Him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.”  [97]

Those who end up in hell will belong there. God is righteous in His decision to place people in hell because they will have decided that they did not want Christ in their lives. While God is omnipresent, those cast into hell will only see God and experience His presence as a tormenting reminder of what they could have had and because of rebellion and sin have eternally lost.

How Can People Stay Out of Hell?

If we look at the above passage in Thessalonians Paul states, “in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Thessalonians 1:8). How can a person come to “know God” and, “obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ”?

First, a person must understand that they are a sinner, they have sinned by breaking God’s law and righteous punishment must be levied. The Bible states:

  • Romans 3:23 -  “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” [98]
  • Galatians 3:10 – “For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse; for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who does not continue in all things which are written in the book of the law, to do them.”  [99]
  • James 2:10 – “For whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all.”  [100]

You can’t be righteous before God in your own strength because God’s standard is total obedience. If you have broken one of God’s commandments, it is as though you have broken them all. The law of God is like a chain that reaches to heaven and those who try to get to heaven in their own strength are climbing this chain. Break one link, and you become a sinner plummeting down

Second, the penalty for sin is death. The Bible says:

  • Romans 6:23a – “For the wages of sin is death,” [101]

Sin brings death. The punishment for sin is eternal death. If you have ever sinned, that is your lot.

Third, understand God has provided a way out of this seemingly hopeless situation. The Bible states:

  • Romans 6:23 – “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”  [102]
  • Romans 5:8 – “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”  [103]
  • John 3:16 - “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”  [104]
  • 2 Corinthians 5:21 – “For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”  [105]

Because God loves us so much, He sent Jesus, His only Son, to die on the cross in our place. What must we do to be saved once we realize this truth and provision?

Fourth, by faith receive God’s forgiveness for your sin by way of Jesus substitutionary  death on the cross. The Bible states:

  • John 1:12 – “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name:” [106]
  • John 6:29 – “Jesus answered and said to them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He sent.”  [107]
  • Acts 2:36-39 - “Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ.”37 Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Men and brethren, what shall we do?”38 Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.39 “For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call.”  [108]
  • Romans 5:1,5 – “Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, . . . 5 Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.”  [109]
  • Romans 10:8-10 – “But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith which we preach):9 that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.10 For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.”  [110]
  • 2 Corinthians 5:17 – “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.”  [111]

Saving faith is faith God gives us, it is faith in Jesus that moves us to turn to God (repent)from our sins, to live newness of life in His Spirit (which He puts into us).

Fear In Perspective – Godly Fear

We have seen how the ungodly relate to the fear of God. Godless fear is concerned with what God will do to the sinner. How should the disciple relate to such fear? Jesus instructs the disciples to keep the proper perspective in times of persecution. Yes, persecutors in this world come and at times such persecutions lead to the torture of and even death of disciples, but that effect, though hard, is only temporary.  If the disciple is going to fear, then he or she should not fear those who can only effect him or her temporarily, but rather, fear Him who has the power to inflict eternal damage (10:27-28).

There is a healthy spiritual fear concerning God that the Bible speaks about. The following passages speak of fearing God:

  • Psalm 119:120 – “ My flesh trembles for fear of You, And I am afraid of Your judgments.”  [112]
  • Proverbs 14:26-27 – “In the fear of the Lord there is strong confidence, And His children will have a place of refuge.27 The fear of the Lord is a fountain of life, To turn one away from the snares of death.”  [113]
  • Ecclesiastes 8:12-13 – “Though a sinner does evil a hundred times, and his days are prolonged, yet I surely know that it will be well with those who fear God, who fear before Him.13 But it will not be well with the wicked; nor will he prolong his days, which are as a shadow, because he does not fear before God.”  [114]
  • Isaiah 66:2 – “For 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.”  [115]

From these verses we learn that God is awesome and when finite humans come into His presence trembling before God is a normal and to be expected response (Psalm 119:120; see Isaiah 6). “The fear of the LORD” is a source of “confidence . . . a fountain of life, To turn one away from the snares of death.” (Proverbs 14:26-27). These verses tell us that fear plays an important role in salvation (Ecclesiastes 8:12-13) and being accepted by God (Isaiah 66:2). But isn’t fear a negative motivator? Doesn’t fear drive us away from God rather than toward God? Let’s look at this more closely

Fear and Love - Overcoming Fear With Loving Faith

Jesus continues His statement about fearing God with some words that may seem a bit peculiar at first glance. Jesus says:

  • Matthew 10:29-31 - “Are not two sparrows sold for a copper coin? And not one of them falls to the ground apart from your Father’s will.30 “But the very hairs of your head are all numbered.31 “Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.”  [116]

What do these words have to do with fearing God? Jesus speaks of God’s loving provision in these verses. Jesus speaks about the Father’s loving attentiveness to each individual sparrow. He speaks about every hair on our heads being numbered. These are words which speak of God’s loving attention, not His terrible fear inducing presence. These verses speak of gentleness. Have you ever tried to go up to a sparrow stomping and yelling and being loud? The birds fly away in fear. But when a person is gentle and loving toward the sparrows, even wild birds are tamed and come to perch on one’s hand. The love makes them secure and unafraid. What does such love have to do with fear?

In Hebrews it states:

  • Hebrews 10:31; 12:28-29 – “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. . . . 28 Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us have grace, by which we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear.29 For our God is a consuming fire.”  [117]

For those who do not know the LORD, it is a “fearful” terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God. But for those who know Him, there is a “godly fear” which recognizes that God is indeed a “consuming fire,” but also that they have been saved from that fire by faith in Jesus. Peter wrote of this when he said:

  • 1 Peter 1:17-19 – “And if you call on the Father, who without partiality judges according to each one’s work, conduct yourselves throughout the time of your stay here in fear;18 knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers,19 but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.”  [118]

In light of what God has done in Christ, the fear of the LORD, godly fear, is not so much a trembling fear, but is a fear of doing harm to God and one’s relationship with Him.  Such a fear is full of faith in God because it exemplifies an acknowledgement of God that supercedes anything in the world. This fear keeps the disciple from entering into any questionable activity or vice that would put a wedge between them and God. The sinner is doomed for lack of such a fear (Ecclesiastes 8:12-13), but God looks favorably upon someone with such godly fear (Isaiah 66:2). Such “fear” is a reverential awe and appreciation for God and His Son who died magnificently to make a way to save the lost (Hebrews 10:31; 12:28-29; 1 Peter 1:17).

The apostle Paul was inspired to write about this when he said:

  • 2 Timothy 1:7 – “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.”  [119]

God has not stomped His way into our lives in a way that would frighten us off. God’s inspired words through Paul tell us clearly that God, “has not given us a spirit of fear.” God has lovingly sent His Son to show His love to the lost.

Perfect Love

John, known as the apostle of love, was inspired to write about the connection between fear and love by writing:

  • 1 John 4:17-19 – “Love has been perfected among us in this: that we may have boldness in the day of judgment; because as He is, so are we in this world.18 There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love.19 We love Him because He first loved us.”  [120]

The word “perfected,” (Strong’s #5048 - Greek TELEIOO) can also be translated, make perfect – 12 times, perfect – 4 times, finish – 4 times, fulfill – 2 times, be perfect - once, and consecrate – once (24 times in total).  [121] The idea here is to bring something to an end, to it’s destination, it’s end product, to bring it to maturity, completion. And the grammatical form of this word (Perfect/Passive/Indicative) indicates that this is something that God has does in us. John writes that, “fear involves torment,” and the love that God works into the believer is mature and complete when it brings that person to the point where they no longer fear the possible torments of judgment, but rely in faith on God’s word that says He will not judge them because Jesus has taken their judgment in their place (2 Corinthians 5:21). When such love of God is brought to completion in the disciple the fear of man and the fear of judgment are removed and replaced with a healthy godly fear based on the love of God.

God Loves The Sparrows and God Loves You

God loves the sparrows and cares for them as Jesus said, but Jesus qualifies this by saying, “Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.” God knows what is happening to you during times of persecution and He will look out for you (10:29-31). An appropriate verse that describes God’s faithfulness in times of temptation and trials is found in Paul’s first epistle to the Corinthians where he is inspired to write:

  • 1 Corinthians 10:13 – “No temptation [or trial] has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.”  [122]

God is faithful and will not allow the disciple to go through anything “beyond what you are able.” God will either give grace or provide a means of escape in the situation (2 Corinthians 12:7-10). That is God’s promise to us.

Two stanzas from Martin Luther’s hymn A Mighty Fortress Is Our God are appropriate for this section. The stanzas state:

            And though this world, with devils filled, should threaten to undo us;                                                               

            We will not fear, for God hath willed His truth to triumph through us;

            The prince of darkness grim, we tremble not for him;

            His rage we can endure, For lo! His doom is sure, one little word shall fell him.

            That word above all earthly powers, no thanks to them, abideth,

            The Spirit and the gifts are ours through Him who with us sideth;

            Let goods and kindred go, this mortal life also;

            The body they may kill;

            God’s truth abideth still, His kingdom is forever. [123]

Godless fear is concerned with what God will do to the sinner. Godly fear is fear of doing harm or grieving the God who loves us so much He sent His only Son to save us from our sin. Don’t fear people, they can have no eternal effect on you, only God can do that, and He loves you. Disciple, be fear rightly.

Harvest Mission Strategy #10 – Confess Christ No Matter What

Matthew 10:32-33 -  “Therefore whoever confesses Me before men, him I will also confess before My Father who is in heaven.33 “But whoever denies Me before men, him I will also deny before My Father who is in heaven.” [124]

Whenever you see a “therefore,” in your studies of the Bible, always ask, “What is it there for?” Jesus links his statements about fearing man and God’s loving provision with confessing Christ before men. These are heavy, heavy words from the Supreme Disciple-maker. If we want Jesus to confess us before the Father in heaven, then we need to confess Him before people here and now. If we do not confess Jesus before people now, He will not confess us before the Father. This means just what it says and we need to seriously take it to heart.

The KJV Bible Commentary has the following statement upon these verses:

In reality, secret discipleship is a practical impossibility. Jesus constantly called for an open confession of Himself by His followers. We must be willing to acknowledge Jesus as Lord and Savior, with all that those terms imply. That our confession is to be before men clearly indicates that a public confession of true Christian faith is a virtual necessity. The warning, Whosoever shall deny me, is in the aorist tense, referring not to one moment of denial (such as Peter’s), but to an entire lifelong resistance to Christ which shall never cease. Therefore, it is not a single act of denial which makes one unworthy of being a disciple, but a refusal to confess Christ at all that eliminates one from being a true follower of Jesus Christ.”  [125] (Emphasis added.)

No Closet Christians

Fear can drive Christians into the closet. Before I became a Christian and relied on a religious pursuit of God, I masked my ignorance of God with the fallacious notion that religion is private. If someone came up to me and asked me about God, I’d simply utter a few religious sounding words and then end the conversation by saying, “Well, you know, that’s kind of private with me and I don’t want to discuss it.”

Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus were initially closet believers, but eventually he came out of the closet because of Jesus death on the cross for him. In John’s gospel it states:

  • John 19:38-42 – “After this, Joseph of Arimathea, being a disciple of Jesus, but secretly, for fear of the Jews, asked Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus; and Pilate gave him permission. So he came and took the body of Jesus.39 And Nicodemus, who at first came to Jesus by night, also came, bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about a hundred pounds.40 Then they took the body of Jesus, and bound it in strips of linen with the spices, as the custom of the Jews is to bury.41 Now in the place where He was crucified there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb in which no one had yet been laid.42 So there they laid Jesus, because of the Jews’ Preparation Day, for the tomb was nearby.”  [126]

Joseph of Arimathea was a secret disciple and Nicodemus came to Jesus at night when no one could see them. But if they were to be a disciple of Jesus, they needed to come out in the open at some point. They both came to get the body of Jesus from Pilate. This was a great act of faith since Pilate had just ordered the execution of Jesus their leader and the Jewish leaders were dead set on squashing Jesus and His followers. But you see, they had been to the place where Jesus was “crucified.” The love of God compelled them to stand up for Jesus (2 Corinthians 5:14-15).

Do you recall what Jesus said in His Sermon on the Mount? He said:

  • Matthew 5:13-16 - “You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men.14 “You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden.15 “Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house.16 “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.”  [127]

If you are a disciple, you can’t hide it, because the nature of a disciple is to let their light shine in a way that glorifies Jesus. It is inherent in the nature of a disciple to shine forth for the glory of God. If you are a disciple, you just can’t keep it in.

In the 16th century the church of God had degenerated into a corrupt and heretical system. God raised up a few men to take a stand against the corrupt church, one of whom was Martin Luther. Martin Luther had pursued God in his own strength, by his own works for most of his life but was never able to find peace of soul. It was only when he turned the Bible and God led him to the truth that “the just shall live by faith,” (Romans 1:17), it was only then that Martin Luther found peace and security through faith alone in Christ alone. Luther began to teach this truth, as he was a prominent teacher in the church. His teaching opened the eyes of many but was frowned upon by the established church who preferred to use indulgences and other means based on human tradition to hold people under their thumb. Luther would not stand for this and opposed false traditions of man with the truth of God’s eternal word.

This debate came to a head when on October 31st, 1517; Martin Luther nailed 95 Theses to the Wittenberg Germany church door denouncing the heretical practices of the church. This marked the beginning of the Protestant Reformation. The established churches response was to issue a decree excommunicating Luther from the church (June 1520). Luther’s books were burned and he was given 60 days to recant. Luther’s response to the Papal Bull of Excommunication was to call it the Bull of Antichrist. Luther took the edict of the Pope and threw it into his own bonfire.

The pope insisted that Luther be executed for his defiance of papal authority. The Emperor Charles V intervened and arranged protection for Luther to appear before the imperial council at the Diet of Worms in 1521. At this council it was demanded of Luther to recant his statements. Luther was given a day to decide. When Luther came before the assembly to announce his decision he said the following:

“It is impossible for me to recant unless I am proved to be in the wrong by the testimony of Scripture or by evident reasoning; I cannot trust either the decisions of Councils or Popes, for it is plain that they have not only erred, but have contradicted each other. My conscience is bound to the Word of God, and it is neither safe nor honest to act against one’s conscience. Here I stand. God help me. Amen!” [128]

No matter the odds, no matter the numbers against them, the disciple must stand for the truth of Christ at all times!

Harvest Mission Strategy #11 – Put Jesus First

Matthew 10:34-39 - “Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword.35 “For I have come to ‘set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law’;36 “and ‘a man’s enemies will be those of his own household.’37 “He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me.38 “And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me.39 “He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for My sake will find it.”  [129]

The gospel of Jesus Christ can be divisive, and when it is we need to choose our faith in Christ over all else, over everyone else (10:34-35). That means even if family members oppose us in our faith, we need to stick with Jesus and not back down (10:36). Jesus says if we love our father or mother more than Him, we are not worthy of Him (10:37). He says if we love our children more than Jesus, if we compromise our faith in Jesus to keep the peace, we are not worthy of Him (10:37).  The disciple who does not “take up his cross, ” or make this sacrifice, is not worthy of Jesus (10:38). (This by the way is the first mention of the cross in the New Testament.) Jesus says the way to find our way in all of this is to give Him our lives. If we hold onto our lives and try to live them in our own wisdom and our own way, we will lose them. If we give our lives to Him and trust in His wisdom and way, we will find life in Him (10:39). 

Pastor Chuck Smith makes the following insightful comment on these verses:

      And a man's foes will be they of his own household. (10:36) It is sad but it is true that Christianity has divided many households. When a member of the family has faith in the Lord and other members do not, many times there comes a sharp division. And sometimes the holidays are a very rough season because there are all of these divisions and arguments that rise out of the differences of opinions concerning Jesus Christ. Jesus said, it’s going to be so. It isn’t necessarily, it doesn’t have to be… when the whole household loves the Lord, then that’s glorious. But it isn’t always so. Many households are divided over the issue of Jesus Christ. If you have that kind of an issue, then if, in order to placate the family members, you turn from Jesus Christ, He that loveth father or mother more than me [Jesus said] is not worthy of me: It is sad that many times this kind of a decision is forced. Where the parents will say, If you’re going to continue to believe in this Jesus bit, then you’re not welcome in this home, especially in . . . Jewish homes. There are many times when a person, a Jew, will receive Jesus as his Messiah, the family will hold a funeral service for him and treat him as though he were dead. If under that pressure, you give up your faith in Jesus Christ, your family ties are more important to you than Jesus Christ, then He said, You’re really not worthy of me. Same is true, [if] he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. (10:37) If it’s the other way around, and your sons or daughters are seeking to turn you against Christ, and for the sake of peace and harmony, you begin to turn; you’re not worthy of Him. He that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me. (10:38) Many times, in following Jesus, there is a sacrifice to be made. If you’re not willing to make it to follow Him, you’re not worthy, He said, of Him. For he that findeth his life [or seeks to find his life by compromise] will lose it: and he who will lose his life for my sake he’ll find it. (10:39)[130]

 

When in the book of Acts the apostles were confronted and threatened to stop preaching the gospel their response was:

  • Acts 5:29 – “But Peter and the other apostles answered and said: “We ought to obey God rather than men.”  [131]

Whether opposed by family members or others, the disciples response must always be, “We ought to obey God rather than men.”

Harvest Mission Strategy #12 – Participate in Any Way You Can

Matthew 10:40-42 - “He who receives you receives Me, and he who receives Me receives Him who sent Me.41 “He who receives a prophet in the name of a prophet shall receive a prophet’s reward. And he who receives a righteous man in the name of a righteous man shall receive a righteous man’s reward.42 “And whoever gives one of these little ones only a cup of cold water in the name of a disciple, assuredly, I say to you, he shall by no means lose his reward.”  [132]

Jesus is saying here that those who “receives” the disciples and supports them participate in the ministry of the disciple and therefore will receive the same reward. Later in Matthew’s gospel Jesus speaks of His judgment upon the world at His 2nd Coming and says:

  • Matthew 25:31-46 - “When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory.32 “All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats.33 “And He will set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left.34 “Then the King will say to those on His right hand, ‘Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:35 ‘for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in;36 ‘I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.’37 “Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink?38 ‘When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You?39 ‘Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’40 “And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.’41 “Then He will also say to those on the left hand, ‘Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels:42 ‘for I was hungry and you gave Me no food; I was thirsty and you gave Me no drink;43 ‘I was a stranger and you did not take Me in, naked and you did not clothe Me, sick and in prison and you did not visit Me.’44 “Then they also will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to You?’45 “Then He will answer them, saying, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.’46 “And these will go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”  [133]

We cannot always go to foreign lands, but we can participate financially, or by words of encouragement in a letter, or in prayer, and in so doing we participate in that ministry. There is a mission field in our own land and we can be involved in reaching the lost here, but we can also participate in the ministry going on in foreign lands through prayers and financial support. In this way we can have a greater influence and be used by God more. Churches should make it part of their practice to support foreign missions in whatever way they can.

Conclusion

Those are the 12 Harvest Mission Strategies of Jesus to His disciples. Jesus was sending His disciples out on a mission that would have eternal repercussions in the lives of people. The harvest mission reaps eternal rewards. What about you, are you a laborer in the harvest fields of God? The following poem brings forth the importance of how you respond to that question:

 

ETERNAL INK

 (The actual account of a dream)  by Craig F. Pitts

 

I dreamed I was in heaven Where an angel kept God’s book.

He was writing so intently, I just had to take a look.

 

It was not, at first, his writing, That made me stop and think

But the fluid in the bottle, That was marked eternal ink.

 

This ink was most amazing, Dark black upon his blotter

But as it touched the parchment It became as clear as water.

 

The angel kept on writing, But as quickly as a wink

The words were disappearing With that strange eternal ink.

 

The angel took no notice, But kept writing on and on.

He turned each page and filled it Till all its space was gone.

 

I thought he wrote to no avail, His efforts were so vain

For he wrote a thousand pages That he’d never read again.

 

And as I watched and wondered that This awesome sight was mine,

I actually saw a word stay black As it dried upon the line.

 

The angel wrote and I thought I saw A look of satisfaction.

At last he had some print to show For all his earnest action.

 

A line or two dried dark and stayed As black as black can be,

But strangely the next paragraph Became invisible to see.

 

The book was getting fuller, The angel’s records true,

But most of it was blank, with Just a few words coming through.

I knew there was some reason, But as hard as I could think,

I couldn’t grasp the significance Of that eternal ink.

 

The mystery burned within me, And I finally dared to ask

The angel to explain to me Of his amazing task.

 

And what I heard was frightful As the angel turned his head.

He looked directly at me, And this is what he said...

 

I know you stand and wonder At what my writing’s worth

But God has told me to record The lives of those on earth.

 

The book that I am filling Is an accurate account

Of every word and action And to what they do amount.

 

And since you have been watching I must tell you what is true;

The details of my journal Are the strict accounts of YOU.

 

The Lord asked me to watch you As each day you worked and played.

I saw you as you went to church, I saw you as you prayed.

 

But I was told to document Your life through all the week.

I wrote when you were proud and bold, I wrote when you were meek.

I recorded all your attitudes Whether they were good or bad.

I was sorry that I had to write The things that make God sad.

 

So now I’ll tell the wonder Of this eternal ink,

For the reason for its mystery Should make you stop and think.

 

This ink that God created To help me keep my journal

Will only keep a record of Things that are eternal.

 

So much of life is wasted On things that matter not

So instead of my erasing, Smudging ink and ugly blot.

 

I just keep writing faithfully and Let the ink do all the rest

For it is able to decide What’s useless and what’s best.

 

And God ordained that as I write Of all you do and say

Your deeds that count for nothing Will just disappear away.

 

When books are opened someday, As sure as heaven is true;

The Lord’s eternal ink will tell What mattered most to you.

 

If you just lived to please yourself The pages will be bare,

And God will issue no reward For you when you get there.

 

In fact, you’ll be embarrassed, You will hang your head in shame

Because you did not give yourself In love to Jesus’ Name.

 

Yet maybe there will be a few Recorded lines that stayed

That showed the times you truly cared, Sincerely loved and prayed.

But you will always wonder As you enter heaven’s door

How much more glad you would have been If only you’d done more.

For I record as God sees, I don’t stop to even think

Because the truth is written With God’s eternal ink.

 

When I heard the angel’s story I fell down and wept and cried

For as yet I still was dreaming I hadn’t really died.

 

And I said:  O angel tell the Lord That soon as I awake

I’ll live my life for Jesus- I’ll do all for His dear sake.

 

I’ll give in full surrender; I’ll do all He wants me to;

I’ll turn my back on self and sin And whatever isn’t true.

 

And though the way seems long and rough I promise to endure.

I’m determined to pursue the things That are holy, clean and pure.

 

With Jesus as my helper, I will win lost souls to Thee,

For I know that they will live with Christ For all eternity.

And that’s what really matters When my life on earth is gone

That I will stand before the Lord And hear Him say, well done.

 

For is it really worth it As my life lies at the brink?

And I realize that God keeps books With His eternal ink.

 

Should all my life be focused On things that turn to dust?

From this point on I’ll serve the Lord; I can, I will, I must!

 

I will NOT send blank pages Up to God’s majestic throne

For where that record’s going now Is my eternal home.

 

I’m giving all to Jesus I now have seen the link

For I saw an angel write my life With God’s eternal ink.

 

Have you been sending blank pages to heaven are you engaged in the harvest mission of the

Lord? That question is critically important disciple. I pray that you follow the harvest mission

strategies the Lord has set out for you and that God use you to reap an eternally significant

reward, that He would use you to save souls. 

 



[1]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[2]Tense Voice Mood, (Ontario: Woodside Bible Fellowship) 1994.

[3]Tense Voice Mood, (Ontario: Woodside Bible Fellowship) 1994.

[4]Tense Voice Mood, (Ontario: Woodside Bible Fellowship) 1994.

[5] Jon Courson, Tree of Life Commentary - Volume 2, (Jacksonville, OR: Tree of Life Publishing) 1993. p. 383

[6] Jon Courson, Ibid. p. 252

[7]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[8]Enhanced Strong’s Lexicon, (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.) 1995.

[9]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[10]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[11]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[12]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[13]Enhanced Strong’s Lexicon, (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.) 1995.

[14] The Subsequent Nature of the Baptism of the Spirit. Compare the receiving of the Spirit initially by the disciples in John 20:21-22 and the subsequent coming upon of the Spirit at Pentecost in Acts 2. That this second work of God in the life of believers was not only for the first twelve disciples is seen as it occurs in the lives of other believers in the New Testament. Further evidence of the subsequent nature of this baptism of the Spirit can be seen and gleaned from the following verses – John 14:16-18; Acts 2:3; 8:15-16; 10:44; 11:15; 18:24-26; and 19:1-6. See also the teaching on Matthew chapter 3 and this authors study on the Holy Spirit entitled By My Spirit

[15]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[16] Chuck Smith, Word For Today audiotape #8009 (WFT PO Box 8000, Costa Mesa. CA 92628)

[17]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[18]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[19]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[20]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[21]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[22]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[23]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[24]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[25]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[26]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[27]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[28]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[29]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[30]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[31]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[32]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[33]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[34]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[35]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[36]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[37]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[38]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[39]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[40]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[41]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[42]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[43]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[44]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[45]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[46]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[47]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[48]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[49]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[50]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[51]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[52]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[53]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[54]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[55]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[56]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[57]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[58]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[59]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[60]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[61]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[62]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[63]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[64]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[65]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[66]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[67]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[68]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[69]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[70]Enhanced Strong’s Lexicon, (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.) 1995.

[71]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[72]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[73]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[74]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[75]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[76]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[77]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[78]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[79]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[80]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[81]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[82]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[83]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[84]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[85]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[86] Marvin L. Galbreath, 20 Centuries of Christianity, Winona, Lake IN: Light and Life Press)1970, p. 30

[87]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[88]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[89]Enhanced Strong’s Lexicon, (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.) 1995.

[90]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[91]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[92]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[93]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[94]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[95]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[96]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[97]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[98]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[99]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[100]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[101]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[102]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[103]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[104]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[105]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[106]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[107]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[108]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[109]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[110]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[111]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[112]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[113]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[114]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[115]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[116]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[117]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[118]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[119]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[120]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[121]Enhanced Strong’s Lexicon, (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.) 1995.

[122]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[123] Martin Luther, stanzas 3 and 4 as quoted from Jesus Freaks (Tulsa, OK: Albury Pub) 1999. p. 264

[124]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[125]Jerry Falwell, executive editor; Edward E. Hinson and Michael Kroll Woodrow, general editors, KJV Bible commentary [computer file], electronic ed., Logos Library System, (Nashville: Thomas Nelson) 1997, c1994.

[126]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[127]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[128] Marvin L. Galbreath, 20 Centuries of Christiainity, (Winona Lake, IN: Light and Life Press) 1970. p. 30-31

[129]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[130] Pastor Chuck Smith, audiotape #8009 (Word For Today, P.O. Box 8000, Costa Mesa, CA 92628)

[131]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[132]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.

[133]The Holy Bible, New King James Version, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc.) 1982.