The Harvest of the Redeemed

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Understanding Bible Doctrine

Laboring in the Fields of the Lord

March 23, 2009

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"The harvest truly is plenteous ..." (Matthew 9:37 KJV)

The Laborers are Few - Matthew 9:37-38 (KJV)

    In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus instructs His Disciples that although many will be Saved, there will be very few who work to spread the Gospel.  Jesus instructs them to pray to God that He will inspire more people to sow the Word:

37 Then saith He unto His disciples, "The harvest truly is plenteous, but the labourers are few;" 
38 "Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that He will send forth labourers into His harvest."

Gathering Fruit for Life Eternal - John 4:35-38 (NASB)

    Though it was nearly 2,000 years ago, Jesus encouraged His Disciples to immediately begin sowing the Word.  Though Salvation is not and cannot be accomplished by works, there are immediate and eternal rewards for winning people to Christ.  The "fruit for life eternal" is the one investment in life that cannot be taken away by rising interest rates, stock market corrections or even death.  Christians can make an eternal investment in the Kingdom of God.  There is much work to be done and the time is now:

35 "Do you not say, 'There are yet four months, and then comes the harvest?' Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes and look on the fields, that they are white for harvest." 
36 "Already he who reaps is receiving wages and is gathering fruit for life eternal; so that he who sows and he who reaps may rejoice together." 
37 "For in this case the saying is true, 'One sows and another reaps.'" 
38 "I sent you to reap that for which you have not labored; others have labored and you have entered into their labor."

The Parable Proclaimed Publicly - Mark 4:3-9 (NASB)

    In the Gospel according to Mark, Jesus presents the teaching of seed sown into four different kinds of soil.  Teaching from a boat to a crowd on the shore, Jesus presents a challenge to His listeners:

3 Listen to this! Behold, the Sower went out to sow; 
4 as He was sowing, some seed fell beside the road, and the birds came and ate it up. 
5 Other seed fell on the rocky ground where it did not have much soil; and immediately it sprang up because it had no depth of soil. 
6 And after the sun had risen, it was scorched; and because it had no root, it withered away. 
7 Other seed fell among the thorns, and the thorns came up and choked it, and it yielded no crop. 
8 Other seeds fell into the good soil, and as they grew up and increased, they yielded a crop and produced thirty, sixty, and a hundredfold. 
9 And He was saying, 'He who has ears to hear, let him hear.'

The Parable Presented Privately - Mark 4:10-20 (NASB)

    Many followers of Jesus, including the Twelve Disciples, asked Him to explain the mystery presented in the parables.  Here the meaning is made quite clear.  God is the first sower of the Word:  The Reconciliation of Mankind to Himself in Christ - The Gospel.  The "Word" is the Gospel of Christ.

    The first soil (verse 15) is the unbeliever who never comprehends the Gospel at all because Satan has blinded his or her spiritual understanding (2nd Corinthians 4:3-4).  The second soil (verses 16-17) is the fair-weather believer, who cannot retain the Gospel when it's unpopular.  The third soil (verses 18-19) are those who hear the Word and begin to act on it, but become so entangled with their private lives that they are unable to bear fruit.  The fourth soil (verse 20) are those who hear the Word, understand the Word and spread the Word, winning others to the Kingdom of God.  The numbers are presented figuratively to represent an excellent yield (30), a superior yield (60) and an exceptional yield (100):

10 As soon as He was alone, His followers, along with the Twelve, began asking Him about the parables.  
11 And He was saying to them, 'To you has been given the mystery of the Kingdom of God, but those who are outside get everything in parables,' 
12 'so that WHILE SEEING, THEY MAY SEE AND NOT PERCEIVE, AND WHILE HEARING, THEY MAY HEAR AND NOT UNDERSTAND, OTHERWISE THEY MIGHT RETURN AND BE FORGIVEN.' 
13 And He said to them, 'Do you not understand this parable? How will you understand all the parables?' 
14 'The Sower sows the Word.' 
15 'These are the ones who are beside the road where the Word is sown; and when they hear, immediately Satan comes and takes away the Word which has been sown in them.' 
16 'In a similar way these are the ones on whom seed was sown on the rocky places, who, when they hear the Word, immediately receive it with joy;' 
17 'and they have no firm root in themselves, but are only temporary; then, when affliction or persecution arises because of the Word, immediately they fall away.' 
18 'And others are the ones on whom seed was sown among the thorns; these are the ones who have heard the Word,' 
19 'but the worries of the world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the desires for other things enter in and choke the Word, and it becomes unfruitful.' 
20 'And those are the ones on whom seed was sown on the good soil; and they hear the Word and accept it and bear fruit, thirty, sixty, and a hundredfold.'

The Wise in the Word - Proverbs 11:30 (NASB)

    Many references to the Gospel are found in the Old Testament as well.  Though the Mystery of Salvation in Christ had not yet been revealed, reconciliation to God was evident.  The Book of Proverbs elucidates:

30 The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life, And he who is wise wins souls. 

Guaranteed by God Himself - Isaiah 55:11 (KJV)

    When God spoke through His prophet Isaiah, He guaranteed that sowers of the Word will not labor in vain:

11 So shall My Word be that goeth forth out of My mouth: it shall not return unto Me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.

Miraculous Supernatural Results - Mark 4:26-29 (NASB)

    Though modern science more thoroughly understands the processes of seed germination and plant growth, Jesus used a simple illustration to explain a complex Truth; as applicable today as 2,000 years ago.  This passage tells us that (1) God will utilize the sown Word, (2) God will provide the increase to the sown and watered (Faith strengthened) Word and (3) God will Harvest a Kingdom of Believers because of the sown Word:

26 And He was saying, 'The Kingdom of God is like a man who casts seed upon the soil;' 
27 'and he goes to bed at night and gets up by day, and the seed sprouts and grows -- how, he himself does not know.' 
28 'The soil produces crops by itself; first the blade, then the head, then the mature grain in the head.' 
29 'But when the crop permits, he immediately puts in the sickle, because the Harvest has come ...'

All Glory Goes to God - 1st Corinthians 3:6-9 (NASB)

    Writing to the Christian Church at Corinth, the Apostle Paul makes it abundantly clear that his labors and the labors of another Apostle were by the Grace of God.  Apart from the supernatural power of God in Christ, the Christian can accomplish nothing.  Those who labor do not labor in vain:

6 I planted, Apollos watered, but God was causing the growth. 
7 So then neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but God who causes the growth. 
8 Now he who plants and he who waters are one; but each will receive his own reward according to his own labor. 
9 For we are God's fellow workers; you are God's field, God's building.

God Provides the Growth - 2nd Corinthians 9:10 (NASB)

    In his second letter to the Christian Church at Corinth, the Apostle Paul again reassured the Corinthians that God will continue to bless their evangelistic efforts and credit their eternal accounts:

10 Now He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the Harvest of your righteousness;

Work the Works - John 9:4 (KJV)

    Jesus stressed the urgency of His ministry.  Knowing the persecution that would arise because of the Gospel, He made every effort to teach as many as He could.  Today is the Day of Salvation:

4 I must work the works of Him that sent Me, while it is Day: the Night cometh, when no man can work.

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