Hover over Romans 1:20-22 for proof of God's existence, and over Matthew 5:27-28 for Judgment Day’s perfect standard. Then hover over John 3:16-18 for what God did, and over Acts 17:30-31 for what to do.

Friday, June 6, 2008

For Christians Only

Once someone becomes a genuine convert, he sees that he has tremendous evangelistic responsibility. He begins to see derivatives of the word “laborer” over and over in Scripture. Jesus spoke of His disciples reaping where they “have not labored” (John 4:37, 38) and of others who “labored in the Lord” (Romans 16:12). We are told that our “labor is not in vain in the Lord” (1 Corinthians 15:58). In 1 Thessalonians 2:9 Paul said, “For you remember, brethren, our labor and toil; for laboring night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you, we preached to you the gospel of God.”

A “laborer” is someone who is prepared to go into the harvest fields and suffer the heat of the noonday sun. He is prepared to sweat for the Lord. It is someone who is willing to apply himself to the irksome task of evangelism, of which Jesus said that there is a shortage.

I believe I know of two major reasons why there is a shortage of laborers. The first is because of a neglected command to pray. Look at what Jesus said: “The harvest truly is great, but the laborers are few; therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest” (Luke 10:2, emphasis added).

Jesus commanded us to pray for laborers. But if we are not actively involved in evangelism ourselves, we are not going to pray for laborers--our conscience would condemn us. How could we ask God to raise up people to do the job we are refusing to do? So the enemy gets a double victory. Not only do we not labor for the gospel, but we don’t even pray for others to become laborers.

The second reason for the lack of laborers is that we fear the reproach of the gospel. We want the praise of men more than the praise of God, so we busy ourselves in anything but reaching out to the lost.

Moses felt the same fear when God told him to deliver the captives of Israel from the hand of Egypt. When he asked, “Who shall I say sent me?” God told him to say “I AM” sent him. But that wasn’t enough for Moses, and it’s easy to understand why.

When we speak to the lost, we want more than “God sent me to tell you something.” The world is full of people who say that they were sent by God. Jehovah’s Witnesses say that they are His representatives on earth, that I AM sent them. So do Mormons. They claim that they represent God. Muslims say a similar thing; and there are myriad cults, strange sects, and weirdoes who say that they are speaking for God.

So, God asked Moses, “What is that in your hand?” It was a rod that Moses held in his hand.

Perhaps you didn’t give any thought to the fact that you also have it in your hand to do as you please. You do hold to the Law, don’t you? Do you think that it is good? Is it right for the Law to forbid murder, stealing, lying, and adultery? Of course, you hold to it. We cannot fault the Moral Law. As the Bible says, it is perfect, holy, just, and good (see Psalm 19:7; Romans 7:12). Perhaps you’ve never really thought much about the Law (the Ten Commandments) or of the fact that you could do anything evangelistic with them. You have simply used them to steady yourself morally in your Christian walk, and to fend off the enemy’s attacks. You know that to transgress any of the Law’s precepts—to lie, or covet, or steal, or commit adultery—is to “give place to the devil.”

But, as you study Scripture, you will see that the Law can be turned into something radically different. It can be used to bring to this world “the knowledge of sin” (Romans 3:20). It can be used as a “schoolmaster” to bring sinners to Christ (see Galatians 3:24). Jesus, Paul and others cast it down to be a serpent to guilty sinners—to be a convincing sign that God had sent them. (See my book What Did Jesus Do?)

So, do what Moses did. Simply cast it down before the feet of a sinful world and watch what it does. It this case, seeing is believing. The Law bites into the human conscience. It has power to bring death. This is what it did for Paul in his own life. In Romans 7 he explained how the Law showed him the true nature of sin—that it was exceedingly sinful. It produced evidence of his guilt and then it passed its terrible sentence. The Law condemned him to death. With Paul, the serpent had a fatal bite:

“I was alive once without the law, but when the commandment came, sin revived and I died. And the commandment, which was to bring life, I found to bring death” (Romans 7:9,10).

The Law of God plagues a guilty sinner in the same way civil law plagues a guilty criminal. A murderer has little concern if he thinks that he has outwitted the law. But the moment it puts steal handcuffs on his wrists, it produces a justifiable fear. It arrests him and forces him to the just retribution of the hangman’s noose.

That’s why we mustn’t allow the world to think for a moment that it has outwitted God’s Law. They must be made to understand that the Judge of the Universe will bring every work to judgment, including every secret thing, whether it is good or evil (see Ecclesiastes 12:14). And the way to convince them that what you are saying is true is to simply cast the rod at their feet. That’s all you have to do. God will do the rest. He will do a miracle by turning the dead, inanimate rod of the Law into a living and fiery serpent (see John 16:8).

The rod of Moses gave him courage. It was the sign that I AM was with him. What more could we want than that—to have God co-labor with us as we reach out to the lost? So take what is in your hand, and with the help of God labor in the gospel while there is still time. We sure need you.