PULPIT TODAY SERMONS
Robert D. Pace
1 Corinthians 15:1 2
The Bible describes Christianity as dynamic and energetic. There’s nothing lethargic about it. The New Testament uses action-packed verbs to depict the Christian lifestyle. Words like “fight, run, contend, seize, expend, exercise, and labor.” Although Christianity offers inner repose, it’s not a life of leisure.
One of the grand commands of Christ that illustrates the energy of Christianity is found in the Great Commission. Jesus commanded Believers to “go” to reap the harvest. Jesus also told Believers to “compel” the unsaved to enter His House. The word “compel” means “to tear people from Satan’s clutches.” That’s action! Luke entitled the New Testament’s historical account of Christianity as “Acts of the Apostles,” which indicates the dynamism the Holy Spirit infuses into Christian living. The reason First Century Christians accomplished so much for Christ is because they made themselves available to the Holy Spirit and cooperated with His plan.
It’s these Christians, the “doers” of the Word, that Satan so fiercely fights. He seeks to dispirit, dissuade, and hinder their work for Christ. The reason Satan so frequently uses discouragement against Christians is because He knows its repercussions. It produces a downcast spirit that begets resigning from our place in the Kingdom. That’s why you should carefully examine your reason for discontinuing any Kingdom work. Make certain it is God directing you to relinquish your assignment and not mere frustration or discouragement. That Bible has charged Christians with divine orders to persevere and finish the race!
(Illustration) Golfers have a maxim that’s occasionally used on the putting green. “You can’t sink a putt, short.” Here’s what that means: a golfer can never putt the ball into the hole without stroking it hard enough to reach the hole. That’s why excellent golfers frequently putt to the “pro” side of the hole (past the hole) rather than the short side. Similarly, Christians must aim for the “pro” side of Christian living and never allow discouragement to cause you to fall short. We must persevere in the face of all obstacles.
(Transition) This sermon deals with three reasons Christians should not quit. First, Christians must not quit because only the overcomers are crowned. Secondly, Christians must not quit because God uses people to accomplish His plans. And Third, Christians must not quit because a harvest awaits every faithful worker.
I. Christians Must Not Quit Because Only the Overcomers are Crowned
Jesus said in Luke 9:62: “No one that puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.” Those are strong words uttered from the “Lord of the harvest.” But Christ phrased it that way because He knew that the Father would only reward those that endured.
I like the anecdote that says, “Winners never quit and quitters never win.” Amen! The same holds true in the Kingdom of God. Salvation belongs to those that “endure to the end” (Revelation 3). That’s because the Christian Race is not a 100-meter dash; it’s a marathon! Winning a marathon requires endurance and running the race with patience. And for Christians, this involves believing, trusting, hoping, persevering, and obeying that claims the victor’s crown.
In the book of Revelation Christ addressed the seven Churches of Asia Minor. Each Church received a similar exhortation from the Lord. To paraphrase Christ’s words, He told them to “never give up.” Let me show you:
To the Church at Ephesus Jesus said: “You have persevered and have endured hardships for my name, and have not grown weary. (7) . . . To him who overcomes, I will give the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God (2:3, 7).
To the Church at Smyrna He said: “Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you the crown of life (2:10).
To the Church at Pergamum He said: “To him who overcomes, I will give some of the hidden manna” (2:17).
To the Church at Thyatira He said: “To him who overcomes and does my will to the end, I will give authority over the nations” (2:26).
To the Church at Sardis He said: “He who overcomes will, like them, be dressed in white. I will never blot out his name from the book of life, but will acknowledge his name before my Father and his angels” (3:4).
To the Church at Philadelphia He said: “Him who overcomes I will make a pillar in the temple of my God” (3:12).
To the Church at Laodicea He said: “To him who overcomes, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I overcame and sat down with my Father on his throne” (3:21).
Jesus promised His reward to those that remained faithful to the end! He promised the crown of life to those that finished the race!
(Illustration) Florence Chadwick was an American long distance swimmer that was inducted into the International Swimming Hall of Fame in 1970. Her two most famous accomplishments included swimming the English Channel and the twenty-one miles from Catalina Island to Los Angeles. Chadwick failed in her first attempt to swim the Catalina Channel and was pulled from the water a mile from the shore. She evaluated her experiences of swimming the two channels. In doing so, she recalled a moment in the English Channel she felt she could swim no farther. But her father, trailing her in a boat, spotted land and that furnished enough inspiration to help her finish. But in her unsuccessful bid to swim to the California coast fog had obscured the view to land. Despite being told land was only one mile away she didn’t believe it and quit. Two months later, after analyzing the facts, she became the first woman to swim the Catalina Channel. What she lacked in her first attempt was not ability, it was perseverance. (Grolier Electronic Publishing, Incorporated, copyright 1992.)
This is occasionally true for our shortcomings. We believe we lack the strength to finish our course. But God has given you all the power you need to overcome. Besides power from within, He has promised to “never leave nor forsake you”; the angels will constantly support you; and the power of His Word will uphold you.
(Transition) You must not quit because only the overcomers are crowned. But second, Christians cannot quit because, God partners with people to accomplish His plans.
II. God Partners with People to Accomplish His Plans
God’s working on earth is inextricably linked with man’s cooperation. That’s what 1 Corinthians 3:9 says: “We are God’s fellow workers.” Notice those words again: “We are God’s fellow workers.” That is incredible! The Bible says you and I have been teamed with our Creator to accomplish purposes that were ordained from the beginning of time.
This partnership principle between God and man is expressed throughout Scripture. And it’s not because God needs us! The Lord doesn’t have a problem doing anything alone. In fact, Genesis says the simply spoke His Word and the universe appeared! But despite God’s omnipotence, it has always been His design to partner with men (and even angels) to accomplish His purposes. Just remember, God’s ultimate plan will climax unabated with or without you! But our partnership with God gives us the opportunity to receive His blessing. Let me illustrate this:
When God determined to mark the boundaries for Israel He chose Abraham to walk with Him to make the claim.
When Israel needed rescuing from Egypt’s bondage God chose a one man army, Moses, to singlehandedly plague Egypt and lead Pharaoh’s army in the sea. And it was God, through Moses, that supernaturally sustained Israel forty years in the wilderness.
When the 400 prophets of Baal threatened Israel’s welfare, it was God and Elijah that climbed Mount Carmel and destroyed them.
When God revealed His sovereignty to Nebuchadnezzar He called Shadrach, Meschach, and Abednego into the flaming furnace. Noah sailed through the flood but these fellows withstood the fire!
And in the New Testament the testimony is duplicated: It’s Christ’s power and Philip that produced the land slide Samaritan revival.
Jesus teamed up with His apostles. And when He ascended to Heaven He sent the Holy Spirit to walk with us and work with us.
You see, God employs the Principle of Partnership to accomplish His purposes in the earth. And when Christians don’t participate with God, they forfeit His blessing.
I want you to think of the importance of one. One weak link in a chain makes the entire chain vulnerable. An automobile missing one wheel is incapable of transporting. One missing note on an eight-note musical scale is forever incomplete. The list is endless: one missing digit in a phone number; one missing letter in the alphabet; and one missing worker in a corporation fail to complete the equation. And one missing person in God’s Kingdom makes a difference!
Have you noticed that the Old Testament often depicts the Prophets accomplishing their assignments alone or with few others accompanying them? For example: it was Abraham and God; Moses and God; Isaiah and God; Jeremiah and God; and Jonah and God. And today’s Christians need to embrace the same spirit of a Prophet!
(Illustration) Sometime back, during a time of prayer, I asked the Lord when revival would come to America. Here’s what I heard the Holy Spirit plainly say to my heart: “Revival will come when I anoint and release My “Ambassadors of Revival” to this nation. I will divinely select messengers revive My Church in America!” Shortly hearing this “word” the Lord directed me to read Psalm 80. I want you to notice verses 17, 18, and 19. David said, “Let your hand rest on the man at your right hand, the son of man you have raised up for yourself. (18) Then we will not turn away from you; revive us, and we will call on your name. (19) Restore us, O LORD God Almighty; make your face shine upon us, that we may be saved.”
Folks, partnership is God’s divine plan for man. His purposes on earth come to pass as people partner with Him. It’s repeated throughout Scripture:
Matthew 28:19 says: “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, (20) and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
Mark 16:20 says: “the disciples went out and preached everywhere, and the Lord worked with them and confirmed his word by the signs that accompanied it.”
(Transition) Third, Christians must not quit because, a harvest awaits every faithful worker.
III. A Harvest Awaits Every Faithful Worker
John 4:35 says: “Do you not say, ‘Four months more and then the harvest’? I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest. (36) Even now the reaper draws his wages, even now he harvests the crop for eternal life, so that the sower and the reaper may be glad together.”
How does this Scripture affect you? Does it stir any desire to share the saving message of Christ with an unbeliever? Or are you disinterested in it? Does it apply to someone else?
I want to show you three aspects of this passage make it significant:
One, Jesus “the Lord of the harvest” said it! That makes it important.
Two, He uttered it with urgency! There aren’t four months until harvest time, now is the time.
Then three, He commanded Christians to constantly focus on the harvest of souls.
How could it have been emphasized more? The harvest is always ready and our energy must be devoted toward reaching it. Can you honestly say that you have a vision to share the message of Christ with others? Is it part of your goals or Mission Statement? I want you to turn to Acts 26 and let’s examine what Paul called his “heavenly vision.”
The Apostle Paul says: “In this connection I journeyed to Damascus with the authority and commission of the chief priests. (13) At midday, O king, I saw on the way a light from heaven, brighter than the sun, that shone around me and those who journeyed with me. (14) And when we had all fallen to the ground, I heard a voice saying to me in the Hebrew language, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me? It is hard for you to kick against the goads.’ (15) And I said, ‘Who are you, Lord?’ And the Lord said, ‘I am Jesus whom you are persecuting. (16) But rise and stand upon your feet, for I have appeared to you for this purpose, to appoint you as a servant and witness to the things in which you have seen me and to those in which I will appear to you, (17) delivering you from your people and from the Gentiles—to whom I am sending you (18) to open their eyes, so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.’ (19) “Therefore, O King Agrippa, I was not disobedient to the heavenly vision, (20) but declared first to those in Damascus, then in Jerusalem and throughout all the region of Judea, and also to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, performing deeds in keeping with their repentance.”
I want you to notice that without the impartation of a “heavenly vision,” there can be little motivation to work for Christ in His Kingdom. But if you have a vision, and know you have a “heavenly vision,” then it helps you ‘stay your course’.
In conclusion I want to read two Scriptures:
Galatians 6:9 says: “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”
And Paul said in 1 Corinthians 15:58: “Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourself fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.”