Preparing the Ground
And also I have withholden the rain from you, when there were yet three months to the harvest, Amos 4:7.
In the Parable of the Sower the seed never changes. The man doing the sowing never changes his method. It is the ground itself that determined what happened to the seed. It is that fourth category of ground that brings forth fruit. But that on the good ground are they, which in an honest and good heart, having heard the word, keep it, and bring forth fruit with patience, Luke 8:15. If any of my readers are truly weary of the incredible unfruitfulness of today's soul winning, and truly seek for ways to affect the community wherein they live, I believe that my last post, this one and the few to follow can help you.
Theories don't butter your bread. They don't win souls. They are fun to argue about on social media and they can advance you with your peers, but after a while, you need to roll up your sleeves and work. Our opening verse from Amos depicted a time in which the harvest was being held back. Do I have a reader so foolish that you would rush out and tell Amos's listeners that the fields were white to the harvest?
If you want to be fruitful and actually see change in your community because of your church, and you actually want to see people who are broken in sin receive grace and truth through Jesus Christ, and if you want to see them manifest that change in the congregation, you need to rethink your approach. Since the heart is desperately wicked (Jeremiah 17:9,10), how can an unbeliever have that good and honest heart that Jesus described in Luke 8:15?
The unbeliever can have that heart if the soul winner works with the Holy Ghost to prepare that heart. So then neither is he that planteth any thing, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase, 1st Corinthians 3:7. There is labor to be performed before God gives the increase.
When the Apostle Paul entered into a community to evangelize it, he entered the synagogue first. In that synagogue he found men and women, both Jew and Gentile who had been learning the precepts of the laws of God. They showed evidence of a fear of God. It was of just this sort of person that Jesus Christ spoke when he said, The harvest truly is plenteous, but the labourers are few, Mark 9:37.
Where could a soul winner go today to find any equivalent group of people wherein laborers had planted seed and watered it? That was a rhetorical question. If a soul winner wants to find ground made ready for the good news of Jesus Christ in the 21st century, he had better labor with the Holy Ghost to prepare such ground.
Let's be practical. With very few exceptions in Western society, there is not any community prepared for the gospel of Jesus Christ. Why?
They don't believe the bible. The public schools purged the bible from their curriculum over a half century ago. Sunday schools and Christian schools have taught that the real bible hasn't been perfect for almost 2000 years.
People today have no concept of their sin. All the ways of a man are clean in his own eyes; but the LORD weigheth the spirits, Proverbs 16:2.
People today do not believe Moses. Speaking of Moses, Jesus said; But if ye believe not his writings, how shall ye believe my words? John 5:47.
People are caught up in peer pressure. How can ye believe, which receive honour one of another, and seek not the honour that cometh from God only? John 5:44.
If you really want to make a difference and you really are sick of fruitless professions, you need to take a more long term approach. It took William Carey 7 years to get his first Hindu to convert. The Moravians worked with John Wesly for a few years before they got him to trust Jesus Christ. Charles Spurgeon testified of months of conviction prior to finding relief in Christ Jesus. The people we meet today are closer to the Hindus of William Carey's India than the sinners of 18th and 19th century England. There is much work needed to prepare the soil.
Teach people that there really is a bible. If by the grace of God you are really a King James Bible believer, use that to the advantage of the gospel. Teach them what just about every Englishman, New Zealander, Australian, Canadian and American believed from their youth up from the mid 1600s to the mid 1900s. The King James Bible is the word of God. God really does speak to people.
That will take time. The myths of the new versions and the myth of evolution are deeply ingrained. I can assure you that they will work hard against the ability of your hearers to ever believe the word of God. I don't take much time on the evolution thing. I dismiss it with the statement that I don't believe in 2 celled creatures. For that matter, I don't believe in 4 celled, 8 celled, 16 celled or 32 celled creatures.
A man from my ministry who showed up here 7 or 8 years ago in the midst of an adulterous relationship and had little prior church experience began to take the preaching seriously. He had a typical bachelor's degree and it occured to me that his belief in evolution was strangling his ability to trust the scriptures. He didn't believe Moses. I told him one day to research 2 celled creatures. He has bible salvation today. He is married in honor. He is a trustee in our church. He has a calling to preach and never misses church.
His research into 2 celled creatures showed him the impossibility of evolution. He began to understand that he had been created and that he had sinned against his creator. The bible became easier to believe. I received a text from his wife one day in which she asked me to pray for him because he was locked in his room with a bible and was in agony for his soul. (His testimony).
Do you have the patience to add people to your congregation of listeners who are not fully settled but are willing and ready to listen? Can you wait until the Holy Ghost has broken down their unbelief, their pride and and has caused them to tremble before the law they spurned ('til my guilty soul imploring turned to calvary.)?
The theorists will scoff at all of this. Sitting with them is like sitting with a deer hunter who uses an imaginary gun. We all pretend that the McDonalds hamburger we are eating is venison steak. We all pretend that the empty wall is actually filled with mounted deer antlers. Somehow today, deer are different.
If you want to be effective you will need to stand against your peers. You will need to endure their criticisms as you patiently wait for your Hindu to have his heart made into good soil. You will need to ignore all of the critics who mock while your John Wesley wonders whether or not he has real salvation. It took me four years to get my first convert at the Black Creek Baptist Church. It took an additional 6 months for his wife to find relief in Christ. (Read this) (and this).
In that time I endured many doubters. Today, that same couple operate Liberty Behind Bars. Dale has a doctorate in Christian Counseling and has an active, vibrant prison ministry.
What is the classic definition of insanity? Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. If you truly want change and you truly want to see your church grow through changed lives, get ahold of Evangelist Timothy McVey's podcast. For I have no man likeminded, who will naturally care for your state, Philippians 2:20. He has become an essential and integrated part of the work of God at the Black Creek Baptist Church. We have him in a minimum of 3 times a year. God has blessed him with the ability to take your church right where it is and to move it ever so slightly without blowing people away. Get your people listening.