Help Wanted Anyone Willing
Help Wanted Anyone Willing
: Matthew 9:35-38
Theme: The outreach of many churches suffers because too many church members sit in the pew expecting their pastor to do all the work. In this passage, Jesus reveals three biblical concepts that will challenge us to reconsider our expectations of the pastor as well as our own level of involvement.
Introduction: Real Treasure
An old farmer who was about to die called his two sons to his bedside and said, "My boys, my farm and the fields are yours in equal shares. I leave you a little ready money but the bulk of my wealth is hidden somewhere in the ground, not more than eighteen inches from the surface. I regret that I’ve forgotten precisely where it lies."
When the old man was dead and buried his two sons set to work to dig up every inch of ground in order to find the buried treasure. They failed to find it but as they’d gone to all the trouble of turning over the soil they thought they might as well sow a crop, which they did, reaping a good harvest.
In autumn as soon as they had an opportunity they dug for the treasure again but with no better results. As their fields were turned over more thoroughly than any others in the neighborhood they reaped better harvests than anyone else.
Year after year their search continued. Only when they had grown much older and wiser did they realize what their father had meant. Real treasure comes as a result of hard work. (Source unknown)
The same can be said of the evangelistic efforts of the church; it takes hard work. But hard work alone will not yield a successful harvest of souls. I find that far too many believers seem to think that evangelism is the sole responsibility of the pastor and his staff. And when the number of new converts begins to dwindle, they often complain that the pastor is not working hard enough. As we consider the strategies of Jesus Christ in personal evangelism, we will quickly learn how misguided our expectations of the pastor have become. We will also discover that successful evangelism requires us to do more than just quote the Romans Road and lead a person in a prayer. In Matthew 9:35-38, we find in the ministry of Jesus Christ three biblical concepts that will lead us to successful outreach and evangelism; (1) do ministry, (2) show compassion, and (3) develop a vision. And we will also find that no church can be successful in evangelism unless the entire church joins together to reach their community for Christ.
I. CONCEPT ONE: DO MINISTRY. (Matthew 9:35)
A. The Ministry Of Teaching.
1. The ministry of teaching is primarily directed at believers who need to be established in the faith. (Colossians 2:6-7)
2. Teaching is the primary responsibility of the pastor.
a. A pastor is to be qualified to teach. (1 Timothy 3:2)
i. It is interesting to note that Paul’s list of qualifications for a bishop includes teaching, but not evangelism.
ii. He did tell Timothy to do the work of an evangelist (2 Timothy 4:5), so we understand that evangelism is a responsibility for a pastor, but no more so than for any other believer.
iii. As MacArthur points out, “It is important to note, therefore, that Paul does not call Timothy an evangelist but rather calls him to do the work of an evangelist. In other words, proclaiming the gospel of salvation was an important part of, but was not all of, Timothy’s ministry. As he preached, taught, and pastored those who already belonged to the Lord, he also was to confront the lost--in particular, nominal Christians within the church--with their need of a Savior.” (“The MacArthur New Testament Commentary,” (c) Moody Press and John MacArthur, Jr., 1983-2002)
iv. We conclude, therefore, that teaching, for a pastor, is a greater priority than evangelism.
a) This does not mean that evangelism is unimportant, and something that he never engages in (2 Timothy 4:5).
b) The reason for this priority is that the pastor is to equip the saints for the work of the ministry, and edify the body of Christ. (Ephesians 4:12)
c) Evangelists and pastors/teachers are two distinct groups of people whom God uses in different capacities to edify the church.
d) God blesses the ministry of each according to how they utilize their particular gift.
e) The evangelist edifies the church through his evangelistic gift.
f) The pastor/teacher edifies the church through his teaching gift.
g) When either neglects their gift the church suffers and growth (both personal spiritual growth and numerical growth) is stunted.
b. A pastor is to devote his time to study. (Acts 6:2-4; 2 Timothy 2:15)
i. He must be diligent in his study of the Word of God.
ii. He must handle the Word with integrity.
iii. He must prepare himself to preach in such a way that his presentation of the Word is complete, accurate, and clear.
c. A pastor is to promote sound doctrine. (Titus 2:1-8)
i. He must understand that teaching sound doctrine promotes the spiritual health of his congregation.
ii. Inaccurate doctrine leads to incorrect living, not only in his personal life, but also in the lives of those in his congregation.
iii. When the church fails to practice sound doctrine in their personal lives, their evangelistic efforts will be unfruitful.
d. A pastor is to teach faithful men who will teach others in turn. (2 Timothy 2:2)
i. When a pastor engages in personal evangelism, he only adds to the church.
ii. When he invests himself in the lives of his congregation, engaging in teaching and training others for spiritual growth, including in the area of evangelism, he multiplies the church.
iii. When the pastor is more engaged in personal evangelism than in teaching, the church is not as effective in its outreach.
B. The Ministry Of Preaching. (Luke 4:42-43)
1. The ministry of preaching is primarily directed at those who are unbelievers.
2. Preaching is the second primary responsibility of the pastor. (2 Timothy 4:2)
a. We preach to convince (reprove); to correct wrong behavior or false doctrine.
b. We preach to rebuke; to correct a person’s motives by convicting him of sin and leading him to repentance.
c. We preach to exhort; to encourage and support.
d. We preach to instruct; to teach sound doctrine.
3. Sound biblical preaching begins with the gospel. (1 Corinthians 15:1-4)
4. Preaching will not always be accepted, but it is necessary in order for people to be saved. (1 Corinthians 1:18-21)
C. The Ministry Of Healing.
1. Healing is one of the most misunderstood and misapplied teachings of Scripture.
a. “And by His stripes we are healed” in Isaiah 53:5, and quoted in 1 Peter 2:24, refers primarily to a spiritual healing from the deadly disease of sin.
i. There is an application to physical healing, but the realization of complete physical healing only comes when we are glorified in heaven.
ii. Sickness is the result of sin.
iii. In eternity, all sickness will be removed.
iv. Therefore, ultimate physical healing is included in the atonement, but will not be fully realized in heaven.
b. Jesus performed physical healing in His ministry on earth as a sign of confirmation to the Jews that He was the Messiah. (1 Corinthians 1:22; cp. John 2:18)
c. For this same purpose, healing was included in the apostolic sign gifts. (1 Corinthians 12:9)
i. When Paul turned the focus of his ministry from the Jews to the Gentiles (Acts 13:46), the sign gifts were no longer necessary. (The Gentiles sought for wisdom, not miraculous signs - 1 Corinthians 1:22).
ii. All of the sign gifts vanished with the death of the apostles, and preaching and teaching became the primary tools of ministry.
iii. Paul instructed Timothy to drink wine for his stomach troubles and for his frequent illnesses. (1 Timothy 5:23)
d. While no person truly has the ability to heal through the laying on of hands today, we cannot discount the fact that God, in His infinite wisdom and omnipotence, does choose to heal individuals of various diseases and afflictions when it suits His purpose to do so.
i. When we assert that physical healing is a sign gift of the past, we do not question the omnipotence of God.
ii. God chooses when and to whom He will grant physical healing. (Luke 4:25-27)
iii. He only chooses to do so when it according to His divine purpose.
iv. He often uses modern medical technology to accomplish it.
v. Everyone who is granted physical healing will eventually die anyway. (Hebrews 9:27)
vi. Who has more faith, the one who cannot continue in their walk with God unless they are granted miraculous healing, or the one who finds strength to endure suffering while maintaining their confidence and hope in God?
2. We perform the ministry of healing today by taking care of the physical, mental, and emotional needs of those who hurt and suffer. (James 2:15-16)
3. We heal through the process of restoration when a fellow believer has been overcome by sin. (Galatians 6:1)
4. We heal by bearing one another’s burdens. (Galatians 6:2)
5. We heal when we encourage one another, warning those who are unruly, comforting the fainthearted, and upholding the weak. (1 Thessalonians 5:14)
6. We heal when we bring someone back from error, preventing their fall into apostasy. (James 5:19)
7. Most importantly, though, we provide for someone’s spiritual healing, and their ultimate physical healing, when we lead a lost soul to Jesus Christ in saving faith.
II. CONCEPT TWO: SHOW COMPASSION. (Matthew 9:36)
Illustration: Someone Who Understands
A farmer made a sign advertising some puppies he had for sale. As he was nailing the sign to the post in his yard, he felt a tug on his overalls. He looked down and saw a little boy with a big grin and something in his hand.
"Mister," he said, "I want to buy one of your puppies."
The farmer replied, "These puppies come from fine parents and cost a great deal of money."
The boy dropped his head for a moment, looked back up at the farmer, and said, "I’ve got 39 cents. Is that enough to take a look?"
"Sure," said the farmer. Then he whistled and called out: "Dolly! Come here, Dolly!"
Out from the doghouse and down the ramp ran Dolly, followed by four little balls of fur. The little boy’s eyes lit up with glee. Then out from the doghouse came another little furry ball, but this one was much smaller. Down the ramp it slipped in a feeble attempt to catch up with the others. It hobbled because it was born with two badly deformed hind legs.
The little boy looked at the puppy and said, "I want that puppy."
The farmer knelt down and said: "Son, you don’t want that puppy. He will never be able to run and play like the other little dogs."
The little boy reached down and slowly pulled up one leg of his pants. He revealed a steel brace attached to a specially made shoe. He looked up at the farmer and said, "Mister, I’ll never be able to run with the other boys either, and that little puppy will need somebody who understands."
People are like the puppy. They need someone who understands. (Source unknown)
A. We Need To Show Compassion To Weary Believers.
Note: Weary (Matthew 9:36): to falter, grow weary, lose heart, lack courage, be fainthearted, bewildered. The word is used when a person has struggled and struggled against sin, or stood against the barrage of insult after insult until he can stand no more. It means that a person has undergone trial after trial until he is ready to collapse. (The Preacher’s Outline And Sermon Bible: Matthew 1. Leadership Ministries Worldwide. Chattanooga, TN. p. 225.)
1. Believers grow weary laboring in the vineyard. (Galatians 6:9)
a. The words “grow weary” and “lose heart” both convey the idea of becoming exhausted and giving up.
b. The few believers who are willing to serve often suffer from burnout and quit before the task is completed.
c. There are two ways we can avoid spiritual burnout: 1) enlist more workers to help share the load, and 2) recognize the common factors that lead to burnout.
i. Attempting too much in our own strength. (Matthew 11:28-29) Jesus enables us to complete the tasks He has given us.
ii. Assuming responsibility that is not ours. (1 Corinthians 3:5-8) Our responsibility is to witness – God produces the harvest.
iii. Trying to use gifts we do not have. (1 Peter 4:10-11) God will only bless our efforts as we utilize the gifts He gave us.
iv. Not knowing when to stop and rest. (1 Kings 19:5-8) There is no such thing a “Super Christian”.
2. Believers grow weary battling sin and temptation. (1 Peter 5:8-10; Luke 22:31-32)
a. Satan will do everything in his power to devour us and destroy our witness.
b. He will bring about all kinds of calamity and confusion in order to weaken our faith.
c. The true measure of a Christian is not how well he endures temptation, but how well he handles those times when he falls.
d. The successful Christian is not one who never stumbles, but one who refuses to stay down.
3. Believers grow weary battling each other. (John 8:10-11;Galatians 6:1-3)
a. This is a sad commentary about how we often treat one another as we serve the Lord together.
b. We’re too often guilty of shooting our wounded rather than loving them back to health.
c. Brotherly love should continue, even when a believer falls into egregious sin.
d. Failure to do so raises serious questions about our relationship with God.
i. Anyone who does not love his brother is not of God. (1 John 3:10)
ii. Anyone who does not love his brother abides in death. (1 John 3:14)
iii. Anyone who does not love his brother does not love God. (1 John 4:20-21)
B. We Need To Show Compassion To Weary Non-Believers.
Note: Scattered: to be cast out, laid low, thrown down, prostrated, dejected and hopeless. Being scattered may come from experiences such as drunkenness, or struggling and fighting within and without, or being so weary that a person is just cast down. It is being prostrated by forces outside of oneself. (The Preacher’s Outline And Sermon Bible: Matthew 1. Leadership Ministries Worldwide. Chattanooga, TN. p. 225.)
1. We should consider the physical needs of those who do not know Christ. (Mark 8:1-3)
a. We should heed the saying, “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.”
b. Though the spiritual needs are far greater, the physical needs must be considered first.
c. “Jesus loves you” is only empty words to a child who goes to bed hungry.
d. Walking with the Lord becomes nearly impossible for one who has no shoes.
e. The love of Jesus may need to be manifested in a warm meal or a pair of shoes before it can be realized in a cold, sinful heart.
2. We should consider the spiritual needs of those who do not know Christ. (John 3:18; 36)
a. Unbelievers stand condemned for their unbelief.
b. The wrath of God abides on them because their sins have not been paid for.
c. Unseen destruction will come upon them if they do not repent. (Matthew 38-39)
d. We are not responsible for their unbelief, but we are responsible if we fail to witness. (Ezekiel 33:8-9)
III. CONCEPT THREE: DEVELOP A VISION. (Matthew 9:37-38)
A. The Harvest Is Plentiful. (John 4:35)
1. The fields are already white for harvest because God is always at work.
2. The only reason we can’t see it is because we refuse to look.
3. Harvest time is now. (2 Corinthians 6:2)
B. The Laborers Are Few. (Isaiah 6:8)
Illustration: Cast In A Line For Yourself
A poor, hungry man stood idly on a bridge watching some fishermen. Seeing one of them with a basket full of fish by his side, he said, "if I had a catch like that, I’d be happy. I’d sell it and buy some food and clothes."
"I’ll give you that many fish if you do a small favor for me," said the fisherman.
"What do you want me to do?" came the reply.
"Just tend this line a while. I’ve got some business down the street."
Gladly the young man accepted the offer. After the man left, the trout and bass continued snapping greedily at the baited hook. Soon he lost all his depression in the excitement of pulling in a large number of fish.
When the angler returned, he said to the young man, "I’ll keep my promise to you by giving you everything you’ve caught. And I hope you’ve learned a lesson. You mustn’t waste time daydreaming and merely wishing for things. Instead, get busy and cast in a line for yourself." (Source unknown.)
1. Jesus needs workers to reap the harvest.
2. There is an unlimited amount of work to be done, but there are so few to do it.
3. The church that sits around expecting their pastor to do it all is missing an abundant reward. (John 4:36)
C. Pray For Laborers. (Matthew 9:38)
1. It seems strange that we would need to pray for laborers when so many claim to know Christ. (Luke 6:46-49)
2. Jesus’ compassion for the lost should serve as our example. (Matthew 23:37)
3. Our commitment to Jesus Christ as Lord should compel us to work in the fields. (Matthew 25:44-45)
Conclusion: Acts 16:9-10
“And a vision appeared to Paul in the night. A man of Macedonia stood and pleaded with him, saying, ‘Come over to Macedonia and help us.’ Now after he had seen the vision, immediately we sought to go to Macedonia, concluding that the Lord had called us to preach the gospel to them.”
Pastor Chuck Baldwin has written:
“A pastor is never ‘off duty.’ He is literally on the job ‘twenty-four seven.’ For example, I cannot remember the last time my wife and I took a real vacation. It is even hard for me to remember the last time that I had a single day away from work, much less an entire week.
“In addition, a pastor’s work is, for the most part, vastly under-estimated and under-appreciated. And on the whole, his pay is barely adequate.
His wife and children live under microscopes and virtually everyone lays claim to his time.
“Furthermore, pastors are some of the most criticized and denigrated people on the planet! They constantly find themselves at the butt end of jokes and sarcasm from unbelievers and are even castigated and harangued by people within the church.
“Therefore, it is no wonder that pastors are leaving the ranks at record numbers and are wandering from church to church like gypsies. No wonder so many pastors’ children turn out bad, and no wonder so many pastors are having stress-induced heart attacks” (http://www.renewamerica.us/columns/baldwin/050510).
Pastor Baldwin’s observations, and those of many of his colleagues, may be attributable to the “Pareto Principle.” The “Pareto Principle,” also known as the “80-20 Rule,” states that, for many events, 80% of the effects comes from 20% of the causes. Practically applied to churches, one will observe that 80% of the work is accomplished by 20% of the people. The numbers will vary, of course, from one local congregation to another, but the principle remains intact overall. That being the case, we can understand why so many churches fail in their outreach efforts, and why so many pastors are inundated with unresolved to-do lists and dissatisfied church members.
It is time for pastors to issue their own Macedonian Call: “Get off the pew and help us.” And it is time for congregations to become proactive in the ministries of the church. But before that can happen, there are three things the church as a whole must understand. First is the biblically defined role of the pastor. He is to be the spiritual leader, preaching and teaching the doctrines of the Bible. For this, he needs ample time to study the Scriptures so that he can completely and accurately convey the Word of God in a way that it can be thoroughly understood and practically applied. This is his primary responsibility.
Then, we must come to understand and recognize the need for a plurality of elders. It will take more than a single pastor to successfully meet the needs of the church. This was the pattern established by the early church (Acts 14:23) who appointed elders (plural) in every church.
Finally, we must acknowledge the responsibility of every church member in performing ministry. Yes, God calls a pastor to fill an office, but he calls each and every one of us to take an active part in fulfilling the Great Commission and the Great Commandment.