LUKE 10:1-12 PRINCETON CHRISTIAN CHURCH 29 MAY 2022
In today’s world of technology, we have an abundance of information at our fingertips. If we are presented with a task but lack the know-how to accomplish it, we need only say, “I’ll Google it to find how to get it done.” Just Google and there you have everything you need to get the job done.
In the Gospel of Luke, chapter 10, verse 2 Jesus presented to seventy people to do the work of evangelizing the world. He sent them out in pairs of two, two by two to every city where He intended to go to proclaim the good news of the Gospel. These people did not have the advantage we have today to Google anything we need help with.
But, in fact, they had something better. They had Jesus Himself instructing them on how to evangelize the people in the cities where He would send them. These were random assignments to specific cities. Jesus gave them specific instructions on where to go, and what to say. He even told them what not to take with them – no money, no bag, no shoes, and do not talk to anyone on the way. The message apparently was to be given to certain people in certain cities.
Now Jesus was sending these 72 for one purpose. That is, to grow the church of Jesus Christ. Jesus was concerned about the growth of the body of Christ in these cities where the disciples would go and teach about Jesus.
So, how did they, and we, in today’s world, work to grow the church? How do you grow a church? There is no single or simple answer to that question. Yet, at the same time, this question should be a major concern for every congregation. As Jesus was concerned about the growth of His kingdom, so every congregation must be as well.
Let us look now at what Jesus says in verse 2 of Luke chapter 10. He talks about the harvest. When He speaks of this harvest, He is not speaking about harvesting grain or the growth of other food products. The harvest Jesus speaks about here is the people around us. When we go about working in the harvest, and give ourselves fully to the work of discipleship, the result will be seen in both the numerical and, more importantly, the spiritual growth of the church.
People in the world are searching for truth. Their lives are vacuums waiting to be filled – filled with something of direction and purpose for their lives. And most of the time they are searching for that direction and purpose in all the wrong places.
There are multiple self-help books, articles, and counselors out there in the world who know nothing of the guidance and understanding which can be gained simply by bringing the problems which overwhelm them to Jesus. And, from those misguided, non-Christian advisors, people walk away with nothing of any substance. Just another man-concocted method that is expected to cure all that person’s ability to deal with whatever situation he or she is going through.
The approach and instruction which Jesus gave the 72 is this: the vacuum existing in people’s lives will be filled by the evangelists feeding the hungry with the truth. That is the instruction Jesus gave to those workers, and it is the instruction He gives us today as the church – His Body.
Of course, it is logical to assume that any one of us cannot adequately speak about a subject that we do not know or understand. If a person is going to speak boldly and with confidence about his Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, it is absolutely essential for him to have a good working knowledge of the New Testament. Particularly, in regard to God’s plan of redeeming His people through His Son, Jesus Christ.
God’s truth to mankind is revealed through the life and teachings of Jesus. That truth is recorded in the New Testament.
Church growth depends on the Authority of that Word, not on the authority of human experiences. On the Authority of the Word, the Christian can say, “I believe.” He can say, “I know.” But, when anyone relies on the authority of man, that person can only say, “I feel.” And you know, how what we feel can often get us into some trouble or tough situations which become impossible to escape from.
Bill Bright, who was president of Campus Crusade for Christ has said: “Emotions have come and gone through the years – I have had moments of great joy, times of great enthusiasm and spiritual awareness, and I have experienced moments of sorrow and disappointment – but I do not depend upon these feelings, for they can be very deceiving. The very act of seeking an emotional experience, therefore, contradicts the very thing that pleases God. Faith is another word for trust, and our faith must be placed in the person of God and in His holy, inspired Word rather than in our feelings.
The first-century church grew because the Christians believed with all their heart in the Messiahship of Jesus, and they spiritually conditioned their lives to fulfill His commission – “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all the nations.
Let’s look now at some of the spiritual conditions which were a part of the church’s growth in the beginnings of the church. These can and should be the spiritual conditions that will cause growth in the Church of Jesus Christ in 2022.
The first spiritual condition is DEVOTION.
The early Christians were devoted to the Lordship of Jesus Christ. Devotion is defined as “being solemnly set apart for service to and honor for God. Christians belong to God. We are set apart to build the Kingdom of God on earth. Our devotion is measured by answering the question: “Who is Jesus and what does that mean to me?”
The difference between the truly converted Christian and the mediocre church member lies in the degree of devotion that person to Christ. As the bride is devoted to her bridegroom, so the church is called to be devoted to her Lord.
The second spiritual condition is DESIRE.
The first-century disciples were motivated by the desire to increase the Kingdom on earth. The qualities of love and compassion gave the early Christians the inward desire to seek lost souls and see them restored to God.
Jesus taught His disciples to love God with all their heart. The desire that promotes church growth encloses all these areas of our lives – our hearts, our souls, and our minds.
Churches grow when Christians genuinely desire to learn, teach, sacrifice, serve, give, forgive, and love as Christ loves His church.
The third spiritual condition is DEPENDENCE.
The early church grew because the disciples became dependent upon God. They trusted totally in Him. They knew what the Psalmist meant when he wrote, “Trust in the Lord.” They knew what the prophet Isaiah meant when he said, “Trust in the Lord forever, for in God the Lord, we have an everlasting rock.” They practiced the teaching of the prophet Jeremiah who preached this with a conviction of its truth: “Cursed is the man who trusts in mankind and makes flesh his strength, and whose heart turns away from the Lord. Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord and whose trust IS the Lord. “
The church today is instructed to trust in the power and promises of God as revealed in Christ. Jesus said, “Lo, I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
This personal trust and confidence in God’s mercy through His Son is basic to the nature and meaning of faith. When this trust deepens, faith increases – and churches grow.
The fourth spiritual condition is DETERMINATION.
The church pictured in the book of Acts grew because the disciples were determined to succeed for God. The early Christians understood the real meaning of success. And they knew that God’s desire was for the church to grow. And that growth equals success.
They were determined to succeed because Jesus had overcome the world, and He had commissioned His followers to do the same.
So, even in the midst of tribulation and open persecution, these disciples turned the world upside down, evangelizing the known world of their day, and completely changed the course of human history. We, as disciples following Jesus Christ, are called to do exactly the same thing. Nothing less will bring the world into a knowledge of who Jesus is and what He has done to save the world from destruction.
We live in a world that cares more about things than they care about people. In this world, people are most often measured by the amount of money, power, or fame they possess, rather than by their content and their heart. To overcome such an ill-thought-out conclusion, the church must become determined to succeed for God.
This kind of world-changing success can only come through spiritually conditioning our lives so that we can openly and convincingly proclaim the Gospel to the lost souls who live next door, or who we greet in the marketplace, or workplace.
When Christians are Devoted to Christ, filled with Desire, are Dependent upon the Lord, and are Determined to succeed for God, the church will grow spiritually. And with that spiritual growth will come the addition of souls to Christ and His Church.
Are you ready to accept the challenge to go into the fields ready for harvest? Are you willing to become a disciple, being spiritually conditioned to make a difference in the world in which we live today?