This teaching includes a free sermon outline to download for personal use, message preparation or Bible study discussion.
Tape No. I-4380Page
We’re going to make a proclamation which is taken from Isaiah 55:10–11, something like that.
“For as the rain comes down and the snow from heaven, and do not return there but water the earth and make it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower and bread to the eater. So shall my word be that goes forth from my mouth. It shall not return to me void but it shall accomplish what I please and it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.”
My theme is appropriate for this occasion, it is the harvest. I’ve never been much of a farmer, I spent six months in Southern Ireland at the beginning of World War II working on a farm looking after sheep, mending gaps in hedges, separating milk and things like that. But basically my knowledge of farming is strictly limited. I do know enough to say this, that there is a climax to which everything moves forward in agriculture and it is the harvest. Almost everything else that’s done is done for the sake of the harvest.
And that is true also in the spiritual realm. The harvest is the climax. It’s the purpose to which all the other activities of God are directed. In Matthew 13:39 Jesus makes a simple but important statement. It’s part of the interpretation of the parable of the wheat and the tares. I just take a few words out of that verse:
“...the harvest is the end of the age.”
It’s very important to bear that in mind. The harvest is the end of the age. This age is not going to come to an anticlimax, God is not the God of the anticlimax. It’s building up to a climax and the climax is the harvest. And basically, all the processes that have been going on in the church for nearly 2,000 years have been ultimately directed toward this climax, the harvest.
There are many things that have to happen before the harvest can be gathered in. I’m not going to deal with all of them but I want to mention one particular one in James 5:7–8.
“Therefore be patient brethren, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, waiting patiently for it until it receives the early and latter rain. You also be patient. Establish your hearts for the coming of the Lord is at hand.”
You’ll see there that the harvest synchronizes with the coming of the Lord. The two are inseparably united. The Lord will come at the completion of the harvest.
James warns us we have to be patient. One of the hardest things for me to be is patient. Over the years the Lord has dealt with me on the subject of impatience. One thing He showed me was impatience is a form of pride. It’s expecting things to go my way rather than God’s way. I’m not a model of patience but I’m certainly a lot more patient than I was say ten years ago. My wife is nodding her head emphatically at that point!
But James points out that the harvest cannot be gathered in until we have had the former and the latter rain. I think this is very important. In the economy of Israel it requires both rains to make the harvest possible. If either rain fails the harvest will fail. The first rain softens the soil so that you can begin the process of agriculture. The second rain causes the seed to germinate. And so, James says it’s true also in the spiritual. Before the harvest can be gathered in we have to have the former or the early, and the latter rain. The early rain normally falls in September or October, the latter rain perhaps in March or sometimes in April. After that it’s full speed ahead into the harvest.
We know from many scriptures that the former rain and the latter rain are scriptural pictures of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. The age began with a major outpouring of the Holy Spirit and it will close and is closing with a major outpouring of the Holy Spirit. And until that outpouring has taken place the harvest cannot be gathered in.
This brings out one very important principle that runs all through scripture from the book of Deuteronomy onwards, and it’s this, listen carefully. The rain is given for the sake of the harvest. And that has an application to those of us who are Pentecostals or Charismatics or whatever other label you want to give us. If we do not realize that the outpouring of the Holy Spirit is given for the sake of the harvest we will miss the purposes of God. There are two kinds of Pentecostals or Charismatics: those who have received the outpouring of the Holy Spirit and don’t know what it’s for and just use it to form little spiritual bless me clubs, and those who understood that the rain is given for the sake of the harvest and they are the people who are turning the world upside down. I think they’re in a minority. I think especially in this nation the majority of Charismatics do not realize why the Holy Spirit has been poured out and is being poured out.
Consequently, we miss the real purpose of God. See, unfortunately Christianity in the West, and I think especially in this nation, is essentially self centered. It’s man centered. What will God do for me? What can I get from God? That’s a complete distortion of the gospel. The real question is what can I be for God? What does God want from me? We encourage people by teaching them that God will meet your needs. We often use that to draw people to the Lord. It’s true, thank God, God will meet our needs. But that’s not the supreme purpose of the gospel, the supreme purpose of the gospel is to make us instruments of the kingdom of God. It’s not what will God do for me, it’s what will I do for God.
I’ve often pondered on the career of the apostle Paul and I believe that the tremendous success that he achieved is due to the fact that when he first met the Lord he asked two questions. The first one was, “Who are you, Lord?” The second was, “What will you have me to do?” The people who could answer those two questions correctly are the people that will turn the world upside down. I wonder if you’ve ever asked the Lord, “Who are you?” And then have you said, “What will you have me to do?”
Now, generally speaking in our contemporary culture when people come to the Lord we tell them how wonderful it’s going to be, all the things that God will do for them. That was not God’s way of dealing with Paul. He sent a man named Ananias to Paul to pray for him when he was blind and he said, “Go and tell him what great things he must suffer for my name’s sake.” How many people treat new converts that way today? But you see, we’ve got a church that is flabby, it lacks muscle because we have not put God in His right place.
I always get these facts of history wrong, but there was one man who taught that the sun revolves around the earth. I forget his name now. Ptolemy. Then there was another man, Copernicus, who said, “No, you’ve got it wrong. The earth revolves around the sun.” And there are two kinds of Christians. There’s the Christians who think that Jesus revolves around us and our needs, and those who realize that we revolve around Jesus. It’s not what I want, it’s what He wants. It’s not what will He do for me but what will I do for Him. And actually, the American church, in my opinion, needs a major revolution. It needs what they used to call in previous centuries a great awakening because we’ve got our focus wrong. We’ve got a blurred, an incorrect vision of God and of the gospel and of the kingdom of God. We have to change it. We have to realize in particular that the rain is given for the sake of the harvest.
There’s two verses in Jeremiah 5 which have always impressed me. They’re in the middle of one of the many passages in which Jeremiah was condemning the people of his day for their hardheartedness and unbelief. It’s Jeremiah 5:23–24, but it follows with a marvelous revelation.
“This people [that’s the people of Judah in the day of Jeremiah]...”
And I think I need to pause and say this. If you study the life and the ministry of Jeremiah, he ministered in a time when his nation was in a period of spiritual decline leading to ultimate total disaster. I wonder how many Americans could even conceive that would be possible, perhaps true of America. Could it enter your head to conceive for a moment that this nation could be in a period of spiritual decline which will lead to ultimate, total disaster? See, there were many false prophets in the time of Jeremiah who said, “Everything will be all right. We’ve got the temple.” They said the temple, the temple, the temple. They kept repeating that phrase, the temple. “As long as we’ve got the temple everything’s all right.” I say there are a lot of professing believers who say born again, born again, born again. “Everything’s all right, I’m born again.” It isn’t true. There was only one prophet as far as I could understand in the time of Jeremiah in this time of spiritual decline who told the truth. And most of the people wouldn’t listen because the false prophets who were numerous were telling them the opposite. I have to say I could believe that’s true in this nation at this time. The people who are really telling it like it is are relatively few. The people who are saying everything’s all right, God will bless you, He’ll heal you, He’ll take care of you, He’ll prosper you—
Brothers and sisters, I know all the scriptures about prosperity as well as anybody and I’ve preached them. But let me tell you that prosperity is not what Americans understand. It’s not a big car and a refrigerator and a swimming pool. I’ll give you two examples. God told Joshua that, “If you do what I tell you, then you will have good success and you will make your way prosperous.” How did Joshua enter the land of promise? Not in a Cadillac. Where did he live? Not in first class hotels. He was in the condition of warfare, the corresponding vehicle today would be a tank. He spent his nights in the open fields, he was continually engaged in forced marches. It was a time of conflict. Prosperity is not having everything the way you want it. Prosperity is accomplishing the will of God successfully.
I think the second example is even more remarkable. In Romans 1 Paul prayed that he might have a prosperous journey by the will of God to Rome. Exactly the same Greek word is used in 2 John 2 where it says:
“Beloved, I pray above all things that thou would prosper and be in health.”
It’s the same word. Did Paul have a prosperous journey to Rome? He didn’t travel as a first class passenger. He was a prisoner in chains. He was in a storm unparalleled that for fourteen days and nights they never saw the sun. After that he was shipwrecked on an island. And finally as he was gathering wood to feed the fire a viper bit him. Would you call that a prosperous journey? It was. Why? Because the will of God was accomplished. We have to adjust our thinking as to what prosperity is. It’s not having an easy life with plenty of money and no problems. It’s successfully accomplishing the purposes of God in the face of intense opposition.
Now, let’s go back to Jeremiah 5. I tell you, I’ve been so occupied with Jeremiah lately. It’s as though God has been saying to me, “This is the book that you need to know to understand what’s happening in the church today.” Jeremiah 5:23:
Could we say the Charismatics?
“...has a defiant and rebellious heart. They have revolted and departed. They do not say in their heart, ‘Let us now fear the Lord our God.’”
One thing that is conspicuous by its absence in the contemporary church is the fear of the Lord. People could not say the things and do the things that we see if they really were motivated by fear of the Lord. Sometime it would pay many of you to study the fear of the Lord, it’s one of the main themes of scripture. As far as I’ve been able to discover, the greatest blessings that God promises of all His blessings are promised to the fear of the Lord. Ruth and I memorized probably twenty scriptures about the fear of the Lord but that’s only a small portion.
“The fear of the Lord leads to life and he who has it will abide in satisfaction. He will not be visited with evil.”
Have you ever considered that? If you are not in satisfaction, somehow or other you’re lacking the fear of the Lord.
“By humility and the fear of the Lord are riches and honor and life.”
It would be foolish to turn that down. Many of you need to pray, “Lord, help me to cultivate the fear of the Lord.”
Anyhow, the problem with Judah in the time of Jeremiah was they didn’t understand, they didn’t acknowledge the Lord as the giver of the rain.
“They do not say in their hearts, ‘Let us now fear the Lord our God who gives rain, both the former and the latter, in its season. He reserves for us the appointed weeks of the harvest.’”
What was the rain given for, in one word? The harvest. I love that phrase “He reserves for us the appointed weeks of the harvest.” Have you ever walked into a restaurant and seen a table that you think you’d like to sit at because it’s right there in the window and has a special view? And then as you approach the table there’s just a little sign on it that says one word which is reserved. You can’t sit there. God has reserved the weeks of the harvest. Not months but weeks. And He says to Satan, “You can’t have it. I won’t let you loose until the harvest has been gathered in.”
If you understand what I’m saying, the baptism in the Holy Spirit, the gifts of the Holy Spirit, they’re all given for the sake of the harvest to equip us to go out into the harvest. I’ve said to Jewish believers and friends of mine in Israel, “We non Jews need to apologize to you Jews for ever asking you to believe a gospel that was not supernaturally attested because it’s contrary to everything your own scriptures teach.” God has provided the baptism in the Holy Spirit and the gifts of the Holy Spirit to be a supernatural attestation of the gospel. That’s why they’re given. They’re not given for us to enjoy ourselves and meet around and be super-spiritual and prophesy over one another and then say, “Good bye, brother. God bless you, see you next Sunday.” That’s not the purpose. The purpose is for the harvest.
If you don’t understand that you are missing God’s plan in your life.
I want to say there will be two harvests. Another word that is very seldom used today in the church as I know it—and I mean, I don’t know the whole church but I’ve seen a good many aspects of it—is the word judgment. Jesus said when the Holy Spirit comes He will convict of sin, of righteousness and of judgment. But that last word has gotten left out. If we don’t speak about judgment, how can the Holy Spirit convict of judgment? We’re missing a major part of the message. Jesus is not only the Savior—thank God He is—He’s the Judge. You realize that? The same person who is the Savior is also the Judge. As I understand it, reading the first chapter of the book of Revelation, John there encountered Jesus as the Judge. And the same apostle who had rested his head on the bosom of Jesus at the last supper and talked with Him in real intimacy fell at His feet like one dead when He encountered the Judge. We need to have a vision of Jesus as Judge.
So here are the two harvests in Revelation 14:14 and following to the end. The first harvest is the grain harvest, the second harvest is the grape harvest. This is true to the agricultural pattern of Israel, the grain comes first, then the grapes. The grain harvest, I believe, is the harvest of salvation. The grape harvest is the grapes of wrath, the harvest of judgment. They follow one another very swiftly. We’ll read about the grain harvest first in Revelation 14, beginning in verse 14:
“And I looked, and behold, a white cloud and on the cloud sat one like the Son of man, having on His head a golden crown...”
Not a royal crown but like the gold medal in the Olympic games, the wreath that was put on the head of the victor.
“...and in His hand a sharp sickle. And another angel came out of the temple crying with a loud voice to Him who sat on the cloud, ‘Thrust in your sickle and reap, for the time has come for you to reap; for the harvest of the earth is ripe.’”
Actually, the Greek says “the harvest of the earth is dry.” If it’s left any longer it will perish.
I believe that that’s what God is in the process of doing, casting in the sickle and reaping the harvest. All around the earth in nations that thirty years ago would not have opened to the gospel, would not have listened to the gospel, are crying out for the gospel. The most unexpected nations: the Soviet Union, Southeast Asia, China. Some of which we’ve heard about. Do you know why that is? The harvest hour, the harvest is being reaped now.
One thing I learned even in six months on a farm is when the harvest comes everybody is busy. No one sits at home. Everybody is out in the field doing something to gather the harvest before it’s lost. I believe that’s how it should be with the church. I don’t believe there should be one idle person in the church because it’s the harvest hour.
Then we have the next harvest. This is the harvest of judgment and it follows immediately on the harvest of mercy.
“Then another angel came out of the temple which is in heaven, he also having a sharp sickle. And another angel came out from the altar who had power over fire and he cried with a loud cry to him who had the sharp sickle, saying, ‘Thrust in your sharp sickle and gather the clusters of the vine and the earth, for her grapes are fully ripe.’ So the angel thrust his sickle into the earth and gathered the vine of the earth and threw it into the great winepress of the wrath of God.”
When I’m speaking to an American audience I have to explain what I mean by wrath. W-R-A-T-H. I know you call it wrath but I just can’t bring myself to do that. But bear in mind that God is not only a God of mercy, He’s a God of wrath. The two go together. Paul said in Romans, “Behold therefore the goodness and the severity of God.” If you deface one side of a coin, the coin is worthless. And the truth about God is a two faced coin. On one side goodness and the other side severity. If you obliterate the severity you have a worthless coin. You have a message that has no relevance.
“The winepress was trampled outside the city, and blood came out of the winepress up to the horses’ bridles for 1,600 furlongs.”
Which my Bible tells me in the margin is 184 miles.
A lot of people interpret the book of Revelation allegorically. I would like to ask them is this allegorical blood or is it real blood? What is allegorical blood, I don’t understand. It doesn’t have any meaning to me. I believe it means precisely what it says in simple language.
Now, really being involved in the harvest depends to a large extent on your personal vision. We’ve had people speaking here this morning who brought tears to my eyes because they were gripped with a vision. They saw what many people don’t see. They saw the harvest. They knew the condition of the harvest field. Jesus said to His disciples after He had had this interview with the woman of Samaria at the well in verses 35 and 36 of John 4:
“Do you not say there are still four months and then comes the harvest? Behold, I say to you lift up your eyes and look at the fields, for they are already white for harvest.”
Jesus saw things in a different way from those apostles. Then He goes on to speak:
“He who reaps receives wages and gathers fruit for eternal life that both he who sows and he who reaps may rejoice together.”
How do you see the world today? When you look out do you say another four months and then we’ll do something or do you see the world as Jesus sees it, the fields are white or ready for harvest? I have preached and traveled for nearly fifty years. I have never lived in a time when there was greater hunger for the gospel than there is now. In the most improbable places! We have contacts with Indonesia where my material is being given out. An unofficial estimate is that within a few years the majority of the people of Indonesian will be Christians. It’s regarded as a Muslim nation. They don’t let out details, you have to find them. Fifty years ago there was virtually no response whatever in Indonesia to the gospel. Some of you don’t even know where Indonesia is. It’s the largest Muslim nation in the world, it has about 185 million people. It extends much further than the extent of the United States. Perhaps some of you would do well to make a little study of Indonesia. It could be a really crucial nation in the developments of the next few years.
I’m just so blessed that sixteen of my books have been translated and printed and circulated in Indonesia. I’m staggered because I had nothing to do with it. Most of it is being done by one little woman. You know, women don’t find it easy in a Muslim society. Do you know what she has, in vulgar language? She has guts. Just one woman. She unusually bold. We were talking to her one time two or three years ago and she was telling us how God is continually prompting her to witness to the Indonesian Muslims. She said one Muslim asked her what is the difference between Christians and Muslims. She said, “Well, Christians are going to heaven and Muslims are going to hell.” It takes some courage to say that.
If there’s one thing I admire in women, it’s courage. I’ve known a lot of courageous women. My first wife was a lioness. My second wife is not exactly a lioness but she has guts, too.
Then I want to read some words of Jesus a little further on in John’s gospel in John 9:4. Just one verse and I think the more accurate version begins with “we” and not with “I” because of the different texts.
“We must work the works of Him who sent me while it is day. The night is coming when no one can work.”
I believe that. I believe it is still day but the day is declining fast. I believe there’s a night coming when no one will be able to work. I have such a sense of urgency to get the job done while there is still light.
I don’t know whether you’ve ever noticed but the last people to preach the gospel in the book of Revelation are angels flying in heaven. Because I believe there’ll be no longer any possibility of preaching the gospel by human beings on earth. I believe that time is coming. It’s night and it’s very close. I talk to people about what will happen in ten years. None of us knows what will happen in ten years. The world is changing every year. The economic situation may have totally changed before the end of this particular century, this millennia. The money that you have now, by the end of this century will be absolutely worthless. You have two options. You can invest now in the kingdom of God and have an eternal bank account or you may end up with just worthless money. Like the ruble which I understand one dollar exchanges for 1500 rubles. When we were there last year it was 600. It’s gone up that much in less than a year. I’m not an economist, far from it, but I personally doubt whether any nation that has the national debt of the United States can ever recover economically. I don’t believe there’s any example of it in history. This is just an opinion but it’s an opinion that you would do well to consider.
We’re talking about the harvest. There’s a verse in Proverbs which is very searching. Proverbs 10:5:
“He who gathers in summer is a wise son but he who sleeps in harvest is a son who causes shame.”
So, as a child of God, which are you? Are you gathering in the harvest or are you sleeping? Because if you’re sleeping you’re a source of shame to your Father in heaven. He who sleeps in harvest is a son who causes shame.
Now I want to close by referring to a judgment scene which I believe every one of us will appear at. There will be no exceptions. You may miss every appointment you ever make on earth but this appointment you will keep. I’m referring to 2Corinthians 5. I’m talking about the judgment that takes place before what is called the judgment seat of Christ. The Greek word is bemawhich is the word used for the place where Pontius Pilate sat while he was judging Jesus. There’s another judgment later which is called the great white throne judgment but this is a judgment only for Christians. Paul says, speaking as a Christian, and he also uses the same words in Romans 14:10:
“For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ...”
I believe the word appear really means be made manifest. In other words, there’ll be no secrets. Our whole lives will be totally laid bare before the judgment seat of Christ.
“...that each one may receive the things done in the body according to what he has done, whether good or bad.”
And notice there are only two categories. There’s nothing that is neutral. Everything is either good or bad. Everything that’s done in accordance with the Word and the will of God, everything that’s done for the glory of Jesus. Paul said in Colossians, whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father by Him.
People used to come to me when I was principal of a college for training teachers in Africa and say to me, “Is it all right if I do this or that? Is it all right if I go to dances?” I said, “I can’t give you any answer about that but I’ll give you one principle. Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father by Him. If you can do it in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God, fine. If you can’t, no matter what it is it’s wrong.” Paul says here it’s either good or bad. Whatever is not good, whatever is not positive, is bad. It’s negative. We are going to have our lives laid bare in the presence of Jesus Christ one by one, individually, and we’ll look back and we’ll be given an overview of our past life. We’ll see the things that were good and the things that were bad. Please bear in mind there is no other category. Nothing is neutral. Everything is either positive or negative.
And then Paul goes on to say knowing therefore the terror of the Lord we persuade men that we are well known to God and, I trust also, well known in your consciences. Paul had a vision of the terror of the Lord. He had a vision of what it would be like to stand a single individual before Jesus as Judge with eyes like flaming fire, a voice like many waters, feet like bronze burning in a furnace, out of His mouth coming a sharp two-edged sword, and give an account of our lives. If that doesn’t inspire terror I don’t know what will.
Paul says knowing the terror of the Lord we persuade men. I don’t believe we can really persuade people unless we have a vision of the terror of the Lord. Because, it comes from a totally different background. Remember, we are eternal beings. We have an eternal destiny. Our time here on earth is very, very short. And believe me, the older you get the quicker it goes.
So, how will it be when you stand before the judgment seat of Christ? I don’t know this, I don’t have a revelation, but I think one of the things He asks you is, “What did you do during your lifetime to make the gospel of the kingdom known to all nations?” Tell me, what did you contribute? Did you give tithes? Did you give your money? Did you give your life? Or did you just sit in church and sing hymns and use religious language?
It’s a strange thing but two people here already today have referred to the parable of the talents. I want to go to that to close. Matthew 25, I’m going to read the whole passage which is not very long. It’s found in Matthew 25, beginning in verse 14.
“For the kingdom of heaven is like a man traveling to a far country who called his own servants and delivered his goods [or his possessions or his wealth] to them. And to one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one, to each according to his own ability.”
Notice, God allots talents according to our ability to use them.
“And immediately he went on a journey. Then he who had received the five talents went and traded with them and made another five talents. And likewise he who had received two gained two more also. But he who had received one went and dug in the ground and hid his lord’s money. After a long time the lord of those servants came and settled accounts with them.”
Remember, God is going to settle accounts with each of us.
“So he who had received five talents came and brought five other talents, saying, ‘Lord, you delivered to me five talents. Look, I have gained five more talents beside them.’ His lord said to him, ‘Well done good and faithful servant, you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.’ He also who had received two talents came and said, ‘Lord, you delivered to me two talents. Look, I have gained two more talents besides them.’ His lord said to him, ‘Well done good and faithful servant, you have been faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.’”
I noticed a principle there, it’s not the amount, it’s the percentage of the increase. One man gained five, the other gained two, but each of them gained 100 percent and each of them received exactly the same words of commendation. God doesn’t ask more from you than you are capable of producing but He does ask what you are capable.
Now we come to the real, I think the climax of this parable.
“Then he who had received the one talent came and said, ‘Lord, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you have not sown and gathering where you have not scattered seed...’”
I think one of his problems was he had a wrong vision of the lord. All he could see of the lord was a hard man.
“...and I was afraid...”
And that’s bad motivation.
“...and went and hid your talent in the ground. Look, there you have what is yours.’ But his lord answered and said to him, ‘You wicked and lazy servant!’”
Do you know that laziness is wickedness? I think it’s much more wicked than drunkenness, myself. We would probably object to people being drunk in the congregation but how many lazy people do we have in a congregation? From God’s side they are more of an abomination, I think, than the drunkards.
“‘You wicked and lazy servant! You knew that I reap where I have not sown and gather where I have not scattered seed. Therefore you ought to have deposited my money with the bankers and at my coming I would have received back my own with interest.’”
That scripture, just by the way, convinces me that it’s not necessarily unscriptural to receive interest. Some people say no, I say if it’s from your brother and he’s in need, don’t ask interest. But if you’re investing in somebody’s business, you’re entitled to your share of the interest. That’s just by the way.
Now, listen to the judgment.
“Therefore, take the talent from him and gave it him who has ten talents. For everyone who has more will be given and he will have abundance, but from him who does not have, even what he has will be taken away.”
I’ve seen that. It’s true in experience. The ones who have get more, the ones who use what they’ve got get more, and the ones who don’t use what they’ve got lose even what they have.
And then it says, and this is terrible:
“Cast the unprofitable servant into the outer darkness. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”
If you study that phrase, weeping and gnashing of teeth, it’s used several times by Jesus. It’s always used in connection with somebody who was right there who had every opportunity and missed it. It’s not used of a sinner who never was confronted with the gospel, it’s only used of people who’ve known the whole truth, had it offered to them and rejected it.
Now, I know this is controversial but I don’t believe Jesus ever uses servants who are not saved. So, it’s possible to be saved and to be cast into outer darkness. You may not agree with that logic, you’re entitled to your opinion. But to me it’s a very significant fact.
I just want to say something about the one talent person. As I’ve seen in experience over the years, this is psychologically true. The one who has five talents says, “Look, I can make a difference. I can change the world. I can produce results.” The one who has two talents says the same. But the one talent person says, “Well, I don’t have much. I’ll never make a name for myself. I’ll never have my own ministry. I’ll never build a church so I’ll just bury my talent.” I think the greatest danger is for the people with one talent. I want to suggest to you that there are a lot of people here this morning who are not five talent people, who are not two talent people, they’re just a one talent person. What are you doing about it? I’m not the one who can estimate, I don’t know your capacities or your talents. I’ve seen in many parts of the world the person who doesn’t feel that he or she has much does nothing with it. Jesus classified that as laziness and wickedness.
Now Jesus said you didn’t have the capacity to do business for yourself but you could have given it to the bankers and when I came back I would have gotten my own with interest. What would that mean for a one talent person? You don’t have a ministry of your own, you’re never going to be a pastor, an evangelist or a missionary. You may not have any great spiritual gifts, you just have one talent. You sit there and do nothing with it. “I’m not important, I can’t make much difference to the kingdom of God. God isn’t asking much of me. I’ll just play it safe.”
Dear brothers and sisters, that can cost you your soul. You can be cast into outer darkness simply for that. This 25th chapter of Matthew is interesting because it contains examples of three kinds of people who were totally rejected by the Lord. The first was the five foolish virgins who didn’t take enough oil. The second is the servant who only had one talent. The third group are the goat nations who didn’t help the Jews when they were in need. I said to myself some years ago what did all those groups of people have in common that they were rejected? What did they do? I answered in one word, nothing. That’s all you have to do to be rejected, is do nothing.
Now this meeting is coming to an end. I want to appeal to those of you who’ve been sitting there doing nothing for the kingdom of God, maybe doing a whole lot for yourself. You’re a one talent person. If the truth is stated at this moment, if Jesus were to take stock of your life, He would call you a wicked and a lazy servant. I’ve used hard language and it’s going to take humility to acknowledge the truth. But remember, before honor is humility. If my description of a one talent person applies in your life and all you’ve been doing is burying it in the earth, I’m challenging you to make up your mind to change while you have a chance. I want you to do one thing. If this description applies to you I want you to stand to your feet right where you are. It will be embarrassing but it could save your soul.
Geoff, would you come forward and stand with me? I thank God for the ones who are humble enough to stand. See how true the Word of God is? Dear brothers and sisters, let me tell you one thing. I love you. I’m concerned for you. I’m not seeking to condemn you or make you feel guilty. I want to save you from disaster.
Now then, I think it would be good if you really want to change, if you want to say, “Lord, here I am, I’ve got my one talent, but I’m willing to invest it.” Do you know how you can invest it? I’m sure there are other ways—is to invest in someone else’s ministry. Choose a ministry that is working, that is producing fruit, and say, “I’ll serve that ministry in whatever capacity.” You know, the hardest thing to find today is people who will serve. Ruth and I are dependent on those who will serve us. We cannot do our tasks without someone to serve us. I thank God for the people in Derek Prince Ministries here in Fort Lauderdale who serve us faithfully. I thank God for others who serve us. But we have learned by hard experience there are people who just do not want to be servants.
We have a young lady who has been a blessing to us who is what I would call a servant. Her father is a building contractor. She said, “I’m used to tending my father. When he needs a tool I bring it to him. I just stand there and wait until he tells me to do something.” You know, it’s almost impossible to find people like that today. Everybody wants to be something.
Are you willing to serve in another person’s ministry? There’s been a whole list of ministries that’s been set forth before you. Most of them, including DPM, including Derek and Ruth, we need people to serve us. We’ve had some bitter disappointments—I don’t want to give any indication of who they were but we’ve had people with real talent who just were too proud to lose their identity in somebody else’s ministry.
So, if you are willing to be a servant, maybe nobody will ever know your name but let me tell you this, in Jerusalem there’s a young man we know who serves Brother Lance Lambert in his home. He’s one of the most faithful servants I’ve ever met. I said to him recently, “Randall, when Lance gets his reward I want you to know you’ll be getting yours because he couldn’t have done what he did without you.” And oh I wish you could understand people in a position like ours, we cannot do what God has called us to do, what we have the capacity to do, the gifts to do, the vision to do. We cannot do it unless there are people who will serve.
Is that true, sweetheart? Yes. I tell you, Ruth has had some bitter, bitter disappointments. I think the hardest thing for her has been the people that reneged. I’ve forgiven them, I have nothing against them, but I regard them as tragedies, as wrecks in the body of Christ.
If you are willing to be humble to serve, to do what you’re told, to wait around, and you’d like to give yourself to God and to Jesus and to some ministry or person for that purpose, I would invite you to come forward and kneel here in front. Make a commitment, move.
I suggest you kneel if you can. If it’s too painful or there’s not space then don’t do it. But there’s something about kneeling. We talk a lot about kneeling and bowing in our choruses and we very seldom do it. I want to pray for each of you that’s come forward and then I want you to pray your own prayer in your own language in the only way that you can approach God naturally.
“Lord Jesus, you are the Lord of the harvest. You see each one that’s come forward, that’s humbled themselves, that’s acknowledged, Lord, that they’re not really working in your harvest fields. The days are slipping fast, the darkness is coming and they’re doing nothing of any real significance in the kingdom of God. Lord, I ask you to have mercy on them. I ask you to visit them with your Holy Spirit. I pray if there are those whose circumstances or physical condition make it difficult that you undertake, that you’ll heal, that you’ll release, that you’ll do miracles for these people that stand here before you this morning. In Jesus’ mighty name.”
(there’s a lady sobbing)
That’s right, it’s rejection. Let it go.
“If there are those who have spiritual wounds, Lord Jesus, pour in the oil and the wine—your blood and your Holy Spirit. To those who feel they’re valueless, Lord, let them know how much you value them. You valued them enough to die for each one of them. You gave your life, you paid the highest price. They are more valuable than they could ever understand. Lord, grant a revelation of your love, of how much you value them, how much you depend upon them.”
I always think of the virgin Mary, the whole plan of salvation depended on one humble, Nazarene maiden. If she hadn’t said yes there would have been no salvation for the world. God counts on people, He depends on people. Can He depend on you, that’s the question. Can He depend on you? Listen, there’s every one of you can be valuable somewhere in some situation. There’s none of you that’s worthless. Don’t underestimate yourself. You’re so important that Jesus would have died for you if there had never been anybody else. Don’t turn down His love, His appreciation. He wants you. He brought you here this morning to confront you with this opportunity.
I’m just going to leave it to you now just to take time to pray your own prayer, each one, in your own words. You can pray out loud or you can pray silently. I would suggest that you don’t get off your knees until you know that Jesus has your life. I’ve served Him more than 52 years and let me tell you what I told you at the beginning, He is faithful. I gave up a career that could have been very distinguished, a university career in Britain. I could have become a professor, et cetera, et cetera. But I would have had to retire at the age of 65. Here am I, 78 and traveling the world and having a wonderful time. I’m glad I didn’t choose the easy path. I became adoptive father to six Jewish girls. When Jesus looks at me He remembers what I did for some of the least of His brothers and sisters. He is faithful. You’ll never outgive God. Give Him your whole life, it’s the best investment you can make. There’s no inflation in the kingdom of God.