Jesus is coming back. When he does, he has promised to welcome his friends into the unhindered joy of his presence and to banish his enemies from it (Rev. 221:6–8). We know that his coming is soon (Rev. 22:12). We don’t know precisely when (1 Thess. 5:2). We are to be on our guard, ready and alert (Mark 13:33–34). And we are compelled by love and obedience to urge those around us to be reconciled to Christ (2 Corinthians 5:20). The time is short; we long for everybody to have the joy of being with Jesus for all eternity. So what should we do?
The obvious answer is that we should therefore share this “good news that will cause great joy” (Luke 2:10) with all people. We should tell those around us – the church-shy, the hostile, the desperate and the profoundly disinterested – about Jesus. And this is good and right. It is what Jesus has told us to do (Matt. 28:19–20). We are to get off our backsides and out of our comfort zones and share the gospel with those who are perishing. This ministry belongs to every Christian.
But we need help to do it. Primarily from the Lord, of course – without his intervention, nothing comes of our gospel-sharing, however passionately, frantically and devotedly we do it (Ps. 127:1–2; 1 Cor. 3:3–4).
But we also need support from those who have had more training than we have. Remember Apollos? Luke notes that Apollos was “a learned man, with a thorough knowledge of the Scriptures”, “instructed in the way of the Lord” and that he “spoke with great fervour” (Acts 18:24–25). But Luke also recounts that Apollos “knew only the baptism of John” (v 25), so when he started teaching in the synagogue, Paul’s ‘co-workers’ Priscilla and Aquila took him aside in order to explain “the way of God more adequately” (Acts 18:26). By Luke’s own account, Apollos wasn’t doing a bad job. But he could do better.
If we want to do evangelism well, we want to be well-taught. And that means we need mature, skilled, pastors and gospel workers.
The same is true of us. If we want to do evangelism well, we want to be well-taught. And that means we need mature, skilled, pastors and gospel workers. We need church leaders to “set [us] an example by doing what is good” (Tit. 2:7). We need Bible teachers who declare to us “the whole will of God” (Acts 20:27), who “correct, rebuke and encourage” (2 Tim. 4:2) and who “equip the saints” (Eph. 4:12) in order that we can grow in our knowledge and love for Jesus. Because our evangelism will not be attractive if either our knowledge of the truth is faulty or our lifestyle contradicts the message (Tit. 1:1).
And that is where we come back to the issue of urgency. If we want to be the best disciple-making disciples possible – and if we want to be sure that new disciples will grow and receive the training they need to make disciples themselves – then we need more set-apart gospel workers. There are many Jesus-loving, Bible-teaching pastor-teachers. But there certainly isn’t a surfeit. Jesus, observing the desperate situation of the “harassed and helpless” crowds of his day, says “the workers are few” (Matt. 9:36–37). He instructs his disciples to pray: “Ask the Lord of the harvest,” he tells them, “to send out workers into his harvest field.” (Matt. 9:38) We are faced with the same urgent need and the same shortage. The solution is also the same. We must keep on asking our loving heavenly Father to raise up sufficient workers to care for his flock. Let’s do that now. Let’s do it tomorrow and next week. Let’s ask earnestly. Let’s ask urgently. Because the time is short, and Jesus is coming.
We are faced with the same urgent need and the same shortage. The solution is also the same. We must keep on asking our loving heavenly Father to raise up sufficient workers to care for his flock.
Fran works for 9:38 as our Administrator. When she’s not answering emails and organising conferences for us, you’ll find her scratching her head over her novel and wandering around the Peak District with her husband.