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HARVEST TIME IS NOW!

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

A sermon preached at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Lord’s Day Evening, August 7, 2011

“Say not ye, There are yet four months, and then cometh harvest? behold, I say unto you, Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest” (John 4:35).


William MacDonald said,

      Perhaps the disciples had been talking together about the coming harvest. Or perhaps it was a common proverb among the Jews, “Four months between seed time and harvest.” At any rate, the Lord Jesus again used the physical fact of harvest to teach a spiritual lesson. The disciples should not think that harvest time was still in the distance. They [should not think] that God’s work could be done later on. They must realize that the fields are already white for harvest...At the very moment when the Lord spoke these words, He was in the midst of a harvest field containing the souls of Samaritan men and women. He was telling the disciples that a great work of ingathering lay before them, and that they should give themselves to it immediately and diligently.
      So today, the Lord says to [us], “Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields.” [May] the Lord lay on our hearts a burden for the lost souls around us. Then it will be up to us to go forth for Him, seeking to bring in the sheaves of ripened grain (William MacDonald, Believer’s Bible Commentary, Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1995, p. 1487; note on John 4:35).

Now I am going to bring three simple points from John 4:35 and Matthew 9:37-38.

I. First, the time to gather in the harvest is now.

Both of my grandfathers were farmers. They sowed the seeds in the spring and reaped, or brought in, the harvest in the fall. Bringing in the harvest is called “reaping.” The Disciples had only been with Jesus a short time. But they must have known about soul winning already, because Jesus told them immediately, when He first called them, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men” (Matthew 4:19). But now they went to the city to buy food. While they were gone, Jesus went to work winning souls.

“In the mean while his disciples prayed him, saying, Master, eat. But he said unto them, I have meat to eat that ye know not of. Therefore said the disciples one to another, Hath any man brought him ought to eat? Jesus saith unto them, My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work. Say not ye, There are yet four months, and then cometh harvest? behold, I say unto you, Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest” (John 4:31-35).

Don’t wait four months for the harvest! “Look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest” (John 4:35).

Some of you may be thinking, “I will wait for the fall. That’s when we bring in a lot of people.” Wrong! Today is harvest time! We have found by long practice that the Sunday after (Independence Day in America) the 4th of July is when we start the fall harvest! Harvest time is now!

“Say not ye, There are yet four months, and then cometh harvest? behold, I say unto you, Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest” (John 4:35).

Harvest time is now! Dr. John R. Rice said it well, in one of his heartwarming songs,

Today we reap, or miss our golden harvest!
   Today is given us lost souls to win.
Oh then to save some dear ones from the burning,
   Today we’ll go and bring some sinner in.
(“So Little Time” by Dr. John R. Rice, 1895-1980).

Today we reap – or we miss our golden harvest! We find that it gets much harder after Thanksgiving. And it is nearly impossible at Christmas time in the secular city of Los Angeles. January and February it is cold and rainy – and many young people are in winter session in the colleges. It is much harder then. In the winter and spring there are many distractions. People go away every time there is a three-day weekend. There’s a three-day holiday for Martin Luther King. There’s a three-day weekend for President’s Day. There’s midterms. There’s Mother’s Day. There’s Memorial Day. There’s final exams. There’s Father’s Day. All of these hamper our evangelism here in this great and wicked city. But then, after the Fourth of July, the fall harvest begins. Right now, on August 7, we are in the middle of our great fall harvest!

“Say not ye, There are yet four months, and then cometh harvest? behold, I say unto you, Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest” (John 4:35).

“Today we reap.” Sing it!

Today we reap, or miss our golden harvest!
   Today is given us lost souls to win.
Oh then to save some dear ones from the burning,
   Today we’ll go and bring some sinner in.

The time to gather in a fall harvest of lost souls is now!

II. Second, there are plenty of lost souls to be harvested.

Please turn to Matthew 9:36-37. Read these two verses aloud.

“But when he saw the multitudes, he was moved with compassion on them, because they fainted, and were scattered abroad, as sheep having no shepherd. Then saith he unto his disciples, The harvest truly is plenteous, but the labourers are few” (Matthew 9:36-37).

Jesus saw the lost multitudes. He was moved with compassion for them. He saw that they were lost “sheep having no shepherd.” He said, “The harvest truly is plenteous.”

That is true today as well! The harvest truly is plenteous. Don’t wait to bring your loved ones to the Thanksgiving Banquet! Oh, no! Bring them now – next Sunday! They will hear the Gospel plainly preached. They will not be distracted by things that begin to happen after Thanksgiving. If you bring them to church to hear the Gospel preached now, it is far more likely that you will be able to get them back the next Sunday as well. Dr. Rice said,

Oh, bring your loved ones, bring them to Jesus!
   Bring every brother and sister to Him!
When come the reapers, home from the harvest,
   May all our dear ones be safe gathered in!
(“Oh, Bring Your Loved Ones” by Dr. John R. Rice, 1895-1980).

You cannot win your parents, or your brothers and sisters, by prayer alone. Some of you have been praying and praying, but your loved ones are still lost. You have got to mean business. You have got to “compel them to come in” (Luke 14:23). When Andrew met Jesus, the Bible says, “He first findeth his own brother Simon [Peter], and saith unto him, We have found the Messias, which is, being interpreted, the Christ. And he brought him to Jesus...” (John 1:41-42). Andrew did not know much. But he knew that Jesus was the Messiah, “And he brought [Peter] to Jesus.” Andrew didn’t just pray for Peter to come to Jesus! No! “He brought him to Jesus.” Some of you have been praying for some relative for a long time, but nothing seems to move them. If they knew that you were heartbroken that they are still lost, if they sensed a deep earnestness in your voice, an insistence in your tone, they might well come to church and hear the Gospel, and be saved.

“How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?”
       (Romans 10:14).

Dr. Rice said,

Time now for warning, time now for pleading,
   Time now to weep, to cling to the cross.
Too late in Heaven, to win our loved ones;
   Too late to pray, to weep o’er the lost.
Oh, bring your loved ones, bring them to Jesus!
   Bring every brother and sister to Him!
When come the reapers, home from the harvest,
   May all our dear ones be safe gathered in!
(Dr. John R. Rice, ibid.).

Someone may say, “Dr. Hymers, I have tried so hard, but they won’t listen.” I know how that feels. But don’t quit! “In due season we shall reap, if we faint not” (Galatians 6:9). You are thinking right now of a relative or acquaintance that you know you should bring next Sunday. Come and kneel here in front of the pulpit, and we will pray for God to give you the zeal and faith to go and “compel them to come in.” (prayer). Sing that chorus again, as you return to your seats.

Oh, bring your loved ones, bring them to Jesus!
   Bring every brother and sister to Him!
When come the reapers, home from the harvest,
   May all our dear ones be safe gathered in!

III. Third, the laborers are few.

“But when he saw the multitudes, he was moved with compassion on them, because they fainted, and were scattered abroad, as sheep having no shepherd. Then saith he unto his disciples, The harvest truly is plenteous, but the labourers are few; Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth labourers into his harvest” (Matthew 9:36-38).

There is another thought here. “When he saw the multitudes.” We will have multitudes of young people come to our church through our regular evangelism in the next few weeks. But what will they find when they get here? Will they find that you are warm and friendly to them? Will they find that you are zealous to befriend them and make them feel at home? Or will they feel that you don’t really care about them? People can feel that, you know.

Will you remember this next Sunday? That’s a long way off! Last Saturday night I preached a sermon on the zeal of Christ. One of the points was, “We should be zealous in our singing.” This point was received with a lot of enthusiasm on Saturday night. But twelve hours later, on Sunday morning, we had the worst singing that we’ve had for months. Why? Because in spiritual things man is very weak and lazy at best. Even after we are converted we still are strongly tempted to be sluggish and lazy. Such is the effect of the Fall! So, what was preached on Saturday night was already forgotten the next morning by many people in our church.

So it will be with this sermon. Jesus said, “The harvest truly is plenteous, but the labourers are few.” That is true among us. We would see far more additions to our church if there were more laborers.

Thank God we have some laborers. But many people, even in our church, do not have enough zeal to win a lost soul. Our deacons and leaders bring in a multitude, “but the labourers are few,” so most of them drift away and don’t come back. Oh, if our young people woke up, what a harvest there would be! But many will not wake up. They will go right back and do the same thing next Sunday that they did last Sunday. Thank God that we now have some laborers! But Jesus said,

“The labourers are few; Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth labourers into his harvest”
       (Matthew 9:37-38).

We must pray for more laborers like Soriya, Sheila, Anthony, Jack, and Tina – people like them, who can remember to labor in the harvest; people who will labor with zeal, instead of hanging back, in a sleepy way, not interested in helping lost souls to come into the church.

The harvest is not very long each Sunday. It’s only about a half hour long, after we eat a meal together. What happens in that half hour determines whether we reap or not. Sleepy ones hang out in the restroom, or come half-heartedly into the fellowship. They have no urgency, or zeal for those who are lost. They will be the same next Sunday as they were last Sunday. They will not awaken unless there is a sovereign move of God.

“The harvest truly is plenteous, but the labourers are few; Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth labourers into his harvest” (Matthew 9:37-38).

“So Little Time.” Sing it!

So little time! The harvest will be over,
   Our reaping done, we reapers taken Home.
Report our work to Jesus, Lord of Harvest,
   And hope He’ll smile and that He’ll say “Well done!”
Today we reap, or miss our golden harvest!
   Today is given us lost souls to win.
Oh then to save some dear ones from the burning,
   Today we’ll go and bring some sinner in.
(Dr. Rice, ibid.).

The prophet Jeremiah said, “The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and we are not saved” (Jeremiah 8:20). It is now August the seventh. There are only three more Sundays and summer is over until next year. You have gone through this spring and this summer, and “summer is ended, and [you] are not saved.” You know that Christ died to pay for your sins. You know that He rose from the dead – and is now in Heaven, next to the Father. You know that Christ can cleanse your sins with His Blood if you come to Him. You have heard me say these things countless times and yet you “are not saved.” Having so many opportunities, why have you held back? Why have you refused to come to Him? Repent and come to Christ!

To the rest of you I say, “Today we reap” – stand and sing the chorus of Dr. Rice’s song again.

Today we reap, or miss our golden harvest!
   Today is given us lost souls to win.
Oh then to save some dear ones from the burning,
   Today we’ll go and bring some sinner in.

(END OF SERMON)
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at www.realconversion.com. Click on “Sermon Manuscripts.”

You may email Dr. Hymers at rlhymersjr@sbcglobal.net, (Click Here)
or you may write to him at P.O. Box 15308, Los Angeles, CA 90015.
Or phone him at (818)352-0452.

Scripture Read Before the Sermon by Dr. Kreighton L. Chan: Matthew 9:35-38.
Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Benjamin Kincaid Griffith:
“So Little Time” (by Dr. John R. Rice, 1895-1980).


THE OUTLINE OF

HARVEST TIME IS NOW!

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

“Say not ye, There are yet four months, and then cometh harvest? behold, I say unto you, Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest” (John 4:35).

I.   First, the time to gather in the harvest is now, Matthew 4:19;
John 4:31-35.

II.  Second, there are plenty of lost souls to be harvested, Matthew 9:36-37;
 Luke 14:23; John 1:40-41; Romans 10:14; Galatians 6:9.

III. Third, the laborers are few, Matthew 9:36-38; Jeremiah 8:20.