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by Dr. Kreighton L. Chan

A sermon preached at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Saturday Evening, August 13, 2011

“The harvest truly is plenteous, but the labourers are few”
(Matthew 9:37).

The multitudes in Jesus’ day were those in Israel who came to hear Him preach the Gospel. Our “multitude” is those who come to hear our pastor preach. Our multitude is brought in through your personal invitation, followed by calls from our deacons and phoners.

Our multitude is those young people brought into our local church from the world. They did not come in by themselves. They were invited by you. It took work to get them here. It will take even more work to keep them here. You must pray for them and take care of them by making them feel at home. I speak especially to the “reapers” among us, but others can help as well. You must do better with the multitude that is here.

In our text, Jesus states the problem very clearly, “The harvest is plenteous, but the laborers are few.” There are not enough laborers for the task at hand. More laborers are needed or we will lose part of the harvest. In the next verse Jesus instructed his disciples to pray that God would send forth more laborers into His harvest. After that, Jesus commissioned His 12 disciples to be laborers themselves.

“The harvest truly is plenteous, but the labourers are few”
       (Matthew 9:37).

I. First, bringing in the prospects.

We must work hard to get more people to come to our church to hear the Gospel preached. We must also pray. We need more names and phone numbers. This is very important, because our multitude comes from this group. This will provide a steady stream of people to hear the Gospel. So bringing in lots of names and phone numbers is very important.

The lost are always around you. This is especially true if you are on a college campus. You are surrounded by those who are lost. You should always be looking for young people to talk to and get their name and number, so we can phone them and get them to church.

Another group of prospects are your family and acquaintances from work or school. You have to pray and work with zeal to get these people to church to hear the Gospel.

“Nathaniel said unto him, Can there any good thing come out of Nazareth? Philip saith unto him, Come and see” (John 1:46).

Notice Nathaniel’s initial objection, “Can there any good thing come out of Nazareth?” Your family or friends may give a similar negative comment like, “I don’t want to go to church. I really don’t think I will like it.” Answer this by telling them that they will have fun and they will make a lot of new friends. Also, let them know that it will really make you happy if they come. Keep inviting them and let them know that you’re serious and will not be refused. Once they come to church they are more likely than others to stay. They will then become part of our multitude. The Bible gives many examples of this. Not only did Philip bring Nathaniel, but Andrew also brought Peter (John 1:40-42; 45-46). Also, the Philippian jailor brought his family (Acts 16:31) and Lydia brought her family to hear Paul preach, and they were converted (Acts 16:14-15).

Notice that Jesus not only told His disciples to pray for laborers but also sent them out as well. How can we pray sincerely for God to send forth laborers if we are not willing to be laborers ourselves?

I know that you pray for laborers to go out to bring in the names of the lost. But are you yourself a laborer? Have you gone out personally to bring young people to hear the Gospel? If so, do you do it zealously and regularly? What about bringing in your family or acquaintances? Can you honestly include yourself as a true laborer for souls? Have you been working faithfully with zeal?

II. Second, preaching to the multitude.

Although this is the pastor’s job, more laborers are needed to support the pastor in his preaching. You must be like Aaron and Hur in lifting up the hands of our pastor as he preaches Christ to the people (Exodus 17:10-13). Pray every day for the preaching. Pray for God to show the pastor what to preach. Pray that the Holy Spirit will open people’s hearts to receive the sermons and think about them.

Knowing his need of prayer in preaching the Gospel, the apostle Paul told the Christians in Ephesus to pray,

“That utterance may be given unto me, that I may open my mouth boldly, and make known the mystery of the gospel”
       (Ephesians 6:19).

You must not neglect prayer. To be a true laborer in the harvest you must pray that God would help our pastor preach the Gospel. You must pray that God would show our pastor what point to preach on. You must pray that God would help him to prepare the sermons. And you must pray that God would give him unction from the Holy Spirit in delivering them. You must pray for the lost to be converted through the preaching.

III. Third, reaping the harvest.

More laborers are needed to reap the harvest. Although there are now big machines to gather wheat, no such spiritual machinery exists to gather people into the church. The Lord Jesus has chosen to use us as laborers in His harvest. The Bible says, “we are labourers together with God” (I Corinthians 3:9).

To be a laborer is very difficult. The word “labor” itself conjures up thoughts of hard work. It also requires steadfastness and patience. You must put your hands to the plow and not turn back from the work of bringing in souls. It is Christ who calls you to this work. Will you be lazy instead of obeying Christ’s command?

“Also, I heard a voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for us? Then said I, Here am I; send me”
      (Isaiah 6:8).

Will you say in your heart, “Here am I, send me,” despite the difficulties and sacrifices? Do you want God to use you to labor for Him to bring in the harvest? Dr. John R. Rice said,

We should pray the Lord of Harvest, “Reapers send into Thy field.”
   Few are reapers; white and wasting Are the fields, how rich the yield.
Here am I! Here am I! Send me forth, O Lord of Harvest,
   Breathe on me Thy Holy Spirit.
Here am I! Here am I! Send me forth to win some precious soul today.
   (“Here Am I” by Dr. John R. Rice, 1895-1980).

Our labor does not end when the multitude are in church hearing the Gospel. No, it really doesn’t end until they are truly converted to Christ. Until then, you must love them, take care of them, have a burden in prayer for them, and make our church a second home for them. You must sow in tears to reap in joy (Psalm 126:5). Reapers will work personally with those who are most open in our multitude. They will urge them to come in on Sunday evening as well. Those who come into our church this way are our best prospects. It is among this group that we will see conversions through the preaching.

Jesus said,

“Labour not for the meat that perisheth, but for the meat which endureth unto everlasting life” (John 6:27).

We all labor for something. Everyone does. Many in the world work very hard to attain things they think are important. This may be their education, wealth, or family interests. All of these will perish. Brother and sister, how much harder should we work for eternal souls? Be a laborer in God’s harvest to bring eternal souls into our church. Do your part to make our church a “soul trap.” That’s what people called Spurgeon’s church. May our church be a “soul trap” as well! Our multitude must feel drawn to remain in church with us. A true laborer will be a means of grace for people in our multitude to stay in the church. A true laborer will also be a means of grace in their conversion. You must be faithful in your labor, and God will reward you eternally.

“For God is not unrighteous to forget your work and labor of love” (Hebrews 6:10).

This is harvest time. It is time for us to work, and there is much work to do. We must work hard, and we must work together. We must zealously bring in a great harvest of souls at this time. Satan, the world, and the flesh will battle us at every turn. That matters not. God will bless our labors. With His help we cannot fail!

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by Dr. Kreighton L. Chan

“The harvest truly is plenteous, but the labourers are few”
(Matthew 9:37).

I.   First, bringing in the prospects, John 1:46, 40-42, 45-46;
Acts 16:31, 14-15.

II.  Second, preaching to the multitude, Exodus 17:10-13;
Ephesians 6:19.

III. Third, reaping the harvest, I Corinthians 3:9; Isaiah 6:8;
Psalm 126:5; John 6:27; Hebrews 6:10.