is nearly over and the pages of time have turned to another twelve months
before us. As time is measured, we stand on the threshold of a new part of our
lives as the new year will usher in a new calendar with new opportunities and
new choices. We live on the word "new" in contrast to the
"old" of yesterday and yesteryear.
With each new year we start again in making the desires and wishes of our lives more real. Reality sets in a few months down the road when the newness wears off and we have to labor to maintain the "new" goals of our lives. At the end of each year we face reality in stark tones as we see where we have really been - in spite of what we wanted to do.
We began the year with a goal to bring one soul to Christ this year. The lesson learned is the difference between a goal and a commitment. Goals are those funny things that we set and most often knowing the goal is too high to attain. When goals are not met we just raise the bar a little higher or leave it where it was - with little change in our efforts to reach that goal.
If we make a commitment and we fail, it hurts a lot more and we realize the failure in a more intense way. It is more infrequent to make a commitment than to make a goal because of the consequences of each.
What can be the reasons that we are not bringing more people to Christ? We are assured that the power of the gospel has not changed and it can still convict the soul. It can be blamed on society - although the gospel had free course and the disciples were accused of "turning the world upside down" in a time much worse than our own. (Acts 17:6) I could not presume to suppose why the church is not growing in number as it could and should but I believe that a reflection upon our time this year should help us understand where we are today.
The greatest factor that prohibits the church from accomplishing its role of saving souls is based upon the reality that too many of us are too busy. It is easy to see why certain activities are harmful to the Christian because of their nature. The child of God would not want to be found guilty of doing those things that are sinful. However, one of the best tools Satan uses to keep the church in check is to keep God's children busy with good things.
Our lives are filled with many busy things that are good in and of themselves. The measure of our labor in the Lord is how much time we are willing to spend in working in the vineyard. This does not mean the four hours we have committed to attend on Sunday and Wednesday. This is time during the week that we are willing to spend in specific vineyard work.
It is difficult to schedule any activities beyond the four hour window of the churches work because there are so many other things going on. If any conversion is to happen, it will have to occur on Sunday morning, Sunday night or Wednesday evening.
The work of bringing one soul to Christ is just that: work! It takes time to bring one soul to Christ. It takes effort to bring one soul to Christ. It takes desire to bring one soul to Christ. It takes a person to bring one soul to Christ. There
are no magic formulas and powerful plans that will take the place of the people-to-people ratio in bringing one soul to Christ.
A commitment of two hours a week -one night a week will bring about remarkable changes in the lives of many people. This seems trivial when compared to the hours we spend with other things - things that are good of themselves. We will spend more time than that at ball practice. We watch more TV than that in a day. Our hobbies will consume more time that we could spend in a month - but we are just too busy.
The church is suffering from too many who are too busy about too little that too few are too concerned about two things: Heaven and Hell. So here we stand at the back door of this year with the new horizon of next year before us. In reflection we ask how many have I been instrumental in bringing to Christ - even one.
It is important to note that much of the failure in bringing people to Christ is the misunderstanding between talking to people about Christ and studying with people about Christ. All Christians should defend the gospel of Christ to their friends and fellow-workers. The example of the child of God should be known by all who see our lives. While this will help someone come to know the importance of Christ in our lives, it does not change the heart to obedience.
It may be that we have taken the admonition of Peter about wives married to husbands who do not obey the word when he said:
"Wives, likewise, be submissive to your own husbands, that even if some do not obey the word, they, without a word, may be won by the conduct of their wives, when they observe your chaste conduct accompanied by fear." (1 Peter 3:1,2) By our conduct people will see how we live as Christians and obey the gospel.
This has a great impact upon the lives of others but Paul reminds us that "faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God." (Romans 10:17)
To convert a lost soul to Christ will require the effort of sitting down with that individual and studying the Bible and with the word - convict the soul! Talking to people about Christ will spread the good news of Christ in the hearts of many but until secured efforts are put forth to teach the soul they are lost, the likelihood of a conversion occurring is small.
Some may say, "I don't understand people. I talk with them about Christ and we discuss things at work but they are just not interested." These are opportunities to engage in a Bible study and with the intent of bringing that person to Christ. While
there are factors that are involved in trying to be as productive as we can about our teaching without destroying friendships and work relations, a time must be considered when the truth must be taught in sincerity and plainness.
The evidence is clear in the church today regarding our abilities in bringing one soul to Christ. In the past five years, how can we see our growth in this area? In the past four years have we been able to focus on specific commitments to bring one soul to Christ? In the last three years has it been our desire to become a useful tool of Christ in bringing one soul to Him? Of the last two years have I prepared myself to teach one soul about the Savior? As this year closes and we look back upon our work in the vineyard of the Lord - where is the fruit born of bringing one soul to Christ?
"Jesus said to them, 'My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me, and to finish His work. 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! And he who reaps receives wages, and gathers fruit for eternal life, that both he who sows and he who reaps may rejoice together. For in this the saying is true: `One sows and another reaps.' I sent you to reap that for which you have not labored; others have labored, and you have entered into their labors." (John 4:34-38)
"By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples." (John 15:8)
It can be done! Through the avenue of prayer and believing in the work of the Church, we can accomplish great things for the Lord. As we make our goals we must also make our commitments.
Our commitments are not as easily set aside. We must devote ourselves and our efforts to bring one soul to Christ. When we accomplish that task and feel the joy inexpressible of seeing our friend baptized into Christ and raised up in sinless perfection - then we will know the power of God's love and the joy of freedom. We can never truly see own freedom from sin
until we see that face of freedom in someone else. When we bring that one to Christ - it will be the beginning of many more!
By Kent E. Heaton Sr
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