||“The Fruit They Harvest is PEOPLE
Brought to Eternal Life!”
We were in Stuttgart, Germany, carrying a life-size wooden cross, and had been ministering
all day on the pedestrian streets of this great city. We were camping outside the city, so we
had ridden our bikes to the city center. We were tired and hungry and had a long walk to get
back to our bikes, and then a long ride to our campsite. It was also starting to get dark and
cloudy, se we started for home. But, praise God, we had trouble making headway because
people kept stopping us to talk about Jesus!
At one point a very serious looking lady of about 40 stopped us to talk. Within minutes she
began to pour out her heart to us. She said, “I’ve always been interested in the person of
Jesus, but I don’t know anything about Him. The church would never take time to answer my
questions. I even remember as a little girl asking questions and they told me just to sit down
and be quiet.”
It was amazing to me that we could still see the hurt and disappointment on her face as an
adult. I told her that I had written a little book specifically for people like her. She eagerly took
the book on the person of Jesus that we had translated into German. By the end of our half
hour talk, her entire countenance had brightened and she was laughing and joyful. She had
finally been introduced to Jesus!
In John four, we meet a woman who was also in desperate need of redemption. Her life was
truly a mess—she had had five husbands and at this point she was simply living with man
number six. If she would have died in her sins she would have spent eternity in Hell (John 8:
24). But thankfully that is not what happened—she encountered Jesus instead and found
redemption!!! Not only that, God used her testimony about meeting Jesus and her entire
village put their faith in Him as the Savior of the world.
Jesus’ disciples missed out on most of this action because they were off buying groceries.
But as they return, He takes the opportunity to remind them of something far more important—
bringing people to eternal life. In the verses that follow He teaches them as well as us how
to find the extraordinary satisfaction that comes from joining Him in the work of eternal harvest.
But before I get into those details I want to start with what we just mentioned—the lofty
purpose of it all. Make no mistake, the main part of our mission according to Jesus is reaping a
harvest which He perfectly defines in verse 36: The fruit they harvest is people brought to
eternal life. My heart has recently been stirred deeply to redouble our effort in this
Loving God is of course our chief endeavor, but it is not why we have been left on planet
earth. We can and will love and worship God in Heaven forever. BUT we can only tell lost
people about the forgiveness of Jesus provided on the cross in the here and now. It seems I
can never stray far from that reality—people were the focal point of Jesus’ mission.
Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, the Apostle Paul reminds us in 1
Timothy 1:15. He said this was a trustworthy saying deserving our full acceptance. I simply do
not believe we can overstate the importance of bringing the message of salvation to a lost and
dying world. So let us re-focus our energy and passion on helping others find the treasure of
Jesus the Savior.
It is sometimes hard work to bring a crop to harvest—but in this case can you imagine
anything more rewarding than seeing people you love brought to eternal life? Think of it,
instead of the dread of being found guilty on Judgment Day they will receive God’s mercy, be
adopted into His family, and spend eternity in the paradise of Heaven. No wonder Jesus said all
of Heaven rejoices over one lost sinner repenting! For God so loved the world… Let us
share in His great love for lost humanity.
Hungering for Harvest
When the disciples first came back that day in Samaria, they urged Jesus to eat something.
Jesus initially told His disciples, “I have a kind of food you know nothing about.” Naturally,
this confused them and they wondered among themselves who brought Him lunch. Thankfully,
He spelled it out for both them and us in perfectly clear terms. Then Jesus explained: “My
nourishment comes from doing the will of God, who sent me, and from finishing his
work” (vs 34).
Once you have heard this amazing truth from Jesus, nothing short of it can ever satisfy you
again. Notice He also does not simply leave the idea of “doing God’s will” as something vague
and indefinable. No, He tells us exactly what God’s will is: finishing God’s work. Again Jesus
does not just let us guess about what that work is. He immediately goes on to remind us that
God’s primary work here on earth is redeeming and reconciling people to Himself.
This alone is what Jesus said brought nourishment to His very soul! How can we be satisfied
with anything less?
I have lived a truly blessed life. I was privileged to be born in a free, prosperous land, but
that does not fill my spiritual hunger. I have never lacked a roof over my head or food to eat—
but that alone does not bring fulfillment. I have been given a wonderful godly wife, and though I
love her deeply, that does not fill my ultimate hunger. I have traveled to numerous nations on
earth and literally seen many of the world’s great cities and other wonders of nature, but that
does not satisfy me in the least. I think had I experienced all those things on some extended
vacation it would feel very, very empty.
But on those travels I have had the glorious privilege of declaring the everlasting gospel of
Jesus Christ and leading many in a first time profession of faith—that is the single most
satisfying thing there is. Only following Jesus and being a co-laborer together with Him will
bring nourishment to our souls.
So I am still hungering and thirsting after that Heavenly manna Jesus spoke of. I am
hungering for harvest. Hungering to see more souls saved. I have planted seeds of the gospel
in more than twenty nations of the world, and have already seen a harvest in some of those
Deep in my soul I carry the hope that there is a still greater harvest awaiting me in Heaven
of people who heard the gospel from my lips and called upon the name of the Lord to be
saved. However, at this point I’m still down here on planet Earth and I’m desperately starving to
partake of yet more of the fulfilling soul nourishment that Jesus spoke of in this inspiring
Sometimes that desire for others to hear the message of Jesus reverberates around in my
soul like an ocean wave crashing around inside of a confined rocky cove. I prefer to be too
passionate than to be too apathetic— indifferent to people losing their eternal souls. I would
rather be over-zealous about this calling than take the chance of lowering my expectations and
sitting on the sidelines while people march methodically towards Hell.
I prefer to be busy about the Father’s business, planting the seeds of eternal life and
expecting a harvest than to become idle and distracted by this world’s empty substitutes. God’s
word abounds with the principles of sowing and reaping. Paul spoke of them regarding
finances and giving, but I’m absolutely certain they overlap and apply to the work of
soulwinning as well!
Remember this—a farmer who plants only a few seeds will get a small crop. But the
one who plants generously will get a generous crop. 2 Corinthians 9:6
Wasn’t he actually speaking to us? Yes, it was written for us, so that the one who
plows and the one who threshes the grain might both expect a share of the harvest.
1 Corinthians 9:10
Let us sow abundantly the seeds of the gospel into the lives of those around us that we
might see the fruit of people brought to eternal life!
Today is the Day of Salvation
More than anything right now, God is stirring in me an enormous sense of urgency. Jesus
said in John 9:4, As long as it is day, we must do the work of Him who sent me. Night is
coming, when no one can work. I am fully persuaded we are desperately near that
precipice. Now is the season when God is graciously saving multitudes of lost people on planet
earth, but it won’t last forever.
The Bible teaches that someday the door to the Kingdom of God will slam shut unexpectedly
and people’s eternal fate will be sealed at Judgment Day (Matthew 24 & 25:1-13). But now we
still have time to share with them the matchless message of forgiveness and redemption—this
is the Father’s business. Jesus said, even as a child of twelve, that He must be about that task.
Let us also be urgently about our Father’s business. He who gathers in summer is a wise
son; He who sleeps in harvest is a son who causes shame (Proverbs 10:5).
I’ll never forget hearing a great soulwinning missionary evangelist tell of being told as a
young missionary to lower his expectations and be satisfied preaching to a tiny handful of
people. He respectfully protested to his seasoned superiors that hundreds of millions were lost
and dying just outside the gates of their mission compound. If they continued at their own
leisurely pace, all the people they were called to reach would each have to live 5000 years
before they would even have a chance to hear the gospel.
Thankfully, he did not let them put out the holy fire burning in his soul to reach the lost in his
generation. He could not be satisfied with this philosophy of apathy and unbelief. Thankfully,
he took Jesus’ words to heart: The fields are already ripe for harvest. He broke out of that
lukewarm traditional mold and has had the privilege to preach open-air to millions across the
globe and seen an equally bountiful harvest.
As an evangelist, I am not sympathetic to creeds and traditions that promote and even
encourage Christians to accept the notion that we should be OK with lost multitudes dying all
around us without the knowledge of the salvation Jesus purchased at Calvary. I recently
received a letter from someone who heard me preach, who stated that they had been raised in
a church that always taught them that if God wanted to save the lost, He would do so… He
doesn’t need our help.
The Apostle Paul had more revelation of the gospel than any other mere human who ever
lived and he certainly did not promote such an apathetic approach to sharing the message. He
said the message of reconciliation with God has been entrusted to us and that our lives were
to be lived as verbal ambassadors with God Himself speaking through us (2 Corinthians 5:18-
It would be easier to dismiss this truth… but we dare not. Paul himself said, Woe to me if I
do not preach the gospel. Paul was surely aware of Ezekiel’s sobering prophetic warning on
this very matter:
If I warn the wicked, saying, ‘You are under the penalty of death,’ but you fail to
deliver the warning, they will die in their sins. And I will hold you responsible for
their deaths. If you warn them and they refuse to repent and keep on sinning, they
will die in their sins. But you will have saved yourself because you obeyed me.
If righteous people turn away from their righteous behavior and ignore the obstacles
I put in their way, they will die. And if you do not warn them, they will die in their sins.
None of their righteous acts will be remembered, and I will hold you responsible for
their deaths. But if you warn righteous people not to sin and they listen to you and
do not sin, they will live, and you will have saved yourself too. Ezekiel 3:18-21
How much more precious is the glorious gospel Jesus provided for us who live in New
Testament reality. And His commission to us is just as clear, Go into all the world and
preach the gospel to every creature! Oh let us not ignore that privilege and responsibility.
It would be so much easier for me to retreat into the convenient belief that the Holy Spirit
floats around and by sacred osmosis saves people completely apart from any obedience of the
people of God. But I can’t; scripture declares we are co-laborers together with God and
although I don’t understand why, we have a part to play. Despite my shy and reclusive nature, I
live every day unable to deny Paul’s utterly air-tight logic spelled out in Romans 10:14 &15:
But how can they call on him to save them unless they believe in him? And how can
they believe in him if they have never heard about him? And how can they hear
about him unless someone tells them? And how will anyone go and tell them without
being sent? That is why the Scriptures say, “How beautiful are the feet of
messengers who bring good news!”
No wonder Paul started his letter to the Romans declaring, For I have a great sense of
obligation to people in both the civilized world and the rest of the world, to the
educated and uneducated alike. So I am eager to come to you in Rome, too, to
preach the Good News (Romans 1:14-15).
It certainly does not seem Paul believed if God wants to save the lost He will do it without
our help. Shortly, before his death he was able to declare with a clear conscience to his
And now I know that none of you to whom I have preached the Kingdom will ever see
me again. I declare today that I have been faithful. If anyone suffers eternal death, it’
s not my fault, for I didn’t shrink from declaring all that God wants you to know.
So be on your guard! Remember that for three years I never stopped warning each of
you night and day with tears. (Acts 20:25-27 & 31)
Paul settled for us, once and for all, the question of when the appropriate time was to reap
God’s eternal harvest of souls. Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day
of salvation (2 Corinthians 6:2).
And that day in Samaria, Jesus spoke to this issue and removed all justifications for
sluggish lethargy when it comes to the right timetable for gathering in the all-important crop of
eternal human souls!
You know the saying, “Four months between planting and harvest.” But I say, wake
up and look around. The fields are already ripe for harvest. The harvesters are paid
good wages, and the fruit they harvest is people brought to eternal life. What joy
awaits both the planter and the harvester alike! (John 4:35-36).
Let us take Jesus’ words to heart, wake up, and believe the fields of people who can be
brought to eternal life are truly abundant and ripe!!!