The Recipe for a Great Harvest of Souls
by Pastor Jim Feeney, Ph.D.
- Summary: We are “laborers together with God” (1 Corin. 3:9) in God’s harvest. The Bible gives us simple, easily-followed instructions to participate with God in the planting and reaping of a great harvest of souls.
Matthew 13:8 Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop — a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.
- •• This is the godly desire of millions of Christians — to produce a crop, to bring forth a great harvest of souls for God.
John 15:16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit — fruit that will last.
- •• The Lord’s clearly stated desire is that His followers “go and bear fruit”. The “go” in His command makes it clear that this fruit-bearing cannot be limited to internal fruit-bearing — that is, growing in the fruit of the Spirit mentioned in Galatians 5:22-23. As important as that is, the charge to “go” and bear fruit makes it reasonably certain that Jesus is referring here to fruit born by our Christian influence upon other people’s lives.
John 15:8 This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit.
- •• As you ponder the call of the believer to go and bring forth fruit — that is, to be sowers and reapers of a spiritual harvest — remember that God the Father is glorified by the fruit born through our evangelistic efforts. It is helpful if we view our soulwinning efforts as motivated by the goal of God being glorified by the results.
•• So then, how does the Bible teach us to participate effectively in the reaping of a great soul harvest?
1) Properly Prepare the Soil —
Romans 10:1 Brothers, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for the Israelites is that they may be saved.
- •• Intercessory prayer! Prayer for lost souls breaks up the hard ground of their hearts.
•• One pastor with much wisdom concerning church planting described his strategy in establishing a new church. He said that he would initially go into the targeted town and do nothing but pray for the first three weeks. After having done that — that is, preparing the soil by prayer to receive seed — he would begin to go forth and minister.
•• One ministry spoke of their people having prayed extensively for the residents of a 200-unit apartment complex. They then contacted those residents and got 199 favorable reactions to initial overtures with the Gospel. The ground had been prepared by prayer.
•• We live in the predominantly agricultural Rogue Valley of Oregon. If we were to throw all the seed in our valley on rock-hard, untilled soil, virtually none of it would produce a crop. First the soil needs to be prepared. In the spiritual realm, we can prepare the soil of men’s hearts through prayer.
2) Sow Lots of Good Seed —
Luke 8:4-5, 11 ...[Jesus] told this parable: “A farmer went out to sow his seed....  The seed is the word of God.”
- •• When I have planted lawns, I have always doubled the recommended measure of seed. I sow lots of grass seed and have always had good lawns. Similarly, sow lots of the good “seed” of the “word of God”. For example:
- • “Be ready always to give an answer [a Scriptural answer] to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you” (1 Peter 3:15, KJV).
• Make sure that “the word of [your] testimony” (Revelation 12:11) is saturated with God’s word.
• In appropriate contexts, go forth and “preach the word” (2 Timothy 4:2), teach the word, share God’s word in your personal witnessing.
Matthew 13:38 The field is the world, and the good seed stands for the sons of the kingdom.
- •• First we saw the sowing of the seed of the word of God. Here we see another important seed — the good seed of Christian people sown in the world. This means such things as:
- • Getting involved with unsaved neighbors, friends, and coworkers...
• Showing the love of God to others through various acts of kindness
• Befriending people and, as opportunity arises in these new relationships, sharing your personal testimony
3) Spread Sufficient Fertilizer —
Matthew 4:4 Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man does not live on bread alone, but [man lives] on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’ ”
- •• To grow, a crop needs fertilizer, which can be likened to a steady teaching of God’s Word. This is distinct from the initial sowing of the seed of God’s word which planted the crop at the beginning. Now this budding crop needs ongoing nurturing, and this is done in great measure by a steady diet of God’s word.
•• An evangelist friend of mine spoke of ministry in Africa where they saw 100,000 new converts in one region. They had to entrust these new saints for follow-up ministry into the hands of just a few existing churches in that area. He lamented the fact that these new converts were not likely to receiving the continual nurture of God’s word that would lead them to Christian maturity.
•• In the 1970s I was involved in ministry at Abbott Loop Christian Center in Anchorage, Alaska. At that time we were seeing rapid growth, with literally hundreds of new Christians placed by the Lord in our care. How did we nourish those hungry new saints? — (1) The word of God was preached and taught three times a week in church services. And (2) we began in that local church a Bible School with which we were able to “fertilize” that great harvest of souls with extensive nourishment from the word of God. Eventually about 1,200 of the saints from that church, well established in the word, were sent out on teams to plant new churches in the USA and overseas.
4) Provide Plenty of Water —
- •• A gardening expert once told me of an experiment that had been done with two identical plots of grass. One was watered fairly heavily, the other just moderately. The plot of grass receiving the most water thrived and looked better than the one given less water. This is just common sense, and it applies also in the spiritual realm.
John 7:37-39a ...“If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.” By this he meant the Spirit...
Acts 1:5,8 For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.... (8) you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.
- •• Christians new and old need to be encouraged to receive the biblical baptism with the Holy Spirit with the Scriptural evidence of speaking in tongues. As a result, Jesus said, there will come from within you a flow of “living water”. Jesus also promised from that Holy Spirit anointing a power to be His witnesses.
•• This flow of living, Holy-Ghost water from within you will:
- • water your own plant, your own spiritual life, and...
• touch others, for we are called to “go and bear fruit” (John 15:16) in the lives of those around us.
5) Do Appropriate Pest Control —
Matthew 28:19-20a Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.
- •• Get them properly baptized in water, to bury the old man of sin. Biblical “pest control”!
•• “Make disciples ... teaching them to obey everything” Jesus has commanded. This speaks of transformation, of change, of putting off the old and putting on the new (Ephesians 4:22-24).
These things are the biblical recipe for a good crop, the kind of spiritual harvest that Jesus desires — “...I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit — fruit that will last” (John 15:16).
- 1) Properly prepared soil — hearts opened by prayer
2) Lots of good seed — God’s word sown and lived out by God’s people
3) Sufficient fertilizer — ongoing, systematic instruction in the Bible, the word of God
4) Plenty of water — the baptism with the Holy Spirit
5) Appropriate pest control — Water baptism to bury the old man of sin, and exhortation and instruction in the changed life that pleases the Lord
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©1998, James H. Feeney. Copyright statement.