.It is no secret that we have been called to witness to others. Further it is no secret that it is a command from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Many times, we focus on this fact in our efforts to rally more folks to come out to Soul-Winning and be a witness in their day to day lives. Obedience certainly is a key aspect in Soul-Winning, but oftentimes we do not stress enough the results of obedience.
In John 12:23-26 Jesus gives us a clear indication of this principle in light of his impending crucifixion.
John 12: 23-26
“And Jesus answered them, saying, The hour is come, that the Son of man should be glorified. Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit. He that loveth his life shall lose it; and he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal. If any man serve me, let him follow me; and where I am, there shall also my servant be: if any man serve me, him will my Father honour.”
Several items could be noted by this passage:
1. Abundance (fruit-bearing) comes from a sacrificed life.
Of course, we understand the immediate implication of this passage is our Savior’s death, burial, and resurrection. This is clear when He states in the first verse “The hour is come, that the Son of man should be glorified.” But the truth is enlarged by Jesus Himself as the passage continues. In verse 26 we should mark the phrase, “If any man serve me, let him follow me;” Just as Jesus gave his life a ransom for many (Matthew 20:28, Mark 10:45), we too, if we are to be fruitful, must live a life sacrificed unto God. Herein we are given the great picture of fruit bearing. A seed that is unplanted, not buried in the ground, will produce no fruit whatsoever. But rather a seed must be planted in the ground; it must die and become food for the fruit vine that comes up out of it. This is certainly what Paul portrays to us in Galatians 2:20 when he states, “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.”
a. The abundant Christian life is not a selfish life.
b. The abundant Christian life is a selfless life.
John Phillips in looking at this passage puts it this way, “It is possible to have a saved soul and a lost life.” (John Phillips) What a tremendous statement. Oliver B. Greene in looking at this passage states this as well, “He who loves his life, he who thinks more of life in this world than he thinks of the life to come, shall LOSE that which is the best part of his life-the inner man , the soul that will never die.” (Oliver B Greene)
So we can understand, fruit-bearing abundance comes from a sacrificed life, but secondly:
2. Loss according to the World is gain for the Christian.
Notice in verse 25 that the Lord gives us a paradox.
v25 “He that loveth his life shall lose it; and he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal.”
Seemingly on the surface this statement makes absolutely no sense because Man reasons in the opposite direction. This is portrayed for us in the philosophy of the Epicureans in Acts chapter 17 (Acts 17:18) whose worldly mantra was simply materialism.
Epicurus, the founder of Epicureanism stated this:
“Death does not concern us, because as long as we exist, death is not here. And when it does come, we no longer exist.”
“It is folly for a man to pray to the gods for that which he has the power to obtain by himself.”
Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ on the other hand teaches us something that is vastly different.
a. Man’s grasp on self ----will end up in loss.
This 'self' life is the life that is concerned for the things that this world has to offer. This 'self' life is grasping for that which is only temporal to obtain joy. This kind of life will end up in loss. But on the positive side:
b. Man’s grasp on obedience (to Jesus Christ) -----will end up in reward.
II Corinthians 5:10 “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.”
So far we understand that abundance comes from a sacrificed life, and loss according to this world is gain for the Christian, but lastly:
3. Obedience Results in Joy.
Consider the following verses:
I Chronicles 29:9 “Then the people rejoiced, for that they offered willingly, because with perfect heart they offered willingly to the LORD: and David the king also rejoiced with great joy.”
A few verses later David states, “I know also, my God, that thou triest the heart, and hast pleasure in uprightness. As for me, in the uprightness of mine heart I have willingly offered all these things: and now have I seen with joy thy people, which are present here, to offer willingly unto thee.” I Chronicles 29:17
The people had great joy because they obeyed in giving generously to the building of the temple which Solomon would accomplish.
In the days of Hezekiah, a move was made by that godly king to be in obedience to God by keeping the feast of Unleavened Bread (II Chronicles 30:21)
And in II Chronicles 30: 26,27 the Bible says, “So there was great joy in Jerusalem: for since the time of Solomon the son of David king of Israel there was not the like in Jerusalem. Then the priests the Levites arose and blessed the people: and their voice was heard, and their prayer came up to his holy dwelling place, even unto heaven.”
In Ezra 3:12 because of the rebuilding of the Temple God's Word states, “many shouted aloud for joy:”
God laid on the heart of Nehemiah to rebuild the wall in Jerusalem. In Nehemiah chapter 12 we have this verse spoken of concerning the obedience of those that returned with him:
“Also that day they offered great sacrifices, and rejoiced: for God had made them rejoice with great joy: the wives also and the children rejoiced: so that the joy of Jerusalem was heard even afar off.” Nehemiah 12:43
The psalmist tells us, “Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.” Psalm 16:11
Psalm 126: 5,6 “They that sow in tears shall reap in joy. He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him.”
Proverbs 15:21 (Speaking of the shallowness of worldly joy)
“Folly is joy to him that is destitute of wisdom: but a man of understanding walketh uprightly.”
Proverbs 21:15 “It is joy to the just to do judgment: but destruction shall be to the workers of iniquity.”
The truth is we could continue our trek through God's Word and see example after example where obedience and joy in the life of a Christian are connected. Getting back to our passage in John the Lord continues and tells us first:
a. One who serves, must follow.
v26 “If any man serve me, let him follow me”
We cannot stress enough the connection between lip service and feet service. One who is a disciple of Jesus Christ is one who is following Jesus Christ not only in speech but in action as well.
So one who 'serves,' must follow but that simply means:
b. One who follows, obeys.
v26 “If any man serve me, let him follow me”
Following is obedience. So putting this all together up to this point shows us that one who 'serves" must follow and if they are following really that means they are obedient.
Well what is one of the results of obedience?
c. The servant of Christ is in the presence of Christ.
v26 “If any man serve me, let him follow me; and where I am, there shall also my servant be:”
One might say, am I not always in the presence of God whether being obedient or not? And physically speaking yes. God is omnipresent and therefore physically speaking we are never closer or farther away from God at any point. We also have the promise in God's Word which tells us He will never leave us or forsake us (Hebrews 13:5). But in terms of fellowship we are hindered in our disobedience.
I John 1:6,7 “If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth: But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin”
Yes of course it is true that we will ultimately be in heaven with Jesus Christ one day for those who are saved, but why not enjoy His the presence of Christ right now?
That of course leads us to the last statement which is:
d. The servant of Christ will have Joy.
v26 “if any man serve me, him will my Father honour.”
The most miserable Christian in the world is one who is disobedient to God. Dr. Clarence Sexton makes this cautioning statement concerning our service to the Lord, “Making service the goal leads to the belief that we can never do enough.”
But let me add to that with this statement: when we are obedient to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ we have great joy!
Why is it that most Christians seem to look at the Christian life as an enormous burden?
Why is it that Soul-Winning is considered something we have to do rather than something we get to do? Perhaps it is because some have never experienced the joy of being obedient to the Lord.
Not one time have I come back from Soul-Winning and said, “Boy I wish I had never done that!”
- Pastor James, Community Outreach Pastor, Sharon Baptist Church
Sharon Baptist church is an independent, fundamental Baptist church located in Hampton, VA.
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