The Lord’s Provision for Ministry (part 4)

I remember once getting a missionary newsletter in the mail from a pastor in a foreign country that clearly was stretching the truth. In baptist circles, they might say he was speaking “evangelastically.” This missionary wrote glowingly of the tens of thousands that had come to salvation, and about the thousands that he had baptized as a result. Then, a little harder to find, he mentioned that his church had added new members–but only a tiny handful. His whole congregation was about two dozen people.

Now I don’t begrudge the hard work of evangelism. The spiritual soil in some places is harder than others. My issue is when a person claims that thousands of souls are saved but the church has only two dozen people. Where did the rest go? Something isn’t right. In the decision-driven mindset, this may work, but when I read my Bible I don’t see these things. But I guess when you are writing home to supporters, the fear of man drives you to report big numbers to show you are doing your job. It’s a shame because God doesn’t expect men to convert souls. That’s His prerogative.

In my previous posts in this series, I have laid out the many ways that God provides for his ministers. You can read those posts here: The Lord’s Provision for Ministry (part 1) and The Lord’s Provision for Ministry (part 2) and Part 3: In these posts, I am showing that the Lord provides in six ways. Here is the fifth way:

He Gives Us Souls Converted

“Then he left there and went to the house of a man named Titius Justus, a worshiper of God, whose house was next to the synagogue. Crispus, the leader of the synagogue, believed in the Lord with all his household, and many of the Corinthians when they heard were believing and being baptized.” (Acts 18:7-8, NASB95)

Outside of the synagogue the Lord brought the gospel of salvation to some important people that would affect the ministry in Corinth. Verse 7 mentions Titius Justus, a man with a Roman name, but who had become a convert to Judaism. God had saved him through the gospel that Paul preached. Since Paul had anathematized the synagogue, a meeting place would be needed. How blessed that the Lord saved the guy who lived right next door!

Furthermore, verse 8 tells us of the salvation of a man named Crispus who was saved along with his whole family. This man was a ruler of the synagogue, meaning that he had responsibilities in the synagogue and would have been thought of as important and highly regarded by all Jews in the city. His salvation would have been a huge blow to the Jews in Corinth. And then the end of verse 8 mentions that many others were saved and baptized in the city. The church had begun!

Growing up my mom had a vegetable garden in our backyard. I remember one year she let me and my brother plant watermelon seeds. We were responsible for weeding, watering and doing all the yardwork, a job we did nearly every weekend. It wasn’t normally very fun. But harvesting the fruit of our labors was always a joy! It made the hard work worth it all. Farmers know this truth well, and Paul used this image for those who serve God.

In 1 Corinthians 3:6-9, Paul wrote this to the church he planted there some years later: “I planted, Apollos watered, but God was causing the growth. So then neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but God who causes the growth. Now he who plants and he who waters are one; but each will receive his own reward according to his own labor. For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, God’s building.” (1 Corinthians 3:6-9, NASB95) 

Just like God makes watermelon seeds grow into watermelons, it is God alone who brings people to salvation. But like the farmer, we labor with him. Have you ever had the privilege of leading a sinner to God’s throne of grace, resulting in their salvation? There is nothing better! God provides this blessing to those who are faithful to share his gospel message faithfully. 

Theological Commitments of the Biblical Gospel: Preserving True Saints to the End


Preservation of the True Saints

This doctrine will have an impact when we come across a person (whether inside or outside of the church) who says that they received Christ as Savior at an earlier time, but that they have “backslidden” or lost their salvation and need to be saved again (or similarly, “rededicate my life to Christ”). But as we are assured in Rom 8:28-39 and other passages (Jn 6:37; 10:27-29; 17:12; 18:9; 1Cor 1:8-9; Phil 1:6; 1Thess 5:23-24; 2Thess 3:3; 2Tim 1:12; 4:18; Heb 7:25), our assurance of salvation is based upon the bedrock of the gospel. This is primary.

But a close corollary that cannot be missed is the need to walk in newness of life (Rom 6:4), bearing fruit in keeping with repentance (Matt 3:8), renewing our minds to conform to Christ (Rom 12:1-2; Col 3:10), putting off the old self, putting indwelling sin to death and putting on the new man(Rom 6:6; Eph 4:2; Col 2:11; 3:9), walking in the Spirit and not in the flesh (Rom 8:4; Gal 5:25).

All of these together, and more, mean that a person redeemed by Christ is a new creation and should not walk in their former manner of life. If that has not happened, then that person may need salvation for the first time and has not come to grips with the fulness of the truth of the gospel. Another possibility is that they are a true believer, but they have been disobedient to the Lord for an extended period of time, are immature, and in need of loving correction and to be discipled.

The bottom line is this: many of those in America who profess to be Christians know little to nothing about the true gospel and are in need of salvation. Some have been “Christianized” through exposure to the church, but their lives demonstrate a rebellion to our King. They too must be evangelized.

Those who are sincere and broken will need further conversation and observation to conclude their spiritual state, along with many gospel conversations that will either bring them to Christ or bring them to stability and point them toward maturity.