Working For The Lord
Now after this the Lord appointed seventy others, and sent them out ahead of Him, two by two, into every city and place where He was about to go. He was saying to them, “The harvest is abundant [for there are many who need to hear the good news about salvation], but the workers [those available to proclaim the message of salvation] are few. Therefore, [prayerfully] ask the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into His harvest. (Luke 10:1-2)
The moment a person is saved he can begin to do something for the Master. The sooner you come to Christ, the more you can do for Him. If you are saved a year from now, you can begin to work for Christ, but there will be one year gone that will never come back. You are associated with friends now who you can lead to Christ. A year from now, they may be past reach. I had a friend who lived in the same building as I before I was converted. Had I been a Christian then, I could have led him to Christ. Three years later, after I had accepted Christ, we had gone our separate ways.
One day, I picked up the New York Times and began to read about a young man who was out playing ball. The man in center field threw the ball in. This young man’s back was toward center field and he was struck at the base of the brain. He never regained consciousness. My father said, “Isn’t that your old friend?” I took the paper and read it and said, “Yes, it is my old friend.” He was called into eternity without a moments warning, and my opportunity of bringing him to Christ was gone forever! In the years that have come since, God has used me to lead others to Christ, but I have often thought of Frank. In spite of all those who are now coming to Christ, Frank has gone and my opportunity of leading him to Christ is lost forever. If you postpone accepting Christ for thirty days, people who you might have reached during those thirty days will have passed beyond your reach forever.
The sooner you come to Christ, the richer will be your eternity. We are saved by grace, but we are rewarded by our works. Everyday after a man is saved, he lays up treasures in heaven.(Matthew 6:20) Everyday you live for Christ, you will be that much richer for all eternity.
Some people have an idea that a man can be saved on his deathbed and have just as abundant entrance into the kingdom of God as he could have if he had been saved forty years. Neither common sense nor the Bible supports that thought. A man may be saved on his deathbed, but he is saved “so as through fire.”(1 Corinthians 3:15) His works are all burned up, and he enters heaven penniless. The man who is saved forty years before he dies and serves Christ for those years makes his deposits for which he will be richer throughout all eternity. “Lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven.”(Matthew 6:20)
If you come to Christ while you are still young, you can enter the kingdom of God with much fuller hands. I thank God I was converted when I was young, but what would I give for those wasted years while I deliberately resisted the. Spirit of God. But I can’t call them back.
Jesus spoke of us “laying up treasures in heaven” and later Paul will say that our “works will be tried by fire.” There are a lot of ideas about these treasures and works. There are those who suppose that when they give to the church or to charity that they are laying up treasures in heaven. Others believe that their acts of kindness such as feeding the hungry or clothing the poor qualify as sufficient works that will receive reward. I suppose that to some degree this may be true for they are a reflection of being Christian. But let’s see what the Bible defines as heaven’s treasures and what works that pass through the fire and remain.
We begin with the mission of Christ. We know that while He was here on earth that He met many human needs. We read that He fed the hungry multitude and that He gave health to the sick so that they might live wholesome lives, but that wasn’t His purpose. One might say that those deeds were the extra benefits humans received by being with Jesus.
One day as Jesus is with the disciples, He foretells their mission and purpose.
“Believe Me that I am in the Father and the Father is in Me; otherwise believe [Me] because of the [very] works themselves [which you have witnessed]. I assure you and most solemnly say to you, anyone who believes in Me [as Savior] will also do the things that I do; and he will do even greater things than these [in extent and outreach], because I am going to the Father. (John 14:11-12)
What was the work of Jesus?
“Jesus answered, “I assure you and most solemnly say to you, you have been searching for Me, not because you saw the signs (attesting miracles), but because you ate the loaves and were filled. Do not work for food that perishes, but for food that endures [and leads] to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you; for God the Father has authorized Him and put His seal on Him.” Then they asked Him, “What are we to do, so that we may habitually be doing the works of God?” Jesus answered, “This is the work of God: that you believe [adhere to, trust in, rely on, and have faith] in the One whom He has sent.” Jesus replied to them, “I am the Bread of Life. The one who comes to Me will never be hungry, and the one who believes in Me [as Savior] will never be thirsty [for that one will be sustained spiritually]. This is the will of Him who sent Me, that of all that He has given Me I lose nothing, but that I [give new life and] raise it up at the last day. For this is My Father’s will and purpose, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him [as Savior] will have eternal life, and I will raise him up [from the dead] on the last day.” (John 6:26-29,35,39-40)
Yes, Jesus fed the multitude with natural food but His work was that they might receive the Bread of Life. Everything that Jesus did had at its root purpose that the people might believe in Him for everlasting life. Therefore, every work of the Christian and the church must also have at its root core the purpose of bringing people to Christ. Listen again to Christ defining His work:
“for the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.” (Luke 19:10)
His commission to the disciples and the church is clear as well.
“And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. 1He who has believed [in Me] and has been baptized will be saved [from the penalty of God’s wrath and judgment]; but he who has not believed will be condemned. These signs will accompany those who have believed: in My name they will cast out demons, they will speak in new tongues; they will pick up serpents, and if they drink anything deadly, it will not hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will get well.” So then, when the Lord Jesus had spoken to them, He was taken up into heaven and sat down at the right hand of God. And they went out and preached everywhere, while the Lord was working with them and confirming the word by the signs that followed.] (Mark 16:15-20)
So let us feed the hungry, clothe the poor, do acts of kindness; but let us not forget that the work of Christ and our work is giving the gospel to the lost. Only that work will carry through eternity. If we feed someone today they will be hungry tomorrow; if we clothe them today in a short time they will be in rags again; but if we give them Christ and they become saved, it will carry them throughout this life and into eternity.
The treasures that Christ speaks of is not that we can send money or wealth to heaven. What could we send of those things that heaven doesn’t already have? Let’s be realistic for a moment. Were we able to send gold, it’s value would be almost useless for we read that the streets are paved with gold. Were we able to send valuable jewels, we are told that they make entire gates of those same jewels. So what are these treasures that we lay up in heaven. I guess the first question ought to be is; what does God consider treasure. If we are to be rewarded for laying up treasures, then we ought to know what the One who will reward calls treasure. Nothing from this earth’s material things qualify as treasure.
Malachi gives us a clue to what this treasure is:
“Then those who feared the Lord [with awe-filled reverence] spoke to one another; and the Lord paid attention and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before Him of those who fear the Lord [with an attitude of reverence and respect] and who esteem His name. “They will be Mine,” says the Lord of hosts, “on that day when I publicly recognize them and openly declare them to be My own possession [that is, My very special treasure]. And I will have compassion on them and spare them as a man spares his own son who serves him.” Then you will again distinguish between the righteous and the wicked, between the one who serves God and the one who does not serve Him.” (Malachi 3:16-18)
The KJV version states it this way:
And they shall be mine, saith the Lord of hosts, in that day when I make up my jewels; and I will spare them, as a man spareth his own son that serveth him. (Malachi 3:17)
We can say that the treasure of heaven then are those who have received Christ and have become the children of God. This is what God treasures. So then the laying up of treasures in heaven is the work of bringing people’s Christ and that is the purpose and mission of the church.
Paul tells us that every work we do will be tested:
“Now he that planteth and he that watereth are one: and every man shall receive his own reward according to his own labour. For we are labourers together with God: ye are God’s husbandry, ye are God’s building. According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise masterbuilder, I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon. But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon. For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble; Every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is. If any man’s work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.” (1 Corinthians 3:8-15)
So though we are saved by grace and not works(proclaiming Christ), we will be rewarded by our works- the work of Christ. What a sad thing it will be to be in heaven and though we may have done many good things, there is no one there we have led to Christ. In Revelation we read that “God will wipe away their tears.” I have often wondered about this passage. I can’t imagine being sad about being in heaven. Certainly to see Christ face to face and to be reunited with loved ones will not be an occasion to weep. I’ve come to the conclusion that those tears will be shed when we see the wasted days and years of our lives, the missed opportunities of bringing people to Christ, perhaps as we remember those who are missing.
No matter where you are on your journey, even with all the missed opportunities, you still have time to lay up treasure in heaven.
Sometimes when you are young you don’t think about the future, retirement and such things. Those who are wise begin to plan for their retirement at the beginning of their work years. Others may wait until they are midway of their working days. And others may wait until they are in their later days to begin putting funds aside for retirement. While it would have been good to began sooner rather than later, you can still do something to provide a better retirement. It takes more effort and a larger investment. The longer you wait the more effort and immediate cost there is but it can still be done. The same is true in laying up treasure in heaven. Maybe you have never shared Christ with anyone. It’s not tool late. Start today. You may never gave Christ to all those you could have, some may have moved on and you missed an opportunity; some may have died, and other have become hardened in their sins; but if you ask God will give you opportunities yet.
May it be when we all stand before Jesus, that we can lay at His feet our treasures. May our works pass the test of fire and may they speak for us and glorify God.
In Matthew West’s words: “If not us then who? If not now then when?”
Dr. John Thompson