God’s Call for Workers


God’s Call for Workers

January 14th, 1968 @ 7:30 PM

Luke 10:2

Therefore said he unto them, The harvest truly is great, but the labourers are few: pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he would send forth labourers into his harvest.
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Dr. W. A. Criswell

Luke 10:2

1-14-68    7:30 p.m.


On the radio you are sharing the services of the First Baptist Church in Dallas.  This is the pastor bringing the evening message entitled God’s Call for Workers.  It is an exposition of the first part of the tenth chapter of the Book of Luke.  Now as you share the service on the radio with us who fill this great auditorium, turn with us to the Gospel of Luke, and we shall read together the first six verses.  Luke chapter 9—did I say?  Wait a minute, Luke chapter 10.  Luke chapter 10 and we shall read the first nine verses.  Luke chapter 10, the first nine verses; now, all of us reading it out loud together:

After these things the Lord appointed other seventy also, and sent them two and two before His face into every city and place, whither He Himself would come.

Therefore said He unto them, The harvest truly is great, but the laborers are few: pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that He would send forth laborers into His harvest.

Go your ways: behold, I send you forth as lambs among wolves.

Carry neither purse, nor scrip, nor shoes: and salute no man by the way.

And into whatsoever house ye enter, first say, Peace be to this house.

And if the son of peace be there, your peace shall rest upon it: if not, it shall turn to you again.

And in the same house remain, eating and drinking such things as they give: for the laborer is worthy of his hire. Go not from house to house.

And into whatsoever city ye enter, and they receive you, eat such things as are set before you:

And heal the sick that are therein, and say unto them, The kingdom of God is come nigh unto you.

[Luke 10:1-9]

And the message will continue as I preach it through the twenty-first verse of this chapter.  On Sunday night we are preaching through the life of Christ, have been for years, will continue to do so.  Every Sunday night there is a message in this pulpit about Jesus, something of our Lord, and this message tonight in the tenth chapter of the Gospel of Luke is directed to the ministry, the mediation of the grace and mercy and healing presence of our precious and living Lord.

First: the great destitution; “After these things the Lord appointed other seventy also, and sent them out.  Then said He unto them, ‘The harvest truly is great, but the laborers are few’” [Luke 10:1-2].  This is not the first time that I have seen our Lord as He looks in compassion on the needs of the people.  They are sick and need healing.  They are lost and need salvation.  They are untaught and need somebody to teach them.  As I turn back through the Gospels, how many times, how many times will you find the Lord moved by the lost, the sick, the hungry, the troubled, the sorrowful, the needy.  For example:

But when He saw the multitudes, He was moved with compassion on them, because they fainted, and were as sheep scattered abroad without a shepherd.

Then saith He unto His disciples, The harvest truly is plenteous, but the laborers are few.

[Matthew 9:36-37] 

I turn the page.  When He called the twelve [Matthew 10:1-4], He spoke again of the needs of the people [Matthew 10:01]: they fainted, they were sick, they were lost.  I turn the page.  When He sent out the twelve they were commissioned to preach the gospel to the poor, to heal the sick, to minister to those who were oppressed [Matthew 10:5-8].  And when I come now to the tenth chapter of the Book of Luke, I find the Lord in the same compassionate response to the people all around Him.  The harvest truly is great; the need is immeasurable and illimitable [Luke 10:1-2].

Second: the prayer for help, for ministers, for workers; “Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that He will thrust forth, send forth laborers into His harvest” [Luke 10:2].   You would think, with our Lord praying a prayer like that, that the king and the president of the Sanhedrin and Gamaliel School of Theology—with Shammais and Hillels—that the great, and mighty, and learned, and rich of the land would have responded to so great an appeal, so urgent an intercession [Luke 10:2].

Who responded?  A few fishermen, a publican or so? [Matthew 10:1-4]. These whom the learned described as agrammatoi kai idiōtai; men who were untaught and unlearned.  It has always been so.  Paul wrote:

Look at your calling, brethren, not many wise after the flesh, not many mighty, not many great:

For God hath chosen the weak things of this world to confound the mighty:

And the unlearned in this world, to bring to nought the wisdom of the wise.

[1 Corinthians 1:26-28]

“Pray ye the Lord of the harvest, that He will send forth laborers into His harvest” [Luke 10:2].  And when these, who are humble and sometimes untaught, respond, it is an answer to prayer.  Nor are we to think we have failed when so many great and so many mighty and so many wise after the flesh do not respond.  For this is the great preparation.  “Behold, I send you forth” [Luke 10:3].

In so vast and illimitable a need, instead of sending twelve [Matthew 10:1, 5-15], why did He not send twelve hundred?  Here in the tenth chapter of Luke, before such a colossal harvest of need, instead of sending seventy [Luke 10:1-11], why did He not send seventy thousand?  Because there are not many who will prepare themselves, in nearness to God and closeness to Jesus, to go.  Before God sends one, first he must be carefully prepared.  The Twelve were carefully chosen, and then they were sent, and these seventy others were carefully trained and then they were sent.  First:  we must know God, we must know Jesus, we must be close to the Lord, if we have any message to deliver and any power to move.

I cannot but still remember the impression made upon me when I was a theological student, and one of my friends, having graduated from the seminary I was attending, had gone to the world famous seminary in New York City for graduate study.  He asked me to come up there and stay with him awhile, and I accepted the invitation.  And I attended somewhat, visited somewhat, the seminary, the world-famed seminary in New York City.

And as I sat there and looked at those men and heard them speak, their words and their message was speculative.  It was philosophical; it was possibly this but it also possibly could be that.  It was maybe somewhat true in this instance but somewhat false in another instance.  There was uncertain, speculative drivel in all that they taught and said.

And in that visit, that night that so burned in my memory, I went to a mission.  It was full of the flotsam and jetsam of humanity, but there was a fine man standing there leading that service and bringing that message.  The whole spirit of it warmed my heart and blessed my soul.  After it was over I went up to that man, introduced myself and said, “I want to know who you are.  Are you a preacher?”

“No,” he said, “I am not a preacher.”

“Well,” I said, “What do you do?”

He said, “I am a stockbroker on Wall Street.”

“Well,” I said, “Why are you here?”

He said, “I have been saved.  I have been saved, and I just tell others what Jesus has done for me, and I do this all the time.”

And he had a circuit of missions in which he worked, to which he contributed his life and his money.  He was no theologian.  He was no preacher.  He was no trainee in any seminary, but he’d been wondrously saved, and he knew God, and he was giving his life to telling what the Lord had done for him.

And that leads me to the next part, the great message, what is it?  “And He sent them forth, saying, heal the sick and preach the gospel, saying, ‘The kingdom of God is come nigh to you’” [Luke 10:9].  What is our message?  What are we to say?  Well, sometimes, I myself fall into the trap, into the abysmal persuasion that I am to argue, and I am to defend.  Every time I do that, I am unhappy with myself and disgusted with what I’ve done.

I so well remember, in an afternoon I’d gone out to visit, to win souls, and I stopped at a home and knocked at a door.  Strangers, introduced myself, was invited in, and I found myself spending the whole afternoon arguing about whether salvation was achieved in the washing of water, arguing with a certain denomination and a certain church that believes that baptism water washes your sins away.

And of course I was saying, “My friend, you could scrub me with lye soap and you couldn’t wash the stain of sin out of my soul.  The Bible says, it is the blood of Christ that cleanses us from all sin” [1 John 1:7], but I spent the entire afternoon arguing.  Then when the evening came and I left, just as they were when I came, so they were when I left.  Arguing never did any good, never.  And I left and I remember the feeling of loss and disappointment and disgust.

What am I to do?  Just like Jesus said, announce the good news, herald the marvelous, marvelous message [Luke 4:18].  What has God done for you, anything?  Then say that.  What does Jesus mean to you?  Say that!  No argument, no defense, no anything but an announcement.  It is called the euaggelion, the good news! [1 Corinthians 2:2]. Say it; that’s enough, that’s enough.

I remember reading one time of a commuter train out of New York City up to Connecticut.  And for years, they said, on that train, on that commuter train filled with people who worked in New York City and lived up in Connecticut, there would go up and down that commuter train a man.  And from coach to coach he would say, “Is there any blind in your family?  Are there any blind among your friends?  See Dr. Carl; he restored my sight.”

No argument, just the announcement, the heralding of the good news!  “Is any blind in your family?  Are any blind among your friends?  See Dr. Carl; he restored my sight.”  Are any lost in your family?  Are any lost among your friends?  See the blessed Jesus; He saved my soul [Acts 4:12].  If I were to die tonight, I’d die trusting Him.  A simple message, an announcement, a herald, a testimony: the kingdom of God has come [Luke 10:9].  It is a great responsibility; the hearing of the gospel message bears with it, oh! such divine repercussions:

Into whatever city you go, and they receive you not,

shake the very dust off your feet.  It shall be a witness against them.

I say unto you, it will be more tolerable for Sodom in the day of judgment than for them.

Woe Chorazin!  woe Bethsaida!  for if the mighty works and witness had been done in Tyre and Sidon, that had been done in you, they would have repented and been saved long ago.

  [Luke 10:10-13; Mark 6:11]

It is our responsibility to witness.  The choice, the decision lies with these who hear God’s message of grace and salvation, and, oh!  the tragedy of turning aside from God’s overtures of mercy.  It shall be more tolerable for Sodom, for Tyre and Sidon, than for you!  Always is that shadow in the preaching of the gospel.  To those who turn it is a savor of life unto life, but to those who refuse it is the savor of death unto death [2 Corinthians 2:16].  But my responsibility is I must herald the good news.  I must deliver the message: “Jesus died for you!” [1 Corinthians 15:3; Hebrews 2:9; 1 John 2:2].

In one of my pastorates, there came a young man from the city, working in one of the small industrial institutions in our little county seat town.  And he was a lost boy, and I had done my best to win him to the Lord, and I turned him over to a fine Sunday school teacher.  He was a professor in our high school there in our county seat town, and that teacher did his best, he did his best; and upon a night that boy suddenly was stricken and died.  And the high school teacher came to me, to whom I had given the responsibility of trying to win the young man to Jesus.  And he said to me, “Dear, pastor, oh!”  he said, “I feel so heavy-hearted.  I am so sad.  But, pastor…” and he raised his hand to heaven; he said, “but, pastor, on my word, I did my best, and his blood is not on my hands.”

After we have done our best, we have said the word, we have preached the gospel, we have pressed the appeal, we have told of the goodness of Jesus, the decision lies with them.  Nor does God coerce, nor are we able to save.  It is between them and the great Almighty before whom someday they shall stand [2 Corinthians 5:9; Revelation 20:11-15].  Now, the great report, the marvelous blessing:

And the seventy returned with joy, saying, Lord, even the devils, even the demons, are subject unto us in Thy name.

And the Lord said, I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven.

 [Luke 10:17-18] 

Pesonta, fall—an aorist, like that, like that—like the Lord said in the sixteenth chapter of the Gospel of John, “Of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged” [John 16:11].  Already, not going to fail, not going to be judged, not going to be damned and destroyed forever, but already!  That’s what God says about Satan and about Satan’s kingdom.   And the Lord repeats that same theological idea here.  “’Behold,’ He said, ‘I saw Satan as lighting fall out of the sky’” [Luke 10:18], down into the bottomless pit and into the eternal damnation of hell forever and ever [Revelation 20:10].  Already, already, just like that, not forever will God allow evil, and wicked, and wrong, and vice, and sin, and hurt, and tears, and death in this world [Revelation 21:4].  Someday God shall take it away.  He shall do that when Satan is finally destroyed.

I saw him as lightning fall from heaven.  Notwithstanding, notwithstanding in this rejoice not, that the spirits are subject unto you; but rather rejoice, that your names are written in heaven—in God’s Book of Life

 [Luke 10:18, 20; Revelation 20:12, 15]

I may be sick, but my name is written in heaven [Luke 10:20]; I may be slandered, but my name is written in heaven [Luke 10:20]; I may be dying, but my name is written in heaven [Luke 10:20].  And the great judgment day is come, and hell yawns to receive the souls of the lost and the damned; but my name is written in heaven [Luke 10:20].

“In this rejoice, that your names are written in heaven” [Luke 10:20].  I’ve been saved, bless God! Oh, thank You Lord! I’ve been saved, my name is written in heaven.  And the great joy of the Lord:

In that hour Jesus rejoiced in Spirit, and said, I thank Thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that Thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes: even so, Father; for so it seemed good in Thy sight.

[Luke 10:21]

What a preciousness!  God hath revealed these great and eternal truths, who Jesus is and His atoning grace and mercy [Romans 5:11; Titus 3:5], His love and salvation [Galatians 2:20].  God has revealed it not to the wise after the flesh, not to the mighty in this earth, for so many of them cannot see it.  But a little child can see it.  And the great throngs of the masses see it.  And anybody, including me, can find life, and strength, and salvation, and comfort, and help in Jesus my Lord.  And you can, and you can.

If you are tired of the load of your sin,

Let Jesus come into your heart;

If you desire a new life to begin,

Let Jesus come into your heart.

Just now your doubting give o’er,

Just now reject Him no more;

Just now throw open the door,

Let Jesus come into your heart.

[“Let Jesus Come into your Heart,” Leila N. Morris, 1898]

“And Jesus rejoiced in Spirit, saying, ‘I thank Thee Lord that Thou hast revealed these things unto babes’” [Luke 10:21].  To be converted and to become as a little child [Mark 10:15], and to receive as from heaven the love and mercy and gift of God in Christ Jesus, do it [Ephesians 2:8].  A child can do it.  You can do it.

“Lord, I open my heart; come in.  Lord, write my name in the Book of Life [Revelation 20:12, 15, 21:27].  Master, save me [Romans 10:13].  Forgive me” [1 John 1:9].  At the moment you step toward God, God moves toward you.  The moment you open your heart, Jesus comes in.  Just invite Him [Revelation 3:20].  Just come; just say yes, just move, and God does it.  He never fails us.  He never lets us down.  Do it tonight.

In a moment we shall sing our song of appeal.  While we sing that song, down one of these stairwells, at the front or the back on either side, into the aisle here in this auditorium, come and stand by me.  “Pastor, tonight I give you my hand.  I give my heart to Jesus.”  Or, “Pastor, we’re coming into the fellowship of this dear church.  This is my wife.  These are our children.  All of us are coming tonight.”  Or one somebody you, make it now.  Decide now, and in a moment when we stand to sing, stand coming.  Into that aisle, down that stairway, into that aisle, down to the front, “Here I come, pastor, I make it now.”

A little child and welcome; a teenager and God bless you; a young married couple, the Lord attend your way; you, however God shall press the appeal to your heart, decide now; let Jesus into your life.  Take God with you as you pilgrimage through the days of these years.  Rejoice in heaven.  Be glad in Jesus.  Come; come and be saved tonight.  “And here I am, preacher; here I come.”  Do it; do it, while we stand and while we sing.

[Choir Sings]

Sometimes, somebody wars in his soul, and sometimes if our people pray, he gets the victory in Jesus.  Now the best you can, just bow your head before the Lord and ask God for that somebody who may be warring in his soul about a decision he ought to make for Jesus.  Ask God to bless him.  We can’t win any war by ourselves.  We can in Him.  Just pray your best for that somebody who wars in his soul.

And if that somebody is you, while our people pray and while our choir softly sings the appeal, you come.  Let Jesus win it for you.  Let God do it for you.  We can’t do it ourselves, I know, but He can.  We’re weak; He is strong.  He never lost a battle.  Give yourself to Him.  Say, “Lord, here I am; here I come.”  Do it, while our people pray and while our choir sings.


Dr. W.
A. Criswell

Luke 10:1-9


I.          The great destitution

A.   The harvest is plenteous
(Luke 10:1-2)

1.  The
Lord calls attention to the needs of the people (John
4, Luke 9, Luke 6:13-19)

      2.  The compassion
of Jesus (Matthew 9:36-37)

II.         The prayer for help (Luke 10:2)

A.  Who responded?

      1.  A few humble,
untaught (1 Corinthians 1:26-28)

III.        The great preparation (Luke 10:3)

A.  So great the need,
why not send more?

      1.  First they
were trained

Must know God if we have any message to deliver and power to move

IV.       The great message (Luke 10:9)

A.  No
need to argue, defend; but to announce (1 John
1:7, Luke 10:10-13, Mark 6:11)

Our responsibility to witness; the decision lies with them who hear (2 Corinthians 2:16)

V.        The great victory (Luke 10:17-18)

A.  Not forever will God
allow evil in this world (Luke 10:18-20)

B.  Our names are written
in heaven – rejoice! (Luke 10:21)