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‘In your heart will be a song,’ Coleman says of spreading Gospel

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (BP)–In his soft-spoken and gentle voice, Robert E. Coleman stood at the podium after a time of congregational singing and said simply: “To hear that beautiful witness in song, I’m sure the angels joined in the praise of God, for that’s why we’re made.”

Coleman has spent most of his life helping fill the heavenly choir with people who will sing God’s praises for all eternity.

“We’re moving toward that destiny when finally all of God’s people are gathered from every tongue, tribe and nation to praise the Lamb who sits upon that throne,” Coleman, author of the best-selling “Master Plan of Evangelism” and distinguished professor of evangelism and discipleship at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary in Massachusetts, told a Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary chapel audience in inaugurating the Drummond Lectures Series Feb. 22.

“I want us to anticipate that day when finally He gathers His church and the Great Commission is fulfilled,” Coleman said.

Preaching from John 4:34-38 and the familiar story of Jesus and the woman at the well, Coleman shared several principles of the harvest.

“She had a very tragic life. Everyone called her a sinner. So she came [to the well] at a time when she thought she’d be alone,” Coleman recounted. “But when Jesus recognized this woman, He saw her not for what people said she was. He saw her for what He knew she could become by the grace of God.”

As the woman discovered Jesus was the Messiah, “she was so overjoyed that she couldn’t keep it to herself,” Coleman continued. Then as the townspeople began to come out toward Jesus, Coleman said He wanted them to see the potential and opportunity of reaping the harvest.

“He wants them to use spiritual vision and to see what God is already preparing,” Coleman said in noting the first lesson he sees in the story: “[Jesus] wants us to see people not as they appear on the surface, but to see them as God made them to be, to see them with that potential of re-creation and to recognize that God is already working in their heart to prepare them to receive the Gospel of Jesus Christ.”

Second, Coleman said Jesus wanted them to realize the need for workers in the harvest.

“He tells us to pray for the solution of the problem,” Coleman said. “Pray that the Lord of the harvest will send forth workers into the harvest.”

The Great Commission, however, is not “some special call to a few fulltime workers,” Coleman said. “It’s not some gift of the Spirit. The Great Commission is a lifestyle. It’s the way you live every single day. It’s the way the whole church should live.

“When that comes alive in the church, you have a mighty force that reaches out to the ends of the earth.”

Third, Coleman said Jesus was showing the disciples that they were being sent into the harvest.

“We are dispatched. We are sent, not for our own glory, but for the glory of Him who died for us and the sins of the world,” Coleman said. “Yes, it will mean suffering and great sacrifice, but in the midst of it we can sing the praises of God.”

The Christian’s task, he said, is similar to that of the U.S. Coast Guard’s mission of rescuing ships in peril at the risk of their own lives: “We don’t have to come back, but we have to go out.”

The last principle Jesus illustrated, Coleman said, is the reward of joy for bringing others to Jesus.

“He speaks here about receiving the benefit of labor [and] gathering fruits for eternal life. What a reward! Can you think of anything better than that? Eternal life for you and for those who are brought to know Jesus,” Coleman said.

“I can only promise you that if you take this message seriously, there will be a cross, there will be hardship and sacrifice. But whatever awaits you out there in this mission, in your heart will be a song. And you can join the choirs of heaven and that celebration around the throne of God,” Coleman said.

“Oh, that’s reality, that’s eternity. And you can live in that praise of heaven now.”

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  • Cory Miller