I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work.
— John 9:4
Several years ago when I lived in downtown Moscow, I frequently used to walk to the local coffee shop in the morning to get a cup of coffee to start my day and to read the Russian newspaper. As I sat at a small table on the sidewalk just outside the coffee shop, I always watched the masses of people who walk by on this street. As they passed by, I couldn’t help but ponder the fact that vast numbers of those precious people were going to hell, yet they were completely blind to their dire predicament.
Because of the former Communist government’s long-term and violent suppression of the Christian faith, it’s most likely that the majority of Moscow’s huge population is uninformed about the very real hell that awaits them if they don’t accept Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. For them, a storm is definitely coming with eternal ramifications, and it absolutely breaks my heart that so many don’t even know it.
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Think of it! Billions of unsaved people from every corner of the world don’t realize that they are sitting directly on the brink of eternal judgment. Clueless to the consequences of sin, they blindly go about their lives as if nothing is amiss — eating, drinking, and taking care of their daily affairs while living a life separated from Jesus Christ. This is a very sad and sobering thought because the Bible plainly states in Romans 6:23 that “the wages of sin is death.” And if nobody warns these people, eternal death assuredly awaits them in their future.
This is the primary reason Denise and I moved to the former Soviet Union with our family so many years ago. We were commissioned by God to proclaim the Gospel to this lost Russian generation — to warn them in advance that, if they receive the Lord, they can escape the judgment that ultimately awaits all unsaved humanity. We constantly proclaim this message on television, in books, in literature, in evangelistic meetings, and in church services. And we are so thankful that we have seen literally millions of people come to Christ through our ministry and thereby seal their eternal destiny with the Lord!
However, there are still millions and millions of lost people to reach who have never heard the good news that Jesus saves, and our job will never be complete until we have reached the largest number of souls possible with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. This problem is not specific to the former Soviet Union; the same is true in every nation of the world, including the United States. Each and every unbeliever needs the saving message that saved and transformed your life and mine, and it is our job to warn them in advance so they can flee that judgment and find safe harbor in Jesus. It is imperative that we use the time given to us now to reach the lost and to work while there is still time to work!
In John 9:4, Jesus said, “I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work.” This verse is incredibly important because it contains a strong admonition for every serious Christian. The attitude of Jesus expressed in this scripture must be our attitude as well.
Notice first that Jesus said, “I must work….” The word “must” is the Greek word dei, which always carries the idea of an obligation or a necessity. This reveals that Jesus urgently and strongly felt that there was no option in the matter. It was imperative, essential, and compulsory that He properly use His time to reach souls. Thus, the first part of the verse could be translated: “For Me, there is no option; what is before Me is certainly compulsory.…”
Then Jesus went on to say, “I must work the works.…” The word “works” comes from the Greek word ergadzomai, which is a form of the word ergos that by itself simply means works. However, when the word ergos becomes the word ergadzomai, it depicts intensified work or something that is completely energized. This is not a light matter; it is something that completely consumes one’s thoughts, attitude, and actions. Thus, when Jesus said, “I must work the works…,” this phrase really carries this idea: “I must give myself completely to the task before Me and do it enthusiastically and passionately.…”
But there is one more very important point. Jesus said, “I must work the works of him that sent me.…” The word “sent” is from the word pempo, which means to send as a messenger or to send on a specific mission. This means that Jesus was no haphazard messenger. He was purposely sent by the Father for a specific reason, and He was accountable for how He performed His mission. This part of the verse, then, actually carries this idea: “I was sent specifically for this mission, and I will answer to the One who sent Me for how I carry out this assignment.”
Taken together, Jesus’ statement could be paraphrased as follows:
“For Me, there is no option, for what is before Me is certainly compulsory. I was sent specifically for this mission and this moment, and I will answer to the One who sent Me regarding how I carry out this assignment. Therefore, I must give myself completely to the task before me and do it enthusiastically and passionately.”
Jesus was also very conscious of the fact that His time was short and that He had to give Himself wholeheartedly to the task assigned to Him while the opportunity was available. He said, “I must work…while it is day….” The word “day” is the Greek word hemera, and it describes the daylight hours when it is possible to see and to work without hindrance. Jesus went on to explain that “…night cometh when no man can work.” The word “night” is the Greek word nuktos, and it describes the darkness of night when it is impossible to see clearly and therefore impossible to work.
Jesus knew that the opportunity before Him was limited. This is true of most opportunities God places before us. If we delay or hesitate too long, the opportunities God gives us will pass us by. It is urgent that we — like Jesus — make the decision to esteem every God-given opportunity as a special gift that cannot be wastefully squandered. Time is a precious gift, and opportunities for the Kingdom are open doors provided by God Himself. Therefore, if God has given you a space of time when you can freely work without hindrance, you need to embrace it as a God- given gift and fervently seek to fulfill what He has called you to do.
Think of how many people you know who were given a remarkable opportunity to do something tremendous, but failed to take advantage of the moment. Because of laziness, hesitation, fear, or a “take it easy” mentality, the opportunity given to those people slipped away and was lost. Don’t let this describe you! If God has given you a moment when you can work to achieve something tremendous — or if an exceptional prospect stands before you that will enable you to make a difference in someone else’s life — then like Jesus, you must give yourself enthusiastically and passionately to the task that lies before you. These kinds of opportunities are usually short-term, so you must seize the moment now while it is still day!
This is exactly how Denise and I feel about our work in the former Soviet Union. Right now the door is wide open for us to work without hindrance, and we fully comprehend that we must work passionately and enthusiastically during this time we’ve been given. Denise and I are not here on a vacation or a pleasure trip. We were purposely sent by the Father to win souls while it is still day, and we know that we will give account to Him for what we do with this precious opportunity He has given us.
Souls are precious to God — so precious, in fact, that He sent His only Son to the earth to redeem people with His blood. Since people are that precious to God, they must be precious to us as well. Therefore, let’s use the God-given opportunities we have, regardless of where we live, to warn people that a life lived apart from Jesus will result in serious eternal consequences. Let’s do all we can to bring them into the safe harbor we have all found in Jesus Christ!
MY PRAYER FOR TODAY
Father, wherever I may reside, I am on a mission field. I was sent when Jesus said: “Go into all the world and preach the Gospel.” You have given me many opportunities to make Christ known through my words, the works of my hands, or the associations You have brought across my path. Each window of opportunity You opened before me was time-sensitive. Some I seized in swift obedience; others I let close through procrastination, laziness, or plain disobedience. Father, I repent for wasting time and opportunities because souls were affected or neglected by my choices. Holy Spirit, I ask You to help me be sensitive to the spiritual needs of others and to obey You quickly when You prompt me to release Your love and truth into people’s lives. I make a fresh commitment to worship You by working to reach, warn, and rescue as many lives as possible so they can have eternal life in Jesus Christ!
I pray this in Jesus’ name!
MY CONFESSION FOR TODAY
I confess that I will place first things first. I will reverence God and esteem what He values. People are precious to God; therefore, people are precious to me. Daily I will thank God for the gift of my salvation through Jesus Christ. I will also show Him my appreciation daily by doing all I can do to tell as many people as I can that there is a Heaven to gain and an eternal hell of never-ending torment to shun. I will not hesitate. I will not draw back. I am compelled to work while it is day, before the window of time closes and the hour comes when no man can work.
I declare this by faith in Jesus’ name!
QUESTIONS FOR YOU TO CONSIDER
- Do you ever think about the vast number of unsaved people you know? If you were one of them, wouldn’t you want a good friend to tell you the truth about Jesus and thereby help you avoid eternal judgment?
- Do you have a prayer list for people that are unsaved? Who is on that list? How often do you pray for them? If you were unsaved, wouldn’t you want someone to be praying for you?
- Are you sensitive to opportunities that the Holy Spirit gives you to share Christ with those who are unsaved? What is a recent opportunity that the Holy Spirit gave you to share Christ with someone?