On Monday, April 30, I started a poll on the following question:
Jesus said: "The fields are ripe for harvest... I sent you to reap what you have not worked for. Others have done the hard work, and you have reaped the benefits of their labor." (Jn 4:35,38) DOES IT APPLY 2 NON-JUDEO LANDS AS WELL? They don't need preparation and sowing? Rather, they are as equally ripe for harvest as Judea-Samaria was because of previous labor by somebody (local indigenous religions and prophets!)?
A total of 18 votes were cast with the following main results:
YES = 9
I believe it wherever the gospel is preached and people respond. = 5
NO = 1
I'M NOT SURE = 0
One Scholar responded saying: "I think God's Spirit is at work with all people all the time through various way, and sundry ways as Hebrews says. hence they are ready for harvest... but the church is too slow to go."
A Pastor responded saying: "I do believe that even in the remotest areas, the fields are already ripe. First, the Holy Spirit goes before us in all work. He has broken the soil of the hearts and souls so that we can plant the seed. Also, many areas that are not evangelized may have been at one time. Look at Europe, for example, it is now a rich mission field for those who are willing to enter into the labor. And this despite the fact that at one time it sent missionaries out into the field."
The results do show that we have a positive outlook towards the mission field and the work of God trans-religious barriers. We do find a rich example in the birth of Christ Himself. God chose what the Magi knew, their terminological setting (astrology) to tell them about Christ (despite the fact that astrology was prohibited in the Old Testament -- it is not acceptable in NT too). Missionary biographies reveal how missionaries were amazed to find their mission field not to be totally strange but well ready for the Gospel. Among some, the link would perhaps be a prophetic tradition, while among others some sacred book; among others it would be the writing system of their language itself, while among others it would be a certain ritual. Thus, in various ways and at various times, God did speak to people of every tongue and tribe. Don Richardson's ETERNITY IN THEIR HEARTS provides great insights in this field as to how God speaks to people trans-nationally and has prepared them for the Gospel. We only need to trust the Spirit to reveal to us the language in which we can speak to them. The field is truly ripe for the harvest. In fact, it has been so for the past 2000+ years.