“All hands on deck!” is an expression that dates back to the 1700s. Hands is another word for sailors and deck is a part of the boat or ship. In a storm or other emergency, the captain might yell “All hands on deck!” and this is the command for all the sailors to come to the deck of the ship to help navigate whatever storm is at hand. Hands are anybody that is close by to help what’s happening where the deck is, or in this analogy, where the one speaking is. Moreover, when the clarion call “All hands on deck!” goes out it is usually in the midst of a time of crisis. By extension, everyone available to help during a time of crisis is to respond. It is a call for all to help in times of need. It is a call for all to help in times of desperation. It is a call for all to help when it is a matter of life or death.
Today, more than any other time in my lifetime, we are in the midst of a crisis. Our society is going the way of Rome. We are being destroyed from within, not from without. Too often we look to the borders and the walls that should be built, but there are those in our own Nation who are working against her. This has been going on not just since the so-called “sexual revolution” of the 1960s (this took place in Genesis 4!), not just after President John F. Kennedy was assinated (although our Nation took a drastic turn then), but it goes as far back as President Theodore Roosevelt. He was a progressive (otherwise known as a liberal, although a Republican). Now it is a time where it matters not which party to which you subscribe: progressivism is the plight of our current crisis and it is leading more and more people down a path that will surely lead to a great calamity in their ultimate journey. The reason being is that it is a humanistic philosophy that is ruling the day. It is the relativism of the post-modern world. It is the “anything goes” mentality. It is the “feel good” society no matter at what cost. It is the “this is my truth, and that is your truth” mentality.
“What in the world are you talking about?” I’ll tell you right now. We are seeing people around us as walking dead men. They are alive but dead, lost in their sins and trespasses and they are propogating notions that go against the very expressed Word of God, the Bible; in other words, they are in a stubborn and obstinate rebellion against God! They claim that all there is to this life is what we have and that’s it. They are dead in sins and trespasses and have exchanged the truth of God for a lie. They worship the creation rather than the Creator. They give in to unnatural uses for their bodies (Romans 1:18-32). They give in to abortion, infanticide, and euthenasia. There is a crisis in our midst and the clarion call of Jesus Christ is “All hands on deck!” People around us have a desparate need to have their sins forgiven. They are in such a state of unawareness as they are being blinded by the god of this world (2 Corinthians 4:4). They are in desparate need to have their sins washed away by the very blood of the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world (John 1:29). The call of “All hands on deck” is found in the Great Commission in Matthew 28:16-20:
But the eleven disciples proceeded to Galilee, to the mountain which Jesus had designated. When they saw Him, they worshiped Him; but some were doubtful. And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”
This is the call! It’s not just the ministers who are paid that are supposed to be answering this call. It is the call that goes forth to every member of the Body of Jesus Christ. We need to come to the realization that Jesus Christ is King and we are subject to His Majesty! He commands us that while we are going, we are to make disciples, baptize them, and teach them. It’s in the progression of our lives that as we identify with Him we are to help those who are far from the Lord Jesus Christ to come to Him for salvation nd to find their identity in Him. It’s not just the progression of our identity in Him, but it is what He desires for us to do. We can gain all the knowledge of the Scriptures and come to church every time the doors are opened. But what does that matter if we are not living obediently to the King of kings and the Lord of lords? What does it matter for us to gain knowledge and to do nothing with what we have learned from Him and His Word? What good is this treasure of salvation if we don’t share the treasure with those who are in desparate need?
I do understand the excuses that each of us has. I have them as well; make no mistake, I’m just as human as you are! Dr. J.D. Greear, current Presiden of the Southern Baptist Convention, helps us to understand the excuses that we have when he lists them in this way:
- Spiritual lethargy. This take place when we fail to obey. A lack of growth inevitably leads to a diminished desire to share Jesus Christ with others.
- Growing inclusiveness. “All religions lead to God” is a prevailing opinion in the economy of our day. Sometimes this view affirms Jesus Christ is not the only way to salvation, but He can be found in other “good religions.” It’s a subtle belief that somehow “good” followers will make it to heaven outside of true Christ-centered conversion.
- Disbelief in hell. This undermines the urgency of placing one’s faith in Jesus Christ alone. One must escape the wrath of God, and Jesus Christ is the only refuge.
- Busyness. The unchurched need us to tell them about Jesus Christ. This needs to be on our to-do list. What priority do you give to reaching the lost?
- Fear of rejection. Research shows that only one in four unchurched persons will be resistent to faith discussion which means that 75% are open. The few with an antagonistic attitude are not rejecting you personally; their anger is merely a reflection of something in their past or in the present. This should not deter us from being open about our belief in Jesus Christ.
- A desire to be tolerant. The gospel is, in some sense, intolerant. The one true God insists there can be no other gods. He is a jealous God. The Christ-centered message speaks of a “narrow way” and “no other name under heaven” and “I am the way, the truth, and the life.” There is no room for another belief in order to be saved from our sins and trespasses.
- Losing the habit of witnessing. For many reasons, you may have quit witnessing. Witnessing is a discipline. It can be regained!
- Lack of accountability. When you have someone holding you accountable, it can increase your zeal for witnessing. Who do you have close to you that holds you to account for witnessing? If you have no one of whom you can think, then it’s time for you to prayerfully consider to whom you will be accountable. Certainly, and this is without a shadow of a doubt, we are held to account by Jesus Christ for not telling others about His love, grace, mercy, and saving power.
- Failure to invite. When was the last time you invited an unchurched person to church? Have you offered to take someone to church or meet them? It’s such a simple gesture that can have a significant outcome.
- The church is not intent on reaching the lost. It is said it takes up to 85 church members to reach an unsaved person. What a terrible ratio. Churches must regain their passion for the lost for us to see others come to know Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.*
To get past our excuses means that we need to become intentional about sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The Gospel is Good News! Nay! It’s the BEST NEWS! Jesus Christ died according to the Scriptures, was buried, and was raised again according to the Scriptures (1 Corinthians 15:3, 4)! He did this first to glorify our Heavenly Father and then to save us from our sin and ourselves.
So what do we each need to do? We need to mature in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ. It takes having a winsome attitude to win some to the Lord Jesus Christ. It takes us expressing the peace that passes all understanding even in the midst of the crises of life that come our way. When the clarion call of our Captain is “All hands on deck!” it means that we are the first out of our bunks (pews/chairs) and are on the deck to come to our Captain’s side. It means that as we are going through this journey called life we are telling others about this great and wonderful and best news that Jesus Christ is still able to save anyone who believes Him unto salvation! Sure, there will be those with whom you speak that will not believe and there will be those who do believe.
But as John Newton once wrote, “When I get to heaven I shall see three wonders there. The first wonder will be, to see many people there whom I did not expect to see–the second wonder will be, to miss many people whom I did expct to see; and the third and greatest wonder of all, will be to find myself there.” How true this statement is! You will share the Gospel as you are going and you’ll be surprised that the person who said “no” at the time is in heaven with you because you shared Jesus Christ. And there will be those with whom you shared the exact same message and they said they believed but they really didn’t. And we will all be praising the Lord at the wonder of His choosing to save us in our most wretched state of sins and trespasses against His Holy Majesty, King Jesus!
So it’s “All hands on deck!” It’s all of us going as obedient servants of our King and Master and doing what He has told us to do. He has told us that as we are going, we are to make disciples, baptize those who become believers in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and we are to teach others to observe all that He has commanded us to do. This is what “All hands on deck!” means, dear ones. This is the clarion call in our society’s most desparate hour, and that most desparate hour is now!
* “The Importance of One.” J.D. Great, Who’s Your One?, NAMB, 2019. http://www.namb.net