The vine is dried up, and the fig tree languisheth; the pomegranate tree, the palm tree also, and the apple tree, even all the trees of the field, are withered: because joy is withered away from the sons of men.
Two troubling phrases are found in the verse above. The first phrase is the vine is dried up. In other words, the vine is dead and is no longer bearing fruit. The vine that once used to give grapes for others to enjoy now is nothing more than kindling. The second phrase is the fig tree languisheth. To languish is to lose one’s strength or influence. In other words, the tree that once was the symbol of life has deteriorated to the point of no influence. How sad that a tree that once fed others no longer feeds, but is dying a slow death.
Just like this vine is dried up and the fig tree languisheth, many churches that once used to be influential are now nothing more than a monument of the past. You can drive through every city in the United States and see churches that were once influential churches in their community, but they lost their influence and are nothing more than meeting centers that are dying a slow death. How is it that a church loses its influence that once used to be influential? God shows us in verse 10.
First, the church that stops its soul winning immediately starts dying. God says in verse 10, The field is wasted… In other words, there is no fruit because there is no harvest. If you stop harvesting a tree, the tree will stop bearing fruit. If a church stops reaching the lost, the church stops bearing fruit. You cannot reach the lost without being a soul winning church.
Second, the church loses its life before it loses its influence. Verse 10 says, the land mourneth; for the corn is wasted. There is something about being in a vibrant church. One of my favorite things to do on Sunday night is to walk in the hallways of my church and hear the vibrancy of life. There is a vibrancy in our church because we are a soul winning church. A church that stops its soul winning will lose its energy. People often ask me how our church has so much life, and my answer is always that we are a soul winning church. You show me a church that has stopped its soul winning and I will show you a church that has lost its energy and vibrancy.
Third, the church loses its joy before it loses its influence. Verse 10 continues to say, the new wine is dried up. A church that has no fruit has no joy. There is a joy that God gives a church that has people weekly walking the aisles to either get saved, make a profession of faith that they got saved that week, and then they follow the Lord in baptism. You show me a church that is constantly winning souls and seeing people baptized, and I will show you a church that is filled with joy. My friend, joy comes through reaching others. You cannot manufacture joy through emotional song services; you discover joy by getting people saved and baptized.
Fourth, the church loses its power before it loses its influence. Verse 10 says, the oil languisheth. There is no need for the Holy Spirit to empower a church that does not go soul winning. You will find a dead church with no power that does not go soul winning. A church that wants to see the miraculous will only see it if it is empowered by God, but God does not need to empower His church if it is not soul winning. My friend, it all comes down to this; a church that stops soul winning is a church that will lose its influence and die.