Am I supposed to be a personal soulwinner?
Does the Bible mandate each and every Christian to share his faith with another person?
Is it really my responsibility to help rescue the perishing and to care for the dying?
Should I bother to get gospel tracts out to strangers?
These questions and more are asked ritually as we pastors urge and even beg our people to help get the gospel out and to win people to God. The very word “soulwinning” has a response built into it that goes both ways- for and against. Here in the Deep South I have come to realize that soulwinning has a connotation that has engendered an aversion to the concept and has resulted in an apathy that is unacceptable. Now, what is truth and right here in the south is no different in any other place or locality on this globe. No matter one’s feelings or fright concerning it, we are commanded to “be witnesses unto Him.” Even the Rich Man in Hell is still calling for a soulwinner to go. The people right now in Hell are for soulwinning. They are for running bus routes, soulwinning sermons, gospel tract distribution and whatever it takes to get the gospel to their lost loved ones, Luke 16:19-31.
A simple reference list of verses dealing with this question of soulwinning could include the 5 times the Great Commission is given:
Matthew 28:19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:
|0 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.
Mark 16:15 And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.
Luke 24:47 And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.
48 And ye are witnesses of these things.
John 20:21 Then said Jesus to them again, Peace be unto you: as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you.
Acts 1:8 But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.
There are a multitude of other texts, both Old and New Testament, that also furrow deep this mandate of getting the message of salvation out.
There is also the example of our Saviour Jesus Christ. He spent His lifetime reaching and rescuing people. He did this in groups as we see by the Sea of Galilee but also one on one as is evident in John 3, 4 and, the song relates so beautifully how He did so on the cross Luke 23:32-43, “Even in death He remembered the thief hanging by His side.” (“If that isn’t Love” Gaither) If it is true then, that God has assigned to His people the task of bringing men to God with the power of the Gospel, and that no one is exempt from this, and that God wants all men to be saved- then we are in great disobedience if we fail in this assignment.
Statistics record on average 180 plus people die every 60 seconds or 260,000 each day and I am sure you would agree most die without Christ and go to an eternal Hell. 10 out of 10 people will die and go somewhere forever- Heaven or Hell.
I believe what will bring our churches back to usefulness, holiness and purpose is a fervent and passionate obedience to the Great Commission, our mission and His last order to His church. Read it again in Acts 1, there is no denying what was on Jesus mind in His last day was getting the gospel to the world. The “ye” in Acts 1:8 is unavoidable. In the southern vernacular it is saying, “Y’all had better get out there and be witnesses!”
Acts 8 records the actions of the church going after souls. Chapters 1-6 the church is still swelling in Jerusalem despite the Lord said in Acts 1:8 to witness both, or otherwise at the same time, in Judaea, Samaria and unto the uttermost part of the earth. I say the church was swelling because it was stagnating in Jerusalem and God had to send trouble to root them up and out, Acts 8:1. What we then see in chapter 8 are three principles that emerge for our edification:
1. Be Available
Notice this from Acts chapter eight…
Acts 8:5 Then Philip went down to the city of Samaria, and preached Christ unto them.
Acts 8:25 And they, when they had testified and preached the word of the Lord, returned to Jerusalem, and preached the gospel in many villages of the Samaritans.
Philip, one of the seven chosen in chapter 6 was available and willing to go to a large crowd or one lone soul. Here is one of the first deacons we suppose, not the pastor or an apostle, but a servant, now a soulwinner!
2. Be Willing
In Acts chapter eight we also find the record of Philip being sent…
Acts 8:26 And the angel of the Lord spake unto Philip, saying, Arise, and go toward the south unto the way that goeth down from Jerusalem unto Gaza, which is desert.
27 And he arose and went: and, behold, a man of Ethiopia, an eunuch of great authority under Candace queen of the Ethiopians, who had the charge of all her treasure, and had come to Jerusalem for to worship,
The angel of the Lord sent Philip to where? The desert! Why there one should ask. It is clear when you read on that there was one man seeking the Lord. One man is worth Philips willingness to leave the great revival in Samaria. This is for us all to consider. That tract you pass out, the testimony you give of your conversion are tools the Spirit may use. The question I have for you is- are you willing? Notice Philip arose and went, willing! My dad used to say often, “People do what they want to do.” How true that is! Are you willing to be a witness for Christ? I have found the more we avail ourselves to be used that our desire to be used grows and a willingness develops.
3. Be Alert
As we continue in the story of the Philip in Acts chapter 8 we see a very practical application…
Acts 8:31 And he said, How can I, except some man should guide me? And he desired Philip that he would come up and sit with him.
32 The place of the scripture which he read was this, He was led as a sheep to the slaughter; and like a lamb dumb before his shearer, so opened he not his mouth:
33 In his humiliation his judgment was taken away: and who shall declare his generation? for his life is taken from the earth.
34 And the eunuch answered Philip, and said, I pray thee, of whom speaketh the prophet this? of himself, or of some other man?
35 Then Philip opened his mouth, and began at the same scripture, and preached unto him Jesus.
Philip was conscious of the task and he was alert. He had the Bible, his message and answers ready to offer. Every person is an eternal soul. Every day might be his last day. Every Christian is an ambassador of and for Christ. Most of us fail to win a soul to Christ simply because we do not have the lost on our mind.
Ours is simply a matter of obedience and let me remind the reader, obedience brings blessings! The Bible gives us an unusual guarantee found in Proverbs 11:30- fruit and wisdom! Imagine that just from obeying the Great Commission.
R.A. Torrey wrote these words over 100 years ago but they are so telling and helpful today: “Every great religious awakening in history was born out of travail of soul on the part of some one. Martin Luther, Wesley, Jonathan Edwards, Brainard, Finney, The Irish Revival, Moody. It is doubtful that ever a single soul is born-again without travail of soul on the part of someone.”
The direct command of the Lord Jesus Christ to His followers is found in Matthew 4:19 “And he saith unto them, Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.”
R.A. Torrey also said in his book, “Real Salvation” the following: “What right do you have to call yourself a follower of Jesus Christ if you are not a soulwinner?”
May God stir our hearts with what stirred His to send His only begotten Son- our eternal souls!
Goose Creek, SC