How To Lead Souls To Christ
Soul-winning should have a prominent place in the life and service of every true Christian, yet how few today have the outlook and passion which possessed William Carey, the great missionary to India. When just a young man he was asked the question, “What is your business?” To which he promptly replied, “My business is winning souls. I cobble shoes to pay expenses.”
While we should be prayerfully thankful for all Christ-honouring efforts in mass evangelism today, the great need of the hour is for personal evangelism. It was so in the first century; it is so in the twentieth century. The Apostle Paul could say of the gospel in his day, “…which has been preached to every creature under Heaven” (Col. 1:23, RSV). Would that we could say this today!
Yet, had every Christian in each generation been a soul-winner, this would have been the case presently.
In our brief development of this vital subject we want to center our thoughts around three main things, the first being
The Precious Responsibility
According to some of the latest statistics, which could already be somewhat out-dated, the population explosion is such in our age that in every twenty-four hour period 245,000 babies are born into the world. The death rate for every twenty-four hour period is 120,000, or an increase of 45,500,000 more people in the world today than a year ago. How are we going to meet the tremendous challenge of our day posed by these factual figures? Personal evangelism — every Christian a soul-winner — is the only solution. If you are interested in further statistics, the lead article by Dr. R. E. Harlow entitled “A Multiplying World,” published by Literature Crusades in the Speakers’ Panel, World Missions Congress (Dec. 1966), is recommended reading, as is the entire book.
It is true that the Lord does not intend for all Christians to go to a foreign land with the gospel, but He does intend, yea, He commands that all believers be witnesses (Matt. 28:18-20; Acts 1:8). Contacting others with the “glad tidings” is the task of every Christian, not alone the job of so-called “full-time workers.”
A. T. Pierson has rightly stated: “It is Christianity’s job to rivet the eyes of the world on Christ. The final triumph of the Gospel is as sure as the promises of God. But we are to use prophecy not as a sedative and narcotic, but as a tonic and stimulant. Duty is ours; results are God’s. We are not responsible for conversion, but we are for contact. We are to go everywhere and preach the Gospel. All are to go to all. We are to bear our witness among all nations, and leave our God to bear His witness in confirmation of our own.”
Such a sacred responsibility as soul-winning is indeed precious because:
1. In God’s sight one soul is worth more than the whole world (Mark 8:36-37).
2. The blood of the Lord Jesus Christ was the price paid for every soul (1 Pet. 1:18-19).
3. Every soul won to Christ is in turn a potential soul-winner.
4. Only in this life will there be the blessed opportunity to win souls to Christ.
5. The Lord Himself says: “He that winneth souls is wise” (Prov. 11:30; cf. Dan. 12:3).
Someone may say, “Well, I’d like to be a soul-winner, but I don’t know how.” Remember, we learn to fish by fishing; and we learn to win souls — or become fishers of men —by the simple practice of witnessing. The greatest of all soul-winners, the Lord Jesus Christ, said: “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men” (Matt. 4:19; see also Luke 5:10). Learning to win souls is a process, and if we are willing to follow Christ as true disciples He will teach us, but our training will not be wrought over night, but over a life-time.
Many Christians fail to become soul-winners for a number of reasons, among them: (1) laziness — the cure is definite action; (2) natural reserve, or the fear of rebuff (Prov. 29:25) — the cure is doing the things we fear; (3) the fear of making mistakes — the cure is to press on in spite of conscious mistakes and seeing to it that we do not make the same mistake twice; and (4) the excuse of not being qualified — through earnest prayer and diligent study of the Scriptures the Lord will make us fit and qualified IF we are willing to carry out His will.
We come now to the second main consideration in connection with our subject
The Primary Requirements
Regarding the Message (1 Cor. 15: 3-5). The message is “good news,” simple yet profound, and it is the most powerful thing in the universe because it is “the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth” (Rom. 1:16).
Such great texts as Isaiah 53:6, John 1:11-13, 3:16, 5:24, Acts 4:12, Romans 3:23, 5:6 and 8 are excellent verses to use in dealing with an unsaved person about his soul. However, the use of too much Scripture should be avoided. In regard to the texts you feel led to use, get the person you are dealing with to read the verses for himself and seek to point out exactly where and how he fits into the picture.
Remember, the Word of God is the instrument of the new birth (cf. Rom. 10:17; Jas. 1:18; 1 Pet. 1:23), thus the importance of having a good working knowledge of the Scriptures and knowing just what passage to use in meeting a particular need or circumstance (cf. Eph. 6:17). This is extremely important to keep in mind when dealing with a soul, lest we tend to interject too much of our own thinking or lean too heavily on apologetic arguments.
Regarding the Motive (1 Cor. 13:3). Love for the Lord Jesus Christ and for the souls of the lost should be the all-important foundation in seeking to lead others to Christ. Charles Wesley said: “Let the fervor of my zeal be the pure flame of love.” Daily we should pray that the love of Christ might grip our own soul, fill us, and flow out to others. Coupled with love there must be: (1) prayer; (2) patience; (3) courage; (4) tact; (5) humility; and (6) perseverance.
In connection with the above, C. H. Spurgeon’s words are most fitting: “I commend cheerfulness to all who would win souls.”
Regarding the Method (John 3:8). There is no “cut and dry” method of winning a soul to Christ, but the wise application of certain principles are both helpful and often highly effective.
In their fine little book, The Way, Godfrey C. Robinson and Stephen F. Winward have aptly suggested two phases in the process of winning a soul to Christ, with five steps under each phase.
1. Intention (i.e., a definite intention or resolve to attempt to win others for Christ).
3. Initiative (i.e., go to the individual, even as the Sower “went forth to sow” — Matt. 13:3 — and the Good Shepherd went “after that which is lost” — Luke 15:4).
4. Identification (i.e., as far as possible place yourself in the person’s shoes with whom you are dealing and, a part from sin, become one with him; cf. 1 Cor. 9:22; Phil. 2:5, 7).
5. Interest (i.e., the interests of the person with whom you are dealing should provide you with topics of conversation and points of contact).
1. Confidence (i.e., seek to make friends with the person first).
2. Confession (i.e., tell the person what Christ means to you, thus presenting the “good news” to him, and to the testimony of Scripture be prepared to add anything out of your own personal experience that would be relevant to your friend’s need).
3. Conviction (this is entirely the work of the Holy Spirit, yet it may be necessary through the Word of God to bring before the unbeliever the true nature of sin that the Spirit might thus make him aware of his sin).
4. Conversion (the unbeliever should be urged to make a definite act of personal commitment to Christ; the Lord Jesus must be received by faith).
5. Continuance (this, of course, involves follow-up work in connection with a new “babe” in Christ).
We come now to our final main point
The Promised Reward
The particular “crown” or reward promised to the soul-winner at the coming Judgment Seat of Christ is the “Crown of Rejoicing” (1 Thess. 2:19). But soul-winning has its reward in the present, as well as in the future, and both aspects are revealed in Philippians 4:1. The Philippian saints (see Acts 16 for the background) were Paul’s “joy” in the present; his “crown” in the future. And, of course, the present joy shall continue on and endure through all eternity.