HOW DO WE WIN OUR UNSAVED FRIENDS
AND RELATIVES TO JESUS ?
"Where there is no vision, the people perish."
Many Christians will never win a soul to the Lord Jesus. This is very regrettable. Sometimes the reason is a lack of vision and desire to win souls. Sometimes it is a lack of knowledge on how to win souls. A vision of desire to win souls is the first prerequisite.
The sinful world is heading for a cliff of destruction. Soon they will fall over the cliff of peril for which they are heading. Do we build fences about that cliff to stop them? Or do we put up signs of warning to alert them to the danger? Or do we physically run up to them and plead for them to turn around? Or do we mind our own concerns and allow them to perish?
First, we need to get into prayer about this subject. Jesus told His disciples:
"The harvest is truly plenteous, but the laborers are few. Pray ye therefore that the Lord of the harvest, that He will send forth laborers into His harvest."
The disciples began to pray, and that prayer awakened a love for the lost souls. They prayed for laborers to be sent from God, and God called them to be those laborers. Yet, first they had to obey a command to pray.
"The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much."
Secondly, following the prayer for souls and for the laborers, will come concern. Arising within us, the Holy Spirit of God will put a deep concern for souls. This is the "vision" that must come in order to get us to keep souls from perishing in hell-fire. Without this concern, we will not prevent sinners from sin's penalty.
Concern means bearing a burden. If you are truly concerned, your priorities will change so that you will be prepared for the price that must be paid to win souls. You will be ready to bear the cross and follow Christ Jesus to whatever price must be paid.
"If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me."
This love and concern will keep you interested in winning souls when there is seemingly no hope. You will suffer long for the chance to win a soul...
I Corinthians 13:4
"...love suffers long."
Then love and concern will bring you to yield your life in a way that you never dreamed possible.... You will no longer seek things for your self, you will design your life, time, talents, and gifts to win souls.
I Corinthians 13:5
love..."seeketh not her own."
This love, concern, and passion for souls will keep a prayer coming from you for these souls. You will anguish for souls. Your own soul will be vexed for their sins. You will pray unceasing, and fervent prayers for these unsaved loved ones.
I Corinthians 13:6
Love..."rejoices not in iniquity."
This springing up of supernatural love will give you an intense burden for souls. You will find it to be a driving passion. You will find that it makes you come into a harmony with God that you never thought possible. It will make you so intense on winning souls that you will be willing to bear any burden, and pay any price to win souls."
I Corinthians 13:7
love ..."bears all things."
This love and concern that was given you from God when you obey His command to pray for laborers to win souls... will inspire faith to come. You will awaken to the possibility of the fact that God can save the worst sinners. You will believe in the Holy Spirit's power to convict the consciences of hardened sinners.
I Corinthians 13:7
Love..."believeth all things, hopeth all things."
A true love will make the soul winner willing to keep trying, keep praying, keep witnessing, and keep believing until the lost sinner finally accepts the Lord Jesus as Savior.
I Corinthians 13:7
Love ..."endureth all things."
And then since EVANGELISM is one of the ministry gifts of the Spirit, the Spirit of God will manifest the supernatural aspect of this gift. He will lead us to the souls that are hungering and thirsting for an answer to their problems. We will find our ministry of soul winning to be fruitful.
"Ye have not chosen Me, but I have chosen you and ordained you that ye should bring forth fruit."
God could use angels to win souls, but He chose us. He chooses to use us to be at the right place, at the right time, and gives us the right words to say. The Holy Spirit will be at work while we witness, and souls will come to accept Jesus as their Savior.
We are commissioned to be God's witnesses. We are commissioned to evangelize.
"Go ye therefore and teach all nations... teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world."
"Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature."
"...ye are witnesses of these things."
"Feed My sheep."
"...ye shall be witnesses unto Me."
The command to be soul winners is explicit, and undeniable. It is given to all of the Christians. We are sent to nations, to the world, to every creature... To Ezekiel (Ezek. 2:3-8, 3:4-7), a command was given to him to speak to the "rebellious", the "impudent", the "stiff-hearted" people who would not listen.
The Lord knows that many to whom we witness, will not "forbear." They will get mad at us. They may be hurt and unhappy because of the convicting message from us. Paul was stoned, beaten, whipped, scoffed at, called crazy, imprisoned, and finally killed by the ones to whom he witnessed.
There is no reason for fear. Christ had no fear. Paul showed no fear. And we need not be afraid. Some will be afraid to witness. Some will only want to half-heartedly live the life of a Christian, and hope that example is enough. No! it is not enough. Surely it will help. But if you saw someone about to step in front of a speeding train, would it be enough to simply set a good example for them by not stepping in front of the train yourself? No! We know that is foolish. We would yell for them to stop before it is too late. Don't believe the lies of the devil, that right living is a "good enough" witness.
Many will not listen or heed your witness. This is a very hard fact for God's soul-winners to accept. Many listened to our Lord, and still were yelling "Crucify Him!" He and His message was rejected by many. At one of His sermons, all but twelve of the many disciples got up and left Him. One of the twelve decided to betray Him. He was not only rejected by most of the sinners, but even many of His own followers forsook Him and His message. Ezekiel was warned:
"...they will not hearken unto thee; for they will not hearken unto Me."
God wants the Christians to be just as stubborn as they are. They are stubborn in not repenting and accepting Jesus. We should be even more stubborn in not stopping or ceasing our witness.
"I will make thee ... a fenced brazen wall... they shall fight against thee, but shall not prevail against thee, for I am with thee to save thee, and to deliver thee, saith the Lord."
We have been made "watchmen" to sound forth warnings to the unsaved about the hell-fire that awaits those who neglect to accept the free gift of salvation. They may not hear or heed our warnings.
"Also, I set watchmen over you, saying, 'Hearken to the sound of the trumpet.' But they said, 'We will not hearken!'"
Millions, even billions, that are alive today will end up in hell-fire if we do not warn, preach, pray, intercede, fast, love, and win them to the Lord. Nineteen of every twenty Christians will never lead even one soul to Jesus. Christians have thought of many excuses for this.
The fear of man is a common excuse for lack of witnessing.
"The fear of man bringeth a snare."
Many Christians have let fear gag them from their witness. They fear reproach and ridicule. They fear being thought to be "peculiar" by sinners and even by carnal Christians. Yet, God warned us that the preaching of the cross is an offense to many. Many will not like the morality message of the Bible. Others will question the philosophy of a faith based on atonement by the blood of Jesus rather than atonement based on learning or reason. Some will reject the call for unconditional surrender to God, and want to retain self in the picture as Savior.
We live in a world that crucified Jesus. Its attitude toward Him is unchanged. Christians must be prepared to courageously face opposition. Courage is developed by practice, and encouraged by the Spirit of God working miraculous victories for us as we witness.
As we begin to witness to the unsaved, we should not try to be the Holy Spirit. This is a common problem of soul winners. The Holy Spirit is the convicter, not the Christian. The Holy Spirit will awaken the spirit of the sinner to his sin. The Holy Spirit will give a yearning of the soul of the sinner for the answer. He will do the hard part. We appear on the scene as the one with the Answer, Jesus Christ. We are to verbalize the answer to the sinners' sin.
Some over-zealous Christians want to condemn, criticize, and point out every sin in a sinner's life. The only sin they have that will keep them from heaven is the sin of rejection of Jesus Christ. Don't try to condemn every bad habit, curse word, vile deed of the sinner. Even if they changed all those things, they would still be heading for hell-fire. They could not change their past sins, and until they accept Jesus Christ as Savior, they cannot get off the road to hell. An attack on other sins will do more harm than good.
I Peter 3:15
"...be ready always... to give an answer..."
We need to be so saturated with the Word of God, and the love of the Spirit, that we will be ready with a loving answer to those who are sinners with problems. The world is thirsting for an answer to many kinds of problems. We are to be filled with the Holy Spirit, and He will be like a river of blessing flowing from us. As sinners question the problems of life, we can let the Spirit flow from our being, and using our mouth give the answer.
"If any man thirst, let him come unto Me and drink. He that believeth on Me, as the Scripture hath said, 'Out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water."
We, as Christians, have partaken of this living water, and now are to be a source of the living waters to the sinners.
The sinners will often try to side track the Christians' message of hope with arguments of doctrine or experience. We could debate the correct way to baptize, or the correct church to attend, or the doctrines of pneumatology... etc. Even if we win the arguments, we have not won a soul. It is a tactic to get us off the message that the Holy Spirit can use to convict and prick the hearts of the sinners. Don't get into these debates. Don't let them take you off the subject of the saving and healing power or the Lord Jesus Christ.
Perhaps the witness is not a fluent speaker. The witness may be timid or shy. But we are only part of the process. The Lord is the One who will save the soul, we don't do that. He knows our weaknesses, and fears. He knows what to guide us to say. We simply do as the Spirit guides us to do. The Lord will save the soul of the sinner. We simply have a small part of the process.
The sinner must know of the need of a Savior for sin. Man was created perfect, but fell. The sinful nature that resulted made it so easy for man to be sinful. In fact, it made it so that none have ever been able to live a sinless life, but One -- the Lord Jesus Christ.
God provided a Savior in the person of Jesus Christ. As One of the Godhead, He came to earth to be born of a woman. Then as a God-man, He lived a sinless life. He died upon the cross. That was a sacrifice to pay the debt of sin.
"The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord."
Sin was so terrible to God, and man became so corrupt and depraved by it, that it took the blood of Jesus Christ to save sinners from the penalty for sin. The blood of Jesus became the atoning element for man's sin. Jesus became our substitute. He died for us.
People cannot approach God unless the Holy Spirit draws them with conviction. Then as they come to Jesus, they must choose to accept the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross as their own. If they repent of their sins, and believe on Jesus Christ as the only source of their salvation, they are saved. The Holy Spirit then baptizes them into the new life in Christ. Christ goes to the Father in heaven and announces to Him that the family has a new member. The sinner in simple faith accepts this experience.
Once a sinner manifests a desire to be saved, the soul winner's task is an easy one. All the soul-winner must do is present the simple message of salvation. Doctrinal discussion is not necessary. The sinner must simply know that he is a sinner, and that Jesus alone can save. The sinner must simply confess his sin, and receive Jesus.
Too often, it stops there. The sinner is made a convert, and then left to fend for himself. This is not God's way. The Great Commission tells us to "teach" converts all that Christ had taught the disciples. This is a continuing job. The new convert should be helped in establishing a new goal in life. He should be taught to understand his new relationship with Jesus. The convert will need to understand the problems that he will face. Temptations, doubts, spiritual battles will come. The convert needs to be prepared, and he needs friends to stand with him. The new convert will soon see the inconsistencies in the lives of some in the congregations. He will be confused at the hypocrisy, spiritual abuse, etc. He needs love and teaching to help him through the shocking aspects of Christianity.
The new convert needs to be taught that the Bible is the sole authority that we have. Everything must be tested with its truth. Then the convert should be shown how to converse with his heavenly Father. He should learn how to daily surrender his heart and will to the Lord. Finding a body church that will encourage, and not ignore or abuse him, is vital. He should be shown how to make a public testimony to the world through water baptism. The convert should be encouraged to ask for the gift of the Holy Spirit, so he can soon enter into his own ministry for Jesus.
The soul-winner should be sincere, simple, clear, courteous, gentle, loving, kind, patient, and wise. The plan of salvation is so simple, but the soul-winner's task is so complete. It is not a hand them a tract, let them read it, pray... and walk away proud thing. No! It is much more complete. We would have full churches if it weren't for converts who have been left to drift back into sin by soul-winners who did not follow up on converts.
"And they all with one consent began to make excuse."
This "excuse-giving" is the problem that many face when they try to lead people to Jesus. The best way to meet excuses is to use Scripture. Its truth and authenticity cannot be argued. It conveys a convicting power that cannot be successfully resisted.
The excuses are feeble attempts of the sinner to escape the conviction of the Holy Spirit. No excuse or objection is a valid reason to not accept Jesus. The sinner knows what he should do. There is conflict within, and the sinner is trying to validate a desire to not yield to God. Persistence, Scripture, and the guidance of the Holy Spirit are the hope of the soul-winner.
Often the sinner is sincere in the excuse that he offers. He may be facing a real difficulty in accepting Jesus. It is the duty of the soul-winner, with the aid of the Holy Spirit, to clear up the difficulty. Sometimes, the work cannot be done at one time. Seeds may need planted. Watering may be done for some time. Soon a harvest will come. Don't try to force commitment until the seed is mature. The soul-winner can be confident that the Spirit will lead him.
The soul-winner needs much instruction in the Word of God, and in the nature of sin, and in the nature of the cults. These can be learned easily. First and foremost, the soul-winner needs the commitment, vision, and desire to win souls. The Spirit will begin teaching the soul-winner much.