Bible Truths

 
 
 
Lesson 13 The Christian Calling - Winning Souls To Christ

It is the responsibility of every believer in the NewTestament Church to win souls to Christ. That is the Christian calling. It isnot an option for believers, but a command that has to obeyed: Christ hascommanded it ( Mt 28:18-20; Mk 16:15-16; Ac 1:6-8; 10:42-43). Christ'sdirective to His followers in Mt 28 and Mk 16 has been termed the GreatCommission in the contemporary Church, but that term is a misnomer. Christ'sdirective is more than a commission - it is a command. A commission can berejected - and there are many in the contemporary Church who do not see thatwinning souls to Christ is a duty incumbent upon them personally. But a commandhas to be obeyed, and we can only prove our love for Christ, and ensure ourplace in His eternal kingdom by obeying His commands ( Psa 119:9, 16, 24, 47,77 174; Mt 19:17; Jn 14:15, 21, 23-24; 15:10; 1Cor 7:19; 1Jn 2:3-5; 3:22-24;5:2-3; 2Jn 6; Rev 22:14).

All those scriptures teach the same thing: if we love Jesusand want to ensure our place in His eternal kingdom we will obey His commands(commands and commandments mean essentially the same thing). The word observein Mt 28:18 means obey, fulfil a duty. If we are to teach new converts toChrist how important it is to obey His word then we must obey it too. Mt 28:19-20highlights our responsibility to safeguard the teachings of scripture andcommit them to those we win to Christ. The command to believers is "Goye". Ye is plural, which means that each and every one of us has to go andpreach the gospel and win souls to Christ, not only those in public ministry,as many in the contemporary Church think ( Ac 8:4; 11:19-21). These wereordinary, everyday believers here who took the gospel that saved them to otherswho were not saved, exactly as Jesus commanded us to do in Mt 28 and Mk 16.Teach in Mt 28:19 (KVJ) means literally make disciples. Making disciples meanswinning souls to Christ. So the clear command to every believer in the NewTestament Church is to go and win souls to Christ, baptize them, and teach them- among other things - that they in turn must also win souls to Christ ( Lu8:4-18). This is called the parable of the sower ( Col 1:3-6).

We learn from these scriptures that the gospel of Christ isessentially a reproductive organism whose seed is in itself. It is constantlybearing fruit and increasing, but it must be preached for it to reproduce ( Ro10:13-17). The central truth in all these scriptures is that the gospel,faithfully proclaimed, will never fail to produce fruit. The good soil in Lu8:15, and the Christians in Col 1:3-6, typify those who, having received theword for their own salvation, have sown it again for others to hear and besaved, which is what the believers in Ac 8 and 11 did. The first century Churchknew the purpose of their Christian calling and obeyed Christ's command to theletter. The word patience in Lu 8:15 (KJV) means endurance, perseverance, orconstancy under suffering, in faith and duty, which stresses the need forbelievers to persevere and be constant in proclaiming the gospel, and even beprepared to suffer for it if need be ( He 13:13-14). Even though the majorityof hearers may reject the gospel, as the parable of the sower teaches,believers must keep sowing it, and in due season if they do not give up, theywill reap a harvest of souls for Christ. That is the promise of God ( Ga6:7-9). This is God's law of sowing and reaping. It cannot fail ( Gen 8:22).

Knowing that the gospel saves is not something believers cankeep to themselves. It has to be shared with those who are not saved ( Lu8:16-18). Jesus warns us to take heed to what He says here: we have not beengiven the light of divine truth for it to be obscured by our business ordomestic affairs, but we are to proclaim it for others to hear, and whoeverdoes this will be given more light, while those who do not will lose even whatlittle light they have. We need to heed this warning - it is for our admonitionalso. Only faithful hearers and doers of His word can be Jesus' disciples.There is no such person in God's order of things as a silent witness. Everyonewho is saved must bear witness to the Saviour ( Mt 12:30). Jesus makes it quiteclear here that there is no neutrality in Christianity. If Christians are notactively involved in doing the work of the gospel for Christ, then they areactively involved in doing the work of the devil in opposition to Christ. Thatis what this scripture means: anyone not doing the work of God as commanded byJesus is doing the work of the devil and it is hardly likely that anyone doingthe work of the devil in this life will rule and reign with Christ in the nextlife ( Mt 7:21-27; Lu 6:46-49; 13:22-30). Jesus clearly teaches here againstprofessing faith in Him for salvation without doing the work of His word.

Many Christians in the contemporary Church do not properlyunderstand that what Jesus teaches here applies to everyone who is not doingthe work of God's word who profess to love Christ but do not obey Hiscommandments. They will forfeit their salvation. We cannot play down thismeaning because this is what is taught throughout the New Testament ( Mt 12:30;Jn 15:5-6, 10; Ro 2:7-11, 13; Ga 6:7-8; Jas 1:22-25; 2:14-26).

Let us find out now what value God has put on souls going tohell ( Jn 12:23-27; 1Pe 3:18). The life of our Lord Jesus Christ is the valueGod has put on souls going to hell - His life for their life ( Jn 3:14-18).This was the purpose of the cross. Jesus said "...if I be lifted up fromthe earth I will draw all men unto me" ( Jn 12:32). Once we fullyappreciate that Christ died for all sinners, not only us who are saved, andthat there are countless lost souls going to hell without our witness to Hissaving grace, winning souls to Christ will become the most important part ofour Christian walk, as Jesus means it to be. Everything else in the life of theChurch is simply a consequence of winning souls to Christ. It is an urgentmatter. Jesus and Paul both taught the urgency in getting souls saved ( Lu9:59-60). Jesus is not being insensitive to the propriety of funerals here, butis teaching against procrastination - deferring or putting off taking thegospel out into the world and winning souls to Christ ( Jn 4:34-38). Here againJesus warns us against putting off taking the gospel out into a world ofsinners waiting to be saved ( Jn 9:4 with Jude 21-23). Day in Jn 9:4 signifieslife and night signifies death. Believers are to take the gospel out nowbecause soon it will be too late ( 2Cor 6:2). Now is the accepted time, now isthe day of salvation ( 2Ti 4:2). Paul's command to Timothy here is for ouradmonition too. It teaches us that we must be in a constant state of readinessto win souls to Christ whether we consider it to be an opportune time or not,and whether we feel like it or not.

There is a teaching within the teaching in those scriptures,and that is that it is the gospel alone that saves. Sinners must be confrontedwith the gospel for their salvation, yet there is a false teaching thatpersists in the contemporary Church called "lifestyle evangelism", whichadvocates that sinners can be won to Christ by letting them see the exemplarylifestyle of Christians. But as is evident from our study of scriptures hereand elsewhere in the Bible, scriptures clearly refute this teaching ( Psa22:22; 40:9-10; 119:13; Eze 33:9; Jn 5:24; Ro 1:16; 10:17; 1Cor 1:21; 4:15; 1Ti4:16; Jas 1:18; 1Pe 1:23). These scriptures are not exhaustive butrepresentative of the many that refute lifestyle evangelism. Every one of thosescriptures teaches that the gospel has to be proclaimed for sinners to receiveit and be saved. Nowhere in the Bible is it taught that sinners can be saved byobserving the lifestyle of Christians, no matter how exemplary a lifestyle theylive. No one lived a more exemplary lifestyle than Jesus, yet nobody got savedas a result of it. They got saved because Jesus confronted them with thegospel, and it is the same throughout scripture ( Ro 10:13-17 with Jn 17:14,20;Ac 4:1-4,29-33; 10:37, 42-44; 12:24; 13:2-5,26,38-39,42-44,48-49; 17:1-4;28:23-24). Lifestyle evangelism places no urgency on winning souls to Christwhich Jesus and Paul both emphasized. It teaches another way of evangelizingwhich is totally unscriptural. It could be weeks or even months before sinnerscan be confronted with the gospel, yet they could die in the meantime and belost forever. If that should happen their blood will be on the hands of theChristians involved, but if those Christians had already confronted the sinnerswith the gospel and they rejected it, then God will not hold the Christians toaccount ( Eze 33:7-9). This is essentially what Paul also teaches in 1Ti 4:16 (1Ti 4:16).

Christians must never be afraid to confront sinners with thegospel for fear of driving them further away from God. We cannot drive them anyfurther away than they are now. They are already dead in their trespasses andsin and telling them the good news about the salvation that is theirs in Christcannot worsen their situation ( Eph 2:1-2). Another fallacy which manyChristians cling to and which scriptures also clearly refute, is the beliefthat one must wait on the leading of the Holy Spirit before confronting someonewho is lost with the gospel of their salvation. Christians are commanded topreach the gospel, whether or not we consider it an opportune time and whetheror not we feel like it, so we do not have to wait for the Holy Spirit's leadingto do so. All we have to do is obey Christ's command and the Holy Spirit willwork through the gospel we preach to convict those who are disposed to believe,of their need of salvation ( Jn 16:7-11; 1Cor 1:21).

It needs to be restated here that Christ has assigned toevery believer in the New Testament Church the responsibility to preach thegospel and be a soul winner for Him ( 2Cor 5:18-20). It is obligatory upon usto get as many sinners saved as possible ( Ro 1:14-15). As Paul was a debtor tothe lost, so are we ( Eph 2:10). This teaches us that God has saved us to serveHim, and He expects every one of us to bear fruit for Him ( Lu 8:4-18; Jn 15:2,5, 8, 16; Ro 1:13; Col 1:3-6). Fruit in this context is used metaphorically ofsouls won to Christ. The gathering of lost souls is also compared to harvestinggrain in scripture ( Psa 126:5-6; Mt 9:37-38; Jn 4:35). Christ demands that ourfruit be commensurate with what He has invested in us ( Mt 25:14-30; Lu19:11-27). Christ condemned the unfaithful servants who failed to show resultsin their life as stewards while their master was absent in Mt 25 and Lu 19, andwhile those scriptures do not refer to soul winning specifically, nevertheless,soul winning is included in Christ's investment in us by way of the variety ofgifts and graces He has bestowed upon us, represented by the talents in theparable of the talents, and the word of God He has committed to each and everyone of us, represented by the pound in the parable of the pounds ( 2Cor5:18-20). How we use our talents and God's word in this life will determine oureternal destination in the next life ( Ga 6:7-8). When He comes again Jesuswill reward everyone according to their works ( 1Cor 3:8-15; Rev 22:12).

There is one other aspect of soul winning that needs to beaddressed here and that is what to do after repentant sinners acknowledge theirneed of salvation. Let us go back and see what Christ has commanded us to do (Mt 28:19-20). After sinners acknowledge their need of salvation, we are tobaptize them in water. Jesus gave three distinct and separate commands here,and He stipulated baptism second to salvation in order of importance. Thatmeans that as soon as repentant sinners acknowledge their need of salvationthey are to be baptized, and then, after they have been baptized we are toteach them the way of God and how necessary it is to conform to His way. Thesecommands are directed to the entire New Testament Church, not only those inpublic ministry. Every Christian has been authorized in Mt 28:19-20 and Mk16:15-16 to get saved, to baptize, and to teach repentant sinners the way ofGod, and it is incumbent upon every Christian to do so.

Sadly though most contemporary Christians do not do this andwe are remiss in our sacred duty to God's word for not doing so. Generally itis left up to the Church leaders to baptize new converts, which invariablymeans that baptisms then have to fit in with Church timetables. This should notbe. Sinners do not have to be taken to Church to get saved and neither dorepentant sinners have to be taken to Church to get baptized. This is notdenigrating Church-held baptismal services, but directing the Church's attentionto the biblical pattern for baptizing new converts, which is the example weshould follow.

Baptism is the repentant sinners' pledge of a goodconscience - inward cleanliness - toward God, a conscience reconciled to God bythe repentant sinners' new-found faith in the resurrected Christ and thesalvation benefits He has purchased for them with His blood ( 1Pe 3:18-21).Obeying Jesus' command to be baptized is the repentant sinners' first act ofobedience to God's word and it should not be delayed wherever water isavailable and the new convert is able to be baptized. Jesus placed baptismsecond to salvation in order of importance in God's redemptive plan. The firstcentury Church followed this order and we should too ( Ac 2:36-42). You willnotice in V41 here that those who received the gospel for their salvation werebaptized immediately thereafter "...then they that gladly received Hisword were baptized, and the same day there were added unto them about threethousand souls". When the Jews asked Peter "...what shall wedo?", he told them to repent and be baptized. He did not mean thatsalvation depended upon being baptized - he was simply restating what Jesuscommanded the Church to do. Notice also the order of events in this teaching:first, they were won to Christ ( V37-38); second, they were baptized ( V41);third, they were taught ( V42) - exactly as Jesus commanded in Mt 28:19-20 ( Ac8:12, 36-38).

Here we learn that Philip stressed the importance of baptismas part of his gospel message to the Ethiopian Eunuch because as soon as he sawwater in V36, the Eunuch asked to be baptized - he knew it to be an integralpart of God's redemptive plan, and immediately he confessed his new-found faithin Jesus, Philip baptized him and that is the pattern throughout all the otherscripture references to water baptism by the first century Church in the bookof Acts ( Ac 9:17-18; 10:44-48; 16:14-15, 30-34; 18:8; 19:1-7). As soon asrepentant sinners acknowledged their need of salvation they were baptized.Baptism does not have to be a public ceremony to be valid in God's eyes. TheEthiopian Eunuch in Ac 8:36-38 was baptized privately, and his baptism was noless valid than that of the three thousand who got baptized on the day ofPentecost in Ac 2:41. None of this is teaching that water baptism saves. Itdoes not, as Peter clearly teaches in 1Pe 3:18-21, but it is to remind theChurch that to be an effective witness for Christ we must conform strictly toHis way, not ours, and that means that we have to instruct repentant sinnersthat the next step after acknowledging their need of salvation is to bebaptized as their pledge of a good conscience toward God and the affirmation oftheir faith in the resurrected Christ and the salvation benefits He haspurchased for them with His blood.

In closing this study let us sum up the Christian callingwith these scripture keys ( Pr 11:30; Jas 5:20). Righteous soul winners produceeternal life for others by winning them to Christ ( Dan 12:3; 2Ti 3:15-17).Those who win others to Christ are as the stars forever - the glory of God isreflected in and through them. Now let us ponder the words of Jesus ( Jn13:17). Soul winning is a personal, individual responsibility. The onus is uponeach and every one of us to go out and win souls to Christ. We do not have tobe afraid to evangelize because our knowledge of scripture references forwinning souls to Christ is limited. That is easily overcome with a QuickScripture Reference Guide For Counseling, a Personal Worker's New Testament,The Christian Life New Testament with Master Outlines or suchlike, which haveall the relevant gospel verses outlined and all the other relevant scripturespertaining to the theme of salvation collated under their respective headings,as well as answers to objections put up by unbelievers. These are inexpensivebooks and readily available at all Christian book shops. We need to familiarizeourselves with what they teach and then go out and do it. Soon it will be toolate.

"Say not ye there are yet four months, and then comethharvest? Behold, I say unto you, lift up your eyes and look on the fields; forthey are white already to harvest." (Jn 4:35).

t there is a very sobering teaching comes out of this studyas well, and we must ever be mindful of it ( 2Th 2:7-13). This teaches us thatafter the Church is taken up from the earth, salvation will no longer beavailable to those still living who have already heard the gospel and rejectedit. They will be lost forever if they do not repent and accept Christ while theChurch is still here. This includes members of our immediate family and otherrelatives and friends whom we dearly love, as well as professing Christians nottruly committed to Christ, and others who are backslidden. Show them thisscripture and explain what it means: that once the Church is gone from theearth salvation will only be available to those who never had an adequateopportunity to receive the knowledge of the truth or to hear and understand thegospel ( also Mt 7:21; 12:30). If they will not listen to us we must ferventlypray God to send another labourer in the gospel unto them. We must never giveup on God for their salvation. We can claim Jesus' promise in Jn 15:7 but wemust make sure we meet the conditions first ( Jn 15:7). There is no time tolose - the rapture could happen at any moment in time ( Php 3:20-21; Tit 2:13).This teaches that there are no prophecies yet to be fulfilled for the raptureto take place ( Jn 9:4). That means we still have to preach the gospel to otherlost souls as well in the meantime.

These Studies by Dr.B.S.Warwal may be downloaded and freelydistributed but not sold for profit.