Sometimes people wonder why I emphasize soulwinning so much. An evangelist once preached at our church and asked how many of our folks went soulwinning on a regular basis. When approximately half of the evening crowd raised their hands, he said, “Look at that amazing sight!” Another evangelist said to me that it would be ridiculous to preach on soulwinning at our church because so many people already went. But suppose about half of the army showed up when it was time to fight? Suppose about half of the football team was there for the opening kickoff? Suppose that half of the work force came at their appointed time on a given day? We would not think that was a success. It is possible for us to be better than average in the area of soulwinning but to still be far below normal.
1. Because God Commands It
Soulwinning is not an option. It is not a spiritual gift. It is not a church growth program. It is a clear, unequivocal, unavoidable command of God.
2. Because There Is a Hell
Psalm 9:17 still says, “The wicked shall be turned into Hell and all the nations that forget God.” Revelation 21:8 still says those without Christ will have their part in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone.
Many years ago when I was an assistant pastor, two sisters, Rita and Penny Shire, attended a youth activity. The older sister, Rita, trusted Christ. I went to visit Penny, a seventh grader, in her home the next week. Her mother allowed me to visit with her and did not interfere as I presented the Gospel to her. When it came time, however, for Penny to make a decision for Christ, her mother interrupted and said, “She’s not old enough.” I explained that I wasn’t asking Penny to be baptized or join the church. I told Mrs. Shire that I had been saved as a young boy at the age of four. Nonetheless, Mrs. Shire adamantly insisted, “She’s not old enough.” I asked the mother if it would be permissible for Penny to get saved when she came to church sometime. Strangely, she agreed. Penny came many times after that. I always gave an invitation and always looked her way. She never raised her hand.
I had been at First Baptist of Bridgeport just a few weeks when one of the former youth workers from the church where I had been an assistant pastor, called and said, “Penny Shire has been in a terrible accident.” A young man driving a Chevrolet Vega had deliberately pulled in front of the truck that Penny and her father were riding in (he left a suicide note). The gas tank on the truck exploded. Mr. Shire was killed instantly and Penny was in a coma at Hurley Hospital in Flint, horribly burned. I drove up to see her when I heard the news. I would not have recognized her had I not been told who was in the bed.
Knowing that sometimes, people can hear when they are in a coma, I gave her the Gospel one more time. I explained that she did not need to be in church to be saved and did not need to be able to speak aloud; that she could tell Christ from her heart that she was trusting Him as her Saviour. I asked if she could wiggle a finger or raise an eyebrow. She made no sign. To this day I do not know whether or not she is in Heaven or in Hell. I hope that sometime she trusted Christ. I would hate to be her mother at the judgment seat. But then all of us deal with people every day who will spend eternity in Heaven or in Hell. We know the answer. We must tell them.
3. Because We Know How To Escape Hell
Imagine a man having a cure for cancer and keeping the news to himself. Imagine seeing someone about to be run over by a car and not trying to warn him. How much worse it is for those of us who know the only escape from eternal damnation to keep it from those desperately in need of this truth.
4. Because Soulwinning Is the Decent Thing To Do
1 Corinthians 15:34 says: “Awake to righteousness and sin not; for some have not the knowledge of God: I speak this to your shame.” I once heard of a preacher who, along with his family, befriended an elderly lady. She became a kind of a grandmother to his children and was included in family gatherings. After a while, their friendship had advanced so far that he felt awkward about giving her the Gospel; wished he had done it sooner, but did not know exactly how to broach the subject. Years went by. One day the preacher was under such deep conviction that he went over to the lady’s house and clearly explained the Gospel. She was very quiet when he ended. She said, “Are you telling me that you believe that if I died right now, I’d go to Hell because I’ve never trusted Christ?”
“Yes ma’am,” he replied. “That’s what the Bible says.”
“And you’ve believed this all the time you’ve known me?” He again replied in the affirmative. “Get out of my house,” she said. “You’re not my friend. I don’t ever want to see you again.”
I hate to say it, but the lady is right. It is not friendship or any other kind of decent behavior to withhold the Gospel from those who need it.
5. Because There Is a Heaven
What a wonderful blessing it will be to be reunited with loved ones for eternity. What a privilege it will be for us to see those living forever in Heaven, to whom we have given the Gospel of Christ.
6. Because It Glorifies God
John 15:8 says:“Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples.” There are those who say that our prime motivation is not to win people to Christ but to glorify God. I do not disagree with them, but I must remind them that the Bible clearly says God is glorified when we bring forth much fruit.
7. Because It Encourages Believers
When I win people to Christ, bring them to church, or share their testimonies with others, believers are encouraged and uplifted. Iron sharpens iron and my testimony encourages others to do the same.
8. Because It Perpetuates Truth for the Next Generation
The Lord Jesus tells us that believers are like wheat and unbelievers are like tares. Wheat must be planted every season. It never regenerates itself. Weeds grow automatically. It takes nothing for wrong to prevail and evil to predominate. It takes great effort for righteousness to be perpetuated.
9. Because It Demonstrates the Power of God
I spent my last year of high school at Bob Jones Academy in order to get out of school a year early. One December evening, I went with the Academy soulwinning bus to Spartanburg, South Carolina. It was a cold night. No one seemed to want to listen to us present the Gospel to them. My partner, Oddver Cuevas, ran out of tracts and said, “I’m going into this drugstore to warm up.” I had a few more tracts, which I passed out and then joined him in the drugstore. I discovered that he had engaged the proprietor of the drugstore, a man named George Vassey, in conversation. George Vassey was twisting Oddver into a theological pretzel.
Since I was raised in a preacher’s home and considered my knowledge of the Bible at age 16 to be almost limitless, I violated a rule of two-by-two soulwinning and interrupted the conversation. Sure enough, in no time at all, there were two theological pretzels twisting on the drugstore floor. George Vassey knew verses I had never heard of. He quoted things from the book of Mormon, the Koran and other sources with which I was totally unfamiliar. I left discouraged. I thought as a young man, “I’m not going to do this again until I know more about it. I’m going to study every religion; have an answer to every question; and then I’ll go back out.”
I went home for Christmas vacation, came back and did not go soulwinning the next Friday evening. When the bus returned, I heard Oddver Cuevas running down the hall, hollering my name. He burst into my room and said, “George Vassey got saved! I went by the drugstore and he said as a result of our visit, he trusted Christ. He has stopped selling dirty magazines in his drugstore, and he says he wants to take part of the building that’s not being used and turn it into a rescue mission!” Why did George Vassey get saved? Because of our theological expertise? Because of our unanswerable arguments? Because of our persuasive speech? No. George Vassey got saved because the Spirit of God worked in his heart.
10. Because It Is a Timeless Principle
Even a casual reading of the Word of God will convince you that it has always been right for people who know God to tell people who don’t know God about God. Remember, it is an Old Testament verse that says, “He that winneth souls is wise.”
11. Because We Must Face Jesus at the Judgment Seat of Christ
“For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, whether it be good or bad. Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men; but we are made manifest unto God; and I trust also are made manifest in your consciences.” 2 Corinthians 5:10–11 (emphasis mine)
12. Because Our Hands Will Be Stained with the Blood of the Lost We Don’t Tell
“When I say unto the wicked, Thou shalt surely die; and thou givest him no warning, nor speakest to warn the wicked from his wicked way, to save his life; the same wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at thine hand.” Ezekiel 3:18