There is a quote that I remember hearing repeated frequently during Bible college: “Always make sure to keep the main thing the main thing.” Yet, all across America, and, yes, even on the mission field, the main thing seems to no longer be the main thing. I am sure you have guessed what I am talking about—soulwinning!
Many churches are full of activity, but have very little soulwinning and almost no discipleship. Where is the breakdown? When did churches cease to be lighthouses of the gospel and become little more than charity organizations and places for social gatherings? I am convinced that it is because churches today have very few Spirit-filled Christians. Let me explain
Ephesians 5:18 gives us a very clear-cut command, “And be not drunk with wine . . . but be filled with the Spirit.” We hear this verse, but I believe that few Christians know what it means or even why it is necessary to be filled with the Spirit. We have been so used to living our lives in the flesh and giving God token spirituality that we have really lost the reason for being Spirit-filled, and, therefore, it is not a priority in our lives.
God left us on this earth for a very specific purpose. Our purpose is not to pursue the “American dream” or to “put our roots down” as our society would like us to think. We are to give our lives to the preaching of the gospel “to every creature” (Mark 16:15). Why is it that the average Christian does not have this as their purpose? Why have many Christians never won a soul to Christ?
Let’s go back to the Spirit-filled Christian. We are to be totally given over to the Holy Spirit and allow Him to control every area of our lives. Contrary to what some teach, the result of being filled with the Spirit is not speaking in tongues. In looking at the eight different times the book of Acts mentions a Spirit-filled Christian, I find a very interesting thing. Those who were filled with the Spirit were proclaiming the Word of God and doing it with boldness. Let us look at each of these instances.
1. The first mention of the filling of the Spirit is found in Acts 2:4. Peter was one of the men filled with the Spirit and was boldly preaching the Word of God on the day that the church was manifested, resulting in 3,000 coming to know Christ.
2. Acts 4:8 says, “Then Peter, filled with the Holy Ghost. . .” Once Peter finished his message, verse 13 says, “Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John…”
3. Later on Acts 4:31 says, “and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and they spake the word of God with boldness.”
4. Acts 6:3–10 tells of the seven men that were chosen to assist the leadership of the first Jerusalem church. One of the characteristics of these men is that they were filled with the Spirit. Two of these men were Philip and Stephen (Acts 7:55) who were both known for the bold messages that they preached.
5. In Acts 9:17 the Lord sent Ananias that Paul might be filled with the Holy Ghost. Acts 9:20 says, “And straightway he preached Christ…” Notice verse 27 where Barnabas was giving testimony of Paul to the apostles “how he [Saul] had preached boldly in the name of Jesus.”
6. Acts 11:23–24 speaks of Barnabas who, as a result of his preaching, saw, “much people … added unto the Lord.” Here we have the only time that we do not see mention of boldness. However, because he was full of faith and the Holy Ghost, Barnabas was able to preach to many people and exhort them to cleave to the Lord. Since boldness is mentioned all of the other times, I believe it is obviously a clear characteristic.
7. In Acts 13:9–12 we see the deputy wanting to hear the Word, so he sent for Paul. Paul is definitely proclaiming the Word of God. He boldly confronts the sorcerer, Elymas, who was trying to destroy the witness of Paul and this resulted in the deputy being born again.
8. By the time we come to Acts 13, we find that Paul is now traveling with Barnabas. Acts 13:46 says, “Then Paul and Barnabas waxed bold,” and then Acts 14:3 says, “Long time therefore abode they speaking boldly in the Lord.” What is in the middle of these verses? Acts13:52 tells us “And the disciples were filled with the joy, and with the Holy Ghost.”
There is only one instance where tongues are mentioned around people being filled with the Holy Ghost. That was simply fulfillment of prophecy, and spirit-filled believers, who were speaking in tongues, did so while boldly preaching the gospel. If tongues was an evidence of being filled with the Spirit then we would have seen it in every case. On the other hand, what we do see is that every time we see a Spirit-filled person, they are boldly preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ. This is the evidence of a Spirit-filled Christian!
Now let’s go back to our original question. Where is the breakdown of soul-winning in churches? The breakdown is the lack of Spirit-filled believers. When you have believers who are totally yielded to the control of the Holy Spirit, it will always result in the bold preaching of the gospel. If a believer is not boldly preaching the gospel to the world around them, it is an obvious sign that they are not filled with the Holy Spirit of God. Your boldness in preaching is in direct correlation to your filling of the Spirit. No filling, no boldness; no boldness, no preaching; no preaching and the world dies and goes to hell.
May God help us to pray, confessing the “weight and the sin that doth so easily beset us” and ask God to completely fill us with His Spirit that we may live the Christian life with purpose. What purpose? The boldness to, “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: 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” (Matthew 28:19–20).