By Dominic Illingworth
The Bible tells us in Proverbs 11:30: “The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life; and he that winneth souls is wise.” Charles Spurgeon charged that “Soul winning is the chief business of the Christian minister; indeed, it should be the main pursuit of every true believer.” In II Peter 3:9, we read: “The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.”
The Lord has entrusted the local church with this work of soul-winning. Our labor in soul-winning is in accordance with His will that all should come to repentance, therefore we know it will glorify and honor Him. I would like to take a moment to offer two points that I hope will be an encouragement to the soul-winner engaged in this glorious work for the Lord. First, let us be encouraged by the fact that a soul-winner can do nothing without God. Dependence upon God is our strength and joy. In Acts 1:8, the apostles were told by Jesus to wait to receive something that they did not already possess. This was of course the Holy Ghost indwelling the believer. The apostles had to have the power of the Holy Ghost before they could be sent out as witnesses of the Lord Jesus Christ.
In Acts 4:8,13 & 21, we read here that Peter and John have been put in jail. Peter tells the rulers and elders of Israel that salvation is through Jesus Christ alone. The men perceived that Peter and John were unlearned and ignorant men and they marveled (v. 13). They marveled because the men did not understand that it was not by the power of Peter or John, but that it was in fact the power of the Holy Ghost that Peter and John were yielded to (v. 8). Because of this, all men glorified God (not man) for what was done (v. 21). Our prayer as soul-winners should be that of the early church. Acts 4:29-30 tells us, “And now, Lord, behold their threatenings: and grant unto THY servants, that with all boldness they may speak THY word, By stretching forth THINE hand to heal; and that signs and wonders may be done by the name of THY holy child Jesus.” Finally, we are reminded by the apostle Paul in I Corinthians 3:5-7 that we can plant, we can water, but it is God that gives the increase.
Secondly, we can be encouraged by knowing what to expect in the results of our soulwinning. We will see good fruit, but we also need to know that we will see failure. Do not be discouraged by bad results. We have all experienced someone not wanting to get saved or someone who has professed to be saved and now it is evident that they were a false convert. In Acts 17:30-34, Paul is preaching to the men of Athens at Mars’ Hill. Take note of the variation in the results of Paul’s preaching: “Some mocked” (v. 32), “others said, We will hear thee again” (v. 32), “Howbeit, certain men clave unto him, and believed” (v. 34). Jesus told us that there will be many who do not get saved. Matthew 7:13 tells us, “Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat.” We also see that there will be false converts. Matthew 7:21 says, “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.” No matter the results we may see in our soul-winning, we should follow the example of the apostle Paul in Acts 18:1, “After these things Paul departed from Athens, and came to Corinth.” We must not falter, we must continue pressing forward in our witness for Christ!