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SHALL WE STOP SOUL-WINNING?

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

A sermon preached on Lord’s Day Evening, March 19, 2006
at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles

“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 always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.” (Matthew 28:19-20).


The book of Acts shows us that the Christians in those early churches used every means available to bring unsaved people into the local church - to hear clear gospel preaching.  We need to follow the example of these early Christians.  We need to follow the clear teaching of our Lord Jesus Christ!

I. First, the early churches used every opportunity to win the lost.

The Apostles were warned not to put such an emphasis on soul-winning, to go back to their homes and be quiet, and to keep their beliefs to themselves. They were censured and put in jail for trying to win so many souls.

“And as they spake unto the people, the priests…and the Sadducees came upon them, Being grieved that they taught the people, and preached through Jesus the resurrection from the dead. And they laid hands on them, and put them in hold [in jail] unto the next day” (Acts 4:1-3).

Those who did not want them to do soul-winning were “grieved” at the great effort they put into it. They were actually arrested for their evangelistic, soul-winning preaching, their work to bring others to Christ.

Again the religious leaders were filled with “indignation” (Acts 5:17). “[They] laid their hands on the apostles, and put them in the common prison” (Acts 5:18). Then, when the officials brought them out, they said to the Apostles,

“Ye have filled Jerusalem with your doctrine” (Acts 5:28).

The Apostles were told to go home and keep the gospel to themselves.

“Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said, We ought to obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29).

Christ had told them,

“Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in” (Luke 14:23).

Christ had told them,

“Go ye therefore, and teach all nations” (Matthew 28:19).

They had to “obey God rather than men.”

When Saul bitterly persecuted the church before his conversion, those Christians refused to stop soul winning. As Saul persecuted them,

“They that were scattered abroad went every where preaching the word” (Acts 8:4).

They were belittled and attacked for their efforts to win souls. The religious leaders of the time called them a “sect,” which means “a party or disunion - heresy (which is the Greek meaning of the word itself)” (Strong’s Concordance #139, Greek Dictionary). They were labeled a “sect.” The unbelieving religious leaders said,

“As concerning this sect, we know that every where it is spoken against” (Acts 28:22).

The early Christians were called a “sect” because they took the Great Commission so seriously that they literally obeyed Christ when He said,

“Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled” (Luke 14:23).

Does obedience to the Great Commission make us a sect? Not at all! It only means that we are obeying Jesus Christ!

II. Second, modern new-evangelicals have all but given up soul-winning.

I have been reading a book called, No Place For Truth: Or What Happened to Evangelical Theology? by Dr. David Wells (Eerdmans, 1993). Time magazine called it “A stinging indictment of evangelicalism’s corruption.” The jacket (back cover) says, “David F. Wells’s sweeping analysis examines the collapse of theology in the church…raising profound questions about the future of conservative Protestant faith.”

Wells says that new-evangelicals have gradually given up theology and Scripture as their standard, and have capitulated to sociology and psychology. He said,

Stripped of doctrinal substance and rendered unreflective about and uncritical of the culture, theology now transforms “virtue” into a set of everyday skills for finding success in a world of technology and affluence. Knowing how to be religious now means knowing how to “make it” in a…world that is decidedly hostile to absolute principles and…is driven to seek meaning only in self-fulfillment. The fuel for this new practical virtue comes not from the Bible but from… psychology…concerns for psychological wholeness and happiness in an age of affluence (ibid., p. 112).

The emptiness of evangelical faith without theology echoes the emptiness of modern life. Both have elected to cross over into a world in which God has no place…his Word irrelevant
     (ibid., p. 301).

I agree with Dr. Wells’ statements. New-evangelicals now tend to say that the Bible and doctrine have no relevance - that the only guide to life is one’s own feelings and one’s own personal peace and prosperity.

But we say that the Bible is relevant, that the Bible, and the Bible alone, is our rule for faith and practice. That is good, old-fashioned Baptist doctrine. And I for one have no intention of giving up the Bible and replacing doctrine with sociology and psychology.

Modern new-evangelicals have all but given up personal evangelism. Where are they? We go out to college campuses and malls to invite people to hear the gospel. But where are the new-evangelicals? We never see them out soul-winning. Do we? I remember when they did it. When Biola was in downtown Los Angeles, at 550 South Hope Street, you couldn’t walk through downtown L.A. without someone giving you a tract or inviting you to hear Dr. J. Vernon McGee preach a sermon at the Church of the Open Door. What happened? Where did the new-evangelicals go? Where are they when we need them most? I’ll tell you where they are. They are busy finding fault with someone who takes the Bible seriously enough to win a soul for Christ. They are busy fault-finding instead of soul-winning! They are busy at personal peace and prosperity instead of personal evangelism! Jesus said,

“Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled” (Luke 14:23).

When did that change? When did it become permissible to disobey Christ? When did personal enjoyment take the place of soul-winning? I say it never did. I say that commandment is as true tonight as it ever was. I say that new-evangelicals, who refuse to go evangelizing, are untrue to the Scriptures, untrue to Christ, untrue to the Apostles, and martyrs, and heroes of the faith - untrue to God Himself. I'd rather go to prison with Bunyan or Wurmbrand - than to stop telling Christians to go soul-winning! Never! Dr. John R. Rice said,

In the parable of the man who made a great supper and bade many, in Luke 14:16-24, we are told that the servant went first to those who had been invited. They would not come. Then he was to go into the streets and lanes of the city, and invite “the poor, the maimed, and the halt, and the blind.” Then he was to go into the highways and hedges of the country, and urgently, compellingly persuade them to come! Does not that indicate that the Lord Jesus holds the Christians of a local congregation accountable for everybody within possible reach of the Gospel?...That is the scope of soul winning responsibility of the Christian in every local church (John R. Rice., D.D., Why Our Churches  Do Not Win Souls,  Sword  of  the  Lord,  1966,   pp. 22-23).

Others may forget old-fashioned soul-winning. They may forget what Spurgeon and Moody and Torrey and Bob Jones, Sr. and John R. Rice said about evangelism. We ourselves may even forget what they said. But we must never forget the words of Christ,

“Go ye therefore, and teach all nations” (Matthew 28:19).

He still says,

“Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel” (Mark 16:15).

And yes, He still says,

“Compel them to come in, that my house may be filled”
     (Luke 14:23).

We must bring people in to this local New Testament Baptist church to hear 

"Good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people" 
     (Luke 2:10). 

Good tidings of Jesus coming to this sin-ruined world, to save men from the doom of judgment.  Good tidings of Jesus dying on the Cross to pay the penalty for man's sin.  Good tidings of great joy that Christ rose bodily from the grave and ascended to the right hand of God the Father.  Good tidings of great joy that you can be saved, once and forever, by simple faith in Jesus Christ. 

That is our one and only message.  Let us continue to 

"Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in" (Luke 14:23), 

that they may hear that glorious gospel proclaimed from this pulpit every Sunday morning and every Sunday night!  

 

(END OF SERMON)
You can read Dr. Hymers' sermons each week on the Internet
at www.realconversion.com. Click on "Sermon Manuscripts."


Scripture Read Before the Sermon by Dr. Kreighton L. Chan: Acts 8:1-4.
Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Benjamin Kincaid Griffith:
“Bring Them In” (by Alexcenah Thomas, 19th century).


THE OUTLINE OF

SHALL WE STOP SOUL-WINNING?

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.


“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 always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.” (Matthew 28:19-20).

I.   First, the early churches used every opportunity to win the lost,
Acts 4:1-3; 5:17-18, 28-29; Luke 14:23; Acts 8:4; 28:22.

II.  Second, modern new-evangelicals have all but given up
soul-winning, Luke 14:23; Mark 16:15; Luke 2:10.