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by John Wesley Hymers

A sermon preached on Lord’s Day Evening, June 24, 2007
at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles

“He which converteth the sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins” (James 5:20).

This sermon is based on one given by the great evangelist, Dr. R. A. Torrey. I stand with Dr. R. A. Torrey when he said, “Every Christian should work with all his might for the salvation of the lost.” The professing Christian who does not work hard to “get men to forsake sin and accept Jesus” is not doing the most important thing that Christ has called us to do – that is, to work with all our might, for the salvation of the lost! The Christian who desires with all his might to see others converted is one who will have a truly satisfying Christian experience. In so doing, my brothers and sisters, you will be blessed beyond human comprehension, as you witness the power of God working through you, as you attempt to bring people to the Saviour.

“He which converteth the sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins” 
      (James 5:20).

I. First, why should all Christians seek the salvation of the lost?

Because God is glorified by the salvation of the lost. Nothing glorifies God more than the conversion of a sinner. As Christians, it is not enough to glorify God by living a righteous life, going to church, reading the Bible, and tithing regularly. Sure, those things please God, and indeed, He expects us to do them. But living right is not the only goal for those who are saved. To truly glorify God you must work with all your might for the salvation of the lost. As Christians, we are to follow in Jesus’ steps. And Jesus said that His main purpose was to save sinners!

“The Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost” (Luke 19:10).

Therefore, we cannot truly follow Christ unless we also seek the salvation of the lost!

As Jesus was a testimony and witness of God, so too, we are to be witnesses and testimonies of Jesus. Being men and women in this present world, we must glorify God as Jesus did, by winning souls. At the Last Supper, Christ said to the Father,

“I have glorified thee on the earth: I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do” (John 17:4).

Let us also finish the work He has given us – by seeking the salvation of the lost!

Also, let us not forget perhaps the most widely known Bible verse, John 3:16, which says,

“For God so loved the world that He gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).

Therefore, it is only natural for you, as a Christian, to return the love that God had for you, by working with all your might to convert a sinner from the error of his way, and save a soul from death. Our text explains the result of this labor of love very simply,

“He which converteth a sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death” (James 5:20).

Also, every Christian should work with all his might for the salvation of the lost, because God has commanded us to do this work. The true believer does not need to read a verse in the Bible that expressly tells Christians to win souls. The Holy Spirit speaks to every saved person to have concern and deep consideration for the spiritual welfare of those people in the church, or in the world, that are not saved. Perhaps you have felt a deep desire to see someone converted to Christ before. That is God’s calling to you to convert a sinner from the error of his way and in turn, save a soul from death. Listen to the voice of God, as he calls you to be interested in the salvation of the lost. Who knows, perhaps your influence on them may be used of God as a means of grace to draw them unto Christ.

It is an unquestionable fact that the leaders of this church express strong desire to convert sinners. Their work for Christ, and the salvation of the lost, is the best human example that we have. And I consider it a blessing from God to be in a position to be alongside these spiritual warriors of Christ. Each of the leaders bears a resemblance to our Lord Jesus. Indeed, as Christ, their main purpose in life is the business of winning souls for God. Like them, each of you must strive to win souls. As Christ, they too have come to seek and to save the lost. You must follow this example, and be like Christ, whose “meat,” as He said,

“is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work” (John 4:34).

As Dr. Torrey said, “Every Christian should work, because of love to [the lost]. It is an awful thing to think of what it means to be lost. It is unpleasant to think of what it means to be lost now, to say nothing about what it means to be lost [in Hell]. What can we do [to convert them] from sin and from its consequences? Our hearts are stirred when we hear of millions whose bodies are starved around the world, but what is this to millions whose souls are starving, who are in sin [far] from God and without Christ? It is better far to save one perishing soul than to save ten million starving bodies.”

Every true Christian has the love of God in him. This love is not meant for us to hold up inside, and keep to ourselves alone. Rather, Christian love motivates us to seek the conversion of sinners! As a matter of fact, uninhibited Christian love and concern for the lost should be the ultimate goal of every true believer. If we are to model ourselves after Jesus, and look to Him, not only as our physical, but also as our spiritual guide, it is most evident, that Jesus is ever burdened for sinners, and forever compassionate and loving toward them.

Think back to the time before you were converted. More then likely, you felt as if there was nothing good, happy, and meaningful, or anyone that truly loved, cared, or understood you. Then you were awakened to see that God did love you, and sent His only begotten Son Jesus to pay the ultimate penalties of the tortures of scourging and crucifixion as a man, and sacrificially bearing our sins as the sinless and pure Lamb of God. You were then broken in the spirit, and drawn to Jesus, truly desiring to be forgiven and cleansed by Him. Now that you know the love of Jesus, you cannot even begin to consider reverting to your former miserable state. You have been reborn, and the love, mercy and grace of God have been made known to you. But don’t only think of what it would mean to be lost at this time. What about remaining lost after death? Think about what an awful place of pain Hell is. Keep the eternal flames of Hell before your eyes. You know that Hell exists, but think of how those who are lost don’t have even the slightest awareness of the reality of it, let alone the awareness that they themselves are actually going there when they die.

The natural man does not understand the things of God. Even with many pointed and well-given sermons on sin and its consequences – death and damnation – the lost person does not grasp these things. Therefore, we must bring them where the Gospel is preached, and pray for God to open their eyes and draw them to Jesus.

When we hear of starvation going on in various parts of the world, we are moved with compassion and concern for those who are starving. But they are without God and living in sin as well. They are headed for Hell fire and damnation – isn’t that a more eternally immediate concern, and cause for compassion? Yes, of course! Now those in Third World countries, who are void of physical, as well as spiritual food, are just as in need of salvation as the many other millions of people in the world who have food, but do not have Christ. And as Christians, we know that Dr. Torrey was very right when he said, “It is far better to save one perishing soul than to save ten million starving bodies,” because what good does perishable food do for a person’s eternal soul in Hell?

Then, too, every Christian should work with all his might for the salvation of the lost, for his own sake. Our eternal reward depends upon our earnestness and untiring activity in soul winning. Every new soul won is a new jewel in our Saviour’s crown and a new jewel in our crown. If you want to be a better Christian, there is no better way to become one than by winning souls. Just as winning souls was the first work of Christ, so too, it should be the first work of every Christian. Could you imagine Jesus coming to earth, and doing miracles and preaching, but when it came time for the tortures and pains of Gethsemane and the Cross, He didn’t follow through with it? Of course I can’t imagine this, and know that such an action on Jesus’ part was impossible, since He did not operate on His own will, but rather, He acted according to the express will of God the Father. For a Christian to die and go to Heaven, without having won souls, is like Christ returning to Heaven without having accomplished the task that God had sent Him forth to do on the Cross. It will be a shameful thing for you to live in glory, unable to really enjoy the presence of the Lord since you were not one of His good and faithful servants.

Working to win souls will give you a crown in the Kingdom. And every soul that is won to Christ, that is directly attributable to your ministry, will add a jewel to your crown, as well.

II. Second, how should all Christians seek the salvation of the lost?

We must seek the salvation of the lost by prayer. Praying for the lost is not out only duty, but it is our first duty. We accomplish more in that way than in any other single way. Our prayers for the lost are on their behalf. We are praying to God to save them. The earnest prayer for a soul to be saved is heard by God. Thus, praying for the lost to be awakened and converted is the most important prayer we can do for them.

Although it is good to pray for the lost in general, it is even better to pray specifically for each lost soul, by name, and with much reflection and thought about the person. Develop a deep desire to see them saved. How do you do this? By praying for them every day, or whenever the person you are praying for crosses your mind. When you come into this person’s company and talk to him, the Holy Spirit may reveal to him that you have been praying for him, and truly do love him, as Jesus does. God can use you in this way to open sinners up, by making them see the love of God in you.

Our prayers for a certain sinner can be specified more than praying broadly for his salvation. Pray for God’s continued grace upon him. Pray for God to move him with a calling that he can’t run away from. Pray that he will see the evil of his heart, and the sins that he has done. Pray that he will have an awareness of the reality of God and that this would trouble him deeply as he thinks about how he is separated from God, and will come before Him at the Day of Judgment to be judged of his sins and thrown into Hell fire. Pray that he will think about his soon coming death, and how he doesn’t know when he will die and that he will be moved with fear and trembling to strive to enter into the strait gate before it’s too late.

Pray that God will keep Satan and demonic activity away from the person, and that the sinner will be able to recognize, understand and see how Satan has entrapped him, and how his thought and actions are in accordance with Satan’s nature. There is a host of specific things to pray for which are involved with a person’s conversion. If you are having a hard time getting moved to pray for someone, or do not how exactly to pray for them, start off by asking God to move and guide you, and help you to pray on the sinner’s behalf.

By effort. Prayer is the first thing but not the only thing. Begin trying to lead men to Christ. How do we lead men to Christ? Bring them to church to hear the Gospel! Our church is a place where the Gospel preaching is the core topic of virtually every sermon. These sermons point a lost soul in the direction of Christ. By bringing a lost person to church to hear sound gospel preaching, you are leading men to Jesus. Whether you get the lost person’s name and number, or bring them in yourself, you are glorifying God and actually doing something to fill His house, not just passively praying in a dry, perfunctory and meaningless way, for the lost to come in and be saved. No! Lost people don’t just come in and get saved! We never see a lost soul wander into the church looking for salvation. We don’t even see people we bring in that stay for a while doing that, by the way. People have to be brought in to church. Christ said, “Compel them to come in, that my house may be filled” (Luke 14:23). This is how we lead the lost to Christ.

Also, we must train for the work in order to do the best work. When do we train? As Christians, we should be in training all the time for the work of winning souls. Everywhere we go, anything that we are doing, we must strive to always be training. Invite the lost to church no matter where you are at, or what you are doing. Getting a name and phone number does not need to take more than several seconds. To the person who says, “I just can’t seem to get any names, or more than one or two,” I say, “You are not training.” Go and train yourself to get names, and ask for God’s help and blessing as you do it. Train yourself! It’s good for you!

“He which converteth the sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death” (James 5:20).

Seek and obtain God’s power. Every Christian man and woman here can have the power of the Holy Spirit. Give yourself wholly to God. Ask for His power. Believe that He will give it to you. Claim it by faith and go to work for Christ! Amen.

You can read Dr. Hymers' sermons each week on the Internet
at Click on “Sermon Manuscripts.”

Scripture Read Before the Sermon by Mr. Winston Song: Luke 14:16-24.
Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Benjamin Kincaid Griffith:
“The Price of Revival, the Cost of Soul Winning”
(by Dr. John R. Rice, 1895-1980).



by John Wesley Hymers

“He which converteth the sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins” (James 5:20).

I.   First, why should all Christians seek the salvation of
the lost? Luke 19:10; John 17:4; 3:16; 4:34.

II.  Second, how should all Christians seek the salvation of
the lost? Luke 14:23; James 5:20.