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by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

A sermon preached at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Saturday Evening, August 28, 2010

“He that winneth souls is wise” (Proverbs 11:30).

That is our text tonight. It is the second half of the Hebrew parallel in Proverbs 11:30. Please read it aloud, “He that winneth souls is wise.” I am giving you a shortened version of Dr. John R. Rice’s great sermon on this text (John R. Rice., D.D., “He That Winneth Souls is Wise,” in The Bible Garden, Sword of the Lord Publishers, 1982 edition, pp. 333-335; see the full version in The Soul Winner’s Fire by Dr. Rice, Sword of the Lord Publishers, n.d., pp. 9-22).

It is a wise person who takes the long look – who thinks about the future. Abraham was wise and Lot was foolish. Jacob was wise and Esau was foolish. Every day I see people who foolishly take the short look – and live for today – with little thought for the future. The greatest wisdom in the world is not shown by the banker, the statesman, the educator, or the millionaire. The greatest wisdom in the world is shown by the humble soul winner. The Saviour Himself indicated that one soul is worth more than all the world (Mark 8:36-37).

There are certain things that help us see the value of winning souls. I want you to see why soul winning is so important, why it is true that “he that winneth souls is wise.”

I. First, in view of the reality of Hell.

The most horrible fact in all the world is the reality of Hell. The doctrine of Hell has a prominent place in the Bible. Jesus Himself spoke often about the reality of Hell. The Bible teaches that Hell is a definite place in such passages as Luke 16:19-31 and Revelation 20:10-15.

There are many programs and activities in churches to help people, but none of them come close to being as important as soul winning, because only soul winning can keep sinners out of the torments of eternal fire.

It is no wonder that liberals and carnal evangelicals do not spend time winning souls, since they either don’t believe the Bible or don’t take it seriously. They do not have enough wisdom to win souls because they don’t take seriously what the Bible says about Hell.

“He that winneth souls is wise” (Proverbs 11:30).

And only “he that winneth souls is wise”!

II. Second, in view of the disappointments and unhappiness of this world.

Homes have failed. This is proven by the ever-growing divorce rate. Schools have failed. Jails are full of young people, proving this failure. The government has failed. The President promised “change” – but we don’t see any change that helps young people and others. Everywhere people are sad and live with tragedy. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is the only way for people to have peace with God and hope for the future. Here is a powerful argument for winning souls. Soul peace, real rest for the weary and heavy laden, can only be found in Jesus Christ! Those who are wise win souls to Jesus, who said, “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28). This is a good reason for winning souls, and proof that “he that winneth souls is wise.”

III. Third, in view of the sufferings of Christ.

What an important reason for winning souls! Perhaps the most compelling of all reasons for winning souls is this – the sufferings of Christ prove the eternal worth of a soul.

He who believes the Bible must see from the sufferings of Jesus how greatly He valued lost souls. He was tortured by Roman soldiers, beaten on the back, and died on the Cross to pay the price for sin, to enable lost souls to be saved from God’s wrath.

The death of Christ proves the value of a soul. If you want to be like Jesus, you must win souls, because that was His supreme passion. He said,

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

The Apostle Peter said that Christ left “us an example, that ye should follow his steps” (I Peter 2:21). Jesus came “to seek and to save that which was lost.” No matter what we have to suffer to win souls, we cannot honestly say we are following Christ unless we make soul winning a top priority, as He did at great cost and suffering. It is wise to follow the example of Christ at any cost. His main business was to win souls.

“Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners”
       (I Timothy 1:15).

Since that was Christ’s main purpose, it should be our main purpose also.

“He that winneth souls is wise” (Proverbs 11:30).

IV. Fourth, in view of the glories of Heaven.

The soul winner has many rewards in this life, such as the presence of the Holy Spirit and answered prayer. But the soul winner’s rewards are also eternal,

“And they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever” (Daniel 12:3).

Take the long look! Think of the rewards you will receive in eternity for winning souls.

The man who works night and day until his youth is gone in acquiring a fortune, may wake up to find his fortune gone overnight. Even if he can hold it in the clutches of his withered hands, finally death will drag him away, and his riches will slip from his trembling fingers. Men do not carry their wealth into the grave!

The fame of this world is hard to win and easy to lose. In his election to a second term, President Nixon won by the most overwhelming vote the nation had ever seen. But a few months later he was driven out of office by his enemies, and had to go into virtual exile for years. The fame of this world is hard to win and easy to lose.

Take the long look! Dr. Rice, in one of his beautiful songs, said,

The treasures of earth, oh, how vain and how fleeting;
   They vanish like mist and they wither like leaves;
But souls who are won by our tears and our pleading
   Will remain for our reaping up there.
The price of revival, the cost of soul winning
   Is repaid at the reaping up there!
(“The Price of Revival” by Dr. John R. Rice, 1895-1980;
     last two lines altered by the Pastor).

“He that winneth souls is wise” (Proverbs 11:30).

Here is a poem by Dr. Oswald J. Smith, which we sing to the tune of “And Can It Be?” by Charles Wesley. It’s the last song on your song sheet. Please stand and sing it!

Give us a watchword for the hour, A thrilling word, a word of power,
A battle cry, a flaming breath That calls to conquest or to death.
A word to rouse the church from rest, To heed the Master’s strong request.
The call is given, Ye hosts, arise, Our watchword is, evangelize!

The glad evangel now proclaim, Through all the earth, in Jesus’ name;
This word is ringing through the skies: Evangelize! Evangelize!
To dying men, a fallen race, Make known the gift of Gospel grace;
The world that now in darkness lies, Evangelize! Evangelize!
    (“Evangelize! Evangelize!” Words by Dr. Oswald J. Smith, 1889-1986;
        sung to the tune of “And Can It Be?” by Charles Wesley, 1707-1788).

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by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

“He that winneth souls is wise” (Proverbs 11:30).

(Mark 8:36-37)

I.   First, in view of the reality of Hell, Luke 16:19-31;
Revelation 20:10-15.

II.  Second, in view of the disappointments and unhappiness
of this world, Matthew 11:28.

III. Third, in view of the sufferings of Christ, Luke 19:10;
I Peter 2:21; I Timothy 1:15.

IV. Fourth, in view of the glories of Heaven, Daniel 12:3.