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SOUL WINNING – GOD’S PURPOSE FOR YOUR LIFE!
A sermon written by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr., Pastor Emeritus
“For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works” (Ephesians 2:10; p. 1251 Scofield).
Many professing Christians do not know that God has a purpose for their lives. Some think that the only purpose for their lives is to say a quick prayer, or “go forward,” so they can go to Heaven. Many of these think there is no need for them to be involved in a local church and do any work for the Lord. They often think, “I’m already saved. I don’t need to be part of a church and do any work for Christ.” Such a person is only a nominal Christian – a Christian in name only – not a real Christian. Real Christians are “created in Christ Jesus unto good works,” not “saved” so they can stay home or work on Sunday! Real Christians are “created in Christ Jesus unto good works” (Ephesians 2:10).
Others think that the only purpose for their lives is to study the Bible. They think that Bible study alone is the goal of a Christian’s life. They study and study and study – as if Bible study were the only goal in their lives. Often this is the fault of their pastor, who makes knowledge of the Bible an end in itself. Yet we have found that many of these Bible students have never experienced the new birth. They are like Nicodemus, who was a famous Bible scholar and teacher, but knew nothing about the new birth (John 3:1-10). The Bible says that such people are “Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth” (II Timothy 3:7). They never do any work for Christ other than attend their church because they have never been “created in Christ Jesus unto good works” (Ephesians 2:10).
Then there are those who come to church to be motivated, to feel better about themselves. They come to church to get their weekly dose of good feelings. And, then, there are those who come to be entertained by various kinds of modern music. How any real Christian could stand to go through services of either type week after week is a mystery to me! I greatly fear that most people who are content with either of these have never been saved by grace (Ephesians 2:8-9), because those who have been saved by grace “are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works” (Ephesians 2:10).
“Created in Christ Jesus” means that God has “quickened” them, made them alive from the dead, by the new birth (Ephesians 2:1, 5). But one who has never been truly born again will not be able to discern God’s purpose for his life. Such a religious but lost person will not be able to understand that “we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works” (Ephesians 2:10) because,
“The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God... neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned” (I Corinthians 2:14).
Only those who have been truly born again by the grace of God in Christ can ever truly understand the words of the Apostle,
“For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them” (Ephesians 2:8-10).
If you are truly saved, God’s purpose for your life is to produce good works!
Now, what are these good works that God wants true Christians to do? Please turn to Ephesians 4:11-12.
“And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ” (Ephesians 4:11-12; p. 1253).
In verse eleven we see that Christ has given Apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers to the churches. But why did God give such men to us? So we can all be taught and motivated to be ministers. He gave these gifted men,
“For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ” (Ephesians 4:12).
The word “saints” here refers to every born again Christian. The men in verse eleven are given to equip the Christians “for the work of the ministry.” What is “the work of the ministry”? It is to make “increase of the body” (Ephesians 4:16). Dr. John R. Rice correctly said, “Evangelists are given to the church to make soul winners out of Christians...Evangelists, along with apostles, prophets, pastors and teachers, make ‘increase of the body.’ This necessarily means that [they] make Christians into soul winners, make churches into soul-winning churches” (John R. Rice, D.D., The Evangelist and His Work, Sword of the Lord Publishers, 1968, p. 35).
After all, isn’t soul winning the main “work of the ministry”? Isn’t bringing the lost into the local church to hear the Gospel preached the only way we can edify (Greek: oikodomēn, “build up,” Robertson) “the body of Christ,” the local church? Isn’t soul winning the only way to make “increase of the body”? (Ephesians 4:16).
I believe that soul winning is the main “work of the ministry.” Christ Himself gave soul winning as the main “work” of Christians in the Great Commission, in Matthew 28:19-20; Mark 16:15; Luke 14:23; 24:47; John 20:21; Acts 1:8 and many other places in the New Testament.
We have to say, that in the Bible, the main goal of anyone who is “created in Christ Jesus” is to win souls. Soul winning is the main purpose of a Christian’s life! Dr. John R. Rice said,
Soul winning is obviously the most important matter that can occupy the mind and effort of Christians...One man has been “tormented” in the flames of Hell for...two thousand years, according to the words of the Lord Jesus [in Luke 16:19-31] begging even for a drop of water which he has never received. Who can think of anything so important as saving souls?
We know that Christ commanded...every Christian to win souls. We know that it was the practice of New Testament Christians to go everywhere [winning souls]...Even new converts who had no training whatever went immediately about this holy task. When we consider the matter well, we come to see that the duty of soul winning is inherent in the very nature of Christianity...How can anybody claim to love the Lord Jesus well who does not set out to love what Jesus loves, and do what Jesus does, and have concern and compassion over the very thing dearest to the heart of the Saviour?...It is the plan of God that every Christian should win souls. Every one of us can win some who will be lost if we do not do our part...God did not plan for the work to all be done by paid workers, professional workers, full-time workers, trained workers. Such a holy task requires the compassionate labors and tears and prayers and untiring efforts of every Christian (John R. Rice, D.D., The Golden Path to Successful Personal Soul Winning, Sword of the Lord Publishers, 1961, pp. 55, 58, 60).
“For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works” (Ephesians 2:10).
Let us go out to the colleges, and malls and streets of this city and bring lost sinners in to hear the Gospel preached! Let us think about soul winning constantly, pray about it fervently, and work at it with zeal. Let some enemy of the cross of Christ say, “Those crazy fools at the Baptist Tabernacle! All they think about is winning souls!” Let them say it! They spoke evil of Christ for saving souls. They beat the Apostle Paul and put him in prison for soul winning! Jesus said,
“Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you”
Oh! There is more, far more, to soul winning than you may have realized. In the past we went. We got their names and phone numbers. We phoned them and arranged to bring them in our cars to the service. We preached the Gospel to them. We fed them. But there is more. We must take care of them. We must pray for them. We must befriend them. We must help them. As an old song put it,
Rescue the perishing, Care for the dying,
Snatch them in pity from sin and the grave;
Weep o’er the erring one, Lift up the fallen,
Tell them of Jesus the mighty to save.
Rescue the perishing, Care for the dying;
Jesus is merciful, Jesus will save.
(“Rescue the Perishing” by Fanny J. Crosby, 1820-1915).
Soul winning! That is God’s purpose for your life! Take it to heart! Rescue the perishing! Care for the dying! Jesus is merciful! Jesus will save! Amen.