Arminian Today

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Common Traits Among Soul Winners

Across the Church of Jesus Christ are men and women of God who have labored for souls.  God powerfully has used common folks to often reach others with the gospel.  While no one “led” me to Jesus, I was influenced by a fellow classmate in high school who had repented.  His godliness led me to look to Christ for salvation a year later or so after he first witnessed to me.  I think of the young Charles Spurgeon wandering into a small Methodist church on a cold January morning when the young 16-year-old Spurgeon could not get to another church that he planned to visit.  That morning the Lord saved Spurgeon as Spurgeon listened to a lay preacher from the Methodist preach the simple gospel.  That man did not know the spiritual impact Spurgeon would have and only heaven knows his name (though historians have speculated).

I think of Randy Stonehill inviting a young searching man named Keith Green to a Bible study at a home in southern California.  Little did Stonehill know that this same Keith Green would get saved and impact millions with his music.

The truth is that soul winners often go unnoticed.  The judgment seat of Christ will reveal great soul winners who labored for King Jesus with all their might.  The world did not know their names.  Blogs did not record their names.  History itself buried them with both dirt and time.  Yet heaven doesn’t forget the labors of the saints.  All of heaven will applaud these great soul winners who have labored for Christ our Lord.  Their eyes were not on fame or fortune.  They only had Jesus and His glory in mind.  Oh I long to be such a saint!

Yet there are common traits I have noticed among great soul winners from great men such as David Brainerd or Charles Spurgeon or Charles Finney or D.L. Moody or David Wilkerson or Ray Comfort.  Some of them were mighty theologians even such as the great Jonathan Edwards whom God used to touch a generation here in the United States with the gospel.  Some of them were great prayer warriors such as David Livingstone or John Hyde.  Some of them were simply burdened for souls such as William Carey or Andrew Fuller.  Some were great preachers of the gospel such as Wilkerson or Spurgeon.  I think most will simply be those Christians who faithfully labored for the gospel without the applause of those here and now.

What are some common traits among great soul winners?

1.  Prayer.

David Brainerd labored in prayer.  Martin Luther labored in prayer.  Rees Howell labored in prayer.  E.M. Bounds labored in prayer.  John Wesley labored in prayer.  Great soul winners pray.  They don’t talk about prayer.  They don’t use prayer to bless their labors.  They are first and foremost people of prayer.  William and Catherine Booth, founds of the Salvation Army, were great prayer warriors.  They had read the words of Christ in Matthew 9:37-38 or Paul in Romans 10:1 or 1 Timothy 2:1-6 and they labored in prayer for the lost.  God blessed their works.  Prayer doesn’t prepare us for the work of God.  Prayer is the work of God.  Prayer fills us with faith in God who can move the wicked mountains in our paths for souls (Mark 11:22-24).

2.  Gospel-Centered Focus and Preaching.

The great soul winners such as Charles Spurgeon, John Bunyan, Paris Reidhead, and many others were focused on preaching the Lord Jesus and exalting Him.  Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 2:1-5 that our focus should be Christ and Him crucified.  Paul further wrote in Philippians 3:8 that his passion was to know Christ.  Great soul winners hunger for Jesus and to exalt Him.  Great soul winners labor their lives away for the kingdom of Christ and their focus is eternity (2 Corinthians 4:16-18).

3.  Their Hearts Break for the Lost.  

Soul winners such as William Carey heard the cries of the heathen and longed to see them saved.  Great soul winners such as Peter Cartwright longed to see men and women free from the chains of sin.  They recognized that only Jesus can save sinners by His grace.  They read Matthew 9:37-38 and like their Savior, their hearts were broken for the lost.  Like Jesus their Master in John 4, they longed to see the harvest come to pass.  They wept over the lost and longed to see souls come to know Christ as Lord.

4.  They Feared Only God. 

Jesus tells us in Luke 12:4-7 that we are to fear God alone.  Proverbs 1:7 says that the fear of God is beginning of wisdom.  The fear of the Lord leads us to hate wickedness (Proverbs 8:13).  The fear of the Lord drove great soul winners to fear only God and to not fear flesh (Psalm 27:1; Romans 8:31).  They longed to preach the Word of God without fear of flesh.  Many great soul winners gave their lives for the gospel including the Apostles and including many others such as William Tyndale or Jim Elliott.

5.  They Preached Against Sin.

The great soul winner were not compromisers when it came to the gospel.  They preached hard against sin.  Read the sermons of Jonathan Edwards or the sermons of Robert Murray Mc’Cheyne and you’ll see their hatred for sin.  These were not men and women of God who came preaching a “seeker message” but like the Apostles, they thundered against sin.  They called people to repent and turn from their wickedness (Acts 17:30-31).  They preached the holiness of God alongside the sinfulness of humanity.

6.  They Were Often Despised By the Church and World.

I read about men such as John Bunyan and how hated they were by the world and the established church.  I read about men such as William Carey and how the established church despised his vision for the lost.  I read about the prayer life of E.M. Bounds and his focus was on eternity and not the fame or praise of men.  I read about men such as John Wesley who died without a penny to his name but left behind the Methodist Church.  Like those of Hebrews 11:38, the world was not worthy of them.  They preached hard and lived hard lives often for the gospel but they will forever be rewarded with the praises of their King going forth into all eternity.

7.  Their Preaching Often Ran Contrary to the Culture Around Them.

They preached against sins in their culture and often were attacked for that.  We have John Newton and William Wilberforce preaching against racism and slave trading.  We have Martin Luther preaching justification by faith alone as opposed to the apostate Catholics preaching works-righteousness.  We have the Apostles preaching against sin in their culture as well and being opposed for it (Acts 14:19).  Their lives were marked by holiness (1 Peter 1:15-16) and their preaching was holy preaching against sin.  They did not buy into the culture around them but preached against the world by the power of the Holy Spirit (1 Peter 4:12-19).

8.  They Loved Theology.

These were not theology-lite preachers.  These were not Joel Osteen types who ignored sound doctrine or acted the fool when confronted with theological questions.  Read the works of Richard Watson, Adam Clarke, or John Wesley and see them thinking deeply about Jesus and His Word.  The great soul winners of the Church have loved God with all their hearts and minds and souls and strength (Mark 12:29-31).  The gospel they often preached was simple enough for a child to hear and be saved but they deeply loved the Lord and knew His Word.  I read the sermons of the Puritans and I am ashamed of how weak our preaching is today in comparison.  Oh for servants of God who love Him and preach His deep truths in the power of the Spirit.

9.  They Were Holy Vessels.

These great soul winners of Church History loved the Lord and hated sin.  These were not men and women marked by sin. They were not marked by adultery and wickedness.  They were holy.  I think about the holiness preaching of men such as George Whitefield or John Wesley or Evans Roberts.  I think about the holy lives of men such as Francis Asbury or women such as Amy Carmichael.  I think about great servants of God who loved holiness such as Myer Pearlman.  Great soul winners are not full of the world (James 4:4).  Like their Lord, they despised the things of this world and sought to please and honor God.  They were not perfect and thus needed their Savior but they loved their Savior enough to hate sin (1 John 2:1-2; 3:4-10).  These were folks marked by 2 Corinthians 7:1.

Ending Prayer

Oh God give us soul winners again!  We need them in Your Church as we live in an evil age that needs the gospel.


Written by The Seeking Disciple

07/05/2013 at 10:42 AM

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