.It is no secret that we have been called to witness to others. Further it is no secret that it is a command from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Many times, we focus on this fact in our efforts to rally more folks to come out to Soul-Winning and be a witness in their day to day lives. Obedience certainly is a key aspect in Soul-Winning, but oftentimes we do not stress enough the results of obedience.
In John 12:23-26 Jesus gives us a clear indication of this principle in light of his impending crucifixion.
John 12: 23-26
“And Jesus answered them, saying, The hour is come, that the Son of man should be glorified. Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit. He that loveth his life shall lose it; and he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal. If any man serve me, let him follow me; and where I am, there shall also my servant be: if any man serve me, him will my Father honour.”
Several items could be noted by this passage:
1. Abundance (fruit-bearing) comes from a sacrificed life.
Of course, we understand the immediate implication of this passage is our Savior’s death, burial, and resurrection. This is clear when He states in the first verse “The hour is come, that the Son of man should be glorified.” But the truth is enlarged by Jesus Himself as the passage continues. In verse 26 we should mark the phrase, “If any man serve me, let him follow me;” Just as Jesus gave his life a ransom for many (Matthew 20:28, Mark 10:45), we too, if we are to be fruitful, must live a life sacrificed unto God. Herein we are given the great picture of fruit bearing. A seed that is unplanted, not buried in the ground, will produce no fruit whatsoever. But rather a seed must be planted in the ground; it must die and become food for the fruit vine that comes up out of it. This is certainly what Paul portrays to us in Galatians 2:20 when he states, “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.”
a. The abundant Christian life is not a selfish life.
b. The abundant Christian life is a selfless life.
John Phillips in looking at this passage puts it this way, “It is possible to have a saved soul and a lost life.” (John Phillips) What a tremendous statement. Oliver B. Greene in looking at this passage states this as well, “He who loves his life, he who thinks more of life in this world than he thinks of the life to come, shall LOSE that which is the best part of his life-the inner man , the soul that will never die.” (Oliver B Greene)
So we can understand, fruit-bearing abundance comes from a sacrificed life, but secondly:
2. Loss according to the World is gain for the Christian.
Notice in verse 25 that the Lord gives us a paradox.
v25 “He that loveth his life shall lose it; and he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal.”
Seemingly on the surface this statement makes absolutely no sense because Man reasons in the opposite direction. This is portrayed for us in the philosophy of the Epicureans in Acts chapter 17 (Acts 17:18) whose worldly mantra was simply materialism.
Epicurus, the founder of Epicureanism stated this:
“Death does not concern us, because as long as we exist, death is not here. And when it does come, we no longer exist.”
“It is folly for a man to pray to the gods for that which he has the power to obtain by himself.”
Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ on the other hand teaches us something that is vastly different.
a. Man’s grasp on self ----will end up in loss.
This 'self' life is the life that is concerned for the things that this world has to offer. This 'self' life is grasping for that which is only temporal to obtain joy. This kind of life will end up in loss. But on the positive side:
b. Man’s grasp on obedience (to Jesus Christ) -----will end up in reward.
II Corinthians 5:10 “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.”
So far we understand that abundance comes from a sacrificed life, and loss according to this world is gain for the Christian, but lastly:
3. Obedience Results in Joy.
Consider the following verses:
I Chronicles 29:9 “Then the people rejoiced, for that they offered willingly, because with perfect heart they offered willingly to the LORD: and David the king also rejoiced with great joy.”
A few verses later David states, “I know also, my God, that thou triest the heart, and hast pleasure in uprightness. As for me, in the uprightness of mine heart I have willingly offered all these things: and now have I seen with joy thy people, which are present here, to offer willingly unto thee.” I Chronicles 29:17
The people had great joy because they obeyed in giving generously to the building of the temple which Solomon would accomplish.
In the days of Hezekiah, a move was made by that godly king to be in obedience to God by keeping the feast of Unleavened Bread (II Chronicles 30:21)
And in II Chronicles 30: 26,27 the Bible says, “So there was great joy in Jerusalem: for since the time of Solomon the son of David king of Israel there was not the like in Jerusalem. Then the priests the Levites arose and blessed the people: and their voice was heard, and their prayer came up to his holy dwelling place, even unto heaven.”
In Ezra 3:12 because of the rebuilding of the Temple God's Word states, “many shouted aloud for joy:”
God laid on the heart of Nehemiah to rebuild the wall in Jerusalem. In Nehemiah chapter 12 we have this verse spoken of concerning the obedience of those that returned with him:
“Also that day they offered great sacrifices, and rejoiced: for God had made them rejoice with great joy: the wives also and the children rejoiced: so that the joy of Jerusalem was heard even afar off.” Nehemiah 12:43
The psalmist tells us, “Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.” Psalm 16:11
Psalm 126: 5,6 “They that sow in tears shall reap in joy. He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him.”
Proverbs 15:21 (Speaking of the shallowness of worldly joy)
“Folly is joy to him that is destitute of wisdom: but a man of understanding walketh uprightly.”
Proverbs 21:15 “It is joy to the just to do judgment: but destruction shall be to the workers of iniquity.”
The truth is we could continue our trek through God's Word and see example after example where obedience and joy in the life of a Christian are connected. Getting back to our passage in John the Lord continues and tells us first:
a. One who serves, must follow.
v26 “If any man serve me, let him follow me”
We cannot stress enough the connection between lip service and feet service. One who is a disciple of Jesus Christ is one who is following Jesus Christ not only in speech but in action as well.
So one who 'serves,' must follow but that simply means:
b. One who follows, obeys.
v26 “If any man serve me, let him follow me”
Following is obedience. So putting this all together up to this point shows us that one who 'serves" must follow and if they are following really that means they are obedient.
Well what is one of the results of obedience?
c. The servant of Christ is in the presence of Christ.
v26 “If any man serve me, let him follow me; and where I am, there shall also my servant be:”
One might say, am I not always in the presence of God whether being obedient or not? And physically speaking yes. God is omnipresent and therefore physically speaking we are never closer or farther away from God at any point. We also have the promise in God's Word which tells us He will never leave us or forsake us (Hebrews 13:5). But in terms of fellowship we are hindered in our disobedience.
I John 1:6,7 “If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth: But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin”
Yes of course it is true that we will ultimately be in heaven with Jesus Christ one day for those who are saved, but why not enjoy His the presence of Christ right now?
That of course leads us to the last statement which is:
d. The servant of Christ will have Joy.
v26 “if any man serve me, him will my Father honour.”
The most miserable Christian in the world is one who is disobedient to God. Dr. Clarence Sexton makes this cautioning statement concerning our service to the Lord, “Making service the goal leads to the belief that we can never do enough.”
But let me add to that with this statement: when we are obedient to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ we have great joy!
Why is it that most Christians seem to look at the Christian life as an enormous burden?
Why is it that Soul-Winning is considered something we have to do rather than something we get to do? Perhaps it is because some have never experienced the joy of being obedient to the Lord.
Not one time have I come back from Soul-Winning and said, “Boy I wish I had never done that!”
- Pastor James, Community Outreach Pastor, Sharon Baptist Church
Throughout the course of this year, we will endeavor to look at some Soul-Winning principles. A principle can be defined as the “Ground; foundation; that which supports an assertion, an action, or a series of actions or of reasoning. On what principle can this be affirmed or denied? He justifies his proceedings on the principle of expedience or necessity. He reasons on sound principles.” (Webster’s 1828 Dictionary) As the last part of this definition states our goal will be to reason based on God’s Word. The application then would be that these principles ought to produce a change in our actions. Therefore, from God’s Word we can glean principles and from those principles we can apply actions which should affect our daily living.
With that introduction in mind, we will look at the first principle in this series of posts which is 'The Principle of Time'. Time of course is a commodity that God’s has given to man. No one has an indefinite amount of time living on this earth. The Bible is clear that our temporal bodies are destined for corruption because of sin.
In Genesis 3:19 God makes this declaration in judgement toward man because of sin:
"In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return."
We know from Psalm 90 that in general, our time is limited to threescore and ten years (70) or potentially fourscore years (80)(Psalm 90:10). Of course, there are folks that live well beyond eighty years old and there are folks that have much less than time than seventy years. But Psalm 90 emphatically tells us that our time is limited. Because of that fact, we are exhorted to redeem the time that God has given to us. That word redeem simply means “To purchase back; to ransom; to liberate or rescue from captivity or bondage…” (Webster’s 1828 Dictionary) In that same passage in Ephesians (Ephesians 5:16), the Bible alludes to the passing of time telling us “the days are evil.” Meaning that, the natural course of this world around us will present “allurements and temptations that would lead you away from the proper improvement of time, and that would draw you into sin.” (Albert Barnes) So, what does this have to do with Soul-Winning?
1. Soul-Winning takes time.
Personal evangelism requires an effort from the individual. That effort requires time. In John 4, toward the middle of that chapter, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ had just finished dealing with the Samaritan women and now was dealing with the crowds of people that were affected by the women’s testimony of Jesus.
Notice the words of our Savior concerning time:
"Say not ye, There are yet four months, and then cometh harvest? behold, I say unto you, Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest."
The contrast that is made here is between the prevailing rationale of the day concerning the harvest. In the example given by the Savior, worldly wisdom would tell them that the harvest is down the road, so now is not the time to worry about reaping. In other words, we could put it this way, “Soul-Winning can wait for another day, maybe then the harvest will come.” “Soul-Winning can wait because I have more important things to do with my time.” But the Lord says, “Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest.” [Emphasis Mine] In other words, the time is now!
He goes on to state, “And he that reapeth receiveth wages, and gathereth fruit unto life eternal: that both he that soweth and he that reapeth may rejoice together. And herein is that saying true, One soweth, and another reapeth. I sent you to reap that whereon ye bestowed no labour: other men laboured, and ye are entered into their labours.”
Notice the action verbs used:
Reapeth – to reap takes time.
Gathereth – to gather takes time.
Soweth – to sow takes time.
Laboured – Labor, signifies time spent.
Each one of these actions signifies time spent. Realize further Jesus tells us that the harvest requires labour, and labour my friend requires time. A good example would be this:
Suppose I am a farmer desiring to have a bumper crop of corn this year. And yet every day I look out the window imaging what that crop might look like. Now I never go outside into the field to prepare the soil. I never take time to sow any seed. I just know that if I prepare the soil and plant the seed it will at the minimum produce some. Suppose you come in and see me sitting down watching television and ask me, “Aren’t you going to go out and plant the field so you receive a harvest.” And I reply, “I do not have the time to go out today, perhaps we will have a harvest anyways.”
What a foolish use of time that would be. To know and understand and yet not apply the principle of time to our Soul-Winning efforts. You see Ephesians 5:17 tells us in lieu of redeeming the time, “Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is.” In other words, the command to spread the Gospel [God’s Will] should permeate the use of our time, otherwise we are being unwise with what God has given to us.
2. The more time we spend Soul-Winning, the more results.
Now we cannot state that we will always see the results of our time spent immediately Soul-Winning, but we can say dogmatically that the more time we spend casting seed and reaping the more of a harvest there will be. Galatians 6 tells us that we can expect to reap what we sow. Not only that, but how much we sow will determine what we reap as well. The good news/bad news is, depending on what you are sowing, that you will always reap more than you sow. (Hosea 8:7) Meaning for example: one tomato seed produces more than one tomato. But there is something else to note as well. It takes time to sow. Therefore, the more we sow the Word of God, the more we can expect to see a bigger harvest.
Galatians 6:7,8 "Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting."
In II Corinthians Paul speaks on this same law of sowing and reaping, though contextually he is talking about giving, he states, “But this I say, He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully.” Even though the context of this chapter is giving the law of sowing and reaping has much broader application.
We can then expect if we spend little time telling people about Salvation through our wonderful Savior Jesus Christ, we can count on seeing few people get saved.
3. Our time is limited.
Having already established this point indirectly at the beginning, all of us have limited time to sow and reap. There are approximately 525,600 minutes in a 365 - day calendar year. Using myself as an example I have spent 21,020,000,000 (21 billion minutes of my life already; 40 years). That is a lot of time I cannot get back. And further, that is half of the allotted time I have generally speaking according to Psalm 90.
On average if I were to spend 1 hour of Soul-Winning a week, I would spend 3120 minutes this year Soul-Winning out of that 525,600 minutes. That is approximately less than 1% (.005936) of the time the Lord would allow me to have this year. What a shame it is to understand that knowing God’s Will, we would allot less than 1% of that time to share the Gospel with others. (By the way, it is difficult to even get folks to commit that 1/2%. Oh my, I pray the Lord will help us to understand this important truth this year!)
- Pastor James, Sharon Baptist Church, Community Outreach Pastor
Sharon Baptist church is an independent, fundamental Baptist church located in Hampton, VA.
Showing People the Way to God
- Personal Evangelism
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