Tag Archives: soul winning for Jesus

Soul-Winning For Jesus: The Oneness of the Church — Jon McCormack

Clark Stanley stood before a large crowd in 1893. The self-proclaimed Rattlesnake King held a burlap sack in his hand and pulled out his namesake, a live rattlesnake. He sliced into the fanged creature and tossed it into a waiting pot of boiling water. In little time, the fat from the snake rose to the surface. Thus the world was introduced to a concoction that Stanley referred to as Snake Oil. He sold his mixture to the unsuspecting masses and made a considerable amount of money. In 1906 the United States passed the Pure Food and Drug Act in order to protect the consumer from fraudulent claims and potentially harmful concoctions. Stanley’s Snake Oil was inspected and found to have no snake oil present in the mixture. It was a combination of mineral water, cayenne pepper, turpentine, and a little beef fat. Clark Stanley and other copycats that followed gave us a term that is still used today.

A snake oil salesman is someone who offers a solution to a problem, but in reality brings harmful consequences. Snake oil salesmen still abound in the world today peddling their “miracle” cures. Other hucksters operate on a religious level pushing their spiritual hoaxes on the unsuspecting masses. One such spiritual hoax, perhaps the biggest of them all, is that one church is as good as another. The 38,000 plus denominations in this country are a testament to the effectiveness of this hoax. Phrases such as, “All that matters is the crucifixion,” and “We are all headed to the same place, just on different paths” proliferate religious conversations. Is this true? Is a multitude of denominations what God envisioned when He established the church of our Lord? The biblical answer is no.

The situation is made all the more serious when we consider our own mortality and the frailty of life. The Hebrews writer confirmed, “And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment” (Heb. 9:27). Likewise the brother of our Lord declared, “For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away” (Jas. 4:14). Death is a reality for us all, and how devastating for someone to die in a church that cannot be found in the New Testament. Counter to that John wrote, “Then I heard a voice from heaven saying to me, “Write: ‘Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on…” (Rev. 14:13). How sweet it is to die in a right relationship with God in the one true church. Yet spiritual snake oil salesmen are spreading the error that the church you belong to does not matter. Consider these three important warnings.

Don’t Die In A Church That God Did Not Plan

In his introduction to the church at Ephesus, Paul writes of the wonderful spiritual blessings we have in Christ Jesus. He continues that thought by writing, “Just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love” (Eph. 1:4). How comforting to know that church was planned by God before the world was even formed. The church of our Lord was not an afterthought or a “Plan B” but rather a masterfully calculated project from the divine Architect Himself, God.

We see His divine planning in the fact that He had His prophets talking about the church centuries before He established it. Isaiah prophesied of the place of establishment (Jerusalem, Is. 2:1-4), Daniel foretold of the time of establishment in the days of the Roman Empire (Dan. 2:44), and Joel portended the activity of the establishment day which was baptism of the Holy Spirit (Joel 2:28-32). If you are part of a church that wasn’t established under these conditions then you are not a part of the church God planned.

Don’t Die In A Church That Jesus Did Not Build

The Lord speaks to the oneness of the church in His very promise to build said church. He told His apostles, “And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it” (Matt. 16:18). Consider the possessive nature of the church. Jesus said, “My church.” This eternal truth is seen in the name we carry. We are the church of Christ (Rom. 16:16), that is, the church which belongs to Christ. If you are part of a church that does not honor His name then you are not in a church that He built. Likewise, consider the singleness of the word church. The significance of this cannot be overstated. Jesus did not say that he would establish multiple religions but just one soul saving institution.

To a religious person who has spent years listening to spiritual snake oil salesmen this truth may seem shocking, even arrogant. Yet the Bible is clear on the fact that Jesus only established one church. The Ephesian Christians were taught, “And He put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all” (Eph. 1:22-23). Notice that the church is the body of Christ. When we combine these verses with the truth found later in the same book we see the singularity of the church. Paul wrote, “There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling” (Eph. 4:4). Jesus only has one body; therefore, Jesus only has one church.

Don’t Die In A Church Jesus Did Not Die For

Think back to a truth that has already been revealed in this article. Jesus owns the church. He owns it because He bought it. Acts 20:28 reveals, “Therefore take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood.” He paid the price for the church when He died for the church. That blood He used is the same blood in which we in the church have been washed (Rom. 6:3-6). Those in denominations (churches not built by Jesus) have no access to that soul saving blood. How sad to die in a state of separation from Jesus. This is the fate of all those who have not been added (Acts 2:47) to the one true church that Jesus died to save.

Snake Oil promised to cure many ailments. It pledged to fix your rheumatism, sciatica, toothaches and sore throats. It did not fulfill its guarantee. Denominationalism promises to send you to heaven. It won’t. It is spiritual snake oil. Please do not let a huckster convince you that there is more than one true church.

Jon is the preacher for the Lord’s church in Atlanta, TX. He is a 2002 graduate of the Southwest School of Bible Studies in Austin, TX. He and his wife, Holly, are the parents of three children.

Soul-Winning For Jesus: Teaching About Baptism — Adam Carlson

Among the most common obstacles a Christian may encounter when sharing the gospel is objection to or misunderstanding about the role and purpose of baptism. Some teach baptism for the dead, others teach baptism by the Holy Spirit while others teach that faith and/or grace alone saves us with nothing being required by us. The purpose of this article to briefly discuss some questions we may ask when we’re met with this obstacle so we can effectively be about our Father’s business (Luke 2:49) and follow the example of the first century church: “And every day, in the temple and from house to house, they did not cease teaching and preaching that the Christ is Jesus” (Acts 5:42).

As will be seen in the discussion, teaching Jesus is to teach baptism (Acts 8:35-36). Questions must be asked if we are going to effectively teach the gospel to the world (Luke 2:46). After these questions we will look at some tips which may help in these discussions as well.

What is your religious background? It is imperative to not make assumptions about what one believes. Thus, we must listen rather than argue (Prov.18:2). Phillip did this when he first encountered the eunuch. “Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning with this Scripture he told him the good news about Jesus” (Acts 8:35, emp. mine). In this section it can be ascertained that this man, like many among us today, was confused about the Scriptures. He needed teaching about the interpretation of Isaiah 53 (vs 30-33). It was at that point that he began to be taught and understood the need to be baptized (vs. 35-38).

Do you understand what you are reading? While this is the exact question Phillip asked it is still a pertinent one. When the Jews began to return to Jerusalem post-captivity, helping others gain a proper understanding of God’s word was needed. “Also Jeshua, Bani, Sherebiah, Jamin, Akkub, Shabbethai, Hodiah, Maaseiah, Kelita, Azariah, Jozabad, Hanan, Pelaiah, the Levites, helped the people to understand the Law, while the people remained in their places. They read from the book, from the Law of God, clearly, and they gave the sense, so that the people understood the reading (Neh. 8:7-8, emp. mine). As disciples of Jesus we must remember it is our responsibility to make sure the hearer understands what we’re teaching.

What is your understanding of baptism? An important component of listening is seeing what one may believe regarding an issue as previously stated. When this question is posed you’ll likely get an array of answers, including but not limited to the notions that baptism plays no role in obtaining salvation, it’s a “sign” to show you’re already saved, etc. Again, with God’s Word as our guide we may direct one to show that it is a burial (Rom. 6:4), an inward circumcision (Col. 2:11-12), and the means by which one is cleansed (1 Pet. 3:21).

Why were you baptized? It must be understood that not all religious groups deny baptism. Thus it is not uncommon to encounter someone who will state they have been baptized previously. However, it may be that they did so believing they were saved prior to their baptism, they may affirm they were baptized by the Holy Spirit after a time of prayer, or a host of other unscriptural reasons may be given. At this juncture the one teaching must gently and humbly direct them to the scriptures (2 Tim. 2:24-26) and show there are no examples of anyone being saved prior to baptism. Saul was told by the Lord to receive further instruction (Acts 9:6), nor was he saved after three days of earnest prayer (9:9); rather, he was saved after he was taught about baptism and obeyed, which led to his conversion (9:18; 22:16).

Why do you tarry? This is another question taken from Scripture (Acts 22:16). Assuming the one with whom you’re studying is still hesitant, this question will need to be asked for various reasons. Some have difficulty accepting a loved one such as a beloved grandparent dying in a lost state. Like the five brothers of the rich man, we also have God’s Word (Luke 16:28-31). When one raises this objection we should lead them to consider what their loved one might say if they could communicate with them. Others may fear the severance of familial relations with those still living as the Lord foretold the disciples would happen (Matt. 10:36). It would be good to emphasize that family is not defined by DNA or genetics. “For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother” (Matt. 12:50) Inform them they will have support (Gal. 6:2). Sadly, others may prefer the temporary, sensual pleasures of the flesh (1 Pet. 4:3). Lastly, there are also those who haven’t counted the cost (Lk. 14:25-33).

Additional Pointers

Asking questions is a great way to teach. However, some other things should be taken into consideration.

Diversity of backgrounds. Just as our culture is diverse, the culture of the first century was also diverse. This should be considered when teaching the gospel. In the first century, one preached to Jews and Gentiles. When preaching to the Jews, appealing to the Old Testament writings would be common (Acts 2:17-21, 25-28, 34-35; 17:1-2). When addressing Gentile audiences, we see an appeal to their intellect and established beliefs (Acts 14:12-17; 17:22-32). While the Scriptures are our standard, it needs to be understood that an agnostic or atheist isn’t likely to be persuaded by the Bible itself. Rather, they must first be convinced of its truth. This by no means advocates for compromise or watering down the message, but rather to show that we need to be adaptable (1 Cor. 9:19-23).

Maintain a proper attitude. Affirming the necessity of immersion for forgiveness of sins is sometimes a contentious subject. Like Naaman when he was instructed to dip in the Jordan River, some may become “wroth” (2 Kings 5:11). When someone is antagonistic it can be easy for us to succumb to anger. Yet we must remember what Solomon told us: “A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger” (Prov. 15:1). We must teach in love (Eph. 4:15) and contend for the faith rather than be contentious (Jude 3). Is it more important to us to win an argument than win a soul?

Remember not everyone will submit immediately. When studying the Scriptures with others, there will be those like the prison warden in Philippi who will respond immediately (Acts 16:30-33). We should be thankful for such reactions. There will be others like those in Athens who will want to hear more (Acts 17:32). Discouragement will come with lukewarm replies. When this happens, remember it takes time (1 Cor. 3:6).

Don’t become discouraged. It’s easy to be susceptible to discouragement when someone with whom you’ve spent time and energy studying ultimately rejects the message you share with them. It must be remembered that our Lord was rejected (Is. 53:3). Out of all the people on earth in Noah’s time, it was only eight who were delivered (1 Pet. 3:20). On these occasions we must recall we are only responsible for ensuring the seed is planted (Matt. 13:3). God grows it (1 Cor. 3:6-7).

Conclusion

This is by no means an exhaustive list of questions. It rather serves to lay a foundation and direct us to the Word for guidance as we go about the Father’s business. It is my prayer and hope this will be of benefit to you as we proclaim the gospel message to this lost and dying world.

Adam preaches for the Midwest Church of Christ in Ferguson, MO.

Soul-Winning For Jesus: Producing Repentance — Jon Mitchell

Have you ever wondered why David, “a man after God’s own heart” (Acts 13:22; 1 Sam. 13:14), never showed any sign of remorse over committing adultery with Bathsheba and his attempted deception and ultimate murder of her husband (2 Sam. 11)? After all, it was David’s faith that motivated him to face the giant Goliath (1 Sam. 17), and it was his love for God and compassion for others that kept him from killing Saul, his enemy, when he had the chance (1 Sam. 24, 26). This same man would later showed kindness to the crippled grandson of his slain enemy (2 Sam. 9), and yet a short time after that he would give in to his lustful temptations and sleep with the wife of one of his most loyal soldiers, all while giving no sign of feeling guilty about his sins.

Yet, this all changed – apparently in an abrupt manner – when the prophet Nathan called him out on the carpet for his sins with the forceful accusation, “You are the man!” (2 Sam. 12:1-15). One minute David, blind to the fact that Nathan’s story of the rich man who killed the poor man’s one prized lamb related to his own sin, was indignant over the perceived sins of others. The next minute, after being indicted for his adultery, deception, enticements to drunkenness (cf. Hab. 2:15), and murder, David was confessing his sin against God with the greatest of sorrow and remorse (Ps. 51:1-15). What brought the penitent change of heart?

First, Nathan forcefully brought David’s sins to his attention by directly attributing the sinful actions of the rich man in the parable to the king himself while also warning him of the consequences of his wrongdoing (2 Sam. 12:1-7a, 9-12). Too often, we see others commit sin and naively hope that they will repent without us having to inconvenience ourselves with the potential awkwardness of rebuking and warning them. This shows within us a lack of spirituality (Gal. 6:1) and concern for the well-being of their souls and our own (James 5:19-20; Ezek. 3:17-21). Repentance – and forgiveness itself – will never come without a direct acknowledgement of the wrong done (1 John 1:9) and fear of God’s wrathful punishment (Rom. 2:4-11; Heb. 12:28-29). If we want to bring about a change of heart within the sinner, we must rebuke and warn them lovingly and truthfully (Eph. 4:15; Acts 2:36-37), humbly and gently rather than argumentatively (2 Tim. 2:24-26), and yet sharply if need be (Tit. 1:13). We must also never forget that we ourselves will never truly repent of ourselves without first acknowledging our wrongs with honest and open hearts (Luke 8:15) while having that godly fear (2 Cor. 5:11).

Secondly, Nathan reminded David of God’s great love for him by listing all the blessings the Creator had bestowed upon the king (2 Sam. 12:7b-8). In Steven Spielberg’s epic World War II drama Saving Private Ryan, Private James Ryan (Matt Damon) is saved from death by the sacrifice of Captain John Miller (Tom Hanks) and most of his platoon. Decades later, an elderly Ryan looks down at Miller’s grave at the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial and tearfully confesses that he’s tried to live his life the best he could in order to atone for Miller giving his life for his. Many veterans whose friends have died in battle to save them feel the same way. Yet God gave a much greater sacrifice when he gave his Son up to die a horrendous death on a cross to save us, wretched sinners who were his enemies rather than friends (John 3:16; Rom. 5:6-11). Add to this all the wonderful blessings that God gives to us on a daily basis (Matt. 5:45; Jas. 1:17), just as he did with David. When we remember all that God does for us with unselfish and humble hearts, we will be motivated to detest the sin that offends our Savior and repent.

This is true because our humble and honest remembrance of God’s great love, mercy, and numerous blessings on our behalf will bring about godly sorrow, which leads to repentance (2 Cor. 7:9-10). In Spielberg’s movie, the older Ryan breaks down in tears as he approaches Captain Miller’s grave, no doubt due to remembering the great sacrifice that man and others made for him. Likewise, the psalm David wrote after Nathan rebuked him for his sins is filled with remorse and anguish as he remembers the salvation God offers to him (Ps. 51:8, 12, 14). Unlike worldly grief, which leads to spiritual death in hell (2 Cor. 7:10b; cf. Rom. 6:23; Rev. 21:8) and is selfishly based only on sorrow over the punishment one receives here on earth for one’s sins, godly grief is based on anguish that one committed the sin in the first place due to the great offense it gives to our Savior and King. Only this will truly lead us to repent and thus be saved (2 Cor. 7:10). Do we grieve over our sins, and if so, what kind of sorrow is it? We should examine ourselves (2 Cor. 13:5) so we will know if we need godly sorrow in our lives.

Furthermore, godly sorrow will motivate one to “bear fruits worthy of repentance” (Matt. 3:8; cf. Acts 26:20). The thief who has worldly sorrow only over the fact that he got caught and is now being punished will steal again at the first opportunity. However, the thief who has godly sorrow over the fact that he stole in the first place because it grieved his Creator and Savior will now detest the very idea of stealing and thus be motivated to never do it again. As a result of the repentance brought on by their godly sorrow, the Corinthians became very diligent in their strong desire to fearfully and zealously serve God and clear themselves of the guilt of their sins which they now indignantly detested (2 Cor. 7:10-11). Likewise, we never read of David committing adultery or murder again after his repentance over his wrongdoing with Bathsheba and Uriah. In other words, their actions proved that they had truly repented. When we commit to repentance, do our actions prove it? Or are we deceiving ourselves?

Too many in the church today have no idea what true repentance means, or how it is produced. This contributes to the lack of true conversion to Christ among many, the lack of zealous commitment to his cause among more, and the growing immorality and apostasy within the brotherhood. We must go out of our way to teach potential converts the true meaning of repentance and how it is produced before we baptize them, while reminding new converts and ourselves of how true repentance is manifested within our lives. With God’s help, doing so will have a highly positive impact on our own spiritual well-being and that of the church overall.

Jon preaches for the Calhoun Church of Christ in Calhoun, GA. He is the editor of the Carolina Messenger.

Soul-Winning For Jesus: The Obedience of Faith — Jovan Payes

Many phrases summarize Paul’s letter to Rome such as justification, righteousness, gospel, or God’s sovereignty. Another important phrase found in Romans is “obedience of faith” and bookends the letter at its beginning (1:5) and at its close (16:26). This is the desired result (“to bring about”) of the Father’s work of salvation in Jesus Christ.

Those seeking to enjoy the redemptive blessings of God’s righteousness and salvation are called to respond with a faith in God that is obedient to his call and his word (Rom 1:16–17). Paul’s quotation of Habakkuk 2:4, “The righteous shall live by faith” (1:17), further establishes his point. This is the nature of biblical faith and when sharing the gospel it is imperative to remember that a faith is not biblical if it is not obedient. This has significant implications to the Christian’s efforts to share the victory message of the gospel with their neighbors.

The Shape of Faith. Words are the patterns by which people think. It is key, therefore, to clear the air on a common misconception. For some, faith resembles a blind leap into the dark. It is a gut feeling devoid of reason. Taken in this way, the only relationship between faith and reason is that they are on opposite poles that never touch. Furthermore, faith in God, the Bible as the word of God, or in the death, burial, resurrection, and ascension are purely a feeling. It is pure fideism. Biblical faith is a response to evidence (Heb 11:1).

Biblical faith is both relational and responsive. Paul explains that the gospel of God is supported by a series of lines of evidence. The gospel was promised prophetically in the Old Testament (1:2) and centered on the Davidic lineage of Jesus (1:3) whose claim to being the Son of God is established by the resurrection from the dead (1:4). On this basis, the apostles are commissioned to share the gospel designed to induce an obedient faith from the world and the church (1:5–6). Faith relates to the worthiness of the evidence of the gospel message that God acted in the world through Jesus and his cross (2 Cor 5:18), and responds with actions that reflect that trust in God and the gospel.

Living by Faith. In Romans 1:16-17, Paul explains that faith is not only a first response to the gospel, but also frames the lifestyle of the Christian. It is not an exaggeration to say that the Roman letter hangs on his quotation of Habakkuk 2:4, “The righteous shall live by faith.” Paul evokes the contrast God makes in his response to a frustrated Habakkuk. The wicked live faithless and so digress into immorality (Hab 1:12–2:5). By contrast, the righteous organize their life by what faith in God requires (2:4). Two things are affirmed here: (1) faith is anchored in God’s actions and word, and (2) faith reshapes one’s priorities and actions. Let us explore these two points a bit further.

First, when sharing the gospel it is imperative to anchor a person’s faith in God and his word. Biblical faith in God does not emerge without believing God exists and acts in history (Acts 14:15–17, 17:24–31), the Bible provides divine truth (Eph 3:4–5), and has sent his son as demonstration of his love (Rom 5:6–8). Indeed, this “obedience of faith” is reflected in the Genesis story of Abraham. Paul, by the Spirit, picks up on this in Romans 3–4, when he parallels the justifying faith of Abraham with the faith of the person who comes to obey God and walks before him in faith (3:21–26). Indeed, “Abraham believed God” (Rom 4:3; Gen 15:6). Abraham was “fully convinced” that God was “able to do what he promised” (Rom 4:21). Until a person has the conviction in God and his word, saving faith has no fertile soil to blossom from (Rom 10:6–13; Mark 16:15–16).

Second, faith reshapes one’s priorities and actions. The words of Habakkuk are quoted two other times in the New Testament (Gal 3:11; Heb 10:37–38). In each passage there is an emphasis that biblical faith — saving faith — reshapes the Christian’s priorities. In Galatians, Paul argues that faith provides access to the gift of the Spirit. In Hebrews, the writer affirms that because of faith the converted believer can endure hardships because their priorities have changed. It is written, “And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him” (Heb 11:6). Personal faith is nurtured through the study of the scriptures and leads gospel obedience (Rom 6:17–18; 1 Thess 2:13). As Jesus affirmed, “It is written in the Prophets, ‘And they will all be taught by God.’ Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to me” (John 6:45).

Concluding Thoughts. In order to show the difference between “agreement” and “faith,” evangelist Windell Fikes learned to asked: (1) “Do you believe what the Bible says?,” (2) “Do you want to do what the Bible says?,” and (3) “Do you want to do what the Bible says right now?” In other words, a biblical faith is expressed in obedience to God’s word. Jesus would say, “Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do what I tell you?” (Luke 6:46).

Jovan preaches for the Highland congregation in Bakersfield, CA.

 

Soul-Winning For Jesus: Speak The Truth In Love — Rob Albright

On a church marquee the exclusive nature of Jesus was announced by quoting John 14:6. “Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no man comes to the Father but through Me.’” It only took a couple of days until the church answering machine picked up a call from a man down the street who said he was offended by the message on the sign out front. The message said Jesus was the only way to salvation. Peter said long ago, “Jesus Christ, the Nazarene…whom God raised from the dead…there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:10-12). I guess the caller did not want to hear the truth.

It seems more and more people are questioning the Bible and the truth about Jesus. Many just ignore Him and His words. But, in spite of the fact that so many are rejecting Jesus and His words, “speaking the truth in love” (Eph. 4:15) should be a vital concern to every Christian.

If we are concerned about others and their spiritual well-being, then we speak the truth in love. We show genuine love by speaking the truth. Both love and truth go together. Yes, we can speak the truth, but without a humble concern for others we can become harsh and tactless.

From Ephesians 4:15, we see two things that make a definite impact on others. Both what we say and how we say it are important. Paul warned the Ephesians about being tossed here and there by every new teaching that comes along and to be careful about every new trick designed to deceive them and get them off track (Eph. 4:14).

The first word is truth. We live in a world in which some people are just concerned with what they think or feel. Absolute right, wrong, and truth have become politically incorrect. It is sad that many do not have a love for truth and salvation (2 Thess. 2:10b). Yet, of course there are still “truth seekers.” Showing genuine love and concern by being gentle and patient will open many doors of opportunity to speak the truth. God’s Word is the truth that must be spoken (John 17:17). There is nothing more loving than teaching others about salvation in Jesus that frees us from sin (John 8:31-32). Charles Pugh, in his book “Doctrine and The Do In It” (2004, p..31-32) wrote: “The theme of the Bible is the redemption of man to the glory of God through Jesus Christ. The purpose of the Bible is salvation. Paul wrote, “The Holy Scriptures…are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus” (2 Timothy 3:15).” You cannot have real love without the truth of God’s Word. Truth makes a strong Christian. Truth makes a strong church. Willing to speak the truth shows love.

The next word is love. Love will speak the truth in a kind manner because “love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous: love does not brag and is not arrogant” (1 Cor. 13:4). You see, in order for truth to be received, the manner in which it is delivered is important too. In Ephesians 4:15 Paul gives us the “how” in speaking the truth. A humble and gentle spirit in our communication of truth keeps relationships alive. 1 Peter 3:15 says, “But sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence.”

I might say this too. There are times when we demonstrate love by our silence. Charles Pugh (Doctrine and The Do In It, 2004, p.89-90) makes this statement: “…I have wondered what might happen if, in the church, when we were about to say something that was not going to be good for edification (cf.Eph.4:28), we would tell ourselves, “Don’t say it!” Biblical wisdom reveals that “there is a time to keep silence, and a time to speak” (Eccl.3:7). It takes much thought and prayer to learn to discipline oneself to “don’t say it.”

“We love because He first loved us” (1 John 4:19). Our love for the others for whom Jesus died is certainly demonstrated by our “speaking the truth in love” and at other times by our silence.

Rob serves as a member of the board of directors of the Carolina Messenger.

Soul-Winning For Jesus: He Commanded Us To Do It — Steve Miller

And he said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned” (Mark 16:15-16). From this classic text we learn: The gospel, good news is to be preached to every creature in every nation. There are conditions of faith and obedience that must be met to enjoy the blessings and promises of the gospel. Every Christian is to be involved in taking and teaching the gospel of Christ to every soul without Christ. They are to assist those who choose to obey Christ so that they too may be disciples of Christ who in turn teach the gospel to others (2 Tim. 2:2).

The apostle Paul relayed to the Ephesian elders his consistent work and message of the gospel to the lost: “…how I did not shrink from declaring to you anything that was profitable, and teaching you in public and from house to house, testifying both to Jews and to Greeks of repentance toward God and of faith in our Lord Jesus Christ” (Acts 20:20-21).

The command is clear (Matt. 28:18-20; Mark 16:15-16; Luke 24:46-49) for Christians to teach others about Christ and His saving gospel (Rom. 6:1-18). Evangelism is to be public and private (Mark 16:15; Acts 2; 3:11-26; 8:5; 16:13-15).

The following points remind us of how we can assist others in coming to the Savior:

People must see Christ in us (Col. 1:27). The image and mark of Jesus must be evident in our words, actions and lifestyle. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son” (Rom. 8:29). This will present itself in the realm of kindness, mercy, compassion, sacrifice, benevolence and love. These Christ-like qualities help influence those around us in the nature of Christianity and offer a better way of living and hope.

People must hear Christ in us. Our speech has influence in teaching the lost and being Christ-like examples. Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear” (Eph. 4:29). Our physical words as well as what we present on social media have a direct bearing on whether we are influencing for Christ. Some members’ media posts bring reproach upon the church and upon the Savior, closing doors to evangelism. We must do better knowing we will give an account of our words (Matt. 12:33-37; Col. 3:8).

People must infer Christ in us. Have you ever been accused of being with Christ? Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated, common men, they were astonished. And they recognized that they had been with Jesus” (Acts 4:13). Can those with whom we associate and come into contact infer that we have spent time with our Lord in His teachings? Our mind must be in sync with His in order for us to live and practice true Christian living (1 Cor. 2:16). Our choices in what we do, where we go, who we are with, and how we act, all matter. With respect to this they are surprised when you do not join them in the same flood of debauchery, and they malign you” (1 Pet. 4:4).

People must turn from their sins. Repentance is the making up of one’s mind to cease doing evil and to do good, to stop serving Satan and begin serving God. It means to change directions (Jon. 3:10). The Lord tells us that our lives must change through our repentance (Luke 13:1-5). “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:38).

People must turn to Christ. Those who are taught the gospel and receive it are those who submit to Christ by being immersed in water for the remission of their sins (Acts 8:37-38).

Finally, consider the example of the early church. They had a true passion for souls (Acts 5:42). As a result of this genuine concern for the lost, the church grew and expanded. Beginning with three thousand on Pentecost (Acts 2:41), the “number of men was about five thousand” (Acts 4:4), “believers were the more added to the Lord” (Acts 5:14) and “the number of the disciples multiplied in Jerusalem greatly” (Acts 6:7). There was a heartfelt motivation for the souls of men. Many of the pioneer preachers in this country manifested the same kind of evangelistic fire. It was not uncommon for entire churches to be converted from denominationalism to undenominational New Testament Christianity. Preachers stressed themes such as “What is our Plea?”, “The Cross of Christ,” “Authority in Religion,” and “What Must I Do to be Saved?” A pronounced emphasis upon book, chapter and verse encouraged people to study for themselves. As a result of this type of evangelistic, doctrinal preaching, and an emphasis on reaching the lost, churches of Christ enjoyed unprecedented growth.

What do we need?

We need a clear vision of the mission of the church. We cannot lose sight of the fact that the church is the body of Christ and that its mission is an extension of the work of Christ. “To seek and to save that which was lost” (Lk. 19:10).

We need to practice personal involvement in the work of the church. Too many have fallen into the habit of, going, sitting, leaving, and forgetting. It becomes easy to criticize and speak of what THEY are doing or not doing. What about us? What are WE doing? After all, we are the church!

We must recognize the value of a soul (Matt. 16:26). Are we honoring the command of Jesus in the great commission in our individual lives?

Steve serves as one of the ministers of the Gold Hill Road congregation in Fort Mill, SC. He is the president of the board of directors for the Carolina Messenger.

Soul-Winning For Jesus: The Proper Perspective — Edwin S. Jones

Having just recently returned from James Meadows’ memorial service, I find myself in an especially meditative mood. Recalling my much-appreciated friendship with James brought many thoughts to remembrance, not the least of which was his love for a complete biblical perspective. Therefore, I dedicate these thoughts to James’ memory.

For all of James’ vast Bible knowledge, he was a simple man. Not at all simplistic, but profoundly simple. Such is, not coincidentally, the way of Scripture. Yet, despite the Bible’s disarming simplicity and practicality, we, sadly, are not commonly disarmed. Of particular interest in our thoughts here let us take a moment to revisit the simple biblical perspective for evangelism.

To rather starkly (simply) bring out the Bible’s perspective on evangelism, consider the following observations:

  1. The apostolic ministry is not the model for Christians today. Their doctrine, to be sure, is our non-negotiable standard, but their mission and ours differ in many ways.
  2. Our “as you are going” (Matt. 28:19-20) will look different from their world-traveling, church-planting proclamations.
  3. Please take a moment to read 1 Thessalonians 4:9-12 and Ephesians 4:17-32. For most of us, passages such as these describe the special contributions Christians make in everyday life to exert a profound influence as the light of the world (Matt. 5:16). Therefore, a natural, seamlessly lived, Christ-like life (Rom. 8:29) is the most common perspective for evangelism. Packaged, unnatural methods find no place in Scripture.
  4. There are no shortcuts on the Bible directed journey where we are commanded to “grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ” (Eph. 4:15).

Simply stated, the practical, perspective for evangelism can be voiced as follows:

  1. The eternal plan of God for each Christian is to be “conformed to the image of His Son so that He would become the firstborn among many brethren” (Rom. 8:29).
  2. We might accurately say that God’s plan of evangelism is called “Christianity.”
  3. With godly influence each Christian is to so sanctify Christ as Lord in their hearts that their hope will be evident to others, they will naturally inquire, and Christians will be prepared to offer an explanation (1 Pet. 3:15).
  4. Christians who have been presented “complete in Christ” (Col. 1:28-29) developed as mature “disciples” (Matt. 28:19-20), and through “practice have their senses trained to discern good from evil” (Heb. 5:14) “will make the most of the opportunity” to engage in meaningful conversations with their “speech always” filled with “grace, as though seasoned with salt” (Col. 4:5-6).

As James was wont to say, “And this of course is so.”

Edwin has been active in a wide variety of ministries for almost fifty years. Currently he serves the Lehman Avenue congregation in Bowling Green, KY, and is director of the Commonwealth Bible Academy (CBAKY.com).