As Christians our desire, more than anything else, is to see people won for the Lord. To see God’s kingdom expanded on this earth is our prayer. We pray and long for those who we love to come to know the Lord as their own personal Saviour. Yes, this is our utmost desire but it is important to recognise that, when it comes to winning souls, we need to leave that to the Maker. We are called to ‘Go into all the world and preach the Gospel’. We are not told to ‘Go into the world and save souls’. This is the work of someone much more powerful than us. As God’s servants we have been entrusted with the proclamation of the Gospel. What an amazing privilege that God chooses to use us in the process of another coming to know Him.
We have already seen the importance of working with the correct definition of ‘evangelism’. The devil exerts great cunning and stealth attack in us to thinking that evangelism is something that it isn’t. Why does this happen so easily? It’s because there is often a lot of truth mixed in with a small amount of error. ‘Evangelism is the winning of souls.’ This statement sounds very credible. But is it? Is this really the true definition of evangelism? What are the effects of Christians believing that this is the case?
Most people hate failure. We do anything to avoid it. Yet when we approach evangelism believing it to be the ‘winning of souls’, we set ourselves on a pass or fail endeavour. When people think they are going to fail they do one of two things. The first reaction is we give up. We avoid putting ourselves in a position where it is possible to fail. In this case, we don’t share the Gospel because we don’t believe (possibly based on past experience) that we are capable of persuading a person to give their life to Christ. We quit, so the Gospel goes unproclaimed.
The second reaction to the possibility of failure is that we preach a Gospel that is ‘seeker friendly’. We may leave out the topic of judgement and Hell and just talk about the ‘good stuff’. We may even preach falsehood such as, ‘Come to God and your troubles will end’, ‘come to God, He’ll make you rich’, ‘Come to God and life will be perfect.’ So the Gospel is compromised because we want to make sure that we ‘succeed’ in evangelism. The desperate reality, however, is that people are reacting to something that isn’t the truth. They are coming to God under false pretences and this has serious consequences.
This is the danger that arises when we think of evangelism as the winning of souls. Yet the Bible states that salvation belongs to the Lord. Whether in the Old Testament, where it refers to the salvation of the nation of Israel (Jeremiah 3:23), or in the New Testament and the redemptive act of Jesus Christ, we can only conclude that the work of Salvation is not ours. It is Christ’s and His alone.
‘From the Lord comes deliverance’ Psalm 3:8
Is there not immense relief and comfort in this? When it comes to people being saved from Hell to eternity in Heaven with the Father that work is all of God. We cannot save a soul. Our task is to communicate the message of Salvation to the unsaved and then pray that the Spirit of the Lord would convict them and draw them to commit their lives to Him. So it is impossible to fail in evangelism!
Once we see that evangelism is not the winning of souls but rather the pure and simple task of announcing and spreading the Gospel then we, as the body of Christ, can work together with the same vision, the same goal and desire to reach the whole of this world with the message of the Good News. It’s a team effort and it needs all players on the pitch!
Keep on keeping on…
Passion DVD © 2010