1. He must be a thorough Christian.
The first step in bringing other men to Christ is to know the way to Him yourself. In Luke 22:32, Jesus says to Peter: "And when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren." Peter himself must first be right with God before he can bring others into a right relationship with God.
Although God has in the past, and still does at present, allow even ungodly people to speak the word of life to perishing souls, as for example, unconverted ministers, — thereby making even the wrath of men to praise Him, — yet such cases are merely exceptions to the rule. Generally, one must be a thorough Christian himself before he can be instrumental in leading anxious souls to a seeking Saviour. "First cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother's eye" (Matt. 7:5).
2. He must be a Spirit-filled man.
The Spirit of God must have control of his affections. He must live, move and have being in the Spirit. He must trust Him for guidance and direction.
Philip the evangelist is a good illustration of this thought. In Acts 8:29 we find these words: "Then the Spirit said unto Philip, Go near, and join thyself to this chariot." Philip was obedient to the promptings of the Spirit, and in the 30th verse we read "And Philip ran, thither to him." He might have said what Moses did,— "Lord, send someone else." "Lord, I cannot speak to this stranger. I have never had an introduction to him. He may not care for my company." Some of us would have said that; but Philip was obedient to the promptings of the Holy Spirit, and did just what the Spirit commanded him to do, asking no questions. The Bible says, "Philip ran to him," indicating his swift obedience.
Are you willing to speak to those around you about their soul's eternal welfare? — to those who sit at the same table with you, and who abide under the same roof with you? Mother, father, has the Spirit never said to you: "Go join thyself to your child, and teach him or her the way of salvation?" Yes, but you have not obeyed. Knowest thou the awful responsibility resting upon thee? Read Ezekiel 3:17-19.
Listen! hark! they are calling the roll in heaven. Mother, where is your child? Father, where are your children? Young man, young woman, where are your friends? "While you are busy here and there, they are gone." While you are busy seeking after the things of earth, your children have slipped between your fingers, you have no more spiritual influence over them; they are lost! Read 1 Kings 20:39,40.
3. He must be a man of prayer.
It was while Peter was praying that he received the prompting of the Spirit to go to Cornelius and tell him what to do to be saved. "I was in the city of Joppa praying: and in a trance I saw a vision, A certain vessel descend, as it had been a great sheet, let down from heaven by four corners; and it came even to me ... And the Spirit bade me go with them, nothing doubting. Moreover these six brethren accompanied me, and we entered into the man's house" (Acts 11:5,12).
(a) We must pray that God will lead us to the right person.
I do not think it is necessary for us, nor do I think God expects us, to speak to every person we see about his soul's salvation. We have not the time for that. I do believe, however, that, as the Spirit led Philip to go and join himself to a certain (this) chariot, so the Spirit of God will give us, in answer to prayer, the inward prompting, so that we may know when to speak and to whom.
(b) We must pray also that God will enable us to speak the right words.
We must ask Him to give the Word power; for we must not forget, that though Paul may plant and Apollos water, yet it is God that must give the increase (1 Cor. 3:6).
(c) Then we must pray that God will continue the work already begun in the heart of the person with whom we have spoken.
And right here we may learn from the Apostle Paul, who never forgot to remember his converts in prayer after he had left them (Eph. 1:16-20; Phil. 1:4,5; Col. 1:3,4).
4. He must have a desire to see souls saved.
The secret of success is here. Christ had a burning love for souls. Listen to Him as He stands on the mount overlooking the Holy City, and saying: "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!" (Matt. 23:37). "And when he was come near, he beheld the city, and wept over it" (Luke 19:41).
Have you ever wept over souls? "No," you say; "I have never felt the burden of souls heavy enough for that; how may I feel the weight of souls?" Consider the value of a soul; what it cost; what a sacrifice was made to redeem it; its capabilities; its eternal destiny to glory or despair; that you are in a very real sense your brother's keeper, and then ask God to make you feel the mighty importance of trying to rescue some perishing soul as a brand plucked from the burning.
Paul had a passionate love for souls. He says: "I have great heaviness and continual sorrow in my heart. For I could wish that myself were accursed (or separated) from Christ for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh" (Rom. 9:2,3). The Apostle Paul's heart broke loose from the prolonged logical argument and poured itself out in one vehement exclamation of love, "I could wish myself accursed for my brethren's sake,"--"accursed," given over to hopeless, eternal death; accursed "from Christ," the joy, the joy of his soul; "accursed," he the loyal one, from his all in all, if only the Israel of his love could be saved!
A man may be a successful physician without having love for his patients; he may be a successful lawyer without having love for his clients; he may be a successful merchant without having love for his patrons, but no man can be a successful co-worker with God without having love for souls, and a longing desire to see them saved.
When John Knox, in the enclosure behind his house, pierced the stillness of the night with the thrice-repeated, intense appeal, "Give me Scotland, or I die!" that eager, yearning, well-nigh broken heart got its Scotland. When Brainerd went to sleep thinking of souls and dreaming dreams of them, and, waking, still thought and prayed for them, souls became his. "Tell me," says Maclaren, "the depth of a Christian man's compassion, and I will tell you the measure of his usefulness. The wealth of Egypt's harvest is proportioned to the depth of the Nile's overflow." Christ, the model Christian worker, is portrayed as "moved with compassion," as though a great surging tide flowed over his heart when he saw the multitudes standing before him in their want.
The power of these great religious leaders of all time, lay deeper than their mighty intellects — it lay in their love for souls.
Souls, souls, souls! I yearn for souls. This is the cry of the Saviour — and to save souls He died upon the cross, and remains until eternity their intercessor.
Souls, souls, souls! This is the cry of Satan — and to obtain them he scatters gold to tempt them, multiplies their wants and pleasures, and gives them praise that only infatuates.
Souls, souls, souls! This must be our one cry and passion, Christian worker; and for the sake of one soul we must be willing to spend and be spent.
5. He must have confidence in the power of, and in, the Word of God.
We do well to heed the Lord's rebuke to Sarah in Gen. 18:14, "Is any thing too hard for the LORD?" No matter how desperate the case may be, God can save to the uttermost. If the person you are seeking to lead to Christ be the "chief of sinners," 1 Tim. 1:15 will suit him:
This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief.
If he be a murderer, Isa. 1:18 will comfort him:
Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.
If an outcast, Luke 19:10 is just the passage he needs:
For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.
Let us take for our motto, when we are tempted to be discouraged because of the seeming indifference and hardness of those we are seeking to lead to Christ, the following passages of Scripture:
When his disciples heard it, they were exceedingly amazed, saying, Who then can be saved? But Jesus beheld them, and said unto them, With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible.
Then Job answered the LORD, and said, I know that thou canst do everything, and that no thought can be withholden from thee.
For as the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater:
So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.
Fourteen hundred years before the birth of Jesus, Baalam, by special inspiration, addressed Balak with these profound words: "God is not a man that he should lie; neither the son of man, that he should repent: hath he said, and shall he not do it? or hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good?" (Num. 23:19.)
Paul the apostle, fifteen hundred years after Baalam, echoes the same testimony: "In hope of eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began" (Titus 1:2). Let us trust confidently in the Word and promises of God.
An illustration will show more plainly what I mean: A Christian worker once met a man who was hardened in sin and skepticism. After speaking to him about becoming a Christian, he said: "I do not believe in the Bible, or in God, or in heaven or hell. I am a skeptic." The worker took no notice of the man's confession, but quoted to him this passage: "Except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish" (Luke 13:3). "But," he said again, "did I not tell you I did not believe in the Bible? why do you quote it to me?" The Christian again quoted the same verse, and again the skeptic gave the same reply. After repeating that same verse, adding no words of his own to it, about a dozen times, the worker said to him, "Now, my friend, I do not remember half of what you have said to me; but you cannot forget the passage of Scripture I have quoted to you, and I am going to pray that God will, through that passage of Scripture, and His Holy Spirit, cause you to realize its truth." "But," he continued, "I do not believe it." Then was quoted Romans 3:3,4: "For what if some did not believe? shall their unbelief make the faith of God without effect? God forbid:" etc. The Christian then left the skeptic in the hands of God.
The next night the skeptic sought him and confessed that he had spent a miserable night. He said: "That verse you quoted so often has haunted me ever since; it will not leave my memory. Won't you show me how to find rest for my soul?" What a joy it was to point him to John 1:29, leave him in Acts 13:52, and commend him to Jude 24. Thus, you see, God will honor His own Word.
From Personal Soul-winning by William Evans. Chicago: The Bible Institute Colportage Association, 1910. Photo courtesy of Moody Bible Institute Archive.
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