Frank Buck was a true adventurer. He lived in 1900’s and would travel all over the world bringing back all kinds of exotic animals. What set him apart from others in his profession was that he didn’t shoot the animals and bring back their stuffed skins. In Frank’s mind, anyone could gun them down, but who would dare bring back a lion or a rhino— alive?
Frank Buck probably didn’t know it, but he was very scriptural in his approach. Jesus sent us out to seek and to save the lost, not to destroy them. It seems as though some may have forgotten that key element. That infamous Wild West poster we see in movies reading, “WANTED! DEAD OR ALIVE” doesn’t fit the biblical model for evangelism.
Soul-winning is about leading others to Christ. It’s not about winning the argument or flexing our vast amounts of knowledge. It’s not about proving someone how ignorant and wrong they are. It’s not about showing others how impossible we are to defeat in the match of verbal fisticuffs. It’s about saving their souls. Jesus is looking for those gutsy followers. The ones who are willing to take action and get out there! The Greek word “ZOGREO” only appears twice in the New Testament, as far as I know. The word literally means, “to take alive.”
In Luke 5:10 the word is used to express one being taken alive for God. In 2 Timothy 2:26 Paul would us the word when talking about those who have been taken captive by the devil. These two verses remind us that all will be taken somehow. Some from life to death, others from death to life. Matthew 28 is the Great Commission, our permission to baptize people for the remission of their sins. You can be that gutsy follower since Jesus said He’s going to go out with us, “even to the end of the world.” Let’s get out there and bring ‘em back alive.
There was a famine in Samaria and everyone was desperate. The need for food was more pressing than the danger they faced in looking for it. Elisha predicted the end of the famine but Jehoram’s right hand man refused to believe it could happen so quickly. The prophet tells him he’d see it happen but that he would not eat of it (2).
Four lepers decided to throw themselves on the mercy of the Arameans, but God caused the besieging army to hear the sound of enemy armies. They imagine the worst and leave their camp in pursuit. So, when the lepers arrived at the camp, it was abandoned. They found food and riches beyond their wildest imagination. They start to hoard and gorge themselves, then had second thoughts. They say to each other, “We are not doing right. This day is a day of good news, but we are keeping silent; if we wait until morning light, punishment will overtake us. Now therefore come, let us go and tell the king’s household” (9). Several things stand out here.
THESE MEN HAD GOOD NEWS.
IT WAS WRONG FOR THEM TO KEEP SILENT ABOUT IT.
THEY EXPECTED PUNISHMENT IF THEY DIDN’T URGENTLY SHARE IT.
THEY ADMONISHED EACH OTHER TO TELL IT.
They did and they helped save the nation. God caused it to happen but He worked through these four lepers. The famine ended (and the royal officer was trampled at the gate—he saw the famine end but died before it could benefit him).
I am reminded of my task as a Christian, one spiritually sick with sin but in a similar situation. I have found good news. It is wrong for me to keep silent. I must not just share it but do so urgently! I also need to admonish you to realize you are in the same predicament as me. You cannot afford to keep silent! A feast awaits!
Research shows that the average person speaks at least 7,000 words a day, while many (you know who you are) speak much more than that. Think about what that means. 7000 words that will leave an imprint on those who hear. That’s an incredible opportunity that we are given…or maybe it’s a bad thing?
How do we use our words? As Christians those 7000 words should help us fulfill the command given to “make disciples” (Mt. 28:18-20). That begs the question, what should those 7000 words contain? Even more, what am I saying with those words?
We have the responsibility to share the good news with others, so what are my words doing to help accomplish this goal? Colossians 4:6 tells us what our daily speech should consist of. But first, notice the context. Colossians 4:5 says, “walk in wisdom towards outsiders, making the best use of the time.”
We have been called to make the best use of the time. Ephesians 5:15-16 reads, “Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.” How do we do this? Colossians 4:6 tells us it’s by talking the right way. “Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.”
If we want to walk with wisdom and be effective towards those in the world, we must use the proper words. As Christians, our speech should be attractive. “Let you speech always be gracious.” Gracious is defined as, “A winning quality or attractiveness that invites a favorable reaction.” What does it mean to look attractive? We use this word to describe someone or something that has favorable qualities that we enjoy. Applying that to our speech, it must ALWAYS be described this way. There should never a moment where we stop.
Ephesians 4:29 says, “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.” We want people to leave conversations feeling better than when they first saw us. We want people to see Jesus in our speech.
We must always try our best to use attractive words. Always look for ways to encourage and help others with our speech. This means on the internet or in person. Our words are attractive when they are sincere and honest. We are called to have attractive speech, and the words we use must be genuine and real. Not saying them to sound holy or to look good, but out of love and concern for the souls of those who hear.
A lot of you do not know this about me but I grew up on a dairy farm. Holstein cows were a part of every day of my life up until about five or six years ago.
I have milked, showed, studied, and researched cows for years and invested so much time, effort and even money into cows. I can answer almost any question and have a deep conversation at any moment and can be confident in my answers when it comes to a Holstein cow… who won the show, who owns it, where it came from, her genetics.
The thing is… cows are no longer part of my life. I still have all that knowledge that worked so hard for, but it is basically useless in my everyday life.
Most people I deal with today would think I was crazy and probably take offense if I came up and asked what they thought about the rump and legs on that cow.
The need for that knowledge faded away just like every other earthly thing will and does for each of us.
I am sure we all have things in our life that seemed so important at one time and that we have moved on from. It faded away and was not near as important as we thought it was. Things of this earth will always fade away at some point.
God, Jesus, and the Bible does not fade away and never will!
1 Peter 1:4 tells us that God has given us an inheritance that is incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away. It is reserved in heaven for each of us because of the blood that Jesus shed for us. We should have the same knowledge and confidence in the Bible and about Jesus that we have about our hobby or job or whatever else it is that consumes our time and know that it will never become useless. If anything, it should get more and more important in our lives.
We should be able to have:
-Have a conversation about Jesus and not be nervous -Be confident in answering questions about the Bible -Quote scripture and passages from heart just as we can the facts about our hobby or job and whatever interest we have that consumes us on a daily basis.
1 Peter 3:15 says, “But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear;” God has given us everything we need to be prepared to win souls AND to save our own soul. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 tells us, “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.”
We need that same knowledge, passion, and fire for studying the Word of God and being the “workman” that we are for our hobbies and earthly things. Being able to teach anyone at any time about Jesus and have ready answers for them. There are people out there that want to hear about Jesus. We need to be ready and able to talk to them, teach them and most importantly be an example to them. Remember: ““Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Tim. 2:15).
– Are you the worker God wants you to be?
– Are you ready to use the tools He has given you? The Bible, your abilities and talents
– Are you ready to put in the time and effort that you need to to be the Christian that
God wants you to be? To study and learn from something that will never fade away or become useless.
Listen! That’s how Jesus starts His lesson in Mark 4:3. He has just stepped out onto a boat so that He could speak to the large crowd that had gathered to hear Him. This was a very special sermon. Jesus is going to give the secret to all of His parables by telling a unique parable about the farmer who goes out to sow on the various kinds of ground. When Jesus said “Listen!” He was talking to a specific kind of person.
He wasn’t interested in the one who would hear His words and then fall away later when called to stand up for their faith. He wasn’t looking for the one who would hear His words and then foolishly decide that this world had more to offer.
Jesus said “listen!” because He knew that some would hear His words and those words would change their lives. They would live out His teachings. They would become those lamps He would later discuss later in the chapter. Those who truly listened to this specific sermon and took it to heart would bear fruit. It’s humbling to think that some only believe they’ve listened to Jesus, but on the last day will find out that they only thought they listened (verse 25).
Are we listening to the Savior? One way Jesus tells us we can know if we and others are listening is by looking at the fruit being planted. This section of scripture is a great reminder that there are many who will not hear the Lord and His life-changing and life-saving message, but there are also those out there in our communities who are willing and waiting for us to share Him with them.
No pandemic or problem can suppress or destroy the church’s opportunities. If it could withstand the withering attacks of persecution in its first few centuries, the body of our Lord can come through this current storm stronger than it was before. The church’s opportunities are limitless because…
The gospel is still powerful (Rom. 1:16).
Christ is still the Savior of the world (1 John 4:14).
The church is still the manifold wisdom of God (Eph. 3:9-11).
The mission is still in force (Mat. 28:19).
We still have the only answer to the world’s biggest problem (Rom. 5:6-10).
We can demonstrate the most powerful attraction of discipleship (John 13:34).
His kingdom will never be utterly shaken or destroyed (Dan. 2:44; Heb. 12:28).
The recent crisis has awakened a sense of purpose in so many Christians.
Heaven is as desirable as ever and hell as unwelcome (cf. Mat. 25:31-46).
We know we are bigger than pettiness, division, and senseless strife (1 Cor. 1:10-13).
Man still senses that life is bigger than a few years on this earth (Ecc. 12:13-14).
Hope still serves as an anchor for the soul (Heb. 6:19).
The world has no viable competition to what only Jesus can give (1 John 4:4; 5:4).
We are not ignorant of the devil’s devices (2 Cor. 2:11).
There is no substitute for fellowship, the assembly, and corporate worship and study (Heb. 10:24).
We may appreciate the importance of relationships like never before (Rom. 12:3-21).
Truly, this list is much longer, but suffice it to serve as a reminder that these need not be “the worst of times.” God can make them the best of times as we move forward, eyes fixed on eternity and the wonderful work between here and there. Let’s seize those opportunities (Gal. 6:10)!
Such powerful words describe it.The words “convert,” “save,” “restore,” “recover,” and the like depict the job God left Christians to do (cf. Gal. 6:1; 2 Tim. 2:26; Js. 5:19-20; etc.).The awesome business of God’s people is to be builders in the kingdom upon a foundation originating in eternity (1 Cor. 3:9-15).Each child of God is a private engaged in spiritual warfare against a tactician only God has the power to defeat (Eph. 6:10ff).
There is ample reason to be filled with excitement and dread at the task before us!God has entrusted the business of snatching souls out of eternal fire and transferring people out of darkness into His marvelous light to us earthen vessels (2 Cor. 4:7).The moment we come out of the waters of baptism, we rise to walk in newness of life (Rom. 6:3-4).That life entails culling out negative things, bad habits, poor attitudes, old ways of living.Yet, it also calls for actions and ambitions that a non-Christian could not begin to comprehend.The sign of genuine faith taken root is the desire to share the good news we ourselves have learned.
Soul-winning is the frontline focus of the family of God.All else that we do should be an extension or support of this primary work.Benevolence, though done simply for its own sake, can be a springboard of evangelistic opportunity.Fellowship is designed to not only build up the saints, but be an atmosphere — be it worship or fellowship outside the corporate assemblies— that honors God and creates hunger and thirst for righteousness.Non-Christians who come to our assemblies can then believe (cf. 1 Cor. 14:23-24).They share our company, see the light of Christ in us, and want the joy and peace that the world cannot provide (John 14:27; Mat. 5:16).
Everywhere we go, mingling in groups and having various associations, there are opportunities.There is that person who seems to stand out from others who are more frivolously engaged in life.There is the one who, when others have long shut their ears to truth, is open-minded enough and respectful enough of truth to believe and accept the Bible.A song that is used in many soul-winning campaigns is Lead Me To Some Soul Today.God is not going to “lay” anything miraculously on our heart, leading us through some direct operation to some particular person or to say some particular thing.Yet, providentially, He can open doors that leads us to find the one in search of God’s way.Our active desire should be to cultivate our hunger and optimism for this great, primary work of the church.
With all else to distract us or compete with our attention and affection, may we never forget the prime objective! We are saved to save (2 Tim. 2:2). Find the searcher and lead the lost! It’s why we’re here.
1 Peter 3.8ff is a passage with tons of application. What I’d like to do is simply break it down and apply as we go.
3.8 – Is addressed to every Christian, as opposed to the gender-specific commands of the previous section. Christians are told to have a unified mindset, understanding of the needs of others, affection for each other, compassion for each other, and a sober view of self.
3.9 – In the context of being ridiculed or outright persecuted for faith, we’re commanded not to stoop to a hostile person’s level. Instead, we are only to say good things to and about them. The word for “bless” here would be like us giving a glowing review of someone, even when they’re hostile to us. Why? Because God promised us a glowing review, even though our lifestyle was hostile to Him before we were faithful.
3.10-12 – If we want to have good days, we have to control our tongues, reject evil, and actively do beneficial things for others. If we do, God looks at us with approval. If not, He is against us.
3.13 – If we pursue doing good things with energy, no one can say anything against us. Who can assault the character of someone passionate about bringing good into others’ lives?
3.14 – But even if they do is a contrast not as plainly seen in English. This verse starts with a powerful contrastive (αλλα) that points to how we should act in the face of totally unwarranted hostility. Even if our pursuit of good gets us in trouble, we can still be happy! Even in this life we cannot lose. We cannot let fear dictate our behavior, and we cannot let anyone’s intimidation cause us to react with hostility.
3.15 – Instead, we should make the most special place in our heart God’s place. We don’t serve fear, we serve God. If someone shows hostility to us when we’re doing good, we have to be ready to give a rational explanation for our hope with an attitude that proves our supernatural allegiance. Our fear of God must be greater than our fear of man.
We do this because our goal is to bring others to God! It’s hard, but we can only do it when we remove self from the equation. People tend to attack what they do not understand. By using reason and by restraining our emotional response, we can help save their souls. We were all hostile to God at one point, but we now have mercy. Being controlled and rational while under “attack” is not a normal human response. Our response can mean the difference in someone’s eternal destination!
The folks at Merriam-Webster define “common courtesy” as “politeness that people can usually be expected to show.” 1 One notes that courtesy doesn’t seem as ordinary as it once was, at least in the West. In the more collectivist societies of the East, people prize social harmony more than individualism. When you have millions of people packed into a metropolis, I suppose such a mindset is essential for survival. However, it translates into an attitude that suggests that I take great care not to upset or inconvenience the people around me.
I got to thinking about common courtesy as I was driving along a stretch of U.S. 129/U.S. 19 in the northeast Georgia mountains. Since slower traffic is expected, especially during tourist season, planners provided periodic passing lanes to allow for those conducting everyday business to pass the leaf-gawkers. For the spaces in between, these planners likewise added pull-offs for slower vehicles to pull off and let the faster traffic get by. Most of the time, this traffic arrangement works out nicely. However, you do encounter the occasional driver who lacks the aforementioned common courtesy, as I did when recently getting stuck behind a truck pulling a horse trailer hauling several horses.
As Christians, we are to extend courtesy as a matter of faith. Paul tells us that we are to esteem others before self and be as mindful of them as ourselves (Philippians 2.3-4). As lovely as that is when taking an earthly journey, we see how the mindset also benefits the heavenly journey. No, I am not saying that the act of utilizing a pull-off will win a lost soul to Christ. What I am suggesting, though, is that people take notice of how we conduct ourselves. As Edgar Guest famously stated, people desire sermons they can see. Since a courteous person is already mindful of others, it is but an extra step for him or her to adopt a servant’s heart. Note that following his admonition to esteem others first, Paul transitions to telling us about needing the servant-mind of Christ (Philippians 2.5-8).
With whom are you more likely to strike up a conversation? A rude person or a courteous one? Through the extension of common courtesy, you make yourself more amiable to others. And since common courtesy is no longer so common, you stand a better chance of making yourself stand out in a crowd. So, go the extra mile (cf. Matthew 5.38-42). Develop habits contributing to becoming more courteous and foster the heart of a servant within you.
Some times it can feel like our life is a ship on the verge of breaking apart in a violent storm. Maybe we placed too much trust in the now creaking wooden planks that buckle and groan over dark turbulent waters. In a last stitch effort to stay afloat, we madly rush about throwing any non-essentials overboard.
At times we turn to anything or anyone in an attempt to discover some lifesaving advice— perhaps a miracle? If you’re a child of God, you’ve got access to salvation even in the storms. Jonah 1:4-5 depicts chaos, panic, and overwhelming fear. Those sailors on the boat with Jonah had no idea where they should turn for their salvation. With each passing moment their ship threatened to burst into splinters and “each one cried out to his god” (v. 5).
But Jonah? He’s asleep. He has some kind of knowledge and relationship with the Creator, but he doesn’t fully understand how powerful his God really is.
The application, then, is humbling. Today our communities are filled with people whose lives are rocked and they’re looking for a savior with lifesaving power. They turn to the things in which they’ve placed their trust, and to no avail. How many of us hold the answers they need, but at times find ourselves spiritually sleeping— selfishly keeping this message to ourselves?