We get questions from time to time about salvation and the questions address a common problem. Soul winners aren’t sure when they can put another stripe on their sleeves and testify to their friends that they “have led another soul to Christ.” Truthfully, the intimidating thing about soul winning is first getting the conversation started and then “closing the deal.” There’s a lot of pressure at both of these points.
This problem has caused some preachers to develop “soul winning programs” to help their people win souls. However, while these may be helpful in teaching a concise way to present the gospel, often they cause soul winners to make their own converts. In fact, the work of regeneration is not the work of the soul winner; it is the work of the Holy Spirit [Tit 3:5; Jn 3:3-7].
When Jesus prepared to ascend into heaven, he said to his disciples, “ye shall be witnesses unto me,” [Acts 1:8]. Well, a witness is someone who testifies of things he knows to be true. He can only tell what he knows. In Jn 4:28-30, for instance, the woman at the well went into the city and told the men to come see a man whom she believed to be Christ. She didn’t “win” anybody to the Lord; but people “believed on him” as a result of her testimony [Jn 4:39-42].
There are many examples of people coming to Jesus simply because of the testimony of a witness who told them what Jesus had done for him. In Mk 1:44-45, multitudes “came to him” because a leper “began to publish it much, and to blaze abroad the matter” of his cleansing. In Mk 5:18-20, the demon possessed man in the Gadarenes caused all men to marvel because he “began to publish in Decapolis how great things Jesus had done for him.” In Acts 3:8-11, all the people ran together unto Peter and John because the lame man who had been healed was “praising God” for healing him.
Listen, we all have a testimony. The trouble is that we have been so intimidated by “what to say” that we haven’t been saying anything at all. The thing that is true of all really great soul winners is that they are always talking up Jesus. They are testifying of his miraculous power to save. And because they are testifying to others of what Jesus has done for them, they are seeing folks saved.
Just start telling folks what Jesus has done for you and tell them how they can be saved, too. There’s no need to get all bothered about whether they have truly repented or whether they have to ask forgiveness for all of their sins or all that stuff. That is between them and the Lord. Soul winners got messing with these things because they were claiming converts from their soul winning programs who weren’t demonstrating any evidence that they were truly saved.
Look how souls were “won” in the Bible. Jesus went to eat with Zacchaeus and in the middle of the meal Zacchaeus, who became an Old Testament saint, got saved [Lk 19:5-10]. The thief on the cross had been railing on Jesus and then realized his error. He simply said, “Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom,” [Lk 23:39-43]. There was no soul winning formula, no repeat after me. But the guy got saved! In Jn 9:35-38, Jesus found the blind man that he had healed and asked him if he believed on the Son of God. After Jesus identified himself as the Son of God the man said, “Lord, I believe.” And that did it.
In Acts 8:30-38, Philip preached Jesus out of the book of Isaiah and following the sermon, the eunuch wanted to be baptized. Philip said, “If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God,” [Acts 8:37]. See how strangely similar that is to Rom 10:9-10. The eunuch confessed with his mouth the Lord Jesus and believed in his heart. There was no program. There was no set presentation. Philip simply preached Jesus.
In Acts 10:39-44, Cornelius got saved right in the middle of a sermon that Peter was preaching. There was no invitation, there was no high pressure pitch to come to Jesus and there was no “closing the deal.” Peter had just said, “To him give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins.” Evidently, Cornelius believed in him at that moment because the Holy Ghost fell on him right then.
In Acts 16:25-33, the Philippian jailor got saved after Paul and Silas and the other prisoners refused to bolt when an earthquake freed them from prison. The jailor was about to kill himself and Paul and Silas were praying and singing praises unto God. They said “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved, and thy house. And they spake unto him the word of the Lord, and to all that were in his house.”
When you look at all the souls who were saved in the Bible you wonder where men ever got the idea that soul winning was some sort of program or formula with certain kinds of conditions that had to be met before a sinner could get saved. Certainly some of this came about because there are so many professing Christians who are religious but who aren’t saved. But that’s no reason for you to add things to a simple testimony of Jesus just to satisfy yourself that YOU won another soul.
And don’t think that what we have said here is an over simplification, that this is so simple everybody will be getting saved. There were plenty of folks who heard Paul and others preach and testify of Jesus who didn’t get saved. Agrippa said, “Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian,” [Acts 26:28]. In Rome, “some believed the things which were spoken, and some believed not,” [Acts 28:24]. The rich man received his witness directly from the Lord Jesus Christ and turned him down flat [Lk 18:18-27].
Look, you testify of Jesus and learn some verses that you can use to “speak unto them the word of the Lord.” Leave the saving of their souls to the Holy Spirit. If you are not overly anxious, you will know for sure when they are ready to receive Jesus Christ [Jn 1:12]. We still believe that one of the best ways to get this work done is to invite them to church with you to sit under the preaching of the gospel. If your church doesn’t preach the gospel, then move.
Hope this helps,
Pastor Bevans Welder