Thoughts of a Country Preacher

The Monday morning ruminations of a pastor.

Friday, January 19, 2007

What is Biblical Evangelism?

First, let me offer a great apology for the lateness of this post. This week has been quite hectic with the ice storms, rolling blackouts, and a wife who ended her maternity leave - leaving me with 2 weeks worth of "daddy days" with my son, which I have enjoyed very much.
Over the past several weeks I have thrown myself into reading several books, and today I would like to share an insight with you from one of the books that I am reading now. It is "The Soul Winner" by C.H. Spurgeon, and in the first chapter, Spurgeon asks the question, "what is it to win a soul?" He begins by showing us what soul winning is not. From his examples, I would wager that he found himself facing the same "madness of methods" that we face today. May his insights guide us today.

Soul winning is not transfer growth.

"We do not regard it to be soul-winning to steal members out of churches already established, and train them to utter our peculiar Shibboleth: we aim rather at bringing souls to Christ than at making converts to our synagogue. There are sheep-stealers abroad… There is such a thing as selfishness in our eagerness for the aggrandizement of our own party; and from this evil spirit may grace deliver us! The increase of the kingdom is more to be desired than the growth of a clan. We would do a great deal to make a Paedobaptist brother into a Baptist, for we value our Lord's ordinances; we would labor earnestly to raise a believer in salvation by free-will into a believer in salvation by grace, for we long to see all religious teaching built upon the solid rock of truth, and not upon the sand of imagination; but, at the same time, our grand object is not the revision of opinions, but the regeneration of natures. We would bring men to Christ, and not to our own peculiar views of Christianity. Our first care must be that the sheep should be gathered to the great Shepherd; there will be time enough afterwards to secure them for our various folds."

Soul winning does not come from inflating numbers on the church’s rolls.

"In the next place, we do not consider soul-winning to be accomplished by hurriedly inscribing more names upon our church-roll, in order to show a good increase at the end of the year. This is easily done, and there are brethren who use great pains, not to say arts, to effect it… By all means let us bring true converts into the church, for it is a part of our work to teach them to observe all things whatsoever Christ has commanded them; but still, this is to be done to disciples, and not to mere professors; and if care be not used, we may do more harm than good at this point. To introduce unconverted persons to the church, is to weaken and degrade it; and therefore an apparent gain may be a real loss."

Creating excitement is not soul winning.

"Nor is it soul-winning, dear friends, merely to create excitement. Excitement will accompany every great movement… Do not aim at sensation and "effect." Flowing tears and streaming eyes, sobs and outcries, crowded after-meetings and all kinds of confusions may occur, and may be borne with as concomitants of genuine feeling; but pray do not plan their production.
It very often happens that the converts that are born in excitement die when the excitement is over… The utmost zeal for Christ is consistent with common sense and reason: raving, ranting, and fanaticism are products of another zeal which is not according to knowledge. We would prepare men for the chamber of communion, and not for the padded room at Bedlam."

So…what is soul winning you might ask?

"What is the real winning of a soul for God? So far as this is done by instrumentality, what are the processes by which a soul is led to God and to salvation? I take it that one of its main operations consists in instructing a man that lee may know the truth of God. Instruction by the gospel is the commencement of all real work upon men's minds. "Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world." Teaching begins the work, and crowns it, too."

Thank you Mr. Spurgeon for your words which are both timely and timeless. May they continue to instruct us.

All quotes for this post were taken from;
Spurgeon, Charles Haddon. The Soul Winner. Eerdmans Publishing (Grand Rapids, MI), 1963.


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