Seek ye first the Kingdom of God and his Righteousness and all these things will be added unto you. Matthew 6:33
“Go ye therefore, and teach [make disciples of] 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 alway, even unto the end of the world” (Matthew 28:19-20).
Christ gave this command after His resurrection. Some have incorrectly said that this command was given only to the Apostles and has nothing to do with us today. One bad man even split a church using this false doctrine. But that doctrine is not true! It is for “alway, even unto the end of the world.” It has been in the Bible for two thousand years, as a command to all Christians, “always,” down to the end of this age. All Christians are commanded to do soul winning, to attempt to win other people to Jesus Christ. The command is for all Christians, not just the Apostles in the first century.
How could all Christians in the first century take part in soul winning when not all of them were Apostles? How can all Christians today take part in soul winning when not all of them are pastors, evangelists, or missionaries? The answer is simple. The work of soul winning has many parts. Speaking of that work, the Apostle Paul said, “I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase” (I Corinthians 3:6).
And so it is today. A Christian invites a lost person – a friend, a relative, or a stranger – to church. Perhaps another Christian telephones that lost person and brings him to church in his car. There the pastor preaches the Gospel, the Bible truth that “Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures” (I Corinthians 15:3-4). The pastor and the deacons and Christian workers explain the Gospel to the lost person individually, making sure that he understands salvation and that he comes to Jesus Christ. At the same time, other Christians are being friendly to that lost person, showing him Christian love in the church, and praying for him. Here we see that there are many people that go into soul winning. In soul winning, one person plants, another waters, and it is God who produces the fruit! And indeed, a lost person converted to Jesus Christ is a beautiful and sweet fruit, which makes all our time and trouble worthwhile. Soul winning is the highest service a Christian can do!
I. First, the earthly blessings of the soul winner.
Dr. Rice said, “The Christian who wins souls has special blessings which [others], who do not win souls, never have” (Rice, ibid., p. 275). God has many special blessings for the Christian who works hard to win souls. Yes, the soul winner has many blessings in this life.
Christ promised the soul winner He would be present with him always in a special way. Our text says,
“Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.. and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world” (Matthew 28:19-20).
This promise of Christ’s presence was given together with His command to win souls. The promise and the command go together. His presence is promised in a special way to those who do this work.
Christ said that He will show His love to the Christian who obeys Him and wins souls. He said,
“He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him”
Remember that soul winning is a command of Christ. Taking up the work of soul winning is obeying a command of Christ. The Christian who obeys his Lord and works hard to win souls will experience the presence and love of Christ in a special way.
Then, also, special joy is promised to the soul winner. When a Christian works to win souls, praying even with tears for souls, he will rejoice when lost sinners are converted to Jesus Christ. The Bible says,
“They that sow in tears shall reap in joy. He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him” (Psalm 126:5-6).
Who will rejoice? When a soul is converted, everyone who had a part in that work will rejoice. Yes, one person plants and another waters, but everyone rejoices! Jesus said, “that both he that soweth and he that reapeth may rejoice together” (John 4:36). When a lost soul is converted, the Christian who invited him to church rejoices. The Christian who telephoned him and brought him to church rejoices. The Christians who showed him Christian love and friendship rejoice. The pastor who preached the Gospel to him rejoices. “He that soweth and he that reapeth…rejoice together”! There is no greater happiness and rejoicing than to see someone you have spoken to, prayed for, and cared for converted to Christ. The Apostle Paul called the Christians in the church at Philippi,
“My brethren dearly beloved and longed for, my joy and crown” (Philippians 4:1).
Again, the Apostle Paul wrote to the Christians in the church at Thessalonica,
“For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Are not even ye in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at his coming? For ye are our glory and joy” (I Thessalonians 2:19-20).
What tender words! What happiness! What rejoicing! Yes, there are blessings and joys for the soul winner – blessings and joys in this life, here and now!
II. Second, the heavenly rewards of the soul winner.
Beyond this life on earth, the Bible promises heavenly rewards to those who win souls. When Christ comes to set up His Kingdom, the faithful soul winner will receive honor and rewards from the Saviour Himself. When He comes, Jesus will say to the faithful soul winner,
“Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord” (Matthew 25:21).
The Christian who is faithful in soul winning will have abundant rewards and a high position in the Kingdom of Jesus Christ, living and reigning with Him for a thousand years (see Revelation 20:4, 6).
But the rewards of the soul winner go on for much more than a thousand years! The soul winner will shine like the stars for ever and ever. God said through the prophet Daniel that this heavenly glory would specifically be given to soul winners:
“They that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever” (Daniel 12:3).
What does it mean to “turn many to righteousness”? What does it mean to turn people to righteousness? It means to win souls! Lost people are certainly not living righteous lives – and they are not righteous in the sight of God, since their sins are written in God’s books (Revelation 20:12), not covered and cleansed by the Blood of Christ. When lost people are converted to Christ, they turn “to God from idols to serve the living and true God” (I Thessalonians 1:9). From a life of unrighteousness, they are born into a new life of righteousness.
Even more important, when lost people are converted to Christ, they are declared eternally righteous. Christ’s death pays for their sins and His Blood covers and cleanses those sins in the sight of God. God declares that they are righteous and treats them that way. The Bible says that “the righteousness of God…is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe” (Romans 3:22). Yes, if you come to Jesus, you will be “justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood” (Romans 3:24-25). If you come to Jesus, you will be “justified” (Romans 3:28), forgiven, declared eternally righteous in the courtroom of God, because the penalty of your sin is paid by Jesus Christ.
What does it mean, then, to be turned to righteousness – to a new life, and most of all to be counted as righteous before God? Why, it means to be converted – to be won to Christ! And who are the human instruments that God uses to turn people to righteousness? Soul winners! Who are those who will shine as the stars for ever and ever? Soul winners!
And now, my Christian friend, what rewards will you have? Will you look to Christ’s command, and to the eternal rewards? Will you be a zealous, active and faithful soul winner, or will you just sit in church and not throw yourself into the work of Christ? Will you obey the command of Christ to win souls or will you hang back from His words?
The Apostle Paul spoke of the coming judgment of Christians. Yes, Christians will stand and be judged – not for salvation but for rewards in Christ’s Kingdom.
“For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble; Every man's work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man's work of what sort it is. If any man's work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. If any man's work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire” (I Corinthians 3:11-15).
These verses speak to Christians, for verse 11 says “other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.” So the rest of the verses speak to those who have their foundation laid in Jesus Christ – to people who are converted.
But how will you build upon that foundation? What will you do with your Christian life? Will you live a faithful, zealous, holy, soul-winning life – will you build “gold, silver, precious stones”? If you do, you “shall receive a reward.”
But if you live your Christian life sitting in church without throwing yourself wholeheartedly into the work of soul winning, just enjoying the fellowship of your friends, you are building only “wood, hay, stubble” and your work “shall be burned.” If you are converted you yourself “shall be saved” by Christ, but you will have no rewards in the coming Kingdom, no crowns from the Saviour. Earthly pleasures and treasures will count for nothing in that Kingdom. But souls who are won to Christ, and the rewards that He gives to soul winners, will remain forever.
The treasures of earth, oh, how vain and how fleeting;
They vanish like mist and they wither like leaves;
But souls who are won by our tears and our pleading
Will remain for our reaping up there.
The price of revival, the cost of soul winning
Is repaid at the reaping up there!
Now let me say a word to those of you who are not yet converted. Jesus died on the Cross to pay for your sins. He gave His Blood to wash away your sins. Jesus Christ rose from the dead to give you eternal life. The Gospel of Jesus Christ was given by the Apostle Paul,
“Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures” (I Corinthians 15:3-4).
If you are hoping to get to Heaven by your own goodness, you will fail and go to Hell. If you are hoping to get to Heaven by coming to church, you will fail and go to Hell. If you are hoping to get to Heaven by studying the Bible and learning Christian doctrine, you will fail and go to Hell. The only way to be saved is by coming to Jesus Christ Himself.
And, my Christian friend, will you be a faithful soul winner in the weeks ahead? Do you want to please your Saviour Jesus? Do you want Him to reward you when He comes again? Do you want to shine as the stars for ever and ever? Then throw yourself into the work of soul winning!
Bring your friends and relatives to church. Go to evangelism with us. Go out on your own to the colleges and malls and do personal evangelism. Bring the names in! Help us bring the people in! That is the work of soul winning!
Let’s go out to evangelism this afternoon! Let’s go out and evangelize during the week! Let’s do evangelism! If you will dedicate yourself to do evangelism this winter and spring, come forward and kneel down and Mr. Prudhomme will pray for you (he prays). Let us stand and sing “Evangelize! Evangelize!” It’s the last song on your song sheet. Don’t just sing the words of the song – obey them! Go out and evangelize – this afternoon, and at every opportunity. May God bless you as you do it!
Give us a watchword for the hour, A thrilling word, a word of power, A battle cry, a flaming breath That calls to conquest or to death. A word to rouse the church from rest, To heed the Master’s strong request. The call is given, Ye hosts, arise, Our watchword is, evangelize!