Sin of Not Winning Souls.” (Edited and adapted) WARNING: conviction may occur.
I said sin! If you are a Christian and don’t win souls, it is a sin like getting drunk, lying, hate, murder or adultery. It is a wicked, terrible sin! Every preacher and every Christian ought to win souls. Any Christian who does not win souls is sinning. And we who win a few are sinning if we don’t do our best all the time to win more souls.
A man running for office said to his business manager, “Do you know what my opponent said about me? He accused me of lying.”
“He ought not to have done that. That’s bad.”
“He did worse than that.”
“He proved it!”
That is what I plan to do tonight—not only to preach that it is a sin not to win souls, but to prove it by the Bible, the precious Word of God.
“And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.
“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 alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.”—Matt. 28:18–20.
We call this the Great Commission, and it contains three teachings. First, go and teach all nations the Word—that means make disciples of men in all nations by teaching them Acts 2:38 how to be saved and stay saved. Second, baptize them in the Name of Jesus. Third, teach them to observe all things that Jesus commanded us.
Soul winning is the main thing with God. If it isn’t first with the preacher, the preacher isn’t right. If soul winning isn’t the first thing with the church, the church isn’t right. If soul winning isn’t first for a Sunday school teacher, he or she is not a good Sunday school teacher. If soul winning isn’t the main reason for a Christian school, it is not a very good Christian school. If soul winning isn’t the main thing for a Christian media, then it is off the track and not what a Christian media ought to be. The first and main thing with God is soul winning.
In I Timothy 1:15, Paul said, “This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation.…” That sounds like it was a saying often repeated among New Testament Christians. What was the saying? “…that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.” Jesus came to save sinners.
Jesus said, “I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance” (Luke 5:32).
Again, He said, “The Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost” (Luke 19:10). This is what Jesus came for, what Jesus died for. That is why the Bible was written, why churches are organized, why preachers are called to preach.
Some preachers say, “But I don’t feel led to win souls.” That means you are not called of the Lord. If God were leading you, He would lead you to do what the Bible says. A Christian ought to win souls. That is the most important thing with God.
He gave the Great Commission in each of the four Gospels with slightly different words. The same day He rose from the dead, Jesus entered into the room where the disciples were shut up for fear of the Jews and breathed on them and said, “As my Father hath sent me, even so send I you” (John 20:21).
Another time He came to the disciples as they were eating and said, “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature” (Mark 16:15). Again, Jesus met the disciples on a mountain in Galilee and gave the Great Commission to them in the words of our text. Then in Luke He said that “repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. And ye are witnesses of these things….but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high” (Luke 24:47–49).
Forty days after His resurrection when He was preparing to ascend back into Heaven, He gave the Great Commission yet a fifth time: “But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judæa, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth” (Acts 1:8). He had already given the command four times (and perhaps many unrecorded times during the previous forty days); but in the last minute before He went away to Heaven, Jesus repeated it. These were the last words of Jesus on earth.
When a person is departing, his parting words are likely to be about the thing that is most on his mind, the thing that is most important to him. I’m saying that this is the one main thing Jesus left for us to do in these ages after He went away. This is His Great Commission.
There is a sevenfold sin in not winning souls.
Sin of Disobedience to Christ’s Main Command
The first sin is the sin of disobedience to the main command that Jesus Christ ever gave. We have an all-inclusive command for every Christian in the Great Commission. Not to obey that is not to obey Jesus on the one thing He died for, the main thing He gave instructions about.
Jesus told His disciples, ‘All of you go out here and get the Gospel to every creature. Take it into all the world and make disciples in all nations.’ I can imagine they might have thought, Well, we’re only twelve men. We can’t go to every nation. If we put one in Africa, one in South America, one in the continent of North America, one in Eastern Europe, one in the Balkan states, one in Russia, one in China, one in India, one in Indonesia, one in the Philippine Islands, one in Japan and one in Australia, that uses up all twelve apostles. But He said, “Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world” (Matt. 28:20).
Now all the original twelve disciples are dead. But let’s see what happened because they obeyed His commission.
He said to Peter, “Go get people saved.”
“All right, Jesus, and then what?”
“Now get them grounded.”
“All right, Jesus, then what?”
“Then send them out to do just what I am telling you to do—observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you.”
Jesus is saying, “The command I give you today, you pass on to everybody you get saved.” So the Great Commission is as much to everybody here as it was to Peter or any one of the twelve.
But you say, “I’m not called to preach.” You’re called to be a Christian, though, and this is a part of being a Christian. If you were taught what Jesus said, then you were taught you ought to be a soul winner. In Revelation 22:17 we read, “And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come.” If you’ve heard it, then you are supposed to tell it.
Have you been scripturally baptized? If not, you have missed a joy and a blessing. If you have, then they ought to have told you, “Now, I’m passing on to you the Great Commission that Jesus gave the twelve apostles.”
Somebody says, “The Great Commission is given to the church.” Is that so? Chapter and verse, please! We are to get people saved, and we are to get them baptized, and we are to teach them to do what Jesus told the apostles to do. The Lord Jesus didn’t save church houses or have them baptized or call them to preach.
The Lord Jesus didn’t call denominational headquarters or baptize them or give them the Great Commission. Why doesn’t somebody say “Amen”?
Every preacher, if he is saved, has this Great Commission. If you don’t win souls, you have failed in your Christian life. No one is a Christian who doesn’t win souls. You are not doing the first things He said you were to do after you got saved. Those who do not win souls are disobedient in the main command of Jesus Christ, and that is not a small matter.
The sin of lack of love for Jesus Christ
You say, “I love Jesus so much.” Oh, do you? Let us see what the Lord says about it. “If ye love me, keep my commandments” (John 14:15). Isn’t that a fair, honest statement? He says in verse 21, “He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me.” And then verse 23 says, “Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words.”
So in proportion to your love for Jesus Christ, you will win souls. Not winning souls is proof of the coldness of your heart.
“Brother, I don’t know much Bible.” That isn't your trouble. “But don’t you use the Bible in soul winning?” Can you learn Acts 2:38? I have won hundreds of souls with with just Acts 2:38. Your real trouble is heart trouble.
You say you don’t have gifts. Well, do the best you can with what equipment you have. When I was called to preach, I said, “ Lord, where do you want me to go? He said "Have I not called you to be a fisher of men?" I said,"yes Lord." He said, "Is there fish where you are at? I sad, "yes Lord." He said... "Then fish!" Your trouble is not poor equipment. It is heart trouble. You don’t love Jesus enough to do what He said. The Lord Jesus said three times in this chapter that if we love Him we will keep His commandments.
“Well, I've been taught different.” Yes, I know. You are talking about your head, but your trouble is not your head; it is your heart. You don’t love Jesus Christ enough to do what He said.
Wouldn't it be wonderful if God would give us such a flood-tide of love in our hearts, shed abroad by the Holy Ghost, that we would beg Jesus for power to win souls?
In the letter to the Ephesians in Revelation 2, the Lord said, ‘I know you have worked. You have been patient. I know you have borne burdens and didn't faint in hard times. But I have somewhat against you because you have left your first love!’
Wouldn't it be good if you had the honeymoon again—you and Jesus? Wouldn't it be good if you just came back to the first wonderful love you had when you were first saved?
If you don’t have it, then you don’t love Jesus like you ought. Lack of love for Jesus is one of the sins of not winning souls. God forgive us for a cold heart.
III. The Sin of Not Following Jesus
Those who do not win souls are guilty of not following Jesus. We sing, “Trying to walk in the steps of the Saviour,” and talk about following Jesus, but in Matthew 4:19 Jesus said to Peter and Andrew, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” Those who followed Jesus turned out to be soul winners.
Aren’t you glad God makes soul winners? If I were going to make them, I would pick men with real culture, training and personality. But then they would likely speak to the minds, not necessarily to the hearts. But Jesus makes soul winners, and, thank God, He can make a soul winner out of people not fit for much else in the world.
“Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.”
Isn't this a short, simple, easy way to get to be a soul winner? I follow Jesus, and He does something wonderful in my heart. It gets to where I love sinners as He does and want to go after them like He does. He puts His power on me to get people saved and makes me a soul winner.
If it is true that when you follow Jesus He makes you into a soul winner, it follows that if you are not a soul winner, you are not following Jesus.