[THE DIVINE ART OF SOUL-WINNING
by J. Oswald Sanders–sixth file]
HOW TO DEAL WITH VARIOUS CLASSES (continued)
III. THE INDIFFERENT OR CARELESS
Many circumstances have combined to cause this class to
preponderate among the unsaved–wrong doctrine in the
pulpits, worldliness in the church, changing conditions in
the world, the decay of home life and family religion,
Sunday desecration, and the growing number of cults.
Accordingly, the worker must know how to arouse these
unconcerned ones from their indifference.
(a) PRODUCE CONVICTION OF SIN. This is done not by
argument or persuasion, but by presenting appropriate
Scriptures, relying on the Holy Spirit to apply them and
“convict of sin, righteousness and judgment.” Dr. Torrey
shows how to use effectively Romans 14:12 in this
connection. “First get your prospect to read it and ask
him: ‘Who has to give account?’ ‘Every one of us.’ ‘Who
does that take in?’ ‘Me.’ ‘Who, then, is to give
account?’ ‘I am.’ ‘To whom are you to give account?’
‘To God.’ ‘Of what are you to give account?’ ‘Of myself.’
‘Read it that way.’ ‘I shall give an account of myself
unto God.’ ‘Are you ready to do it?'” By this time
indifference will be turning into concern. Show that he
has only to continue as he is, neglecting God’s salvation,
to be lost (Heb. 2:3).
Other Scriptures are 1 John 3:14; Revelation 21:8;
Romans 3:22,23; Mark 7:21-23; Romans 8:7; Galatians 3:10.
Matthew 22:36-38 and James 2:10 are effective in showing
the greatness of sin; Romans 6:23; John 3:36, and 8:34 in
showing the consequences of sin. John 3:17-19 reveal that
unbelief in Christ is an appalling and damning sin, while
Hebrews 10:28-29 warns of the awful punishment of those who
despise the blood of Christ.
(b) POINT TO CHRIST THE CRUCIFIED. Having been
satisfied that there has been real conviction of sin,
point out the way of salvation as suggested in the previous
study. Another method is to use the ABC of salvation.
“All have sinned” (Rom.3:23). “Behold the Lamb of God”
(John 1:29). “Come unto me” (Matt. 11:28). Press home the
love God has for sinners (Isa. 53:5,6; John 3:16; 1 Peter
IV. THOSE WHO HAVE RAISED OBJECTIONS OR HAVE
These difficulties may be grouped under four headings:
Relating to the Bible or its doctrines.
Based on the inconsistencies of Christians.
Arising from teaching of Cults.
(a) OBJECTIONS RELATING TO THE BIBLE OR ITS DOCTRINES.
“THE BIBLE IS FULL OF CONTRADICTIONS.” Hand your
Bible over to the objector and ask him to show you one or
two. Do not accept a verbal statement; make him show them
to you from the Bible. This he will almost certainly be
unable to do. The bladder once pricked, the way will be
open for you to call attention to fulfilled prophecies, the
marvelous structural and organic unity of the Book, the
confirmations of archaeology, etc. Then, turning to 1
Corinthians 2:14, tell him that the reason he cannot
understand the Bible is that he is a faculty short and
needs to be born again as commanded in John 3:3,7, and
after which he would be able to understand the Scriptures.
“THE BIBLE IS IMPURE.” This is indeed a strange
objection, seeing that the holiest and purest minds in all
ages have found their greatest joy in the Scriptures. Use
Titus 1:15 and 2 Peter 2:11,12. Contrast with the
psalmist, who said: “Thy word is very pure: therefore thy
servant loveth it” (Ps.119:140). The accounts in the Bible
of the wickedness of men and women are the faithful
charting of sunken rocks for the admonition of voyagers on
the ocean of life. The Bible depicts life as it is, and
shows the awful consequences of sin both in this life and
in that to come.
“NO SUCH BEING AS GOD EXISTS.” The Bible nowhere
undertakes to prove the existence of God, but everywhere
takes it for granted. Genesis 1:1 asserts His eternity.
We are surrounded with evidence of His existence, which
must be indisputable to any but one blinded with prejudice.
The existence of a watch predicates the existence of a
watchmaker. The sound of harmonious music argues for the
existence of a musician. The existence of a harmoniously
running universe, vast in magnitude yet perfect in detail,
argues the existence of an infinitely wise and powerful God
(Rom.1:19-23; Ps.8:1,3; 33:6). This God is fully revealed
in Christ (2 Cor. 4:6).
“THERE IS NO SUCH PLACE AS HELL.” True, the doctrine
of eternal punishment is growing more and more unpopular,
but it is nonetheless true. The denier of this doctrine
plays on the words DEATH, DESTRUCTION, EVERLASTING,
ETERNAL. He can give you, he says the meaning of the words
from the original, but his object is to prove his view, not
to expound God’s view. Read such Scriptures as John 3:36;
Matthew 25:46; Revelation 20:10,15; 21:8; Mark 9:43,44 to
anyone with an unprejudiced mind, and he will undoubtedly
say that, little as he likes the thought, these Scriptures
unite to teach a future Hell and everlasting punishment for
the finally impenitent. The same Hell as is to be occupied
by the Devil and his underlings is to be the final abode of
the wicked. In Luke 16:26, whatever else Christ meant to
teach, at least He taught that there was an eternally fixed
gulf between Lazarus and the rich man. The expressions
AGES OF AGES, or FOREVER AND EVER, in their only reasonable
interpretation mean “eternal.” Nowhere does Christ suggest
any limitation of time for either reward or suffering, nor
does He suggest any termination of the doom of the lost.
This is an awful truth, and must be tenderly presented, but
it should prove a strong incentive to the soul-winner to
“go for souls.”
“GOD IS TOO LOVING TO CONDEMN ANYONE.” Ask him from
what source he derived his conception of the character of
God. Was it not from the Bible? Well, if he believed the
Bible in its assurance of God’s love, he must be consistent
and accept also its warning of God’s wrath, for it reveals
God as not only loving but just (2 Peter 3:9). Get the
objector to compare 1 John 4:8 with Hebrews 12:29.
Although God is loving and good, man must beware of abusing
God’s goodness (Rom 2:4,5). The purpose of God’s goodness
is to lead men to repentance. In 2 Peter 2:4-6 it is
clearly revealed that God’s love did not prevent His
justice being exercised and His judgment falling on the
“THE BIBLE IS NOT INSPIRED.” First ask the objector
what he means by “inspired.” In nine cases out of ten the
argument ends when you press him to define his terms.
Strong defines inspiration thus: “The special divine
influence upon the minds of the Scripture writers in view
of which their productions, apart from errors of
transcription, and when rightly interpreted, constitute the
infallible rule of faith and practice.” Then state that
his disbelief does not affect the fact at all (Rom.3:3,4).
The following Scriptures may be used in proving their
inspiration: 2 Timothy 3:15,16; 1 Thessalonians 2;13; 2
Peter 1:19-21; Hebrews 4:12. Usually one who quibbles on
this point has read more about the Scriptures than he has
of the Scriptures themselves, and a question as to whether
he has ever read the Bible through from Genesis to
Revelation would discomfit him. If he has never done that,
he is hardly in a position to judge.
(b) OBJECTIONS BASED ON THE INCONSISTENCIES OF
“THERE ARE TOO MANY HYPOCRITES IN THE CHURCH.” The
worker will have to sadly admit that this is true in a
measure, but it must be borne in mind that this is always
an EXCUSE, not a REASON, for not accepting Christ, and
therefore the person who advances it is himself a
hypocrite, for he is not true to his convictions. Use
Romans 14:12 or Matthew 7:1-5. Again, show that if there
are sham Christians, there must be some who are real. I do
not throw out of my pocket all my coins because there
happens to be a counterfeit coin among them. Even if some
Christians are frauds and hypocrites, Christ is no fraud,
and it is to Him you are inviting sinners. The objector
does not have to answer for the hypocrite but for himself.
(Rom.14:12; see also John 21:21,22.) If he knows how
Christians ought to live, let him set the example, for
light brings corresponding responsibility (Luke 12:47).
If he does not like hypocrites on earth, tell him to
beware lest he spend all eternity with them, for all
hypocrites are outside the pearly gates.
“I HAVE BEEN TREATED WRONGLY BY CHRISTIANS.” A man
once said to his pastor that the reason he would not accept
Christ was that he once had been wronged by his partner, a
professing Christian. “That is your real reason?” asked
the minister. “It is.” “Suppose we put it down in
writing,” said the minister, and drawing out his notebook,
wrote: “The reason why I am not a Christian is that my
partner, who claimed to be a Christian, robbed me in a
business deal.” Tearing out the leaf, he handed it to the
man, saying: “When you come before the Great White Throne,
and God asks you why you have rejected His Son, just hand
him that paper,” and turning away, he left him. Hardly had
he reached home before the doorbell rang, and there stood
the man with the paper in his hand. “I have brought this
paper back,” he said. “I am afraid it would not answer as
an excuse to give to God.” It was not long before that man
was rejoicing in Christ. Even if a man has been wronged,
that is no reason why he should do a still greater wrong to
himself (see John 3:36; 2 Thess. 1:7-9).
(c) PERSONAL DIFFICULTIES
“I AM NOT VERY BAD.” That may be true according to
his own standard, but does he come up to God’s standard?
(Rom 3:10,23). Press these Scriptures home, showing that
whatever he may be in his own eyes, he is a great sinner in
God’s sight, and show what sin really is. In any case, he
admits that he is a sinner, and it is the fact of sin, not
the quantity of sin, which is in question. A chain holding
a ship does not need to be broken in every link to set the
ship adrift; one link is enough (James 2:10). And the
greatest sin of all is not believing on Christ (John 16:9).
“I AM DOING MY BEST.” This is an old chestnut, but is
still constantly produced. But the best man’s best is a
failure in God’s sight (Isa 64:6). If our own works are
to form the ground of our acceptance with God, then we must
be flawless, perfect, whether in thought, word, or
deed–which is impossible. “By the works of the law”–or
by doing his best–“shall no flesh be justified”
“I GO TO CHURCH.” OR “I HAVE BEEN CONFIRMED.” Many
think that this constitutes the whole of man’s duty to God,
and take it for granted that when the time comes, they will
be all right. Show that these things, though all right in
the right place, do NOT take the place of the new birth
(John 3:3,7). An alien who donned the British uniform
without enlisting in the army would be looked upon as a
spy, and shot. No one has a right to wear it unless he is
a loyal soldier. Every converted person, and only such,
should be connected in church fellowship with some body
sound in the faith, but the mere joining of a church works
no saving change.
“I HAVE ALWAYS BELIEVED IN CHRIST.” A man will make
this statement, when what he really means is that he
believes some facts ABOUT Christ. Ask him: “Then are you
saved?” Usually the answer will be a direct negative, or
at least a hesitating consent, and the way will be open,
either to tell him how to be saved, or to explain what
believing in Christ means.
“I CANNOT BELIEVE.” In most cases this is a question
of morals, not of faith. Ask what sin he has in his life
which is hindering belief, and the bow drawn at a venture
will frequently be effective in striking at the hindering
thing. Use Isaiah 55:7. God says he CAN believe (John
1:12), and MUST believe (Heb.11:6). God never commands man
to do what he is unable to do. Remove the hindrance and
belief will be easy. Not to believe means judgment (John
3:18). Another effective method is to ask: “Cannot believe
whom? Can you not believe God?” “Yes, but I cannot
believe myself.” “You are not asked to. You must believe
in Christ” (Acts 16:31; John 3:16).
“I HAVE TRIED BEFORE AND FAILED.” The objector has
evidently made the Christian life one of self-effort, and
this is at the root of his failure. Salvation does not
come as a result of “trying,” but of “trusting.” Endeavor
to find out the cause of failure by asking leading
questions. “Did you trust in the finished work of Christ
alone?” “Did you confess the Lord before men?”
(Rom.10:9,10). In the majority of cases the answer to this
question will be “No,” and you have discovered the cause of
the failure. “Did you surrender absolutely to God?” (Acts
5:32). “Did you read the Bible and pray daily?” (1 Peter
2:2; 1 Thess.5:17). “Did you trust yourself or Christ to
keep you from falling?” (2 Cor.12:9). “Have you done any
work for Christ?” If your questioning satisfies you that
the person was never truly converted, tell him that you can
show him how not to fail. If he is converted, show him the
more excellent way. John 6:37 is applicable to both cases.
“I AM TOO WEAK.” The remedy for such a person is to
direct his attention away from himself to the Lord Christ.
“It is not a question of your weakness, but of His
strength” (see Heb.7:25). Show God’s willingness to help
the weakest (2 Cor.9:10; Isa.40:29-30). No one is too weak
to trust the strong Christ. The keeping is not ours, but
His (Jude 24; 1 Peter 1:5; 2 Tim.1:12; John 10:28,29).
There will be temptations, but also a way of escape
(1 Cor.10:13). When God begins a work He finishes it
“I WILL WAIT TILL I AM BETTER.” Many a man feels that
he cannot come to Christ as he is, so he tries to improve
himself by discontinuing some forms of sin and thus making
himself worthy of God’s salvation. As though he could add
anything to the perfect and finished work of Christ! Show
that he is to come to Christ as he is, in all his sin and
he will be received (Isa.64:6; Luke 19:10; Matt.
9:12,13); the parable of the Prodigal Son may be used as
an illustration (Luke 15:18-24).
“I AM TOO BAD.” Agree with the truth of this
statement, rather than try to minimize his sinfulness.
Tell him that if he could see as God sees, he would realize
that he was a great deal more sinful than he thought. But
Christ came to save bad sinners (Luke 19:10). In 1 Timothy
1:15, Paul claims that Christ saved the chief of sinners,
so there is hope for all others (see Isa.1:18; 1 John 1:7;
“I’VE DONE NO ONE ANY HARM.” This is a very poor
thing to boast about. It would reflect little credit on
him if he had done anyone any harm. Is that his main
object in life? God requires not merely negative
harmlessness, but positive holiness. Ask if he has come up
to God’s standard of holiness (Rom 3:23). Use also Matthew
“I SEE NO HARM IN INNOCENT PLEASURES OF THE WORLD.”
If friendship with the world is enmity with God, and the
friend of the world is the enemy of God (James 4:4), then
either God or the objector is wrong. The pleasures of the
world are NOT innocent, there is a concealed hook in them
all. Quote the example of Moses (Heb. 11:24,25), but make
abundantly clear the pleasure, pure and unalloyed, which
results from union with Christ. A word of testimony to
this effect might be helpful. Do not present this truth in
a merely cold and negative fashion.
“THERE IS TOO MUCH TO GIVE UP.” Even if it were
necessary to give up everything, far better that than he
should lose his soul (Mark 8:36). But God requires him to
give up only that which is sinful and will therefore harm
him. Quote Psalm 84:11, and testify on this point. Use
also Romans 8:32.
“I CAN’T GIVE UP MY SINS.” Show him that he will be
lost unless he does (Rom.6:23; Gal.6:7,8; Rev.21:8). Do
not compromise with the inquirer as to the absolute
necessity of his forsaking his sin, but show that he can
forsake sin through the strength of Christ (Phil 4:13), who
when He receives him, will make him a new creature, no
longer loving sin (John 8:36; 1 John 3:6-9); further show
how to get victory over sin (Rom. 6:12-14).
“I AM NOT YET READY TO COME.” Most people intend to
become Christians, but the Devil deludes them into
postponing their acceptance of Christ. The following
printed story impressed me: “A minister determined to
preach on ‘Now is the accepted time, now is the day of
salvation.’ While in his study thinking, he fell asleep
and dreamed that he was carried into Hell and set down in
the midst of a conclave of lost spirits. They were
assembled to devise means whereby they might damn the souls
of men. One rose and said: ‘I will go to earth and tell
men the Bible is a fable.’ No, that would not do. Another
said: ‘Let me go. I will tell men that there is no God, no
Savior, no Heaven, no Hell.’ ‘No, that will not do, we
cannot make them believe THAT.’ Suddenly one arose and
with a wise mien suggested: ‘I will tell men there is a
God, a Savior, a Heaven, yes, and a Hell, too–but I will
tell them there is no hurry; tomorrow will do, it will be
even as today.’ And they sent him.” It would almost seem
as though this was the Devil’s trump card. Show this
objector God’s command (Acts 17:30); God’s time (2 Cor
6:2). Urge the uncertainty of life (Prov. 27:1; James
4:13-17). An unusual method is to show that God’s time is
now. Get the inquirer to tell you that God’s time is now.
Then take out your watch and say: “It is three o’clock now.
Are you willing to accept Christ at three o’clock?” It is
well to point out that God will not always be at the
seeker’s beck and call. Use Isaiah 55:6, emphasizing
“while.” (Prov.29:1; Luke 12:19,20; Matt.24:44; John
“I WANT TO BE A CHRISTIAN, BUT I DON’T KNOW WHAT TO
DO.” It will be a joy to lead this inquirer to the Savior
along the well-known road. First step, Repent (Ps.
51:3,4). Second step, Believe (Acts 16:31; John 1:12).
Third step, Confess (Rom.10:9,10; Matt. 10:32,33).
“I HAVE SOUGHT CHRIST, BUT HAVE NOT FOUND HIM.” That
certainly cannot be His fault, for He has said: “Ye shall
seek me and find me when ye shall search for me with all
your heart” (Jer. 29:13). The trouble with this objector
is insincerity, and not seeking with his whole heart.
“I AM AFRAID OF PERSECUTION.” Show that the list of
those cast into the lake of fire includes the fearful (Rev
21:8). The Lord answered this objection in Luke 12:4,5.
(See also Prov. 29:25; Isa. 51:7,8.) The early Christians
had such joy in Christ that they rejoiced in suffering
persecution for His sake (Acts 5:41). Think of the reward
at the end (2 Tim.2:12; Rom.8:18).
“I GUESS I’LL GET TO HEAVEN ALL RIGHT.” He will if he
is washed from his sins, but not unless (1 Cor.6:9,10;
Rev.21:27). He cannot come except through Christ, the only
Way (John 14:6; 1 Tim 2:5; Acts 4:12).
“I WILL LOSE MY FRIENDS.” It could be pointed out
that if they are not friends of whom God could approve, he
would be far better without them. (See Ps.1:1,2). God here
promises special blessing on one who renounces worldly
friendships for His sake. In place of these godless
friends, God will give first, His own friendship (1 John
1:3), and then that of fellow Christians whose friendship
is better than that of any godless man or woman (Mark
“THE CHRISTIAN LIFE IS TOO HARD.” So the Devil would
have them believe. But the truth is that “the way of
transgressors is hard” (Prov.13:15, Isa.14:3), while
Christ’s yoke is easy and His burden light (Matt. 11;30).
God’s commands are NOT grevious (1 John 5:3). The
Christian life as depicted in 1 Peter 1:8 does not seem so
forbidding and exacting. It is true that the Christian
life is one of discipline and involves enduring hardness,
but there are such wonderful compensations that the true
Christian counts these all joy (James 1:2).
“I HAVE NO FEELING.” Remind the inquirer that he is
saved, not by feeling, but by believing (John 3:16; 5:24;
Acts 16:31); it is taking, receiving rather than feeling
(John 1:12; Rom.6:23). Ask him if he can tell you of one
Scripture where it says he must feel that he is saved
before he can be saved. Let him believe first and he will
have feeling enough after.
“I HAVE COMMITTED THE UNPARDONABLE SIN.” First be
sure yourself as to the nature of the unpardonable sin.
Read Matthew 12:31,32 in its context, where it is plain
that this sin consists in deliberately attributing to the
Devil the work which is known to have been wrought by the
Holy Spirit. Ask the inquirer if he has done this. It is
evident that one who is anxious about his soul cannot have
committed this sin, since that anxiety is the direct result
of the work of the Holy Spirit. Having shown what the sin
is, hold the inquirer to John 6:37, with its unconditional
promise that anyone, however good or bad, who comes to
Christ, will in no wise be cast out. Do not give up until
he “comes” to Christ.
[end of chapter eight, end of 6th file]