THE DIVINE ART OF SOUL WINNING Chapter 2
Written by: Sanders, J.O. Posted on: 04/08/2003
[THE DIVINE ART OF SOUL-WINNING,
by J. Oswald Sanders, second file]
THE FITNESS OF THE WORKER
"I have come to the conclusion that everyone is not called
to be a soul-winner," said a young man recently. That
would make a pleasant hearing, indeed, for those who desire
to shirk soul-winning work, but, unfortunately for them the
young man's conclusion was erroneous! He would find it
exceedingly difficult to substantiate his case from
Scripture. So long as the Great Commission is unrevoked,
so long as "Go YE into all the world and preach the gospel
to every creature" remains in the Sacred Volume, there
rests on each the personal responsibility of endeavoring to
win souls for Christ, and for this he requires a special
I. AN UNWAVERING PURPOSE
Since this work is of such supreme importance, the
wise soul-winner will seek the very highest qualifications
for the work. All great soul-winners have been impelled by
such a purpose. The gifted American evangelist, Dr.
Nettleton, whose labors in America so often culminated in
revival, one time put the question to himself: "What will I
wish I had done with my life thousands of years hence?"
His answer to that question resulted in his devoting
himself throughout life to the work of seeking to win
Not many hours after his own conversion as a result of
receiving a letter of appeal from his intimate friend, that
keen soul-winner, Dr. Clay Trumbull, formed a great life
resolve. Let me give you his own words: "The purpose I
formed was, as an imperative duty, not to fail in my
Christian life in confessing Christ to others. I
determined that as I loved Christ, and as Christ loved
souls, I would press Christ on the individual soul, so that
none who were in the proper sphere of my individual
responsibility or influence should lack the opportunity of
meeting the question, whether or not they would
individually trust and follow Christ. The resolve I made
was that WHENEVER I WAS IN SUCH INTIMACY WITH A SOUL AS TO
BE JUSTIFIED IN CHOOSING MY THEME OF CONVERSATION, THE
THEME OF THEMES SHOULD HAVE PROMINENCE BETWEEN US, so that
I might learn his need, and if possible meet it." This
life-resolve was faithfully adhered to for more than fifty
years. Who can estimate its results? Have you made such a
resolve, my reader? If not, will you fall on your knees as
you read and make it now?
When Dr. Lyman Beecher lay dying, a ministerial friend
said to him: "Dr. Beecher, you know a great deal; tell us
what is the greatest of all things." The dying preacher
replied: "It is not theology; it is not controversy; IT IS
TO SAVE SOULS."
If such be true, shall we not place ourselves in the
hands of the Master Soul-winner, saying: "Master, make me,
with all my handicaps and disabilities, a fisher of men"?
He will surely respond, as He did to failing Peter: "Follow
me, and I WILL make YOU a fisher of men."
II. AN UNASSAILABLE ASSURANCE OF HIS OWN
This is another indispensable qualification of the
soul-winner. Suppose one on whom you were pressing the
claims of Christ turned to you with the question, "Are you
absolutely certain you yourself are saved?" what would you
answer? Could you ring out an unhesitating, "Yes, thank
God, I am"? Our Lord said: "We speak that we do KNOW"
(John 3:11). All around us are men and women, old and
young, who are longing to find someone who knows, who can
speak on this subject with conviction and authority. They
are tired of negations, doubts, and speculations. They
have enough of their own. If you do not possess this
unshakable assurance, search the Word of God until you
"KNOW that you HAVE eternal life" (1 John 5:13).
Many truly converted people know nothing of a settled
assurance of salvation because the life has never been
fully yielded to Christ. The writer, although born again,
was often tormented by doubts until the age of about twenty
he wholly surrendered to the Lordship of Christ. Since
that hour no doubt has found even temporary lodgment in his
III. A WORKING KNOWLEDGE OF THE SCRIPTURES
The soul-winner must not only believe the Bible, but
know and study it. Other knowledge is doubtless valuable,
but a knowledge of the Bible is of paramount importance.
Nothing can take its place. Every soul-winner must acquire
as speedily as possible, first, a general knowledge of the
Bible, its main contents and teachings, and then how its
message can best be applied in this work, for the Bible is
the soul-winner's only kit of tools. Just as the physician
does not give the same prescription for each case, so the
same verse will not cause the light to break on every soul.
Hence the necessity of being familiar with all the
Scriptures which are relevant to soul-winning work. That
worker will be most successful whose mind is most liberally
stored with apt and suitable Scriptures.
Murray McCheyne used to say: "It is not our comment on
the Word that saves, but the Word itself." When argument
and persuasion fail to produce conviction or to bring the
soul to decision, the intelligent use of the "Sword of the
Spirit" often produces the desired result. How frequently
one has seen opposition silenced and interest awakened by
the sledge-hammer blows of the Word when wielded in the
power of the Spirit. It is the Word which the Spirit uses
to convict of sin (Acts 2:37), and to reveal the way of
salvation (2 Tim. 3:15). It is with the Bible that
objections and excuses can be met, or modern heresies
exposed; therefore the soul-winner MUST be a man of the
BOOK if he is to know success.
To summarize in the words of Dr. Torrey:
1. A soul-winner should know how to use his Bible so
as to show others their need of a Saviour.
2. To show them that Jesus Christ is just the Saviour
3. To show them how to make Him their own Saviour.
4. To deal with difficulties which hinder them from
To these we would add:
5. The soul-winner should have a living and active
faith in the power of the Word of God to save the most
One of the first students of Spurgeon's College came
to him with the lament: "I have been preaching now for some
months and I do not think I have had a single conversion."
"And do you expect that the Lord is going to bless you and
save souls every time you open your mouth?" said Spurgeon.
"No, sir," he replied. "Well, then, that is why you do not
get souls saved," was the rejoinder. "If you had believed,
the Lord would have given you the blessing." Our faith in
the Word and power of God must be such that we will expect
God to save souls through our instrumentality.
IV. A HABITUALLY PRAYERFUL ATTITUDE
How many possibilities of error there are in such a
work as this! The worker must be led as to which direction
to take, and to whom to speak; to rightly diagnose the
case, and to prescribe the appropriate remedy. Well might
he cry with Paul: "Who is sufficient for these things?"
Only as the heart is constantly being lifted to God in
prayer for promised wisdom will he be preserved from
blundering. He must pray before, during, and after his
It was because Philip was a man of prayer and in touch
with God that he was guided to that seeking soul in the
most unlikely spot, the desert.
An old friend of our family who lived in a Southern
city, blind physically but exceptionally keen-sighted
spiritually, had on many occasions unsuccessfully
endeavored to bring the light of salvation to an ignorant
old woman who lived nearby. At last he come to his wits'
end and left the room to pray. In his prayer he told the
Lord that he had done all he could. Was there no Scripture
applicable to this case? Then a verse came to his mind:
"Ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord
Almighty." "But, Lord," he protested, "that has nothing to
do with salvation." Try as he would, he could get no other
message, so he quoted this verse to his friend. "Does it
say that?" she eagerly asked; "I thought it was all for
men. 'If any MAN thirst,' but this verse says: 'Ye shall
be MY sons and DAUGHTERS.'" Merely human wisdom would
never have suggested this verse as the solution of the old
woman's difficulties, but through prayer he was given the
unerring counsel of the Spirit of God. He often used this
incident as an illustration of the absolute necessity of
depending on the Spirit of God for the "word in season."
It has been said that for the personal worker the rule
of the road is: "Go as you pray, and pray as you go."
V. A LOVINGLY TACTFUL APPROACH
Tact has been defined as the art of putting ourselves
in the place of others so that we may know their needs and
supply them, their prejudices, and conciliate them. It is
an intuitive perception of what is proper or fitting; the
mental ability of saying and doing the right thing at the
right time, so as not to unnecessarily offend or anger.
This qualification is sadly often conspicuous by its
absence, and the worker spoils the very work about which he
is so concerned.
On one occasion, D. L. Moody, without mentioning
religion, played tennis a whole afternoon with a young
fellow who was expecting to be button-holed at once, and
was ready to resent any personal dealing. It was after he
had won the young fellow to himself that he won him for
Christ. He exhibited true tact.
Tact is not always a natural gift, but may in measure
be acquired by observation, study, and prayer. We should
try to imagine how we would feel and react if we were in
the position of our "prospect," and act accordingly. Much
is gained if we can make people feel at ease with us.
The story is told of a gentleman crossing the ocean
who was distressed by the profanity of several men of the
party. Finally, he said to them: "Gentlemen, I believe all
of you are Englishmen, and if so, you believe in fair play,
do you not?"
"Certainly, that is characteristic of Britons
"Well, gentlemen, I notice that you have been
indulging in a good deal of profanity, and I think it is my
turn to swear next. Isn't that fair?"
"Of course it is," said the others.
"Very well, remember that you are not to swear again
till I have had my turn."
"But you will not take your turn."
"I certainly will just as soon as I see a real
occasion for it."
All this was done in a playful way, but the result of
his tactful approach was that they kept their profanity
bottled up for the rest of the voyage.
V. THE ENDUEMENT WITH POWER
Although we have placed this qualification last in
order, it is not because it is least in importance.
Without it, one may have formed an unwavering purpose,
enjoy an unassailable assurance, possess a working
knowledge of the Scriptures, be very prayerful, and
exercise much tact, and yet not be a successful
soul-winner. With it, the value of all this equipment is
From the study of the biographies of all great
soul-winners will emerge the fact that in each life there
came a crisis, a new and fuller surrender to the Lord, and
an enduement with power from on high for the discharge of
the ministry entrusted to them. They learned to recognize
in the Holy Spirit Himself their power for service. If you
know little or nothing of His empowering in your
experience, do not rest until it becomes a vital reality in
your life. (Read Luke 24:49; Acts 1:8,10,38; 1 Cor. 2:4,
Ponder the marvelous transformation in Peter after he
had been "endued with power from on high." He preached
with a passion, a fearlessness, a convicting power of which
he was previously incapable. His words from then on left
saving impressions on the minds of his hearers. Then, and
then only, did he become the great "fisher of men." Seek
and obtain this enduement, without which your most earnest
endeavors will prove abortive.
I am trusting Thee for power,
Thine can never fail,
Words which Thou Thyself shalt give me
[end of second file]
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