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Written by: Sanders, J.O.    Posted on: 04/08/2003

Category: Sermons

Source: CCN

THE DIVINE ART OF SOUL-WINNING     by J. Oswald Sanders,  third file]

          CHAPTER 3



He is counting on you!

    On a love that will share

    In His burden of prayer,

    For the souls He has bought

    With His life-blood, and sought

    Through His sorrow and pain

    To win "home" yet again.

    He is counting on you!

    If you fail Him--

          What then?

The worker whose supreme desire and passion is to be used in co-operation with the Holy Spirit in the winning of men to Christ, must master in some degree the holy art of intercession.  If the Master wept and prayed over lost souls, then His servant must do the same.  Prayer must ever occupy a pre-eminent place in the soul-winner's program, for the salvation of the soul is not a human, but a divine work.  Only through prayer can the power of God be released.

    If prayer, then, occupies so important a place, it follows that whatever hinders us in its exercise must be sacrificed.  Any price is worth paying which will make us more powerful in prayer.  If God is to answer our prayers, WE MUST BE SURE THAT WE ARE STANDING ON PRAYING GROUND. The psalmist warns:  "If I regard [cling to] iniquity in my heart, the Lord WILL NOT HEAR ME"  (Ps. 66:18), let alone answer me.  Before we are on true praying ground, we must have renounced every sin about which the Holy Spirit has convicted us.  Have you done this, or is there a controversy between your soul and God?  You will know when the last thing has been dealt with.

    Then it is necessary that we have a HEART AT LEISURE FROM ITSELF and its own concerns, a heart that is able to bear the burden of souls and to travail for them in birth until the new life is implanted.  Listen to the apostle Paul as he prays, and note how his prayers are all for others.  "I could wish that I myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh" (Rom. 9:3).  Mark Epaphras, "always laboring fervently... in prayers" (Col.4:12).  Hear Count Zinzendorf as he prays for a few girls ranging in age from ten to thirteen whose spiritual education has become his care.  "He observed that though their demeanor was blameless, and their intellectual grasp of the truth was satisfactory, yet no evidence of a heart knowledge of God appeared among them.  This weighed on his soul and led him to earnest intercession for them. Cultured, wealthy young nobleman that he was, he was not above taking thought for the spiritual welfare of a few girls.  More intense grew his concern, culminating at last in a season of such truly energized prayer as produced a most extraordinary effect."  The blessing he desired for his class came, and much more too, for this was the beginning of the mighty work among the Moravians, which bore fruit in their marvelous missionary enterprise.

    The soul-winner's prayer will be first for himself, and then for the soul to be won.  For himself he will need to pray a threefold prayer.

    First: for MORAL COURAGE TO SPEAK FOR CHRIST  when opportunity offers.  In the world which crucified Christ, it will never be easy to speak for Him.  To some, the fear of man is an almost insuperable barrier.  Is it boldness you need?  Then do as the disciples did--pray!  "Grant unto thy servants that with all boldness they may speak thy word... And they spake the word with boldness" (Acts 4:29-31).  "I can do ALL THINGS through Christ which strengtheneth me"  (Phil. 4:13).  You will be able, after prayer, to do what you never could have done without it.

    Second, for GUIDANCE AS TO WHOM TO APPROACH.  To speak to men indiscriminately and without inspiration and guidance is often hurtful both to the worker and to those whom he addresses.  It goes without saying that God does not expect us to speak to everyone we meet, although He does expect us to be willing so to do.  Dr. F. B. Meyer used to feel constantly burdened in regard to speaking to everyone he met, until he made it a matter of prayer that God would show him the ones to whom to speak.  The case of Philip the evangelist is an outstanding example of this. (See Acts 8:26.)  There  are many souls with whom we can come into contact, for whom God has no message at that moment.  If we cultivate the habit of constantly looking to the Lord for instructions, He will guide us with His eye as to when to speak and when to keep silent.

    Dr. Torrey made a practice of sitting in a double railway seat, and then prayed that God would bring to his seat the person whom he could help.

    Third, for GUIDANCE AS TO WHAT TO SAY.  Let the reader remember that every soul-winner was once as inexperienced as he is.  If God is calling you to speak to someone, then surely you can trust Him for the message.  He knows what each case needs, and has given the Holy Spirit for the very purpose of bringing the right Scriptures to your remembrance.  Trust Him to do it.  "He shall bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you" (John 14:26).

    The worker's prayer for the soul to be won will also be threefold.

    First, that any INDIFFERENCE OR HOSTILITY MAY BE BROKEN DOWN and an opening made for delivering the message of salvation.  Unless the Spirit of God precede the worker, he will try in vain to storm the citadel of the soul. Persistent, believing prayer has often broken down the most determined opposition.

    Second, that THE SOIL OF THE HEART MAY BE PREPARED FOR THE SOWING OF THE SEED.  This again is the work of the Spirit of God.  "When he, the Spirit of truth is come, he shall convict the world of sin, of righteousness and of judgment" (John 16:8).  He does His work of conviction in answer to prayer.

    Third, that THE SOUL MAY BE LIBERATED FROM THE POWER OF SATAN.  It is just here that the real battle is fought. Prayer of this kind is a spiritual warfare.  Satan, the strong man armed of Matthew 12:29, has bound every son of Adam, and contests their deliverance every inch of the way. It is by believing prayer alone that the strong man can be bound and souls delivered.  "They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony" (Rev. 12:11).  The prayer warrior must learn how to plead the victory of Calvary, for the blood of the Lamb has forever broken the power of the Devil, and robbed him of his prey. "Real prayer," says Gordon Watt, "is opposing a great spiritual force to the onslaught of evil, and asking God to put into operation the work done by His Son on the cross, which was not only the redemption of man, but the defeat of the prince of this world."  Plead the blood of the Lamb for the liberation of the soul for whom you pray.

    Our praying is likely to be futile unless it is DEFINITE IN ITS AIM.  The marksman is aiming at one spot in all the wide world.  After he has shot, he knows whether or not he has hit it.  Our prayers should be of a similar order.  They should be so definite that we shall know whether or not they have been answered.  We must pray for definite souls.  But for which souls?  Here again the Holy Spirit comes to our aid.  OUR PETITIONS SHOULD BE SPIRIT-TAUGHT.  As we wait before God, He will burden our hearts for certain souls who are within the sphere of our influence.  In Dr. Torrey's first pastorate, God laid on his heart in this way two persons.  He prayed for them throughout his pastorate, but neither was converted.  For some years he kept on praying for them daily, and when later conducting a mission in that city both accepted Christ the same night.  His was a Spirit-taught petition. How appropriate are the words of Scripture: "We know not what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit helpeth our infirmities"  (Rom. 8:26).

    Then too our praying should be SYSTEMATIC.  Too often we pray haphazardly for whatever comes into the mind.  "The Lord is a God of system" (Isa. 30: 18, marg.).  His children should be like Him.  System in praying will help to beget that PERSEVERANCE which is so often conspicuous by its absence from our prayers.  We pray and run away. "Foolish boys that knock at a door in wantonness," said the old Puritan, "will not stay till someone cometh to open to them, but a man that hath business will knock and knock again until his call is answered."  "Knock, and it shall be opened unto you, for... to him that knocketh [knocks, and keeps on knocking] IT SHALL BE OPENED" (Luke 11:9,10).  Let us not hang up the receiver before the answer comes over the heavenly wires.  "Men ought always to pray AND NOT TO FAINT"  (Luke 18:1).

    But apart from a BELIEVING HEART all the foregoing conditions may be complied with, and yet no answer be received.  "He that cometh to God MUST BELIEVE" (Heb. 11:6).  "But let him ask in faith, NOTHING WAVERING, for he that wavereth... let not that man think that he shall receive ANYTHING of the Lord" (James 1:6,7).  Count on God's good faith.  Do not grieve and dishonor Him through disbelieving Him.  "He is faithful that promised." Expect Him to do the unexpected.

    The writer knows of no method which is of greater help in securing definiteness of aim, system, and perseverance in prayer than the use of the "Throne of Grace Book," of the One by One Band.  It consists almost entirely of blank pages on which are entered the names of people for whom the Spirit has impressed the worker to pray, space being left for the insertion of the date of answer.  Anyone can make his own book of remembrance, and keep these souls constantly before the Lord in prayer.  Begin at once.  You will find that very soon your praying will prepare the way for witnessing, and you will have the surpassing joy of entering the date of answer opposite some of the names.

    Prayer is God's mightiest instrument in the salvation of souls, and it is to be doubted if any soul is saved apart from the believing prayer of some saint.  Writing of his own conversion, Dr. J. Hudson Taylor said: "Little did I know at that time what was going on in the heart of my dear mother, 70 or 80 miles away.  She rose from the dinnertable that afternoon with an intense yearning for her boy's conversion, and feeling that a special opportunity was afforded her of pleading with God on my behalf, she went to her room and turned the key in the door, resolved not to leave that spot until her prayers were answered. Hour after hour that dear mother pleaded for me, until at length she could pray no longer, but was constrained to praise God for that which His Spirit had taught her was already accomplished--the conversion of her only son.

    "When our dear mother came home a fortnight later, I was the first to meet her at the door, and to tell her I had such glad news to give.  I can almost feel that dear mother's arms around my neck as she pressed me to her bosom and said: 'I know, my boy; I have been rejoicing for a fortnight in the glad tidings you have to tell me.'

    "'Why,' I asked in surprise, 'has Amelia broken her promise?  She said she would tell no one.'

    "My dear mother assured me that it was not from any human source that she had learned the tidings, and went on to tell the little incident above.  You will agree with me that it would be strange indeed if I were not a believer in the power of prayer."




The aim of these studies is eminently practical.  They shall have failed of their purpose if many readers are not stirred to engage in this most fascinating and fruitful form of Christian service.  The need of a genuine concern for souls and the necessary qualifications of a soul-winner, have been passed under review.  The next step is to be found in 2 Samuel 3:18: "Now then, do it."  The art can be learned in no other way.

    "Soul-saving is a divine art," says Dr. T. C. Horton. "Men are not born soul-savers, but are made.  There is a widespread misapprehension in the minds of most Christians concerning responsibility for this work.  Christians seem to think that SOME people are called to this work, but that the obligation is not universal; that it is work which one MAY DO or not do, as they choose.  This is false, unscriptural, and illogical.  Soul-saving is the greatest work in the world, and is committed to every believer.  All may have the joy of doing it who GIVE THEMSELVES to it, and all who fail to do it are recreant to a holy trust, and will be the poorer throughout eternity."  If this be true, now then, do it.

    1. DO BELIEVE GOD'S PROMISE OF WISDOM (James 1:5). Many hold back from this work because they feel so ill-equipped to engage in it, and are sure that they will never succeed.  But has the faithful God not said: "If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, who giveth to all men liberally... and it shall be given him"?  Can you not trust Him to keep His word?  Often stammering words, prompted by a genuine concern, achieve more than an

eloquent discourse.  Even if we seem to fail, God can bless our blunders as the following story shows.

    Dr. L. G. Broughton once said to an ignorant member of his congregation: "Why don't you speak to someone about Jesus Christ?"

    "I will," he said.  He walked down the aisle and sat beside a brilliant young lawyer.  "Do you want to go to Heaven when you die?" he commenced.

    "I don't know whether I do or not," answered the man.

    "All right, then, go to Hell."  He rose and left him.

    Needless to say, the lawyer was piqued, but the shaft went home.  When visiting Dr. Broughton a few days later he confessed: "I hate to acknowledge it, but that remark of that blundering fool of yours kept ringing in my ears, and I could not get rid of it.  At last I got down on my knees, and said: 'Lord, give me the faith of that blundering fool who made me so mad,' and JESUS SAVED ME."

    They went together to the home of the "blundering fool," and, with tears streaming down his face, the lawyer wrung his hand, saying: "You are the man who led me to Christ."

    I am not COMMENDING his method of approach, but I do contend that the result certainly atoned for his faulty method.  Are you willing to be a blundering fool for Christ?

    2. DO CLAIM DELIVERANCE FROM THE FEAR OF MAN.  It is essential that the soul-winner should lose the fear of man. A former employer of the writer, a Christian lawyer, was a fearless personal worker.  One day, feeling my bondage to the fear of man, I ventured to ask him if he had always been bold in this work.  He replied that he had been as timid as anyone, until one day he could stand it no longer. He fell on his knees with his Bible open at Psalm 34:4: "I sought the Lord, and he heard me and DELIVERED ME FROM ALL MY FEARS."  "Lord, you did this for David," he prayed; "do it for me now."  From that moment his timidity was replaced by a holy boldness.  So long as we are in bondage to the opinions of the world, our work will be circumscribed and hampered.  There are many who fail to engage in aggressive soul-winning through fear of being thought peculiar.  Do claim deliverance from this satanic fear.  God will give a full deliverance to the most timid and fearful soul who dares to claim it.

    3. DO KEEP YOUR EYES OPEN FOR OPPORTUNITIES.  I have found myself surrounded with opportunities WHEN WILLING TO SEIZE THEM, but when I was unwilling, no opportunities seemed to present themselves.  Doubtless, there were just as many opportunities, but I was blind to them.  We can be so occupied with what we consider "bigger things" that we neglect to speak to our milkman, baker, butcher, or maid.

    The following confession by a missionary secretary appeared some years ago in THE MISSIONARY REVIEW OF THE WORLD: "I was helping to get up a big Convention, and was full of enthusiasm over making the session a success.  On the opening day, my aged father, who came as a delegate to the Convention, sat with me at luncheon at the hotel.  He listened sympathetically to my glowing accounts of the great features that were to be.  When I paused for breath, he leaned toward me and said, while his eye followed the stately movements of the head waiter: 'Daughter, I think that big head waiter over there is going to accept Jesus Christ.  I've been talking to him about his soul' I almost gasped.  I had been too busy planning for a great missionary convention.  I had no time to think of the soul of the head waiter.

    When we went out to my apartment, a Negro man was washing the apartment windows.  Jim was honest and trustworthy, and had been a most satisfactory helper in my home.  Only a few moments passed before I heard my father talking earnestly with Jim about his personal salvation, and a swift accusation went to my heart as I realized that I had known Jim for years, and had never said a word to him of salvation.

    "A carpenter came in to repair a door.  I awaited his going with impatience to sign his work ticket, for my ardent soul longed to be back at my missionary task.  Even as I waited I heard my father talking with the man about the door he had just fixed, and then simply and naturally leading the conversation to the only door into the Kingdom of God.

    "A Jew lives across the street.  I had thought that possibly I would call on the folks who lived in the neighborhood--some time--but I had my hands so full of missionary work the calls had never been made; but, as they met on the street, my father talked with my neighbor of the only Savior of the world.

    "A friend took us out to ride.  I waited for my father to get into the car, but in a moment he was up beside the chauffeur, and in a few minutes I heard him talking earnestly with the man about the way of salvation.  When we reached home he said: 'You know, I was afraid I might never have another chance to speak to that man.'

    "The wife of a prominent railway man took him out to ride in her elegant limousine.  'I am glad she asked me to go,' for it gave me an opportunity of talking with her about her salvation.  I think no one had ever talked with her before.'

    "Yet these opportunities had come to me also, and had passed by as ships in the night, while I strained my eyes to catch sight of a larger sail on a more distant horizon. I could but question my own heart whether my passion was for souls, or for success in getting up conventions."

    Comment is needless. We are surrounded by opportunities--in our homes, in the church, in the Sunday school, among our friends, relatives, neighbors, employees, fellow workmen, on trains or cars, in parks or on the streets, if only we are willing to avail ourselves of them. DO  improve your opportunities.

    4. DO PURPOSE TO WIN ONE SOUL.  You might well shrink from the task if you were asked to win twenty souls; but could you not win one?  Have you ever honestly tried this? Don't say, "I can't!" for God never requires us to do something we can't do.  Ask the Lord to lay one soul upon your heart, and then lay yourself out to win that one. Incalculable possibilities lie in this purpose.

    Dwight L. Moody, who later became the great evangelist, was reared in a Unitarian environment, went to Boston at an early age, was induced to join a Sunday school class, and was led to a definite acceptance of Christ through the faithful personal persuasion of the teacher of that class.  When Andrew brought Peter to Jesus, he brought through Peter 3,000 souls on the day of Pentecost; and when Edward Kimball brought Moody to Jesus, he brought, through Moody, a million souls to Christ, and by that much moved the whole world Godward.  One soul is worth it all, but infinite possibilities are wrapped up in EVERY soul.

    But consider the negative side.  Joseph Smith, who later became the leader of the Mormon Church, lived in a neglected home in a certain country community.  A farmer on his way to church passed that home every Sunday, but he never asked the poor lad to accompany him, or even to attend Sunday school.  The sad consequences of that failure will never be blotted out.  Unnumbered lives have been blighted and homes ruined.  Oh, the tragedy of failure!

    In EVERY community there are potential Moodys, potential Spurgeons, and also, alas, POTENTIAL JOSEPH SMITHS!  There may be one or the other IN YOUR OWN HOME, or in your neighbor's home.  Do seek to win at least one soul for your Lord.

    In order to crystallize this purpose for you, will you, or will you not, here and now append your name to the following suggested pledge?

          WIN ONE SOUL

    I will seek, with God's help, to win one

    soul each year, and endeavor to get them

    to do the same.


          SOME DON'TS

    1. DON'T LET IT BE APPARENT THAT YOU ARE A PERSONAL WORKER.  Conceal your hook.  If you are using tracts, hide them.

    2. DON'T ATTEMPT TO DEAL WITH MORE THAN ONE SOUL AT A TIME.  Get your "prospect" alone, or he will never open his heart to you and disclose his real difficulty.

    3. DON'T BE DRAWN INTO AN ARGUMENT.  you will most likely be side-tracked from your main objective if you do. Few have been argued into salvation.  Duncan Mathieson tells how, in his unregenerate days, an earnest Christian used to speak to him about his soul.  This friend was very staunch concerning his denominational tenets, and, in order to avoid a pointed talk about salvation, Mathieson used to attack his views on these matters, and the old man at once brought forth arguments to prove his views were right, and doubtless succeeded in defeating his opponent's arguments; but this was much to Mathieson's liking.  He had escaped the personal talk about the condition of his soul.  Keep your man pinned to his personal responsibility to Christ.

    4. DON'T ATTRACT ATTENTION TO YOURSELF or your experience.  Seek to attract souls to your Lord.

    5. DON'T MONOPOLIZE THE CONVERSATION.  If your man has a lot to say, give him a patient hearing.  You will be better able to deal with him if you know his viewpoint.  He will come to an end of his talking sooner or later, and then your chance will come.

    6. DON'T AS A RULE DEAL WITH PERSONS OF THE OPPOSITE SEX.  If possible pass them over to some worker of the same sex.  It is not becoming for a young man or a young woman to be always looking for a person of the opposite sex to deal with.

    7. DON'T AS A RULE CHOOSE A PERSON MUCH YOUR SENIOR TO DEAL WITH.  Of course, there are exceptions to both this and the previous "don't".

    8. DON'T RELY ON YOUR OWN ABILITY, powers of persuasion, or knowledge of the Scriptures.  Maintain an attitude of constant dependence on the Holy Spirit to wield His sword.

    9. DON'T MULTIPLY TEXTS AND ILLUSTRATIONS.  Have THREE or FOUR texts which reveal the need and the remedy, with one or two pertinent illustrations.  Answer difficulties from the Word rather than from your own experience.

    10. DON'T BE UNDULY FAMILIAR with your inquirer. Avoid putting hand on shoulder or arm around him, as it sometimes arouses resentment.

    11. DON'T BECOME IMPATIENT, even if cause has been given.  Return good for evil.

    12. DON'T BREAK IN WHEN SOMEONE ELSE IS DEALING WITH A SOUL.  Never interrupt at such a moment of crisis.  You may feel you could do far better, and perhaps that is so, but this is not the time for you to do it.  Do not even stand by.  Similarly, do not allow others to interrupt you.

    13. DON'T HURRY OR DO SHODDY WORK. "He that believeth shall not make haste." (Isa. 28:16).

    14. DON'T BE DISCOURAGED by apparent failure.  Pray and think over every case in which you fail, asking the Lord to show you how to deal with a similar case next time. Thus your failures may become stepping-stones.  In any case, the Word of God never fails.

    15. DON'T FORGET that your only weapons are "the Sword of the Spirit" (Eph. 6:17); and the weapon of "all prayer" (Eph. 6:18).  Make full use of both.

    The value of one soul, O Lord,

    Teach me to see; and as Thy Word

    Assures me of the awful fate

    Which doth the Christless soul await,

    Oh, may I wrestle and prevail

    With God and men, like Israel.

    Give me Thy tenderness and tact,

    Guide every thought and word and act,

    And cause me so to do my part

    To reach the hard or longing heart,

    That men to Thee, O Christ, may turn,

    More of Thy tenderness to learn.

              --Estelle Edmeades

[end of the third file]

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