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Written by: Sanders, J.O.    Posted on: 04/09/2003

Category: Sermons

Source: CCN

[THE DIVINE ART OF SOUL-WINNING      by J. Oswald Sanders--sixth file]

          CHAPTER 8



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 2:24).


     These difficulties may be grouped under four headings:

     Relating to the Bible or its doctrines.

     Based on the inconsistencies of Christians.

     Personal difficulties.

     Arising from teaching of Cults.


     "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 wicked antediluvians.

     "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.


     "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).


     "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" (Gal.2:16).

     "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 (Phil.1:6).

     "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; Heb.7:25).

     "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 5:20.

     "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 7:33,34.)

     "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 10:29,30).

     "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]

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