The salvation of a sinner brings joy to the witness, the convert the church and heaven.
HYMN: I’VE A MESSAGE FROM THE LORD, HALLELUJAH
TEXT: Luke 15:1-10, 19:5-10, 23:34-46; John 4:4-7
The lost are those who are living outside of the grace of God. They are lost in that if they were to die now they will certainly end up in everlasting hell fire. In other words, those whose sins are not forgiven are lost for eternity. This is not God’s desire for man because He created man to have fellowship with Him. At the Garden of Eden, when Adam disobeyed God man lost this fellowship. He became a servant to the devil. Christ came into the world to bring man back to his created place with God. Hence much of Christ’s ministry was devoted to seeking the lost. The greater part of His attention was focused on bringing the lost to God.
When Christ completed His assignment on earth, He committed the work of reconciliation to His disciples who are the believers, the Christians. This is an assignment that is in the heart of God, which every child of His must diligently participate in. The Apostles and the early church followed Christ’s example of seeking the lost. They spent much of their time, energy and resources in bringing the lost into the fold with some of them (disciples) dying in the process. We cannot afford to do less. We must be involved in seeking the lost by participating in personal evangelism, by inviting them to our church, fellowship programs, and maintaining a lifestyle that is positively contagious to the unsaved. Every of our words and actions must be to win the sinner to Christ. There is great joy on earth and in heaven over every sinner that repents. God is depending on you and I.
The objectives of this study are:
1. To know that believers are responsible for seeking the lost and bringing them to Christ.
2. To understand how sinners respond to the message of the gospel.
3. To know why the Lord is concerned about the lost.
4. To know that there are rewards for soul-winners.
1. WHAT IS THE BELIEVER’S ROLE IN SEEKING THE LOST?
In Luke 5:32, the Lord Jesus, told his listeners that He came to the world to call sinners (the lost) to repentance. Before He departed for heaven, He commanded us to go into all the world and make disciples of all nations, Mark 16:15-16. Jesus while calling Peter and Andrew to follow Him told them that His desire for them was to become fishers of men, Mark 1:17. This is still His expectation of all His followers today. It is therefore the responsibility of every believer to bring others to the Lord Jesus. The sinner in most cases will not of his own accord go to Jesus for salvation. Someone must introduce him to the Master who is able to move the weight of sin off his shoulder. God has committed to us the ministry of reconciliation, 2 Corinthians 5:19. This is a responsibility we must take seriously as the Lord depends on us to introduce Him to the lost.
Thus, it is our responsibility to invite the lost to Christ. This involves personal evangelism and inviting them to such places as our local church or fellowship, crusades, open air meetings, seminars, revival meetings, etc., where they can hear the gospel message. In some cases, we may encounter some resistance or hesitation, but we have to be persistent. We must also use encouraging words and demonstrate a great dear of compassion. The sinner will not respond except they can see concern and love in our approach. It is the Holy Spirit that does the convincing. We are just vessels for the Lord to use.
Paul in writing to the Colossians encouraged them, “Withal praying also for us that God would open onto us a door of utterance, to speak the mystery of Christ for which I am also in bonds”, Colossians 4:3. Therefore, our responsibility is to pray for the lost to come to Christ. We pray for those who go out speaking and preaching the gospel message and also for the sinners to receive the message.
Another way in which we bring the lost to Christ is by our lifestyle. The Scriptures declare that we are ambassadors (representatives) for Christ, 2 Corinthians 5:20. Sinners will come to church and Christ if our lifestyle portray righteousness, love, integrity and compassion. They must see something different or unique in us for them to become interested in the things of God.
It is also our responsibility to invite everybody to Christ. Christ did not come for any particular group of people. He cam e for all- big and small, high and low, rich and poor, Jews and Gentiles, Matthew 21:31-32; Romans 1:16. We should not condemn anyone to hell because of the amount of evil we think he has committed. The armed robber, rapist, harlot or murderer has an equal right as the gentle, kind and good-looking person to the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. The Lord said unto the servant, Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled”, Luke 14:23.
2. WHAT ARE THE VARIOUS RESPONSES OF SINNERS TO THE GOSPEL MESSAGE?
The message of salvation has never been received amicably by all who hear it. Here, we will examine the way a number of people in the Bible responded to the gospel.
Like the prodigal son, Luke 15:17, there are many whose desire is to “enjoy life”, and have fun. Such men and women delight in reveling wild parties and even the scare of AIDS cannot stop their inclination to sin, immorality and promiscuity. Most times even when such people appreciate the message of the Gospel, they never really make any firm decision to follow the Lord because of their inclination and love to continue in sin.
Others, like the Pharisees, in Luke 18:9-14 trust in their own self-righteousness. To the, their lives are not too bad and are even better than some Christians. They believe that they are ‘good, kind and gentle’, so they do not need the message of salvation. After all they are neither armed robbers nor prostitutes. Such people need to be reminded of what the Bible says – all our righteousness are like filthy rags in the sight of God, Isaiah 64:6. Like Cornelius, Acts 10:1-38, they need to forget their good works acknowledge their sins and receive Christ as their Lord and personal savior.
In Luke 19:47-48, we find that while others were attentive to the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ, the chief priests were busy planning how they might kill Him. Also, today, the message of the gospel has such a profound impact on some people’s conscience that instead of asking for help, they plan how to stop its spread by eliminating those involved in spreading the good news.
There are also those like Nicodemus, John 3:13, who will not publicly identify with the message. These people because of the worldly position they occupy would not be found among those who believe in the gospel of Jesus Christ. Their exalted position would not allow them because they fear they will lose the respect of people. Nicodemus could only come to Christ by night, ashamed or shy to come openly to the Lord, John 8:42. “What will they tell their friends, peers, colleagues or boy/girl-friend”, they query. These people love the praise of men more than the praise of God, John 12:43. It should however be remembered that the Lord Jesus said, “whosoever therefore shall be ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation; of him also shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he cometh in the glory of his Father with the holy angels”, Mark 3:38. At times, the response of some persons to the gospel message is outright rebellion, rejecting the message and messengers, Luke 19:14. They believe they are too important or sophisticated to “condescend” and consider the message of the cross. According to them, the message of the cross is for the weak, women and children and not for men like them. Such people should be reminded that unless they repent and turn to Christ, they will end up in hell fire when judgement comes, Hebrews 9:27. However, there are numerous others who respond positively to the message of the gospel. In Acts 6:7, we discover a tremendous expansion in the church as the number of disciples multiplied and a great number of the priests became obedient to the faith. Despite the opposition to the gospel by the devil and its agents, the Lord is still saving many people today.
3. WHAT DO THESE RESPONSES SUGGEST ABOUT MAN’S FALLEN NATURE?
The natural tendency of man I to reject God and His gift of salvation. Man, in his fallen state is too filthy and dirty to come face to face with a Holy God. When Adam disobeyed God in the garden, his first reaction was to reject responsibility for his actions and then hide away from God. Instead, he should have owned up to his error and accept responsibility for his own actions.
Today man’s behavior is exactly similar. Instead of coming to God in repentance, he devices all manner of excuses why he cannot surrender his life to the Lord Jesus Christ. His rebellious and carnal mind is against God and all that is righteous, Romans 8:5-9. Thus, he becomes defensive and evasive not wanting to face the consequences of his sinful nature. What we can deduce from this is that man cannot let out himself from this misery. He is under a more powerful dominion hence he is not willing to face up to his depravity. Thus, man left alone is lost in sin with the only outcome being death and hell fire.
Paul in Romans 7:24, explained that of his own accord he was unable to serve God as he would and had to seek for help which he found in Christ. Jesus said that all who labor and weary should come to Him to lighten their load, Matthew 11:28. Thus believers must do all that is within their ability and when the opportunity permits to bring the sinner to the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. For this purpose, He gave His life on the cross of Calvary.
4. WHAT ARE THE LORD’S REASONS FOR UNRELENTINGLY SEEKING THE LOST?
To appreciate why the Lord is very interested in the lost, we have to understand the heart of God in regards to man. The Psalmist expressed his bewilderment on this matter when he said, “What is man, that thou art mindful of him? And the son of man that thou visitest him?”, Psalm 8:4.
The Scriptures teach that hell was made for the devil and his followers and that hell is a place of torment, Ezekiel 31:16. Thus, man was never made for the place of torment. God in His holy and just nature does not tolerate sin, hence He said that “the soul that sinneth it shall die”, Ezekiel 18:4. This death is not just the physical death common to all mortal but eternal separation from the presence of God, Revelation 20:14-15. By Adam’s disobedience sin and death entered into the world and all of mankind became condemned to eternal damnation. However, God demonstrated His love for humanity by sending His Son Jesus Christ to die on the cross for us, so that “whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life”, John 3:16.
Man is the object God’s creation and was created to have fellowship with him. This relationship was lost at Eden by the first man, Adam. The only way this could be brought back is through the death of the Lord Jesus Christ. Man was also created to serve God, Ecclesiastes 12:3, and this could not take place in its fullness with man in his fallen state. The scripture declares that without holiness no man shall see God, Hebrews 12:14. Another reason why the Lord had to seek the lost is that He is not willing that any should perish, 2 Peter 3:9. God did not create man for destruction, thus with His just nature demanding justice, His love reaches out to all for salvation. “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son; that whosoever believeth on him should not perish but have everlasting life, John 3:16. Thus we must appreciate that man is so special in the sight of God that He gave all that He had for him. Believers must therefore endeavor to bring themselves to the position of God and do all within their ability to bring the lost (sinner) to God.
5. WHAT ARE THE IMMEDIATE BENEFITS FOR THE SUCCESSFUL SOUL WINNER?
The immediate benefits of a successful soul winner are in the joys that arises from the salvation of the sinner. The soul-winner is joyful. The one that has been saved is also joyful. There is joy in the Church (among believers) and finally there is joy in heaven. We rejoice because we have been obedient to the directive of God. There is also a feeling of fulfillment in our hearts that God has used us to accomplish His purpose. The Lord Jesus told the seventy to rejoice because their names are written in heaven, Luke 10:20. For the sinner who is now saved, there is joy of a new life and freedom from the burden of sin. For him a very heavy load has just been removed off his shoulders. The sinner is now a child of God with all the benefits of sonship.
For the church (brethren) there is great joy because a life has been rescued from eternal destruction, Acts 15:3 Satan has lost yet another soul and the church is victorious. We must be excited at the salvation and rescue of the lost one, Luke 15:5-9. Also, there is joy in heaven over every sinner that repents, Luke 15:10. It is like the father of the prodigal son who threw a feast on the return of his once lost son.
A believer who is a soul winner will definitely gladden the heart of God. Such a believer will have answers to his prayers, John 15:16.
DAILY LIVING APPLICATION:
God created man for His glory and that man in response should worship Him in holiness and righteousness. This was derailed when man disobeyed God and thus became estranged form his maker. God in His love not willing that any should perish sent His only begotten Son, the Lord Jesus Christ to rescue him from this judgment. This was accomplished when Christ died on the cross. However, people can only be liberated when they believe the gospel message. This message can only come to them when we believers go out to seek and bring them to the knowledge of Christ.
Brethren, there are many who are perishing daily around us in our neighborhood, homes, schools, market places, workplaces and on, there are many who are perishing daily around us in our neighborhood, homes, schools, market places, workplaces and on the streets. Let us join the rescue mission of seeking the lost. The joy in the heart of the soul winner is better experienced than described. Join and experience this joy in your heart and so set up joy in the heart of the redeemed, the church and in heaven.
“They that sow in tears shall reap in joy. He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him.”
DAILY DEVOTIONAL GUIDE
MON: Persuading the sinner to come to Christ:
Luke 5:27-32; 1 Corinthians 9:22; Jude 22:23
TUE: Soul winning is the Lord’s business
Luke 2:49; John 4:34-35, 9:4; Acts 10:38
WED: Soul winning was the Apostles’ primary concern.
Acts 20:24; Romans 9:3, 11:14
THUR: We are God’s ambassadors and must continue His #1 business.
Mark 16:15-20; Acts 5:20; 2 Corinthians 5:19-20
FRI: Sinners will often give excuses.
Amos 6:1; Matthew 22:2-7; Acts 13:38-41
SAT: The joy in soul winning.
Luke 15:5-10; Psalm 126:5-6