Soul Winner: The Greatest Calling
By T. L. Osborn
The Bible says: “This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation” …what is this all important saying?…”that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners” (I Ti. 1:15).
Luke 19:10, “The Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.”
Jesus came to save sinners! That was His mission.
First and last, Jesus was a Soul winner – the greatest Soul winner the world has ever known.
The first group whom He chose to follow Him received this challenge: “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.”
The last group who followed Him out to His ascension received this command: “Go make disciples of all nations.”
First and foremost, Jesus was a Soul winner. That’s what He came for, “to save sinners.” That’s what He lived for – and died for – and rose again for – and sent back the Holy Ghost to His followers for – to make them effective soul winners.
Did you ever stop to think about this: The word “Christian” means “Christ-like.”
Since Christ came to save sinners, to seek out the lost, then to be “like Christ – Christian” we are to be soul winners! If Christ is born in us, He wills to do the same things in and through us as He did when He walked on earth. Now we are His Body.
Yet there are hundreds of thousands of professed “Christians” who have never known the joy of letting Christ win even one soul through them. There are preachers who have never won a soul.
I have personally counseled missionaries who have confided in me that they have never won a soul to Christ during their experience on the mission field.
Yet, to be a “Christian” means to be “like Christ.” And I repeat, to be like Christ is to be a soul winner.
Can this be the reason the Church is not meeting the spiritual need of this generation? Is the Church no longer a soul winning body? As a congregation it is not, but since you are the Church, you are Christ’s Body. Let Him win souls through you.
Jesus took His message to the sinners; to the market places, to street corners, to the mountain sides, to the sea shores, to the homes of sinners.
They criticized Him by accusing: “This man receiveth sinners, and eateth with them.”
He Walked With Sinners
He mixed with sinners, witnessed to them, convinced them and won them. He was not a “holier-than-thou” type, aloof, super-spiritual, a righteous snob. He walked with sinners. They were His reason for being in this world.
So it is with every true Christian. To be Christ-like means to win sinners. His purpose is our purpose. His mission is our mission. His plan is our plan. He came to save sinners. We are to be “like Him.” We are here, in this world, for the same purpose.
He said: “I came into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth” (Jn. 18:37). That is what we are in this world for – to bear witness of the Gospel to sinners.
He commanded: “Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled” (Lu. 14:23).
He never said, “Go ring a church bell and pray for sinners to come in.”
He said, Go out and compel them; win them, bring them; you go out and get them – that my house may be full.
Every follower of His did just that.
After His ascension, His early followers acted just like Him. Every one of them was busy witnessing. Each believer was a witness. They were busy in the markets, in the streets, in houses, around the public wells, talking, reasoning, witnessing, convincing, preaching, winning souls, compelling sinners to believe the Gospel – just like Jesus did.
In fact, they reminded everyone so much of Christ that critics sarcastically called them “Christ-i-a-n-s” – with contempt in their voices. These critics did not know that Christ was actually re-born in them!
They were the so-called “fanatics” who were like the “deceiver” – Christ.
Christians! They were like Christ in winning souls. That’s why I’m a soul winner. Jesus was!
The Bible says: “And daily in the temple, and in every house, they ceased not to teach and preach Jesus Christ” (Ac. 5:42).
I’ve circled the word “daily” in my Testament. Most churches are not even open more than twice or thrice per week.
The cinema operates “daily”; the dance hall, the pub, the night club, the liquor store, the houses of ill-fame and amusement. But too often the church functions only on Sunday – that is, the church building. But the real Church is you and me. we are Christ’s Body. Christ can minister and witness through us every day – whether the church building is open or not.
The early “Christians” were daily in the temple, and in every house – teaching and preaching Jesus Christ.
Witnessing in this Century
Christians must recapture some of the zeal and passion of the early Church. Otherwise, this old world will be lost while a lifeless church sits at ease in Zion. They must recover the spiritual truth that each believer is the Church; that Christ can only minister through Christians.
Did you know that the “Jehovah Witness” organization is the fastest growing religious body in the world? Why? Because they have captured a vital secret of the Early Church; they require every convert to be a “witness.” Each member is trained, skilled, equipped and sent out on the streets, door to door, “witnessing.” Carrying his record – or tape – player, loaded with tracts and literature, he goes from house to house – and he succeeds, because he stays at it.
In “Christianity Today,” Glenn Abbott says: “However one may disagree with Jehovah’s Witnesses or Mormons, he must admire the dedication and sense of mission that takes them from door to door in the face of ridicule and abuse.”
This world is hungry. The people are confused. They are seeking. They are lost. They do not go to church. They never hear the Gospel. Though searching and eager, too often they never receive a true witness. They are streaming to the psychologists and psychiatrists. They are the human guinea pigs for every new psychic theory being hatched by the current wave of psychoanalysts.
Children are confused. Teen-agers are adrift. Parents are fighting. Insecurity and dismay dominate the home. Drinking and perversion are substituted for stability in family life.
Sickness and disease, mental stress and spiritual emptiness go unattended. Wretched existences are the state of affairs behind the door of many a proper-looking house front.
Through that door is an open world of ministry for the Christian, but millions of church members have never approached that door.
God have mercy on us, Christians, if we don’t rise to this challenge. I realize we pray for sinners to be saved. But Jesus said, Go out and get them! They will go to hell while we pray. Christ can only speak to them through us. We are His legs, His voice, His hands, His Body.
There has developed a whole empire of church “specialists” in every category but soulwinning.
Tradition has somehow taught us that only a few “evangelists” are soul winners; that everyone else ministers to the already saved ones.
First – a Christian
A pastor says: “Oh, I’m not a soul winner; I never could deal with sinners. My calling is that of a pastor, to shepherd the flock.”
Who was the Greatest Shepherd? Jesus! And He was also the greatest Soul winner. If I were a pastor, I would want to follow His example.
Someone else says: “Oh, no! I never make altar calls; I’m no good at that. You see, that is not my calling. I am a teacher – that is my gift.”
Well, who was the greatest Teacher? Jesus Christ! And He was the world’s greatest Soul winner. If I were a teacher, I would want to follow Christ’s exam ple of teaching in a way that I could win souls.
I must be a Soul winner, because Jesus was and now He is in me!
Another says: “Oh, that’s not my calling at all; my gift is to teach prophecy.”
Who was a greater Prophet than Jesus? And yet He was a Soul winner.
Still another specialist says: “I teach types and shadows from the Old Testament. I’m not a soul winner. I minister to the Church.”
Who did that better than Jesus? Yet He won souls when He taught.
You see, here is the fact that has been overlooked: Before you were a pastor, you were a Christian (like Christ).
You have a call, as a Christian, to win souls. Secondarily, you have a call as a pastor to shepherd the flock. But every pastor should be a soul winner as a Christian.
Before you were a teacher, you were a Christian. You have a call as a Christian to witness, to be a soul winner. After that, you are gifted as a teacher to teach Christians.
Before you were gifted to preach or teach prophecy in the Church, you were a Christian. As a Christian your first call is to win souls; second to prophesy.
First a Christian – a soul winner; second a pastor.
First a Christian – a soul winner; second a teacher.
First a Christian – a soul winner; second a musician, a singer, a chart-speaker. But always first a Christian – A soul winner.
You see, this is a principle in the Kingdom of God – soul winning first. Let me give you three proofs, three witnesses of this fact.
Witness No. 1. “Joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance.”
Heaven rejoices when the lost is found. This one sinner who is won is a greater delight than the 99 saved ones.
In the Kingdom of God, the priority is on the one which was lost.
Witness No. 2. In the Kingdom of heaven, the Good Shepherd is pictured by Jesus as “leaving the ninety and nine” in the fold, and going “out into the mountains,” the dangerous places, out in the world, seeking out the lost sheep.
The Good Shepherd is not represented as staying in the fold caring for the flock as much as by going out after the lost one. He wants to do that through us today.
As I said, this is a principle in the Kingdom of God. Soul winning – seeking out the lost soul first!
Witness No. 3. The good woman of the house is not pictured by the Master as sitting in her chair, counting and carefully polishing her treasured coins.
Rather, she is concerned day and night with seeking “diligently till she find” the lost coin.
She bears the candlestick and searches relentlessly in the dark corners until she has found the lost coin – then she rejoices.
But the contrary is exemplified by most churches and pastors and congregations.
On Sunday morning, the pastor polishes the coins which are not lost – the members.
On Wednesday night, he carefully polishes them again. But the lost ones are not gone after. (I am not criticizing pastors for preaching to their church. They should. This is essential. But my point is: too often this goes on and on, and the lost coin is never sought.)
Next Sunday, more polishing, and next Wednesday still more ministry – still directed to the saved ones.
Then a teacher is called, gifted to expound the Word to Christians, and they get polished nightly for two weeks. Still no direction to sinners.
Then a prophecy preacher takes his turn – still no attention to sinners is given.
Then a fine man puts on a series of special meetings to teach types and shadows. Still no altar calls for sinners.
Then singers entertain. Followed by more polishing. Yet the lost coin is not sought, the lost sheep is not gone after. Every one of the Church “specialists” stay in the safe fold with the “ninety and nine.”
So much attention is given to those safe in the fold!
And all the time, the world is going to hell, untouched by Christians, unchallenged by soul winners. Christ cannot reach them because Christians do not go to them. They will only see Christ and His love through us. He longs to win them but He can only do it through us.
Jesus was a Soul winner. That is the first reason why I am.
God never called anyone to a ministry that wasn’t a soul winning ministry – because the very essence of being a “Christian” is to have Christ living, witnessing and ministering in and through you!
The principle of the Kingdom of Heaven is soul winning first.
The Early Church possessed a passion for souls. They were “Christ-like.”
Whatever our talent in the Church, we are soul winners first – Christians first – then writers, teachers, pastors, prophets, etc. – but first witnesses, soul winners.
Be a soul winner – a real Christ-i-a-n.
Article “Home Bible Study: The Greatest Calling” excerpted from “Soul Winning, Out Where the Sinners Are”. Written by T. L. Osborn.
�This article may not be written by an Apostolic author, but it contains many excellent principles and concepts that can be adapted to most churches. As the old saying goes, �Eat the meat. Throw away the bones.�