Soul Winning

By John Arcovio

Nothing gets closer to the heartbeat of God than soul winning.

Jesus saith unto them, My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish His work. Say not ye, there are yet four months and then cometh harvest? behold I say unto you, Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest (John 4:34-35).

Yes, when we choose the way of the eagle, we choose to lift our eyes to see the harvest—the harvest of souls whether it be our next door neighbor, people across town, people in the neighboring town, or even those in other states or countries far from us.

In Mark 8:22-26 Jesus healed the blind man of Bethsaida. When He had spit on his eyes and put His hands on him, He asked him if he saw ought. The man’s reply was, “I see men as trees walking.” After that, Jesus put His hands again on his eyes and made him to look up. With that, he was restored and saw every man clearly.

When we lift our eyes and allow the vision of God to come upon us, we will see clearly. We will not classify people into races or positions. We will no longer see people as Joe the baker, Sue the teller, or Bob, the one I went to High School with. Rather, we will see souls as God would have us see them.

An eagle has the ability to focus his eyes with a double vision. The eagle’s vision is exceptionally sharp because each eye has two foveae areas of acute vision—as compared with the human eye which only has one. The cones in the eagle’s fovea are very small and tightly grouped, allowing the eagle to see small details from extreme distances. For example, an eagle can spot an object as small as a rabbit from a distance of almost two miles. On the other hand, a man would have to look through a pair of powerful binoculars to see the same thing.

The eyes of the eagle are placed forward on the eagle’s head, giving him accurate depth perception. This is important for an eagle when he is pursuing prey. The placement of the eyes also enables the eagle to see each side. This peripheral vision covers almost 270 degrees and 4½ square miles.

The eagle can focus on the rabbit from a distance of two miles and at the same time focus on a mouse running through the grass twenty yards away. This amazing double vision ability in the eagle can be compared to the vision that we need to both win souls worldwide and to reach a soul right next door or on our job.

As the lion is considered the “King of the Beasts,” the eagle is considered the “King of the Birds. ” In the spiritual realm our double vision can allow us to both reign as kings and princes and be ambassadors for Christ, doing His will and finishing His work.

Proverbs 29:18 records, “Where there is no vision, the people perish…” We’ve got to protect our vision.

As I have previously stated, when vultures attack they go for the eyesight first—they go for the vision. But there is a way we can protect our vision while fighting against principalities, powers, spirits the vultures of this world and ungodly people which have no faith.

The eagle can see even with his eyes shut. In addition to his normal pair of eyelids the eagle has a set of clear eyelids called nictitating membranes. These eyelids can be closed for protection from the wind, hungry eaglets, or the violence of a kill without affecting the eagle’s vision.

When we are fighting principalities, powers, and ungodly, wicked spirits in this world we can protect our vision by keeping a heart sensitive to God through prayer, fasting and staying in His Word. We must harden our outer skin like an alligator’s, but leave our hearts tender and sensitive. Satan’s darts will harmlessly bounce off us. God’s Word must be our balance and our love for God and people must be our motive for reaching souls. We must protect our vision. We must not grow weary in well doing.

The eagle is different from any other bird in its reaction to a storm. When a storm comes up, other birds seek shelter, but the eagle, because of his strength and the distinctive abilities God has given to him, flies straight into the storm, rising above the turbulent winds to a calmer atmosphere.

We, too, can set our courses to fight hell and receive victory and still protect the vision that God has given to us. We need not fear trouble or persecution while reaching souls because God will protect us.
In Ecclesiastes 11:1-4 Solomon wrote,

Cast thy bread upon the waters: for thou shalt find it after many days. Give a portion to seven, and also to eight; for thou knowest not what evil shall be upon the earth. If the clouds be full of rain, they empty them-selves upon the earth: and if the tree fall toward the south, or toward the north, in the place where the tree falleth, there it shall be. He that observeth the wind shall not sow; and he that regardeth the clouds shall not reap.

We cannot allow the winds of discouragement, the winds of persecution or the clouds of oppression to hinder us from being soul winners. We must cast our bread upon the water for we will find it after many days.

Solomon mentions giving a portion to seven. Seven is a number of perfection; it can be considered a number of arriving. He also said to give to eight. Eight is the number of starting over again going again and letting each day cancel out the day before. Each day indeed is a new day in Jesus.

Isaiah 32:20 says, “Blessed are ye that sow beside all waters, that send forth thither the feet of the ox and the ass. ” This refers to the animals that get down and do the dirty, sweaty work—where the rubber meets the road. The middle of the storm. That’s where we need to be in our walk with God.
The turbulent winds cause the eagle to lift higher. There is a tremendous lifting power in the thermal updrafts of turbulent winds. These updrafts cause the eagle to reach great heights as he soars with them. Turbulent winds give the eagle a larger view. The higher the eagle flies the larger will be his perspective of the land below him. Fromthis high position the sharp eyes of the eagle are able to see much more.

The more battles we fight, the more understanding we will receive and the more we will be able to relate to people and give them the bread of life that the Lord requires us to give them.

Turbulent winds often lift the eagle above harassment. At lower elevations the eagle is often harassed by suspicious crows, disgruntled hawks and other small birds. As the eagle soars higher he leaves behind all these distractions. When we allow the turbulent winds of life and the spiritual struggles that come against us to simply lift us higher on wings of fasting, prayer and determination to do God’s will, they lift us above the distractions of these different elements of life and allow us to be more focused in reaching souls.

Turbulent winds often allow eagles to use less effort. The wings of an eagle are designed for gliding in the winds. The feathers that we discussed in Chapter 2 are structured to prevent stalling, reduce turbulence and produce a relatively smooth ride with minimum effort even in buff winds.

Turbulent winds allow the eagle to stay up longer. The eagle uses the wind to soar and glide for long periods of time. In the wind the eagle first glides downward in long shallow circles and then spirals upward with the thermal updraft.

Also, turbulent winds help the eagle fly faster. Normally, an eagle flies about 50 mph. However, when he glides in wind currents it is not uncommon for his speed to reach 100-150 mph.

We can grow so much faster in the face of resistance. If we would be honest with ourselves we would realize that we grow the least when we are under the least resistance, and we grow the most when the most resistance is against us. II Corinthians 4:16 tells us, “For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day. ” We grow the most when our outer man is dying and our inner man is being renewed.

The power of the Christian to rise above pressures and temptations comes through the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus. Paul writes, “That I might know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto His death” (Philippians 3:10). We must identify with the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus. (This is the gospel—the book of Acts gospel repenting for our sins, our sins being washed away in water baptism in Jesus’ name and receiving the Holy Ghost with the evidence of speaking in other tongues.)

Yes, we must reach out for souls and be soul winners. I have traveled much both in the United States and overseas and have found that people really do not care what you think, but what you are will affect them. Matthew 5:13-16 says,

Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savor, wherewith shall it be salted? It is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men. Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.

Yes, we must let our light shine in the darkness of this world.

Zechariah 14:6-7 tells us,

And it shall come to pass in that day, that the light shall not be clear, nor dark: but it shall be one day which shall be known to the Lord, not day, nor night: but it shall come to pass, that at evening time it shall be light.

Think of that! The darkest, bleakest time is when the light will shine the brightest. In the -original Hebrew that scripture says, “That it shall be clear in some places and dark in other places in the world.” We live in such a day and time. In some places, as in America, the light is shining, but there are some countries that are still under immense, total spiritual darkness. Have you ever been in such a dark, dense blackness that you couldn’t even see your hand in front of your face? Do you know how lost and how confused you felt? That is how spiritually dark some areas of the world are. We must shine as lights in the evening time!
Let me give you some examples of this spiritual darkness. In some parts of Africa, if a witch doctor believes that the river god is upset, he will tell the mothers in the area to throw their babies to the crocodiles.

The Hindus worship the brahma cow, believing that it is a reincarnated being from a former life, or perhaps a family member that has come back in the form of a cow. They will not kill cows or even rats, though starvation and pestilence is prevalent throughout their entire country. Billy Cole once told a story of a commuter train that had a Hindu engineer. The train was traveling along at a high rate of speed and was filled with over a thousand people.

The Hindu engineer spotted a brahma cow standing on the tracks in front of a bridge. He could have just kept on going and hit the cow; there would have been just a little thump. Instead, he threw the train into a skid, trying to avoid the cow because it was sacred. He ended up throwing the train off the bridge, killing one thousand people to save one brahma cow. What spiritual darkness!

Here in America we have New Age philosophy, mind science, and twisted psychologies being taught in our schools and colleges. These mindsets are demonic, occultic, and filled with witchcraft. We must in this evening time shine as lights. We must have a burden and show compassion. It is what we are that shakes people, not what we say. It is our contact with God that shakes them.

Soul winning is not accomplished in the classroom or the pew, but out where sinners are. We must get one-on-one with them. The church was born in a blaze of personal soul winning; it was a house-to-house, faith-to-faith operation. A burden received must be transmitted, and your lifestyle will express how strong your burden is.

There was a soldier who was a Christian that had marched many, many miles. He had been trying to witness to several people in the platoon, especially one man who was a bully. This man was especially harsh and totally rejected the Christian. For seven straight days, the platoon had marched 3½ miles each day. When the platoon returned to their barracks after the seventh day, everyone was weary. They all immediately began to get undressed and fell right on their faces on their beds and began to sleep. This one young man, however, unstrapped his boots, turned, and knelt to spend a little time in prayer before he rested. The bully that he had been witnessing to saw him kneeling there praying and in disgust he removed a dirty , heavy combat boot and threw it across the room. The boot struck the young man in the head, but he kept on praying. Then the bully removed his other boot and with a curse threw it, too. The boot again found its mark, but there was still no response from the young man praying.

The next morning, when the bully woke up, he found his boots sitting at the end of his bed, cleaned and polished. The end of the story is that the bully became a Christian, not because of what the young man said, but because of what he was. It left an impact on the other man’s life.

A burden to reach souls is not received in a day of fasting, nor from being shut up in a closet of prayer, nor is it received in a classroom. A burden is received out in the midst of the hurt and turmoil of this world where the sinners are. There is something about knocking on the door of a family to pick up a child for Sunday School and seeing him coming to the door pushing aside beer cans, and finding his Mom and Dad passed out on the floor or discovering that Dad never came home the night before. A burden is received by going to where they are and seeing how and where they live. This world needs a one-on-one gospel, not a gospel shouted to it from ivory towers of spirituality, but one reaching to it with hands and hearts of compassion. We must seek to feel what Jesus felt when He walked the shores of Galilee, prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane, and hung on the cross at Calvary. Yes, we must be lights in the evening time.

A burden travels with you everywhere you go and at all times. We must all carry a burden. John 11:35 says, “Jesus wept.” I don’t believe He wept because of the sorrow he felt for Lazarus, for He knew Lazarus would rise again. Rather, He wept for the people because they did not understand neither why He had come, nor the life giving power that was in Him. We must all carry the burden that God has placed before us. Not just a few here and there, but all of us.
Luke 5 says that Jesus

…saw two ships standing by the lake: but the fishermen were gone out of them, and were washing their nets. And he entered into one of the ships, which was Simon’s, and prayed him that he would thrust out a little from the land. And he sat down, and taught the people out of the ship. Now when he had left speaking, he said unto Simon, Launch out into the deep, and let down your nets (plural) for a draught. And Simon answering said unto him, Master, we have toiled all the night, and have taken nothing: nevertheless, at thy word I will let down the net (singular). And when they had this done, they inclosed a great multitude of fishes: and their net brake (Luke 5:2-6).

Jesus said nets, showing that He was speaking to all the fishermen, but only one of them, Simon, had enough faith to obey Him. Because he was the only one who responded in faith by letting down his net, the tremendous catch was lost.

Many Christians would like to relegate soul winning to a department of the church or to other Christians, never realizing that we all have a responsibility for reaching souls.

There is a vast difference between doubt and unbelief. Doubt says, “I know you can but I just don’t know if you will. ” Unbelief says, “You can’t.” Peter had doubt. He said, “Master, we have toiled all the night, and have taken nothing. Nevertheless, at thy word I will let down the net. “Peter had enough faith to obey and receive his miracle, even though he had doubt. Many of us doubt whether we have the ability to be soul winners when all God is asking us to do is let down our net. We don’t have to be pros at the scriptures; all we need to have is a burden and a knowledge of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Paul wrote in Romans 10:1, “Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved.” Paul turned his world upside down simply because of a desire to see Israel saved. What can we do with the same burden for souls? I believe we also could turn our world upside down.

Much of the revival in the book of Acts came through one-on-one ministry. In Acts 26:18 Jesus told Paul that His purpose for sending him was

To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, an inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me.

It is the anointing that destroys the yoke. It is the anointing of God that helps to open their eyes from darkness to light, from the power of Satan to God. Only God through His Word and through His Spirit can forgive sins.

When you minister simply with a burden for the lost, you will discover true power and authority in Him. I remember spending many years simply soul winning simply being in love with Jesus and reaching for souls in bus ministry, Sunday school, children’s church, prison ministry, nursing home ministry, and university ministry. Just reaching souls! But it was then that the God-given authority of my ministry was developed. Isaiah 30:17 tells us, “One thousand shall flee at the rebuke of one; at the rebuke of five shall ye flee: till ye be left as a beacon upon the top of a mountain, and as an ensign on an hill.” When you choose to become a light, God gives you authority.

The thing the Lord is most interested in is if we are good and faithful. It does not matter how many countries we have traveled in, how many books we have written, how many conferences we have preached in, or how many people knew our name. All He wants to know is, were we good and faithful to do His will—the will that He put us here on earth to do. In Matthew 25 Jesus told the parable of the talents and said that the Lord said unto his servant, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord” (verse 21). God is most interested in is us being good and faithful-faithful in winning souls.

If I knew that Jesus was returning next week, I would not choose ministering from a pulpit, writing a book or magazine article, recording tapes and records, or any other means of reaching out over a personal one-on-one ministry. That is where you will affect the most people in the most places.

I recall a man who dreamed he went to heaven. At the gate was an angel waiting to let him in. The angel stopped him and said, “I’m sorry, but you must give an account of your life before you enter in. ” The man was shocked and asked, “What about the ten books I wrote?” The voice of the Spirit of God answered him and said, “I don’t know. I never read them. Were you good and were you faithful to do my will?” That’s what God is most interested in—us being good and faithful to do His will.

Some people feel that if they don’t travel a long distance to carry the gospel, that they are not doing anything worthwhile. However, Jesus never traveled beyond His country, yet His influence is continually felt throughout the whole world.

In Matthew 4:19 Jesus said, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men. ” A good sign that you are following Jesus is that you are a fisher, or changer, of men. Politicians may reflect people’s views, but believers change them. Be a fisher of men and let the way of the eagle give you the vision for both the man next door and the man across the waters.

I believe that the brightest stars shining at the judgement seat of Christ will be the soul winner’s crown. Sad to say, many will get to that place and find that they didn’t strive faithfully and will receive no reward. Daniel 12:3 tells us very plainly, “And they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness, as the stars forever and ever.”

Matthew 9:36-38 reflects so beautifully the burden that Jesus felt and the compassion He carried. Verse 36 says, “But when he saw the multitudes, he was moved with compassion on them….” That small portion of scripture is a tremendous way to define a burden: being moved with compassion. The passage goes on to say,

…because they fainted, and were scattered abroad, as sheep having no shepherd. Then saith he unto his disciples, The harvest truly is plenteous, but the laborers are few; Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth laborers into his harvest.

We must be soul winners! It is a desperate hour and it requires desperate measures. “But if the gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost” (II Corinthians 4:3). We must share the gospel. We must not stand before Him on that day empty-handed.

We must strive faithfully as He has instructed us because when Jesus reaches out He does it through His hands, through His feet, and through His body—us. In the history of God’s dealings with His people, God has been able to affect and even turn an entire nation to Him through the efforts of just one man. Noah was used by God to build an ark to save the animal kingdom and those in his family who believed God’s word. Daniel, in a time of apostasy, through fasting and prayer, received spiritual understanding that the seventy weeks for making reconciliation for iniquity was past and that the time for the rebuilding of the wall had come. Job’s prayers put a hedge around his children, and if God had not allowed the enemy to break the hedge, the blessings on his children would have continued. Even though each of these men was seemingly used by God as a “super hero” in his day and time, God is just looking for someone who will simply make himself available to Him.

Ezekiel 14:14 tells us, “Though these three men, Noah, Daniel, and Job, were in it, they should deliver but their own souls by their righteousness, saith the Lord God.” The day of superstars is over. God is simply looking for a body that will minister under the power of His anointing and in the power of His Spirit. Ephesians 5:30 says, For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones. ” Colossians 1:18 tells us, “And he is the had of the body, the church….” When the body begins to get a hold of the anointed ministry, then the head will get the glory for what the body does. God will then trust us again with His greatest and best.

In Isaiah 42:8 God says, “I am the Lord; that is my name: and my glory will I not give to other…. “The greatest works of God will be done when the body simply works in the shadow of the cross and in the background of His love, giving all glory to God for each soul that is snatched from the burning flames of hell. Proverbs 11:30 tells us, “The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life; and he that winneth souls is wise.” This is the heartbeat of God.

Again I say, a burden is only transmitted. Jesus transmitted His burden. In Luke 9:1-6 when He sent His disciples out, He sent them out house to house. Paul in Acts 20:20 spoke of his ministry from house to house being the most effective. I John 2:6 tells us that we should walk “even as he walked.” Yes, the Spirit and the bride say “Come”—the Spirit is willing, but is the bride ready? We must work together. We must work together to get a hold of the ministry of motherhood.

Isaiah asks,

Before she travailed, she brought forth; before her pain came, she was delivered of a man child. Who hath heard of such a thing? who hath seen such things? Shall the earth be made to bring forth in one day? or shall a nation be born at once? for as soon as Zion travailed, she brought forth her children (Isaiah 66:7-8).

Revival does not come through methods or programs but through a burden received in intercessory prayer and by breaking through in spiritual warfare by praying and fasting. Every new work started and every new territory entered to reach new souls must be preceded by intercessory prayer. You don’t need a program, you don’t need the know-how—all you need is a burden to win souls!

In Philippians 3:13 Paul says, “this one thing I do,” signifying his focused direction and dedication to doing the work of God without being distracted by the things that this world had to offer. In II Corinthians 11:3 Paul wrote, “But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.” Simplicity in the original Greek means “singlemindedness, faithfulness, loyalty to Christ.” Yes, we must keep intact in our lives that single minded focus on reaching souls. We must not become so intoxicated with our life’s achievements, our ministry’s success, or God’s blessings that we forget the main reason why we are doing what we are doing—to reach souls and to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ! I believe this is why James wrote, “Let him know, that he which converteth the sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins” (James 5:20). What a powerful thing to know: when you reach a soul you are literally saving a soul from death.

I Timothy 4:16 records, “Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine, continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee.” We must be very certain that our doctrine is sound and sure. The doctrine, the covenant of the Spirit, is repentance, water baptism in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of our sins and receiving Holy Ghost through the evidence of speaking in other tongues. We must get a hold of the ministry of motherhood and go forth speaking the truth in love. We can never underestimate the power of the ministry of motherhood.

In Judges 5:6-7 a very despicable picture is painted:

In the days of Shamgar the son of Anath, in the days of Jael, the highways were unoccupied, and the travelers walked through byways. The inhabitants of the villages ceased, they ceased in Israel….

The Hebrew originally reads, “In the days of Shamgar the son of Anath, in the days of Jael, the paths ceased and those going in the paths traveled in crooked ways. The leaders ceased in Israel.” Notice that! People were not walking in paths that they should have been walking. Rather they were walking in crooked ways. Not even the presence of two mighty men of God—Shamgar, who had slain 600 men with an ox goad, and Jael could not change the situation. The scene is dismal “until, ” verse 7 says, “that I Deborah, arose, that I arose a mother in Israel.” When we get a hold of the ministry of motherhood, then we will start seeing the situations of life around us changing. That is when we’ll start seeing the Lord do the works that He for so long has promised He would perform.

In I Corinthians 4:15-16 Paul speaks of instructors and fathers. An instructor in the original is simply a baby sitter or “one who takes a child to school.” He would be somewhat similar to a bus driver whose responsibility it is only to briefly pick up or drop off a student, having no real interest or involvement in the student’s life. The father, though, is the one who founds, the one who births, and the one who converts and grounds his child, having much responsibility and much involvement. Thus Paul writes, “For though ye have ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet have ye not many fathers: for in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel. Wherefore I beseech you, be ye followers of me.”

In other words, Paul was saying, “Look at my example. Look at how I took on the ministry of motherhood and was a personal soul winner.” We are also admonished in I John 2:6, “He that saith he abideth in him (Jesus) ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked.” You see, the minis-try of motherhood is a travail. It is a birthing process. It is a ministry of intensive care. You would never take a newborn child, cut his umbilical cord and throw him out in the cold and tell him, “There, just live. ” Rather you spend time nurturing, feeding, and working with the child. I believe that’s what Paul meant when he wrote in Galatians 4:19, “My little children, of whom I travail in birth again until Christ be formed in you.” He didn’t just travail in birth once, but he travailed until Christ was formed in each person. That takes intensive care. That takes a long time of virtue. Yes, we must walk the way of the eagle because that was the way that Jesus walked. He walked with vision and with burden. As He walked He was many times moved with compassion for the multitudes. Moved with compassion for their needs. Moved to reach for them.

Not only was He interested in those who thronged Him, but He also felt a burden for those in the next towns as well as those on the other side of the world. Mark 1:35-38 says,

And in the morning, rising up a great while before day, he went out, and departed into a solitary place, and there prayed. And Simon and they that were with him followed after him. And when they had found him, they said unto him, All men seek for thee. And he said unto them, Let us go into the next towns, that I may preach there also: for therefore came I forth.

Yes, Jesus did have the burden and did walk the way of the eagle. He had that vision that could care, show compassion, and reach out to the needs present around Him, as well as reach for those in other cities. He had the vision for afar off. We must walk as He walked. We must take and follow the way of the eagle.

When the American Indians would walk through forests in great numbers, they would walk in single file, each Indian putting his moccasin in the exact place where the last Indian had stepped. The enemy would see the print and would say, “An Indian has passed this way,” never realizing the numbers. The enemy can handle one or two of us walking the way of the eagle, but let the body walk as Jesus walked and he’ll never know what hit him until it’s too late.

Yes, we must walk as He walked and choose the way of the eagle. Exodus 19:4 tells us how the Lord bore the Israelites on eagles’ wings and brought them unto Himself out of Egypt, We, too, can reach for lost souls, bearing them on the wings of an eagle and lay them at feet of Jesus.

This article “Soul Winning” written by John Arcovio is excerpted from the book The Way of the Eagle.