It is reported of General William Booth, when he was officiating at a graduation ceremony for Salvation Army evangelists, that he said, “If I had my way, I would have you suffer three hours in hell for it would have saved these three years of study.”
Have we lost the burden to evangelize? Did we ever have it? The state of the church is rightly assessed by its burden for the lost. History reminds us that when churches experience a period of revival there is a heightened awareness of the glories of heaven and of the horrors of hell. Sin will be rightly seen in its enormity as a crime against a holy God who will bring down His righteous indignation on wicked men. These awe-inspiring convictions lead to a red-hot zeal for the salvation of lost souls. In such times, the church that gathers for prayer sheds agonizing tears for the lost. The fearful reality of the fires of the damned is made so vivid to believers’ minds that the thought of an unsaved soul falling into hell alarms and horrifies them.
The doctrines of eternal things may still be subscribed to by the church today, but the sense of their reality and immediacy are mostly lost to worshipers’ awareness. They can sing, and even pray about these things, but it is as if they were a million miles away and of little consequence. The lip mutters them, but the heart denies them. So often, the result is that prayer takes on a different form and evangelistic zeal diminishes or dies. Then the church has fallen into in an unhealthy condition.
Until the salvation of lost souls and their future edification are pressing priorities, the church will never function according to the plan and purpose of God. When the Lord Jesus asked, “What shall it profit a man if he shall gain the whole world and lose his own soul,” He clearly taught that the worth of one soul outweighs the worth of the whole world. May the Lord write this truth in large letters on the heart of every reader.
We know that we are not living in days of revival. We are living in times of worldwide spiritual coldness. It seems today that the very best worship and service for God are but lukewarm. We truly need a stirring in our very souls to awaken us to the work of winning the lost.
Ask yourself, “What will it take to motivate me to become a winner of souls?” Surely you will agree that a deep conviction of gospel doctrine is the first requirement, followed much prayer to receive the saving power of the gospel? You will also need to pray for a personal infilling of the Holy Spirit in your life. Then, you will need some soul to share Christ with. Finally, purpose to witness to that person with all the tender love of a missionary sent by God. Ask a friend to help you. Ask your minister for advice in witnessing to the lost. Perhaps, begin at a Care Home for seniors who are lonely and love to talk. Give out gospel literature and engage people in conversation. Work to get people into the church to hear the truth of God. Those visitors whom you bring will act as fuel for the preacher, renewing his purpose to preach and reason for the whole church to pray. These are the evidences that God is stirring our hearts to the great work of evangelism. May it please God to use this issue of the Current to renew the old evangelistic fire within us.
Let us always remember that our Lord’s great commission of Matthew 28:19-20 is still His command for the church today.