December 17, 2017

The Promised Fruit of Soul Winning

Dave Barba

We all struggle with our responsibility to evangelize. If I asked, “Is your church evangelistic?” you might reply by mentioning your latest rousing sermon on evangelism or your recent Bible study series on soul winning. Maybe you would refer me to your wellwritten blog post where you analyze postmodernity’s effect on evangelism and then offer some outside-the-box, culturally relevant methods of evangelism. These evangelistic activities are helpful and necessary—but do you think God is pleased when they take the place of actually doing evangelism? Maybe I should ask this tough question: When was the last time you personally won a soul to Jesus Christ?

God says it is wise to win souls. “The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life; and he that winneth souls is wise” (Prov. 11:30). Matthew Henry commented on this verse: “He that is wise, by communicating his wisdom, wins souls. . . . The wise are said to turn many to righteousness (Dan. 12:3), and that is the same with winning souls here.”

As an evangelist, I have preached in many churches. It seems that the spirit of a church that does soul winning is different from the spirit of one that just talks about it. People sing and respond to preaching with an openness and an expectancy that are often absent in a Biblically awake but evangelistically asleep church. That may partially be what Evangelist Bob Jones Sr. meant when he said, “It takes evangelistic unction to make orthodoxy function.”

There is wonderful joy in winning souls. It brings blessings both eternal and temporal. Here are some blessings enjoyed by churches and individuals who are not just soul-conscious, but soul winning.

Joyful Obedience

Christ commands us to be witnesses. His heartbeat—His main burden—is bringing lost souls to salvation. That is, after all, why He died on the cross. He gave us His Great Commission in Matthew 28:19, 20; Mark 16:15; and Luke 24:46–49. In Acts 1, He restated His command and told His disciples (including us) to rely on the power of the Holy Spirit for soul winning: “But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me.”

In recent history, Fundamentalists have been accused (rightly so?) of preaching sermons that have little to do with the text, being ignorant, unlearned “Fundies,” and failing to offer patient Biblical counsel to needy church members. Are we now overreacting to these criticisms? Certainly we need to be accurate preachers, studied theologians, and Biblical counselors. If, however, we overreact to our critics, we may miss the blessing of sharing in the great passion of Christ—winning souls.

Christ did not die to make us into skilled expositors, brilliant theologians, or effective counselors. Of course, He is honored as we use these ministry tools. They are part of His plan to glorify Himself. But He died on the cross to provide salvation, and we are primarily called to be individual witnesses of that message.

Continue to exegete the Bible carefully, study the truth, and counsel those in need. But don’t let Satan, the despiser of the cross, rob you of the greatest joy of all: being used by your sovereign God to find that one soul who is ready to repent.

Enlightening Testimony

Paul noted in I Thessalonians 1:8, “For from you sounded out the word of the Lord not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but also in every place your faith to Godward is spread abroad; so that we need not to speak any thing.” It amazes me that he could say, “Everywhere I preach the gospel I find those who heard it through the testimony of your church.” That church had a wonderful public testimony.

When someone hears the name of your church, what comes to his mind? Accurate exposition (which we love and need), captivating oratory, skilled counseling, glorious music, and impressive crowds? Does he also think of people who witness to the lost—of church members whose hearts beat with that of the Savior who died for souls? He is no doubt blessed by accurate preaching, music, and fellowship, but His heart yearns for witnesses. After all, it was for souls that He bled. Churches that labor at soul winning will shine as a gospel light in their dark communities.

Christlike Compassion

Because of media and communication overload, most of our emotions are overworked. At the end of the day, after hearing about and observing the many problems of others, we struggle to care about anybody but ourselves. Jesus, however, had a tender heart. “When he saw the multitudes, he was moved with compassion” (Matt. 9:36). Soul-winning efforts turn our attention from ourselves to the real need of others: salvation.

I have always felt lacking in compassion. I have rarely wept in the night over lost souls. However, I have found that if I try to win souls anyway, God softens my heart. There were times as a pastor when I did not feel like going visiting. I’d reluctantly get ready and stumble out to my car. After all, this was my job. I was supposed to do this. Quoting John 3:16 over and over as spiritual motivation, I would drive to a prospect’s home, walk up the sidewalk, and knock on the door. Once I was seated in the house, looking into the eyes of a lost soul, then God would break my heart.

Compassion for souls may be the reward for witnessing when you do not feel like it. Go soul winning. Work to build a soul-winning church. As weightlifting builds muscles, your disciplined efforts to win the lost will produce a compassionate heart in you and in your people.

Fruit that Multiplies

Christ said in John 15:16, “Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain.” That promised fruit includes the fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22, 23) and souls that God wins through you. God will give fruit to those who witness (Gal. 6:9).

Years ago I preached in a seminary chapel on the Great Commission. I thought the message went well. But after the service, the seminary president said to me, “Brother Barba, you should have finished your sermon by telling us about three people you personally led to Christ.” His statement was a kind and wise rebuke, a reminder that evangelism is more than sermonizing.

Maybe recalling the fruit of soul winning will encourage all of us to do it. Please pardon me for doing what that man of God suggested. Here are the stories of three souls that God won to Himself when I happened to be the soul winner.

The telephone rang one afternoon when our Wisconsin church plant was a few months old. The caller, Jim G., identified himself as a devout Catholic who was looking for a wife. “I am a moral man, and I cannot seem to find a moral lady in my church. Do you have any in the Baptist church?” I chose not to make recommendations, but I did ask permission to tell him of Someone who could help him. He listened to the plan of salvation on the telephone and prayed to receive Christ. Jim was part of our first baptism at Falls Baptist. He later became a teacher, a soul winner, and a deacon. He eventually married a lovely Christian girl. Their daughter is now a sweet, godly teenager, eager to do the will of God. Soul winning produces fruit that multiplies.

One cold winter Sunday morning I preached a message in a series on Revelation. Unsaved Jim K. was in the crowd with his dad, who had recently trusted Christ. Jim did not respond to the invitation, so I spoke to him after the service. “Jim, you have heard what God says about salvation. Would you like to talk about it?” He responded positively, and in a few minutes, in my office, Jim received the Savior. God called him to the ministry, and he graduated from Maranatha Baptist Bible College. He is now a faithful missionary in Hungary, winning souls and reproducing churches. Soul winning produces fruit that multiplies. Then there was the time my wife invited salesman Paul C. to visit us and espouse the merits of his miracle-working product. We didn’t buy, but as I walked him out to his car, I spoke to him about his soul and invited him to church. He came on Sunday. On Tuesday, I led Paul and his wife to Christ in their home. Several years later they moved to the Chicago area and served in the bus and senior ministries of Bethel Baptist in Schaumburg, Illinois. Paul later became an assistant pastor in Indiana. I recently trained him and his wife in the phone program that we use to start churches. In 2006 they will be planting a new church in Illinois. Soul winning produces fruit that multiplies.

Want to ease your conscience and appear evangelistic? Preach about evangelism, teach about evangelism, write articles about evangelism, and make allusions to evangelism. But never do evangelism.

Want to please God? Keep tracts in your car and don’t leave the car without one. Don’t just wander around the mall. Make it a witnessing tour and look for lonely souls. Soul winning conversations will come if you ask the Holy Spirit to open the door—and then look for the doorknob! Don’t just talk about soul winning—do it! Challenge others to do it. God promises fruit that will remain and multiply.


Dr. Dave Barba and his wife Claudia assist church planters in the USA through Press On! Ministries.

(Originally published in FrontLine • May/June 2006. Click here to subscribe to the magazine.)


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