Lesson 5: An Exemplary Soul Winner

Lesson Five: An Exemplary Soul Winner

The apostle Paul was a great soul winner.  He was used mightily of God in the evangelization of many people.  One place that he was especially successful was Thessalonica.  Read Acts 17:1-4.  Later he wrote a letter to the church there, commenting on what the believers knew about his ministry and him personally.  "For you yourselves know, brethren, that our coming to you was not in vain."  1 Thessalonians 2:1.  They knew about Paul's success among them, because they themselves were the fruit of his labors.  Now look at 1 Thessalonians 1:5.  "You know what kind of men we were among you for your sake."  There is a relationship between bearing fruit for God in the salvation of souls and the kind of people we are.

What kind of person was the apostle Paul?  What can we learn from his example?


Be Prayerful

It only seems fitting that before you talk to men about God, you should talk to God about men.  This was Paul's admonition to a young evangelist named Timothy.  "Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men."  1 Timothy 2:1.  God hears our intercessory prayers.  If we pray, God will work.


Be Compassionate and Caring

Paul could write to the Thessalonian believers, "We were well pleased to impart to you not only the gospel of God, but also our own lives, because you had become dear to us."  1 Thessalonians 2:8.  Read that verse again, and let the truth of it sink into your heart.

Why do you want to tell others about Christ?  Are others dear to you?  Do you really care about them?  Paul and Silas were willing to give their lives for them.

In a sense a witness has a martyr mentality or disposition.  In Acts 7 we read about the stoning of Stephen, a leader in the church at Jerusalem.  Paul refers to Stephen's death in Acts 22:20, and he uses the word "martyr."  It's interesting that the Greek word translated martyr is the same word translated witness.  A witness is one who is willing to lay down his life for others in the proclamation of the gospel.

Paul was like "a nursing mother," and caring "father" to the believers.  See 1 Thessalonians 2:7, 11.  The soul winner must fill many roles with compassion and care.

Many years ago a young Salvation Army preacher was struggling in a small church.  He wrote a letter to William Booth, the founder of the Salvation Army, requesting his advice.  What could he do to reach others for Christ?  Booth answered, "Try tears."  The psalmist wrote, "Those who sow in tears shall reap in joy.  He who continually goes forth weeping, bearing seed for sowing, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him."  Psalm 126:5, 6.


Be Courageous

Paul and Silas "were bold in our God to speak to you the gospel of God in much conflict."  1 Thessalonians 2:2.  Before these soul winners went to Thessalonica with the gospel, they "had suffered...and were spitefully treated at Philippi."  You can read about the persecution in Acts 16.  For many weaker souls that painful experience at Philippi would have marked the end of their witnessing.

In many countries of the world today it is illegal to tell others about Jesus Christ.  Those who witness for the Lord are subject to persecution, imprisonment, and even death.  It takes great courage to share the gospel with others in such difficult places.

The situation is much different in the United States and other free countries of the world.  But those who testify of the gospel of God's grace are not always well received, even where freedom of religion is permitted.

According to Peter, "the devil walks about like a roaring lion."  1 Peter 5:8.  The soul winner meets many roaring lions in carrying out the Great Commission.  In most cases the roar is more fierce than the bite.  Don't let the loud roar of the little lions frighten you in your witness for Christ.

Jeremiah was God's spokesman in a dark hour of Israel's history.  The prophet was reluctant to speak for God, because he was a youth.  The Lord spoke to him, "Do not say, 'I am a youth,' for you shall go to all whom I send you, and whatever I command you, you shall speak.  Don't be afraid of their faces, for I am with you to deliver you."  Jeremiah 1:7, 8.  When you present the gospel, you'll see many sour pusses.  Displeasure will be shown on some faces.  Go ahead anyway, and tell them the story of Jesus.  Don't be afraid.  Take courage in the Lord.


Be Properly Motivated

Paul spoke "not as pleasing men, but God who tests our hearts."  1 Thessalonians 2:4.  Don't use flattery or gimmicks in presenting the gospel.  Don't try to impress others with your superior (?) knowledge of the Bible.

Paul sought neither fame nor fortune.  He wasn't motivated by wealthy or popularity.  "For neither at any time did we use flattering words...nor a cloak of covetousness."  1 Thessalonians 2:5.  Most Christian workers are not greedy for gold.  However, the subtle temptation to be the greatest is a reality to be reckoned with.  The twelve apostles had this problem, which is not solely unique to them.  See Luke 9:46.

Witness that God may be glorified in the salvation of souls.  Let His glory be the motivating force in your life in all that you do.  1 Corinthians 10:31.


Be Equally Yoked

The apostle Paul made three missionary journeys, which are recorded for us in the Acts of the Apostles.  On his first outing he was accompanied by Barnabas, and Mark, who turned back at Pamphylia.  On Paul's second journey Silas was his traveling companion.  The third time out Paul is the only one mentioned by name, but others accompanied him.  We know that Luke was apparently with the apostle for at least part of the journey.

It appears that Paul was yoked together with another believer in much of his evangelistic outreach.  In writing to the church at Thessalonica he made constant reference to "we."

In Mark 6:7 when Jesus sent out the twelve apostles, they went "by two and two."  Later, according to Luke 10:1, the Lord sent out seventy in pairs.  Like a pair of suspenders, two are better than one.  At least that's the testimony of the preacher in Ecclesiastes 4:9, 10.

Why are Christians so slow to follow this biblical principle?


Be a Testimony

Unsaved people hold Christians to a high moral standard, especially those who witness for the Lord.  A young soldier, who knew the Lord and wanted to share Him with others, befriended an unbeliever and witnessed to him.  The unbeliever showed an interest in the gospel, but was somewhat reluctant to receive Jesus as his Savior.  The Christian was encouraged by his interest and continued to speak of Christ at every opportunity.  One day the unsaved fellow invited the believer to go with him to a wild party.  Ordinarily the Christian soldier would have stayed away, but he decided to go to solidify his friendship with the unbeliever.  The next day he discovered that he lost both his friend and his testimony.

Paul said, "You are witnesses, and God also, how devoutly and justly and blamelessly we behaved ourselves among you who believe."  1 Thessalonians 2:10.  In a letter to young Timothy he wrote, "Be an example to the believers in word, in conduct, in love, in spirit, in faith, in purity."  1 Timothy 4:12.  The soul winner should not only share his testimony verbally.  He should be a testimony.

The soul winner in a sense is a living advertisement of what Jesus Christ can do in a person's life.  The unsaved may never read the Gospel According to John, but they will carefully examine the gospel according to you.  It's been said, "What you do speaks louder than what you say."  So be a good testimony for the Lord.

* * * * * * * * * *
"The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life,
and he who wins souls is wise."

Proverbs 11:30.

"Those who are wise shall shine
like the brightness of the firmament,

and those who turn many to righteousness
like the stars forever and ever."

Daniel 12:3.





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