Precious Jesus

"Afresh, precious, precious Jesus, I resign this body to You, for doing or suffering, for living or dying. Will You accept it? Will You use me for Your glory more than heretofore, that You may have some little return for all the benefits You have done to me? Oh, do grant this request; my heart longs for it, my spirit pleads for it; and "if You will, You can." You know the hot temptation of which I am the subject. Bring Your glory out of it, and keep me from the evil, and it shall be well." - Ruth Bryan

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Soul winners?

“For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears” (2 Tim. 4:3). During recent years much has been written upon the first part of this verse, but in all our reading (now more than two million pages of religious and theological literature) we do not recall having seen a single comment upon the words we have placed in italics. It is a most significant and ominous fact that the fulfillment of these two predictions have synchronized, for the rejection of “sound doctrine” and the multiplying of men who term themselves “Bible teachers” have kept pace steadily with each other. The solemn thing is that the “teachers” referred to in 2 Timothy 4:3 are not Divinely called, but self-appointed ones, and they may easily be identified by their opposition to the Truth. Not one of the “Bible teachers” we have read believes in Unconditional Election, Particular Redemption, or the Christian Sabbath!

Not only has there been a noticeable multiplication of religious “teachers” during the last 50 years, but the rank and file of professing Christians have, in many instances, been pressed into the doing of “Personal work.” In some circles of considerable prominence young Christians (of both sexes) are taught it is their bounden duty to become “soul winners,” and that only by regularly “leading sinners to Christ” can their own spiritual lives be kept in a healthy estate. Every once in a while we receive letters from those who have been brought into deep distress by such erroneous teachings. They did not feel qualified for the task, but unwilling to be thought “strange” by their friends, they ignored the instincts of modesty and propriety, and spoke to their acquaintances about Christ, only to be repulsed and made miserable through lack of “success.” Then they fear there must be something seriously wrong with themselves, seeing that God withholds His blessing from their efforts.

Of course such “teachers” and leaders make a pretence of appealing to the Scriptures in support of their vagaries. “Pretence” we say, for they cannot find a single sentence in either the Old or the New Testaments where the Lord bade the rank and file of His people to engage in any such activities. What, then, do they do? Why, they “wrest” the Word of God and wrongly “divide” the same. In the past we have called attention to several misapplied and wrongly appropriated promises of the New Testament; we now direct notice to some precepts which are put to an entirely false use. These promises, as we showed, pertained only unto the Apostles and their immediate successors—so, too, the precepts we are to look at are given to God’s official servants and not unto the saints at large.
“And He said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the Gospel to every creature” (Mark 16:15). He said unto whom? The verse immediately preceding tells us: unto “the Eleven.” What right has any man to apply the apostolic commission promiscuously? None whatever—to do so is to play fast and loose with the Holy Word of God. In the parallel passage those whom Christ here ordered to preach the Gospel He authorized to “baptize” and to “teach” (Matt. 28:19, 20) which makes it quite clear to any God-fearing soul that such offices can only be discharged by the duly authorized ministers of God. To “preach the Gospel” is no child’s play: it requires an extensive knowledge of the Scriptures, long training in the school of Christ, an experimental acquaintance with its contents, and a special endowment from on High. “Novices” are debarred from this holy vocation (1 Tim. 3:6), for instead of attempting to expound the Divine mysteries, they themselves need to be thoroughly indoctrinated.

“Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead be ye reconciled to God” (2 Cor. 5:20). Probably quite a number of our readers will be surprised to hear that such a verse as this is given a general meaning and application to all God’s people and that babes in Christ (and empty professors) are told they are Christ’s “ambassadors”; but we ought not to be surprised at anything in this decadent and demented age. One had thought the very term “ambassadors” would be quite enough to prevent such an excuseless mistake. An ambassador is the official representative of a potentate duly authorized to mistake. An ambassador is the official representative of a potentate duly authorized to act on his sovereign’s behalf. King George has his ambassador in Washington: but suppose that every British subject now residing in the U.S.A. should busy themselves in diplomatic affairs and pretend they were ambassadors of the Court of St James: not only would they serve no useful purpose, but they would mislead people and create endless confusion. And this is exactly what these “personal workers” do; uncalled of God, unqualified by the Spirit, possessing the merest smattering of the Truth, they distort the Gospel and delude those whose ears they gain.

It is at this very point that untold damage has been done. Wrongly taught themselves, holding an entirely false conception of God’s purpose and His design in the Gospel, these “personal workers” have gone forth only to deceive and seduce the unwary. Telling all who will listen to them that God loves everybody, that Christ died for the redemption of the whole human race, they assure their hearers they can be saved immediately by “simply accepting Christ as your personal Saviour.” They know not that God “hatest all workers of iniquity” (Psa. 5:5), and that Christ died to “save His People from their sins” (Matt. 1:21). They say little or nothing about the requirements of God, the righteous demands of His Law, the fact that His wrath is revealed from Heaven against all unrighteousness and ungodliness (Rom. 1:18), and that the wicked must sincerely repent of and forsake their sins before they can obtain mercy.

This “personal work” campaign is a cheapening of the Gospel, a lowering of God’s standard, a perverting of His Truth, and has produced a generation of unregenerate professors, who now infest the churches and assemblies. The “making of converts” is their goal, and quantity rather than quality is the great desire. We were personally acquainted with one of these personal workers, who had three years’ training in a large “Bible Institute.” He had vowed to “win a soul to Christ” every day that year. We met him after a rainy spell, and he told us the weather had sadly interfered with his schedule, for while it was so wet there was no one in the public parks whom he could accost. He was then “five souls behind,” and he told us, “I shall have to make up for lost time and win six souls to Christ today.” The tragic thing is that so few now can see anything wrong with this blasphemous burlesque.

It is needless to examine all the passages appealed to by these “teachers” in support of their errors, but we will look at one or two more. “He that winneth souls is wise” (Prov. 11:30). Yes, because he has been specially called, qualified, and owned of God. But let Scripture interpret Scripture: “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” (Dan. 12:3), and as to what is signified by the “stars” Revelation 1:20 informs us. As to what is meant by the “watchman” in Ezekiel 33:2-6 the very next verse tells us, “O son of man, (the Prophet Ezekiel), I have set thee a watchman unto the house of Israel; therefore thou shalt hear the Word at My mouth, and warn them, for Me.”

When a sinner has been saved the Saviour’s word to him is, “Return to thine house, and show how great things God hath done unto thee” (Luke 8:39). We are to “show forth the praises of Him who hath called us out of darkness into His marvellous light” (1 Peter 2:9). But is a young Christian never to open his mouth in testimony for Christ? We have not said so; but he must be very careful or otherwise he will be guilty of disobeying that Divine injunction, “Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine” (Matt. 7:6). We shall not go far wrong if we are regulated by that exhortation, “Sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear” (1 Peter 3:15). Let us beware of “strange fire”—zeal which is not according to knowledge. Let us be on our guard lest the Lord has occasion to ask us, “Who hath required this at your hand?” (Isa. 1:2). Read diligently through the whole of the Epistles and see where the members of any church were exhorted to do “personal work” or seek to “win souls to Christ,” and you will find there is not one. Then be governed by God’s Word even though all your religious associates deem you “cold,” “self-centered,” or “censorious.”   A.W. Pink

4 comments:

Darrel said...

I vividly remember the boat loads of guilt and shame associated with the "soul winning" mantra of the SBC. Having 'walked the aisle' & 'prayed the prayer' I was expected to automatically know what to do, where to go, what to say to strangers, recite the "Roman Road", etc. so that everyone that I spoke to would be 'saved' just like me---never mind that I was lost. All this was the expectation placed upon everyone, old and young, life-long 'church member' or new convert, no matter, the "fruit" of saving a soul was demanded for one to be in right standing with the Lord (if only in the eyes of yourself). All this without even a hint as to how to go about 'saving' someone else; no teaching whatsoever, no 'soul-winning' classes, no one on one instruction, just the expectation (tacit demand) that now that you are "saved" you must pass on this new found "faith" or be in jeopardy of being declared 'disobedient' to the Lord (or worse). This was the mindset of 'evangelicalism' in the late'60's and '70's and is still alive and well today.

The answer to the question 'why are people so easily led about with such nonsense' eluded me for a long time until I realized that such people are blind to the truth of the Word and will remain so until their eyes are opened to the Truth by the only One qualified to open them: the Holy Spirit. Luke 24:45

lyn said...

Yep, I remember a similar experience, being 'sent out' to 'evangelize' the neighborhood, not having a clue what I was doing. I don't believe women are called to evangelize in the way the Apostles did; I was ignorant of this at the beginning. The SBC is notorious for disobeying God's word, surprise.

I appreciate this post from Pink, what a blessing!

Sheryl said...

I, too, was a part of the SBC evangelization process, through the teaching of a class (I can't recall the name of the program), then we were divided up into groups of three and sent out into the community with specific addresses in hand (we had to drive to our addresses). Then at a certain time we were to return to the classroom to give a report of our visitations. We had to study and memorize a 'speech' to give on our visits. First of all, I thought the question we were to ask was improper - "In your personal opinion, what do you understand it takes for a person to go to heaven?" - for it has nothing to do with anyone's personal opinion and I objected to the concept. Second, I witnessed false conversions - people were just going along with the script to get rid of us. Third, if someone was "converted," they were immediately asked to come to the next Sunday morning church service and stand in front of the congregation along with the group who visited them. They didn't show up. A fruitless endeavor. But we Christians felt good about being "soul winners." And we were trying to accomplish the Lord's work - the work that He said He would do and only He could do, "I will build my church and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it." Matthew 16:18

As I look back on that experience and also on how when "The Purpose Driven Life" by Rick Warren came out, we were led through the book by our pastor and encouraged to read it aloud at home. Our church members traveled to Warren's church and participated with his congregation on certain projects and mission trips. It really brings into question the wisdom and discernment of that pastor. There was somewhat of a split in that church because the youth pastor left to begin a church of his own because he believed in the doctrine of election. I didn't understand it all back then, but I do remember that when the youth pastor filled in for the senior pastor, his sermons were always deeper in meaning and more informative and impressive because they contained more substance, not just generalities. I now completely understand why.

I've experienced that one can learn much more of the truth (being led by the Holy Spirit, of course) by not attending church and being gagged on more lumpy milk each week. Or even poison.

lyn said...

Good comment sister. I can relate to 'learning much more of the truth by NOT attending church'. I can honestly say all the times I went to church I never learned anything biblical. What I did learn was how the arm of the flesh determines to do 'religion'. Praise our glorious God He pulls us out of dead religions and their dead works. So many are busy about doing 'churchy' things, and all those things are works of the flesh - God is NOT in it. Is it any wonder America is sliding deeper and deeper into depravity and apostasy? May God have mercy on this nation and its accursed gospel and works of the flesh.