Reaching Souls for Christ
Peter Brandon, Bedford, England
In Matthew chapter 9 and verses 36 to 38 we have the apostle's record of the Lord's response to seeing the shepherdless crowds that surrounded Him. He had a vision for the people. The need of our day is to catch again the spirit of the Master who 'had compassion’, and become the out and out evangelists we should be, preaching Christ to all that come our way.
Yet the oppressive need to evangelize seems to pass us by. We know the coming of the Lord is imminent. Events are moving swiftly; Israel is back in her land, and there is a rapid and militant rising of false religion. Yet many seem unchallenged as to why we are not seeing more people saved and why there is little movement of God's hand at such a time as this.
We belong to local churches founded through evangelical witness that was public and persistent. These have flourished on Christian enterprise and visionary endeavour. Now they have become sadly reduced and many are closing down.
Surely it is at this point we must ask, 'Why?'
We all need to become soul winners. This would greatly multiply the church of God. We need to look outwardly and not so much within, focus on our community, developing again a heart for people. We need to be known for being the Christian people we are, in the area we live. Reaching the people where they are and appreciating them for what they are, we gain their acceptance and confidence. We do not need modern methods to bring the modern man to the Saviour. No amount of drama, music or dancing will ever bring about faith in Christ. There is no substitute for building a relationship with those that you are reaching for the Lord, and neither can it be shortcircuited.
We are required to confront a twenty-first century audience in a way that will relate to them without compromising the message. The gospel has to be preached in its purity and in the mighty power of the Holy Spirit. We are living in the last seconds of the age; time is not on our side. We must reach souls out of conviction, through acceptable means of communication, and along a course that has divine approval.
We need conviction that is fired by passion.
Those who drink alcohol never seem to tire of drinking; those that follow football will travel all over the world to support their team. How much more then s h o u l d w e b e completely given over to our task of presenting a living Saviour in a living message. We have to get ourselves back on to God's altar. We need to work to pay the mortgage and to support our families, but remain on the altar that yields to God His rightful place in our lives. The world may be divided and confused but we must remain completely focused on our commission from God, Rom. 12. 1-2.
This conviction also relates to what we believe. The Epistle to the Romans becomes our handbook to the gospel. It reveals a triune God; Father, Son and Holy Spirit, given over to making sinful men totally righteous in His sight. Men are totally depraved in God's sight. Sin has permeated everything, chapters 1, 2, 3. God's Law entered to bring the knowledge of sin and its profusion, chapter 3. God is of such a nature that He cannot entertain sin. Christ was made accountable for all sin at the cross to provide for men's redemption. This is God's greatest work. Christ having died, been raised and now in glory, God declares Him the only Saviour for men, chapter 4. Men need to repent of sin and believe on Christ. That is to know, trust and utterly rely upon Him to save them. This brings them, once and for all, into the forgiveness of God, which is complete and perfect, chapter 5. Immediately the Holy Spirit comes and takes up residence in a man's heart and he is regenerated. Having become sons and priests, saved men have a future that cannot be denied, chapters 6, 7, 8.
Conviction must lead to communication.
Believing makes us responsible to make the truth known. The recipe is clear. A gospel of justification by faith alone can only be preached by those who are holy in life and who are on the altar. An understanding of the cross and the passion of Calvary transforms cold preaching into impassioned pleading and power. This must be accomplished despite this being possibly the most selfish age this world has known.
There follows now a clearly defined three-year plan of evangelism that has been proven in its effectiveness to bring men to Christ. The most nervous of believers can become involved. By using it there will be a consistent presentation of the truth to a wide part of the community, compared to what may presently be a very low exposure of the neighbourhood to the gospel. The need is to present a pagan society with basic Christian truths. It requires a programme of ploughing, sowing and then reaping.
- The programme is personal not public. Believers adopt a road or area of no more than twenty houses, to which they become committed for the period of the outreach.
- At the start two letters of introduction are delivered over a four-week period. The first states relevant data about the assembly and stressing that as caring Christian people our concern is to be of service to them and we are trying to make contact. The second introduces the worker on personal terms, gives their testimony and states that as the appointed 'visitor' for the road they would be calling soon to ask if any help could be provided.
- The third visit is the first personal call made. The purpose of it has already been expressed in the letters. At this visit there is also delivered the first of nine prepared leaflets, one to be delivered in each monthly visitation. These are the titles of the leaflets that should be prepared:- 1) Can I rely upon the Bible? 2) Who is God? 3) What has gone wrong with the world? 4) Who is Jesus Christ? 5) Why did Jesus have to die? 6) Did Jesus really rise from the dead? 7) How can we know Him? 8) What does it mean to believe in Jesus? 9) How can I be sure?
- The monthly visits continue with follow up of any responses made and enquiries about the usefulness of the previous leaflet. Experience shows that 5% to 10% will reject contact and these you stop visiting. There will be five to ten people who will respond and will show interest. It's with these that you see the Lord at work and your personal involvement will grow. Some invite you in and you will be able to introduce the gospel to them in their own home.
- It will be a good thing to plan a gospel mission at about a year into the programme to provide further focus. Follow up with cards for illness or special occasions, invites to teas and other activities, add to the deepening of the relationship you seek to build with the Lord's help.
- Now is the time to gather interested people together to do an 'Introduction to Christianity' or 'Nurture' course for those newly saved. The use of a home would provide a neutral place to do this in.
- Plan a move to the next area and another set of homes can be visited.
If there is no prayer there is no point.
The late Matthew Henry said, 'When God can see His people in prevailing prayer, the clouds send their blessings. So through the book of Acts; whenever the Spirit of God moves, the people of God are found praying. This is so in every one of the first twelve chapters, except chapter 5 and that's where sin entered and prayer stopped’.
If we believe there are millions of people in outer darkness, weeping under the eternal judgement of God, and others awaiting this awful plight, we will react to this emergency. We need now to ask God to give us a clearer vision of the vileness of sin, and a realization that many, relying upon the respectability of religion are unready for eternity, and that we have a part to play in bringing the gospel to them.
(NB The leaflets mentioned in this article are not available commercially, they need to be produced locally and made as attractive as possible, containing about two hundred words.)
Courses that are marketed to meet the needs of believers wishing to engage unsaved people in a meaningful dialogue about the gospel are obtainable from the following sources. (Please note that these materials must be vetted by those using them and that the addresses appear here is not a commendation of them but an aid to contact only.)
All Souls Langham Place,
2, Langham Place, London
The Y Course. Agape Sales,
Fairgate House, Kings Road,
Tyseley, Birmingham B11 2AA.
Phone 0121 683 5090.
Footprints to First Steps - A Christian Nurture Course for those that have become Christians recently.
Precious Seed, P.O. Box 8, Neath,
West Glamorgan, Wales SA11 1QB.