The Bible emphasizes the urgency of salvation. Second
Corinthians 6:2 says, "Now is the accepted time; behold, now is the
day of salvation." And Hebrews 4:7 says, "To day if ye will hear his
voice, harden not your hearts."
Since the matter of salvation is urgent, why should we wait several
weeks or even months to witness to a friend or even a stranger? Those
who teach lifestyle evangelism say that we should live it before the
individual perhaps weeks, or even months, before we present a verbal
witness. In the words of lifestyle evangelists, we should "incarnate"
the Gospel before we verbalize it. To do otherwise is so-called
If salvation is the most important thing in the world - and it is -
then why should we run the risk of a man's dying and going to Hell
before we finally get around to a verbal witness?
I remember being called to the hospital in the middle of the night
by a dear lady whose sister was dying. She said, "Pastor, I hate to
bother you in the middle of the night, but the doctor says my sister
has only a few hours to live. She has never trusted Christ as Saviour.
Won't you please come and see if you can talk with her before she
So in the middle of the night I dressed and drove to the hospital.
The family was there, and this dear lady took me into the room where
her sister was dying. I was not sure the lady could understand me, so
I asked if she could hear me to let me know by moving a finger. And
I told her the old, old story of Jesus and His love. And though she
was unable to speak, she trusted Christ as Saviour. I remember saying,
"Dear lady, if you will trust Christ as Saviour, would you let me know
it by simply moving your right hand?" I placed my hand near hers, and
very weakly she took my hand and squeezed it as hard as she could.
Her sister, who was watching, began to weep with joy. There was a
holy presence in the room as this lady went out to meet the Saviour.
There was no time here for me to witness with my lifestyle. I had
only a few minutes with this dear lady before she died and went to
Just this week I boarded a plane to fly to New Jersey for a Bible
conference. Every seat was filled, and I had a window seat. Sitting
next to me was a young engineer. We had not been flying very long
before he asked me if my trip was business or pleasure. Smiling, I
said, "Business. I wouldn't be flying to New Jersey this time of year
on a pleasure trip!"
Then he inquired, "What kind of business are you in?" I explained
that I was a preacher and was going to speak in a conference. The
gentleman was very friendly, and we talked about his new home in
After a few minutes I handed him a gospel tract entitled, How to
Know You Are Going to Heaven. I said, "Read this and tell me what
you think about it." Things were quiet for a few moments as he read
When he finished he said, "It makes sense." I reviewed the tract
asking if he understood that he was a sinner. "Yes," he replied.
I said, "Do you understand that sinners owe a penalty? The Bible
says in Romans 6:23, 'The wages of sin is death.' Do you understand
that, if we pay what we owe, we must go into Hell and stay there
forever and ever?"
"Yes," he replied.
Third, I asked, "Do you really believe that Jesus Christ died on
the cross to pay for your sins? Do you believe that all your sins were
laid on Jesus two thousand years ago, just as the Bible says in I
"Yes," he replied.
Then, using his name, I said, "Mr. ________, will you trust Jesus
Christ as your Saviour?"
And he replied, "Yes, I will." In a few moments he had prayed and
told the Lord he would trust Him. I got his name and address and have
written to him since to send some literature for follow up, and I have
sent him a gift subscription to THE SWORD OF THE LORD.
Now here is an instance where I could not have lived the Christian
life before the man several weeks or months before witnessing to him.
The flight was only an hour and a half, and I had less than two hours
to witness to him.
By the way, the last thing I prayed on Sunday night before going to
sleep was, "Dear Lord, tomorrow let me sit next to some one on the
plane to whom I can witness." And the Lord put me next to a man who
opened the conversation and was ready to hear the Gospel.
A preacher told me that he was standing in an airport and passing
out tracts. As he offered one man a tract, the man smiled and said, "I
already have one." And reaching in his pocket, he showed the preacher
a tract identical to the ones he was distributing. It was Dr. Rice's
tract, "What Must I Do to Be Saved?" The man was a soldier, and
he said to the preacher, "The wife of the man who wrote this tract
just led me to Christ on the plane and gave me the tract." Mrs. John
R. Rice had led this soldier boy to Christ. She had probably never
seen him before and would never see him again. But in the short time
they had together on the plane, she won him to the Saviour.
No time here for so-called "incarnating" the Gospel-only time for
verbalizing the message.
A few evenings ago while traveling, I stopped at a service station
to get gas for my automobile. While the man was pumping the gas, I
handed him a tract and said, "Here is something that will tell you how
to go to Heaven when you die. Will you promise me you'll read it?"
Accepting the tract he said, "Yes, I will."
"By the way, what's your name?" I asked.
"Tom," he replied.
I said, "Tom, I can tell you what is in that tract in just a few
minutes." And I began, "All men are sinners." Going through the plan
of salvation I explained how that sinners owe a penalty and told him
that Jesus Christ died on the cross to pay our sin debt. After
explaining the plan of salvation, I asked, "Tom, wouldn't you really
like to trust Christ as your Saviour?"
And he said, "Yes."
I said, "If you really mean that, let's shake on it." And he
reached out and shook my hand. I then asked him if he would pray and
tell Jesus Christ that he was trusting Him as Saviour.
And the dear man prayed, "Dear Lord Jesus, I know that I'm a
sinner. I believe that Jesus Christ died for me. And here and now I
trust Him as my Saviour." I then asked if I could pray, and I prayed
that God would give him assurance of salvation and that he would live
for Christ and be a good Christian.
Now some may call this kind of soul winning "evangelical mugging,"
and I may be accused of being on a "spiritual safari"; but the truth
of the matter is, I simply felt that I should witness to the man. I
had never seen him before, and I will probably never see him again.
Since I was traveling to another state to preach the Gospel, the
chances are I will probably never stop at that same service station
If it were necessary for me to live the Christian life before the
man several weeks or months before witnessing to him, then I could
have never led him to Christ.
In closing, let me say that I believe in living a consistent, godly
Christian life; and a good testimony makes the soul winner more
effective and productive. But there is no teaching in the Bible that
we should demonstrate Christianity several months before trying to
lead a soul to Christ.
It is important that soul winners be careful in their approach. I
have often said, "The way to a man's heart is not down his throat." I
am convinced that some soul winners could improve their approach. The
soul winner must learn to be sensitive. Unless you get the
individual's attention and unless he is listening, it is not likely
that you will win him to Christ. There have been occasions when I felt
that I was not getting through to the person; and so I changed the
conversation and talked about something else and went back later.
Soul winning is like many other things: the more you do it, the
better you can do it. You learn to do by doing.
In trying to lead a soul to Christ, we must be careful not to
offend the individual. The Bible says, "A brother offended is harder
to be won than a strong city" (Prov. 18:19). But there is no teaching
in the Bible that one must live the Christian life before an
individual several weeks or months before witnessing to him, that he
must befriend him and be sure that he "incarnates" the Gospel before
he verbalizes it.
End of Book
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