“Behold, I am with you always” says Jesus Christ. This has been a verse close to my heart since the moment I heard it years ago. Its meaning to me has changed significantly since scripture stopped being my custom made band aid anytime I was wounded (usually by self inflicted spiritual wounds) and instead, became what it really is – the word of God.
In obeying Christ’s command of being discipled and baptized in His Name, and being taught to obey everything he taught the apostles and early disciples…I have become absolutely convinced of the perfection and reason for his following words…and surely/behold/lo….I am with you always, to the very end.
Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matthew 28: 18-20
Only those who have been truly born again and are heart committed to doing the will of the Father in bringing souls to Christ and welcoming them to his ONE family…ONE kingdom and ONE body will truly appreciate the need of the Lord being with us in our efforts to win them to Christ rather than to our particular group or church.
Below are some excerpts from one of the greatest teachers of God – Charles Spurgeon, who deals with this with true grace and simplicity. I have attached a link to his full sermon below, I pray that God will use it to bless you and enlighten you and encourage you as you read it.
“Now, in the course of our ministry, we shall meet with many failures in this matter of soul-winning. There are many birds that I have thought I had caught; I have even managed to put salt on their tails, but they have gone flying off after all. I remember one man, whom I will call Tom Careless. He was the terror of the village in which he lived. There were many incendiary fires in the region, and most people attributed them to him. Sometimes, he would be drunk for two or three weeks at a spell, and then he raved and raged like a madman. That man came to hear me; I recollect the sensation that went through the little chapel when he came in. He sat there, and fell in love with me; I think that was the only conversion that he experienced, but he professed to be converted.
He had, apparently, been the subject of genuine repentance, and he became outwardly quite a changed character, gave up his drinking and swearing, and was in many respects an exemplary individual. I remember seeing him tugging a barge, with perhaps a hundred people on board, whom he was drawing up to a place where I was going to preach; and he was glorying in the work, and singing as gladly and happily as any one of them. If anybody spoke a word against the Lord or His servant, he did not hesitate a moment, but knocked him over. Before I left the district, I was afraid that there was no real work of grace in him; he was a wild Red Indian sort of a man. I have heard of him taking a bird, plucking it, and eating it raw in the field. This is not the act of a Christian man, it is not one of the things that are comely, and of good repute. After I left the neighbourhood, I asked after him, and I could hear nothing good of him; the spirit that kept him outwardly right was gone, and he became worse than he was before, if that was possible; certainly, he was no better, he was unreachable by any agency.
That work of mine did not stand the fire; it would not bear even ordinary temptation, you see, after the person who had influence over the man was gone away. When you move from the village or town where you have been preaching, it is very likely that some, who did run well, will go back. They have an affection for you, and your words have a kind of mesmeric influence over them; and when you are gone, the dog will return to his vomit, and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire. Do not be in a hurry to count these supposed converts; do not take them into the church too soon; do not be too proud of their enthusiasm if it is not accompanied with some degree of softening, and tenderness, to show that the Holy Spirit has really been at work within them.
I remember another case of quite a different sort. I will call this person Miss Mary Shallow, for she was a young lady, who was never blessed with many brains; but living in the same house with several Christian young ladies she also professed to be converted. When I conversed with her, there was apparently everything that one could wish for. I thought of proposing her to the church; but it was judged best to give her a little trial first. After a while, she left the associations of the place where she had lived, and went where she had nothing much to help her; and I never heard anything more of her except that her whole time was spent in dressing herself as smartly as she could, and in frequenting gay society. She is a type of those who have not much mental furniture; and if the grace of God does not take possession of the empty space, they very soon go back into the world.
I have known several like a young man whom I will call Charlie Clever, uncommonly clever fellows at anything and everything, very clever at counterfeiting religion when they took up with it. They prayed very fluently; they tried to preach, and did it very well; whatever they did, they did it off-hand, it was as easy to them as kissing their hand. Do not be in a hurry to take such people into the church; they have known no humiliation on account of sin, no brokenness of heart, no sense of divine grace. They cry, “All serene!” and away they go; but you will find that they will never repay you for your labour and trouble. They will be able to use the language of God’s people as well as the best of His saints, they will even talk of their doubts and fears, and they will get up a deep experience in five minutes. They are a little too clever, and they are calculated to do much mischief when they get into the church; so keep them out if you possibly can.
I remember one who was very saintly in his talk, I will call him John Fairspeech. Oh! how cunningly he could act the hypocrite, getting among our young men, and leading them into all manner of sin and iniquity, and yet he would call and see me, and have half-an-hour’s spiritual conversation! An abominable wretch, who was living in open sin at the very time that he was seeking to come to the Lord’s table, and joining our societies, and anxious to be a leading man in every good work. Keep your weather eye open, brethren! They will come to you with money in their hands, like Peter’s fish with the silver in its mouth; and they will be so helpful in the work! They speak so softly, and they are such perfect gentlemen! Yes, I believe Judas was a man exactly of that kind, very clever at deceiving those around him. We must mind that we do not get any of these into the church if we can anyhow keep them out. You may say to yourself; at the close of a service, “Here is a splendid haul of fish!” Wait a bit.
Remember our Saviour’s words, “The kingdom of heaven is like unto a net, that was cast into the sea, and gathered of every kind; which, when it was full, they drew to shore, and sat down, and gathered the good into vessels, but cast the bad away.” Do not number your fishes before they are broiled; nor count your converts before you have tested and tried them. This process may make your work somewhat slow; but then, brethren, it will be sure. Do your work steadily and well, so that those who come after you may not have to say that it was far more trouble to them to clear the church of those who ought never to have been admitted than it was to you to admit them. If God enables you to build three thousand bricks into His spiritual temple in one day, you may do it; but Peter has been the only bricklayer who has accomplished that feat up to the present. Do not go and paint the wooden wall as if it were solid stone; but let all your building be real, substantial, and true, for only this kind of work is worth the doing. Let all your building for God be like that of the apostle Paul, “According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise master builder, I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon. But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon. For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble; every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is. If any man’s work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.”
“We do not regard it to be soul-winning to steal members out of churches already established, and train them to utter our peculiar Shibboleth (a distinguishing custom or principle): we aim rather at bringing souls to Christ than at making converts to our synagogue….
….There is such a thing as selfishness in our eagerness for the aggrandizement of our own party; and from this evil spirit may grace deliver us! The increase of the kingdom is more to be desired than the growth of a clan. We would do a great deal to make a Paedobaptist brother into a Baptist, for we value our Lord’s ordinances; we would labour earnestly to raise a believer in salvation by free-will into a believer in salvation by grace, for we long to see all religious teaching built upon the solid rock of truth, and not upon the sand of imagination; but, at the same time, our grand object is not the revision of opinions, but the regeneration of natures. We would bring men to Christ and not to our own peculiar views of Christianity. Our first care must be that the sheep should be gathered to the great Shepherd; there will be time enough afterwards to secure them for our various folds. To make proselytes, is a suitable labour for Pharisees: to beget men unto God, is the honourable aim of ministers of Christ…
…By all means let us bring true converts into the church, for it is a part of our work to teach them to observe all things whatsoever Christ has commanded them; but still, this is to be done to disciples, and not to mere professors; and if care be not used, we may do more harm than good at this point. To introduce unconverted persons to the church, is to weaken and degrade it; and therefore an apparent gain may be a real loss…
…It is a serious injury to a person to receive him into the number of the faithful unless there is good reason to believe that he is really regenerate. I am sure it is so, for I speak after careful observation. Some of the most glaring sinners known to me were once members of a church; and were, as I believe, led to make a profession by undue pressure, well-meant but ill-judged. Do not, therefore, consider that soul-winning is or can be secured by the multiplication of baptisms, and the swelling of the size of your church…
…To try to win a soul for Christ by keeping that soul in ignorance of any truth, is contrary to the mind of the Spirit; and to endeavour to save men by mere claptrap, or excitement, or oratorical display, is as foolish as to hope to hold an angel with bird-lime, or lure a star with music. The best attraction is the gospel in its purity. The weapon with which the Lord conquers men is the truth as it is in Jesus. The gospel will be found equal to every emergency; an arrow which can pierce the hardest heart, a balm which will heal the deadliest wound. Preach it, and preach nothing else. Rely implicitly upon the old, old gospel. You need no other nets when you fish for men; those your Master has given you are strong enough for the great fishes, and have meshes fine enough to hold the little ones. Spread these nets and no others, and you need not fear the fulfilment of His Word, “I will make you fishers of men…
…First, regeneration will be shown in conviction of sin. This we believe to be an indispensable mark of the Spirit’s work; the new life as it enters the heart causes intense inward pain as one of its first effects. Though nowadays we hear of persons being healed before they have been wounded, and brought into a certainty of justification without ever having lamented their condemnation, we are very dubious as to the value of such healings and justifyings. This style of things is not according to the truth. God never clothes men until He has first stripped them, nor does He quicken them by the gospel till first they are slain by the law. When you meet with persons in whom there is no trace of conviction of sin, you may be quite sure that they have not been wrought upon by the Holy Spirit; for “when He is come, He will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment.” When the Spirit of the Lord breathes on us, He withers all the glory of man, which is but as the flower of grass, and then He reveals a higher and abiding glory. Do not be astonished if you find this conviction of sin to be very acute and alarming; but, on the other hand, do not condemn those in whom it is less intense, for so long as sin is mourned over, confessed, forsaken, and abhorred, you have an evident fruit of the Spirit. Much of the horror and unbelief which goes with conviction is not of the Spirit of God, but comes of Satan or corrupt nature; yet there must be true and deep conviction of sin, and this the preacher must labour to produce, for where this is not felt the new birth has not taken place.” – Charles Spurgeon
FULL Sermon: “What Is It To Win A Soul”