Soul-wiinning or the glory of God? Which?

Discussion in 'Baptist Theology & Bible Study' started by John of Japan, Oct 2, 2005.

  1. John of Japan

    John of Japan
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    I believe strongly in soul-winning, or I wouldn't be a missionary. I even had a book published once on the subject. However, while I was preparing to come to Japan, a well-known Baptist leader said to me, "Why are you going to Japan? You can win more souls in America!" This statement was true--the man had been to Japan twice and knew the score. Was it valid, though? Should I have stayed in the States in order to win more souls?

    After coming to Japan I had to struggle with the issue: is soul-winning the main task of the Christian, or should the glory of God come first?

    According to 1 Cor. 10:31, "Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God." This says to me that soul-winning, though it certainly glorifies God (John 15:8), should be secondary to the glory of God in the Christian's life.

    What say ye?
     
  2. Joseph_Botwinick

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    Glory of God. It is our job to preach the Word. It is God's soveriegn choice to win souls.

    Joseph Botwinick
     
  3. whatever

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    The chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.

    Soul-winning is a great way to do that, though.

    And, you should be wherever God wants you. If He wants you in Japan then it does not matter what anyone else says.
     
  4. HACgrad

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    I think it is a bit incongruous to ask the question "Is soul winning more important than glorifying God?" Glorifying God is the end goal, soul-winning is a means to the end.

    There are many ways of glorifying God. As such, there are most certainly differing opinions regarding which way is the "best" way. I think that God would be happy if we all chose one or more ways and just glorified Him rather than looking around to see if our glorification is better than someone else's. After all, at that point aren't we glorifying ourselves?

    Joseph-- I realize that semantically when we speak of winning souls it irks those of you who believe that we Fundamental Baptists think we can "win souls". The phraseology ,as you probably know, comes from Proverbs 11:30 " The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life; and he that winneth souls is wise." Without getting into a theological debate about the contextual accuracy of applying that phrase to our witnessing efforts, let me assure you that I know of no Baptists who believe that it is the "soul-winner" who saves the sinner.
    Soul-winning would perhaps be more accurately termed "personal evangelism" which is exactly what Philip and others in the New Testament undertook.

    And as for God's choice... I find it hard to believe he would send His only begotten Son to die for the world and not WANT every soul to be saved. Having given us a free will however God gave US the choice of salvation. But I digress... I am sure there are other threads where this would be more accurately pursued.
     
  5. John of Japan

    John of Japan
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    HACgrad, the question is not incongruous. Many Baptists would say, "Soul-winning is the most important thing in a Christian's life," rather than, "Glorifying God is the most important thing in the Christian's life." And that doctrine can produce much discrimination and much pain in the hearts of Christians who are made to feel backslidden.

    The practical problem with any theology that places soul-winning first is that what then occurs is the belief that whoever wins the most souls is the most godly, and that is just not so. While it is wrong to refuse to witness for Christ, and thus disobey the Great Commission, there are many circumstances where the most godly person is not the one who wins souls.

    Case in point: in Muslim countries, a missionary (when he is able to get in the country) sometimes goes for years without anyone being saved. Why? When a Muslim changes religions, his family is instructed to kill him! Is this missionary then less godly than the soul-winner in America, where the "pickins" are easy, who wins hundreds of souls to Christ?

    Another case in point: What about a handicapped or bed-ridden believer who cannot get out and around? Are they then less godly than the agressive soul-winner who can win get out on that bus route all day Saturday and win several folk to Christ?

    Nay, a thousand times nay!
     
  6. Joseph_Botwinick

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    I think we might actually agree here. Let me ask you this:

    1. What is a soul winner?
    2. What does a soul winner do to win the souls?
    3. Where is the Biblical evidence for your responses to questions 1 and 2?

    And as for God's choice... I find it hard to believe he would send His only begotten Son to die for the world and not WANT every soul to be saved. Having given us a free will however God gave US the choice of salvation. But I digress... I am sure there are other threads where this would be more accurately pursued. [/QUOTE]

    Is this the old seeker argument that folks like Warren like to put forward? I am really curious where all the seekers were when Paul wrote the following:

    Romans 3:9-18

    This, my friend, is the state of man before salvation: Totally depraved, altogether worthless, and a non-seeker of God. If God would have left the decision up to us, we would have all plunged head first into Hell.

    Joseph Botwinick
     
  7. Dr. Bob

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    The catechisms say that "the chief end of man is to glorify God".

    They ought to add "the chief end of GOD is to glorify God".

    Most of us are pretty clueless about the glory of God, but THAT is why we were chosen, redeemed, regenerated, kept, adopted, predestined and live/breath - to allow God to be glorified. Eph 1

    "He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved.

    In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace, which He lavished upon us. In all wisdom and insight He made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His kind intention which He purposed in Him with a view to an administration suitable to the fulness of the times, that is, the summing up of all things in Christ, things in the heavens and things upon the earth. In Him also we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will,to the end that we who were the first to hope in Christ should be to the praise of His glory.

    In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation-- having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of God's own possession, to the praise of His glory.
     
  8. bapmom

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    Is there really a difference between glorifying God and winning souls? Isn't it like comparing apples to oranges? Isn't leading a person to Christ just one part of glorifying God, like someone else said?

    Why must there be a difference? John of Japan, I understand what you are saying about people starting to look at each other and "judging" them based on how many souls they've won. But wouldn't that be a personal downfall that that particular person has allowed in their own life, rather than a result of some sort of undue emphasis on soul winning?

    Honestly, Im wondering.


    ps, Its so great to meet you! My husband and I are preparing to go to the mission field of Japan as well. We also have struggled with the idea that Japan is a harder field, but we know that when God leads us somewhere, He will take care of the results. Im sure this is what you know, too.
     
  9. TomVols

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    Glorifying God is the highest aim of all humans. "Soul-Winning" (Oh how I HATE that term)....Evangelism (There, that's better) or witnessing is obedience to God which is God-glorifying. The horse has to lead the cart.
     
  10. Scott J

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    That isn't necessarily true. The gospel was first preached to the Jews and only a remnant were saved. Noah preached repentance and only 8 were saved.

    God's glory is not dependent on "soul-winning". Sometimes for whatever reason God's glory is better demonstrated as wrath is poured out on the wicked.
    One of the more disturbing things I saw from a church in Georgia that was influenced by Hyles leads me to a different opinion.

    A group of visiting young "preachers" came to town from NC. One was given the opportunity to recount his "soul-winning" activities from the previous day.

    I am paraphrasing but this is an accurate portrayal of what he said: "Four of us went out together yesterday. Before long, Bro (1) saw a boy and won him to the Lord, Amen. Then Bro (2) got one... then Bro (3) got one... then Bro (2) got another one. Well it was getting late but I just had to get me one too. About that time we saw a little 8 year old boy playing at a motel where his mom cleaned rooms. We got his mom's permission first then I asked him if he wanted to go to heaven. He said yes. So I explained to him how he could go to heaven and, praise God, he prayed the sinner's prayer and asked Jesus to come into his heart."

    I am glad you said that. However, I think the thing that makes many of us skeptical of the Hyles/easy believism camp is that these two things don't appear to quite line up. Many concentrate on getting someone to make a profession rather than presenting the gospel clearly so that God can convict and save them.

    On another occasion, my wife and I saw teenage boys we recognized from that same church at Walmart. Three of them had a guy who was pretty obviously drunk cornered. They were badgering and harassing him... the drunk didn't want any part of it but they were determined that they would "convict" him of his sin if they could hang on to him long enough. They may very well have gotten him to say the sinner's prayer. It is very unlikely from the way it was going that he came to a point of genuine repentance.

    Zeal is great but these young men all seemed to think that "soul-winning" was in fact up to them and their efforts- that if they tried hard enough and got someone to say a prayer that they had done good.

    You are right. There are. However if you find it hard to believe then you simply find several scriptures hard to believe.

    Even your own words present a paradox. What is it that God "wants" to happen that doesn't happen?
     
  11. Gold Dragon

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    I believe it is possible to be so focused on "winning-souls" and lots of them that we practice it in a way that is not glorifying to God. Some dangers may be

    1) to over-emphasize a trite prayer and add someone to a trophy list even though they really don't know what they are doing
    2) to leave sincere conversions without proper discipleship because we are too busy working on our next "target"
    3) to stop caring about folks who do not convert easily or will never convert
    4) and as others have mentioned, to use the number of conversions God has graciously allowed us to take part in as being a measure of spirituality to judge others
     
  12. bapmom

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    Scott,

    but he didn't say that God's glory is Dependent on soul winning.

    the whole "easy-believism" thing, coupled with the frequent accusations of "legalism" always make me wonder about the sincerity of these complaints against the Hyles crowd.

    However, I myself have seen that there are many in the younger generation who are taking what they have learned and not including the Holy Spirit in their presentation of the Gospel. Rather than claiming that this is because "easy-believism" is taught, I think it would be better to point out that the younger generation is getting all the zeal and not enough of the Holy Spirit's part imparted to them.

    Yes, Ive seen places where the emphasis is on "don't come back until you 'get one'"(not Hyles, btw). I don't think thats a very good requirement to place upon others. For myself, if I had a free day, I might place that goal on myself, but I wouldn't find it right to place it on others.

    All that being said, I don't think that really has anything to do with glorifying God versus soul winning.....a term I find Biblical so why would any of us "hate it"?

    Going out and telling others about Christ glorifies God. It is not the result that glorifies God, it is in the telling. The results are in God's hands. I don't count how many Ive seen, though I have most of their names and I pray for them and have gone to visit, also. Id rather not share how many. God knows, and thats what matters.

    Theres also lots of other ways to glorify God.....by living our life how He wants, by pointing out to others that it is God that gives us any successes we may have, by raising our children to follow God......etc.
     
  13. Scott J

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    All you have to do is read what I quoted and then my response.

    He said it was "a" means to an end. I made the point that sometimes the gospel not being responded to has given God the greater glory.

    Whatever you say... I only reported what I had personally seen. Hyles' and FBCH statistics speak for themselves. The number of souls they claim to have won dwarfs their membership/regular attendance

    Actually I think it goes much deeper. Repentance is central to the gospel. Easybelievism marginalizes it. Hyles himself reduced the repentance necessary for salvation to repenting from unbelief. That isn't sufficient. A sinner must be willing to give up all of their sins. It may not be an immediate change of behavior but it should be an immediate change of attitude.

    A goal to "win a soul" or a goal to clearly present the gospel and let the Holy Spirit win the soul?

    I hate that it is used out of context. I hate that it does largely characterize the view of some people that their efforts "win" the "soul" such that they can claim credit as a "soul-winner".

    Amen.
    Amen. And I would add that we fundamentalists across the whole spectrum have allowed liberals to co-opt charity and providing for the poor.
     
  14. bapmom

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  15. Scott J

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    Hyles taught that the only sin that had to be repented of to receive salvation was unbelief.

    You don't have to make a laundry list of all sins you ever have or ever will commit. You have to turn from sin and known sins.

    To quote just use brackets "[]" around the word "quote" to open and brackets around "/quote" to close- brackets with "qb" and "/qb" if you want make the quote bold.
     
  16. bapmom

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    "A goal to "win a soul" or a goal to clearly present the gospel and let the Holy Spirit win the soul?"

    Anytime I "win a soul" it is actually the Holy Spirit doing it. Its never been me....obviously. I guess I just assume that people realize thats what we ALL mean. In fact, I used that example with you, but Ive never set that goal for myself, even. Ive never had an entire day free to do what I want!


    Let me add one more thing, sir. I do not think its fair to "judge" a group's soul winning teaching based on how many of those converts they see come to their particular church. There are many churches out there, and when you lead a person to Christ you do not necessarily see them come to YOUR church. Ideally we'd all like that to happen, but it just isn't realistic. Ive seen several saved, and have yet to have one come to my own church....except my own children of course. However, I saw them saved after prayerfully relying on the Holy Spirit to be with me while I spoke, to lead me to the right person, and after doing my best with God's help to explain the whole thing clearly and emphasize true belief and repentance.
    So to say that a church isn't teaching right because their "won numbers" don't match their "attendance numbers" is not really fair. For one thing, you have to give people a chance to grow. As new converts come in, older people are dying, others are moving away, others are just choosing to go elsewhere. There are as many reasons for this as there are people.

    Let me point out, ALL those people at FBC who are saved, were saved SOMEWHERE. ANd not all of them were saved at FBC Hammond. Does this mean that the church where they WERE saved somehow did things wrong because that person is no longer attending there? I know I don't go to the church where I got saved. I only went there for a few years. My husband is not at the church where he was saved.
     
  17. Scott J

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    Who is the goal set for?


    You might have a point if others hadn't done follow-ups on Hyles decision cards and determined that the church wasn't making an effort to disciple these supposed converts. Further, if we were talking about only half or a quarter of the converts never regularly attending the church that "won" them, you might have a point. But FBCH claims to have won many times their attendance- many 10's of thousands.

    This isn't just a knock at Hyles... I have the same questions about Billy Graham.
    I disagree. I think what you have is alot of false professions based on a shallow presentation of the gospel and/or the salesmanship of the "soul winner".

    The biblical model seems to be that they are "added to the church" with an exception being someone who was not from the same area as at the witness. The converts in Acts shared all things in common and met daily to learn the scriptures. If someone makes a profession then has no desire to learn more about Jesus and His will for lives... then there is a pretty good chance that this person never had saving repentance or faith.

    Jesus said that His sheep hear His voice and follow. If they aren't in your church, are they in a sound church somewhere?

    Can you give some scriptural proof of someone who was saved and then had no desire to be discipled, fellowship with believers, and learn more about Jesus? One of the proofs of salvation given in I John is love for the brethren. Is it accurate to say that someone who avoids going to church "loves the brethren"?
    Can you think of a reason that a church would claim to have 4000 conversions in a single day yet have their membership not grow by say... 500?

    Maybe so, if they are in the same city. There are good reasons to leave a church... but there generally is a failure in the church usually at the leadership level when someone after prayerful consideration leaves one local church for another in the same community.

    Obviously, there are people who are saved and already have family or other ties to another. The problem is those who don't really. Of course that leads into the whole argument of what the purpose of the church is.

    One story about FBCH was that they picked up bus loads of kids from south Chicago, preached to them, gave them goodies, led them as a group in the sinner's prayer (if they wanted to go to heaven), had them sign cards, then dropped them off without following up.

    A church I am familiar with having direct ties to HAC runs a rescue mission in a major city. They take men off the streets and give them a place to stay and preach to them. They claimed to have won 14,000 in a year... their attendance was about 800 including a large children's church bus ministry and an ever changing group of "rescue" men.

    As noble as it is to help get men off the street even for awhile and as sure as I am that some of these conversions are geniune... their church should have more people or else they should be founding churches where these men can learn and grow. BTW, once they make a profession pressure is applied to get them to move out of the shelter.

    I took a man there who was homeless. He had a good job but also problems with alcohol that caused him to be evicted. They "won", baptized, and moved him out within 2 or 3 weeks. They didn't disciple him. I tried to talk to him and get him to church but he was evasive. Soon, he was drinking again and showed no real difference from before he was "saved". The only difference now is that he is innoculated to the gospel. He will tell anyone who attempts to evangelize him that he has already been saved and baptized at the ________ ________ Baptist Church.

    We aren't either... the 1000 mile one way commute won't allow it.
    ;)
     
  18. bapmom

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    [​IMG] Scott, Im sorry to be arguing with you, Im really not trying to be hardnosed.

    But really, is "going to church" supposed to be THE evidence of true salvation? It ought to be an eventual outcome, but why do we require it as an immediate step? Someone else pointed out once around here somewhere that we now live in a culture where church is an oddity. Back in Bible times going to synagogue was a way of life for ALL the Jewish people, so to switch from synagogue to church on Sunday was not a great change of lifestyle in and of itself. But that is not how it is here in America anymore. Even if that is not the only plausible reason, I do beleive it would have an impact.

    How do you know that those people are NOT feeling love for the brethren even though they aren't in a church yet?

    BTW, I don't hold to this throwing them back to the wolves, either. I don't think I could agree more with you if I tried! And I appreciate that you said it isn't just this one group that you are wondering this about.

    Let me ask it this way, though.....if Ive done what God told me, told them that God hates sin and there is a punishment for it, and that they must turn to God for salvation and believe on Jesus Christ, than what else can I do? Nothing, really.....right? I tell them the truth, they want to make a decision for Christ, I get their address and go visit them, but for awhile they don't really seem to be going anywhere. Do I just figure it wasn't their "time?" Do I assume they didn't mean it? Or do I keep praying for them and keep wondering?

    (This is not sarcasm, btw.)
     
  19. bapmom

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    Well, but, isnt that true? I mean honestly, isnt it our unbelief in Christ what sends us to Hell? The result of our unbelief is that we are unregenerated and thus we allow our sin nature to rule. But isnt it that unbelief in CHrist what is truly condemning of us?
     
  20. ituttut

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    If I haven’t said enough, I say, we see in II Corinthians 5:17-21 God reconciling to world today unto himself. We are new creatures reconciled to God by Jesus Christ. We all have a ministry, a ministry of reconciliation to God. We are all Ambassadors for Christ. Verse 21 tells us we are made righteous of God in Him that knew no sin, and was made to be sin for us.

    You have chosen to be an Ambassador for Christ in Japan. That is more, so much more than I, and many on this Board can say. We may love Him as much, or more, but I for one have not shown forth His Glory as have you. Christian faith, ituttut Galatians 1:11-12
     

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