“What is soul winning? Some people have a difficult time dealing with that title. But then some people just love to argue about terminology. Whether a person does or does not agree with the title ‘soul winning,’ he must admit that the subject is in the Bible. The Bible speaks of it in Proverbs 11.30 ‘The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life; and he that winneth souls is wise.’” [From an exchange paper purporting to be Calvinistic.]
As can be seen from the above quote, soul winning is a popular trade among the harlot daughters of Babylon. Throwing out a verse from the scriptures, such as Proverbs 11.30, to buttress their zeal is also a prevailing practice. It matters little to them if the verse has only a perceived bearing on the subject. Toss it out for general consumption anyway.
The common opinion among these dandy little servants of Mother Babylon goes like this: “The primary reason God leaves His little children here on earth after ‘saving’ them is so they may plunder the highways and hedges to win souls.” “The harvest is ripe,” according to these traffickers, and “souls perish for want of sufficient winners.” That would be grave indeed, were it so; but as long as we have a Bible in our hands we shall vehemently deny it.
Before giving our understanding of Proverbs 11.30 in particular, and “soul winning&dquo; in general, we offer another extract from the above exchange article:
“The Hebrew word for ‘winneth’ is laqach and means ‘to get, fetch, lay hold of, bring.’ That is what we do when we witness to lost people. We get them and bring them to us by inviting them to church, inviting them to our home or to a restaurant. We ‘bring’ them to a hearing of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.”
As far as it goes, the definition of the Hebrew word is correct, even though the rest of the paragraph is a conglomeration derived from the fleshly works system. We give here the complete quotation of the Strong’s Concordance definition for laqach for the reader”s consideration: 3947. laqach, law-kakh’; a prim, root; to take (in the widest variety of applications):—accept, bring, buy, carry away, drawn, fetch, get, infold, X many, mingle, place, receive (-ing), reserve, seize, send for, take (away, -ing, up), use, win. Integrity might have required that the author also contend for other of these renderings, such as accept, or seize, rather than to select only those words that seem to further a pet notion. But dishonesty knows no bounds, and false zeal has never bothered with accuracy. Our complaint with the writer, however, is not so much his contorted selection of word meanings to employ as it is with his application. None but the depraved would, in the light of Truth, apply ‘winneth’ to lost people; at least in the way he means ‘lost people.’ To the Arminian (which is nothing more than a naked Calvinist) mind, the lost are those that have not yet experienced being born again, or a work of grace.
If there is one obvious doctrine of the Scriptures that clangs a death knell for “soul winning” it is the doctrine of the total, utter depravity of sinners lost in Adam’s fall. All the race of man has fallen and died in Adam (Romans 5.12-14; 6.23). Perhaps the soul winning author has not yet learned that those dead in sin are really, truly and completely spiritually dead; spiritually dead as dead can be. Perhaps too he believes he can fan a spark of his own kindling in these dead souls and bring up in them some few flames of life after all. We would as quickly expect to see Jesus fail in giving life to His chosen dead as to see the Arminian author succeed in his efforts. But our author will cry out, “You have not quoted me entirely. I have been taken out of context.” Not to worry, Mr. Arminian Soul Winner; we shall, the Lord willing, give enough of your diatribe to “get you into context.”
“Now salvation is a different matter. Winning a soul (a person) is persuading him to listen to the truth of the Gospel. Christians can ‘win’ souls that way. But we cannot save a soul, so we do not win a soul in the sense of saving him. We can bring him to the Lord by encouraging him to think about the message of the Gospel, but we cannot bring him to the Lord in salvation. Only the Lord can save!”
Amazing, isn’t it? Only the Lord can save, but He, according to the author, sub-contracts the business of bringing these dead souls, ‘(a person),’ to Him first. We recall the Lord saying to this author’s sanctimonious counterparts of old, “And ye will not come to me, that ye might have life (John 5.40).” Perhaps the author and his tribe believe the Lord should have added, “But I shall shortly send unto you a people imbued with universal charity, called soul winners; them ye shall hear and follow (from the Volume of Contorted Notions).” The writer also alludes to persuading souls to listen to the truth of the gospel. We are very aware of Paul persuading men (II Corinthians 5.11), but it was certainly not a persuasion aimed at turning goats into sheep, or raising those dead in sin to adhere to gospel precepts. In fact, his condemnation of such a practice elsewhere was just the contrary. “This persuasion cometh not of him that calleth you. A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump (Galatians 5.8,9).”
Mr. Arminian Author would also have his soul winning allies “encourage him to think about the message of the gospel.” Perhaps the following Scripture has also escaped his blighted mind: “The wicked, through the pride of his countenance, will not seek after God: God is not in all his thoughts (Psalms 10.4).” Unhumbled sinners will neither seek after God, the gospel, or truth in general; none of these are in all his thoughts. Neither, can we believe, shall the most dedicated soul winner persuade the sinner to think otherwise.
We offer one other quote from this deluded religionist:
“We may win souls, and those souls may never be saved; but we must win souls. We must tell about Jesus. Romans 10.17 says ‘So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.’ We must tell, God must draw, and the sinner must repent and believe.”
In all our years of hearing these fanatics, we have never come across a more jumbled bit of Ashdod mumblings. About the most charitable thing we can say concerning the above is that the poor fellow has a total lack of understanding of what he is saying, and, “The man that wandereth out of the way of understanding shall remain in the congregation of the dead (Proverbs 21.16).” This soul winning parson informs us that souls may be won, yet be lost after all; but nevertheless the imperative need remains to win souls. Is this not lame reasoning based on unequal premises? “The legs of the lame are not equal: so is a parable in the mouth of fools (Proverbs 26.7).”
“We must tell, God must draw, and the sinner must repent and believe.” This vain reasoning, which attempts to place God on a level equal to wretched sinners, deserves some careful comparison with the Divine Record. “These things hast thou done, and I kept silence; thou thoughtest that I was altogether such an one as thyself: but I will reprove thee, and set them in order before thine eyes (Psalms 50.21).” And again: “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts (Isaiah 55.9).” Soul winners, those fancied rescuers of lost sinners, may vainly imagine they must tell, but who, we ask, has required this of them? Can it possibly be dreamed that God has need of them to round up these otherwise lost souls? Soul winners may also be deluded that the sinner must repent and believe, but will that square with the Bible? Is not repentance and belief as much a gift as eternal life itself? And if so, then would not repentance and belief be contingent on the “must tell” of soul winners for God to impart it? Absurd, is it not?
“God must draw.” Must draw? To whom shall the God of all power be made amenable? That God will draw some to come to Jesus is clear from John 6.44, but we know of no influence that may require Him to draw except His own holy purposes. Are we to suppose that if the soul winners of this wretched world put forth a special effort in order to effect their religious hoax on the lost that God would be obliged to ‘draw’ them? Surely, “There are many devices in a man’s heart; nevertheless the counsel of the LORD, that shall stand (Proverbs 19.21).”
“The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life; and he that winneth souls is wise (Proverbs 11.30).” We understand the righteous to be those that are made so by the imputed righteousness of Christ, for all their righteousnesses are as filthy rags. Left alone they would be as destitute of any God-pleasing attributes as the most wicked rogue that ever lived. Their fruit consists of only such things as grow from the planting of God, and as He blesses them to yield their fruit for the harvest it will be, as always, after its kind - a tree of life. There is no blighted or dead fruit to be cast off before the harvest. All will mature and come forth to the glory of their kind Husbandman and Lord of the harvest. David had been taught this truth for he wrote, “And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper (Psalm 1.3).” Notice well, “he shall be like a tree...” Is not Christ the tree of Life to which all His children will be conformed? “Say ye to the righteous, that it shall be well with him: for they shall eat the fruit of their doings (Isaiah 3.10).” Do not the children of God feed on Christ, as He dwells in them? We would suggest the reader ponder carefully the references Christ made to the tree and its fruits in the New Testament; Matthew 7.17, 12.33 and Luke 3.9.
“And he that winneth souls is wise.” If blessed to discover who is the wise one spoken of here it is certain we shall as well learn who it is that wins souls. We have long held the view that the wise one here that winneth souls is Christ personally, for surely He alone is sufficient to both woo and win a poor sinner in need of deliverance. God alone knoweth them that are His, and He has known them from all eternity. They were written up in the Book of life of the Lamb, and were as secure as if they were already in heaven. “The Lord hath appeared of old unto me, saying, Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee (Jeremiah 31.3).” Yes, God must draw, but not because a fanatic soul winner has ranted off his Ashdod soul winning spiel to a sinner; rather God draws with a lovingkindness rooted in an everlasting love for those He chose in Christ before the highest hills were laid. Should there be a Pharisee so bold as to insist God has nevertheless commissioned him to round up prospects for heaven by implementing the soul winning hustle, we envy them not.
We freely admit there are those, called by grace, described in the Bible as wise. And we freely insist as well that those wise ones are made wise only as they stand in Christ. Daniel spoke of these wise ones: “And they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever (Daniel 12.3).” As Christ shined with glistering white when overshadowed by the presence of His Father on the mount, even so these wise ones shine in the effulgence of their Father and God. Called of God as anointed witnesses, they, in their heavenly calling, turn, or point the way, to Christ their Righteousness in proclaiming the gospel they were sent to preach. How vastly superior is this turning, appointed by God Himself, to the cheap, Bablyonish theatrics of the self-appointed soul winners. When God sends out teachers, we may be sure He has students for them to address. When God raises up pastors, there will be flocks to turn to Righteousness. Paul will plant, Apollos will water, but God shall give the increase; all this, we may add, without the benefit of soul winners.
There is another sort of wise individual that demands our attention. They are described by Paul as he addressed the Corinthians. “For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent. Where is the wise? where is the scribe? where is the disputer of this world? hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world (I Corinthians 1.19, 20)?” It would be more than a strain on one’s sensibilities to claim these wise fellows were the same as the wise soul winner mentioned in Proverbs 11.30. These wise ones do, however, perfectly match the conduct of the author we quoted along with all his cohorts. Surely, the wisdom necessary to win a soul lies only with our Lord and not with these that are wise only in the world’s foolishness.
“And I, brethren, when I came to you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of God. For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified. And I was with you in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling. And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power: That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God (I Corinthians 2.1-5).” We might search these profound words till time shall be no more and never find a clue that Paul ever dreamed of what is passed off today as soul winning. No excellency of speech; no buttonholing the unsuspecting; no plans of salvation for those who would “accept Jesus”; not an enticing word. If we are to follow Paul as he followed Christ, we would shun the soul winning business as a self-aggrandizing farce. Our Lord will call His sheep by name, for He knows them. Hireling soul winners cannot do this. Our Lord bids the weary to come to Him. This too is something even the most dedicated hireling among the soul winner cannot do.
“Beware of dogs, beware of evil workers, beware of the concision. For we are the circumcision which worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have not confidence in the flesh (Philippians 3.2,3).” No confidence in the flesh fairly well sums up our attitude towards soul winners and their nefarious schemes.
J F Poole
Volume 9, No. 5