Getting A Passion For Souls
There are some themes we shall always feel unqualified to speak on, yet they are so vital that we dare not overlook them. If we speak about the need for us all to have a deeper passion for souls, it is with the confession that we need this ourselves!
If we were to ask, ‘What are the qualifications for successful soul-winning?’ it would be necessary to mention the following:
(1) We must have the absolute assurance of our own salvation.
(2) We must be living a separated and consistent Christian life.
(3) We must know the enabling and special anointing of the Holy Spirit.
But, in addition, if we are to win the lost, we must have a passion for souls, a burden for those who are travelling on to a Christless eternity.
Have we a burden for lost souls? Sitting in his office in New Zealand, Mr. Robert Laidlaw turned to me and asked, ‘Can you say that you have an intense burden for souls?’ What a heart-searching question! What is our answer? Many years ago, Dr Jowett said,:
‘The gospel of a broken heart demands the ministry of bleeding hearts. When our sympathy loses its pang we can no longer be the servants of the passion. We can never heal the needs we do not feel. Tearless hearts can never be heralds of the passion. We must pity if we would redeem. We must bleed if we would be ministers of the saving blood.’
How much real concern have we for those who are without a knowledge of the Saviour? Do we fail to win the lost to Christ because we do not feel the depth of their need?
1. HOW DOES A PASSION FOR SOULS SHOW ITSELF?
(1) If we have a passion for souls, soul-winning will be the main business of our lives. What are we really living for? – look up Luke 5:10. What is our greatest ambition – position, worldly success, money? There will be a ‘must’ in our lives, as there was in His, if we have a real passion to win the lost – look up John 3:14; 4:4; Luke 19:5; John 9:4 – and we shall be ready to relinquish secondary things so that the matters of first importance may be supreme. If we have this passion we shall share the spirit of John Knox who cried, ‘Give me Scotland or I die!’
(2) If we have a passion for souls, all our service will be watered with tears. Compare Psalm 126:6; Luke 19:41; Romans 9:1-3; 10:1. If our loved ones are desperately ill we shed many tears; yet when men and women, dead in transgressions and sins (Ephesians 2:1), throng our path, our eyes are dry! How we need to be awakened to the reality of the desperate need of all who are without Christ!
(3) If we have a passion for souls, the need of the lost will move us very deeply. Look up Matthew 9:36. Look up Romans 9:1-3; Philippians 1:8 and compare Jeremiah 9:1. A real concern for souls will move not only our heart but our feet. Look up Mark 2:3-4, and compare Luke 10:33-35. Somehow we shall be ‘on the job’ seeking those who need the Saviour and pleading with them to accept Him.
(4) If we have a passion for souls we shall be willing to lose our lives for the sake of others. Jesus did that for us (Galatians 2:20), and we are to be like Him (Mark 1:17; Matthew 10:39; 16:25; Luke 9:24,39; John 12:24-25). David Brainerd did that also – and so did C.T. Studd – and so does every soul-winner! Compared with the value of one precious soul, whatever we ‘lose’ in order to win one soul is relatively nothing!
(5) If we have a passion for souls, we shall rejoice when a soul is saved. Look up Luke 15:6,9,23-24; Psalm 126:6; I Thessalonians 2:19-20 – and see also Acts 11:23. How do you feel in an evangelistic service when no-one responds to the invitation? How do you feel when they do?
2. HOW MAY WE BECOME POSSESSED WITH A PASSION FOR SOULS?
(1) We must get a glimpse into eternity. If we are gripped by a realisation of the fleeting nature of this life and of the solemn ‘unendingness’ of eternity, we shall be constrained to ‘persuade men’ to be reconciled to God (2 Corinthians 5:18). Let us take time to meditate upon the truth of E-T-E-R-N-I-T-Y, and the future destiny of the saved, and of the lost.
(2) We must be absolutely convinced about the present desperate need of every lost soul and about the future destiny of all the impenitent. If we believe the testimony of the scriptures concerning the condition of the unregenerate we shall surely feel drawn to do something for their salvation. Get alone with John 3:18, and then with John 3:36; then spend time with John 8:21, 24. Read Luke 16:19-31 on your knees; then look up Matthew 25:46.
(3) We must meditate upon the tremendous sacrifice of Calvary where our Lord Jesus gave Himself for our sins, and not for ours only but for the sins of the whole world (1 John 2:2). As we meditate upon His Passion and His blood-shedding we shall be filled with a deep desire that “After the suffering of his soul he will see the light of life and be satisfied” (Isaiah 53:11), and we shall realise that He has “committed to us the message of reconciliation” (2 Corinthians 5:19).
(4) We must be much in communion with the Lord Jesus, so that we shall increasingly share His concern for the souls of men. After all, a real passion for souls is not the product of ourselves at all; it is His love and compassion within us that makes us concerned! Look up Matthew 28:19; Acts 1:8; II Peter 3:9; Revelation 22:17. But how can we be filled with His love and concern for the salvation of the lost?
(5) We must be filled with the Holy Spirit, so that we are constrained by His love as it is shed abroad in our hearts and flows out from our lives. Look up Ephesians 5:18; II Corinthians 5:14; John 7:37-39; Romans 5:5.