How To Claim Souls For Christ
By Theodore H. Epp
At one time when Joshua was looking over the city of Jericho he was suddenly accosted by a man: "There stood a man over against him with his sword drawn in his hand: and Joshua went unto him, and said unto him, Art thou for us, or for our adversaries?" (Josh. 5:13). Joshua left no room for a neutral position. So it is that we are either for Christ or for His adversaries. We cannot be neutral with regard to soul winning. We stand challenged as Joshua challenged the Israelites when he said, "Choose you this day whom ye will serve" (Josh. 24:15). We cannot be indifferent to this when we read God’s awful indictment of the Laodicean Church: "I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth" (Rev. 3:15-16).
Going back to the life of Joshua again, we find that the Israelites could go in and claim the land only as they cooperated with God. God’s promise to them was: "Every place that the sole of your foot shall tread upon, that have I given unto you" (Josh. 1:3). This is a very basic principle of faith with regard to wielding the authority that is ours in Christ Jesus. We are in a spiritual warfare whereby through prayer and faith, we can claim souls for Christ. God gave Israel the promised land, but they had to go on in and take it. So it is with us in this matter of entering into our throne rights. We have them, but we must use them. There is no place for a passive attitude in this matter.
Paul describes himself in Romans 1:14 as being a debtor. In the same sense we all are debtors to a lost world to let it know of Christ. This is not something that we can shrug off from us. In 2 Corinthians 5 the apostle tells us: "We must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad" (v. 10). Arthur S. Way translates this passage in these words: "For we have all to stand, stripped of all disguise, before Messiah’s bar, that each may receive the recompense for deeds whereof the body was the instrument, yea, even according to that which he hath done, be it good, or be it evil. Therefore, because I know how dread shall be the coming of the Lord, I am pleading now with men…We order not our own lives, for the love of Messiah constrains us."
Following through with the same idea, the Apostle Paul says in 2 Corinthians 6:1: "We then, as workers together with Him, beseech you also that ye receive not the grace of God in vain…Giving no offence in any thing, that the ministry be not blamed: but in all things approving ourselves as the ministers of God" (vv.1-4).
A common mistake we make with reference to this passage is to think of the word "minister" as meaning the preacher or someone especially trained for Christian work. This is not what this passage is saying. The Bible makes it very plain that every born-again person is a minister of God. There are those who have been specially called for full-time ministry and leadership such as pastors and teachers; but the ministry itself belongs to every soul in Christ.
With this matter clarified, let us see how we can claim souls for the Lord in this fight of faith. First of all, we are to understand that lost souls are blinded and believe not. They are bound by Satan. "If our Gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: in whom the god of this world [Satan and his cohorts] hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious Gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them" (2 Cor. 4:3-4).
In the second place, we must understand that Christ has paid the purchase price. They are His by right. He died for the sins of all men, for He was not willing that any should perish.
In the third place, we must understand that Christ claims His possessions through His people. Ephesians 1:18 speaks of His inheritance which is in the saints. For example, the land of Canaan belonged to God and to the children of Israel, but God claimed it, through Israel. He did not tell them to go in and take it, that it was all lying ready at hand. They had to go in and fight for it. Nevertheless, their warfare was in many respects different than any other warfare that we read of in secular history. It is true they fought against men, but God fought with them and provided victory in the most unusual ways. When they succeeded, it was because they believed and trusted God. The land of Canaan was claimed for God through His people Israel.
In the fourth place, we must understand how He uses us in claiming the lost for Himself. We ourselves have been transferred into His kingdom. This is the message of Colossians 1:13: "Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated [transferred] us into the kingdom of His dear Son." This is what happened to Israel. God purchased a nation for Himself and then transferred them out of Egypt through the desert and into Canaan to claim that land for Him.
We must also recognize that our bodies are bodies purchased for His possession. This is what we are told in 1 Corinthians 6:13-15: "The body is… for the [service of] the Lord; and the Lord for the body [to serve]. And as God, by His power raised the Lord Jesus to life, so He will raise us, too." Then he goes on to say, "Do you not know that your bodies are parts of Christ [Himself]?" He wanted them to be conscious of the fact that their bodies were the "temple of the Holy Spirit" who was in them as the gift of God and they were not their own anymore. This is truth for us, too.
We refer to the illustration of the policeman directing traffic on the street corner. He does not have the physical power to hold back the cars, but he has the authority of the government to do so. Consequently, when he blows his whistle or raises his hands, he can stop the traffic in one direction and start it moving in another. So it is with the authority God has committed to us. Through it we claim the souls of men in Christ’s name and in His power.
Just as Israel’s claiming of the land was a constant battle of faith, so is ours a battle of prayer in faith as we assert the authority of the Lord Jesus Christ in us.
At one time when Israel was fighting Amalek, Moses sat on a mountain top on a rock and raised his staff in his hands. This spoke of two things. One, the raising of his hands signified intercessory prayer, and the staff spoke of the authority of Almighty God. Moses was saying in effect, "By the authority of God, I command that the evil spirits controlling the Amalekites who have come against the children of Israel shall be defeated." Moses with the aid of others kept in the attitude of prayer and in the assertion of authority until Israel’s enemy was defeated. Joshua and his army were victorious because of this.
It is true that Satan’s power has been broken (Heb. 2:14-15; Col. 2:15), but we must recognize that he will not turn loose of anything he thinks he can keep, until we exercise the authority delegated to us by the Lord Jesus Christ. Prayer is not our trying to persuade God to join us in service for Him. It is our joining Him in His service. True prayer on the part of the Christian is laying hold by faith of property that Satan has his hands on but which rightfully belongs to God – and then holding on until Satan turns loose. The Evil One will hold on to these souls until we take our place, demanding their release on the basis of the authority we have in Christ.
– From Praying With Authority by Theodore H. Epp. Copyright 1965. Used by permission. Theodore Epp (1907-1985) was founder and director of Back to the Bible Broadcast until 1984.