Souls Are Dying! Set Yourself To Win Them!
By Catherine Booth
"Son, go work today in my vineyard" (Matthew 21:28).
"And the Lord said unto the servant, Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled" (Luke 14:23).
It seems to me that no one can study the New Testament without arriving at the conclusion that it is a fundamental principle, underlying the whole, that His light and grace is expansive. That is, God has, in no case, given His light, His truth, and His grace to any individual soul, without holding that soul responsible for communicating that light and grace to others.
Real Christianity is, in its very nature and essence, aggressive. Jesus has not given us anything to be used merely for ourselves but that we hold and possess every talent which He has committed to us for the good of others and for the salvation of man. This is a fundamental principle of the New Testament.
How wonderfully this principle was exhibited in the lives of the apostles and early Christians! How utterly careless they seemed to be of everything compared with this. This was the first thing with them everywhere! Paul, at the very threshold, counted nothing else of any consequence, but willingly, cheerfully gave up every other consideration to live for this. And he speaks of other apostles and helpers in the gospel who had been nigh unto death, and laid down their necks for the work's sake. He traveled, worked, prayed, wept and suffered, bled and died for this one end.
And so with the early Christians, who were scattered through the persecutions and went everywhere preaching the Word. How earnest and zealous they were, even after the apostolic age. We learn from ecclesiastical history how they would push themselves in everywhere. They made converts and won real, self-denying followers even in kings' courts. They would not be kept out and could not be put down, and could not be hindered or silenced.
"These Christians are everywhere," said one of their bitterest persecutors. Yes, they were instant in season and out of season. They won men and women on every hand, to the vexation and annoyance of those who hated them. Like their Master, they could not be hid. They could not be repressed, so aggressive, so constraining was the spirit which inspired and urged them on.
Because You Are Your Brother's Keeper
It becomes a greater puzzle every day to me, coming in contact with individual souls, how people read their Bibles! They do not seem to understand what they read. Well might a Philip or an angel come to them and say, "Understandest thou what thou readest?" Oh! friends, study your New Testament on this question, and you will be alarmed to find to what an awful extent you are your brother's keeper--to what an awful and alarming extent God holds you responsible for the salvation of those around you.
The Word puts upon us the obligation to save men. In fact the world is cast upon us--we are the only people who can save the unconverted.
Oh! I wish I could get this thought thoroughly into your minds. It has perhaps been one of the most potent, with respect to any little service I have rendered in the vineyard, the thought that Jesus Christ has nobody else to represent Him here but us Christians--His real people. These poor people of the world who are in darkness and ignorance, have nobody else to show them the way of mercy. If we do not go to them with loving earnestness and determination to rescue them from the grasp of the great enemy, if we do not, by the power of the Holy Ghost, bind the strong man and take his goods, who is to do it? God has devolved it upon us. This is an alarming and awful consideration.
We are called by the Spirit. The very first aspiration of a newly born soul is after some other soul. The very first utterance after the first burst of praise to God for deliverance from the bondage of sin and death, is a prayer gasped to the throne for some other soul still in darkness. Is not this the legitimate fruit of the Spirit? Is not this what we should expect? The Spirit began at once to urge you to seek for souls.
It is also frequently the last cry of the Spirit in the believer's soul before it leaves the body. The last expressed anxiety has been for some prodigal soul outside the kingdom of God. When the light of eternity comes streaming upon the soul, and its eyes get wide open to the value of souls, it neither hears nor sees anything else! It goes out of time into eternity, praying as the Redeemer did, for the souls it is leaving behind.
Oh! if Christians were only true to the promptings of this blessed Spirit, it would be the prevailing impulse, the first desire and effort all the way through life. It is not God's fault that it is not so. Satan gets people to yield to considerations of ease, being out of season, being injudicious, and so on, and they lose opportunities of dealing with souls, and so the Spirit is grieved and grieved.
Having the Holy Spirit is the life of your soul. You want this spirit, the spirit that yearns over the souls of your fellowmen, to weep over them as you look at them in their sin and folly and misery, the spirit that cannot be satisfied with your own enjoyments or with feeling that you are safe or even that your children are safe, but that yearns and can never rest satisfied until it is brought into the kingdom. Such are the urgings of the Spirit and if people would be obedient to them, they would never lose these urgings.
Now, my friend, you are called by the Spirit to this work. Obey the call; do it. Never mind if it chokes you, do it. Say, "I had better die in obedience than live in disobedience." Oh! These everlasting likes and dislikes. "I don't like to speak to that person"; "I so dislike writing that letter." "Oh! you don't know what might be the consequences." Never mind the consequences, do it. God will stand between you and consequences, and if He lets you suffer, never mind, then suffer, but obey the voice of the Spirit.
How many souls would have been saved if all those who have had these urgings had obeyed them? It is the Spirit of the living God that is urging you to come out and seek to save the lost. Will you obey these urgings? Will you give up your reasonings? Will you give up your likes and dislikes and obey? If you will, then He will come to you more and more, till like David, you will feel the interests of His kingdom to be more to you than meat or drink, than silver or gold. You will become like Him who said, "The zeal of Thine house hath eaten me up" (John 2:17).
Go to the closet until you get filled with the Spirit, and then go and let it out upon them. Finney says, "I went and let my heart out on the people." Get your heart full of the living water and then open the gates and let it flow out.
Look them in the face and take hold of them lovingly by the hand and say, "My friend, you are dying, you are going to everlasting death. If nobody has ever told you till now, I have come to tell you. My friend you have a precious soul. Is it saved?" They can understand that. "Do you ever think about your soul? Are your sins pardoned? Are you ready to die?" Your rich neighbors and your servant girls and men alike can understand that. Begin in that way and see what God will do through you. You go and put your hand to the plough and He will give you strength to push it along.
– Reprinted from The Gospel Trumpet.