Wednesday, December 07, 2005

The Battle over Soul-Winning

Jesus said in Luke 15:6-7 "...'Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep. I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent."

Its funny (in a very sad way) that we here on earth (Christians) just can't seem to get excited over the same things that Heaven gets excited over.
We get excited over new buildings, bigger churches, more "righteous persons" joining our ranks, benevolent endeavors, and the like, but we barely go beyond the courteous, "That's great" or "Praise the Lord" when we hear of someone leading a lost sinner to Jesus anymore. While "heaven is rejoicing" we are yawning and passing this "heaven-worthy" event off like its spiritual chopped liver!

Even in my own denomination, there is rarely a peep regarding soul-winning, grass roots evangelism, or witnessing. You will hear much about new churches buildings, ministerial promotions, visits with foreign dignitaries, seminars, and educational opportunities--(all good things within their proper place) but seldom will you hear the Great Rejoicing over lost souls that takes place in heaven when "one sinner repents."

Our team has seen around 400 people "repent" and come to Jesus on the streets in the (13) weeks following Hurricane Katrina. Of this number there have been: men, women. teenagers, drug addicts, alcoholics, drug dealers, gang bangers, red necks, occultists, atheists, strippers, moms, dads, construction workers, middle-class people, homeless, city slickers, country boys, blacks, whites, Hispanics, backsliders, liars, thieves, fornicators, nice guys, and everything that one could imagine.

THIS must have caused an amazing sight in heaven!

Maybe the problem is that the Church has so deviated from its primary purpose that the we have ceased to even recognize those things that are so close to the heart of the Father. The church of today response is like a football stadium full of fans standing and cheering for pre-game introductions and then yawning when their teams actually scores a touchdown to win the game! Have we forgotten what we "joined the team" for in the first place? To love and serve God---and to validate this love by bringing others to Him.

Do you know that has replaced initial "rejoicing" in regards to people hearing about someone repenting and getting saved? The conversation often goes like this:

"Man! I am so excited! We were out the other night and I had the chance to talk to this man who was here visiting on business. Through our conversation, I found out that he was lost and had never asked Jesus into his life. I shared the Gospel with him and his heart was pricked. He then asked me what he needed to do to get saved! I prayedwith him and He repented and asked Jesus into his life!"

Response (without hesitation) "So, what are you doing for follow up?"

There is typically never a "WOW, that is awesome! I bet you are looking forward to seeing that guys grow in the Lord." or "YES! If any man is in Christ he is a new creation. I know that he will do wondrous things for the Kingdom in the days ahead" or "BOO-YAH! The devil lost another one! That guys is going to be a great asset to someone's church!"

Can you imagine if these scenes had happened in our day and age:

Luke telling someone (Acts 2:41) "Today 3000 people responded to Peter's message, repented and gave their hearts to Jesus" and them retorting, "So what are you do for follow up?"

(or) Jesus saying, "I ministered to a prostitute today and told her to go and sin no more" and her life was forever changed and them saying, "So, what about follow up?"

(or) "Stephen, full of faith and power, did great wonders and miracles among the people. And the number of disciples multiplied" and the response was...."But what kind of follow up are you doing?" Probably NONE...seeing that they stoned him to death a short time later!

THE GREATEST MIRACLE IS THE MIRACLE OF THE NEW BIRTH! (You will never see where Heaven rejoices over a "new building" "a new position" or even "someone being physically healed) THIS rejoicing is reserved for SOULS coming into the Kingdom of Heaven!

This might put things in their proper perspective:

First person: "Did you hear about Sally? She was prayed for, went to the doctor and found out that God healed her of cancer."

Second person: "Yeah, but unless she is careful that could come back. She needs to be sure and get periodic follow ups."

Maybe the church just finds it hard to rejoice over something that they have failed to do? (The Barna Group estimates that upwards of 93% of Christians have never led another person to Jesus). THAT is what makes heaven weep!

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