The Mechanism of Soul-winning - 1: Tactics in Soul-winning (ZT Fomum)
The fields are ripe with souls that need to be brought in. The Lord Jesus had a secret on which His success in soul-winning lay.
“The Pharisees heard that Jesus was gaining and baptising more disciples than John, although in fact it was not Jesus who baptised, but his disciples. When the Lord learned of this, he left Judea and went back once more to Galilee. Now he had to go through Samaria. So he came to a town in Samaria called Sychar, near the plot of ground Jacob had given to his son Joseph. Jacob’s well was there, and Jesus, tired as he was from the journey, sat down by the well. It was about the sixth hour. When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, ‘Will you give me a drink?’ (His disciples had gone into the town to buy food.)The Samaritan woman said to him, ‘You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?’ (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans.) Jesus answered her, ‘If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.’‘Sir,’ the woman said, ‘you have nothing to draw with, and the well is deep. Where can you get this living water? Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well, and drank from it himself, as did also his sons and his flocks and herds?’Jesus answered, ‘Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but who ever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.’ The woman said to him, ‘Sir, give me this water so that I won’t get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water.’ Jesus told her, ‘Go, call your husband, and come back.’ ‘I have no husband,’ she replied. Jesus said to her, ‘You are right when you say you have no husband. The fact is, you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband. What you have just said is quite true.’ ‘Sir,’ the woman said, ‘I can see that you are a prophet. Our fathers worshipped on this mountain, but you Jews claim that the place where we must worship is in Jerusalem.’ Jesus declared, ‘Believe me, woman, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. You Samaritans worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews. Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshippers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshippers must worship in spirit and in truth.” The woman said, ‘I know that Messiah’ (called Christ) ‘is coming. When he comes, he will explain everything to us.’ Then Jesus declared, ‘I who speak to you am he.’ Just then his disciples returned and were surprised to find him talking with a woman. But no-one asked, ‘What do you want?’ or ‘Why are you talking with her?’ Then, leaving her water jar, the woman went back to the town and said to the people, ‘Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Christ? They came out of the town and made their way towards him. Meanwhile his disciples urged him, ‘Rabbi, eat something.’ But he said to them, ‘I have food to eat that you know nothing about.’ Then his disciples said to each other, ‘Could someone have brought him food?’ ‘My food,’ said Jesus, ‘is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work. Do you not say, “Four months more and then the harvest”? I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest. Even now the reaper draws his wages, even now he harvests the crop for eternal life, so that the sower and the reaper may be glad together. Thus the saying,”One sows and another reaps” is true. I sent you to reap what you have not worked for. Others have done the hard work, and you have reaped the benefits of their labour.’Many of the Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, ‘He told me everything I ever did.’ So when the Samaritans came to him, they urged him to stay with them, and he stayed two days. And because of his words many more became believers. They said to the woman, ‘We no longer believe just because of what you said; now we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this man really is the Saviour of the world’” (John 4:1-42 NIV).
This situation in which the Lord witnessed to the woman of Samaria was a very natural one. She had come to draw water from the well and there He was waiting, faint and tired from His journey.
The Lord took the initiative for contact. He again asked that which seemed natural in the circumstance in which they were. He asked for a drink of water from a woman at a well.
The Lord asked the type of question that would compel her to speak out and so open up. This is important. If the person to whom one wants to witness is rather closed, it will be more difficult to reach out to him. If he speaks out, he will be known and it will be easier to communicate to him.
Although the Lord started with purely material and ordinary things, He soon gradually turned the conversation from the passing to the permanent, from the material to the spiritual.
The Lord Jesus introduced the spiritual in such a way that it created desire in her, instead of putting her off. Most believers begin to witness and soon they put off the person to whom they are witnessing, either by some comment or some act or some manner. If the person is put off, he will most likely switch off and it may be impossible to reach out to him again! Witnessing is a delicate art. One wrong sentence could spoil everything. Another thing that could ruin the contact is if the one witnessing is asked a question and, instead of answering it, he looks first at his watch. The person will conclude that he is wasting the witness’ time, and, so should bring the discussion to an end. He will do all to end it. Another thing that can infuriate a person to whom one is witnessing is if the witness begins to yawn or occasionally falls asleep. He will be considered to be saying that he does not consider the person to whom he is witnessing important. He will also be considered as saying that the subject of discussion is not interesting enough to keep him awake! Every witness who will succeed must avoid this. The Lord Jesus avoided it. Although He was tired and weary and hungry, His strength seemed to come back to Him immediately there was an opportunity to win someone out of spiritual darkness into spiritual light. So deep was His inward commitment to the salvation of people that He did not need to make any effort to be awake to reach them with the gospel. Souls needing the gospel had the power to set Him aflame by their mere presence. Their presence was energy-releasing in Him. Their presence was energy-releasing for Him.
He was so energised by the presence of the woman in need of salvation that it would have been difficult to see any mark of tiredness, weariness or hunger in Him.
As Jesus talked with her, the Lord moved from the superficial introductory plane to a deeper plane. He told her about the source of eternal life. He said to her,
“But whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst; the water that I shall give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life” (John 4:14).
The Lord testified to the truth. He testified to what He could do for the woman. There was not one false claim. There was no exaggeration whatsoever. Anyone who, in witnessing, exaggerates what has happened to him or to others since they believed, in order to encourage someone to believe, is practising falsehood and serving the devil’s purpose and not the Lord’s. The Lord is the God of absolute truth. He cannot give anyone the tragic responsibility of lying on His behalf. No lie can advance the gospel, regardless of the motive for which it was told. In fact, every lie will ultimately harm the cause of the gospel, even if it seems to bring some apparent advantages now. The other thing is that all liars will have their eternal abode in the lake that burns with fire and sulphur. Why should anyone condemn his soul to hell in an attempt to cause someone to move from being a hell-deserving sinner into a heaven-going saint? Never lie in order to save anyone. If you attempt it, it will cause both of you to perish!
The Lord Jesus said, “The water that I shall give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” The Lord knew that this spring of water that welled up to eternal life was in Him and that He was fully satisfied in God and in the salvation of God. He was, consequently, inviting the Samaritan woman into that which He knew from experience to be the very best! Anyone who has not found total satisfaction in the Lord Jesus will not become a good soul-winner. If he is dissatisfied with life in the Lord Jesus, how will he bring others to Him? If you have not found in Jesus total fulfilment, you will not be able to produce lasting converts. If you have not surrendered your all to Jesus - completely, totally and irreversibly, you will not find the christian life satisfying. If you do not find the Christian life completely satisfying, you will reproduce your kind, and that is to reproduce people who are unfulfilled in Christ. Such people who are unfulfilled in Christ are not true believers. They are as fake as those who brought them to “Christ.” The Christian life begins with a total and radical renunciation of “self” and a radical and total commitment to the Lord Jesus. The Christian life continues with a total and radical renunciation of “self,” and a radical and total commitment to the Lord Jesus. If there was never any total and radical renunciation of “self” and no total and radical commitment to Christ, then the Christian life was never begun. If there was total and radical renunciation of “self” and total and radical commitment to the Lord Jesus at the beginning, then the Christian life was entered into. If, however, the life of total and radical renunciation of “self” and total and radical commitment to Christ was abandoned, then the Christian life was abandoned. The Christian life ceases for anyone the day on which the person goes back on his life of total and radical abandonment to Christ. When a person thus abandons the Christian way, he has abandoned the Christ of the cross. He may go and with much activity produce his kind, but that kind is not God’s kind!
Jesus made what He was offering so attractive that the woman wanted it and asked for it. Some believers are so miserable that they are a negative advertisement of the gospel. Their lives seem to say, “We have found nothing in this thing. Keep clear of it.” Of course, if all they did was come to a doctrine, or come to a philosophy, creed or human organization or human personality, then it would be absolutely indispensable that they be frustrated. However, if they came to the Lord Jesus and encountered an abode in the One who transforms lives, then theirs would increasingly manifest the life of Jesus which would flow out of them as
Such a life would attract and create a hunger in people to come to the Lord who imparts such a life.
The Lord Jesus did not want to leave the woman to think that she could put the new life on the old one and have both. He, therefore, cut deep into her. He decided to expose her sin, but He did it most tactfully. He could have told her, “You are a divorcee and you are living in adultery.” He decided to bring her to that knowledge by an indirect approach. He asked her to go and call for her husband. She replied that she had no husband. Jesus then exposed everything. He said to her, “You are right when you say, ‘I have no husband.’ The fact is, you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband. What you have just said is quite true.”
This revelation of the truth of the woman’s sexual life and marital life brought things to a climax. She now turned and began to talk on serious issues - worship. The Lord did not let her go on. It was the crucial moment, and He took over the conversation and explained God’s mind on worship. This led the woman to talk of the Messiah. All was ready and the Lord simply revealed Himself to her. “I who speak to you am he.”
This revelation moved the woman to abandon her water pot, which was representative of her life that never satisfied, and run to the city to bear witness.
The people came to Jesus and received Him, each one receiving the Lord for himself and entering into the life of God.
Jesus spent some days with them to further establish them in the new life.
The Lord Jesus had a secret on which His success in soul-winning lay. Success was the overflow of His total commitment, radical surrender of all and utmost urgency in the dealing with the souls of men. He Himself puts this commitment, which was His normal life, in the following words:
“My food,” said Jesus, “is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work. Do you not say, ‘Four months more and then the harvest’? I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest. Even now the reaper draws his wages, even now he harvests the crop for eternal life, so that the sower and the reaper may be glad together” (John 4:34-36 NIV).
The fields are ripe with souls that need to be brought in. What is in short supply is reapers. It is not a shortage of
- human beings,
- religious people,
It is a shortage of those who, like Jesus, can be involved with God in His harvest! Such would have said and continued to say a total and a radical “No” to
all love of self,
all love of the world,
all love of the things of the world,
Such could have said and continued to say a total and a radical “Yes” to the love of God
- the Father,
- the Son, and
- the Holy Spirit.
Such would be witnesses. Such would be soul-winners. Such would be sent out by the Father. Such would bear fruit that resembles the Lord Jesus and resembles them. They would reproduce their kind and their kind would abide.
Glory be to God!
The question is, “Where are such people today?” The question is, “Why is the average believer so far removed from what it takes to be a God-approved witness?”
THE SUPERNATURAL ELEMENT
As we have seen, the climax of the Lord’s witnessing to the woman was when He exposed her past and present life. She even testified and said, “Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did.” If the Lord had not brought in this supernatural element, probably nothing would have happened. It might just have ended up as a religious conversation. However, the supernatural element, the manifestation of the spiritual gift called “A word of knowledge,” helped.
The Lord Jesus did not send the disciples out to witness just with natural skills. He did not even send them to win the world simply because they had received Him and their names were written in the book of life. He specifically asked them not to start the crucial work of soul-winning until they were clothed with power from on high.
They waited and the power of the Holy Spirit came upon them and, then, they began the work and were successful.
The power of the Holy Spirit is often manifested in spiritual gifts. There are many of these. The believer who does not manifest any of these will find soul-winning near impossible because he will be operating almost exclusively at the natural level.
Have you received the promised power? Do you manifest any supernatural element?