Many believe that God wants us all to go out and try to convert people to the Christian faith. Is it true that this is what God asks us to do? Let’s explore this using our bibles.
First, the claim that we all should go out into the world trying to win souls makes a great assumption. It makes the assumption that God wants everyone who believes in His word to do exactly the same thing. Is it true that God wants us all to do exactly the same thing?
The Body of Christ
Paul tells the Ephesians the following:
“There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; One Lord, one faith, one baptism…” (Eph. 4:4-5 KJV)
So it is true that Christians should be of one body, one Spirit, one calling, one Lord, one faith, and one baptism. Does this mean we should all be doing the exact same thing? Notice what Paul says to the Corinthians:
“Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular.And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues.Are all apostles? are all prophets? are all teachers? are all workers of miracles?Have all the gifts of healing? do all speak with tongues? do all interpret?” (I Cor. 12:27-30 KJV)
Paul makes it very clear that the body of Christ has different members who are to do different jobs. It is obvious that a prophet isn’t the same as a teacher and that a prophet doesn’t do the same work as a teacher. This not to say that a prophet cannot teach or that a teacher cannot teach someone about prophecy. What this means is that these jobs have a primary focus based on the meaning of their titles. This is why Paul raises these questions: “Are all apostles? are all prophets? are all teachers? are all workers of miracles?Have all the gifts of healing? do all speak with tongues? do all interpret?”
Paul says a similar thing to the Ephesians:
“And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ…” (Eph. 4:11-12 KJV)
So we know there is a clear distinction between jobs in the body of Christ. It should be self-evident that these jobs are not the same or else there would have been no need to list them separately. It is important to note that these jobs work together like the parts of a body.
Saving or Winning Souls
Many evangelists believe it is our duty as Christians to save or win souls. They often use the following verse as evidence:
“The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life; and he that winneth souls is wise.” (Prov. 11:30 KJV)
This belief ignores many other verses that define what a soul is. In our recent post, Are You Living?, we talk about what it means to live. Understand that the soul is the body, not an eternal piece of us. In the bible a soul usually refers to a living body. Note the following verses:
“And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.” (Gen. 2:7 KJV)
“Who knoweth not in all these that the hand of the Lord hath wrought this?In whose hand is the soul of every living thing, and the breath of all mankind.” (Job 12:9-10 KJV)
Notice that man became a living soul. So was he a soul before the breath of life was in him? The verse implies that he was. He became a living soul after the breath of life was breathed into him. Read the many verses that use the words soul and living soul. Notice second verse tells us that the soul of every living thing is in God’s hands and then it separates the breath of mankind. So do animals have souls? Yes, animals have souls–bodies. Living souls are based on breathing the breath of life.
Now the real question is: how can we win souls for Christ if the book of Job tells us that every soul is already in God’s hands? And does this include saving the souls of animals?
Notice these verses:
“It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body.And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit.Howbeit that was not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural; and afterward that which is spiritual.The first man is of the earth, earthy; the second man is the Lord from heaven.” (I Cor. 15:44-47 KJV)
Adam was made a living soul while Christ was made a quickening spirit through the resurrection. UNDERSTAND that souls do not enter into the kingdom of God. In addition, salvation is through Jesus Christ. No man can change a living soul into a quickening spirit.
“Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption.” (I Cor. 15:50 KJV)
So then winning souls means something different than the common consensus. It means that we have to influence people to behave righteously by behaving righteously as an example. If you look at the first part of Prov. 11:30 it refers to the fruits (works or deeds) of the righteous as a tree of life. Then it says that he who wins souls is wise. This shows the connection between a person who lives in the righteousness of God and the winning of souls. Remember people are subject to follow the example of a respectable person.
“Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed,In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.” (I Cor. 15:51-53 KJV)
Paul is referring to the second coming of Jesus Christ. God does not intend to bring corruptible living souls into the kingdom of God. (We recommend that you read the Incredible Human Potential. It is a thorough explanation of the change God intends us to go through to enter the kingdom of God.) Then the goal of the body of Christ is not to win souls, but to spread the message of the coming kingdom of God. It is true that encouraging people to live righteously through your example is wise.
Note the following verses:
“And as ye go, preach, saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand.” (Matt 10:7 KJV)
“And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.” (Mark 16:15 KJV)
Notice the significant difference between these commands and what Prov. 11:30 says. Proverbs is a declaration of wisdom. Christ gave a specific command. The bible does not command mass evangelism!!! It does not command the “winning of souls” as evangelists understand it; however, it does command the preaching of the message that Christ preached which is different from winning souls.
It should become obvious from reading your bible that the goal of any Christian is not to travel the world converting others. If people are converted by the message you preach then it is the will of God. Note the following verse:
“Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost” (Matt 28:19 KJV)
Many use this verse as evidence for evangelism while ignoring this next verse:
“No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day.” (John 6:44 KJV)
From this verse it is evident that no man can come to Christ unless God the Father draws that person near. The reality is that God the Father is not drawing the masses into Christ. We know this to be true because Christ deliberately spoke in parables so that many could not understand.
“And the disciples came, and said unto him, Why speakest thou unto them in parables?He answered and said unto them, Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given… Therefore speak I to them in parables: because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand.And in them is fulfilled the prophecy of Esaias, which saith, By hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and shall not perceive:For this people’s heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them.” (Matt. 13:10-11, 13-15 KJV)
Notice Jesus did not want others to understand what He was saying. When you couple these verses with John 6:44, you can see that people cannot fully understand the things of God unless God the Father draws them to Christ and gives them the Holy Spirit. This is why Jesus calls His people a little flock. He knew that they would be a small group of people. Look at the following verses:
“Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat:Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.” (Matt 7:13-14 KJV)
“Then said one unto him, Lord, are there few that be saved? And he said unto them,Strive to enter in at the strait gate: for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able.” (Luke 13:23-24 KJV)
At this time in human existence there are to be few who will find the way into life because God the Father is drawing a few near. The book of Revelation talks about the few being 144,000 firstfruits called by God in this age. Read Rev. 14:1-5. These people will be changed first into incorruptible spirit beings before the rest of mankind.
Despite this fact, God intends to bring all who live now and all who ever lived into His family!!! Understand that the universe is in a state of decay waiting for the adoption of mankind into God’s family to be complete. Read Rom. 8. It is important to know that this mass conversion of all human life is not until after Christ returns to this earth in all glory.
“For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ’s at his coming. Then cometh the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have put down all rule and all authority and power.For he must reign, till he hath put all enemies under his feet.” (I Cor. 15:22-25 KJV)
There is a clear order presented in these verses. This is the order in which humanity shall receive salvation. The firstfruits are first, then the remnant that are alive after the tribulation and Day of the Lord, then those resurrected after Christ’s 1000 year reign on earth. Read Rev. 20 and Ezek. 37 thoroughly. These two chapters explain what God intends to do for those who are not called into salvation now. Remember that presently God has chosen a few. This is the true timeline for the conversion of man into begotten sons of God.
It is not in God’s plan to convert the whole of humanity at this present time. God has chosen to call a few (144,000) individuals during the reign of human kingdoms. Those who are called now are to preach the gospel of the coming kingdom of God and warn people of the perilous times ahead!!! This is not the same as mass evangelism and randomly persuading people to be baptized.
Living souls will not inherit the kingdom of God!!! Men must be changed into spiritual beings after developing the character of God through following His laws and statues. Because man is not perfect, a sacrifice (Jesus Christ’s death) had to be made for the forgiveness of his sins. This sacrifice coupled with seeking God to abstain from sin is the only way anyone can be truly converted. This is done through receiving faith and the Spirit of God which are gifts from God. There is nothing in man that can cause him to develop the character of God. God’s gifts give us the power and faith to become like God.
Mass evangelism will not and cannot cause people to develop character like God!!! God has to draw a person near for this to happen. Again, God is not drawing everyone near presently. There is a time allotted for drawing everyone in God’s master plan.
If you intend to do anything for God, then you should focus on preaching what the real kingdom of God is. In addition, you should be warning people of the coming tribulation which is a result of human self-governess. The tribulation of man is a direct result of not letting God govern him, but God will show us the way to true peace when Jesus establishes His kingdom.