He That Wins Souls
Is Wise (Part 1)
By inspiration, Solomon wrote, “The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life; and he that winneth souls is wise” (Prov. 11:30). In a day and age when the Great Commission has become the Great Omission, we need to be reminded of the wisdom of winning souls (Mt. 28:18-20).
It Is Wise To Win Souls Because God Declared Such
This statement didn’t spring from fallible man, but from an infallible God (Rom. 11:33). Likely, those in our world don’t see winning souls as a wise use of one’s time (life). As you know, the preaching of the cross is foolishness to them that perish. However, to those of us who are saved, it is the power and the wisdom of God (1 Cor. 1:18, 21). Our world would call the rich farmer who purposed to lay up goods so that he could eat, drink, and be merry for many years wise (Lk. 12:13-21). However, God called him a fool.
It Is Wise To Win Souls Because Jesus Did Such
Jesus came to “seek and to save that which was lost” (Lk. 19:10; 1 Tim. 1:15, 17). Jesus spent His life doing those things that pleased His Father (John 8:29). As you know, God was well pleased with His Son and twice declared such from heaven (Mt. 3:17; 17:5). On Pentecost, Peter declared that Jesus was “a man approved of God” (Acts 2:22). As you know, Jesus left us an example that we should follow in His steps (1 Pet. 2:21). We are supposed to be walking as He walked (1 John 2:6).
It Is Wise To Win Souls Because The Soul Demands Such
Just one soul is worth more than the whole world (Mt. 16:26). There simply is no greater work in which we can be involved because of that which we are trying to save. The word that we have been given has the power to save souls (Jam. 1:21; Rom. 1:16). How can we sit idly by with the antidote while our neighbor dies from the snakebite of sin? How can we sit idly by with the water of life while our neighbor dies from spiritual thirst?
Arnold Glasgow observed, “One of the true tests of leadership is the ability to recognize a problem before it becomes an emergency.”
As you know, the father is the leader of the family (Eph. 5:23; 6:1-4; Gen. 18:19). As the leader, the father must identify problems before they become emergencies. For example, the father must recognize that the family car has well over 100,000 miles on it and may begin to have mechanical problems. For the safety of his wife and kids, he may have to start thinking about getting a new car. He may get a tune-up on the car or have a mechanic check it out. He may start watching for a good deal on another car. Whatever he does, the time for the father to start thinking about the condition of the family car is before his wife calls from the side of the interstate four hours from home with a screaming baby in the car in one hundred degree heat. Although the father doesn’t want a new car, or for sure a new car payment, he must not wait until the problem becomes an emergency. He must have the vision to look ahead and make the necessary preparation. In like manner, a father must not wait till his teenage son stands before him telling him he has fathered a child out of wedlock or till his teenage daughter stands before him telling him that she is pregnant out of wedlock to do something. He must work diligently to identify problems with attire, associates, and actions long before they become the emergency just described (1 Tim. 2:9; 1 Cor. 15:33). No doubt, as fathers, we will not catch everything. Some emergencies will arise no matter what we do. However, we should do our best to prevent as many of them as we can by dealing with problems long before they get to that point.
Elders or shepherds lead local congregations (Acts 20:28). Like the father in the home (1 Tim. 3:4), they too must identify problems before they become emergencies. For example, if there are only two men in an eldership, they may want to begin the process of finding a third elder. After all, they are one heart attack, one stroke, one job transfer, or one diagnosis with cancer away from not having an eldership. Although a third elder might be classified as a want (at the moment), since a congregation can scripturally exist with two elders, it nonetheless can quickly turn into an emergency. Wise are the elders who have the vision to see this and to make the necessary preparation. Elders must make the same preparation when the building and parking near capacity. They must make plans to build or expand. Of course, other problems are always lurking. These problems must also be handled with the great vision.
As Father’s Day approaches, let me challenge our fathers, and those who lead in other capacities, to strive to recognize problems before they become emergencies. Let’s make our Heavenly Father proud by becoming the kind of leaders that He would have us to be.
Sprinkling, Pouring, or Immersion?
Those in the religious world differ on the acceptable mode of baptism. Some support sprinkling, while others promote pouring. Some insist that immersion is the only way, while others argue that any mode will do. How do we determine which answer is right? Let me suggest that we go to God’s word and let it be our authority (Col. 3:17). After all, we will one day be judged by it (John 12:48).
Although modern usage of the word baptism, such as that found in an English dictionary, may include sprinkling and pouring as possible meanings, New Testament usage does not do so. The Greek word for baptism means “to dip, to plunge, to immerse.” Although an understanding of Greek is helpful, one does not have to be a student of New Testament Greek to arrive at the proper meaning of baptism. The meaning of the word is clearly established in a number of New Testament passages. Please consider the following:
“Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life” (Rom. 6:3-4; Col. 2:12). Please note that baptism is referred to as a burial. As you know, when someone is buried, they are completely covered with dirt. Sprinkling or pouring a little dirt on them is not burying them. In like manner, baptism is a burial in water. Those who are baptized must be completely covered with water. When we are baptized, we obey a form or pattern of doctrine (Rom. 6:17). We die, are buried, and rise to walk in newness of life just like our Lord did. Sprinkling and pouring will not fit this pattern. Our Lord was placed in a sepulcher with a huge stone sealing the door. Above, below, behind, and in front of him was stone. He was buried.
“And John also was baptizing in Aenon near to Salim, because there was much water there: and they came, and were baptized” (John 3:23). Please note why John was baptizing in Aenon – “because there was much water there.” Why did John need “much water?” Would sprinking or pouring require “much water?” Clearly, they would not. However, immersion would.
“And he commanded the chariot to stand still: and they went down both into the water, both Philip and the eunuch; and he baptized him” (Acts 8:38). Clearly, for sprinkling or pouring it would not have been necessary for anyone to get into the water. However, a burial or immersion in water would have required such.
I wish space would allow me to elaborate on this important matter, but it will not. Hopefully, these verses are enough to help those seeking truth to understand that immersion is the correct mode of baptism.
The Man Who Broke Into Auschwitz
Denis Avey's story is hard to believe, but it is true. He is known to history as the man who broke into Auschwitz. You heard that right. He broke into, not out of, Auschwitz.
I suppose the first question is, Why would anyone break into Auschwitz? To make a long story short, Avey broke into the notorious concentration/extermination camp to be an eyewitness to history so that after the war men would know what happened there. He had doubts that any Jews would actually survive to tell the story.
The second question is, How did he break into Auschwitz? Denis Avey was a soldier in the British Army. He was captured by the Germans while fighting Rommel in the desert. He escaped briefly when the ship that he was being transported in was torpedoed and sank. However, he was quickly recaptured and sent to a prison camp in Poland that bordered Auschwitz III. Although Avey's conditions as a prisoner of war were not good, they were far better than the ghostly figures that he saw on the other side of the fence. Eventually, Avey became friends with a Jewish inmate named Hans. On two different occasions, Avey and Hans changed positions for a day. They met in a wooden shed that bordered the two camps and quickly changed into each other's clothes. Avey described in detail his emotions as he took off his British uniform and boots to put on the dirty, striped uniform and rough, wooden shoes of his friend. The little protection and comfort that his uniform provided him under the Geneva convention was gone when he became a stripey. For a short time, Avey was one of them. He was walking in their shoes.
As amazing as this story is, you and I know an even better one. We know the story of One who left the ivory palace of heaven for a poor man’s cottage in Nazareth. In Psalms, we read, “Your throne, O God, is forever and ever; A scepter of righteousness is the scepter of Your kingdom.
You love righteousness and hate wickedness; Therefore God, Your God, has anointed You With the oil of gladness more than Your companions. All Your garments are scented with myrrh and aloes and cassia, Out of the ivory palaces, by which they have made You glad” (Psa. 45:6-8). We know the story of One who didn’t just put on our garments, but our nature (Phil. 2:5-8; John 1:14; 13:4). We know the story of One who fully understands what it is to be one of us (Heb. 2:10-18; 4:15). We know the story of One who died to set us free (Heb. 2:9; Rom. 5:6-10). Let's make sure that we tell His story for the world to hear!
Three Kinds of Sin
There are few subjects that you can preach on that you know cover every person in the audience. Sin is one of those subjects. Sin is a problem that we all have (Rom 3:23; 1 John 1:8-10). Sin is from a Greek word (harmatia) which means “to miss the mark.” It is to fall short of the glory of God and to transgress God’s law (1 John 3:4). The Bible identifies three kinds of sin.
Sins of Commission
The psalmist declared, “We have sinned with our fathers, we have committed iniquity, we have done wickedly” (Psa 106:6). Notice first the word committed. This word identifies the kind of sin that we are talking about. Then, notice three words for sin - sinned, committed iniquity, and done wickedly. These three terms are just different ways of referring to the breaking of God’s law. We have an example of this kind of sin in the case of Achan. We read, “Did not Achan the son of Zerah commit a trespass in the accursed thing, and wrath fell on all the congregation of Israel? and that man perished not alone in his iniquity” (Josh. 22:20). Notice the word commit. This identifies the kind of sin that is under consideration. Notice also the words trespass and iniquity. These are two more ways that the Bible refers to sin.
Sins of Omission
Jesus declared, “Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone” (Mat. 23:23). First, notice the word omitted. This identifies the kind of sin that is under consideration. These individuals had omitted the weightier matters of the law - judgment, mercy, and faith. Yet, at the same time they were giving tithes of the smallest spices - mint, anise, and cumin. No doubt, they wanted men to praise them for giving a tenth of these tiny things. Jesus wasn’t impressed. They were majoring in minors and minoring in majors. We must be careful not to be guilty of omissions of our own. James wrote, “Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin” (Jam. 4:17).
Sins of Disposition
God looks on the heart (1 Sam 16:7; Heb. 4:12). He sees our thoughts afar off (Psa. 139:2). We can sin not only in our bodies, but also in our hearts and minds. Solomon wrote, “An high look, and a proud heart, and the plowing of the wicked, is sin” (Prov 21:4). Please note that a proud heart is sin. In the twenty-fourth chapter, Solomon wrote, “He that deviseth to do evil shall be called a mischievous person. The thought of foolishness is sin: and the scorner is an abomination to men” (Prov 24:8-9). Here, we read of a thought that is sin. Other passages will affirm the same. Isaiah wrote, “Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the LORD, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon” (Isa. 55:7; cf. Mt. 15:19). In like manner, Jesus declared, “Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery: But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart” (Mt. 5:27-28; cf. 2 Pet. 2:14). Please note that it isn’t just the act that is sin, but also the thought. The person who takes pleasure in the sin of others is as worthy of death as them. Paul wrote, “Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them” (Rom. 1:32).
We must avoid all sin. Sins of commission, omission, and disposition are all forbidden. They all pay the wages of death (Rom. 6:23).