If there is anything Independent Baptists can hang their hats on, surely it is their soulwinning efforts. It has seemingly always been an emphasis. Even if we must point out areas worthy of reform, we must give credit where credit is truly due. Independent Baptists have carried the Gospel all over the world. Even the problem areas worthy of concern are not an issue in most Independent Baptist churches as only in a few is it a serious issue.
Can you imagine the number of doors knocked, the tracts given, the Scriptures printed, collated, and given over the years? It is absolutely incalculable. I have seen some of the boldest people among us walk right up to some brawny, agitated guy and tell them that Jesus came to save. I have seen so many times what I believe to be deep sincerity in one telling of the Blood of Christ that falls down as droplets of eternal life. I have seen the going and going, even when results were meager, all because Jesus is worthy. This is praiseworthy, and in addition to saying to God be the glory, I must say it is a heritage I am happy to be part of.
Sometimes, and I pray it grows rarer still, there is a pressure that spiritual people can always succeed in soulwinning efforts as long as proper (sales ?) methods are used. The teaching goes that the more spiritual you are, the more souls you will win. The Scriptural proof is quite dubious, but it is heralded as the Bible’s teaching no matter what. It is that old Gamaliel line of reasoning. Remember Gamaliel reasoned likewise before the Sanhedrin to deliver the Apostles in Acts 5:34-50. Though the Lord used it to get the Apostles out of jail, the logic of his argument was flawed to the core. If it were true, how would you explain the far greater growth of Islam over Christianity today?
Along those lines, how would you explain more souls being saved in the Book of Acts than during Jesus’ ministry? Most Bible students would answer “the Holy Spirit”, but if your belief is that it is the spirituality of the soulwinner that is key, then what have you just said about Jesus? Or what about that Christian we disagree with on many points, and therefore assume is less spiritual than we are, who wins more souls than we do? That is a tricky explanation to come up with, wouldn’t you agree? I guess when our thinking goes here we conveniently forget that we only plant and water, but there is Another Who gives the increase. I mean He exclusively gives the increase despite whatever illusions of grandeur we may become infected with.
The ugliest side of this involves the abuse of hungry souls in an effort to prove we possess the spirituality that only numbers can prove. I have heard church members and college students confess an intense pressure to deliver. A few crossed the ethical line in the sand to work in the barren fields of manipulative tactics. I have heard with my own ears the regret of some who more or less tricked someone into saying “the prayer” and ran back to the church to show the notches in the gun while Heaven shows nothing in its record book.
Then some people who do these things get elevated, they become the gurus. Some boast mind boggling numbers. Strangely, the attendance in their churches never really increase while baptisms run in the hundreds. Weird things happen like one child being baptized ten times, and of course counted in the statistics every time.
Since I believe this is a small majority of our churches, let’s not be intimidated when they dole out the spirituality awards. Let’s not allow ourselves to be ridiculed as long as we know we are faithful in giving out the Gospel. Giving the Gospel is, and always will be, a worthy activity. Let us be humble before the God Who gives the increase. That still is our mandate.
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