Soul Winning Done Wrong

Soul Winning Usually Taught as a Technique:
Salesmanship Rather Than  Work of the Spirit

Soul winning, as it is usually called in evangelical circles, by its very title takes a non-Biblical approach to presenting the Gospel of Christ. Unfortunately, it relies on salesmanship techniques to obtain the lost’s attention, convince them of the truth and secure their willingness to say “the prayer” inviting Christ into their heart.  None of these approaches are taught in the Bible and thus are doomed to failure.

How did Christians become seduced by worldly techniques used to sell soap and cars? These soul winning techniques are based on a false premise and unfortunately are supported by today’s apologetical techniques.

The false premise that dooms nearly every approach to present the Gospel of Christ to the lost is predicated on convincing the lost of the existence of God. This approach became popular as Enlightenment philosophers moved from Scholastic philosophy {assumption that God existed (though not as depicted in the Scriptures)} to modern philosophy {God does not exist}. These approaches suffer from the same false premise: the lost person can be convinced of God’s existence and that once the existence of God is proved the lost person will naturally accept the need for Christ.  The unintended consequence of convincing the lost actually puts the lost person in the position of judging the evidence concerning the truth of God.  By definition the lost will always reject the truth of God and thus the existence of God {God of the Bible}.

The Bible is very clear on this point, “The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned (1 Co 2:14).” Paul reinforces this conclusion again, “For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God (Ro 8: 7-8).” In essence, the lost person is incapable of understanding God; however, the Arminian {free will} religious philosophy so prevalent in today’s Protestant movements rejects this truth opening itself to this false premise approach to soul winning.

Free will means that one is free to choose between different alternatives. This requires that one’s nature is neither saved or lost; i.e., there must be a third alternative that is uninfluenced by either of these positions. However, this violates the Law of the Excluded Middle. The Bible clearly teaches that one is either a slave to God or a slave to sin (Ro 6:15-23). Paul states this even more clearly when he says that everyone who is in their sins is dead (Col 2:13-14). Every person ever born is born in sin. This means their nature is totally corrupted; i.e., unable to comprehend the truth of God, even of the existence of the God of the Bible. If one starts from this correct biblical premise one realizes that no one can convince any lost person of God.

What approach does the Bible present? “In the beginning, God… (Ge 1:1).” The Bible never makes a case for the existence of God. The very premise of the Bible from its beginning rests on the fact that God exists. This moves the discussion about God’s existence “off the table”. The Bible then states another premise, “…’None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God’ (Ro 3:10-11).” These quotes are not from Paul but quotes Paul gathered from the Old Testament demonstrating that these premises are truth for all sinners at all times. Thus, lost man is not free from the influence of sin and therefore is unable to decide for the existence of God. In other words, lost man will always reject the truth of God and supplant his own truths which are simply fictions (philosophies or pseudosciences) that support his sinful nature (Ro 1:18-32).

Therefore, having abandoned the truth of the Bible the Arminian religions must develop quasi-Bible philosophies in order to present the Gospel to the lost. This devolves into a series of salesmanship techniques that are simply borrowed from the world. Each week thousands of evangelical churches teach these techniques to eager workers seeking to do God’s will using worldly approaches. Since their premises are incorrect, their results are also uninspiring. Few of these converts actually enter a church or stay in a church. These are men’s converts with very, very few evidencing any evidence of a changed nature (2Co 5:17).

Apologetic techniques are also uninspiring in presenting the Gospel. The main thrust of apologetics is two-fold: 1) Demonstrate the incoherency of the lost person’s beliefs and 2) Demonstrate the coherency of the saved person’s beliefs. The lost will be unimpressed and hopefully the saved will be encouraged and continue maturing in Christ. One of the longest running Christian apologist has weak theological understanding and admits this. The apologist gives the reasons for belief in Christ and the fallacy of believing in the world; however, this is not the Gospel. God may use this as a tool to prepare the soul for receiving the Gospel and thus it does have value; however, it is not the Gospel.

“How can I convince someone about the truth of God?” The simply answer, “You cannot!” This is the work of the Holy Spirit (Jo 3:1-8). This means that God is the author of a person’s salvation. Christ stated this quite eloquently in the parable of the Sower (Mt 13:1-23). Christ uses us to scatter the Gospel. Just as the sower has no control or power over which seed germinates or how it grows, so do we have no power over how a person may respond to the Gospel. It is God who prepares the heart, reveals the truth and saves the person through the word of God (Ro 10:9-17). This removes any boasting from both the one who is saved and the human messenger who brings the Gospel; thus, only Christ receives the glory for salvation.

If it is all up to God, why preach the Gospel? Hmm, Paul stated this very question and answered it both in word and in deed (Ro 9:19-24). Paul clearly believed in the total depravity of man and his inability to accept the truth of God unless God had quickened him, made him alive in Christ. He spent his life post salvation preaching the Gospel at great personal cost, even his life. Yet, he understood that it was not about him and his efforts but about God and whom He would call to be His (Ep 1:7-14).

By teaching “soul winning techniques” evangelicalism has stuffed itself with false converts that are now turning these churches from belief in Christ to belief in the world; i.e., into those in support of Christendom who reject the truth of God for the philosophies of the world. This was implied in the progression of the letters to the churches in Revelation. At best these churches lose their first love in Christ and at worst they become apostate, loosing the light of Christ while teaching the lies of Lucifer. Soul winning is nothing more than speaking the truth of God in everyday conversation with family, friends, acquaintances and the lost world in general. Those who are attracted to the truth will be guided by the Holy Spirit as will you in speaking with them {there is no secret formula for success}. These who reject the truth cannot be convinced but you still speak the truth. In the Gospels Christ spoke the truth to a religious, hostile audience with very few converts. He was killed for His efforts but He never wavered from the truth. The same could be said for Paul. Can the same be said for you or I? Rather than teach about the error of being lost or convincing them of the truth of the Bible, making them judges over God and His word, maybe we should do as they did in Acts and just teach the truth of Christ, live the truth of Christ and, if need be, suffer as did Christ and Stephen and Paul and all who hold to the truth which the world hates.

Author: LeeS

Retired naval nurse, Dad, Husband, Christian who seeks to share the Bible with those who want more than the superficial milk given out in the majority of today's churches. God has taught me through hard experiences as well as through book learning (Master's of Ministry, Doctor of Ministry).