The post below is written by my husband. This was on his heart and mind today and it’s so good I just had to share.
The fruit of righteousness is a tree of life and he who wins souls is wise. (Proverbs 11:30)
I’m struck by the phrase, “he who wins souls is wise.” That seems to be a straight up reference to witnessing. And maybe this is because that is the way it is usually referenced. There is no doubt as to the translation, it is the interpretation that is tainted religiously.
The thought contained in the phrase has to do with influence and persuasion. Not that this takes away from the evangelical bent, but truly someone one who persuades another into a way of living and thinking, even believing, that rescues and delivers that person from destruction, is wise.
As one internet search result puts it, “if one who wins souls is wise, then the Anti-Christ must be really wise.” A totally twisted perspective, but it makes a point.
And the point is… what is the point of evangelism? I have to admit that I have an issue with the starting point of asking someone if they died tonight what would happen to their soul. This may have been an effective and relevant question at some given time, but it rings hollow with me. I’ve been a Christian for 25 plus years and rarely in my walk with the Lord am I concerned with eternity. I admit that I rarely think about Heaven. Honestly, I don’t think the emphasis of God’s Word is to get saved so we can go to Heaven. That is a byproduct.
The real point is living and living now. When did Jesus ask someone if they died tonight would they go to Heaven? Instead Jesus spoke to someone about their immediate present, their “right here and now.” He taught His disciples to pray, “your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” “Is” – present tense verb meaning currently happening. Now.
Most of us, at least me, are concerned with now and with the soon to be now. Yes, if I get run over by a bus, then the question of Heaven or Hell becomes a now issue, otherwise, I’m concerned with paying the rent, food for my family, making the right decisions at work, making the right decisions for my family. All of these and more very pressing issues are directly linked to me relying on my Heavenly Father and His wisdom. Good or bad, I’m living in this moment, not the future. I’m concerned with my present righteousness or lack thereof, not if I’m going to play a harp in the clouds. And that brings me to discipling.
“Make disciples.” Baptizing in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you. I see a lot of the activity of handing out tracts with the intent of “saving souls” so they go to Heaven as a perversion of the truth. There’s a certain sense of “selling” the gospel to me that I think cheapens who Jesus is and what He did on the cross. It also cheapens what salvation is. Salvation is more than going to heaven. Remember my issues with the present realities of living? Right choices, provision of housing, food and clothing, deliverance from temptation and evil, the moral and spiritual will to resist temptation and do the right thing; these things are the stuff of salvation. Sozos in Greek. †σώζω sṓzō, sode’-zo; from a primary σῶς sōs (contraction for obsolete σάος sáos, “safe”); to save, i.e. deliver or protect (literally or figuratively):—heal, preserve, save (self), do well, be (make) whole. (Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance). I like the last part of the definition – be whole; spirit, soul, body; financially, physically, mentally, emotionally – you get the picture.
Honestly, when I committed my life to Christ, it had nothing to do with me wanting to go to Heaven. It had nothing to do with me wanting to stay out of Hell. It had everything to do with me realizing that all my wisdom and ability was worthless. It had everything to do with me needing the mercy and power of the Creator to lift me out of the landfill of a life I had created and give me the plans, strategies and abilities to make it a garden.
The real power of the gospel is the testimony of people whose lives have been changed. I can readily empathize with someone with marital issues or going through divorce because I’ve been there. Not only been there, but God miraculously worked in me so that my marriage was resurrected. I empathize with parents having trouble raising rebellious children because God has showed me how to raise my own (and it starts with humbling yourself before Him and praying for His wisdom and ways). I know the pain and grief of death, I know the poignant joy of birth. I have fought the fight of faith and through it all God remains faithful and true to His word. That is what I can witness about.
So why only talk about if you die will you go to Heaven?