"I was not disobedient to the heavenly vision," said Paul, and in that saying he reveals the
secret of his wonderful success as a soul-winner. The soul-winner is a man sent by God, and will
have visions and revelations and secret orders that, if affectionately heeded and heartily and
courageously obeyed, will surely lead to success. He is preeminently "a worker together with
God," and a soldier of Jesus Christ, and as such must obey. It is his business to take orders and
carry them out.
"Before I formed thee I knew thee, and before thou camest forth I sanctified thee and I
ordained thee a prophet unto the nation," said the Lord to Jeremiah, and when Jeremiah interrupted
and said, "Ah, Lord God, behold I cannot speak, for I am a child," the Lord said to him, "Say not I
am a child, for thou shalt go to all that I shall send thee, and whatsoever I command thee thou shalt
speak. Be not afraid of their faces, for I am with thee to deliver thee," saith the Lord; "thou
therefore gird up thy loins and arise and speak unto them all that I shall command thee. Be not
dismayed at their faces lest I confound thee before them."
"If they had stood in My counsel and had caused My people to hear My words, then they
should have turned them from their evil way and from the evil of their doings," said the Lord of the
false prophets. (Jeremiah 23:22.)
"Not what is proper, but what is right must be my fearless and constant inquiry. Jesus, still
lead on!" was the motto of Joseph Parker, one of London's mightiest preachers.
The soul-winner must get his message from God and speak what and when He commands.
He is a servant of God, a friend of Jesus, a prophet of the Most High, an ambassador of heaven to
the sons of men, and he must needs speak heaven's words and represent heaven's court and King
and not seek his own will, but seek the will of Him that sent him. "Behold, to obey is better than
sacrifice." He must not trim his course to suit men, nor stop to ask what this man or that shall do,
but he must attend strictly to his Lord and steadfastly follow Jesus. Paul tells us that Jesus was
"obedient unto death" (Phil. 2:8), and again and again he calls himself "a servant of Jesus Christ."
First: This obedience must be prompt. In spite of the appeals and encouragements of Joshua
and Caleb, the children of Israel refused to go over into Canaan, but afterwards, seeing their sin in
refusing to obey promptly, they essayed to go over in spite of the warnings of Moses not now to
attempt it, and met with bitter defeat. Promptness would have saved them forty years of wandering
in the wilderness. Once the soul-winner knows the Master's will, he must not delay to fulfill it. If
he is in doubt he can take time to assure himself as to what that will is. God would not have him
run before he is sure he is sent, nor go before he has his message, nor falter and possibly fall
because of uncertainty. But once he has received his orders and got his message, let him remember
that "the King's business requires haste;" let him "strike while the iron is hot;" act and speak when
the Spirit moves, and not, like covetous Balaam, dilly-dally to see if God will not change His mind
and His orders.
Dewey's matchless victory at Manila was won, and the geographical boundaries of the
nations changed, by the promptness with which he carried out his orders to destroy the Spanish
I have noticed that if I speak when the Spirit moves me, I can usually introduce the subject
of religion and God's claims to any individual or company of men with happy results, but if I
delay, the opportunity slips by, not to return again, or if it does return, it does so with increased
Second: This obedience must be exact. Saul lost his kingdom and his life because his
obedience was only partial. (See 1 Sam. 15.) So also did the prophet who warned the wicked
King Jeroboam. (See 1 Kings, 13.)
"Whatsoever he saith unto you, do it," said Mary to the servants at the marriage of Cana,
and when they obeyed Him Jesus wrought His first miracle. And so He will work miracles today
through His chosen people, if they will do whatever He saith. The soul-winner must beware of
quenching the blessed Spirit, and then he will find that it is not himself but the Spirit that speaks in
him, so that he can say with Jesus, "The words that I speak, I speak not of Myself, but the Father
that dwelleth in Me, He doeth the works," for does not Jesus say, "Whatsoever ye shall ask the
Father in My name, that will I do"?
Third: This obedience must be courageous. "Be not afraid of their faces," said the Lord to
Jeremiah. And again He said to Ezekiel, "And thou, son of man, be not afraid of them, neither be
afraid of their words, though briers and thorns be with thee, and thou dost dwell among scorpions.
Be not afraid of their words, nor be dismayed at their looks, though they be a rebellious house.
And thou shalt speak My words unto them, whether they will hear or whether they will forbear."
He was not to say that which would please the people, but that which God gave him to say, and
that without fear of consequences.
"And Saul said unto Samuel, I have sinned, for I have transgressed the commandments of
the Lord, because I feared the people and obeyed their voice." No wonder God cast him off and
gave his crown and kingdom to another! God says, "Fear thou not, for I am with thee; be not
dismayed, for I am thy God; I will strengthen thee: yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee
with the right hand of My righteousness." Let the soul-winner recognize that he is on picket duty for
heaven, and let him throw himself on heaven's protection and rest in the assurance of his Heavenly
Father's care, and the utmost sympathy and support of Jesus, and do his duty courageously, saying
with Paul, "I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me."
Again and again I have comforted myself with the assurance of good King Jehoshaphat,
"Deal courageously and the Lord shall be with the good," and encouraged myself with the bold
declaration of Peter to the enraged and outwitted Sanhedrin, "We ought to obey God rather than
men," and measured myself by the self-forgetful words of Nehemiah, "Should such a man as I flee,
and who is there that being as I am would go into the temple to save his life? I will not go in."
(Neh. 6:11.) And of Paul "Neither count I my life dear unto myself. so that I might finish my course
with joy and the ministry which I have received of the Lord Jesus to testify the gospel of the grace
of God." And of the three Hebrew children: "O Nebuchadnezzar, we are not careful to answer thee
in this matter. If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery
furnace, and He will deliver us out of thine hand, O king; but if not, O, king, be it known unto thee
that we will not serve thy gods nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up."
That is the kind of stuff out of which God makes soul-winners.
Do you ask, how can a man get such a spirit of courageous obedience? I answer by dying --
dying to your selfish interests, dying to the love of praise, the fear of censure, the hope of reward
in this world, and by a daredevil faith in the reward that God will give in the world to come; by a
steadfast looking unto and following of Jesus, and a constant comparison of time with eternity. I
read the other day that it was only dead men who were living preachers.
Fourth: The obedience must be glad. The command is, "Serve the Lord with gladness." "I
delight to do thy will, O God," wrote the Psalmist. There was no grudging about his obedience; it
was his joy. It is a love service God wants, and that is always a joy service. "My meat and My
drink is to do the will of Him that sent Me," said Jesus, and Paul declares, "If I do this thing
willingly, I have a reward." It is a glad love service God calls us to, and once we are wholly His
and the Comforter abides in us, we shall not find it irksome to obey, and by obedience we shall
both save ourselves and others to whom the Lord may send us.