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Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men.

Matthew 5: 13

Awake to righteousness, and sin not; for some have not the knowledge of God: I speak this to your shame.

I Corinthians 15: 34

he Church in America must have a change in vocabulary. Our door-to-door visitation campaigns, our street preaching programs and all of our various outreach efforts must be renamed. We must no longer refer to these things as "soulwinning". We must be honest and call them what they are. We must call them "soul-losing".

There is, after all, no great benefit in flattering ourselves. There's no benefit in using inaccurate terminology. We ought to call a spade a spade, and if we are not winning, then we are losing. Many multiplied thousands of man-hours have been spent, many tens of thousands of dollars have been blown, church budgets have been taxed and church bank accounts have been depleted, futilely invested in games, gimmicks, go-carts and give-aways, all to no profit. A dear, aged, godly preacher friend of mine has told me with a broken heart looking back across the decades, "We have fished all night and caught nothing".

It's true, every now and then, a profession of faith is extracted. Every now and then someone bows their head and repeats a prayer. But where are the mighty conversions? Where are the transformed lives? Where are the marvellous testimonies, so frequent, so familiar in bygone generations - the drunkard walking the sawdust trail, broken over his wickedness, tearfully repenting and turning to God and being revolutionized, made into a sober husband, a godly father and an upstanding pillar of the community, or even a preacher of righteousness? Where are the harlots, devastated with Holy Spirit conviction over their licentiousness, crying out and pleading with God to make them virtuous women through the transforming power of the blood of Christ and the New Birth? Where are the John Bunyans of our day? Where are the Billy Sundays? Where are the salvaged lives, the salvaged homes, the changed communities, the closed saloons, the testimonies of sinners radically converted by mighty Gospel power?

They are frighteningly absent. So I repeat, we must change out terminology. We are not soulwinners, we are soul-losers.

The church at Corinth faced the same crisis. The Apostle Paul rebuked them with the fact that some had not the knowledge of God. He felt that they were to blame for that, and that they ought to be ashamed of themselves. They were not soulwinners. They were soul-losers.

What's remarkable though was the Apostle Paul's diagnoses of the situation. If it had been a modern Baptist preacher writing to the church at Corinth, he would have had plenty of ideas to share with them. He would have had ideas about a systematic door-to-door canvassing campaign, perhaps some special services designed specially to draw a crowd or perhaps even some open-air street meetings. And if he were truly visionary, perhaps he would try to help organize an old-fashioned city-wide evangelistic Crusade.

Now don't misunderstand me. All of these things are good. Let me be the first to say that we need more of these very things. But when the Apostle Paul diagnosed the problem at Corinth, these were not the root issues that concerned him. The root issue was the Corinthians themselves. The root issue was their wicked lifestyles, their degenerate doctrine, their lack of church order and their refusal to practice church discipline. He saw a definite and direct correlation between the immorality and doctrinal degeneracy of the church of Corinth and their ineffectiveness as soulwinners. And so he cries out in rebuke, "Awake to righteousness, and sin not; for some have not the knowledge of God: I speak this to your shame".

Let this serve as a rebuke to those who ignore doctrine and doctrinal purity and matters of practical separation and dismiss it all by saying, "That's not important. That's not the main thing. Just go soulwinning". My friend, you can go soulwinning day and night and never be pleasing to God or have the blessing of God or the power of the Holy Spirit because your doctrine or your lifestyle is perverse and grievous in the eyes of God. You may see some "decisions". Someone here or there may pray a prayer. But you won't see real conversions. You won't reap a real harvest to God's glory. You won't be a soulwinner. You'll just continue being a soul-loser.

So this assessment of the Apostle Paul is pertinent to us today, especially in the United States of America. Let's be honest with ourselves. Let's face the facts. We're not soulwinners, we're soul-losers. And the root cause is not just our lack of effort. It is our perverted theology, our carnality, our materialism, our worldliness, our licentious lifestyles, our lack of Biblical church order and our stubborn,

willful, and rebellious refusal to practice church discipline. God can't bless our efforts because of our sin and false doctrine.


Paul's admonition to the church at Corinth then is equally pertinent. We need to hear it anew today: "Awake to righteousness, and sin not; for some have not the knowledge of God: I speak this to your shame".

I'm going to begin with the obvious. "Sin not". That's not complex, is it? Stop sinning. Give up your sins. Sam Jones would say, "Quit your meanness". Daniel, in the book that bears his name said, "break off thy sins by righteousness" (Daniel 4: 27). Solomon, in the book of Proverbs said, "He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy" (Proverbs 28: 13).

We don't hear preaching of that kind much anymore. It certainly isn't popular today and people criticize it and say that it isn't "balanced", but it's exactly what we need. Right now, everyone wants to preach these "encouraging" messages, these "uplifting" messages. We have a lot of heartwarming messages, a lot of sentimental messages, a lot of "inspirational" messages, but not the kind of preaching that Jesus and the Apostles delivered. The sort of preaching that God used so mightily in the great revivals throughout history - from Peter's message on the day of Pentecost to the preaching of Jonathan Edwards and George Whitefield during the Great Awakening to the city-wide evangelistic Crusades of Billy Sunday - was the kind that confronted sinners with their sin, their transgressions of God's Holy Law (I John 3: 4), that pierced their hearts with conviction (Acts 2: 37), and drove them to cry out, "What shall we do?"

So that is the obvious. "Sin not". "Break off thy sins by righteousness". Confess them. Forsake them. "Quit your meanness".


But the reality is that we won't break of our sins until we awaken spiritually, until we experience revival. This is really the underlying issue, is it not? We are slumbering, the Church is sleeping. We are like Christian at the arbor on Difficulty Hill, fast asleep. Our evidence has fallen out of our hands. We've lost our testimony, our savour. We need a great awakening.

And the New Testament is very concerned with this very problem. Notice how many times the Apostle Paul addresses this tendency in his Epistles. We have I Corinthians 15: 34, which we have been discussing. Then he says the same thing again Ephesians 5: "Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light". And we can't forget Romans 13: 11, where he says, "it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed". And it was the Lord Jesus Christ who warned the disciples to watch, "Lest coming suddenly he find you sleeping" (Mark 13: 35 - 36).

You see, the Apostle Paul knew, and the Lord Jesus Christ knew, and God the Holy Spirit knew when these verses were written just how prone our human nature is to relax and to drift off into spiritual slumber when we ought to be waiting and watching and serving our Master. How many times has this happened to you? You hear a convicting message at church on Sunday and you know that the Holy Spirit is dealing with your heart about an important issue. It's heavy on your heart and on your mind, but you come home after church, you flop down on the couch, you flip on the television (there's your first mistake right there), and before you know it, you've forgotten all about what God was doing in your heart. Of course, you remember on an intellectual level. You can still remember the sermon and the matter that you felt convicted over. But the conviction itself is gone. You've ignored the Holy Spirit of God, you've quenched him, and now he's no longer dealing with you about it. You've drifted off into spiritual slumber.

And so it's necessary for the Church and for the individual believer to awaken. We must rouse ourselves. Samson lost his power while he was sleeping (Judges 16: 19 - 20). Sisera died a horrendous and shameful death while he slept (Judges 4: 21). And our "adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour" (I Peter 5: 8). And Christ's Church is certainly being devoured today, because we have left off to be sober and vigilant and have fallen asleep. And we are losing souls, not winning souls as a result.

Shame on us. Shame on us for sleeping when we should be waiting, watching and serving our Master. Shame on us for our sin, our doctrinal impurity and perversion, our carnality, our materialism, our licentious lifestyles, our lack of church order and our stubborn, willful, rebellious refusal to practice church discipline. Shame on us that so many all around us have not the knowledge of God as a result. Shame on us for being soul-losers, not soulwinners. May God forgive us. May God give us grace to repent of our sins, our wrong theology, our permissive attitudes towards sin in our own lives and the lives of others and the wicked disorders that afflict our churches. May God in his mercy send us a new Great Awakening. Amen and amen.