Satan hates soulsaving more than any other human activity. With the collaboration of the fallen angels, his greatest efforts are to prevent the salvation of souls. He knows by the light of fulfilled prophecy that he will ultimately be destroyed, and he wants to carry along to destruction with him the greatest number of human beings possible. As the saying goes, "Misery loves company."
It is Satan's determined will to make the love of God as it has been manifested in the sacrifice of Christ appear of no avail. If he can persuade men and women to reject Christ's wonderful salvation, he considers this a victory over Christ. He knows that every time an individual definitely rejects salvation the heart of Christ suffers. His constant effort is to oppose every evangelistic agency.
Satan is the greatest enemy of evangelism. With his sly insinuations to the men who are in power he tries to thwart every committee action that is taken regarding soul winning. With powerful arguments, based on their many responsibilities or much-needed rest, he goes all out to dissuade ministers from visiting the homes of the people. By every possible means and device he is determined that the people shall not know the truth. The devil is the greatest impediment to soul winning.
Transforming the Human Mind
It can be proved through the Bible and the Spirit of prophecy that in dealing with the souls of men we need to have an understanding of the human mind. In Romans 12:2 we learn that in order to understand the will of God and follow Him, the mind must first be changed. Satan, in order to prevent the acceptance of truth by the people, blinds or paralyzes their minds. In order to change their attitude toward life and salvation, it is necessary first for the evangelist to get behind Satan's iron curtain. In order to accomplish this, he must avail himself of a power superior to and stronger than that of Satan. He cannot bring people into the message in his own strength, by his own wisdom, or by hard work alone. He is too weak to battle by himself against the deceptive subtlety of the powerful fallen angels.
There is only one Being who can defeat Satan's designs with man's cooperation, and that is the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit accomplishes five definite things in order that the human mind may be willing to accept the salvation that God provides:
Five Major Operations of the Holy Spirit Influencing the Human Mind
1. "The Holy Spirit is the agent that opens human minds to the truth."—Evangelism, p. 169. It is a positive truth that the Holy Spirit is the only one who can release the blind or paralyzed mind that is dominated by Satan.
2. "Ministers must seek God for His Holy Spirit, in order that they may present the truth aright."—Ibid., p. 663. The Holy Spirit not only opens the minds of the hearers of the gospel but also works through the mind of the one who proclaims the truth so that it will be presented aright. This is an exceedingly important factor in casting down the barriers of prejudice and opposition.
3. "Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth" (John 16:13). The Holy Spirit guides in such an easy, fascinating, and pleasant way that people begin to love the truth as it is presented.
4. The fourth operation is to "walk humbly with God" so "He will give His Holy Spirit and will minister to them through the agency of holy angels to make right impressions upon human minds."—I bid., p. 629.
Here is a man blinded by sin and a woman paralyzed by false doctrines. Satan dominates both their minds. Only as the minister is guided by the power of the Holy Spirit and surrounded
by invisible angels, can his efforts be effective to transform the mind dominated by Satan. Wherever the Holy Spirit is, wherever the holy angels are—and apparently there are two for each fallen angel—Satan cannot prevail. He flees, and the imprisoned mind is free to be influenced by the Holy Spirit. But man himself, exercising the power of choice, has the last word.
5. It is at this point that the Holy Spirit works the fifth miracle. "It is the power of the Holy Spirit that gives efficacy to your efforts and your appeals."—Ibid., p. 285. When the individual who is interested in the message is asked to accept the precious truths, the Holy Spirit will give power to the appeal and make it effective. Therefore, the required armament that the soul winner needs in the battle to liberate the enslaved soul is the Holy Spirit, the third person of the Godhead.
The Spirit has unlimited power. Throughout the Old and the New Testament we have evidence that the prophets and apostles were used by the Holy Spirit to work miracles and to accomplish the seemingly impossible. It is a marvelous subduing thought that God has honored the true minister today by enabling him to become the temple where the Holy Spirit may dwell. Through a will surrendered to His unerring guidance in all things, the minister may also accomplish the seemingly impossible.
When the soul winner's life is completely surrendered to the will of the Holy Spirit, according to Galatians 5:22 (R.S.V.), there will be
seen simultaneously nine different characteristics in his personality. They are "love, joy,
peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithful-
ness, gentleness, self-control." It is clearly pointed out that there will be seen not just
one fruit of the Spirit but nine personality
traits. Because the word is singular, this denotes a composite fruit with nine distinct parts
or flavors of personality. The Spirit of prophecy tells us that all nine traits are indispensable in soul winning.
Love is the most essential of all. "A true evangelist is a lover of souls."—ibid., p. 116. "Let them see that you love their souls."—Ibid.,
p. 141. "Christ drew the hearts of His hearers to Him by the manifestation of His love."— Ibid., p. 57. "Love must be the prevailing element in all our work."—Ibid., p. 303. "In order to break down the barriers of prejudice and impenitence the love of Christ must have a part in every discourse."—Ibid., p. 285. Therefore love is the precious seed of this wonderful fruit. And like the seed, it has in it a germinating principle.
The reason why so few have this love is that the Holy Spirit does not live in their life. Love sacrifices itself for the good and joy of others. No true love can be manifested without the presence of the Holy Spirit. People who join the church often do so because of the love of God that flows out of the heart of the man of God rather than because of the convincing arguments of Bible doctrines. The individual will be subdued by the love of God only as he sees it through the life of the worker.
The second quality is joy. Joy originates from two fountains: First, it is a result of a righteous and peaceful life. Second, the most lasting joy comes from soul winning. Paul wrote to his converts at Thessalonica, "For ye are our glory and joy." To the Corinthians he said after they repented from their evil work as a result of his first letter, "Now I rejoice." There is no more thrilling and lasting joy in all this world than having been the instrument in the hands of the Holy Spirit for the conversion of a sinner.
The third quality is peace. This can be achieved when a man guided by the Holy Spirit lives in harmony with the will of God as manifested in His eternal law. "O that thou hadst hearkened to my commandments! then had thy peace been as a river, and thy righteousness as the waves of the sea" (Isa. 48:18).
Another personality trait is kindness. It draws sinners to Christ. The Spirit of prophecy says that "if we would humble ourselves before God, and be kind and courteous and tenderhearted and pitiful, there would be one hundred conversions to the truth where now there is only one."—Testimonies, vol. 9, p. 189. (Italics supplied.)
So if kindness can increase the soul-winning efficiency by ten thousand per cent, without a large budget, let every minister strive to be a kind, tenderhearted, courteous man. Space does not permit a complete coverage of all the wonderful characteristics of the Spirit-filled life, which are so necessary for a great soul winner.
What the Holy Spirit Accomplishes
Here are a few thoughts from the Spirit of prophecy regarding the accomplishments of the Holy Spirit in the life of a Spirit-filled minister. The Holy Spirit--
1. Convicts of sin.—The Acts of the Apostles, p. 52.
2. Brings before the mind the standard of righteousness.—Ibid.
3. Brings life into perfect obedience.—Evangelism, p. 309.
4. Makes effectual through this regenerating agency the salvation wrought by the death of our Redeemer.—The Acts of the Apostles, p. 52.
5. Develops intellectual and moral powers.—Evangelism, p. 435.
6. Molds and fashions speech.—Ibid., p. 175.
7. Withdraws the affections from the things of this earth, and fills the soul with a desire for holiness.—The Acts of the Apostles, pp. 52, 53.
8. Comes as a counselor, sanctifier, guide, and witness.—Ibid., p. 49. This means that the minister's work is guided from heaven.
9. Gives a burden for soulsaving.—Evangelism, pp. 44, 699.
10. Works miracles, heals the sick, especially at the time of the latter rain.—Ibid., pp. 700, 701.
How wonderful then it is to be submissive in all acts of life to the guidance of the Holy Spirit. When we surrender to the Holy Spirit "we are to stand in this world as though there were all around us the purchase of the blood of Christ, and as though it depended very much upon our words, deportment, and manner of labor, whether these souls shall be saved or not."—Ibid., p. 140.
Follow the "Jesus Way" of Soul Winning
How did Jesus find His way to the hearts of the people? Jesus found access to human hearts "by securing sympathy and confidence, making all feel that His identification with their nature and interest is complete."—Ibid.
In other words, Christ tried to touch the human heart, which in reality is the center of the emotions. He identified Himself with them in all things, winning their sympathy and confidence. He "drew the hearts of His hearers to Him by the manifestation of His love."—Ibid., p. 57; see also p. 124.
Wherever one travels, whomever one sees, one senses that there is a universal need for love, friendship, and understanding. Dr. Smiley Blanton, author of the book Love or Perish, says: "For without love, we lose the will to live. Our mental and physical vitality is impaired, our resistance lowered and we succumb to illnesses that often prove fatal. We may escape actual death, but what remains is a meager and barren existence, emotionally so impoverished that we can only be called half alive."
Love is the best therapy against hate, resentment, envy, misery, and sometimes even death.
"The Lord wants men to forget themselves in the effort to save souls. Our life is worse than a failure if we go through life without leaving wayrnarks of love and compassion. God will not work with a harsh, stubborn, loveless man. Such a man spoils the pattern that Christ desires His workers to reveal to the world."Ibid., p. 629. If only the Seventh-day Adventist ministry reflected to others in all its deep significance that love of Christ. How soon would the work be finished!
Emotions in Soul Winning
The following quotation points out the operation of the Spirit as it reveals the beauty of truth to the mind for the acceptance of the message. "When truth is held as truth only by the conscience, when the heart is not stimulated and made receptive, only the mind is affected. But when the truth is received as truth by the heart, it has passed through the conscience, and has captivated the soul with its pure principles. It is placed in the heart by the Holy Spirit, who reveals its beauty to the mind, that its transforming power may be seen in the character."—Ibid.„ p. 291.
Christ was the creator of men. He created the intellect, which includes judgment, will, and choice. He also created that part of the brain which houses the tender emotions of love, joy, peace, and sympathy. This emphasizes more than ever the truth of the scripture in Galatians 5 that speaks of certain qualities that are called emotions and some of which carry the same names as the fruits of the Spirit.
Today the word emotion has fallen in with bad company in the science of psychology and psychiatry. The Lord, however, teaches that the intellect can be convinced to accept the truth only when the Holy Spirit first touches the center of all the emotions and then persuades and moves the convinced mind to accept the truth. One reason why so few are brought into the church is that some of them have been preached to almost exclusively in the area of the emotions, while others have beeen appealed to through the intellect only. But, brethren, the fruit of the Spirit is a composite fruit, and the results it produces must include the entire man. So the Spirit-filled minister works through both the heart, emotions, and the intellect, or mind. That is the way the Holy Spirit operates.
Secret of Peter's and Paul's Success
In 1 Peter 1:12 we find the reason why the gospel spread so fast in apostolic times. Peter declares that they. who preached the gospel went "with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven."
As the apostles after Pentecost went forth to preach under the heavenly influence of the Holy Spirit, even the leaders and people whose minds were paralyzed by false doctrines accepted the risen Saviour. Concerning this experience we have the following statement: "The traditions and superstitions inculcated by the priests were swept away from their minds, and the teachings of the Saviour were accepted."—The Acts of the Apostles, p. 44.
Through what was this accomplished? First, by the operation of the Holy Spirit on the heart, or emotions, followed by an appeal to the mind, or intellect. It works today in exactly the same way. In other words, a man who is made to feel sorry for his sins and happy because of a Saviour from his sins, will then be in a frame of mind to listen to an intellectual explanation of the doctrine that will dissipate the blindness and paralysis of his mind.
In like manner Paul's great success came because the apostle always preached under the consciousness that he was guided by the Holy Spirit. "And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man's wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power" (1 Cor. 2:4).
Why Many Fail in Soul Winning
What is the reason why so many fail in winning souls? "Many present doctrines and theories of our faith; but their presentation is as salt without savor; for the Holy Spirit is not working through their faithless ministry. . . . They know not the operation of the Spirit; . . and they fail to win souls to Christ."—Evangelism, p. 697. (Italics supplied.)
Since the messenger of the Lord points a finger of reproof for lack of soul winning because of the absence of the Holy Spirit in the life of the minister, should we not prayerfully inquire as to the necessary conditions for receiving this precious gift?
The Holy Spirit will come and take possession of the heart of the soul winner only as he surrenders his life to his Lord. The Holy Spirit will make His abode in the heart as soon as man is willing to abandon every sin, even the secret sins. He will come as an answer to fervent and sincere supplications. In Luke 11:13 we have the promise that the Father will give the Holy Spirit to them that ask Him. Jude 20 recommends "praying in the Holy Ghost," whereas the Spanish version speaks of "prayer for the Holy Ghost." Both are correct.
The following statement is worthy of profound meditation: "The Spirit is poured out upon all who will yield to its promptings, and, casting off all man's machinery, his binding rules and cautious methods, they will declare the truth with the might of the Spirit's power. Multitudes will receive the faith and join the armies of the Lord."—Ibid., p. 700. The primary need in evangelism is not more money and better equipment or facilities, but workers who are under the constant control of the Holy Spirit.
Results of Spirit-filled Preaching
When the Holy Spirit takes possession of a worker in any branch of denominational activity, he will manifest a burden for lost souls. As a result of such a surrender the world will soon be enlightened and a great contagious revival in soul winning will be witnessed. Then every day more than a thousand will take their stand for the truth and be baptized. That would hasten the day when the church militant will be transformed into the church triumphant.
"No truth is more clearly taught in the Bible than that God by His Holy Spirit especially directs His servants on earth in the great movements for the carrying forward of the work of salvation."—The Great Controversy, p. 343.
Only under the guidance of the powerful influence of the Holy Spirit can the gospel be preached victoriously in all the world. Should we not avail ourselves now of the constant companionship of the third person of the Godhead in our own lives? We need to take time to pray fervently for this anointing. Before we begin the duties of each day we must pledge our hearts anew to His will. We should never arise from our morning prayer until we are assured that self has been dethroned, and that in every thought, and word, and work, and in every problem that arises, we will be guided by the Holy Spirit. When this commitment is maintained, we can be assured that when we preach and give Bible studies to persuade souls, the Spirit of the living God will work through us, and Satan will flee. In the presence of a Spirit-filled worker, the heart and mind of multitudes will be convinced and impelled to accept God's wonderful plan of salvation.