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Romans 15:14-17



Intro:  We are entering the final section of the book of Romans.  Throughout this great book, Paul has been dealing with the great doctrinal themes of the Christian faith.  He has struck a note so clear and so powerful that there is no disputing his logic, or doubting his conclusions.  Now, as he nears the end of his letter to the Roman Christians, he begins to speak of things that are personal in nature.  Before he closes, Paul wants to share his heart and his motives for service with the believers in Rome.

      One of the great things that becomes clear about this man from this passage is the fact that he has a heart for the lost.  Paul was a great preacher, of that there is no doubt.  Paul was a prolific writer.  After all, his pen gave us 14 of the 27 books of the New Testament.  Paul was a pioneer missionary.  He traveled from place to place starting churches and feeding the sheep of the Lord.  Yet, running through all of this was the fact that Paul had a deep, burning desire to see men saved.  Everywhere this man journeyed, he told men about Jesus.  When he was chained as a prisoner of Rome, Paul was telling men about Jesus.  When he stood before kings and world rulers, he told them about Jesus.  When he encountered a group of women praying by a river, Acts 16, he told them about Jesus.  Paul’s heart was aflame with the message of the Gospel.  He wanted men to know the same Jesus he himself knew so well.

      In the verses we have read this evening, Paul’s heart becomes as a soul winner becomes very clear.  As he shares his personal thoughts with us, he also paints a portrait of what a soul winner is.  He tells us How To Recognize A Soul Winner.  Now, I may be wrong, but I believe that within the heart of every person who is saved by grace, there is the desire to see men saved!  I know that is what I want tonight!  I believe that is what you want as well.  If that be the case, then let’s look into the heart of the great Apostle and learn How To Recognize A Soul Winner this evening.  Let’s see if we are the type of people God can use to being men to Jesus Christ.


  I.  v. 14                            THE CHARACTERISTICS OF A SOUL WINNER

      (Ill. As Paul begins this passage, he addresses the Romans not as a superior, but as a

      brother.  And, after having shared some of the most profound doctrines of the faith, and

after admonishing them to do what he says, Paul takes a minute to encourage them in the Lord.  He wants them to know that he believes in them and in their heart for the Lord.  As he lists their characteristics, we need to see that what he says about those people should be true about every person who has a desire to bring men to Jesus Christ.)

      A.  They Possess Heavenly Life – Paul’s first statement to them is that they are “full of

goodness.”  This, of course, simply means that they are filled with a goodness that only comes from the Lord.  These Roman Christians were just like everyone else who has ever lived.  They were born into this world as wicked sinners in need of a Savior.  As members of the human race, there was no good dwelling in them at all, Rom. 3:10.  In fact, there is no good in the universe apart from the Person of God Himself!  When Jesus was visited by the Rich Young Ruler, the young man called Jesus good.  The Lord’s reply is worthy of noticing this evening, Matt. 19:17.  Jesus says that there is none good but God.  Yet, Paul tells these Romans that they are filled with goodness.  What does he mean?  He is merely speaking of the goodness they received when they trusted Jesus by faith for salvation.  When they were born again, they received the Holy Spirit, and along with Him, they received goodness from the Lord, Gal. 5:22; Eph. 5:9.  This new birth transformed their lives so that now they were able to do the things that were good in the sight of God, and that showed those who were watching that there was life changing power in the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ, Matt. 5:16.

      Now, the most important characteristic of a soul winner is that he or she be saved by the grace of God.  Perhaps one of the reasons that many are not used of the Lord to bring men to Jesus is the fact that they themselves have never been born again!  There is not burden for the sinner on their heart.  There is no reality to their testimony.  Their life does not point men to Jesus, because they do not know Him.  By the way, your life is either an advertisement for the Lord Jesus Christ, or it is a statement that the Gospel doesn’t work, Phil. 1:27.  So, the number one characteristic for a soul winner is that he is filled with a goodness that comes from being saved!

      B.  They Possess Heavenly Learning – Now Paul tells them that they have knowledge of

spiritual things.  I think the knowledge he is referring to has to do with knowing the Word of God.  One of the necessary ingredients in the life of any soul winner is the ingredient of knowing the Word of God.  As we study the Word of God, it creates within us a desire to see men saved.  Why? Because it is in the pages of the Bible that we learn that men are lost sinners in need of a Savior.  We learn that these lost men are headed to Hell without God.  We learn that just as God loved us and saved us, He will do the same for them if they will trust Him to do it.  It is there that we also learn how to tell men about Jesus.  We learn that the most powerful witnessing tool we have is His Word.  It will speak to hearts and it will bring men to Jesus, Rom. 10:17; Isa. 55:11.

      Friends, our study and increasing knowledge of the Bible ought to birth a desire in our hearts to see people saved.  If it doesn’t then we should ask ourselves if we really believe the Word of God or not!  I mean, how can we learn of men going to Hell and not be moved?  How can we see their lost condition and it not break our hearts?  There is something fundamentally wrong with people growing fat on the Word of God and not sharing the message with those who do not know Jesus!

      C.  They Possess Heavenly Love – Paul moves deeper by telling them that their

goodness and knowledge are to be used to “admonish” one another.  This is a word that means, “to rebuke, to warn, to exhort.”  In the New Testament, it often refers to the ministry of the Pastor, who is called upon to “admonish” the church.  That is, he is to warn them, exhort or encourage them and, from time to time, he must rebuke them.  The idea is that of communicating the truth of God to someone in order to help them in their own personal walk.  There are times when this word is used of the Christian community, Col. 3:16.  It speaks of the necessity of Christians “rebuking, warning and exhorting” one another.  By the way, this is one of the missing components in the modern church!  Most believers don’t have the love for their fellow believers or the courage to go up to them when they see error in their lives.  Most believers don’t have the grace to accept it either!

      I think the idea that is in view here is loving another person enough to tell them the truth.  When a Pastor loves the church he pastors, he will tell them the truth, even when it hurts!  When believers love one another, they will speak to each other in truth.  Now, if we move into the realm of soul winning, which is our focus this evening, Paul is telling us to love the sinner enough to tell them the truth!  This was what Paul did, Acts 20:31.  this is what we need to do as well!  Maybe lost men don’t want to hear the truth, but they must be told nonetheless!

      What creates within us this great a love for the lost that we will go and tell them about Jesus?  Nothing less than a great love for Jesus Himself will produce this.  Instead of praying for a burden for the lost, I think the church needs to fall in love with Jesus all over again.  When we do, there will flow from us His love for the lost.  There will dwell within our hearts His burden for the lost.  When we love Jesus more than anything, His love will reach out through us to reach this world for His glory!


(Ill. Dr. Jerry Vines shares the following story that illustrates this truth perfectly.  “There was a little deaf boy named Bud Walker who did not have the opportunity that our deaf people have today to have interpreters and all of these things.  And so, as a teenage boy, he had reached his teen years and was not a Christian.  They had tried, in every

means possible, to get the Gospel over to him, but they didn't have interpreters, and the kinds of things we have today.

      But somehow the Holy Spirit of God was still able to break through.  And somehow the Spirit of God touched his heart in a revival meeting, early in the week.  And so, Bud Walker came walking down the aisle and bowed upon his knees.  And they prayed around him and in a little while the Lord Jesus came into his heart.

      And Bud was so thrilled that Jesus was in his heart, but he couldn't articulate.  And so Bud began to point to his heart and point toward heaven.  He'd point to heaven and then he'd point to his heart, and he would smile, and they knew that Jesus had come

into his heart.

      But that's not the end of the story.  Throughout the rest of that week, Bud Walker was used of God to win more people to Christ in that revival than any other person in the building.

And here's what he would do.  During the invitation, Bud Walker, who could not talk, would walk to some person in the congregation who knew and loved him; he'd put his arms around them and he'd press them for just a little bit.  And then he'd point his hand

toward heaven, and then he'd point towards his heart and he'd point toward their heart, and he'd point toward the aisle.  And there they'd go down the aisle, receiving Jesus.  And one after one, he'd point toward heaven, he'd point to his heart and their

heart, and down toward the aisle.

      And I read that story and I thought to myself, "Lord, here I am with a good voice, here I am with a mind that's able to think, here I am with a body that is healthy.  Oh, God, help me to engage in the ministry of admonition to the lost, to get into the hearts

of lost people and to take the love of Jesus which is in my heart and put it in their hearts.")


As we prepare to leave this thought behind, how are you doing thus far?  Do you possess a Heavenly Life, a Heavenly Learning and a Heavenly Love?  Those are the characteristics of a soul winner!


 II.  v. 15-16                             THE CONDUCT OF A SOUL WINNER

      (Ill. As one who loved the lost, Paul tells us about his activities in that arena.  Here, he uses

the language of the priesthood and the Tabernacle to remind us that we are all priests in the Lord’s work, 1 Pet. 2:5.  As priests, we all have certain responsibilities that we are to perform. Paul speaks about the responsibilities of the Christian priest in these verses.)

      A.  They Are Engaged In A Proclaiming Work – Paul says that he is a “minister”.  This

word refers to one who “is busied with holy things.”  It carries the idea of a person engaged in the public ministries of God.  Paul is simply saying that he has busied himself with the spreading of the Gospel of Jesus Christ to a lost and dying world.  This is what he means by the phrase “ministering the Gospel”.  Paul has been busy spreading the word!

      As we pass through this world, there will be no greater calling than that of being a soul winner!  It is greater than that of president.  It overshadows that of preacher.  There is nothing as vital and wonderful as the ministry of sharing the Gospel of grace with a lost and dying world.  What is so great about it is that every Christian is called to it!  Only a few get to preach, but every child of God gets to be a soul winner, Acts 1:8.  Wherever you go in this life, the Lord has placed you there to tell others about Him and about His plan of salvation.  That place where you work, that community where you live, that little Sunday School class, wherever it may be, God has placed you there as a minister of the Gospel.  You are His priest in that place and He wants you to be busy with holy things.  And, friends, there is nothing as holy and as sacred as being involved in telling a dying world about a living Lord!

B.  They Are Engaged In A Priestly Work – Verse 16 shows Paul as a priest going

about his sacred duties.  One of the primary duties of the priest was that of

intercession.  The priest would enter the Tabernacle and place incense on the altar of incense and as the smoke arose before the Lord, he would place the names of the people, which he wore across his chest, before the Lord in prayer.  This speaks to the church tonight!  One of the reasons we are so ineffective in bringing men to Jesus is that we have not gotten them in our hearts!  We have not labored for them before the Lord, with a burden on our souls for their salvation.  We have not become broken by their need and moved by their lost condition.  We will never see souls saved in abundance until we learn to weep over them before the Lord, until we learn to carry them in our hearts, until we are consumed with a burden for their birth!  Notice Isaiah 66:8, “Who hath heard such a thing? who hath seen such things? Shall the earth be made to bring forth in one day? or shall a nation be born at once? for as soon as Zion travailed, she brought forth her children.”


(Ill. One of the greatest evangelists days gone by was a man named Hyman Appleman.  And after a service one night a lady came up to him and said, "Brother Appleman, I'd like for you to pray for my two teenage boys.  They're not saved.  And I want them to be saved so very much, but they're not saved."  And he said, "Well, lady, are you and your husband Christians?"  And she said, "Yes, we are.  We come to the services regularly."  He said, "Do you have a family altar in your home?"  And she said, "Yes, sir, we've had family altar in our home ever since these boys were young and, yet, these boys are not saved."  And he said, "Are you faithful to the services of the church."  And she said, "Yes, sir, we come Sunday morning and Sunday night and Wednesday night."

And then Brother Appleman looked at her and he said, "Lady, I do not want to be unkind to you but I'm going to tell you why your boys are not saved."  And she said, "Oh, please tell me."  And he said, "Madam, your boys are not saved because your eyes are dry."  And the lady turned and walked away.  And that struck her heart -- "Your eyes are dry."

And she didn't go to sleep that night.  She spent that night in prayer to God, and she wept and she prayed and got a broken heart for her two lost teenage boys.

And the next morning at the breakfast table, when the older boy came to the table and sat down, she began to just pour out her heart.  She'd cried and prayed all night for his soul and she said, "Oh, son, more than anything else in the world, I want you to be saved."  And the younger boy came and heard what she was saying and ran from the room.  The older boy was saved.

And later on that afternoon, the younger boy came and said, "Mother, I want you to know I've accepted Jesus as my Savior this afternoon."  He said, "Mother, I got up during the night, I couldn't sleep.  I went to get a drink of water and I passed by your room.  And, mother, I heard you crying and I thought you were sick.  And, mother, I stepped into your room and I saw you prostrate on the carpet, and I heard you praying and I heard you calling my name.  And, mama, when I heard you talking to my brother at the table this morning, I couldn't stand it anymore, I was under such deep conviction.  And, mother, I ran to my room and I've accepted Jesus as my Savior.")


      Friends, that is how we will see sinners saved!  We have dry eyes!


      C.  They Are Engaged In A Presenting Work – Every priest must have a sacrifice that he

can offer to the Lord.  Of course, the first sacrifice we are to offer is ourselves on the altar of service, Rom. 12:1.  There are other sacrifices that we should offer to the Lord as well; Heb. 13:15.  Paul says that his sacrifice is the Gentiles.  Do you see that?  The Lord had placed them as a burden on Paul’s heart and Paul says that he will offer them up to God as a sacrifice for the glory of the Lord.  God laid them on Paul’s heart, Paul interceded for them before the Lord and then he went and told them about Jesus.  Those who believed, he was able to lay on the altar as a redeemed sacrifice to the glory of God.

      As hard as it may be for us to hear, the truth is this: you can tell how much a person loves Jesus by how much he shares the Gospel.  You can tell how in love a church is with Jesus by looking at the redeemed souls they lay on the altar for the glory of the Lord!  Some might protest and say, “But, isn’t it God that saves souls?”  Absolutely!  It does not happen apart from His sovereign grace and will.  However, He does allow His people to be involved.  He burdens our hearts, fills us with the message and uses us to tell a world about His saving grace.  May the Lord help us to arrive at the place where we are willing to be used to bring men to Jesus.


III.  v. 17                             THE COMPENSATION OF A SOUL WINNER

A.  They Experience Rejoicing On A Personal Level – Paul says that he has a reason to

“glory” or rejoice in what the Lord is doing through his life.  Without a doubt, one of the secrets to a happy Christian life is that of being used of the Lord to bring men to faith in Jesus.  This is seen in Psalm 126:6, “He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him.”   If you want to be happy in the Lord, then start telling people about Jesus!

      By the way, nothing will transform a dead, dry church any quicker than souls being

saved.  (Ill. Nothing will change your home more than a baby being born into it.  It is one of the happiest and exciting times of life!) So it is in the church, there are million dollar churches all around that are as dead as cemeteries because they do not bring men to Jesus.  But, there are little churches operating out of storefront buildings that are bubbling over with the joy of the Lord because they are taking the message of salvation to a world that desperately needs to hear that good news.  They are leading men to Jesus and it profoundly affects their level of joy in the Lord!  That is what we need here!  God help us to fall in love with Jesus once again so that we might love the world like He does.  So that we might love them enough to tell them about Him!


      B.  They Experience Rejoicing On A Profound Level – Paul says that, on a spiritual

level, all the glory belongs to Jesus.  Paul never really won a soul, Jesus did it through him.  Therefore, all the glory must go to the Lord Jesus and to Him alone!  Therefore, when a soul is saved on visitation, or in one of these services around here, we need to slip off somewhere and thank the Lord for using us and for letting us see Him work in such a powerful manner.  Beyond that, we need to be quick to give the Lord public glory for the work He has done as well.

      What thrills my soul, as much as it terrifies me, is the thought that nothing eternal is ever done in the church apart from the work of the Lord Jesus in our midst.  Therefore, when we are seeing folks saved, it means that He is pleased to be working among us.  That is good!  However, when we do not see people saved, what does that say about our church?  Does it mean that for whatever reason, the Lord has chosen not to work among us for the time being?  I suppose it does!  Therefore, when the well dries up, so to speak, and souls are not being saved, we need to get before Him and ask Him to show us our hearts.  It may be that we are not in love with Him as we should be.  It may mean that we have allowed our priorities to get out of line.  It may mean that we need a revival.  Oh that we would be so burdened of the lost that when they are not being saved, we would get before God and find out why!


Conc:  My friends, the greatest calling the Lord ever gave His church was that of bringing men to Jesus.  I want you to know that we, as individuals and as a church, are not doing a very good job of getting the Gospel out into the world.  May the Lord help those who really love Jesus to renew their commitment to Him this evening.  May He help us to fall madly in love with Him all over again so that He might use this church to reach men for the glory of God.  A church that isn’t telling men and women about Jesus Christ is a church that does not deserve to exist!  God help you and me to get about the business of being soul winners.  What does God want to do in your life tonight?  Are you going to let Him do it?

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