How to Best Win a Hardened Soul
The bible says in Hebrews 4:12 that the word of God is sharper than any two-edged sword. There is nothing sharper or more cutting than the Word of God. If you apply God’s word to a situation, things cannot help but to change. This same verse says that with the Word of God, you can pierce to the dividing of one’s soul and spirit, joints and marrow. You can discern the thoughts and intents of the heart with God’s word alone.
So what better instrument to use to bring down a hardened heart than with the Word of God?
But anyone knows that an instrument that is not correctly put to use is useless. What use is a closed book? What use is a knife that remains in a drawer? Unless someone applies the Word, it is futile in soulwinning. So it is important to ask oneself, how should one apply the Word of God to bring down a tree?
On my way to work, I noticed the trees to the left of me. And I was thinking about how the lumberjacks brought down the trees as they do. And God gave me this amazing insight about how one can bring down the toughest of sinners with the sharpest – God’s word. If God’s word can’t convince you, if God’s word is not wise, then what is?
There are THREE things one needs to bring down a tree with an ax.
1. The ax must be sharp(ened).
2. The axeman must swing with the appropriate amount of pressure.
3. The axeman must have the right aim and angle.
4. More than likely, the axeman will need to be willing to spend some amount of time on the tree.
Without those three in order, the tree will not come down. Here are the issues that often come to those who are missing even one of these points:
Some people make the mistake of quoting a bible verse at an unbeliever, and thinking that the Word alone will drive them to their knees in repentance. Some people make the mistake of attacking people with the Sword of the Word, and wondering in confusion as to why the person runs off offended or spiritually wounded. Some people make the mistake of attacking the wrong issues of a person without aiming at what matters, the heart. And some people may only be willing to spend a couple of minutes to lead one to Christ and are surprised when no repentance takes place.
I’ve done a lot of soul winning in the past few years. And I’ve made a lot of mistakes too! The bible says that he who wins souls is wise. I’m not sure if that bible verse means what we take it to mean today (for those of use who read KJV), but it is true either way. If you can win a soul to Christ, you must be wise! And when I first began soulwinning, I was definitely very foolish. I’ve misapplied each of the 4 points. Here is what happened:
Regarding number one, I did not have my Sword of the Word sharpened. I did not know what the bible had to say. I had a very small sword being that I knew SOME of what the bible said, but I did not know enough. The sword alone is sharp, so if you know the Word, it will be effective. But many Christians do not know the gospel. They go out trying to win souls and can’t even answer unbelievers’ simple questions biblically. Please know that many unbelievers know the bible fairly well. And they will beat you with your bible. And soulwinning of course is not about a battle of the wits or bible trivia. But if you are trying to win the soul of an Orthodox Jew, knowing the bible very well will go a long way. Remember that the early church was Jewish. They knew the Old Testament prophecies about the Messiah. And so it was easy for some bible scholars to identify Jesus Christ as the Messiah the Old Testament Messianic prophecies were prophesying about. But if you don’t know what is written, how can you tell a Jew who does know that he is wrong about certain things? Know the gospel!
Concerning number two, I would sometimes not apply the right amount of pressure. Sometimes I would apply the pressure too lightly. I was afraid of offending, so I would purposely not mention certain bible truths that would definitely be helpful, but that I feared would make the person angry with me. You cannot bring down a tree by tapping it with a razor. You must apply pressure. They must feel the severity of what you are saying. Don’t just apathetically say, “Jesus died for your sins.” But let them know that this is serious. A real innocent Hebrew man died an excruciatingly painful, humiliating death on a cross for some ungrateful, sinful men. Make sure they get that message across! Jesus died for you sins will not move a hardened man an inch. So I had to learn to let them hear the sincerity in my voice. Do not play or joke about the gospel. It is the MOST serious matter there is. Souls in hell is nothing to take lightly, but yet many soulwinners do it daily.
But sometimes I would go the extreme and apply TOO much pressure. Whereas this would not be a problem an axing down a tree, it is a common problem in soul winning. A popular quote says, “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” You cannot go up to an enemy that you’ve mistreated all their life of knowing you and then tell you, “You heathen! You are going to burn in hell unless you repent of your wicked sins! The bible says it! And if you don’t like it, then that’s just to bad because you will burn!” Do you see how offensive that is? Would any person in their right mind respond to that soul winning technique? No! Not likely. It’s okay to apply a lot of pressure to someone you’ve known and treated well for a long time. It’s okay to say to your twin sister, “Mae, I’ve known you all our life. And so you know I care about you. You know I’d do anything for you. And so please understand that when I tell you the gospel, it is because I do not want to spend an eternity without you. I do not want to see you go to hell. I love you too much. And because I love you, I have to tell you the truth of what the Holy Spirit has been asking me to share with you about your lifestyle and how it is unpleasing to God. And He wants to warn you before it is too late…” (So forth and so on.) I’ve told perfect strangers that they were going to hell unless they believed in Jesus. It was a true Word, but it was too much pressure to apply to a stranger.
The third point talks of having the right aim and angle of holding the sword. You have so many different angles you can swing an ax. Holding the ax at 180 degrees through 360 degrees is a waste of time. An angle too close to those is just like skinning the tree. You want your angle to be close to a 45 degree angle or even 0 degrees. to get your aim right. Your goal is to get straight to the heart, not to skin the tree. It’s to get the tree down as fast as possible so that you can get to the next tree. Time is of the essence. But sometimes, I would allow an unbeliever to sidetrack me when I was aiming at soulwinning. I’d approach them with the business of soulwinning, and within a few seconds, we’d be talking about is God real and who made the universe and even one person tried to sidetrack me on is Jesus just Julius Caesar’s son! And it is important to know that you lead the conversation, because wherever they will try to lead it will not lead to soulwinning. A conversation with a tree will not lead to you chopping it down. If trees could talk, they would give you a lot of reasons to try to talk you out of chopping them down! Everytime they try to sidetrack you, redirect them back to the issue of their unrepentant, unconfessed sins needing to be forgiven sooner rather than later. Let them know that there is only One who can save them and that He requires obedience, love, and service. God did not ask you to convince atheists that He exists and that He created the world and that humans did not descend from apes and that the bible was not written by power-hungry white men. He told you to be witnesses of Jesus and to make disciples of the nations.
Last but not least, you must be willing to invest time into the lost soul. Oftentimes, the last factor that goes into winning a lost soul is TIME. Anything worth having is worth spending time upon. Quickly quoting a bible verse is not usually enough to send people to the altar giving their lives to Christ. When someone is hardened against the truth, you have to pray and ask God for wisdom to remove layers off of them to get to their sensitive heart. And sometimes when you do lead a soul to Christ, it is because you are simply building off of someone else’s hard labor. Maybe someone has been witnessing to them for years, and their pastor has been giving them the word. And so when you come along with a warning that they must give an account to God one day when they die on a date they do not expect, they may be ready to give their life to Christ. And you may be the one that God needs to sow the seeds while another person “reaps” the soul harvest many years later. It’s usually not too late until the person is dead. So give them more time!
So remember. The Word of God is the instrument of soul winning. You will not win a soul to Christ without first using the truth of the Word of the gospel. BUT, you must know how to wield the Sword of the truth to pierce (convict) the heart of the sinner.