An Apostolic Model for Soul Winning
by Pastor Jim Feeney, Ph.D.
- Summary: The apostle Paul, in his soul-winning ministry, modeled for us a variety of effective personal evangelism techniques. Try these and see results!
Acts 16:12-34  From there we traveled to Philippi...
- •• “We traveled” — a fundamental thought: it takes action to go out and reach people for the Lord.
- • Soul winning is an active, deliberate endeavor, not a passive one.
Acts 16:13 On the Sabbath we went outside the city gate to the river, where we expected to find a place of prayer. We sat down and began to speak to the women who had gathered there.
- •• They sought out prayerful Jews to whom to witness. The application of this is: Ask the Lord to lead you to people whose hearts He is touching but don’t know His salvation yet.
•• They “began to speak” — people must hear God’s word in order to be saved.
- • Effective personal evangelism centers on declaring the Word of God about the Savior, Jesus Christ.
Acts 16:14 One of those listening was a woman named Lydia...who was a worshiper of God. The Lord opened her heart to respond to Paul’s message.
- •• “The Lord opened her heart to respond” — He gives the increase; expect Him to move on people’s hearts.
Acts 16:15 When she and the members of her household were baptized, she invited us to her home.
- •• Baptism — not an option, but an immediate action.
- • “Repent and be baptized...” (Acts 2:38).
• “Whoever believes and is baptized...” (Mark 16:16)
Acts 16:16-18 Once when we were going to the place of prayer, we were met by a slave girl who had a spirit by which she predicted the future.... This girl followed Paul and the rest of us, shouting, “These men are servants of the Most High God, who are telling you the way to be saved.”  She kept this up for many days. Finally Paul became so troubled that he turned around and said to the spirit, “In the name of Jesus Christ I command you to come out of her!” At that moment the spirit left her.
- •• They were “going to the place of prayer,” just like Peter and John in Acts 3.
- • It is probably a safe assumption that Paul and his companions were praying, too.
• The lesson is that prayer conquers demonic strongholds and opens people to receive the Gospel.
- •• Sometimes in your soul-winning endeavors you will have to deal with demons directly. Remember, Jesus has given you His Name to use as a powerful weapon against evil spirits.
Acts 16:25 About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them.
- •• We have moved ahead now to another scenario. Paul and Silas are locked up in the Philippian jail.
- • Still “praying”!
• Also singing praise to God ... out loud!
• Result? — “The other prisoners were listening.”
Acts 16:26 Suddenly there was such a violent earthquake that the foundations of the prison were shaken. At once all the prison doors flew open, and everybody’s chains came loose.
- •• “Everybody’s chains came loose.” Your seeking God and praising Him can affect others around you.
- • A “ripple effect” of God’s blessings to you spreading out and touching others around you.
• Remember — “the other prisoners heard them.” Paul and Silas were not secret disciples.
Acts 16:27-28 The jailer woke up, and when he saw the prison doors open, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself because he thought the prisoners had escaped.  But Paul shouted, “Don’t harm yourself! We are all here!”
- •• This is merely my speculation, but Paul may have sensed “in the Spirit” that the jailer intended to kill himself. It was dark (see vs. 29) and the jailer was in another room (vs. 29).
- • If indeed Paul did sense this by the Holy Spirit’s revelation, it shows the importance to effective personal evangelism of being in a spiritual frame of mind at all times, even in jail!
- •• Interestingly, we see that Paul was more concerned with the jailer’s wellbeing than with his own escape!
- • Other-centeredness reaches people for the Lord.
Acts 16:29-31 The jailer called for lights, rushed in and fell trembling before Paul and Silas.  He then brought them out and asked, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”  They replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved — you and your household.”
- •• The jailer “fell trembling” — our lives and testimony, and God’s dealings in our lives, can deeply affect others for the Lord.
•• “What must I do to be saved?” — Years ago, I had a total stranger walk into my church office and say essentially the same thing.
- • Pursue the Great Commission and expect responses like this.
- •• “Believe in the Lord Jesus...” — don’t clutter it up. Keep the soul-winning message simple.
- • Then help them with an appropriate “sinner’s prayer”.
- •• “You and your household” — network evangelism. Oftentimes family members or clusters of friends accept the Lord in groups.
Acts 16:32-33 Then they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all the others in his house.  At that hour of the night the jailer took them and washed their wounds; then immediately he and all his family were baptized.
- •• “Then they spoke the word of the Lord...” — always help them base their decision on the Word.
- • “and to all the others in his house” — when you get one person interested in the Lord, reach out to his or her network.
- •• Again, no delay in water baptizing them.
Acts 16:34 The jailer brought them into his house and set a meal before them; he was filled with joy because he had come to believe in God — he and his whole family.
- •• The newly converted jailer was “filled with joy because he ... and his whole family ... had come to believe in God.”
- • Effective personal evangelism is not a drudgery, not a sober chore. No! It is a source of heaven-sent joy, both to the speaker and to the recipient of the salvation message.
•• Summary: The apostle Paul and his companions in Acts 16 have modeled for us a variety of effective personal evangelism principles:
- • Soul winning is active, not passive. It is a deliberate choice.
• Ask the Lord to lead you to hearts that He is touching.
• “Begin to speak” — lost souls must hear the Word of God.
• Prayer opens the door to effective personal evangelism.
• Prayer also empowers you to discern and overcome demonic opposition to your soul winning efforts.
• Whether in jail(!) or bringing unsaved guests to church, let them be stirred in their hearts by hearing you and others singing and praising the Lord.
• One of the very best personal evangelism techniques is simply bringing a friend to church.
• Be sensitive to the voice of the Holy Spirit leading you to people with open hearts.
• Other-centeredness is a must. Our focus is their salvation, not our ministry.
• On occasion, expect people to ask you about salvation.
• Keep the salvation message simple!
• When one person accepts Jesus as Savior, ask him if he would like to have you help him share the Good News with his family and friends. The new convert’s credibility with them opens the door for you to minister.
• Let your soul winning efforts be upbeat, positive, and full of the joy of the Lord.
A related sermon outline of interest to soulwinners is Catching Plenty of Fish.
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©2003, James H. Feeney. Copyright statement.