Sermon No: 2671-Passion for souls - Part 2

SERMON TOPIC: Passion for souls - Part 2

Speaker: Gavin Paynter

Language: ENGLISH

Date: 10 August 2015


Sermon synopsis: While hiding in a cave from his enemies, David cries in despair that “no man cared for my soul” (Psalm 142:4)

Today too there are millions of people in the world whose souls it seems no one cares about. They have no one to comfort and encourage them, no one who will counsel and pray with them, and none who will tell them the good news about the way of salvation through Jesus.



When William Booth, founder of the Salvation Army, was asked by the king of England what the ruling force of his life was, he replied, “Sir, some men’s passion is for gold, other men’s passion is for fame, but my passion is for souls.”


William Booth (1829-1912)

While hiding in a cave from his enemies, David cries in despair that “no man cared for my soul”.

Psalm 142:4 I looked on my right hand, and beheld, but there was no man that would acknowledge me: refuge failed me; no man cared for my soul. (King James 2000 Bible)

Today too there are millions of people in the world whose souls it seems no one cares about. They have no one to comfort and encourage them, no one who will counsel and pray with them, and none who will tell them the good news about the way of salvation through Jesus.


In contrast, Jesus was moved with compassion when he saw the helpless plight of the multitudes:

Matt 9:36-38 When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.”


Jesus longed to give those who were “weary and burdened” rest for their souls:

Matt 11:28-30 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

Are you weary and burdened?

To those who respond to his call to “Come to me”, Jesus still offers rest for the weary and burdened soul.


John Knox (1514-1572) constantly carried the burden for his land. Night after night he prayed on the wooden floor of his hideout refuge from Queen Mary. When his wife pleaded with him to get some sleep, he answered, “How can I sleep when my land is not saved?” Often Knox would pray all night in agonizing tones, “Lord, give me Scotland or I die!” God shook Scotland; God gave him Scotland. God respects such a passion for souls. 1

John Knox’s biographer wrote, “So mighty was he in his yearning for lost souls that I thought he would break the pulpit into bits.”



John Knox

Charles Cowman, founder of OMS International (formerly The Oriental Missionary Society), as he wrote of the millions of Japan, resolved, “By the help of God they shall hear if it costs every drop of my life’s blood. Here I am, Lord, send me! Send me!” It was said of him, “The winning of a soul was to him what the winning of a battle is to a soldier; what the winning of a bride is to a lover; what the winning of a race is to an athlete. Charles Cowman lived for just one thing—to win souls for Christ. This was his soul passion, and in a very extraordinary manner God set His seal upon it.” 1

1 modules/ articles/ index.php?view=article&aid=28379


Charles Cowman (1868-1924)

Evangelism is important to Jesus.

He had a forerunner who was an evangelist


He himself was an evangelist

Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.

But unless you repent, you too will all perish.

He called and trained men to be evangelists


And he commanded all of his followers to evangelize.

Therefore go and make disciples of all nations…

Repent and be baptized…

For what purpose did Jesus call disciples?

Matt 4:18-19 (NASB) Now as Jesus was walking by the Sea of Galilee, He saw two brothers, Simon who was called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea; for they were fishermen. And He said to them:


Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.

So Jesus called men to follow him so that they could learn how to evangelise (be fishers of men).

D. L. Moody:

“In Proverbs we read: ‘He that winneth souls is wise.’ If any man, woman, or child by a godly life and example can win one soul to God, his life will not have been a failure. He will have outshone all the mighty men of his day, because he will have set a stream in motion that will flow on and on forever and ever.”

D.L. Moody (1837-99)


Q: How valuable is a soul?

A: The soul is the most valuable possession a person has. It is more valuable than the whole world.

Matt 16:26 “What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul?”


Jesus compares his purchase of our salvation to a man who found a pearl of great price and to a man who discovered a hidden treasure. Both were so valuable that the man in the parable joyfully sells all that he possesses to purchase the treasure.

Matt 13:44-46 “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field. Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it.

The man in the parable is Jesus who considers it joy to sell everything to purchase the precious item – our souls!


We are valuable to God. Seeing Jesus as the man who considers us a “pearl of great price” or a “hidden treasure” that he found in the world is totally consistent with Jesus’ three parables about the lost sheep, the lost coin and the lost son. In each case, someone searches for something that is lost, because they consider it extremely valuable.

The three parables about the lost sheep, lost coin and lost son reveal Jesus as a searching Saviour, looking for the lost, actively seeking them, and rejoicing when they are found.


It was in the context of being criticized for fraternising with tax collectors and “sinners” that Jesus told the three related parables about:

(1) the lost sheep (2) the lost coin (3) the lost son.


An essential part of Jesus’ character is about extending mercy to the undeserving - an active program of seeking out the hurting and oppressed, the blind and the imprisoned.

Luke 4:18 The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free…

This is the gospel, the message of active love. So if you’re poor, imprisoned, blind and oppressed – that’s good news!


A classic example of Jesus finding a lost son is recorded in Luke 19. A chief tax collector, Zacchaeus – a known swindler who made his fortune by cheating others - is trying to check Jesus out, while remaining inconspicuous. But Jesus stops right at the tree he has climbed.


Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today. (Luke 19:5)

Luke 19:6-10 So he came down at once and welcomed him gladly. All the people saw this and began to mutter:

He has gone to be the guest of a ‘sinner.’

But Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord:

Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount.

After meeting Jesus, Zacchaeus realises he needs to make restitution (this is a sign of true repentance).

Jesus had just found another lost son!

Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost.

His heart goes out to the grieving widow

Jesus passes through an insignificant village (Nain) to meet the need of a grieving widow – by raising her son from the dead.

Luke 7:12-13 As he approached the town gate, a dead person was being carried out —the only son of his mother, and she was a widow. And a large crowd from the town was with her. When the Lord saw her, his heart went out to her and he said, “Don’t cry.”


He has mercy on the adulteress (a lost sheep)


Then neither do I condemn you. Go now and leave your life of sin. (John 8:11)

He defends a prostitute who offers an act of worship


… I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—for she loved much. But he who has been forgiven little loves little. (Luke 7:44-47)

He has time for little children – they’re not a nuisance

Matt 19:13-14 Then little children were brought to Jesus for him to place his hands on them and pray for them. But the disciples rebuked those who brought them.


Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.

He has compassion on disabled beggars

Matt 20:30-34 Two blind men were sitting by the roadside, and when they heard that Jesus was going by, they shouted, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on us!” …The crowd rebuked them and told them to be quiet… Jesus had compassion on them and touched their eyes. Immediately they received their sight and followed him.


He touches the ‘untouchable’

Luke 5:12-13 While Jesus was in one of the towns, a man came along who was covered with leprosy. When he saw Jesus, he fell with his face to the ground and begged him, “Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean.” Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. “I am willing,” he said. “Be clean!” And immediately the leprosy left him.


In touching the leper, Jesus defies Levitical law.

Lev 13:45-46 (NASB) “As for the leper who has the infection, his clothes shall be torn, and the hair of his head shall be uncovered, and he shall cover his moustache and cry, ‘Unclean! Unclean!’ He shall remain unclean all the days during which he has the infection; he is unclean. He shall live alone; his dwelling shall be outside the camp.”

This man would not have been touched by anyone for years, maybe even decades. But Jesus touches him!

This is the most beautiful part of the story, not just that Jesus cured the man of his leprosy, but that he healed a man’s spirit when he touched the untouchable.


Human touch is at the heart of this story. The isolation and human deprivation he experienced must have been worse than the leprosy itself. Imagine what life would be like if no one wanted to come near you, if there was no one to care for you, to hug you, or to hold you when you were sick or lonely. That was what life was like for this leper. He had no warm or affirming relationships in his life. Like all of us, he longed to be touched and embraced by another human being. 1

1 http:// index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=562:human-touch-21515&catid=15


… there are those touches that heal and build us up… the touch of a loved one, whether it is a hug, an arm around the shoulder, a gentle kiss, or a good pat on the back. There is great power behind these gestures - the power of love, concern, sympathy, and compassion. 1 There is no denying that our sense of touch connects us with the world and the people around us in an intimate and healthy way. Imagine how human and alive this leper suddenly felt after Jesus stretched out his hand and touched him. It was as if Jesus was saying to him, ‘You are a human being’. 1

1 Ibid


Jesus makes a special boat trip to find and restore another lost sheep – a violent, demon-possessed man who ranted like a lunatic, lived naked in the tombs and mutilated his body with stones.


Go home to your own people and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you. (Mark 5:19)

He passed through a potentially hostile town to find a lost daughter – a racist who didn’t like Jews, besides being a serial divorcee who was shacking up with her latest in a long line of lovers.


Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. (John 4:13-14)

Like their master, the early apostles were passionate about men’s souls:

When the Sanhedrin commanded Peter and John not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus, they replied:


… we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard. (Acts 4:20)

Likewise the apostle Paul had a passion for souls:

1 Cor 9:22 To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some.

Paul wrote that he was “compelled to preach. Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel!” (1 Cor 9:16)

Rom 10:1 … my heart’s desire and prayer to God for the Israelites is that they may be saved.

Rom 9:1-4 I speak the truth in Christ—I am not lying, my conscience confirms it through the Holy Spirit— I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were cursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my people, those of my own race, the people of Israel.


1 Pet 3:15 But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behaviour in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.

But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord.

Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.

But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience.


R.A. Torrey was Moody’s close friend and the first superintendent of Moody Bible Institute. One of the reasons that Torrey listed in his sermon, “Why God Used D.L. Moody” was Moody’s “consuming passion for the salvation of the lost”.

Moody made the resolution, shortly after he himself was saved, that he would never let 24 hours pass without speaking to at least one person about his soul. His was a very busy life, and sometimes he would forget his resolution until the last hour, and sometimes he would get out of bed, dress, go out and talk to someone about his soul. One night Moody was going home from his place of business. It was very late, and it suddenly occurred to him that he had not spoken to one single person that day about accepting Christ.


He said to himself: “Here’s a day lost. I have not spoken to anyone today and I shall not see anybody at this late hour.” But as he walked up the street he saw a man standing under a lamppost. The man was a perfect stranger to him, though it turned out afterwards the man knew who Moody was. He stepped up to this stranger and said: “Are you a Christian?” The man replied: “That is none of your business, whether I am a Christian or not. If you were not a sort of a preacher I would knock you into the gutter for your impertinence.” Moody said a few earnest words and passed on.


The next day that man called upon one of Moody’s prominent business friends and said to him: “That man Moody of yours over on the North Side is doing more harm than he is good… He stepped up to me last night, a perfect stranger, and insulted me. He asked me if I were a Christian… He has got zeal without knowledge.” Moody’s friend sent for him and told him what the man had said. Moody went out of that man’s office somewhat crestfallen. He wondered if he were not doing more harm than he was good, if he really had zeal without knowledge… 1 Weeks passed by. One night Moody was in bed when he heard a tremendous pounding at his front door.

1 Torrey comments “it is far better to have zeal without knowledge than it is to have knowledge without zeal.” He talks of those who “give the preachers pointers” but “have so little zeal that they do not lead one soul to Christ in a whole year.”


He jumped out of bed and rushed to the door. He thought the house was on fire and that the man would break down the door. He opened the door and there stood this man. He said: “Mr. Moody, I have not had a good night’s sleep since that night you spoke to me under the lamppost, and I have come around at this unearthly hour of the night for you to tell me what I have to do to be saved.” Moody took him in and told him what to do to be saved. Then he accepted Christ, and when the Civil War broke out, he went to the front and laid down his life fighting for his country.

Another night Moody got home and had gone to bed before it occurred to him that he had not spoken to a soul that day about accepting Christ.

“Why God used D.L. Moody” - R.A. Torrey


“Well,” he said to himself, “it is no good getting up now; there will be nobody on the street at this hour of the night.” But he got up, dressed and went to the front door. It was pouring rain. “Oh,” he said, “there will be no one out in this pouring rain. Just then he heard the patter of a man’s feet as he came down the street, holding an umbrella over his head. Then Moody darted out and rushed up to the man and said: “May I share the shelter of your umbrella?” “Certainly,” the man replied. Then Moody said: “Have you any shelter in the time of storm?” and preached Jesus to him. Oh, men and women, if we were as full of zeal for the salvation of souls as that, how long would it be before the whole country would be shaken by the power of a mighty, God-sent revival?


On one occasion in Chicago Moody saw a little girl standing on the street with a bucket in her hand. He went up to her and invited her to his Sunday school, telling her what a pleasant place it was. She promised to go the following Sunday, but she did not do so. Moody watched for her for weeks, and then one day he saw her on the street again, at some distance from him. He started toward her, but she saw him too and started to run away. Moody followed her. Down she went one street, Moody after her; up she went another street, Moody after her, through an alley, Moody still following; out on another street, Moody after her; then she dashed into a saloon and Moody dashed after her.

“Why God used D.L. Moody” - R.A. Torrey


She ran out the back door and up a flight of stairs, Moody still following; she dashed into a room, Moody following; she threw herself under the bed and Moody reached under the bed and pulled her out by the foot, and led her to Christ. He found that her mother was a widow who had once seen better circumstances, but had gone down until now she was living over this saloon. She had several children. Moody led the mother and all the family to Christ. Several of the children were prominent members of the Moody Church until they moved away, and afterwards became prominent in churches elsewhere. This particular child, whom he pulled from underneath the bed, was, when I was the pastor of the Moody Church, the wife of one of the most prominent officers in the church.

“Why God used D.L. Moody” - R.A. Torrey


R.A. Torrey continues:

Only 2 or 3 years ago, as I came out of a ticket office in Memphis, Tennessee, a fine-looking young man followed me. He said, “Are you not Dr. Torrey?” I said, “Yes.” He said, “I am so and so.” He was the son of this woman. He was then a traveling man, and an officer in the church where he lived. When Moody pulled that little child out from under the bed by the foot he was pulling a whole family into the Kingdom of God, and eternity alone will reveal how many succeeding generations he was pulling into the Kingdom of God.

“Why God used D.L. Moody” - R.A. Torrey


D.L. Moody said:

“I look upon this world as a wrecked vessel. God has given me a lifeboat and said, ‘Moody, save all you can.’”

Once, when walking down a certain street in Chicago, Moody stepped up to a man, a perfect stranger to him, and said: “Sir, are you a Christian?” “You mind your own business,” was the reply. Moody replied: “This is my business.” The man said, “Well, then, you must be Moody.” Out in Chicago they used to call him in those early days ‘Crazy Moody,’ because day and night he was speaking to everybody he got a chance to speak to about being saved. 1

But maybe you don’t want to be as ‘pushy’ as Moody?



The master in Jesus’ parable about the wedding banquet told his servants:

“Go to the street corners and invite to the banquet anyone you find.” (Matt 22:9)

“Go out to the roads and country lanes and compel them to come in, so that my house will be full.” (Luke 14:23)

“Compel them to come” is a pretty strong term, don’t you think?


Perhaps Spurgeon said it best: “If sinners will be damned, at least let them leap to hell over our bodies. And if they will perish, let them perish with our arms about their knees, imploring them to stay. If hell must be filled, at least let it be filled in the teeth of our exertions, and let not one go there unwarned and unprayed for.”

James 5:20 remember this: Whoever turns a sinner from the error of their way will save them from death and cover over a multitude of sins.


John Harper was a Baptist pastor who began preaching at age 18. In 1897, he became the first pastor of Paisley Road Baptist Church in Glasgow, Scotland. Under his care, the church quickly grew from 25 members to over 500. At the time of the Titanic disaster, Harper was 39 and a widower with a 6-year-old daughter. In 1912 he was traveling with his daughter and sister to Chicago to preach at the Moody Church when the ship hit an iceberg. His daughter and sister were put on a lifeboat and survived, but Harper stayed behind and jumped into the water as the ship began to sink. 1

1 SOURCE: https:// wiki/ John_Harper_(pastor)


John Harper (1872-1912)

Some who survived told that Harper preached the Gospel to the end (especially Acts 16:31), first aboard the sinking ship and then afterward to those in the freezing water before dying in it himself. 1

Dr. William B. Riley relates the story of John Harper. “When the Titanic was struck by the iceberg that drove in her sides and sent the ship to the bottom, John Harper was leaning against the rail pleading with a young man to come to Christ.”

1 Ibid


“Four years after the Titanic went down, a young Scotsman arose in a meeting in Hamilton, Canada and said, ‘I am a survivor of the Titanic. When I was drifting alone on a piece of wood that awful night, the tide brought to me Mr. John Harper of Glasgow also on a piece of wreckage. ‘Man,’ he called to me, ‘are you saved?’ ‘No,’ I said, ‘I’m not.’ He cried again. ‘Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you shall be saved.’ And the young man standing said the waves bore him away but strange to say, in a few moments brought him back and again he called, ‘Are you saved now?’ ‘No,’ I said, ‘I cannot say that I am.’ He said, ‘Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved.’ The young man said shortly after that he went down and there alone in the night with two miles of water under me I believed. ‘And I am John Harper’s last convert.’”


Ever wondered why the church is still in the world?

Fellowship? If we were just here for fellowship, we could rather go to heaven where fellowship is perfect.

Worship? If we were just here for worship, we could rather go to heaven where worship is much better.

Evangelisation? There is only one reason why Jesus left us here and that is to be instrumental in searching for lost sheep. We are his hands, feet and mouthpiece in this world. And if we’re not doing that, we have forgotten or neglected our very purpose in being here.


Bill Hybels, senior pastor of Willow Creek Community Church in South Barrington, Illinois writes:

We as individual Christians and collective churches need to recalibrate our sights on the target God has given us: spiritually lost people. If people matter to God, then they’d better matter to us, too ... Deep in every true Christian, there is an awareness that we are on this planet for purposes greater than having a career, paying the bills, loving our families, and fulfilling our role as upstanding citizens ... God wants us to become contagious Christians - His agents, who will first catch His love and then urgently and infectiously offer it to all who are willing to consider it. 1

1 Becoming a Contagious Christian


Do you love Jesus? How can you show your love? Jesus told us - feed his sheep (John 20:17). That includes the ‘lost sheep’. (Remember the parable of the 100 sheep?)

Simon son of John, do you love me?

Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.

Feed my sheep!



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