In my journey in grace I have been fortunate to have come under the influence of gifted ministers of various theological persuasions. During the most formative years of my life I was influenced by the ministry of Dr. John R. Rice (December 11, 1895- December 29:1980), who was one of America’s leading Fundamentalist and conservative evangelist. When Dr. Rice pastored Galilean Baptist Church in Dallas, Texas, on September 28, 1934, he founded the Sword of the Lord, a major conservative Christian newspaper, still read by more than 100,000 subscribers each month. The name of the newspaper is taken from a phrase in Judges 7:20. “And they cried, the sword of the LORD and of Gideon.” A prolific writer, Dr. Rice was the author of at least 200 books. Some of his works have enjoyed wide circulation such as Prayer: Asking and Receiving, The Golden Path to Successful Personal Soul Winning, The Home: Courtship, Marriage, and Children. More than 40 million copies have been printed of his pamphlet, “What Must I Do To Be Saved?”.
As a teenager, while serving in the US Army, I came under the teaching of R. B. Thieme, Jr., whose ministry at Berachah Church in Houston, Texas has a wide following in the military. Of the 10,000 hours of doctrinal teaching on tape, I listened to at least 2,500 hours of Colonel Thieme’s material, and read most of the 100 books he authored. During this same period, I was introduced to the teaching of Dr. S. Lewis Johnson, a professor at Dallas Theological Seminary and an Elder at Believer’s Chapel in Dallas, Texas.
Other men who tremendously influenced me as a child and as an adult were Dr. Lee Roberson, founder of Tennessee Temple Schools, Billy Graham, J. Paul Driscoll, pastor of Mid-City Baptist Church on the Airline Highway in New Orleans, Louisiana, and an obscure Sunday school teacher named Jim Lacy. I value and esteem each of these men in the Lord and am grateful for their influences upon my life.
From Jim Lacy, I learned that children are important to God. The investment of time a godly Sunday school teacher makes in a young life is priceless. It was a Sunday school teacher named Edward Kimball that led D. L. Moody to Christ, and multitudes in America were destined to be changed. From Dr. Roberson I learned the importance of developing good organizational skills. From J. Paul Driscoll I came to understand the power of persistency in the work of the ministry. From Dr. S. Lewis Johnson I first learned the doctrines of grace, for which I have been profoundly grateful ever since. From Colonel Thieme I learned the importance of a systematic study of the Word of God with emphasis upon the original languages. From Billy Graham, I learned how lovely God’s Word can sound when it is preached with eloquence and simplicity. From Dr. John R. Rice I learned to love souls, and the importance of being a soul winner for Christ. During 45 years of public ministry the main thing I have asked the Lord for are souls for my labor for His cause and kingdom.
Dr. Rice’s overarching love for souls was manifested in every facet of his ministry. It was his driving force that sustained him through good times and bad. This truth is reflected in part by one of his most enduring sermons, Sevenfold Sin of Not Winning Souls. This 22 minutes classic sermon can be found on YouTube. What Dr. Rice presented negatively, I would like to restate, but in a positive manner for there is much value in his seven major points.
There is the blessing of being obedient to the known will of Christ. “And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. 19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: 20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen” (Matt. 28:18-20).
There is the blessing of showing great love for Christ based on gospel obedience. Jesus said, “If ye love me, keep my commandments” (John 14:15). “Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him. 24 He that loveth me not keepeth not my sayings: and the word which ye hear is not mine, but the Father’s which sent me” (John 14:23-24).
There is the blessing of following Christ. “And he saith unto them, Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men” (Matt. 4:19).
There is the blessing of abiding in Christ. “I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman. 2 Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit. 3 Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you. 4 Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. 5 I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing. 6 If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned. 7 If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you. 8 Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples” (John 15:1-8).
There is the blessing of fulfilling a sacred trust. Jesus told the parable of a man who forgot to fulfill a sacred trust. We do not want to be like him. “For the kingdom of heaven is as a man travelling into a far country, who called his own servants, and delivered unto them his goods. 15 And unto one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one; to every man according to his several ability; and straightway took his journey. 16 Then he that had received the five talents went and traded with the same, and made them other five talents. 17 And likewise he that had received two, he also gained other two. 18 But he that had received one went and digged in the earth, and hid his lord’s money. 19 After a long time the lord of those servants cometh, and reckoneth with them. 20 And so he that had received five talents came and brought other five talents, saying, Lord, thou deliveredst unto me five talents: behold, I have gained beside them five talents more. 21 His lord said unto him, Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord. 22 He also that had received two talents came and said, Lord, thou deliveredst unto me two talents: behold, I have gained two other talents beside them. 23 His lord said unto him, Well done, good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord. 24 Then he which had received the one talent came and said, Lord, I knew thee that thou art an hard man, reaping where thou hast not sown, and gathering where thou hast not strawed: 25 And I was afraid, and went and hid thy talent in the earth: lo, there thou hast that is thine. 26 His lord answered and said unto him, Thou wicked and slothful servant, thou knewest that I reap where I sowed not, and gather where I have not strawed: 27 Thou oughtest therefore to have put my money to the exchangers, and then at my coming I should have received mine own with usury. 28 Take therefore the talent from him, and give it unto him which hath ten talents. 29 For unto every one that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance: but from him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath. 30 And cast ye the unprofitable servant into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Matt. 25:14-30).
There is the blessing of being a wise person. “The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life; and he that winneth souls is wise” (Prov. 11:30).
There is the blessing of a clear conscience. “Son of man, I have made thee a watchman unto the house of Israel: therefore hear the word at my mouth, and give them warning from me. 18 When I say unto the wicked, Thou shalt surely die; and thou givest him not warning, nor speakest to warn the wicked from his wicked way, to save his life; the same wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at thine hand. 19 Yet if thou warn the wicked, and he turn not from his wickedness, nor from his wicked way, he shall die in his iniquity; but thou hast delivered thy soul” (Ezek. 3:17-19).
May the Lord encourage the heart of every Christian to witness in order to advance His cause and kingdom.