This article is an excerpt from the first chapter of Samuel Brengle’s book, The Soul Winner’s Secret. Brengle served under William Booth in the early days of the Salvation Army. In this chapter, Brengle addresses first things first. He reminds his readers that unless we have experienced salvation and continued personal growth in Christ, we will never be effective in bringing others to know and walk with Jesus. Stay tuned for more excerpts from his book on our blog this spring and summer!
Every soul-winner is in the secret of the Lord, and has had a definite personal experience of salvation and the baptism of the Holy Ghost, which brings him into close fellowship and tender friendship and sympathy with the Savior.
The Psalmist prayed, “Hide Thy face from my sins, and blot out all my iniquities. Create within me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. Restore unto me the joy of Thy salvation, and uphold me with Thy free Spirit. Then,” said he, “will I teach transgressors Thy ways and sinners shall be converted unto Thee” (Psalm 51:10-42).
He saw that before he could be a soul-winner, before he could teach transgressors the way of the Lord and convert sinners, he must have his own sins blotted out; he must have a clean heart and a right spirit; he must be a partaker of the Holy Ghost and of God’s joy. In short, he must have a definite, constant, joyful experience of God’s salvation in his own soul in order to save others.
It was no “hope-I-am-saved” experience he wanted; nor was it a conclusion carefully reasoned out and arrived at by logical processes; nor an experience based upon a strict performance of a set round of duties and attendance upon sacraments, but a mighty transformation and cleansing of his whole spiritual nature and a glorious new creation wrought within him by the Holy Ghost.
It must be a definite experience that tallies with the Word of God. Only this can give that power and assurance to a man which will enable him to lead and win other men.
You must have knowledge before imparting knowledge.
You must have fire to kindle fire.
You must have life to reproduce life.
You must know Jesus and be on friendly terms with Him to be able to introduce others to Him.
You must be one with Jesus, and be “bound up in the bundle of life” with Him if you would bring others into that life.
Peter had repented under the preaching of John the Baptist, had forsaken all to follow Jesus, and had waited with prayer and unquenchable desire until he had received the baptism of the Holy Ghost and of fire, and had been anointed with power from on high, before he became the fearless, mighty preacher who won 3,000 converts in a day.
Paul was mightily converted on the road to Damascus, and heard the voice of Jesus tell him what to do, and was baptized with the Holy Ghost under the teaching of Ananias before he became the apostle of quenchless zeal who turned the world upside down
Luther was definitely converted and justified by faith on the stairway of St. Peter’s at Rome before he became the invincible reformer who could stand before popes and emperors and set captive nations free.
George Fox, Wesley, Finney, Whitefield, Jonathan Edwards, William Taylor, James Caughey, Moody and General Booth, each and all had a definite personal experience that made them apostles of fire, prophets of God and saviors of men. They did not guess that they were saved, nor “hope” so, but they knew “whom they believed,” and that they had passed from darkness into light and from the power of Satan unto God.
This experience was not evolution, but a revolution. No evolutionist ever has been or ever will be a great soul-winner. It is not by growth that men become such, but by revelation.
It is not until God bursts through the veil and reveals Himself in their hearts through faith in His dear Son and gives a consciousness of personal acceptance with Him, and sheds abroad His love in the heart, destroying unbelief, burning away sin, consuming selfishness, and filling the soul with the passion that filled the heart of Jesus, that men become soul-winners.
The experience that makes a man a soul-winner is two-fold. First, he must know his sins are forgiven; he must have recognized himself a sinner, out of friendly relation with God, and careless of God’s claim, heedless of God’s feelings, selfishly seeking his own way in spite of divine love and compassion, and heedless of the awful consequences of separating himself from God and this must have led to repentance toward God, by which I mean sorrow for and an utter turning away from sin, followed by a confiding trust in Jesus Christ as his Savior.
He must have so believed as to bring a restful consciousness that for Christ’s sake his sins have been forgiven and that he has been adopted into God’s family and made one of His dear children. This consciousness results from what Paul calls “the witness of the Spirit,” and enables the soul to cry out in deep filial confidence and affection, “Abba Father.”
Second: He must be sanctified; he must know that his heart is cleansed, that pride and self-will and carnal ambition and strife and sensitiveness and suspicion and unbelief and every unholy temper are destroyed by the baptism of the Holy Ghost — personal Pentecost — and the incoming of a great love for, and loyalty to, Jesus Christ, before he can be largely used to win souls.