What Does Soul-Saving Mean?

There are two reasons why the majority of remnant-church members, among big or small congregations, have fallen into the Laodicean condition: 1) Misdirected delegation. They have gladly turned over the work of soul-saving to the institution’s soul-saving departments, a distinctly human tendency of escaping responsibility or “passing the buck.” 2) They do not fully realize that the work of soul-saving encompasses their daily lives and every little thing they say and do. The impartial, yet merciful and accurate, judgment will take all of these into account. “For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.” Ecclesiastes 12:14.

“Everywhere there is a tendency to substitute the work of organizations for individual effort. Human wisdom tends to consolidation, to centralization, to the building up of great churches and institutions. Multitudes leave to institutions and organizations the work of benevolence; they excuse themselves from contact with the world, and their hearts grow cold. They become self-absorbed and unimpressible. Love for God and man dies out of the soul.

“Christ commits to His followers an individual work—a work that cannot be done by proxy. Ministry to the sick and the poor, the giving of the gospel to the lost, is not to be left to committees or organized charities. Individual responsibility, individual effort, personal sacrifice, is the requirement of the Gospel.” The Ministry of Healing, 147.

Individual Accountability

On the other hand, not enough is being said and done by the leadership itself to emphasize the very nature of the Investigative Judgment as regards the individual accountability of each member for how his character exerts an influence, consciously or unconsciously, upon others, towards eternal life or eternal death. Soul-saving is thought to be the exclusive work and responsibility of evangelists, pastors, ministers, Bible workers, etc. While this is true in the strictest sense, each member has a non-transferable, inescapable, definite role for soul-saving—because of the talents entrusted to him, especially that of life and time. Notice the following:

“Thou God seest me.” Genesis 16:13. “God is a vigilant observer of the actions of the children of men. Nothing occurs in earth or heaven without the knowledge of the Creator. Nothing can happen without His permission. He on whom the fate of an empire may depend is watched over with a vigilance which knows no relaxation by Him who ‘giveth salvation into kings,’ [Psalm 144:10] to whom belong ‘the shields of the earth’ [Psalm 47:9]. And the poor man is as tenderly watched over as the monarch upon his throne.

“God is constantly at work for the good of His creatures. . . . Times without number God has interposed to avert death, to keep men, women, and children in safety when Satan purposed a result wholly disastrous. . . .” My Life Today, 291.

While the above passages offer great comfort and assurance to God’s people who are in distress or who are being persecuted for righteousness sake (Matthew 5:10), it must never be forgotten that God loves righteousness but hates iniquity or sin, as well as rebellious sinners, “with perfect [or righteous] hatred.” (See Hebrews 1:8, 9; Psalm 139:22.) Because God is merciful, just, and righteous, His perfect love of purity will bring sin and impenitent sinners to a just and merciful judgment. Thus, the pre-advent or Investigative Judgment:

“In the Judgment the use made of every talent will be scrutinized. How have we employed the capital lent us of Heaven? Will the Lord at His coming receive His own with usury? Have we improved the powers entrusted us, in hand and heart and brain, to the glory of God and the blessing of the world? How have we used our time, our pen, our voice, our money, our influence? What have we done for Christ, in the person of the poor, the afflicted, the orphan, or the widow? God has made us the depositaries of His Holy Word; what have we done with the light and truth given us to make men wise unto salvation? No value is attached to a mere profession of faith in Christ; only the love which is shown by works is counted genuine. Yet it is love alone which in the sight of Heaven makes any act of value. Whatever is done from love, however small it may appear in the estimation of men, is accepted and rewarded of God.” The Great Controversy, 487.

Love for Self

While one may hasten to point out that whatever he or she is currently doing is “being done out of love” and thus is “accepted and rewarded by God,” the following paragraph qualifies it and takes it beyond any level of rationalization or self-justification. The secret motives that actuated their deeds that were supposedly “done out of love,” hidden to men and women their whole lives, will be revealed. They were actually done out of love for self, not for God’s glory, in accordance to His revealed will in the Law and Testimonies.

“The hidden selfishness of men stands revealed in the books of heaven. There is the record of unfulfilled duties to their fellow men, of forgetfulness of the Saviour’s claims. There they will see how often were given to Satan the time, thought, and strength that belonged to Christ. Sad is the record which angels bear to heaven. Intelligent beings, professed followers of Christ, are absorbed in the acquirement of worldly possessions or the enjoyment of earthly pleasures. Money, time, and strength are sacrificed for display and self-indulgence; but few are the moments devoted to prayer, to the searching of the Scriptures, to humiliation of soul and confession of sin.” Ibid., 487, 488.

“How solemn is the thought! Day after day, passing into eternity, bears its burden of records for the books of Heaven. Words once spoken, . . . can never be recalled. Angels have registered both the good and the evil. The mightiest conqueror upon the earth cannot call back the record of even a single day. Our acts, our words, even our most secret motives, all have their weight in deciding our destiny for weal or woe. Though they may be forgotten by us, they will bear their testimony to justify or condemn.

“As the features of the countenance are reproduced with unerring accuracy on the polished plate of the artist, so the character is faithfully delineated in the books above. Yet how little solicitude is felt concerning that record which is to meet the gaze of heavenly beings. Could the veil which separates the visible from the invisible world be swept back, and the children of men behold an angel recording every word and deed, which they must meet again in the judgment, how many words that are daily uttered would remain unspoken, how many deeds would remain undone.” Ibid., 486, 487.

In addition to doing the actual medical missionary work, giving Bible studies, preparing souls to accept Christ through baptism, and nurturing new members to grow in the faith and in the knowledge of the Scriptures towards character perfection, the following ways of witnessing are not given the attention of which they are worthy. Yet they are as important as a successful campaign of public evangelism!

A Saving Silent Influence

“Ye were ensamples to all that believe in Macedonia and Achaia. For from you sounded out the Word of the Lord not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but also in every place your faith to God-ward is spread abroad; so that we need not to speak any thing.”

1 Thessalonians 1:7, 8.

“If you can exert a saving influence over one soul, remember there is joy in heaven over the one that repented. . . . You may, by judicious effort, be the means of bringing back the lost sheep to Jesus’ fold. Although you may be young, you must work with Christ; with His Spirit in your heart you can do much more than it now seems possible for you to do.

“If your example is Christlike, that alone, if you do not say a word, will be a help to many. Patient continuance in well-doing will help others to place their feet in the path of truth and righteousness. . . . Be careful to start right, and then keep quietly on.

“The firm purposes you may possess in carrying out good principles will have an influence to balance souls in the right direction. There is no limit to the good you may do. If you make the Word of God the rule of your life, and govern your actions by its precepts, making all your purposes and exertions in the fulfilling of your duty a blessing . . . , success will crown your efforts.

“The youth [as well as the older ones, too] who are consecrated to God sway a mighty influence for good. Preachers or laymen advanced in years cannot have one half the influence for good upon the young that the youth, if devoted to God, can have upon their associates.” My Life Today, 122.

Influence by Example

“The unstudied, unconscious influence of a holy life is the most convincing sermon that can be given in favor of Christianity.” The Acts of the Apostles, 511.

“Be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity.” 1 Timothy 4:12.

Influenced by our Atmosphere

“By the atmosphere surrounding us, every person with whom we come in contact is consciously or unconsciously affected.

“This is a responsibility from which we cannot free ourselves. Our words, our acts, our dress, our deportment, even the expression of the countenance, has an influence. Upon the impression thus made there hang results for good or evil which no man can measure. Every impulse thus imparted is seed sown which will produce its harvest. It is a link in the long chain of human events, extending we know not whither.” Messages to Young People, 417

“Every soul is surrounded by an atmosphere of its own [counterfeited by the New Age aura],—an atmosphere, it may be, charged with the lifegiving power of faith, courage, and hope, and sweet with the fragrance of love. Or it may be heavy and chill with the gloom of discontent and selfishness, or poisonous with the deadly taint of sin.” Ibid.

“If by our example we aid others in the development of good principles, we give them power to do good. In their turn they exert the same influence upon others, and they upon still others. Thus by our unconscious influence thousands may be blessed.

“Throw a pebble into the lake, and a wave is formed; and another and another; and as they increase, the circle widens, until it reaches the very shore. So with our influence. Beyond our knowledge or control it tells upon others in blessing or cursing.

“Character is power. The silent witness of a true, unselfish, godly life carries an almost irresistible influence. By revealing in our own life the character of Christ, we co-operate with Him in the work of saving souls. It is only by revealing in our life His character that we can co-operate with Him. And the wider the sphere of our influence, the more good we may do. When those who profess to serve God follow Christ’s example, practicing the principles of the law in their daily life; when every act bears witness that they love God supremely and their neighbor as themselves, then will the church have power to move the world.” Christ’s Object Lessons, 339, 340.

Our Words

“For he that will love life, and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips that they speak no guile: let him eschew evil, and do good; let him seek peace, and ensue it.” 1 Peter 3:10, 11.

“A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver.” Proverbs 25:11.

“If the lips were constantly guarded so that no guile could corrupt them, what an amount of suffering, degradation, and misery might be prevented. If we would say nothing to wound or grieve, except in necessary reproof of sin, that God might not be dishonored, how much misunderstanding, bitterness, and anguish would be prevented. If we would speak words of good cheer, words of hope and faith in God, how much light we might shed upon the pathway of others, to be reflected in still brighter beams upon our own souls. . . .” My Life Today, 180.

Help Others

“Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee.” 1 Timothy 4:16.

“I have read of a man who, journeying on a winter’s day through deep drifts of snow, became benumbed by the cold, which was almost imperceptibly freezing his vital powers. He was nearly chilled to death, and was about to give up the struggle for life, when he heard the moans of a fellow traveler who was also perishing with cold. His sympathy was aroused, and he determined to rescue him. He chafed the ice-cold limbs of the unfortunate man, and after considerable effort raised him to his feet. As the sufferer could not stand, he bore him in sympathizing arms through the very drifts he had thought he could never get through alone.

“When he had carried his fellow traveler to a place of safety, the truth flashed home to him that in saving his neighbor he had also saved himself. His earnest efforts to help another had quickened the blood that was freezing in his own veins and sent a healthy warmth to the extremities of his body.

“The lesson that in helping others we ourselves receive help must be urged upon young believers continually, by precept and example, that in their Christian experience they may gain the best results. Let the desponding ones, those disposed to think that the way to eternal life is trying and difficult, go to work to help others.” My Life Today, 234.

“Every truly converted soul will be intensely desirous to bring others from the darkness of error into the marvelous light of the righteousness of Jesus Christ.” Ibid., 59.

Speak the Truth

Ezekiel 3:17–21 says that if we speak the truth boldly in God’s love to warn the erring one, and he repents, we have saved a soul and saved our souls as well. But if we refuse to warn the erring when God plainly brings the task upon us, that person will lose his soul and you and I have lost ours as well. It is in this sense that we are expected of God, by His enabling grace, to possess the courage of heroes and the faith of martyrs!

“Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.” 1 Corinthians 15:58.

“Those who stand in defense of the honor of God, and maintain the purity of truth at any cost, will have manifold trials, as did our Saviour in the wilderness of temptation. The yielding temperaments, who have not courage to condemn wrong, but keep silent when their influence is needed to stand in the defense of right against any pressure, may avoid many heartaches and escape many perplexities, and lose a very rich reward, if not their own souls.

“Those who in harmony with God, and through faith in Him, receive strength to resist wrong, and stand in defense of the right, will always have severe conflicts and will frequently have to stand almost alone [in the choices and in the decisions they make]. But precious victories will be theirs while they make God their dependence. His grace will be their strength. Their moral sense will be keen, clear, and sensitive. Their moral powers will be equal to withstand wrong influences. Their integrity, like that of Moses, of the purest character.” My Life Today, 320.

Relieve Suffering

“And He sent them to preach the kingdom of God, and to heal the sick.” Luke 9:2.

“Christ established His temporary hospital on the green hill slopes of Galilee and in every other place where the sick and the suffering could be brought to Him. In every city, every town, every village through which He passed, with the tender compassion of a loving Father He laid His hand upon the afflicted ones, and made them whole. This same work Christ has empowered His church to do.

“At the close of His earthly ministry, when He charged His disciples with a solemn commission to go ‘into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature,’ He declared that their ministry would receive confirmation through the restoration of the sick to health. Ye ‘shall lay hands on the sick,’ He said, ‘and they shall recover.’ Mark 16:15, 18. By healing in His name the diseases of the body, they would testify to His power for the healing of the soul.

“The Saviour’s commission to the disciples includes all believers to the end of time. . . . Never has the world’s need for teaching and healing been greater than it is today. The world is full of those who need to be ministered unto—the weak, the helpless, the ignorant, the degraded.

“God’s people are to be genuine medical missionaries. They are to learn to minister to the needs of soul and body. They should know how to give the simple treatments that do so much to relieve pain and remove disease. They should be familiar with the principles of health reform, that they may show others how, by right habits of eating, drinking, and dressing, disease may be prevented and health regained. . . . The Great Physician . . . will bless every one who will go forward humbly and trustfully, seeking to impart the truth for this time.

“In a special sense the healing of the sick is our work.” My Life Today, 226.

“The necessities of life must be attended to, the sick must be cared for, the wants of the needy must be supplied. He will not be held guiltless who neglects to relieve suffering on the Sabbath. God’s holy rest day was made for man, and acts of mercy [not mercenary acts!] are in perfect harmony with its intent. God does not desire His creatures to suffer an hour’s pain that may be relieved upon the Sabbath or any other day. . . .

“Labor to relieve the suffering was pronounced by our Saviour a work of mercy and no violation of the Sabbath.” Ibid., 231. (See John 9:1–14.)

Remember, we are saved in order to save others, not that we are saviours in and of ourselves, but that we are engaged in the sacred work of saving souls as co-laborers with Christ, pointing the sinner to Christ Jesus, the Source of salvation! Jesus said, “And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto Me.” John 12:32.