One soul at a time

The apostle Paul understood his life was nearly over. He told his beloved Timothy that the time for his departure from this world was near (2 Timothy 4:6).

Paul said something to Timothy to warn him about how evil the world would become (2 Timothy 3:13). Still, it was Paul’s hope that the young preacher would continue to change the world one soul at a time even though the world would rebel against sound teaching (2 Timothy 4:1-5).

We live in a world that has, for the most part, thrown God’s laws away. Often, we believe we’re living in an enlightened world, but the truth is most people are unrepentant sinners who have heeded the call of science to throw God into a dark closet.

Things are no different now than they were in the beginning when Adam and Eve decided to do the same by disregarding God’s law (Genesis 3:1-3). The history of Israel was one of continued disobedience to God (Ezekiel 20:10-21).

After the apostles died, at least by the second or third century, most of the church left the Bible teaching of elders (plural) over a church for a single bishop over a city (AD 107). By AD 325, the bishops had approved a man-made creed to be recited during worship. By AD 451, Damasus I started calling Rome the “Holy See,” beginning the papacy. What followed is what was called “the Dark Ages.”

There are people who think that if they get involved with the world, they might be able to save it from the fate that awaits it (1 Thessalonians 5:2-3). This is a forlorn hope. The unrepentant sinner can only change his destiny by obeying God, and this, many will not do. Jesus himself said the majority of people in the world would be lost (Matthew 7:13-14).

The truth is we can’t save the world from the fate that awaits it. This is why the apostle John warned Christians of the first century not to love the world (1 John 2:15ff), and why Jesus warned people to repent and obey the gospel (Matthew 24:35-39).

Sound negative? Yes, it does. Sometimes the truth is negative so that we’ll hear it and avoid the fate of the world. Remember, Noah, a preacher of righteousness (2 Peter 2:5) tried to warn the world it was about to be destroyed? Only eight souls, however, were saved from the flood. The truth is we can’t save the world.

We can, however, save one soul at a time by teaching them the truth of God’s word. Paul understood the power of this when he wrote Philemon about the runaway slave Onesimus. Paul told his brother Philemon that Onesimus who had been a run-away slave but was now profitable both to his master and to Paul (Philemon 15-16). The gospel has the power to end slavery by changing on soul at a time.

Politics cannot change the world. If the last forty years have taught us anything, it should have taught us we can’t change the world by electing one party or the other to the White House. The Warren Court began the despicable practice of allowing abortion. Candidates for president have called for the abolishment of abortion, yet since the Roe v. Wade decision in the 1960s, we still have it. Man, by himself, has no power to change an unrepentant world.

Obedience to the gospel of Christ can save one soul at a time. Has it saved yours?

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