LAZARUS, THE SOUL WINNER.
We have come to the last chapter, and in this chapter we want to talk about winning souls. The old prophet said, He that winneth souls is wise. And again we read, And they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament, and they that turn many to righteousness, as the stars forever and ever. Again the blessed Christ said, I will make you fishers of men. At another time He said to them, Henceforth ye shall catch men. Again He said to them, Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature, and he that believeth and is baptized shall be saved, and he that believeth not shall be damned. We could go on and pile up many Scriptures, but there is no use of it.
The text for this chapter is John 12:10, 11: “But the chief priests consulted that they might put Lazarus also to death; because that by reason of him many of the Jews went away and believed on Jesus.” The reader will notice that the first time we saw Laarus [sic] he was a sick man, but the last glimpse that we had of him he was a soul winner. Notice, it says that many of the Jews went away and believed on Jesus because of Lazarus; we don’t know how many, but we do know that a great multitude did believe. It is a very strange thing when we think of where the Lord goes to get his preachers. How natural it was in the prophet when he went to the house of Jesse to anoint a king for the Lord. Jesse and the prophet both looked on the fine looking young men and one by one they passed before the prophet but the Spirit said, He is the one, and when all of the fine looking ones had passed and no one had been chosen, the prophet asked, Is this all of your sons? Well, Jesse said, all but one stripling who is out with a herd of sheep. The Lord had found a great preacher out with a herd of sheep once before that, and so Jesse had the lad brought and he proved to be the one. He turned out to be the sweet singer of Israel, and afterwards wrote the Twenty-third Psalm, which has brought joy and gladness to the hearts of thousands of the Lord’s little ones.
To look at Lazarus as we have seen him in the different stages of death he looks like everything on earth but a revivalist; but look at the great crowd who believed on Jesus because of Lazarus, and you will be fully persuaded in your mind that he was one of the greatest witnesses Jesus ever put on the witness stand. All Lazarus had to do was to go and tell his experience, and he stopped the mouth of all gainsayers.
Christ said one day to His disciples that I will give you a mouth and a wisdom which all of your adversaries shall not be able to resist or to gainsay. Without a doubt Lazarus had this mouth and this wisdom, for he had come from the bottom and he was on top, and the Jews knew that Lazarus was no sleight of hand performance for they had been there to the funeral and they saw Lazarus go down into the tomb a dead man. They staid there with his heart-broken sisters for the full four days and after Lazarus had been dead four days Jesus, the very one that the Jews did not like, came to town and declared Himself to be the resurrection and the life; they were right there when the Son of God called Lazarus out of the tomb. Now look at that dead man in the tomb all covered with putrefaction and just think of that man as a great revivalist. Who on earth would think of such a thing.
You will bear me witness that when Jesus went to town there was not a man in town that had any thought on earth that Lazarus would ever be a preacher. Why, man, he was dead and bound and in the tomb; he was already putrified and the tomb was already sealed up. Even his own nearest friends had lost all hope and so it is to-day, but when the Lord comes to town, and before we hardly know it, He has the fellow out of the tomb; the next thing we know he has all of the strings off of him; the next thing we know he is feasting with his Lord; the next thing we know he is persecuted, and the next thing we know he is a great soul winner, attracting more attention than any man in the field. The devil has mud on his horns and the smoke is flying. The devil is making an awful howl and the chief priest says it will never do to allow this fellow to go on in this way. He is out of the natural order. O, yes, my brother, he is out of the natural order. He is out of the tomb instead of being out of the university. He is a Christ-made man, a heaven-born man, a Spirit-filled man and as he feasted with his Lord, the wise looked wise and scratched their heads and said, He is a great disturber of the peace of our Zion. But the revival is on, the altars are full, the saints are shouting for joy, the face of Lazarus is all lit up with the glory of God, he is all out and out for God and the calls are coming in from all points of the compass.
The chief priest consulted that Lazarus might be put to death also, and they met, just as I have known them to do, and wrote out a long document in which they said, Be it resolved, whereas, we the undersigned have nothing to do with the meetings that are now being held in the city. I have seen wagon loads of just such as the above, and while the dear brethren were taking no stock in the holiness meeting, I want you to see that the holiness meeting did not take any stock in them. We know that real Bible holiness is the hope of the church, and when a man gets to the place that he will have nothing to do with holiness he is on awfully dangerous ground at the very best construction you can put on him and his conduct. We have a holy God and a holy Christ, the Holy Ghost and the Holy Bible, and a holy church was started by our heavenly Father. The holy apostles were left in charge of it and the object of a holy church is to make men holy. We have the holy angels to watch over us while we live holy lives, and then we are to go to a holy heaven, and live with the holy saints forever and ever. Amen and amen.
It is not hard for a holy man to have revivals of religion anywhere on earth he goes; in fact, the revival is on when he takes charge of the church. I will give you a case that came under my own observation. There were two men in the same conference and there was but little difference in their ages. There was no difference in their preaching ability, so far as we could see. If there was, the one that refused to preach holiness had the advantage of the other. They took two churches at the same time and were only about fifty miles apart. There was no difference in the strength of the two churches––just about the same. One man had the experience of holiness and preached it and the other did not, but fought it; the one that preached it, in the four years, had from two to three big revivals each year. The other fellow did not have a revival in the four years. The one that was all out for God and full salvation added to the church in the four years about 400 members and the fellow that fought holiness added one member to his church roll in four years. The one member he got was converted under my preaching up town in an old storehouse meeting, and if the brother had a soul saved in the four years nobody ever heard of it. He was a nice man and was not a sinner; he seemed to have some religion, and was a good preacher. In many respects he was a fine man, and was a friend of mine, but he spent much time in proving to the poor hungry multitudes that they could not be sanctified. At a glance we see that he was not a soul winner. He was not like Lazarus. You can read between the lines that many of the Gentiles did not believe on Jesus because of this man, but we see that many of the Jews did believe on Jesus because of Lazarus.
One of the greatest gifts on earth is the gift of soul winning. How it fills my heart to hear a man or a woman preach the gospel and fill the altar; to see the penitents weep their way to the altar, pray through, strike fire, and get up with a shine on their faces and tell the glad story of pardoning love; and at the same altar service I love to see a number of seekers for the blessing of sanctification; to see them get up with the glory of God all over their souls, and listen to their testimony as they try to tell between their sobs and shouts, what the Lord has done for them. Oh, it is beautiful!
I know it almost tickled Lazarus to death just to listen to the testimonies of the people around the town of Bethany. The high priest was mad and Lazarus was glad, but the revival was on; a revival of old time power is too big for the chief priest or anybody else to stop. A soul winner in a great revival is about the happiest mortal on earth and cares about as little for the growls of the chief priest as any other mortal above ground.
I see three things in the great holiness revival that I would call three gets: You have to get the blessing or get out of the way or you will get run over. Well, remember that many of the Jews believed on Jesus because of Lazarus.