Jesus taught us that there would be “joy in heaven over one sinner that repents.” This is not a subtle hint but a straightforward insight into what is truly important and valuable in heaven! A soul that repents and is saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ. By way of contrast, we hear a lot of talk about heaven’s streets of gold as one of the things we’re looking forward to. I’m sure this speaks of the overall magnificence of heaven, but, remember, it’s still just pavement!
Forgive me for bringing out the old poem “The touch of the Master’s Hand” read it again:
It was battered and scarred, And the auctioneer thought it hardly worth his while To waste his time on the old violin, but he held it up with a smile.
"What am I bid, good people", he cried, "Who starts the bidding for me?" "One dollar, one dollar, Do I hear two?" "Two dollars, who makes it three?" "Three dollars once, three dollars twice, going for three,"
But, No, From the room far back a gray bearded man Came forward and picked up the bow, Then wiping the dust from the old violin And tightening up the strings, He played a melody, pure and sweet As sweet as the angel sings.
The music ceased and the auctioneer With a voice that was quiet and low, Said "What now am I bid for this old violin?" As he held it aloft with its' bow.
"One thousand, one thousand, Do I hear two?" "Two thousand, Who makes it three?" "Three thousand once, three thousand twice, Going and gone", said he.
The audience cheered, But some of them cried, "We just don't understand." "What changed its' worth?" Swift came the reply. "The Touch of the Masters Hand."
And many a man with life out of tune All battered with bourbon and gin Is auctioned cheap to a thoughtless crowd Much like that old violin
A mess of pottage, a glass of wine, A game and he travels on. He is going once, he is going twice, He is going and almost gone.
But the Master comes, And the foolish crowd never can quite understand, The worth of a soul and the change that is wrought By the Touch of the Masters' Hand.
Myra Brooks Welch
The emphasis is mine, “the worth of a soul.” One of the great contributions of Christianity is to bring us the understanding of the value of human life and the worth of a human soul. This comes from three sources: 1st, Creation: human beings are made in the image of God. This accounts for the cultural debate over the sanctity of human life that still rages in our nation. 2nd, Redemption: which is the apex of understanding. If Jesus died for the sins of the whole world, He settled forever the value of the souls we encounter everyday of our lives. 3rd, New way of assessing people and things: “So we have stopped evaluating others from a human point of view.” (2Cor.5:16a) We no longer use a worldly measurement, especially an external one, to assess someone’s worth or value. This should remind us that Christianity is first and foremost a “rescue religion.”
There is no question that God’s priority and the heartbeat of heaven is for souls. Jesus called us “follow me and I will make you fishers of men.” The two go together: following Christ leads to a partnership in His enterprise as well. The religious people were constantly criticizing him by saying “this man receives sinners and eats with them.” Their criticism was actually a back-handed complement! Jesus Christ is the supreme example of a soul-winner. He is the consummate “soul Physician” in the way that He worked with people. After winning the woman at the well to Himself, He told his disciples “I have food to eat that you know nothing about!” They’re wondering whether or not He stopped by McDonald’s or Taco Bell or something. Jesus had to straighten them out by saying, “My food is to do the will of Him that sent Me, and to finish his work.” His “soul food” was all about touching people with the Gospel and bringing people to Himself and God’s salvation! This is what caused D.L. Moody to say, “I would rather save one soul from death than have a monument of solid gold reaching from my grave to the heavens! I tell you the monument I want after I am dead and gone is a monument with two legs going about the world—a saved sinner telling of the salvation of Jesus Christ.”
To finish up, this is why if you’re looking for employment how about (Prov.11:3) “The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life, and he who wins souls is wise.” This winning implies a number of things: First, it is a word of burden, or responsibility. Our calling has already been determined for us by the Lord Jesus. Second, it is a heart word, a word of romance (i.e. “wins her hand”). A love for Christ, for His church and for souls turns a work into a labor of love. Finally, it is a military word, talking of winning a battle or winning a city. In this case it is the fortress of the human heart with all its defenses that must be breached. The divine appraisal is “he that wins souls is wise.” Not only is this a developed skill but it tells us that this is truly worthy employment for every Christ follower. In choosing something to give your life to or to make the aim of your life, then it’s hard to find a more noble ambition! The prophet Daniel put this in the final context of an everlasting reward and inheritance, “Those who are wise will shine as bright as the sky, and those who lead many to righteousness will shine like the stars forever.” Shine on, my brother and sister, shine on!