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Chapter 1 Death or Life?
The title for this study is a question: Does Your Tongue Need Healing? As we follow this theme, you may be in for some surprises!
Let me begin by pointing out something very significant about the way in which the Creator designed the human head. Every one of us has seven openings in our head, the number in Scripture which often denotes completeness. We have three pairs of openings: two eyes, two ears, and two nostrils. But the Creator restricted the seventh opening to one, the mouth. I have often asked people, "How many of you wish you had more than one mouth?" But I have never met anyone who did. Most of us have all we can do to use one mouth properly. This one opening causes us more problems than all the other six together!
If you take a Bible concordance and look up all the words related to that one opening such as "mouth," "tongue," "lips," "speech," "words," and so on, you will be amazed how much the Bible has to say about this subject, and it is with good reason. There is no area in our personality more directly related to our total well-being than the mouth and tongue.
Death or Life?
In the first section of this study I wish to share a number of passages of Scripture which all emphasize the vital importance of the mouth and the tongue. Then, in subsequent sections, I will deal with principles that arise out of these Scriptures. First, we will consider Psalm 34:11-13:"Come, my children, listen to me; I will teach you the fear of the LORD. "Whoever of you loves life and desires to see many good days, keep your tongue from evil and your lips from speaking lies. (NIV)
The inspired Word of God offers to teach us, as God's children, the fear of the Lord. I have a series of audio cassettes which point out that there is nothing in all Scripture to which there is attached greater blessing, fruitfulness and assurance than the fear of the Lord. So when the Scripture offers to teach us the fear of the Lord, it is offering something of infinite value and worth. By implication, the psalmist says here that 'life" and "many good days" go with the fear of the Lord. In Scripture, life in its fullness and the fear of the Lord are always associated together. The measure in which we have the fear of the Lord. is the measure in which we enjoy true life.
Practically speaking, where does the fear of the Lord begin? It is very clear. The psalmist says, 'Keep your tongue from evil and your lips from speaking lies." In other words, the first area of our life in which the fear of the Lord will be practically manifested is our tongue and our lips. If we can keep our tongue from evil and our lips from speaking lies, then we can move on into the fullness of the fear of the Lord.
Then, out of the fear of the Lord comes life and many good days. The fear of the Lord, life, good days, and the proper use and control of our tongues and our lips are all bound together. We cannot really have good lives if we do not control our tongues and our lips. Proverbs 13:3 states: "He who guards his lips guards his soul, but he who speaks rashly will come to ruin. (NIV)
Your soul is your whole personality. It is the real you. This is the area where weakness will be manifested first and where the enemy will gain access first. If you want to guard your soul, you must guard your lips. But if you speak rashly, you will come to ruin. The alternatives are very clear. If you control the tongue, then you have protection; but if your tongue gets out of control and you are not master of your words, then the end is ruin. It is so clear, there are no blurred edges. The whole book of Proverbs is full of these principles. Consider Proverbs 21:23: "He who guards his mouth and his tongue keeps himself from calamity. (NIV)
Again, the vital area that you must protect is your mouth and your tongue. Once again, the alternatives are black and white. There is no gray. If you guard your mouth and tongue, then you guard your soul and your life. You are safe. But if you fail to do that, the alternative is calamity. "Calamity" is a very strong word and I believe the Bible uses it deliberately. The failure to guard our lips and our tongues will ultimately bring us to calamity.
There are two other passages in the book of Proverbs concerning the use of the tongue which are particularly significant. "A wholesome tongue is a tree of life. But perverseness therein is a breach in the spirit. (Proverbs 15:4 KJV)
Where the King James Version says, 'a wholesome tongue," the literal Hebrew says, "the healing of the tongue." This clearly indicates that our tongue can need healing. I believe the tongue of every sinner needs healing. The tongue is one area where sin is always manifested in every life. There are some areas in which a sinner may not offend. But the tongue is one area in which every sinner offends, and it must be healed.
'The healing of the tongue is a tree of life." Notice again the close connection between life and the correct use of the tongue. The alternative is, "perverseness therein is a breach in the spirit." Perverseness means "the wrong use.," The misuse of the tongue is a breach, or a leak, in the spirit.
I remember once being in a service where a visiting preacher prayed for a certain person and said, "Lord, fill her with the Holy Spirit." But the pastor who knew her said, "Don't, Lord; she leaks."
Many get filled and blessed, but it runs out through their tongues. You must keep a tight reign on your tongue if you are going to contain the blessing of the Lord. It is one thing to be blessed; it is another thing to contain the blessing. The healing of the tongue is a tree of life that brings life to us and to others. It works inwardly and outwardly. 'Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit. (Proverbs 18.21 NAS)
The alternatives are always so clear. It is either death or life. They are both in the power of the tongue. If we use our tongues properly, they will be a tree of life. But if we use our tongues improperly, then the result is death; and whichever way we use our tongues, we can be sure we will eat the fruit. Each one of us eats the fruit of our own tongue. If the fruit is sweet, we will eat sweet fruit. If the fruit is bitter, we will feed on bitter fruit. God has ordained it that way.
The tongue is the decisive member. Death and life are in the power of the tongue. 088368098X|Chapter 1 You Can Be A Soul-Winner
Certain requirements must be fulfilled for real success in leading lost souls to Christ. Fortunately these are few and simple, and anyone can meet them.
The one who desires real success in bringing others to Christ must himself be a thoroughly converted person. Jesus said to Peter, "When thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren" (Luke 22:32). Peter was in no position to help his brethren until he himself, after his cowardly denial, had turned again to his Lord with his whole heart.
If we desire to bring others to Christ, we must turn away from all sin, worldliness, and selfishness with our whole heart, yielding to Jesus the absolute lordship over our thoughts, purposes, and actions. If we are seeking to have our own way and not letting Him have His way in our lives, our power will be crippled and souls that might have been saved may be lost. This principle can be applied to the numerous questions that every young Christian asks as to whether he should do this or that. Each individual can find answers for himself if Christ's honor and not his own pleasure is uppermost in his mind.
Loving Others Into The Kingdom
The one who desires real success in bringing others to Christ must truly love others and long for their salvation. If we have no love for other souls, our efforts will be mechanical and powerless. We may know how to approach men and what to say to them, but there will be no power in what we say. It will not touch the heart. But if like Paul we have "great heaviness and unceasing pain in our hearts" for the unsaved, there will be an earnestness in our tone and manner that will impress even the most disinterested. Furthermore, if we have a love for souls, we will be watching constantly for opportunities to speak with the unsaved. We will find opportunities on the street, in the store, in the home, on buses and streetcars, and everywhere that would otherwise have entirely escaped our notice.
But how does one acquire a love for souls? Like every other grace of Christian character, a love for souls is the work of the Holy Spirit. If we are conscious that we do not have the love for souls that we should have, the first thing to do is to go to God and humbly confess this lack in our lives. We can ask Him by His Holy Spirit to supply what we need and expect Him to do it. (See I John 5:14-15 and Philippians 4:19.) Jesus Christ had an intense love for souls. (See Matthew 23:37, 19:10.) Intimate and constant companionship with Him will impart to our lives this grace that was so prominent in Him.
Feelings are the outcome of thoughts.- If we desire any given feeling to develop in our lives, we should dwell on thoughts which produce that feeling. If any saved person will concentrate long enough on the peril and misery of any man separated from Christ, he will realize the worth of his soul in God's sight because of the death of God's Son to save him. An intense desire for that man's salvation is almost certain to follow. Reflection on our own ruined, unhappy condition without Christ and on the great sacrifice He made to save us is sure to fill our hearts with a desire to bring others to the Savior we have found.
Using The Word And Prayer
The one who desires to have real success in bringing men to Christ must have a working knowledge of the Bible. The Word of God is "the sword of the Spirit" (Ephesians 6:17) that God uses to convict of sin, to reveal Christ, and to regenerate men. If we wish to work together with God, the Bible is the instrument we must rely on and use in bringing men to Christ. We must know how to use the Bible to show men their need of a Savior, to show them Jesus as the Savior they need, to show them how to make this Savior their own Savior, and to meet the difficulties that stand in the way of their accepting Christ. A large part of the following pages will be devoted to imparting this knowledge.
The one who desires to have real success in bringing men to Christ must pray frequently. Solid work in soul-winning must be accompanied by prayer at every step. We must first ask God to lead us to the right persons to approach. God does not intend that we speak to everyone we meet. If we try to do this, we will waste much valuable time speaking to those whom we cannot helptime we might have used speaking to those for whom we could have done much good. God alone knows the one to whom He intends us to speak. We must ask Him to point him or her out to us and expect Him to do it. (See Acts 8:29.)
We must ask God to show us what to say to those to whom He leads us. We will need God's guidance to know which Bible passage to use in each case. Every experienced worker Will testify to the many instances in which God has led them to use some text of Scripture that they would not otherwise have used but which proved to be just the one needed.
We must also ask God to give power to what He has given us to say. We need not only a message from God but power from God to send the message home. Most workers have to learn this lesson by experience. They sit down beside an unsaved man, reasoning, pleading, and citing texts from the Word of God, but the man does not accept Christ. At last it dawns on them that they are trying to convert the man in their own strength. When they lift an earnest and humble prayer to God for His strength, God hears. In a short time this "very difficult case" is rejoicing in Christ.
We must then ask God to carry on the work after our part of it has come to an end. After having done our whole duty in any given instance whatever may have been our apparent successful or unsuccessful work-we should definitely commit the case to God in prayer. If there is anything the average worker in this hurrying age needs to have impressed on him, it is the necessity of more prayer. By praying more, we will not work any less, but we will accomplish much more.
The one who would have real success in bringing men to Christ must be "baptized with the Holy Ghost." "Ye shall receive power after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you" (Acts 1:8). Jesus said this to His disciples after giving them the great commission to go out and bring men to Himself. The supreme condition of soul-winning power is the same today, "after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you." A later chapter will be devoted to a study of the baptism in the Holy Spirit and how any Christian can obtain it.