Is there a price attached to proselyte a soul? Should we compute the cost of winning a soul to Christ in terms of dollars and cents? Some of the popular churches have compiled statistics on membership increases and decreases and the cost involved in adding a name to the membership roll book. One well-known Protestant church has arrived at a figure of approximately $4,000.00 to obtain one member. You may be astonished at this type of figuring in evaluating the price of a soul. Preaching the gospel to the masses of people on our earth requires finances that are continually going up. Through tithes and offerings Biblical truth is being proclaimed and it certainly requires a large amount of money. We cannot eclipse this fact. In our money-oriented society, many churches rely upon large money drives geared to appeal to the emotions of people. It may happen that practically the whole sermon deals with the procurement of needed funds. It is not wrong simply to ask for a contribution, but one should not dwell exhaustively on fund raising. When the members of the church are entirely converted, their heart, soul and body being laid on the altar, liberal offerings come naturally. All that will be required is a straightforward request for help.
Though the people of God should count their expenditures in winning a soul to Jesus Christ and the present truth, yet there is a price paid that is infinitely greater than the mere expression of monetary units. The personal involvement, love shown, time spent, prayers offered, the efforts of a lifetime, are all part of the price of membership.
Let us take a moment to look at a few of these immeasurable values to realize their importance. Love is a quality that is beyond computation. It is a divine attribute which is given to man for the purpose of bringing him happiness. Love is the only attribute that can win souls to Christ, and any other methods are doomed to failure. It gives victories where argument and authority are powerless to influence. It flows out naturally to others in good works. The recipient who is shown genuine love will react in a totally different way than when a dictatorial spirit, overbearing or holier-than-thou attitude is revealed. True love for our fellow man will lead us to action in various missionary endeavors. A genuine Christian has the desire, conviction and love to tell others of the joy and blessedness in serving the Lord. Even though we are not all full-time ambassadors for Christ in the sense of receiving compensation for our labor, nevertheless we still will make personal efforts to rescue souls. The greater their sin and the deeper their misery, the deeper will be our love and compassion, and the more earnest will be our efforts to direct them to our Savior.
Our love-motivated work should not be directed only to souls in the world; those who have children have a great responsibility of saving them from the power of the enemy. This priority far outweighs many other missionary projects. The main concern for a God-fearing parent is the conversion of his children, which is of far greater value than mere membership in the church.
The divine injunction is to “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” Proverbs 22:6. Mothers and fathers are to teach their children that the only way to be happy is to love God supremely and in this to be a living example, which is a powerful influence for good. Let them see that the peace and love of Christ pervade your heart. The word of God is to be the guide in educating them for the future life. Morning and evening worship should be conducted with Bible reading and giving the children an opportunity to pray. A praying home is an asset to the church. The hours spent with the children can never be measured in monetary terms. It is certainly a price you pay for their membership. It is worth more than a billion dollars when we dedicate our talents and time for the good of others—especially our families. The prayers that are offered may be mixed with many tears of earnest pleading and deep love.
“For God so loved the world, that He gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” John 3:16. Christ gave up His life for a world that did not love Him. The angels and the whole universe were amazed to see the Son of God willing to leave the glory, honor, and majesty of heaven to suffer the cruel death on the cross.
“The value of a soul, who can estimate? Would you know its worth, go to Gethsemane, and there watch with Christ through those hours of anguish, when He sweat as it were great drops of blood. Look upon the Saviour uplifted on the cross. Hear that despairing cry, ‘My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?’ Mark 15:34. Look upon the wounded head, the pierced side, the marred feet. Remember that Christ risked all. For our redemption, heaven itself was imperiled. At the foot of the cross, remembering that for one sinner Christ would have laid down His life, you may estimate the value of a soul.” —E. G. White, Christ’s Object Lesson, p. 196.
We cannot fully comprehend our Savior’s love and sacrifice. It will take all of eternity to appreciate the plan of salvation.
In the parable of the lost sheep recorded in Luke chapter 15, the shepherd goes out to search for one lost sheep. It has to be sought for by the shepherd (Christ), for it cannot find its own way back to the fold. So it is with the soul who does not know God or who has gone astray. He is helpless, estranged, and weary, unless divine love rescues him from the dangers that surround him. The shepherd loves his sheep and cannot rest if even one is missing. The darker the night and the more dangers there are in the way, the greater is the shepherd’s anxiety and determination to find his lost sheep. Men and women may claim to deny the existence of Christ, they may choose some other master; yet they are God’s property by creation and by redemption. “There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. They are all gone out of the way.” Romans 3:11, 12. It was God the Father and His Son who first loved us before we repented. Salvation does not come through our seeking after God but through God’s seeking after us—lost sinners.
This parable does not portray failure by the shepherd but the success and great joy in the recovery: “Rejoice with me; for I have found my sheep which was lost…. Joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance.” Luke 15:6, 7.
What an infinite price was paid for a soul who had gone astray! Was it worth all the personal effort, self-denial, and sacrifice by the Chief Shepherd? Yes! It was amazing love that moved Christ to come down for a dying world. The day will come when Christ will speak face to face to His ransomed ones. What a joy that will be!
So, though the reward or result of personal labor may not materialize immediately, we should not be discouraged. It may take many years or even a whole lifetime to win a soul. In some cases we will not know the outcome until the redeemed meet and recognize each other in eternity. “ ‘I was a sinner,’ it will be said, ‘without God and without hope in the world, and you came to me, and drew my attention to the precious Saviour as my only hope. And I believed in Him. I repented of my sins, and was made to sit together with His saints in heavenly places in Christ Jesus.’ Others will say: ‘I was a heathen in heathen lands. You left your friends and comfortable home, and came to teach me how to find Jesus and believe in Him as the only true God. I demolished my idols and worshiped God, and now I see Him face to face. I am saved, eternally saved, ever to behold Him whom I love. … I can now express my gratitude for His redeeming mercy to Him who loved me and washed me from my sins in His own blood.’” E. G. White, Testimonies for the Church, Vol. 6, p. 311.
The words of a beautiful song come to mind: “When I enter that beautiful city, Far removed from earth’s sorrow and care, I want to hear somebody saying, ‘It was you who invited me here.’” May we all work today so that some day we will hear, “like sweet music from others, ‘It was you who invited me here.’”