Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
January 1, 1953
NUMBER 34, PAGE 2,3b

On Winning People To Christ

Rufus Clifford, Lawrenceburg, Tennessee

"Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands; that if any obey not the word, they also may without the word be won by the conversation of the wives; while they behold your chaste conversation coupled with fear." (1 Peter 3:1,2)

Before leaving our homes we usually look into the mirror to see whether or not we are properly dressed to present ourselves before the public so as not to bring upon ourselves any undue and unjust criticism. Let us look for a few minutes this morning into the great Mirror of the Soul, the Word of God, to see whether or not we are dressing up our souls to meet with the approval of the Lord so as not to bring any reproach upon the name of Christ. Someone has said that when James and John meet on the street there are six persons present. There is John as John sees himself. Then there is John as James sees him. And, of course, there is the John that God sees. There are as many Jameses present as Johns! The John that John sees is sometimes quite different from the John that James sees; and the John that John sees and the John that James sees are sometimes altogether different from the John that God sees! We need to be concerned about seeing ourselves not only as others see us, but as God sees us also.

The apostle Peter is addressing Christian wives. We would that all wives were Christian wives. You owe it to God to be a Christian; you owe it to your husband, to your family and the community to be a servant of Christ. You cannot be honest with yourself and not follow the Lord. You cannot be honest with God and not obey Him. You cannot be honest with your husband and not be the highest type of wife, but this is impossible without being a Christian. You cannot be honest with the community and not be the best citizen possible, but this certainly is not possible unless you are a Christian. In order to become a Christian you must believe in Christ (John 8:24), repent of all your sins (Luke 13:3), confess your faith before men (Rom. 10:10), and be buried with Christ in baptism for the remission of sins (Acts 2:38). We would that all wives were Christian wives!

The apostle Peter in addressing Christian wives admonishes them to be in subjection to their husbands. This is God's general law concerning wives' relation to their husbands. (1 Peter 11:3; Eph. 5:22) Peter, though, has a special reason for Christian wives being in subjection to their husbands. Here it is: "That if any obey not the word, they also may without the word be won by the conversation of the wives; while they behold your chaste conversation coupled with fear." Peter, what are you saying? "I am saying that if a Christian wife has a husband, who is not a Christian and who will not read or hear the Word, that she may win him to the Lord without the Word by her chaste conversation coupled with fear." What does "chaste" mean? It means pure, virtuous, modest. What does "conversation" mean? It means manner of life. Peter is simply saying that the Christian wife may win her husband to the Lord without the Word by letting him behold her pure, virtuous, modest manner of life coupled with love, respect, honor and obedience to the Lord.

Many concrete illustrations from our experiences could be given of this principle. Most of us will be able to recall men who were led to crown Jesus King of Kings and Lord of Lords in their hearts and lives by the pure life and noble example of their Christ-like wives. Well, if it is possible for a Christian wife to lead her husband to the Lord without the Word by her pure, virtuous, modest manner of life coupled with fear, why cannot we apply this principle to members of the church in general? Why cannot we say that members of the church may win people to the Lord in the same way? Are there lost souls in our town who will not hear the Word preached, who will not even read it? How are we, as God's people, going to reach them with the gospel? Do the scriptures teach that this principle may be broadened and applied to church members in general? We are taught this by precept and example.

Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount said to His disciples, "Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost its savor, wherewith shall it be salted? It is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out and trodden under foot of men." (Matt. 5:13) Jesus was not just paying His disciples a compliment, but He was giving them a duty to perform. Salt is made to function as salt, so by this figure Jesus is illustrating the character and duty of His followers. Since this is true we need to note in some detail the nature of salt. In the first place, salt has the power to destroy. If we make ice cream out on our beautiful green lawns and let the brine run out, enough of it will kill the grass. When I was a boy my father owned a farm next to a farm that had a field covered with Johnson grass. Now, if my father despised anything besides bobbed hair, short dresses, and picture shows, it was Johnson grass! He taught me that if a patch came up on the Clifford farm, that I was to go to the smoke house and get a bag of salt. I was to dig up the ground among and around the Johnson grass and sow the salt. It would kill the stuff, and everything else also! Just so, the gospel of Christ has the power to destroy sin. If Christians are functioning as they should in any town, evils that otherwise would run rife will be materially checked, if not destroyed. Christians cannot condone and palliate evil, but they must use their influence in word and deed to counteract, oppose and destroy the works of evil.

In the second place, salt has saving power. It will keep meats and foods from spoiling. It is a preservative of sweetness and purity in that with which it is associated. So the presence of Christians in the home, business, community and world may be a saving influence to allay corruption, to maintain life, and uphold the standard of righteousness. Sodom was destroyed because there was not enough salt — ten righteous people could not be found there. We must remember that the power is not in the mere presence of God's people, but in their active, organized efforts to reach people with the gospel. Salt in the smoke house will not save the meat unless there is definite contact with the meat. Christians must take God's Word and apply it to the lives of the lost, either by preaching and teaching or by living before them a Christ-like life. A Christian who is not working in a conscious effort to save some lost soul is not fit for the kingdom of heaven.

Furthermore, we know that salt seasons. Foods would hardly be worth eating without it. It gives relish to that which would otherwise be tasteless or unpleasant. So the presence of faithful Christians makes the home and community a more desirable place to live. Who would want to live where the influence of Christians was not felt? Who would want to bring up a family away from the influence of God's Word? As Christ's servants we are to so live that people will admire and respect us. They may not always agree with our convictions, but still they will honor us for living soberly, righteously and godly in this present world. When a Christian is shunned, either because he is making his goodness so apparent or because of his extreme perverseness, he is a barrier to the progress of the church rather than an asset. We should so live that people will seek our counsel and enjoy our company and fellowship. And then, salt never partakes of the nature of the thing it preserves. As God's people, it is our mission to seek and save the lost. God has made us His instruments of blessing in the world. Since we are to save the world through preaching the gospel and living it out in our lives, we cannot partake of the nature of the world. We are admonished to "come ye out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord." (2 Cor. 6:17) We are charged to love not the world or the things of the world, and to keep ourselves unspotted from the world. (1 John 2:15; James 1:27)