Mr. Lorne McBain took me to preach with him when I was only nineteen. Although I appreciated the example and teaching of this veteran evangelist at that time, fifty-nine years later my appreciation has increased many times over. These are some of the lessons I learned from him.
He thanked God for every assembly with a weekly Gospel meeting and a special series of nightly meetings held frequently. He knew how rare it is to find interested souls in this day of indifference to the great issues of eternity. However, he often reminded me that one soul is worth more than all the riches of the world, and it is still true that “the gospel of Christ is the power of God unto salvation” (Rom 1:16). God is able to lead us to souls who are awakened by His Spirit to their need. Much fruitful work has been done by those who faithfully work with children. Many who are today in assembly fellowship first heard the Gospel as Sunday School children or in special children’s meetings.
All believers should be personal witnesses. “One-on-one” evangelism is scriptural and is a vital part of Gospel witness, but it does not take the place of the public declaration of the Gospel by a gifted evangelist. The word that is translated preach in 1 Corinthians 1:23, “We preach Christ crucified,” is found sixty times in the NT. It has only one meaning: not a personal conversation, but a public declaration of the Gospel.
He taught the great importance of preaching sin and the total depravity of man, that the problem of sin is what we are, not only what we have done. We are far more sinful than anything we have ever done (Jer 17:9-10). Sinners need a spiritual awakening about their total sinfulness, and the punishment it deserves, if they are to be brought to “repentance toward God and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ” (Acts 20:21). It is a very poor substitute for the need of sins forgiven to preach that people need meaning, fulfillment, or happiness in their lives.
One of the most important lessons I learned from him was to wait for God to save. Not only does the awakened sinner need to come to an end of all human resources, but so does the soul winner. Easy-believism has been substituted for the convicting and saving power of the Holy Spirit. At every meeting, “preach Christ crucified,” His love that passes knowledge, His sufferings on the cross, the precious blood shed for all sins (1 John 1:7), His life-giving death and resurrection (Rom 5:6-10). Use simple Gospel texts. They are familiar, but God uses “the preached Word” (1 Thess 1:6), and “Faith cometh by hearing and hearing by the Word of God” (Rom 10:17).We must plainly preach that the great eternal issue is heaven or hell for all eternity, but it must be preached with tenderness and a deep compassion for lost souls.