Recently a gifted and experienced layman, who is at the same time a capable author of many books, wrote me concerning my volume, Revival Sermons, as follows:
"They are filled not only with much sweet, edifying truth attractively administered, but they tell, without the shadow of a doubt, the line of work for which you were divinely fitted."
He further admonishes to this effect, "The two gifts with which your brethren have credited you, 'Pastor and Evangelist', move in such different spheres, as to be impossible in one and the same man."
We cannot fully accept this course of reasoning, even though it comes from one whose depth of conviction and clarity of mind we have long admired.
For half a century, I have enjoyed to the full the work of pastor, but through that entire period I have been privileged, by indulgent churches and sympathetic officers, to divide my time almost equally between pastoral service and soul-winning evangelism. It was a pleasure therefore, to present to my own congregation these seven New Testament samples of soulwinners.
In climaxing them with, "JESUS the Supreme Soul-Winner," I had at least the precedent of Paul's conduct in his Epistle to the Hebrews eleventh chapter, for it is well known that when he desired to emphasize faith, he selected as his first illustration, Abel, the second son of Adam, and while introducing in the argument, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, and others, he reached his climax in Hebrews 12:2, presenting JESUS as the perfect believer; in fact, the Author and Finisher of faith.
So in this series, few will question that John the Baptist was a pioneer in soul-winning work, or that Andrew, Philip, Ananias, Peter, and Paul, present the soul winner in ascending form; but, that the subject should find a fit conclusion, the incomparable CHRIST had to be included.
In the delivery of this series, I was conscious of a blessing, not only in my own experience, but also that it had its effect in inspiring others to new and more urgent endeavors. We are fully persuaded that the first and highest duty of the Pastor himself is not the care of the sheep only, but the accomplishment of conversion of sinners to CHRIST.
I have therefore dared to dedicate this volume to the two classes mentioned among the gifts of our ascended Lord, "Pastors" and "Evangelists." If it shall bring inspiration to either, I will have an adequate return; and if, perchance, to both, my joy will be double.
W. B. Riley