My former pastor, Jack A.SanFilippo, was a man among men. It was through his preaching that I was introduced to Jesus. As a teen, on several occasions after evening services, he would drive me home. I can still hear him, as on more than one occasion he would say to me: ‘Michael, do you see all these buildings? Do you see all those lights in the windows? I would answer, ‘Yes,’ and he would say, ‘Each light represents a soul; someone who is lost and needs Jesus.’ The absolute profoundness of this statement escaped me then, but I’ve understood it now for many years. His words may seem a bit extreme to some, but the fact is, he associated each light with a person; a potentially lost person. His statement was an expression of the burden that he had for souls. I’ve never known anyone since then who had the passion for the lost that he had. He would cry, pray, and even walk the streets to reach out to the lost. It was through his example, I began to learn the value of a lost soul. No one is to be thrown away. No one is a hopeless case. Though he went to be with the Lord over thirty years ago, I have tried to keep his example and his words about ‘the lights in the windows’ in my heart every day.
Jesus, first and foremost, had a burden for the lost. We see this truth spoken by the Lord himself:
For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost. Luke 19:10
When we speak of ‘the lost’, it is sort of an in house phrase. It is a phrase sprinkled throughout the New Testament used to identify those who are not saved. People are lost because they don’t have a relationship with Jesus and have lost their way. This is the universal condition of those who are without Christ. Here’s what the Apostle Paul told the Ephesians about the fact of being lost:
That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world: But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ. Ephesians 2:12-13
It is an unfortunate condition because most who are lost, don’t see themselves in this way. Some may even be offended at being described in this manner. Aliens? Without hope and without God? Far off? No way! Most will tell you that they know who they are, where they are, and where they are going. Of course there will be exceptions. These see their lives as sort of a wandering maze, going from one thing to another and not quite knowing what it’s all about. They probably wouldn’t tell you, but they are searching, but have no idea what they are seeking for. They go from job to job, weekend to weekend, party to party, club to club–even relationship to relationship looking for that elusive peace and satisfaction. Oh, they do manage to find occasional happiness and a pseudo-peace that temporarily masks their need, but nothing quite gives them the peace they seek, because like sin, pleasure is but for a moment.
Why did Jesus have this burden for the lost? It was because He knew and understood several things. First, take a look at this verse:
The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised. Luke 4:18
As we have seen in Luke 19:10, Jesus came to seek and save those who were lost. Here they are. They are described by Jesus in no uncertain terms. So concerning the lost, Jesus understood that:
They were BLIND
In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.
2 Corinthians 4:4
Satan and this world system of which he controls has effectively blinded the very minds of the lost, causing them not to see or understand their dangerous condition.
They were in BONDAGE
And that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will.
2 Timothy 2:26
This blindness keeps them in bondage to the enemy. He has managed to both trap them and enslave them-because he could. The lost have no personal power over him.
They were in DARKNESS
And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.
To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me. Acts 26:18
This is part of the lost condition; blindness implies darkness, and for the lost, it is preferable. This is because the lost are under the dominion of Satan.
They were in DANGER
He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. John 3:18
This is the culmination of blindness, bondage, and darkness–condemanation. The lost in this condition. Daily, they are on the precipice of destruction, one heartbeat away from an eternity without the Lord. Yes, the lost are in great danger.
In light of these things, what should the Christian’s response be to the lost? Our response, I believe, should the same as the Lord’s. We should have a burden for the lost. A burden that causes us to remember the most important part of men and women. The soul. Until the soul is brought into union with Christ, that person will wander; that life will be incomplete. A great old chorus says it all:
Souls are crying, men are dying,
Won’t you lead them to the Cross?
Go and find them, Please help to win them
Win the lost at any cost!
Win the lost at any cost–are you doing your part?
That’s the Word! Take it with you. God bless you.