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Fishers of Men

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And he saith unto them, Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men. (Matthew 4:19)

There are always disagreements that I have with certain preachers and bible teachers of the past and the present; however, I do find one statement from C.H. Spurgeon that is absolutely TRUE as the Word of God can testify of its veracity. It is:

"Have you no wish for others to be saved? Then you're not saved yourself, be sure of that!"

The Word of God is replete with passages instructing us to minister to those who are lost and in dire need of the Gospel message (Matt. 9:37-38; 10:7-14; Mk. 16:15; Rom. 1:16; 1 Cor. 1:17; 2 Cor. 5:20; Eph. 2:10; 4:11; 2 Tim. 2:15; 4:5; 1 Pet. 3:15). The major problem in "Christendom" today is that most of the "soldiers" have fallen by the wayside and given up. Even more disturbing are those in a higher position who have been given MORE talents in order to serve the Lord as they were called to do so; and that they seem to have no interest in saving those who are in danger of hellfire (cf. Jas. 3:1). I am NOT speaking of those who disemminate false teachings on a regualr basis; I am speaking of unbelievers who are NOT saved and are caught up in a cycle of sin which entangles them. The bible refers to such "servants" of the Lord as "fearful"; and "ashamed of the Gospel" (cf. Rev. 21:8; Matt. 25:26; Rom. 1:16).

Since our Lord used the fishing analogy -- and our Lord has made all of us believers "fishers of men" (Matt.4:19; Mk.1:17) -- we also know that every fisherman has his/her own technique and that all fish are different too. What all fish have in common is that if they are not biting, we are not going to catch them. But if they ARE biting, then a practiced fisherman who exercises patience always has a good chance. And in terms of actual witnessing, God is the One who is empowering the process and bringing success (cf. Ps. 90:17; Isa. 64:4; Eph. 2:10; Phil. 2:13; 1 Thess. 2:13; Heb. 13:21). Divine love is the "anchor point" which compels genuine believers to reach out to the lost; and this is a sure sign that one has truly passed from death unto life (Matt. 7:12; Jn. 13:34-35; 1 Jn. 4:8-21).

So the first thing is to determine if we really are being offered an opportunity. That is fairly easy to do, it seems to me. If the person knows we are Christian (our outward manifestation of our hearts and motives; Matt. 5:16; 23:3; 1 Cor. 11:1; Eph. 5:1; Phil. 3:17; Col. 3:17; 2 Thess. 3:9; 1 Tim. 4:12; Tit. 2:7; 3 Jn. 1:11; et al.), and if we dangle a little bait, something like, "yes, the recent tragedy at XYZ is terrible -- I don't know HOW people get through this world without the Christian hope!"  Now if someone really is searching for the solution to sin and death, they are likely to nibble at that one (and, by the way, I'm NOT suggesting this particular one for me -- everyone has their own way of stating the divine and godly viewpoint of anticipation of salvation and eternal life, and every prospective believer is different too, and we must take the audience into account in how exactly we express the truth, remembering that the truth always has to be presented truly).

If they don't nibble, we might want to think about waiting for a better time and a better opportunity. We can't force the issue. We wait in the boat for a bite. We can wiggle the hook, but we can't make the fish bite. If we bang on the water with an oar and command the fish to come up, guess what. We may be making ourselves feel better ("Look at me! I witnessed to so and so!" -- but they didn't respond), but we are not winning anyone to the Lord that way. The fish have a vote, because it's all about free will (Ps. 37:23; Prov. 16:9; Josh. 24:15; Jn. 1:12-13; 7:17; Rom. 10:9-10; cf. Rev. 3:20).

What if they do nibble?  I think it can be a mistake to introduce the issue of sin IMMEDIATELY in giving the gospel, except for the critical facts that we are all sinners, that Christ died for all of our sins, and that all of our sins are forgiven when we believe (Lk. 24:45-49; Rom. 1:16; 10:9-13,14; 1 Cor. 15:1-28; Eph. 1:13-14; 1 Pet. 3:18-22; 1 Jn. 4:9-10). Don't forget: the gospel changes all who respond to it. The heart is washed clean. The person is given a new heart, one devoid of hardness. At the point of salvation, the new believer is freed from all prior sinful entanglement (Ezek. 36:26; Rom. 6:6; 2 Cor. 3:18; 5:17; Eph. 4:24; 1 Jn. 5:4). If they really are ready to persevere with the Lord from that point forward, He will help them to walk a sanctified walk, and change whatever it is that needs to be changed. But if we make an issue of some sin or sinful behavior in which they are enmeshed BEFORE the fact, then we are putting conditions on salvation -- and there are no conditions on salvation . . . except to accept the Gift of Jesus Christ, acknowledging who He is and what He has done for us through faith in Him.

Death is something everyone dreads (except believers), and the offer of life eternal is the most wonderful thing on this earth. To avoid death, darkness and judgment is worth all a person has, like selling everything for the pearl of great price. If the Spirit convicts someone's heart of that truth, they will flee death by running to the gospel; they will need little convincing from us. The Spirit is the One who really does the convincing (Jn. 14:15-17,26; 16:8; 2 Cor. 7:9-10). Our job is to provide the truth, the simple yet incredibly powerful truth of the gospel. It is not up to us to try and fine tune an "after response".  If we do that, there may very well be no "after response" because the person will see the gospel as huge load that requires them to "give up" this and that. Now we know very well ourself that we all ended up giving up "this and that" after we believed because the gospel and the truth we learn and accept thereafter changed us. It is the same for everyone. But that happens AFTER; it is not a BEFORE condition.

And we don't have to worry about "saying sin is OK" either, not if we are witnessing correctly. Now if we are jamming the gospel down the throats of people who aren't interested in it, then this may be an issue because they are only interested in justifying their conduct and not in being saved, so that is where the discussion went. But if we are really only responding in love to those few who demonstrate that they DO want the truth, then it will all work fine (cf. 1 Jn. 4:11; Prov. 15:1-7; 27:6; Lk. 6:27; Rom. 8:28; 12:9-21; 1 Cor. 13:4-7; Col. 3:12). If they want eternal life and are grateful to accept Jesus Christ, guess what? They will easily begin to turn their lives to Him in all respects after they are saved. That is, if we net them after we have fished them.

How do we net them? All too many Christians and even major Christian groups engaged in evangelism get the fish to the surface and then let them go (Gal. 6:9; Rom. 10:13-14; cf. 1 Cor. 11:1-2; 2 Cor. 5:18-20; 2 Tim. 4:1-2; 2 Thess. 2:14-15; Jas. 5:19-20). No. We have to give them direction thereafter, help them to grow as we have grown. Of course, way too many Christians and Christian groups involved in evangelism have not grown to spiritual maturity themselves, so even if they have them their nets are filled with holes if and when they do use them. A new believer has to be led to a place where he/she can grow in the truth (cf. Rom. 12:13; 1 Cor. 12:12-27; Col. 3:13; 1 Thess. 5:14; Heb. 10:24-25; 1 Pet. 4:8-11). That should be a local church but today most of these are sadly deficient of the score of helping to produce genuine growth because they don't teach the truth in any depth of detail. Nowadays one finds what one can find where one can find it. I would be pleased for any new believer to be pointed to (or Bible Academy) or any other place where the truth really is being taught. But pointing a new believer to a legalistic "church" that will dictate their behavior or to a libertarian church that will tell them it's all OK (whatever "it" is) will not produce growth in either case, and a very large number of such new believers "get away" and revert to the world as a result.

In Closing:

If a person really does want to hear the gospel, that is of God: give them the gospel. Once we do, if they accept Jesus Christ as their Savior, their hearts will convict them to turn away from anything and everything sinful, regardless of past behavior or beliefs. And if they are led to a good place where they can grow, they will do so in increasing sanctification. But if they aren't really that interested in the truth, will they believe? And if they "believe" on condition of doing ABC, are they really saved or is it a works contract in their heart? And even if they legitimately accept Christ, without being led to a place where they can grow, will they be able to resist the siren song of the world and their prior lives so as not to fall back away? Only the truth can save a person. Only desire for the truth can motivate a person to be saved. Only continued attention to the truth can keep a person safe after being saved.

Faithful are the wounds of a friend; but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful. (Proverbs 27:6)

God Bless!

Edited by (Omega)

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