Volume 1, Number 5 – August, 2021
Fishers of Men
In Matthew 4:19, Christ told his apostles “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” This phrase is one of the most well-known lines in the entire New Testament, and, arguably, one of the most important metaphors for evangelism. All followers of Christ have the responsibility to be fishers of men. We are saved to save others. We are Christians to make others Christians. We are born again to win others for the Kingdom. We are God’s children to bring others into God’s family. We are wanting to go to Heaven, and we cannot meet our Lord empty-handed! How then can we become successful fishers of men?
What Are We Using as Bait?
When fishing, it is vital to know the fish you are looking for and how to attract them so you can make the catch. For fish, it’s bait. They swim around in search of food, so we offer them worms, crickets, etc. In the case of fishing for men, we must offer the only effective bait — the gospel of Jesus Christ. The unsaved are searching for grace. They’re searching for unconditional love. They’re seeking acceptance. Show Christ to them. Tell them what He did on the cross. Show them what he has done in your life. Speak honestly and from the heart. Speak from experience. Show them what the Bible says about His saving Grace in spite of anything they have ever done or said or been. The gospel message has the power to change lives, shine light into darkness, and deliver sinners from Hell. There is no power in any other message and no other bait can catch the fish of God.
Paul says, “I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes” (Romans 1:16). Thus, the bait we use should reflect the gospel of Jesus Christ. We should be fishing with the “incorruptible seed ” – the word of God – which lives and abides forever (1 Peter 1:23).
Where Are We Fishing?
Fish will not come to us simply because we want them to. It is the same for Christians who are fishing for men. We have to find them. We have to find locations where the conditions are favorable and advantageous for us catching fish. Sometimes we fall into the trap of believing people will always come to God when they are ready. Sadly, this is not always the case. That is why Christ implored his disciples during the Great Commission to “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you” (Matthew 28:19-20). However, we must be careful not to fish in poor conditions. For example, if we attempt to fish in stormy weather, we can risk our boat getting capsized. If the water is too muddy, the fish may have a hard time finding the bait. If we spend too much time in the stormy, muddy waters, our results may not be fruitful. Consider Christ’s admonition during His Parable of the Sower. He informs us if we attempt to plant the seed of Christ “among thorns,” it will become “choked” (Luke 8:7, 14). While we have the responsibility to teach all nations, we need to avoid fishing in poor conditions for too long in order to prevent evil company from corrupting our good habits and intentions (1 Corinthians 15:33). Likewise, there comes a point when we have to realize the conditions we are fishing in are not safe and likely will not yield positive results.
Are We Catching/Releasing or Keeping the Fish?
If we use the correct bait and fish in good locations, we will likely catch fish. But what do we do next? Do we keep the fish or simply release them? Consider Paul’s concern for the church at Corinth in 2 Corinthians 11:1-4. After spending time with the brethren teaching them about Christ, converting lost souls, and establishing the church there (in other words, catching the fish), he did not simply release them. Instead, he kept them on his mind and in his heart and prayers. In fact, he was so concerned for their spiritual growth and safety he told them “I fear, lest somehow, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, so your minds may be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. For if he who comes preaches another Jesus whom we have not preached, or if you receive a different spirit which you have not received, or a different gospel which you have not accepted—you may well put up with it!” (v.3-4).
Paul recognized the fish he caught needed guidance in order to grow, which is why he eventually went back to Corinth and stayed with them for three months (Acts 20:3). He did not want them to fall back into their sinful ways. We should share this same mentality after converting others. We should help bear their burdens (Galatians 6:2), striving to emulate Paul’s encouragement to the church at Colosse: “We . . . do not cease to pray for you, and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; strengthened with all might, according to His glorious power, for all patience and longsuffering with joy” (Colossians 1:9-11). We cannot leave new converts on their own. Don’t leave the fish lying out of water. They need fellowship. They need guidance. They need help. Continue leading them to the living water.
A follower of Christ is a fisher of men. When fishing for actual fish, we must know what bait to use and where to cast our lines. The same applies when fishing for men. We must know the Word of God. We must share that Word. We must know where the fish are located. We also must know what that person needs to hear – the gospel of Christ. Lastly, we must realize the need to care for and nurture the fish after catching them in order to help them grow. It is through this loving care we will lead people to become followers of Jesus, and to Heaven and life eternal.
The story is told of two parrots that lived near each other. The one was accustomed to singing hymns while the other was addicted to swearing. The owner of the latter obtained permission for it to associate with the former in the hope that its bad habit would be corrected. Instead, the opposite happened as both learned to swear.
This little story reminds us of a passage in I Corinthians 15:33 which says, “Do not be deceived: ‘Evil company corrupts good habits.’” A person may feel like he can associate with wicked people and not be hurt. He may think that he can be a good influence on the wicked person. Perhaps he can, but influence can go in two directions, and there is a great danger of the wicked person influencing the good person. If a person thinks other- wise, he is “deceived.” Young people, as well as older people, need to pick their friends carefully. Remember, “Evil company corrupts good habits.”
How Can You Know God?
If in the Day of Judgment, the Lord says, “I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity,” or “Verily I say unto you, I know you not,” to you or to me, it will be a very sad occasion for us. (See Matthew 7:21 and 25:12). In view of the impending judgment, each of us should make sure that we know God. In order for God to know us, we must know Him. How can we know God? Our feelings do not indicate that we know God. Evil men may have good feelings. Human testimony of others is no indication that we know God.
In order to know God, you must believe confidently that God is, and that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. The He- brew writer says: “But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him.” (Hebrews 11:6). John says: “And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of His disciples, which are not written in this book: But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through His name.” (John 20:30-31). To know God, you must be taught of God. You must learn God’s will for man. You must approve of what God says and be willing to obey God’s commandments. Jesus said: “Not every one that sayeth unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.” (Matthew 7:21). John also said: “And hereby we do know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments.” (1 John 2:3).
If you are an alien sinner, God commands you to “repent”. (See Acts 17:30-31). The Jews on Pentecost, who had crucified Jesus, were commanded to “Repent, and be baptized for the remission of sins…” (Acts 2:38). Saul, who was a praying penitent believer, was commanded to “arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins” (Acts 22:16).
To know God, we must love God. But to love God is to keep His commandments. Therefore, to know God is to keep God’s commandments. (1 John 4:7-8; 5:3)
SUMMED UP: In order to know God (and for God to know you), you must learn God’s will, believe it with all your heart and obey it sincerely!
Volume 1, Number 6 – August, 2021
Does God Accept Your Worship?
Carrol R. Sutton
Some people say: “It does not matter how we worship. I can worship God any way I want to and God will accept my worship.” Friends and brethren, is this what the New Testament of Jesus Christ teaches? Is it? Let us examine the scriptures for ourselves and see what is the truth of the matter.
In speaking to the Athenians, the apostle Paul said: “Ye men of Athens, I perceive that in all things ye are too superstitious. For as I passed by, and beheld your devotions, I found an altar with this inscription, TO THE UNKNOWN GOD. Whom therefore ye ignorantly worship, him declare I unto you” (Acts 17:22-23). It is obvious from the reading of this passage that God does not accept this kind of worship! Ignorant worship is vain worship!
In Matthew 15:7-9 Jesus said to some religionists of the first century: “Ye hypocrites, well did Esaias prophesy of you, saying, This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me. But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.” It can be clearly seen from this passage that worship is vain when people teach for doctrines the commandments of men, although they may draw nigh unto God with their mouths and may honour God with their lips. Their heart is far from God when they teach and are directed by the doctrines of men. God does not accept this kind of worship!
In Colossians 2:18-23 the apostle Paul mentions some things and then says, “Which things have indeed a show of wisdom in will worship, and humility, and neglecting of the body; not in any honour to the satisfying of the flesh.” Will-worship is worship directed by and is after one’s own will. It is self chosen and for this reason it is a departure from God’s wisdom and way. However pious and plausible it may seem and regardless of how beautiful it may appear, it is folly and thus it is in vain. God does not accept this kind of worship!
In John 4:23-24 our blessed Lord said: “But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him. God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.” It is quite obvious from this passage that it does matter how one worships God. God said that worship “must” be “in spirit and in truth!” We dare not say otherwise. Please examine your worship in the light of these and other Scriptures and see if God accepts it.
TRUE WORSHIP COMES THROUGH STUDY (2 Timothy 2:15).
“A word fitly spoken is like apples of
gold in settings of silver”
Good speech might be defined as the expression of thought in well chosen words. People are judged by the words they speak and what they do. These are the two things we have by which to know the mind or heart of others.
Jesus said, “Brood of vipers! How can you, being evil, speak good things? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks” (Matthew 12:34). The importance of good speech was also emphasized by the apostle Paul: “Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers” (Ephesians 4:29). Solomon also let us know the importance of choosing our words carefully: “Do you see a man hasty in his words? There is more hope for a fool than for him” (Proverbs 29:20).
We will give an account for the words we speak in the day of judgment and that is why it is so important that we think before we speak. “But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment. For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned” (Matthew 12:36-37).
Subjective Interpretations of Feelings and Experiences
Did you hear the story of a farmer who decided to quit farming and become a preacher? When asked why he made such a decision, the farmer said: “God called me to preach.” When asked how God called him to preach, he said he saw clouds in the sky one day that looked like the letters G, P and C. He interpreted the clouds to mean “Go Preach Christ.” When asked how he knew those letters didn’t stand for “Go Plow Corn,” the farmer was speechless. This illustrates the problem of basing religious beliefs on subjective interpretations of feelings and experiences. You still have to assume what the feelings mean.
A young Mormon elder once told me to pray and ask if the Book of Mormon was from God. When asked how I should expect God to answer, he said: “I asked God if the Book of Mormon was true and I got a warm feeling.” He had no answer when I asked him how he knew a warm feeling meant “Yes it is,” instead of “No it isn’t?”
Concerning religion and the salvation of our souls, we need something more definite than subjective interpre- tations of vague feelings of clouds in the sky. Thank God, we have that in the Scriptures. When we read the Scriptures we can understand and know precisely what God is telling us to do. So, my friend, don’t look to vague feelings or mysteriously interpreted experiences to know God’s will. Look to the Scriptures! Think on these things.
Wholly Following God
“Nevertheless my brethren that went up with me made the heart of the people melt; but I wholly followed the LORD my God” – Joshua 14:8.
In order to receive salvation, we must keep all the commands that God has given us. This was true in the Old Testament – “Only be strong and very courageous, that you may observe to do according to all the law which Moses My servant commanded you; do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may prosper wherever you go” (Joshua 1:7) – and it is true in the New Testament as well – “For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome” (1 John 5:3). While the word “all” is not used in 1 John 5:3, if we read Revelation 22:18-19, we realize that God’s commands are perfect (this can also be seen in Psalm 19:7) and not to be altered: “For I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: If anyone adds to these things, God will add to him the plagues that are written in this book; and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part from the Book of Life, from the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.” In other words, we must wholly follow God.
Paul concluded his first letter to the Thessalonian church by admonishing them with the following words: “Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely; and may your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Thessalonians 5:23). If we are sanctified, it means we have been set apart or declared holy; consecrated; purified; and made free from sin. In order to receive the sanctification Paul speaks of here, we must serve God and keep His commands with our “whole spirit, soul, and body.”
If we wholly follow God with our entire spirit, soul, and body, prosperity is ours. Consider the example of Hezekiah: “Thus Hezekiah did throughout all Judah, and he did what was good and right and true before the Lord his God. And in every work that he began in the service of the house of God, in the law and in the commandment, to seek his God, he did it with all his heart. So he prospered” (2 Chronicles 31:20-21). This sentiment is echoed in Psalm 1:1-3, where the Psalmist states, “How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, Nor stand in the path of sinners, Nor sit in the seat of scoffers! But his delight is in the law of the LORD, And in His law he meditates day and night. He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water, Which yields its fruit in its season And its leaf does not wither; And in whatever he does, he prospers.”
Conversely, the record shows in 2 Chronicles 24:20, “Then the Spirit of God came on Zechariah the son of Jehoiada the priest; and he stood above the people and said to them, ‘Thus God has said, ‘Why do you transgress the commandments of the Lord and do not prosper? Because you have forsaken the Lord, He has also forsaken you.’”
If we do not wholly follow God, prosperity surely will not be ours. No, in fact, quite the opposite will be our reward: “And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance; for you serve the Lord Christ. But he who does wrong will be repaid for what he has done, and there is no partiality” (Colossians 3:23-25); “These will go away into eternal punishment” (Matthew 25:46).