Lesson 11: FISHING
CO-LABORERS WITH GOD
Jesus said: "Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men" (Matthew 4:19). Notice they were only required to FOLLOW Him. It was His responsibility to make them fishers of men.
Jesus gradually revealed His plan for His followers. It is our responsibility to be witnesses "to every creature" (Mark 16:15) and to "the utmost part of the earth" (Acts 1:8). This command was not given to only the apostles, or to a few missionaries, or to preachers, or to Sunday School teachers, but to every Christian. Jesus said: "Follow me, and I WILL MAKE YOU FISHERS OF MEN." Are you following? Then you should be fishing.
Although the disciples were with Jesus about three years, they did not wait until Jesus returned to Heaven to start fishing. Many people try to excuse themselves by saying, "I do not know enough to lead someone to Christ." This IS not true. IF YOU KNOW ENOUGH TO BE SAVED, YOU KNOW ENOUGH TO LEAD ANOTHER PERSON TO CHRIST. As soon as Andrew had found Jesus, he brought Peter to Him; and Philip brought Nathaneal. The Samaritan woman was not a disciple; in fact she was from the lowest level of society, yet she was the means by which many people from her city came to Jesus (John 4:39).
A father takes his little boy fishing. There are many places they could go, but the father selects a little lake near their home. This is the first time the boy has been permitted to go along and he is very excited. His father has made all the preparations. They have all the fishing tackle and equipment they will need. The father knows what kinds of fish are in the lake, so he has brought the right kind of poles, lines, and hooks of just the right size.
All fish do not feed on the same thing, but the father is a wise fisherman so he has selected the right kinds of bait for the fish in this lake. When they get to the lake, the father picks the particular spot where they will fish. He shows his son which bait to use and how to bait the hook and cast it out on the water where the fish are. After following his father's instructions, the boy has a "bite" on the line. Even though he wants to, he is unable to land the fish by himself and his father must help him pull it in. After he gets a little older, he may go up on the mountain stream or out on the ocean to fish. Although the method will vary some, there are certain principles that are true of all types of fishing. The important thing for the son to do is to follow his father's instructions.
Jesus taught His disciples many things to equip them for the job He had for them. They learned to pray; He helped them understand the Scriptures; and He promised the Holy Spirit would help them (Luke 11:1; 24:45; Acts 1:8).
In the preceding lessons you have been studying the same things. It is very important that you walk in close fellowship with God so you can know and follow His instructions as you fish for men, for if you have been sincere and are really "following," He will make you a "fisher of men."
If you want to be used by God, do not neglect your quiet TIME and private devotional life. Hide the Word in your heart; it is the sword of the Spirit (Eph. 6:17). Keep reviewing the verses in your spare time.
WHERE SHALL YOU START?
The first thing is to ask God to guide you to someone. Pray about the people right around you who are lost. It might be someone in your own family, your neighbor, or someone where you work. God will probably use you where you are before He takes you somewhere else.
What spiritual "bait" will you use? The Gospel (the good news) is the BAIT of the fisher of men. The Gospel is not just a system of ethics, an organization, or doing things. The heart of the Gospel is a Person, and the work He has done for you. It is the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the Saviour who was promised, who "died for our sins . . . was buried and rose again the third day according to the Scriptures " (I Cor. 15:3,4). It is His eternal life that is offered to the sinner (I John 5:11,12).
Just as the fisherman puts the bait into the water so the fish can see it, the fisher of men must introduce Christ to the lost. The simplest and one of the most effective methods is just telling others how you came to know Him and how He has met the need in your life. It is like introducing one friend to another.
Help people understand that becoming a CHRISTIAN is not doing something, but is receiving SOMEONE, the Person Jesus Christ. Keep yourself in the background; it is Christ you are presenting, not yourself.
THE TACKLE--THE WORD
What kind of "tackle" will the fisher of men use? A fisherman does not just throw the bait on the water. The Bible says: "Being born again, not of corruptible seed, by the Word of God, which liveth and abideth forever" (I Peter 1:23). It makes no difference whether the fish thinks the line is "no good" or that the hook will not hold it. The line has been tested and will do the job. Some people say they do not believe God's Word, but it has also been tested. God promises that "the Word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two edged sword. . . and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart" (Hebrews 4:12). "Is not my Word like as a fire? saith the Lord; and like a hammer that breaketh the rock in pieces" (Jer. 23:29)? "It shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it" (Isaiah 55:11). Do not argue about the Word, or defend it, USE IT.
LANDING YOUR CATCH
Just as the little boy had to have help to pull in his fish, you must have help to land your man for Christ. The Bible teaches that the seed is the Word, and through the work of the Holy Spirit, a person is "born again" (John 3:3-6). No matter how hard you try, landing your man must be through the power of the Holy Spirit. It is through consecrated individuals, people who are filled with the Holy Spirit, that He works. "But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you; and ye shall be witnesses unto me" (Acts 1:8).
"And when He (the Holy Spirit) is come, He will reprove the world of sin. and of righteousness, and of judgment" (John 16:8). It is through believers that He works. "God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto Himself." He has finished the work of salvation, and now "hath committed unto us the world of reconciliation. Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you BY US; we pray you in CHRIST'S STEAD, by ye reconciled to God" (II Cor. 5:19,20). To be effective our words, our thoughts, our attitudes, and our plans must be guided and controlled by the Holy Spirit; so we can go to the right person, say the right thing in the right way and at the right time. Unless you are led by the Holy Spirit, it will be an unfruitful waste of time and effort and might even harm the Lord's work (John 15:5).
Suppose the little lake where the boy and his father went fishing was to be drained in a few weeks. All the fish he and his father and other people did not catch would die when the water was gone, but his father had prepared a new lake for their fish. Every person in this world is under condemnation for his sins (John 3:18: Romans 2:12). There is only one way of escape – through the Lord Jesus (John 14:6; Acts 4:12).
TWO MAIN REASONS FOR FAILURE IN WITNESSING
1. No plan
2. Fear of men
Your message must include the following four parts. The manner of presentation may vary. With some people you may need to spend more time on one part than you do with others. It is important that you have a plan so you can present the Gospel without wandering or getting sidetracked, and it will help you to control the conversation.
1. THE FACT AND PENALTY OF SIN
"For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23). "For the wages of sin is death" (Rom. 6:23).
The person you are witnessing to must realize that he is a sinner and lost, or he will not see his need for a Saviour. The penalty must be paid, either by each individual or by someone else (Ezekiel 18:3; Rom. 5:12; Gal. 3:10; Heb. 9:27).
HE MUST REALIZE HE NEEDS TO BE SAVED.
2. A FREE GIFT
"But the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord" (Rom. 6:23). "Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his MERCY he saved us" (Titus 3:5). "For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves; it is a GIFT of God; Not of WORKS, lest any man should boast" (Ephesians 2:8,9).
HE MUST REALIZE HE CANNOT SAVE HIMSELF.
3. CHRIST PAID THE PENALTY
"Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness; by whose stripes ye were healed" (I Peter 2:24). He was our Substitute, "For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God" (I Peter 3:18) "For Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us" (Gal. 3:13: Isaiah 53: 6 Rom. 5:8; II Cor. 5:21).
Only Christ could pay the penalty for someone else, because He is the only Person who had no sin (I Peter 2:22). He could redeem all mankind because He is worth more than all the people who have ever lived.
HE MUST UNDERSTAND THAT CHRIST HAS PROVIDED SALVATION FOR HIM.
4. MUST BELIEVE AND RECEIVE HIM AS SAVIOUR
Jesus said: "Behold, I stand at the door, and knock; if ANY MAN hear my voice, and open the door, I WILL COME IN to him" (Rev. 3:20). "But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name" (John 1:12).
A doctor can prescribe the medicine you need when sick, but if you do not take it ft will not do any good. You can sincerely believe that the medicine is good; you can even understand how it is made and how it will work in your body; hold it in your hand and admire; but it will not help until you take it. Many people know many things about Jesus, His life and death and resurrection, but they have never received Him as their own personal Saviour.
HE MUST RECEIVE JESUS AS HIS PERSONAL SAVIOUR.
If he does this, God says he has everlasting life. Have him read John 3:16; 5:24; I John 5:11-13. God wants him to know that he is saved.
DO'S IN TELLING THE MESSAGE
Do try to talk to the person alone.
Do use your Bible after you get started. Try to get him to read the verses himself.
Do try to get a decision. If you feel he is under conviction try to get him to kneel and pray with you. (No salesman would present his product without giving you a chance to buy it.) Remember, however, that the new birth is a work of the Holy Spirit.
Do make sure he clearly understands how to receive the Saviour, so if he does not do it in your presence he can later by himself.
DON'TS IN TELLING THE MESSAGE
Don't use big words and theological phrases. Keep it simple.
Don't be led off the subject to some side issue or catch question.
Don't be afraid to say, "I do not know." But do not stop; tell what you DO know; what Jesus has done for you. Raising difficult questions is only Satan's trick.
Don't become discouraged. Profit by your mistakes.
Perhaps the hardest part of witnessing is getting started. How can you approach someone and bring the conversation around to spiritual things without being rude?
"The fear of man bringeth a snare" (Prov. 29:25). Pray for boldness (Acts 4:29,31).
Moses said: "I am not eloquent. . . I am slow of speech, and of a slow tongue. And the Lord said unto him, Who hath made man's mouth? . . . have not I the Lord? Now therefore go, and I will be with thy mouth, and teach thee what thou shalt say" (Exodus 4:10-12).
Pray for God to open the door if He wants you to talk to a certain person. Then look for common interests, or something for which you can sincerely commend him. Do not use flattery. Someone once said that it is not so much what we say as how we say it (II Timothy 2:24,25).
If the person does not want to talk to you, or he gets angry or changes the subject, perhaps this is not the time or the Lord does not want you to witness to him. You must be sensitive to the Holy Spirit's guidance; He is Lord of the harvest. Let Him direct you to where the crop is waiting to be harvested, or to where the fish are biting.
METHODS OF TURNING A CONVERSATION TO SPIRITUAL SUBJECTS
1. OCCUPATIONAL METHOD
A carpenter: I have a Friend who was a carpenter. Jesus must have worked many years with Joseph before beginning His ministry. What kind of a house are you building? Is it on the rock which is Christ (Matt. 7:24-27)?
A bookkeeper: Talk about the books God is keeping.
A barber: Have you ever cut several pounds of hair from one person' head? Story of Absalom in II Sam. 14:26; 200 shekels. Perhaps two weights, among Israelites called a shekel, one lighter, one heavier -- one-sixtieth of a pound and/or twice that weight).
2. MIRACLE METHODS
Talk about a miracle of nature and the God who made it possible.
3. OBJECT METHOD
Use some object close at hand.
Water: Tell about the LIVING WATER Jesus promised.
Pencil eraser: Tell how we all make mistakes but God has provided a way to ERASE our sins.
Gospel coin: With your change, carry a coin that has a verse on each side.
Tracts: Give an attractively printed tract. Say you would like to have him read it when he has time. (Do not expect him to stand right there and read it.) In this case, you are just using it as an opening; then go on talking to him if he is receptive.
Newspaper: Almost every newspaper will have one or more stories that can be used to turn thoughts to the future life.
4. THE QUESTION METHOD
The use of thought-provoking questions. With the proper tact this can be a very effective method. People like to tell what they know, or give their opinion, so let them talk .
1. Do you ever read the Bible?
2. Will you please tell me what this verse means?
3. Do you ever go to church?
4. How does God save a sinner?
5. Can you tell me the way to Heaven?
6. Upon what do you base your hope of Heaven?
7. Can you know for certain where you will spend the next life?
8. How many sins are against you to date?
9. Are you bad enough to go to Hell?
10. Are you good enough to go to Heaven?
11. What excuse will you make to God?
12. Why should God take you to Heaven?
13. Can you tell me how to be saved?
14. When did you receive eternal life?
15. Are you interested in spiritual things?
16. Have you ever thought of becoming a Christian?
17. May I tell you about something that has meant more to me than anything else in my life?
Sometimes it is better to put the question in the third person as though someone else had asked it. "If someone would ask you, 'What is a Christian?' what would you say?" (If you use this question be sure to point out that a Christian is NOT someone who does certain things, but someone who has met and received the Lord Jesus as Saviour.)
FIND OUT AS SOON AS POSSIBLE WHERE HE STANDS
Be a good listener. Ask questions. Do not be too eager to talk, but do guide the conversation.
Watch his face, observe his tone and manner. Make sure he is not acting or putting up a front. The Holy Spirit will sometimes reveal to you his true position. IT IS WRONG TO TAKE SOMEONE'S SALVATION FOR GRANTED!
All sinners need to understand the four parts of the Gospel message already given, but there are some attitudes and excuses for which the following verses will be helpful:
Isaiah 64:6; Gal. 2:21; 3:10; Titus 3:5; James 2:10
The defiant in unbelief.
The defiant in wickedness.
Luke 6:45; Rom. 1:28-32; 3:4,5
I cannot hold out.
John 10:28,29; I Peter 1:5
I cannot understand the Bible.
I Cor. 2:14; II Cor. 4:3
I am too great a sinner.
John 6:27; Rom. 5:8; I Tim. 1:15
Too many hypocrites in the church.
Rom. 2:4,5; 14:12
One cannot be sure of salvation.
I John 5:10-13
I have my own idea about how to be saved.
Prov. 14:12; Jer. 17:9; Acts 4:12
I do not feel ready.
Joshua 24:15; Prov. 27:1; 29:1;
II Cor. 6:2; Heb. 2:1-3
The worldly wise.
Isaiah 1:18; Matt. 18:3,4
; John 3:18; Rom 2:12
I am not too bad.
THERE IS AN ANSWER IN THE BIBLE FOR EVERY EXCUSE MAN CAN OFFER
Try to keep to the main message of the Gospel and answer question later, if at all possible.
Many people are afraid of the sound of their own voices. Practice with your prayer partner, your husband or wife, or some other member of your family. Act as though the individual is earnestly seeking help, and go over the four parts of the Gospel message using your Bible Sometimes have the person read the verses; and sometimes act as if you were without your Bible. (Older people often have trouble reading the small print of a Bible, or you might witness to someone who could not read)
Let the one who is acting as the seeker give some of the most common excuses. Practice meeting him with the Scripture verses and turning the conversation back to his decision. Let him ask or bring up topics (differences in denominations, ordinances, rituals, etc.) to lead you away from your Gospel message.
Usually the best way to handle something like this would be, "I have my own beliefs about what the Bible teaches, but the first thing necessary is to receive Jesus as your Saviour." Or "I will try to explain that later, but first I would like to finish telling you about this." Or "It is important that every Christian become associated with a local church, but that is the second step. First you need to become a Christian. Then God will help guide you in deciding which local church to join." There are some questions you will have to meet and answer that are a real problem to the person. Meet them and then go back to your message.
Do not be afraid of honest problems. The person will appreciate your interest in him and be much more receptive. Sometimes an honest "I don't know but will try to find out" is the wisest thing you can say. Then tell what you do know, the Gospel.
Practice giving your personal testimony--how you came to know the Lord and how He has met the need in your life. Be sure to use Scripture verses in it. For example, "Then I realized as the Bible says, 'the wages of sin is death' and that I was lost." OR "Then I understood what the verse meant when it said, 'For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust '" In this type of witnessing it is important to have all your verses memorized. This type of witnessing is very effective and almost always courteously received. The person does not feel preached at, but will hear how Christ has saved you and changed your life.
NOW GET STARTED.
You will find the verses you have committed to memory very valuable as you witness to others. Listed below are 20 of the most important verses. You may want to add others. We have assigned seven. This is your FISHING TACKLE.
The fact and penalty of sin
Rom. 3:23; Rom. 6:23
Prov. 14:14; John 3:8; Rom. 2:12; Rom. 5:12: Rom. 14:12; Gal. 3:10; Heb. 9:27; Rev. 21:8
A free gift
Christ has paid the penalty
Gal. 3:13; I Peter 2:24
II Cor. 5:21; I Peter 3:18
Must believe and receive Him as Saviour
John 1:12; Rev. 3:20
John 3:3; John 5:24
BE SURE TO LEARN THE REFERENCES SO YOU CAN FIND THEN QUICKLY WHEN NEEDED.
1. Only preachers and missionaries should be able to witness for Christ (I Peter 3:15). True False
2. What is the seed by which people are "born again" (I Peter 1:23)?
3. Take the message:
Mark 16:15(a)to the uttermost part of the earth
Acts 1:8(b)to every creature
Romans 1:16(c)because we are not ashamed of the Gospel, for it is the power of God unto salvation.
4. Romans 10:17 teaches faith comes by:
the Word of God
5. Who also has a part in the new birth (John 3:16)?
6. The Bible teaches in John 14:6 that all religions lead to Heaven.
7. An idol worshiper can be saved by his sincere attitude (Prov. 14:12; Acts 4:12; Rom. 1:20; 2:12-16; I Cor. 10:20). True False
8. How many different kinds of sinners are named in Rev. 21:8?
Are liars included in this list?
Do you know anyone who has not told at least one lie?
Do you believe Ezek. 18:4?
Does everyone need a Saviour?
9. What main points of the message must be understood?
I John 5:11-13
10. Besides a lack of knowledge of the Bible, Christians often fail to witness because they are afraid (Prov. 29:25).
11. To help you witness more effectively, you should pray for
Acts 4:29,31(a) compassion
Matt. 9:36(b) wisdom
Eph. 6:19(c) boldness
James 1:5(d) the utterance, or words to speak
12. Should you ever argue when trying to witness to someone?
13. Write out your own testimony briefly so you can give it in 5 minutes or less. Remember to include the Gospel: IT IS the power of God.
14. Will you pray that God will allow you to witness for Him in the next 24 hours?
Will you go one step farther and pray your witness will bear fruit and God will allow you to lead someone to Christ in the next 24 hours?
If so, remember everyone you meet may be THE ONE. Do not try to look for "likely candidates," but seek to courteously approach each one until the Holy Spirit opens the door for you; then introduce that one to Christ.
15. If for some reason you fail to find someone to whom you can witness, will you write a letter to an unsaved acquaintance giving your testimony, what Christ means to you?
16. Have you memorized the assigned verses (THE FISHING TACKLE)?
17. How many extra blessings?
18. How many QUIET TIMES this week?
19. How many chapters in your Bible?