LESSON TEXT: Romans 8:38-39; I Timothy 2:1; I Corinthians 1:21; II Corinthians 3:2; 12:16; I Corinthians 9:19; Acts 4:29-31; 4:13; 9:29; 19:8; James 5:20.
“And when they had prayed, the place was shaken where they were assembled together; and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and they spake the word of God with boldness” (Acts 4:31)
LESSON AIM: To find the spiritual equipment needed to win souls.
Teaching Material: A rod, reel, net, cane pole, line, cork, weight, hook; fishing license; Magni-Vu words “Acts 2:38,” “Faith,” “Prayer,” “Preaching,” “Wisdom,” “Fasting” and “Boldness”
PREPARATIONS FOR FISHING
What kind of fisherman would it be who would go empty-handed to the pier and expect to be able to catch fish that day? One thing is certain-he will return home the same as he came, empty-handed! Everyone knows that to catch slippery, wiggling, flopping fish, you must have the proper fishing gear.
Certain preparations are made before a fisherman ever leaves his home to go fishing. All the necessary equipment is purchased in advance. He makes sure he is well acquainted with the mechanism of each part so that if a quick repair is needed, it can be fixed on the spot. ( Show fishing license).
One of the most important parts of his gear is his fishing license. You dare not get caught without one of these or the penalty will be more costly than the trip was worth.
(Show rod, reel, line and cane pole). Fishing would be impossible without one of these. The cane pole is primarily used for catching small fish, such as perch, crappie, or bream. A rod and reel can land almost any size fish; therefore, most fishermen prefer one of these.
If you want to try for big fish, it is wise to use a strong rod and a strong line, or the line will be snapped right in two and your fish and lure will be lost.
(Show net). This is something that comes in real handy when you’re having trouble getting your fish in the boat. If someone can carefully scoop this net beneath the fish, chances are much better that you will keep it. It will provide a better chance to land your fish.
(Show cork, weight and hook). The cork is a handy little helper in cane pole fishing to tip you off when a welcome visitor is near your bait. The weight helps take your bait down where the fish are living. And of course, the hook is indispensable. Should you ever lose your hook, all you will be accomplishing is giving the fish a good meal free of charge.
CLEANING AND REPAIRS
To keep your gear in tip-top shape, it is absolutely necessary to keep it clean and oiled. Salt water fishing will ruin your reel if it isn’t cleaned good after every trip to the bay. The gears will rust and it will be impossible for the reel to operate properly.
Even the hooks must be sharpened or they will become dull and unable to pierce into the jaw of the fish. A good fisherman is careful to see that all his fishing gear is kept in good condition so that it can be used on his next fishing trip.
PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT
(Show rod and reel and pretend to cast as you teach.) The beginner must learn to manipulate his rod and reel before he goes out in the water. There is a certain procedure to follow in casting which must be mastered. The best way to learn is to remove the hook from your line and leave only the weight on the end of it or use a practice plug. Before long, the line will be reaching out scores of feet away. By learning to use the rod and reel well, you can save many hours retrieving your lure from brush or limbs. And you might prevent putting out an eye or snagging someone’s clothes.
There is a certain amount of skill required to be able to take your bait to the waiting fish below. If you don’t have the patience to learn, you will never be a good fisherman.
COST OF FISHING GEAR
It costs a lot of money to have first-class fishing gear. This is not a cheap form of recreation. If you take into consideration the amount of time spent, the cost of gas for your car, bait, rod and reel, boat and motor, ice chest, ice, food, drinks and all the small items needed, you will see that every fish brought home is quite expensive.
It’s true that you could let someone else catch all the fish and you enjoy what someone else has labored to produce, but neither would you have the joy of the fight that ensues when you bring the fish out of the water yourself. There is a certain thrill about fishing that is unforgettable. Even though the cost is high, there are many benefits to be reaped also.
Men consider the cost of fishing gear a sound investment if this form of relaxation could prevent a heart attack. After all, it’s much more enjoyable feeling the cool whispers of wind and the gentle tugging of a line than to be laid up in the hospital with an oxygen tent covering your face and white-clad figures rushing about your bedside. If fishing can keep you healthy and well and help fill your deep freeze all at the same time, who would dare say it was expensive?
(Place Picture A on Magni-Vu board). Before a soul-winner ever attempts to catch men, there are certain preparations to be made. You must have a means of reaching out. The rod, reel and line provide the way to get the bait to the fish so it can be caught.
(Place “Acts 2:38” beside fishing license). Before we can ever go fishing for souls, we must have a license to fish. You must first obey the command before you can require others to obey. God will not use dead tools for working living miracles. He must have living men that are fully alive. No one is fully alive until the Spirit of Christ has raised him from the dead and made him into a new creature.
There is a stiff penalty for fishing without a license if you should ever be caught. And we can rest assured that all will be “caught” at the judgment seat of Christ who were trying to fish without the proper fishing license.
(Place “Faith” beside the rod). To be a good soul-winner, it is necessary to have faith. First, you must believe the message you are
trying to get across. If there is a doubt in your mind about the necessity of the Holy Ghost or being baptized in Jesus’ Name, you have a weak rod. Somewhere along the way you will lose some fish because you did not fully believe what you were saying. Paul was so fully persuaded that his gospel was true, he penned these words: “For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38-39).
You must also have faith in God that He will work on the other end of the line in the heart of that fish. Since a fisherman cannot see into the water, he must depend upon his bait and his hook to do the job for him. We cannot see into the minds of men to know what they are thinking or how they are receiving the gospel message. This is God’s part and we must have the assurance in our hearts that He is performing His portion of the work.
(Place “Prayer” beside the reel). Faith and prayer must work hand in hand as the rod and reel work together. The man or woman who cannot pray a hole through the skies to touch God will never touch the hearts of men. After all, there is only so much we can do in this business of saving souls. We can put the bait on the hook and cast it out into the water, but we are helpless to give new life to a sinner.
And neither will God force them to be saved. Every person is born with a will of their own which they alone control. Prayer is the only force that can appeal to the Saviour to bring conviction of sin. This process of the new birth is strictly between a repented person and God. We only stand by to do the little that we can. We pray for God to move upon their hearts and after the Spirit tugs at their heart’s door, the final decision is theirs to make.
It is necessary to pray both for ourselves and for others. Soul winners need prayer for their own personal strength, but they also must pray for those whom they are trying to gain. Paul said, “I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men;” (I Timothy 2:1).
(Place “Preaching” on the line). The Spirit of God must work through us to reach out to the lost. God has ordained that it be so. “For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe” (I Corinthians 1:21).
We might think of “preaching” as something only a licensed minister could do. But that is wrong. The Apostle Paul said, “Ye are our epistle …known and read of all men” (II Corinthians 3:2). Sometimes your preaching is silent. The life that you live speaks much louder than the words you say. When God is manifest in your deeds and actions, you are preaching a message to the world. Your life is revealing the change God can make in one who is yielded to His Spirit and control.
Prayer (the reel) can cast your preaching (the line), whether it be silent or spoken, to the very spot where a hungry fish lives. If your rod and reel and line are strong, as soon as that fish takes a bite of the bait, there will be strength to bring him in.
(Place “Wisdom” beside hook). This hook must be covered before you can expect a fish to bite it. This is where wisdom plays a great part. What type lure will you use? How can I go about beguiling my next door neighbor into being hung on this nice little hook?
Some soul-winners show the bare hook and expect people to flock after it. Paul wrote, “….nevertheless, being crafty, I caught you with guile” (II Corinthians 12:16). You can be sure this apostle who no doubt stands next to Jesus Christ Himself in the fine arts of soul-winning, used every sly trick he could think of to attract men to the gospel. Listen to what he says: “For though I be free from all men, yet have I made myself servant unto all, that I might gain the more” (I Corinthians 9:19). He was willing to do anything to gain more souls. The apostle to the Gentiles learned some valuable facts about dealing with souls which has been of inestimable good to every generation thereafter.
(Place “Fasting” beside the net). At times some additional help is needed in landing a fish. This could be compared to fasting. When we need that extra spurt of power, fasting seems to always work. The disciples were once unable to cast out a devil in a child. When they asked the Lord the reason for this seeming loss of power, He replied, “….This kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting” (Matthew 17:21). Whenever you feel the need for an undergirding force to bring a soul to Christ, try fasting. It will work when all else fails.
RENEWING OF THE HOLY GHOST
There are times when our praying gets a little rusty. It seems that we just aren’t doing the job of soul-winning like we should. That usually means we need a good oiling by the Holy Ghost. A good prayer meeting with a lot of tears and cleaning out the wells of our hearts can put the reel of prayer back in good working order.
If our prayer life becomes weak or rusty, it will affect our testimony. Our preaching or witnessing, will not have the same effect it used to have. A wise soul-winner never forgets to make cleaning and repairs in his own soul-and often. If we do not keep ourselves in good condition, our efforts to help others will all be in vain.
We are saved, “….by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost” (Titus 3:5). It would be useless to try to save others if we do not keep the Holy Ghost renewed in our own lives. The daily corruption of the world to which we must be submitted has a rusting effect on our souls. The oil of the Holy Ghost is what cleans us up and makes us like new again.
BOLDNESS IN WITNESSING
(Place “Boldness” above Picture A on board.) One of the first prayers recorded by believers in the early Church was this: “And now, Lord, behold their threatenings: and grant unto thy servants, that with all boldness they may speak thy word, By stretching forth thine hand to heal; and that signs and wonders may be done by the name of thy holy child Jesus” (Acts 4:29-30).
The disciples were not embarrassed to ask for more boldness. They knew that signs, wonders and miracles would certainly give them more boldness, so they asked for that, too.
How did God answer that prayer? “And when they had prayed, the place was shaken where they were assembled together; and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and they spake the word of God with boldness” (Acts 4:31).
From the second chapter of Acts to the fourth chapter we find that the whole group prayed through again. They were praying for boldness, but in their search for boldness they were all filled with the Holy Ghost again. This lets us know that the more Holy Ghost we have flowing through us, the more courage we have to witness.
From past experience, we all know this to be true. If we have failed to pray for a few days like we should, we find ourselves a little reluctant to “attack” someone with the message. It’s hard to stop someone and say, “Look, here’s the truth you have been searching for.” But the more we have of the Holy Ghost, the more we are driven to witness.
Observe the boldness of the apostles. “Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marveled; and they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus” (Acts 4:13). The religious leaders were astonished by the straightforwardness of these two uneducated fishermen. Since the Lord had made them fishers of men instead of fishers of fish, they were now casting their lines in the direction of the rulers, without an ounce of fear.
What kind of fisherman was Paul? “And he spake boldly in the name of the Lord Jesus, and disputed against the Grecians: but they went about to slay him” (Acts 9:29). “And he went into the synagogue, and spake boldly for the space of three months, disputing and persuading the things concerning the kingdom of God” (Acts 19:8). The Apostle Paul was one of the most fearless fishermen this world has ever known. He could stand before kings and governors and witness for his Lord as easily as to a crippled man on the street.
Why did the early Church have this boldness? They knew they had a good, strong rod and reel, sharp hooks, good bait, a powerful line and a good net. They knew exactly how to use it to cast far away or close by. They had confidence that the fish would like the bait they had put on the hook. And it worked!
When we have faith in God and our message, when we are full of the Holy Ghost and fire, when the wisdom of God abounds in our thinking, and our testimony is up-to-date and alive, shouldn’t we have the same kind of boldness?
THE COST OF WINNING SOULS
Every soul you catch will cost you something. Maybe not in dollars and cents, but there will be a price tag on every one you bring in. There must be a denial of self. The interests of others must be your first ambition. It will cost you lots of time. There will be time spent in talking and witnessing and there will be time spent in prayer. There will be time spent in reading your Bible to find additional Scriptures to prove your testimony and there will be time spent in fasting.
The cost is great, but every soul-winner will quickly admit that it is well worth the effort. The investment is sound when you consider that this form of spiritual “recreation” could prevent spiritual death. Why be a lukewarm, indifferent saint of God when you could be vibrant, alive and enthusiastic about your salvation? Why be critical and cold in your soul when you could be on fire for God and thoroughly enjoy living for Him?
Besides the good the soul-winner derives from the act of winning the lost, just think of what it does for that one that was rescued from the flames of hell!
Let the soul-winner fully understand that, “….he which converteth the sinner for the error of his way shall save a soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins” (James 5:20). When you consider the benefits and blessings, who could dare say it costs too much to win the lost?
Find out how your class is progressing in keeping their record of ways to win souls. If you should have a revival during this three month period, be sure to print revival posters or handbills to distribute. Any method you can use to get the name of your church before the people of your community is helpful. This will also help your students fill in their record sheets.
This week you might emphasize giving tracts to the man at the service station, the postman, the barber, cashier at bank, clerks at grocery or department stores, etc. Suggest what type tracts would be best to use for these people and tell your students what they could say as they hand it out, such as: “Let me give you something good to read. I thought this little tract was real interesting. See what you think about it.”
One reason our people are afraid to hand out tracts is because they don’t know what to say. If you will give them several suggestions or even let a couple of the members act it out before the class, this will be most helpful.
Our people want to be soul-winners, but they need that extra little push by the pastor to get them out of the nest. Emphasize soulwinning in every service and see how your people will respond!
(The above material appeared in Fearless Fisherman, Search for Truth Publications, Houston, TX.)
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