KINDS OF FISH
LESSON TEXT: Matthew 13:47-50; John 6:26; Matthew 13:21; Jude 8, 10; I Samuel 15:23; James 1:6-8; I Corinthians 3:1-2.
“Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous” (Psalm 1:5).
LESSON AIM: To show that all souls brought into the Church will not be good saints and to find which types of people we could reach with the gospel.
Teaching Material: Magni-Vu Pictures Q through V.
BOTH GOOD AND BAD FISH
It is quite discouraging to some Christians to work diligently to win a soul and then watch them vanish from sight. There are some who seem to get such a good experience of the Holy Ghost, but remain in the congregation such a short time. Somehow they slip through our fingers and go back to their same ungodly environment.
If we would consider all who have once known the Lord and backslid, we might think we had just cause to become discouraged and feel that it was unprofitable to go fishing for souls. But just ask a fisherman! How many fish has he thrown back for various reasons? I am sure it would be a staggering figure.
The words of Jesus give us new hope. “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a net, that was cast into the sea, and gathered of every kind: Which, when it was full, they drew to shore, and sat down, and gathered the good into vessels, but cast the bad away. So shall it be at the end of the world: the angels shall come forth, and sever the wicked from among the just, And shall cast them into the furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth” (Matthew 13:47-50).
What are some of the bad kinds of fish we might catch that are unfit for the Kingdom of God?
(Place Picture Q on Magni-Vu board.)
Because of the unusual, oval sucking disc on the top of the head, the remora is also called a shark sucker. With this disc they attach themselves to swordfish, sharks, or any other large fish for a free ride. Remoras are not parasites and do not “guide” their host. They merely share left-over dinner scraps.
Occasionally we have people come into our churches who are looking for a hand-out. That is all they are interested in. What will you give me to come to your church? Sometimes these people are extremely poor; but others may appear to be in the average income bracket. One thing is sure: they want to feast while others do the work. They are not willing to pay tithes or get under the burden of the church.
Jesus was well aware of this type follower. He said, “I say unto you, Ye seek me, not because ye saw the miracles, but because ye did eat of the loaves, and were filled” (John 6:26). He knew the “remora” was in the crowd, but it didn’t keep Him from continuing to feed the hungry.This should not discourage the fisherman. Sometimes in a family that has a sorry mother and father, a boy may turn out to be a good preacher of the gospel. Jesus knew all the multitude would not follow Him but He was
willing to use this miracle as a lure to reach those who would listen to what He had to say.
(Place Picture R on Magni-Vu board.)
Flying fishes are a sight to behold. They do not actually fly, but taxi along the surface, vibrating their tails in the water; then the winglike fins are used to glide upward, and drop down when their momentum is exhausted. The primary reason they leave the water is to escape from larger fishes such as tuna and mackerel which feed on them.
This is the type person that comes flying to our altars in such a spectacular fashion it makes us almost leap for joy. But soon they have flown right back out the door. Actually, they were in trouble and were trying to escape from some obligation or problem they had gotten themselves into. As soon as they realized the danger was past, they forgot all about their promises to the Lord and went on their merry way.
You are sure to meet this type fish somewhere along the way, that is if you do much fishing for souls.
(Place Picture S on Magni-Vu board.)
Puffers, also known as swellfishes, can quickly inflate their bodies with air or water until they swell to three times their normal size. When danger is past, they deflate just as rapidly.
Have you ever seen one of these in the Church? If things don’t go just right, they “blow up” and either sulk or tell someone off. Most likely they will not stay with you too long because they are easily offended.
Jesus also was associated with the swellfishes. He said, “And blessed is he, whosoever shall not be offended in me” (Matthew ll:6).This is the type person in which the Word has taken no root. He endures for a while, but “when tribulation or persecution ariseth because of the word, by and by he is offended” (Matthew 13:21).
The day is soon to come that “….many shall be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another,” (Matthew 24:10). If people have trouble living for the Lord now, they will never endure when the real hatred and persecution comes upon all who love His Name.
(Place Picture T on Magni-Vu board.)
The stingray has a whiplike tail longer than their bodies with a long stinger which can inflict painful wounds. They are sharply toothed, bony and poisonous, causing much distress.
This is the person who wants to fight back. Their carnal nature has never been conquered and they rebel against authority. Jude speaks of them as “filthy dreamers,” who “….defile the flesh, despise dominion, and speak evil of dignities….But these speak evil of those thing which they know not: but what they know naturally, as brute beasts, in those things they corrupt themselves” (Jude 8, 10).
They will never live for God. Their hearts are too filled with rebellion and hatred. To sting and wound others is their main objective. The Lord regards rebellion “….as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry” (I Samuel 15:23). In your fishing for souls, should you catch a stingray, stay away from it lest you be wounded by its poisonous stingers.
(Place Picture U on Magni-Vu board.)
The jellyfish, or Portuguese Man-of-war, is actually not a fish, though its name implies it is a fish. However, because of the good comparison, we will also use this example.
A jelly fish has no backbone. It is a mass of whitish looking matter that is very soft. The jellyfish is a free swimmer, or in other words, it moves about from place to place in no certain direction.
This person is the weak, undecided one that can’t make up their mind. One day they believe a certain thing and the next day they have changed their doctrine. They are unstable and undependable with no firm convictions. Never expect the jellyfish to stand up for what they believe. They simply don’t have a backbone; therefore they bend and sway in every direction. They want to be with the majority because they can never stand alone for the Lord in the face of persecution.
The jellyfish is unsettled. He is continually wavering “….like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord. A double minded man is unstable in all his ways” (James 1:6-8).
This type person will never be an overcomer because their desire to serve God is not strong enough. Should you catch a jellyfish, do not be discouraged. There are still plenty of good fish in the sea.
(Place Picture V on Magni-Vu board.)
The term “minnow” is loosely used for many small fishes. The carp family, which includes over 300 American species, are mainly small, freshwater fishes. Very few ever grow large enough to be used for food. They serve as food for larger, more valuable fish.
You will certainly find it true that there are many minnows in the Church. They never grow up. When fish are first hatched, they all have a small beginning. But the minnows continue to remain small. They never assume the more responsible roles in the church because they are too immature and carnal.
The Corinthian Church was afflicted with many minnow Christians. Paul wrote, “And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ. I have fed you with milk, and not with meat: for hiterto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able” (I Corinthians 3:1-2).
The main purpose of minnows is to attract other fish. Even though you may have many minnow believers, there is the possibility their presence will draw the larger, edible fish toward the fisherman. We don’t throw away the minnows, but keep them as bait. Sinners like to come to a church that is full. They feel conspicuous if only a half dozen show up on Sunday morning. Minnows will at least fill the pews so that other fish will be attracted to your church.
WHAT KIND OF FISH ARE YOU?
As we study we will discuss many kinds of good fish and how to lure them into biting your bait. There are as many kinds of people as there are fish. They all have certain peculiarities which make them a little different from every other person living on earth. However, we can class them into groups, or families, as with fish. As we discuss these classifications, see which category you would fall into. Most likely, that is the same type person you would be interested in catching.
(Write these groups on your chalkboard.)
1. Sex – male or female.
2. Age – baby, child, teenager, young adult, middle-aged, elderly.
3. Nationality – American (Caucasian, Negro, Mexican, etc.), Japanese, Latin American, Chinese, Filipino, German, etc.
4. Marital Status – married, single, divorced.
5. Education – no schooling, in school, little schooling, high school education, business or training school, college degree (bachelor, master, doctorate), self-educated.
6. Social standing – poor, lower middle-class, middle-class, upper middle-class, wealthy, millionaire, etc.
7. Religious status – church member, moral non-church member, immoral, atheist, etc.
No one is able to change these first three categories. Each of us are born a certain sex on a certain date and a certain nationality. But the other four can be changed. The marital, educational, social and religious status are subject to our desires. What each individual chooses to do about these determines his worth to God and the world.
Naturally, the one God is most interested in is the spiritual man, or the religious status. Though every other category may be at the bottom of the ladder, if we choose to serve Him, we can be most be successful in life.
God has intended that every level and class of people come together to worship Him in Spirit and in truth. There are no racial, educational or social levels with God. We are instructed to “Be of the same mind one toward another. Mind not high things, but condescend to men of low estate. Be not wise in your own conceits” (Romans 12:16). But that does not mean that each of us will be skilled in attracting every type person to the Lord. Usually we become specialized in reaching only a few of these categories. Very few soul-winners have ever been able to adapt themselves to reaching every classification listed on the chalkboard.
For instance, if you are a young man, married, attending college, white, upper middle-class, chances are that you could never effectively communicate with a poor middle-aged Chinese man with no schooling who was an atheist. But you could reach a young college student who was married or single and in any of the social classes, regardless of his nationality. The educational level would overpower most of the other obstacles. It is possible to overcome many barriers as long as you qualify on other points.
The Apostle Paul was able to break down every obstacle that hindered him in winning the lost. His qualifications would have been something like this: a middle-aged, single man, Jewish parentage but Roman citizenship, highly educated under the best teachers of the day, upper middle-class or perhaps wealthy, and very religious. Common reasoning would say that he could never cross the barriers of education, nationality, social standing or religious status. He was at the top in all categories. Yet, with the help of the Lord he became “….all things to all men, that I might by all means save some” (I Corinthians 9:22). He was able to hurdle every barrier to become a master fisherman, capable of fishing in every kind of water and catching every kind of fish.
Many of us may never reach the heights the Apostle Paul was able to scale. But this should be our aim: how many kinds of fish am I capable of catching with the help of God? The lakes, rivers, reservoirs and oceans are full of fish-MY kind of fish! The neighborhood and city in which I live has an endless amount of souls which I could communicate with. There are enough people who have lots in common with me living within easy reach that I could become one of the greatest soul-winners of all times! What is to hinder us? If it’s fear, let’s be determined to conquer it!
From the categories listed on the chalkboard, ask for volunteers to tell the class which type people they feel capable of winning with God’s help. Many of your students may have never considered the fact that thousands of people living nearby have lots in common with them. We have a tendency to think about soulwinning as having to talk with people who are so completely different from us. But this is not true. We don’t all have to be an Apostle Paul to point men to Christ.
The first portion of this lesson is to build confidence in ourselves. Even if the first one or dozen should all turn out to be worthless fish, that doesn’t mean there are no good ones in the sea. The evil would love to discourage us from trying by telling us that we aren’t doing any good. All our fish are “trash fish.” The good people don’t want to serve God. If he can make us believe those lies, we will give him no more trouble. But if our courage can be renewed, we can once more invade Satan’s territory to snatch men from the fires of hell.
See if one of your students has a suggestion to use this week in trying some certain method listed on their report. Then the whole class could try this new method together. When we work as a unit to conquer our anxieties and dread of meeting strangers, the possibilities are greater that we will cooperate with the venture. When we are working on our quaking knees and trembling heart alone, it is much more likely that we will give up the fight.
Do everything you can to encourage your class to participate in keeping a weekly report. Even if they must force themselves to cooperate, they will have new victory in their souls. And that first one that prays through could be the spark that will set off an explosion in your class!
(The above material appeared in Fearless Fishermen, Search for Truth Publications, Houston, TX.)
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