THE FISHERMAN’S BOAT
John 17:14-15; II Timothy 3:1; II Peter 1:4; 1 Timothy 2:9-10; I Peter 1:7; Proverbs 10:22; Psalm 122:1; Hebrews 10:22-25.
“And others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire; hating even the garment spotted by the flesh” (Jude 23).
LESSON AIM: To show the relationship of the church to soulwinning.
Teaching Material: Magni-Vu Pictures M, J, N, O and P; metal board.
PERILS OF THE WATER
(Place Picture M on board.) Each year hundreds of fishermen are lost in lakes, rivers and seas. Most of these losses are because of
carelessness. The occupants of the boat forgot the dangers that lurked about them. Sometimes they try to stand in the boat and it begins to rock and turns over. Or they may fail to take heed of the rising winds and before they can get to shore their boat has been swamped by high waves.
The purpose of a boat and motor is to take the fisherman to where the fish live. Water is all around him, yet he is safe as long as he remains in the boat. You might say he is in the water, but not of the water.
It is a wise fisherman that carefully inspects his boat to be sure there are no leaks. He will take good care of his motor so that it can be depended upon to bring him to shore safely. Life jackets are put in a handy place so they can be found quickly should an emergency arise.
KEEP THE FISH!
Another purpose of the boat is to preserve the fish that have been caught. Sometimes they are put on stringers and tied to the boat. Some boats have a built-in section for keeping fish that allows water to circulate through it. The important thing is that you do not lose the fish.
Many times a day’s catch of fish have been lost because the stringer was not tied securely to the boat. It is a very disappointing thing to think the fish are in your possession and later to find that they swam away hours ago.
Another necessary part of fishing is cleaning the fish. Unless they are put on ice, fish will not last too long after being caught if they are not gutted and cleaned. If they die without having their insides removed, they will spoil easily and could make someone sick if eaten.
A fisherman must not be afraid of the fish he is cleaning. Even though they flop around and try to stick their fins in him, he must know how to hold on to them until they can be cleaned. The major objectives of the boat is to protect both the fisherman and the fish that have been caught. Then both are taken out of the water to the dry land.
Many boats are constructed so that the fisherman can relax and enjoy himself while he is fishing. Canopies keep the sun from burning his skin and comfortable seats with backs on them prevent him from becoming so tired. Many of them also have a place built to store cold drinks and food. Fishing wouldn’t be nearly so much fun if you couldn’t stop once in a while and drink something cold or eat a snack. But even while he is eating, his lines are still in the water waiting for a fish to come by. When he sees the line give a jerk, he rushes to the rod and reel and begins trying to land his fish.
The boat provides much of the enjoyment of fishing and makes it so much easier to accomplish the job of keeping the fish. Those who are fortunate enough to have a good boat have a much better time fishing than those who fish off the banks.
THE PERILS OF SOUL-WINNING
Now let’s go back and compare what we have discussed to soulwinning.
Every Christian that chooses to follow this high and holy calling of catching men must consider its perils. Each year, sad to say, we lose some of our people to the world. But just as with fishermen, it is usually through carelessness.
To reach the lost, you must sometimes go down to the gutters of sin. The water fish live in could be compared to the world that sinners live in. To lure them away from this environment and bring them to the boat, or the Church, we often must be subjected to visiting in homes where people drink, smoke, curse and practice evil habits. Yet, at the same time we are set apart and different from them.
In Jesus’ prayer for His disciples, He said: “I have given them thy word; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil” (John 17:14-15). It is the will of God that men who have once been rescued from the sin of this world should go out and rescue others. He will not translate us into a better place to live until the Church is caught away. But until that day, we must continue to live around those who are vile and wicked and lustful with evil habits and thoughts.
There is always the possibility that while we are fishing for the souls of others, we could become careless and fall back into sin ourselves. However, if certain precautionary measures are followed, we can be safe in the shelter of the Church. There is safety in the boat.
The Church provides for the safety of the children of God. We can ride it through many a storm and trial and it will carry us safely through until we reach the other shore.
Every soul-winner would do well to help their pastor see that false doctrine or a weakening of the standards of holiness be prevented from entering their assembly. Whether you realize it or not, if you want converts you have won to the Lord to grow into strong, healthy Christians, you have an obligation to see that the boat you bring them into is free of leaks. It would be disastrous both to you and those you bring in if the world should begin to creep inside your church and eventually destroy it.
BRING THEM TO THE CHURCH
(Place Picture J on board.) The reason we bring people to the church is so they “….may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works” (II Timothy 3:17 ). We want these who have been saved from the world of sin to stay saved. Catching men is only half the battle. They must be kept in the boat so they can become of real value.
The best way to keep your fish is to tie them to the church. It’s wonderful to able to go into homes and pray people through on the spot, but the safest way to keep them is to bring them to the House of God as quickly as possible. Introduce them to the pastor. He is the man whom God will use to make that fish fit for heaven.
There is much work that must be done on every fish that is caught. In its present condition it is not fit to eat. It must be cleaned and gutted and scaled. This takes a little time; so every soul we catch must be placed in the hands of the man of God who can do this job.
Many times we have witnessed to a person and they have received a wonderful experience with the Lord. We feel so sure that they are really “in” the church. But all at once, out they go again, back into the water and we never see them again. What happened? They were not tied securely to the boat. Somehow they failed to get the proper foundation that would ground them in the truth.
It is also a dangerous thing to wait too long to clean your fish. It is not the saint’s duty to clean the fish. This job belongs to the
pastor. The only way the saints help in this process is to be an example of the believers in word, in deed and in appearance. This makes the work of cleaning fish so much easier for the pastor, for the new converts only have to look around them to see how they should line up.
One certain pastor had a tremendous haul of fish come into his church. But he was only thinking in terms of numbers. The “count” was heralded far and wide. They were coming in so fast, he forgot one very important point-they had not been cleaned! Later a large group of them slipped away and the church split. The trouble was that he had failed to clean his fish after they had been caught.
Pastors must not forget about the holiness standards just to get more fish. If they do, they are defeating their own purpose. Every new saint must be taught how to stay in the church and please God. After a good string of fish have been caught, he must start all over again and teach everything he knows about holy and godly living to retain what he has caught. Twenty years ago the Trinity Pentecostals began making their big thrusts for numbers; but in so doing, they lost everything they believed. Holy living was thrown overboard in their search for reaching the multitudes.
(Place Picture N on board.)
The intrals of the fish can be compared to the sinful habits of the flesh that are in each of us. Though we are born with this nature, it is displeasing to God. It must be rooted and cut out of our lives to make us fit for the Master’s table. We must be “….partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust” (II Peter 1:4).
The scales of the fish would be the outward appearance. There must be a new kind of adorning. Now it must be “….in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with broided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array; But (which becometh women professing godliness) with good works” (I Timothy 2:9-10).
There is a certain way to remove all the scales from the fish. God has given His method to the ministry. They know just how to use the sharp knife of the Word to shed all the ungodly living and habits from the new converts. And if you will notice, they never scale or gut the fish until after they are safely in the boat and out of the water. It would be rather foolish to try to clean them before they are even in the boat. There is also a procedure for doing this job. The fish are usually gutted before they are scaled. This means they are thoroughly dead before the scales are removed. If you try to scale a fish while it is still alive and flopping around, you might get a sharp fin in your finger. But when it is dead, it doesn’t give you one bit of trouble.
The same is true with people. When they have completely died out to their carnal nature and there is no life left in them, the man of God can preach whatever the Spirit directs and there will never be any fighting back or trying to get away.
It might seem cruel to the saint standing by to watch the pastor clean the fish he has caught. While a person is dying out we can sympathize with them because we once had to go through the same process. But never try to interfere! It is for the good of that new convert that the pastor or evangelist is working on your fish. It is the only way he can be useful in the Kingdom of God.
(Show Picture O on Magni Vu board.)
After the fish are dead and cleaned, there is yet another process for them to go through. God is the one who performs this part of the work. He takes this clean fish and puts it through the fire. “That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ” (I Peter 11:7).
(Place Picture P on board.)
When God gets through with us, this is the way we look. Ready to serve to a starving person. We learn to know Christ “….and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death” (Philippians 3:10). Then through some miraculous change that only God can bring, the fish that was once in the world of sin is cleaned, put in the fire, eaten and becomes a part of the fisherman. They too are now ready to repeat the process of fishing for other souls of men and bringing them to the saving knowledge of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
What a change is made when Jesus comes into the heart of an individual! Old things are passed away, and behold, all things are new!
THE ENJOYMENT OF THE CHURCH
If only the world knew how enjoyable it is to be in the old ship of Zion! There is no craft ever constructed that is more luxurious. There is a hot burning sun that may scorch others, but we are safely protected from the broiling heat and the wintry blasts.
I’m sure you could call it work to fish for the souls of men, but there are so many hours of peace and comfort along with it. Ever so often we stop and eat at the Master’s table and have our souls fed with Heaven’s manna. “The blessing of the Lord, it maketh rich, and he addeth no sorrow with it” (Proverbs 10:22).
The Lord can show us on which side of the ship to cast our nets so that a multitude of fish can be brought in, and then He can turn and say. “Come and dine” (John 21:5-12). How sweet it is to dine with the Master.
The Church is intended to be a place where we can meet together and share the blessings of the Lord. When we lift our hands to Him and the tears stream down our faces, we are feasting with Him.
When the joy of the Lord floods our souls so that we shout and dance and run in the Spirit, it is all part of the banquet He has spread before us. No wonder David said, “I was glad when they said unto me, Let us go into the house of the Lord” (Psalm 122:1). There is no joy like the joy we have in the Church.
Once we have brought our fish into the boat, they must continually be taught the necessity of assembling together. The best way to “hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering,” is to not forsake “the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as you see the day approaching” (Hebrews 10:22-25). The more often we meet together to enjoy the fellowship of one another and of the Lord, the stronger we become spiritually.
This is also an enticement to sinners. When they see how the Lord blesses His people, it makes them hungry to eat with us. The little tiny piece of bait they have tasted which lured them into the Church, is nothing in comparison to the feast of which they shall partake after really getting into the boat with us!
FISHING FROM THE BANK
There are many who are fishing for souls from the bank. They only have “a form of godliness, but deny the power thereof” (II Timothy 3:5). There is no joy in their religion. There is no power, no blessings and no protection. We must admit some of them have made thousands of converts, but they are losing their fish because they never clean or scale them. Soon their fish will spoil and be worthless. It would have been better for them “not to have known the way of righteousness, than after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them” (II Peter 2:21).
We have an obligation to make sure that we bring our fish to the true Church so they can be saved on the day of judgment. It is not enough to lift people out of the world of sin. They must be brought to the knowledge of the truth and go on to perfection (Hebrews 6:1).
Since the lesson this week concerns the Church, why not have a special service at your church before the next lesson and encourage every student to see how many people they can invite to this special meeting. Emphasize contacting people to attend your church both in person and on the telephone. Each student should be sure to mark the record in their book in the correct column.
Ask for a show of hands to see how many are cooperating in striving to be a “fearless fisherman.” It could easily be that several will have landed some fish safely in the boat.
(The above material appeared in Fearless Fishermen, Search For Truth Publications, Houston, TX.)
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